Sunday, January 27, 2013

Stuff I Like

My friend Don Carroll, whenever I go off on a rant about stuff I like, mostly music but not limited to that, says to me, "You know, you should teach a class about stuff you like. Just random things the kids should know are good instead of that crap they have the nerve to like." Gosh Don, I couldn't agree with you more, except it would never fly because kids don't WANT to know what's good for them! Top photo is Warren Zevon backstage at the Old Waldorf in San Francisco trying to play pool in a drunken stupor. I was there to take photos for a radio station promotion. He wasn't very cooperative but I still like his music. RIP Warren. Next up is Elvis Costello backstage after his first West Coast show in 1977, also at the Old Waldorf, talking to drummer Pete Thomas of the Attractions. I actually used a Polaroid with a flash, which startled him. "Uh, uh oh" I thought. "He doesn't look happy." To this day, I am still a huge Elvis Costello fan. While I do not own a single Robyn Hitchcock album, I found his show at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass show a few years back absolutely riveting. Maybe the most eccentric performer I have ever seen. It didn't hurt that he had most of REM backing him up. Here he is with Peter Buck on guitar. When I became enamored of the New Zealand band Crowded House in the late 80's, I barely remembered they essentially formed from the band Split Enz, which I liked in a luke-warmish way back in the day. I had zero memory of ever seeing them live until I stumbled on a box of Kodak slides in the garage a few years ago. Check out the suits! Singing is Neil Finn and behind him is his brother, Tim, in red. Also at the Old Waldorf, in 1980. This is one of two times I used flash at a concert. 

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

In Alaska, 20 Years Earlier

I was reminded last night of my first two years coaching college summer baseball in Alaska when I ran into one of our former players on the Anchorage Bucs, Will Schock, now a professional scout for the Oakland A's. He said, "Hey CB, send me those pictures from 1984, will ya?" Those were days filled with great baseball, lasting friendships, and more tomfoolery and nuttiness than seems possible. Some of the players in these photographs went on to play professional baseball, including the Major Leagues, and are now settled into lives mostly outside of baseball. In the top photograph, I am reminded of the beautiful light that often bathed the ballpark near the end of the usual three-hour game. The guy looking into the camera is Loring Davies, fresh out of Stanford and an assistant coach with us. He's now a school superintendent in southern California and one of the funniest guys I've ever known. A highlight , for the players and fans, was the annual appearance of the Famous Chicken, seen in the second and fourth photos in Anchorage and then again in Fairbanks. Sandwiched between the Chicken is our field manager, Jerry McClain, looking at the lineup on the dugout wall. Peering over the dugout in the stands is my son, Jason, who often accompanied me on my trips to Alaska. My God, he's over 40 now! Below that is a shot of Matsu Miners manager Jim Frye burning the baselines, trying to dry the field so we can play the game after a heavy rain.The infielders got sick from the smell of gasoline on the field once we got started. Only in Alaska. In those days, airfare was cheap so we always flew to Fairbanks and Kenai. In later years, we drove in a yellow school bus, often all night. The guy on the right walking to the Kenai airport is Mike Campbell, who pitched at the U of Hawaii as well as a few years in the Big Leagues. Next up is Loring Davies again, trying to throw batting practice over the ten foot screen in front of the mound in Fairbanks. After the game in Fairbanks, we made the 45 minute drive to Eilson Air Force Base where we were housed for the series that year. This was taken close to midnight and we stopped for some silliness in front of the sign. There's Will Schock with his arm draped suggestively around Loring, and at the far right, Jose Alou, the son of the great Felipe Alou, saluting something. Absolutely great times. Thanks for reminding me, Will!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Fishing on the Kenai, Alaska

In July of 2002, I went with great trepidation to the Kenai River about three hours southeast of Anchorage to try my hand at salmon fishing. I had just finished four days of working a baseball camp for highschoolers in Anchorage, and my coaching friends were insistent that I go with them to give it a shot. This was a three day marathon, from six am to eight pm. There is a limit to the number of fish one can pull out of the river on any given day. No one needed to worry about me. While all my coaching buddies were yanking those things out of the river at an alarming pace, I finally got my only salmon about an hour before we packed up and drove to the airport for our flights home. The top photo shows me smiling. Something I didn't do much of for three days. It was beautiful out there, I have to admit, and I feel fortunate that I had the opportunity. In about eight years of working the camp, this was my first and last attempt. All shots taken with the Nikon Coolpix 5700.

Street Photography in Barbados

This was the result of walking along the pedestrian walkway in Bridgetown, Barbados, with the Sony RX 100 and basically shooting from the hip. Converted to B&W in NIK software. I either raised the camera over my head or left it at my waist and pressed the shutter with my thumb.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

I Like Obama

This is just a selection of photographs from our Caribbean cruise a few weeks ago. Top two from Barbados, bottom three from San Juan on my last day there. Sony NEX 7. Moving from the concrete to the abstract.

The Magnificent City

Last night, January 18th, I braved the rush hour traffic to drive to San Francisco to see, along with my friend Len, Eddie Izzard at the Brava Theater in the Mission district. I got there early to get a bite to eat at the Roosevelt Tamale Factory, then strolled a block to the theater. While I waited for Len, I took advantage of the myriad sights along 24th Street. Except for the restaurant picture, all the photographs were taken within 100 feet of the theater entrance. I used the Sony RX 100 at 1600 and 800 isos, wide open at f/1.8, and 1/40 shutter speed. No noise reduction of any kind. I find I'm using this camera almost every day because of its size, its outstanding low-light performance, color accuracy, and handling characteristics. Eddie Izzard was hilarious, even if I couldn't understand everything he said. He is working on a new show, although he used material from earlier performances, according to Len, who has seen him a few times.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Nothing in Common

It says "Nothing in common" but there is something. The top photo was taken the day before we went to the Caribbean. Cold, rain, dark, miserable...through the windshield of my car. Bottom, three days later in the sun. This is a shot of Eric Clapton's winter getaway on Antigua. Not a bad spread. Actually, four buildings which, from this distance, looks like one. I'm back in California and it's still cold. Help me Rhonda! Top, Sony RX 100, bottom, Sony NEX 7.

Abstracts in Hanoi

A terrific article in The Luminous Landscape by the great photographer Eric Meola inspired me to add these pictures. The point of the article was why do photographs have to be about anything but color or shape? I have to say I agree. I see these patterns and colors and am drawn to make a picture. Over-analysis leads to paralysis. See it and take it.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Caribbean Cruise

A lot of time spent on a ship tends to make one look for photographs that don't readily reveal themselves. So, I go up on the top deck when we arrive in a port and then again when we depart. Sometimes there's a ship docked next to us that wasn't there when I last looked out my window. Other times we've pulled up to a dock before I get out of bed. As I try to look back to where we were for these three shots, I honestly have no idea. I still like the compositions though.

Los Lobos at The Bing Concert Hall, Stanford

On Saturday night, January 12, my wife and I attended a concert at the brand new Bing Concert Hall at Stanford University. This is a 100 million plus hall and is a very impressive architectural endeavor. It didn't seem to be the best venue for rock/pop but perhaps will sound better as they get the kinks worked out. It holds only 850 or so patrons and sports a very high ceiling. The sound of Los Lobos, acoustic version, was sometimes echoey as the music seemed to bounce off the gigantic acoustic panels stretching around the venue. As you can see, we were seated behind the band and I can't say for sure if this was the cause of the sometimes uneven acoustics. Nevertheless, a grand undertaking by Stanford and the Bing family. These photos were taken with the Sony RX 100 at 800 iso at F/1.8 and slow shutter speeds. The Sony could probably have handled a higher iso without the need for much intrusive noise reduction. I did use the Structure slider in NIK Viveza to pop the shots a bit.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Maho Beach, St. Maartens

For years, I had seen pictures of airplanes landing at this airport, just feet above the sunbathers' heads. I had forgotten where it was until our waiter at dinner the night before said we had to go to this beach the next day.  So, my wife and I got in a cab and spent a few hours watching the planes land while we sipped on a beverage. We missed the Air France 747 which comes in much lower than the Jet Blue flight from JFK. All the large jets' landing schedules are written on a surfboard next to the Sunset Bar so you won't miss the fun. The tarmac is about thirty feet to the right of the car separated by a chain link fence from the road.

San Juan Colors

Taking a break from cold, rainy weather in the middle of winter, my wife and I and two other couples headed to the Caribbean just after Christmas and through New Years. Beautiful weather everywhere we went, a great ship, excellent food, and very friendly people. The predominant theme in the Caribbean seems to be, "Buy jewelry!" Not my thing at all. We had a day before the cruise in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and a day at the end before flying back. Old San Juan was, for me, the most interesting of all the cities we visited from a photographic perspective. The rest were somewhat interchangeable.