Fire Dancers in Santa Cruz

Fire Dancers in Santa Cruz

One from a few months back. Automattic held their annual grand meetup in California this year and we split our time between San Francisco and Santa Cruz. On our final night in Santa Cruz there was a small party for everyone and fire dancers appeared to entertain us. I was across the poll from them and guessed a long exposure might work better than an instant of time frozen by a brazen flash in the dark!

Early morning Santa Cruz Wharf

Early morning Santa Cruz Wharf

This was the view from my hotel room at The Dream Inn, Santa Cruz last week. Seems like a million miles away now, but in fact it’s only about, oh, maybe six thousand miles.

Anyway, I was there with the almost all of Automattic for our annual meetup. It’s a fabulous location, the early morning light is amazing and the people I was with were great.

Lots more photos to follow, but in the meantime, check out photos by Kevin, John, Krista, Marcus and Beau and when I find more I’ll link to them from here!

Red Heart

Red Heart

A model walks down a catwalk in Union Square, San Francisco, July 27th 2007.

I was in the city with Automattic and we stayed in a nearby hotel so Union Square was a good spot to get photos. Can’t remember what occasion this fashion show was on for. I think it may have been some fashion school or something!

Aperture ƒ/5.6
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 162mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/250s

The Camel Riders

The Camel Riders

Here’s Lenny, Kevin and Eoin (l-r) of Polldaddy fame riding on camels in Marrakesh, Morocco a few weeks ago.

The ride was through wasteland adjoining a rich neighbourhood of Marrakesh where celebrities have their homes. When you hear that Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are in town they’re not staying in the Medina, that’s for sure!
The wasteland was surreal. Dusty rubble strewn ground dotted with palm trees and you may see a tractor pulling a water tank for the trees. The houses for the most part are surrounded by tall walls and are gated but from the back of a camel you can look over (and see more palm trees, I guess they like their privacy!)

The camels move at walking pace, and the 3km journey took almost an hour, about twice as long as I’d like it to be but our balloon journey that morning had to be cut short so maybe they were trying to make up for that. No injuries from biting but Chris’s camel did try to take a chunk out of Lenny’s camel a couple of times.

Aperture ƒ/8
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Focal length 21mm
ISO 200
Shutter speed 1/125s

Marrakesh Rooftop City

Marrakesh Rooftops

A view of some nearby rooftops and a stunning sunset over Marrakesh, Morocco. In black and white I know, but I have a few more shots of the same sky coming! This was shot from Riad O2 in the city where Polldaddy recently stayed.

In the Medina many (most?) of the houses are jam packed in next to each other. We had to take a winding alley way from the main road to the building, going left, right, left, right, left (and maybe 2 more turns?) to get there. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced before.

What’s Marrakesh like? The medina is the old fortified town which is where we were staying. You’ll be woken each morning by the Muslim call to prayers as there are loud speakers dotted around the city. Currently the first one starts around 5:30am so I hope you can get back to sleep afterwards! I wasn’t too fond of heading out in the city. It’s very busy, vehicles of all sorts zoom up and down the streets. Everything from motorbikes to carts pulled by donkeys will pass you by. There are no traffic lights in the medina either and footpaths disappear without warning, if they existed at all.

The food we ate there was excellent, both in the riad and outside. Well, except for the one night we decided to sample what was on offer in the plaza. What a mistake! For the same price you’ll get a top quality meal in a fancy restaurant elsewhere!

The hot air balloon guys were super friendly and I can recommend them, the locals taking care of us in the riad were too but out on the street was another matter. Talk to anyone and they’ll either lead you to a particular area of the souk or demand a tip for “showing” you the way.

If only we could get a bit of their sun here in Ireland right now. Go on clouds, let the sun through!

Oh yes, I may have to change the tagline on this blog. This photo was processed by Adobe Lightroom. It’s not Photoshop but it’s close. I used this preset on this photo but Lightroom is really impressing me. It’s ability to recover blown out detail is amazing, the noise reduction and sharpening tools are easy and effective. The one area it really falls down in is not being able to reassign keys. I fixed that by installing Paddy which let me assign hotkeys to my two main export presets.
I imported over 23k photos into a catalogue and it’s running nice and fast. The next thing to do is write a preset and assign a hotkey to import images from my CF card.

Aperture ƒ/4
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Focal length 21mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/30s

Four legged Traffic in Marrakesh

Traffic in Marrakesh

I’m here in Marrakesh, Morocco with the rest of Polldaddy for a week. This photo of a man on a donkey and cart was taken on the streets of the medina during a lull in traffic. After driving here I’m quite certain you could handle driving anywhere as buses, cars, vans, motorbikes and bicycles jostle for the same space in often narrow streets!

Aperture ƒ/14
Camera Canon EOS 40D
Focal length 21mm
ISO 400
Shutter speed 1/400s

Roadster Wheel

Detail from the wheel of a VW Beetle parked in an iron smith’s yard in Oracle, Arizona. This was taken in 2008 when Automattic visited there and I have quite a few other photos from that visit to show you, if I ever get around to working on them that is!

This was taken with my ancient Canon 20D. I’m half thinking of replacing my now-ageing Canon 40D (the shutter button misfires, it’s not as responsive as it once was, the body is creaking a bit) so I took a quick look at Ebay to see how much a Canon 7D body would cost. Ouch.
Other than the camera body my Sigma 18-200 lens has seen better days too. I had this lens back when I took this photo and it’s the main lens I keep on my camera. It shows too. The zoom extends if the lens is held upside down, bits of shiny plastic have rubbed off, there’s dirt stuck between the rings. Some would say it has character! I say I want a new lens!

Best start saving.

Aperture ƒ/7.1
Camera Canon EOS 20D
Focal length 10mm
ISO 100
Shutter speed 1/125s