Brian Shaler

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Gravity is for chumps

Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

A 5,000+ Mile Jump

On October 15th, 2006, while a small group of amateur photographers were hiking at Papago Park in Phoenix, Arizona, something strange happened. A guy jumped. Well, actually, another guy jumped first, then his wife, and then the jumper jumped. At the time, he wasn’t the jumper. In fact, he very rarely jumped and nobody had ever remarked that his jumping was any different than anyone else’s.

The Original Shaler Jump
A guy jumps

The strange thing which happened that afternoon was the jumper’s jump. It didn’t end when his feet returned to the ground. In fact, the jump didn’t even end in Phoenix.

At the time, nothing seemed special about the jump. The preview screen on the camera showed what appeared to be a well-captured photo of a good jump. Nothing spectacular. Just a good jump. The hike resumed.

Throughout the following months, the group met up at other locations around Phoenix. When the opportunity arose, the photographers enjoyed taking other jumping photos. The jumper, who was still not known as such, happily obliged.

At a conference in November of 2007, the jump that left the ground over a year earlier started to turn into something. The jumper was introduced to someone he had never met by someone he had never met as, “the guy that jumps.” The jump had somehow preceded the jumper.

Jumpers jump the jumper’s jump in NH

Fast forward another thirteen months to December of 2008.

A group of people in New Hampshire who had never been in direct contact with the jumper scheduled a local photography meet-up. The theme of the meet-up was to jump. More specifically, it was to emulate the jumper’s 2006 jump and those that followed.

How the jump traveled over 2,000 miles to the Northeast United States on its own is a testament to the strange power of the Internet.

Amazingly, the jump didn’t stop there.

The jump that left the ground in 2006 was seen again in 2009 on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean. Some 5,000 miles away, a German Flickr and Twitter user visiting Lake Garda in Italy decided to jump the jumper’s jump.

trying a shalerjump @ lake garda
“trying a shalerjump @ lake garda” by vanse1980 on Flickr

That, to me, is a leap of unimaginable scale. One that started innocently enough during a hike in Phoenix, Arizona.

A Photo Meme

I was tagged (as in “you’re it”) some time ago by at least one person to participate in a meme going around the blogosphere. This one is the “6th photo on your 6th page of Flickr photos.” There seems to be a pretty broad overlap between Flickr’s demographic (not just photographers, but people who take tons of digital photos and want to share them) and bloggers who tag each other in memes.

To the left is an image I compiled using photos I took in Mesa, AZ on the night of July 4, 2006. I don’t think I ever finished processing all of the photos. Those were the first 160 I selected.

That night, I was surprised and pleased with how well the photos came out while looking at the preview screen on my camera. I figured a few of them would be good enough to post online. Later on, while at my computer going through them. I was surprised to find so many of them turned out as good as they did.

A few quick tips if you want to take some shots like these:

– Get close. I was about 100 feet from the launching area, closer than the closest paying spectators. It was a parking lot off to the side. I had to point my tripod almost straight up to catch the fireworks.

– Use manual focus. Find a point past the launching area that will be about as far away as the peak of the fireworks and focus on that. Set it and forget it.

– The longer your shutter speed, the longer the fireworks’ streaks will be and the higher likelihood of catching them. However, if the streaks are too long, it stops looking like fireworks and looks more abstract. Start at half a second and try not to exceed one second.

– Use aperture for exposure. Start with it wide open (smallest number) and close it down if you’re losing color from overexposure.

– Don’t use shutter speed for exposure. By adjusting the shutter speed, you may inadvertently change the look and shape of the fireworks.

– Anticipate. Don’t watch the explosions. Watch very closely for the projectiles on their way up and open the shutter just before they get to their peak.

– Post-production. For the most part, you’ll just want to use curves to darken the darks. Then add some color saturation.

In 2007, I think I forgot a piece of my tripod at home, so I was unable to take any good photos. I was also more in the mood to hang out and watch the show.

In 2008, I was at the fireworks show but neither took photos nor watched the show. I was too busy jumping up and down over and over again.

Fourth of July ShalerJump

Adam Nollmeyer captured and posted an excellent photo from the Fourth of July! He also included setup information on the Flickr photo’s description.

Acme Photography: Fourth of July ShalerJump

Photography Video Tutorial – Daring LA Rooftop Photoshoot

It would be great to accompany this video with a screencast of the post-production, which is definitely at least 50% of the work for a photo like this. Unfortunately, that would be additional time for a project that took over 4 months to wrap up as-is. Yesterday, I finally edited and posted footage from November of Adam Nollmeyer of Acme Photography and myself taking photos from a rooftop in downtown Los Angeles.

The resulting photo:

Los Angles Downtown Panoramic City Skyline Photography

Downtown LA ShalerJump

While in LA during November for the Los Angeles Auto Show, Adam Nollmeyer and I risked life and limb to capture a new and exciting ShalerJump photo. We climbed onto the roof of our 15 story hotel! (Video coming soon eventually..)

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