Friday, July 31, 2009

Surreal in Beijing

The Cube, originally uploaded by Cocoabiscuit.

This is "The Cube", the place where Michael Phillips won all his medals. From the outside, it looks as if the wall itself is filled with water, but it is an illusion. By the way, Facebook is blocked here, so the only way I can post is put a photo on Flickr, blog it to blogspot (which is also blocked), and blogspot automatically transfers to my Facebook I'm assuming). Also, for some reason the Philadelphia Inquirer is blocked (but not the New York Times). The first day here, he went to the convention center next door in a Kafkaesque experience to register for the conference. The building was filled with a convention of magicians so everywhere we went we asked "Medical?" and we were told "Magic, yes". Now, I know doctors are sometimes thought to do magic, but this was a bit odd. Every hallway we were sent down had people doing magic tricks-- rabbits from hats, disappearing coins, etc.. Apparently a national obsession here in China right now. Jet lagged as we were, we kept trudging along, but the trick was on us, because our conference was actually in a different conference center across the park, where indeed there was little magic happening.

Bird's Nest

Bird's Nest, originally uploaded by Cocoabiscuit.

This is the National Outdoor Stadium, aka the "Bird's Nest" on the Olympic Green in Beijing, China. You might be able to tell about the incredible amount of haze from the sky from the smog. I've only been able to make out the sun once briefly at noon. It made it almost impossible to get any daytime shots. For this evening, I loaded up my equipment (the conference and our hotel is across the street from the Olympic complex) to go take some night shots and arrived only to have them turn all the lights off at 10:00. So this shot was made with reflected light from the security lights, on a tripod with exposure of 0.5 sec, f 4.5.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Hello Faux Kitty

Hello Faux Kitty, originally uploaded by Cocoabiscuit.

Count the number of cat statues in this shot from Eastern State Penitentiary. The cat statues depict the semi-feral cats who roamed ESP during the time that the prison was closed and then re-opened. A volunteer visited several times a week to feed them and check on them. (There are 4 - click here to go to Flickr and see where they are)

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Two different doors, one open and one closed. Both of these infrared photos are from the Eastern State Penitentiary, in Philadelphia, PA. The bottom is a bit of an anomaly because it's on one of the cell blocks which otherwise appears so impenetrable, yet here is this simple door to the outside. I particularly like it because of the loose panel where light is filtering in. A color version of this door is here. The top door is to a small area (seen here) where prisoners were taken to get sunlight and fresh air for a brief time each week. The inmate was brought with a hood over his head to ensure that he didn't see any other living soul and was left in the "courtyard" to further reflect on his crimes in a solitary way with the belief that this "solitude" would bring insight into his life.
Both of these photos taken with an Olympus 2000Z with an R70 Infrared filter, ambient light 1/15 sec, f/2.0 and 1/30 sec, f/2.0.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Variations in Light

Eastern State Penitentiary is open to the public after restoration and serves to educate the public about how prisoners were treated in the 19th to early 20th centuries. This wind is only partially restored with the paint on the walls flaking and debris scattered. Prisoners were placed alone in cells to silently reflect on their crimes in the hope that this "penitence" (hence penitentiary) would lead them to an understanding of their crimes and to a path towards correct behavior. Later, in the prison's history, the cruelty and lack of efficacy of this extreme isolation was realized and a more social environment created. The site is open for self-tours with audioguides on Fairmount in Philadelphia. The website has a coupon worth $1 off. They charge an extra $10 to use a tripod, but the fee is good for the entire year.
This photo is a HDR created from 3 raw images, shot with a Nikon D300 using only ambient light and handheld 1/125 sec, f 5.0

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Invisible Light and Shadow

Norwich in July, originally uploaded by Cocoabiscuit.

This photo in Norwich, New York (my hometown) is another demonstration of the surreal nature of infrared photography. The shot is in the park at the corner of Broad and East Main Street and at first glance looks like winter and a fresh fallen snow. On closer look however, the people on the bench are dressed in shorts and you can see the texture of grass in the "snow". This shot was at noon with the light bright enough to still show detail in the shadows with the sun directly overhead. The IR filter decreases the amount of available light by filtering out non-IR light, so capturing detail in shadow can be difficult. Taken with an Olympus 2000 Zoom, f 2.0, 1/100 sec with an R72 infrared filter, hand held.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Court House Perspective

Court House, originally uploaded by Cocoabiscuit.

Shooting up from a low position can make a photo that has lines that are already fairly imposing appear even more so. For this shot, I sat on the grass and shot up (and got lucky when the cloud positioned itself just right). The wide angle of this shot adds a little bit of curative to the edges that additionally makes the shot more interesting. Shot with a Nikon D300 f11, 1/500 at 18 mm.