Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Puerto Rico- Day 3...shooting all day long

Today was the day of shooting. We woke up early (for us), and got out of the hotel by 8am. We met out first model Anne at the hotel and traveled 1.5 hours out to the Yunque rainforest to the abandoned house in the middle of the rainforest that seemed to be custom made for a photo shoot. While driving there it rained on and off very heavily. We got to the house and set up for the shoot. The shots below are taken by Michael...and the one in particular of me at the house is a shot that Michael got while I was showing the model what I wanted her to do.

While shooting it started to rain very heavy and we were able to grab some great shots of the model with the rain and the house. Two hours and 20gb later we left the house and thanked Anne for doing such a fantastic job. There are many more shots from the shoot but I will have to post them later. I truly enjoyed the lines and lighting of the house which were just perfect for a photo shoot.

We left the house and traveled back to the city to the heart of old San Juan. We got stuck in the traffic that was just horrible. Trying to get through the old streets of San Juan with all the other traffic, especially on a Saturday was an absolute nightmare. We were trying to get to what the locals call the "Totem Pole," which is a monument in the city near the famous castle of El Morro. After 2 hours we found a parking spot, and met up with the lovely Ilka Tamar for her shoot.

The shoot was planned for El Morro which is a castle that was built by the Spaniards back in the 1500's. The castle is one of the primary locations for the new upcoming movie, "Pirates of the Caribbean 4." We entered the castle and have access to the entire place....and let me tell you it was nothing short of AMAZING! The castle was so large and offered so many options that it turned me into a kid in a candy store. I have never shot at one location for 4 straight hours, but this place was truly remarkable. It was so windy up there that the veil kept flying off of Ilka. Michael was kind enough to retrieve it which got him the nickname of "Veil Boy," by Ilka...and the name stuck. The most awesome thing about shooting there was that there were no regulations...we were able to climb anywhere we wanted and to shoot what we wanted which was something we don't find very often.

The most awesome part was shooting on the side of the edge of the castle which you can see on the shots below. You wouldn't know it but the edge was only 5 feet away, and was about a 300 foot drop. Michael and I grabbed shots of each other shooting which was really fun....We ended the shoot outside of the castle using HDR on the massive lawn in front of the castle. Sometimes I swear I am shooting and I can't believe what I'm shooting. That was exactly what this experience was for us today. We planned on meeting Ilka for dinner after the shoot but honestly we got lust in the traffic and never got hooked up again. We ended up back at the hotel and grabbed dinner in the restaurant. I shot a total of about 55 gb today...and all of them were so much fun I can't even describe how much I enjoyed it.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Puerto Rico- Day 2 Pictures in the rainforest....

These are some of the shots taken during our time in Puerto Rico, day two in the Yunque Rainforest. It really was this beautiful and was an absolute ton of fun. Michael grabbed some shots of me shooting in the rainforest...and then I turned the camera on him. Michael climbed on top of the SUV and started a professional photo shoot which included the infamous Betty Boop shot where he displayed his backside while kissing is fingers to his lips. I laughed so hard after the shot was taken that I'm sure I woke up the entire forest.....more shots and stories to come later...hope you enjoy!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Car Accident delight with a side of theft of a laptop!

Today was a very trying day to say the least. I was in a car accident yesterday that left me in bad shape....I had to go to the hospital via ambulance so I never got to get any of my belongings out of the car. The car was towed at the order of the CHP by HP Tow to their towyard in Walnut Park near downtown LA. I called HP Tow this morning so I could make arrangements for my wife to pick up my belongings and they told me we weren't allowed to do so. Being that I bought the car 2.5 weeks ago the registration process wasn't completed by the dealer, even though the temporary registration on the windshield showed the car was registered to me! I actually had to call the CHP and speak with Sergeant Hawkins and tell him about my situation. He told me I had every right to get my belongings and had to personally call HP Tow to instruct them to do so.

My wife wasn't with me when I bought the car so she wasn't on the I was forced to go down there which was important considering my laptop, GPS, tripod, images, and luggage were still in my car.....with most of it in my trunk which was sprung open! Kara loaded me up on painkillers and we went down there...and believe me my neck, back, and right leg/hip and left knee were throbbing so I wasn't happy about having to go down there but I also wasn't comfortable about my belongings being out there for public consumption.

We went down there and the first thing I asked about was my laptop. They acknowledged that the paperwork filled out by the CHP noted that a laptop was in the car. As my items were being removed from my car and my laptop was nowhere to be found I kept asking, "Where is my laptop?" They started getting nervous. When my car was emptied completely I asked again, "Where is my laptop?!" They responded, "It must be in the office." Well, they looked in the office for over an hour and surprisingly couldn't find the laptop! I asked the dispatcher what the next step was and she said to fill out a claim form. I thought that was insufficient so I again called the CHP. Luckily the CHP cared a lot more about the situation and I got through to a Sergeant Helms who helped me tremendously. I now have to go down to the CHP office to on Monday to file charges against the towyard. He even called the officer who was on the scene yesterday and he verified that my laptop was in the trunk as noted on the report. By the end of it all it was a miserable day because my laptop was stolen by a CHP authorized towyard and I had to deal with all this with a very sore body....the guy at the towyard even asked me why I was limping so bad and I told him the accident just happened yesterday.....worst of all now I'm without a laptop....I have to say that I really hate thieves.....

In regards to the condition of the car it looks totaled. The whole back is smashed, the side rear doors won't close straight, the seat I was sitting in is busted and I'm sure the insurance will just total it which really sucks considering I just bought it a little over two weeks ago.....

Key lessons learned:
  • If you are taken in an ambulance from the scene of an accident and you are conscious, demand that all items of value are taken with you in the ambulance.
  • Never, ever trust a towyard.
  • Always get your items out of your car ASAP.
  • Call the cops when the towyard lies to you.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Billie Jean by Lindsay and Clayton Rue-click the link to view the video!


This is a quick slideshow of the pictures taken during the song to Billie Jean at the wedding reception for Clayton and Lindsay Rue. They did an awesome dance to Billie Jean that was so much fun to capture. I hope you enjoy!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Puerto Rico- Day 2

Well....we planned on waking up early...try 11am. We left the hotel and I immediately broke the "No fast food" rule by going to Burger King. It's not that I don't like a good meal...I do! But we had a lot to see and I didn't want to waste time eating when I could be photographing something. Michael really wanted to go to a place on the side of the road to eat so we could experience real Puerto Rican dining. I mentioned that I had done so the world over and more times than not the food is either awesome or an invitation to Montezuma's Revenge. So I affectionately labeled the road side places as, "Diarrhea Joints." So as the day progressed as we would pass these places I would ask Michael if he would like to partake and he would give me a dirty look as he insisted they weren't diarrhea joints.

Our plan for the day was to go to the famous Yunque Rainforest. We plugged it into the GPS (my Garmin from the US worked there without the need for additional maps which was awesome) and we went on our way. Once out of the city of San Juan the beauty of the island was really able to display itself as the traffic cleared least on the highways. We traveled quite a bit and needed some lunch. I didn't say we couldn't eat at a diarrhea joint...but I didn't make it easy for Michael to eat there either I must say. We got off the expressway and headed into a shopping center that had a KFC. I speak a good deal of Spanish and ordered everything in Spanish except for the name of the meal which was listed in English. Ordering through the drive thru the conversation went like this (translated into English except for the name of the item):

Me, "Yes, Id like to order two Big Crunch Combo Meals."
Drive thru speaker, "Two what?"
Me, "Two Big Crunches."
Drive thru speaker, "What?!"
Me, "I'd like two Big Crunches please."
Drive thru speaker, "I don't understand you."
Me, "Two Big Crunches," said with a little more gusto....
Drive thru speaker, "Oh, two Beeg Crunchees!"

Michael and I started to laugh and then pulled up to pay. The lady told me my Spanish was good but my pronunciation of the meal was wrong.....all I could do was laugh. It took us 45 minutes to get out of the shopping center because the traffic was so bad. We got back onto the expressway and found our way to Yunque Rainforest....well we found the Southern road which we found out was blocked off and didn't go through the rainforest like the maps suggest. No explanation as to why it was blocked off.

We did find this amazing house that was only half finished that was in the rainforest and the walls were all missing on the outside....we saved it on the GPS to come back and do a shoot there. We took some awesome shots and just marveled in the beauty of the place which was actually the Yunque city (tiny), not the actual rainforest because the road was blocked.

At this point we realized that Michael's window wasn't rolling up which sucked because it was raining off and on. To show solidarity with Michael I also kept my window down during all the rain storms so he knew I was feeling his pain. We plotted a course to the northern road of Yunque and had to circle around to get there because of the road closure. We got to the rainforest and only had 1 hour to look at everything because it was getting close to 6pm and was closing. There is only one paved road in the park but we managed to find a dirt road that was closed and of course we drove around the cones and went down it! That was where it got awesome. It reminded me of the rainforests in Australia. We went until it ended and did a fun photo shoot where we were certain the Chupacabra monster was hiding.

We left the rainforest and headed back to the southern road to get some shots of the city during the moonlight. Only problem is that the moon never came out. So we were driving in total darkness in a small city where all the locals were coming out to party. I was driving about 40 mph in our Expedition when I hit a major pothole...the car veered to the right and headed straight towards three Puerto Rican men who were walking on the side of the road. They started screaming, "Ay, ay ay!" and we started screaming, "Crap!" I turned the car away from them at the last moment and they started screaming bad words....we sat stunned for a moment and after driving for about 25 seconds we started laughing uncontrollably. It was one of those laughs that you do to release some anxiety.....I felt horrible for scaring the men but I was certain if we went back to apologize there might be some fisticuffs we decided to keep driving.

We called the rental car company "Target" and told him the problem. He told us to bring the car back. We drove back to the car agency and told the guy we wanted a discount for having to bring the car all the way back. The guy looked at us cross eyed and told us, "No discount." He told us he didn't believe that we had to drive all the way back from the it wasn't a big deal. We swapped cars and left knowing we wouldn't rent from them again.

We drove back to the hotel and while doing so passed through hooker alley. We stopped at a red light and we were propositioned by one....unfortunately it wasn't a woman...but it looked like one. We realized it wasn't a woman when we heard him talk....we laughed again. We got back to the hotel and then walked to Los Binos for dinner.

We got back to the hotel and I caught the Laker game on TV. This was the game where Kobe hit the unbelievable 3-pointer as time expired for the win. I yelled and screamed so loud I woke up the hotel and Michael came out of the bathroom with his pants half down wondering what was wrong with was 2:30am over was a wonderful day with many memories....Puerto Rico is awesome!!!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Puerto Rico- Day 1

Left on the red eye at 10pm from LAX headed to Puerto Rico with a layover in New York of all places. Landed in NY and went to the Delta Sky Club Lounge which was heavenly as I was able to shower, eat and sleep during my 2.5 hour layover. Boarded the plane to Puerto Rico and I was off! Landed successfully and immediately upon stepping off the plane I noticed the warmth of the Caribbean air.

My brother in law Michael was joining me on the trip so I waited for him to land, we jumped in the rental car shuttle van and headed to Target Rent a Car. I rented through Target because they were the only ones that had a "Premium" full size SUV available....we got into our Ford Expedition and they told us that this was the same one that Jennifer Lopez and Mark Anthony rented when they came to the island.....not sure if it was true but we decided to have fun with it.

Upon driving away we immediately noticed two things....there was a distinct odor in the car that smelt like kids yogurt...but old. We determined that J'lo's kids must have spilt nasty yogurt in the car. Good thing was that since Puerto Rico is a US territory my GPS worked that helped. After leaving Target we passed a hooker walking in the middle of the street.

We drove around and found ourselves in the worst traffic known to mankind in old town San Juan. On top of everything else we were exhausted having both flown red eyes and getting very little sleep on the airplanes over. PR is 4 hours ahead of California, so even though it was earlier for us we were wiped out. We didn't have a hotel as we had decided before coming to let PR take us wherever we found ourselves. Initial observations included the large of amount of police...and we found it funny that they kept their lights on no matter what.....just all the time period. Mike declared a rule of, "No Fast Food," for the trip which was admirable but I broke within 1 hour because I needed to eat.

We drove up to the Yunque Rainforest...but by the time we got there the road was closed. We grabbed some shots and just listened to the sounds of the rainforest which was truly loud and so beautiful.

By this point it was only 6pm, but we really needed some sleep. We found Luquillo Beach which was very nice. We parked next to the water for a quick nap....and fell fast asleep. It was very dark when we fell asleep as there was no moon. I woke up 90 minutes later and looked out over the ocean and saw one of the most amazing moon rises I have ever seen. There is a distinct gap in time between the sun setting and moon rising in PR, and this was a sight to behold.

Mike was still wiped out so I went out onto the beach and grabbed some shots. I always like to get a shot of me looking at what I'm shooting which is what I did here...because it reminds me best of that moment where I took in the view. I went down to the water, walked past the coconuts, and got pretty wet getting shots of the waves. Went back to the car and we finally determined to stay at the Marriott in San Juan. Still pretty exhausted Mike went to the room while I grabbed a quick burger in the hotel restaurant....and then we went to exhausting but great start to our quick vacation.....