Saturday, March 30, 2013

Mike Shimansky Pole Vault Meet

Cleared It! by Wayne-K
Cleared It!, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.
After shooting film predominantly for the last twelve months, I switched to my digital SLR this spring for the kids’ sports seasons. My son pole vaults for the high school track team and my daughter plays softball in the local recreational league. In the past week, I’ve shot two track meets and a softball game, and I’ve forgotten how long it takes to post-process these photos. While I’ve been up late three nights this week staring at my computer screen and processing photos, my wife ran off with our pool boy. I’m actually just kidding, we don’t have a pool…she ran off with someone else’s pool boy!

Kevin participated in the Mike Shimansky Pole Vault Meet at San Ramon Valley High School today. This is an informal meet, with everyone having a lot of fun, and even the coaches joining in on the vaulting. Since it’s an informal meet, Kevin opened his vaults at 11 feet. He PR’ed (Personal Record) 11 feet several times recently and decided he’d focus his energy on besting 11 feet. Now it takes big cahones to open at one’s PR, but he decided to go big or go home. Unfortunately, today wasn’t his day and he wasn’t the best company for the few hours following the meet. But, no apologies needed. I love intensity, passion, and dedication, and being upset for a less than stellar performance means one has these traits. Besides, I’ve been married for twenty years, so I know how to keep my mouth shut for the drive home when the person in the passenger’s seat is pissed off!

Here are a few photos from today’s action. One of the things I like about these informal meets is I get to photograph from inside the track. This gives me the freedom to get closer to the action and shoot it from perspectives not normally possible from outside the fence.

Nick Clearing the Bar


AVHS Vaulter


Thursday, March 28, 2013

Granada HS Track Meet

Cleared by Wayne-K
Cleared, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.
The Amador Valley track team traveled to Livermore for a track meet at Granada High School. It took a few hours for the girls and JV pole vaulters to finish, so the varsity boys were vaulting under the lights. This meant two things -- I would be pushing the limits of my camera, shooting at high ISO in the dark, and I would be a bit chilly, wearing shorts and slippers.

Here are a few photos from the meet.



AVHS Pole Vaulter

No Joy

Cleared by a Mile


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Winter Sierra

Over the years, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, backpacking the John Muir Trail (JMT) and sections of the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) during the summer months, and leading several Boy Scout backpacking trips. I particularly enjoy the high Sierra, with the clear lakes and creeks, beautiful granite peaks, and cool, crisp air. These mountains hold a special place in my heart and will likely be my final resting place one day. The high Sierra is incredible, but I’ve recently been introduced to a new Sierra experience – the winter Sierra.

The snow transforms the Sierra landscape into a winter wonderland. I love how the trees and granite contrast against the clean, white snow. While the views are postcard perfect in color, nothing brings out the beauty like black and white photography. My camera of choice this season was the Nikon FM2, coupled with Nikon 24mm f/2.8 AI-S and 35mm f/2 AI-S lenses, and Kodak BW400CN B&W film.

Shooting in the snow is pretty simple – meter off the snow and increase the exposure by 1.5 to 2 stops (assuming the scene is in the same light). Camera exposure meters try to make everything medium gray, so it will typically underexpose pure, white snow (and overexpose dark, black subjects). Not the most technical and elaborate explanation, but basically if metering off snow, increase the exposure to get the “correct” exposure and if metering off a predominantly black subject, decrease the exposure. I noticed a friend’s compact, digital camera had a “snow” mode, which took care of the exposure compensation for these snow scenes auto-magically.

Another technique I frequently use for my landscape work is the hyperfocal distance. Using a wide angle lens (e.g., 24mm or 35mm), I set my aperture to f/16 or f/22 and use the depth of field scale on my lens to set the hyperfocal distance. This creates huge depth of field, providing “acceptable” sharpness from near to infinity. The only issue is a slight loss of sharpness when shooting at f/22, due to diffraction. Unfortunately, many of the modern auto-focus lenses don’t have depth of field scales on them, which is why I love my old Nikon manual focus lenses.

Okay, enough technical talk. Here are a few pictures from my trip last weekend to the Desolation Wilderness, near South Lake Tahoe, California. We parked at the Echo Lake Sno-Park and started our snowshoe trip at Echo Lake. It was a nice six mile trek to Lake Aloha, with Pyramid Peak providing a wonderful backdrop. Many of my photos here were shot using the hyperfocal distance.

Traversing Echo Lake

Desolation Wilderness

Casa de Wayne

The Destination Ahead

Snow Drift

Echo Lake Cabin

Pyramid Peak


Relaxing at Camp

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Vipers Lose a Close One

Pre-game Meeting by Wayne-K
Pre-game Meeting, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

The Vipers lost a close game today at the Pleasanton Sports Park. The visiting Vipers came out swinging in the first inning, sending the home team running for cover. Unfortunately, untimely errors and mental mistakes cost them the game. The season is still young, so there will be many more games to win.

Here are a few photos from the game.

Stand Up Double
Emily hit a nice double, bringing in a run.

Theresa in Center Field
Theresa played incredible defense today at 3B and CF.

Theresa Catches a Foul Ball at Third Base
Theresa didn't mind running over the opposing third base coach in order to catch the foul ball.

Emily Behind the Plate
Emily played a great game behind the plate, keeping the wild pitches in front of her.

Emily Driving the Ball
Emily displaying her great swing.

Ball - in the Dirt
Ball, low in the dirt.

No matter what the sport, my kids always seem to know when I'm snapping their pictures.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

2013 PGSL Vipers

38/52 - Foul Ball by Wayne-K
38/52 - Foul Ball, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims, of course!

Spring is here, which means the weather is warming, flowers are blooming, and softball season is here! The Pleasanton Girls Softball League (PGSL) season kicked off last weekend with opening day and the Vipers are ready to strike. Kami pitched a nice game today, firing off strikes...just like a deadly Viper. If you haven't figured it out, her team name is the Vipers.

Here are a few photos from today's game.

Kami on the Mound
Kami firing off a fast ball.

Close Play at Second
It was a very close play, but Olivia was safe at second.

On Deck
Kami on deck and all smiles.

In the Dugout
Theresa and Olivia in the dugout.

Umpire doing his chores.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Essence of Guam

Polutan and Beer by Wayne-K
Polutan and Beer, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I traveled to Guam last week on business to meet with a few corporate customers, departing the San Francisco International Airport on Monday morning and arriving in Guam on Tuesday evening. My coworker and I stayed in the Marriott in Tumon. Although I have family in Guam, I usually stay in a hotel with the rest of the sales team because we frequently have customer dinners and activities in the evenings, and logistically, it makes it easier. After three days of meetings, I checked out of the hotel and headed to visit my brother in-law for the weekend.

JR lives in Barrigada, where he runs the business he took over when his father passed away a few years ago. Tumon and the house in Barrigada are like two different countries, seemingly thousands of miles and several decades apart. Nestled in the South Pacific, Guam is known as the “poor man’s Hawaii” for Asian tourists and continuing this analogy, Tumon is like the “poor man’s Waikiki.” Tumon has a number of large US hotels, like Hyatt and Marriott, high-end stores, and nice restaurants, each catering to the Asian tourist. In contrast, the house in Barrigada is off the main road and off the beaten path. Behind the main house is a “barracks” where the workers reside. The barracks is a rather humble structure, adjacent to a little forested area.

The last time I was in Guam, I felt a bit alienated at the house. As the only non-Filipino and the only non-Tagalog (Filipino language) speaking person, I felt largely left out of the conversations. This time, I tried harder to interact and communicate with the group. They struggled at times putting their thoughts into English and I struggled at times trying to understand. We did, however, manage to bond, using the common glue that brings different cultures together – lots of Bud Light and soju!

On the first night, I sensed I was being measured up and watched (although probably not the case). After a lot of beer and several rounds of soju (Korean liquor), one of the guys asked JR in Tagalog how I was doing. JR translated and I told him I was doing great. Ansel Adams recalled a story in his autobiography of a client who wanted to hire him for some commercial photography work. The client’s well-known methodology was to bring in the photographer and share a number of rounds of brandy before negotiations. The idea was to get the photographer intoxicated such that he would agree to a more favorable fee. Ansel, aware of this tactic, stopped by the local restaurant before visiting the client and ate a large, greasy hamburger, with French fries dipped in mayonnaise. The coating of fat in his stomach would slow the absorption of alcohol into his system and give him the upper hand during the negotiations. After multiple rounds of brandy, the client ended up intoxicated and Ansel Adams got his desired fee. In similar fashion, I ignored my high cholesterol and triglycerides, and consumed large quantities of pork ribs and chicken. After a case of Bud Light and three and a half bottles of soju, there were three people passed out, and JR and I left at the table...doing great. We polished off the bottle of soju and went to bed.

The next night, the guys prepared a traditional Filipino dish, banana heart sisig. Joel lashed a kitchen knife to a broom stick and secured two banana hearts from the trees in the back. Billy then prepared the dish, with chili peppers from the yard, onion, pork, garlic, and vinegar. I enjoyed watching them prepare the simple meal on the small butane stove outside the barracks and thoroughly enjoyed the meal. Billy was surprised I tried the dish and was even more surprised I liked it. The onion, garlic, and vinegar are common to a number of Filipino dishes, so the flavors weren’t anything different than I was already familiar with.

I think the best way to gain acceptance with unfamiliar people, especially while traveling, is to eat and drink with them. After a couple of nights of Bud Light, soju, and great local foods, I felt a part of the group. Chris asked if they could call me Kuya Wayne – Kuya being a Filipino term used as a sign of respect to an older male relative or family friend. As a non-Filipino, I took this as an honor, a sign of being accepted into the group.

Guam isn’t about a fancy hotel, sunning on a white, sandy beach, or dining in an upscale restaurant. It isn’t taking a tour bus to Talofofo Falls, having a hamburger at Jeff’s Pirates Cove, or visiting Two Lovers Point. The true essence of Guam, or the essence of any location, is quality time spent interacting with the locals, in their humble homes, eating the local foods, and really getting to know the people and their culture. I had a great time in Guam, but now that I'm home, it's time to work off the five pounds I gained...the diet starts tomorrow!

Here are a few photos from the trip.

The Barrigada Barracks
The "barracks" in Barrigada, where the workers reside.

Chef Chris
Chris cooking up a local favorite.

Hanging Out with the Boys
JR, Chris, and Joel

Two Dogs and a Ford
Two Dogs and a Ford (AKA, Three Dogs)

Last Night in Guam
Last night in Guam (in a Filipino bar)

Under the Table
One of the dogs that roams the property

Things I Photograph While Drinking
Things I photograph while drinking

35/52 - Hanging out in Paradise
Old school clothesline

Lighting the Mosquito Repellent
JR lighting a pallet to keep the mosquitoes away

Tumon Bay (from Marriott Hotel)
Tumon Bay at night

Tumon Bay
Tumon Bay

Friday, March 1, 2013

Winter Landscape Photography

The Winter Traveller by Wayne-K
The Winter Traveller, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I grew up in Hawaii, so snow and cold weather have never been a part of my vocabulary. Although I have skied a few times, I was never really drawn to snow, so it’s amusing to people that know me that I actually enjoy camping in the snow. Well, it’s not that I enjoy freezing my buttocks off, but I love landscape photography and there is nothing more beautiful than the winter landscape in the Sierra. The pine trees and granite contrast wonderfully against the pure, white snow. The snow covers up the distractions and allows me to focus my attention on isolated subjects and interesting tree/rock patterns. The contrast works beautifully in B&W, so my tool of choice during the winter is my Nikon FM2 and Kodak BW400CN B&W film.

Here are a few photos from my recent trips.

33/52 - Trees

The Fallen One

Van Vleck Bunkhouse

Young Life Cut Short

The Tree

Carson Pass

Lone Skier