Monday, September 28, 2009

The New Oakland Bay Bridge

Here in the San Francisco Bay Area, we have five major bridges. Although the Golden Gate Bridge is the most famous, the longest bridge is actually the two spans known as the Oakland Bay Bridge. The Oakland Bay Bridge is currently undergoing replacement. Last month, the bridge was closed for the three-day weekend to allow the construction crew time to replace one of the spans.

(Photo by Tom Paiva)

Los Angeles photographer Tom Paiva has been hired to document this multi-year project to retrofit the bridge. During the closure last month, Tom had access to Yerba Buena Island (the island that connects to the two spans in the middle of the San Francisco Bay) to photograph the project.

"The Bay Bridge is an ongoing project that I have been working on for about a year, including a trip to Shanghai, China for the tower fabrication portion.

It was my choice to shoot in 4x5. I felt that a monumental project deserves a monumental format that makes wonderful large prints. Because of the format, exposure times range between 1 minute for twilight and 15-20 minutes for the night shots. No additional lighting is used in these views. Typically, I use transparency film for twilight and color negative for the night shots, which handles the high contrast better." - Tom Paiva

You can see more of Tom's shots of the retrofit here.

Photographing the International Space Station

During the last full moon cycle I dragged a few friends to one of the lesser-known beaches in the Marin Headlands, called Kirby Cove. This black sand beach faces the San Francisco skyline and the Golden Gate Bridge, and includes one of many Civil War-era cement bunkers that are found throughout the Headlands. Once it got dark we quickly realized that black sand may not be the most interesting subject for a night photograph. A few minutes later we had taken all of the postcard shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, and we were desperately waiting for the full moon to rise. With nothing else to shoot, I started to take a long exposure of star trails by shooting sequential thirty second exposures.

(ISS passing over the Golden Gate, Photo by Andy Frazer)

As soon as I opened the shutter a bright object appeared over the horizon. At first we thought it was yet another airplane approaching SFO or Oakland airports. But when we noticed it had none of the telltale signs of an aircraft (red and green wing lights, or any sort of flashing light), we realized it was a satellite. And it was bright; slightly brighter than Jupiter, which we could see to the southeast over San Francisco.

The only satellite that competes with Jupiter and Venus is the International Space Station. The next day I checked the satellite prediction/tracking website Heavens Above and confirmed that what we say was the ISS. If I had known it was going to be flying through the middle of my shot, I would have taken one long exposure, instead of a stack of shorter exposures (notice the breaks in the path of the satellite).

If you'd like to read about some of the best locations to photograph the Golden Gate Bridge, check out the Open Source Photo Guide for the GGB that I authored.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Jamey Stillings

Tim Baskerville at The Nocturnes Blog pointed us to the beautiful night photography work of Jamey Stillings, who photographed the progress of the Colorado River Bridge, Hoover Dam Bypass Project. I guess that's abbreviated as CRBHDBP.

(Photo by Jamey Stillings)

To see his work on the CRBHDBP, go to his website, click on PROJECTS (at the very bottom of the page), then select Colorado River Bridge.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

One Exposure: Night Photography

I recently stumbled across an on-line, juried, pay-to-contribute gallery called One Exposure. Basically, it's a juried showcase for photographs. They have a gallery of night photographs which is worth browsing (don't forget to click the NEXT button at the bottom to view additional pages). If you're interested in participating, make sure you read the FAQ's. I didn't make the effort to sort out all the reasons why you should become a paying member, much less the difference between the different levels of membership. But this arrangement might be of interest to some people.

(Twin Light by Mauro Mendula)

This brings up an interesting question about the difference between free photo sites (such as Flickr) and pay-to-contribute juried sites such as OneExposure. Anyone who has browsed sites such as Flickr, Zooomr or SmugMug knows that quantity does not equal quality. There's a ton of junk out there. But these sites also give you the tools to sort through the junk and find the high quality work. For example, on Flickr you can limit your browsing to "contacts" whose work you respect. There's also third-party tools such as FlickRiver which sort photographs based on Flickr's secret "Interestingness" formulas.

Then there's juried sites. For many years The Nocturnes has been hosting juried competitions of night photography for a nominal fee. The galleries are free to browse, and they often include some interesting new photographers. For example, The Nocturnes is currently collecting entries for a contest of night panoramas.

Although I don't plan to pay to contribute to One Exposure, their galleries are also free to browse, and there are some good photographs in there.

Friday, September 04, 2009

More NPy Workshops Than You Can Shake A Stick At

Here in Northern California, Fall is known as the high season of Night Photography. Not only are the nights getting longer, but along the coast the night weather actually gets better because it's not unusual for the summer skies to be completely overcast up here. For anyone interested in getting started with night photography, or if you'd like to improve your craft, there's at least five night photography workshops on the calendar.

(Typical California summer night sky. Photo by Andy Frazer)

First, Troy Paiva and Joe Reifer are leading a one-night workshop at the Big M Automotive yard (Williams, CA) on Saturday, September 5th. But that's already sold out. So, moving on...

Second, the same Paiva-Reifer team are leading another waiting-list-as-usual light painting workshop at the Pearsonville Salvage Yard October 3-4 in Ridgecrest, CA. But that's already sold out, as well. At least they're creating a waiting list for the next one.

Third, Mark Jaremko and Tim Baskerville of The Nocturnes are leading a one-night workshop in San Francisco on September 26th which is geared towards digital shooting and digital post-processing. Tim has been teaching night workshops for over ten years. And Mark Jaremko knows probably more about the digital technical side of night photography than anyone I know.

Fourth, and for those East Coast shooters, Gabriel Biderman is leading a night photography workshop in the New York Catskills on October 31, 2009. Two years ago, Joe Reifer and I shot with Gabriel up at Sutro Baths in San Francisco. If you're in New York or Vermont and you'd like to get into night photography, this is a great opportunity.

(Bodie Outhose, by Andy Frazer)

Fifth, night photography tour master Lance Keimig is leading another Night Photography - Digital Workflow workshop in the Mono Lake, CA area on October 1-4th. This trip includes one night shooting at Bodie ghost town, and one in Yosemite (as well as one at Mono Lake). In the past, I've attended two of Lance's workshops at Mono Lake. The landscape up there is nothing short of spectacular, and it deserves to be photographed at night.

As usual, if you sign up for any of these workshops, tell them you heard about it from me!

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Night Photography Show - Alameda, CA

Bay Area night photographers Troy Paiva, Mike Hows and Joe Reifer will have a reception for their latest night photography show Big M Automotive: Classic Cars Dismantled this Friday, September 4th at the Lucky JuJu's Pinball Arcade in Alameda, CA. The reception runs from 7-10pm, but the show will remain open to the public from September 4 - September 30, 2009.

(Photo by Mike Hows)

The photographs on display were taken at the Big M Automative yard near Williams, CA. This salvage yard specializes in 1950's Mercury's. Joe Reifer has been arranging photography shows at this venue annually for quite a few years. Have fun playing vintage pinball machines and meet lots of other cool Bay Area photographers. I will also be there, so please stop by and say hello.

Joe and Troy are also hosting a one-night photography workshop at the Big M the following evening. The workshop is already full, but you can contact Joe to get on the waiting list of that workshop, as well as future workshops.

Lucky JuJu's is located at 713 Santa Clara Ave in Alameda, CA (map). For more information on the show, check out the press release.