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

Friday, June 29, 2007

The Geese

This is one of my favorite pictures. I shot it in our backyard several years ago. We were living out in the country,
one of the best places I have ever lived. There was a pond a stone's throw from the back deck.

One Sunday afternoon these Canada Geese stopped in for a visit. We were watching a movie and heard their honking. Grabbed a long lens and went out the door. It was raining, not sure if the rain brought them down, or just time for a break.

Deborah and I watched them for over an hour. I had shot a bunch of pictures, but this was the one I was waiting for. These guys honking and flapping as they prepared to launch is so awesome. I hear them every time I look at this picture.

When you know a photo is coming, take the time to wait for it. I have folks tell me all the time about photos they didn't take time to get. So many wonderful memories looking at this photo, but no idea what the movie was we left to watch the geese.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

So Nice

Sometimes things just work so nice.

I had to photograph Robert Church in Fort Valley two weeks ago. Went to his home
with no idea for a picture. He is a very interesting man, who has lived 97 years on this earth. I had met him before, photographed him during the Fort Valley 150th Birthday Celebration. He was demonstrating old farm equipment.

After talking to Jake Jacobs, the writer doing the story, I thought I would shoot a nice portrait of Mr. Church, and pull one of the other pictures to run with it. When I got to his home, we talked and he showed me through the house. This room is an art gallery he built for his late wife Ruby's paintings.

I knew this was the location for the picture. Shot some from the other direction with my lights, then turned him around and used this really nice window light. He sat down and I shot this photo.

So often easy is so much better than complicated.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007


It is getting close to the 4th of July, prime time to photograph fireworks.
If you want to try this year, here's some things to consider.
You really need to shoot with a tripod. You should also shoot with your camera set on manual. Don't use a flash. A place to start on your exposure is f8 or f11 for your lens opening, and shutter speed around 2 to 6 seconds, using a film speed of 100.
If you are shooting digital, you can shoot and take a look to see how you are doing.
A 28-55mm range for your focal length would be good. Using a little zoom would be great. You can shoot at various focal lengths for tighter or looser images.
If you have an interesting foreground to frame your picture, it would be good. Fireworks bursts make good pictures, but can be more interesting with a cool foreground. Can be helpful to scout ahead.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Yet More Flash

I know y'all are getting tired of reading my ramblings on using flash, but this is so often
a really misused tool in photography. It really can be your friend.

These are examples of using flash outside at night, when there is no surface to bounce
your flash. Gotta use direct flash. All of these were shot using my off-camera cord. This makes you hold the camera with one hand and the flash with the other. Takes a little practice, but not that hard.

I was shooting with the camera and flash on manual. My ISO was 250. You have to be aware of the background, because it becomes an important part of the image. The difference in light sources will make the background photograph warmer. Usually the light in the background will be tungsten,and will look more golden that the light from your flash.

I balanced my shutter speed and lens aperture so the background would be about a stop darker than the subject. This is where digital is so helpful. You can shoot and look at the results. Use you exposure meter to determine your basic exposure, adjust you flash and camera to compensate. You don't want the background to overpower the subject. It should be subdued.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Flash, Part 3

Here's something else you can try sometime with your flash. When shooting action, slow your shutter speed
down enough to get some blur in your subject, but shoot with your flash. You get the movement of your subject, but the duration of the flash is so short that it will freeze part of the image. Can be really cool.

Remember that two things determine exposure when shooting with a flash. Distance from the flash to your subject and lens aperture. Shutter speed does not directly relate to your exposure by the flash, but relates to the ambient light. You can slow down your shutter speed and make your photo look more natural, or go up on the shutter speed to darken the background for a more dramatic look.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Using Flash

Had a comment from a reader about using flash, regarding harsh shadows.
These photos were all done with flash, but I bounced the flash off the ceiling.
You can't do it with a built-in flash, and works best with a flash with a movable head. Tilt the head up so it is pointed to the ceiling and shoot away. The light is indirect, (bounces around the room) for an even look. No harsh shadows. With most flashes you can still shoot in an automatic mode when using this technique

Slow your shutter speed down to make use of the ambient light in the room and your pictures will look even more natural.
A lot of flashes now have a small white reflector that you can use when doing bounce flash. This kicks a little light into your subjects face to fill in shadows caused by the light bouncing down from above.

The bottom photo shows a flash with the head pointed up, and the small reflector deployed.
If you have to use direct flash, try slowing the shutter speed down to use the ambient light. Just read your exposure meter to see what shutter speed you need for the aperture used with the flash.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Shooting Flash

I hate shooting flash. Always have. Guess it probably comes from way back when flashes were really terrible. Either real weak, or too strong, no way to control the output. I used an old Honeywell handle mount flash that was powered by a 510 volt battery. The only way to use it with Tri-X and a 35mm camera was to bounce the light. If there was no way to bounce and you shot direct flash, woe be unto you. You had some over exposed negatives.
Flashes now days are a joy to use. Auto exposure, variable power output, and small. I very seldom use on camera flash. I have mentioned before using an off-camera cord. Works great.

I have been using my little Nikon SB28 flashes with a optical slave trigger for a second light. Have to be fairly close, and still had to fire a flash from the camera to make it work. I had been looking for some radio triggers and came across some really inexpensive ones made by Morris. An on-camera trigger and receiver to go on the flash were less than $80.00. I have been using them for a while now with good results. They have a range of about 80 feet, work around corners. and you can use them in daylight.

The SB28's are set on manual, as is the camera. Power is down to 1/16 or less so they recycle really fast. These shots of Lillian Siu were done with the main flash stuffed in her cap to be out of sight

This makes a very small, easy to use light kit for lighting one or two people, or doing small objects. Fun, cheap toys, hard to beat.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Backlight, Part 2

Photo by Alex Haynes

Quite often with images that are backlit, you have to do a bit more work in Photoshop. You need to
lighten the foreground and darken the background to make it look the way your eye saw the scene.
My friend Alex sent me the corn photo on top. I really like the photo. All I did was darken the sky some
to bring out the pivot and some of the spray. Every image will be somewhat alike, but at the same time
different. Just get in there and play with them. A subtle change is often all that is needed.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Using Backlight

Alex commented on my mushroom post asking about shooting with backlight. Backlight can be tricky to work with. If you don't expose correctly, you get a silhouette.

These pictures of the politician were shot with very strong backlight. For the vertical I shot manually, and compensated for the backlight with my exposure.If I had shot on an auto exposure mode the meter would have been fooled by the bright light behind my subject. I opened up the lens aperture to get more exposure on his face.

This washes out the background because of the difference in the light behind and in front.

For the horizontal, I wanted to keep the background, so I shot with a flash to light his face and balanced the aperture and shutter speed to properly expose the background.

Shooting on manual gives you the control you need to make this work. With a digital camera you can chimp your way to success, checking your exposure to be sure you got it.

Strong backlight gives your subject a nice rim light, and blows the background away. More subtle backlight gives you a halo of light around your subject that separates them from the background.
If you are really serious about learning photography, I encourage you to shoot a lot more manually than on auto. And pay attention to the light as you shoot, and to the results.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007


I have this thing about shooting mushrooms. Every year I have to shoot a mushroom or two. Have the same deal with dandylions. Just have to get down on my belly and shoot at least once with each. And don't ever like what I shoot. This year its been harder to find good mushroms because it has been so dry.

These are okay, like the backlight. Anything always looks better with a little backlight. One of my mentors, Joe Holloway, Jr. who shot for the Associated Press, was the king of backlight. He always shot football so it was backlit. Always really kicked butt.

I like the little bug on the bottom of the one below. Try low angles on stuff, and give back lighting a try. If you get
a really cool mushroom photo, let me know.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Picture Choice

I was on the way to shoot an assignment Monday morning and passed a combine harvesting wheat in a field between US Highway 341 and Peggy Drive in Peach County. I shot my original assignment and went back to the wheat fields.

I started shooting pictures, and Ted Hughley stopped to repair a broken blade. I shot these two photos. I really liked the photo shot through the front of the machine(below), but you can't see what is happening to clearly. The photoaboveis from the low angle and shows what is going on a little clearer.

Later I shot him dumping wheat from his combine into a tractor-trailer rig. The last two photos are of the wheat flowing from the combine into the trailer. I shot as slow a shutter speed for one so the grains of wheat would blur. The other I didn't slow down on purpose, just worked that the exposure was slow enough to get some blur.
Which one would you choose? Think I will let the editor pick the repair shot, and I will opt for the photo with less blur. I like seeing more of the top of the tube and seeing some individual grains.
Lets see what the editor does.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Old Friends

I have some wonderful film cameras that seldom get used anymore. I have gotten rid of most of my SLR's. My daughter Tracy is making use of some of my film cameras. She has quite an eye, and loves black and white. Know where she got that. I still have an F5, an 8008, and my old Nikon F. Love the F. It is purely a mechanical camera, look mom, no batteries. Probably my favorite camera of all time.
I think about selling the F5. Gary Harmon asks about buying it often. Deborah tells me not to get rid of any more. She knows me pretty well. I don't use them too often, but both the F5 and the 8008 are loaded with Black and White film.

I look through old images, and know why I want to keep my film cameras. There is something there that digital can't quite give you. Picked up some watches from Dennis Herbert Saturday, and he asked if I still shoot film. I tried to explain that subtle difference, and can't put it in words. Guess it is almost a feel. The grain, the tones. The fact that a 20mm is really a 20.
Here I am trying to decide to sell what I got, and I sometimes want to buy a rangefinder camera, get another motordrive for my F. How crazy is this? Then I look at the pictures again. Maybe it is all in my head.

Friday, June 8, 2007

I spent three hours Thursday night shooting a rehearsal for a dance recital. My Saturday picture page. I am really blessed to be able to spend the time on assignments like I so often do. Some days are still really rushed, but usually I am allowed the time I need.
Also very lucky to have the space available for a picture page each week. Shooting for the Houston Peach section does have its advantages. Little did I know eight years ago the direction my job change would take me.

I had been the Telegraph's chief photographer since 1976 or so. I spent most of my time managing and very little shooting. Decided I wanted to shoot again, so here I am. My only worry was if I could still do the daily thing. My skills had gotten pretty rusty being off the street.
About two years ago we started the Houston Peach, and my fun factor hit overdrive.
I am having a ball!!!

Thursday, June 7, 2007

One of Those Days

Sometimes you get a photo assignment to illustrate a story at the wrong time. Several weeks ago I had to shoot art for an urban redevelopment story in Fort Valley. The city has been tearing down substandard houses, doing other improvements.
I asked the reporter where the work was taking place and was told "Well, they were working last week, and they will be working next week, but nothing going on this week." Of course we can't wait until something is happening. Gotta go out and find something to photograph. "You can shoot some of the old houses." A mug shot of a ratty house ain't centerpiece art.
So you go drive and pray. I found two older gentlemen planting a garden, Doing all the work by hand. Got out and talked to them, Found out the plot where they were planting was reclaimed land, two substandard houses had been torn down.
Okay, this is my picture. I am happy until I hear "I don't want my picture in the newspaper." Couldn't change their minds about a photo. I am about to walk off when I ask if I can shoot their hands while they are sowing their seeds. I shot this. I am happy again.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Shootin With My Twin

Gary and me

The Houston County School System does its graduations in one weekend. Perry High is on Friday night, and the other four are held on Saturday, 9am, 11am, 3pm and 7pm. I spent the all day at the Ag Center in Perry last year shooting. It is kinda fun but it is a long day, but an important part of our community journalism.
The TV folks usually make a short appearance and run.

This year I got to hang with an old friend, my "Twin." Gary Harmon and I have been friends for 20 years or more. His mom has thought I was he, and an old girlfriend thought he was me. We got a few laughs from folks regarding our similar appearance. He looks a lot older, and a bunch skinnier. Just kidding. One person commented "Oh Lord, there are two of them!"

Anyway, Gary has not been doing newspaper photography for too long, but is doing quite a good job. After the second graduation he asked if my imagination goes away by the end of the day when I am shooting a whole day of the same thing. Got me to thinking. I did a better job this year than last year. A big part of that I owe to Gary. Having someone to shoot with, or against, makes me work a little harder. Don't want to get beat. It is a fun competition, and any shooter worth a darn should feel the same way. Also a lot more fun having a good friend around.

This is Gary at work......

Most of my pictures involve people, so all through the day you have different folks participating in the same kinds of events, but doing their own way. Different pictures all day long. You just have to be watching for them.
My favorite of the day was of BJ Jones taking a photo of her graduate son Ryan at the end of the Warner Robins ceremony. We were in a crowd against the back wall as the grads filed out. I traded places with her so she could get a better shot. As she started to shoot, I did, too. I had this frame where her flash lit his face. Just too cool.
That is why community journalism is so cool. It is all about people.

Friday, June 1, 2007

Willie B

This is one of my favorite photographs. This is Willie B, who was a resident of the Atlanta Zoo. Not sure how I feel about zoos. Hate to see any wild thing in captivity.

There are only a few of my photographs that I really have ever spent a lot of time viewing. I mean really sitting and looking at. Don't know how other folks are about their art, but while I have pictures I like to look at, other favorites, this one shot 20 years ago still pulls me in.
It has such a peaceful quality about it. Is he seeing beauty in this golden leaf? Is it lunch? Was he content with his life? Here sits this huge powerful creature, at this moment a thing of beauty.
And I was blessed to come along and record it.

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