Thursday, May 31, 2007

Define "Blue Moon"

Every good night photographer knows the definition of the term "blue moon". It's "two full moons in a single month". Right?

WRONG!!!

I have to admit I didn't know the correct answer either, until I saw Mike Johnston's post this afternoon.

Apparently, a blue moon is defined as four full moons in a single season (which normally has only three). Read, or listen to, this article for more details about how this myth began.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Found on the Internet

(Photo by Inc0mmunicado)

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Night Photography Website Update

After more than one year, I've updated the content of my night photography website.

(Burned Trailer, by Andy Frazer)

Previously, I posted my favorite night photographs to my personal website, while I updated all of my new stuff to my Flickr account. I had planned to updated my personal website once a year. But that's no match for my Flickr account, which gets a bit of an update every time I upload new material, which is a few times per week! So, to simply things, I replaced all of my website's galleries with links to my Flickr sets.

I was afraid that it wouldn't look consistent. But now I'm really beginning to like how it turned out.

I've also updated my home page photo with the one above. It was taken at an abandoned resort building east of Oakland, CA, while shooting the May full moon (NOT!) with Troy Paiva and Rikki Feldman. Ironically, even though we were shooting on a Tuesday night, and under cloudy skies, we ran into more unexpected "guests" than any night that I've ever been shooting in the past eight years. We even ran into a group of four "legitimate" paranormals (i.e., ghost chasers).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Wikipedia Commons Photo of 2006 (Aurora Borealis)

The winner of the Wikipedia Commons Photo of the Year for 2006 is Senior Airman Joshua Strang, who took the photo below of the Aurora Borealis from Bear Lake, Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

(Photo by Joshua Strang)

Photographing an aurora is quite different from typical long-exposure night photography. If your exposure is too long, it becomes all blurry. Chris VenHaus has an informative article on How to Find and Photograph Aurora Borealis.

Congratulations to Airman Strang!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Preoccupied Show

Winni Wintermeyer, of 3am.net, is having a reception for his show of night photography on Wed, May 23 from 10pm-1am.

(Car Wash, by Wini Wintermeyer)

The show (and the reception), PreOccupied, will be at Namu, 439 Balboa St, in the Richmond district of San Francisco. DJ Huckster will be spinning soul, funk are rare grooves.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Shoot Now or Cry Later

Joe Reifer has interesting blog titled Farewall Streetcars: Shoot Now or Cry Later.

(Photo by Joe Reifer)

Last year Joe photographed a collection of street cars at night near Lake Tahoe, CA. He recently learned from Telstar Logistics that many of these cars have been sold and moved to St Louis, Missouri.

About ten years ago I came across David Plowden's books in the library. He talks at length about photographing old buildings, factories, towns and machinery as fast as possible to create a record for future generations. My favorite theme from Plowden's writing was how he felt he was always "...staying one step ahead of the wrecking ball."

Like many photographers, I keep a list of things I plan to shoot someday. The list was originally prioritized along the lines of what would be the most photogenic. More recently, I've reprioritized it along the lines of what is most likely to be gone soon. In the few years that I've been photographing old sites, I can already name a dozen sites that have been torn down (most have been replaced by strip malls or high-density housing), one that is no longer accessible, one that is in the process of being torn down, and one that is at great risk of getting burned to the ground any day by some of the bozos who regularly visit it.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Nocturnes in Berkeley

Tim Baskerville will be exhibiting night photography work at the ACCI Gallery in Berkeley through June 2. The reception will be this Saturday night, May 19th. John Vias will be giving a free talk on night photography at the Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley, also on May 19th.

(Breakwater and Trees, by John Vias)

Even though both events are conveniently located in Berkeley on the same evening, I won't be able to make either one because it's on my birthday (just my luck).

For details on both Tim's show and John's presentation, check out Joe Reifer's blog.

Nocturnes in Berkeley

Tim Baskerville will be exhibiting night photography work at the ACCI Gallery in Berkeley through June 2. The reception will be this Saturday night, May 19th. John Vias will be giving a free talk on night photography at the Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley, also on May 19th.

(Breakwater and Trees, by John Vias)

Even though both events are conveniently located in Berkeley on the same evening, I won't be able to make either one because it's on my birthday (just my luck).

For details on both Tim's show and John's presentation, check out Joe Reifer's blog.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Night Photographer Ripped Off

Thomas Hawk has a fascinating story about Icelandic photographer Rebekka Gu├░leifsd├│ttira (Flickr name _rebekka) who recently learned that some of her low-res photographs on Flickr were stolen, turned into prints, and then sold in a British store called Only-Dreemin.

(Photo by Rebekka Guoleifsdottira)

The store owners claim that they bought the images from someone who claimed to have been the photographer, but they won't reveal the alleged theif's name, and otherwise don't seem to be too apologetic about the whole incident. They're certainly not offering her any sort of compensation. Since Rebekka is a single mom and doesn't live in the U.K., she really doesn't have the means pursue this matter in court. Surprisingly, these giant posters were somehow made from 1200x800 pixel JPG's downloaded from her Flickr site.

The above shot was taken at 3AM under the Icelandic "night". It was not one of the images that was stolen, printed and sold without her permission. You can see the stolen images here.

Alameda Point - What's Up With That?

Alameda Point is one of the more accessible and popular night photography locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. The former Alameda Naval Air Station was turned over to the city of Alameda in 1997. With the exception of the airstrip, most of the 700-acre parcel is open to the public. It contains a mixture of housing, warehouses, abandoned hangers, a sports club, the D.O.T. Ready Reserve Force, and even the decommissioned aircraft carrier the USS Hornet. It is also the site where Adam and Jamie from the TV show Mythbusters perform many of their experiments.

(Photo by Andy Frazer)

Whenever I shoot at Alameda Point, I always wonder why it's still around (not that I'm complaining, or anything... I'm just wondering about this). The land is worth a mint, and I know the city of Alameda has plans to develop the waterfront and build shops, hotels, restaurants and marina. But why isn't the development moving forward?

Yesterday, the San Jose Mercury News ran a great article titled "Disputes, snags mark decade since base closure" explaining the history of the transfer of the land from the Navy to the city, along with all of the problems along the way. It's actually quite interesting because the problems stem from a change in presidential administrations; the city breaking their contract with the Navy; and the always-in-the-news cost of toxic waste cleanup.

Hopefully, Alameda Point will be around for a few more years.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Jon Haeber - Bearings

Thanks to Joe Reifer at his Words blog, I've just spent half an hour reading through Jon Haeber's Bearings blog: Bearings. I wrote about Jon Haeber's night photography and historical research a few months ago. It looks like he has been very busy lately working on his blog.

(Bethlehem Shipbuilding Corp, photo by Jon Haeber)

Jon is a dedicated historian. His blog (and his photography) incorporate his rich research and great storytelling together. While many of us night photographers might reasearch one or two articles on the internet before shooting an abandoned site, Jon makes a deeper commitment to researching his locations. Rumor has it that he even ... gasp... goes to the library to do some of his research.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

20x200

Artists are often confronted with the question of, "How much should I charge for my work?" Some photographers choose to charge a relatively high per-piece price point and try to maximize their profit at the high-margin, low-quantity point on the demand curve. Other photographers may choose to go for lower margin-per-piece and higher quantity. Brooks Jensen has written a good argument in favor of the latter, arguing that if you charge more than $20 per piece, then you're pricing 99.999% of the world out of your market. At a recent night photography show, one of the featured photographers told me he was surprised how well his 8"x10" prints were selling when he set the price at $20.

Along those lines, Jen Beckman is announcing a new on-line photo gallery called 20x200. The concept is that all photos will be for sale for $20 each, in limited editions of 200. If you're a photographer, and if you believe in the more-sales-at-twenty-dollars business methodology, then this new site may sound great.

But there is a catch. In order to be represented in this gallery, your work has to be selected from Beckman's Hey, Hot Shot on-line photo competitions. Fair enough? Not if you remember that the entry fee for Hey, Hot Shot is $60.

For low-end collectors, this site looks very promising. But for photographers who are looking get on-line representation, I'm less excited. If your work gets selected, then you obviously need to sell a handful of prints just to recover your $60. But if you're work doesn't get selected, then you're out $60.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Corte Madera Marsh

Last Sunday I went to the Corte Madera Marsh in Marin to shoot with Steve Harper and Deb Rourke. Back in the late '70's, Steve was the first person to teach a college-level course on night photography (this was at the Academy of Art College in San Francisco). Although Steve has been retired from photography for many years, he joined us at the Mono Lake Workshops last summer, and he has since been producing a lot of new night photography work.

(Moonrise Over Tiburon, by Andy Frazer)

Photographing locations such as a forest or a marsh at night can be challenging. It's difficult for the camera to capture the expanse or the feeling of being in the "great outdoors". It's difficult to use gel lighting on trees and bushes because they absorb so much light. Also, the natural environment rarely has that "edge" that so many night photographers like in their work. Personally, I like to occasionally break up the routine of abandoned buildings and rusty old machinery. In fact, a night in a natural landscape usually gives me fresh ideas the next time I'm shooing buildings or man-made structures.

But, it's still worth the challenge. Even if you come back with nothing more than a good walk in the outdoors, and some great conversation with friends.