Just for Fun

IMG_7850 So throughout my life, I've occasionally owned venus flytraps. I'm not what you'd call a "plant guy" by any means, in fact, the only plants I've ever purchased for myself are flytraps. I'm sure most of you all know that these are not your normal, give water, give sunlight kinda plant. Of course the flytrap requires both water and light, but these things eat bugs! Come on, that's just cool. Ok... maybe I'm just too much of a boy still, but it's fun as heck to watch. These things use the traps to catch bugs, seal up, and literally liquify said bug for food. Evolution... you are scary scary thing. Oh, and if you are reading this and going "why did this Matt guy tag this post as a gear post," just wait for it.

matty_8.11.10_ 010 Walking out the door the other morning, I spotted this dewy spider web. The wet morning air had formed super small beads of waters along the entire web, as well as a couple larger drops. A full screen view reveals the detail and reflection in even the smallest beads of water, hence the reason I'll be releasing this photo in an upcoming wallpaper release. It will feature various non-portraiture photos taken in the last six months or so. Be on the lookout for that download, and enjoy the pics.

matty_8.1.10_ 004 So living in the North end of Tacoma has a few perks, one being the great views of the Narrows bridges and the sunsets that are typically photo-worthy. I still appreciate each and every one as it casts brilliant yellow, orange, and red light through my living room. For an hour's time, the setting sun breathes an amazing aura into the house before tucking behind the mountainscape. This last Sunday was a different story though. A haze lingered through the entire day, nothing spectacular for us PNW'ers, but the sunset started to look more like an angry moon, as the thick cloud cover allowed me to look straight at a fire red sun (I'm sure not doctor recommended, looking at it). It was cool looking enough to make me bust out the camera and snap a few shots. So... here they are. It was solid red, even when high in the sky at 7pm, and as it crept closer to the horizon it started to find some break in the clouds and showed a little orange.

matty_7.24.10_ 198 Spent the day in the lava parks just outside Bend and Sunriver, OR. Some really cool lava landscapes, super hot when you are out walking on it in the middle of the day. The lava fields park is complete with a visitor center with all kinds of info about the surrounding volcanic history. I set out to take a few photos of the lava parks, but I also came away with some fun cloud photos. Used the lava formations and forest for framing/silhouetting for these shots. I'll have some of the lava pics for you later on, these cloud photos just stuck right out after I dumped the set to the computer so I tackled them first. These look amazing full screen. Enjoy.

  matty_7.24.10_ 025Spending a week down in Sunriver, OR to get some sun and relax. Brought the camera bag with me. Leave it to me to back 60 lbs of camera bag with me on vacation. No real plans to take any fantastic photos, just some fun and family captures. Much more extreme environment here when compared to the Seattle, WA area, it's much like Eastern Washington. It's either very hot or very cold. Even with temps hitting high 90's here, it's dipping into the 40's at night. The dry climate paints an different kind of landscape, plants adapted to live happily with virtually no water, and funny little critters shooting in and out of the rocky land. One such animal that can be found in abundance are chipmunks. They are cute and hilarious to watch. Every movement is a quick twitch, a sprint and a hope from rock to rock, they can't do anything slow, even whipping their tales from side to side like a dog, but at a lightning-like speed. The cameras (yes, plural, I overpack whether it's clothes or photo stuff) didn't come out during the ride down, not even the first day. The first itch to click the shutter came with the entertaining little chipmunks. Finally! A reason to slap the heavy yet amazing 100-400mm L lens onto the body. Sitting on the deck enjoying the late evening fading heat, these chipmunks were zipping in and out of the rocks, scavenging for any trace of food (the poor guys). For the benefit of their bellies (and the opportunity to get a closer shot, *cough*) we set out some potato chips for them to nibble on. Turns out, not only American humans enjoy super fatty food, but the American wildlife (when given the chance) partake in the junk food. If an article comes out next year about chipmunk obesity I'm gonna feel really bad. Here is a guy down below, probably just thinking he'd already been run over and had died and gone to heaven. "Holy acorns! A chunk of food the size of me." He'll sleep good tonight.

matty_7.1.10_ 165 So, what do you need to use when you are looking for softbox-like light quality without having light spill all over the place? The answer is simple, the gridded softbox. It gives you the same control over light as normal grid spots that you'd throw in front of a normal barebulb light, but now with soft, beautiful light. I've always loved using grid spots on my barebulbs, but the light can just be so harsh on a subject's face, especially when it is one of the key lights. The gridded softbox works on that same principle, controlling the light and only letting it hit a small portion of a subject, but now you can get those pleasing contrasts and skin tones you can't get very well with barebulb lighting. That's typically my problem too, wanting that gorgeous, soft light on my subjects (usually female), but having trouble trying to keep the light off of other elements of the photo. It's not an easy task, that is, until now. Notice the photo below, my subject is literally 2-3 feet away from a black sheet used for a background, yet no light is spilling onto it. Even though it is a black sheet, if you were using a normal softbox for a light modifier, you'd have light spill onto the sheet and you'd get a little grey tint to the background. The grid added to the softbox directs the light on just my subject... a very good thing in this case.

IMG_8949 I was browsing the web the other day, like most days, and I saw the term once again, "light chaser." A descriptive term used for photographers. It struck a chord in me. If you are a regular reader of the blog or even a follower of my work, you'd know that the vast majority of my photography is not "chasing" light at all. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I am usually making light to compose my photographs. When I think of a 'light chaser' I think of like this herd of photographers roaming the streets, waiting for favorable light, or heck, just keeping their heads on a swivel, looking for chance opportunities where light might be shining a little luck their way. It's like back in the day when I used to watch the Scooby-Doo cartoon. Remember when they'd usually have a montage somewhere in each episode where the "gang" was running in and out of hallways doors, evading a monster. That's kinda how I picture photographers when they are referred to as light chasers, just running every which way, literally chasing light around, minus the cheesy music. Ok, leave the cheesy music, it's a good touch...

Wow, it's almost been a month since my last post, I'm so sorry! My chief editor, Coal (pictured above) has been riding me like crazy to get him some new work to approve for the blog. The good news is that I have plenty of...

matty_3.29.10_ 216 Got some time to finish up the ice sculpture photos and post up some more selects. If you are saying "what? What ice sculptures?" You should click here to read part uno - CLICK FOR PART 1 -. So... on to more pictures and a little bit more story. Almost being in Alaska for a week now, I can tell you this was the most fun I had while taking pictures here. I mean... how often to you get to go photograph the location where the world's best ice carvers come to compete?! Again, these pictures don't give these guys nearly enough credit because of all the melting that had taken place before I showed up.

matty_3.31.10_ 342 This afternoon I headed for the Chena hot springs resort. It's a joint roughly an hour out of Fairbanks. You really start to understand how large the state of Alaska is and how spread out the residents are when you drive on a highway for a good hour and can count the number of cars you pass going the other direction on both of your hands. Beautiful land and a lot of it!

DSC_4918 Already knew when I started this post it would be a two-parter. Have way too many pictures and not enough time to go through them right now, but I wanna stay true to my word and post a couple photos a day while I'm up in Alaska. That handsome devil with his chin resting on a ice block is me! My bud Brian and I walked through the ice festival carvings here in Fairbanks with our DSLRs. It is thee location for this stuff and where the world's best carvers come to compete. I wouldn't have believed it myself if I didn't see it in person. Absolutely amazing ice sculptures, some almost 30 feet tall! Granted we walked through the park after the festival was over and the sculptures had been there for weeks. Another unfortunate issue with the ice is that Fairbanks has been surprisingly warm this last week, with temps rising above freezing in the later afternoon. So the ice has melted a bit and the sculptures lacked the once amazing detail from when first carved. However, one benefit we had going for us was that since the event was over we were able to walk in and around the sculptures that are normally roped off.

Is it just me, or has airport security gotten a little out of control up here in Alaska? First you want me to take off my shoes, then my laptop has to come out of the bag, you give me the stink-eye while I walk...

3-matty_3 Wow... had an awesome time up in B-ham. Made the journey North for 4 days to work with the folks at the Upfront Theatre. I made the most of my stay and squeezed in a bunch of shoots. Just wanted to post up since it's been a while. Expect much more stuff coming to the blog now that I've gotten all of the workshops and workshops' site launched. It has taken up so much of my time.

matty_2.6.10_ 111 The Mahala belly dancers performed at the masquerade dance I attended last weekend. It was a surprise for me, thinking I was showing up to shoot people dressed in interesting costumes, and out come a group of belly dancers! The group performed twice throughout the evening, and were very entertaining. They ended up being my main photographic focus of the evening.

IMG_0435 The QSA Club put on a masquerade dance last Saturday evening in Bellingham. It was one of the first dances I've been to where almost everyone actually danced, and they danced the whole 4 hours! Some came totally decked out some pretty amazing costumes, some in whatever they were comfortable in. Regardless the attire, their was a very positive energy in the air and everyone had a great time.

handwashingHANDS It's so important going into a project to bring some sort of a vision along for the ride. You just don't show up to a location for a gig, drop your gear bags, look around with your hands on your hips, deeply inhale, and then with a sigh-like exhale go "ok, so how we gonna get this baby done?" Don't get me wrong, in some cases that is literally the situation you are thrown in, but in all instances when you are lucky enough to get that planning/conceptualization time... USE IT! That's why I thought I'd write up a little post about "the vision" that goes into projects, where the concepts start, how I work on key visuals, etc. The following are some sketches from the concept phase that we drew up prior to the shoot day side by side with shots from the video we just finished last week. Yes, you will always get something a little off from your sketches, whether that be restrictions of your location, time, access, etc., but some of the sketches below show how the main idea is retained from the concept and carried through to the final product. This first guy is a perfect example of that. We originally had a cat sitting on the bed to give it a more "homey" feel. But... you can always count on the most predictable animal to act like a D-bag when you really need them to pull through for ya. Our ridiculously lazy cat model, who on any other day wouldn't move if you stepped on him, decided to emulate a curious cat on a crack high, not sitting for more than half a second. Oh well. For the rest of it, it worked out pretty much to plan.

IMG_9668v2 I had some roses in the house for a couple weeks, they aged very well, and... like many things they inspired a photoshoot. They kept their form, yet darken in color and gained a nice texture. I shot a couple with a butterfly beauty light configuration, but my main focus was a darker, more mysterious shot. Setting up two lights with 10 and 20 degree grid spots, I lit only key parts of the composition, giving it a nice look. I love having deep, dark shadows in my photos, and these have lots of that indeed. For me, the most interesting photos are always the ones where there is a part of the photo in darkness, just something about it.

christmasKitties My little helpers, Coal and Tobi, are the rascals pictured above. Lisa bought these ridiculous outfits for the cats which made for some good photo ops. I don't know what is funnier, the way they look in them, or the reaction they have, trying to squirm out of them the instant they find themselves looking like Rudolph. Coal really cracks me up, he truly looks like the Grinch here, always has that contemplative look like he's stormin' up something evil in his noggin'.

IMG_7688 Discovered this butterfly roaming the house Halloween night. Instead of squishing it (I was tempted) I decided to throw a couple lights up and photograph it. As it fluttered about, I lit it from the front with a bare bulb, along with a light (gelled blue) hitting the back wall. Shot of couple of these and then turned off the front light and just shot some silhouettes created by the blue light bouncing back.

So I couldn't resist, I just had to share the above picture with you all. Meet Tobi and Coal, the furry brothers that continually keep me entertained at home. The night we forced them to wear these ridiculous hats just happened to be a tad...