Black Rock Observatory – Dreams come true, even for me.

 

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My life changed recently. I’ve always felt like an outsider. Today, its clear to me that I have an unbelievable network of friends, accomplices and cohorts that support me. My friends, my family, my community and the world has reached out and given me an enormous hug. It feels really, really amazing. I have to rearrange my thoughts about myself and the world. For those who don’t know, I’ve dreamed of building an observatory for years.

I moved to California in 1998 because photographs from Mars Pathfinder sparked something in me. I was inspired again by what was possible when people get together to achieve a common goal. My love for all thing astronomy was rekindled and I set about on a journey that I’m still on. The echo of seeing Saturn through a real telescope in 94 kept reverberating through my head. I’ve been trying to reconcile my love for art with my love for science and my meager skills at both ever since, but I think I’m finally on to something.

I found a group of people who inspire me everyday. I had this idea in 2012 after my first trip to Burning Man, but I lacked the network to get the job done, so it never happened. Then, I met a group of artists and science types who were building a 1.5X replica of the Mars Curiosity Rover and I thought “if only I could convince these folks to build an observatory!”

Last week, my Kickstarter project funded thanks to the help of over 450 backers and now I get to live my dream and build an observatory in my favorite city in the world. I finally get to give a little something back to the community that has given and taught me so much. I’m so grateful. Thank you to all of you for your support and your contributions. We’re going to make the world just a little more exciting, thanks to you. From the bottom of my heart and from all of us at Black Rock Observatory, thank you! 

To a lot of people, I’ll be Major Tom forever and I’m just over the Moon about that. I hope I can share some of that wonder and inspiration I got from Saturn and Mars all those years ago. I promise you, I’ll post a ton of photos of our first mission when we return to Earth.

Please stop by and donate to my Kickstarter here: http://kck.st/1q79SUW

Visit our website here: http://blackrockobservatory.com

Or Like us on Facebook:

https://www.facebook.com/BlackRockObservatory

 

THANK YOU Kickstarter Master 02

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Lessons learned

Shot in an 8′ wide space yesterday surrounded by cardboard boxes. I learned a few things: 1) cardboard bounce adds red to the scene 2) I need grids for my softboxes 3) always have 9′ and 5′ seamless handy 4) I’m much happier when I’m working 5) don’t shoot a 50mm 1.4 at f11 unless you like diffraction!

Mark & Lauren

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I am very sensitive to the fact that for every wedding photographer you see at a wedding, there’s at least one or two good friends or family that didn’t get invited. Sure, some have the budget to go as big as they want, but most of my clients make a pretty big sacrifice to have me along on their special day. It was a privilege to be in Huntington Beach, California on this incredible Fall day to witness and record the beautiful union between these two awesome souls.

When I arrived at the location, I saw a photo of the groom and realized right away, that I knew him from years ago. In a galaxy far far away, I was once a concert promoter and Mark was the lead singer for our most popular local band here in the Antelope Valley. Mark and Lauren had since moved to the beach, but I was lucky enough to get this job in spite of the distance, thanks to a referral from a dear friend. I’ll travel anywhere to photograph a wedding if it feels right and this felt perfect. I got a chance to say hello to some old friends and it was awesome having some history with what I thought were total strangers.

Huntington Beach California Wedding Hyatt 002The couple requested to take photographs at their hotel, the Hyatt Regency Huntington Beach Resort and Spa right on the Pacific Coast Highway, which was right down the street from their venue and reception. I was thrilled at the opportunity and very glad to shoot on such a beautiful property in such a gorgeous setting. I realized I had better be certain it was OK for us to shoot there considering they were not technically getting married on the property. After a quick call to the front desk and a transfer to security, I was given the OK and they were expecting me. When I arrived, I checked in at the desk and started scouting. I could have photographed the location for days. I highly recommend for you wedding shooters out there that you check with all parties involved when planning your shoots, I could’ve easily been shut down and asked to leave if I hadn’t called ahead and the couple would  have been sorely disappointed. Sure, I could have improvised and made great images; we ARE in Southern California at the beach, but the images we made gave this wedding an upscale feel that invokes good taste and the good life.

First Look

This was my first opportunity to photograph a first-look, something I recommend for all couples out there planning their big day. When we left the Hyatt for the ceremony and reception venue, we already had some amazing images of the lovely couple and wedding party looking their best before wind and merriment could displace tuxes, dresses or hair. The wedding party piled into the limousine knowing full well we had great photographs to cherish the day before the ceremony had even started.

The Newland House and Barn were built by William and Mary Newland in 1898  for their 10 kids and served as a farm growing lima beans, sugar beets, celery and later chili peppers.  Nestled amongst the rolling hills of Huntington Beach and a modern strip mall, this location offers some rustic charm as an antidote to the modern beach city that surrounds it. Stepping onto the grounds for Mark and Laurens nuptuals felt like traveling back in time and it certainly awoke the romantic in me. If the beautiful bride and handsome groom head over heels in love wasn’t enough to get me in the mood to make great photos, the location would’ve set me straight in an instant.

The night was just beautiful. Mark and Lauren’s ceremony was short and sweet; vows of love and the promise of the future gave way to revelry and fun. I love a good DIY wedding and this one was well executed. My wife, Heather and I put together our own wedding, so this DIY effort hit home. The bride even arranged and created her bouquet and all the flowers for the wedding party. Not only is this couple good-looking, but they’re talented and have great taste. Tacos for all, a help-yourself snack buffet and lovely cake made for a meal to remember. Coronas were flowing, too. Mark and Lauren told me that “Corona is our thing!,” so I was sure to include a shot that captured the atmosphere and their favorite drink. Huntington Beach California Wedding Hyatt 003

All in all, it was a day I’d love to live again and I was at work. I can imagine that everyone involved will carry this along as a perfect memory for the rest of their lives. It’s hard to be a wedding photographer and not feel like you get a backstage pass to a family.  I was given a chance to experience this day by Mark and Lauren and that’s an honor I do not take lightly. Writing this blog, I’m filed with the sense that I’ve chosen the right path for myself and that life can only get better if I can just keep exalting love and the simple pleasure that is a day well-spent celebrating it.

For the full resolution gallery, please click here.

Before and After the fall

Before and After the fall

I hate to follow up the last post with something so trivial and unimportant, but I will anyway. I broke my phone and got it fixed. I’ve been thinking a lot about photographing objects lately, especially shiny objects, basically because its difficult and fun. After seeing a few tutorials online recently (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIm-SZHKOW4), I thought I’d try putting a specular highlight with gradient on something shiny instead of one solid highlight. This was my opportunity. I like the look, but it’ll take some refinement. Thanks to Eddie at Jucins Garage for the fix.