Moving!

January 24th, 2013
By

Hey all,

Just a quick note to say that Aperture Cafe will be moving URL’s.  So stay tuned!  I got a lot of new stuff coming your way, I promise!  Until then, cheers!

The URL for the new blog is http://aperturecafe.staradvertiserblogs.com

-Jamm Aquino

Jacks n Joe, Dodgers, Arrival

August 31st, 2012
By

Howdy!

Busy busy BUSY first day on the ground here in Los Angeles.  Sports columnist Dave Reardon and I started with a nice human interest story about a gentleman with Hawaii roots who owns a restaurant near USC called “Jacks n Joe.”  After hearing the remarkable story of how he went from being a baggage handler at the Hana airport in Maui, to an architect mogul in Beverly Hills, and finally, to serving down-home, comfort food to the likes of Troy Polemalu, Abe Markowitz, and Matt Barkley, I made a nice poignant portrait of him with the only visible item that hints that his establishment, and kuleana, are truly based around Hawaii.

Mark Bednorz holds a surfboard with his late daugher Myckala's name carved by USC football player and Hawaii homegrown Simione Vehikite at Jacks N Joe restaurant on Thursday, August 30, 2012 near the USC campus in Los Angeles. The restaurant is a favorite among many USC football players and serves local Hawaiian style food. Bednorz and his wife, Vianney, built the restaurant from the ground up after the sudden passing of their 12-year-old daughter, Myckala, in 2006. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

After a busy morning chatting with Mark, we were off to Dodger Stadium to go pay local boys Shane Victorino and Brandon League a visit.  Upon arriving at the pass gate, and after getting credentialed, I couldn’t help but feel awe as I walked up to the railing and looked out on one of the great ballparks in our nation.

Dodger Stadium. First look. Shot with my iPhone

After getting situated in the press area, I went down to the field level, where I met with Dodgers team photographer Jon SooHoo.  At this time, the Dodgers were doing warmups and taking batting practice.  Jon advised me that Shane and Brandon were aware that we were here for them, and was very helpful in me being able to grab a quick “fast food” portrait of Brandon League.

Los Angeles Dodgers pitcher Brandon League poses for a portrait on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

I used a 24-70 lens, one 580 flash handheld popped with a pocketwizard, and the wrong lens hood.  Yup, that’s right, the WRONG lens hood.  I slapped a 70-200 hood on my 24-70 to achieve the vignette effect.  Aside from a color adjustment in camera RAW, everything here is a practical application!

Unfortunately, in the hustle and bustle of warmups and BP (there were a LOT of media doing interviews and milling about), I wasn’t able to get a portrait of Shane.  But off to the first base photo well I went.  Upon getting there, I noticed that the shooting areas were already taped off and marked with “AP,” “Getty,” “LA Times,” “Daily News,” “Reuters,” and “Dodgers.”   Uh-oh.  No space for the visiting island dude.  Luckily, Jon SooHoo graciously allowed me the Dodgers spot–I would be shooting next to Hans Gutknecht of the LA Daily News, Stephen Dunn of Getty Images, and Mark Terrill of AP–a fun bunch of ace shooters.  So I got situated and waited for the game to begin.  Pregame festivities included a tribute to perhaps the greatest baseball announcer of all time–Vin Scully, and a rainbow over the right field wall.

Dodgers GM Don Mattingly is interviewed by the media prior to the game.

Dodgers GM Don Mattingly is interviewed by the media prior to the game.

Baseball announcer Vin Scully waves to the crowd before a Major League Baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

My shooting position in the 1st base well. Gaffers tape saved the day.

So after settling in, I attached my 400 to one of my cameras, and was in the process of screwing it tight into the monopod–but alas–it kept freewheeling.  Thread.  Stripped.  No.  NO!!!  I had to think of something fast.  I wasn’t about to handhold this thing the whole game!  Gaffers tape to the rescue!  See my previous posts on equipment, and you’ll see that I “don’t leave home without it.”  Gaffers tape, that is.

Los Angeles Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw delivers in the top of the first inning of a Major League Baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Los Angeles Dodgers' GM Don Mattingly listens to 1st base umpire Tim Timmons after a balk was called on pitcher Clayton Kershaw in the top of the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shane Victorino connects for a single in the bottom of the fourth inning of a Major League Baseball game between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Arizona Diamondbacks on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Since my coverage was weighted towards feature art for our local players, I won’t publish most of that on here until it publishes in the Star-Advertiser, but I did manage to get some great shots from that 1st base well.  You’re so close to the action!  Second base was a tight pan with the 400 2.8.  And, when Dodgers GM Don Mattingly argued a call, it was literally RIGHT in front of us!  You could hear them talking!  So amazing!

Unfortunately, I couldn’t stay the whole game.  The Warriors were due from their flight out to LA at the hotel in Manhattan Beach, and we needed to be there to greet them.

Around 11:15, the buses finally arrived at the Marriott Manhattan Beach.  Coach Norm Chow and the team quickly disembarked and turned in for the night.  After transmitting a couple of shots of the team arriving, I called it a night.  Only a 16-hour day, nothing at all.  But an EXCITING 16-hour day!  Tune in for more soon!

Hawaii football players Kapua Sai, left, and Sean Schroeder walk with their bags as the Hawaii Warrior football team arrives on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at the Marriot Hotel in Manhattan Beach. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Hawaii football players George Daily-Lyles, left, and Kamalani Alo walk into the lobby as the Hawaii Warrior football team arrives on Thursday, August 30, 2012 at the Marriot Hotel in Manhattan Beach. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Los Angeles

August 30th, 2012
By

Greetings y’all!

Writing you from sunny LA where I’m here to cover the UH football season opener against USC.  Despite what the polls say (40 points), I am here because of the historical and news importance of head coach Norm Chow’s first game.  I’ll be working alongside UH football ace reporters Dave Reardon and Stephen Tsai, and I’ll be updating this blog on a daily basis while up here.

I’m also shooting the LA Dodgers’ Shane Victorino and Brandon League–two local boys who are now wearing Dodger blue.  I’ve never shot in Dodger Stadium before, so it’ll be an exciting time!  The Coliseum AND Dodger Stadium in one weekend?!  A dream just became reality!  So stay tuned!

But for now, and for all you camera gearheads, let me share what’s in my bag during this trip.  Here’s an Instagram photo:

Contents of the main chamber of my Think Tank Airport Security bag

It’s been a while since I posted about gear, but there are a few things I should mention.  Monopod?  400 2.8 hood?  These go into my checked baggage.  In the horrendous event that my luggage gets lost or damaged, I can still shoot and make pictures.  Clothes? Toiletries?  Those are secondary to my cameras!  Also, pocket wizards double as remote triggers for my third body (1DMkIII) as well as a radio slave for the 580Ex.

Here’s some more Instagram shots from my travel day, but for now, Ciao!  Off to shoot the Dodgers!

Passengers and tails, HNL airport

Sunset at 36,000 feet

LA moon

USS Nimitz

July 25th, 2012
By

Hi everyone!

Well the buzz of excitement has settled from my embark aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, so here’s a few of my favorites from the trip, since most didn’t make our print edition.

Leading up to the assignment, I was pretty nervous about the whole ordeal.  I mean, trap landing–going from about 150mph to 0 in about 60 feet or so–pretty gut wrenching–both literally and in my mind.  As was the catapult take off.  But that’s the only way onboard a carrier that was in the middle of naval exercises out in the middle of the Pacific.

I couldn’t really sleep the night before because of both the excitement and the anxiety.  Our meet time was scheduled for 6am at Pearl Harbor.  From there, we were to board a Grumman C2 COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) aircraft–a nice, turboprop powered plane that sacrifices everything for performance.  No inflight movie or beverages here.  Here’s what it looks like:

This was shot after we landed back from the USS Nimitz. Note the rear hatch, where we enter and face after being strapped in tight.

So after our safety briefing, we were issued cranials–a combination skullcap, helmet, goggles, and ear protection contraption required at all times while on the flight deck and on the tarmac.

Cranial with my two cameras. DV means "Distinguished Visitor," although I jokingly thought to myself it means "Doesn't Vomit"

So with my cranial on my cranium, I made my way towards the aircraft with the rest of the media.  We entered through the rear hatch of the aircraft, and the seats are facing aft.  No windows on the plane, save for two small, 8-inch diameter holes towards the front of the COD.  So there’s no seeing, just sensory telling you whether you’re going up or down.  I was nervous.  After a long taxi, we were finally airborne, and it was about a twenty minute flight to the USS Nimitz, which was about 100 nautical miles northeast of Oahu.  When we were safety briefed, the crew was to give a hand signal to the cabin to prepare us for our trap landing.  When the signal was given, I braced myself in my seat and counted down 15 seconds (that was the approximate time the crew had said after the signal).  It felt longer.  Then, BAMMMM!  I was thrown forward into my seat, knocking the wind out of me, and I swear my gut and innards wrapped around my spine.  But before even a second, it was done!  VOILA!  The crew opened the rear hatch of the aircraft, and my eyes adjusted to the bright sunburst and focused on planes, and more planes, and planes.  We were aboard the Nimitz!

The view from my seat in the COD. As you can see, it's dark and rather cramped inside. The rear hatch opens, and it's just a bright light.

After an adjustment in exposure, you see the flight deck, and it's just an amazing feeling to be actually onboard an aircraft carrier at sea!

We are shuffled aboard and below deck to the media room, where we are briefed on the day’s events, flight ops, lunch, etc.  But enough of the text, let’s see some images.  Here are a few of my faves.  Enjoy!

Seahawk helicopters carrying US Navy CNO Jon Greenert and Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus lift off aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

US Navy AO2 Luis Rosales preps an F/A 18 Hornet for flight ops aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

US Navy Comm. Fred Goldhammer with VAW-117 "Wallbangers" talks in the squadron's ready room aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

A "greenie board" in the US Navy's VAW-117 Wallbangers E2C squadron is seen aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. The colors represent the grade on each "pass" or landing, with lighter colors being more satisfactory. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

After a quick break for lunch, we were off to witness flight ops! The food was really, really good!

I had to have the obligatory self portrait onboard, so here I am with my cranial on, struggling against the wind!

Capt. Kevin Mannix is silhouetted in the hangar as the HMS Darwin from Australia steams in the background aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Here’s a view from the hangar looking out to sea.  The sheer size of the Nimitz was nearly unfathomable.  About 5,200 sailors, pilots, engineers, cooks–you name it–live, eat, sleep, and work onboard.  It’s like a floating city!

A flight deck crew member is engulfed in steam from one of the catapults aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

The blast shield goes up as an F/A-18 Hornet prepares for a catapult launch aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

A "shooter," in yellow, give the signal for an F/A-18 Hornet to launch aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

The orchestration and coordination of the ground crew is just amazing.

Photos and video cannot replace the sheer power that was felt when a fighter launches off the deck of the carrier. It really rattles in your skin and bones! An F/A-18 Hornet launches from the catapult aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

An F/A-18 Hornet performs a touch and go landing aboard the USS Nimitz aircraft carrier on Wednesday, July 18, 2012 off Oahu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Mayoral debate at KITV

July 12th, 2012
By

From left, Honolulu Mayor incumbent Peter Carlisle, mayoral candidates Ben Cayetano, and Kirk Caldwell moments before a televised Honolulu Mayoral debate on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at the KITV studios in Honolulu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

Last night I photographed the three Honolulu mayoral candidates in yet another debate–this time at KITV’s studio.  Their studio had some really nice, clean black tables with very reflective surface–perfect for the series of shots that I’m showcasing here.  With the just the right amount of squatting and getting on my knees, I was able to get the three candidates reflected in the table.

But aside from that, I also got to see my old news editor, and now news director for KITV, Chuck Parker.  He was my news editor when I first started working for the newspaper back in 2005, and it was always a pleasure working for and with him.  Here he is in action before the cameras roll.

KITV news director Chuck Parker, left, walks onto the set with candidates Kirk Caldwell, middle, and Ben Cayetano.

From left, Honolulu mayor incumbent Peter Carlisle, mayoral candidates Ben Cayetano, and Kirk Caldwell listen to KITV news director Chuck Parker, left, and Paula Akana moments before a televised Honolulu Mayoral debate on Wednesday, July 11, 2012 at the KITV studios in Honolulu. (Jamm Aquino/The Honolulu Star-Advertiser).

KITV news director Chuck Parker walks off the set minutes before going live with the Mayoral debate.