Culver City, I Love You

Dream Here

Once home to MGM Studios, Hughes Aircraft Company, and now houses Sony Pictures, NPR and the NFL Network, Culver City has creativity in it’s veins.

It’s also a place my wife, daughter, and I call home.

Recently, our apartment building’s property group threw down a new competition for it’s residents all across the US (400+ properties in 13 states).  Call to action was a photography style contest with the theme “Why I Love My Neighborhood”.

Kat and I jumped at the chance to enter the contest and began to draw up a game plan.

Rather than photograph the obvious local legendary places like the Culver Hotel (once owned by John Wayne), Helms Bakery, or even down the road to capture a ubiquitous beach shot, we searched for the pavement less seen.  Call it different, call it a gluttony for making things harder on ourselves, we searched for the in-between.  The Japenese call it, “ma”.  And in the process we stumbled across some real gems.

A graffitti wall in a neglected parking lot off Washington Blvd.  A concrete office building tucked in the back streets of the Arts District.  The lonely deck of a Light Rail Station for LA’s Expo Line (yep, that’s right LA’s got trains and subways!).

What we got from it, six photos that we’re proud of and capture our take on family portraits.

Bonus:  We won the competition!  Juror Award with Prize Money.  Yeahhh!  Official Announcement

The Blue Graffiti wall above was the winning shot.  Our other five photos are below.  A big thanks to our family and friends who showed their support by voting.  Abrazos

Love Art

Commute Home

Walk There

Climb Up

Escape Near

GoPro | Sporting Point of View

2013 Family Reunion Games Rope Climb

This past weekend we packed up the car and headed to the San Joaquin Valley for our family’s annual gathering, aka ‘The Guerrero Games’. It’s our annual family reunion held over two days with an athletic competition similar to a decathalon as the centerpiece.  Learn more HERE.

Heading into this year’s gathering, I was jonesing to cover the ‘Games in a new way.  Saturday and Sunday at the Reunion comes and goes pretty quickly; lots of people to visit with, competing in the athletic events, and my latest and greatest role… DAD (as of 2 months ago).  Suffice it to say there’s not much time for complex camera setups or numerous test shots.  And much like sports photography, there are no ‘do-overs’.  These circumstances are constraints and in a world of virtually endless tech options I wecome a constraint or two every now and then, it’s a catalyst for creativity.

Hunting for a new photographic take on the Games I turned to the GoPro Hero 3, the people’s champion of action cameras.  Most often we’ll see this little powerhouse used in first-person-perspectives for surfing, mountain biking, base jumping, and other action sports.  Results vary from original to ubiquitous.  For me, I was simply trying to bring a new and different point of view to our family’s trove of memories.

For most of the shots that I captured on the GoPro, I had it attached to the end of a long pole which offered a completely different view from how we typically see the action.  At 2.6 oz this camera can be mounted to just about anything you can imagine, and in this case I used this light bulb changing pole, made of aluminum, purchased at Home Depot for less than $25.  Adapting the end with a 1/4 – 20 screw thread on a collar ($10) allowed me to use the tripod mount accessory ($8) to attach the GoPro.  So for less than $50 you get a DIY boom for the GoPro with an 11 ft reach!  (Psss…. this also doubles as a very economical boom for microphones.)

Depending on the type of action and speed of motion, I alternated from time lapse to burst mode to capture the photos shown here.   For example, the rope climb photo utilized the 10 shots/2 seconds burst mode as I tried to capture the penultimate move as my cousin approached the top, whereas the long jump photo was captured with 30/3 burst mode and in post I paired the final photo down to the six most interesting clips from run-up to landing in the pit.  Rope climb photo was post processed (on the iPhone 4s) with VSCO Cam, my new favorite app!

Men's Long Jump

Using the Go Pro App v2.0 (available on iOS and Android) is a must for full control, live preview, and reviewing captured photos on your mobile device.  With the GoPro App I was able to time the action, hit the shutter/record button on command, review the photos and make adjustments to the composition or camera settings as necessary.

Speed Bump 1:  Prepping to capture the swimming event, I found when locating the camera six feet under water, with me above, dry and on the deck of the pool, the wifi signal to control the camera dropped.  Making adjustments on the fly, I changed to time lapse setting, hit record and submerged the camera to capture the swimming photo below.

2013 Family Reunion Games Swimming

Speed Bump 2:  For whatever reason, the GoPro App chose not to sync on Day 2 of the Games.   Maybe it was tired and lethargic from the hot Valley sun, I know I was.  Today, sitting in the soft climate of LA it syncs fine.  Nevertheless, for the Long Jump and Sprints I was restricted to eyeballing the composition of my shots rather than the Live Preview afforded by a fully working App.  FYI, for those of you new to the GoPro suite, they make an LCD Touch BacPac that gives a live preview, but I decided to save $79.99 and use the App.

Here’s my favorite photo from the Sprints, hoisted atop the 11 foot DIY pole, the camera captured the down-to-the-wire action as my two cousins dashed toward the finish.

2013 Family Reunion Junior's Dash

Additional GoPro shots mixed with some coverage provided by the D800 are in the Reunion’s Gallery over at Guerrero Stories.

Do you have any GoPro tips, questions or nuggets of advice?  If so, feel free to share.

Happy 4th of July | What to if you drop your iPhone in the Pool

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Like a lot of other people today around the good ole USA, we are firing up the BBQ, visiting the ice chest, and hunkering down with family and friends. In the current era, we’re probably lighting up the Twitters-sphere, Facebook, and Instagramming our way thru the day with visuals of backyards, hot dogs, brews and eventually fireworks. And in many cases we may be doing this oh-so effortlessly from our mobile device, poolside.

Yes, those handy iPhones, Galaxys, and maybe even that 1% with Window Phones are, as usual, cradled in one hand as we eat, drink and socialize with the other…poolside. See the theme?

So in that “rare” and minor domestic disaster where one drops their phone in the pool, what is one to do?

Lets start with what not to do:
1. Assuming you’ve already gotten out of the pool, DO NOT TURN ON your phone. Now, it’s possible your phone was already on or on standby. However, increasing electronic activity is a great way to increase your chances of not finishing that tweet, forever.

2. DO NOT use a hair dryer. Like the irreconcilable differences between water and electronics, heat and electronics also do not get along very well.

Solution:
In the spirit of domestic retreats, potluck pool parties and the like, go into your pantry or ask your host for some rice. Long grain, short grain, white, brown, no difference, and submerge that phone in rice. Like silica gel packs that come with your new shoes, rice absorbs moisture. And if you acted quickly, the sooner you do this the better. (Psss… don’t stick your phone in a prepared rice dish that someone else brought, it should be dry, but you already knew that). And if you happen to have a whole shoebox full of silica gel packs, you can use those just as well. Read about other crucial uses for the packs HERE.

Now, for you brave techs out there, as dismantling your device may be an option for some, it’s not ideal for most. Not only does it require harder to find tools, + patience, it’s also time consuming on a day which you should be socializing.

So plant that phone in rice and head back out to the pool. Not to worry, I’m sure your friends have posted the photo of you falling in by now so you haven’t missed a beat.

Written from my iPhone.

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Photo featured in FILA Ad Campaign for Save Olympic Wrestling

FILA Ad_June 2013

FILA, the official international governing body of amateur wrestling launched its second phase of it’s campaign for Save Olympic Wrestling. The title “All nations. All people. For all time.” aims to capture the essence of amateur wrestling as the World’s Sport.

Featured in the ad, two dynamite youth girl wrestlers from our Beat the Streets Los Angeles organization compete in last month’s United 4 Wrestling Event which took place in the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena. Patricia Arana and Viviana Garcia, shown in the lower third of the ad, are part of our San Fernando program. There they competed with a tenacious spirit leaving many feeling, even in the company of Olympians, that the two nine-year old girls had ‘stole the show’ in debatably the most entertaining match of the afternoon. I had the honor of capturing this photo of Patricia finishing a takedown against teammate Viviana.

A full gallery of photos from the event can be viewed HERE.

The ad is a testament to the sport’s opportunities and ability to transcend geography, race, gender and physical characteristics. On that footing FILA leads a near two hundred nation contingency of participating countries to reinstate Wrestling back into the Olympic Program for the 2020 Games and onward.

To learn more about Keep Olympic Wrestling and how you may be able to help, visit keepolympicwrestling.com

 

Short Film: Stellar Kids

In January of this year I received an email from one of our executive staff at Beat the Streets. The subject title of the message “new video idea”, had me anxious albeit nervous. Having just completed a short promotional video for our organization, I was enjoying some ‘down time’ between projects. Yet, I was anxious to read on. His message essentially relayed the emphatic appreciation of a partner organization Bright Star Schools. I was touched by the administrator’s message sharing how the students’ moral was up and how the student athletes participating in our program now look out for one another. The intangibles are what make me ‘lean in’.

Intangibles are the building blocks for telling wonderful stories.

Bright Star and the subject school Stella Middle Charter Academy gave me an incredible amount of access and encouragement. The process was enjoyable. And the best part was I got to know three middle school students who participate in our organization and they gave me the privilege to tell their story.

Synopsis:
Three middle school students from inner city Los Angeles use Beat the Streets LA, a non profit youth wrestling organization, as a bridge to find success on and off the wrestling mat.

About Beat the Streets – Los Angeles:
Beat the Streets – LA cultivates youth development in underserved communities by encouraging a desire for excellence, respect, teamwork, leadership, integrity, and perseverance through the instruction of quality wrestling programs. Together with your support, BTS-LA strives to enhance young men and women’s lives in school, sports and the community. beatthestreets-la.org

Gear:
Camera – Nikon D800
Lenses – AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G, AF-S Nikkor 50mm f/1.4G, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX
Edit – Final Cut Pro X

Life in Death Valley

A trip to the wondrous Death Valley for a New Years celebration gave way to stunning vistas of sand dunes, salt flats and snow caps. This short was captured with an array of gadgets and became a sandbox for digital video.

Chosen tools: Jeep Wrangler Sport, Nikon D800, GoPro Hero 3, and an array of iPhones. To quote creative pioneer Chase Jarvis “the best camera is the one you have with you.”