Summer vacation trip

I’ve been visiting a couple of parks in Arizona and Nevada while on my vacation before I head off to DragonCon. Here’s a few of the pics I’ve been taking.

Valley of Fire - White Domes

Grand Canyon Panorama

Grand Canyon Trip

Maker Faire 2013

Just wrapped up my tirp to Maker Faire 2013. My personal high point of the Faire was the Autodesk 123D Catch photo booth. I can’t wait to see the 3D model of my head that it created.

Another memorable moment was watching Adam Savage ride in to the parking lot inside of a Nautilus submarine. Then hearing him give a talk about being a maker and getting his start in the special effects business.

Oh and Arc Attack is just awesome to watch in-person.

Here’s the full Maker Faire 2013 photo set

123D Catch Photo Booth - Maker Faire 2013

Adam Savage at Maker Faire 2013

Arc Attack at Maker Faire 2013

Maker Faire 2013

Photographing Fire Dancers – Part 3

Tressa Spinning Staff

Continuing from Photographing Fire Dancers – Part 1 and
Photographing Fire Dancing – Part 2.

Once you’ve got the basics of taking a long exposure of the fire trail, you just need a few tricks to make the picture really shine.

    Kapiolani Park - Hoopers and Fire Dancers

  1. Set your shutter speed to bulb mode and set your flash to rear curtain sync. Generally, you will not know ahead of time how long the shutter needs to be open to make your photo. It could be 1/4 of a second or several seconds. The only way I’ve gotten the photo to capture the face of performer is by using bulb mode and manually opening and closing the shutter.
  2. Kakaako Fire Jam

  3. Rear curtain sync will fire the flash just before the shutter closes and will make the fire trails appear to follow the performer. Front, or first curtain, sync will make the fire trails appear ahead of the performer. The flash should also be timed to freeze the image of the performer at the end of a move.
  4. Kakaako Fire Jam

  5. Take the flash off of your camera. Angle the light to fall on the performer from above and to the side. This will illuminate the performer while not lighting up the background directly behind the performer. The fire trails will stand out more prominently against a dark background.
  6. When you shoot in bulb mode, take your eye away from the viewfinder, you will not be able to see through the viewfinder anyway while the shutter is open. You should get into the habit of composing your photo and then moving aside to see the action so that you can release and close the shutter at just the right moments.
  7. Radio triggers work the best for synchronizing the flash with your camera since cables are just not practical in this situation. Nikon CLS (and presumably Canon’s IR based trigger or old fashioned optical slave triggers) will work if you set it up properly. But, the IR sensor on the flash must be pointed towards the camera or master flash. The CLS commander’s signal is usually too weak to bounce off of the subject and trigger the slaved flash. Radio triggers, however, have no problem in this situation.
  8. Learn to pre-focus on either the hyperfocal distance or on infinity. Your aperture will be small (f/8 – f/16) anyway because of the fire trails. You may as well lock in the focus to a known, good distance. It is usually really difficult for auto-focus to lock on to anything when the fire dancers are spinning.
  9. Hawaii Fire Artists - Chinese New Year 2013

  10. Watch for a big burn off move at the start of a performer’s routine. Performers will do a big opening move both to impress the crowd and to safely burn off the excess fuel on their prop. This practice is very popular with the staff and poi balls. Staff performers will usually roll the staff while tossing it in mid-air to let centrifugal force squeeze the excess fuel out of the wick. Poi balls will often be dragged on the ground to smear fuel or whipped in circles low to the ground. These burn off moves are much brighter than the rest of their routine and you need to stop down as tight as you can to avoid blowing out the highlights. Some fuels will simply burn too brightly to be photographed and you may have to wait for the fire to burn down to a more tolerable level.
  11. Yes, you will get splashed with fuel at some point if you want to get good photos. It usually evaporates quickly and should not be too hazardous unless it gets in your eyes. Try to stay back until after the burn off move.
  12. Kakaako Fire Jam

  13. Ghosting is a big issue if you want a clean portrait of the performer. Often you will just have to wait until the fire burns down a bit. But if you wait too long, the fire trail will be too faint to show up on your photos. It’s a delicate balance and you should expect to adjust your aperture on the fly to match the brightness of the fire. As the fuel burns down the fire gets weaker, but when the fire spins quickly the flames get bigger.
  14. Expect to do a fair amount of cleanup work in post to remove ghosting and smeared images. If the fire casts enough light to reflect off of the skin or clothing of the performer, ghosting will occur. That’s why you should stop down the aperture to f/8 – f/16. The ghosting is not so bad if you can limit the amount of reflected light entering your camera. But some dodging and spot healing will probably be necessary even on the relatively clean shots.

New Year’s Eve 2012

This past New Year’s Eve was more fun than I’ve had in years. Firstly, Eat the Street was the perfect fit for a super block party. Kakaako Waterfront Park is the ideal location for a party that size in town. And last but not least, the weather remained dry even when it didn’t look so promising in the afternoon.

New Year’s Eve 2012 photo set on Flickr

2011 Year in Review

Well, another year is at an end. There have been some bright spots and some low spots. All in all, a pretty good year. Is it me or are they getting shorter?

DragonCon 2011 Photos

The highlight of my year is when I travel 4000+ miles to Atlanta each year for DragonCon. By my count, I’ve posted nearly 1,400 photos from this past year’s Con. The costumes and cosplay at this event is by far the best I’ve seen. And I hope that I’ve caught a small slice of the awesomeness in this photo gallery.

The rest of the photos can be found in my Dragoncon 2011 Flickr collection

Palm Pre pics

So I couldn’t sleep the other night and I someone added a comment to one of my Flickr pics and I didn’t have any sheep to count so I figured it would be a great time to sort through all 150 or so pics on my phone and e-mail them one by one to Flickr.

All in all, the camera on the Pre is quite good for a point and shoot and has been very convenient to whip out at a moment’s notice. I ain’t giving up the D90 for this though.

My Palm Pre Set on Flickr

Pool party w/ @lauriecicotello @angelakeen @mistahkeen @bubabox @alohabruce @susielin @alohayaling

Maunakea marketplace.  #WWPW.

At #firstfriday on the lawn at Hawaii State Art Museum