williamsburgVA day 7

historic powhatan plantation

This was our final day at Williamsburg, VA, for the whole entire time we stayed at the Historic Powhatan Plantation which was close to all attraction in Williamsburg. We were informed that this resort was bought by Diamond Resort International from Suntera. The units were being renovated and as well as updated up to the new owner’s standards. However, the unit the we stayed in was still the old one. I would love to come back soon and hope to stay in a newly renovated unit.

Before we bid farewell to this lovely place, we have to do the obligatory shots. If it were me, I would have came back to Jamestown rather than went to the outlet. However, majority rules. We spent most of our time in the outlet before driving back to New Jersey.

The drive back was so busy and it was packed. The navigator made us take detours to avoid traffic, however, it just made our drive much longer and we did not avoid traffic either. We used the Chesapeake Bay Brdge Tunnel in hope to take pictures, I did took a few shots and I was asked to take a shot of a couple by the pier using their point and shoot which I found difficult to get a decent shot. I took their picture using my Sony DSLR Alpha 850 and just told them that I will email the pictures to them, which I did yesterday.

Back home safely and back to the grind of things. Well a friend told me that the hardest part after the long weekend was the first five days.

williamsburg VA day 6

chandelier

As our vacation is nearing its end, we were taking it slow and just planned to visit Jamestown. Well, they said that this was were America was born. Last 5 years ago they celebrated the quadricentennial of Jamestown and I have heard that the queen of England was there for the celebration. I could not imagine how crowded the place was with tourist, locals and security.

After lunch, we drove to Jamestown and it was so hot and humid. It was also a lot different from the first time we visited the place back in 2005. The whole place was improved with a huge indoor gallery which by the way has a no photography allowed. You can take pictures but not inside the gallery. I think that if you go through all the videos and displays inside the gallery, it may take you most of the day and there’s still the outdoor settlement ground.

The last walking tour was 3PM and we decided to wait for, this proved to be a big mistake. Our tour started and we were just walking through the Powhatan village and we received a warning that there is a thunderstorm approaching the area. All of the tourists and the actors and actresses were let inside the gallery to wait out the storm. We waited and waited and even continued going through the gallery, but the storm was not letting up. By the way if you want to save money, buy combined tickets for the Jamestown and Yorktown.

After an hour or so, they decided to ask for refund and got half back. I run back to our car and drove back to pick them up. We went back home and they suggested to just watch a movie, Batman.

The picture above was taken in the lobby just outside the gallery. I guessed because of my boredom that I looked up and saw this chandelier. I positioned myself directly at the center of the chandelier and dialed my camera settings and took two shots with the same setting. I chose this one because it’s much sharper than the other. I only did a minor adjustment in Lightroom 4 and cropped it a bit.

 

wiliamsburg VA day 4

soldier firing a musket

This day was set aside to visit historic places in Williamsburg VA after enjoying the Busch Gardens and Water Country USA. Our first stop was Yorktown. We visited the indoor gallery and took pictures until I heard from other tourists that photography was not allowed. I thought they were just joking but I saw the sign at the entrance and in various places in the gallery that food, drink and photography are not allowed inside the gallery.

The outdoor gallery on the other hand was so different because it was a live gallery. They built replica structures that depicts the early 1600’s. Aside from the structures, they also have actors and actresses dressed up like they did back then. It felt like you’re walking back in the old Yorktown. They had a field demo on how they administer treatment to sick and wounded soldiers by showing the tools/instruments and medicine that they used. The also showed how to operate and fire canons and muskets.

We then drove to the Yorktown marina and strolled along the beach and took pictures.

We then drove to Williamsburg and used the historical parkway. It was scenic and I would love to go back there and just stop at every scenic spot just to take photos. We just walked around town taking pictures and did our own tour. I guess next time it will be best to join the tour to learn more about the town. What I did instead was just take souvenir pictures in low light and hand held. I used flash most of the time specially for people shots.

 

hard rock cafe – pink october event

bangle's signed pink guitar

bangle’s signed pink guitar

We had another shoot at Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia, this time the event was for the breast cancer survivors. There was a silent auction that includes a signed pink guitar from the Bangles, and other great stuff. A fashion show was also held last night that features work from Chrissy Phillips and Duke & Winston. The students from the Art Institute of Philadelphia modeled the clothing with matching hair and make up done by Renee Fox Salon. The hosts of the show were Lori Wilson from NBC10 and Marilyn Russell from BEN FM.

The students strutted their way on the catwalk wearing the creation of Chrissy Phillips and Duke & Winston and there were speeches from the cancer survivors who attended the event. Indeed, this disease does not distinguish young or old as I’ve heard from the testimonies from one young and beautiful lady as well as from a young mother. The event also raised $1600 from the silent auction for the Young Survivor Coalition of Greater Philadelphia.

Now, let’s talk about the lighting setup we used for the fashion shoot. We divided the catwalk into two sections: my friend shoots the stage using two light setup (one on each side mounted on a light stand fastened on to the pillars using gaffers tape); and i shoot the front end of the catwalk using a single light setup on a light stand nine feet high camera rear left. I have my camera set using ISO 400, aperture of F/4.5 and shutter speed of 1/20 second. I was also using on camera flash and bouncing it on a white card and angled it for direction. I used my trusted 50 mm F/1.4 lens and I did not have problems except when the models were moving so fast that I sometimes had focus mishaps. Overall, I am satisfied with my shots and I just used Lightroom to fix levels and fine tune the white balance.

fameco private party at hard rock cafe philly

hard rock cafe phillyMy friend and I went to Hard Rock Cafe in Philadelphia last Wednesday, 12 October 2011, to cover a private party for FAMECO. If I am not mistaken FAMECO is a real estate company based in Pennsylvania, however, don’t quote me on this I just googled the company and I might even be wrong that they are a real estate company. At any rate we did this shoot from 7 PM to about 9 PM. We were tasked to take the usual snaps with assortment of candids.

The place was crowded and it was difficult to move and shoot. We were given black Hard Rock Cafe tees, I guess to make the guests aware that we were taking pictures for Hard Rock. Well, if the management of Hard Rock reads this, just make us the official photographers for all the events and we will be glad to accept. I hope that they will like the pictures we took first and foremost to be even be considered.

My gear of choice is of course my trusted Sony Alpha 850 with Sony 50 mm F/1.4 lens and Sony HVL-58 AM for flash. My camera setting was ISO 200, F/4 and F/5.6, and shutter speed of 1/10 or 1/20. Well I should have increased my ISO to 400 to double my shutter speed, but I like to use the native ISO to get a crisper shots and not to mention the effective in body stability control of Sony Alpha 850. Probably next time I will use an aperture of F/8 to get more depth of field and an ISO of 400, with this setup I can still save battery life the same way I do on an F/4 setup.

Hope you like the pictures in the gallery and leave a comment so that I would know if I did a good job or did not, I will take those to improve my skills.

trip to maine (running away from irene) part 3

on top of acadia national park

ISO 200 F/11 1/400 second

After spending the night in Boston, MA (25-26 August 2011) we’re finally bound for Maine. It was a slow ride out of Boston because of traffic or was it just volume. We arrived at Maine past 9 PM but we got lost and could not find the house of my wife’s friend, Raquel. Our GPS is a few years old Tom Tom and gave us direction which we followed turn by turn except that it did not find the house. We were on the right road but just missed the house number, the GPS said that it was about 6 miles from were we made the right turn. The give away that made us think that we were lost was that the paved road became unpaved and there were no houses in sight except the darkness. My son suggested that we just go on forward because the house might be in a new development ahead, but I told my wife to call her friend. However, as I was talking to her friend’s husband, Jeff, the signal died. Still moving forward but I soon changed my mind when I saw a truck head light behind me and I was not going to stop and ask for directions. I made a K turn and head back  to paved road. My wife called her friend again and asked for direction. Made the K turn again and slowly looked for the house number by the road. They were just about a mile away from where we made the right turn. It was funny how to have missed that when you were following somebody or something who apparently knew the direction. We later found out that if we continued driving that we may have ended in Canada, which by the way was about an hour away from where we were.

When we found their driveway, we were amazed that their house was still almost a quarter of a mile far. They were having a big bonfire while waiting for us and the first thing I noticed was how beautiful the sky was in that part of the world. Since it was a lot darker compared to where we live, we saw millions of stars in the sky. Being there showed us how much we’ve missing from what nature has to offer. We had lasagna for dinner which they prepared. and it tasted so good. After dinner, we went out to put more wood on the bonfire while we were catching up on things and drinking some beer.

The next day, we prepared to go to Acadia National Park. It was about two hour drive from their house and the ride was so scenic. I later found out that 70% of air pollution in Maine came from outside the state because of the prevailing wind direction. Who could have thought that the air we were breathing in Acadia National Park was not as fresh as I hoped it would be. There were two ways to get to the top of the mountain, either by hiking and mountain climbing or just like what we did, drove the car. There were a lot of picturesque scenes along the winding road to the top of the mountain where you can pull over and take a picture.

On the top of the mountain you will see a 360 degree view of the horizon. The atlantic sea was covered with fog or smog, hence, the beauty of the sea was hidden from us. Also, the view of Bar Harbor (pronounced as Bah Habah) from the top was also obscured by the same fog or smog as you can see in the picture. The top of the mountain in Acadia National Park was said to be the first one to see the sun rise here in the United States, awesome.

We then continued our drive to Bar Harbor, stopped by at the Sandy Beach which by the way has a water temperature of 57 degrees Fahrenheit. Despite of the cold temperature there were a lot of swimmers and no lifeguard. We then proceeded to Thunder Hole. The name was due to the sound the wave creates when it smashes the rocky alcove. I was told that there were occasions that people got swept away to the sea when waves get stronger and bigger.

We then stopped at Bar Harbor to buy some souvenirs  for the trip as well as took pictures before driving back to our friends’ house. Well almost, except we have to take a detour at an outlet to buy some towels.

I would have loved to spend more time in Acadia National Park because of a lot beautiful scenes. I have only brought a 50 mm F/1.4 fixed lens and did not even to take the tripod out from the car because I did not want to be a bother. A polarizer would have been helpful as well, which by the I did not have. The only thing I could have managed to do was a panoramic attempt of the Bar Harbor landscape from the top of the mountain and people shots. I would have loved a few shots for HDR.

That weekend was a time to watch news to catch up on the goings on regarding the hurricane Irene. It was forecasted to hit Maine Sunday night until the next day, the day we were supposed to drive back home. Sunday was rainy and got windy at night. Monday came, after breakfast Jeff assessed the hurricane damage and found just a twig along the driveway. The drive home was not bad because we were expecting flood or damages but there was none. The ride home was almost great except when we hit New York which took us almost four hours from the Connecticut border to New Jersey.

I would like to say my thanks to our host in Maine who were just so great. We missed their pig roast by about a week, should have stayed longer.

world youth day in madrid part 3

arrival at philly international airport

ISO 49 F/3.9 1/30 second (click picture for gallery)

This is the final installation for my son’s trip to Madrid, Spain for the World Youth Day. It was a very memorable experience for him because it was his very first time to travel without his family and to top it all, it was a foreign travel to three European countries: France, Portugal and Spain. He joined the contingent of the Alliance of the Holy Family International which comprised of several attendees from different countries. Their contingent travelled the countries on two buses that ended in Madrid for the culmination of World Youth Day.

The trip was not a vacation of some sort because they were busy visiting religious sites and when they retire to their hotels for the night, they did evening prayers as well as morning prayers. It was a sacrifice on their part and yet my son told me that it was a rewarding experience.

To view the gallery please click on the picture and click here for the videos.

world youth day in madrid part 2

sinjin

ISO 400 F/3.9 1/90 second (click picture for gallery)

This is the second posting of my son’s pictures taken during his trip to World Youth Day 2011 in Madrid. This has more pictures and videos than the first one. Click here for the videos where all the pictures will be posted as part of this blog, click the picture and it will bring up a slideshow.

Having looked at the pictures gave me a sense of being there, however, it still does not compare to being actually there. On this post, the pictures here is a compilation of his trip to Madrid then to Lourdes and then back to Madrid. Looking at the videos and pictures I would have thought that he did not rest during the bus ride. It was really amazing on his part to be able to visit such religious sites, something like a pilgrimage that is priceless. The experience he gained meeting other people and learning from them as well they learning from him.

The culture, the food and people gave him an experience of a lifetime. However, I am hopeful that he will be able to go back but with the whole family next time.

intervale, NJ

lake intervale

ISO 200 F/2.8 1/400 second (click picture for gallery)

My wife made a plan last June with her friend, Rosemarie, to meet at her sister’s house in Intervale, NJ. It was close to Parsippany and it was about two hour drive from our house. Thank you GPS, without this handy gadget that made the drive easier. The area was close to a lake and the neighborhood seems quiet and nice. We did not stroll the area yet because the boys need to drive somewhere to play war games using BB’s, like paint ball without the mess.

Gino, a BB gun afictionado, drove us to the site about 30 minute drive towards Pennsylvania. When we arrived at the place I could not believe that there are whole lot of BB enthusiast. They have military get-up and the equipment used was as real as the guns. Some are battery powered while others are gas and the cost varies from just below a hundred dollars to a couple of thousand dollars. The more expensive your gun, the more accurate and the more powerful. My son and I were not dressed for that and we just borrowed an entry level gun. We had a blast playing in the woods with a made up structures to use as cover.

Well, as for the girls they went to go shopping.

When we were done playing, we went back to Gino’s house. They were great people who prepared food for us before we head back home. However, Bong and I thought that we do some shooting (photography) before going home. He’s a Nikon shooter and he showed me his gear and in just a short time in photography he has had acquired cool gears. Rosemarie was a very supportive and understanding wife, well I hope I could say the same thing with my wife. Bong showed me his new Pocket Wizard Flex TTL for Nikon and it was awesome, I just wished Sony will make something similar or support other vendors to make one. I was able to try out his gear and did a several shots. While Bong was geared with flash, I did some shots using just available lights (the shots I did are showed in the gallery).

Thank you to Bong and Rosemarie and the host, Gino and family.

jamie haack

dancer

ISO 200 F/8 1/160 second (click picture for gallery)

The Gloucester County College Photography Club meets every third Wednesday of the month and last June we had a dancer who modeled for us, Her name is Jamie Haack. She has a very flexible body and the poses she did were incredible. We setup a continuous paper and did a cross lighting, both lights used a 36″ softbox. I forgot the power dialed on both lights, but I think we metered it at F8.

There are several shooters and each has to take turn to shoot the subject. Since the lighting is pretty much set, the only thing you need to work on is how to direct the model and how to compose your shot. What I did was play on the aperture by closing and opening it thereby giving me different feel in my shots. However, I think I chose 1/160 second in most of my shots because it gave me what I like.

Going back to the shoot, I was using a Sony A850 and I had my favorite lens attached, Sony 100 mm F/2.8. I like this lens so much that it’s my go to lens for portraiture. Though, in that shoot it was difficult to use because of the space. I cannot move farther because I will have immovable objects in my shot and I don’t want to deal with it in the post process. I like to get it right in the camera the first time and less post process later.

Hope I did our dancer/model justice with these shots.