Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Costa Rica

Prior to this trip to Costa Rica, had you asked me of all the places we've traveled, which one was my favorite, I would have said Ireland without hesitation. Funny how things change. If you only get to visit one foreign country in your lifetime, I would hate for you to miss Costa Rica! It's such a beautiful country, there's so much diversity of plants and animals to see, and the people are extremely friendly and welcoming.

Costa Rica

We stayed at the Peace Lodge, on the edge of the La Paz Waterfall Gardens. We chose this location because it was centrally located at the base of Poas Volcano, and situated within hiking distance of a section of the rain forest that had no less than five gorgeous waterfalls within hiking distance. This particular photo actually shows TWO of them where a pair of rivers converge. Don't worry, I'm not in a dangerous position, hanging precariously over a slippery chasm...this National Park has well-maintained trails that connect them all.

Costa Rica

We took several day-trips out from the Peace Lodge to visit other sights and indulge in some fun activities. On the way to Pozo Azul (where we went horse-back riding through the jungle and did a zip-line excursion through the jungle canopy, sometimes hanging 80 feet in the air) we had to stop for road construction. Go figure! On the side of the road was a young mother and her daughter, picking lemons from a lemon tree. We asked our wonderful guide/driver, Allen, if he would ask the mother if we could photograph her adorable daughter while we waited. Doesn't she have the cutest smile!?!

Costa Rica

Well, out of over a THOUSAND images, I don't know how in the world I'm supposed to pick a favorite. But I must say, this one would certainly be in contention. I just love how the green on the frog matches the green on the plant, and the red on his eyes matches the red on the plant. :-) As you can imagine, for a photographer this trip was like sending a kid into a candy store!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

We Must Begin with the Children

It's early. It's still dark out. Cami & I are getting ready to fly to Costa Rica for the week. We're staying at the Peace Lodge at LaPaz Waterfall Gardens. So I wanted to share with you a quote from a very wise man. Mahatma Gandhi once said "If we wish to create a LASTING PEACE we must begin with the children."

This image is one of my favorites from a Sunrise Session I did for some WONDERFUL friends and clients out at Folly Beach. Denise, Chad, and little Thomas are always a pleasure to work with!

Thursday, February 8, 2007

As Tall as a Four-Story Building

The new banner is already up and hanging from Stadium Center Court. Mike Saia, of the Family Circle Cup, was kind enough to send me this photo of it. It's about as tall as a four-story building!

NEW Family Circle Cup Banner

I am SO EXCITED! I just talked to Mike Saia, the Communications Manager at the Family Circle Cup. He informed me that this year's NEW BANNER of last year's champion, Nadia Petrova, will feature an image I photographed of her. Here it is!!!

If you don't already know, I'm one of the Official Photographers of the FCC tournament. Look back at some of my journal entries from last spring (here and here) to read more about my involvement in the cup.

The FCC is one of the Women's Professional Tennis Tour's most prestigious events. It's the last clay-court tournament played in the US before the players head to Europe for the French Open. Behind the four Grand Slam Tournaments, there are several Tier One Tournaments, of which the FCC is one of the most respected. So if you're a tennis fan but don't have the funds to go to the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, or US Open...the Family Circle Cup should be NEXT on your list!!!

So far, this year's entries include something like 7 of the top 10 in the world. Super Star and the Number One player in the world, Maria Sharapova will be there! The comeback hero of the last few years, Martina Hingis will be there! Other former Number One's, Justine Henin and Amelie Mauresmo will be there! Up-and-coming stars like the 17 year old Nicole Vaidisova will be there! It's going to be AWESOME! So make sure and come out April 7th - 15th. I'll be there!!!

Monday, February 5, 2007

Gone Fishin'

Cami & I drove to Hilton Head to spend the weekend with her parents. They were having a Super Bowl party - which was as good an excuse as any to go visit! As most of you know, I hardly go ANYWHERE without my camera...even when I'm "off". :-) So while everyone was taking a nap Sunday afternoon, I jumped in her parent's golf cart with my gear and rode up to a nearby pond where I had seen some wildlife hanging out earlier. I got some great shots of cormorants, egrets, herons, and ibis. Just as I was starting to think about packing up, all the other birds on the pond started going NUTS!!! The reason for the commotion...this powerful Osprey that had decided to swoop in to pick up a little dinner. It all happened in a blur, but I managed to squeeze off several frames before it perched on a tall tree to eat. I shot several more of it feeding before the light faded and my own stomach started to growl. Time to head to the party and do a little "feeding" of my own!

Thursday, February 1, 2007

Tennis Championships

As many of you know, I'm not one of the Official Photographers of the Family Circle Cup professional tennis tournament just because it's a great assignment. I enjoy shooting it because I'm also a tennis player and a fan! One of the local tennis teams I play on actually WON our State Championships a few months ago! So this past weekend, we got to fly to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to compete against the other states in our area for the USTA Sectional Championships! There were several other teams from Charleston who also competed here in their respective divisions. So I want to congratulate all those Charleston tennis players for their accomplishments! I'll post a few of MY favorite photos here. But since so many of the players asked me to publish a gallery of ALL my images from the trip, they can be found here through the end of February.

This is a shot of Tim reading the paper while we all sat around waiting for our turn to get on court. We played Kentucky's state championship team and defeated them 2-1. After that victory, Tim could be found "rollin' three deep"! :-)

Tennis Championships

Here's a shot of our fearless leader! Todd, the team captain, was ALWAYS on the phone in between matches trying to get scores and stats about the teams we would be playing next. Thanks for all your hard work and dedication in getting our team this far, Todd!

Tennis Championships

Saturday night we had our Player's Party at the Old State Capitol. Often referred to as "the old gray castle", it's one of the most distinguished examples of Gothic architecture in the United States today. It sits on a high hill overlooking the great Mississippi. I found out the capitol of Louisiana was actually in New Orleans prior to being moved to this location when the city of Baton Rouge donated the land to the state in 1847!

I took this image at dusk while the warm glow of the setting sun illuminated the front facade. Placing the silhouette of a large tree in the foreground created the perfect frame around the empty sky, focusing the attention on the stately building.

Tennis Championships

Jeff Young is on our team. However, he was unable to play because he suffered a stroke many months ago. It was touch-and-go for a while, but he's made INCREDIBLE strides towards recovery. His daughter, Kristen, is on one of the Charleston women's teams that made it to the Championships. And his wife, Toni, is the head teaching pro at the Maybank Tennis Facility, which our team plays out of. It was GREAT to have him along on the trip for moral support and encouragement. Here he gets a double-zerbert from some of the costumed ladies that entertained everyone at the Player's Party. That smile says it all! :-)

Tennis Championships

Shawn played an INCREDIBLE match against Louisiana on Sunday. My previous doubles partner, Dan, got bumped up to the 4.5 league this year. He and I had a long and successful run together. So I'm sad to see him go. But Shawn and I are going to team up this year. I'm REALLY excited and looking forward to playing with him. He's got EXCELLENT form on his volleys (as you can see), and very consistent ground strokes. I think this year's going to be a lot of fun...

Tennis Championships

This trip to Baton Rouge was a TON of FUN! I played three of the matches, teaming up with my friend Steve - the nicest, kindest guy you could ever meet! We won two of our three matches together, beating Kentucky and Mississippi. We BARELY lost the match against Tennessee (6-4, 6-4). Unfortunately, our team didn't make it to the finals. But sometimes that's just the way the ball bounces. We're all still proud of being State Champions, and the accomplishment of defeating several other states along the way. Besides, there's always NEXT YEAR, right?!?

When we weren't on the courts playing, I did a lot of walking around town to train my eye. It's funny...a lot of folks think being a great photographer is a gift you either have or you don't. However, just like any other gift you might poses, if you want to push it to the next level, you have to TRAIN IT! Lance Armstrong, who had a gift for cycling long distances, didn't rest on his backside during the off-season. He TRAINED! During my walk-about one evening I happened upon this row of flagpoles along the River Walk. By turning the camera, I created the diagonal lines that lead your eye to the main subject, the flag. I also used a slow shutter speed so that the billowing flag would blur and create a sense of motion. And I used the Rule of Thirds to place the flag off-center, creating a more dynamic composition. I think I'll call it "Half Mast". What do you think?