Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Beginning: Part 2

Before actually beginning my-eternity of a 19 hour drive to the sunshine state- Journey, I realized that I needed to capture this 5 month experience with some pictures! So while I was working as a lifeguard the summer before I left, I began saving my money towards a new camera.

Now my history with camera is very small.... my first camera was an Olympus digital compact camera my parents had gotten me for Christmas, I wasn't exactly too excited at first because it wasn't something I really requested but the fact that I got something was good enough :) it actually happened to have worked out nicely because a couple summers later I went to Italy on an exchange program and needed a camera. Now when it comes to photography and first starting out, I just played around with that camera and never really thought anything of it, but I always loved pictures that were different, not your typical pose in front of a camera, group shot. the only thing I thought of was illusions to the eye that were just different.

But I ended up falling into the "Group Shot Slump" where we all new our pictures were being taken and we all posed..... Boring... BUT these were from Italy :)

Although my trip was amazing and loved every minute of my time there, I ended up coming home with a broken camera, because I had taken mine to the beach and sand had made its way inside.... long story short it wasn't working....

with that that being said, I told myself I needed something more durable, bigger, better quality, and not too expensive. So I end up finding an Olympus 10 mega pixel Digital SLR Camera which was right around where my budget was. I knew nothing about cameras except for the Naive mistake of thinking that the more mega pixels you have the better quality the pictures you have, so that's pretty much the only thing I looked at along with the price of the camera. The fact that this camera was my first SLR was a huge step for me though, I felt like the paparazzi with this huge camera and huge lens, which isn't as big as I thought it was when I look at pro equipment today, but I was happy that I had a camera where I could take tons of pictures!

I was practicing as much I could with that camera taking pictures whenever I wasn't working, and I ended up getting cool pictures where the back ground was all blurry, little did I know I was referring to the "Bokeh" and following the "rule of thirds". These words meant nothing to me at the time because I didn't know about them, all I knew is what pictures looked good, and which ones didn't. When I look back, I question myself if I had a natural eye for what looked good?

Finally after a couple weeks of practicing, the day arrived, and me and my dad left to begin my journey to Florida and start the Program that changed my life.



Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Beginning: Part 1

After a couple days of thinking about it, I figured why not catch people up to date on how I got started/interested in photography.... and here we go

It all started on June 3, 1991 when a baby was just born in the City of Chicago and named Ethan James Rivera..... fast forward 18 years ;) and I'm at Illinois State University. 

During my first semester of school I partied, went to class, ate lots of food, went to sleep and repeated, for just about a semester. I ended up gaining the freshman 15 in ONE SEMESTER, I also rushed a frat, joined the run club that I barely attended, and I STILL didn't know what I wanted to do with my life. Next thing I know its 1 week before coming home for Christmas Break and I'm hung over as usual, but this day was different I couldn't explain it, I woke up went to the bathroom and just stared at my self in the mirror with what felt like an eternity and I couldn't recognize my self, it wasn't me. I realized at that moment I was so hung up on changing for other people and not changing for myself that I just let go and it showed.

2nd semester rolled around and I had some goals in mind. I started to do p90x everyday, run, attend the run club practices and meets a lot more, and eat healthier. Hours turned to days, days into weeks, and before I knew it I went from gaining 15 pounds to loosing 20 pounds in one semester. with all the working out though, I barely went out. I was so exhausted I either slept or went to class and by the end of the year I ended up dropping the frat I rushed. 1 because I didn't have the funds and 2 because the Greek life just wasn't for me especially since I STILL didn't know what I wanted to study/major in and my first year of school was half way done.

So one day before going to class I checked my mail, "junk, junk, more junk" was what was running through my head. Then I saw one little piece of paper that had Mickey Mouse on it. "oh hey, I haven't seen you in a longggg time" was what was running through my head, it was an invitation to attend this meeting at ISU if your interested in going to Florida for a semester and work for Walt Disney World, I was like "ehh, sounds like fun" so I left it in my pocket and after class left it on my desk.

The letter looked similar to this only purple and Mickey waving at ya :)
Later on during the week I was at work talking to my friend Raquel (who I just met) and we were talking about how tired she was, so I asked "how come your so tired??" and she responded "I just got back from Florida, I was on this internship there working for Disney World" right away I was a weirdo saying "whoa whoa, you mean that letter I got in the mail about the Walt Disney World Internship?" "uhhhh yeaaaa.... " was her response.

What she didn't realize was that I took this as a sign that might actually be what I need figure out what I want to do with my life. So I decided what the hell, I'll go to the meeting.

Next thing I know a couple months later I'm driving with my dad down to Florida!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Leyden Track Meet

After the past couple days I realized I've gotten into this cycle of waking up going to class, come home, go to work, come back home after work, shower sleep, repeat.... I hate cycles. I very rarely say the word hate but its true in this instance. I don't like the idea of having a routine to follow because it doesn't make for a interesting day, it gets boring and not very exciting. So what do I do? I ditch class

Sure its not one of the best thing I could have done but I needed to do something different and get out there. This past weekend instead of going to class I went to West Leyden High School to watch some of my old teammates compete at the track meet. When I went I brought my camera of course, with my not so new 70-200 lens but still felt very new especially with finally paying off my dad. The meet went on and I spoke to some of my old friends who have matured and grown and become faster stronger athletes.

While the meet was going on I wanted to practice a couple different kinds of photography, one in particular being "panning photography" which is from my understanding allowing blur to occur  but in a way to show motion is happening with not only the forgroung but back ground as well. I think I got it down pretty well, you be the Judge

Roberto Gonzalez

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Gift

Birthdays to me are very special days, they put the Spotlight on that person to acknowledge them when other days the spotlight may otherwise be dim or on someone else. If it wasn't for my parents I would not be where I'm at today, so with my dads birthday today I had to jump on celebrating! 

But the REAL question was what to give my dad for his birthday? A couple months ago before I had came home from Florida my dad had purchased me a new Nikon Digital SLR (on a father/son loan of course) that I had intended on paying him back along with the Sigma 70-200mm 2.8 that he had gotten me too because of the recent price raise of 150$ on the lens. With that being said, I decided to save all the money I had made from being a server till his birthday and pay him back in full (1,500$ to be precise)

The morning of his birthday came and it was the BIG question if I was gonna have enough money. Taking out my calculator I added up what I had made in tips+what I had in my checking account+my pay check+ my tax return= the total I needed to give my dad plus 60$. Not only did I count and add everything up at least 4 times but I flew to Walgreens to get him a card.

When he finally opened his card he had his same serious face on as he always did, but the difference was when he saw the money inside... "is this everything you owe me?"(with a head tilt looking over his glasses) I responded with a simple "yes".... later on during the day he said "I'm impressed, you worked real hard to get that in the time that you did". My dad isn't exactly the most sensitive person when it comes to how a person "should" act on their birthday with gifts, but the fact that he let my hard work go unnoticed was definitely a rewarding experience, and to know that my camera and lens is OFFICIALLY mine is the best feeling in the world at the moment :)

Happy Birthday Dad, thank you for all that you've done for me 

Monday, April 11, 2011

Addiction vs. Determination

So this past weekend consisted of photo seminars, work, and sleep in a repeating fashion. It was intense and crazy how much information I learned in 3 days and I've come to the conclusion that my brain was either a sponge absorbing everything these professional photographers told me, or my brain was slurping on some hardcore brain knowledge for photographers ;)

but with all this learning I still have been trying to work as a server and full time student, and its exhausting! I'm trying so hard to learn and save money for new equipment that its taking a tole on my legs waking up in the fetal position from being so sore, no pain no gain I suppose?

the one thing I noticed and learned about my self this past weekend was whether it was first thing in the morning when I woke up, or by 2 am as soon as I got home from work, I'm doing 1 of 2 things, either reading other photographers blogs or watching you tube videos on photography. I'm starting to think I'm addicted or determined to learning more about photography, but where do you draw the line between the two? I am determined to get better at taking photos but is it an addiction? I personally think I'm fine and don't go through withdrawal if I don't get my photography fix, but just a thought haha.

on a side note Chicago is FINALLY getting warmer and decided to take advantage with pictures, part of the process is to actually take pictures, so here we go on a sunny day!

Last thing: I need to suck it up and ask people if I could take pictures of them..... I wouldn't charge, I just want practice.... enough self portraits I need to make this happen and stop being a coward, blah!

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Light It. Shoot It. Retouch It. LIVE!

My first photography seminar was not only amazing but overwhelming (in a good way) with all the information they threw at me! The whole seminar was from 10am-5pm, 6 hours of information with a 1 hour lunch break. When I had first arrived there I found out that one of high school friends, Kristen, was gonna be there with her Uncle BJ, we all met up and right away hit it off talking photography.

As the minutes were rolling by, more and more people started to pile into the lobby sharing their pictures, stories, camera body information, books, business cards, blogs, it was just a giant network in progress. I know I probably should have taken part in that but I was thoroughly OK with picking my friends Uncle's brain out with information ;)

Once the doors opened to the huge room, people flooded in like there was free Nikon D3s at the other end. I found a nice seat and began learning for 6 hours :) Once one of our last breaks started I went and spoke to Scott Kelby, the man who ran this whole seminar, and thanked him for having this event and telling him how it's my first seminar, nothing to crazy but something always counts, right? plus he signed my booklet he provided us, so that's a plus too ;)

What I noticed though when I turned around was not only mind blowing but encouraging. Unconsciously when I was outside before it had all began I noticed tons of people, with cameras, friendly and talking, exchanging information and chatting, but what I had missed was the most obvious...... age!

There was probably enough young people that looked my age to fill up each of my hands fingers! it was crazy,when I had first come to the conclusion that I wanted to go pro in photography I thought I was behind because everyone else knew what they wanted to do, or thought so back in high school, I suppose that's not the case and that was definitely a boost of confidence!

I am ahead of the game! two more wedding workshops here I come!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Chcolate Milk

If it wasn't the tossing and turning that woke me up from a very long, much needed night of rest, it was definitely my alarm clock. Rolling out of bed I tie my shoes on, throw on my old beat up track shirt, shorts, and I head out the door for my morning run.

The first couple steps outside are always the hardest with my body telling me that it hasn't completely woken up yet, but after a couple minutes I'm feeling better. Today was much warmer than the past couple mornings here in Chicago and getting outside early -before the morning rush smothers the area with nasty pollution- is always a plus. I decided not to use my ipod this time.
  1. Because it wasn't charged
  2. I needed to think about everything and not zone out to Linkin Park and the Foo Fighters
It was rough running without my ipod at first, I felt naked, hearing my breathing, cars passing, birds chirping, but I then zoned out, thinking of everything. I was thinking of school in the fall, where I'm gonna go, if I'm gonna major in Photography or Business Administration or both! and then I needed to manage work and school better.

Then it hit me, my counselor in high school helped me out with the right path to take to complete high school. Maybe she would let me schedule an appointment with her again for some help? I sure hope so... I'm emailing her today to see what she can do :)

After my run I walked inside my home and put together my ultimate recovery drink, chocolate milk. If it wasn't for one of my close friends who had informed me about the benefits to this great drink, I probably wouldn't have started drinking it right after working out!

I feel like chocolate milk is similar to life, simple in yet powerful and complicated with its ability to help you recover after working your body through stress. Maybe that's why we drank that a lot as kids? hmmmm.....

well lets see here, YouTube photography videos? check, Chocolate milk? check, emailing my old counselor? check, figuring out what I'm gonna do with the rest of life? not check, BUT in progress :)

well here's to Chocolate Milk for all that you do! Cheers!

Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Conductor

So I had this assignment for my Music class. We had to attend a concert and write a paper on it, straight forward enough, right? Well I decided to add to it by bringing my camera and take some pictures :) 

The night came around for the start of the Jazz Spectacular concert and people were piling in the auditorium, not too many people showed, probably around 100, mostly family members of the show and students doing their projects, like myself. when I first walked in I went to the very top floor, I came by myself since no one seemed to interested in going with me. I decided to bring all my equipment with me but mainly test my new 70-200mm sigma lens I got.... well my dad did, but I'm paying him back! ... Anyways

The show began and I began taking pictures, my first couple pictures came out like a big blur of light, but after a couple quick changes they started coming out great, but then I began to realize these pictures are kind of boring, its something you would normally see at a concert, I wanted to be different and start "thinking" like a Pro. stepping out of my comfort zone I started walking around the whole place like I was a VIP of the concert with my huge camera, well rather my lens that made up three times the size of my entry level slr. No one gave me any trouble while I was walking around though and it felt great to hold my camera and get some really good shots from different angles. 

New Tricks Jazz Quartet
 As the show was winding down I started moving even more effortlessly through the auditorium, like a shadow, people know they're there but pay no mind to it. I watched the conductor earlier in the show and was amazed how he controlled the whole group of musicians so effortlessly, but later there was no conductor but rather a group of musicians simply working together. At that moment I realized I was the conductor of my own piece, I conducted my camera, and if I conducted to my taste and like, my camera would in turn play a beautiful piece. and like the group of musicians that played without a conductor, I too must work together with my camera.

One of the very last pictures I took of the night is one of my favorites...
New Tricks Jazz Quartet
I love this picture not because it's black and white not because of the composition, but because it tells a story of the relationship this Jazz Musician has with his instrument. He conducted his instrument and it played beautifully, I conducted my camera and it returned played beautifully. I am the Conductor.

Friday, April 1, 2011

The Race :: The Dive

Back in High School I was a cross country runner, during my first meets my main goal was to just complete the race, pacing was key because if you go out to fast you'll run out of gas, and if you run to slow you'll have to much gas to power through at the end, either end of the spectrum wasn't ideal for myself, can't say the same for others. Although my High School days are over and my morning runs still give me that sense of freedom from the world we know today, I have taken on the challenging, demanding, fun, and creative world of photography.

Diving into the world of photography can be a very dangerous and/or rewarding experience. If you dive two outcomes can ultimately happen: you either burn up and fail or succeed. Either outcome doesn't sound too terrible because if you fail its OK, everyone fails and learns from their mistakes, if you succeed then great! you're doing something right.

Getting your feet wet is another term that I've heard where your not sure how far you want to travel down the rabbit hole. by getting your feet wet you can be going too slow and finding yourself moving nowhere or going at the right speed that will help you progress as a photographer. Finding the right path is what I'm looking for whether it be either extreme or something in between. Like my High School days as a runner I'm trying to find the right pace into this field that I truly love.

I appreciate all the people in the Photography field for we've all been a beginner, noob, just starting, and looking for help. anyone who owns a camera and takes pictures is a photographer, most people don't even realize it. It's when you add additional names that puts others in groups and divides us examples being: landscape photographer, professional photographer, amateur photographer, the list goes on! but the origin is that we are all still ultimately photographers looking for ways to be different and creative and get better.

I am a from Chicago. I am new at this. I am a photographer.
the windy city through my eyes and lens