Friday, September 30, 2011

Big Fuel Tanks Rock - Golden Spike Group

One of the problems with a fifth wheel is the limitations of the truck pulling it.  I have taken a couple trips with friends, and due to the small fuel tank on my truck, I'm always searching out gas stations that carry diesel and stopping every 200 miles.  It shouldn't be stressful because you can always unhook and seek out fuel at a much higher mpg rate - but it IS very stressful.  So I called around and found my friends at Super Shop in Merced could install a 52 gallon tank on my truck.  AWESOME!!!!  This trip to Carson City with my friends Patty and Dan as their guest at the FMCA Golden Spikes Group is the big test of the new system.  Needless to say it ROCKS!!  Unfortunately due to highway construction it took me 6-1/2 hours to get here ... but I still have half a tank of fuel!!!!!  This big tank has set me free!!!  LOL

Upon arrival, Dan and his friends directed me into my parking slot (eeekk .. I have to back up???).  I got lucky and got in on the first try.  Only with their excellent directions.  I have to say this is a great group of people!!  Sometimes in traveling with new groups, I tend to feel out of place since I don't know anyone ... but this group is different.  They all welcomed me and made me feel at home.  Here is the line of their motor coaches ... all very impressive.  They did ask if I wanted donations for a bigger coach and of course I said YES!!!

They supplied breakfast this morning of huge muffins, yogurt and fruit.  My kind of food!!  They are so well organized --

We are off to the first of three train rides ... pictures to follow!!

P.S. -- After stopping at Best RV and basically being ignored for the first 10 minutes, they did fix my leaky valve by simply putting a cap on it.  Guess this valve doesn't work well when the pump pressurizes the system.  And there was no charge!!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

RV Repairs Again and Again and Again

I know I'm new to RVing, but really ... are all dealers this bad at service?  I wish I had the service manager my friends have ... maybe I wouldn't have to take mine back EVERY time I get something fixed so they can fix it again!!  At the very least, you would think they wouldn't want to be bothered by some really cranky crazy lady screaming at them all the time!!!  Yeah, that's me ... I take my lessons from Bad Nick!!!

When I got to the Grand Canyon on my last trip, I discovered the water tank needed to be drained and sanitized ... which my friend Dan helped me complete.  No problem.   He informed me there were valves somewhere underneath that would drain all the water from the tanks in the winter so they wouldn't freeze.  The valves, however, wouldn't open, so upon my return, I went to BEST RV in TURLOCK CALIFORNIA where I purchased my Fifth Wheel and had them install different, easily closable valves to the tune of $180.00 for three.  Cheap plastic valves no less.

Today I filled the water tank.  Just as a precaution, I went inside and turned on the pump/indicator lights to make sure the tank was full.  I heard water pouring from underneath the RV.  Even though the valves are closed, water was pouring from the left side.  I opened it and MORE water came out so I closed it again and water continued to be pumped onto the concrete.  I opened and closed it 4 more times to no avail.  I turned the pump off and tried to cool off before I called Best RV.  After I explained the problem, his first question was "is it turned off?  Is the handle horizontal or vertical".  I'm sorry, but really, I do know what OFF is.  I can only assume they sold me a defective valve and although it looks and feels closed, the valve inside is NOT closing all the way.  How irritating.  Now my trip is delayed for 24 hours because I have to go back again for them to fix their "fix".  Did they test it after installation?  Obviously not ... I just have such a problem with businesses that  1) don't fix things correctly the FIRST time  and  2) businesses that ask women stupid questions as if we ARE stupid!!!   PLEASE!!!  Treat us like we have a brain ... whether it's a man or a woman!!

Thank you all for listening to me rant!  I feel better now!!!    LOL

Friday, September 23, 2011

A Day in The Life of Alcatraz

Another semester at Merced College with a great instructor means I'm knee deep in another photography project.  It could have been easy ... I voted for easy with "Weeds Made Beautiful" ... but unfortunately my "great" instructor said "What???  You know I don't like flowers!!"   (???????)   Okay, so since I'm not too creative, I reverted to the list I have been keeping just in case.  A Day in the Life of Alcatraz it is!!  I scheduled a model, bought the tickets, packed all the gear I thought I would need, and the day before the model cancelled.  I can still go and spend a lot more money to end up with no useable pictures, or I can lose the cost of the tickets.  I didn't go.

Two weeks later, we're off to San Francisco via truck, bart and taxi to Wharf 33 where you take the boat to the island.  The funny thing is that the island is free ... it's the ferry you have to pay for.  I have my list of shots I want to try and tick off the first two quite handily.
I purchased a pair of handcuffs for this shoot and forgot to take them with me.  Probably a good thing because they have metal detectors before you get on the boat.
Once on the island, you are free to roam about at your leisure and can take any returning boat.  Earphone tours are available which tell great stories and give you lots of information on points inside and outside the cell block.  I was so fascinated with the buildings and grounds as far as photography, that I really had to concentrate on shooting just the project.
As you can see, all the images have been desaturated for effect.  At this point the project has evolved slightly to become the breakdown of the individual as time continues to pass.  From this point on, the prisoner in the image will begin to fade, as does his identify and his self confidence.  This may become a problem, as it requires a tripod which is usually frowned upon in areas such as this.  I'm hoping I can sweet talk them into letting me use it for the project.  Another problem, although you don't see it in these images, there are literally hundreds of people milling around.  I have to say they were extremely patient  while they stepped over me since I was laying on the floor for most of the shots.  Here he begins to fade.  You take a very slow exposure, push the button and yell "RUN" at the same time.  The model leaves and the lens stays open for another second or two ... resulting in a ghost-like appearance.  Onlookers think its hilarious!!!
Although I actually got seven useable images (amazing for one trip), I'm returning to Alcatraz this Sunday for another all day session in order to get the ghost images with a tripod.  Wish me luck!!!

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Back to Business ....

While waiting for the new printer ink and paper to arrive, I called a friend whose 14 year old daughter loves to model, for some practice portraits using fill flash.  Definitely NOT my favorite thing to do.  When outdoors in daylight, especially between 10 and 3, shadows appear on the face which can be eliminated using a flash.  Except there are a million different settings on the camera ... so it's up to you to get it figured out.  Which means lots of irritation and frustration ...  for me anyway!!!   Oh ... here's the new printer set up and ready to go.  The image at the bottom is an 11 x 17 ..... The boxes are to keep Cooper from pushing his ball underneath, then barking for 10 minutes so I'll go get it!!!!  He has me well trained ... LOL!
This is Sydney .... and yes, she is really only 14!!!  Her mom has been taking lessons at the local shooting range ....
I apologize for all the NK Photography copyright's on every photo.  Although these are all such small files they really can't be copied and used, I should be placing it on all "good" photos to help ensure I have recourse if they ARE copied.  These photos were taken at the Bloss House in Atwater.
It's a great location, especially for wedding photos.
So I'm off this afternoon for photos of a 6-month old in a pumpkin patch.  This one should be fun!!!
Next up ... my latest project ... "A Day in the Life of Alcatraz"

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Vegas Purchase and The Wedding

Wedding in Vegas?????  The wedding photos follow "my purchase".  I spent a few hours on the internet exploring my options, as a good accountant will do, and was prepared NOT to buy a new printer at the Photoshop Expo in Las Vegas.  They were just too expensive!!  $5K plus shipping and tax was not in my budget.  But of course, the first stop I made at the Expo was Epson's display of NICE photo printers.  They pointed out Midwest Photo Exchange and off I trotted to check out how close my prices were.  Much to my surprise and shock (!!!) the printer I wanted, capable of printing 24" x something ridiculous like 40 feet, was HALF PRICE .. no shipping .. no tax.  How could I turn that down?????  Expecting a two week delivery time, I was again shocked to find it at my door this morning.
 Yes it is huge ... 5 feet wide 250 pounds of one of the best printers around.  It is, unfortunately, in my garage.   Because of the weight, it takes four men to lift it on to the stand, which I have assembled in my office area.  So if you are one of my male friends, you will be receiving a call shortly.
Here's the stand ... just waiting for the friends to arrive!!

Next up, the wedding.  No, not in Vegas (and NOT me), but here in Atwater.  My best friend Diane's daughter Shelbi was marrying Nick Perino the evening of my return from Vegas.  She had arranged her dress and all the required paraphernalia at my house, with the wedding to be a couple blocks away.  Her photographer got lost, showed up late, then ran off to the grooms house for pictures.  So Diane and I filled in taking photos as time allowed before and during the wedding.  So this is inside, before ...
Her colors were gorgeous as was her tan!!  Nick is definitely a lucky guy!!  I have to say that my camera was directly on his face when his bride came down the aisle ... and he cried.
Meet Mr and Mrs Nick Perino ...
They shared the first dance of the evening.
The best ever cupcakes were served at the end of an excellent chicken/tri-tip roasted potatoe dinner, along with all the beer and wine you could drink.  A beautiful end to a gorgeous wedding!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

More Vegas ....

I'm thinking we spent more time at the restaurants than at the photography sessions ... here are homemade potatoe chips in truffle oil with blue cheese garlic dressing.  I'm not a blue cheese fan, but these were pretty good!!  Wolfgang's a pretty good chef!!
In roaming around the Four Seasons, as in all the Casinos, the designs are beautiful.  Here is part of the front desk ...
I'm laughing because all of these images were taken as we walked to the next place to eat!!  No Wendys or Taco Bell here ... we had burgers and one drink apiece at a hamburger joint by the Mandalay Bay and it came to $125.00 ... yup you read it right .... Much as it was a good burger, I won't be eating there again.  Wall art from the Four Seasons.  Much of this entities buildings are below the Mandalay Bay resort.
Lastly, just for fun, take a look at this image.  Looks like stairs???  It's not .. it is the flat design in the marble floor.  Funny what your eyes can do.
The last place we ate was Sushi Roku.   I'm not a raw fish person ... but I figured they would probably have something edible.  Beautiful ambience at this place in Ceasars Palace (recently renovated).  Johnny the manager came by and introduced himself.  Not only did we receive excellent service, but when he saw us eyeing the view for pictures, he took us to the restaurant next door where we were allowed to go out on the balcony.  I had deep fried crab cake sushi and molten lava cake.  If you ever travel to Las Vegas, be sure and visit Johnny.  You won't regret it!!

City of Lights, Las Vegas

Yes, it is a VERY small prop/jet (?) plane!!!  I'm off to Vegas.

After a crazy couple of weeks, I'm finally back on the blog.  One of the premier software programs for photography is Photoshop ... and twice a year, NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals) along with Adobe, put on training seminars for users of their product.  It is a truly amazing group of the best photographers in the world, who meet here just for our benefit.  They spend hours showing us how they capture amazing images and how to make them better.  They even bring their bad images to prove they don't always take perfect pictures, which of course makes us feel infinitely better.  Every one of these talented people will shake your hand and answer any questions you have.  Also available are vendors selling everything you could possibly want, at nice discounted prices.  Good thing I didn't bring my truck this year ... but wait ..  free shipping!!!!!!!

They also have a huge vendor show that will sell you everything ever made for photography.  In the Wescott Lighting booth, they provide models in crazy outfits for our shooting pleasure ... course they want you to buy their lights.  One was dressed as a tree .. no picture here because her wardrobe was painted on!!!
At the end of the days classes, we would go out for dinner.  I attended with my College Instructor Jeff Gwartney and Cyndy Ramos.  Cyndy made all the dinner reservations at some sensational restaurants.  Along the way, we would take all the images we could ... This is part of the new huge City Center.
First was Wolfgang Pucks restaurant in the MGM Grand.  The tomatoe caprese was excellent.  Although the image didn't turn out, we had the most amazing Chocolate Souffle EVER!!!!  
At the Verandah in the Four Seasons, an awesome tomatoe caprese with buffalo mozzarella and a huge piece of halibut.  This restaurant had the best service, best wine, best food, best everything!  I'll be back to this one for sure.
Again at the City Center, no idea what store ... I just liked the glasses!!!
This sells itself ... no I didn't go in any of these stores.  A little out of my price range.
Cyndy didn't take her camera on this trip ... and was always waiting for us to catch up.  This is actually her in the City Center elevator.
The final shot of the strip just as the sun was going down.  Unfortunately, we just didn't have enough camera time.  
So what did I buy at the show???  You'll have to wait until next time.