Whatcom County Washington

The Heat Was On at Locust Beach: Tips for Photographing Fire Dancing

And the performers were enlightening!!! Fire performance artists entertained over 200 people during the evening of July 17th. As the Sun set, spectators flowed from the trail to the beach inundating a normally quiet park.

Locust Beach is the one park I like to go to that is close to town, but not well visited. There’s limited parking and a good 1/4 to 1/2 mile hike down to the beach. It’s rocky with no facilities. But super nice to get away from it all within town.

Throwin’ Flames

Lindsay McFinland of Bellingham spits a fireball into the sky while performing during sunset at Locust Beach on Sunday evening July 17, 2016, in Bellingham, Wash. A group of artists are attempting to make the third Sunday of each month a meeting time to perform at Locust Beach. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

Lindsay McFinland of Bellingham spits a fireball into the sky while performing during sunset at Locust Beach on Sunday evening July 17, 2016, in Bellingham, Wash. A group of artists are attempting to make the third Sunday of each month a meeting time to perform at Locust Beach. (© Paul Conrad/Paul Conrad Photography)

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Be Smart While Photographing on a Tight Deadline

With the first game starting at 6:30, the second at 8, and my deadline at 9:30, making deadline would be tight. How I beat the deadline with time to spare.

Time Management is crucial. Simply, during some assignments, I do not have the time to pause and watch the games, chat with other photographers, or drive to a local coffee shop to meet the deadline. I had to edit and submit while sitting courtside.

The Cloud 9 Sports Christmas Classic was at Lynden Christian High School last week. I covered the Lynden Christian boys and girls games on Tuesday and Wednesday for The Bellingham Herald.

Fighting for the Rebound

Lynden Christian's Grant Rubbert (35) captures a rebound against Granger's Jake Slade (22), left, and Jay Ramirez (1) during the second quarter in the Cloud 9 Sports Christmas Classic on Tuesday evening Dec. 29, 2015, at Lynden Christian High School in Lynden, Wash. (© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald)

Lynden Christian’s Grant Rubbert (35) captures a rebound against Granger’s Jake Slade (22), left, and Jay Ramirez (1) during the second quarter in the Cloud 9 Sports Christmas Classic on Tuesday evening Dec. 29, 2015, at Lynden Christian High School in Lynden, Wash. Lynden Christian defeated Granger 65 to 33. (© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald)

More Basketball Photos Here!!!

Sneak Peak: Ellen and Sandy Dance on Their Wedding Day

On Saturday July 25th, just a month past the U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized gay marriage throughout the country, I had the pleasure of capturing true love. Sand and Ellen were married after knowing each other for over 30 years. It was a small intimate wedding and informal wedding. But beautiful none-the-less.

Pure Love:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Ellen and Sandy sing to each other as they dance during their reception at their home in Sedro-Woolley, Wash.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – Ellen and Sandy sing to each other as they dance during their reception at their home.

The light was beautiful during the ceremony and as it became later in the evening, the videographer, Michael Dyrland of Dyrland Productions, lit the area with two bright video lights. I stayed in front and to the side as I captured the guests dancing. But soon, I decided to go to the back as I liked the effects of the video lighting: they created a nice rim and back lighting effect.

It added drama without being overbearing. Plus as people danced, their faces were being lit by the lights. As I moved to the back to shoot towards the lights, Sandy and Ellen began to dance to a slow song. While they were dancing, I noticed how the video lights lit their faces, created rim lighting on their matching hats, and how bright sky filled in the shadows.

But, the moment lasted only 6 frames. As Sandy reached up and cupped Ellen’s face in her hands while singing, I was able to fire off a few frames before a guest came up and began dancing between them. The moment was gone.

I wish it was a touch more symmetrical, but I’ll take this photo.

As I downloaded the images, this frame stuck to my mind like spaghetti on a wall. I knew it was good, but I needed to know if it was truly sharp.

They couple wanted to talk to me due to my “photojournalistic eye and style” they said during the interview. I’m pretty certain they were interviewing me, not vise-verse. Within a few minutes of meeting with them, we forgot about photography and began telling stories of our lives. A 15 minute meeting turned into an hour or so of laughing. It was a great time.

For more of my wedding work, visit my gallery Wedding Portfolio of Bellingham Seattle Photographer Paul Conrad.

To book your wedding in the Bellingham, Wash., area, send me a message using my Contact Form | Paul Conrad Photography.

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Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. “Like” my Page on Facebook
  2. Follow me on Instagram
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally and internationally published freelance editorial photographer living in Bellingham north of Seattle, WA, in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

His clients include Getty Images, Wire Image, AirBnB, The Bellingham Herald, and many local business in Whatcom County. Previous clients are Associated Press, the New York Times, L.A. Times, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and many others.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings.

Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship

On Saturday the 14th, I covered the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., for the Bellingham Herald.

Bagpiping For the Dancers:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Bagpiper Andrew Lee of Port Coquitlam, B.C., plays for the 14 & Under 16 Years division Sword Dance championship during the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Sat afternoon Feb 14, 2015.  Competition chair Heather Richendrfer says nearly a hundred dancers from as far away as eastern Canada participated in the event sponsored by the Celtic Arts Foundation and the Clan Heather Dancers. The championship is sanctioned by the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing and is only one of two held in the Pacific Northwest. Winners in each division receive a cash prize and a hand blown glass, heart-shaped award.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Bagpiper Andrew Lee of Port Coquitlam, B.C., plays for the 14 & Under 16 Years division Sword Dance championship during the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., INFO: Camera D300s, 17-35mm f/2.8 at f/4 at 1/250th

It was fun and challenging. The stage was well-lit to the point it was over-lit. They kept everything in lights and it was difficult to find angles to differentiate the dancers from the background. But that’s understandable as it is a competition not a play.

Overlit Stage:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  A youngster uses an iPad to photograph competitors during the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Sat afternoon Feb 14, 2015.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – A youngster uses an iPad to photograph competitors during the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash. INFO: D3s at 1/200th, 80-200 at f/4

 

The key to this competition is that all the dancers in an age group, danced individually 3 at a time to the same music. The judges then rated each one on how well they performed the traditional dances. So although they danced together, they were judged separately. In other words, not much variety.

Practice Makes Perfect:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Mackenzie Whysker of Surrey, B.C., left, and  Brielle Thibaudeau of Langley, B.C., practice their Strathspey & 1/2 Tulloch dance moves as Kate Bonar, all 9, of Surrey, B.C., observes their moves backstage during the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Sat afternoon Feb 14, 2015.  Competition chair Heather Richendrfer says nearly a hundred dancers from as far away as eastern Canada participated in the event sponsored by the Celtic Arts Foundation and the Clan Heather Dancers. The championship is sanctioned by the Scottish Official Board of Highland Dancing and is only one of two held in the Pacific Northwest. Winners in each division receive a cash prize and a hand blown glass heart-shaped award.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Mackenzie Whysker of Surrey, B.C., left, and Brielle Thibaudeau of Langley, B.C., practice their Strathspey & 1/2 Tulloch dance moves as Kate Bonar, all 9, of Surrey, B.C., observes their moves backstage during the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash. INFO: D300s at 1/50th, 17-35 at f/4

 

After a few “stage” shots from the audience point of view, I went backstage to find moments and ultimately something different. This also afforded me opportunities to see things you wouldn’t see from the seats.

In Synch:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Mackenzie Cleaves of Duncan, B.C., competes in the Sword Dance portion of the  Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Sat afternoon Feb 14, 2015.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Mackenzie Cleaves of Duncan, B.C., competes in the Sword Dance part of the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash. INFO: D3s at 1/400th, 80-200 at f/4

 

One of the first things I do when covering something I’ve not covered before is to just observe. I think it’s important to just spend a few minutes just watching things and formulating compositions. Since the dancers performed the same dance, it was easy finding repeat moments to photograph.

Kicking High:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Brielle Thibaudeau, left, of Langley, B.C., competes in the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Sat afternoon Feb 14, 2015.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Brielle Thibaudeau, left, of Langley, B.C., competes in the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash. INFO: D3s at 1/200th, 80-200 at f/2.8

To compensate for the overly lit stage, I found angles so I was shooting the dancers with a dark background. I then underexposed my meter reading by one stop to attempt to drop the background out thereby making the highlights, the faces, stand out more.

My Workflow (Single Images):

  • Iingested images in PhotoMechanic to rename files and add basic IPTC and caption information. Using color coding, culled about 4 images for print. Added names and more info in IPTC. My file naming is detailed here: Keeping It Simple: My Workflow
  • Chose about 18 photos for online gallery which included the top picks for paper publication.
  • Edited the 4 photos I chose in Photoshop by opening the RAW and adjusting the white balance and reducing the noise by increasing the Luminance in Noise Reduction to 30%, cropped image, added a touch of Clarity (about 10%) then opened.
  • In Photoshop, created a new layer from background (for burning and dodging). Dodged and burned what was needed. Used a Curves layer to darken shadow areas and brightened midtones. Duplicated the Burn/Dodge layer, used High Pass filter at 4.5 pixels to sharpen, set layer mode to Vivid Light (more on using High Pass to sharpen here).
  • Checked caption information (PM sometimes changes names spellings) to ensure names properly spelled and info is correct. Saved as a PSD in new folder removing the “raw” and renumbering as 1, 2, 3, etc . 
  • Flattened image and then resized to 12″ at dpi. Saved as a jpg at 8 in new folder.
  • Back in PM, I took the 18 photos I edited down to, added more caption info checking name spellings, and then saved those as high res jpegs into the Jpeg folder. I then delete the repeat images keeping the new edited one.

In Lightroom (for the gallery):

  • Imported (Added) the images from the Jpeg folder I selected for the online gallery and the ones for print.
  • Darkened the background and increased midtones a touch by using curves if needed, adjusted the white balance a touch, added about 10 to 20% clarity, sharpened about 90 at 1px, reduced luminance noise to about 30%.
  • Exported these to a new folder titled Web at 900px long side at 8 jpg.

 Just One More:

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald -  Mackenzie Cleaves of Duncan, B.C., competes in the Sword Dance portion of the  Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., on Sat afternoon Feb 14, 2015.

© Paul Conrad/The Bellingham Herald – Mackenzie Cleaves of Duncan, B.C., competes in the Sword Dance portion of the Celtic Arts Highland Dancing Championship at Syre Center on the campus of Whatcom Community College in Bellingham, Wash., INFO: D3s at 1/400, 80-200 at f/4

The gear (check photo captions for each individual picture):

  • Lenses:  Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8 AI, Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8D
  • Cameras: Nikon D3s and D300s with ISO set to 1600, and White Balance on manual set to Tungsten
  • Shutter and aperture varied. 

To view more images from this event, visit the gallery Celtic Arts Highland Dancing.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Follow Me on Google+
  2. “Like” my Page on Facebook
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

Paul Conrad is an award-winning, nationally and internationally published freelance photographer living in Bellingham, Whatcom County, Wash., north of Seattle in the Pacific Northwest. His work has been published in newspapers and magazine throughout the United States and in Europe.

His clients include Getty Images, Wire Image, The Bellingham Herald, and many local business in Whatcom County. Previous clients are Associated Press, the New York Times, L.A. Times, Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News, and many others.

His specialty is photojournalism covering news, sports, and editorial portraits, he also is skilled in family portraiture, high school senior portraits, and weddings. He is available for assignments anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.

Solar Eclipse and the Apocalypse in the Pacific Northwest

Yesterday, Thursday October 23, 2014, was apocalyptic. The weather we had here in the Seattle area was remarkable and unprecedented.

We had thunder and lightning, heavy rain, high wind, flooding, and a tornado. Yes, a tornado. The second one in a month. First was a waterspout in south Puget Sound. The second was in Longview, Wash.:  Tornado on KIRO TV

And during all this, a Solar Eclipse.

 Just Peeking:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The horns of a solar eclipse peek over the flag flying at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The horns of a solar eclipse peek over the flag flying at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

Yep, A Solar Eclipse.

I didn’t expect to see it. The clouds and rains continued throughout the morning. I thought my plans to shoot it were thwarted so I opted to get caught up on house chores.

While doing laundry, I kept an eye out for the clouds to part. Oddly enough, the rain stopped and the sky cleared just as I put in the last load into the dryer. Sweet.

Must put my plans back into action. To save time, I preset my D300s with my 80-200 f/2.8

First Attempt at the Cross:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. While shooting this, I realized a thin veil of cloud would help bring the foreground object and eclipse into the dynamic range of the camera.

Lacking the phone and my computer as they were in the house, I grabbed my B+W ND3 neutral density filter to look at the sun. The eclipse hadn’t started yet.

As I didn’t know the weather would cooperate, I hurriedly finished the laundry (ie threw it on the bed. LOL) and headed out to check on a few spots I planned out.

So, I headed out to my first place: St. Paul’s Episcopal Church at the intersection of Walnut and Eldridge Avenues.

While driving there, I saw how the wind was whipping a large U.S. flag on a tall pole as I passed it. So I turned around to photograph the progressing eclipse.

But, after shooting a few frames, I looked at the photos and saw how over exposed the images were.  With that, I chose to use my ND2 neutral density filter with its 6 stop loss of light. This allowed me to shoot at a high shutter speed while maintaining a wide aperture..

In It’s Glory:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A seagull lands on the flag pole at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A seagull lands on the flag pole at the intersection of Northwest and Birchwood Avenues in Bellingham, Wash., during the partial solar eclipse on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

Plus it cut the light to protect the interior of the lens and lessen the intensity of the light hitting the sensor. With a few better exposed frames, I left then headed to my original place.

Upon arriving, I found a parking spot that gave me great flexibility to move, but I couldn’t align the cross with the eclipse. The positioning required me to shoot through a tree. But I was able to frame the duo with the branches of the tree.

However, I couldn’t get a decent exposure. Either the eclipse was blown out, or the foreground was black. Very difficult to expose for it well.

Requiem II:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

As much as I hated it, I needed clouds. Thin clouds would cut down the light and allow the eclipse to show. This would help balance the exposure.

After 10 minutes, I decided to drive to Assumption Catholic Church. This also allowed the eclipse to progress and the clouds to move in. When I got to the church, it was clear it wouldn’t work.

By this time, the clouds were moving in rather quick. I headed back to the parking lot by the Episcopal church. When I arrived, the eclipse was lower to the horizon and the clouds were cooperating. The tree was no longer a bother.

Requiem I:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The partial solar eclipse and the cross at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church on Walnut Street in Bellingham, Wash., on Thursday afternoon Oct. 10, 2014.

While shooting, I noticed how the cross would silhouette against a bright cloud that also dimmed the eclipse. The clouds were moving fast, so I needed to move fast. And what do you know?

A pickup truck was parked right where I need to be. So with me running around this truck in the parking lot working the eclipse before it disappeared, I’m sure it looked weird to anyone watching as I ran around the truck pointing my lens towards the heavens.

My favorite photo is the one titled “Requiem I.” It’s simple and clean

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on these various Social Networks:

  1. Follow Me on Google+
  2. “Like” my Page on Facebook
  3. Follow me on Twitter
  4. Follow me on Pinterest

Paul is a Seattle-based photojournalist specializing in news, sports, feature, travel, and portraiture. He also photographs weddings and portraits in Bellingham, Whatcom County, and Skagit County.

He is available for assignments in the Pacific Northwest. Contact him at paulconradphotography@gmail.com or (206) 450-8632 for availability.