Monday, March 19, 2007

Rock Star Joe Walsh - pictures at his home in LA

Back in 2002, I had the opportunity to meet and interview
rock star Joe Walsh (James Gang, The Eagles) at his 'bachelor
pad' home in Studio City (he really lives in San Diego - this house
is just filled with toys and he hangs here while working in the
studios in Los Angeles). The house is on Blairwood Drive in
the winding streets above Studio City.

I spent over 2 hours in the house, preparing for photos for a
magazine shoot (CQ Magazine - devoted to ham radio interests,
one of Joe's callings). It ended up being the cover story
(November 2002 issue). The interview was conducted by phone
a month before, so this day was reserved for photos.

These are scans of the slides I shot - I also shot 2 1/4" slides
with a Hasselblad 500c but the magazine wanted only the 35mm
slides. Fine by me - paid quite well, and hey - I got to meet
a favorite rock star of my own past!

This was a really fun project - I had never done anything this high
profile before. My girlfriend Anne (now wife) went with me on the
trip from Seattle to LA, and we had a blast. But at the time I had
HUGE guilt because my mother was dying in a nursing home in
Tacoma - she was WAY past the conscious point and I had spent
nearly every day and hour with her in the weeks prior - but there
was no way I could have passed on this assignment without huge
grief from the publisher, and I figured that my mother would
understand (and given that she was not able to perceive the
world at that point). So we just went, and I'll
always feel guilty for doing it. But in the end, it all worked out ok - I
was back in time to be with my mom again, and we got the cover.

I'll never forget my nervousness taking all the film to the lab in
Hollywood. Joe had just left for San Diego, then off on tour - no
re-shoot chances at all! If the slides were bad, I was toast. Slides,
as photographers know, have very little exposure leeway and
tolerance, especially with flash. So I was VERY
nervous, and decided to have the film processed at a major
studio-grade lab in LA. Imagine my relief when they all came out
great, with the exposures exactly as I had planned them to be!

The next 2 months I crafted the article, and sent the whole
package off to CQ magazine, and as I type this, I can see the
autographed copy of the final piece in a frame over my desk.
Along with the autographed Hotel California
LP and The Eagles guitar picks that Joe gave me at his house.
All in all, it was one of the most memorable and exciting projects
of my life!

Note: These are just raw scans from a slide scanner - the cropping
isn't perfect, there may be dust, the saturation may not be perfect,
etc. I didn't feel like doing all the little corrections. These are pretty
much exactly how the editor saw them, and he liked them enough to
give me the gig.

Note also: Please respect that these are c. 2002 David E. Ellison
I realize it's easy to copy and paste them - that's fine - just use
them respectfully for your own use and don't try to publish
them or use them for some negative purpose. They are all
digitally signed (embedded), as are all my online photos.

Captions follow.

This was my favorite shot, and the one I hoped the magazine
would use. It was shot on 2 1/4" Fujichrome slide film on
a Hasselblad 500c, with 1000 ws of flash with umbrellas.
I intentionally balanced the dark and light space based
on the magazine's history of cover placements. I actually
asked Joe Walsh, rock star, idol of my own teenage rock
band years (I play guitar), to CHANGE HIS SHIRT!
He had been wearing a white grungy tee-shirt, and I asked
him if he had a black sweater of some kind, so the magazine
would have black space in the lower right corner. So Joe
changed his shirt for me!
But alas, they chose the last picture in this series, rather
than this shot - after all that. But it still remains a fave
of mine, and how many people can say they asked a
rock star to change their shirt for them!

Living room - pretty much just a radio room now.
Joe lived here during his 'wild and crazy' days, but now
it's just a place to live while working in LA. But this is
where most of his ham radio gear lives. By the way, if
it means anything to you, his callsign is WB6ACU

Joe in the basement studio (where a number of his album
projects were recorded). Here with his Synthesis Technology
synthesizer that he built up from modules
This is one of my favorite pix we shot that day.

One of several basement radio positions
I just love the busted window frame in the background
The guy is worth mega-millions, but like the rest of us,
his basement is just his basement. Joe is about
the most unassuming rock star on the planet.

Another basement radio position, with a view of Studio
City through the window and over the hill in the

This is the shot the magazine ended up using (they cropped
it a bit). Not my first choice - this was shot hand-held, with
a 'potato masher' flash. The shot at the top was what I
hoped they would use - larger slide (Hasselblad 2 1/4"),
and in my opinion, a better shot. But hey - I still got the
cover, so I don't care.

A few old Black and White film-based prints

I was once much more serious about photography than I am now.
I started doing my own black and white work in the early 1980's,
self-taught. By the mid 80s I was very much into Ansel Adams
and the Zone System, with a darkroom capable of printing up
to 16 x 20 and handling negatives up to 5 x 7. I was mostly shooting
4x5 Plus-X at the time, printing on warm Bromide papers with
Selenium toner to cool them down a touch.

In all, I made over 3000 negatives during that time (while shooting
weddings, from 1987 until the early 1990s). I have files upon files of
them. But I no longer have the means or desire to print the
negatives,and (sigh) a GOOD scanner is just too rich for my
blood ($4500 for something up to par to work from 4x5 negs).
So these are lower res scans of some of the old prints I could put
my hands on. Not at all a good sampling, just what I had. All are
from 4x5 Plus-X shot on an Omega 45-D view camera, most likely
with a 210-mm lens. Hand processed (tray), printed on Brovira
and lightly selenium toned. The hues represented here are fairly
close to how the prints actually look. But of course, the original
prints are luscious compared to these representations.

Sadly, I don't do stuff like this much anymore. Captions follow.

Note: These are scans - the dust you'll see if you click on them
is from the scanner, not the print! The blocked highlights you'll
see (and lost shadows) are also products of the computer processes
involved. The original prints follow Zone System principles, and
are generally zone 9 - 2 perfect, with no blocked highlights or
black shadows, with a perfect black and perfect white somewhere
where there is no detail. Again, the actual prints are MUCH better
than these low-grade scans will illustrate.

Apartment 12 - old boarded up apartment building in
downtown Tacoma, Washington. Directly across from
the Pantages Theater on 9th Street - the building
was remodeled, and at last check, this tiny apartment
rents now for $1500 a month. Originally, it was
a cheap hotel, and until the 1970's was a low income
housing building.

Log and Stream - Carbon River - Mt. Ranier Washington
Taken on a freezing winter morning

Catholic Church - Wilkinson, Washington

Me - age 26 (a LONG time ago!!) - Mt. Rainier National
Park (photo by Brian McKenna - my good friend and
wedding photography assistant at the time)
Where the hell did all that hair go???

Old Car - Garibaldi, Oregon
Week of May 16, 1987
I remember this week very well, as it was
my first honeymoon - and a week from hell.
Miserable honeymoon, miserable marriage.
But a decent photo, so I guess it all worked out ok.

Bride and Doll - I once did a series of
creepy shots using this ratty old doll I found at the
dump. This bride was one of many who allowed
me to pose her with it. She was really quite
bubbly, but I asked her to be somber for this
shot, and hold the doll upside down.
In retrospect, I should have moved her to her
left about 12 inches - but we were rushed. Oh well.

Wilkinson Church again - this time with infrared 4x5 film,
printed onto hand-made paper with liquid emulsion
just for kicks. See? I used to do fun stuff in the
darkroom. Now it's all on the computer. Yawn.

Kurt Cobain - the actual 'Underneath the Bridge' - the Graffiti

My son Jeremy is a big Nirvana / Kurt Cobain
fan. (ok - I am too). Last December we went on an
all-day Kurt Cobain trek (actually finishing off at
Jimi Hendrix' grave in Renton, Washington).
Since we live near Seattle, it isn't hard to do.

This series is from the famous (to Nirvana fans, anyway)
Young Street Bridge in Aberdeen Washington.
This is the place that legend, lore and biographies say
Cobain slept whenever he was kicked out of his
home (2 blocks away) for drugs. And of course is the
site referred to in the song from the Nevermind album,
"Something in the Way"

First shots are of the bridge, the rest are of the
rather interesting (and abundant) series of graffiti from the
rafters beneath.

Looking South on the Muddy Banks of the Wishkah River

Looking East - Young Street Bridge, Aberdeen Washington

The view North from Underneath the Bridge - Wishkah River

One of many inscriptions from other countries - note the Japanese - very interesting read.
Yes, I too believe that Courtney had him killed

Pictures From Airplanes

I fly a LOT for my work (self employed sales rep) and pretty much
always have a camera on me. I always take the window seat cuz even
after a zillion flights I still like to look out the window. And quite
often, I take photos. None of these were shot with a 'good' camera,
so the quality is a bit low.
Plus, all were shot through a window - of course.
All are relatively low resolution with a
pocket camera - any one of 3 or 4 that I own.
Captions follow each - click on photo for larger view

Sunset - LA to Seattle

Puffy clouds over Kentucky

Sawtooth range - Rockies in January

Somewhere over rural Illinois

The Rockies

Crater Lake, Oregon - Summer

Waikiki and Diamond Head - heading out

Urban USA - Chicagoland style

Mt. Rainier - passing through 14,000 feet
heading South

Somewhere over the Eastern edge of the rockies,
on the way to Dallas

One more from Taiwan

I shot this while on the freeway South from Taipei to
Taichung - a really serious storm was brewing that day,
and it got really dark. This image was manipulated in
that it was sepia toned but it was really mystical that day
regardless - this is what it FELT like.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

Wall detail - Taichung, Taiwan

Storm drain - Taichung, Taiwan

Flower in rain barrel - Taichung, Taiwan

Office building wall - Taichung, Taiwan

Wooden stepping stones - Taichung, Taiwan

Just lots of yellow - Taichung, Taiwan

Rear view of Zheong Ke Hotel, Taichung, Taiwan

Valley view in Southern Taiwan

Tree detail - Taichung Taiwan

Gate detail, Temple - Taichung, Taiwan

Taichung Taiwan city scenes

Brick wrapped in newsprint on street in Taichung, Taiwan
Not sure why exactly - saw a fair number of them.

A dog and his scooter - Taichung, Taiwan

Stack of flagstones - Taichung, Taiwan

Factory worker in metal shop - Taichung, Taiwan