30 May, 2012

Sidewalk Sandbox: A Self-Portrait

I was walking with a friend a couple days ago and we passed this child, sitting and playing on the sidewalk (that's his Dad at the right edge of the frame). As we passed, he threw a torn rubberband in my direction, which is likely what he was digging for in the cracks of the sidewalk. I flashed them a smile — "no apology needed" — and walked on.

I've been giving some more thought to loneliness over the past week or so, and it occurred to me that this momentary connection might form an apt analogy for street photography. We carry these cameras, attention transfixed on what we see in it or through it, and we can spend a while not actually interacting with anything but the camera. I know it happens to me.

Then at times perhaps the camera catches someone's eye, and we flash a smile — "no harm intended, but you're kind of interesting." But it's not enough and they move along. We keep the photos, but maybe we miss the interactions?

26 May, 2012

On Being Alone

There's something unique about a red-eye flight. It's so isolating — I've never felt so alone, for so long, with so many people.

For me, I almost never sleep. Instead, I reminisce, I contemplate, I wonder. And then when the fancy strikes, I challenge myself to capture that uniqueness, that wonderment, that loneliness, in a photo.

During a few of his talks at the Google+ Photographer's Conference, Trey Ratcliff shared some thoughts on being alone, and how solitariness is one shared aspect of being a photographer. Not only did that resonate with me, but it reminded me of this story and this moment — sometimes, loneliness is communing with the stars when everyone else is sleeping.

25 May, 2012

RC and Me

Conference speaker Rafael "RC" ConcepciĆ³n holds fellow speaker Colby Brown's son between sessions at the Google+ Photographer's Conference.

24 May, 2012

Trey Ratcliff on Mirrorless Cameras

Moderator Scott Kelby nearly sprays a mouthful of water moments after hearing Trey Ratcliff's quip that "I don't have to impress anyone with the size of my camera" during an interview at the close of the Google+ Photographer's Conference.
The Google+ Photographer's Conference was an amazing experience for me. I learned a bunch, I made some great friends, I got a couple nice images, and I had a dinner with a surprisingly diverse group of folks one evening — each of the 9 people was from a different country, and spoke different languages. Most importantly, though, I had a great time and thoroughly enjoyed myself. The participants and staff were friendly, and I even ended up as an impromptu model on a couple different occasions.

In short: A++++++++++ Would Go Again!

22 May, 2012

G+ Conference Photo Walk: Golden Gate Park

I'm taking part in the Google+ Photographer's Conference this week, and it started off with a series of photo walks yesterday. I personally went with Scott Kelby at Golden Gate Park. So here are a couple photos I shot at Golden Gate Park.
I really liked this. The guy in midair now was working on teaching the younger skater how to do an Ollie.
A husband and wife who were also on the photo walk consider a composition between a set of green benches near the Japanese Tea Garden.
Then we went inside the Japanese Tea Garden. Sometimes photographers need a little extra height.
As we went around, Scott Kelby would periodically give a couple tips on shooting in the area, and Brandon, a Kelby Training videographer, would take some video. A little later on, I took this no-look shot of Brandon and it happened to turn out pretty well.
This is Heather, another photographer who went on the walk.

16 May, 2012

The School of Slightly Softer Knocks (or "yo dawg, I herd u like bearings…")

Bad News, Everyone!
I now know exactly how the CV joint in a car axle works!

Good News, Everyone!
When what used to be a CV joint turns into an "exploded" view of a bunch of 1mm-diameter needle bearings, it's time to stop and think about what you've done.

So how did we end up in this mess? Funny you should ask. A couple days before Sears Pointless, we discovered that one of our CV joints had a pin-prick in it that was weeping grease. We patched it at the time, and that was good enough to get us through the two partial laps that our car finished before it stopped Saabing. So last night, we finally had the half-shaft out, and we also had a CV boot replacement kit, so we decided to replace the torn boot and make everything nice and shiny. Well… that was the plan…

CV joints are awesome. It's like a splined shaft with three splines, except that the splines are actually pockets for three giant bearings on a three-armed carrier, all which you can see in the photo. The carrier is held onto the end of the half-shaft with a snap-ring. So we pulled the snap-ring off, and used a precariously-balanced bearing puller to yank the carrier off of the half-shaft. All good so far.

Once the boot was replaced, it was time to get the carrier back onto the half-shaft.

Now, let's talk about things I know. I know you don't hammer directly on a bearing surface. So I found a piece of wood (which is soft enough that it won't damage metal bearing surfaces).

Now, let's talk about things I didn't know. I didn't know that positioning the wood on the corner (rather than the flat) of one of the three bearings and hammering would cause the bearing to slide off of the carrier, causing an uncountable number of impossibly tiny needle bearings to fall every which way. Oops.

13 May, 2012

In the pits

Yesterday, I shot my first professional car race, when the American Le Mans Series (ALMS) visited the Laguna Seca racetrack for a 6-hour endurance race. After having spent untold hours of my life watching the races on TV, it was a fantastic experience to be there in person, watching the cars fly past and seeing the drivers make impossibly close passes (some of the passes were actually impossible :o). Also, the sound… oh, man…

Above, driver Duarte Felix da Costa of the Project Libra team sits in the car as his team tries to diagnose and fix whatever issue(s) brought them into the paddock. The team brought an LMP2-class Radical SR10 to Laguna Seca for what would be their first race of the 2012 ALMS season.

Oh, and click here for the big version.

09 May, 2012

The last step

After spending a couple weeks refurbishing this brake lathe, including rebuilds of both the AC shaft motor and the AC cutter drive motor, Randy puts the finishing touches on the cutter drive motor before putting everything back together. By the end of the night, he had machined his first brake rotor.

05 May, 2012

Stall! Stall! Stall!

Spotted during a recent visit to the WC.