25 October, 2008


There was a lot of excitement at work this past week. On Tuesday, we had the Android open-source launch. On Wednesday, the G1 launched (there were lines at stores; that's all I was hoping for :o). Then on Thursday, Googlers were serenaded by one Jimmy Buffett, during a quick stop on his "The Year of Still Here" tour.

He talked some, played a short set with two Coral Reefers, and then spent the rest of the time answering Googlers' questions, both from the audience and from abroad. Here, Buffett chats with the audience after the band's final song. 1/80s at f/2.8 and ISO640.

I'm really proud of this photo. It's excellently-composed, and it sort of demonstrates that when you try to notice things, every once in a while, things will work out. Which is reassuring, since I try to notice things a lot, and sometimes things just don't seem to come together.

Regardless, this photo can certainly stand on its own (even without a caption), which is tough to do: you know what's going on (some guy is talking, and possibly performing, given the extra mic), you know who that guy is (Jimmy Buffett), and you know where Jimmy Buffett is doing all this (Google; not Google Santa Monica, though).

And it captures important aspects of the environment — there are palm shadows on the backdrop; there's sort of a fun atmosphere with the blow-up animals; and there are parrots. Anyway, yeah, I think this one turned out well.

The set was short, but enjoyable. Buffett played with Mac McAnally (to his right, on guitar) and Nadirah Shakoor (to his left, on vocals). As an interesting aside (thanks, Wikipedia), at one point Shakoor was apparently the lead female vocalist of Arrested Development, a group that certainly helped broaden my musical experiences as a child.

My dad had their album 3 Years, 5 Months & 2 Days in the Life of…, which we would listen to frequently in the car. Their song "Mr. Wendal" was likely one of the first social commentaries I listened to and began to understand the lyrics of.

As far as Thursday's performance goes, though, I only remember the name of one song — You see, I'm only an apprentice in the ways of being a Parrothead. The song was "Margaritaville" and the performance included the Lost Verse. This was 1/100s at f/2.8 and ISO640.

Buffett talks a lot during his performances. This is a style that also carries over to his albums. For instance, I acquired Far Side of the World album sometime around April of 2002, and the beginning of "Autour du Rocher" consists of Buffett chatting about a hotel in St. Barts.

One difference I noticed is that on the albums, Buffett talks above a quiet musical background. At the concert, though, he'd pause every now and then to play a few quick chords before he kept talking. Cool. I shot this at 1/100s and f/2.8, at ISO640.

In response to a question about being a Dad as an old guy, Buffett handed the mic over to his daughter Savannah Jane, who related what her childhood was like with a traveling Dad. She noted that when he was home, he always made pancakes, and so she tended to think of him as "that guy who makes pancakes."

I like this photo. I specifically tried to get the guitars in the background, and I think it turned out well. I also think the expressions are pretty telling. This was 1/60s at f/2.8 and ISO640.

After the performance, Buffett came off the stage and had more personal interactions with members of the folks in attendance. It was sort of tricky to get a nice shot, since at first the lights were still down and I was still figuring out where to shoot from (oddly, I'd move around and somehow Buffett managed to keep his back to me :o).

After that, the folks sort of in the middle of the line wanted photos, but didn't seem all that interested in talking or interacting with him (or if they did, the actual interaction was very brief). As one of my interests is capturing people's emotions and interactions, I was specifically looking to grab the moment when Buffett and fan were displaying actual emotions, rather than fake smiles for a camera.

In short, I think this photo is exactly that. The woman is clearly giddy, and Buffett seems to be enjoying the interaction as well. I really like that they're sharp, but in motion. If I were to say "Here, Jimmy Buffett and an excited fan get together for a photo," it's blatantly obvious that that's exactly what they're doing. 1/40s at f/2.8 and ISO640.

Well, that's so-long to Mr. Buffett. I have accrued quite a few photos that I'd like to share over the past week or two, though, so expect another post soon (by tomorrow? who knows?). To conclude, the Arrested Development aside really goes well with this quote from George Bernard Shaw: "If you have an apple and I have an apple and we exchange apples then you and I will still each have one apple. But if you have an idea and I have an idea and we exchange these ideas, then each of us will have two ideas."

08 October, 2008

Welcome to Love Fest

This past Saturday, some friends and I dropped by Love Fest, a festival… party… concert… thing. Regardless, it's the largest one I've been to in the US (trumped only by the few times I've been to Carnival in Trinidad). It was a blast. Love Fest is a travelling celebration, which parades from 2nd and Market streets to the Civic Center Plaza.

When we arrived at the Civic Center Plaza around 17:30, there were costumed folks everywhere. We took an approximate lap of the Plaza over the next 45 minutes, and as is my wont, I took photos. The light was pretty good, and the variety of costumes, of activities, and of people, was awesome. I shot the above at 1/1250s at f/3.5.

Despite the diversity, there were a number of similarly-themed costumes. For instance, here, a guy standing on something and sporting the national flag of New Zealand as a cape gives a fist-bump to a lady with a purple scepter, and all as another guy walks past with a crown on his head.

This is just a single example of a lot of friendly interaction that took place between people who didn't seem to know each other. But I guess that's a little bit of what Love Fest is all about — make friends with people just because they're there. This was at 1/640s and f/4.5.

There were a bunch of people with cameras. The guy on the left really stood out to me, though. It likely has at least something to do with his posture — this is a stance I've seen a lot of people assume when taking photos, and I'm not really sure where it comes from.

I also like his expression and body language. After holding the "Shh! Artist at work!" facial expression seen here, he subsequently smiled and gave the subjects a thumbs-up. 1/200s at f/3.5.

We were standing around a bit before departing when I spotted this guy. He was also standing around, having a smoke.

Now, I've always enjoyed trying to take photos of people smoking; likely because the situations can often offer a combination of smoke, fire, and interesting facial expressions and body language, all rolled up into one image. They're hard to nail, though, and the ones I've tried rarely turn out well. I guess that's why I like this one a lot.

Shooting smoke is always difficult because, usually, it's not dense enough to see unless you actually backlight or side-light it. Here, I was fortunate in that the smoke is rather dense, and I was getting what is effectively a bluish side-light from the sky, in front of the darker background of people in the shade. This was at 1/250s and f/4.5.

I met Alton on the way home on Caltrain. The train was jam-packed with homeward-bound Love Fest attendees, and consequently, the floor of the usually-spacious bike car was crammed with people. Alton was passing the time practicing his contact juggling and card flourishes, as well as messing around with his D90 and 50/1.4. Nice. (As an aside, Nikon fans, rejoice: the long awaited AF-S 50/1.4 is coming)

This photo of Alton performing a spring came out surprisingly well, given the slow shutter speed and given that the train was moving at the time. Exposure was 1/40s at f/3.5 and ISO1000.

This guy and his borrowed sign embody the atmosphere at Love Fest. The party started long before my friends and I arrived, and continued long after we departed. However, the weekend of dancing alone doesn't reveal the depth of Love Fest's purpose.

As Dr. Syd Gris put it, "In this time of economic and political turmoil, a celebration of love, peace, justice, and tolerance is just what our country needs… We do not dance in the streets to escape the reality of our times - we dance to face them as a community…"