I have been tweaking our new blog and I think it’s ready for visitors. Please visit us at: www.richardellisblog.com Where I have new blog entries and great new galleries. Hope to see you there!
I’ve been slow posting the last few months as I’ve been very busy as I’ve branched out and have been shooting photojournalism documentary style weddings here in Charleston, SC and throughout the southeast since the spring. Verdict, I love it. As a photojournalist and travel photographer I’ve spent most of my working life looking down at wedding photographers – guys with tacky tuxedo shirts and huge flash guns that looked like potato mashers! Well times have changed and thanks to guys like my buddy Greg Gibson the wedding photography game has been transformed into some of the best photography available. I can honestly say that some of the best photography done today is done by wedding photographers and the tops are they guys who spent their life shooting editorial and have translated those skills developed shooting wars, riots, presidents and celebrities to the wedding photography scene.
What I’ve learned the past 9 months shooting weddings is they are tough. It’s very, very hard work to do it right and be great at it. A wedding in many ways is like a marathon for photojournalists. You start documenting the beginning of the day with the Bride & Groom getting ready and then shoot portraits, the ceremony, more portraits, captured moments, family photos, reception, toasts, dancing, eating and often more craziness than you can imagine. A good wedding mixes the best of portraiture, landscape, documentary, photojournalism, happy snapping, action, emotion and often conflict all in one assignment. It takes a lot of work and when you are done you feel great about what you shot and how happy it makes everyone. Finally the best part of shooting a wedding is you are welcomed and wanted. Most of my life as a photojournalist was spent ruining people’s days or witnessing events everyone wishes never happened. It’s nice to be wanted.
Some of my latest wedding images:
If you get bored check out my wedding website – Charleston Wedding Photographer – Richard Ellis Photography
The mountains of Western North Carolina are a beautiful and wonderful place known for fall colors, waterfalls and cool weather. Now a local businessman is trying to make it the center of Llama Golf or more accurately, llama’s who take the place of golf carts. Call it the ultimate in green technology! Mark English who owns a farm in beautiful Brevard, North Carolina has launched llamacaddy.com serving two local golf courses several days a week with human caddies who use llamas to carry the golf bags of the sporting set. The llamas serve multiple rolls from carrying the golf bags on specially designed holders, to soothing golfers during rounds as the llamas are friendly, docile and fluffy making them irresistible to the frustrated duffer.
I joined Mark and his team of llamas and caddies for the day on Saturday starting at his beautiful farm in the mountains outside Brevard (Home of the world famous Brevard Music Center). I watched on a foggy morning as they rounded up the timid llamas, loaded them into their trailer and made the 5 mile journey to nearby Cedar Mountain where the llamas are a regular at the Sherwood Forest Golf Club . The llamas are then unloaded, groomed & fed then have carriers carefully placed on their backs to enable them to carry the golf bags. Llamas are pack animals and naturals at carrying loads which far exceed the few pounds of a golf bag and pay no attention to the process enjoying the attention and calmly taking in the crowds who gather to watch.
Out on the golf course the llamas are naturals. The soft pads on their feet (they are related to camels) enable them to walk without marking even the most carefully groomed grass and are great at nibbling the untidy areas into neatly cut greens. The llamas are very social animals and don’t like being separated from their pack which means they they have to travel in twos otherwise they bray their loneliness for their fellow llamas. The pairs work out well and the llamas are responsive and cooperative. Golfers are usually found petting their llama while waiting for their turn and kids are suddenly attracted to golf as the idea of spending the morning with a llama is irresistible to children.
Llama caddy is amazing and the animals are really special. I thank Mark and his family and fellow llama handlers for letting me spend the day documenting their fun and fascinating business. I wish them all the success as they expand to other golf courses in their area. If you want to see more images you can check out the slideshow on my website at: www.ellisphotos.com or at Getty Images
I’ve photographed fireworks nearly everywhere. While based in Moscow in the early 90’s for Reuters, I lived across from Gorky Park where there were fireworks nearly weekly during the summer months. In Beijing in the 80’s fireworks were about the only form of entertainment during the crackdown following the Tiananmen Square massacre. In Washington, DC where I spent ten years has great fireworks with one of the most dramatic settings when view from Arlington Cemetery across the river stacking up all the monuments in a beautiful line of history. Fireworks make beautiful pictures. Usually great firework pictures need a great foreground. You need to have something of interest in the foreground to match the drama of the fireworks and put them in perspective. This is my first time shooting fireworks over the beach where the reflections on the ocean were specular and the colors wonderful. While there is little foreground, the sillouhetted beachgowers give a small amount of perspective. If you have a chance to see fireworks at the beach I recommend it.
These shots were taken at Front Beach on Isle of Palms, SC near my home. Shot with a Canon 5d Mark II with a 10-second exposure at f/20 at 400 ISO.
Butterflies are nearly weightless, silent creatures. Unless you find yourself in the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere zone in central Mexico where millions of monarch butterflies roost for the winter. The weight of the butterflies cause branches to break and trees to bend. The sound of the butterflies fluttering around is so loud it makes it hard to think. In other words, an amazing, other worldly experience!
The preserves, a world heritage site, are located in the states of Michoacan and Mexico, west of Mexico City. I recently spent four days in the area visiting 4 of the 5 preserves including the most remote and undisturbed at Sierra Pellon, a 10,000-foot mountain which only has a ragged trail up the mountain accessible only by horseback or all day trek. The journey was well worth the effort, when I reached the roosting area on Sierra Pellon, my guide were alone with millions of butterflies for four hours. If you travel to one site – make it Sierra Pellon!
The monarch’s begin their journey thousands of miles away in the eastern United States traveling close to the ground, moving 100 or so miles daily. By late October, early November they begin arriving on the southwestern slopes of the mountains in the preserve where they cling together in massive clusters which weigh down the thick branches of the fir trees. When the temperature is cold the monarch’s hibernate in masses which resemble dead leaves stuck to the sides of trees, once the sun warms them they take to the air and carpet the forest floor. They hang around until March when they mate, the male butterfly dies and the female begins the long journey back to the US. Talk about cross border immigration!
It’s an amazing place and one which is being preserved through the efforts of the Mexican government and multiple non-governmental organizations. If you chose to go you can reach the zone from the historic beautiful Mexican town of Morelia with direct flight from many US cities. From Morelia you can easily join a tour group or rent a car making the 70 mile trip through the lush mountains by yourself. There are plenty of places to stay in the regional center of Zitacuaro or better yet in the tiny town of Angangueo near the entrance to several of the preserves.
Strange as it sounds I waited 20-years to travel to the middle of nowhere Texas to see thousands of rattlesnakes up close. I finally got the chance last week to attend the Sweetwater Jaycees World’s Largest Rattlesnake Round-Up which has taken place for the past 51-years in the tiny west Texas town of Sweetwater (pop 11,974); known also as the home of the world’s largest Wind Turbine project (Horse Hollow). The event involves catching around 9,500 western diamondback rattlesnakes from Nolan County (less then 30% the estimated population) where they are thrown into a giant pit, sorted, measured & weighted, milked then slaughtered for the meat, skins and by products (heads & tails) for three-days in March. It’s a brutal event on the surface, but a slice of local culture not seen in many places and fascinating to say the least.
I first read about the round-up back in 1989 when I was living and working in Beijing. I’ve wanted to go ever since, but Texas is not normally my stomping ground so it’s taken a little while to get there. Photographically it was great fun. The lighting in the Armory was terrible and there is little happening outside in the fresh air, but the crowds are great and the local people friendly and happy to be photographed.
- Rattlesnakes smell nasty, thousands of Rattlesnakes smell really nasty
- It takes a lot to get a rattlesnake to bite. They tend to back away or move.
- Thousands of rattlesnakes rattling at once is a lot of noise.
- Most people in west Texas still wear cowboy hats!
- The light in the Armory sucks!
If you find yourself in west Texas in the month of March. I highly recommend stoping in to see the round-up. There is easy access via Abilene (1 hour by car) or Dallas (3 hours by car), plenty of chain motels (Days Inn was fine) and fast food (recommend Big Boys BBQ but get there early as they sell out).
If you would like to see more of the story check out the shoot on Getty Images
One of my favorite photographers, Bob Krist, recommended that I check out the Carnival in Ponce during my trip to Puerto Rico. He was right, it was amazing. The Carnival centers around costumed characters called ‘Vejigantes’. The Vejigantees roam around the city during the Carnival events amusing onlookers, being mischievous and adding a colorful element to the city. The colorful costumes go back centuries and involve a blending of Spanish, Caribbean and African cultures, much like all of Puerto Rico. The masks are handmade by local artisians from papermache and painted in traditional patterns. The marauding costumed Vejigantes carry around painted, inflated vejigas (cows bladders) which are used ostensibly to beat away any evil spirits that are lingering around them, but more often than not are seen whacking young women as most costumed Vejigantes are high school kids. More info on the masked characters can be found on the Ponce Tourist site
While the carnival in Ponce has been going on for the past 151-years, information on the event isn’t exactly easy to come by. The tourist office website still lists the event date for 2008 and the 2009 festival has already come and gone. Basically it is held exactly the same days as Mardi Gras in New Orleans which means the 2010 festival will be held starting Feb. 16, 2010, or one week before ash Wednesday. Future dates will be:
Upcoming Ponce Carnival Dates:
|2010||February 16||2017||February 28|
|2011||March 8||2018||February 13|
|2012||February 21||2019||March 5|
|2013||February 12||2020||February 25|
|2014||March 4||2021||February 16|
|2015||February 17||2022||March 1|
|2016||February 9||2023||February 21|