Archive for Photography

Photo Friday: Precious Time

Made this one quick and dirty this week, and it goes back to a common problem: time.

Precious Time

Hold on to the time you have

Rather, it’s hard to make enough time to accomplish everything I’ve set out to do. There just aren’t enough hours in the day, and burning the candle at the both ends causes more problems than it solves.

The key is staying busy without burning out. I’m constantly tweaking my plans, but I’m getting there.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Vice

Yep, I’m going to do Photo Friday again. I’m stubborn like that.

Vice

Every man has to have a couple of vices lest he go insane

I kicked off the New Year with my friend Mark, who also happens to be a distant cousin by marriage, a fellow cigar aficionado, and a fan of many of the same books and movies I enjoy. We went into town for some barbecue, then hit a local watering hole with a heated, cigar-friendly beer garden. He gifted me the fine cigars you see with that glass of Jameson above.

Last year, I shot 36 weeks’ worth of Photo Friday entries. This year, I’m aiming for at least 40. Yes, all 52 would be better, but it’s not worth beating myself up over it. I have gotten better at carrying my camera in my messenger bag, even if I haven’t actually pulled it out for a while (barring family events), so that will help. Now it’s just a matter of keeping my eyes open and, ideally, getting out and about a little more.

Semper Fi

Semper Fi: Mark is also a Marine veteran

To that end, I’m working on a side photography project. This will be a simple one using my Android phone, which I have on me all the time. The damned thing is like a leash, so I may as well put it to use.

I’m still working out how simple or complex I want it to be, but you’ll see more of it on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr than you’ll see here. Feel free to hunt me down on any or all of those services.

And do feel free to send comments my way. I’m doing this for fun, but I’m also looking to improve my game.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Wrong Lens

I went to a second Peoria Rivermen hockey game last Friday, trusty camera in tow. Unfortunately I didn’t bring my trusty lens.

We sat in the second row behind the glass, so I thought I’d give the 18-55mm kit lens a shot. In theory it should be able to grab photos faster because of its (slightly) larger aperture, but almost all of the photos I shot were garbage. Bummer.

I did manage to capture one of the Rivs’ more exciting goals, though:

Flattened

Now that’s how you score a goal!

The Rivs knocked the Admirals goalie to the ground and put the puck in over his back. The Rivs scored twice within 30 seconds in the first period, but in the third the Admirals woke up and we had a 4-4 tie take us into overtime. Nobody scored during the overtime period, so they went to the shootout, which the Rivs took 2-0 after four shots. Final game score: 5-4 Rivs.

My son and I still had a great time, though, and nobody rammed our heads into a wall, unlike…

Eat Glass

Eat glass!

Despite the occasional clash, there were no fights in this game. That’s probably a good thing, but to me fights also indicate how amped up the players are. While the Rivermen did win, they spent the majority of the time on defense and their goalie, Mike McKenna, really had to stay busy. They would have had an easier time with a little more aggression.

I hope to go back soon. My second son wants to go again, and I’m really starting to enjoy live hockey. I’ll just have to remember the right lens next time.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday Midweek: 2 into 4

I won two tickets to the Peoria Rivermen hockey game last week, and had two of the best seats I’ve ever had at their arena. I get to do it again this Friday.

Down in Front, Ref!

Down in front, ref!

I won the tickets at our favorite local watering hole, and was told, “They’re for tomorrow’s game.” I didn’t check the date, and it wasn’t until I walked in the door that I discovered they were for the following week. I asked to exchange my tickets and they did, and then let me keep the original tickets.

Way cool. I get an extra opportunity to shoot some photos and bring my son to a game, and they get an extra shot at concessions sales. Win-win.

If I could start working the same magic for novels and short stories, I’d be prolific before I knew it.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday Catchup: Haunted

My karate dojo had its annual haunted house over the weekend, and once again we had a great time putting a scare into people. We warn parents that it may be a little intense for the younger children, but inevitably we’ll get some folks taking four- and five-year-old kids through.

Good times.

Right off the bat, we try to show them that we’re not playing around:

Babies

What you don’t see is the truly terrifying “Big Baby”

For such a small haunted house, it strikes a good balance between gruesome scenery and jump-out-at-you thrills. Some of it is very effective, too, getting screams even out of adults who walk through the first half without much jumping.

Of course, then there are the kids screaming “I want out of here!” less than halfway through. Those are our favorite.

My eldest doesn’t go through. His first time through a few years back was enough. Now his imagination makes it much bigger and scarier than it really is. Meanwhile, my middle child walks through unfazed. He loves it. When he gets to my spot, he watches my schtick, then says “hi, Dad,” and moves on.

I’ll have to see about getting my eldest on the inside next year. He’d have a blast with it.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: The Overlook

I first visited the Stanley Hotel back in 2003. As a horror writer, it’s almost mandatory to drop by and check out the influence for one of the horror genre’s most famous landmarks, Stephen King’s Overlook from The Shining.

The Overlook

The Stanley Hotel: inspiration for terror

It’s a cool place. One of these trips I think I’d actually like to stay there.

The Stanley embraces its reputation, of course. While only the ABC miniseries was shot at the Stanley, there are memorabilia and movie posters from the original film version all over the place, and of course the coffee shop also sells “redrum” chocolates and The Shining t-shirts and accessories. We took a few minutes to eyeball the movie posters for the Kubrick flick posted in the lower level mens room.

There was a wedding reception at the hotel while we were there, so the bride and groom and their guests were having pictures taken in the lobby and out front. That didn’t stop tour groups from going through, but we still took advantage of a quiet moment to take a handful of photos ourselves.

Wrecking Crew

If there are ghosts in the place, they were scared of us

The tours also include night tours and a ghost hunt, as well as a visit to Room 217, where King stayed. I wondered if it made sense to keep a room vacant like that, but I bet they make a lot more money in tours than they’d make on the room. I still have an old-style key to room 217 from my first trip, complete with an Overlook Hotel tag, but I didn’t see any reason to pay for the tour when Michelle Scalise used to work there and took us on a brief tour herself.

In any case, we enjoyed even our brief visit to the place, and it was good to be behind the camera again. I have a couple more sets of photos to upload from the last few months, and then I’ll need to decide if I can salvage the rest of Photo Friday 2012. Things blew up at work, got busy at the dojo, and got a little insane at home. When available time comes down to either working on photography or working on the writing, the writing has to win out every time.

But like the writing, it’s just a matter of developing habit and discipline.

More soon.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Expressive Triptych

One of these weeks I’ll post on time. It’s been crazy again.

This time around, I shot a few random shots of my kids while I had the camera sitting in the car. We were at the gas station, and I started clicking away. I didn’t expect to use them for Photo Friday, as I planned on getting some photos at my karate dojo’s picnic. Instead Little Bird’s expressions won me over, and with a little tweaking I was happy with the results.

Snarl

Careful! She’ll cut you!

Sometimes she enjoys having her picture taken and loves to make faces. Other times, she’ll hide her face until I walk away.

Smile

And she’ll enjoy watching you bleed out.

I did a few color tweaks to the photos. The camera really flattened things out this time. I don’t know if it’s my camera’s chip or the RAW format shooting, but I’m glad I was able to give her at least a little life-like color in Lightroom.

Pout

But then she’ll remember she doesn’t know how to order pizza on her own.

I do wish, though, my 18-5mm lens were a little better at focusing. Sometimes it’s dead on, others it’s way off. I blame the kit lens because my 50mm prime is rarely this bad. Time to start breeding some pennies and hoping I can pull together enough to  buy a new lens.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday 2: The Guardian

And now an extra entry to get back on track now that vacations and trips and such are all over.

The Guardian

The Guardian

This guy used to sit on my old CRT monitor. However, he’s too big for LCD monitors and iMacs, so now he keeps watch on my bookshelf.

Shot with 50mm prime lens, natural light. I see I have some learning to do in regards to noise reduction, but I like the gargoyle’s texture.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: RPG Day

Tim and I introduced our sons to role playing games last weekend, and they had a blast.

Dice English

Be honest, geeks: who among us didn’t try to influence important dice throws like this?

Tim busted out his Dragon Age boxed set and gave the kids a great rundown of how RPGs work and what to expect. The whiteboard on the table was a nice touch, giving us somewhere to take notes, keep track of character info, and even help contain errant dice when the kids got too excited.

Checking Skills

“I want to do this backstabby thing and do more damage!”
That’s how it’s done, son.

The two eight year olds wandered a bit, and only really got interested when it was time to fight monsters and roll dice. My ten year old, though, jumped in with both feet. He figured out the combat fast, and worked out how to read his character’s skills to best handle a given situation. Now he’s begging me for RPGs to play at home, and he dug out my old AD&D (2nd edition!) and Call of Cthulhu books. He doesn’t quite get that I can’t teach him to play in ten minutes—especially since I haven’t played in well over a decade—so I downloaded a copy of Dungeon Squad! for him. Five pages, simple rules. All he needs is my old dice.

These won’t technically be the best photos in the Photo Friday set, but they get high marks for nostalgia. Deal.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Spi-DERP!

Just look at this dumbass spider:

SpiDERP

DERP!

The little hairs, the eyes looking crossed, the bucktooth-like mandibles, all crack me up. Just the same:

KILL IT WITH FIRE!

When we flee the state, it probably won’t be to a place where things like this live. If I found one on our walls, I would bust out the 12 gauge.

This tarantula is on exhibit at the St Louis Zoo. My family visited the zoo last week and had a great time despite the temps climbing to 110°F. Admission is free, and though some of the exhibits require paid tickets, they’re very reasonable. For ten bucks a head, you can see just about everything in the zoo. A great deal for families, and a far cry from the insane expense of the Six Flags park just down the highway. We killed about six hours walking around the place, and there were still a few things we missed. That gives us an excuse to go back sometime, probably after they finish revamping the River’s Edge section of the zoo.

I debated hauling my camera bag and extra lenses due to the heat, and I’m glad I toughed it out. With the changes from indoor to outdoor exhibits and the variety of distances in viewing the animals, it was very helpful switching from the 18-55mm kit lens to the 55-250mm zoom. Having a few different camera bags available really pays off.

I took a lot of photos that day, but this one gets the nod. I’ll post the rest when I have time. Right now I have a column and two short stories to finish, and writing trumps screwing around with photos.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Breathing Life Into the Work

I almost skipped this week as I’ve got a lot of work to do. Progress has been good this year, though, and I don’t want to derail it, so I shot the photo while getting other work done.

Breathing Life Into the Work

This is how the magic happens

The next challenge to tackle: getting the focus just right when using a tripod and a remote without and a low aperture due to the darkness.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Precious Metal

I have a wedding to attend and I felt inspired.

Precious Metal

Coming up on 16 years. Wow…

I didn’t like the color version, but felt a lot better about the black and white. I shot this in macro mode using the 18-55mm kit lens. Some day I might snag a real macro lens, but for now this does the job. The other shots using various zooms were decent, I just happened to like the macro-mode shot the best. Othewise I don’t see a great advantage using the macro preset versus doing it all by hand in, say, Av mode.

This is Week 26, so I’m halfway through and going strong. Not too shabby.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.