Posts tagged “Oakland

N’atman coming to theaters this weekend!

Hey Yinz,

The Dark Knight Rises premieres this weekend, and the world will get to see the N’atman in action! Early reviews say that the movie finishes strong. I just wanted to share this comic posted on the Pittsburgh Film Office’s Facebook.

Whip! Bam! Boom! Kapow!

When you’re sitting in the movie theater answering trivia (like what was Baby’s real name in Dirty Dancing?) and waiting for the Batman to start, I ask you to please take a minute and think about who lost when Batman came to town. Sure, the city won overall. The film industry brought jobs to Pittsburgh and stimulated local business. Mayor Luke Ravenstahl got to relive his college football glory days as a player for the Gotham Rogue. And Christian Bale discovered Braddock, which will be the backdrop for another Christian Bale movie, “Out of the Furnace.”

But there were two losers when Batman came to town. Last summer, I watched four or five people rip the leaves off two trees on the Bellefield Avenue-side of Carnegie Mellon University’s Mellon Institute in Oakland, presumably to make the trees fit the winter scene. (If you want to talk about jobs, there were two people on ladders ripping leaves off the trees and two to pick them up.) A year has passed, and  the trees are still alive, but their branches support only a dozen or so leaves.

This photo was taken in May – less than one year after the incident, shall we say. I don’t understand why the crew ripped the leaves off these two trees but left the middle tree unscathed. Perhaps this will be central to the plot! We’ll have to wait and see.



Portraits of Elaine

Hey yinz!

This weekend, I had my first portrait shoot! My good friend and fellow Pitt grad Elaine Short needed some pictures for her professional website. Elaine is a no-nonsense editor who needed some pictures that show a little of what she’s about but not in the awkward holding-a-No.2-pencil-while-leaning-against-this-tree kind of way.

Because I take everything seriously, I did a little research on author portraits and outdoor portrait photography. Some of tips I learned include:

  • Avoid direct sunlight (one website even suggested using a white truck to reflect light)
  • Wide-angle lenses generally aren’t appropriate for professional pictures.
  • Shoot wider because you can always crop later
  • Have the model hold something to avoid clenching fists and tensing arms

Most portraits of writers that I’ve seen have the writer looking deeply into the camera. Sometimes their arms are crossed or their hands cradle their faces. Often they’re in black and white. I wanted to convey Elaine’s exuberance and youth with vibrant summery colors and laughter. That honest laugh, however, can be tough when staring into a the eye of a camera. At the same time, I tried to avoid this sort of cheesy portrait smile:

Universal Studios - American Pie Family Photo

So, I told jokes. I urged her to “keep it loose.” A couple times, I suggested that she take a tip from Miss Tyra Banks and smile with her eyes:

I asked for her to show me her sexy face and Blue Steel, knowing a burst of laughter would follow. I think it worked. These photos are in chronological order. Maybe you can tell by the sun or by Elaine’s body language. We started with strong 3 p.m. lighting after a late lunch in Oakland, and around 7 p.m., we met up again for another session by the parking lot near the Shadyside Wine and Spirits on Center Avenue.

Elaine on a bench behind the Cathedral of Learning

Elaine said this pose has been done before, and she’s right. But she does it so well, and it’s nice to have options.

In Hillman Library

This shot happened after an awkward encounter with an admirer. Brush it off, E.

Getting a little silly here

This is my fave. Bridge, glasses, dress and smile.

Thanks for the opportunity, Elaine! This was so much fun!

All the best and lots of love,


Mirazozo: Is this what it’s like to walk through a rainbow?

Hey yinz kids!

Today, I went with my nephew and his family to the Pittsburgh International Children’s Festival in Oakland. The festival offered crafts, musicians, a petting zoo, free carousel rides, face painters, funnel cake and lots of other cool things kids love and adults might expect. The centerpiece of the festival — and a delight for young and old alike — was the Mirazozo, a giant inflatable sculpture. The luminarium is a network of radiant domes that has delighted visitors worldwide since 1992.


Maybe I should say, “Is this what it’s like to walk through a kaleidoscope?”

If you haven’t seen it yet, you have one more day! Mirazozo will be open in from 9:30 to 5:30 tomorrow on Mazeroski Field. Admission is $5. It’s definitely worth it.

ImageHope yinz make it dahn,


Schenley Park and Oakland landscapes

Hey yinzes,

I am a bit of a procrastinator.  Right now, I’m sitting with this month’s book club selection, “Room” by Emma Donoghue, at my side, and I have more than half to finish. With this book, so to put it in a cliche, the book or cup or whatever is half empty.

Anyway, as I said in my last blog post about Scarlett Knob Campground, my homework for my photography class is to take pictures of landscapes. The unpredictable weather we’ve been having has made it difficult to shoot. Last week, I put off my homework until Wednesday night, and it was raining lightly or misting annoyingly all night.  I ran out into the courtyard of my apartment building with my tripod and an umbrella. The pictures turned out surprisingly well. Here’s one:

The camping trip helped me to get most of the landscape shots I needed. However, Scarlett Knob did was surprisingly flat, and I didn’t capture the textures I wanted. So once again, I had to go out to shoot photos the night before it’s due. The forecast showed scattered showers all day, and thick clouds hovered over the city all day. The sky looked bright, colorful, and cloudy. It seemed pre-apocalyptic, as I suppose is expected. But lucky me, it didn’t one drop, and I got some nice photos to edit tomorrow in class at Pittsburgh Filmmakers.

Several of these pictures have a lot of noise… It happens more when I shoot in RAW. I wish that I knew these would come out like this, so I could have tweaked the settings (even though Hipstamatic and Instagram have made the film grain cool again). I’ll reduce the noise on the school computers using Adobe Lightroom.

Does anyone know why these three trees have been planted here?

I took the picture of the sign just in case you didn't believe me.

Phipps Conservatory

There was a nice woman taking a time lapse video of Phipps Conservatory at sunset when I took this shot. We talked for so long that I missed out on the farmer’s market that was just 50 feet away!  On that note, next week’s farmer’s market will be the last, at least a Phipps. It’s 2:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Also, the sizes of these photos are a little off from usual because I tried using Picasa’s photo exporter. The vertical pictures are too big for a blog it seems.

Well, thanks for stopping by! I’ll talk to my professor about the noise in my photos and get back to you.


P.S. I know these weren’t all landscapes. In addition to procrastinating, getting off task is another one of my flaws. 😛

Andy Warhol, the pride of Dawson Street

Hey yinz guys,

It’s been a while since I last blogged. That’s mostly because I went camping this weekend (post to follow). On Friday, my sister, brother-in-law, nephew, boyfriend and I went to the Andy Warhol Museum. We got in for free because of the Regional Asset District’s RADical Days, which just ended.

There we saw that Andrew Warhola lived on Dawson Street in Oakland, where I lived for two years as an undergrad. The house is not a museum, so it’s easy to miss. For some reason, I thought that Andy Warhol lived on Parkview Avenue, but now I remember that’s the street where Pitt alumnus Dan Marino grew up. Here’s a picture of the exhibit detailing Andy’s childhood.

My nephew liked exploring the Andy Warhol Museum. He got a free coloring book too.

My nephew looking through an Andy Warhol coloring book

We had a great time seeing old favorites, like the silver clouds, hallway with of Mao Zedong portraits, Brillo boxes, Jackie O photos and so on. The new exhibits were great too. The museum brought out an old Apple painting in honor of Steve Jobs. The Heroes and Villains exhibit by Alex Ross on the seventh floor was also impressive. I appreciated its comprehensiveness, even including childhood drawings of Charlie Brown as different superheroes. The last favorite worth mentioning is the video of The Milk Truck, the Carnegie Mellon University project, that rescues nursing mothers while shaming those who do not welcome public breastfeeding. I hope to see the truck with a giant boob on top driving around town. Unfortunately, if I see it, that means that The Milk Truck is needed, and that’s a shame.

Anyway, you won’t see any photos of any of these neat things here because the museum does not permit photos on any floors except for the first. I still found some interesting things to chronicle.

This neat mirror was in the gift shop of the museum.

This reproduction of the Andy Warhol's Elizabeth Taylor silk screen hangs in the parking garage near the museum.

Thanks for checking out this post! I’ll post something about my weekend camping trip tomorrow.


Parking Meters

My pal, “Special K,” commented on The Basics post that I should post my parking meter picture.  This was the third photo I as a homework assignment for the first week of class. The assignment was just to take photos using the manual settings.  This photo isn’t particularly evocative, but in honor of the little reprieve City Council granted for city drivers, the photo might deserve a second look.

I don’t really have a problem with raising the parking rates, but it’s a lot to ask people to carry enough quarters to keep their cars in Oakland or the South Side at a rate of $2/hour. Luckily, the council’s isn’t just putting of the inevitable. They’re using this time to install more machines that accept cash and cards, like those around Schenley Plaza.

Like a shooting star, a parking space on Forbes Avenue

I just thought of something: If we go to a ticket-in-the-window parking system, no one will ever experience the glee of pulling up to a meter that still has parking time left. This one has nearly 50-cents worth of parking time!  How nice.

And of course, bikes still park for free. 🙂 If I were a little taller, I could have featured the bike more. Alas, I’m only 5’3″ on a good day. Today has been a pretty good day.