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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Nutcracker Access

I cannot remember if I have ever seen the Nutcracker, but I have photographed parts of it for years. This time I had a little more fun with it because, one, I was playing with that 50 1.4 again and I was interested in the process of the play, back stage and actors instead of the actual play. My favorite image is that of the toy soldiers watching the dress rehearsal from the audience perspective. It reminds me of a color Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1930s image. It has softness in tone and monochromatic setting in red uniforms and red seat fabric. The center girl’s expression of concentration takes the viewer into the moment. It makes me loose myself in the moment each time I look at it. The other shots are with the 14 at 2.8 and all at 1600 ISO on the Nikon D1h. P.S. a 14 mm on a Nikon digital camera is equivalent to 21 mm on a film camera.

Beautiful But Deadly

Stark Beauty: or Beautiful But Deadly. A trip to Surprise Canyon was just that, a surprise. I have traveled over much of the region specializing in the Mojave Desert and I only say deadly because places like these can bee if one is not prepared for the elements. This is one of the few places I have found that actually surprised me in its natural diversity and eco system in such a stark and generally inhospitable land. The other areas in the Mojave are: Afton Canyon, Round Valley and Providence Mt. State Park. Although, Round Valley in the Mojave National Preserve was burned during the Hackberry Complex Fire of ’05. I created a slide show of Surprise Canyon, which as I understand it, had a road through it at one time and Mother Nature took it back. The canyon is now the center of a national lawsuit by off roaders to be able to access the canyon again. I hiked in several miles with a little climbing up waterfalls with some water, trail mix and two camera bodies with a lens range of 14mm to 600mm and yes I used it all. The writer and I did not attempt to make the eight-hour hike to Panament Ghost Town at the top of the canyon.

Ballarat Ghost Town however is near the base of Surprise Canyon. With Rock the caretaker and his dog Potlicker, the grave of Seldom Seen Slim the prospector and Charles Manson’s ‘50s pickup truck. I started to use a 50 1.4 lens, see if you can pick out which images are from that one.

Suprise Canyon
Ballarat Ghost Town

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

In Memoriam

After covering wildfire for 20 years, the death of five professional firefighters reminds their colleagues and journalists alike the danger involved in an unpredictable disaster such as this. Anyone could have been with them that day. I tend to get close. Experience, professional training and FULL fire gear including a emergency fire shelter help me tell the story through images. There are many ways to photograph fire; very long lenses of flames and aircraft is one way. I tend to use a 20mm lense. I feel I always stay out of the way of firefighting crews, but I also try to show them as the heroes they are. I can do this best by showing them in the real situations they work in. I often think the general public does not understand. We all love to do our jobs out there. They died doing what they loved to do.

Even as investigators continue to probe the cause of the Esperanza fire, the blaze claimed its fifth life Tuesday night. Firefighter Pablo Cerda, 23, died about 5 p.m. in Arrowhead Regional Medical Center, where he had clung to life since sustaining critical burns over most of his body on Thursday, the day the fire started near Cabazon.
The fire itself was was fully contained Monday evening after a five-day fight covering an estimated 40,200 acres.
Also killed as a result of burns sustained that first day were Jess McLean, 27, of Beaumont; Daniel Hoover-Najera, 20, of San Jacinto; Jason McKay, 27, of Phelan; and Mark Loutzenhiser, 44, of Idyllwild.
Investigators worked both at the fire's origin on Esperanza Avenue and where the crew of U.S. Forest Service firefighters was overrun by flames Thursday on Gorgonio View Road in lower Twin Pines.
Authorities stood by their damage estimates Monday - 34 homes and 20 other structures destroyed. The cost of fighting the fire was put at nearly $10 million.
The San Bernardino Sun: 10-31-06

--The slide show-- Large format, let it load... Then play.
Esperanza Fire Images
Full Story

Pointing To The Sky

Spending a day at the Edwards Air Force Base Open House and Airshow. I decided, in true Garry Winogrand fashion, to use a wide angle and photograph people watching the sky. Many people like 'people watching' and one co-worker said they look like they are waiting for God.

--The slide show-- Large format, so let it load... Then play.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

The Mother Road

Using photography to explore the world around me, or my backyard for that matter, is a wonderfull feeling. Using a camera and forcing myself to slow... down... and really see what is around me, unlike at 70mph on a freeway. Slowing down creates a more rewarding experience and memories. I have photographed Route 66 in the California Mojave Desert for years so "Seeing" it in a fresh way can be a challenge. I have found that things do change, slowly, even in the desert. There is a before and after effect. Its is a bit of an illusion because there is an infinite amount of time before and after my images.
Some of the before is at:
The Mother Road
Four slide shows:
The Mother Road Show 1
The Mother Road Show 2
The Mother Road Show 3
The Mother Road Show 4
Thanks to Lee Ann Fox, Bryan Smith and K for the tunes.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

New Toy For A Different View

I have been photographing high school football for 18 years. Although it can get redundant, applying a new way of "seeing" can make for a fresh and fun experience. The Lensebaby 2.0 was the new toy du jour.

When you have been covering the same assignments for this long, it is easy to fall into a rut bad attitude of the same old thing. As we gear up for a full swing at high school football this year and the number of games I will cover, I think I need to try some new techniques, at minimum, try and have an attitude of "seeing" for the first time. You never know what will happen even if you think it will be the same.

As I was walking back to the car, after one of several pre-season stories on one of 90 teams in our coverage area, I looked down at the distinct Vans footprints I had left in the dirt on the way to the football field. I thought about what was going through my mind when I left those prints in the opposite direction that I was traveling now. I thought about the time that had passed since I had left those prints. My mood had changed from approaching the shoot to having accomplished it. I felt lighter.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Flyin' High

San Bernardino County Sheriff's aviation division will soon be receiving its sixth Eurocopter AS350B3 at about $2.6 million each. These helicopters are equipped to fight fires from the air with 180 gallon "Bambi Buckets."

I have flown in many different types of aircraft over the years, but this ride had me thinking how nice it would be to have a vehicle that you could pick up and put down anywhere anytime.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Yeah, But Its A Dry Heat

I have taken many trips to Death Valley National Park, but the Summer weather assignment takes heat to yet another level. At 125 degrees and a hot wind that makes it worse, eight hours of driving to get there and back and an hour out at Bad Water (282 feet below sea level)to photo tourists that are from anywhere but the U.S., beats a day in the office.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

So You Think Its Hot?

Here in the Inland Empire, along with everywhere else, it has been "Africa Hot." I have actually been entertained by reading the weather page of how miserable everyone else is as well... So Cal temps included the record breaking 119 in Woodland Hills, 114 in San Bernardino and 121 in Palm Spring. Palm Springs is near where these three fires (Sawtooth Complex, Covington at Joshua Tree National Park, and Crafton Hills) were taken from. Take that 108 degrees in the shade add long sleeves and long pants, add full Nomex fire protection gear, helmet. Carry lots of cameras, water and a fire shelter then hike a couple of miles in rugged terrain in the sand at 4000 feet elevation of Joshua Tree NP. Then when you reach the fire, get real close to the burning stuff at 1800 degrees. If you have any extra ambition try running along with the firefighters as they drag hose lines, because I like to photograph fire with a 14 mm lens. Needless to say I soaked the clothes as if I jumped into one of those back yard pools the fire was threatening and I have it easy because I can stop or leave if I've had enough. That IS what I call a good time. It tends to make up for the other stuff that is not so cool.

The slide show: Fire Weather
PS. I have been photographing wildland fires for 20 years (my first published image was of an Orange County canyon fire in 1986... dont try this at home kids;)

Saturday, July 22, 2006

An extra special message, massage

Rialto Police and narcotics officers raided two massage and tanning parlors for prostitution after months of undercover investigation.

I think this image above is my favorite because a raid can be action packed like the one below but this image makes a quiet visual statement to an emotional state, a mood, a social statement on the condition these people may be in. The girl shrunken at the bottom of a well of looming parental like officers, dark clothing and shapes. A trapped social condition.
Again, the use of the wide angle lens and natural light helps me capture what is there, unlike the use of flash and drag of the shutter to create a completely different feel of the event (the arrest blur photo). I believe how one chooses to photograph a scene conveys a layer of information not literal and always easy to explain.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Fire Suppression

This "Soundslide" show was a bit of a pain to put together but fun in its results. A non-traditional look at still photography. The use of the Nikon's 'motor drive' (digital cameras don't have motor drives, only a eletronic shutter) at 7 frames per second of the water drop and a pan of the 747 on the ground. The Evergreen Supertanker is a Boeing 747 that can deliver 20,000 gallons of fire retardant along 5 miles of fireline, not graceful but packs a punch.
***NOTE*** this high bandwidth show needs time to load, pause it and let it load for a few seconds first.
The slide show: 747 Air Tanker Water Drop

Monday, May 15, 2006

Fair Photography

I have lost count of the number of "fairs" (as in county fair) that I have photographed. Some years are better than others but one thing is for sure, fairs (like weddings) are very similar in the sense of being repetitive in nature, visually. I like sticking close to the people and their animals because I find that the human element is more compelling for my creativity. There is passion in their connection to the animals. Unlike the rides, which are expensive and over quickly.

The slide show: The County Fair
And a Mahalo to \< (K) of Raw : Audio for the great music

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Highs and Lows

Being a newspaper photographer has its ups and downs. I enjoy being a phojournalist because I often do not know what I will be doing from day to day and sometimes minute to minute. Assignments change, the emergency radio scanner breaks with news that needs to be covered now. The past week has been an example of the best and worst assignments.
I hate paparazzi. On the rare occasion staff photographers are forced to sink to that level and get the shot no matter what. So staking out the Riverside Courthouse to make sure a photo of a suspected child porn peddler ran with a story in the paper was on the menu. The daily mug of the local gas prices often feels like a waste of time and will never fit in a portfolio. The high of last week was to be in the back seat of an F-16 in a ride along with the USAF Thunderbirds... They canceled on me, AGAIN. A trip out to Las Vegas to explore the future of air traffic at the current and future international airports was nice. Its good to get out of the office.


Monday, April 24, 2006

Photographing Diversity

In a non technical sense, photographing peoples lives can be difficult. How does one tell a story in a single image which conveys a sense of community. Trust is often the key. I try and not bring attitude onto a scene where people need to be able and trust a photographer. Showing a person with a sense of dignity is key, no mater who they are.

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Deputy James Valencia interviews the victim of a stabbing in Highland, April 8, 2006

Highland is a community in San Bernardino County in which the most extreme conditions of economic divide exist. I have not seen this range of rich to poor anywhere I have worked as a photographer in one city except San Francisco. San Francisco has the opulence of Nob Hill to the project of Potrero Hill. Highland has the upscale homes on the hill to the well traveled gang turf of it's west side. San Francisco has 750,000 people over 47 square miles, Highland has about 50,000 residents.

Photographing a community where such extremes exist can be challenging both mentally and physically, but conveying it honestly is still the ultimate challenge.

Monday, April 17, 2006

Graduate Level Training

People might get the idea I spend a lot of time at the Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, usually a couple trips a year, they just happened to be now. I suppose it helps that the NTC is in San Bernardino County like The Sun Newspaper. This event was special because often I hear on assignments, "You should have been here for this or that" or "Next week we will do this." It gets a little frustrating knowing you missed the best photo opportunity. This time it worked out. Unlike the first day, (the week before), where I shot about 700 images (and used 8 in 2 papers) this time I shot 1,300 pics and we used 4. That is the nature of the paper biz. Luckily the Internet has my back. This assignment was a challenge because when there are so many subjects to photograph one may have the feeling that they are missing something else. My philosophy is, I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I will make the best picture I can, here and now.

With the mind-numbing and ear-piercing rattle of machine gun fire bouncing off the steel-walled shipping container "buildings." It made it a bit harder to concentrate on pictures, but also added to the excitement. I kept thinking how glad I was that no one was using real bullets.

Thanks to AnnJohansson.com for the pic of me (standing around doing nothing) during a "car bomb" attack on the village ;)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


"They die here so they don't have to die in Iraq" Maj. John Clearwater of Ft. Irwin's PAO
The Army's National Training Center at Fort Irwin, in California's Mojave Desert is a military training sand box often referred to as "the box" the size of Rhode Island. 50,000 troops are trained here each year. Force on force used to be the mantra but now its RPGs and IEDs. Learning to deal with the real world situations of today's Iraq. About 1,600 troops and civilians including 250 Iraqi Americans are the OpFor or opposing force to the visiting units.
"If you took off the blind-fold and told me this was Afghanistan, I would say OK." Said New York Times reporter Dexter Filkins who has lived and covered the war in Afghanistan and Iraq for the past three -and-a-half years.
The slide show: Insurgency

Monday, April 03, 2006


Letting things just happen, sometimes, can be a rewarding experience both photographically and in life. Sometimes as a working photojournalist I find myself just exploring the community to relate what is out there to the readers. Being a photographer also gives me a wonderful excuse to talk to people without seeming too strange. When I found these retired guys flying model airplanes I thought that I could have a little fun with creating pictures and learning from them. Turns out a few of them actually flew aircraft in the military and one flew in combat... And yes, he said it does help him fly the models.

The slide show: Radio Control Planes

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Not Just a Leap

I often say "If you do anything for eight hours a day, you can be a supermodel." I mean, anyone who can put in the time and effort can accomplish anything! Spend 40 to 50 hours a week in a gym and see what happens... Photography dose not come easy to everyone (or me for that matter) but think of the time I put in on top of my love for the craft. I want you to think of what it is you truly love, what inspires you, and create a mental path of how you can make it happen! Create your reality, take and make no excuses and everything will work out perfectly!

I was inspired to think about this because of conversations I have had with friends lately and my trip to Anderson School for their Special Olympics. Think about what these people have as obstacles in their lives and continue to leap.

Photo-Anderson School student Richard Rodriguez reaches for the sky while attempting the standing long jump during the 4th Annual Special Olympics, Thursday, March 29, 2006 in San Bernardino. He made it 5 feet and 6 inches.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Nature's Lawnmowers

A little kidding around. Sometimes it is nice in this fast-paced business to breath and watch goats, then have a little fun photographing them. Enjoy the slide show.

The Slide Show: Natures Lawnmowers

On a technical note: The main photo was taken with a Nikon D2HS at 200 ISO, f16, 1/500 and an off camera SB800 at TTL 0.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Cristo Ray

Today, I spent about three hours at a 60-year-old Catholic church in San Bernardino called, Christ The King, AKA for the two out-the-door, Spanish-speaking masses, Cristo Ray. The story is about how three churches in the area are closing down and consolidating into one. The people have mixed feelings about the idea, some see more room and others see the loss of history. Either way, the people were extremely friendly and let me photograph them. My favorite moment of the day was to hang out with the alter boys because of the color and shape of the cross in one's hand.
To see a temp slide show and full story go to The Sun link to the right or if that's gone I have it here for now...

The Slide Show: Cristo Rey

Saturday, March 18, 2006

A New Frontier

This is a new venture in photography for your host. As a Staff Photographer for The Sun Newspaper in San Bernardino, California, I intend to use this space to discuss, photojournalism. The aspects of photojournalism such as technical talk, ethics, approach, point of view and aesthetics will be covered. Here serious and some times not so serious aspects of photojournalism will be addressed on a regular basis. As I find something to discuss related to press photography during my encounters, I would like to share them with you.

A brief introduction: Currently I am a full-time, staff photographer for a metro newspaper of about 80,000 copies circulated daily. With the advent of technology, the online version of The Sun is under constant improvements. The internet is a wonderfull tool to communicate with readers. So visit www.sbsun.com on a regular basis to view stories and photographs from our Inland Empire communities. One more thing about moi, I have been a photographic story teller for about 17 years and currently am finishing a masters degree in photography.

Please post comments of a professional and or curious nature if you are so inclined and we will see where this goes.

Above Photo:
March 18, 2006 - Returning Troops - Over the weekend, I covered two events in the High Desert region of Barstow and Ft. Irwin. The return of the 11th ACR to Ft. Irwin was an opportunity to record the events of our soldiers returning from a year tour in Iraq.

The slide show: Blackhorse

I look forward to your comments. Post for all to view or contact me at eric.reed@sbsun.com and I will try to get back to you in a decent amount of time.

Thank You for your time.