Boot Hill Part II

After venturing out to Boot Hill in late August (prior post here), Frank K arranged for a second shoot there in early October. We did not have the luxury of a blue sunny day, or a beautifully restored car, but we still had a great time. In fact, the soft light of the overcast day resulted in some really nice natural light portraits like the one below.

BootHill 2-2

I spent most of this shoot with the lovely Kelsey. When you have eyes like this staring at you, the rust the moss certainly fade away.

BootHill 2-1

Last time, I wrote about the swingset ferris wheel.  It's a 4-seat ferris wheel, where each seat is essentially a swing inside of a donut-shaped fiberglass shell. You propel the ferris wheel by swinging in the seats and walking on the shell.  Last time, I took shots of Brittani and Eric sitting in the ferris wheel. This trip, I took a ride of my own. It was a surprising amount of work, but a it was fun to be spinning around above everyone.

BootHill 2-3

In case a car fan is reading, the first two shots were taken in the red / rust colored boat car on the right.

BootHill 2-4

The last two shots were taken in an old Cadillac. The tale from the colorful owner of Boot Hill indicated that this Cadillac was once owned by a prominent Madame on Spenard. He claimed that a lot of early Alaska decisions were transacted in the back seat.

BootHill 2-5

And a parting shot of Kelsey with her beautiful eyes through a broken window.


Family Portraits

I love shooting family portraits. They are unpredictable, and full of precious moments.

A little more than a week ago I had the opportunity to shoot the Church family. We met this summer when our daughter started at their new home-based day care. (In case you are looking, and in case she has room, we highly recommend Katie's Cubhouse. She's awesome.) It has been fun getting to know them, and watching all of our children grow fast. In particular, it is fun to see their daughter in her new role as older sister - a role that our daughter will be playing early next year!

Church Family-1

On the Saturday before Halloween, we headed up the hillside - first stop, was an abandoned and collapsing homestead. It was cold, and the he kids were fussy. But we still got a few good shots off.

Church Family-2

Turned the light stand around and captured these shots from the same spot (in front of the collapsed homestead). Great view, and what a cutie!

Church Family-3

Charlotte put her hands in the cold snow and cried - so Mom stepped in to help.

It didn't take long outside to decide that we were all cold - so we headed down the hill to the warmth of their parents house for a couple more shots.

Church Family-6

I love Bennett's expression here -"Hey, are you lookin' at me!"

It was a challenge wrangling everyone together - getting everyone looking at the camera at the same time. Mom and Dad are torn between looking at the camera and making sure the kids look at the camera (I have the exact same problem taking self-portraits of my family). But it all works out.

If you'd like portraits of YOUR family, hit me up on my contact page.


Boot Hill Shoot

Shots from another Frank K shoot. This time, we ventured out to the Valley.

Boot Hill is a small private junk yard in Butte (along the way to Palmer). Driving the Old Glenn Highway past the Butte, Boot Hill emerges from the trees with an eclectic collection of classic cars in various stages of decomposition. Front and center in the lot is a small ferris wheel. But it's not really a ferris wheel in the modern sense. It's more like a swingset on steroids.

What's a photographer to do, but shoot the ferris wheel?

Boot Hill-1
Boot Hill Ferris Wheel
I was extremely lucky to shoot again with Brittani.  This time I got to shoot her AND her friend Eric.  Plopped them down in the ferris wheel and played around. Before we were done, Eric was reaching for the sky at the top of the ferris wheel - too high for good photos, but lots of fun.  I had to go back a few weeks later to try it for myself.

While others were shooting in the midst of the rusty, lichen covered wrecks, I managed to eke out a few minutes with a pinup style Brittani, and a beautifully restored '52 Chevy Coupe.

Boot Hill-2
Fuzzy dice tell me that the car is a '52.
But who's looking at the fuzzy dice?

Boot Hill-3

No heads up display or GPS, but that's a pretty good looking model there. Car model. What did you think I was saying? (Just kidding Brittani - you are awesome!)

Boot Hill-4

Extra bonus shot - I had my daughter along for this shoot, and managed to corral her in an old El Camino for a couple of minutes before we left.

Add this to the list of things that make me happy.


Family Portraits as fund raiser

Last year about this time, in the midst of my company's annual United Way fundraising campaign, our United Way organizers landed on the corporate equivalent of a bake sale fund raiser.  It was an online auction for the employees of our company for the donated services of other employees.  My offering was a family portrait session.

Tammy was the high bidder, but didn't want to take her shots in the winter.  So, we waited, and waited. And waited.  And finally when the sun came out in August, we made it happen.


I've shot around these rocks before, but never with a group. When one of the kids suggested the rocks, we ran with it. Good thing I had an extra light or two - one flash for each rock.


Shots with the kids were definitely the best. In between the moments of teenaged disinterest, these shots emerged.



Random Connections - Infinity Fest

I love how the world is full of random connections. I frequently see this on facebook when I find friends from totally disparate areas of my life who are mutual friends through random other means.

These shots came about as a result of a random connection.

When I was in high school, I assisted Dave Murrow (media producer and author) as he was DJ'ing a weekly radio program on a now defunct radio station in Fairbanks, AK. Fast forward 20 years, and his kids are grown. His daughter Andrea is a great local photographer who recently put out a call on facebook requesting photographers to document a local music festival in its first year.

What better place to cut my teeth on concert photography than at the first ever Infinity Fest.


Infinity Fest was a festival of local artists held at Change Point Church - with a national act thrown in for good measure.  They had a series of metal bands going on a main stage, and an acoustic stage running upstairs.

Static Cycle
The ever changing lighting in the environment (flashing stage lights in various colors on the main stage, and fast fading window light in the acoustic stage) definitely took some time to get used to. By the time Static Cycle came on near the end, I was starting to hone in on details that interested me. Random Static Cycle tidbit - I really like their reversible logo.

Next time I shoot a band, I'll be spending more time focusing on the drummer - lots of energy there. (Shot of Emery)

And last but not least...
Karissa Laren
This picture is here not so much because the picture is great, but mostly for an excuse to say that this was the first time I've heard of Karissa Laren and she is AWESOME! Smooth, soulful, original. Definitely my favorite act of the night. I'm keeping my eye out for a chance to hear her again!


On the street

A couple weeks back I had a chance to shoot around the Anchorage Museum.  I've seen some great shots with the Museum's new glass walls as a backdrop, and thought I'd have a go.  Alas, the setting sun (ordinarily a beautiful thing for a photo shoot) really messed with the shots around the Museum.

So, I looked a couple of yards away, and there is some really interesting etched glass on a bus stop - and the light starts working for me.  Later, my brother informs me that his friend Lise Hoffman was the source of the etched glass - nice stuff Lise!

Lise's nice art reflecting Nashara's nice form.  This was another Frank K shoot with models from Andy Lewis of Model Elite.

Shooting on the street is always interesting.  We had a few whistles, but overall it was a quiet night, and we got some nice shots.

Strobist details:
The first shot is primarily ambient (sunset reflecting off the museum back onto Nashara), with a touch of fill from the SB-26.
The second started with the sky under-exposed at tad, and then added the SB-26 bare, zoomed to about 50, on half power.


The sun breaks through

Anchorage had a rather crummy summer this year - late June through early August in particular was extremely drab, wet and rainy.

I've been shooting this summer with my friend Frank K, and we were getting out a fair amount even in the rain.  Then, as luck would have it, we scheduled a shoot for the first sunny day in Anchorage after 30 straight days of rain.  

These were my results.


For the technical photo nerds, these were all shot strobist style, with an SB-25 and an SB-26, bare, half power (full power for the last shot).


Inaugural Post

Choices Choices Choices.  Blog name.  Shots to post.  Things to say and do.

Name - considered shortening this to DWells Photography - but there's already a guy in the UK using dwellsphotography.  He's got some bright cheery stuff - right up my alley.  To avoid confusion, I spelled my name out.  Still a nickname, but that will be a subject for a later post.

A bit of background - I've been an avid photographer for....well, let me think.... almost 20 years now (am I really that old?).  I grew up in Alaska, and my initial photography was exclusively animals and landscapes, all natural light, and all film.  Then, about 2 years ago I stumbled on David Hobby's Strobist blog and flickr group, and my photography changed.  Not overnight.  I'm still working on it.

I'm planning to use this forum to post samples of my latest shots, and things I'm learning along the way.  I've been itching to do this for a while, and today I read Scott Bourne's admonition to Shoot and Show, and it gave me the little nudge I needed to start putting stuff out for public consumption.  Stay tuned.