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I’ve been kind of busy for the last week, not to mention I have been fighting a few sicknesses, so I haven’t been able to write like I have wanted to. But, the good news is I have been taking my camera with me, so I’ve got some stuff to show you.

First of all, baseball season is just around the corner. It’s so close I can almost reach out and grab it. It seems like an eternity has passed since I was able to sit down, eat something unhealthy, drink beer, and watch a game. It’s been a lot longer, as a Royals fan, than it has been for any team that played in the post-season, but that’s nothing new for me.

More and more baseball teams are adopting an event held sometime in the winter to promote their teams and generate revenue in the offseason. For the Royals organization, this event is called “FanFest”. Basically, before the guys report to Arizona for spring training, they all gather for one day to sign autographs, meet fans, etc. The girlfriend told Santa to leave some tickets in my stocking this year, so I got with one of my best friends and we were off to Overland Park, Kansas. I don’t condone many people or things from Kansas, so it should be noted the Royals actually play in the Missouri portion of Kansas City. When we got there, we estimated about 6,000 people in front of us, and a line for miles behind us. There is a lot of excitement in Kansas City this year, which is saying a lot for a team that plays in a usually mediocre division and hasn’t made the playoffs in 27 years. That’s right, I cheer for a team that hasn’t been to a post-season as long as I have been alive. If they suddenly become a great team, don’t even come at me with that “frontrunner” bull.

My friend brought his wife and their five year old son. He “likes” the Royals, but just standing in line is a lot for a young boy. Hell, it’s hard for me to stand in line at 25. I start fidgeting, pacing, sighing, and then I try to invent new things to do in crowds like make bird calls and see if anyone returns the call. Rarely works, but sometimes. So we were there in line, waiting and waiting and waiting to go see our team, and I was able to capture a quick candid of the two. I pretty much fell in love with the shot, but I would venture a guess to say that pretty much every photographer gets all jacked up about their own stuff once in a while.

kilemaddox

By the way, you’ll notice that I’ve got little watermarks on my pictures now. Just thought I’d start rolling like that. Yes, I know it looks pretty crappy, but unless one of my readers is going to make me one, that’s what I’m going with. (hint, hint)

I know the shot is bright, but you should have been standing in that room. It was like my eyes were overexposed. I wanted to cry.

Once we got in, they had all kinds of stations going with things for people of any age. I ventured towards the back of the room, where they had this wannabe gangster trying to hype up the crowd. He couldn’t have got a cheer from a nursing home, it was god awful. But, I knew that eventually they were supposed to bring some players up there and let them talk, so I took my seat in the second row. It wasn’t but a few moments later that they announced the entire infield was going to be on stage, answering questions from the audience and just talking about the upcoming season, so people started flocking to the stage. I turned my nose up to all those dickheads that were pushing past us to get in the door, and here we were with prime seating.

The team talked and talked, and I just ate it up. It was a super intimate feeling— being that close to the guys that I watch on TV and pay ridiculous amounts to see in person. They fielded questions from kids which were all super adorable; anything from “when did you know you wanted to play professional baseball” to “if you were an animal, what would you be”. I loved it. For some reason, I took like 120 pictures of this conversation, and then probably took 10 the rest of the day. I got several shots that I was pleased with, but you don’t want to see all that crap so I will just cut to one of the better ones, which is here:

royals team-3

Even if you’re not a Royals fan, please say a little prayer or send some good vibes or tell whoever you worship or talk to that it would mean so much to me to see them do well this year.

Next, I’m briefly going to share a cool little event I attended today called “Eagle Days”. It was held in Stella, Missouri (again, think Winter’s Bone). Basically they have this town-wide festival for all of these eagles that migrate into the area. I wasn’t sure what to expect going down there… “was it like, the eagles just come and chill with you while you eat? do they just walk down main street and high-five the kids?” Not exactly. They give you a map of the town, give you all the information you need to know about spotting eagles, and send you on your way. They do have a small park that some conservation department guys were set up at with telescopes, but that’s about it. You are directed to drive up and down country roads until… well, until you find an eagle.

Sound stupid? It was bad ass. I mean BAD, ASS. Yes, you really do drive up and down dirt roads until you find them flying, or perched in trees. It’s like hunting, only with binoculars and cameras. 90% of the ones that we saw today were in flight, but there were instances where there could be five-plus in one tree. Collectively, our group saw upwards of 100, probably more. They were everywhere, and even though I’m not some tree-hugging nature freak, I loved it. Anytime you see an eagle, it’s probably in a cage or on television. Those things will soar and soar and soar and seemingly never come down. Most of the time it just looks like they’re coasting, too. We were able to go off the beaten path and stand underneath a tree that had an eagle probably 60 feet above us. Unfortunately, the only good closeup I got of this one was in flight, because my lens doesn’t zoom incredibly far, and even though it did, I had my aperture set low and it focused on some damn branches in the foreground. So, here’s my eagle in flight:

eagle

Cool enough for this year, I suppose.

Lastly, in one of my earlier posts I mentioned something about a local photography group I recently joined. One of the things they do is give out monthly assignments. I didn’t have my camera in time to get in on December’s “candid” assignment, but I wanted to dive right in to January’s which was “masks”. Basically, you get paired up with another local and you take pictures of each other wearing a mask. The only rule was that your mask couldn’t cover your entire face. I was super nervous because most people in this group know what the hell they’re doing and I didn’t want to seem inadequate. Luckily, I got paired up with an extremely patient and helpful young lady who had her own in-home studio and some backdrops. She made her mask out of a fake poinsettia and some potpourri leaves, and it looked pretty cool. I wanted to share a couple of shots I took of her, starting with this close-up:

mask2

And here was my entry for the assignment. I had to edit out some scratches in the backdrop which was my first real time trying blemish removal, I thought it went well enough. She had her own lighting and pretty much told me I was free to do whatever I wanted with it, so I did. I bounced two different lights off the backdrop to try and separate my subject from it. I also wanted them offbalanced because I’m weird, but I thought it went pretty well. I made some rookie mistakes, like standing right in front of one of the lights at one point. She politely told me photographers usually don’t do that. Noted. I also dropped a blue filter on top of it to do something different with it. I didn’t want to present a piss-poor product, so I consulted Sarah from Sarah E. Nice Photography about my exposure, colors, etc. She was super helpful, and it turned out we used almost the exact same slider settings to edit it. I felt pretty accomplished, because she really knows what she is doing. Here is my project:

mask1

I’m going to try to write a little more often, but the more I take the camera out, the less I’m at home to jot my thoughts down. Thanks for sticking with me through my learning process. I’m looking at a few things right now, including a 50mm 1.4 Canon lens for portrait taking, some backdrops and stands, and some lighting solutions. I am also planning to purchase out WTFisPHOTOGRAPHY.com.

I’m planning on starting a little portfolio. My next project will be doing some band photos for some friends, and I’m going to have a lot of fun with that. Still so much to learn, but there’s still so much initiative within me that I haven’t utilized, and it’s turning into a blast of a journey.

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