Monday, March 31, 2008

I'll take a Centralia, medium that well done"

"Uh, excuse me, but uh, I think your town's on fire""
"What? Nah, it's just a little coal"
"No, no...your *town* *is* *on* *fire*!"


Centralia is a former coal mining town in central PA. In 1962, a fire set to "clean up" the local dump spread underground to old, abandoned, played-out coal shafts beneath the town. The fire has been burning ever since (nearly 46 years, in case you don't feel like doing the math). In the '80s government bought out most of the residents. A few chose to stay despite the dangers of the unstable ground (sinkholes) and high levels of carbon monoxide produced by the flames. Today, the town is now mostly abandoned. The ground is warm to the touch, and smoke rises from cracks and crevices. Just feet below the surface, temperatures reach nearly 200°F (photo by somebody else).

I put a few photos of the town up on Flickr. These photos were taken probably 5 years ago when a group of offroading friends and I ventured to the town. They were shot with my old Canon EOS Rebel IX (APS baby!) film camera, then scanned in and slightly fixed-up in PS.

My family hails from two towns near Centralia: my grandfather was from Mount Carmel and my grandmother from West Hazleton. Had I known Centralia existed in my younger days, it would have made trips back home *much* more interesting. I plan to go back up there with my DSLR one of these days soon and take more artsy photos. These photos were taken more as simple snapshots, with little regard paid to aesthetic.

Anybody up for a road trip?

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Photo safari: Blackwater NWR. Fail.

Last weekend I drove out to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge to take some photos. I had to drop the wife off at BWI early Saturday (which is about half way to the Refuge) so I figured after making my drop I'd drive out to Blackwater, shoot till sunset, then find a hotel room for the night. Sunday, I would get up before the sun, get to Blackwater to shoot sunrise, and continue shooting the rest of the day till I had to head back at BWI to retrieve the wife.

The best-laid plans of mice and men etc, etc, etc...

I got to the refuge mid-morning and there was *nothing* going on. A couple of osprey were about, but keeping 100-200 yards offshore (perhaps more). Even with my fancy rented 300mm f/4 IS lens they were too far off to be interesting. I saw an eagle or two, but they were pretty reclusive as well. Apparently a couple of the breeding pairs that hang out on the refuge were nesting and/or rearing newly hatched chicks. So all in all, the place was dead, photographically. I tried finding other stuff to shoot, but with everything there being dormant-tree-brown or still-water-brown, I was at a loss. I hung around till 4:30pm, when the clouds started rolling in. The first few drops of rain were enough to send me packing. I decided to cut my losses and head for home. No sense springing $100 for a hotel when there'd likely only be the same animal-free brown-on-brown pallet to shoot the next day.

I took maybe 30 photos the whole day. The only shot worth keeping was of a squirrel. Yeah, I know. It was one of those endangered Delmarva Fox Squirrels and all. But still, a fuckin' squirrel.

Best served fried with a side of 'taters.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Looks like the rest of my shots from the Ferrari event are up. Thankfully, it looks like somebody had the good sense to cull the herd of *uber* crappy shots.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Photo gig

Note: This post contains a bunch of photos that are resized in-browser, so they look like crap. Click on the images to see the slightly less crap versions.

Saturday night I was given the chance to shoot the local Ferrari dealership's anniversary party. (High Road Auto Group in case anybody is in the market. Tell 'em I sent ya. If I refer enough people, maybe I'll earn a free car one day).

As far as photography goes, it was pretty basic stuff. As the guests arrived, the organizers wanted me to ask them if they'd like to have their photos taken in front of an F430 they had on the showroom floor. Many did.


A few asked if I could accompany them out to the parking lot to shoot them in front of their own Ferrari, which I was happy to do until the darkness and rain made it impractical.

I stuck with my Sigma 30mm f/1.4 lens and 500DG flash. Both worked well all night. The lens mis-focused a couple of times, but in the low light, this wasn't surprising. The straight-outta-the-camera photos should be up in a day or two at the dealership's "pics" website.

In between people shootin' I tried to take a couple of snaps of the environment. There was a nice 599 GTB on the showroom floor, but it was a gray car, in a dark environment, and with a ton of people milling about. So I decided to go for the detail engine shot...

599 GTB engine

They also had a chair made by the people who do all of Maserati's interior leather work. Pretty comfy, with really cool lines. Probably costs as much as my truck. On second thought...more.

Maserati chair

They also had a couple of the new...

Maserati GranTurismo trunk badge

...GranTurismos in stock. One white, one...

Maserati GranTurismo


Towards the end of the evening, one of the women from the string quartet that provided the music for the evening asked if I could get a shot of her with the F430. I was happy to oblige


One thing became immediately clear to me at this point...I need more practice arranging/posing people. She asked "So what should I do? How should I stand" and I just kinda did the "Uh...stand over you normally stand". A day later, I thought "Dumbass, you should have had her playing her violin, eyes closed, oblivious to the car, and totally absorbed in the music". *That* would have been more interesting (IMO). Oh well. The next time a violinist asks me to take their photo in front of a Ferrari...I have a plan.