My good friend RL Deitz, skilled amateur photographer and equally skilled astro-photographer has offered, through the years, to host a group of his interested friends at the WSU Jewett Astronomical Observatory, to which he has access. Finally, last year, we made good on his offer and a half dozen of us met RL at the Observatory, just outside of Pullman, Washington. It was a fair day but with intermittent clouds (about 50/50). Telescope observation is always weather dependent unless you own the Hubble telescope (which we do!). The clouds were one thing but the unstable air that accompanies such weather actually bends the light, even between clouds when it looks clear, such that optimal sharpness is unlikely with the inevitable time exposures moon, planet, and star imaging requires. Nonetheless, we caught a few good moments to look with our eyes and thanks to some camera adapters RL brought and some the observatory had, we made a few exposures through the magnificent "steampunk" brass telescope. The moon was impressive and we each saw Saturn, for real- rings and all, as well. A 12" refractor lens and a 15' focal length makes this device an impressive and serious tool. The observatory itself has its own charm with its classic rotating hemispherical top with the clamshell doors. All made of wood, no less. This really was a fun and an interesting evening with equal parts wonder at nature, convivial fun with good company, and the adventure of discovery. This is a hidden gem of the WSU campus. While no longer the cutting edge of astronomy, it is an amazing instrument to be available to a group like ours. Thanks to RL and the gent who opened the doors for us.
Ben, of the Perry Street Brewery across the street from our studio, said he had a print ad to submit and didn't have anything to use for it so I went over there one late afternoon in the summer. They were busy and the weather was glorious, so I shot a few frames of the waitress carrying a couple of their beers to a table. I worked it a little and showed it to him and he thought it was great and ran with it.
Check out his website here: http://www.perrystreetbrewing.com/
Given recent high water, some friends and my wife and I decided to go to Palouse Falls a couple weekends ago to see what it looked like. What we found was lots of chocolate-brown water falling 187 feet to the pool below. If you haven't visited Palouse Falls be sure to add it to your list.
As a part of a project for Grant County Public Utility District, we were asked to photograph salmon coming back to the hatchery to spawn, as is their natural instinct. There is an outlet channel from the hatchery that is at least a mile long, located right downstream from Priest Rapids Dam. Not being underwater photographers nor being set up with underwater cameras and lighting, let alone scuba or drysuit equipment, we chose a simpler approach. What they wanted was images of these mature fish making their way upstream. They are fairly contained in the channel. What I did was to bring a small aquarium and some flash lighting units. I built a stand in the water with some cement blocks at a turn in the stream, placed the aquarium about 6" deep into the 3 foot-deep water on top of the stack of blocks, put some lead weights in the aquarium to keep it from floating off, and placed a camera inside it, up against the glass. I was in chest waders, the assistant in hip boots. The camera and light needed to stay dry. It was much too dark to work with sunlight or even skylight, being late afternoon. We placed two lights on boom stands over the water to create a "sweet spot" of strobe light in the water where I hoped the fish would swim through and where the flash units were concentrated. The water was more murky than I expected. Zone focusing, I shot as I saw clusters of fish approaching and entering our prepared area. The whole thing worked pretty well though I was in the water for close to three hours. The images were quite flat coming out of the camera so we gave them more contrast and did what we could to make them look like what we saw. Our client was happy with the images we delivered. Here are "before and after" (post-processing) samples:
PTEK is a smaller local technology company that makes radio transmitters. Working with design firm "LA Zing", we photographed several models of their products for all promotional purposes. It is good equipment and is nicely finished, making our job easier. This small company is growing and I hope we've helped them grow more.
Avista Corp contributed to the construction of the Avista Pavilion at McEuen Park in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. We were asked to document the structure and signage for helveticka and Avista Corp. The first time out, in spite of our planning and coordination with the city facilities folks, there was a wedding in progress as we arrived. Not having any wish to infringe on the bride and groom's important day, we did what we could and planned a return trip, checking now with the person who actually books events there. Success! Here are a few samples:
Spokane Roofing, a venerable Spokane roofing company came to us with the need to document some of their recent projects. I asked if they wanted to see the actual roofs and they said "no- they get dirty right away". Good point- they are mostly white membrane roofs. This made our task much more simple, too.
Leviton Company brought us in to help illustrate a case-study of Spokane's Davenport Grand Hotel's many uses of Leviton products. I guarantee that you have used their electrical switches and components. The Burson-Marsteller PR agency in Boston actually asked us to photograph this project for Leviton after looking at regional photographer's websites. We must have walked six miles in the half-day we spent at the Hotel. Walt Worthy's electricians were super helpful and stood in as installers for several images. Best of all, they were the actual installers. J. Craig Sweat Photography, Inc. got a preview of the Hotel before it opened and then right before the grand opening. It's really big and very luxurious.
Nicks Custom Boots sends us new products as they are developed to be photographed for their website and other sales efforts. They are very high quality custom made boots which makes them great to photograph. Nicks is a great Spokane success story- a small business that is growing and selling internationally driven by good management and mostly superb product quality. The craftsmen who make these are uncommon in their skills and are astonishing to watch work, as I have. To turn big sheets of heavy leather into these is something to behold. After photographing many shoes and boots for several years, the owner was kind enough to get both me and my assistant each a pair of boots at nominal cost. Nicks is moving from a very cramped legacy factory to new quarters as we speak which will be more efficient, more pleasant for the staff, and accommodate the growth they are experiencing.
Images of Keyboard Cat and France video production
Chris and I spent a long morning at Charlie Schmidt's art studio making still images of a video production with Charlie and "Keyboard Cat" ("Bento"), being done for a widely viewed european television network. The production team, frenchmen Malo and Pierre, were the video crew. "Sept a Huit", a popular news show like our "60 minutes", will be doing, according to Malo, fifteen to twenty minutes on Charlie and his "Keyboard Cat" - the hugely famous internet meme. We shot production stills, watched the french guys smoke cigarettes, Charlie play, and tried to stay out of the way.
Gary Kaemmer, artist, is a relative of mine who, upon retirement from a successful career as a design agency and illustrator in Denver, Colorado, moved to East Hope on the north shore of Pend Oreille Lake. This is a guy who is past 80 years old now who goes to a small art studio he built next to his home every day, regular working hours, and does art. No phone, no TV, just art, all day, all week. Just because he loves it. Kind of a Renaissance man, he can use just about any medium (oils, acrylics, watercolor, sculpture, charcoal, pastels, scratchboard, graphite...) and does it all very well. Back in the 1960's he helped his brother, a founder of
A friend of Chris, studio assistant, asked if we had any utility "lineman" images. As I have done a great deal of work in the utility/industrial areas, we showed her what we have. After looking at stock images all over the internet she chose one of ours. Her significant other is a lineman and she wanted it for him, and to show what it was he did on the job. We went over matting and framing with her, made the print, and finished it out, complete with hardware and now resides in their home.
Digital Dealer Magazine called us, based on our website, to photograph our local BMW dealership's manager Mel Watson. Digital Dealer is largely an on-line publication with a moderate print press-run. They needed a magazine cover and an inside story intro image. This fellow has some very good ideas about car dealerships and he was interviewed about all of that for the cover story. Mel is a very likable, easygoing, heads-up person and I can see why he's been successful. When we submitted the gallery to the editor, Linda Fisher, she wrote back to say "I’m thrilled with the results of the photoshoot. This will be one of our favorite covers. Thank you so much! GREAT JOB!"
You can't ask for more than that. Well, you can, but they even paid right away. If you would like to read the article check it out here: http://www.digitaldealer.com/interview-mel-watson-general-manager-bmw-spokane/
Mobil Oil asked us to photograph a visit to Spokane by baseball player Steve Garvey. We photographed a reception for him at "North 40" store and at the Indians Baseball field before and during a game. He is a very nice, easygoing, and considerate guy. He signed hundreds of baseballs, mitts, brochures, bats and anything people brought. Avista Stadium is also one of Spokane's under-appreciated gems. What a great little ball park.
GGP (General Growth Properties, Inc.) arranged with J. Craig Sweat Photography to do before and after architectural photography of their NorthTown property as they go about a major renovation update, particularly to the North quadrant of the shopping center. I've always liked NorthTown because I grew up across Franklin Park from there and, as kids, we used to walk over there and have all sorts of adventures. (Karmelcorn!). It is surely the oldest shopping center in Spokane and was already going strong in the 1960's, when we lived nearby.
Below are some before and after images of the completed project.
A while ago, we (my wife Ann and I) came back from three weeks in France. It was a "work" trip as we did projects on a house in France to make it vacation-rental ready. It's a long story; the short version being that I inherited this place from my French uncle Pierre and we would like to keep it in the family if possible. We will rent it out to people looking for a small home to stay in on vacation in France. It isn't fancy but it's real nice- clean and complete. It's rural, on a big lot, surrounded by a laurel hedge so it is very private. Three bedrooms and two baths, radiant floor heat, a very sunny and pleasant main room, modern kitchen. The house was built in 2001 so it is modern and not drafty and has amenities like radiant floor heat. With a listing on VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) or "Gite.com" we hope to cover the cost of running and keeping up the house. Still working on that website submission material. We really hope we can make this work because Ann and I love the house and the location and can't get over there enough while we are still busy working. Its one of those places that is so quiet at night it almost hurts and you can see the Milky Way like you could reach out and touch it. It is the most relaxing place I've visited in years and the local activities are great- kayaking, rock climbing, hiking, lots of ancient ruins and functional castles very near, great small rural villages, Saturday markets in the village square. This area is known for excellent food and we can confirm that. Here are a few photos of the home, inside and out, and the area:
Planned Parenthood of Greater Washington and North Idaho (PPGWNI, no less) began a conversation with us at the end of 2015 about a photographic approach to a campaign to express their mission and improve their visibility. With the concept from art director Kolea Kent, we decided on a series of portraits, each with a short testimonial comment. Our subjects were their clients and some client-contact staffers. Photography was scheduled for a day in Yakima and a day, in studio, here in Spokane. Kolea and I refined the style and approach before production with some testing and experimentation, then produced over 40 individual portraits (well, there are also a few two and three - people variations). In addition to using these images for their 2016 Annual Report cover and other print applications, seventeen of these were prepared for a gallery show which travelled with the PPGWNI team to three community gatherings (and fund raisers). We had R&R Color Lab make large prints on aluminum, for it's look, durability, and simplicity. These prints were then hung with a bit of hardware I invented and built for the gallery exhibits, with fabrication help from friend John Mraz. Simple, straightforward, and direct as a presentation. The last of these gatherings was held at my studio and was, by all accounts, very successful- like the other two events. It was great fun as well. The prints and hardware will now go to PPGWNI for use in their clinics and offices. We were all happy to get this much mileage out of our efforts.
NAC architecture brought us in to shoot the new "Clearwater Clinic" in Orofino, Idaho which they designed and helped concieve. Pat Watkins, their facility manager, was super helpful all day as we executed both exteriors and interiors for a long full day. The assistant I hired said that it was the "longest day he had worked in his life". He's young- he'll have more chances to beat it. He was good help right through the end, then for the three hour drive back. Once we arrived back at the studio we added grass, bark, and cleaned up the images for their final stage, as you can see using the image sliders. It's a beautiful building which is as much a community center as a clinic judging from the traffic and activities all day long.
Grant County Public Utility District called us to refresh their facility photography and document the fisheries research and activity in which they are engaged. We took two separate days to make the most of weather and river flows. They own and operate Wanapum Dam and Priest Rapids Dam on the Columbia River as well as numerous recreational facilities along their stretch of the river. I have a personal liking for these dams (as well as other large-scale human technologies), my dad having been an engineer. Our family vacations often involved dam visits when I was very young. That was a time when anyone could stroll into the control room and have access to almost anywhere inside the dam. In hindsight these dams have their problems but they are what is largely responsible for the prosperity and quality of life in our modern civilization. The fishery problems are being addressed with great priority and effort right now given the importance of fish navigation in the circle of life and to the native cultures of the area. You would be surprised that with the modern turbine blades the survival rate difference is only about 1% between the turbines vs the spill way. Our first day was in the generator bay at Priest Rapids for a "heavy lift". Our second day began at 5:30 a.m., with fierce winds, which should have been no surprise (it is the "gorge"), It was a very cool, (as in freezing cold!) hour or so just downstream from Priest Rapids Dam. Extreme and gusty winds did not get the best of our camera supports- the tripods held steady (with extra weight) and we got our shots. A tough and long, but fun, day.
You can download the annual Report here and view some images we captured for them here: www.grantpud.org
Bouten Construction hired us to update their library of "process" and construction images. They use these images in proposals as well as in their broad marketing efforts. We were in Yakima on another job and stayed overnight there so we could be in the Tri-Cities, at the project, at 6:30 am the next morning. These guys start early and move fast. The parking garage is a substantial structure- five stories of heavy concrete. It was a routine day: re-bar install (getting ready for a large cement pour), form setting and removal, concrete finishing, crane work, and a dozen other tasks that are impressive in both scale and skill.