Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Festival 2008

October 26, 2008

Each year for the past 3 years Bryan and I have attended the Cal Poly Pomona Pumpkin Festival. This year it was held on October 18th and 19th and as always it was a festive event. This year marked the 16th anniversary for the event which takes place across from the Cal Poly Pomona campus on the corner of South Campus Blvd and Temple Ave. The field that they use for the pumpkin patch is quite large, however, I don’t believe all the pumpkins are actually grown there as the field is usually empty all year until about two weeks before the event then the pumpkins magically appear. And there are a lot of pumpkins to be had so it must be quite a feat for the people who are trucking them in and spreading them throughout the field. The event is put on by the College of Agriculture and the Ag students volunteer in every aspect.
Bryan and I got there later than usual, around 11am. We usually like to get there when they first open the event at 8am. The reason for this is because this is a very popular event, literally thousands of people attend the Pumpkin Fest every year and this year was no different. When we got there it was very crowded but we made or way through towards the other side of the field. We took a few pictures of the beautiful sunflowers that they plant every year and then began the task of finding our pumpkins. For the first time this year we brought a wagon. In years past we were limited in the amount of pumpkins we could get because we actually had to carry them back to the car. In case you didn’t know this, pumpkins are heavy, so we usually only got two. This year Bryan went to Home Depot and got a nifty little garden wagon and we took full advantage, we got five pumpkins this time around. This may seem like a lot but there are people there who get up to ten pumpkins, it’s crazy. The admission and parking for this event is always free and the pumpkins are usually $4 a piece and slightly cheaper if you get baseball sized ones. This is one of my favorite events to take pictures at because of all the beautiful autumn colors.
There are a lot of other things to do at this event besides find the best pumpkin. There is a strawberry field where you can pick your own strawberries, a petting zoo for the kids, an insect fair, hay mazes, lots of food, horse rides brought to you by the Equestrian Drill Team and my favorite thing of all; the Farm Store. The farm store is also run by the College of Agriculture and many of the fresh vegetables were grown by the students themselves. The beef and pork products sold there are also raised at Cal Poly Pomona. The have a wide variety of organic foods and an outdoor nursery. I always love to go to the farm store and support the agriculture students, after all I used to be one.

Renegade Adventure Race 2008

October 19, 2008

Jamie and I took photos of and observed the Renegade Sprint Adventure Race in Frank G. Bonelli park this Sunday October 19th, 2008. This is the first event of this kind that I have witnessed (which makes sense since it is only the second year of it happening). The race consists of a Paddle into Puddingstone Reservoir, a mountain biking section and a trail run. I know Bonelli park pretty well because I have been mountain biking there for years now. Because of this I figured the best way to see the course and get a good position would be to ride my mountain bike with my camera in my backpack.

We didn’t get the map until the day of the event so I didn’t have a plan in mind. Once I got it I chose what I thought would be a good spot. I biked out on the course in reverse to my spot. Then I waited. I sat at the crest of the hill overlooking the equestrian center for at least an hour. Jamie positioned herself to see the Paddle section of the race. Finally after more than an hour of sitting in almost perfect silence I saw the first mountain bikers. The first team came by at an amazing pace. Then the rest of the teams came by a lot slower. Most were walking up the hills by the time they got to where I sat. I took photo after photo of the individual and teams racing the event.

Once most of the riders went by I rode my bike down the trail in the same direction as the course. Finally I could see where the course went and how well it was marked. I have to say it was marked pretty well. It also had one nice steep decent and several hills on the section I rode on. I worked up a nice sweat hauling my camera equipment over the dirt double-track. Then I cut off the course and went to the finish line where Jamie was photographing the participants as they finished.

The event looked like a lot of fun for the participants. Beside the three disciplines the participants had special tests or obstacles they had to overcome. Everyone looked like they had a great time although they finished exhausted from all the climbing.

Since we were sitting around so long, we took a lot of pictures of the scenery as well as the race. As you can see, Bonelli is certainly a beautiful park.

Jamie and I wrote up a race report over at Amateur Endurance and we also got an interview with one of the teams. As always check out our GALLERY for more race day photos.

Long Beach Marathon/Bike Tour 2008

October 13, 2008

On Sunday October 12, 2008 I participated in the Long Beach Bike Tour which follows the marathon course before the marathon starts. Jamie and I got up at 3:30 AM to beat the traffic and get a good parking spot. We arrived at about 5:10 AM and parked in the convention center parking lot right off of shoreline drive where the start is. I tend to get to bike tours late so this was a nice change of pace. I was able to secure a spot very close to the start line and there I waited. It was about 52 degrees out so I wore my Underarmor cold weather gear shirt. Other people were shivering since they just had a t-shirt or a short sleeve bike jersey on.

This event marked the first time I had used my road bike in many months. I have been primarily riding my mountain bike recently. In fact I fixed two flat tires on my bike just before the bike tour. Therefore I was concerned I might get a flat. Almost exactly on time at 6:00 AM the bike tour started. I got underway almost immediately since I was near the front and settled into an 18 mph pace. The sun had not risen at this point and some parts of the course were very dark. Especially a stretch over on the other side of the bay near the Queen Mary.

The course turned to follow the coast. This part of the course is the most narrow I think. It required a lot of braking in the corners. This is where I noticed that many people don’t know how to handle their bikes. They would cut the corner no matter where they were before getting there. This section took me through mile 10. It was along this section that I started feeling like I had no energy. I knew that couldn’t be true because I had breakfast and some energy gels. I was befuddled to say the least. I would peddle harder but my pace sank to about 15 mph.

Next the course heads north towards CSU Long Beach. Here there is a U-Turn which is always fun on a bike. Luckily by starting out near the front I was far far away from the main pack. In fact I was riding almost entirely alone for long stretches of the course which was nice for me. I got to the CSU campus and I noticed it was a little hilly. My legs were really burning now and it was only mile 16. Eventually I was making my way back to Ocean Ave. Once I got there I told myself I needed to pick up the pace to stay ahead of all the traffic behind me.

So I tried and I tried and I didn’t go much faster. I got passed pretty frequently there on the home stretch but I was still doing 14 mph. At last I turned for the downhill finish on Shoreline Drive. I came in and got my medal and checked my GPS. It said I finished in 1 hour and 43 minutes. I usually finish these things in 1 hour 25 minutes so I knew something was wrong. I felt my tires to check pressure and those were fine. Then I look at my back brake. It had come out of adjustment from where it was in the morning and was now firmly implanted against the rim at all times. Yes, I was dragging the rear brake almost the entire time and I didn’t even know it!

Well I was just happy I was in one piece after that ordeal. At least I didn’t crash. I saw one guy eat it as he went too fast through a corner and slid across the pavement. He was fine with just his ego bruised.

During the event Jamie photographed the marathon start. After I dropped off my bike at my car I enjoyed the free food given to the athletes and the free beer. I tried out the Michelob Amber Bock. It was tasty and full bodied. I pretty much was as tired as possible at that point but I had a good time. It was a good day if not a very tiring one.

You can see the course map below…

View Larger Map

Check out my marathon race report at Amateur Endurance and also Jamie’s photos from the event in the gallery.

Galvan Studios

October 11, 2008

Photo by Yvette at Galvan Studios

Photo by Yvette at Galvan Studios

This past Tuesday, Bryan and I visited Galvan Studios in Whittier with our Portrait Photography class. Galvan Studios is owned and operated by the husband and wife photography team of Yvette and Roman Galvan. It is located in Historical Uptown Whittier set among unique shops and boutiques. Yvette and Roman welcomed our 20+ student class very graciously. They began by showing us some of their work. Their work consists mostly of portrait and wedding photography. By viewing their photographs you can tell that they have a very unique style. They specialize in capturing real moments in their images. Upon discussing this in further detail, they revealed that they rarely pose their subjects but instead observe their subjects interacting and shoot when the moment is right. They also have mastered the art of composition and using available light. Because of this, their pictures are usually always perfect straight out of the camera and very rarely need tweaking in Photoshop afterwards.

Photo by Yvette at Galvan Studios

Photo by Yvette at Galvan Studios

Following their work presentation, they answered a lot of the classes questions and showed us their equipment. They shoot with all Nikon equipment and have been for the majority of their career. The important thing they said that I thought I would mention is that the camera you own is not the most important thing when taking good photos. They said that you do not always have to have the most expensive, high end camera to take great pictures. The most important thing is knowing your camera inside and out and also understanding composition and knowing how to take advantage of the light that is available to you.

They also showed us how to set up a portrait shot of a couple with their studio equipment. Of course being the photogenic person that I am, I volunteered Bryan and I to be the couple. Now of course Bryan and I didn’t exactly dress to have our picture taken otherwise we would have worn more neutral colors, but I really thought the bright colors that we were wearing really made the photo pop. We’ve never had professional portrait photos taken in a studio so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I think Yvette did a fantastic job. Not that I would have expected anything less of her, I mean look at their site, their photos are amazing!

Photo by Yvette at Galvan Studios

Photo by Yvette at Galvan Studios

Listening to Yvette talk about how she and Roman run the business, especially about what has been successful and what has been not so successful has inspired me to try new things with Shez Photo. One thing I hope to do is to blog more about what’s going on with Bryan and I and our photography. This will coincide with our articles that we normally write with events, I hope to at least have a new entry every week even if we are not covering an event.

Once again I would like to thank Roman and Yvette Galvon at Galvon studios for allowing our class to visit them. I hope to one day do a shoot with them again. If you would like wedding photography, great portraits done of you or you just want to check out their work, the website is

MCAS Miramar Air Show 2008

October 9, 2008

This past weekend Jamie and I attended the MCAS Miramar Air Show. This is the first time we attended this air show so it was all new to us. I had been to an air show at El Toro a long time ago when I was a kid and I remembered some of that but this was a much different experience. If you happen to go to this event here are a few things to know. The Marine Corps Air Station is not designed to handle this many people. You either decide to come early and make the morning show and maybe get a real parking spot or if you are like us you arrive at around 9:45 AM or so and they are already parking people in dirt lots about a mile from the gate. Then you can decide to walk the mile like we did or wait in an extremely long line for a shuttle to bring you closer. Security is very tight and every bag is checked and tagged. Then you pass through detectors for what I can only assume are WMD’s because they are not metal detectors. Before you even park you may be selected at random for a vehicle inspection. These are conducted in complete military fashion by the book. Luckily I didn’t win THAT lottery.

Finally Jamie and I arrive inside the gates with our two bags of camera equipment and no food or water. Yes, I know it wasn’t the smartest move. We got grandstand seats and once in the grandstands I used my telephoto lens to read the sign on the water stand. It read “Water $3”. It was highway robbery I know but I didn’t want to pass out so I invested in some water and later a hot dog and a pretzel. We did bring lots of sunscreen though so we were good on that front. We arrived right in the middle of the morning show so those acts were already going on. We saw the tail end of Bill Reesman flying a MiG17F which is a Russian jet that looks like basically a jet engine with wings and a cockpit.

We got situated and began shooting when the “Patriots” were flying. This is a team of pilots on four L-39 jets. The L-39 is a soviet designed trainer jet which is not known for it’s speed but is still highly maneuverable. The pilots on the team are extraordinary and perform many of the same formations and flight patterns as the Blue Angels although at slower speeds. They are sponsored by which I think is pretty funny. The announcer for them was basically selling the audience on visiting Frys the whole time the Patriots were flying.

Shooting was difficult for most of the day because a storm was rolling through a few miles out and there was cloud cover up high in the sky. This made many of our images flat and lacking contrast. It also made the sky too light and the aircraft too dark. Luckily the sky would open up later in the day.

The next thing we saw were the U.S. Army Golden Knights. This parachute team can jump again and again and land on target every single time and do it in style. While the Golden Knights were still looking for the best place to jump a whole slew of aircraft and helicopters took to the air in preparation for the MAGTF demo.

The Marine Air-Ground Task Force demonstration was an overwhelming display of force all used in coordination. The demo involved F/A 18 multi-role jets, AV8B Harriers, AH1W Super Cobras, UH-1N Iroquois helicopters, CH-53 Super Stallions, CH-46, KC-130 aircraft, M1 Abrams tanks and Infantry Fighting vehicles all participated in this exercise. Words can’t even describe how awesome this display was. At any given time at least three or four things were going on.

Next was Sean Tucker in the “Oracle Challenger”. This is a purpose built aerobatic biplane designed especially for him. Sean performs some of the most amazing stunts in this aircraft including barrel rolls which lead to inverted loops and anything else you can think of. Sean has a microphone in the plane and can talk to the ground and the audience over the PA system and lets just say that this is one excited guy.

The F/A 18F Super Hornet demonstration came next. Many people don’t know that the Super Hornet is actually a completely different aircraft from the original F-18 design which the Blue Angels still use. It is larger, faster, more powerful and can project force at a greater distance then the earlier design. In the demo the first thing you see is the pilot perform a “dirty” takeoff where he rolls off the runway way before he normally would just to show how much power the engines produce and is propelled almost straight up just by the awesome amounts of thrust the aircraft can produce. The other amazing thing the Super Hornet did was a high speed pass at just below the speed of sound. At this speed you could see these formations of water vapor appear and disappear over the aircraft in a conical shape. Until that day I did know that such a phenomenon really existed. I had seen photos but I never saw it for myself. Well now I have photos to prove that it does happen.

The F-16 Fighting Falcon demonstration came up next. The F-16 is older then the F-18 but is in some ways more fun in that it is very light and agile and can pull up to 9 positive g’s. Now humans can’t really sustain that kind of force for any period of time but thanks to pressure suits and training, pilots can pull off those kind of maneuvers.

Then came what I was waiting for all day. The F-22 raptor demonstration. The F-22 started at the opposite side of the runway coming towards our side. The first thing I saw was the jet already off the ground with the landing gear retracted but only a few feet separated the aircraft from the ground. Then the pilot broke hard up and away from the crowd. At this point I could see just how large the jet is. It is larger then a Super Hornet. The F-22 pilot then proceeded to perform maneuvers which I only heard described in textbooks but never actually performed in real life. The pilot pulled a Hammerhead were the jet is going straight up and then once it reaches a very slow speed the rudder is kicked over to pitch the jet back towards the ground. Next the pilot put the jet into a flat spin high above the airfield. Lastly the pilot demonstrated a power loop which is a maneuver that the F-22 excels at in which the loop it makes is super small. They call it the smallest loop you will ever see.

Well that was it for me. I spent all my camera’s memory on that demo. Jamie continued shooting the F-22 and I took some videos of the AV8B VTOL demo and of course the venerable Blue Angels. Then we huffed it back the whole mile to the car and sat in traffic for an hour just to get off the air station. It was a fun and educational day that was both exciting and exhausting at the same time.

Make sure to check out the rest of our air show photos in the gallery.

Mission Bay Triathlon 2008

October 5, 2008

This past weekend we helped cover the Mission Bay Triathlon. Mission Bay is a very lovely area of San Diego that includes lovely beaches, Shamu and lots of triathletes. We had another very early morning photographing this event. It was a lot of fun, as usual, but San Diego is always a great place to be. Our friends at Amatuer Endurance have provided an excellent race report and as always check out some of our photos in the gallery.