Cerebral Gibberish

What's on my mind, might just blow yours.

First New Year Photos: 2009

Posted by heymoe on 4th January 2009

It has been awhile since I’ve posted some new photos and that’s not because I haven’t taken any. I’ve just been too lazy to post process them and get them uploaded but they will come sooner or later.

Any ways, to start out the new year I decided to by myself a New Year gift. I’ve been using a Nikkor 17-55mm for almost a year now and it’s a wonderful lens but I found myself wishing it was a little wider. I thought about getting the Nikkor 14-24mm thinking that I would start collecting some full frame glass but in the end I decided to hold off since I would only gain 3mm on the wide end and it costs around $1500. I also looked at the Sigma 10-20mm and in general it sounded like most owner liked it but seemed to have some sharpness issues especially around the edges. After looking at a few others I happened upon the Tokina 11-16mm. Released in mid-2008, this lens has collected a lot of glowing reviews in the short amount of time. It has a constant f/2.8 aperture, very good sharpness numbers, good build quality and very well priced at around $570. Another good sign that I ran into was that this lens was out-of-stock at most of the reputable on-line dealers so I thought I was out-of-luck for the time being.. or was I. I stopped by Peace Camera to see if they had a filter I was looking for so while I was there I checked to see if they also had the lens in stock and they did. Well, my need for some instant gratification kicked in so I bought it even though it cost a little more then buying it on-line.


So last Saturday I joined the Triangle East Photography group and went to their State Capitol Tour. I arrived downtown a little early so I took a quick detour to the N.C. State bell tower to test out the new lens. Now I’ve used my Nikkor 17-55mm to take pictures of the bell tower before and it worked fine since I had space to back up to get it in the frame but the new Tokina 11-16mm pretty much allowed me to get right up next to the bell tower and still fit the whole thing in the frame. This allowed for some really neat perspective shots.


Well after about 20 mins at the bell tower it was time to head back downtown to meet up with the group next to the capitol building. We spent some time outside to mingle some and to take some shots of the building before we headed inside for the tour. This is the first time I’ve actually been right up next to the capitol building and it was neat to see the architecture up close. I also didn’t realize that there is a church at each corner of the capital building so I thought that was interesting.


Heading into the capitol building our tour started on the 1st floor in the rotunda where a statue of George Washington sits in the middle. The tour guide explained how the capitol building came to be and a fascinating story behind the statue. From there we headed up to the 2nd floor and got to view the inside of the House of Representatives and Senate chambers. Outside the chambers was the 2nd floor rotunda. We then moved up to the 3rd floor where you can view down into the two chambers on the 2nd floor from the balcony. The 3rd floor also housed the Library and the Geologist’s Office.

After the tour of the capitol, the group took a short walk down Fayetteville Street to take some photos. I got a few shots of the Wachovia …. er.. I mean.. Wellsfargo tower and the RBC tower and other random stuff.

All in all it was a fun first photo outing of the New Year with hopefully more to come.

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Carolina Renaissance Festival 2008

Posted by heymoe on 11th November 2008


Last Saturday I took a trip back in time to the Village of Fairhaven in 16th century Europe. Travel back in time was as simple as hopping into my car and a little over 2 hours later I was there. No need for a DeLorean and a Mr. Fusion either.


This year the Carolina Renaissance Festival was celebrating their 15th year. The festival started in 1994 on 6 acres of land and has grown to 22 acres over the last 15 years consisting of 10 stages, an arena for jousting, arts & crafts shops, food, games and rides for the kids and grownups alike and more.

This was my first visit to the Carolina Renaissance Festival and I’m wondering why it took me so long to go. I’ve only been to one other Renaissance Festival when I was growing up in Atlanta and it was nothing like this. Granted that was years and years ago so things have most likely changed. Any ways, walking into the festival you really get the sense that you are in a 16th century village.


The buildings and other structures are real and functional. Not something that was built up temporally just for the festival and to be torn down when the gates close for the year. Now I’m sure the buildings aren’t 100% authentic but you still get the feeling of being in a different time.


Then you have all the dedicated people (staff and guests) in their period costumes to add even more realism to the festival. This past weekend was one of the festival’s special / themed weekend which tossed in some pirates into the story line which reminds me of the whole pirates vs. ninjas thing at Animazement.


I was surprised by how many things there were to do at the festival. With their 10 stages there is always some show sit down and enjoy. Then you have all the shops to wonder though while trying to talk yourself out of spending even more money. Then you can’t forget the jousting which has its own storyline that is played in out three acts during the day so you really have to see each act. I arrived at the festival at around 11:30am and was planning on staying no later then 4pm but ended up sticking around until the gates closed at 5:30pm. I really need to plan out my time better next time.

I really had a lot of fun at the festival and think it was well worth the price of admission, which wasn’t really that expensive. Especially when you consider all the stuff you can see and do that is included in that price. I didn’t really get a chance to sample the different foods the festival had to offer but the prices didn’t seem to be insane and you do seem to get pretty big portions for your money. I look forwarding to going back next year.

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2008 N.C. State Fair

Posted by heymoe on 27th October 2008


This past Saturday I made a trip to the 2008 N.C. State Fair to take in the sights and sounds (more sights really). Saturday started out kind of soggy but by the afternoon things were dry and by time I got to the fair ground around 8pm it was jeans and long-sleeves weather.


Normally I avoid the fair grounds and surrounding area like the plague due to traffic but driving into the heart of the beast last Saturday wasn’t all that bad. I pulled into the first parking lot I came across which as I expected was a pay-lot charging $10 to park. I felt the price was a little steep but didn’t really want to drive around to see if I could find something cheaper which I’m sure is what the people who own the lots are betting most people will do. Looking at the number of cars they packed into the lot (really just a really large field), they made a killing. I later found out that if I drove a little further down the street I could have parked for free at the RBC Center. Oh well.


I guess one perk of where I parked was it was a short walk to one of the main gates to get into the fair. Luckily I was able to buy my ticket using a credit card since I didn’t make a stop by an ATM on the way there which left me enough cash to buy some snacks and drinks. I really didn’t want to use one of the fair provided ATMs since I would most likely get bent over with fees.


I brought along my camera and tripod to take some photos, especially to play around with some long exposures to capture the sense of speed and motion. The first ride I took some photos of was called the “Dream Catcher” which basically was a side-to-side swing that had a seating area at the end that spun around at the same time. Next up was the spinning swing ride where I experimented with using a long exposure + a rear curtain flash so I could not only get the blur effect of motion but to also stop the motion right at the end. I used this same process on the free-fall ride which I think turned out really well.


On my way to the next ride to take photos of the fireworks show started so I quickly setup and started to shot away using different exposure times and settings and I must say I’m very happy with the results I ended up with and it made up for my failed attempt at fireworks photography last 4th of July. So after the fireworks stopped I moved to the next ride which I must say was the best ride to take long exposure photos of. With the ride’s multi-colored lights going on and off seemingly at random at normal speed resulted in photos with color, shapes and patterns that were amazing (at least to me they were). Each time I clicked the shutter I couldn’t wait to see what I ended up with.


After taking some picture of some other rides I more or less packed up my gear and did more fair type activities like eat food. I started with an Italian Sausage dog all the way and water and for desert I had my first deep-fried candy bar (Snickers) which as good as it tasted I’m pretty sure it took a few years off of my life (hehe).

Before I knew it mid-night rolled around and the fair started to close. It really didn’t feel like I was there for 4 hours so I guess as they say, time flies when you’re having fun.

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Capital City Bike Fest

Posted by heymoe on 6th October 2008


A couple of weekends back I went to the 4th annual Capital City Bike Fest which was held on Fayetteville St. downtown Raleigh. I’ve been riding motorcycles for almost 10 years now and currently own two (a cruiser and a sport bike) but in all that time I’ve never actually been to a big bike gathering. Now I’m pretty sure the size of this event is most likely no where near the size of the other big name bike events like Sturgis, Daytona Bike Week or Myrtle Beach Bike Week but I think it was it was a good start for me.


There were bikes of all shapes and sizes and even though a high percentage of the bikes were Harley Davidsons, other manufactures had a showing there as well.


I even saw what most likely is one of the most expensive iPhone docking stations available (see Photo).

I really enjoyed walking around the event and seeing all the custom paint jobs and accessories that people have come up with. One of the cooler mods I saw was a front wheel rim that was made of bulletproof glass (click for picture) so it looked as if it was floating magically in the air. Yes, I know it looks like the wheel is made of solid piece of chrome due to the spray bottle but it’s actually two spray bottles that the owner set up to fool people walking by.


There was also a BMX stunt show which gave me the opportunity to try some action photography. They had a half-pipe ramp setup at one end of the street that the bikers would use to gain speed so they could do tricks off of a take off and landing ramp setup at the other end of the street with a car between them. They even pulled people out of the crowd so one of the bikers could bunny hop over them (click for picture).


I wish I knew they were going to allow motorcycle parking on Fayetteville St. during the event before I left the else. If I knew that I would have road one of my bikes down there instead of driving. I also thought it might rain also which didn’t help with the decision either. Oh well, there is always next year.

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Tick-Tock: Clockwork Ball

Posted by heymoe on 29th July 2008

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This past Saturday attended The Clockwork Ball held at Southern Rail. The Clockwork Ball is a bi-monthly Steampunk gathering held in Carrboro/Chapel Hill, NC. area.

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I was not aware of the event until the night before so I pieced together an outfit from what I had available to try and blend in the best I could. Basically I wore black pants, my motorcycle boots, a old stylish looking white shirt with the sleeves rolled up and a oldish looking tie. I thought I had a vest but could not find it. The next gathering is going to be at HELL in Chapel Hill, NC on 9/27/2008. I should have plenty of time to get something better put together for that one.

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Any ways, the ball started at 10pm and went until 2am inside the bar at Southern Rail. It was funny to see the reactions of people who were regulars to the bar coming in and seeing all these people dressed up in victorian / old-fashion clothing. I chatted with some people I knew from Animazement as well as from Flickr and made some new friends as well.

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There were two other photographers there and I teamed up with one of them to setup a multi-strobe lighting setup by combining our gear. We setup the lights next to a rail road track switch and had several people come out and model for us in their costumes. I did learn that I really need more practice at positioning the lights and adjusting their power output and camera settings to get a good exposure. One of the big issues I had with the pictures I took were the hard shadows that the flashes produced on the wall behind the models. I think I know how to fix them but will need to try and reproduce the setup and see if it works.

The ball officially ended at 2am but a bunch of people headed over to the 24/7 Harris Teeter, which from what I was told was the only place in the area that was still open, to grab some food to snack on while chit-chatting out side. I headed home at around 3am and passed out in the bed by 4:30am. Over all a very good night.

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Posted in Events, Photography, Travel | 2 Comments »

Milling Around: Yates Mill Park

Posted by heymoe on 21st July 2008

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I picked up a new lens on Thursday (Hopefully the last one for a while. This hobby is getting expensive 🙂 hehe), so I decided to take it out for a spin this weekend. My first stop was Historic Yates Mill County Park.

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Yates Mill was 1 of 70 Wake county gristmills dating back over 200 years. Out of the 70 mills, Yates Mill is the only one left standing today. In 1963 North Carolina State University took ownership of the land the mill is located and in 1989 The Yates Mill Associates began restorations of the mill. In 1996 NCSU and the N.C. Dept. of Agriculture decided to allow Wake Country to convert the 558 acres of land into a park. The park planning hit its first speed bump when Hurricane Fran came through the area and breached the dam draining the millpond and damaged the shed portion of the mill building. Restoration of the mill and the dam was completed in 2005 and the park opened to the public on May 20, 2006. There is a lot more history about the mill available HERE.

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Getting to the park was easy and there was plenty of parking. There is a really nice and air conditioned welcome center which has displays telling the history of Yates Mill as well as information about how mills work and the wild life in the area. There is a nice patio area behind the welcome center that has a view looking over the pond with the mill in the background. The path to the mill is well maintained with benches to rest at and some old parts from the mill along the side of path to explore.

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Reaching the mill itself I was surprised to see people dressed era clothing from mill’s hey day. I have to applaud their dedication to their job since it was very hot and humid that day and they were wearing long pants or full era style dresses. I mean I was wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt and sweat was pouring down my face as it was. Any ways, it looks like they were giving tours of the inside of the mill as well as demonstrating how it operated. I opted to skip the tour this time and headed down the path to the left of the mill down to the water wheel and dam.

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It was very peaceful in this area with the sound of water flowing and the beauty of the water flowing over the dam like little water falls. The water wheel of the mill was not turning when I first got down there since it seems they only turn it on when there is a tour group going through which seemed to be about every 20-30 minutes. It was really neat to watch them unleash the water with a big gush to get the wheel turning. Once it got turning they lessened the flow to keep it moving. I did run into another snake behind the dam but I saw it well in advance unlike last time. To the parks credit, they did have signs saying that there are snakes in this area as well.

From there the path takes you up a hill to a picnic area and a deck / pier that over looks the pond and gives you good view of the mill. I’m pretty sure the path would take you all the way around the pond but it was just too hot and humid that I decided to head back to the welcome center to cool down and then on to my next stop (so I thought.. stay tuned).

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Skydiving: I’m Alive!

Posted by heymoe on 14th July 2008

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Almost 3 months after our first attempt, Casey and I successfully jumped from a perfectly good airplane and landed safely.

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This time around the weather was great other then it being hot (in the 90s). We also had a larger cheering section in the form of Casey and Lindsay’s parents, Casey’s sister, aunt and uncle. My attempts to talk our other friends, who shall be unnamed (you know who you are 🙂 hehe), to come out and watch failed.

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Our jump was scheduled for 12pm (noon) but we did not actually get into the air until about 1:10pm. As a refresher, both Casey and I went through the level 1 tandem jump class again and about 10 minutes later we were called into the prep room to get geared up. 20 minutes after that it was time to board the plane, a CASA 212 Aviocar.

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Casey and I along with our tandem jump masters (Dave was mine, I’m not sure who Casey’s was) were the first to board the plane since we are going to be the last to leave the plane. The plane was packed with other jumper and everyone was in good spirits and excited. At around 6000 feet, our jump masters started to double check our harnesses and connecting us to their harness / parachute. Casey actually had to get up and sit in his jump master’s lap due to the tight quarters. As we climbed in altitude, the temperature was going down and made me wish it felt that good on the ground.

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Once we were at altitude and over the drop zone the pilot turned on the green light and the other jumpers started to exit the plane. When it was our turn we made our way to the rear of the plane which was awkward due to Dave being shorter then me. I kept reaching out with my right hand to help keep my balance but Dave kept making me put my arm down for some reason. I was able to hold onto the static line cable with my left hand which I guess was OK. Casey, his jump master and his videographer were the first to leave the plane and then Dave and I moved into position. Once in position I once again reached up for a handle on the ceiling to balance myself but had my hand swatted again but I think I know why that time. Looking down at the ground below seemed unrear and before I knew it my arms were crossed and my head was back as we exited the plane doing a back-flip, or at least I think it was a back flip.

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During the free-fall I don’t really remember to much visually, most likely due to the adrenaline rush and concentrating what we were told to do in class. The lack of any visual reference that we are used to on the ground (IE: driving by stationary objects in a car) seemed to cancel out the fact that we were falling at 120MPH. The only real sign of speed was the sound of the wind going by which was quite loud. I remember making sure I had my body arched and arms crossed as instructed until Dave tapped me on my shoulder letting me know it was time to un-cross my arms and hold them in front of me. We performed some left and right turns but I don’t know how many degrees we turned. After that I got tapped on the shoulders again letting me know it was time to re-cross my arms and prepare for the parachute deployment.

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Once the parachute deployed everything went silent and things started to slow down to a more relaxed pace. Dave did the post deployment checks and loosened up the straps on my harness some to try and make things a little more comfortable. He then handed me the parachute controls and we did a practice landing flare and then did some left and right turns. We also did a double turn to demonstrate how the turns get faster the longer you hold it. Dave pointed out where the landing site was and we even saw Casey in the distance below us and the jump plane coming in for a landing. At this point my arms started to get numb so Dave said to put my arms down. I think there was a strap or two still too tight and and was cutting off circulation, oh well.. it happens. Any ways, as we got closer to the ground I could see the cheering squad waving and taking pictures. Our butt first landing was uneventful and it was nice get disconnected and having the blood flowing again.

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After that Casey and I posed for some pictures with our jump masters and then walked back to the cheering squad and posed for even more pictures. We got out of our jump gear and got our logbooks filled out and signed as well as our first jump certificate. We all then headed out to grab some late lunch.

Now the question is should I go for the certification or is one jump enough for me? The experience was great but I kind of wish I remember I remember more of the free fall portion and for that I think more jumps will be required. In theory I could do the level 2 jump and not have to worry about maintaining currency from a training point of view. After level 2 you’ll have to schedule you jumps so that you don’t exceed 30 days or more between. If you do you’ll end of spending more money in the long term since you will most likely have to repeat previous levels before you’re allowed to move on to the next. Hopefully Casey will be interest in getting certified so we and do it together, if not I’ll most likely do it any ways. I highly recommend everyone jump at least once.

Note: Casey is under the white, yellow and blue parachute and I’m under the black and blue one. I also want to thank Casey’s uncle Dayle for taking the pictures of Casey and I making our way back down to Terra Firma.

: ::Update:: :
Lindsay has posted some pictures of Casey’s jump and posted an entry on their blog.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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Falls Lake

Posted by heymoe on 26th April 2008

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While heading to Home Depot to pick up some yard supplies, I decided to make a detour to Falls Lake (one many to come I think) and continue my exploration of local parks. When I left the house the sun was out with some clouds but nothing that looked like rain. While heading down Highway 50 the skies opened up with a really good down pour maybe about 2 miles from Falls Lake. I kept on going despite the rain figuring it would end as quickly as it started and I was right.

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Falls Lake is pretty big so this little detour is only a taste of what future visits will hold. Since this was my first visit to Falls Lake, I took the first turn off I came upon on Highway 50 which turned out to the the Highway 50 Boat Launch area. I was not really interested in the boats so luckily there was a picnic area and a trail down to the water with bridge over a spillway. The water level was high enough that you could not tell there was a spillway there which I think is a good sign from the drought point-of-view. I was the first one down to the bridge since the rain just stopped but it did not take long for others to show up with fishing polls in hand. I did not see anyone catch anything while I was there though. On the other side of the bridge was a man-made land bridge that went all the way across to the other side of the lake.

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I didn’t see a lot of wildlife while I was there but did come across two geese so I practiced using my zoom lens on them. My photos of the geese are nothing to write home about but it was still fun “stalking” them to get into position for the shots. I did not adventure to far off the main path this time around and I was very careful where I was stepping especially on the loose rocks. I did not want to have another unexpected run in with a snake like I did at Pullen Park.

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Wine, Skydiving and Barbers: Oh My!

Posted by heymoe on 20th April 2008

Phew! The weekend is over.. Finally.. Saturday was the annual Uncork the Fun wine festival in Cary and since I forgot to buy tickets advance, I got up early so I could get there when the gates open to beat the lines. Getting their early also had the benefit of not having to deal with the lines at each of the wineries’ tents which allowed me to take my time while sampling their selections without feeling rushed by the line of people behind you. This year several wineries put out wines made wholly from strawberries or as a blend with traditional wine grapes. The strawberry concoctions typically ranged from semi-sweet to OMG sweet. I bought one of these concoctions that had a semi-sweet to sweet start and finished with an interesting “kick” that caught my attention vs. the others I sampled. Any ways, sometime between getting there and around 1pm, when I took a break for lunch, I started to feel really “happy” after all the tasting and Casey has the voice mail to prove it 🙂 hehe..

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At around 2:30pm I decided I tasted all that I could and it was getting crowded so I hit the road and headed to Carolina Sky Sports in Franklinton NC. to check out their facilities and to get more information on jumping out of an airplane. Getting there was pretty easy and the drive down Highway 56 was scenic. Being that this is the first drop zone I’ve been to, I have no reference on how good or bad it is compared to others but I liked what I saw and everyone I talked to were really nice and were more then happy to answer any questions I had.

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There was a large observation deck out back and I was able to take some photos of some skydivers making their way back to Terra Firma. Well, after talking and watching for a bit, I decided I really wanted to jump from an airplane so I went and asked about scheduling a jump. They told me that due to the 4 straight weekends of rain they had a back log of people already scheduled but they did have spots for one or two people tomorrow (Sunday). At this point I gave Casey a call again, this time not so “happy”, to see if he was up for a jump and he was, so I scheduled us for the 2pm class and headed home.

To end my Saturday I watched Sweeney Todd on DVD. I was not sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprised and really enjoyed it. I thought Johnny Depp and Helena Carter did a great job playing Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett as was their singing.

On Sunday, Casey, Lindsay and I met up at Carolina Sky Sports for our 2pm class and the first line of business was to watch a short video explaining the dangers of skydiving. It was hosted by a guy who looked like he was a member of ZZ Top which was amusing. Next we had to sign away our ability to sue pretty much anyone that we, our family, our next of kin, etc could sue in the case we are injured or die from skydiving. Then we paid for the jump and moved to the training room were an instructor ran through the gear used and the process of the first Tandem jump. During this time we could hear a down pour of rain going on which caused a weather delay for the three groups ahead of us which means our jump also got pushed back. The weather delay was lifted not long after we got out of training and the weather was looking good… so we thought. When the third group was on their way up, Casey and I were called into to staging room where we were given a jump suite to squeeze into. Lindsay came in and took pictures of Casey and I in our jump suites and we all chatted with the other two guys and their family who were in our group. Our jump masters came in about 20 mins later after completing their jump with the previous group and attached the tandem harness to Casey and I. So at this point we were ready to go but another storm front moved in and we were grounded. We waited for a while hopping for it to clear but when it got to be around 6pm it was decided to call it a day so Casey, Lindsay and I spent 4 hours at Carolina Sky Sports and all we had to show for it was a rain check to try again later.

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We all agreed that the next time we make our attempt that we would try to talk two other friends to jump with us or at least have them come out and be our cheering squad as we fall from the sky (hopefully cheering for our safe decent 🙂 hehe). Lindsay has update their blog with her account of our skydiving adventure including the pictures she took so check them out.

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Bain Water Works

Posted by heymoe on 13th April 2008

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Yesterday I joined up with about 40 other photographers at the old Bain Water Treatment Plant near downtown Raleigh to explore and take photos of the architecture among other things. I don’t know what it is but there is something about exploring old abandoned buildings. Maybe it’s neat to see how time puts a toll on things when there is no one around to maintain them. Maybe it’s the mystery that around the next turn when going down a dark corridor. Or maybe it’s just the models who are there posing for the cameras 😛 hehe. Whatever it is, it’s just a lot of fun.

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I spent just about 5 hours at the location exploring the different levels and rooms and there was still a lot left to see. The Bain Water Treatment Plant went online in mid-1940 to meet the demand for city water. The architecture of the building falls into the Art Deco style which included a two-story lobby with a circling mezzanine on the upper level and stairways rising to both sides and ornamental details applied throughout. The facility eventually closed down in the 1987 and used as storage during most of the 1990s. In 1999 the facility was sold to Capital Area Preservation, Inc. and Historic Preservation Advisors, LLC who are planning on renovating the building to house shops, restaurants and / or office space.

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While there I got to try out some of my new toys that I got in the last few weeks for my camera. First up was the Nikon MB-D80 which acts as both a multi-power battery pack for my Nikon D80 as well as a portrait grip which includes access to a secondary shutter release, both command dials and focus/exposure lock button. Next up is the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 APO Macro DG HSM lens which allows me to get some really close close-ups and seems to work great for taking portraits. My last new toy is the Nikon SB-800 flash. I really enjoyed using the flash and learning how bouncing and defusing the light effects the photos. I also got to test out the wireless mode of the flush which not only allows me to light up an area from a different direction but also gives me a second light source when used in conjunction with the camera’s built in flash. Really cool stuff.

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Oh yeah, did I say models? I sure did. For the most part the photos I take are typically landscapes, flowers, nature stuff, etc.. but that all changed yesterday. There were 4 female and 2 male models were there and everyone was allowed to take photos of them as long as you where courteous and gave the photographer who was working with the model priority. The type of modeling going on ranged from high-fashion to goth / punk and all of them were really nice despite being surround by multiple photographers. It was really cool and I think I got a lot of great shots for my first try at taking photos of people / models. I want to thank all of the models that were there and if any of you happen to see this and would like a copy of any of the photos I have for your portfolio, just drop me an email. Thanks again!

Well there you have, that is how I spent my Saturday.

More Photos Here (PicLens PicLens Button)

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NOTE: Photos of the models are in separate sub-folders of the main “Bain Water Works” folder so click on the “More Photos Here” link above to see the sub-folders for each model.

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