Monday, December 20, 2010

Ruben Alcantara

The name Ruben Alcantara is legendary in the BMX world.  He's always been innovative and original with his riding, and is a modest and all around good person.  He's had some bad back problems for the last five years that were being misdiagnosed  and have kept him off his bike for most of that time.  This video explains how his symptoms were finally diagnosed and he expresses in his own honest way how it feels to be able to do what he loves again - ride his bike.

The second part of the video also includes some of the riding style that originally gained him so much popularity in the BMX community.  Ruben is BMX.  Watching him ride again in this video is really inspiring.  No tricks or grinds.  Just flowing around fast with style.  Nothing feels the same.

Catching up with Ruben from joe rich on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Ol' dirty bastards

Derek Brower
Over labor day weekend the guys running the legendary BMX trails Catty Woods held a jam including some fun contests, a steady supply of grilled delicacies and a good turnout of riders and spectators.  It's really impressive how committed these guys are to these trails.  Each piece is like a work of art, carefully crafted and shaped to be both functionally superior and aesthetically admirable.  Hours upon hours of shovel time have went into building this empire in the woods.  They've also worked hard to make this spot a legitimate, insured place to ride that is known around the world as some of the best trails on the planet.

Click through after the jump for a few more shots from the day.  Other than a few mixups with photographers swapping Pocket Wizard channels, I felt very lucky to be there shooting.  I can't wait to go back.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

The Last People

The online design/art/BMX magazine The Last People posted a feature with a few of my photos and some ramblings I wrote to go along with them.  Go check out the site and if you look at some of my photos while you're there then so be it.  They work hard on the site and have a lot of great, regularly updated content there.  It's worth a spot on your bookmarks list.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Construction Life

As a contrast to the Corporate Life series I posted the other day, here's a series from the other side of the tracks.  Thanks for looking.  More after the jump.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Corporate Life

I shot a lil' photo series recently.  Without including people in the images, I tried to photograph objects and settings that conveyed the feeling of working in a cubicle city.  I usually like shooting portraits or at least photos with a human element present, but I think these inanimate objects are so telling of the environment and the people within it that it's still almost a portrait of those people.

Enjoy.  Or don't.  Thanks for looking either way.  Have a good day.

Monday, June 28, 2010

PDN "Faces" contest

I was fortunate enough to be chosen as a finalist in Photo District News' annual "Faces" portrait contest in the Self Portrait category.  The photographers and the work submitted for PDN's contests is generally of such high caliber that I was really surprised and honored to be printed alongside those images(I sandbagged my way in with the Self Portrait entry; I would have had no shot against the editorial entries - amazing work).

The image to the left was the photo chosen.  More info and a list of all of the finalists can be found here.  PDN will post all of the winning entries online later this month and they can currently be seen in the July issue of the print magazine.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Sidewalk Studio

Last Saturday I wanted to shoot portraits. Well, I always want to shoot portraits. But, this time I had no one to shoot. I cherish a free Saturday, so I wanted to come up with something a little different. After some thinking I cut off a piece of seamless paper, grabbed my camera and headed out the door to Philadelphia. I stopped on a corner near the Italian Market that was in the shade and had some decent light coming in from one side. Wall. Tape. Paper.

I stood on that corner for about an hour with my camera in my hand and talked to people that walked by.

"Hi, I'm Ryan. I'm a photographer..."

"Hi, I'm Ryan. I'm a portrait photographer. May I take your photo?"
"Of me? No, thanks."

And then someone said yes. Then someone else. And another.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Sam the Meat Man

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Party time

A couple of weeks ago I was invited to a prom-themed party in the Philadelphia suburbs. I was asked if I could take pictures at the party so I decided to throw something together that encompassed the feeling of the night. You'll notice an obvious progression of debauchery and alcohol consumption as the video moves through the night(note:possibly slightly NSFW content. Unless your boss is less like Lumberg and more like Michael Scott). For the photos, I started out asking people to stand in but later put the camera on a tripod and set the intervalometer to fire off a frame every 10 seconds. People tend to loosen up when there isn't someone looking through the viewfinder. I wasn't looking for glam and fashion here. I wanted to show that I was set up in the corner of the basement and people were boozing it up and having fun. Speaking of having fun, I gotta go...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Risk vs. Reward

The cover of the new Dig BMX Magazine is the best BMX magazine cover I've seen in a while. Possibly ever. The photo is technically amazing; it's lit well with a careful, thought out composition. Ben Hucke, the rider on the cover, is a fresh face that's never been seen on a cover. Oh, and he's doing a can-can handplant on a tyrannosaurus.

What's even more impressive is the process that went into shooting this photo. Jared wrote up an article describing the time and effort it took on his blog that's definitely worth a read. Bookmark Jared's blog while you're at it; there's plenty of good content there on a regular basis.

If you've shot photos like this before, then you understand the dangers involved. If it's not a routine trick(and the best photos usually aren't), then there is a risk for both the rider and the photographer. The rider is trying something dangerous over and over again(over 350 times in the case of the Souney/Hucke cover!) and you're shooting photo after photo trying to perfectly capture a trick that most likely will never be done again. The rider doesn't want to risk getting hurt without walking away with the accomplishment of both the trick and the photo to prove it. If you, as the photographer, lose sight of your vision after the 50th try then the final photo will show it. You need to shoot the 63rd photo with the same anticipation, attention to detail and enthusiasm that you had when you shot the 2nd photo.

Every person that's held a camera has blown a photo. Every BMX/skate/action sports photographer has shot a photo of a rider and screwed up the timing or framing. I can't tell you how many times I've been laying on the ground after shooting a dozen photos and then when the rider sticks what he was trying, I look down to see that my composition is way off. There are few feelings worse than having an incredibly excited rider come up to you after pulling a difficult or dangerous trick and having to show him the photo you just botched. Instant deflation. We can't all fire out perfect photos every time, but if you don't lose sight of your vision you had when you set up your first light then you can drastically reduce the percentage of disappointing encounters that you have with the riders that you photograph.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Bicycle Motocross

It's pretty obvious that I've failed miserably at regularly updating this blog so from here on out I'm going to change that. I may just be doing it to unload the endless flow of photo geek thoughts and terminology in my head, but hopefully someone else can come away with something from what I post here and a dialogue can happen as a result. Whether it's a couple of quick shots or a lengthy diatribe, my goal is to post at least once a week. So without further ado...

All of the Northeast snow has melted and in its place is beautiful weather that makes you want to be outside and smile. Being outside more means I've been shooting a lot of BMX lately. Here's a few recent photos and a description of the lighting and setup.

The shot above was taken in Trenton, NJ. If you've ever been fortunate enough to visit Trenton, then you understand the blossoming city that it is. And by "blossoming" I mean frightening in broad daylight. We parked close to the first spot that we planned on shooting at - a courtyard in the middle of a housing project. The little kids playing drug lookout outside of apartment doors were pretty obvious. This spot is a BMX/skate mecca and is basically an accidentally-made skatepark. When we turned the corner to enter, we rolled up to 6 guys smoking blunts, drinking 40s and playing cee-lo. Understanding that a lot of bike riders come to the spot, they told us to "come in and pull out the cameras". I had a 50lb bag full of about $8k in gear on my back so we decided to try someplace else first...

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Black, white and everything in between

I've had some people ask about my post processing with b&w conversions of digital images. I was planning on putting something together, but a friend recently sent me a photo saying they wanted to see what my conversion would look like, so I thought it would be a good opportunity to walk through my processing.

Here's the original image, and my resulting black and white conversion is the image above (All photos in this post copyright Tristan Afre):

This is an extremely low tech walk-through of how the photo was converted. It's about 15 minutes long, and is me editing the photo and explaining what I'm doing. I apologize for for a lot of filler to get to the good content, with a monotone voice mixed in. I didn't plan this or do more than one take, so I've mispoke slightly a few times and left out some points(i.e. the use the of the blacks slider in Lightroom). Questions are welcomed, and if you sit through this I applaud your uncanny attention span.

Every black and white conversion is different, so there's no settings that apply to every image. But the important thing with this look is that you want dark shadows and bright highlights that don't clip, and an even range of tones in between.