Part 3 of 4 of The 2012 San Francisco Giants World Series Championship Parade!! Coaches, Lou Seal, the Trophy and some weird shit that did not have anything to do with the parade!!

Hey folks!! I’m back yet again to share a few more images that I took from my vantage point along Market Street during the San Francisco Giant’s World Series Championship Parade. Last time I shared with you, I got through Muelens and Wotus. So, I will start off with the next guys up in the parade route, Roberto Kelly and Tim Flannery.

Tim Flannery is one hell of a third base coach! He is always animated, intense and knows this game of baseball like only the best of them do. Whether he’s just relaying signs or waving the Panda home on a tight call, Tim is hanging right there with the players and even runs alongside them all the way home. If you are lucky enough to get close enough seats, you can even hear Flannery scream out “DOWN!! DOWN!! DOWN!!!” as he’s running alongside the players when he needs them to slide home. Although Tim played almost all of his baseball career with the San Diego Padres, we are very pleased that Bochy was able to steal him away from the Padres when he was named Manager in 2007.

In 2008, when he joined the team, Roberto Kelly told all the starting pitchers that they would have no excuse for not being as good a base runner as any of the other position players. I’m sure that raised an eyebrow or two, but our pitchers have become some of the best base runners in the entire league. Roberto played a good deal of his baseball career here in the US after getting his start in his home country of Panama. Although he never played for the Giants, we are very happy to have him over as our first base coach. Earlier this year, Roberto was hospitalized for appendicitis and missed a number of games. The fans missed him and let him know with a huge round of applause when he was announced in the lineup for his first game back.

Hats off to you, gentlemen!!

Next up on the parade route brought us Billy Hayes and Joe Lefebvre. If you are ever fortunate enough to get good seats over by the home bullpen section, you’ll get to know and see Billy Hayes in action up close and personal. You may not recognize him as an every day coach or assistant, but he’s always there behind the mask and protective gear warming up the bullpen that has become such a phenom in the last few years. Joe is a different story since he is more behind the scenes and isn’t so prominent in front of the fans as the other guys are. Does that make his role as assistant hitting coach any less? Hell no!!

As the 2012 season was shaping up leading up and through the All-Star break, the Giants were almost resting their fate solely on one doping fool that shall remain nameless. The majority of the commentators and speculators wrote us off for any significant push into the post season, let alone remain as the sole standing team at the end of a World Series sweep. Did the team and coaching staff lower their heads and call it quits? Nope!! The entire coaching staff of the 2012 San Francisco Giants collectively stood up and told the doubters and haters “FUCK YOU!!”

You guys are tops in the game!!!

Next up were some of the special assistant coaches that were instrumental during the season. Most of these guys are past players for the Giants that are still very loved and prominent in the Giants community. Not only are most of these guys doing good in the clubhouse as mentors to some of the younger guys that could use the guidance of a true and tested veteran, but they are also in the community with very worthwhile causes.

First up with J.T. Snow and Shawon Dunston. J.T. Snow, as many of you know, was one of the best first basemen that has ever worn the Giants uniform. He will eternally be known to Giants fans as the saviour to little Darren Baker, son of coach Dusty Baker, with a grab and run play at home plate as Darren was making his way over to the play to pick up the bat lying there. As he round third base, JT knew of the danger that little Darren faced and was able to scoop him up as he crossed home plate and avoided a potential collision that might have cause serious injury to the then 3-year-old bat boy. MLB changed the rules for batboys requiring a 14-year-old minimum because of that instance.

Although I’m not too sure what JT was all excited about when I snapped this image, I can almost guarantee you that it had nothing to do with me or my beast of a camera. Regardless, I found it fitting to use this image of JT simply because of how much fun he was having during the moment and the fact that he is one of the most loved Giants figures still around.

Next to JT is Shawon Dunston. During his illustrious baseball career, Shawon jumped all around the league, landing with the Giants a few times here and there, but ending his career in 2002 wearing the orange and black. Shawon has been instrumental in working with our infield players throughout his tenure and imparting his knowledge on the young guys.

I can’t believe you’re so happy to see me, JT!!!

Last up on the special assistant coaches is none other that the GREAT Will “The Thrill” Clark. Working with the Giants front office staff, Will still makes time to visit with the players and impart the knowledge about the game that he accumulated throughout a spectacular career. How much more spectacular can you get than hitting a home run off of Nolan Ryan at your first major league at bat?!?!? Will always seems very enthusiastic and appreciative for all the love that Giants fans continue to show him to this day. Will is on the forefront of a great number of charities and community service fronts with the Giants, most notably his Autism Awareness campaign.

He was very animated as his car rolled by, which made him difficult to photograph, but I managed to sneak off a few pictures. The first is just of him clapping up and acknowledging all the fans hanging from out of their building windows that lined Market St. The second image I wanted to include just cause it has a comical side to Will that fits with the persona that he is known for. I can’t imagine what had him all worked up, but I will gladly accept the credit for being such an awesome photographer that he felt he had to single me out in the crowd. 🙂 Love you too, Will!!

Will The Thrill giving love to the cheap seats!!

No!!! You are the greatest, Will!!

Next up on the parade route was none other than our fabulous Lou Seal. I was happy to hear that the person behind our beloved mascot received recognition during the 2010 season and received a WS ring. I hope they acknowledge the work that this person does yet again to add to the collection. As a photographer, I am always focused in on Lou and all his shenanigans. Anytime I can get both Lou and Pablo Sandoval in the same frame together, it is guaranteed to make for good images as they are both very playful with each other. Lou Seal is all about fun and getting the crowd into the game and keeping the kids entertained. I can’t imagine a ballgame without Lou present, so I think that the moment is very well deserved, Lou!!

Soak it all in, Lou!! Get yourself an extra few salmon for dinner on me!!

Next up on the parade route was some shit that I could have done without, but nonetheless made for some colorful images, so I shot off a few. First up was a Chinese dragon and lion in a Chinese New Year style of parade regalia with music and dancing. What this had to do with the Giants winning the World Series is beyond me, but here are a few images to share.

Then came a Carnaval parade thing that REALLY had nothing to do with the Giants in the World Series. Yes, I know that the Giants sponsor certain nights during the season for heritage nights, but keep it out of my parade, please. Anyway, here is a very attractive and relatively naked dancer for you to look at.

When the confetti started to rain down, it could only mean one thing. THE GOODS ARE ON THE WAY!! Sure enough, the next person down the route was our famed manager Bruce Bochy holding the World Series trophy up over his head for all to see. Everyone knows what an awesome coach Bruce is, so I don’t need to go into all the detail as to how he has managed to take a group of “misfits” yet again and come up with a winning team. The man lost his closer early on in the season, never got back the 2nd baseman that he thought he would have in Freddie Sanchez, had key players going in and out of the DL and had to close every game of the season by committee. And with all the calm and patience of Job from the Bible, he did it in such a fashion that never let out any signs of emotion until that final out was recorded in Detroit. Bruce, you are the man and you have brought to this city what countless other managers have tried to do and haven’t been able to: 2 FREAKIN’ WORLD SERIES TROPHIES!!!

So, now let’s talk about the bobo that decided to put Bruce in a Rolls Royce convertible and how horrible of a decision that was. If you haven’t noticed from my images or the parade footage that was aired in the days following, Lexus shelled out almost all the cars featured with the coaches and players in order to showcase their new 2012 Lexus IS C convertible coupe. There were a number of vintage cars early on in the parade throughout the staff, ownership and supporting roles and their families. But, the creme de la creme of the ball players, coaches and the like was saved for Lexus. As many of you notice, the figures were seated above and behind the rear passenger seating area where they were essentially sitting on where the retractable roof hides in the chassis. Someone decided to give Bochy something special, but must not have taken into consideration the fact that on a Rolls, the top doesn’t tuck down into the chassis, but rests on the body of the car. This made it impossible for Bruce and his wife to sit where he could prominently be seen, which looks ridiculous. Why would you stick the most important man on the team in a car that he has to sit in the back seat and prop the trophy waaaay over his head just to be seen?? Not only that, but why wouldn’t someone bother to check that the gas tank was full before the start of the parade route?? Luckily, I was early on in the route, so I didn’t have to see Bruce getting pushed along by staff after his Rolls run out of gas….Stupid!!!

Hold it high, Captain!!!!

I will leave everyone today on that note. Tomorrow I will be sharing the images from the starting lineup. I trust everyone had a delicious and safe Thanksgiving Day Holiday. So, what was I thankful for, you ask??? How about having the best team in all of baseball for two out of the last three years!!

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The San Francisco Giants Go For The Sweep In Houston on 8/30/12

Hello everyone!! I’m back!!!

I’ve been fairly busy with even a business trip that took me to Houston, TX to visit with one of our suppliers from Mexico who is entertaining a joint venture with one of my US customers. Whereas at any other moment, I would shrug at the idea of going to Houston for any period of time, this trip ended up being one of the few exceptions where I would actually be looking forward to heading out. It wasn’t until a few days before my trip that I was thinking about the trip on the commute ride home as I was listening to KNBR sports radio and the hosts were talking about the upcoming Giants road trip that would take them to Houston for three evening games. All of the sudden, the lightbulb went off over my head, and just like that, I turned that frown upside down!! It turned out that I would be free of any plans for the Thursday night game, so I hopped on the internet to secure a ticket.

What does $50 buy you? Well, at AT&T park in San Francisco, $50 can buy you a field level ticket in the outfield down either baseline, an outfield club level seat in the waaay outfield or possible a real nice view reserve box seat in the infield, but you’d still be in the third deck. What does $50 buy you at Minute Maid Park in Houston? Well, being that the Astros are quite possibly MLB’s worst team yet again this year, I was able to secure a second row seat on field level one section over from right behind home plate!! I was right in front of the visitor’s on-deck circle and just off from the visitor’s dugout. It was awesome!!!

Quite a number of players are actually pretty friendly and will acknowledge fans calling out to them. Obviously, they seem to perfectly deaf to all hecklers, but if you are encouraging them, you might even get a wave. Hunter Pence was among the few that actually made eye contact with fans and genuinely greeted them. I got a wave from Hunter and a nod of the head by Sandoval, Pagan and Blanco.

The Giants pulled out the win after falling behind early on. Minute Maid park is a beautiful place to see a game. The roof was closed, so the temperature was just right. The food options were great!! Parking was easy and I was in and out without any problems. I look forward to the next opportunity to head down to Houston during baseball season to see another game, even if it doesn’t involve my beloved Giants.

Anyway, I took the camera along and was able to get into the ballpark with my Tokina 100-300mm lens, even though the website listing for maximum camera lens length stated 4.5 inches. At four and a half inches, I think I would have only been able to bring along a Canon 135mm fixed prime lens, and hopefully sneak in an extender to get me some additional length. Luckily, I decided to call the media relations department and ended up speaking with someone that said that I wouldn’t have any problems as long as I wasn’t entering the ballpark with either a tripod or monopod. Like the man said, I showed up to the front door and had my back inspected and the young lady waved me through. I wasn’t going to stop and ask questions, so I went on through.

After getting to my seat and pulling out the camera, the Astros fans sitting next to me asked if I was with the Giants. After finding out that only in my wildest dreams would that be the case, he went on to mention how he had been given nothing but grief when he tried to bring in something much smaller, but over the 4.5 inch rule. Well, I didn’t want to attract too much attention to myself as the ushers walked up and down the aisles, so I made sure to only have the camera up to my face just as I was about to shoot a couple of pictures. It worked out just fine and no one said a word to me.

Here are a few of my favorite images from that game. I hope you enjoy them. Good night all!!

Watching the Fog Come and Go at Point Bonita Lighthouse

A few weekends ago, I got the chance to head out to Point Bonita Lighthouse in the Marin Headlands and take the camera along. Well, it wasn’t like I was going to go without it, cause that would just be plain silly.

I had been to Gasser’s the afternoon before and was able to make it before the cutoff for the 40% off deal. I ended up taking the Canon 28-70 f/2.8 L lens along with the Canon 200mm f/2.8 L telephoto lens. Where else could you have these two badass lenses for the entire weekend for about $40? Nowhere else but Gasser’s, folks!! Just don’t all of you go at once and ruin my awesome lens selection for when I show up, ok?!?!?!

The 28-70 is an awesome lens that has been discontinued after it was replaced by the updated 24-70 that gave it an extra 4 mm of wide-angle capability. Is 4mm that big a deal for landscape? You betcha!! But, being that I can live with taking a few extra steps back, as long as I’m not falling off a cliff in doing so, I can live with the 28-70 for a weekend. Let me tell you right now, falling off a cliff would not be pleasant…

I had been interested in the 200mm f/2.8 for some time now, but it was either usually out or I had another agenda that wouldn’t have worked well for that lens. There’s few instances where I would say that having a 200mm telephoto fixed lens would work well. In the case where you were at a ballgame with a little distance from the action, 200mm might just be perfect. So, what would you reach for first? That’s right!! A Canon 70-200 f/2.8 zoom lens, which is a classic for short telephoto sports work, especially night photography. So, where does the 200mm prime fit? Delicious question!! The 200mm fixed telephoto is right at the end of the range of the 70-200 while still giving you a large aperture of f/2.8 along with giving you a slightly sharper image by being a fixed prime. While the 70-200 has to be one of the sharpest zoom lenses in all of Canon’s lineup, it just can’t beat the image quality of a fixed lens.

So, that was my rental arsenal, but even better than that, I decided to walk over by the retail side of Gasser’s store and took a peek at the used Pentax M42 screw thread lenses. Among the bunch, I noticed a Yashica 28mm f/2.8 fixed lens that looked to be in super sweet condition. Why would I want that for my Canon EOS system? Well, I’ve been messing around with manual focus lenses and have found the old Pentax M42 screw thread lenses to be a great source of good quality lenses to satisfy my manual focus needs with my autofocus camera. With a little adapter plate that acts as a thread to EOS adapter along with correctly spacing the lens away from the sensor for correct infinity focus, all the M42 lenses work great.

Along that Pentax system didn’t see a good number of decent zoom lenses, the number of fixed prime lenses that were manufactured for that system is rather extensive. And for $39, it was a steal!!!

So, I arrived to Point Bonita Lighthouse with a packed arsenal of just about every focal range I could want. I had my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 for the long stuff, the Canon 200mm f/2.8, the Canon 28-70mm f/2.8 and the Yashica 28mm f/2.8. Damn, the bag was heavy!!

Point Bonita Lighthouse recently opened back up to public access in May after an almost two-year hiatus while the suspension bridge to the lighthouse was rebuilt. As the story goes, the lighthouse was originally place on the large cliff side that stands behind the area where the lighthouse currently sits today. Unfortunately, a few ships saw their end due to the lighthouse being too high up and the light not being able to penetrate through the thick Marin County fog. It was then moved to its current location where it is more visible to passerby ships. When it was originally moved, there was a walkable path to the lighthouse that eroded over time, leaving the lighthouse on an isolated patch of earth. It was then decided to create a suspension bridge that would connect the two masses that had not eroded, and this bridge stood proud for many decades. But with the weather as temperamental in that area, the bridge was deemed unsafe for passage a few years back.

Parks and Recreation closed the pathway to the Lighthouse while the bridge was recreated. The replica that we see today is reminiscent of the originally designed suspension bridge with all the modern-day security features that we would expect from a Parks and Recreation facility that sees a good amount of traffic each weekend.

So, what do you need to know when visiting the Point Bonita Lighthouse? First tip is to wear layers!! When we arrived shortly after 1PM, the fog was thick and moist. It was cold and windy, so a heavy coat and some time of head-gear to keep you warm was almost a necessity if you planned on being out there for any length of time. By the time we had decided to leave almost an hour and half later, the fog had receded and the heavy coat was no longer necessary. The second tip is to wear comfortable shoes. The parking lot suggested for the lighthouse is almost a half mile away from the actual doorway that leads you to the lighthouse. The walkway isn’t dangerous for the most part, but I wouldn’t wear any shoes that don’t offer good grip or are comfortable enough to walk in for an extended period of time. And finally, plan your trip ahead of time since the lighthouse is only open on Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 12PM to 3PM. Yuuuup!!! You heard right!! It’s only open for a three-hour period on those three days of the week. Any other time or day of the week, it would be a waste of your time to make it out there since the doorway that they close before the tunnel that gives access to the lighthouse will not allow for ANY time of vista from that angle.

Ok, enough for tonight. Have a great night, folks!!

 

Note to self: Unless Sitting in the Front Row of Field Level During A Giants Day Game, Leave the Camera At Home!!

Hello again, everyone!!

I’m back safe and sound from Mexico. Yep, I remember that I mentioned that I’d be writing you guys on Saturday. I came home pretty exhausted from this whirlwind trip to various parts of Mexico and just wanted to veg. Of course, part of that vegging plan included going to the Giants games on Friday and Saturday nights. Now, I was flying back into SFO and scheduled to touch down at 5:37pm, yet I was still able to make it to see the first pitch, and this included a pit stop at home to drop off my luggage. How did I magically go through customs, immigration, luggage and stop off at home in less than an hour and a half to make the first pitch? The Global Entry Program from the US Customs Border Patrol Department. I freakin’ love that thing. It is completely worth every penny of the slightly over $100 that my company paid to get me on the list. The Global Entry Program allows pre-screened individuals that travel frequently abroad to access a ATM-like kiosk that asks all the same questions as the customs forms that the flight attendants hand out during the flight. The pre-screening involves an extensive background search along with submission of finger printing. SO, when the flight gets off, I bypass the long line at Immigration and head straight over to the kiosks. There is never a wait and I breeze right through the process.

Although I usually check my luggage in, this time I chose to upgrade to the first row of economy, which has extra leg room and allows for boarding on group 5 on United instead of general boarding in groups 6 or 7 where space in the overhead compartments starts to get scarce. So, I was able to get on with the bag and was one of the first to get off since there weren’t many first class passengers on my flight. The Global Entry Program also lets you breeze right through Customs, so I got waved by as usual.

Although I didn’t take the camera on Friday night cause I knew we were sitting waaaay to far from the game to make my little 300mm zoom Tokina worthwhile, I did take it with me on Saturday when we were in Club Level in my company’s seats. But, as you can probably gather from my post title tonight, I wasn’t too pleased with the results. I always end up talking myself into bringing the camera along when we sit there, and almost always end up disappointed. So, I am solemnly promising myself that I won’t do that to myself again. That is, until I do it to myself again… Argh!!!!

The problem is that I am asking the lens to do too much. Not only am I asking for it to zoom to its limit, but then I am also asking for it to focus spot onto an object pretty far away and expect it to be as tack sharp as if the object was ten feet in front of me. So, most of my pictures came out soft on the slightly out of focus attempt for my lens to please me. I tried manual focusing a few times during the game, and those came out even worse. Everything looks so small in the viewfinder, I’m almost better off letting the lens take a stab at it.

So, what would work from the 222 Club Section that I was sitting in? Well, about 500-600mm should do just fine. But, since that would put me into some serious glass in the L series lens for Canon lenses, I would be limited to perhaps a 400mm f/5.6 L with a 1.4X extender or a 500mm f/8 mirror reflex manual focus lens. Neither option would be suitable for a nighttime game with poor lighting, hence, my title reminding myself that I should leave the camera at home.

I did try to make the best of it and try different composition methods in an effort to get something useful. One thing that I discovered is that when shooting baseball, I always find myself with the camera in the portrait position instead of the landscape position. Why is that? Well, since most players are standing upright while playing whatever position they are currently at, the portrait position lends to capture the full body doing whatever it is doing. I suppose of the player was sliding into a base, that would be a perfect opportunity to use the landscape position, but short of that, I hardly find myself wanting that compositional point of view. So, I decided to shoot mostly landscape to see what I would come up with.

The shots of the pitchers were lackluster, to say the least. Where I did find that I rather liked the landscape framing was when shooting batters. I am usually so focused on shooting the batter of my choosing, that I forget that right behind them the opposing team’s catcher is playing his position along with the home plate umpire that is calling the game. I found that photographing this way, I could fill the frame with not only the batter, but with the catcher and umpire as well. There are plenty of dynamic photo opportunities with passed balls, wild pitches, called strikes and swings and tips off the baseball bat.

Did I capture plenty of samples to share with you? Yuuup!!! Did most of them SUCK ASS cause they were out of focus??? Yuuuup, again!!! So, I leave with you with the two that I didn’t absolutely hate.

Did I mention that I won’t be taking my camera to anything but day games when I sit in the front rows of the Field Level? Good night, everyone…

Architecture Tour Along The Chicago Riverfront is A MUST DO!!!

Ok, folks, I’ve been promising it for a few days now, so I finally did it. I went through the almost 400 images I shot while on the architecture tour along the Chicago riverfront and picked the best of the best to share with you. There were so many great shots, but after a while of looking at shot after shot of buildings, it was getting quite difficult to pick and choose. I think the ones I have are good, but by no means should you assume that this is the only thing you see on the ride. So, before I go into the shots themselves, let me tell you a little about the tour.

The architecture tour along the Chicago rivers is given by about three or four different tour companies that have all set up shop at Chicago’s Navy Pier. There’s a Navy Pier in every major town. In Miami it’s called Bayside. Here in San Francisco it’s called Pier 39. In Baltimore, it was the Inner Harbor. It’s a tourist trap place with plenty to ooh and ahh yourself with while making a great ploy for your to shell out a bunch of money. But, I will give Navy Pier it’s props simply because it houses the companies that give the architecture tour.

Not all of the companies follow the same route, and I couldn’t even tell you the name of the one that I took, but you want to ask for the one that goes all the way down to the Montgomery Ward building. If you ask the question and the attendant eager to take your money doesn’t know if they do, you probably aren’t at the right one.  Because the tour takes place along the river, go away from the boardwalk along Navy Pier and walk towards a the Bob Newhart sculpture. Once there, you’ll see a little kiosk right along the river, that’s the one you want.

I have taken a fair number of water and land tours. There have been the really lame (like the duck tour in just about every city I’ve taken it) and there have been the really awesome ones. This tour was the 2nd best tour I have EVER been on!!! I am not exaggerating on this one. Which one was the best, you ask? The nighttime graveyard tour in Boston takes the cake by a mile. That’s a bus driven tour guide through Boston’s oldest and most famous graveyards along with a few stops of the grim and gruesome that has happened during that town’s history. All this, while being entertained by the tour guides, who are in ghoulish disguise and playing the part of deceased Bostonians recanting tales from their time. That was BADASS!!

Back to the Architecture Tour….

There are several rivers in the Chicago area that come to all meet in the heart of the city. The tour takes place through all three rivers and takes up all of about an hour and a half. It’s a flat ferry style craft with plenty of wooden park benches to give each and every seat the same great view. The tour was given by a very knowledgeable and excited tour guide. He must have talked the whole hour and a half, and at times, almost sounded like an auctioneer with how fast he was going. I caught everything he was saying, so don’t worry about not being able to follow along. If English isn’t your first language, I would say that you would probably catch less than half of what was being said, but you would still get the beautiful vistas all the same. So, don’t fret.

Aside from being a comfortable experience, the boat was equipped with bathrooms and a full service bar in the back. They did have some snacks as well, but I wouldn’t expect them to have much more than candy bars and potato chips. My suggestion would be to eat before or after the tour. Unless you’re like my father-in-law, who thought at one time that a square meal consisted of ice cream and a Pepsi, you wouldn’t be able to get any better on board the vessel. Navy Pier has plenty of eateries to temp your cravings for that day…

The vessel has room for about 150, I would say. There was maybe 50 people on board, so I had room to spread out. Being that I brought with me the Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 that I had rented from Borrowlenses.com, I also decided to take out my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 and set it alongside me just in case I wanted to change lenses at a moment’s notice. It turned out to be not that bad, since I quickly figured out that we’d be seeing the same views coming back. So, I left the Tamron on the camera until we got to the turning point, then switched over to the Tokina for a different viewpoint for the remainder of the ride.

The tour guide not only gives you the history on how Chicago was settled, but all the marvels and feats that were accomplished in order to keep from polluting Lake Michigan at the expense of St. Louis. My particular tour guide was very well versed with the great Chicago architects and the visions they had for each of their buildings that we saw during the tour. Ever major building in the Chicago skyline touches the river front, except for my favorite John Hancock. Knowing this, I scheduled a separate trip to see the Hancock building for the next day, which I shared with you last week.

Please be sure to tip your tour guide if you feel that they did a great job. You don’t want to be on the tour right after the stingy folks got off and the tour guide is pissy…

The William Bourn Estate at Filoli Gardens in Woodside

Hello, everyone. I’m back from a two night escapade!! I got caught up working on a few things in the garage the night before last, but unfortunately, I can only say for last night is that I was tired and headed off to bed instead of typing out a new posting. I love sharing posts with you guys, but sometimes you just need some sleep. I had all intentions to post something new, since I worked up all the images that I wanted to share with you. But instead of just dropping the photos without really writing about them, I decided to sleep on it and post them today.

I know I said that I would post some of the images taken on the architecture tour in Chicago, but there are just too damn many photos. I probably took as many photos on that boat tour as I do when I go to a Giants game with the camera. So, I am hoping to have some time this weekend to go through them and post the last of my images from my Chicago trip. Stay tuned!!

Today’s posting takes us back to Filoli Gardens in Woodside, CA. I shared with you some macro images that I took of some honeybees that I found doing their thing. I do plan on sharing many images from each one of the gardens, but I think I will start with the residence on the property that was built by William Bourn just after moving away from San Francisco after the great earthquake of 1906. Many well-to-do that lost their homes after the earthquake or fire that consumed the rest of the city afterwards packed up what they had left and moved south into the Peninsula. Thanks to this decision, we have today many beautiful mansions from that period ranging anywhere from Burlingame south through San Jose.

When William Bourn moved south, he set his eyes on Woodside and purchased nearly 700 acres on which to build his estate. The Bourn’s lived the property until their passing in the 1930’s. The property was purchased by the Roth family, who owned it until the mid-1970’s. It was at their passing that the property was donated and is now in the stewardship of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

My favorite part of the entire visit was the Bourn Estate. Although we are only allowed to view the lower level of the estate, which is about 15 rooms, the entire main structure has 43 rooms. Although I am certain that the estate was decorated in a more modern style when the property was donated, the decor has been restored to its original state under the Bourns.

All of the flower arrangements on display through the home have been put together with the estate’s own gardens. The everyday homey touches have been left undisturbed so as to give the impression that the family may return home at any moment now. Although there are quite a few roped off room and the furniture is set up so as not to entice a comfortable sit down with your party, the estate does not give off a museum vibe, even though it is. Many of the objects on display in the home are probably one of a kinds or priceless, but they are under the careful supervision of many volunteers that keep the place running.

I toured the estate mainly with the Canon 24-105mm IS f/4.0 L lens, although there are a few images taken with my Tokina 100-300mm. The Image Stabilization on the lens was very helpful in photographing a number of rooms, as the lighting was rather poor. The rooms with the warm wood paneling, although extremely beautiful, do not lend a hand to refract outside light around the room for better viewing. Obviously, to the human eye, there was enough light. But to a camera, the lighting sucked; therefore, the IS was able to give (or forgive) a little due to my handheld movements.

My favorite room by far was the library. Everything from the wood paneling to the choice of the books on display left me in awe. That’s what I want my library to look like as soon as this blog goes viral worldwide. People will more than likely start throwing money my way, so I’ll have to purchase a huge mansion of my own with a library. Obviously, I’d have to replicate this fabulous library, while still adding my own touches of badass-ery!! Hey, if I’m gonna dream, why not dream big, right???

When I was walking the rooms with my camera in my hand, I was always being critical towards what the purpose of the image would be. Sure, its real simple to walk in and snap away, but that just ends you up with a series of images that are dull and lack interest since it’s just a room. In all of these images I made sure to find an object that I was in love with before composing the image.

For example, the first image of the porch light was taken just before walking into the home. I took about four images, all of different angles. Why? Well, cause my camera only has a 2.5 inch display on the back which doesn’t always help in viewing the image just shot correctly. So, I hope for the best and cross my fingers as I download the images. So, why did I choose this one? I am a sucker for shallow depth of field. In non-camera geek terms, this means that I am telling the camera that I want a small focal point and have the image blurred in front and behind the focus point that I have chosen. Because the focal point of the image is the underside of the fixture and the point is towards the bottom half of the image, there is not much to be out of focus underneath it. But, if you notice the upper half of the image, the fixture becomes more and more out of focus as it goes up. The architectural touches to the underside of the porch are even more out of focus since it’s further away than the light fixture.

I do this again on the image with the red rose vase and the horse statue in the back. I actually took this image with the focal point being the vase and again with the focal point being the horse statue. Why did I choose the vase? Simple. Our brains work in a way that we view images in a certain pattern even though we may not be conscious of doing so. All landscape images are viewed left to right and all portrait images are viewed top to bottom.

We read left to right, so as your eye goes over the image, you first notice the roses being in focus and later scan to the right to notice the horse statue out of focus. At the moment I took the images, I automatically assumed that I would prefer the horse statue being in focus, but I was wrong. Once I got home and looked at the two, I could feel that the horse being in focus threw the image off. If I had shot this image with a wider depth of field so that both the vase and the horse were in focus, this rule would still hold true. The only difference would be that your eyes would just settle on the object that YOU found more interesting. If you were a horse lover, it might have been the horse. If you were a flower lover, you might look at the roses.

Anyway, that’s my take on it. I loved the experience, and I will be returning to Filoli soon enough. Enjoy!!!

Messing Around At The Sand Dunes By Mussel Rock in Pacifica

This weekend was jam-packed with all sorts of photographic adventures up and down the San Mateo Peninsula in efforts to avoid the city and all its festivities going on that I’m sure made traffic horrible. After the adventure of Point Montara Lighthouse on Friday, I wasn’t about to just let the weekend roll on by, oh no siree!! Saturday was an early rise day in order to make it to Filoli Gardens in Woodside, CA close enough to opening time at 10AM to make sure we were able to enjoy everything. We did make it by 10:30AM and didn’t leave until about 2:30PM. I’ll be sharing that adventure with everyone shortly, cause I fell in LOVE with that place. I will be back and with a more focused vision as to what I would want to photograph. It turns out that Filoli Gardens has a family year pass for around $65 that sounds like the way to go. Whether it’s just me and the camera, or the whole gang, it sounds like a great deal and pays for itself by the second visit!!

Today was another early rise day. I would have wanted to shoot up to Marin to visit Point Bonita Lighthouse, but I rethought that after remembering the Pride Parade that would be happening in the City. Even though the Bridge is far enough away from where the Parade would be happening down Market Street, I didn’t want to find myself in severe traffic trying to make it to Marin. The good news is that Point Bonita will be there next weekend, so I decided to shoot for something else. But, staying with the lighthouse theme, I decided to hit up Point Pigeon Lighthouse just south of Pescadero, CA.

Pescadero is beautiful coastal country about 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay. If you live in the Bay Area and have never driven down Hwy 1 to Half Moon Bay or Pescadero, YOU MUST DO IT NEXT WEEKEND!! Well, you don’t have to do it next weekend, but put it on your soon-to-do bucket list. Hwy 1 hugs the coastline almost the entire way down, so be sure to drive with the sun up to take in all that beauty. I loved Point Pigeon and will also be returning sometime soon. It is run by the same non-profit organization that runs Point Montara, so it also has a hostel with similar amenities.

So, with this packed weekend of photographic adventures, why would I want to share some images that I took earlier tonight before dinner while my son and I took a leisurely stroll over to the sand dunes a few blocks from my in-laws? Great question, folks!! I’m bumping the many photos that I took at Filoli and Point Pigeon first and foremost, because there are MANY and I didn’t want to sit here looking through them all only to have to work them up through Photoshop in order to share them. I did a LOT of walking, and my fat ass can’t take all that abuse. From all the squatting and walking, both my hips and legs are killing me. So, I want to make this a quicky…

But, just so that you don’t all think that I’m just a lazy sack of shit, I do have a valid point that did come in play with the decision-making process to share these images with you tonight. As I may have mentioned before, I’m a photographer on a budget. This means that I don’t have a LOT of equipment, cause frankly, folks, I’m not getting paid for this shit just yet!! So, it’s just me and my Canon 1D and Tokina 100-300mm setup. Obviously, I can’t photograph everything with that focal range that my AWESOME Tokina offer, so I have to explore other options.

My favorite option for all of my weekend adventures is the camera equipment rentals houses. They provide access to name brand lenses that I couldn’t hope to afford for a very long time at reasonable prices. Adolph Gasser in San Francisco is my favorite due to their convenient location on my way home from work in Oakland and their 40% off discount on any non-reserved equipment that may be sitting on their shelves. For the longer sessions, such as my week-long trips to New York or Chicago, I use Borrownlenses.com down in San Carlos. Occasionally, Borrowlenses.com doesn’t have what I really want (usually cause I waited until the last-minute and someone else reserved what I wanted) and then I use LensRentals.com out of Tennessee. They are huge!! The down side is the added shipping cost that usually kills you with the UPS 2 day express charges.

But, I’m not going to rent forever, right? So what other options are there for a cost conscious photographer using a modern-day digital camera? God, you are on a roll with the questions today!! Well, there is a PLETHORA of manual focus lenses getting thrown out every day, my friend. With a little homework online to figure out which ones are the better ones and can work with your camera setup using a suitable adapter, you too can have access to many lenses that are DAMN good for next to nothing compared to today’s fancy lenses.

Is there compromise? Of course!! First, you have to manually focus. We have gotten accustomed to all the hype that the big name camera manufacturers have given us with the auto focus over the last 40 years that we forget that our parents had to manually focus their cameras while having to buy rolls of film to get developed only to find that they had messed up the shot. Today’s world of instant gratification has us a little spoiled with auto-focus lenses. Not only this, but most DSLR cameras tend to lock up if they don’t receive a signal from the lens installed. Of course, setting the camera in full manual mode fixes this real quick. So, now in full manual, the photographer is responsible for setting not only the ISO speed, but the shutter speed and aperture setting as well. Certain cameras will allow you to use a manual focus lens in AV or Aperture Priority Mode. This is the mode that lets you decide which aperture you want while letting the camera’s computer brain determine the other settings based on the information being received by the internal light meter and sensor readings. But, I don’t want to turn this into a hands-on lesson on how to work your camera with a manual focus lens.

Where I’m going with all this is that I picked up a Tokina 80-200mm f/4.0 II lens in M42 (Pentax thread) not too long ago at the Alameda Antique Fair and hadn’t gotten a chance to test it out properly. Well, I had plenty of instances, but it was just another paperweight sitting over by my desk until today. I dusted it off and took it with me knowing that we’d be heading over to the dunes later. And I was sooooo impressed by what I came home with, that I HAD to share these with you tonight.

Now, I had a little trouble with the settings myself at first. It took me at least half a dozen shots to figure out that I wasn’t looking closely enough at my internal light meter to tell that I was over exposing all the images. So, I adjusted my shutter speed to compensate, and BINGO!! For such a light weight lens that is very unassuming, this lens is scary sharp!! Just look at some of these images!! It was very contrasty and the colors were very rich! The only post processing I performed on Photoshop was slapping through the auto functions (which I do for all my images prior to determining if I want to go back and tweak a few things) and adding my watermark. That’s it!! I did notice that on the shots of the water, probably since I was standing to high up, my light meter was misreading the light coming in and they were under exposed. The auto exposure feature took care of that, and I was very pleased with how they turned out.

Did I have to stand for a few extra seconds establishing perfect focus when compared to the auto focus lenses? Sure, but this is a lens that cost be all of $20!! Compared to the equivalent Canon L series lens of a 70-200 f/4.0 L, I would have paid almost $800. For a savings of almost $780, I’ll not only stand there a few extra seconds, but I’ll even consider doing flips while trying to take the picture as well. Is the image quality comparable? Nah, I’m sure the Canon lens would kick this lenses ass, but I’m looking at the dollars signs right now, folks.

This was the first time I had gone over to the sand dunes on Palmetto Ave near Mussel Rock. My in-laws live not even four blocks from there and have driven it thousands of times over the last 12 years. I’m glad I took the time. It was a beautiful vista of some of Pacifica’s cliff side coast in the Pacific Manor area.

In one of the images, my son had written the word “too” on the sand with his finger. I was so impressed with the detail in the sand that was captured by the lens, that I had to include it. There is another shot of one of the sand formations I walked around. I found it funny cause the sunset light had cast a shadow to the right and towards the bottom it appears light the profile of a man’s face. A man with a HUGE nose, that is!! There was also a telephone pole that had so many nails in it, the texture intrigued me. There is even one image of a parked car that at 200mm, the license plate numbers were sooo crisp, that I decided to erase the plate number in Photoshop for the owners sake. If you notice closely, there is a row or two of homes behind it along with a steep cliff that jets up with other homes on top. That steep cliff that you see is actually the different tectonic plates of the North American and Pacific that rub up against each other. I SHIT YOU NOT!!!

Did you also know that the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was actually centered at Mussel Rock where Pacifica and Daly City meet up??? Ah, now you know!!!

I hope you enjoy the images. If I need to go into greater detail on the use of manual focus lenses, I’d be glad to on another occasion. For the time being, I give this little Tokina lens a HUGE two thumbs up for being a great value and being super sharp. It is a push-pull design that I’ll have to get used to, but for such a bargain, I’m all over it!! Have a great night, everyone.

Point Montara Lighthouse on a Foggy Day

Today’s photographic adventure takes us to Montara, CA, a small coastal town along CA HWY 1 just south of Pacifica. If driving from the City, once at the south end of Pacifica, you cut through some unincorporated portion of San Mateo County and cut through Devil’s Pass to get to the first town on the other side, which is Montara. As if the cliff side drive along HWY 1 wasn’t enough to make you fall in love with the area, you open up to this lush patch of land hugging the searing cliffs straight into the Pacific Ocean. If you live in the Bay Area, this is a MUST drive. Don’t slow down too much, cause the locals just want to breeze on by to where they are going, but if you maintain yourself somewhere around 50 mph, you’ll get to take in the sights while not pissing anyone off.

Point Montara Lighthouse Hostel is just off the highway on the south end of Montara, but it takes all of 3 minutes to drive through Montara before hitting Moss Beach. There is a small sign the reads “HOSTEL” that is your only clue that the entrance is coming up, before you pass it and notice that you just saw the sign to the entrance. No worries, folks, that’s why U-turns were invented…

This was my first visit to Point Montara Lighthouse, although I’ve been seeing it and driving past it on the way to one of our favorite seafood spots in one of the neighboring towns for the last 11 years. Since I had the afternoon off, I figured 11 years was long enough, so off I went to meet the lighthouse. Since it does operate as a hostel today, I made sure to call ahead to see what the rules and regulations would be for my visit. The good news is that if you are not a registered guest, you have full access to the grounds and lighthouse from sunup to sundown. They do ask that you come in to sign in at the office, especially since every visitor counts towards keeping the grounds open to all visitors and probably securing government funding. You are discouraged from pointing your lens towards any one of the hostel windows to not make any guest uncomfortable, but that’s just common sense. The bad news is that to be able to hang around and see the lighthouse lit after sundown, you have to be a registered guest. Bummer…

The lighthouse has stood its ground since 1928 after a good number of ships had met their fate at the jagged edges of the cliffs below. But, the lighthouses history is much richer than that, with it being the only lighthouse in the US to stand guard at both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. It turns out that the lighthouse was built in 1881 to stand watch in Cape Cod, MA. After being decommissioned in 1922, it made the trek over to the west coast to await re-commissioning in 1928 after getting installed at its current location. The lighthouse was manned through 1970, when due to automation, it was abandoned. Due to the harsh weather conditions and vandalism, the lighthouse was in a sad state of disrepair. Luckily, through partnerships including that of the Coast Guard, the grounds were converted to the hostel that is now operated and sees thousands of patrons come through their doors annually. Although a visit to the lighthouse is free of charge to non-registered guests, donations are always accepted.

The interior part of the lighthouse is not open for visitor traffic, but is situated so that it allows for you to walk right up to all faces of it. Just a few steps from the lighthouse, the hostel has a viewing area with sturdy benches that give you a front row seat to some of the best views in all of California. With its jagged coastline almost 40 to 50 feet below you, the roar and crash of the waves sound delicious!! Right off the viewing area, there is a dirt path that cuts through the greenery all the way down to a beach alcove that is straight out of a travel magazine article telling you of the best kept secrets along the Pacific Coast. No joke, folks, this place is badass!!

When I first arrived, the day was pretty fogged in. Then, just like that, the sun decided to come out with a vengeance!! A little while later, it decided it had enough and went back to sleep. In comes the fog again…

Yes, the area does see quite a bit of heavy fog, but that was the reason behind them putting the lighthouse there, dummy. So, be sure to dress accordingly and in layers whether you are planning to stay there or just visiting for a while. Upon arrival on my brief visit, the weather called for a sweatshirt. When the sun came out, the sweatshirt was unbearable. Once the fog came back, the sweatshirt did too!!

I used both my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.o lens and a rented Canon 24-105mm IS f/4.0 L series lens that I picked up from Adolph Gasser’s for the weekend. The Tokina gave me a little more reach for the up close or tele-zoom photos seem below. All the other wide-angle images came courtesy of the 24-105mm. I’m sure I’ll talk more about the lens in a future posting, as I’ll let the lighthouse have exclusive rights to this posting. That’s how much I enjoyed it!!!

Please feel free to check out the hostel’s website at the following link:

http://norcalhostels.org/montara/

The hostel has rooms as low as $25 a night, but also features private rooms for $79 a night for up to 2 people. Please keep in mind that this is a hostel, so it tends to cater to a lot of young people traveling on a budget. I’m sure they have policy to ensure that there’s a quiet time for all, but if hanging out with a bunch of young people isn’t your cup of tea, you might want to just swing by for a visit before you commit to a night’s stay. Also, keep in mind that with a hostel, there is no such thing as a private bath, even in the private rooms.

I’d love to see and photograph the lighthouse at night, so I’d be tempted to sign up and pay for a night even though I wouldn’t plan on staying. If I was further away, I’d definitely stay the night. I’ve shared plenty of bathrooms in my life to get all caught up on that as the only negative point with so many other positives that completely outweigh that negative.

I hope you enjoy the images and have a good night!!

 

Watching the White Sox vs Blue Jays From Badass Seats at U.S. Cellular Park 6/6/12

While out in Chicago, I suggested to a customer that I would have to be meeting with anyway, that we have our meeting during a baseball game. With him being a Cubs fan, we obviously tried to set something up at Wrigley. Unfortunately, the Cubbies were away all week-long, but luckily the White Sox were in town and would be playing the Toronto Blue Jays. Since neither of us are vested in either team, there would be no heartfelt rooting and we would actually be able to talk shop from time to time. This buddy of mine, and I do mean that and don’t consider all our customers friends, came through in a huge way when it came to the seats we had.

I can’t remember the actual section or row number, but we were in prime foul territory on the field level where you wouldn’t want to take your eye off the game for fear of losing your head. I was six rows up from the visiting dugout and have never been this close to home plate at ANY stadium. With my Tokina, I felt like I was down on the field, I was so close to the action.

It was a given that I’d bring the camera, and my buddy knew that. Although I did photograph a bit of the game, I wasn’t about to be an asshole and ignore him completely. So, I didn’t come back with as many pictures as I would have had it been a game I attended alone. Not to fret, everyone, I think I still managed to snap off a few good frames while still holding court with my buddy and his boss that came along.

The only person of interest on my part was playing for the Blue Jays. The San Francisco Giants had Rajai Davis on our team about three years ago. He was a good hitter with demon-like speed, but for one reason or another, we let him go. He ended up going across the bay to the Oakland A’s for a season or two before my losing track of him. Now I know where he went, eh!!

The game was played well, and the Blue Jays would leave victorious. The one story I will share briefly was of the fan that almost lost his head with a foul ball two sections over from us. He must have timed his decision to get up for a refreshment just right cause as the ball flew off the batter’s bat and went straight for his head, it only managed to ricochet off the top of his head. It was unbelievable how fast it got there and how much deflection was actually seen from his head on. The funny part of the story was that all he heard was the whizzing by his head and was touching the top of his head and looking straight up as if a bird had just shit on his head!!! I shit you not!!

He stood there for a few seconds wiping the top of his head and looking for the shit stain on his palm and looking up at the sky while everyone around him in the stadium was checking on him to make sure he was ok. He was totally clueless to the foul ball that almost landed him in the hospital…

He went up to the concession aisle and came back double fisting some beers.

The Championship Game That Wouldn’t Be Had and The Kickass Cookout/Potluck That Did

The two topics that I won’t discuss here on my blog are religion and politics. There’s plenty of other venues for that kind of stuff, and I just can’t find a place for it in a photo blog. But, with that said, I’m sure we can all agree that there wouldn’t be politics without drama and bullshit surrounding it. If not, there would be a whole lot of paparazzi type photographers that follow the hot politicians around left without a job. PNLL is no exception. The championship game that was scheduled to take place today did not happen. However, the awesome cookout and potluck that was scheduled for after the game did.

Whereas I thought that I would just share a couple of my favorite pics from the cookout without any clear direction other than to share them, it occurred to me to share a few pointers that I employ to get the candid and up close shots that I love to come home with, in case there are others that are interested out there. I came packing with my Canon 1D Mark II N and my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 lens, but don’t for one second think that if you don’t have a fancyass setup like mine, you couldn’t possibly take these same images. The best news is that you can!!

Whether you have a all-in-one ultra zoom camera like the 30X to 35X zoom cameras that Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony and a couple of others have on the market now, or you have an interchangeable lens system with a DSLR, there a just a few things that you have to keep in mind when taking these images.

1. Be sure to give your subject some distance. Most subjects, whether they like to be photographed or not, are aware if you are standing close to them when the camera is pointed at them. The best advice I can give you is to get comfortable with the long end of the zoom and get as far away from your subject as possible to avoid detection. You can get some great candid shots when they don’t expect to be photographed, as I have done below.

2. Place your camera in the burst mode setting, if available. Candid shots happen once and that’s all folks. How do you capture them? Well, if your camera has a burst mode function that shoots a series of photos in a short duration of time, setting the camera to that function will allow you to capture the precise moment you are looking for. Some of the ultra-zooms have a burst function that will give you up to 10 fps for 10 images prior to having to buffer and delay taking additional photos. Just be aware of what the limitations are in your particular camera model in regard to the burst mode so that you don’t end up with a bunch of images just before the ones you really wanted to take. Buffering is bad!!! If you don’t have that function on your camera, be ready to shoot as many photos as your camera setup will allow.

3. Don’t be afraid to get in close with your zoom.  Although body shots are great, sometimes you get more of a portrait look if you zoom in on the subject’s torso or head. You don’t want to get in too close that it’s creepy, but you’ll have to play with this in order to gain comfort in how to employ this. In these particular shots, I shot all over the place, from 100mm to about 250mm. At all times, I was almost ten to twenty feet away from my subject.

4. If shooting a group of people, don’t focus on one subject too long. If you are photographing a group of kids (as I was in this example), I always try to keep in mind not to focus too much attention on one kid in particular, even if it’s your own. Kids are funny when they interact with each other and are constantly saying things to make each other laugh. Groups of kids messing around with each other will always yield great photos of them having a great time.

5. People laughing or smiling make great images. Although there is a time and place for serious portraits, family gatherings aren’t one of them. It’s actually a pretty creepy to see family gathering photos with a lot of serious people. So, try to point the camera at the folks having great conversation and laughing it up. If everyone had a great time, you’ll look back at the images years down the road and remember the great time that was had.

6. Speeches or presentations make for great shots as well. Don’t forget to include your host or hosts in the photo session, especially if there is some type of recognition being given. A trophy, diploma or simply a pat in the back can be a great memento to record for both the person giving the praise and the person receiving it. Everyone loves a pat on the back!!

7. When photographing outdoors, always be aware of the location of the sun. Any camera when shooting directly into sunlight will give you an image full of contrast that is sometimes difficult to work with, if visible at all. Some fancier lenses employ hoods of various lengths to combat the additional glare that can be cause by any light source from the side or back. However, no lens hood can help if you are pointing the lens in the direction of that light source. I decided to include one image of said rule below simply because I liked the effect it gave. I did add a little saturation to bring out the yellow in the sunlight during dusk, but I liked the image. So, my advice on this point is not to never point the lens towards the light source, but to be aware of where the light source is coming from.

8. Always be moving!! Staying in one particular spot to photograph a whole session like a freaking sniper is weird. All of your images will come back with the same vantage point and will not add variety. If you are at an event that prevents you from moving around, that’s one thing. But a family gathering or cookout gives ample space to wander around, so use it.

9. Never shy away from a willing participant. Every so often, you’ll come across a subject that is completely open to having their picture taken, so take it!! Sometimes you can coax a smile out of them. Sometimes they give you a funny pose to work with. Don’t pass up the opportunity.

10. When you have a subject that is camera-shy, you can sometimes get great candid shots as they run. The great part about subjects that are camera-shy, is that the majority of them will shy away or run laughing to avoid being photographed. It’s during these moments that great candid shots can be had, so be ready.

That’s about it for now, but I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other things. I’ll be sure to come back to this posting and update the information as I remember other pointers to pass along.

To all my fellow PNLL Rockies players, coaches and family members, we had a heck of a season. This was a great team and we had a ton of fun!! Thanks for everything!!