Sunday, January 26, 2014

Royal Oak Craft Beer Festival 2014

It never hurts to ask -- sure, this event was covered by a Free Press photographer that was kind enough to chat with me for a few minutes, but events love coverage, so when I emailed the promoter to ask for a press pass, he was happy to oblige.

Everyone loves a marquee. However, this does leave some confusion, since there was a "beer fest" the week before at the farmer's market, and this one stands out as a craft beer fest. It's right there in the fantastic website:

The various logos of participating breweries were projected on the screen all night, looping. The stage was also one of several areas for breweries to set up.

And I do mean several. What this did, however, was spread the event across the whole of the place. It was a very well-attended event, but there was enough space and staggering so that you never waited in line for long. 

Between these gentlemen, Yorg and Sheehan, and the DJ, there was music I could hear over the talking all night. Obviously the place was built for great acoustics, but I was surprised how well they filled the place.
Here's a shot from the stage looking up. I was dealing with a lot of red light in the place, so my post-process/editing went down like this -- I shifted the red level in curves, and then brought up overall brightness. Getting better at it -- bad pictures give me an opportunity.

From the Balcony, which was open to VIP only for  a while, here's the floor and sound booth. Anyone with a western shirt and cowboy style hat are volunteers furthering those that benefit from the event -- Camp Casey, a local charity that uses horseback riding as a healing tool for children with cancer.

Fire and Ice -- heavy on the Ice, it would seem

This weekend in Rochester, Michigan, the Fire and Ice Festival was held. They feature a lot of great events, and participating businesses have Ice Sculptures displayed on the sidewalk before their storefronts. I attended briefly to see part of a demonstration by Finesse Ice Sculptures out of Shelby Township, who actually create the sculptures for the event. Their work is featured throughout this post.

Tools of the trade.

Unfortunately, this is the extent of the "demonstration" for which I was able to stay. The ice blocks are made in one basic size, and have to be adhered/frozen together to make large sculptures. So, bascially, I was standing around waiting for ice to melt. I moved on.

Logging Truck

Starship Enterprise

Clear Submarine. Making it with yellow ice would have been weird.

The detail shot of the bicycle wheel shows you the level of detail these men put into their work. The spokes are of equal length, and that blows my mind.

Last one -- the Cruise Ship was great on its own, but the chalkboard flow-chart was the reason for the shot.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Getting better at focus

In my quest to improve as an amateur photographer, I need to take pictures like a marine fires rounds. When you have too many hobbies, as I do, it is tough to keep up on their development (I am not getting much better at playing the bass today, but writing and photography are on the rise). Today, I set up a bit of a shoot to test my skills with focus and figure out how to make corrections.

I started with a set of water goblets and a pitcher -- first real use they've gotten since the wedding gifting that brought them about. Very nice, no doubt, but we don't have enough fancy occasions that also serve water. Anyway, here's crystal goblets. 
I used a prime lens that is commonly known as a "nifty fifty," a Canon 50mm f1.8, which is my favorite since I hate using a flash, and the wide aperture lets me keep up shutter speed and keep down ISO. The set-up of the goblets didn't allow for all parts to be in focus at once, so I got to experiment with selecting different parts of the frame to focus upon. The first several had only the first goblet in focus, which is what auto focus tended to prefer -- I had to manually focus to move the center of the objects into focus, but you'll notice that the front goblet no longer is. The Depth of Field that comes with the territory of a fixed 50mm lens is something worthy of practice. 

In order to do a bit more DOF work with a single object, I dumped the water from all the glasses into the pitcher, then stuck a candle behind it just below the water level. This first one uses all three wicks, but I was concerned that it was a little cloudy, so I blew out one and then sped up the shutter speed more.
One of the by-products of the light changes was more attention to the reflection in the granite countertop. I recently read this article at DIY Photography about a granite tile, and since the combination of countertop and subway tile I already have is pretty eye-pleasing, I decided to start using it a lot more. I'd like to thank them for the inspiration, and thank you for reading this, because this is a direction for my posts that I haven't taken before -- actually discussing specifics as an amateur about my ways, means and practice. I'll do this more.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Rochester Mills Brewery Tour

For my birthday (which was five days ago), my best friend and his father took me along on a brewery tour. They are both members of the Michigan Brewer's Guild, and as the tour was led by the President of the Guild (and brewmaster at Rochester Mills), they were able to bring me as a guest and photographer. Here are some photos I took. If these end up being featured elsewhere (they might, still in the works) I'll update the post to say so.

UPDATE: The photos from this post were featured in Hour Magazine's Food Blog! Check out the post here!

Close up of empty cans -- there are a lot of them since they come pre-labeled and have to be ordered en masse.

We asked to take one since it was my birthday. Denied. 

Seven Fermenters -- the facility has room for forty more!

The canning line -- back half of it, starting with a UV light for purity/sanitation

Cans exit the line onto a piece of the Piston's floor from the Palace.

More of the operation.

Great time, awesome brewery. Thanks to Rochester Mills and the Michigan Brewer's Guild for putting it on!