MeFi's 8th Anniversary Party: Ground Kontrol, Portland July 19, 2007 10:45 PM   Subscribe

Boxes, boxes, and more boxes: I don't even have Internet yet at the place I just moved into. To top it all off, I'm having problems with Gallery -- after wrestling with it for a while, I finally just gave up and uploaded everything onto Flickr. It seemed inevitable anyway.

There were so many at the anniversary bash that the final headcount will likely never be known, nevermind an actual attendance list. I'm sure I managed to shoot less than a quarter of the attendees. My apologies especially to those whom I talked to but didn't get a chance to take a decent portrait of, such as pikachulolita, crutonsupafreak, (cough) mathowie (I am so fired), and a number of others. I'll do my best to make up for it the next time I'm in town.

Don't forget to use the mefi8 tag on Flickr to see all the photos from everyone. I think we're still waiting on kindall's.

Thanks once again to mathowie for flying me up to Portland for the party, and melissa may and sleepy pete for not just hosting my stay, but also for being two of the most generous and amazing people on this planet. I hope to be able to visit Portland again soon!

And now... let the MetaCrushing begin!
posted by DaShiv at 10:47 PM on July 19, 2007


*resumes breathing*
posted by wendell at 10:51 PM on July 19, 2007

Wow, beautiful shots! I especially love the DDR one. Thanks for this, it looked like a blast!
posted by piratebowling at 11:01 PM on July 19, 2007

Nice pictures. I wish I could've been there to tell Afroblanco how much I love his vocals on Bridge Over Troubled Water.
posted by ludwig_van at 11:01 PM on July 19, 2007 [2 favorites]

Not sure about ottereroticist's actual personal preferences, but I hope that the sticker on her right side is a joke (in this picture).
posted by philomathoholic at 11:18 PM on July 19, 2007

Nice pics! Y'know, I'm sorry but cortex is just strange looking. He looks equal parts Jesus/serial killer/UFO abductee/'human vampire who prefers the blood of innocents and virgins because it's more "fresh"'. That said, Afroblanco is very, very cute. I just want to dress him up in a Catholic school girl uniform, tie big red ribbons in his hair, and spank him for being such a naughty, naughty boy... alright, I should get some sleep before I say something embarrassing.
posted by nixerman at 11:19 PM on July 19, 2007

This looks like a Star Trek episode.

Spolier: The guy in the red shirt will get killed.
posted by vacapinta at 11:26 PM on July 19, 2007

Wow. You are good, man.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:32 PM on July 19, 2007

Everybody looks fabulous.
posted by tellurian at 11:39 PM on July 19, 2007

Aw, we just loved having you here. Thanks for wandering around Portland with us and for posting the lovely pictures.
posted by melissa may at 11:46 PM on July 19, 2007

posted by blasdelf at 11:56 PM on July 19, 2007

GREAT pictures!

The pic with the admins under one roof got me thinking, though... Are there measures in place, ala the U.S. congress during the State of the Union address, in case the building were firebombed and all the admins expired in a fiery ball of flame? Would Metafilter spin into complete chaos or is there an emergency chain of command, with extra admins waiting in the wings?
posted by amyms at 12:10 AM on July 20, 2007

Such great photos! Wish I could have been there!
posted by misozaki at 12:11 AM on July 20, 2007

Not sure about ottereroticist's actual personal preferences, but I hope that the sticker on her right side is a joke (in this picture).

omg save that photo as evidence of the crime!
posted by ludwig_van at 12:30 AM on July 20, 2007

Okay, please tell me how to take pictures like that.

This is not a rhetorical compliment. I really want to know how you do that.
posted by Brittanie at 12:31 AM on July 20, 2007

OK. That does it. I need no further evidence. I am a photographer, and not an unskilled one. I have seen many of these people in person, and, well...

*stands up from tufted chair near a roaring fire, lightning flashing outside, pointing dramatically*

DaShiv has obviously made a deal with dark, sinister and positively unhuman forces in exchange for some kind of magic camera that captures and outright steals only the best parts of the victim's soul.

For what sinister ends we can only guess, but I do have a theory. Each person he takes a picture of gets just a little uglier. Eventually - after centuries of his evil necromantic ways - he'll be the most handsome (and pretty!) son of a bitch on the planet.

I mean, hell. Even my brother looks hot. And that... that's freaking me out more than just a little bit.

I'm calling this in to Buckaroo and the Blue Blaze Irregulars. He must be stopped before it's too late and we're all living in an episode of the Twilight Zone.
posted by loquacious at 12:34 AM on July 20, 2007 [3 favorites]

Nice work Mr. Shiv, as usual. I particularly like #11 (mosessis), just for the great DOF control and electroluminescent background.
posted by doctor_negative at 12:39 AM on July 20, 2007

Who's your brother, loq (provided that's not extra-super-secret info)?
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 1:00 AM on July 20, 2007

OMFG, those are amazing. Great use of backgrounds & insanely flattering shots.

daShiv is very charming and personable -- that must be why everyone has such a pleasant expression.

Yes, the sticker was a joke. Otherwise I would have had to do the Darth Vader hand crush.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:01 AM on July 20, 2007

Dammit, does your camera have some triple-classified experimental lens with inbuilt Photoshop hotness filter or something? 'Cos you really have got to stop making the rest of us with but meager point-and-shoot skills look pathetic.
posted by casarkos at 1:02 AM on July 20, 2007

specklet, I already had a virtual MetaCrush on you, thanks to the Kelis milkshake piece in your profile. But meeting you in person sealed the deal.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:07 AM on July 20, 2007

Oh, and cortex? I still have those CDs in my car.

Tell me where to drop them off, or they're going to the Bins.
posted by ottereroticist at 1:10 AM on July 20, 2007

I didn't make the cut. Oh well - zombie pictures of me are out there, they just take more effort.
posted by Nabubrush at 1:53 AM on July 20, 2007

Man, when people say you take awesome, flattering photos they aren't kidding. Nice.

And Jessamyn has a nose ring? I never noticed before. Is cute!
posted by shelleycat at 2:31 AM on July 20, 2007

I have a crush on every one of you. Stalking begins..... NOW.

dere da shivster, plz cm to grece snst fr to mk me prty. tx.
posted by taz at 2:42 AM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Wow, considering that we were drunk, sweaty and mostly in the dark, I am impressed yet again with your mad skillz DaShiv. Next time in Vermont!
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 3:42 AM on July 20, 2007

I think I smell a new tagline. *sniffs*
posted by taz at 3:54 AM on July 20, 2007

Metafilter: drunk, sweaty and mostly in the dark.
posted by adamvasco at 4:03 AM on July 20, 2007

DaShiv - The regular question: What equipment were you using that night?
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:27 AM on July 20, 2007

Does #1 shave his legs?
posted by needled at 4:33 AM on July 20, 2007

What equipment were you using that night?

Bodies: Canon 5D, DReb XT. Lenses: 16-35/2.8, 24/1.4, 85/1.2. Speedlite 430EX.

Okay, please tell me how to take pictures like that.

This is not a rhetorical compliment. I really want to know how you do that.

Here's an example: this photo of melissa may.

Before I had met melissa may in person, I asked her how she felt about a close-up. She emailed back her apprehension. Right then, getting a good shot of her became a priority.

As we were headed out the door on the night of the party, I told her that she looked great. She didn't feel the same way. As we got into the car, I told sleepy pete that I was flirting with his wife. I bought them both dinner, and then we hit Ground Kontrol.

I mostly left her alone for the evening. As the alcohol began to flow, she finally came up to me and told me she was ready. I led her by hand to a spot I'd already picked out: in front of the Simpsons machine next to the bar. You can tell from other people's photos that Ground Kontrol was a cavern of darkness, but the Simpsons had a big screen and used a bright palette that would throw lots of light on her face, and the bar lights behind her would be a ready-made background. I recycled this location throughout the night -- for instance, in this photo of vacapinta.

Here's what I told her: you hate mathowie. He strangles puppies. He kicked your cat. Both of them. Twice. Now give me your I-hate-mathowie face until the count of three. She protested. It was an unreasonable request to make of a most kind and decent person, but I yelled at her drunkenly (although good-naturedly) and she complied and tried to look hateful, or indignant, or something. The results were comical. I also recycled this gag throughout the night -- for instance, you can see agropyron's Fist of Rage unclenching in this photo of agropyron and janell.

When I reach the count of three, melissa may finally opened up with her amazing smile, which must've stopped traffic three blocks away with its wattage. ISO 3200, f/1.2, 1/100s, -1 2/3 stops fill, click. Done. Since I'm already next to the bar, I order another beer.

A few days go by. I dump the memory card to my computer. Like the rest of them, her photo is shit. If I were a better photographer, I'd be able to do this all correctly in-camera. Flat colors. Overexposed like a camwhore "glamour" picture. Green skin. I dig into the raw file. Adjust exposure and tone curve to recover blown highlights. Manual white balance in increments of 25 Kelvin. De-noise. I've managed to get the composition right in-camera so I've saved myself some cropping and straightening. Curves. More curves. Stand up, smoke a cigarette, unload a few more boxes of books from my car into my half-furnished apartment, then come back to look at this thing again with fresh eyes. Even more curves. Resize. Unsharp mask. And now it's time to move on to the next one.

As best as I can answer the "how" question: to me, it's about engagement with what I'm looking at. Socially, aesthetically, whatever. This photo of mosessis? I stood at the head of the pinball machine she was on, yelling that I'm breaking her concentration, that she was intimidated by the camera, that the camera would eat her alive, until she finally looked up at me in exasperation -- click, there was her expression suspended in a sea of green. Why a take half-dozen perfectly servicable photos of blesdelf smiling but post the photo of the goofy expression? Spend a few minutes with him and it's obvious. This photo with its black-and-white stripes, her pale skin and dark hair, and the dab of white and black in the background? Pieces of a puzzle that came together for the photo. And this pose matching the Burger Time chef next to him? No accident -- I had to tell him I wanted to shoot the nametag on his arm to get him to turn just so. Even grab shots [1] [2] mean being engaged with the moment as it unfolds.

I guess it's the difference between casting a fishing line from the shore versus donning waders and waddling waist-deep into the current. The most interesting catch is the one you have to work and invest for. To me it's not about making people magically beautiful -- it's about that finding that spark of connection and life when there's engagement and interest in the photo and its subject. That's all. And I always feel lucky when something works.

Thanks so much for everyone's kind words, by the way. Some nights I feel that all this has been a ruinously expensive exercise in ego and dilettantism. And then on nights like these I can dream that this might've been what I was born to do all along.
posted by DaShiv at 5:27 AM on July 20, 2007 [243 favorites]

DaShiv, that was phenomenal.
posted by purephase at 5:34 AM on July 20, 2007

Still the master, dashiv. nice work.
posted by jonmc at 6:09 AM on July 20, 2007

I am so jealous... I feel like Kilgore Trout seeing Vonnegut.

"DaShiv, make me a beautiful person too!"
posted by Meatbomb at 6:14 AM on July 20, 2007

What a great twinkle you caughtin Specklet's eyes. Fabulous.
posted by plinth at 6:20 AM on July 20, 2007

Man, y'all look great! Nice work, DaShiv.
posted by myeviltwin at 6:25 AM on July 20, 2007

DaShiv's photography is great, but his photography-technique-discribing prose is phenomenal. Much love, wish I was there. And I wish I had shaved the one time he took my photo.
posted by Plutor at 8:08 AM on July 20, 2007

Excellent work Dashiv, and thanks for the "how to" story.
I have experimented before with the "talk to them and prod them until they shine" part, but your talent with light, camera and photoshop is fantastic. Congrats.
posted by bru at 8:28 AM on July 20, 2007

Goddammit, give DaShiv a gold star too. What a genius.
posted by languagehat at 8:31 AM on July 20, 2007

Y'know, I'm sorry but cortex is just strange looking. He looks equal parts Jesus/serial killer/UFO abductee/'human vampire who prefers the blood of innocents and virgins because it's more "fresh"'.

I get that a lot.
posted by cortex (staff) at 8:41 AM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Okaaaaaaay - but it's still a magical camera right?
posted by gomichild at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

Just to share some of the hate envy with those among us who aren't photo geeks, let me just share the bits that he left out of the description of his equipment:

Lenses: 16-35/2.8L, 24/1.4L, 85/1.2L.

The L stands for Lust.

Seriously though, fantastic work both in the composition and the post, they're wonderful.
posted by Skorgu at 8:50 AM on July 20, 2007

Insanely great. The room was so incredibly dark I can't believe how good these are. DaShiv is a magician and a saint for getting photos this good.
posted by mathowie (staff) at 9:02 AM on July 20, 2007

DaShiv, interesting to hear that there was method behind that madness. Because the next morning, the first thing my cousin said to me was, "that guy with the camera was pretty creepy, wasn't he?" I told her that well, yes, perhaps a little creepy, but since he was a friend of mathowie, perhaps there was something more going on.

So there it is. You were being slightly creepy in order to get good photos. I can ride with that.

FWIW, even though you did come off as a perhaps very slightly creepy, the conversations I had with you weren't really that much stranger than the ones I had with most other people there. Not terribly surprising that we're all a little weird in person. I would hope nothing less, really.
posted by mosessis at 9:05 AM on July 20, 2007

Damn! DaShiv has a great eye!
posted by mds35 at 9:35 AM on July 20, 2007

Is this some new technique for DaShivisection? I thought you liked lurking in the background sucking down Guiness while secretly stealing our souls with your magic camera.
posted by mandymanwasregistered at 9:39 AM on July 20, 2007

Fantastic photos it looks like they all were shot in a studio in controlled conditions, but that's a meetup ! Compliments to the Photographer.
posted by elpapacito at 9:58 AM on July 20, 2007

These photos are all obviously biased, since I'm not in any of them. And it's not just because I'm ugly, since the cute girl with all the facial piercings isn't anywhere either.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:10 AM on July 20, 2007

wow- great work, dashiv!
posted by small_ruminant at 10:27 AM on July 20, 2007

DaShiv, wonderful photos. We're glad you had a great time in Portland and you should come back sometime soon.
posted by sleepy pete at 10:35 AM on July 20, 2007

I pulled the trigger on this one of the man himself -- you can tell because it's not as good!

When he took my picture he berated me to stop fucking smiling jackass! -- when I took his I did not think to return the favor!
posted by blasdelf at 10:44 AM on July 20, 2007

Best bokeh of the web!
posted by mullingitover at 11:06 AM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

"that guy with the camera was pretty creepy, wasn't he?" [...] "stop fucking smiling jackass!"

Let me be the first to say that subtlety and alcohol do not mix. But, whatever works, up to and including being a jerk (at the time) about it. The ends justify the means, right? ...right?
posted by DaShiv at 11:15 AM on July 20, 2007

Skorgu writes "The L stands for Lust. "

It's a little-known fact that the paint used for the red ring on the L series lenses contains the actual blood of Christ.
posted by mullingitover at 11:23 AM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

I'm heartbroken all over again for not being able to attend!
posted by Space Kitty at 11:54 AM on July 20, 2007

Those are outstanding photographs, DaShiv.
posted by Kwine at 12:34 PM on July 20, 2007

nixerman: "Nice pics! Y'know, I'm sorry but cortex is just strange looking. He looks equal parts Jesus/serial killer/UFO abductee/'human vampire who prefers the blood of innocents and virgins because it's more "fresh"'."

I think he just looks like "Weird Al" of Nazareth. Which, in many ways, he is.
posted by team lowkey at 12:35 PM on July 20, 2007 [2 favorites]

DaShiv, I've probably said this before but you are a god among men.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 1:09 PM on July 20, 2007

I forgot mentioning that mefi girls are extrordinarily good looking , as opposed to males ! Special mention for Introcosm for looking like the not yet known twin of Amelie down to mouth expression !
posted by elpapacito at 1:26 PM on July 20, 2007

I didn't think you were being a jerk. You were just disarming and it was a little confusing, especially for those of us who had been drinking a lot of cider (thanks again, Matt!).

Which I think was your intention, and it obviously produces really great photographs of the not quite candid but also not quite posed variety. I think that's what I like about them, that they're not "ok everybody pose now shots" but that you're also not necessarily trying to surprise people unawares. You've talked them into giving you good shots, whether they understand that at the time or not.
posted by mosessis at 1:30 PM on July 20, 2007

posted by BrodieShadeTree at 1:48 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

These really are such amazingly beautiful photographs! Thanks, DaShiv.

For those of you who weren't there, you can't imagine how dark it was in Ground Kontrol; how he got these gorgeous glowing shots is truly an amazing feat.

And: But meeting you in person sealed the deal.
Awww. Whuffles to you, otter.

posted by Specklet at 3:36 PM on July 20, 2007

Re: DaShiv's photographic process

I saw Matthew Jordan Smith shoot/speak last year in front of a large crowd, and while your taunting during the process is the antithesis of his approach, your use of flattery in secret anticipation and expectation of "the right moment" is identical. For whatever it's worth.

Also, so everyone else knows the real secret. The Canon 85 1.2 makes everyone look beautiful. Each lens is cut from the crystallized eye of the wisest sphynx to have ever walked our planet's surface and coated with the tears of Athena. The aperture blades are mettled of shavings from the shoes of Hermes and honed under Ares' direct and unblinking supervision. Its assembly demands such grace and precision that only immortal beings are even considered for the task, and even then they must devote their entire existence to this single effort. Fools ponder what happened to the ancient gods after the fall of Olympus, wise folk know that they are miles beneath the earth's surface crafting Canon's f1.2 lenses.
posted by pokermonk at 5:47 PM on July 20, 2007 [7 favorites]

damn, I wish I could write that way about my 85mm f1.4 Nikon. Sigh.
posted by pjern at 8:40 PM on July 20, 2007 [1 favorite]

the next morning, the first thing my cousin said to me was, "that guy with the camera was pretty creepy, wasn't he?"

That's the single biggest problem with using a SLR. The cost of being able to look through the lens is that you have to lug around a giant body and look like a paparazzi. This is why Leica is so popular with candid shooters: they allow you to be unobtrusive and still shoot at the crazy-large apertures you'll need for low lighting. Also, you don't have that CaaaCHIIIICK! shutter to put a spotlight on you--just a nice little CLICK! and you're done.

A truly underrated aspect of good photography is matching the expectations of your subject. If you're shooting fashion models, you're expected to have lights and a power block, soft boxes, umbrellas, etc. You come with a point-and-click camera, and all of a sudden you've broken the expectations of the model and they aren't going to feel comfortable right off the bat. This is before a single shot has been taken.

DaShiv's got the opposite problem: if the expectation of your subject is that there won't be any photographs, but you come in with a giant dSLR-5000X that shoots a gajillion frames a second and a lens that has more glass in it than the Hubble Space Telescope, the second you raise that beastly white death-lens at your subject, they either freeze like a giant wildabeast confronting a hungry lion or they throw their hands over their face like an arrested Mafia don being led past reporters.

It's supremely difficult to work past people's preconceptions, not just of the person shooting them, but also of what they think they're going to look like in the photograph. I love it when people who are being photographed say something like "Oh, I don't take good pictures"--when what they really mean is, "I haven't had any good pictures of me taken."

What's great about DaShiv's shots is that they give confidence back to the people he's shooting, so people give him more opportunities for good shots. It's like a giant feedback loop, and the results are fantastic.

As usual!
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 3:53 AM on July 21, 2007 [4 favorites]

Also, the f1.2L ain't got shit on the 24mm TS-E.

But even these are mere common goods, unfit for our worship. If the 1.2L was made by gods, surely the Nikkor 105 f/4 UV was made for the gods.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:06 AM on July 21, 2007

DaShiv, I am extremely impressed with your technique and the amount of effort you put in. Those are wonderful portraits. Well done.

DaShiv is the infinite capacity to take pains.
posted by popechunk at 9:31 AM on July 21, 2007

Now, if only DaShiv did Band Photography.
posted by anthill at 11:53 AM on July 21, 2007

The 5D full-frame and the L series work pretty fucking well, there! You have a good sense of how to capture people, as well as good technical skills.

Everyone thinks photography is easy. It isn't.
posted by chuckdarwin at 3:06 PM on July 21, 2007

Fantastic pictures as always, DaShiv, and many, many kudos to mathowie for this, whatever it is and whatever it will become.

What a delightful journey this has been for the rest of us—no matter when we appeared or disappeared or even stayed invisible for eight years—and the evolution to AskMe and Music has been more than successful, I think. Altogether a wonderfully entertaining run full of turn-of-the-century juice.

MetaFilter in your bookmarks is 2.0 times better than an iPhone in your pocket... This is a proven Meta-fact.

I raise an Internet pint glass (full to overflowing) to the future of MetaFilter and to the continuation of the insightful, abrasive, intelligent and constantly enlightening shit flinging web purity that I have come to make my home page (well, after I visit _blank).

I hope we all are around long enough for Fiona to be buying the celebratory round in 2024 (here in Montréal, of course wherer anything, even NewsFilter and sexy self-linking, goes..).
posted by St Urbain's Horseman at 10:33 PM on July 21, 2007

on nights like these I can dream that this might've been what I was born to do all along.

I'd say so, not only because of the expertise you apply to the technical side, but also the human, psychological work you do to get people shining. The story about melissamay's photo is a great example. If only all professional photographers were as sensitive to that.
posted by Miko at 11:47 AM on July 22, 2007

This photo is exactly how I wish to picture Matt. Somewhere, behind some curtain, working the controls of the MeFi Mothership.
posted by Pollomacho at 2:09 PM on July 23, 2007

Man, I watched Being John Malkovich again last night, hadn't seen it in awhile. That was a great performance, cortex.
posted by ludwig_van at 3:44 PM on July 23, 2007

Now, if only DaShiv did Band Photography.

I do Band Photography.
posted by lee at 11:51 PM on July 23, 2007

I either wished I lived closer (or, better yet) everyone lived closer to me.

Anyone from Illinois looking for the meetup? Only Mefi close to me is the ex-wife. And she's....icky...
posted by Samizdata at 8:52 PM on July 25, 2007

This was a great job. You all look great. I wish I could be there too.
posted by adnanbwp at 12:49 AM on July 27, 2007

Thank you, DaShiv. I've said it before, I wish I had the means to fly you and hire you for events.
posted by rainbaby at 9:03 PM on August 10, 2007

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