Danny McDonald

Photography and more

Archive for the category “Photography”

Swings Tampa Bay

Two of my friends started up an organization in St. Petersburg, Florida called Swings Tampa Bay. Reuben Pressman and Hunter Payne carried out the idea to a pitch contest hosted by Creative Tampa Bay and Creative Loafing called 10/100/1000. The idea originated from a interactive art project Hunter did for his class at The University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Winning the contest provided Reuben and Hunter $1,000 to make Swings an organization that can make an immediate impact on the community.

The concept of Swings is revolved around creating spontaneous community building by hanging up Swings anywhere in the Tampa Bay area. The power of the Swing becomes magnetic and can attract people to meet each other. The organization first started out by going out and buying pieces of wood and then cutting them up. Swings always tries to involve the community in any way possible. So the first couple of months Swings would go to community events and have free “Lets Paint Swings” events that will allow anyone in the community to go and paint whatever they want for a swing that will be hung up in the community. After each person painted up their swing, they got their picture taken and will be added on Swing’s facebook page.

After collecting a mass amount of painted swings, Reuben and Hunter will go out throughout the night and hang up the Swings in the community. So far Swings has collected over 1,000 painted swings and have hung up over 100. Some Swings will be taken down while others will up for a period of time. When one walks by one of these swings, it is the feeling of youth and connection to a community one will experience.

Swings has started to take interest out of state and even international. Swings Holland took off after contacting Reuben and Hunter and arranging everything to become an expansion. Swings Holland have been doing the same process of painting their swings and hanging them up in random places all over Holland and now throughout Europe. The magnetic power of Swings has expanded out and will continue to do so, one swing at a time.

I have a good database of different ‘Lets Paint Swings’ events since I would try to go out to as many of them as possible. It is pretty easy to get creative shots at these events because of the amount of art and colors that were used. I enjoyed taking all of these shots and plan to keep helping out Swings as much as possible.

'Lets Paint Swings' at the Saturday Morning Market in Downtown St. Petersburg.

Swings being painted by members of the community.

 

My Dog Desmond

Two years ago my mother and I purchased two English Springer Spaniel mix with Basset Hound puppies. We ended up calling them Desmond and Chispa. I picked the name Desmond in honor of my favorite character on the TV show Lost and my mother picked the name Chispa, which means Spark in Spanish, in honor of her old dog Sparky. The two puppies re-energized our life with happiness and love. These dogs were the happiest brothers and probably the cutest puppies ever. The two have helped us during difficult times and provided that sense of protection and comfort for us. Desmond became a fat dog that would only eat while sitting down, but he will definitely be the more loving dog to anyone from the two. Desmond will follow you around the house, sit down next to you and in your company at all times. The puppies ended up staying at my parents house along with my aunt and became close with everyone. Both puppies would sleep in my aunts room and they grew to be very close to her. Every single guest that we have ever had stay with us in my parents house grew close to the dogs and thought they were one of the prettiest breeds they have seen.

On March 5th, 2012 Desmond got hit by a car near his leg region. The start of the week started off rough for me after my birthday weekend. We took Desmond to the Emergency Room and we had his x-ray come in. The first news that came were shocking. Desmond only broke his tail and his hip, legs and spine was fine. At first the doctor said that the broken tail was holding back his nerves and that is why he wasn’t able to move his legs. A surgery of the removal of his tail could possibly lead to the nerves acting up and working again.

We took him to the Vet today and he said that the broken tail has nothing to do with Desmond’s ability to walk. He wouldn’t perform surgery on his tail and wants us to wait two days to see if he starts building a reaction in his leg and can hopefully urinate on his own. If Desmond can start having actions in his leg, then that is a really good sign for the nerves to start functioning again. The main concern as of now is if there is something wrong with one of his organs that could be stopping him from urinating on his own, there it is not something that we can fix.

When I first heard this, there were two feelings going through me. First of all I felt helpless. I want to do anything in this world to help out Desmond to make it better, but all I can truly do is wait and have faith. The second feeling I had was deceived. I felt like we were ready to fix Desmond. Lets go through the surgery and I rather play that waiting game. Anger starting flowing through me and I felt something in my body that I just couldn’t help. I did today something I haven’t done in six years since the death of my Godfather. I cried. I cried so much.

Desmond helped me realize that forcing myself not to cry all of these years has been an unnatural act by me and I wasn’t being true to nature. I cried at the vet, I cried at home and I cried in my bed. It helped me, it let me release my doubts and bring in my hope with faith.

I have been posting Desmond’s status on facebook and I could not believe the overwhelming amount of support and feedback we received. About 100 people replied to us letting us know that they are keeping us in their thoughts, prayers, hopes and minds. I showed my family and they immediately fell to tears. Before an era of facebook they could only rely on hopes and prayers from their closest ones and letting people know one by one. I stopped by campus today to hand in homework and my dear good friends Jami Compton, Shannon Kalahar and Hunter Payne stopped by to make sure I was alright. They made red velvet cupcakes for me and family. My mother dropped to tears and called them immediately to thank them. It is amazing in this era of easy access of mass communication, emotions can be affected in such a positive form, all thanks to innovation.

As of now we can just hope the best for Desmond and pray for him. If I could just fix one thing in him right now, it will be to make sure his organs are functioning correctly. If Desmond can never use his back two legs again, we have read about how amazing innovation has also played into the world of pets. A dog wheel chair has allowed pet owners to keep their animals with them when the more logical choice in the past was to put them to sleep.

All of your prayers are amazing. My family has appreciated it so much and we can only take it one day at a time. Keep having faith for the best, because I definitely am.

Desmond and Chispa first day together in the house.

Desmond and Chispa sleeping.

Always smiling.

Desmond won Puppy Photo of the Month with this image taken by Andrew Silverstein.

Desmond at the dog park.

Brothers. Best Friends.

 

 

 

A Plant

I was going through my old pictures and found this little guy. Caught my attention, hopefully it will catch yours as well.

Fallen Officers Memorial

Last month on January 24 marked the year anniversary of the shooting of Officers Sgt. Tom Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg held a memorial service for the community on campus. The service included talks from the Student Body President, Chancellor and representatives from the police department. Several members of the community were in attendance including family members of the fallen officers. The moment was special and has been a part of Students who were there part of something.

I remember the day when the shooting happened. My photojournalism course got cancelled since there were cops on campus. The topic became the discussion at almost every course I attended, especially our Media Law class. I still went to campus to check out the environment and there was just a general cold feeling throughout the day. I turned on the news and about 10 minutes into it, the headlines read the official report that the officers were dead and the names of them.

I felt sad, but it didn’t truly hit me until the memorial service. T-shirts were being sold and all the money went to the families. I observed the families cry and still see them around the community at several events. Mayor Foster has shown several times his sympathy. The city ended up dedicating a section of Fourth Street to the fallen officers and also Officer Crawford who died in a shooting on February 21st and was remembered for the anniversary of his passing yesterday.

I didn’t bring my tripod to the memorial service and I remember looking at it and decided to not bring it. It was a big challenge to get good shots at the event since the sun went down really quick. The shots that came out great were some of the speakers and the prayer circle. Since it was a memorial service, there were lit candles just about everywhere. So the lighting of the pictures was mainly from the bottom up and hit the face.

If I had a tripod, I would’ve had taken a lot of clearer shots that could have grabbed a better emotion. It is really interesting for me to see how far I have come in photography just a year ago. I start to see everything differently and notice when and how are the best shots achieved. I couldn’t use the longest shutter speed for these pictures because of the lack of stability. I tried to get as close as I could without interrupting the service to get pictures that can make an impact.

This blog of reflection is helping me tremendously understand what I have done wrong and what I need to do to make a better shoot in general. If I were to go out now and with the same lighting and equipment that I had, I feel that I will be much more efficient in the pictures that I can do now.

Wrong Way Skate

Kettle Corn

I love the Saturday Morning Market in Downtown St. Petersburg. Fresh and home made just about anything you can think of. Whenever I go though, I always run into the Kettle Corn people. At first I think “sounds good, but I am fine,” but this guy has a bag and a scoop and offers free samples! I have to say, I always fall for the sample and walk away with a bag. The are too good!

Lets Draw Underwater (Review)

St. Petersburg, Florida is an awesome community that has art as a part of it. The new Dali Museum has been packed every weekend, the museum of fine arts is very large and the Chihuly exhibit makes St. Petersburg so unique.

One of my favorite local artists in St. Petersburg is one named Hunter Payne. His art style has changed a good amount during the last four years, but one thing has not, and that is his passion and drive for art.

Hunter cares so much about art that he has made major sacrifices to dedicate every thing he possibly can to art. Last year, Hunter decided to pursue one of his many dreams with art. The project is titled “Lets Draw Underwater” which is Hunter going to the Florida Keys and snorkel in the ocean while drawing whatever he sees down there.

The first challenge was to get funding for his project. He tried out a website called Kickstarter, which is a site that allows people to post projects and dreams which then allows for the public to fund the ones they like. Hunter set a goal of $1,000 and ended up getting $1,292 which was more than enough for the materials and boat to take Hunter out.

Hunter went out to the keys to the open water two times and drew over 200 drawings while snorkeling. He went along with his close friend, Reuben Pressman, who assisted him by filming Hunter for his documentary by using a GoPro.

The launch of the “Lets Draw Underwater” expo was on January 27, 2012 at Studio 620 in Downtown St. Petersburg. Hundreds of art appreciators gathered to see the inspiring documentary, ponder about the art, drink chocolate milk and most of all be happy.

The overwhelming emotion of happiness spread to every single human being that night at Studio 620 because we all witnessed someone write down a goal and worked to his full ability that he could. A dream was accomplished, and we had the honor of seeing it documented and shared.

Hunter received several hugs, congratulations, visits from old friends and teachers because of his talents, love, dedication, uniqueness and most of all, because of him. People left the night with a smile, inspiration or a piece of art. There was something special about that night, something supernatural than any other expo. This was the birth of Hunter Payne in St. Petersburg, and we can’t wait to see what other dreams he will accomplish.

Hunter made Studio 620 into a feel that we were walking around underwater. The paintings were hung from the walls on fishing hooks. The walls were painted blue and had waves on top and there was actual sand pushed along the sides of the wall to give it a realistic effect and vibe.

I really enjoyed taking pictures at the event. The lighting was really neat and I don’t like using flash that much. I sacrifice the flash so I can get more colors to work with. These shots have a pretty low f-stop and about a 1/10 shutter speed for most of them. There is still a lot more that I need to learn in shooting photography at night or low lighting, so any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!

The walls painted blue, sand pushed on the sides and paintings hunt by fishing hooks.

Free stickers and prints for sale.

Hunter explaining a little bit about the trip before the screening of his documentary.

People coming in and out throughout the night to see the art.

To see the documentary and the drawings, please read and see all about it here at HunterMadeIt.

Sunrise Run

This is a shoot of the Bayboro Bay from the Vinoy Park in downtown St. Petersburg for the annual Sunrise 5K Walk/Run. I took this shot in the morning starting at around 5:30 a.m. It is easy to build a passion for photography in St. Petersburg because the city makes it easy on us. This city is so photogenic that a photographer can just make a quick spin and shoot something amazing here. After living here for about four years, I have noticed that the potential in all the pictures to do in St. Petersburg are endless.

The best part about shooting an event, that requires getting out into the city early in the morning, is the amount of unique colors and light that you can work with. Since the sun comes up on the bay and sets at the beach, the amount of colors that a photographer can work with ranges from each end of the city.

I was sent to shoot this event on behalf of my internship with Rothwell Marketing Concepts. My internship has been mainly based on going to events and taking pictures for the company. We were working with one of our clients, Chik Fil-A, which is one of the main sponsors of the event.

The day was long, but I really did enjoy taking pictures and walking around to experience the event. The weather was perfect and the participants in the race were from all different age ranges. There were also a lot of leadership figures attending including the Mayor of St. Petersburg, Bill Foster.

There was a lot of sunlight and I had to use a very fast shutter just to get the sky to be blue. But after seeing some of the shots that I took, you might see where my area of improvement should have been in. Always be sure to check your pictures while you are taking them.

This first shot would have been much better if I would have shot it with a higher f-stop, but I kind of liked the effect that came out. The colors came out white, but detailed, instead of yellow.

Sunrise on Bayboro Bay.

I really enjoyed taking pictures of people running and walking during the sunrise. The angle of the light seems to have a much different effect compared to a sunset, especially in St. Petersburg. During a sunset in St. Petersburg, you have to be next to a beach and the colors are much warmer with strength in red. Here’s a shot with a slightly higher f-stop. See what I am talking about?

The sunrise on the walkers.

Something really unique about our Mayor is his calmness and how much pride I see in him for our city. I just took this shot because I love his pose of just waiting during his introduction. He was not standing on the stage or right next to the steps, but instead he blended in so well with the community.

Bill Foster

I really like this shot I took of this girl who wrapped a blanket around her after she ran. But I do see the improvements I need to make here. This shot needed a much faster shutter and higher f-stop. I do like the pose of the girl and her expression, but I see what needed to been done to make this shot much better.

Girl and her blanket

Blogging about my previous shoots are making me a better photographer so I can understand what I did wrong or right so I can keep in mind for the next shot.

All photos and writing by Danny McDonald

Madeira Beach

As my first post, I would like to show off a little bit about how amazing it is to live in Florida, especially during the end of December. My family and I are renting out a beach house, enjoying the sun and pool daily with the relaxing sounds of the waves every five seconds. Here is a shot of our view from the balcony. I have decided I want to live on the beach eventually. I want to wish everyone a Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and a very Happy New Year!Image

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