Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cabo Log 11:30:10:5:30 - Into The Home Stretch!

Good Morning Everybody,

I'm trying to get this post up before we hit the road this morning. It's 5:00 a.m. and we want to catch as much daylight as possible today. We barely have Internet connectivity so I'm giving it my best shot. So here we go...

First Day In The Baja---
What can I say, it has been wonderful day traveling today. We crossed the Mexican border and pulled into the inspection line so I could get my tourist card which I needed to fly home - not the easiest of procedures when crossing the boarder.

Kent has a Green Card that lets him move easily in and out of the country, We completed the crossing - no big deal about 8:45 p.m. and headed south. We had 10 hours to go to get to our half way point - our goal for the day.

Beauty All Around!---

Right away the beautiful seascape showed itself as a place one would long to visit - the views right outside of Tijuana were unbelievable.

OK, I have to admit, I was worried about about the news I had heard about the Mexican drug cartels, etc, operating I Mexico and how we should be extremely careful. We were careful. But there was no reason to be alarmed as a tourist. Sometimes the evening news over blows the reality of the situation for the sake of the ratings - I think that was the case here.

Anyway, we headed south through some of the most beautiful vistas you have ever seen! The trip took us inland then back out next to the sea. The variety of geographic splendor was amazing.

The big scare about Highway 1 through the Baja is the very narrow 2 lane highway that traverses the entire 1,000 mile corridor from Tijuana to Cabo, Mexico. We found the highway in great shape for most of the way south.

Road Condition Fiasco---

Early on in our travels we did run into the worst of road conditions I have have seen anywhere - total "construction overload" on the roads. We were literally driving on mud and rock for about 10 miles as the road crews worked on the highway. It was quite the "rock and roll" driving experience. Hey, lot of the USA roads are in the same condition.

WOW! What A View!!!---

We continued down the road and, speaking for myself, totally enjoyed and reveled in the Baja driving experience! The change of scenery, the change of geography, the amazing variety of landscape blew me away! The Baja drive is called one of the world's great driving experiences. LaDawn and I have driven over 20,000 mile on our CBTL2010 tour, and have seen a lot of great sites - the Baja drive rivals them all!!!

Little towns to big towns - each offered it's own unique blend of fascination. We continued our drive south - we were about to enter the "gas less" region of the Baja. We were prepared this time - the tank was full and we stashed a full 5 gallons of gas in the Jeep cab. We were ready to rock and roll.

The vistas were amazing through the desert. I was driving but Kent was capturing some great views of the amazing cactus fields in the area. I wish we had more time to stop and soak it all in.

Home At Last!! Or At Least, Half Way Home At Last"---

We knew we were not not to make it to our final stop in the daylight hours, but we pressed on anyway. Driving in the Baja Mountains at night is not for the faint of heart. I started seeing the desert ghosts as the evening turned to inky black darkness and turned the driving over to Kent for the last last 50 miles of the journey. He was fresh and alert and took us the last of our way to our final stop of the day.

We traveled 12 hours and about 450 miles today, a pretty good run through the Baja. We were so lucky too at the end of the day's travels - as we came off Hwy 1, the road took us right up to the front door of the Desert Inn, like the best hotel in the area. Kent's Green Card got us a great discount and we settled in for the evening. We stowed the bags in the room and headed to the restaurant for a great meal, one or two adult beverages, and great conversation with Manual, our server and finally, good friend.

Kent and I both welcomed the great meal meal and good company and languished in the lap of Baja luxury for a few the next hour or so - a perfect end to a great day.

Making The Final Run---

Today we head out for the last time making our run to Cabo San Lucas where both, LaDawn and Sarah, our wives are waiting for us. They flew down yesterday, and Kent and I are both looking forward to catching up with them.

We still have about an 11 hour trip, so we are beginning super early so we can make the entire run in daylight. Like I said, night driving is not for the "faint of heart", and after last night's driving experience, we want to get a good start on today's journey.
Anyway gang, that is it for today's post. It's late. Connectivity is at a minimum and I hope this posts correctly from my iPad. Here goes - enjoy the read and I'll see everyone tomorrow for a wrap up.

Have. good one and I'll see ya' then, David

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Monday, November 29, 2010

Cabo Log 11:29:10:6:30 –15 Hours Of Driving But We Made It!

Good Morning Everybody,

Road Trip 3IMG_3290"Things got really pretty as we headed out of Albuquerque to Flagstaff 320 miles away."

That's how I planned to begin today's post. That was pretty true to our experience, but after yesterday's 15 hour drive to San Diego, I think I'd rather begin, "Yesterday's first 6 hours of driving were easily the most grueling of the trip so far." The next 9 hours were pretty darn interesting too. Why, to much adventure ;~)

Monster Winds Hit Us

Road Trip 3IMG_3299The geography was simply beautiful as we headed out of Albuquerque over to Flagstaff 320 miles away but the wind was blowing like crazy. We figure that the wind was easily gusting to over 30 mph.

Remember back to our first day when I mentioned that the noise level In the Jeep's cab raises considerable as it speeds up to 75mph. We were only going 70mph but add 30 mph headwinds and it is like a screaming eagle was loose in the cab! We could barely hear the radio or even talk to each other.

It was like that for over three hours - where were my Bose noise canceling headphones when I need them ;~)

Snow Showers, NOT! BLIZZARD!!!

The strong winds continued as we climbed the mountains heading for the Continental Divide at about 6,000 feet above sea level. But now we had the beginnings of our next challenge - it started snowing, yes snowing!!!. We thought snow showers at first, but is was soon a full blown storm!

Road Trip 3IMG_3306Traffic slowed considerably - we were getting behind schedule. My quick check the night before showed that we had about a 10 hour drive to San Diego. That miscalculation will be explained shortly.

Road Trip 3IMG_3338We had planned to arrive about 7 p.m. but it was looking like that estimate was going to be pushed back a bit.

After we crossed the Continental Divide, we began descending the mountain, and thankfully the snow began to let up - whew, or so we thought.

As we got closer to Flagstaff, the snow kicked into the Blizzard category - snow was everywhere. It had just began, but it began with a ferociousness a big winter storm brings. The temperature dropped to 24 degrees and the snow was beginning to stick and stick hard.

Road Trip 3IMG_3365

Within minutes the highway was covered with a sheet of ice. Right before us two cars had just lost control and were in the ditch. Fortunately, no one seemed injured. Police were everywhere, the snow plows had hit the road, and traffic slowed to a crawl.

The we hear it, DING!! the low fuel light clicked on - we would be out of fuel in about 20 minutes. A quick check on the iPhone Around Me app showed a station just ahead. But in the snow storm, we missed the exit! Nothing else was popping up close by - we crossed our fingers.

About 5 miles down the road the snow cleared, temperatures warmed considerably, and a gas station popped up on our iPhone.

It’s Going To Be A Long Night

We were relieved to get the Jeep refilled, grab some refreshments, and just catch our breath a bit. I did a quick recheck of our mileage to San Diego. What!!! 477 miles, 7 3/4 hours away!!! It was going to be a long night.

Apparently, in my quick check the night before, the 630 miles was referring to air miles, not driving miles - whoops! I had just taken us 6 1/2 hours to cover what we thought we would cover in less than 5 hours and now we had almost 8 hours to go - bummer. This was going to be the longest drive day of the trip.

But men do what men have to do - we pushed on to San Diego.

Seeing The Face Of God

After catching our breath, we were underway again. As we headed to Phoenix, coming down out of the mountains, we could see the storm clearing in the distance. This timing coincided with the sun being quite low in the sky heading toward sunset.

Road Trip 3IMG_3445

With the combination of clearing storm and sunset, the next 30 minutes were simply amazing. The colors, textures, layers of tonalities - they were all around us. Each time the wind shifted, a brand new visual masterpiece presented itself to us as we drove out of the mountains.

Road Trip 3IMG_3482

The views were like seeing the face of God - utterly amazingly beautiful, breathtaking, awe inspiring!!! Fortunately Kent was driving so I was shooting like a crazy person trying to capture as much of the beauty as I could.

Road Trip 3IMG_3367Even with the window rolled down for a clear view, the 25 degree temperatures didn't bother me. Kent, on the other hand, cranked the Jeep's heater up to " incinerate" to stay warm.

The Final 300 miles to San Diego - Dicey, Yes, Dicey

We made it though the 3 snow storms and finally to Phoenix, filled the Jeep for the millionth time and headed for San Diego. We had about 280 miles to get to our final destination - just about the distance we could travel on a tank of gas, or so we thought.

We grabbed some road food since our travels were not going to get us to our destination in time for dinner. It was going to be a long night. I was at the wheel and we headed into the night.

Everything else is going well, we were both wide awake, the drive was going smoothly, and we only had about 60 miles to go. Then we heard it DING!!! again - we were low on gas and in the middle of the mountains with no gas for quite a while.

Pine Valley CasinoOn the way down the other side of the mountains, I spotted a casino advertising gas but Kent said to push on - uhmmmm, middle of nowhere and we are passing the only gas station we had seen for miles. Down the road a few more and a sign signaled gas only 1 mile away - great news!!! We made the exit, followed the signs and finally found ourselves in a tiny town with all the sidewalks rolled up for the night, including the corner gas station.

Pine Valley InnWe caught the OPEN sign in a small motel nearby and headed there for help. After several shouts, and banging on the bell about a hundred times, a loud shriek rose from the back room - we had woken up an embarrassed innkeeper who kindly greeted us.

We explained our dilemma to Maria, the night clerk - we had driven 20 miles since the low fuel light DINGED. She gave us three gas station choices. We chose the one 14 miles away!! What, we were dead for sure - we were going to be stranded somewhere along I-8 and were never to make it to San Diego!!!

Kent was driving, I was watching the odometer as the miles rolled by - 5 miles, then 10, then 13 miles. Then there it was the exit for gas 1 mile away! Had we made it??? The Jeep was still running without any coughing or choking, we might make it. A few minutes later, we rolled into the Shell station, celebrated our good (lucky) fortune and let the Jeep lap up the high octane fuel.

The rest of the trip was easy, we arrived at our guests home around midnight – 15 hours after we had left Albuquerque. They who greeted us warmly, and after a short visit, showed us our accommodations. Kent and I opened a bottle of red colored adult beverage, toasted to the day, set the alarm for 6 a.m. - five hours later and we hit the sack.

Queuing Up For The Baja Run

No GasToday is the BIG day - we head south to the border crossing at Tijuana and head to the Baja. 2200 miles down only 1000 miles to go! The goal is to get about 1/2 way down the peninsula.

Here is the problem. The drive through the Baja is 20 hours long. We want to make the trip in two days, which means 10 hours driving each day. You're thinking, "No big deal, right?" Well, it is kind of a medium sized deal.

Here's why - We are 11 months into 2010 and the are getting shorter and shorter, right. Pulling up my Sunrise, Sunset app shows that we only have about 11 hours of light in this part of the world at this time of the year.

We need to hit the road early today, about 7 a.m. and hope to make it to the half way point, San Ignacio, by 5:30 p.m. Still sounds like no big deal right. Well, we have a time change - in the WRONG direction - as we head to San Ignacio. We lose an hour, so it looks like we are going to cutting it pretty close. Well play it by ear today.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. With 5 hours of sleep and some quick morning grub, we are on our way. Wish us luck. If we have Internet connectivity where waver we stop this evening, I get another post up tomorrow. If we don't, look for a recap on Wednesday.

We're off to another 1000 miles of adventure --- hopefully ;~)

Adios, David

Sunday, November 28, 2010

CABO LOG 11:28:10:8:00 – The Road Cam!

Good Morning Everybody,

It was really a long haul yesterday - Springfield, MO all the way to Albuquerque, NM. - about 830 miles and 12 1/2 hours later we called it a day. Our plan was to do the longer run yesterday so we would have a more leisurely 9 hour drive today - leisurely????


Hey, all kidding aside, today's travels take us through some really pretty country so we are looking forward to hitting the road.

I never got around to doing an interim "road post" yesterday. Why, because there just wasn't anything to blog about. That's not to say yesterday's drive was anything less than spectacular - but is was for a large part of the day.

Anyway, I’ll hit a few highlights, and some nice images along the way so why not give them a read below.

Off And Running Again

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3050We enjoyed a nice, hot breakfast on the Doubletree Hotel, grabbed a few more of those famous Doubletree chocolate chip cookies for the road, filled the fuel tank to the top, and were off by 7:41 a.m. in the morning.

The weather was still a brisk 30+ degrees outside but once in the Jeep cab, we were good to go. We jumped onto I-44 out if Springfield, MO and pointed our Jeep west towards Tulsa, OK - about 120 miles away.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessDSCF0048Tulsa, like a lot of the USA, was under road construction. My gosh, I think half the country is under construction these days ;~) We navigated the barrels, barriers, and blockades without much problem and the fact that it was Saturday meant very little traffic to contend with. We even spent a little time on the famous Route 66. Next stop, Oklahoma City, OK.

Most of this part of the drive was without much drama. The scenery this time of year, even though there was not a leaf on the trees, was still a pleasant view in all directions. Most would think of Oklahoma to be really flat, but it's not.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessDSCF0049The hills "roll" just enough to keep the driving from being a hypnotic experience.

Our Gas Issues May Be Easing

No GasOh, some good news - our gas mileage has increased to about 14.5 MPG. That means that we can cover about 280 miles on one tank of gas - wow, that's like half way to the moon, right ;~)

Our hopes are rising about making it across that long, lonely, gasless stretch of the Baja. That gas barren stretch begins at the last gas station in El Rosasio and ends, as we found yesterday after checking Kent's official Baja atlas, about 240 miles away in the town of Guerrero Negro.

Most of the Baja journey is up and down and around the twists and turns of Mexico's Hwy 1 - average speed, about 35 mph. That's going to affect our MPG too so were putting the final touches on our travel plans through Mexico. More tomorrow.

Testing the "Road Cam"

road tripIMG_3079So what do you do when you're kind of bored, you've run out of scintillating conversation with your road mate after 20 hours on the road - just kidding Kent, and you still have miles to go? The answer is simple, you pull out the "road cam"!

OK, what in the world is the "road cam" you ask? For this trip Kent and I planned to shoot some video, especially through the Baja run. But I wanted the video to have a unique perspective for many of the shots - hence, the "road cam" was born.

Now, I can't tell you the entire story about the "road cam" - I save that for next week after we arrive in Cabo, but I will show you a "proof of concept" in the video below. Just hit the PLAY button below and check out what two strange geeky guys do at 70mph along I-44 just to kill a little time;~)

It worked great didn't it? It gave you goose bumps as you watched it, didn't it? I knew it would. More testing today and then on to the Cecil B. DeMille production on Monday!

Finally, We Make It To "Whataburger Land"

After an exciting morning of "road cam" testing, you can really work up an appetite. It was about noon and we were just getting to Oklahoma City. It was a time for lunch. I did a quick Google Maps on one of the iPads we had in the cab, and there it was, a listing of all the Whataburgers in the city!

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3098If you have never had a Whataburger, you have never had a hamburger. Whataburgers are about the best road warrior food you can get! It's not really fast food, it's kind of semi- fast food. You have to order it, then wait door it to be prepared.

WhataburgerYou take your number and soon your meal, fries and a 6 inch diameter burger covered with 1 inch of lettuce, tomato, onion, and mustard is delivered shortly afterwards piping hot and looking delicious. The server even shows a tray a condiments any of which you can choose to enhance your already 5 star dining experience.

Ladawn and I discovered Whataburgers on our DWUC and CBTL tour travels. I loved the retro look of the A-frame building and the personal touch by all the employees that worked there. Hey, TripAdvisor gives them 4 1/2 out of 5 stars - although still one of my road favorites, I don't think Kent was much impressed. You know, it's just that it takes a road rat connoisseur to to appreciate the best ;~)

We Fought The Sun And We Won!

I was driving and the sun was about to do it's thing just like it had the day before - it was getting ready to settle on the horizon and burn our eyes out again. Luckily for me, it was Kent's turn to drive.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3139Turns out things did not get that bad because the rolling hills did a good job blocking the sun's searing rays as it dropped below the horizon.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3150The really cool thing about sunsets in this part of the country that I've noticed is how the sun doesn't just disappear below the horizon. It leaves a lasting ball of orange brightness right at the point of the horizon where it disappeared - kind of cool looking.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3152As Kent was driving, I tried to work that ball of bright orange into several shots over the next several minutes. I think I got some keepers. Here are a few to enjoy.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3171Anyway, the sunset was quite beautiful and a joy to watch as we continued to head west.

The Milky Way Test

And head west we did. The goal was to make it to Albuquerque so our drive today would be a bit easier. Kent had driven a few hours and I was still feeling great and we agreed I would take us the rest of the way.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3221But not before we tried another roadside experiment. In this part of the country devoid of any big cities for miles, the night sky is ablaze with stars. It is so easy to look up and see the Milky Way, all the constellations, and about a gazillion stars - it is a breathtaking site for sure.

I'm thinking, "How about my Canon 7D fitted with a wide angle lens wide open, 30 second exposure at ISO 6400 - could I get a night sky shot?" Well, the testing was less than conclusive but I still think there possibilities there. Maybe well give it a try again in Cabo.

Finally, Albuquerque

We could see them in the distance, the city lights - we had made the long haul, 12 1/2 hours, 830 miles, one Whataburger stop, "road cam" testing, and Milky Way shooting and arrived safe and sound in the capital of the Land Of Enchantment.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3215We quickly checked in and planned to grab a great end of day meal at the hotel's restaurant. What a plan - we walked in to the completely empty restaurant, said HI to the server, who promptly seated us. I asked if we were the last customers of the evening? He quickly replied that we were not only the last, WE WERE THE FIRST OF THE DAY TOO!

Oh, oh...... You guessed it - dinner was not that good. Thank goodness for Whataburger earlier in the day ;~). Anyway, we wrapped the evening with an adult beverage in the hotel lounge and finally hit the sack about midnight. What a day.

Heading Out Leisurely Today

Today we make the final push to San Diego. The drive should be beautiful through the Southwest and we are looking forward to it. We head towards Flagstaff, then down to Phoenix, and then over to the West Coast. Hopefully we arrive around 6 p.m. this evening, get settled in, prepare for the first half of our big Baja run tomorrow.

So gang, that's it for me today. See ya' bright and early tomorrow.

Have a great one.  David

Saturday, November 27, 2010

CABO LOG: Navigator Report 11:27:10:6:27

Good Morning Everybody,

I'm just checking in with you to give you the latest update on our road trip progress. Kent left Columbus and landed at our home about 10:00a.m. to pick me up. After packing the jeep, we were on our way by 10:15 a.m.

Our route would take us down to Louisville, KY then across the Ohio River over this “caterpillar look alike” and up to St. Louis, MO.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_2997That part of the trip was pretty uneventful - lots of fairly lonely road as we drove through Hoosier National Forest. Even though there were no leaves on the trees, it's still a pretty drive.

The air was a crisp 29 degrees and the sky was blue - not a bad day for a drive. The leafless trees really stood out against the crisp clean air. The colors were mostly gray against blacks but, I still think offered the occasional opportunity for a photograph.

The Ride In A Baja Jeep

I have to tell ya', I didn't know what to expect in driving a Jeep cross country. Turns out a lot of my initial negative expectations have been put to rest. Ever with the 35 inch tires, jacked up frame, and stiffer off-road suspension, the ride is reasonable comfortable.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3009

The only negative issue is the cabin noise. Below 65 mph it's slightly noisy but not too bad. Get the Jeep cranked up to a more normal 70-75 mph and things get a lot noisier. You kind of get used to it after a while but you still have to talk a bit louder to each other when conversing.

Kent And I Both Have Gas Issues

Not those kind of gas issues ----

Our first surprise came when we filled the Jeep up for the first time - we had only managed about 10 MPG - not good when you are planning to make the Baja run with one point between gas stations being about 300 miles long. A 20 gallon tank of gas at 10 mpg is not going to let you make it.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3034

We decided that the readings were wrong and that we would hope for better on the next fill up. The second fill up near St. Louis, MO yielded only slightly better news. This time around we managed 13 mpg - still a problem for the long Baja stretch of gas less highway. We are working on plan B as we work our way across the country.

BIG Tires - Different Odometer Reading?

That was our original deduction about the gas issue but it turned out to be a non-issue after were did about 50 miles of testing as we sped up the road. The odometer was only reporting slightly differently from the actually mileage travelled - really not enough to be concerned about. So the MPG issue is still with us.

A Quick Black Friday Shopping Stop

In the rush to get out the door in Cincy, I forget to gran the iPhone car charger – not good.  That meant finding a Best Buy on the way to pick one up. The minute we checked the “Around Me” iPhone app, we found we were about 2 miles away from one. We made a quick gas stop and headed to Best Buy less that a half mile away.

It was madness!!!! Kent pulled up onto to the curb and I jumped into the store – still crazy!!! I quickly befriended one of the clerks who helped me find what I needed, checked me out with a free cash register, and I was out the door in no time.  Still, I’ll leave the Black Friday shopping to the PRO shoppers ;~)

Killer Sunset

And I don't mean like in "beautiful sunset" either. I mean killer, blinding, burn tour retinas out sunset. We refueled around St. Louis, made our slight left hand turn from I-64 onto I-44 and pointed our Jeep west to Tulsa, OK. It looked like about 5 more hours before we were going to call it a day.

Our timing was perfect - we hit a little traffic in St. Louis but it wasn't too bad. About an hour or so west of St. Louis the sun was getting closer to the horizon. Between car visors and ball caps we managed to avoid total blindness heading west.

Still the sun began to settle even lower on the horizon and there was a cloud to found anywhere in the sky - the view began to get blinding. I was driving and for a few moments, the sun was so bright, I had to slow slightly just to keep my bearings.

Wide Angle WonderfulnessIMG_3041

At one point the sun settled directly over the road directly ahead of us. It looked like a giant unrelenting fireball daring us to continue. And continue we did for nearly 20 more minutes before we finally got some relief as it settled below the horizon line. The experience gave an entire new meaning to the term "sunset".

We were temporally slightly blinded for several minutes and had to pull off the highway to see how to turn on the headlights. A few minutes later we felt pretty much back to normal - whew!!!

Pulling In For The Night

After a few more hours and. checking our Google Maps one more time, we decided that the time and miles to Tulsa was a bit too far to cover. We would have arrived about 9:30 p.m. - 10:30 p.m. EST - so we decided to pull over at Springfield, MO.

SpringfieldFinding a decent hotel is always a slight challenge on these kinds of road trips - no reservations, higher than normal room rates for walk-in's, etc. A quick check with my iPhone using the "Around Me" app had several hotels on line in no time. I made a few calls and as luck would have it, the Doubletree Hotel had much better rates than the other holiday Inn Express, Hampton Inn, etc. plus the Doubletree is a MUCH nicer hotel.

We parked the Jeep, grabbed the bags, and checked in - ahhh.... don't you love those Doubletree chocolate cookies ;~)

Heading West Again Today

After a very lazing stay at our hotel, we are up bright and early this morning and hope to hit the road about 7:30 a.m. Today the plan is to try to make it to Albuquerque, NX - about 830 miles, just a drop in the mileage bucket ;~)

Saturday DriveIf I get a chance today, and there is any blog-able news, I try to get a post up while on the road. I've been wanting to give this a try anyway. Let's see what happens.

Anyway, that's it for me this morning. Hope to see you back here again later today. Have a great one and Ill see ya' soon.

On the road again.....


p.s. LaDawn is NOT editing any of these posts so I make no guarantee of spelling accuracy, etc. ;~)  -David

Friday, November 26, 2010

Crazy Cabo Road Trip – The Journey Begins

DAZ - Kent

Good Morning Everybody,

First of all, I hope everybody (USA bound) had a fantastic Thanksgiving Day yesterday.  I delivered an  3 volume album set to one of my favorite clients, who was thrilled to have them by (on)Thanksgiving.  Plus, I had promised her I would deliver them by TGD too so when they arrived late Wednesday, I had to make good on my commitment.

We also had a mid-day shoot for one of my best clients who just got back into town and needed a quick photograph of their new baby that recently came into their lives.  After that we mostly just relaxed. My thanks to all who sent Thanksgiving Day wishes  – THANKS a bunch!

Crazy Cabo Road Trip Happens Today!

To Cabo The bags are packed and we are ready to roll.  Kent should be showing up in just a few minutes – the adventure begins!

As I mentioned last week, I’m changing up the “look and feel” of DPT for the next few days as Kent and I head across country in his new Baja Jeep. I hope to be posting several times a day and even through the weekend. Hey, it may be very interesting or very boring – who knows.

I’ll be running with a Verizon MI-FI hot spot in the Jeep so we will be rolling live as long as we have connectivity.  I’m also planning to blog from my iPad to ease the blogging process – we’ll see how that works out too.

Anyway, Kent just showed up so we are hitting the road like right now.  Yep, that’s us ready to head on out. Check back in later today for updates – See ya’ soon.


Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving Everybody!

Thanksgiving 2010

As I sit and write this post this morning, I think of all the stores that are open today with the likes of all kinds of promotions and sales.  And today is only the beginning.  Tomorrow we have the infamous “Black Friday” and then on to “Cyber Monday” next. 

Maybe, with all the promotion and sales hype that goes on, the advertisers and 21st century marketing geniuses should call today THANKSGETTING DAY instead of Thanksgiving Day. What has happened to Thanksgiving Day? It used to be a day when families spent time together just enjoying the day off, watching an early morning parade on TV, enjoying the T-Day feast and just being with each other?

OK, maybe with our super fast paced connected, Facebooked, Twittered world, it’s just the logical progression of things.  But is having the world fly by that quickly, especially on a holiday like today really necessary, important, fun, or even healthy?

Each and everyone one of us periodically needs a “pause that refreshes” in our lives.  Thanksgiving Day, like Christmas, has always been one of those “pauses.” So in spite of all the whirling and twirling that the world is doing today, I hope each and everyone of you find your “oasis of calm” among the marketing blitz storm.

Find some quiet time today and commune with the universe, the world, yes, and maybe even God.  Just slow down for a few moments and appreciate your blessings, no matter how small or how great, how few or how many.  The pilgrims, even though their early settlement had more graves than huts that first year, found good and important reasons to celebrate their first Thanksgiving Day.

We need to do the same thing today – it is almost essential.  Such pauses, even prayer pauses, refresh our life’s deepest energy sources, and we need that  - we all need it.

So my wish to you today is that you find a few such moments to give a heartfelt connected thanks to your creator, your God, the cosmic resonance - whom ever that may be for you.  Let those feelings of Thanksgiving roll downhill to your husband, wife, and all your loved ones. Today, honestly and authentically connect with your loved ones, your world, your friends, your God and enjoy the “pause that refreshes”. Then allow your Thanksgiving wishes become blessings for others on this wonderful day.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  -David

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

"Best Friends - Maybe..."

Best Friends - Maybe...

"Best Friends - Maybe..."
©David A. Ziser

Here is another image made early in my digital career.  By this time I had switched to shooting the Nikon D1x camera – it was just a lot more robust than the Fiji S-1 Pro I referenced in yesterday's post. Boy, back in the day, you owned a Hasselblad camera for most of your entire career.  Now we need to change out our digital cameras after 18 months to keep up with the new technologies.  Things sure have changed, haven’t they?

Anyway,  This image was made as I was standing around waiting on the bride to get ready.  We had arrived early to the bride’s home, as usual, so we could check out the “lay of the land” and be sure we were well prepared for our shoot.

These two little kids, brother and sister, I think, were ready to go.  I love photographing the kids at a wedding. You have to take a gentle approach so as to not alarm them as was the case here.  The little girl was especially shy and it shows in this image.

Still I wanted to bring them together in a nice image.  The little boy was leaning against the column so I helped the little girl place her arm around his, hold her basket, and hoped they would stay together long enough to get the shot.

I think the expressions are priceless in this image and love how the final image.  I also have several other great images of both children who turned out to be about the best little models in the world.

Lighting was from two sources.  The main light was coming in camera left from an open door.  The large light source bathed both children in this beautiful soft directional light. The “kick light” from camera right falling on the back of the little boy’s head was from a window just down the stairwell as seen in the distance. All came together for a great image that everybody loved.

Camera specs: Nikon D1x fitted with the “rare” 50mm F 1.4 lens at F3.5 @ 1/60 second. (I say “rare” because almost nobody thinks this lens is good for much of anything and it goes unused so often.  Actually it’s a great available light portrait lens for instances just like this) ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David

Wednesday: The One That Got Away – So Beautiful, Almost

Good Morning Everybody,

Things are a little slower around here today with studio deliveries queued up and looking pretty good for the holidays.  The “Crazy Cabo Road Trip” details are coming together too. 

Fuji HS10 1 I’m testing a new camera out during this road trip.  I just ordered and received my brand new Fuji HS10 camera from B&H [link] which has a sale on them, BTW.  They call it a bridge camera – somewhere between enthusiast and pro-sumer. It’s getting great reviews [link] so I thought I’d take it out for a spin.

Here is what caught my eye about the camera – it’s a 10 meg camera with a zoom range from 24-750mm and image stabilized!!! It shoots RAW and Jpeg, and yes, it also shoots Hi-Def video!!!  It sounds like the everything kind of camera.  I’ll give it a workout over the next several days and report back to you.  Sometimes I wonder if there is a place in a pro’s gear bag for a niche camera like this – uhmmmm… – sound like a Food For Thought Friday post ;~)

Anyway, that’s the latest, so let’s get right on with today’s post.

Special CBTL 2010 Deals To Expire Soon!

Deals2 Hey everybody, I wanted to remind you one more time about our CBTL tour specials which will be expiring at the end of the month.  I’ve posted all three design webcasts on line right here along with a description of the specials.  Don’t miss out on these great specials, so check them out right away!

The One That Got Away – So Beautiful, Almost

Hey everybody, welcome back to another episode of “The One That Got Away.”  This week we will discuss an image that is just so close – great lighting, good looking bride, great expressions – yep, it seems to have it all.  Checkout the image below to see what I’m talking about.So Beautiful - Almost

Let me point out some of the things that were just “nailed” in making this bridal portrait.

1 - Everything about the positioning of the bride is nearly perfect. Her body is turned away from the the incoming light creating lots of detail in the gown.

2 - The maker has her face turned back into the light into what we call a modified 2/3’s view and created a perfect loop lighting pattern on her face.

3 - The maker also assumed a lower camera position which lowered the horizon line thus creating a much more dramatic presentation of the bridal portrait.

4 – Lighting is perfect with a nice balance of ambient and flash exposure. The bride seems to “pop” from the composition.

So what’s the main problem with this image? 

Hit the “Read More…” link below for the rest of the story.

It comes down to this – it’s the bride’s positioning with respect to the crucifix in the background.  The one simple thing that could have been done to make this image really exciting is to position the bride to the left of the cross in the background, NOT the right of it.

Why, because the cross needs to offer a slight counter-balance to the bride’s position within this image.  With the cross BEHIND her, it seems she is moving out of the frame.  With the cross positioned in front of her, it would have created a “framing element” to keep her held better within the frame.

Take a look at a similar image below I showed during my CBTL2010 tour.Picture1 crossThe secret is to keep the cross from growing out of her head.  And the easiest way to do that is to have the subject looking into the direction of the cross, not away from it – it’s just works better compositionally.

Want to improve this composition even more?  By moving my camera position even more to the left, I was able to position my bride against a much less distracting background – check it out below.

Picture2 - crossNow the bride is framed up nicely within the blank wall behind her.  The cross now serves as a direct counter-balance to the subject creating a nice overall visual balance to the scene.

The easy rule of thumb is this.  Always have the subject looking in the direction of the cross in the background of the church.  It not only looks better but also “feels” better.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We are heading to Dayton, Ohio to be LaDawn’s family for our Thanksgiving Day celebration in just an hour or two. Tomorrow I have a family portrait shoot right at noon, but I will be back for a few Thanksgiving Day thoughts.

Then on Friday we begin our long cross country journey – plan to stay tuned for the road show reports.  I’ll probably even keep them going over the weekend – assuming I can still type after a day’s driving ;~) and without LaDawn’s editing be ready for a mistake or two.

Have a great one and I'll see you then.  -David

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

"Just An Easy Afternoon"

Just An Easy Afternoon "Just An Easy Afternoon"
©David A. Ziser

Sometimes I think it’s fun to explore my old digital archives.  I decided to do that for today’s post.  I actually have every one of my digital images I’ve ever photographed going back almost 11 years sitting on one very large drive that I can easily access.

This image is taken from my very first digitally photographed wedding on December 30, 2000.  Needless to say, I was a bit nervous about capturing the images. But by staying alert to proper exposure, even while shooting in JPEG made, resulted in some beautiful images.

This image was taken at the bride’s home just a few minutes before we headed to the church.  We were still in the middle of the holiday season and the client’s home was beautifully decorated. And, as they say in that old Christmas song, “The weather outside was frightful…” with the snow really coming down heavily.

Not much of that comes across in the beautiful available light image of the bride just relaxing on her parent’s sofa. What comes across is the fact that this is a beautiful bride pretty darn relaxed just moments before she is to get married.

I had tried to crop the lamp off on the left but preferred not thus keeping the bride in the center of the frame. I actually think the lamp offers a nice counter-balance to the wall decor in this composition.

I also like all the vertical, horizontal, and diagonal lines playing off each other in the portrait.  The result is a very simple, softly lit, pleasing casual bridal portrait of our beautiful bride.

Camera specs: Fuji S-1 Pro fitted with 28-105mm F2.8 Tamron lens at 60mm. F4.0 @ 1/60 second, ISO 320.  Enjoy!  -David

Technique Tuesday: Family Portraits and Posing The Groups; Road Trip Mania!!!

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I hope the world is treating you well as we head into the holiday season.  With Turkey Day right around the corner, I can’t believe this year has gone by so quickly.  Anyway, it’s been a good one, and a busy one – hope the same is true for you.

Hey gang, just wanted to give you a “heads up” that my DPT blog is going to be changed up over the next few days beginning on Friday, and it’s all in good fun ;~)  As I mentioned yesterday, my buddy, Kent Smith, and I are heading out on a very ambitious road trip (adventure) covering over 3,200 miles over the next 5-6 days. 

To Cabo

Kent is picking me up in Edgewood, KY on Friday morning about  10:00 a.m. We then head directly west to San Diego – 2,211 miles – then make a hard left, cross the Mexican border at Tijuana, and then hi-tail it to the tip of the Baja peninsula – another 1,000 miles!

Jeep Why does Chevy Chase come to mind ;~)  We are making the trip in Kent’s just recently acquired Baja Jeep – OMG!!! – 3,200 miles in THAT!!!  Yep, that’s going to be the story for the next few days.  I thought I’d blog the trip just for the fun of it, even trying to get some good images along the way.  Anyway, stay tuned, I’ll keep you posted. OK, that’s the latest craziness from this end, so why don’t we get right to today’s post.  Here we go…

Technique Tuesday: Family Portraits and Posing The Groups

This request comes up a lot here at DPT; how to pose groups? So I thought I’d touch on some quick pointers for you guys and girls as we enter this holiday season. 

Fun Family Portraits We recently did a family portrait session for one of my favorite clients.  I actually photographed mom and dad’s wedding about 14 years ago and we’ve been doing their family portraits, every couple of years, since then.

In today’s tutorial, I just want to walk you through how we managed the shoot for the family this fall.  The images I’m going to share with you represent my normal family portrait shooting routine.  I’ll show you how I begin with the larger groups, add a little variety by changing locations, and then how I break the groups down into smaller groups to finish the shoot.

The goal is to come up with a lot of  photographic variety for the clients so they can best enjoy both the shooting experience and the final delivered images.

Why not hit the PLAY button below and enjoy the show.


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  We’re pretty busy around the studio putting finishing touches on our holiday decorating and our trip to Cabo, Mexico.  OH, BTW, I just got a call from a good client that’s wants a family portrait on Thanksgiving Day.  It’s never-ending sometimes ;~)

Hey, have a great rest of the day, and I’ll plan to see you again tomorrow for another episode of the one that got away.

See ya’ then,  -David

Monday, November 22, 2010

"Happy, Happy, Happy"

Happy Faces 63 250 18-200-70 400

"Happy, Happy, Happy"
©David A. Ziser

I love this image of these four siblings.  It was captured at a recent Bar Mitzvah celebration of the handsome young man in the middle of the group.  I also photographed the Bat Mitzvahs of his three sisters too.  It’s nice to have such great clients.

I make these images in the undercroft of the synagogue on Thursday before the big Saturday event. It is the most simple of all my portrait setups – one large shoot thru umbrella camera left set up with my Quantum at about 1/4 power.  Sometimes I use a reflector to camera right and sometimes I just bounce my on-camera flash off the ceiling for “fill”.  Anyway, with a little help from Lightroom, it always gives a beautiful result.

I’m shooting in front of a 7 foot portable painted canvas background so space is a bit limited.  The idea is to get the best expressions of the kids.  Asking for big hugs usually does the trick. 

Camera specs: Canon 7D fitted with 18-200mm IS lens at 70mm, F6.3 @ 1/250 second, ISO 400.  Enjoy!  -David