Exuberant Bastard

Monday, September 10, 2007

Chelle and Louis get married (Yay!) [part 1]

Go 'Chelle, Go Louis (imagine a bad 90's rap song, and that's the effect I'm going for).
(woof woof? Arsenio!)

Michelle is one of my first true Atlanta-an (Atlantan looks weird to me) friends. We used to work in this tiny hole in the wall in between the offices and next to the elevator shaft at Georgia-Pacific. Our entire gang (Shout-outs to Chunger, Chadwick, T, Leslie (!)) had a large collection of music, and it was easily the substance that binded us and gave us more than enough matter to digest. Also, it helped we were the biggest nerds we knew.

Little by little we parted from Georgia-Pacific, and the ties of friendship still hold between the lot of us. Even after Michelle moved to New York, which through her job as a computer consultant she met the ever awesome Louis. Louis has always been cool every moment I met him, and his personality strikes harmonious chords with mine own. This was solidified upon visiting their apartment which has just about everything I could classify as stuff I'd own or have owned. I told 'Chelle that even if she wasn't marrying Louis, I could still be his buddy. Thankfully it's a combination of the two. Here's to them both.

They asked if I would like to photograph their "Rehearsal Dinner" @ Johns Pizzeria in NYC. Of course I can't say no to doing something I was going to do anyway, so I lovingly obliged. They're a great pair and I'm so happy for them. This first part is the rehearsal dinner. I'll post pictures from the actual wedding day, but I toned down my shooting because I didn't want to impose on the official photog's abilities. The fun part was that they had essentially the same equipment base so we got to talk shop a few times. I'm a nerd.

'Chelle and Louis hammin it up. They're allowed.

Miss Em. The Maid of Honor, and another Atlanta ex-patriot. Five bucks says she misses me already.

Tanya, the bridesmaid, and her husband and all around cool guy, Jason.

The rest of the Rehearsal Dinner can be seen here:

Casey - Chang Rehearsal Dinner @ John's Pizza

Monday, June 25, 2007

Here comes the Sun...(doo do do doo)

Yeah, it's that bright. The Camry lasted a week from the fix, but it might be salvageable, but not for a while. Plan B was initiated and I am no longer driving a ticking steam bomb. I now drive a screamin' yellow school bus, a 2007 Nissan Xterra. It's what I wanted if I were to buy a new car, and bam. They had it. The Solar Yellow color is hard to come by, but my dad found one in Augusta, and drove it up when the Camry bucked the kicket this past Friday.

There are all sorts of reasons why I wanted this particular light-SUV, but probably the most prominent are nostalgia, and trust in the brand. My parents were the first in our entire extended family to purchase an SUV of any sort, a 1990 Nissan Pathfinder. Now, there's something you have to understand about crossover Filipino accents. For some reason, F's get replaced with P's and P's get replaced with F's. So to my beloved maternal grandmother, the Pathfinder was affectionally called..... the ForthPinder. The 4thPinder took my family and I all across the Midwest and Eastern United States. Count in about a million trips to our trailer-camper in Wisconsin, the numerous IL-GA trips, and the ol' girl had near about a quarter million miles when we retired her to the charity auto donation(tax break!) in 2004. So, she never really died. Sure in her twilight she had her share of problems, a funny way of shifting (she was an automatic!), her AC gave up at 2001 (I learned to live without AC). Then there were the mistakes that my brother and I made. He backed her into at least 3 of my friends cars...I broke her passenger side mirror, and dented the door. She was broken into twice in a two month period during my last stint @ Georgia Tech. All this... and the engine never gave us a major problem. Master brake cylinder was about the only major repair she needed. There was a transmission recall once, but as long as the factory fixes something I don't count it against the car. All the history of the 4thPinder gave my family enough confidence in the company to purchase the 2004 Nissan Altima 3.0 for my mom, which my sister ended up being the primary driver. The Altima is a great experiance, maybe because they got the upper ended V6 model is why we've enjoyed it. But that's the secret it seems...

Turns out the 2007 Xterra happens to have the latest iteration of the most solid performing V6 motor in the last twelve years. The design is so versitile it powers all of Nissan's V6 needs from sedans, to super-sports, to trucks/lightSUV's. It's weird thinking that the SUV I now drive shares the same basic engine design as their sports car, the 350Z.

So, I have a reliable car, it's got everything I need, and nothing I don't. I have to drive to Augusta to get some sidestep rails installed, but other than that I'm pretty much set. Now, the boyhood urges of adding an even more bitchin' (yes, bitchin') stereo/speakers, GPS navigation, fog lights, winch(just kidding!). Do they make bobble-head computer nerds? That would be awesome, if you find one, I'll buy it off you.

I shot my other summer wedding this weekend, and even in the 95 degree weather I did not melt in the bus, and the Yellow did not blow up. I <3 you Yellow Bus. Speaking of anthropomorphic vehicular identity... You need a name besides Yellow Bus. Let's see, you're Blond, you're tall, beautiful, versatile and bold. I'll call you Charlize!

Anybody wanna go for a ride?

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Adventures in Overheating

Well, my weekend was downright terrible. I, being the the good son that I am, attempted to drive from Atlanta to Augusta. It being father's day weekend and all, my mission was to secure a tablesaw for my Pop. I thought it was all planned out, I knew the model, I had the store, and it was near my parents place in Augusta. It was not a cake walk, it was more like a hot lava walk...barefoot.

I left Saturday morning, in the vain hopes of missing traffic. Oops, turns alot more people were on the road at 10am than I anticipated. Not to worry, I drive along I-20 at a zippy 80-85mph. "Vrroom! Here I come Pops! We'll get you rebuilding that deck in no time!", or so I thought.

Somewhere along the way I get inspired to listen to my Ipod, (with 1 earbud at somebody's suggestion.) I'm rocking along to whatever bad music I have, (okay if you really want to know I was listening to RENT. If you want to know even that much more badly, it was the Movie Soundtrack, not even the Original Broadway Cast Recording. Why? A. I'm probably one of the few straight men you know who digs musicals, and only slightly ashamed to admit it. B. Okay, so I was poor man karaoke-ing the songs sung by the characther Tom Collins, along with C. Critiqueing Rosario Dawson's portrayal of Mimi. The Verdict? She's respectable, and well she's Rosario Dawson, she's ... hawt.)

Speaking of heat... when after a cursory glance.... I realize my engine is about 1 sliver of a hair away from the dreaded REDLINE on the temperature gauge. I follow the usual Emergency Kelvin Hotness procedures, Hazard Lights? Check. Windows down, Heater to Max, Vents tilted UP? Check, Check and Check. Alright we should be cool...-er right? Wrong. No hot air is coming from the vents... Damnit, she's gonna blow Captain! Crud, crud, what to do... Slowing down won't work, stopping the engine might... maybe it's time for a tow... wait, maybe I'm just ultra low on Coolant, good thing I've got some in the trunk...

I take in my surroundings and digest this simple fact, "I'm in the middle of freaking no-where." Now, I'll admit, Augusta, GA isn't exactly "Someplace, USA", but it's a heck of a whole lot more than Camak/Warrenton GA. I slow down the car, pull to the emergency shoulder, and look at my troubles. Fudge muffins, and donkey saddles, that's the an enormous crack in my radiator. And what's this? The recovery bottle top... Exploded off?! Awesome, that explains the excessive music video smoke and acrid smell. I didn't take pictures of the engine compartment, because the last thing I wanted to do was subject my camera and other gear to the wonders of evaporated coolant.

I had to get off the side of the road. I don't know if you've ever had a roadside incident, but there's something ... humbling about being buzzed by a 20-ton tractor trailer zipping by at 75mph. I get the bright idea of adding just a coolant I have left to the radiator. The effect was something from that old show on Nickelodeon, "Mr. Wizard". A few seconds of gurgling, and a good minute or two of viscous white coolant-laden steam. Fun, after huffing the stuff for a second, I make the concious decision that one should not huff and drive broken heavy equipment. To the driver's seat!

I called my parent's house, and my dad answered. "Hello?" he says, "Hiya Pops, I'm in trouble...bad." I explain the situation and asks me what steps I took. We get to the same page, and he asks if I can drive it a little bit down the road to an exit. I comply and refer to my phone's GPS feature to find me a service station. "Good, I'm near an exit," I say to myself, unaware of my vast ignorance of the ignorance society has paid to this particular exit. Auto-salvation it was not, more like... Deliverance. Nothing, nothing for at least 5 miles around. I confirm this in my phone, and eventually just pull to the side the road, GA HWY 80.

I relay this defeat to my Pop, but he already had a back up plan simmering. Turns out my Uncle (okay not really an uncle but my Mom's Sister's Husband's Brother) who lives 2 houses down from my parents has a two wheeled car trailer hitch. Pop goes to get it, and then come get me.

So I wait. I take pictures of the lovely surroundings... of nothing, and my car. I even self timer a shot or two, just to remember that for some odd reason, I'm not entirely bummed about the situation. I call some buddies just to past the time, and laugh at the situation. Prior experience is what probably kept me from panicking or worrying much past the heat of the day.

Pops saved the day, as per usual, and we got the car hooked up and hauled home. I bought a new radiator, we installed it ourselves, and barring a few minor issues, I was able to drive it back to Atlanta this morning. There's a few kinks to work out, a clogged thermostat being the main cause of the failure cascade, but I think we'll get them fixed this Saturday when my Pops and his buddy come by to install the new thermostat.

We did get him that table saw. It's uber-nice and crazy expensive, and it'll take a day to build just the saw itself. But it's worth it. It's reasons like this we all have to love our Dads. But I don't know about you, I only call my Pop "Dad" or "Father" when I reference him to complete strangers or have to specify his status in my family. People hear me say "Pops" and assume I have more than one father or something out of a sitcom. My Pop has never been Dad or Father, those are too formal for us. He's Pops, and I'm Ken. Yeah, seriously, it's what he calls me. It's even weirder to see his name for me typed out. Happy Father's Day Pops. Thanks for saving my bacon again.

Adventures in Overheating

Sunday, May 20, 2007

My buddy's birthday bash

This Saturday we celebrated Shaun's birthday at Fogo de Chao. I thought he's been before, but among the four of us that went, only I was the meat graduate. Shaun, Maura, and Sara ended up loving it, even in the wake of the silliness induced by the apparent meat-drunkeness induced by...meat.

Shaun was gifted with things of great weight this year. From Maura, the complete Calvin and Hobbes, and from me, a huge freaking cutting board that graduates from the board classification into, the "compressed tree block" phase. We should all bow our heads in respect to the trees that died to make this one ... chunk. Maura actually linkified the board on her blog several months ago and I kept it on the back burner of my mind. I think I'm going to buy one for myself, it's that nice.

We were probably the rowdiest people there, because we had great laughs about the ludicrous size of the chopping board. It seemed just shy of the same size of our 4 seat table! Afterwards we picked up some SoCo and Coke, and played Wii bowling. The hilarity and debauchery that ensued was enough to rattle my innocent mind. Happy Birthday Bro.

Internet Famous Maura

With some creative marker help Diego looks just like Me! Or is it vice versa?

Selections from Shaun's Birthday 2007

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Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Financially Mutilating but Photographically Liberating

Michelle's daughter @ Heather's graduation pool party

Wow. I mean WOW. It's here. My 70-200mm f2.8L IS USM lens. I've had it for about 2 weeks now, and I've given it some work, with some graduation related casual photography. I bought it knowing it would complete most of my range needs, but I didn't know that it also completed "me". Alright I kid, but ISabeLla (yeah I just named her right now in fact, shhh, she can hear you...) gives me surgical precision when it comes to my favored style of photography. We all know I love portraits, and the more candid, the more laughter, or other emotions conveyed the better. Given it's reach is nearly the equivalent of a 320mm lens (when mounted on any 1.6x crop factor Canon SLR) I can frame a head and shoulders shot when I'm 20 feet away. This serves a few purposes, first my subject is less likely to notice me, and secondly combined with the wide apertures it's capable of and the longer focal distances, the background is tossed into a buttery smooth blur (bokeh). Combined with my previous baby(I can love both the most right?) the 24-70mm f2.8L, I've got the focal lengths between 24mm-200mm(unadjusted for crop factor) covered, while still being able to shoot in low light (i.e. dim churches).

Isabella is a tad on the heavy side. She's 3.5 pounds with her tripod collar, and combined with my 20D, vertical grip, 420ex flash and light diffuser, I'm probably carrying a 7 pound rig. She didn't arrive cheap either, pushing my price envelope outside the cost of even my Canon 20D! I have no regrets, and I'm so glad I've got some weddings booked this year. It's always a great feeling to give somebody pictures of themselves that they actually want to show other people.

The graduate herself!

I also attended my sister's boyfriend Chris' graduation commencement. This is where the f2.8 aperture and Image Stabilization are completely necessary. There's no way I would have been able to pull off this shot with any detail whatsoever with my old gear.

Chris applauding the crowd.

Shot was taken from the bleachers in the nosebleed section. Handheld in terrible civic center lighting! Thanks Isabella!

Emily's daughter is doing all she can to stay behaved while Michelle's daughter helps button up her outfit. When I started taking pictures like this without interrupting the subjects, I started to realized how this can change the way I shoot.

The following photo was taken with the 24-70mm f2.8L. Neither lens is perfect entirely, they're entirely complementary to each other. I think the only terrible outcome of this entire situation is that I may have to invest in another body so that I don't have to take the time to swap lenses during a paid event. Which was entirely planned anyhow. I'm just trying to put off my next purchase until Canon announces it's replacement for the 30D, whenever that may be. It's pure speculation, but I'll wait.

Chris' four year old cousin.

Well, I had an amazing eye-opening weekend shooting events for friends, and I'm even MORE stoked to shoot the weddings I have lined up. I enjoy the atmosphere, and great things always happen when I shoot a wedding.

Heather's Graduation Party Selections

Chris' Graduation Selections

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

... Smells like... work?! Oh, no that's definitely Elephant doo-doo.

Lions, Tigers and Panda-Bears? Oh My? Strange bears indeed, but still classified in Ursidae. Above is Mei-Lan ("Atlanta Beauty") the newest panda in the Great Sino-American Defy Evolution save the useless animal campaign. I love pandas. They're cute. But in my uninformed ecological opinion, they do nothing for the environment. Read about them. The only food they digest, is so lacking in nutrients they have to eat pound after pound of the young shoots to survive. They compensate by sleeping...a lot. They're SOOO lazy, apparently mating is a chore! Mei-Lan and at least one other American born Chinese Giant Panda are test tube babies! Yang-Yang, the Atlanta male Giant Panda... talk about a misnomer. At least Lun-Lun, the mother is a good mother figure. Cute buggers though, well worth the trip to see this dying species. A word of advice, register online and pay the 5 bucks for your ten minute tour. Pray that their both awake and playful like at our session. The Atlanta Zoo isn't going to help you take pictures of them though. Definitely turn off your flash, and if you can get your lens up to the glass, the more the better. They're behind some 1 inch glass so the reflections are horrible at the wrong angles.

Scratch off Tigers too, because somebody hid that guy way out of my poor 28-105mm f3.5-4.6 lens' range. I got a Lion though! He looks quite kingly, but I mean that in an 80's style king. Check out that hairdo.

This male lion had just woken from a nap to eat some tiny chunks of meat that were rained on his head. Not exactly befitting a giant hunter cat, but hey, that's the good life right? I only wish they could somehow encourage them to Roar on cue. I've never heard a lion roar in person. By far my most N.Dynamite moment of the day was when somebody somehow got the Zoo Tiger guide to talk about Ligers. I was very sad to find out they were not bred for magical powers, but are the result of breeding accidents much like most stray mutts and cats.

The orangutans were great, and I like how they ate oranges. I figure things that start in O-R-A-N should eat things that start with O-R-A-N. I've yet to find a food that starts with K-E-L-V. I'm sure I could fudge with it and eat Kelp... This cute guy and his mom had a great crowd admiring them. The mom even threw back the spent orange peels as she finished them. Since there are no chimpanzees at the Atlanta Zoo, she has the great distinction of being the only primate there that the Atlanta Braves can sign. She and her son are more maroon than ... well ... orange that we're familiar with in the movies because one species is slightly more critically endangered than the other. Quick etymology: in Malay, 'orang' means "person" and 'hutang' means "forest", thus Orangutan = "man of the forest".

Follow the link below to see the only pictures I let pass through my editing sieve. The worst and most expensive part of this excursion was that I realized just what I was lacking in the zoom department. I have this bad-boy coming down the pipes... which is both great, and at great cost. Thankfully it's more than a necessity in my upcoming wedding shoots this year, because of the limited access I have to some altar areas.

Atlanta Zoo 042207

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Sunday, February 25, 2007

Time's a wastin'!

A quick note, photography related, but nothing personal to relate.... Buy this camera. Quite easily one of the finest all around pocket cams recently discontinued and replaced with not so shiny and useful brethren. The Canon Powershot SD700 IS, is getting hard to find since it's no longer in production. Pick it up while you can and enjoy an easy to use pocketcam with amazing picture image quality.

I'm terribly conflicted about this, because I'm saving up for the new Canon SLR equipment that was announced prior to this years PMA. But what shall it be? The Flash? The new pro 1DmIII? Guess we'll have to figure the take from or to Uncle Sam...