Thursday, August 18, 2011

Adventures in Hedonism – Photo Shoot

On thing that tend to generate a lot of hedons for me, is to engage in creative projects. Recently, a friend proposed participating in a 30-day photo challenge – a photo a day on list of daily topics.

The Challenge that started it all - 8 days later

We started late but with a growing bunch of creative participants, the submissions have been fun and clever.

Day 1 - Self Portrait in Car Wash

While I started out just taking quick snaps from my cell phone, I’ve been having more and more fun, thinking of different ways to approach the topics, setting up shots, and playing with all those camera settings I usually ignore. Then there are those topics that inspire an adventure…

30 Day Photo Challenge – Day 4: Favorite color

Yeah, that has all the makings of a rather dull photo – find an object or two in your favorite color and take a pic. However, I have a certain specific  favorite color –it's blue, electric blue - specifically the electric blue of airport taxi lights. Now, I suppose I could have found a substitute. Blue reflectors are typically used to mark fire hydrant locations, squad cars sometimes have an electric blue in their flasher ensemble, and somewhere I think I still have my pair of electric blue spandex…

Many Years Ago in a Far Away Place - My Pants were Electric Blue

But I live in Long Beach; we have an airport here, and more importantly the vantage point of Signal Hill that should afford a nice view of the airport at night, so I should be able see all those electric blue taxi-ways.

Next thing I know I’m in the car with Lisa and the dogs headed for Signal Hill. We parked and headed down a service road to get a clear view of the airport through the tree line and I snapped my first pics.

View from Signal Hill - Tiny string of Blue Lights

Unfortunately, while I had a good view of the airport, those blues lights, even when concentrated in certain patches, comprised a small fraction of the total image. I tried several camera settings zooming in to where I could capture the most blue, but the results weren't that satisfactory. Even at the highest zoom, those lights but were dots on the horizon.

View from Signal Hill - better exposure but less Blue

I thought perhaps a time exposure would do, letting the blue bleed in intensity, but lacking a tripod, of any other good surface to keep my camera stationary I found I couldn’t keep a clear focus. Of course this was my first accidental discovery of how I might just capture that blue in the best light. The blur of my unsteady hand had an effect of painting with light, so now I started doing time exposures deliberately moving the camera in certain patterns to wash the blue over the image. I liked the effect, but now was wondering if somehow I could get closer to the runway.

View from Signal Hill - The less steady my hand, the more Blue

Back in the car and down the hill, we started a slow surveillance around the perimeter of the airport. The airport businesses obscured most of the sight lines, but we found a service entrance with just chain link and barbed wire, hardly a barrier for a camera. Out of the car and pressed against the fence I tried my luck again to capture a field of electric blue – all the while wondering how long before the Department of Homeland Security might come and shut me down for the night.

Best spot to take a picture - don't tell DHS
Planes so close you could almost touch them
Best not to linger...

We stopped at a few locations around the airport. I didn’t want to stay too long in one place, an while I got closer to the lights at the fence, I still liked the effect of painting with the time exposure. They were like a blend of electric Rothko and Pollock, with a little Kandinsky thrown in.

Looks a bit like a physics experiment

I see a shark in this one

I swear this one has electric blue monkeys line dancing

I was quite happy with my end product, happier still over the whole adventure or stalking the airport, and happy to play in this whole Photo Challenge. 

My Day 4 Submission

I hope there's more adventures to come, and hope if you haven't done so yet, that you take on this challenge and see what adventures it take you on.


Link to my 30-Day Album
Link to my out takes


  1. All hail the story of the airport photo adventure!

  2. OMG, the airport photo adventure is radtastic. I love all the finalist photos, too (especially Shark and Line Dancing Monkeys).

    I declined to participate in the 30-day photo challenge because, ironically, I was involved in a very time-consuming photo project that would run about 45 days. Just yesterday, I figured out that I will NEVER make the September 10 deadline, so I'm gonna slow down on that project and hope to have it done by Christmas instead.

    But now I'm more keen to play the 30-day location stalking challenge than the photo challenge!

  3. I see the shark, too!!!

    I'm sad I didn't participate in this quest. I believe it started during birthday madness and by the time I realized it was going on I didn't know where the list was and my crappy iPhone 3G camera just doesn't take great pix. One day when I get a nice point and shoot I look forward to submitting my set of 30...