Cactus League: Spring Break part two

I lived in Florida for eight years and never went to any spring training games. I didn’t really get into baseball until I was in high school, and we moved when I was thirteen, but still– I should have at least seen something of the Grapefruit League while I was down there. It’s kind of embarrassing.  I’ve seen my dad play amateur ball (in the Roy Hobbs League) at City of Palms Park, where the Red Sox spring train, but never the Sox themselves. Admittedly, it’s a hell of a lot cooler to see your dad play than anybody else, but regardless, I totally dropped the ball on Florida baseball.

So now I’m trying to make up for that. My grandparents live in Scottsdale, AZ, and (again with the happy coinciding of dates) spring break nicely lines up with spring training, Cactus League style. Arizona baseball doesn’t have the history that Florida does (nor do the Red Sox play there, DAMN IT), but it does have the excellent advantage of all the ballparks being really close to each other and not sprawled out all over the state. Had I had the time and money, I would have seen more than two games, but two is still a huge breath of fresh air after the long baseball-less winter. The whole experience was made even better by my best friend Tegan being in Arizona at the same time (having just finished a stint with AmeriCorps)…so we got to go be baseball junkies together. Awesome!

I managed to recharge my camera battery at Tempe Camera (on the advice of Tegan’s boyfriend, who could hold up to any Mizzou photo-j in terms of camera gear know-how), so I was good to go and could telephoto to my heart’s content. One regret: not enough photos of Grady Sizemore.


[Game One: Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch, Glendale, AZ. Russell Martin catching while Jim Thome bats. The White Sox won 6-1.]

20090328_0015_edit[Dodgers vs. White Sox. Orlando Hudson at bat, AJ Pierzynski catching, Manny Ramirez on deck. YAY MANNY! I still love you; I just hate Scott Boras.]

20090328_0021_edit[Dodgers vs. White Sox. Manny Ramirez breaking his bat before grounding into a double play with the bases loaded. Whoops.]


[Dodgers vs. White Sox. Paul Konerko covering first base.]

20090329_0203_edit[Game Two. Cleveland Indians vs. Chicago Cubs at Hohokam Stadium, Mesa, AZ. This was a much better, more competitive game than the other, but the Indians were victorious, 7-5.]

20090329_0194_edit[Indians vs. Cubs. Mark DeRosa (who just moved from the latter to the former) runs the bases in front of a sellout crowd after his second home run of the game. DeRosa was 3 for 4 with two homers and a double.]

20090329_0180[Indians vs. Cubs. Derrek Lee dwarfs Indians 1B Tony Graffanino. Because he’s REALLY TALL.]

20090329_0216_edit[Tegan’s boyfriend Dan at the Indians/Cubbies game. Incidentally, he’s wearing the jersey (which he stole from Tegan) of the Chiba Lotte Marines, the Japanese team Bobby Valentine manages.]

Houston and Hendrix: Spring Break part one

This spring break makes the third year running that I’ve been in at least two different places for the course of the vacation. I can never decide which trips I want to make, and usually just opt for going everywhere I possibly can (afford). I kind of outdid myself this year, though, because this year I also had a free round-trip on Southwest…which meant I could go even more places for what it normally costs me to do the usual two-destinations break (I suspect I also packed so much in because winter in Columbia made me very, very antsy to get out and go exploring).

It happened that Beer Bike was going on down at Rice the first weekend of break, which was a huge stroke of luck, especially since I didn’t make it to Homecoming in the fall. So I got to crash in my old dorm for a couple of days (with my old roomie, no less! Score!), visit with all of the amazing people I hadn’t seen since graduation, and, of course, check out the bike races and water balloon fight. Unfortunately, I foolishly left my telephoto back IN the dorm while all of the latter events were going on, so I didn’t get many good pictures of the festivities.


[Members of Jones College (purple shirts) squaring off against Brown College (maroon shirts- BSWB!) during the pre-Beer Bike water balloon parade.]


[Me and John Broadway during the races themselves, as reflected in the sunglasses of a guy from Baker. I was a bad journalist and never got the guy’s name, but then again, I can never use this photo for anything, anyway, since my camera’s pretty prominent in it].


[Will Rice College maintaining its lead over Brown during the women’s race. WRC won by .04 of a second, once penalties were factored in, and, incidentally, swept all three races (alum, men’s, women’s). This is at once impressive and depressing.]

After two whirlwind days in Texas, I headed north and west to Seattle, where my friends Ian and Sarah live, and where my friend Derek was also visiting on his spring break. We spent some time visiting  the islands of Puget Sound and checking out Pike Place Market/other random tourist things, but most of the time were just relaxing and doing a whole lot of nothing.  On this leg of the trip, my camera battery died, and, as I have somehow lost the charger, I ended up using my little point-and-shoot quite a bit.

20090323_0682_edit[This is Derek’s book jacket picture (he has yet to write the actual book, but at least this part is good to go), which was taken during our trip to Camano Island]


[Ian and Sarah’s puppy, Dugan, running around Camano Island]

20090326_0762[No trip to Seattle is complete without stopping to pay respects at Hendrix’s grave. ‘Scuse me while I kiss the sky.]

Advanced: Color Correction

Before anything else is said in this post, I would like to take this opportunity to thank the wait staff of the Artisan for putting up with me and my camera on three separate occasions (twice in one day).  I had staked out the café as my tungsten source early on, and had messed up my first take by, quite simply, taking terribly out-of-focus pictures and not having control over the flash. So I went back, and tried again, and produced some photos that I do like…but I forgot to follow all of the instructions for shooting, and never changed my white balance during the session. OH MY GOD. This was extremely annoying.

But because I like the pictures, I’m including them here (images have been toned and color balanced):

20090316_0246_edit_2 20090316_0257_edit

Anyway, after realizing that I had messed up Take Number Two, I went back to the Artisan to make up for my previous errors. And even though I controlled the flash a little bit better this time, the one picture I really like is also the one that uses mixed lighting. Sheesh. I can’t win. (It is, however, kind of neat to see the shift from tungsten at the counter to fluorescent in the kitchen. Plus, no crazy reflections on the metal!)


I ended up using a select from my fluorescent take–I went to Sub Shop (which felt almost like cheating because it’s so damn close to the J-School) and took some images of the girl working the counter. ONCE AGAIN, I forgot to set the white balance correctly, and took more than half of the images with the green gel on the flash…and daylight white balance. Whoops. Fortunately, I realized my mistake and changed the settings before the take was over. I don’t think this photo is as visually compelling as the others were, but I did get the balance part and all the technical stuff right…so it’s the winner. 20090318_cc_ashei_201_edit_lrGwen Douglas reads the day’s comics while waiting for customers to arrive at Sub Shop in Columbia, MO . Douglas, who has worked at Sub Shop since Halloween of 2008, describes her job as “easygoing.”

Advanced: Single Flash


Single flash is hard. My outtakes from this were definitely something else- I was getting all kind of crazy effects (that I didn’t really want), and half of the images are strangely focused–partially because the sensor on my camera is a little messed up, and partially because focus was one of about seven variables I was trying to keep track of at all times. Meanwhile, I was still trying to get good content, and, of course, the images that had such potential for content were all wrong in terms of the technical parts, and the ones that were technically better had poor content. Yeesh.

I also got kicked out of not one, but TWO locations when I was trying to complete this assignment–one flower store downtown told me that I could shoot up front as much as I wanted, but I wasn’t allowed to go back to where the employees were making the flower arrangements (maybe they thought I would give away their trade secrets or something), and, when I headed out for my last take, I was informed that I couldn’t take pictures inside Mizzou Market without upper-level permission. This seems silly to me, since the Market is part of the university, which is public, but oh well.

The funny thing about shooting with flash is that, despite how frustrating it is to get the exposure and everything just right, I actually like messing around with the controls and not really knowing exactly how the image is going to look after I hit the shutter button. It makes it a little more satisfying when I do finally hit upon the right combination.

Here are my selects:


Jared Hammon (left) enjoys a late-night ice cream at Sparky’s in downtown Columbia with wife Jenny (right) and children Jordan and Abby (not pictured). The Hammons do not often eat at Sparky’s, except for Jared, who is “here a lot,” according to Abby.

20090311_ss_ashei_0017_lrThis was picked almost entirely for the interaction element, and the fact that their hands are in near unison. Her face is just too blown out for me to really like the image (plus, it’s not perfectly focused). I tried some bounce for this, too, which had some sweet space-age effects when I bounced off the floor–it was like an alien light tunnel was opening underneath the family.


Dryer’s Shoes employee Kristal Allen (left) models a pair of sandals as co-worker Victoria Paul (right) looks on. During lulls between customers, the two often test out the store’s merchandise.

If you look closely at the background, I actually got a little bit of fill in the window (unintentionally, but I’ll take it. Yay!). I tried bouncing the flash off of all kinds of things in the store (I wish one of the shots bounced off a white patent leather shoe had turned out; that would have been neat)…this was just basic off-the-ceiling. I’m kind of bothered by the less-than-clean background in the shoe store, but a more shallow DOF would have blurred out Victoria, and then the interaction would have been gone. Le sigh.


So, that was my first attempt with flash…I give it a “Meh.” On to the wonderful world of tungsten and f-light!

Classsmate Portrait: Video

As part two of the epic classmate project adventure, we had to set up video lighting (from constant sources, as opposed to strobe), shoot about thirty seconds of footage, and then edit everything using FinalCut Express.

It was MUCH easier to set up the lighting for this than for the SLR camera part, which was a relief. I think I prefer using constant sourcing. As an added bonus, I thought I’d overexposed a little bit, but after the computer capture was finished, the lighting turned out pretty on point.

Although I like the lighting setup, I messed up the audio controls, and recorded in stereo where I should have used mono (my microphone was on mute, and I didn’t realize it until after the fact). The result is a strange echo effect…argh

Anyway, here’s Matt talking about one of the (tastier) strange things he’s eaten (I had to edit out the beginning, where he mentions eating dog, cat, and donkey, but I’m guessing those didn’t taste as good as the coconut concoction) :


The facial expressions are just plain awesome.