My photo
... is a freelance photographer working in Middle Georgia

Friday, March 30, 2007


I spent Friday March 2 in Americus, Georgia photographing the aftermath of a tornado. Covering news events like this where people have been killed, others have lost their homes always leave me with really mixed feelings. You know that there are some really great photos to be taken, and you want to shoot them.
This is what we do, we cover the news.

The heart of any news story are the people involved. You are photographing folks who are having probably one of the worst days of their lives. Sometimes it hurts even when you are insulated behind your camera. Some don't want to be photographed, I can understand that. But others don't mind, they stop and talk with you, willing to share their story, this moment in their life. And almost always with a great kindness.
Guess over the years folks have seen that their stories are told honestly in our paper, and that we stay away from sensationalism. Maintaining that trust is important to us all.
Sometimes you know that you have a really strong photo, but you feel a bit of guilt
as well. Your great picture is at their expense. But it isn't about the photos, it is about telling their story. Letting others know what they went through.
Jeryl Pinnell, his family and friends were cleaning up and repairing storm damage in his drugstore. Been at it all night. Not only did they let photograph their work, and tell me their story, they let me use an office to download and send my photos. They also tried to feed me. Middle Georgia grows some fantastic people.

Covering the big stories on the road is a lot easier with our present technology.
Digital cameras, laptop computers. There was a time when you had to carry a small darkroom with you, or find one. Then wait in line to have the Associated Press folks send the picture. Now you can download your images into your laptop, get them ready and send with your cellphone.
That's what I did in Americus. Only trouble, everyone else was using their cellphones, too. It took forever. I stood holding my phone over my head where it registered the best signal for about 45 minutes. I remembered a conversation with AP photographer Charlie Kelly back in the late 1970's while covering Jimmy Carter. Charlie had set up a darkroom in a motel bathroom in Plains and sent his pictures. He said "Danny, I can see myself one day, standing in a motel parking lot in South Georgia with an antenna on my head yelling Beam Me Up Washington!"
Well Charlie, here we are.
The photo below was taken by Jeff Blake as I sent photos from another event.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

My Canon

My sweet wife Deborah bought me a little Canon A540 last year. I wanted a small camera that I could easily carry, with a decent wide zoom, and that would do 800 ISO.

Well I got my little Canon and I love it. It goes where I go. Works pretty good in low light. Some folks might mind the noise you get with the high film speed equivalent, but, hey, I used to shoot Tri-X at 3200 and process in Ethol Blue. Only old photographers know what that means.

My wife, family and friends hate this camera. I am always shooting with it. Lot of pictures get dumped, but get some really cool ones, too. Back in the old days I carried a Leitz CL, a small 35mm camera that was quite, and worked well in low light. A good camera to play with. My A540 does much the same, but some ways even better. The lens is not as sharp, but now I can shoot in color when I want to, and I don't have to reload every 36 exposures, or develop film. And I can change film speed without wasting a roll of film.

In some ways it makes me work harder. Cameras and lenses are tools. The eye still finds the photo and the best composition, for sure. But a good DSLR with a motordrive and different lenses can make it easier. Can make you lazier. Guess it is a big dose of simplicity.

I have set a goal to shoot at least one photo for myself every day. If you have a camera handy, and don't mind people thinking you are a bit weird, you can do it.
These are photos really for myself. Get stuck in traffic, out comes the camera. Shooting reflections in the rearview mirrors, light reffracting in the rain streaks on the glass. Just playtime.

Go shoot some pictures, have fun.

Monday, March 26, 2007

The Eye

I am part of a small photo group, a bunch of friends mostly from my church. We do field trips and learn together. After a recent trip to Calloway Gardens someone said "you should teach us to see pictures the way you do." Really got me thinking. Why do I see pictures when others walk by them. Guess a part of it is knowing how to see the light as it will be photographed, what a certain lens will do, and part of it from being old and looking thru a Nikon for so long.

It was so frustrating as a beginner to see a picture in my mind, and not be able to get it on film. Taking lots of pictures helps. Photographer Harry Callahan once said "To be a photographer, one must photograph. No amount of book learning, no checklist of seminars attended, can substitute for the simple act of making pictures. Experience is the best teacher of all. And for that, there are no guarantees that one will become an artist. Only the journey matters." I always knew what the first part of this quote meant. You really learn by doing, and doing. and looking at your photos to see what you did right or wrong. Then going and doing some more.

Some of us God gave an eye for a good photo. We develop this gift. We are also not afraid to be seen with our butts up in the air alongside a busy highway, or climbing up high to get a different angle, even if it doesn't work. We try and we learn, but we don't shoot all of our images from the same spot.

More on this subject at another time. The really important part of this quote is the last few lines. All of us will not be great artist, we don't have the eye, the gift, whatever. It does not matter. Do it for the fun of it. That is why we should all be taking pictures anyway. Do them for yourself. If someone else likes them, that is extra.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

The Moment

"We photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing, and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth can make them come back again. We cannot develop and print a memory." Henri Cartier-Bresson

So true in fishing and photography, we often remember the one that got away. Some you miss because you are not paying attention, and the moment is shooting baseball quite often. Get bored, not paying attention and there goes the picture. Some get away because we don't have a camera with us, or we don't want to take time to stop and shoot.

With the great little digital cameras around today not having a camera along is not a valid excuse. I always have a camera in reach these days, sometimes just in a hurry, or too lazy. I was driving home in January and saw this amazing sunset on Georgia Highway 49 in Peach County. It was great, sun huge and hanging low right over the top of a hill, taillights of cars driving into the sun. Didn't want to be late for dinner, so I drove past it. Finally turned around and went back. But alas, Henri, it was too late. I chased the sunset, and got some photos several miles away. What I could have done in five minutes took me almost an hour.

The photos I shot were not bad, but not what could have been.
Always take the time to shoot. You may never look at them again, but don't loose the moment. So much of being a good photographer is discipline. Make that a part of your discipline.

Punch that shutter button.

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