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

Friday, April 27, 2007


"It takes a lot of imagination to be a good photographer. You need less imagination to be a painter because you can invent things. But in photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary." A quote from photographer David Bailey.
Hope I don't make any painters mad, but it is true. So often in looking a the work of friends, I see a really nice picture deep inside their picture. They shot the whole scene, but missed the real picture.
Sometimes it is because so much is going on, and the picture gets lost in the overall. Sometimes it is really subtle, or only there for a brief second, then gone. You have to learn to look, learn to see. You have to be alert for that moment, the change in expression, the change in the light.

Learning this craft is so much more than fstops and shutter speeds. You learn to look at the whole scene to find your picture, then as you work with your subject you watch the light, and what is in the background. How will it change your photograph?

So many things influence a photograph. To see the change is good, but to anticipate is even better. Sometimes you just know what is about to happen, then you wait and wait. Be patient. When it all comes together, it is so worth it. Sometimes it doen't happen. Don't be discouraged, try again.

After you are done, look at each frame you shot. What could have made each one better? Every assignment I shoot, I think of all the things I should have done for a better photo as I drive back to the office. Always learning. Always chasing that better image.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

The Bohemiens

I ran across some photos recently of the Goatman. The Georgia version, not the one from Maryland. Georgia's Goatman was a guy named Ches McCartney. He lived in an old school bus out near Jeffersonville.
Got me to thinking about the oddballs I have met in my 35 years as a Middle Georgia photojournalist. Guess the two most eccentric, not including newsroom folks and politicians, were McCartney and a guy from Buena Vista named Eddie Owens Martin, also known as St. EOM.

The Goatman I remember from my early childhood, seeing him traveling around with his wagon pulled by about eight goats. He supposedly traveled through all the United States except Hawaii. Guess the goats couldn't swim and he didn't want to get wet. He was not real big on personal hygene. After about 30 years on the road he came back to Twiggs County, got rid of his goats and settled in. He would hitch rides into Macon quite often.
Cecil Bentley and I did several stories on him. I would sometime just stop by and visit with him.

Bill Boyd and I spent a day with Martin back in the eighties, the only time I met him.

The two had similar lives. Martin was born in Georgia while McCartney was born in Iowa. Both left home at age 14 and went to New York. McCartney said he married a Spanish knife thrower who was quite a bit older than he was. Martin said he spent his time in New York as a prostitute, drug dealer, fortune teller and transvestite known as the Tattooed Countess. You just gotta love that name.
Both settled in rural areas of Georgia. Martin was a folk artist and fortune teller. Both were viewed as real oddballs. McCartney would leave home for weeks at a time and wander. He was missing for quite some time and finally found in a hospital in California. Said he went out to marry Morgan Fairchild, but was mugged and beaten. I was at the airport when he came home, washed with a shave, haircut and new clean clothes. Didn't
recognize him.
They were a couple of real free spirits, true bohemians. One of my aunts always told me I was the bohemian of our family. Well, I couldn't hold a candle.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I am part of a photo group from my church. I have mentioned them before. We get together and play and learn. We have done some fun little photo excursions. Recently we went to Calloway Gardens and then to a really neat wildlife place about 5 miles up US Highway 27 from the Gardens.

It is an interesting place. They have a petting zoo, but also a pretty large fenced area where large water buffalo, American Bison, emu, and other critters wander freely. You can drive through and feed the animals. Drive your vehicle or rent a van for a reasonable price. Rent the van , cause your car will get trashed. These large animals can inadvertantly put some dents and scratches on your sheet metal.

Anyway, you buy bags of pellets to feed the masses, load up and drive through. You don't have to wait long to be surrounded by hungry animals. Take a wide angle lens, cause you will be up close and personal with some really large beast, with some powerfully bad breath. This shot above of Tracy backing away is not from fear of the animal, but due to its bad breath.

I was driving, so I didn't feed them, or take as many photos as most folks did. I shot mostly photos of the group interacting with the animals. What a blast. Do you know how long a water buffalo's tongue is? And watch out for the emu, they are kinda mean.

You have to balance your exposure to compensate for the difference between in the van and outside, but you get some cool pictures, much better than just the animal images. Just another way to push a shutter button and have fun.

Here is a link to a gallery of some of our pictures:

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Going Wide

I know one of the rules we all know is that you shoot portraits with
a longer lens. Use at least an 85mm, better yet a 105. With a wide
angle lens you will get distortion, make your subject look bad.
Well, I love to shoot portraits with a wide angle. Sometimes just
to get in some environment, but sometimes for the effect you get.
A little distortion can be kinda cool. It makes for an added emphasis,
especially if your subject has large beautiful eyes.

Don't get too wide with the focal length, and be careful where
you place your subject in the frame. Wide lenses can get wierd
in the corners sometimes. I have a 35 and a 24 I use a good bit
doing portraits. Sometimes I will go to my 20mm, but when I
do, I am pretty much doing environment.

Give it a try, shoot some with the longer lens, then give the
wide angle a try. Let me know how you do.
By the way, there is an email link at the very bottom of this
page. It kind of gets lost down there. Let me hear from you.

Friday, April 20, 2007

Groundbreaking 101

I have been shooting pictures for the Telegraph for 35 years. Wow. Guess that makes me kinda old. Where was I? Lost my train of thought....Oh, yeah, I remember.

In all those years, one of the most dreaded, hated things to shoot has been the ground breaking.We don't do check presentations. For a while we had a ban on ground breakings.
Anyway, you don't want to come back with a line of guys in expensive suits and ill-fitting hard hats throwing dirt. Gotta do something creative, something different. How many different ways can you shoot guys throwing dirt? I keep trying to come up with something original.

Last week I had to shoot the good folks at the Houston Medical Center in Warner Robins breaking ground for new construction. Worried for days about how I was going to do this. I do have a reputation to hold up. My ego on the line here.
he top photo was the first one I shot. It was different, the shovels waiting for the event to begin. I had shot a similar one last summer at Fort Valley State. It is the second photo. The newer one I really liked. It ran inside the main paper with a short story.

You try to be imaginative with your pictures, but if you get too far out, the editors don't want them. The shovels turning dirt will always work. Sometimes you get really lucky, and have a photo like the bottom one. The CEO and hospital administrator were propped on shovels waiting for the rest of the crowd, making an American Gothic. Too good to pass up, and our Houston Peach editor Misty Cline immediately saw the humor.
So, how many ways can you shoot a groundbreaking? I don't know yet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Shooting the Komen

I spent Monday afternoon in downtown Macon. If you didn't bring your camera and go hang out, shame on you. Great chances for some wonderful images during the Komen Central Georgia Cycle for the Cure. Even for an old hack like me. An opportunity for some different images, something that most of us get the chance to shoot only once a year. And for free.

The course is open, so you can roam around and pick your spot, shoot for a while then move on for a new view. Shoot with different lenses,odd angles. Plenty of time between laps to try a shot, do some chimping, to see what you got, and either reshoot or try another idea.. The first race gets you warmed up for the faster race by the pros. All of this gets you geared for the big boys coming into town.

If you didn't make it this time, hopefully they will be back next year. take a day off from work and go give it a try.
Middle Georgia has plenty of opportunities for different things to shoot. Check the Out and About each week. The Society for Creative Anachronism just had a weekend outing at Tobesofkee, the Ocmulgee Monument has the Native American Festival, Scottish Games at Culloden, different music festivals. Mossy Creek Festival is this weekend near Perry. Lots of good pictures to be found there.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Film vs Digital

"Computer photography won't be photography as we know it. I think photography will always be chemical". Annie Leibovitz

Sorry Annie, but I do not agree. The whole film vs. digital thing has always amazed me. To think that normally smart people could get so goofy. Over the years the method of capture has always been an issue with some folks. The first newspaper photo director I worked for hated 35mm. Did not want us to use anything but medium format cameras. He was a great photographer, I learned a lot form him. He cut his teeth on a 4x5 camera, so I guess taking up the medium format was a challenge for him. I hate 4x5's, never really liked meduim format cameras. The larger negative does give a better large print, but I never minded a bit of grain.

He was out of work for about eight weeks for surgery, I bought a bulk roll of 35mm Tri-X film, some Accufine developer(for doing push processing) and started shooting. Our editors loved the available light and candidness of 35mm, so when he came back, it was too late. That episode really changed me. I realized what dinosaurs a lot of older photographers had become. The old ways were always better to them. I didn't want to fall into that mindset.

Back in the early 80's when digital was being first talked about, I knew some shooters who just knew this was the end of the world as we knew it. We would all be replaced by robots with cameras, just pointing and shooting. Well, it ain't the capture method, Waldo, it is still the eye and the heart that makes a great photo. Either God gave you that gift, or He didn't.

I still shoot some film, gets less and less each year. I will always keep a film camera available. There is look that you get from black and white film that is hard to duplicate with digital. But at least I have not become that dinosaur.
If any of you young folks don't understand some of the references to some of this old film technology, shoot me an email aand I will explain

Friday, April 13, 2007


"You learn to see by practice. It's just like playing tennis, you get better the more you play. The more you look around at things, the more you see. The more you photograph, the more you realize what can be photographed and what can't be photographed. You just have to keep doing it." Eliot Porter

I went over to the CVS next door the other day. Folks from our office frequent the place for snacks since our vending machines are overpriced and under stocked. We are on a first name basis with a lot of the employees.
The manager introduced me to a new employee and told her "Danny has the best job in town." And I do.
I know how blessed I am to have a job I love so much. Not many people do. Trouble is I often am not sure where the job stops and the recreational picture-taking begins. I think it all runs together. Actually I know it does.
My wife Deborah is one of the few people who have been in my life that understand the way I am. I have known other photographers who were the same. We do some crazy hours. Some of it is because i have to. Things I am required to cover for work. Real early mornings, nights and weekends. You kinda make life fit your schedule. Lots of people who are in relationships don't understand.

Back in the old days of shooting film when we were dating(only about seven years ago) it was not unusual for us to be out and about and I shoot something that I wanted to do for the paper. It was either wait for me at home or tag along. She usually came along, and didn't get mad about late dinners or missed movies.
She still understands when I want to spend a Saturday morning or an evening shooting pictures. Some make the paper, some are just because I want to shoot em. She knows deep down that I would really be raking leaves than taking pictures. Yeah, right. She understands and takes pride in what I do.
A lot of people over the years have told me that I will end up burned out from shooting so much. Well, as long as I am having fun, I know I am okay. Doing the fun stuff keeps me sane, and makes up for the really boring assignments that come along.
And I sure need the practice!

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


I am angry. Allen Detrich was a photographer for the Toledo Blade in Ohio. He cheated. This guy had 25 years at the Blade, and did something really stupid. He covered the first baseball game of the Bluffton College team after their fatal bus crash in Atlanta, along with a ton of other photographers from around Ohio. You can read the story on the National Press Photographers Association website, and see the pictures

He and everyone else shot a photo of the team huddled in prayer before the game. His photo ran on the front page of the paper.Seems all the other papers represented used their version of the picture as well. All the other pictures had two legs showing beneath signs in the background. Detrich's didn't.

Another photographer was looking at the various papers website looking at their coverage when he noticed the lack of legs. When the Blade's management first asked about why his photo was different, Detrich said he just could not understand why there were no legs in his photo. He didn't manipulate the image. He finally admitted
removing the legs in photoshop, but said he had done it for his own use, and did not mean to turn it in to run in the paper.

He was suspended from work for two days, then resigned over the weekend.

Like I said. This makes me angry. It casts a shadow on the work that we all do. Puts doubt in the minds of our readers. It is also hard for me to believe that this is the first time a guy who has worked in our profession for 25 years has done this. You don't go along for so many years, and all of a sudden cheat. Especially on something like this where you know you gonna get busted. has to be just a routine thing you do.

Now all of his photos in the papers archive are being examined to see if other altered images are seen. Someone should have known before. I would hope that our readers would get on our case if they think we did wrong. The initial call that started these last three posts, the one about Grant's baseball picture, kinda made me angry that someone would doubt what we do. Now I feel differently.

Hold our feet to the fire. If you have a doubt about our work, ask us. Our Director of Photography Woody Marshall would want to know. So would those of us who are trying to be ethical in what we do.

Thanks for letting me rant

Monday, April 9, 2007

"All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth." Richard Avedon

Think about that one for a while. As a photojournalist, I take pride in showing the truth. Graphic artist Erin Ivanov commented on my last post, raising the point that we are artist, not "simply data-capturing machines" and we manipulate reality. She says "Besides the camera itself intervening and imposing its rules and limitations on the "reality" hoping to be captured, the photographer imposes himself as well."

This is true. We choose the lens we shoot with, the angle from which we shoot. the crop, and just being there alters the situation. The lighting we use also has an effect.

Photographs have two main purposes in a newspaper. They are to be informative, giving the readers some information, and also to catch their eye, making them want to pick up the paper and read. Our pictures tell a story. Too often now with space in the paper a premium, we have to tell our part of the story with one photo. We try for the picture that best illustrates the story. Sometimes the picture runs with a story, sometimes alone. All good newspaper photos should be able to stand on their own merit.

We also want an image that just screams. A picture that stops you as you walk past that newspaper laying on the table, or as you scan the page. Stops you in your tracks. But we do it with lighting, composition and content. Not with sensationalism. We don't go for that at the Telegraph. And we shouldn't.

Another factor that plays into the way we shoot is again integrity. We do our best to be unobtrusive as we work. We pick our angles for the most interesting photo, but we don't leave out important parts of the story. We realize the limitations we work under in trying for reality, and we stay as close as we can.

We tell our subject's stories as truthfully as we can.

Friday, April 6, 2007

Its About Integrity

This photograph ran in the Houston Peach Yesterday, from a Perry/Peach County baseball game. It was taken by fellow staff photographer Grant Blankenship. Grant is one incredible sports shooter, very innovative in what he does. He told sports writer Robyn Disney he was gonna rock the Peach, and he did.

Someone called me yesterday to ask about the photo, didn't think it was real. Asked if the picture was enhanced in the computer, did Grant place the ball in the photo. Said the ball was too sharp, yada, yada, yada. I explained that we do not do that. What you see in our pictures is what we capture with our cameras. We are bound by our ethics to be honest with our work. You don't add anything, you don't remove anything. Don't even crop out part of the photo that will alter its integrety. We don't set up our pictures either. Some media folks do, but we don't. Altering a photograph will get you fired, and it should. But it is not the fear of loosing a job that keeps us away from digital diddling. It is a huge pride in what we do. And by the way, the Photo Department of the Telegraph is a bunch of very professional, highly skilled and gifted people. Don't question our skills or integrity.

Like Grant said yesterday "What would be the fun of doing it in Photoshop. The fun comes from the challenge of getting the photo." Yes fun. Grant is like me, What we do is fun, meeting the challenges that come with what we do. We play. We shoot to get the money shot, the one we gotta have to cover our butts, then we play. That is how you keep learning, how you get those pictures that just pop off the page. And the Telegraph photos usually pop. Statewide professional journalism contest results were just released. 14 of 18 won by the Telegraph were for photos.

This was not an easy picture to shoot. It was done with a 300mm f2.8 lens and a 1.4 extender, making a 420mm lens.No depth of field. Pre focused on a spot between the batter and the pitcher. Grant said he has been trying to shoot this picture for the last 4 or 5 games. Tuesday it worked. "I was dissatisfied with pictures shot from that particular angle," he said. "I spent time at each game working on this before getting down to business. There are pictures you have to get."

"It's kinda cool when it works. You can't do it more than once. Creating it in Photoshop would not have been rewarding at all." You go, Grant. This is what we are, photographers...photojournalist. Not graphic artists.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

I have two constants that have stayed with me through 35 years of photography.
A love for black and white and photographing in downtown Macon. Most of the time combining the two. The architecture, light and just the general ambiance seem to lend themselves to black and white.
Back in the old days of Tri-X and Nikon F's, I spent a lot of time walking downtown. I was downtown many mornings as the sun came up. We had an afternoon paper and I came in really early. Some days at lunch I would be walking again. If I needed a feature, I could always find something between Riverside Drive and Poplar Street.

We shot most of our pictures in black and white, not having color in the paper most days. I swear I saw the world in monochrome. One of my bosses early on gave me a wonderful bit of advice. Don't use a light meter, learn to read the light. Made me a lot more aware of how the light played on my subjects.

Doing only black and white also made me better at composition and finding that oh so elusive moment. A really good black and white photo has to be stronger than a good color photo because all it has going for it is composition, lighting and content. A color photo has color to give it a boost. When I look at photos now, I usually don't pay a lot of attention to the color. My wife tells me quite often that the way I match my clothes makes her wonder about my photography some time. Maybe I should dress in black and white?

Now days I shoot some black and white film, but mostly digital color. A lot of my personal pictures are black and white when I see them in my mind's eye. They live a very short life as color photos. So I thumb my nose at Paul Simon, because everything
does not look worse in black and white.

Give it a try, see monochrome.

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

It is getting to be springtime, or at least that short period of really wonderful weather in Middle Georgia before the temperature and humidity get outrageous. You can still get out and walk. Macon has lots of photogenic places to take a stroll.
Surprisingly to some folks, it is a lot easier to see a good picture possibility walking than cruising by at 60 miles per hour. Lots of neat blooms and blossoms, bees and bugs on plants. You don't see unless you look, and then you have to find that perfect angle.
Rose Hill is a wonderful place to walk and take pictures. Lots to shoot, the light is always changing, and great exercise as well. Just about any time of day or year is good to shoot there. Pick a subject to photograph in the spring. Then go back and look in the fall and winter. Like a completely different subject. The light changes during the day to create a different look as well. Just remember where you are.
This is a cemetery, so be reverent and respectful of other visitors.

If you take your time, you might get lucky like I did the last time there and get some wildlife. Our little photo group came upon two hawks. We spent at least 20 minutes with these guys. Made some wonderful pictures.
And, by the way, don't try to carry all the photo equipment you own. Take what you need, and can carry comfortably. This is supposed to be fun, you know.
By the way, keep your ears open, too. The top picture, Deborah came to me and said she had found an
awesome picture, and I should come shoot it.

Be A Pepper

I really like this picture. I have no idea why I like it. I went out one Saturday morning not long ago, just really needing to shoot some pictures. Sometimes I just have this overpowering need to go shoot something totally non-news related, something that will never find its way to newsprint.

I went to photograph one of those old Fred Flintstone satellite dishes, you know, the ones that are about 15 feet in diameter. Well, could not get the dish pix to work. Just not happening. So as I walk back to the car, I see the Dr. Pepper bottle laying in the grass.

I spend the next 30 minutes photographing the bottle. Obviously very amusing to numerous passers by. Not your usual saturday morning fare, I guess. Anyway, I wanted to be a Pepper, too.

I downloaded the pictures and as I first looked at them, really wondered why I spent so much time taking pictures of an old bottle. I saved one frame, and dumped the rest. Well, about a week later I Thought maybe it would be a better black and white. I desaturated it, and thought maybe I should leave part of it in color. So here it is.

I always feel guilty altering images like this in photoshop. A definite no-no for photojournalist. Could that be why I like the photo now? The thrill that comes along with guilt? My uncle did drop me on my head when I was a baby.

So here it is for all to see. Now those folks who were driving by will know how crazy I am.

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