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

Monday, October 29, 2007

Pecan Harvesting

One of the challenges that comes with being a newspaper photographer is the fact that some things happen once a year, and you have to shoot them...again, and again. It is amazing how the variables play into the outcome of your shoot.

I shot pecan harvesting this morning. Nice sunny morning. Sun coming through the trees in places, giving hot spots. That can kick your butt, or you can use it to your advantage. I shot two of the machines(top photo) as they made their way down the rows of trees. The closest one was nearly silhouetted, framed by the trees. The second almost blown out. Last year I shot down the row, making use of the even light of an overcast day.

Last year I shot with the 300mm, and had a decent amount of depth of field, showing the line of trees. This year I did all my telephoto stuff with the 500mm mirror. No depth of field, so the background is more out of focus.

I have been trying for three years to make a picture of the pecans flying off the conveyor of the harvester. This year a combination of the 500mm and the patch of backlight through the trees gave me what I wanted. Notice the highlights in the background are rings? That is a characteristic of a mirror lens. The lights and shadows give depth to the image. The bottom is last year's attempt. Really flat.

Now this shot can be put to rest. Next year will need something new.

Friday, October 26, 2007

More Central State

My last entry was about the Central State project I worked on with Don Schanche.
It was in some ways really depressing, some things really hard to see. In other ways a really uplifting experience.

Several weeks before starting the Central State project i had to photograph a young child who was in a coma after drinking pesticide. The child was at a nursing home in Macon. The family was trying to get hfinancial help to keep the child from going to Central State. He was in a room with two elderly men. One of them screamed profanities the whole time I was there. I thought "well, guess it beats Central State." Was I ever wrong.

We spent time in the long term care area where they dealt with children in the same circumstance. There was a little girl who had drown, and had been pretty much catatonic. The woman who worked with the children spent time with each child, talking, touching, improving their various skills. She spent the same amount of time with the young drowning victim, saying she needed the contact and love. She held her in her arms and carried on a one-sided conversation.

So glad I was able to capture part of that.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Central State Hospital

We had stories from Central State Hospital in the paper earlier this month compliments of Travis Fain and Grant Blankenship. Brought back memories from the time Don Schanche and I spent time there for a series we did. We spent weeks working on our product, not every day at the hospital but quite a lot of time. We were given a lot of freedom by the hospital administration, with the only limits hinging on patient confidentiality.

At the time it was one of the biggest and best projects I had been involved in. The first time I really argued with the editors for a whole story to be illustrated in black and white. After a few days shooting, black and white seemed the only way to go.

This was a very hard yet rewarding story to cover. I grew a lot as a journalist and as a person. I realized what a fine line there is between being "Normal" and needing help. It was sometimes a scary place to be.

Also got rid of a lot of misconceptions I had about how the State cares for our mentally ill. Not like the "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest" There were a lot of dedicated overworked people doing something they really believed in.
I hope we educated a few folks with our stories.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Pumpkin Shooting

My pumpkin carving friend, Edwin Booth came by the office with a really nice pumpkin he had carved. He carves and gives away a bunch of jack' o' lantern's each year. I have photographed him carving them before.

I wanted to do something cool with this one. He carved four sides of the pumpkin. I wanted to shoot each side, and have him in one of the photos. I knew how I wanted to shoot them, but the problem was lighting it up.

I put one of my Nikon flashes inside the pumpkin with a radio remote trigger. Problem solved. This way no wires to mess with. There is a receiver that plugs into the flash, and and a sending unit that mounts on the camera. I had been looking for a set of radio slaves for a pretty good while. I wanted something small, and inexpensive. These are made by the Morris Company, and are less tan $150.00. The range is about 80 feet. Not bad, and wireless, non-optical is sure an easy solution to triggering flashes.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Friday Night Lights

My high school football coverage has changed over the last two years. We shot feature stuff sometimes, but not too often. Our need was action, and I concentrated on "gamers" as my friend Chris Deighton calls them.

We now do football galleries Saturday from the Friday night games. We turn in more cation, but now there is a need for features as well.

Friday night I went to Fort Valley for the Peach County-Perry game. Quite a rivalry.
I usually have a team I want to win, but I am always torn between these two. This year was no exception. Both have a bunch of really talented, great kids. Both have head coaches that are great guys, as well as good coaches. It was a fun game to watch. That is what High school football should be.

Anyway, I digress. When I pulled into the parking lot, the sky over the stadium was beautiful, streaks of red through the breaking clouds. Really wanted to shoot it, but was too late getting in the stadium. A great sunset does not last long.

I did get a nice photo during warmups. Sky still had a nice purple.

As I waited for the game to start, I dropped my ISO to 80, slowed my shutter way down, and turned on my flash. I shot the Peach County team breaking through the banner. Turned out kinda nice.

Had a good night of action as well. There are new lights in the stadium, so I can shoot available light making the action much easier. And for the first time this year, I didn;t get wet shooting high school football. It was a good night for me in Peach County.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

No Checks, Please.....

We had a $500,000 Lottery winner in Warner Robins this week. Jody Winter won big, and was given the usual "BIG CHECK"
at a little ceremony Thursday afternoon in front of Rocky's Snack and Shop on Davis Drive. The media shows up and covers the check presentation. I hate check presentations. I hate shooting any kind of presentation. Always try to get something

I got there early and started shooting immediately. Have this picture of the winner, her fiancee and their son in front of their
brand new van. The son, Austin is showing his car to the camera, got it shoved right into the lens. I like this photo. I did shoot a picture of the check being presented, but didn't turn it in.

I gave them several decent shots, but this was the best. Lets check tomorrow's Telegraph and see which one runs....

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Making it Better

This photo of Andrea Gould, the new Project manager for the Houston County Development Authority was one I shot today. I spent a ton of time trying to make a portrait in her office, got really frustrated cause it was not working. Finally decided to go
with what I had anyway. As we were leaving the office (I was headed to another assignment, she and our writer Wayne Crenshaw were headed down the hall to a conference room) I saw the logo on the door. had rushed past it going in, not paying much attention to it.

I called her back, and got this photo. A lot better than what I had. Guess the object of this story is don't disengage your brain when you put your camera down. Always be looking and thinking, trying to faind a way to make that last one a little better.

And don't be embarrassed to say "Hey, lets do that again."

The Cloud

This photo is the perfect example of why I keep my little Canon point and shoot within reach all the time. Someone asked me last week if I slept with it, well not quite that bad. But if a cool photo happens to come along
I sure don't want to miss it. I usually keep the DSLR's in the trunk out of sight. They have their own place to ride so they are fairly safe, won't be bouncing around inside the car if something happens. And no one can jsut look in and see them laying there screaming "Hey smash a window and grab me!"

The small camera is easily to grab and shoot. The larger ones can sometimes be a bit awkward.

I was headed home out the 247 Connector when I spotted this cloud. I have always wanted this picture. Figured I would have to travel to the wide open spaces of the Western US to find it. Well, here it was right over the road. Funny how with something this big there is a limited window of opportunity for the best image. I shot, moved on down the road and shot again. My first exposures were the best. Later the road changed direction enough to loose part of the view I wanted, and the roadside changed, too many tall trees for the openness that the image needed.

So if you see something really cool, grab a camera and start clicking. If you wait it probably is gonna change or go away. Get it while you can.

Monday, October 15, 2007

My Favorite of the Week

My last trip to the Georgia National Fair this week produced this photo from the Honey Bee display. Jars
of honey, of various colors backlit inside a huge honey comb shelf. The lights behind the jars were timed to randomly go off and back on, giving an interesting pattern. Too cool a photo to pass up.

All I had to do was back up and zoom in. The compression of using a telephoto lens made a better photo
than shooting it with a wide. This was at 200mm with my 70-200. The only challenge was waiting for a time
when no one was walking between me and the wall. I also tried to time my shot to be with the center jars
in the dark.

Becky Purser, one of our writers, found this booth and wanted to do a story. She did a good job with the story, but it was buried on 3-B in the paper. This photo didn't run at all. Such is the life of a photojournalist. You get accustomed to your best images(in your opinion) not making the paper. It was included in the photos of the week.

I really like the simpleness and the symmetry.

I have seen a bunch of really nice fair photos this week. My friend Elaine Dorsey really has some nice night shots.
Don't forget the photography competition next year. Start planning now.

Friday, October 12, 2007

Air -To-Air Refueling

I flew on a refueling flight earlier this week with the 19th Air Refueling Group from Robins Air Force Base.
This is one of the most amazing things to me, two aircraft linking up at 300 miles and hour and "passing
gas" as they fondly say. Just Incredible.

I have done this a few times, the first couple of times using film, and the las t two digital. Miss the
wide angle full frame of the film camera. The money shot is back in the boom operator's pod, laying
alongside the boom operator, about two feet away. The ideal photo shows the operator, his controls, and out the window you see the refueling taking place.

On a bright sunny day, this is a hard one to get. The operator is in shadow, and the plane being refueled
is in bright sun. You have to balance the exposure to light the operator and not blow out the aircraft outside the window. You only have a short time to get the photo, because you have other media folks waiting to
have their turn.

The photos show a JSTARS aircraft being refueled. We were supposed to meet with some F-15's but
did not get to refuel them. So I only had one chance to make this work. Came close, but not near perfect.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Dead Hogs at Breakfast

I spent the first half of last Friday in Vienna watching Myron Mison and his Jack's
Old South cook team prep a 200 pound hog for the smoker. They were competing in the Big Pig Jig last weekend. This was their Whole Hog entry. This photo above told the story. Wish it had shown the hog's head, but I could not squeeze in at the other end.

Sometimes I know when I am shooting that a certain photo will not make it into the paper. Editors have a tendency to shy away from pictures of dead things, especially if they are cut open. The old "Viewing at the breakfast table" rule. I knew this one was not going to be in print. I had already shot the photo that ran as play art last saturday of them carrying the hog on their shoulders. Hoped it was not too objectionable.

I decided a long time ago that it is not my job to edit as I shoot, omitting images I think may be objectionable. I try not to shoot images just because they are sensational. I try to document as honestly and faithfully as I can. That is my job. It is the editor's job to decide which one's we can put in the paper.

The photo didn't make print, but is was used on the website. Guess we have a little different standard for the online stuff, which is not a bad thing.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Choose A Theme

The Georgia National Fair is going all this week, presenting a great chance for photography. Go and take your
camera. Keep your eyes open, many opportunities will present themselves. Something you can try is to pick
a theme to work with. Could be the midway rides, food, people, arts and crafts, whatever.

This will give you somethign different to try, to make shooting at yet another fair a bit of a challenge. When I shot last Thursday, I did mostly rain related photos, a no brainer since it was raining while I was there. Most of the folks don't mind you taking their photo. Be respectful, if someone doesn't want to be photographed, jsut move on.

Just be selective in what you carry. Lots of walking to be toting everything you own. If you want to shoot at night, you can probably do candids using available light, and hand-held exposures. A lot of light on the midway.

If you really get creative, you may want to pack a tripod and a flash.

Upload your best ones to our Fair Gallery at

Friday, October 5, 2007

Reflections of an Old Guy

Yes, that is my image reflected in Major John Wagner's sunglasses. As I have said before, I have a thing
for photographing reflections. And I love shooting reflections in sunglasses. Doing sunglasses is not easy.
You are shooting really tight, and folks do move their heads a lot when they are talking. Works best if
they have no idea what you are doing.

I can kinda prove that I do work with photos like this, where I am in the image taking a picture, but still
seems like I am goofing around. But the cool thing is , most of my work is play.

Becky Purser and I had gone to the Warner Robins Police Dept. to cover their new BMW motorcycles.
Was a neat story, these are great bikes, and will be saving the city money in the long run, replacing their aging

We ran the story and photo on our website
Our website is getting better, we do a lot of neat stuff. One thing that really bothers me though, is that folks can make comments anonymously. This leads to some really mean, hateful words way too often. I know that we can be passionate about some issues, but it is sad that so many people out there are so bitter and mad at the world.
There were nasty comments following this story, and even the story on the son and father taking a week for their trek to Andersonville.

Come on folks, get a life. There is plenty of beauty and good in this world. Start looking for it.

That is my other reflection today.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

MMMMMMMM.....Road Pizza

We are hearing a lot these days about the dangers of driving and using cellphones, seen women driving
down the road doing their makeup. I followed a guy up I-75 reading a book one day. No one addresses the
dangers of doing the point and shoot while driving. I am an admitted culprit.

I find myself quite often pulling out my little Canon while stuck in traffic, shooting clouds, reflections in the
rearview mirror, odd angles out the windows of my little Honda. Yesterday it was road pizza day.
My Daddy always told me to keep both hands on the wheel, and my eyes on the road. My Mama told me
not to play with my food. I have done wrong. I am not ashamed, but quite proud of the results.

Don't try this at home.....I am a trained professional.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Golden Olympics

Last week the Georgia Golden Olympics were held in Warner Robins. I always enjoy covering the games.
You meet some really cool people. I missed the opening day WEdnesday due to an AP workshop I attended. Thursday I shot field events in the morning and billiards in the afternoon. We covered the cycling events the past two years and I wanted to do something different. I was shooting for the both next day and for our Saturday Houston Peach section.

I had to decide how to split my pictures, what to go to the daily as stand alone art(no story) and what should go with the story in the Saturday section. I met JR and Inez Livingston at the billiards. They have been married 50 plus years, both participate in the 80-99 year age group. He lost his right hand several years ago, and has learned to shoot with his left hand while holding a bridge under what remains of his right arm.
He won a silver medal, Ms. Inez won the gold. I thought this was really inspiring. Also liked the pictures as a stand-alone package.

I turned in 81 year-old Lillian Murphy throwing the discus and other field event participants for Saturday. Thought this should be a good split.

I was very shocked Friday morning when someone called upset about the billiard photos. The call started out "Now this is not a complaint..." Well what is it then? The caller went on to say that billiards and the other "old people events" were not truly a representative part of the Golden Games. The important ones were the field and cycling events, he said.

The Golden Olympics are not about the events, but about the people who are out there participating. I think it is really something that a the Livingstons came from Smyrna to Warner Robins to shoot pool, that Lillian
Murhpy is throwing the discus and they are all involved and active. Ms Lillian has been involved for the last 16 years because it is fun.

Get a life, sorry I didn't cover your cycling event this year, dude.

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