Orange Juice, ETC

The blog of Elias & Theresa Carlson

Tag: Elias Carlson

Impromptu Portrait Session

Sometimes inspiration strikes and you’ve just got to go for it. While taking an afternoon break from work I came across the incredible photography portfolio of Ramon Haindl and was intrigued by one of his portraits.

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I was struck by the simplicity of the lighting in this particular portrait which uses a sheer curtain as a backdrop, and a handheld LED panel for a fill light. The curtain acts as a giant softbox and provides beautiful wraparound rim light on the subject. It seemed like a fun style to emulate, since Theresa and I have a large sheer curtain hanging in the main window of our apartment. So we grabbed Theresa’s black sequin jacket and a LED camping headlamp and started playing around.

I couldn’t achieve the same fill effect with my tiny lamp, in part because the bright afternoon sun was simply to strong to overcome the minimal output of my headlamp, but it did serve to add a bit of sparkle to the jacket, and gently highlight a few strands of hair. After I’d satisfied my curiosity with the first setup we started to play around with the curtain. It’s amazing what a difference you can achieve with a few adjustments in position and exposure settings.

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A Redwood Wedding: Gabe & Bri Cortez

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As you may recall, weddings aren’t typically my thing. If I’m gonna break a sweat shooting a camera I’d rather it be the result of elevation gain and not a button-up & tie. I’ve learned to love them, but they’re a lot of work. And as the photographer you kind of miss all the fun stuff because you’re so busy trying to get the next shot.

But under the right circumstances I’m game. This time around my brother Joseph sweet-talked me into helping him out after he committed to act as photographer for his pal Gabe Cortez. Having never shot a wedding before, Joseph quickly realized he was in over his head and called for backup (that’s me). It wasn’t a hard sell. Gabe and his then-fiancé Brianna had reserved a spot at Stones & Flowers, a little retreat nestled beneath towering Redwoods near Santa Cruz, California. They also wanted us to shoot the entire wedding on film! Since I much prefer shooting film to digital, the opportunity was too tempting to pass up. As an added bonus Joseph and I would be driving up the California coast with our friend Ryan Tuck – who you may remember from Rivers & Roads – and the three of us had already conspired to sneak in a little fly-fishing on the way back should time allow.

I’d met Gabe briefly earlier in the year when he manned the studio drums for Joseph’s in-progress EP. He’s a dapper guy, with an excellent beard, bright eyes, and a quick intelligent way about him. I get the impression he’s “the cool one” in whatever crowd he finds himself, but not in an aloof, douchey way. It’s the result of his confident, direct manner more than any conscious effort. Cliche as it may sound he’s one of those guys that just seems to effortlessly exude cool. Maybe it’s just the beard, I dunno.

Prior to the wedding I’d never met Bri, but it didn’t take her more than a couple seconds to win me over. She’s adorable, kind, and sweet in the most genuine sense. She’s clearly a match for Gabe in the cool department, in fact as a graphic designer in San Francisco she may well have the market cornered; I’m pretty sure that’s the definition of cool these days. However, what I appreciated most about Bri was her ability to focus completely on whoever she was with in a given moment. Several time throughout the weekend she would stop to chat with Joseph and I and each time I was struck at how personable and thoughtful she was. Even on her wedding day it never seemed to be about her.

Needless to say it was a delight to spend time with Gabe and Bri over the weekend, and a joy to shoot their wedding. The location was incredible, the people were beautiful, and it was a complete honor to witness the outpouring of love and support from the community of people who gathered to celebrate them.

Shooting the entire wedding on film proved to be a delightful challenge. I’ve always enjoyed how film forces you to slow down, and while it didn’t make covering the wedding any less hectic, it certainly made the results more rewarding. As for Joseph? Well, he did great, and came away with a new appreciation for all the works that goes into covering a wedding. He even had enough energy left to dance the night away.

I’m pleased to be able to share a few of my favorite photos with you here. Many thanks to Gabe and Bri for welcoming me so warmly on this special day.

NOTE: All Black & White photos + opening shot by Joseph Carlson.

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Tyson Motsenbocker: Letters to Lost Loves

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Photo: Jaimie Motsenbocker

Tyson Motsenbocker – actual person – has long existed in my mind as something of a myth, a legend, a fantastical creature. I first heard his name back when Joseph was at college in Spokane. Tyson had gathered a ragtag bunch of chain smokers, Joseph among them, and started a little band called Keep Pennsylvania Beautiful. Their songs were often good, if a little uneven, and beneath the occasionally raw production you could hear the talent, both musically and lyrically.

I say Tyson existed as a myth because for many years I’d only heard tales of his songwriting prowess (and volume) from Joseph, yet I’d never actually met him, though I’d seen a few KPB shows here and there. Fast forward to the present day. Joseph and Tyson both moved to California. Tyson to San Diego, and Joseph to Pasadena. As you know by now, Theresa and I recently followed her sister, Joseph, and our hearts to Long Beach. And I finally got to meet Tyson.

As it turns out he’s pretty awesome. Not that I doubted it. But it’s always a wonderful thing to meet a person you just click with. He’s creative, a bit introverted, eloquent, and has fine taste in motorcycles among other things. I know someone else a lot like that, although perhaps less eloquent… (it’s me in case you were wondering). We’ve become fast friends, and it’s been wonderful to get to know the man behind the legend in real life.

Since his KPB days I’ve been fortunate enough to listen to Tyson’s musical evolution, usually via top secret rough-cut MP3s that Joseph would email me on the sly, under oath to share them with no one. Over the years the raw talent on display in college has come into full bloom. Gone is the unevenness of the young musician. In its place is polish and depth. His best songs are capable of, as Joseph would put it, “shutting you up, sitting you down, and making you feel stuff.”

Cutting to the chase… As you know I was honored to help Tyson produce a few videos for his ongoing Kickstarter project. They are all live now (see below) and there are 8 days left in his campaign. He’s tantalizingly close to his goal of $10,000. I think you know where I’m going with this. If you haven’t already, watch the videos. And if any of them move you, as I’m sure they will, please consider donating a bit to make this project a reality.

You can contribute here: Letters to Lost Loves LP

Tyson Motsenbocker : Always from Japhy Rider on Vimeo.

Tyson Motsenbocker : You Didn’t Wait for Me from Japhy Rider on Vimeo.

Letters to Lost Loves // LP and Short Stories Kickstarter from Japhy Rider on Vimeo.

California So Far

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We have now lived in California for a little over three months. I think it is safe to say that we love it here!

So far: It has rained about four times – We have felt one earthquake – We have gone camping in Joshua tree (post coming up, when we get photos back from the lab!) – We have taken up skateboarding – We live in shorts and tank tops – We are tan, and its only May – We have a favorite taco stand, and we eat there at least once a week – We have friends that we can call up to hang out – We have seen five whales and numerous dolphins – We have developed a particular fondness for Bougainvillea and Jacaranda – The temperature has reached 100 degrees – We have gone to the beach most afternoons.

These photos are all the product of Elias’ various film cameras, no digital. He is so good at grabbing his camera whenever we go out, something I would often rather save for particularly epic adventures. I am so grateful that we have these snapshots of every-day life. I would recommend that you check out his personal tumblr where he shares big, beautiful photos on a regular basis. All photography is his own, minus one or two that I have taken of him.

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Upland Bird Hunting in Eastern Washington for Filson

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A few weeks ago Seattle based clothing company Filson commissioned me to do an editorial photo essay on upland bird hunting. Filson is pretty high on my list of favorite brands. They make the kind of clothing that lasts a lifetime. And that’s not hyperbole. To say I was thrilled would be an understatement.

I accompanied my brother-in-law Josh and his dad Tom, who are avid bird hunters for a day in the field. I’ve shared a few of my favorite photos here, but I’d recommend checking out the full post on the Filson Life blog.

For you photo nerds: all photos were shot on Kodak Portra 400 medium format film using a Bronica GS-1 6×7 camera.

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Kings Canyon in Three Parts (1/3)

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In June my friend Jeremy and I decided to fly to California to pay my brother Joseph a visit and engage in some kind of fly-fishing based adventure. We found ourselves in Kings Canyon, somewhere between Sequoia and Yosemite National Parks, deep in the Sierras. We have each undertaken to write about the trip from a more creative standpoint vs. the typical documentary style you might expect. Accompanying each of our writings are photographs taken by the author of that section, with a variety of cameras. Jeremy is a crack shot with an iPhone, Joseph’s battered old Pentax Spotmatic 35mm rarely leaves his side, and I insist on lugging around heavy medium format cameras on even the steepest hikes (seriously though, it’s so worth it).

We hope you enjoy our efforts.

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Part 1 by Elias Carlson

The light in Southern California is qualitatively different than the light in the Pacific Northwest. A warm, dry light, it pervades every corner of the landscape. Even the shadows can’t escape its influence. I’m convinced “The Golden State” moniker refers, not to the fabled gold rush, but to the gilded Californian light.

Before I continue, let me set a few things straight. As a Northwestern son, born and raised, evergreen sap and rain pumps through my veins. Cut me deeply and you may discover North Cascade granite where you might expect bone. The air I breathe is silver and cold, it is wet with fresh rain. I’ve been fortunate to travel far and wide, but I only begin to feel at home when my latitude nears 47 degrees.

Despite my dyed-in-the-wool Northwestern ways, California, and the Sierras in particular, have begun to carve out a warm golden niche in the corner of my heart. The language of glaciers and granite is my native tongue and the Sierras speak a familiar dialect. We’ve only just begun the conversation, but it’s clear we’re going to be fast friends.

Blame John Muir. The wily old prophet of the mountains first piqued my interest with his legendary memoir My First Summer in the Sierras. With a brother in Pasadena, it was only a matter of time before “The Range of Light” and I became acquainted. My first glimpse came last September on a five day fly-fishing road trip from Seattle to LA. As Joseph, Tuck, and I wound down the 395 at the foot of the Eastern Sierras I began to fall prey to the same spell that enchanted Muir. Even from a distance the siren song of the mountain range beckons.

My enchantment with the Sierras has only increased after three days in Kings Canyon. It is a photographer’s wonderland. Golden light ricochets between towering clefts of granite, each peak and crag daring you to capture its brazen majesty. These types of conditions are what I live for. They are my drug. Yet even in the midst of such staggering natural beauty lies conflict.

Perfect light, majestic scenery, and adventure aplenty combine to bring out the best and worst in me as a photographer. I find myself struggling to balance competing desires: How can I ever hope to create a truly meaningful picture when the grandeur before me is overwhelming to the point of numbness? How do I actually experience a place, or a person, when I’m constantly viewing life through a lens?

I fear I’ll always be chasing a cliche. I fear I’ll miss a truly great photograph because I’m only paying attention to the obviously good ones. I worry that I’m not being present with the people I love because I’m distracted by the light. I haven’t yet found a solution to these problems. Maybe that means I’ll never be a great photographer, doomed to dabble forever in the shallow end of the pool. Or perhaps struggling through these conflicts time and time again is the path to greatness. I don’t know. I suppose only time will tell. In the meantime, I’m sure enjoying the view.

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For the photography nerds: All photos taken with a 6×6 Minolta Autocord or 6×7 Bronica GS-1 on Kodak Portra 400, Kodak Ektar 100, or Fuji Pro 400H medium format (120) film.

PANACEA Photo Book Sneak Peek

PANACEA photo book cover by Elias Carlson, Tim Gatto

Today I’m very pleased to share some sneak peek photos of a project that’s been in the works for the last year. PANACEA is a photo book featuring the work of 37 incredibly talented film photographers from around the United States (including myself). I am flying down to Oakland this weekend to open a hanging at MUA Oakland featuring framed works by the contributing artists.

This project began when Tim Gatto, a fellow photographer, designer, and the creative force behind BIT BY ZEUS, and I struck up a conversation on Flickr. Tim was interested in collaborating on some kind of photography project and was looking for co-collaborators. I thought it sounded like great fun and after kicking around a few concepts we landed on PANACEA. Both Tim and I connected on the idea that access to and interaction with unspoiled nature often had a restorative effect upon us both. In an age when many of us are trapped behind a desk or a computer 8 hours or more a day, it seemed to us that this relationship with the natural world has only become increasingly important. Our hope was to create a small book that might speak in some small way to this experience. We reached out to a handful of photographers whom we thought might share this view and asked them to send several photos with their own interpretation of the theme. From these submissions we curated what we believe to be a beautiful, cohesive, and hopefully thought-provoking set of photographs.

The book itself has been printed 4-color offset, 8.5″ x 11″ and is limited to 100 copies. It will be available February 1st for $15.00 through our Etsy store, and on Tim’s site BIT BY ZEUS . If you happen to be in Oakland this Friday evening, come check out the photo show, grab a book, and say hello.

PANACEA photo book first interior page by Elias Carlson, Tim Gatto

PANACEA photo book full page spread

PANACEA photo book 2 shot spread

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Rivers & Roads Trailer

I’m quite pleased to share the official trailer for the upcoming short film that my brother and I have been working on. It’s the story of a 5 day fly fishing road trip from Seattle to LA with my brother, our friend Ryan, and a burgundy Buick LeSabre. We have submitted it to the 2012 Fly Fishing Film Tour (F3T), and are hopeful that it’ll make the cut, and go on tour. Whether or not that happens we will be releasing the short film version of this video in the near future. So stay tuned. We hope you enjoy the trailer (make sure HD is on!)

Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for more videos from Theresa and I in the future. Now that we have our 5D, the sky’s the limit.

Director of Photography – Elias Carlson (me)
Narration – Joseph Carlson
Original MusicTyson Motsenbocker

Photo Definition Friday: Incendiary

Incendiary:
1. A substance or weapon used to start fires
2. A person who excites factions, or quarrels

Theresa’s choice by Elias Carlson

Elias’ choice by Benjamin Skanke

The Enchantments

This August I was fortunate enough to snag a permit for Lake Colchuck in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness of Leavenworth. To sweeten the deal even more, I was on assignment for KAVU taking pictures for their blog. These are a handful of my favorite shots from the trip, but you can see a bunch more over on the KAVUpulse blog, along with some handy information should you wish to visit this fairyland yourself someday.

Click here for the KAVU blog post