Saturday, August 27, 2011

prepare, then change

Be prepared, my Boy Scout past tells me & be willing to change, my life as a photographer has taught me.  Carry these two ideas with you and most ventures will be successful - including photo shoots. Before arriving at the Manifest Gallery to photograph a drawing workshop for Cincinnati Magazine I had all of the gear needed, the name of the contact person and an idea of what to capture on digital film. Once I arrived, some things changed - as they often do.  The room was different than I had imagined (bigger), as was the light (better) and the number of people (more).  I was able to use a tripod (as I hoped), no flash (as expected) and was there for an hour & 1/2.  I shot 391 frames and uploaded 41 to the magazine.  The three images below are different points of view but tell the same story.  They are a result of being ready & being ready to change.

Friday, August 19, 2011

the environmental portrait

John James started working on the Ohio River 45 years ago.  When I met him in 2006, he had been a pilot on the Anderson Ferry for twenty years and a part of the living history of the river.  Full of tales, thoughts & opinions of life on the water, his portrait is a cornerstone of my Rivermen photo project. Light & background are the keys to good environmental portraiture and aboard Boone #7 Ferry, I had both.  Metal walls painted silver reflected morning light off the river and an overhead canopy screened the direct rays of the sun and made it a great floating studio, & one where my subjects felt completely at home.  I shot fifty frames of John, horizontal & vertical - all with the same lens (75mm).  I tried to work quickly, but not rushed, and would drop the camera from my eye occasionally to talk with him.  I never asked him to pose - the looks are his, especially the pipe.  The whole shoot lasted 15 minutes and frames 28, 29, 31, 32 & 35 are below.  #35 was my choice - the one that became a 'digital tintype' and is now included in the ongoing collection of Ohio Rivermen.



Monday, August 8, 2011


Capturing motion in a still frame is something sports photographers have done for years.  The key - freeze the action, but still show movement, which brings me to the technique known as panning. The photos of Ganassi teammates Scott Dixon (eventual race winner) & Dario Franchitti were shot at the same location, with minimal distractions in the background & foreground.  Shutter priority on the camera, 70-200mm lens (zoomed to 135), continuous autofocus (with the center point in focus), 200 ISO and continuous high on the shutter.  Determining the correct shutter speed takes a number of 'test' shots - as you want the car to be in sharp focus, but the wheels and background to be slightly blurred.  These images were shot at 1/400 of a second.  Focus on the car before you begin to shoot and pan your camera (while shooting) at the same speed as the car;  continue to pan after you quit shooting.  150 miles per hour in one frame.

elements in the frame

There are many ways to assemble the parts of a photograph.  Our old friend Cartier-Bresson believed in the combination of 'geometry' & action before he pushed the shutter.  In other words, compose a photo with an interesting background and then wait for something to happen within that frame - the decisive moment.  These photos from Mid Ohio are based loosely on that technique, the only difference being that I can't see what is in the frame - I am simply putting the camera into a position that I think will yield an interesting image.  Sometimes it works, most are failures.  In the first photo, I simply wanted to get the camera high enough to get a good view of the cars as they were moved from the track - that's my shadow on the left side.  What I didn't count on was Danica Patrick walking into the scene with an autograph seeker also included.  The second shows Ana Beatriz signing an autograph, but this time 2 'happy accidents' happen - someone is pushing Ana's bio sheet into the picture and a fan is taking a photo of the signing.  Both elements help to complete the story being told.  Great photographs?  No, but ones that show the wisdom of Bresson's advice.

Friday, August 5, 2011

living color

"When you're racing, it ... it's life.  Anything that happens before or after ... is just waiting" - Steve McQueen, in the film "LeMans."  And, at MidOhio, that life is played out in vivid color.

Monday, August 1, 2011

bag art

I own a lot of camera bags.  Three LowePros, 5 ThinkTanks, four Domkes, one Tenba and 1 Tamrac. Through the years I have sold or given away too many to count and several of the bags that I currently warehouse have been 'modified' from their maker's original design.  As equipment and my assignments have changed, so have my needs. But my desire has always been the same - take as little amount of gear as possible, but be able to expand so that you can carry everything you own.  Believe me, not as simple as it sounds and that's why I currently have 14 bags (not including computer-only bags).  Of all the ones that I own, I recently realized that one brand continues to appear in my photos - Domke.  They are canvas and do age well, but deep down I wonder if there is something intrinsically artistic about them. Maybe it's just the potential they hold.