Jet-Settin' Ninja

I may have mentioned this before, but I'm a pretty busy guy: self-employed, single dad, and serving my third term on the Board of Directors of a non-profit. I don't get a whole lot of "me time," so I jumped at the opportunity when a cousin invited me to his wedding. Not only did this afford me my first vacation in over five years, it also gave me a great excuse to visit my paternal homeland, Bolivia, for the first time in twenty years.

 

  Bolivia = green, home = pale blue dot. You'll note the distance. 

Bolivia = green, home = pale blue dot. You'll note the distance. 

I got some fantabulous shots during my week in Cochabamba, but I'll go easy on you for now. 

 

  The couple with the bride's lovely sisters and cousins. 

The couple with the bride's lovely sisters and cousins. 

I should note that this Meso-American jaunt nearly overlapped with an already-scheduled jaunt to Atlanta for a music festival. That's not the sort of thing I normally hit without muh toys.

 

  The divine Anneke van Giersbergen.

The divine Anneke van Giersbergen.

  Kjetil Nordhus of Green Carnation.

Kjetil Nordhus of Green Carnation.

  Devin Townsend may very well be the Frank Zappa of our generation. 

Devin Townsend may very well be the Frank Zappa of our generation. 

  A video of me taking this photo can be seen at  this location , at 10:51. Look just above the headstock of Devin's guitar. 

A video of me taking this photo can be seen at this location, at 10:51. Look just above the headstock of Devin's guitar. 

So yeah, I basically had a back-to-back, double-working vacation. But it's not like I could just fly directly from Cochabamba to Atlanta - some of my repeat offenders called me just a few hours before I booked my tickets to tell me they wanted me right in the middle of all this. And somehow, I managed to make that happen.

 

  Bolivia = green, pale blue dot = home, blue crescent = Atlanta, black dot Cochabamba, red dot = connecting flights. Viru Viru in Santa Cruz is the worst airport I've ever used. 

Bolivia = green, pale blue dot = home, blue crescent = Atlanta, black dot Cochabamba, red dot = connecting flights. Viru Viru in Santa Cruz is the worst airport I've ever used. 

You may recognize this young lady. I've been photographing her every September since she was born, and I'm more and more pleased with each set I take of her. If you've ever seen my office or portfolio, she's the little girl in the barn and on the hay bale. 

I may sound like I'm repeating myself here, but this is key to photographing children: if you're not getting dirty, you're doing it wrong. Between the ages of three and about eight, it's often best to just let them do their own thing. This, for example, is unposed - her parents just asked her to sit down:

  The way that fountain in the background blurs into cream and the way the light fully but delicately illuminates our young model are the reasons I pair prime lenses with off-camera flash. 

The way that fountain in the background blurs into cream and the way the light fully but delicately illuminates our young model are the reasons I pair prime lenses with off-camera flash. 

Exposing the background was ridiculously easy here: ISO 100 @ 1/160 on a wide-open 85mm f/1.4. I lit young Ms Diaz with an SB-700 speedlight with a dome diffuser on and shot that through a 14" softbox at about 1/8 power. My son wielded the light. 

That's it. No retouching or post trickery. What I saw in my viewfinder is what you see here. 

I admit I did make a slight edit for this next one. It was starting to get dark when we saw this, and we just barely missed the golden hour. The magic of the golden hour is something I badly wanted to replicate here; the shot demanded it. So I shifted my white balance accordingly and added a slight lens flare. 

  Is this not the very essence of childhood? 

Is this not the very essence of childhood? 

I also had to push this about a stop, as night was falling. Honestly, I'm thrilled with the result. This image looks fantastic on wood and presently hangs in my office. 

To recap, I did a wedding in South America, a kiddie sesh in San Antonio, and a concert in Atlanta within five days. 

If you think that's nuts, you ought to see my flight itinerary. See above map for a gist.