Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race

I love bicycle racing. I used to do quite a bit of it when I was younger — I managed a bike shop, ran a club, raced myself as a Category 3 racer back in the day. I’ve forgotten more about bikes than most people ever know, so when it comes time for the racing season to start up here in Arizona I try to go out and hit a couple of races to stir the blood again. I’ve been riding my bike to work on occasion as well, and it REALLY feels good to be back on two wheels. Or rather, it really feels good now that my butt is once again used to the saddle. It hurt a LOT for a couple of days until that happened.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I went out to the Avondale Criterium in Avondale, AZ and shot some of the early races, and had a lot of fun. Bikes haven’t changed that much since I was riding seriously, but there sure are some good riders out there. There’s another race on the 26th that I may try to hit as well, just for fun.

Shooting cycling is a great way to practice a number of photography skills. First and foremost, it helps with controlling motion. The shutter’s function on the camera (as part of basic exposure) is to control motion. Shooting with a fast shutter speed will stop motion, while shooting with a slow shutter speed will allow the motion to register on the image. It’s the photographer’s job to decide what the final output needs to be, and in order to determine this it’s vital that the photographer understands the camera. So shooting bike racing is a good predictable way to experiment with shutter speed choice and control. Second, cycling is a great way to practice focus control and panning, meaning experimenting with the continuous focusing function of the camera and also following the rider with the lens as he zips by. See if you can figure out what my settings were in these photos!

Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race
Avondale Criterium Bicycle Race

Equipment Review: Aputure Trigmaster Plus Radio Trigger

I’ve been using RD-616 radio triggers for my off-camera flash units for quite a few years now, and they have been working well for me. The problem with the RD-616s is that I have to have a hot shoe adapter to go on the light stands, and the PC cord connection can get wonky after a while. So I was looking around for a suitable replacement and ran across the Aputure Trigmaster Plus. This is a really cool-looking little widget that has a hot shoe built into it so I figured I wouldn’t have to worry about wires and PC cords — just thread it onto the lightstand adapter and off we go!

Aputure Trigmaster Plus

As these are transceivers, I opted for four units since I usually shoot with two camera bodies. I received them and immediately stated playing with them. Build quality looks good, though I’d like to see a replaceable foot on them as I’ve broken the RD-616 transmitters’ feet on occasion and it would be nice if they were user-serviceable for that sort of thing. The Trigmasters don’t have a “cheap Chinese junk” feel to them like so many of this sort of product.

Included in the box is a plethora of cables — since these are radio triggers, the box includes wires that connect them with most devices that I would need a radio trigger for: a PC cord, a small headphone jack, and perhaps the coolest part of it, a plug that allows the Trigmaster to be used to trigger the camera itself as a remote camera. This is REALLY cool and actually works quite well, even focuses the camera before shooting.

As I said before, the Trigmaster Plus has a built-in hotshoe. The pattern of the contacts on the hotshoe (and the foot as well) are consistent with that of a Canon flash, but I can’t see a reason for this. The unit does not do TTL metering to control the flash. Maybe the manufacturer is projecting forward to future models, and intending to make a TTL version of the Trigmaster Plus. I don’t know.

It took a little bit of fiddling to figure out how to get them to see each other, but once I did it seemed that we were on our way. The unit has a channel selector button next to the channel display; to change channels (if you’re using multiple lights on different frequencies, for instance) just press the channel selector button. There are six channels to choose from.

A few days later, I debuted them at a wedding.

Frustration immediately ensued. One of the receivers worked fine for the most part. The other one would randomly switch channels, forcing me to remove the speedlight from the receiver in order to reset the channel, sometimes in the middle of a shoot. I started to figure out that it was mostly when I moved the lightstand that this happened. At first, I thought it was the speedlight itself bumping the channel selector button, but there’s enough clearance between the flash and the button that this is impossible. I wrapped a blue rubberband around the offending receiver, set it to transmit, and swapped it out with another unit. This didn’t seem to have any real effect on it, since the other one started to act up at this point.

I contacted the manufacturer, who said to try loosening the screws holding the thing together. That did not help either. So I contacted the manufacturer again, who told me last week that this seems to be a problem with this batch of Trigmaster Plus units, that the problem has been remedied in more recent versions, and to return them to the seller and get replacements. I contacted the seller and was told that they are out of the office until the end of January for Chinese New Year. Really? I can see a day or a few days, but a whole month?

This really does not make me happy, as I do not relish sending these back to CHINA on my own dime, but I have the things and I’m stubborn that way. So I will do it. As it sits right now, if the new ones work they will likely be a viable alternative for Pocket Wizards but if they don’t, I will not be able to recommend them to anyone.

Ariane & Ryan, Beautiful North Scottsdale Wedding

November 12, 2011 was supposed to be nasty and raining and cold for Ariane and Ryan’s wedding. We were expecting the worst but got blessed with the best! A beautiful bride and groom, a great family, a fantastic property, and a magnificent sunset to crown a truly exhilarating wedding day. Ariane and Ryan are super sweet, just good people who have terrific chemistry, and it shows in the way they treat one another and also everyone around them. I am grateful to have been able to share their day and to photograph them. Thank you!

You can see the entire wedding gallery on my Proofsets page. Click here and select “view your proofs” to see the whole gallery.

Also, a big shout-out to Michelle of Your Heart’s Desire & Simply Refined Events for her tireless work in making the day go so smoothly!

Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011
Ariane & Ryan, 12 November 2011

The Rockin’ Sounds of JOYRIDE!!

Joyride is among the best cover bands I’ve heard in a LONG time — I mean, seriously, I don’t know any other band that can cover Evanescence and Pat Benatar and Journey in the same set and do it so well. And Sharett, the singer, is the sweetest thing ever (and so is her mom!). They played at Cactus Jack’s in Ahwatukee and absolutely rocked the joint. What a pleasure to hang with friends and do a little shooting and listen to great music.

You can see the whole gallery here. Band managers — if you like what you see, please contact me about gig and concert coverage. Concert promoters, venue owners as well — I can cover your events affordably and with the highest quality.

Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!
Joyride at Cactus Jack's!

Lisa & Jesse, 19 March 2011

Saturday’s wedding at The Phoenician in Phoenix, AZ was a long one, a beautiful one with a lovely couple and delightful families. Anne of One Fine Day Photography and I were privileged to photograph the wedding of Lisa and Jesse, and we had plenty of time to make beautiful photos for these two doctors who have pledged their lives to helping people who are ill. A fantastic day with a deserving couple who are truly well-matched!

Wedding, Phoenician, Lisa & Jesse
Wedding, Phoenician, Lisa & Jesse
Wedding, Phoenician, Lisa & Jesse
Wedding, Phoenician, Lisa & Jesse
Wedding, Phoenician, Lisa & Jesse
Wedding, Phoenician, Lisa & Jesse

Heroes and Ambulances

Last week I had the privilege of photographing the PMT Ambulances in Peoria, Arizona. These people are the ones out on the road all day, every day taking care of those who are in need of medical assistance; they took time out of their day to line up their vehicles for my camera. The scissorlift was a little unnerving, but hey, it’s nothing compared to what the crews of these vehicles go through every day. Hats off to these heroes.

PMT Ambulances
PMT Ambulances
PMT Ambulances
PMT Ambulances
PMT Ambulances
PMT Ambulances
PMT Ambulances

Pirate Daze

When we went to the Renaissance Fair, I met this delightful pirate and we met up for a shoot today. Pirate Jett (Mandy), is one of the sweetest, most fun people I have photographed. She has the most AMAZING eyes and is beautiful to boot. We did some portraits with Mom and then moved into ARRGGH mode and played with the pirate theme, and I just can’t stop smiling at how much fun we had.

Okay, so if you haven’t gone to the Ren Fair this year, go this weekend or you’ll miss your Pirate Jett Experience. Enjoy the photos!

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Pirate Jett

Arizona Renaissance Fair

Took the kids to the Arizona Renaissance Fair on Saturday for a nice day out. it’s a long drive, but well worth it if you’re into the Renaissance Period or pirates and that sort of fun stuff. Yes, I know that a lot of the “history” there is questionable, but in chatting with the actors and performers and vendors there, I was amazed at how much actual historical knowledge there is at the Fair.

We met some really sweet people (especially Jett the Pirate!) and had LOADS of fun. Enjoy these photos.

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Arizona Renaissance Festival 2010

Party Time!

Saturday night I had the privilege of photographing the the Keller-Williams East Valley Awards Gala. It was a classy affair, and there were many faces there I recognized from the last time I worked with them. Only this time, they were all dressed up to the nines and looking sharper than ever. Six hundred photos later, I am still going through them and I’ll post them as soon as I get them edited. But here are a few teasers! The complete set will be up here when they are finished.

Enjoy!

Keller-Williams East Valley Gala

Keller-Williams East Valley Gala

Keller-Williams East Valley Gala

Keller-Williams East Valley Gala

Keller-Williams East Valley Gala

Keller-Williams East Valley Gala