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Ferocious peddling… heart pounding… blood surging… Lenny is not an MEM (Mindless Eating Machine).
I was out helping a friend of mine build his house and afterwards i decided to head out to the small desert town of Lund, UT. I really needed to get out there and since his house was pretty much half way there I decided to drive the rest.
When you get through the small foot hills west of Three Peaks Recreation Area, there is a turn in the dirt road and an excellent view for a nice vanishing point. Lund is located on the other side of the valley and has a population of about two. Train tracks cut through near the abandoned houses and homesteads. Back in the day Lund was a pivotal point in the railroads progress where they switched out cars and kept the rails rolling.
The valley leading up to Lund is somewhat open range and the cows dot the landscape. I have hiked out to some abandoned buildings that are now used as shade structures for the cows and it is interesting to find their paths carved into the desert sagebrush and soils. Each path goes out as a spoke from the shade and has been trodden so well that they are dug into the soil by about 4-6 inches. There are scattered cow pies and any grass has been nibbled to a stubble.
I initially traveled out this way to get a shot of the vanishing point road but it didn’t show up well with the focal lengths I brought and with being so close to the ground. It was cold and my hands were frozen with beating wind. I decided to head down a off-shoot dirt road that was not used very often. This road led me to a small shooting range that was filled with various bullet shells and random broken things. I went exploring for a small scene and found an exploded red paint can. The red paint was splattered all over the rocks and if the can had not been there, I wouldve thought that I had stumbled upon some gristly murder scene. I am glad the paint can was still easily recognizable.
This paint can was the perfect place to setup a bike ride for Lenny. The red offset his green appearance and matched his iconic red bike. I set him up with his tail catching the edge of the metal so it could help prop him up. The wind was still there and frigid – but with this find I barely noticed. The background was a bit rocky and distracting so I used a technique to blur it in a motion sense. It is rather easy to create the effect by placing my fingers in front of the lens when the aperture is wide open. It creates a motion effect in the bokeh by applying the lines of light that come through the cracks in my fingers.
I thought the image turned out quite well although I still think its a bit to busy.
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Lenny’s bike is so small he doesn’t have to worry about nails!???
You really never know when the right time is to take a toy photograph. I always carry my gear with me which consists of a clik camera bag and the Olympus EM5 along with several legacy glass lenses and of course my Lego and other toys. The lens I prefer and use most often is the Minolta Rokkor 55 mm 1.4f. It is the perfect lens for a good balance in detail and excellent bokeh backgournds. I also have a Sigma 60mm AF lens and my old trusty Russian lens the Helios 44mm. That Russian lens is built like a tank! and it brings in some nice light leak details that add a bit of glow to the shot.
Anyway, I was on my way out to get a load of worked up Alabaster sculpting stone and we stopped to fuel up and get some breakfast. Actually it was so my brother could get some breakfast. I had eaten something on my way out so I used this opportunity to jump out and grab a few shots with my Lego.
We were at the Maverik gas station (Adventures First Stop) on the west side of Cedar City and I noticed a small broken down pioneer house right next door. The ceiling had caved in long ago and it looked as if the stone walls and foundation had either sunk several feet – or maybe it was built that way as sort of a fruit cellar… either way it was sunken and sad looking. The wood was rotted and had deep grooves throughout. The grooves matched the size of the tires on Lenny’s bike so it was the perfect setting to get a quick shot. I setup Lenny and got a few great shots in before my brother was back in the truck honking for me. I raced over – repacked my bag and jumped in. Off to load the stone!
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Up bright and early before the sun hits the valley – that’s how Lenny rolls.
Early mornings are a great time to do toy photography. I find that my mind is wide awake and ready for the day.
I took this shot while traveling down to my newly opened stone quarry. I was traveling down the black ridge on Interstate 15 from Cedar City to St. George and the morning light was barely lighting the sky. I decided to take an early exit near Pinto, UT and head towards the Pine Valley Mountain Range. The snow capped mountains lit up pink in the sunrise and the valley below was still in the shade of the black ridge. I hurried up a dirt road and parked. The light was changing every minute and I was striving to get a few shots all along those changes.
The hood of the truck turned out to be a nice clean setup for a shot and the reflection of blue hid the fact that this old chevy had a dark green faded and rubbing off paint job. The bright mountain range behind Lenny’s head was a great contrast which brought your eyes to his. I made a rather steep angle with my camera because I wanted it to look like Lenny was on the verge of a very steep ridge. I liked the blues that the early morning shadows gave so I decided not to bother with the exposure at all.
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Big Willie Style! Lenny sort of cheats by using his tail…
I absolutely love the bokeh results I get with the Minolta Rokkor 55mm! It is a bit soft wide open at f1.7 but its worth the shallow depth of field. This particular shot was taken in the morning on my way to our rock quarry near St. George, UT. I pulled off the highway and up a dirt road and stopped near a boulder that had a bush in the background. The morning glow came in through the bush sticks and created this fantastic bokeh. I hadn’t set up Lenny doing a wheelie until now because it is quite tricky to get him to balance just right upright. The angle of the slope on the rock made this shot possible. Lenny’s foot is actually propping him up on the rock side and then his tail helped stabilize him. It was still a balancing act. Luckily there usually is no wind in the early morning calm.
I like getting up before the sun. I don’t always do it but when I do I feel like I get so much more done in the day. I beleive it was Benjamin Franklin that stated that “an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure”. I have heard it changed to “an ounce of morning, is worth a pound of afternoon” and I tend to agree with this statement. I feel when I am up early I am alert and ready to get things done. By late afternoon I feel sluggish and ready to relax and wind down for the evening.
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Riding the grooves of an old pioneer house!
Sometimes I feel like Lenny here in this shot. You get in the groove and get set in your ways and it’s difficult to change. These grooves are a bit like ruts in life. When I was a kid, twelve years old or so, I got to practice driving my dads truck on dirt roads west and south of town. One such road had clearly been traversed by a large truck during muddy weather and had carved deep ruts through the road. My father helped me navigate them but on one occasion I dropped down into them. The ruts proved to steer me. It overpowered my ability to grab the wheel and make my own steering decisions. It took quite a bit of effort to climb up the side of the rut and out.
Sometimes I feel in my work that I get into ruts. Ruts that either others have created or versions I have created through habit. It is easy to feel like you are working when you are in a rut, but really you are just going with the flow. Some ruts are too deep to get out of and are difficult to change.
I experienced this at a place I worked at in the past doing 3D modeling and design. They had a system that worked but seemed very repetitive. I was given the task to do this repetitive work and it was rather boring. In fact, I nearly fell asleep while doing it. I strove to find new ways to think outside the box and implement new strategies to get the process more automated. In the end though, everyone just kept doing it the way that seemed easier because they knew it.
I also worked for a mining company as the General Manager. My goal was to create systems that made it easy to follow the stone from the mining process to the logistics and processing of the stone. There were five owners, one of which had much more control and say in the company than the others. This owner did not want to change and adapt to new technologies and therefore undermined my ability to manage the company.
I now own my own mining company and I have found that my systems work very well. I do not yet have the assets or cashflow that the other mining company had so many of my new systems are not yet perfected but I know they will work. Even after implementation, I am open to new ideas and technologies. I do not want to be stuck in ruts – especially my own.
Lenny doesn’t stay in ruts long – he’s always changing and looking for new adventures.