Rocky RAW

portrait by paul ottaviano

In this corner we have a super mini-mini-flyweight from Hillsboro, Oregon. He is the dance and prance bruiser, the tiger unleashed, and the next champion of the world!

Actually, he is one of the nicest five year old boys you would ever meet and was a rock star in front of the camera. Mr. Luke, as I call him, likes soccer and football best but was open minded enough to try on my boxing gloves. Mr. Luke is not a boxer, but he really didn’t need any direction from me. Once the gloves were on, he went right into his Rocky and Apollo Creed routine. Once the gloves came off, he posed with stuffed animals and his baby sister. Mr. Luke, for lack of a better word, was awesome.

Precious

photo of Precious the cat

When Precious arrived at the Oregon Humane Society, she was known as Monkey. Her current owners had kept her in the garage full time, never groomed her, and had a healthy disdain for her. Her beautiful hair had become so matted that it had to be shaved off entirely, and the description by the owners listed a slew of negative adjectives.

But like all animals – people and cats alike – companionship and environment matter. Precious needed a home that fit her; she needed an owner that met her strong personality with love and understanding. And she found just that five minutes after being placed out on the floor, so-to-speak, when Micki Naito immediately asked to see her. They’ve been happy roommates ever since.

Precious the cat now
Remind you of a comic strip character? Too cute.

Precious does not like to be touched, but other than that, she is very personable and curious. Most cats don’t take kindly to orders, so I just tried to make her comfortable with me and my camera. For example, I sat on the couch and let her come to me. Micki’s house has huge windows, bathing the room in natural light, so I thought it best to use that for Precious’ portraits.

The two photos you see of her were shot at f/1.8. This was for shallow depth-of-field and to use Micki’s couch as an easy backdrop. My goal was to focus on Precious’ incredible eyes and hopefully to have catch lights reflecting in them. Shooting at this aperture gave me the opportunity to use fast shutter speeds with just window light and a silver reflector.

How did Precious hold still for the camera? Well, she really didn’t. I used my auto-focus beep to get her attention and have her look towards the light. At that moment I was ready to press the shutter button. As you know, cats are unlike dogs and don’t respond to calls, so if the auto-focus beep worked then I went with it. Flexibility in your approach is important with pets, and for cats in particular.

I had a wonderful time with Micki and Precious and their story is, from what I experience, very typical when good people adopt animals. Pets are great to have and if you’re a photographer please consider volunteering your photo skills for a local animal shelter.

How would you edit this photo?

a trio of musicians play at the Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro
The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

My first thought when shooting this photo was for it to be a silhouette. But then I thought color and vibrancy was a good way to go so highlights were dropped and shadows boosted. A lot of photography and post-processing is subjective, so what would you have done with it?

Would you have opted for a silhouette? Would you have cropped out the violinist and focused on the two guitarists? Soft, sharp? Whatever choice you would have made, there is no hard right or wrong answer in my opinion. There are only guidelines and what looks good.

As for the trio you see here, they were a delightful sounding group at The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro. Regardless if you’re into renaissance fairs or not (I had never been to one before), I highly recommend taking your camera to such an event. The people there lack photo inhibitions and the costumes are worth the time by itself.

 

Just another 55mm photo

photo of pickle cart and merchant at the oregon renaissance festival

There are times when you’re on location somewhere and your only plan is to see what looks good, what light is available, and then use your photography knowledge to frame a shot you’ll love. It’s not random snap shooting because thought goes into each photo, but being somewhere at the right time certainly helps.

One thing I often look for is a unique person, doing ordinary things in their own way. I keep my eye open for a setting that is not busy but offers an interesting contrast to the subject or person. If I see it, I go for it.

That said, this being candid photography I cannot direct the person to stand or look a certain way. What a person is doing the second I look into the viewfinder could be very different the next moment. It’s sometimes a challenge, but certainly an enjoyable one.

There is so much I love about this photo… his beard, how he crossed his legs, and his clothes. I love his pickle signage. The background colors are unusual for someone engaged in this activity. The look on his face could make you wonder what he was thinking in that moment. Did he get any business that day? Or was he just hot and tired from being outside all day long? We don’t know and that is what makes shots like this fun.

Rebel

Rebel poses for a portrait photo at The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

“So what kind of sorcery is that?”

“I’m here to steal your soul,” I said in reply to this stranger dressed as a pirate.

“Aye, not without a fight!”

So this man named Rebel, in full character and accent, proceeds to walk towards me with the posture of a swashbuckler looking for a sword duel. In response I do what I enjoy and what he expects, and that is press the shutter button. It was spontaneous, fun, and it led to the fantastic shot you see here.

This was typical of my experience at The Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro last Saturday afternoon. The players and guests in costume were colorful in appearance and vibrant in personality. Everyone from the Wonder Wheel operators to the pretzel merchant stayed in character and welcomed the camera.

It was sweet and innocent. The photos came out wonderfully. As for Rebel here, he was simply great.