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Archive for November, 2010

I have a few photos from Missouri and Thanksgiving I really should blog, but before that happens — I’m excited to announce I’ve accepted a six-month photo internship at The York Dispatch.

Front page courtesy of the Newseum.

So, after Christmas, I’ll be driving up to Pennsylvania via Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Virginia and Maryland. Then I’ll spend the next six months photographing for one of two newspapers in York, Pa. (That’s right — the other daily is The York Daily Record, with which The Dispatch has a joint operating agreement.)

York is a small town. Population-wise, it’s less than half the size of Columbia, Mo., where I went to college. I’ll be there for six months, and I’ll be joining a staff of two photographers.

Needless to say, the next six months will be very different from this past summer in Atlanta, and I’m very excited and honored to have been offered this internship.

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I’d been using the Canon 30D for almost two years — until recently. With it, I had the 16-35/2.8 lens, which paired well with the camera’s 1.6 sensor crop.

Now that I have a full-frame camera, my heart is set on the 24-70/2.8. (Yes, I love primes as much as anyone else.) Several people, including Jeff, have advised me to sell the 16-35, especially since its wide-angle spectrum becomes super-wide on a full-frame.

Well, I can’t and I won’t. I used my 16-35 on a full-frame for the first time while at Poynter this summer, and I absolutely loved it. As much as I want/need to add the 24-70 to my arsenal, I’m not doing it by selling my 16-35.

On a very related note, I tagged along with Jeff during one of his Columbia Missourian photo shifts last week while I was in Columbia. For one quasi-enterprise assignment, he went to photograph the two rather large cranes on campus.

These two industrial cranes are being used to help construct a new seven-story patient tower for the hospital. The path of a passing airplane adds a nice touch to this sunset silhouette shot. This was shot from the top of a parking garage.

While I went to the side of the parking garage to make the above picture, Jeff noticed a puddle and decided to try to make a reflection picture. His first attempts were not up to his (or my) standards, and he moved on.

After I made a few standard pictures, I went to the puddle to see what I could do with it. Quickly realizing that crouching down and pressing the shutter button wouldn’t work, I got down and dirty — by lying down on my stomach. And, careful not to get my scarf or jacket or camera in the puddle and using my 50mm, I got this shot:

Shot with the 50/1.8.

Then I changed lenses and used my trusty 16-35.

Shot with the 16-35/2.8, at 16mm (and later cropped from the top and bottom). Much more epic.

After I showed Jeff my results and told him not to be afraid of getting down and dirty, he immediately did the same and was able to make the picture he’d wanted to get.

Make sure you check out his eventual photo — as well as his picture of my getting the shot.

Back to the issue of wide-angle lenses on full-frames. Yes, sometimes the results are slightly ridiculous. But as you can see, the frame with the 50mm wasn’t large enough to capture the tops of the cranes without losing the border of the puddle. Tally up one more reason for me to hold on to my 16-35.

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So long, Columbia

COLUMBIA, Mo. –

Well, this evening I’m leaving Columbia, and so is Jeff. We’re off to our respective homes — him to Maryland for Thanksgiving, and me to Texas for however long.

I spent two weeks in Columbia. Overall, it’s been a good two weeks and a good break.

Sunset over Broadway in downtown Columbia, a few evenings ago. This was taken through Jeff's newly-washed windshield as we drove downtown.

I still have a few more photos to blog from this trip. Those will come soon — but without the “COLUMBIA, Mo.” dateline.

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COLUMBIA, Mo. –

A few evenings ago, Jeff and I hightailed it out of Columbia and drove south to Jefferson City, where Central Dairy awaited.

Trucks, in the back of the dairy lot.

Jeff only buys Central Dairy milk (when he’s in Missouri), but neither of us had been to the ice cream parlor before. There’s a Central Dairy building in downtown Columbia — it’s now an appliance store — but the parlor in Jefferson City has been around since at least the 1950s.

The storefront of the Central Dairy ice cream parlor.

We ordered the banana split to share.

Two scoops each of strawberry, vanilla and chocolate ice cream, topped with marshmallow sauce, chocolate sauce and nuts.

We almost finished it — but not quite. I’ll just say that that banana boat and wax paper were full of ice cream carnage, and leave the rest to your imagination.

But it was very, very good.

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¡Yo quiero…!

COLUMBIA, Mo. –

Yesterday, I read an informal look at how real fast food measures up to what’s shown in advertisements. The author compared the advertised-vs-the-reality at Taco Bell, Burger King and other major fast food chains.

It was pretty eye-opening, but not entirely surprising.

On a somewhat related note: Later, my friend Darren picked me up from campus and, on the way home, we swung by Taco Bell. Taco Bell is probably Darren’s greatest love, apart from Xbox.

Darren was excited to see that Taco Bell has resumed serving the Grilled Stuft Burrito.

Darren was not excited about the price.

Darren, at the drive-thru: "$9.52? What the ----?"

But Darren was excited enough to text our friend and his former roommate Jason since, apparently, this was one of their favorite menu items back in the day.

Unwrapped.

It’s the small things.

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COLUMBIA, Mo. –

It’s Veterans Day, but I opted to watch the International Picture Story category judging for College Photographer of the Year, rather than watch and make pictures of the Veterans Day parade that began literally right outside the building.

Nevertheless — happy Veterans Day, and thank you to those who served and have served.

The Eternal Flame of Freedom in the courtyard of the Harry S. Truman Museum in Independence, Mo., on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2010. According to the museum, the Tirey J. Ford American Legion dedicated the eternal flame to fellow legionnaire and President Truman in 1991.

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COLUMBIA, Mo. –

As I previously wrote, I’m taking a break from Houston. That doesn’t mean, however, that I’m taking a break from barbecue.

My flight on Sunday landed in Kansas City. Passing up on Kansas City barbecue would have been incomprehensible, especially since I’ve already sampled barbecue from two Texas establishments. After some heated discussion with Jeff, who’s very firm with his opinion of Kansas City barbecue, we decided on Arthur Bryant’s. Jeff’s first pick, Oklahoma Joe’s, is closed on Sundays, and I wanted Bryant’s over Gates because of the appeal of eating in an older location.

Arthur Bryant's on Boulevard Ave.

Jeff had already decided on our order: the beef and pork combo, with fries.

The beef is on the left, the pork on the right.

My informal barbecue tour so far had not featured shredded meat or a lot of sauce — until Bryant’s. Both of the above are why Jeff is not a fan of Bryant’s. While wolfing down the food, he mourned how the taste of the meat was lost in the sauce.

I didn’t mind it. It was tasty in its own right, and I didn’t think the meat was lost in the sauce. That said, I didn’t douse my portion in Bryant’s signature vinegar-based sauce, but rather ate it as it was served.

The remnants of another party's meal.

But, as I’ve written before, I’m no barbecue or meat expert. Bryant’s was good but not mind-blowingly good. I think generally I prefer a good steak over slow-cooked meats.

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On a jet plane

COLUMBIA, Mo. –

It’s been almost exactly a year since the last time I traveled via plane. (Related: happy first anniversary to my brother and sister-in-law!) Hobby Airport in Houston has changed in aesthetics since then — for the better.

Early morning flight, early morning light.

One thing that’s neat about flying between Kansas City and Houston is, the flight path goes over the Houston metropolis. In my earlier college years, I usually flew between St. Louis and Houston, so this view is not one I’m used to seeing.

Flying over the south loop area.

Unfortunately I was on the wrong side of the plane to see downtown. But I did spot something familiar…

A few hours later, I was in Kansas City to eat barbecue (more on that later), in Independence to pay my respects to Harry S. Truman (more on that later) and — now — in Columbia to watch the College Photographer of the Year judging (more on that later).

More on everything later, in general!

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A few weeks ago, some of my extended family came to town to celebrate my grandparents’ 60th anniversary. As is tradition with my family, “celebrate” means ordering and consuming an ungodly amount of food.

Way more food than that lazy susan was designed to handle.

As is Chinese tradition, the chicken in the poached chicken dish (which you can see at about 12:30 on the lazy susan in the above photo) arrived at the table with all relevant (and cooked) body parts. Including the head. Which was also cooked.

Complete with the comb. Completely cooked.

I am Chinese. I have grown up eating authentic Chinese food. The Chinese traditionally cook animals whole (sans organs), chop them up and serve them after arranging everything to resemble the whole body, for good luck. Therefore, I am used to seeing whole lobsters — with heads — arrive at the table. I am used to seeing whole fish — with heads — arrive at the table. I am used to seeing shrimp — with heads — arrive at the table.

But never until now had I seen a chicken — with its head — arrive at the table.

So that was new, and slightly grotesque, but fun. And now you can understand, perhaps, why I suddenly didn’t feel too hungry after the poached chicken dish came out of the kitchen.

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It’s strange, reviewing my photos of the 2008 presidential campaigns. For example, two years and three months ago, I didn’t know who Sarah Palin was.

Alaska governor Sarah Palin greets a crowd of 20,000 supporters at a rally at the Missouri State Capitol Building on Nov. 3, 2008 -- the day before the election.

“Had you ever heard of this Sarah Palin, before he picked her?” I asked my roommate after John McCain announced his running mate in late August. (Having not heard her name before, I pronounced it “paw-lin” until my roommate corrected me.)

Weird, huh?

Looking back at my photos of the presidential campaigns of 2008 has made me realize just how much has changed since then. I didn’t start naming my files and embedding caption information effectively until the fall. Also, it goes without saying that the political landscape and the characters who populate it are now jarringly different.

For example — remember John Edwards before his affair made tabloid headlines?

Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., campaigns at the Carpenters Union building in St. Louis on Jan. 19, 2008. In his speech, Edwards called opponents Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "celebrity candidates."

Or how about John McCain’s campaign, pre-Palin?

As Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., waits to give his speech, Cindy McCain describes how her husband welcomed a young Bangladeshi girl she brought home to Arizona for adoption. Cindy McCain called John "a good father" before John took the stage in the JetDirect hangar of the Spirit of St. Louis Airport on Feb. 1, 2008.

Because Missouri was a swing state, four presidential candidates — Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Mitt Romney and McCain — made appearances in St. Louis in the weekend prior to Super Tuesday. Those hectic three days, as well as Edwards’s and Clinton’s rallies in January and Obama’s and Palin’s in the days before the election, helped make 2008 a tremendously exciting year for me as a student photojournalist.

Former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney fields questions from the press during a campaign event at Dave & Buster's in Maryland Heights, Mo., on Feb. 3, 2008.

(more…)

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