Friday, January 28, 2011

Headstart

For those of you who know me, you know I volunteer for Headstart. http://www.headstart-slcap.org/
I started getting involved a few years back by sitting on their bloom committee and doing photography for invites and programs for the fundraiser and the last two years I've been donating my photographs to their website. This year I'm working with an ad team for marketing, brochures, etc. It's such an awesome organization and everytime I photograph the kiddos, I'm awestruck by their resilience, humor, love and absolute trust in letting me into their lives and hearts even for just a few hours.
I'm heading out this following week to get new photos and am looking forward to seeing these sweet kids again. I'm also embarking on a longer project following some families in the program and hoping that will be mutually rewarding. Here are a few of last year's photos.











Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I have a dream...

Saw this pinned up outside Grace's classroom yesterday.
Wise words from my sweet 7 year old girl.
Love her to bits:).

Saturday, January 22, 2011

The Civil Wars



Ever heard of the band "The Civil Wars"?
I hadn't either until a few weeks back a friend tipped us off to an upcoming concert
at the State Room in Salt Lake City.http://www.thestateroomslc.com/
Turns out, we were in for one of those rare shows, where chills run down your spine
because you realize you're watching something really special take place.
One of those shows, where a few years from now, we'll be telling people how we saw
these guys in a tiny venue with maybe 200 people, before they made the big league.

I had a similar experience seeing Pearl Jam in Stockholm in the very beginning of the 90s,
on the lawn with 100 people in the audience outside the Modern Museum of Art.
Dragged two reluctant girlfriends there because I had heard this new Seattle band on the radio
and I my friends balked at the 10 dollar cover. Of course...the rest is history. We laugh about that now.

But anyway, back to the Civil Wars. The band is made up of Joy Williams and John Paul White,
a charming duo who apparently met at a songwriting camp in Nashville two years back.
There they were placed in the same room to work on a song and immediately hit it off.
Listening to their voices harmonize perfectly as well as their bashful and witty in-between song banter,
you immediately get a sense of a strong, almost symbiotic connection.
Their harmonies are playful, and they seem to know intuitively where they other one is going,
voices and music working together like one organism. It's absolutely mesmerizing to hear them.

Barton Hollow, their full-length debut album will be released on February 1, 2011. http://www.myspace.com/thecivilwars

They are in town this week for the Sundance film festival and if you're lucky enough to have a credential,
they will perform for free Jan 27 at 3:20 p.m. and Jan 28 at 3:20 p.m. at Sundance ASCAP
Music Cafe at Stanfield Fine Art, 751 Main St., Park City.







Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Smugmug

Got a smugmug account? They're giving away a Canon 5D MarkII to one randomly chosen customer. Simply post your smugmug site on their facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/SmugMug
Good luck!

Monday, January 17, 2011

Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Did you know:

He was born Michael but later changed his name to Martin after a family visit to Europe where his father changed both their names to honor Protestant leader Martin Luther.

At the age of thirty-five, he was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize.
He gave the Nobel prize money to furthering the civil rights movement.

He visited Gandhi's birthplace in India and the trip deepened his belief in non-violent resistance being the best weapon available to oppressed people.

King opposed the Vietnam War. As the U.S spend more and more on military and less and less on social welfare services he said: "A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death"

In 1983, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill to create a federal holiday to honor King. It was observed for the first time on January 20, 1986 and called Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. It's observed the third Monday of January each year.

The Martin Luther King Memorial is to be unveiled this August on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.
It will feature a 28 foot statue of the civil rights leader as well as stones with 15 of his most famous quotes.

Quotes:
-"Life's most urgent question is: What are you doing for others?"
-"Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend".
-"Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence, but also internal violence of spirit.
   You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him".
-"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity".

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Free Iphone App-today only

Love my Iphone apps and today only the HDR Fusion app is available to download for free.
Highlights:
Real HDR pictures using under/over exposed images
Ultra-fast image processing
Automatic mode with real time image analysis
Manual mode with exposure points selection
Rapid mode switching
Self-timer

Click this link

ModKat-Modern Cat Litter Box



Check out this awesome cat litter box. Seriously...have you seen the ugly litter boxes at the pet stores? Came across this and ordered it on the spot. Sleek, beautiful, modern, functional....PURRRRFECT:).
Here's a link to their site.
It's normally $180 but you can buy it on gilt for $108 until the 16th of January or until it sells out. 

http://www.gilt.com/invite/johannakirk



Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Product shots

I was recently asked to shoot product shots for an up-and-coming raw honey company. 
I have photographed numerous in-studio food shoots for various feature stories but never with the end to sell a specific product. I was excited to try it and up for the challenge.
After some research, I purchased a couple of white foam core sheets and set up a small table where I placed the foam core around the honey set up and resting on a sheet of plexiglas to give off a nice reflection. 
The majority of the lighting was one soft box to the front left and then the foam core bouncing off that light from all sides and bottom. 
If you're intersted in learning more about Aseda Raw honey check out the website http://www.asedarawhoney.com/

Saturday, January 8, 2011

New Year's Motto

If you don't take pictures of the things you want to be hired to take pictures of, you will always be hired to take pictures of the very things you don't want to photograph.
So my motto of the new year: Photograph what I want to be hired to shoot and one day someone will hire me to do exactly that. In the meantime, I'm at least shooting it and working with things I'm passionate about. What are you doing to get where you want to go?

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Great Black and White Photoshop tutorial video

Here's a video from tipsquirrel.com that I thought was an excellent tutorial on conversion to black and white in Adobe Photoshop. Hope you find it helpful.
(Remember to enlarge the window at the bottom right in order to see detail of the commands.)

Photoshop's Black and White Adjustment Layer from Greyson TipSquirrel on Vimeo.

A Lone Ski Pic

Brought my camera up the other day for some ski pics, but it was so cold that when I took my gloves off...my fingers froze and I couldn't feel the shutter. Managed to photograph one small little passage through the trees for a few seconds and that was it. But since I hauled heavy gear and dragged it over the mountain on my back....I need to post at least one photo of the snowy day. 

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Avalance guns and skiing in the dark


I'm skiing blind. It's pitch black and cold. I concentrate on the sound of the skier in front of me somewhere in the dark. He takes a left, I think, over what seems like an edge, and down. I bite my lip and follow blindly. Come what may. The slope gets steep, really steep, and I get the sensation that I could drop off into an invisible abyss at any moment.
The powder hits my face as I'm turning through the deep snow. A strange dream-like rhythm of breath and turn, breath and turn.
All I can see is the small area lit up by my headlamp. A tiny spot of light, illuminating the falling snowflakes, and the rest, darkness.
A few hundred yards ahead, I suddenly see a tiny light. It's Chris turning his head, probably watching my little light make its way down the mountain, like a lone firefly in the night. It's enough of a glimpse for me to see what direction to aim for. I relax my shoulders a little and continue down. Somewhere behind me, I hear faint sounds of turns by Dean, the ski patroller picking up the rear of our small group.
One thought resonates over and over in my mind: "JUST DON'T FALL". I have a couple of close calls, as my knees buckle when I ski over invisible bumps of hard pack under the soft new snow. Mind over matter, I feel my way down, trust my instinct and stay on my feet. "Thank God" I whisper as I wobble but remain upright and eventually reach the two little lights in front of me: Mike, the ski patroller, and Chris, my husband. The four of us eventually come to a stop and I see the barrel of the avalanche gun towering above us a few feet away, up on a big metal platform. We're here!

A few hours earlier, as the snowstorm was hitting Salt Lake with ferocity, my phone rang. It was my husband Chris, and judging by the sound of his voice he was excited. "Can you believe all this snow? Tomorrow is going to be epic"! He quickly blurts out predictions of powder depth and possible road closures. He wants to go up the canyon right now before it closes to sleep at his cousin Trindl's in Alta and thus bypass the crowds and morning commute up the canyon. I'm feeling lukewarm on the idea.
I'm already cozied up inside, fire lit, snow blazing outside, dinner cooking and a glass of wine in my hand. Staying home sounds pretty comfortable but his enthusiasm makes me waiver, a bit. I'm thinking he'll change his mind when he gets home.  A few minutes later he bursts through the door and says he's set it all up. We're staying at their place and we're meeting up with Mike, our ski patrol friend at the bird in the am. He's taking us out to shoot the avalanche guns, something Chris has wanted to do for years. He's practically bursting with excitement. One look at his face and I have to give in.
I manage to calm him long enough to have dinner and put the kids to bed. My family is in town over the holidays so we're lucky to have built-in babysitters at the house.

We pack up and then drive in the night up Little Cottonwood Canyon with the storm raging around us.
35 minutes later we pull into the small town of Alta, where every car seems to be buried in a thick blanket of snow. It's cold. As we park, the Marshall pulls up. They are gearing up to close the road for the night and interlodge the area for risk of avalanches. We give them the names of where we're staying and get permission to park by the UDOT spaces.
There's no road to Trindl and her husband Chris' house. We grab our skibags and sleeping bags and begin trudging through the snow up the mountain. We pass a blinking sign for ski tourers to check their avalanche beakons before heading up Mt. Superior. Can this be right? Do they hike like this every day to get in and out of their place?  Apparently they do, and I quickly understand why they're in such great shape as I stumble upwards in deep snow breathing heavily.

After about 10 minutes we see something. Trindl is turning on and off her living room light, and her small cabin blinks like a lighthouse signaling to lost ships in a storm. We finally reach it and despite the relatively short hike, I can't help but feel relieved to be inside in the warmth. Trindl greets us and we set up our sleeping bags on their floor. Her husband Chris, who works for UDOT and handles avalanche control of the canyon and roads, barges in through the door shortly after us at 11 pm, covered in snow after a long shift in the cold. He gets to sleep in tomorrow as he has the "late" shift at 5 am. The other guy starts at 3:30 am. Whatever they're paying these guys, it's not enough, I think to myself. (A thought I repeat continously during our subzero adventure that continues the following morning with him and skipatrol at Snowbird).

We quickly settle in our sleeping bags. Not a lot of sleep ahead with alarms set for 5 am. I read a little, then turn off the light. Blink blink....I'm wide awake in the dark and feeling a little nervous for the coming events. Tossing and turning, 5 o'clock comes too quickly and we're up again. Still pitch dark, snow is still falling but lighter now. We dress hurridly, strap on avalanche beacons, backpacks and shovels and Chris guides us down the path with headlamps to the road and drives us down to Snowbird. The area is interlodged, the roads are closed, and the only vehicles out are huge machines clearing the parking lots and roads.

At snowbird everything is dark.. We walk to the tram, our boots echoing as we make our way through the empty building.  I would kill for a cup of coffee and I look longingly around for a sign of an open store but everything is closed this early. Up at the tram, a couple of ski patrol are pacing the floor. We meet up with Mike and Dean, Assistant Director and Director of Snowbird Ski patrol.
A small group gets on the tram, patrol, tram operator, two affectionate avalanche dogs, and us.
The tram slowly makes its way up the mountain in the dark.  The regular 5 minute ride takes twice as long since they had to knock off the rime on the cable, and we finally emerge on top of a frigid peak and make our way into the patrol shack on the top. Mike brews coffee and I nearly cry I'm so grateful. Something warm and familiar in an unfamiliar world. I feel safe and excited. Dean and Mike get the instructions of how many shells to shoot and where and silently give each other a quick nod and I gulp down my small cup of coffee and strap on my headlamp as we head out the door and back out in the darkness.

At the avalanche gun, my peaked attention to detail start dwindling quickly.
The guys and Chris talk excitedly about ex-military artillery, 1950s shells, Howitzers, range, etc.
I can't keep track of exactly what kind of gun this is or the artillery we're about to shoot but by Mike and Dean's strict safety protocol and repeated warnings, I know what I need to know:The gun is big and artillery heavy and I better stay out of it's way if I want to live. That's all the detail I need.
The freezing cold prevents me from photographing much. I resort to just taking out my cellphone a few times and in seconds my fingers freeze. It's still too dark to get any proper photos so I helicopter my arms around to get blood back into my frozen digits.
The gun is powered by compressed gas, and after the gas is turned on, the artillery loaded and the four of us safely behind the protective concrete wall, Mike and Dean give us earplugs and big earmuffs. "Breathe out when I say fire", Mike yells with a smile and Dean adds "prepare to flatten your eyeballs". 
He yells: "FIRE" and as the big gun explodes I get the sensation of someone kicking me in the chest. WOW, it's not just loud, but so loud my whole body shakes. We all burst out laughing with excitement and relief.

Four pieces of artillery later, we pack up, lock up, put up the protective fences around the gun bunker and ski down the remaining way in early dawn light. We're done, it's 7:30 and most everyone else is still sleeping. We ski two more trams before the mountain officially opens and by the time we sit down for breakfast to thaw our frozen toes and fingers, the crowds arrive for fresh tracks. Well, almost fresh tracks that is:).


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