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

Friday, November 30, 2007

Shooting Textures

I love shooting weathered wood. It is cool to me that something old, and in some cases rotting away, can make such pretty pictures. You usually need to get in close, so a macro lens can be a plus. Directional light, (light falling across the grain in the wood) makes it show better. Using an off-camera flash can often be helpful.

Contrast is a help with photos showing texture. Really bump up the contrast of your images to bring up the patterns. Don't be afraid to "burn and dodge" when you are processing your shots in photoshop. I never use the burn or dodge tools anymore.
I use levels or curves to lighten/darken and control the contrast. I never use the brightness/contrast function either.

Use levels or curves to adjust parts of your image to look like you want them, then use the history brush to paint in your changes. All of these images were burned and dodged using this method. Works quite well.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Goodbye, Arras

I had a definite first last week. I shot a memorial service for Arras, a Military Working Dog who was killed in Iraq in September. He and his handler Staff Sgt. Marcus Reaves were deployed from Robins Air Force Base to Sather Air Base, Iraq. He had been trained as an explosive detector and was killed while searching for weapons and explosives. Staff Sgt. Reaves was injured.

Someone asked how you cover a funeral for a dog. With respect and honor. But from a photographic standpoint, I did it like I shoot most things. The service was held in the Base Theater at Robins. I was finding pictures before I parked the car. As we drove in I noticed that the Warner Robins Police K-9 unit had formed an honor guard at the entrance. I went straight to them.

Any time I cover an event, I shoot whatever looks like a decent image. Don't ever wait for the great photo, you miss too much. That is what editing is about. Shoot as you go, thinking about the one play photo that tells the story, and detail shots to fill out the story.

This was a somber occasion, and that has an effect on how I work. I tried to stay as inconspicuous as possible, without missing a photo opportunity. Be nice, but keep shooting.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Rainy Days

I have often had people to ask what I do on days it rains,"You can't take pictures in the rain, can you?" Oh, yes you can. Newspaper photogs do it quite often. Rain is not so bad, cold and rain is quite different. Some football seasons we get wet a lot. This year had a lot of wet Friday nights. At least they were warm.

The Tech-Georgia game of 2004 was one of those really cold, wet games. You try to keep your gear as dry as you can, and you try to keep yourself as comfortable as possible. This photo is of Woody Marshall before the rains came that day. You can see he has on his rain gear, and has rain covers for his cameras. You can use plastic bags and rubber bands to good effect as well. saw one photographer wrap his cameras and lenses in plastic food kitchen wrap.

All this rambling to make a point. So often you can get some really cool photos in the rain. I noticed the raindrops on the leaves this morning and had to go grab a camera. Took forever because my lens kept fogging up. Sometimes when you take your cameras out in the cold after they have been inside, they will fog up. Takes a few minutes for them to adjust. Up your ISO or slow down the shutter to compensate for the lower light levels. You can get an interesting photo shooting while the lens is stilled fogged.

Colors really pop on these rainy, overcast days. Makes vibrant color. Just keep your camera as dry as you can, and dry them really good when you are done.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Follow the Ball

I have said quite often that I get to cover the best football in Middle Georgia, regularly shooting the teams in Houston and Peach County High. Northside has been awesome this year, as always. It really got kinda boring shooting them the way they have spanked everyone during the regular season.

I have only covered two Perry games, when they played Peach County and then last week against LaGrange. These were the most exciting games I have been to this year. Perry's Casey Hayward added a lot to that excitement. He plays quarterback, and is also in on defense, runs kicks back, does it all. And does it all quite well.

Most of the time I shoot sports by following the ball. Following the ball put Hayward in most of my pictures from Saturday's game. Players like him make great photos.
All you have to do is pick the right lens and follow the ball.

Monday, November 19, 2007

I went back to the pecan orchards of Peach County last week to illustrate another pecan story. I have had several folks ask about the photos that were used with the story. I have shot tree shakers several times, but never had the photo work this well.

So often, there is not anything the photographer can do. All the elements of a great photo come together and you get WOW, or something is not quite right, and you get an okay photo. This day, all the elements were there.

I got out to the orchard as the shaker was working the trees right next to a dirt road. A sweeper was moving along the edge of the road creating a hige cloud of dust. The wind was moving the dust into the orchard where the shaker was working.
Sunlight was streaming in from behind the dust cloud making it glow. As the pecans and debris rained down from the tree, it
was very evident in the image.

All these together made for the perfect image. All I had to do was get into position, compose and get my exposure right. Some days are better than others, but any day taking pictures is bliss

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Photographing The Fall Foliage

It the time of year to be photographing the colorful foliage. You don't have to travel to North Georgia to find some pretty dramatic images.

Be creative when you shoot. Do more than a photo of a pretty tree. Add some drama to your photo. I found the top image driving to work on Georgia 49 between Fort Valley and Byron. I shot the photograph so the cars were in the shadows, the trees in the bright sun, partly back lit. The long lens gave a bit of compression.

Don't think you have to shoot the whole tree either. A cluster of leaves can be awesome. Often shooting so they are against a dark background will help. Backlight them and they scream.

The leaves on the rocks and in the water make the creek shot just a little better. Have fun, be imaginative.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Using Open Flash

I shot this photo back in August for the Houston Peach Football Tab cover.
I had to shoot a group of six football players(one didn't come), and I wanted to do something a bit different. Didn't want the typical portrait grouping.

I decided to shoot from down low with them huddled over me. The first problem was getting wide enough to get them in. I was laying on the ground, and shot with my 15mm. The players were pretty much silhouettes against the afternoon sky so my next problem was how to light them. A typical flash would not cover them evenly. With this wide a lens, the light would have fallen off on one side, leaving some of them in the dark.

To solve this dilemma I pulled out my trusty old Sunpak 120 flash. It is designed pretty much like your basic on-camera flash. The head tilts like most good flashes, and it puts out a bunch of light. It has one really neat feature, one of the reasons I bought it. The reflector comes off, exposing the flash tube giving you an open flash. These were really popular back in the old days, late 60's and early 70's. No one makes them much anymore.

The light coming from the flash with the reflector removed spreads evenly over 360 degrees. Perfect for a situation like this.

I usually have it hooked up to a high voltage battery pack, which makes it kind of bulky to use on-camera. Most of the time I use it as a key light mounted on a light stand.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Some Disturbing Chick Pix

It is funny the things that will freak you out. Each of us has his or her own freaknesses, or phobias I should say. Things that just give you the willies.

I was looking for another set of pictures earlier this week and found these chick pictures. We did a story in June of 2006 on bird flu. I went to a Macon County chicken farm to get some chicken house art.

Being in a building with 27,000 baby chicks is a strange experience. Guess not the oddest situation I have been in for a photograph, but still freakie. Had to put on paper coveralls, covers over my feet, and a mask. This was for the chickens' protection, not mine. Hmmmm. Standard protective measures to prohibit the spread of bird flu.

Standing in there with 54,000 little beady eyes following you around, the hearing thousands of peeps and breathing the heavy air. Great idea for Stephen King....the photographer trips and falls and is devoured by tiny raptors.

The only way to shoot them is to get down low, really low. Eye-level to a three-week old chick ain't very high off the ground.

So what do you call chicken phobia?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Well Worth Waiting For

I was driving home Thursday evening when I found this picture. Actually I have been waiting for it since last year.
This time of year, the sunset lines up perfectly with Georgia Highway 49 between Fort Valley and Byron. I missed it last year, and really wanted to shoot it. Here it is. The color one is really cool, but the black and white rocks.

I was shooting with the old Nikkor 500mm f8 and the last frames were a bit under exposed. I made it a black and white.

Shooting sunsets with long telephotos makes a great shot. The lens compresses the scene, and makes the sun huge. The shorter the focal length of the lens, the smaller the sun. The compression stacks up the hills, making them seem closer together. The 500 mirror lens gives pictures a distinct look. Nothing matches it for a cool sunset.

I have mentioned this lens before. Most folks think it is a dog, and compared to the new glass, it is. I have been shooting this one since the mid-70's. Shot loads of Falcons, Tech and Georgia football with it. Okay as long as the light was good. It is tricky to learn to focus, it is a dark lens.

It is compact, only about 4.3 inches long, weighs around 30 ounces. A regular 500f4 is over 15 inches long, and weighs over 8 pounds. Of course the f4 is sharp as a tack, and really bright. The mirror has its uses. I still love shooting features with it. Like me, it's old, but still has some life left in it.

This photo shows the 500 f8 on my camera body. The lens laying next to it is a Nikkor 17-55 zoom.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Beer and Pizza

My last assignment of the day Friday was to illustrate a weekend story about the upcoming Centerville alcohol referendum. Mike Black at Meldino's Pizza in Centerville said I could come and shoot a photo. His restaurant is one of two in the town that serve alcohol.

Doing this type picture is never a sure thing. Just because the restaurant owner lets you come in does not mean you will get a good picture. So often in a case like this none of the customers want to be in the picture, or even let you take a photo near their table.

I found a couple who were willing to let me do a photo, and got a pretty decent shot. You go with what you have, you don't rearrange the table to make your photo work. My best shot was this angle with the bottles of beer in a bucket of ice, pizza close in the background. I shot it with the 17-55, and again with my old 15mm. Amazing the difference 2mm can make. The 15 gave me a little more restaurant in the background and made the bottles a bit prominent. Even a slice of pizza being munched. Had my shot.

Makes it worth working a little late to get a nice photo. Was a little annoying when I opened the paper this morning and the story ran with no photo. At least it got used online.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

No Respect

Some days are just Rodney Dangerfield kinda days. "I just don't get no respect."
Above is a $20.00 picture. I got a $20.00 parking ticket for taking this picture.
Everyone seems to think we(us photojournalist-types) always get in places free, folks just always open all the doors for us. Well, it ain't so. Folks for the most part are kind and helpful. But it is not always smooth and easy.

I went to the Warner Robins Civic Center this morning for Major General Tom Owen's commander's call. His state of the base meeting for the base workforce. This is a hard one to shoot. If you just meter and shoot, you get the bottom photo. The huge screen shows the powerpoint presentation, and I wanted to show both screen and the Major General. The way to shoot something like this is to go manual, and find an exposure that gives an exposure on both the man and screen that you can work with. This was a slow exposure of about 1/8 second using an ISO of 800.

When I tried to park in the parking lot behind the Civic center I was told by a city employee I could not park there. I tried moving to another space and was greeted by the same fellow. He told me I should park across Watson Boulevard behind the library.

When I went back to my car, I had a parking ticket from the Macon State Security Force for $20.00.
I did get a decent photo, guess it was worth 20 bucks.

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