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Photo a Day Challenge: Day 7

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 7 - Cabazon Dinosaurs on Ilford Delta 100 FilmInconsiderate T-Rex - Cabazon, CA
Monday, August 19, 2013 at 3:42pm
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On the way to Palm Springs from Orange County or LA, you'll see a strange site off the side of the 10 Freeway. Rising above the desert are two huge dinosaurs - a t-rex and an apatosaurus. These are the Cabazon Dinosaurs. They are delightfully kitschy, utterly unusual, and actually somewhat famous. They've been featured in music videos and movies (Pee Wee's Big Adventure anyone?) and, according the website, are seen by over 12 million people each year.

I knew these Cabazon Dinosaurs were where I'd get my shot for day 7 of my photo a day challenge. I mean, come on, how often do you get to photograph life-size dinosaurs?

Rather than seek out the obvious shots, I wanted to focus on the more intimate weirdness of these structures. After spending quite a bit of time circling these dinosaurs in search of the right compositions, I started with a tight shot of the t-rex's leg "stepping over" the fence below it. I actually wanted this composition to look as though I was really just trying to photograph the palm tree and mountains behind it, but then this annoying dinosaur just happened to get in the shot right before I clicked the shutter. Like those bygone times when you'd get a roll of film back from the lab and start flipping through the prints only to find that some clueless out-of-it tourist stepped in front of your lens and ruined your perfect photo of the Golden Gate Bridge.

"Damn clueless dinosaur tourists always getting in to your shots. They don't even speak our language. God I hate dinosaurs!"

I then did a couple of compositions that I felt simply highlighted the randomness of these dinosaurs. I mean, really. Why are there giant dinosaurs out in the middle of the desert? It's not like this area is a hotbed of archeology. Such a non sequitur landmark.

I like this photo of the t-rex looking off in to the distance much more than I'm sure anyone else will. I like to think he's dreaming of bigger things, thinking about what could have been. Maybe he's thinking about going back to school to get his nursing degree or maybe he has big dreams of broadway. Either way, he's clearly a dreamer.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 7 - Cabazon Dinosaurs on Ilford Delta 100 FilmT-Rex Dreams of Greater Things - Cabazon, CA
Monday, August 19, 2013 at 3:56pm
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Photo a Day Challenge: Day 7 - Cabazon Dinosaurs on Ilford Delta 100 FilmApatosaurus is Not Amused  - Cabazon, CA
Monday, August 19, 2013 at 3:50pm
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Read the backstory on this Photo A Day Challenge here. See previous days here.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 6

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 6 - Girl in Hallway on Ilford Delta 100 FilmWoman Walking in Hallway - Palm Springs, CA
Sunday, August 18, 2013 at 9:13pm
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Oh man. Day 6 of my photo a day challenge was a frustrating one. My lovely lady and I had driven out to Palm Springs for a short getaway in the desert, and on this first day I'd made a couple of unsuccessful attempts to find my photo. First I drove around town desperately trying to get a better view of the nearby mountains and the dramatic clouds rising above. Buildings, buildings, power lines, buildings...I couldn't get a clear shot. So that was a wasted 30 minutes that I could have spent with my girlfriend instead. I came back to the hotel room frustrated.

But I wasn't ready to give up yet.

So a little bit later, I grabbed my camera again and started walking around the hotel. I was looking for reflections in the water feature surrounding the building, pattens in the building itself, interesting sparkles in a sprinkler. But nothing was working. I was trying to force a photo in an area and at a time when nothing was working. I was determined to not return to the hotel room until I could check that box on my agenda for "take a photo." But after another wasted half hour, I returned to the room in shame.

My brain was telling me to call it quits. "It's really not that big of a deal if you miss one day," my brain said. "It's not like you're getting paid to do this photo a day challenge anyway."

"Nay!" I protested. I wasn't about to fail at this challenge only 6 days in! I would make this work!

Then an idea hit me. My lady and I were getting ready to walk down to the bar for some drinks. I imagined walking behind her down the narrow hallways. I thought about the doors and carpet streaking past all around her. This was it. This was the composition I'd been looking for.

I knew it'd be a little tricky because I'd have to use a slow shutter to get the streak in the foreword motion. I'd have to walk behind her at just the right pace, taking light steps so as to avoid up-and-down vibrations. Plus, I wasn't sure exactly what shutter speed would be just right. Too slow and my subject would blur too much. Too fast and the motion wouldn't be obvious enough. Luckily, the design of my camera made this job a little easier than it would be with a DSLR or some other eye-level viewfinder camera. See, my medium format camera has a waist-level viewfinder. That means I look down into my camera held at or around waist level to compose my shots, rather than pulling it up to my eye like a DSLR. With my camera held down low coupled with its heft, I was able to keep the camera pretty steady as I walked.

I used a shutter speed of 1/8 of a second at f/4.5. I also opted for my wide angle lens to help exaggerate the motion. No filters were used.

Read the backstory on this Photo A Day Challenge here. See previous days here.

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 5

Photo a Day Challenge: Day 5 - Doorway at Night on Ilford Delta 100 FilmDoorway at Night - Irvine, CA
Saturday, August 17, 2013 at 11:06pm
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I love a good nighttime black and white photo. I've taken a few myself previously, but I'd yet to try a nighttime shot on this photo a day challenge. So for Day 5 of this challenge, I packed my gear up for a late night shoot.

I didn't have the luxury of staying out all night, so tried to find something close to home. Something within walking distance. I'm sure I looked a little weird crossing a busy Irvine street on a Saturday night carrying a tripod, but I'm long past that stage of my photography career where I care about looking nerdy. Now I'll even sport a photo vest without a second thought.

Just across the street from where I live is a Catholic church. You may be picturing a classically designed structure with a steeple and all, but I'm sorry to say this building isn't so...picturesque. It really looks more like a school or a shopping mall. And, like all things in Orange County, it's Tuscany style.

So as I walked the grounds of this church, I wasn't quite sure what I was looking for. A good hallway or a lone streetlight maybe. Something. Anything. This is a pretty big piece of property and although it's Irvine (the safest city in the country), I still got just a tiny bit creeped out all alone there. Way across the parking is a statue of some catholic saint which is nearly life-size. Seeing that silhouetted against the night from the corner of my eye scared the crap out of me. But I eventually found my way to an interesting archway perfectly framing a door and window behind it. I composed and exposed 2 identical frames (just in case one gets damaged in developing).

It doesn't look like a church in the photo, but that's alright. I'm pretty happy with the simplicity of this composition and I like the contrast created by the single overhead lamp. The exposure was f/4 at 1/2 second. No filters.

Read the backstory on this Photo A Day Challenge here. See previous days here.