Thursday, October 18, 2012

Photowalk 2012 at Turf Paradise Phoenix

Phoenix Photowalkers 2012 at Turf Paradise

On Saturday 13 October, 2012 I led my fourth International Photowalk 2012 sponsored by NAPP, the National Association of Photoshop Professionals, this time at Turf Paradise in Phoenix, Arizona. 

Photowalker and Former Student Isabella, a Great Photographer!
We had a smaller group of people this year, maybe because there were so many other photowalks in the area.  But that’s not a bad thing.  The folks we had were really into photography. 

Mike Chamberlain, Track Announcer and NICE GUY

Probably the highlight of the experience was how darn nice Turf Paradise people were to us!  In groups of three, they let us photograph from the track announcers booth high above the grandstands and also let us get at track level for some of the closeups I have of the horses.

We enjoyed meeting Mike Chamberlain track announcer; Jorge Estrada, association steward; and Mike Scerbo the social media guy (here’s an interesting article here on Turf Paradise’s use of social media in the Phoenix Business Journal).  Jorge actually invited us to a future polo match at Westworld.  
Horse and Handler Before a Race

Seeing me setting up the group shot, Mike Scerbo the social media guy came out to greet us.  That set a nice tone for our visit.  Later on the track announcer Mike came out to invite us to go in small groups to visit him and take photos high atop the track where the press go.  Then they invited us in small groups to get between the first and second rails close to the track.

Horses Head to the Finish Line

I used a Canon 7D and two lenses:  the Canon 28-135mm and the Tamron 70-200mm.  I brought along a Tamron 200-500mm but frankly I didn’t need it.  It was just another heavy lens to drag around, along with a tripod that I only used for the group shot.  Moral of the story here:  travel lighter!  That stuff was heavy dragging up to the catwalk and all over the track. 

Number Two is a WINNAH!!!

I set up a Flickr group especially for the Photowalkers to join in conversation and post their own photos.  Feel free to join in!

Number Six Leading The Charge!

Happy Shooting,

Enjoy more of the photos I took at Turf Paradise

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Anevay at Four Months

I'm soooo bored!
You may remember back in April of 2012 I photographed Anevay Sage Raciak, then a newborn.  One thing I avoided was any kind of flash; I used all natural light.  You can click HERE to see the blog I did on that photo session. 

I went back to grandma’s house and photographed Anevay at four months in August of 2012. 
I'm going to be a star!

This time I used a Canon 580EXII flash in a large portable softbox.  My goal was to do some dramatic lighting on her but not have the flash so bright it would bother her.   My camera is a Canon 7D using a 28-135mm lens.  I edited primarily in Lightroom but used Photoshop CS6 on a few photos including the plugins Silver Efex Pro from Nik Software (great for black and white conversion) and Simplify from Topaz Labs.  

I think I hear the ice cream truck.

"Look into my deep blue eyes!"

Do you think I'm pretty?  DO YOU?

Happy Shooting,

Here is a slideshow of my visit with Anevay from my Flickr Site:

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Prague to Nuremberg Down the Danube All the Way to Budapest, July 2012

After over a dozen cruises on big ships, this time it was on a small river boat from Viking River Cruises, once done visiting Prague, Czech Republic. 

Here are the stops:  Prague, then by bus to pick up the Viking River Ship at Nuremberg, Germany.  Then on to Regensberg, Germany and Passau, Germany.  Then on to Melk and Vienna, Austria.  The cruise ended in Budapest, Hungary.

Prague is the capital of the Czech Republic and like many cities in Europe, very old and historical.  Every step of the way there seemed to be something to photograph.  By the way, at cruise end, I took over one thousand photographs and whittled it all down to around 200, which is probably still too many.  Some highlights include touring Lobkowicz Palace at Prague Castle and their collection of art recovered from the Nazi’s and communists, lovely Charles Bridge, a classical concert, and a disturbing visit to Terezin, site of a Nazi Concentration Camp in World War II.  The enormity hit me.  Graves.  Every grave a MASS grave.  Jews and Christians alike.  This was the site of the Nazi’s fooling the International Red Cross into thinking it was a health spa.  Our tour guide told us the schedule would be we would tour Terezin and then have a late lunch so we would not have to come back.  That was wise.  I was hungry by 2pm.  They bused us to the town of Litomerice and a place called Labut or Swan.  I noticed quickly that this might have something of personal interest and I was right!  A “minipivovar” or micro brewery!  Lunch was fun and so was the conversation with Sabina Zakova.  I had earlier done a photo essay of micro breweries in Santa Fe, New Mexico so it was enjoyable for me to tour this little brewery.  It was obvious to me that this is a small brewery for local businesses and clientele.  Small, but good taste!  You can learn more about Labut by going to  and ask for Sabina.  This was one of many pubs and breweries I was to visit in the countries ahead of me.  These people INVENTED beer.  I said a few times I thought our American taste buds had atrophied.  This is GOOD beer, not the swill we have in the USA.  For instance, Budweiser “Budvar” in Prague is NOT even remotely like Budweiser in the USA.  I actually like the Prague Budweiser.  Well, more than like but not any kind of goofy love.  I mean I like this stuff.  

Then that night we went to a Czech folk dancing and food celebration.  First off, the food was plentiful.  Once they knew I liked beer, that tap was stuck in the “ON” position and I was in heaven.  They could have stopped with the bread and butter, beer, and giant pot of soup.  I could have been happy.  But no, there was more and more food… then the entertainment began.  Delightful Czech singers and dancers.  I actually was drafted to participate in the “broom dance” which I messed up terribly, but I got a chance to dance with a few of the cute Czech girls so it was a-ok by me.  Plus, more beer waiting for me!  You know, another thing… in the USA drinking beer is seen as something of a problem but in Europe it is like water and it more of a thing to do with friends.  On my trip, I found of all the Americans, I was about the only one that really relished the fine beer.  Hey, more for me! 

From Prague a bus lead us to our Viking Ship the “Bolero” to the Danube River and Nuremberg.  This is where the Nazi’s had their famous parade ground and after World War II, the Nuremberg war crime trials.  In old town, they had a lot of booths up, including (you guessed it) several serving local beers.  I had to sample!

And then it was through the many locks of the Danube on to Regensburg, Germany.  After walking around what is considered one of Europe’s best preserved medieval cities, it was off by bus to Kelheim and then by ferry to enjoy the Danube Gorge’s dramatic scenery and its spectacular 400-foot chalk cliffs. And of course, I had to visit the famous Weltenburg Abbey, famous for its dark ale, brewed by monks since 1050.  And I had me a few.  A lovely beer maiden found out I enjoyed their product.  I told her it was a darn shame my fellow Americans would only take a sip then walk away.  She went around and gathered up several beers that hadn’t been touched and said “here ya go!”  DANKE DANKE!!!!  ZEHR GUT! 

On to Passau, Germany!  This is the meeting place of the Inn, Ilz and Danube Rivers.  I saw the impressive Oberhaus Fortress and and the baroque St. Stephan’s Cathedral and had the treat of a special concert played on the 17,000-pipe organ, considered Europe’s largest church organ.  I ended my visit of Passau at the city hall, maybe 100 feet from the ship, and the pub there.  I had a Lowenbrauerei, whose slogan in German is, “Drei Flusse.  Zwei Lowen.  Ein Bier.”  Translated, it means “Three Rivers.  Two Lions.  One Beer.”  It was not brewed at the city hall, but at another location in town.  ZEHR GUT, once again!  As an aside, I should put together a beer and brewery tour of Europe some day.  Just a thought. 

We cruise to Austria and the first stop is the Benedictine Abbey in Melk.  Then on to lovely Vienna.  I wish they allowed cameras in the concert hall they took us to.  Classical Viennese music in Vienna.  I can tell you it was a few hours of lovely memories. 

Our destination was Budapest, capital of Hungary.  I saw Heroes’ Square to learn more about Hungarian history, then went across the Danube to Buda’s Castle District and Fishermen’s Bastion and Matthias Church.  Later in the day it was off to Eastern Hungary and Uj Tanyacscarda, where they breed and train Hungarian horses.  I actually got to use one of the Hunagarian cowboy’s whips, knocked the bottle off a ledge, and was given a bottle of Hungarian wine, which I shared at dinner with a lovely couple from Scotland.  The final night onboard was spent listening to Hungarian singers and then taking photos of Budapest at night. 

Note:  In the spirit of full disclosure, I am now an agent for Cruise Brothers.  I’ve taken over a dozen cruises from the biggest ships to the smallest river cruises.  I invite you to visit my page and if you want more information, just email me!

Happy Shooting,

Here is a slideshow of my trip to Prague and down the Danube from my Flickr Site:

Monday, July 9, 2012

Santa Fe Breweries: One Pint at a Time!

I photographed the breweries of Santa Fe, New Mexico from 2 to 5 July 2012 as part of an overall story a team of us put together working with famed National Geographic Magazine photographer Jim Richardson (assisted by the lovely and gracious Kansas princess Jordan Haiduk) while part of the Santa Fe Photographic Workshop.  

Sampling at Santa Fe Brewery
Choosing my topic... well, I guess you can say I’ve had experience touring breweries and drinking the products, so why not cover something I know about.  I also thought it would be a different take on a lovely city. 
Second Street Brewery, Santa Fe

Before leaving for Santa Fe, I did some research and targeted four companies.  The first place I stopped and actually visited twice was Second Street Brewery by the railroad tracks on, of all places, Second Street.  I quickly explained I was doing a photo story and was immediately welcomed in.  Actually, one thing I found with all of my visits was how darn friendly everybody was once they found out I was doing a photo story on breweries.  Maybe it was the intense smell of hops in the breweries or maybe they are sincerely nice folks!  Anyway, I fancied a few of their beers and settled on the India Pale Ale.  We all have different tastes.  I just don’t care much for the highly bitter beers.  I also had to remind myself that these beers often come with a kick (higher in alcohol content).  It was hard to say no, but I did need to keep my camera straight.  Rod Tweet is the able brewmaster there.  Thanks for your hospitality, Rod.  I liked it so much I came back a second time.

Robert from Marble Brewery in Santa Fe
Then I went down on the plaza on San Francisco Street and visited Marble Brewery.  Now, I did some faulty research because I thought they had a brewery in Santa Fe.  They brew in Albuquerque.  No matter, I sure did want to try what they had.  Robert, the friendly fellow you see serving me up a pilsner, also let me sample some of the other beers they make including the red, which has a bit of a kick to it. 

Alana Jones and friend at Santa Fe Brewing Company

I then went over to Santa Fe Brewing Company and visited with manager Alana Jones.  Once again, they opened up their tasting room and brewery to me on two different visits.  The lovely Heather served up the brew in the tasting room.  There is just something about a pub that invites friendly people.  It was hard to photograph because I got so engaged in conversation with people.  I just couldn’t decide what to try, so I got the sampler with, as I recall, eight different varieties.  I gave away a few brews so I could get some photographs of people, so I bought some additional samples.  I have always been partial to Hefeweizen (wheat) beer, and their version did not disappoint.  I also liked the Happy Camper and State Pen Porter (named after the nearby state penitentiary).  The friendly Leif took me over to their cask room, which was nearly pitch dark, to see the beer they were aging for two years in wooden casks.  That was a challenge to photograph.  I put my Canon 7D on manual and pointed and fired my 580exII flash unit in various directions.  Cask beer.  That will be interesting to sample when it is ready.  If you ever get to Santa Fe Brewing, ask them about it. 
John is passionate about beer at Blue Corn Brewery

My final visit was to Blue Corn Brewery.   I sampled again several of their beers, but settled on the Atomic Blonde Lager, a very smooth refreshing beer.  My new friend sitting next to me, Mr. Modesto Gilbert Garcia, also liked the Blonde Lager.  While sitting at the bar contemplating either my next photo or next beer, I met a fellow by the name of Darragh Nagle.  He is CEO of Falcon Meadery and Winery and sell wines to Blue Corn.  Darragh explained it was a honey wine made out of brewers yeast.  I must say, I am not much of a wine drinker but provided a sample and it was quite good!  Sadly, I ran out of time; otherwise I would have enjoyed visiting his winery/brewery (or is that a wine brewery?). 
Darragh Nagle of Falcon Meadery and Winery

If you want to know more about breweries throughout New Mexico, visit the New Mexico Brewers Guild.  My home state of Arizona also has a brewers guild.  Now I’ll have to get familiar with the local stuff; a story for another day.

But for now, thank you Santa Fe brewers!  From what I remember, I had a good time. 

Happy Shooting,

Jim Patterson

See all the photos below from my Flickr site