Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Nothing changes your life....

like adding another life to it and having to take care of it, no jen is NOT pregnant i just want to make that perfectly clear. Im talking about the 2 furry creatures that we brought into our home well over a year ago. It began with Koa, who after 5 years of trying i had finally convinced my wife to get a dog. Ever since we got married she had never wanted a dog, but all that changed and we got our 1st dog and since that chilly morning down in mission bay were he came up to her before anyone else to say hi she was hooked. Since day one koa has brightened up our home in an unbelievable way, he loves without question, greets jen when she gets home with such enthusiasm it one of the best parts of her day and he loves to cuddle. He has an amazing loving and curious personality but can be very mellow, hes been one of the best decisions that we have made. After our vacation to Hawaii last year we came home and on impulse decided to go to Hellen Woodward (this is very dangerous by the way!) to find a friend for Koa who was always crying at the fence when he heard the neighbors dogs. It was there that we met Kai who at the time was called Doritos, we went into the cage and Kai ran up and just about licked our faces off. We fell in love right away, but we almost didnt get him since his first meeting with Koa was and extremely loud meeting and we were worried that they would not get along. After some deliberation we decided to risk it and brought him home and we have never looked back. Going through pictures it hard to believe that it has been over a year and unbelievable how Koa who is now a 70 plus pound beast could have come from that cute tiny little thing that we brought home. It hasnt been without its challenges though, Koa had health issues from the beginning, and being curious loved to eat things that he wasnt supposed to eat. Kai......well Kai has been the bane of my existence at times, he is and absolute tornado and a back talker when he doesnt get his way. He will bark at his own shadow and goes absolutely berserk when he sees another dog which has made it difficult to socialize him. Kai is definitely at the other end of the espectrum and love to bug Koa and instigates a fight all the time, stealing his toys or biting at his legs to get his way. A regular day in the Menendez home is those 2 wrestling and barking at each other, its actually pretty hilarious.I have lovingly dubbed Kai El Demonio Blanco which is spanish for The White Demon or if youre an Ace Ventura fan its equinsu ocha or White Devil. Despite all of the challenges and frustrations we wouldnt trade a single day of it for anything, those 2 lovable fur balls have enriched our lives in ways that we couldnt possibly have imagined. Heres some photos of our furry children, i definitely have a lot more of Koa than Kai but i plan on changing that soon.

if you want to read up on one of the most frustrating but ultimately funny days i had go here

Monday, March 14, 2011

Cobian Sandals Redux

In 2007 and 2008 i did a a couple of shoots for Cobian Sandals, i keep all usable files on my hard drives in case i later see the photo again and get some inspiration and see it differently. Most of the time im working on my nature stuff but recently i have been working on organizing all my files and transferred about 4 terabytes of data from all my external HD's to one 8 terabyte Drobo unit. In the course of doing this i have been revisiting some old files and like the previous post have breathed new life into them. Inevitably the longer i do this the more i learn, and as the years go by new software comes out, new techniques are developed and and trends go in and out. When i 1st did these photos i fell into the whole using photoshop actions and adding textures bandwagon, while i think there is a time and place to use those things i believe that it should be sparingly. Of course with inexperience comes over use of everything, kind of like when you get a fisheye lens. The perspective i so cool and HUGE, you go gaga over the thing, but you find yourself in a dilemma. Instead of looking at a scene creatively and figuring out how to best shoot it you slap the fisheye lens on there and shoot a ton of what turn out to be crappy photos. You rely more on the special effect of the lens instead of growing your creativity and pushing yourself, in the end you become dependent on the lens because you cant see any other way and so all your photos start looking the same. Being a good photographer doesnt mean you shoot everything in front of you or that you can make everything look like gold, a lot of times its knowing when to walk away and not take the shot. Ok back to my thought, yes i was very prone to using things like photoshop actions and textures, something i didnt realize until about a year ago when i started looking at my work and just about died it looked so gross to me. I was looking at other peoples work and the overexposed surreal dreamy look was EVERYWHERE! So thats what i was doing, but in the end i was trying to be creative in a way that is not natural to me. What do i mean? Well im a landscape photographer pure and and simple, my goal always has and always will be to preserve detail as much as possible. Why i ever got into the mode of destroying detail in my portrait work i will not understand, but here we are many years after i 1st shot these photos reaching these conclusions. Knowing me though you will see these pictures again in like 5 years, because lets face it the blessing and curse of art is that theres always a new way to look and do the same thing. Plus i am never happy with anything i do, theres always a better way to do it, truly its never ending............i love this job. Enjoy!

Before: Just way over the top! in the long run the treatment really doesnt add to the photo. it looks dark and grainy, areas of the shirt look blown out and lost are the beautiful golden tones of the sunset.

After: A much cleaner image, theres still detail in the shirt and more depth in the image. there is actually separation between the cliff and the water. Alas the horizon is still crooked.....haha!

Before: This one isnt all that bad actually, it wasnt taken through photoshop. Still, i felt the image looked flat and lacked dimension and when we were shooting everything looked more saturated because of the sunset.

After: This one is much punchier, colors are richer a little bit more detail in her shirt and theres a lot more seperation between foreground and background.

Before: Same thing, looks flat the white shirt is really overexposed colors not as rich.

After: 2nd version im much happier with, one thing does bug me though. i think i brought out to much detail in the waves. seems a little distracting to me.........see im never happy!

Previously unreleased images

Every time i see this one i cant help but smile.....theres just something about it.

You can check out the original posts here and here

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Breathing new life into old files

one of the great things about being a photographer is that you are constantly learning something new, wether its a new technique to shoot, exploring different lenses, different ways to light things or growing in the way you edit your photos it really is never ending. At times it seems like a daunting task but it really can be a lot of fun, lately i have been working on improving my nature photos buy slowing down and paying a lot more attention to light, composition and thinking through what i want out of my photos. Along with improving my shooting techniques i have also been working on my editing techniques as well, this has made me go back to revisit a lot of old files that i look at now and just feel disgusted with what i did to the photos. My portrait work has been my biggest weakness, in an effort to keep up with trends and have my work be up to par with all the other photographers out there i was overusing things like photoshop actions and shifting colors and so on, while i do think that such techniques have their time and place i dont think that they belong on every photo. Its hard to maintain an objective point of view on a photo when youve added tons of filters and have been working on it for more than 10 minutes and when you 1st start out it easy to go to far because the changes from your original to the one with all the filters is so dramatic. I hope that those of you reading this and are photographers dont take this as a slam on your techniques, this really is all just my opinion and for myself i felt i was rallying way to much on photoshop and over editing my work. But i do hope that you will take away from this that no matter how long youve been shooting that the learning process is never ever done and there is always something new to try and to learn. Its an exhausting task at times but dont look at it as a chore, be thankful that you work in a field that never gets old dull and boring. For me right now simplicity is the name of the game, my biggest question to myself now is "how do i make a great image with minimal intrusion from me?" i could go on and on but ill stop and heres some images, some have before and afters others are ones that i had never worked before but all are from the same shoot. I will be posting more examples later. Enjoy!

Before: Sides are way to dark and the color shift is way to drastic and leaves it looking acidic.

After: much happier with this, the image much cleaner. the people are the real subjects not the processing, i like the brightness of the image and while there is a slight color shift its very subtle and isnt distracting

Before: similar to the 1st one, i like the warmth of the image but the softness of it is very distracting to me. i feel like im looking through a tunnel because i darkened the side to much.

after: much much better, simple edits and it took less than 5 minutes

before: tone is to cold and the overall feel of the photo is to dark. im not opposed to a dark feel in a photo but there is a time and place for it.

after: not the same photo but it was close enough that i used it. i like it in black and white it has nice warmth and not pushed to far.

Thursday, March 03, 2011

Desert Rat 2011 Panoramas

Took a lot of Panoramic images out in the desert and one on the way back home. Most of them range anywhere from 25-30 or so individual images which is relatively small after the monster 70 image panorama i did in joshua tree. Anywho here they are. Enjoy!

Sun was going down fast and had little time to get everything ready. Taken at Blow Sands in Ocotillo Wells

I call this one the Rats Nest. 26 image Pano of Desert Rat 2011 Base Camp

Somewhere in Ocotillo Wells, while driving through a river basin the lead Jeep blew a tire. Had to change it so we all got out and played

Lunch stop at Lake Henshaw, over the weekend the mountains go dumped on and there was snow everywhere. terrible time of day to shoot it but i wanted to get something.

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Desert Rat 2011

Went to Ocotillo Wells to an event called Desert Rat thats put on by our church. I was there with my buddy Josh, his father in law Ray and son Troy and a bunch of their friends. We had a blast flying trough the desert kicking up big clouds of dust, climbing large rocks with vehicles, making mud fly, getting stuck in sand, changing tires and overall establishing our manly dominance over the desert and all that dwells in it. I have been on this event before and the 1st time that i went i took a bazillion photos but this time i only shot when light was good and was a lot more picky with my photos and i think i came away with some great stuff. The weather was all over the place, it would be nice in the morning and then it would be freezing at night and incredibly windy but we did get some great clouds and made for some beautiful sunsets. It was a lot of fun and im looking forward to doing it again, im still going through photos but did manage to edit a few (including a quick 27 image Panoramic (i shot a lot of Panos). Ill be posting more photos in the next few days so come back soon. Enjoy!!