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El Capitan Emerges from the Shadows

O Captain! My Captain!

O Captain! My Captain!


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I’ll admit I’m like a fiend the way I check my Google Analytics, most often multiple times per day (there’s an app for that!), but I’m really bad about looking at my Flickr stats. Every once in a while I’ll sift through them to see where traffic is coming from that doesn’t originate from Flickr and I’ll find some interesting stuff.

I guess this all really started when I (more…)


Crushdown in HDR at the Gate

Crushdown at the Gate

Crushdown at the Gate


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Last month Todd from the local band Crushdown came to me saying that they needed some cool promo shots and asked if I could create (more…)


Another Merit Photo @ the Print Competition

Asleep With the Light On

Asleep With the Light On

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It’s a win in my book! While it may technically be second place again, an 82 point merit print is another good effort for my second time in print competition. I went with the HDR above (more…)


Hoover Dam at Night

Dam Sleepy

Hoover Dam @ Night

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I got back a few days ago from my annual road trip with the guys to spring training in Phoenix loaded with images taken along the way. In usual form, I was planning on holding off the images for one big post but I had this one that I had to spit out as soon as possible.

Our trip started in the SF Bay Area but (more…)


Milpitas Visitor’s Guide Cover Shot!

Cover Shot

2010 Milpitas Welcome Guide Cover Shot


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I had another recent assignment for the Milpitas Post to grab some images for the 2010 Milpitas Visitor’s Guide and one of my images (more…)


2nd Place in Print Competition

At the Ready

At the Ready


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With help from my friend, and very talented photographer, Randy Wong, I entered my first PPA regulation print competition at my local PPA affiliate, PPGBA (Professional Photographers of the Greater Bay Area).  I had never entered any live print competition and now I think (more…)


Weathering the Storm

Storm Serenity

Storm Serenity


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With all of the rain and clouds covering much of California lately, I was reminded of this image that I shot last June in Lake Tahoe. I had been helping a friend paint his house in Sacramento over that weekend and since I didn’t have to be anywhere on Monday, I figured I would go the rest of the way up to the lake so that I could relax and shoot a little.

Since it was hot and I wasn’t really paying attention to the forecast, I didn’t (more…)


Enjoying the Day’s End

The Day's End

The Day's End


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Near the end of a relaxing afternoon wine tasting in the Temecula area, I was inspired to grab this image as I saw (more…)


Seeing Griffith at Night in HDR

Griffith Obelisk

Griffith Obelisk


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While I sometimes get in just a bit over my head after a project snowballs bigger than I expected or sometimes I just procrastinate, this time it may be a mix of the two. I’ve got a lot going on photographically at the moment (sweet!) and I’m working hard to make sure that something new comes together. What am I getting at here? A recent trip to (more…)


San Francisco City Hall in HDR strikes again!

SF City Hall

SF City Hall

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It’s time for celebration over here at the Anvilimage compound! My image of San Francisco’s City Hall (shown above) won second place in an HDR photo contest hosted by Rick Sammon! I want to (more…)


A California Christmas

Christmas at the Capitol

Christmas at the Capitol

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While driving back from Auburn, CA, after a day of wine tasting with my girlfriend, the rain stopped coming down long enough to make a stop off at the state capitol in Sacramento. I’ve been to Sacramento plenty of times on the way to Tahoe or Folsom, but this was the first time that I had actually (more…)


Diwali 2009 – Shooting with Passion

Keeping with Tradition

Keeping with Tradition

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A Mother's Love

A Mother's Love

While working as a freelance shooter for a local newspaper, I’ve had to shoot a lot of different subjects that I normally wouldn’t ever thought of capturing with my camera. Tanning beds at a spa? Nope, it’s not my first choice for my latest HDR effort. How about a dog walk-a-thon at the new facility for the SPCA? While I love dogs and taking pics of them, heading to the SPCA a half hour away isn’t the first thing on my list on a Saturday morning. But guess what? One of those shots got me my first cover.

Generations

Generations

Covering the Diwali festival at the Milpitas Sikh Gurdawara wouldn’t have been something that I normally would have been exposed to, either, and I jumped at the chance to step out of the comfort zone of my everyday life so that I could experience the Sikh Festival of Lights not just as an outsider reading about it in a book or magazine, but firsthand. Not only did I get the privilege of participating in the festival like I belonged there, but my host, Raj Singal and others, seemed as excited to have me there as I was. I felt very welcome to be in attendance and was told that I could feel free to shoot from anywhere I liked in order to capture the spirit of the event.

Keeping Time

Keeping Time

Most of the time when I’m shooting for an assignment, I’ll get the images that I need and hit the bricks. This time was different: I took a real interest in the subjects and I shot not only for the paper, but for my own experience and vision as well. I was amazed by the richness of color in the women’s clothing, the blending of different generations, and the feeling of community as those in attendance shared meals and prayed together. While I’m not rocking their music in the CD player in my car, as a musician I totally appreciated the sounds coming from the band and was getting into the rhythm as I moved around the room and captured images.

Inner Peace

Inner Peace

While here in America we celebrated Thanksgiving last week, I reflected on moments of my life over the last year. The opportunities I’ve had to experience new things and capture them with my camera are some of the things that I’m most thankful for. I actually really don’t mind shooting tanning beds and dog kennels since I welcome the challenge to tell the story that needs to be told. Luckily, I sometimes get to shoot something that is way more interesting and there are many, many stories that could be told by the pictures here. Enjoy and more to come…

The Voice

The Voice

Me!

Me!


St. John’s Cemetery

St John's

St John's

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I was dumbfounded when Paul told me, but I couldn’t believe there was something cool right here in my old stomping grounds that I didn’t know about. He and I were planning to do a night shoot of a small graveyard that dated back to the Civil War located in Redwood City and Paul asked me if the cemetery in San Mateo had anything cool in it. I shot back with, “What cemetery in San Mateo?!”

While on the phone, we both hit Google Maps and searched for the location as well as any info we could find about St. John’s Cemetery. I went to high school just a few miles from St. John’s and I had no clue that the small sanctuary with its entrance nestled at the end of a street in a hilly neighborhood even existed. I could see the top of the mausoleum pictured above on the Google Maps satellite view and quickly found a pic on Flickr that someone had posted and instantly knew that I would be paying this place a visit.

Of course, the cemetery has hours that wouldn’t permit the night photography that I wanted to do, so I headed over one morning just after the front gate opened at 9am. Paul was at work and couldn’t join, but I grabbed a few shots and purposefully didn’t shoot everything that I wanted so that he and I can go back later to shoot some more.

HDR Info: This is a 3 exposure HDR image that was shot handheld without a tripod. Using my Canon 40D and a Sigma 10-20mm lens, I grab the three exposures for this with a focal length of 12mm with ISO 100 and f7.1. The three exposures were combined and tone mapped in Photomatix and further cleaned up in Photoshop CS4.


A Night at the Park

Reflective Calm

Reflective Calm

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Honest! I didn’t know that the Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco was closed to the public past 10pm… But the security guard was really cool about it. Instead of outright kicking us to the curb, he politely asked us to finish up our shots and head out. Seriously!

When I’m wandering through the city late at night looking for a the next cool shot to take, sometimes the last thing I’m thinking about doing is looking for a sign that tells me what the hours are, especially when it’s as well lit and welcome looking as the gardens next to the Metreon! We (Tom, Paul and I) actually ran around and shot this place up for at least 45 minutes before we were talked to by security. In hindsight, we all thought that it would have been sooner because there are security cameras all over the place.

The shot above was taken from inside the edge of the fountain over the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial looking toward the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. For those that don’t know, that would be the brick building with the zebra striped tower. The building to the right with the bright blue top and yellow interior wall is the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. Luckily, this late at night (almost 1am) the fountain is off so I didn’t get wet!

The shot below is the one that I thought would summon security. The three of us, in an effort to get above the trees and concrete, ascended some stairs that appeared to be for utility access to some doors on the third floor.

Perched somewhere I probably shouldn’t have been with yet another one of those round, glass-eye security cams right behind my head, I set up the tripod for a couple of HDR’s. Eh, it was one of those shots that I just had to get: lots of glass, lights, the recognizable SF Marriott Marquis Hotel, the tower of St. Patrick’s and some cool, blue lights from the Contemporary Jewish Museum of San Francisco. Talk about the diversity of subjects in one shot. It was worth the risk and the security was cool about it. I’ll be back to shoot again more in the daytime for sure!

Asleep with the Light On

Asleep with the Light On

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Reflective Calm HDR Info: Three images shot on a tripod using a Canon 40D through a 24-105mm f4L lens at 40mm with ISO 100 and f5.6. HDR processing handled by Photomatix and further edited in Photoshop CS4.

Metreon Glass HDR Info: Three images shot on a tripod using a Canon 40D through a Sigma 10-20mm lens at 10mm with ISO 100 and f8. HDR processing handled by Photomatix and further edited in Photoshop CS4.


Skully the Protector

Backroad Skully

Backroad Skully

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Many of the guys (and gals) riding motards on the roads of the Santa Cruz Mountains, especially around Alice’s, will recognize this skull that has been carved into a rock on the side of the road. Did I say road? At only one lane wide in most parts, it’s more like a goat trail winding its way through the hills. With its many switchback turns and short straights, I don’t come through here often on my sportbike.

I don’t know what the origin of this skull is, though it has changed a little over the years. On an August night shoot while trying to find a remote spot that was not polluted with light from the nearby towns, we set up shop right in front of ol’ Skully here and attempted to get some shots of the Perseids meteor shower. Looking back to see this skull staring at me at about 1 o’clock in the morning weirded me out a little, but I was convinced that he had our back as Paul kept mentioning recent mountain lion sightings.


Legion of HDR

San Francisco Legion of Honor

San Francisco Legion of Honor


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With a short burst of “bad weather” here in Northern California lately, we’ve all gotten the feeling that the extended Indian summer, that is characteristic of our area, is coming to a close. Trying to make the best of it and squeeze out that very last drop of great weather, I’ve been shooting as much as I can, processing only a little and not posting to the blog. It’s unfortunate and I promise to keep things more interesting. I’m sitting on a pile of great pics and just need to sit down long enough to crank out a post here and there.

In fact, this HDR of the San Francisco Legion of Honor has been around for about a month and it’s actually part of a series I shot one night in early September. I meant publish all of the pics at once, but sometimes these HDR’s can take so much time that I don’t feel like staring at the same subject again for a bit. So, you’re getting one view of it.

I admit, the angle may be a bit awkward, but as I walked up to the building, turned to my left and looked up at the moon, this is how I saw things and I wanted to convey the sense of scale that I felt with the arch looming over me.

Image Info: Three images shot on a tripod through a Sigma 10-20mm @ 10mm with ISO100 and f5.6. The 3 shots were auto bracketed at 0,-2,+2 with the “0” exposure lasting 6 seconds.


Redwood City PAL Award Night

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Last Wednesday I got a call on short notice asking if I was free to shoot at an event the next night. Luckily, I’ve got a pretty flexible schedule and told them that I could be there for the Redwood City Police Athletic League’s 2009 awards night. It was great event with a mixture of a relaxed outdoor party, kid’s activities, and entertainment. In fact, it was almost like two separate events in one and the amount of pictures that got was a testament to that!

Check out slideshow video above that I put together for this event. The holidays are coming and I’m available for your events and parties, too. Hit the “Contact” button on the top right and drop me a note telling what you’re planning!


Drop Everything!

Skyline Blvd Sunset
Skyline Blvd Sunset, original photography by Joe Ercoli.

I got the call and I had to go. It wasn’t a call from God or a deep desire burning inside that pulled me away from the BBQ that I was just firing up to cook dinner. It wasn’t even the call of nature. It was Paul and he was on the other end of the line yelling at me that I had to leave now before time ran out. “Dude, jump in your car right now and get your ass up here! The colors are amazing!” Thankfully I have a gas grill because I shut her down, grabbed my gear and I was off…

Red Skies at Night...
Red Skies at Night…
Paul told me to meet him at this spot on the side of the road that we’ve shot at a couple of times while trying to capture images of the Perseids meteor shower and other sunsets. Luckily, it’s only minutes from my house and while Google says that it’s a 5.6 mile drive, you seem to get outta Dodge pretty quickly and the perspective from up there is entirely different.

He was right, I don’t know if was the smoke in air from the wild fires in California this year or something came together just right, but the colors were poppin’ and I was set to stay into the blue hour. I grabbed a few snaps, hit a couple bursts to put together a few HDR’s like the one above and sat back with the boys eating sun flower seeds in the great outdoors. I’m lucky that my schedule is pretty open to shoot at almost any time and Paul and I usually try to pick a day or night ahead of time when we’re going to venture out. But sometimes it’s the most spontaneous times like these that we shoot together and it can seem the most rewarding. The BBQ was still right where I left it when I got home and this quick run to the top of the hill was a great way to finish off the day.

HDR Info: I shot the images for this HDR with my Sigma 10-20mm lens (20mm) at f11 and the camera set at ISO 100 on a tripod. Three exposures were combined with Photomatix Pro and further processed in Photoshop CS4.


Alleys of the Past Lead to the Future

Broken Past
Broken Past, original photography by Joe Ercoli.

Like my affinity for rat rods and vintage iron, I’m drawn to old buildings, decaying industrial equipment, and other urban elements in various array of disrepair because of the way that they pull me back into the past. Many times, looking at these things helps add to the vicarious experience of the old stories that my grandfather used to tell. Although I will, thankfully, never know what it’s like to be stuck on a ship in Pearl Harbor where the water is turning to fire all around you and bombs are falling from the sky, removing myself from the bright and shiny new world that surrounds us every day is a way that I can help myself to feel connected to my past.

My buddy, Adam, lives in the Bayview-Hunter’s Point area of San Francisco and while it has a reputation for not being the best area, he lives in the rejuvenated two blocks that make up the good area. But, he knows that I won’t come see him at night because you have to drive through the bad area to get to the good area. Besides being known as a “bad area,” Hunter’s Point is jammed packed full of both naval and industrial history of San Francisco. One afternoon I headed up there to hang out with Adam and see his new place. Knowing that I’m into photography, Adam took me out his balcony and started pointing out landmarks to me. We could see power stations, docks in disrepair and old buildings from the Hunter’s Point shipyard like the all-glass periscope repair building.

Paul's
Paul’s
I was eager to see more and Adam was happy to play tour guide, so we jumped in my car and headed off to explore the industrial area near the docks. I spotted this sign on the wall (pictured left) and I thought to grab a pic of it for my buddy Paul. It was at the end of a narrow alley that opened up a little bigger into a parking area and at first I wasn’t sure if we should go down there. A lot of stuff seems like that in this area with narrow alleys and seemingly abandoned buildings. I figured if there were no signs saying not to, I would just go ahead. After grabbing the shot and turning around, I drove back down the alley and noticed a wall of broken glass to my left. Fully blocking road, which didn’t seem like a big deal until a truck came afterward, I jumped out of the car and captured a few images of this dilapidated roadside shack pictured at the top.

Especially in the Bay Area where there has been a lot of urban development in the last 40-50 or so years, you seem to forget about these huge parts of San Francisco’s strong military and industrial past. Leaving behind the shiny plastic and glass of technology and newer construction in our own neighborhoods for architectural decay and industrial relics tucked into the discarded corner doesn’t just take me back to the times of old, but helps me to understand where I’m going. How can you really know where you’re headed if you don’t know where you’ve been?


Dog Days

No Trailer Flathead
No Trailer Flathead, original photography by Joe Ercoli.

As summer starts to wind down and kids start going back to school, many times I start to think about everything that I didn’t get to or places that I wanted to go. Luckily, in Northern California we don’t get our warmest weather until these later months of summer or early fall and I still have time to get out and do more.

The Badge
The Badge
I’ve been collecting pics from a few car shows and hot rod get-togethers and I really wanted to put them up all at once, but these images had been begging me to be posted. While I dig a tubbed Camaro, a blown 454, or any other classic muscle cars like the SS to the left, my personal taste pulls me back to things more old school, to the roots of hot rodding.
Flyin' Ford
Flyin’ Ford
You really can’t beat the look of an old flat head with a couple of carbs flying high above the motor naked as a jaybird out in the wind. A couple weeks back I was at a gathering thrown by the guys at Skoty Chops Kustoms and quickly grabbed the image at the top while walking by this rod. I just stuck my 40D with an ultra wide lens right in there and ripped a couple snaps.

Car shots like these help me to remember the good times that I’ve had this summer with friends and also help to remind me that it’s not quite over yet. I’ve still got a few good weeks to go and it’s time to call up the guys and see what’s next…


Mason’s Mark

Mason's Mark
Mason’s Mark, original photography by Joe Ercoli.

I got a call last month from my buddy Joey (big daddy there in the white tank) telling me he was getting a new tattoo to mark the birth of his baby boy. I don’t have any ink myself but I thought that it might make for an interesting photo, so I tagged along.

Joey had Mason’s name added to an existing piece on his right shoulder and Todd from Homeward Bound Tattoo in Redwood City, CA, does amazing work. He was cool with me looking over his shoulder and snapping pics of him working, too! I did a little texture work to this image to give it a dark and gritty feel, but I want to put it out there that Todd’s shop is well lit and spotlessly clean!

Thanks to Todd for letting me shoot in his shop and congratulations to Joey, Jessica and Kayla on the addition of a new member to their family!


Coming Back for the Sunset

Redwood City Courthouse
Redwood City Courthouse, original photography by Joe Ercoli.

I remember my first cell phone pics, fuzzy and grainy yet still enough to capture a memory of time and place. Some cell cameras are getting pretty good and the iPhone is one of them. While on my motorcycle most of the time, I try to travel pretty light and can’t bring my camera everywhere with me although I could shove a little point and shoot into a pocket of my backpack. Call me lazy, but my cell phone camera does the job well enough.

One night after the gym I was walking through downtown Redwood City and spotted the sun setting behind the old (and newly restored) courthouse building. The colors were wonderful and I pledged to myself that I would make the effort to get back down here one evening with my camera and tripod in hand. To capture the memory I quickly pulled out my iPhone and snapped a shot to remind myself later.

The Fox Theatre
The Fox Theatre
A couple weeks later Paul, Tom and I descended on down town invading the square with our gear snapping pics everywhere. There’s actually a lot of cool stuff down here – buildings, the fountains, the old Fox Theatre across the street and the neon lights of down town. We spent a couple hours down there shooting and I must have snapped at least 25 pics of the courthouse during the sunset making sure that the light was just right.

While I used my iPhones camera as a means to an end by helping to remind to return for the shot, you can use your creativity to make great images with your cell phone that stand on their own. Make sure to check out the blog from Chase Jarvis. He takes a lot of shots with his iPhone everyday and posts one to his blog showing you that amazing results can be possible no matter what your equipment is. Here’s a quote from his site that I like:

”The best camera is the one that’s with you.”

Like a Boy Scout, always be prepared and try not to miss that opportunity for a photo that you just might miss.


Sleeping Giants

At the Ready
At the Ready, original photography by Joe Ercoli.

Growing up in the SF Bay Area gave me tremendous opportunity to see a hugely diverse range of cool stuff throughout my childhood and even now. One place that I have not tired of (and probably never will) is the Marin Headlands. Just in this calendar year so far, I have probably been there a dozen times whether it is to shoot the Golden Gate Bridge at night, explore the old military bunkers, or tour restored/operating historic facilities.

While many know about the Point Bonita Lighthouse and some of the other attractions there, I think the coolest thing at the Headlands is pictured above, Nike missile site SF-88. Staffed and restored by volunteers, SF-88 is a step back in time to the Cold War era complete with a ride down into the bunker on the missile elevator.

I’ve visited the SF-88 several times and it never gets old. The days and hours that it is open is somewhat restrictive, but with a little planning it is definitely worth the trip out there.


It’s Raining Stars!

Raining Stars
Raining Stars, original photography by Joe Ercoli.

No, it’s not a meteor shower or anything else falling from the sky. This is a long exposure that I shot on yet another one of my late nights out and trails of light in the sky are the stars as the Earth moves. In fact, it was the same night that I shot many of the images from my post called “The Golden Gate Collection.”

Walking along a desolate road closed to night traffic at almost 2AM I decided to see what I could do in bulb mode with exposures longer than 30 seconds in almost complete darkness. I would be brave enough to say that the only light here was from the street lights on the Golden Gate Bridge and the full moon rising to the east.

I’ve had good luck before with 30 second exposures when there was just a little bit of light, but I had yet to try bulb mode and go for a longer exposure. 30 seconds is the most that my camera will do when setting the exposure length and it took a bit of experimentation to get the exposure right in this new territory. This shot was the best looking one after four earlier attempts that were too dark.

I finally turned the ISO down to 200 to keep the noise low, did a little camera math in my head to correct for the change, added a bit of time for a brighter exposure and went for it. With my center column horizontal and the tripod as low as it would go, I was laying on the ground behind my camera holding the remote release like a sniper behind his rifle as I waited for the end of the 300 second exposure (that’s 5 minutes for those of you trying to use “new math” to figure that one out).

Unlike my last post, this image has very little Photoshop manipulation. It is almost straight out of the camera and only has a slight color correction. More long exposures to come… Enjoy!