3 Portraits of Mark Pauline, Founder of Survival Research Laboratories (SRL)

I recently photographed Mark Pauline, the founder and director of Survival Research Laboratories (SRL), for Hi-Fructose Magazine. Check out issue 48 of Hi-Fructose for a brief and fascinating history of industrial art pioneers SRL written by John Law. I've been a big fan of SRL since reading about their crazy machines and performances in the 1980's, so this assignment was very special for me. 

Below are 3 portraits from the shoot.

1. After I arrived at SRL headquarters in Petaluma, CA, I spent some time walking around and looking at all of the amazing machines. Mark was working on a project near the table pictured above, and I set up the general framing without interrupting him.

Existing lighting was a mix of daylight and fluorescent. I turned off the fluorescent lighting to control color temperature. I set my exposure to have the room be a little bit dark.

Next, I set up a single Nikon SB-910 Speedlight on a stand to camera right, aimed at the ceiling. The ceiling was wood, which gave the light a warm tone. The Speedlight was used to light both Mark and the background.

I asked Mark to pose for a few minutes once everything was ready. I did a few quick lighting and exposure adjustments, made sure I had a few options by reviewing on the back of the camera, and then let Mark get back to work.

I really like the orange against green color palette of this shot, the hotspot on the screen in the background, and some of the supporting details like the calipers and WD-40.

Technical Details
Nikon D750 with 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II lens at 82mm
1/100, f/3.5, ISO 400
Nikon SB-910 Speedlight fired with a Pocket Wizard

2. Mark was working in his office inside the warehouse, which was made of salvaged glass. I set up the camera on a tripod outside, and took a few test shots. I liked the angle, and started experimenting with overlaying the out of focus wires in the foreground. 

Again there were fluorescent lights in the room which I switched off. This image is lit only by a mix of low level ambient daylight and the light from the computer. 

Sometimes you can find a portrait by just observing and keeping things simple. 

Technical Details
Nikon D750 with 70-200mm f/2.8G VR II lens at 135mm
1/60, f/3.2, ISO 800

3. I'd been photographing the machines at SRL for a couple of hours, and kept coming back to the idea of using this spot for a portrait. The device that Mark is leaning on is a flame thrower.

I set up the camera on a tripod and played with the framing. A monolight was set up on a C-stand to camera right. I used a 22" beauty dish for a crisp look. The 130º beam spread allowed me to light Mark and the surrounding area with one light. The overhead fluorescents were turned off, and the exposure was set to have the ambient background light trail off into darkness. 

I used a stand-in to get the positioning pretty close before asking Mark to pose. Some slight adjustments were made to the framing, lighting angle, and exposure. Once everything was set, Mark stepped in and took the natural stance that you see above. With just a little bit of direction to optimize the positioning relative to the machines, I knew this image would be a winner.

The portrait ran full page in Hi-Fructose Volume 48, and I'm really pleased with the way this one turned out!

Technical Details
Nikon D750 with 35mm f/1.8G lens
1/125, f/8, ISO 160
Einstein Flash Unit with 22" beauty dish and diffusion sock

Many thanks to Mark Pauline for his time, John Law for the great article, and Attaboy for the fun assignment!




Canepa Cars and Coffee: Collector Cars and Motorsports Museum

If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area and love cars, a visit to Canepa Cars and Coffee is an automotive viewing experience that’s on a whole different level than typical car events. This morning I saw three Paganis, more Porches than I could count, a Mitsubishi van with an LS engine, a classic Mini Cooper with a Honda engine, two 1963 split window Corvettes, two modded Suzuki Cappuccinos, a couple of BMW M6s, some classic Maseratis, Ferraris and Lambos, a bunch of amazing race cars, and a prototype Cizeta Moroder V16T. The V16T is one of the coolest cars I've ever seen in person. Photos below:


Lemons HootpieCon 2018 at Sears Pointless featuring Radwood

A recipe for a really fun day for automotive enthusiasts:

  1. Lemons Race: Take 150 themed junkers that cost $500 and put them on the track at Sonoma Raceway (a.k.a., Sears Pointless).
  2. Hot Rods: Put a small random car show with some hot rods in one parking lot.
  3. Radwood: Hold an 80's/90's themed car show in another parking lot where some folks dress up in period costumes.

Mix all of those cars and crowds and people together, and you get:
HooptieCon 2018: Where the Elite Meet with Heaps.

Much hilarity ensued.


USS Hornet Museum

I really enjoyed visiting the USS Hornet Museum in Alameda, California last month. The ship is not usually crowded during the week, and knowledgeable guides are available to take you through the areas that are not available on a self-guided tour. In addition to a mix of aircraft from WWII through the 80's, there is also an Apollo splashdown display. The Hornet was the primary recovery ship for the Apollo 11 moon mission, and also recovered the crew of the Apollo 12.

If you plan to visit to take photos, note that large bags are not allowed because you have to climb up and down some steep, narrow staircases to access parts of the ship. Even a 2-3 hour tour is barely enough to scratch the surface of all the cool things to photograph on board. Enjoy the photos!


Traveler's Special: Fragments of a Desert and Coast Trip

October Road Trip: 7 days. 1,336 miles.

Berkeley to Fresno to Mojave to Joshua Tree to La Quinta to Borrego Springs to Palomar to Oceanside to Long Beach to Malibu to Ventura to Ojai to Taft to Gustine and home again.


Mare Island Night Photography: Composition Experiments

Last weekend I attended a bi-annual night photography meetup hosted by The Nocturnes on Mare Island. These events are a great way to learn more about the history of Mare Island, meet other night photographers, and go shooting without being hassled by security. There's also pizza.

I was in a headspace where doing something different with my compositions sounded fun. The results are below, with some brief commentary and technical info:

Every time I walk by this alleyway at a Nocturnes event, George Loo and Andy Frazer are there. Instead of shooting from the entrance to the alleyway, I walked a little bit further down. The simple composition still maintains the vanishing point from shooting from the entrance. I was happy with the interplay between the stripes on the pavement and the light from the windows.
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 15mm. 15 seconds at f/11, ISO 200].

The box van and Brazil-esque building vents caught my eye. I was happy with the off-kilter near-far composition, but the shot needed something extra. So I waited for a couple of cars and trucks to drive through. Surprisingly, the orange light on the building was not overwhelming, and a warm yellow vs. cool cyan color balance did not require much adjustment. 
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 20mm. 30 seconds at f/16, ISO 200].

If you've photographed Mare Island before, you'll recognize this building. I shot almost straight down to get this perspective of the parking lot lines layered over the building reflection in a puddle. There was strong light from the building behind me, so the tripod shadows needed to be removed in post. Again, the yellow vs. cyan color palette is integral to the image, as there was no moonlight.
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 18mm. 3 minutes at f/14, ISO 400].

The forklift up on the block amused me, so I walked around the area trying to find an interesting composition. A six shot stack was taken for a 15 minute exposure. The images were processed twice in Lightroom - once for the foreground, and at +2.00 EV for the sky. I'm always amazed at how much detail I can bring up from the shadows with the D750.
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 19mm. 2.5 minutes at f/16, ISO 100].

I pulled the camera off the tripod to see how this reflection shot would look, and noticed some lens flare playing across the water. I shot a few frames of this composition at different focus settings, to make sure everything was sharp. I tried rotating the reflection shots 180º in post, but prefer the way I shot them. Another fun night out at Mare Island!
[Nikon D750 with 14-24mm lens at 19mm. 2 minutes at f/16, ISO 200].