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

Monday, July 30, 2007

Doing My Job

Daniel Enrique Gomez was killed in Iraq July 18. I met his family July 24. It was a very hard day.

I love my job. I have a real passion for what I do. I also love people, and usually connect with the people I photograph. Some assignments are just painful. I feel my subject's hurt as anyone would, but here I am with a camera to take a picture.

When I am confronted by death covering a news event like a wreck, an airplane crash or some other breaking story, I am insulated from the reality by my camera.
While I am shooting, I don't have to deal with it. That usually comes later.

The old days when I retreated to the darkroom to get my prints done, I had a private place to cry. The next day I was shooting another story, and in the conversation about something completely different, someone remarked "I thought newspaper photographers are tough." I think a lot of us shooters have very sensitive souls, we just tough it out and get our picture.

There is a reward in being able to show our readers the love felt by a dad for his
son. Guess that's a reason to do it.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Shooting Wrecks

Over the past 35 years I have shot lots of auto wrecks. Some have been really tragic, some have made really
intense images and no one was badly injured. You never know how people are going to react. I have
seriously been threatened by someone for taking pictures twice in my career. Both times at wrecks.
Go figure.

Had a friend ask about taking pictures at accidents, do we have to have permission. As long as they are in public areas, anyone can take pictures. No one's privacy is an issue, there is no legal issues. Don't get in the way
of the police and rescue folks. They are doing their jobs.

Most of the cops I deal with a pretty cool. I do my job and stay out of their way, and out of traffic, and it
usually works out.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Waiting For the Picture

While shooting Peach County's band camp Monday, I looked across to the stadium and saw these guys working up in the lights. I hoped they would be there for a while, wanted to go over when I finished the band pictures.

They were still there, so I went over and started shooting. This is the perfect example of why you don't shoot the first thing you see and walk away. Don't care how big a hurry you are in, if it is worth shooting, it is worth a little effort.

I put my 1.4 extender on the 300 because I wanted to shoot as tight as I could. The first shot was from midfield looking into the platform. For the second shot I was almost underneath them but still on the field. It makes a much better shot, plus by that time the guy was actually removing a bulb.

For the last shot I went off the field around behind the stands and was looking almost straight up. The workmen and lights were silhouetted against the sky. I had to dump the 1.4 because it was too tight. Waited a few minutes and he changed another bulb.

Took some extra walking and more time but was worth the effort.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007


Sometimes it ALL just comes together. God just gives you a sweet picture.
This is surely one of those.

Monday morning I went out to cover Peach County High's band camp. They take frequent breaks because of the heat. I had missed a couple of shots with kids drinking water because I was in the wrong place. This kid turned up his water bottle and was pouring the water into his mouth. I eased off the shutter button as he lifted the bottle higher, and then in anticipation hit it again.

I was focused on the end of the bottle. As I hit this frame(Or digital equivalent) he moved the bottle and I lost focus.

The guy in the background made the photo happen. If not for his hair, the drop of water would not have shown up.

Sometimes it just happens.

Monday, July 23, 2007

My Old Friend

Meet my favorite camera, for years my constant companion. This is a Nikon F. The first Nikon SLR. A real tank, lots of brass, totally mechanical. Only electrical component on this baby is the motordrive. No lightmeter, no autofucus.

This camera was part of me, fit perfectly in my hand. It is a heavy camera, but perfectly balanced with short
glass or a long lens. Picking it up always seems to inspire my creative side. I can shoot 1/8th of a second handheld with a good wide angle. Many rolls of Tri-X went through this camera. A good photojournalist could read the light to expose Tri-X at 400 to 1600 ISO, used a hand meter for color, which was usually slide film.

When it came time to change to a fresh roll of film, the whole back(with motordrive) came off. You had to
be pretty coordinated to change film on the run.

The viewfinder shows 100% of the image, which is really rare, especially back in the old days.
It sits on the shelf in my office now, has earned the rest. When I shoot black and white film now days
I usually get out my F5. Autofocus and programed exposure have spoiled me, like most other folks.
But back in the day.......

Friday, July 20, 2007

The Clowns

I was at the Randy McMichael Football Camp in Fort Valley last Saturday and came up on this photo.
One of those that just seems to slap me in the face and say "Push the shutter button, stupid." I really
can't tell you what it is about the photo, maybe the fact that you don't see two clowns hanging out
together under a tree every day.

Something sinister about clowns out of context. Take em away from the circus, and you know something
is going down. Stephen King proved that little fact with "It"

The young man in the background is totally unaware of the danger at hand.

Isn't it amazing the play your imagination can have with a simple photo of two clowns.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Angelo Spinelli

I have met some really neat people over the course of my career as a photojournalist. One of my favorites was a little guy named Angelo Spinelli. He was an Army photographer covering the battle of the Kasserine Pass during World War II when he was captured by the Germans. He spent the rest of the war in a German POW camp near Furstenburg, Germany.

Spinelli traded cigarettes from his Red Cross parcels to guards for a Bessa Voigtlander 35mm camera and film. During his time in Stalag III-B he shot more than 1200 photographs, documenting life in a prisoner of war camp, trading packs of cigarettes to have the filmed taken into the nearby town and processed. He hid the photographs in a hole he dug under his bunk.

Spinelli would have been severely punished, possibly executed had he been found out. "As a war photographer, I felt it was my duty to myself and the country that the American people should know how we survived in the prison camp" he told writer Drew Brown in April 2000 when he donated his surviving photographs and equipment to the National Prisoner of War Museum at Andersonville.

After the war he returned to New York City and went into the jewelry business with his brother, only doing photography as a hobby. No one was interested publishing his pictures, they were stored away in a closet.

"Life Behind the Barbed Wire: The Secret World War II Photographs of Prisoner of War Angelo M. Spinelli," was published shortly before he died in 2004. He died two days before his birthday March 14. My birthday, too.

Quite a man from a generation of great men.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Still LIfe

Still life work can be an interesting challenge. You really don't have to look very far for a
subject, and your models never complain. You can use window light, off camera flash,
a constant light source like a tungsten bulb in a reflector. Just as long as it is a directional
light source. I have played with the new flourescent bulbs made for regular lamps and they work
quite well for photography. Even done some portraits using them. They put out good
light, and they are cool to the touch. No heat.

Doing digital, your light source is no problem, just adjust your white balance

Doing still life work you really want to play with your light, and have at least two light sources.
If you use window light, use a reflector to kick some light back in from the opposite side
from your main light source.

Be very aware of your background as well. No distracting junk in the background.

The syrup and melon balls are pretty simple, two lights. One from the side, the other pretty
much a backlight. Be sure your lights do not flare into the lens. With a constant light
source you can see where your light is falling. With flash, you may have to play with
the lights to get them right.

The peppers were a bit more difficult. I put the peppers in a metal bowl, put in some
lighter fluid and lit 'em up. I had already set my lights. I shot in a dark room, using a
slow shutter speed and an aperture setting to capture the flame and compensate
for the flash.

Try doing some still life work. Can be a lot of fun. Email me some of what you shoot.
I will post the best.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Water Drops

I went to Macon last week and helped Woody Marshall do a Georgia Press Association workshop
showing reporters how to shoot better pictures. Really had a great time, the group was really a bunch
of cool folks who were very interested in learning. Woody is a great teacher.

We went to Gateway Park to practice some of the tips we talked about earlier in the day. Coming back
we found kids in the fountain. Such a neat place for photos.

I shot one youngster playing with the streams of water. Shot the first one's with a higher shutter
speed, stopping the action. The last shot was with a very low shutter speed, letting the drops of water
blur, making long streaks.
To get the lower shutter speed, I lowered my ISO to 200, as low as it would go on my camera. I also
stopped down the lens aperture to compensate for the low shutter speed and the bright sun.
Made an interesting photo.

Take a look at Gateway Park, neat place for photos.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


I have this thing for shooting mirrors. Sometimes makes some interesting images. With big mirrors it is often
hard to keep you reflection from the photo, using flash can be a problem as well.

When shooting into a mirror, you focus on the subject, not the mirror, so the mirror is soft due to the depth of field.

Go find a mirror and play today.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

One of the frustrations that comes along with working for a newspaper is doing enterprise work that
you really like, but never gets published. This is one of those photos.

Sgt. Kevin Sparks of the Fort Valley Police Department invited me to come to one of their SWAT Team
training sessions several years ago. They were using a building in downtown for their exercise, coming down an alley to enter the building. It was twilight, really getting dark between the buildings. Made for a photo with a really haunting quality, with heavy shadows and a bit of blur due to the extremely slow shutter speed.

I did a little photo package, had a couple of news pegs to hang them on, but could not get anyone interested.
Later two other occasions came along where the picture could have been used but not to be.

So here it is, I can share it now.

Monday, July 9, 2007

A Little Drama

The top photo of Marissa Scott is not a bad photo. Nice pose, okay lighting on the subject.
The problem with this photo is the background. It is really distracting. If I had shot with flash,
I would have darkened the background by controlling my exposure, making the exposure on the background a half stop or so less than on the subject.

An alternative solution is to use Photoshop. I opened the original image, and used levels to darken the background. Then using the History brush I painted the background down. Takes away the distracting hot spots in the background, and ads a bit of drama to the image.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Willie Reid

I ran across this photo of Willie Reid from 2004. I have always liked this image. Reid, a Warner Robins High
football star, had broken his leg at Florida State and was working to return to football. He was working
out at McConnell-Talbert Stadium.

I had shot a good bit, and had nothing I really liked. I got down on the ground and shot this as he came out of the blocks. I used fill flash because he was shot against the sky. You can see the intensity in his face, the sweat on his brow, and the tension in his muscles. There is just a tiny bit of blur in his hands that ads to the moment.

The football goalpost in the background ads the final touch. That was a bonus, cause I didn't realize I had it in the picture until I saw the image on the monitor.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

I shot a field of Zinnias Tuesday. I amazes me the different photos you can get from things that are all
alike. Even though they are all the same, each is different. Just like people.

You can change your field of view by moving or changing your lens. You can change the perspective
by simple kneeling or moving to a new spot. So much you can do, and should with almost every
photo you shoot. Find that view of a zinnia that no one has ever seen before.

This first photo was shot with a wide angle from down low, almost on the ground. There is a lot
of sky, so you have to compensate for the backlight. Well, it is really sky light, but it is behind the main
subject. Tried to hold some detail in the sky so a shot this a little dark and compensated in Photoshop.
Like the way the leaves photographed, the detail.

The middle shot is with a long lens, my old 500 Mirror lens. Totally isolated against a dark background,
alone in the frame. Realy striking image.

The last one is shot with the 500 as well. The foggy, dreamy look is achieved by making use of the lens
lack of depth of field. It pretty much has none, so anything behind and in front of the immediate point of
focus is blurred.

Really pretty simple but subtle changes.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

I went last week to the Nola Brantley Library in Warner Robins for one of their summer programs.
Folks from Georgia Southern's Wildlife Education Program brought crittlers for the youngsters
to meet. The program was called Birds of Prey, but had huge cockroaches, frogs, snakes and other
"Creepie Crawlies"

As the animals were taken around for the kids to see and touch, I had one of those moments of revelation.
The youngest kids, who you would think would be the ones being grossed out or scared by the huge bugs and reptiles, were the ones most wanted to touch them. The older kids were the ones who showed the most
fear or dislike.

Go to a park or daycare and watch the children find friends and play together. Same acceptance.
Guess as we get older we have fear and dislike programed into us. Too bad we can't keep some of that child-like acceptance of things different than us.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Forgotten Treasures

Last week I did a photography program for the Airstream Camper folks at the Museum of Aviation. While
preparing for the presentation I went through a bunch of pictures selecting ones to use in my slide show.

Going through pictures, even from the last year is always a trip. Amazing how soon I forget what I have shot, always get some happy surprises. I also see some images, and ask myself why did I shoot that?

The presentation started kinda rough, my Mac didn't want to interface with their equipment, but Hal, Roland and Stephanie of the Museum staff got things worked out.

I rediscovered this photo from Jekyll Island's Driftwood Beach. I have always loved this image, the weathered wood, sky and sea. I really don't care a lot for scenic type shots, but this one has always been special. Just speaks to my old Pisces heart I guess.

Enjoy what you are shooting now, that is important, but don't forget to go back and find those forgotten
treasures that are waiting for you.

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