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

Monday, June 30, 2008

Remember Drew?

Got a phone call from a true friend today. Not just a friend, but someone I admire and respect greatly. Telegraph readers will probably remember Drew Brown. He grew up in Macon, and worked here in Warner Robins with me for too
short a time.

He is one of the best reporters and writers I ever worked with. Not all good reporters are good writers, nor good writers good reporters. We covered some cool stuff together, and our working styles always meshed.

Drew is an Army Ranger who jumped at the chance to cover the war in Afghanistan when it cranked up back in 2001. He initially went as a KnightRidder writer, and now works with Stars and Stripes. Turned out to be a pretty decent photographer as well.

One of the neatest things we did was while covering the 116th Bomb Wing's dedication of Memphis Belle nose art on one of their planes. Col. Robert Morgan, the World War II Memphis Belle's pilot flew in on a B-17 that was a recreated Memphis Belle. Drew and I were invited to fly aboard the B-17 with Morgan.

We took off from the Macon Airport and flew around Macon until time for us to fly over the ceremony and then land. The B-17 taxied up to the waiting crowd, which included representatives from all our media competition. All the TV folks were shocked, then pretty mad that Drew and I were on board the plane. Oh, well.

Anyway, Drew went on to Afghanistan, then the invasion of Iraq. He has spent lots of time in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and is home for a short break.

Google Drew Brown Stars and Stripes and check out his stories.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Wienermobile

I was out cruising for feature art one day, driving out Mercer University Drive. Something caught my eye at a carwash. It was the Wienermobile.

A really different photograph. I don't know anyone else who has a photo of the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile getting a bath. The two doing the washing are college students who were drivng the vehicle around the country , their summer job.

Maybe I'll hit Nuway today....

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Macon Whoopees

Does anyone remember the Macon Whoopees? Not the Macon Whoopee from 1996, but the original Macon hockey team. They were around during the 1973-74 season. Mike Windham, my boss at the time, and I shot most of their home games. My first wife Sue was beginning to shoot at the time, and the three of us would be there behind the chicken wire shooting away.Yes, I said chicken wire. No plexiglass screens. Just a framework of metal pipes covered with wire fencing. One night a player got his face stuck between two of the pipe supports right in front of me when he was slammed into the boards. And me with no wide angle lens. After that I kept a 20mm lens handy.

These pictures were from games in February of 1974. Low light and Tri-X pushed to the limit in Accufine, Nikon F's and manual focus. Those were some fun days, but I would not give up my Nikon DSLR's and go back there.

Man, we have it easy today.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Last Georgia Ferry

Here is a slice of Georgia history. A bit I was happy to preserve. These are photos of Georgia's last operating river ferry. It was on the Flint River about four miles from Marshalville on Georgia Route 127. It helped link Georgia highways' 96 and 49. The ferry was first establisshed in 1850 and operated until 1988.

I photographed it one Sunday afternoon in 1976. I had made several trips to photograph it, but on the other occasions it was not operating due to high water. It normally provided 24 hour service. You pulled up
to the crossign and the 55 foot ferry came to get you.

During the last years it was manned by two brothers, Homer and Lester Cromer, for the Georgia Department of Transportation. The day I went Lester was ill and Homer was running the ferry. These show Homer with the ferry. I don't know who the folks were in the two cars shown crossing the river.

The ferry was a metal barge with wooden plank decking. The ride across was powered by a 1954 Cheverolet engine and only took a few minutes.

Thirty years ago, I really didn't think I was capturing a chunk of history. It was more a really cool Sunday afternoon adventure.

Friday, June 20, 2008

High Speed Flash Technique

I have written several times about shooting flash outside in daylight and synchronizing the flash with my D70 at a really high shutter speed.(The D70 does this through a bit of a design fluke) I have had questions about how you fool the camera into synching higher than its usual top speed of 1/500th second with a flash.

This is a very useful technique, not just for including the sun in the photo.
It always makes a very dramatic image.

You normally slip the flash into the camera's hot shoe, or use an off camera cord to link it to the camera. The shoe and flash have four matching contacts to relay information from the camera to control the flash. If you look at the camera you will see the contacts, one large in the center of the shoe, and three smaller ones. The large contact fires the flash. The other three make the camera and flash work together, using the various automatic functions. If you shoot using all the links from camera to flash and shoot above 1/500th, the flash only lights part of the frame and you end up with half your picture being black.

By using the hot shoe PC adapter shown here with a regular PC cord going from camera to flash you only use the large contact, firing the flash. Since you are not using the camera/flash automatic modes, the flash dumps a constant amount of light each time. The camera has no idea what the flash is doing, so you have to set the exposure mode on manual and tell it what exposure you want to shoot.

I have a 15 foot long cord so I can put my flash on a stand and not have to be right beside it.

The aperture controls the exposure by the flash, and you use a high shutter speed to darken the sky to the density you want in your picture. I usually set the flash at
1/8 power. In this image it was close enough so it didn't light the subjects' full length. I wanted their legs darker. The sky gives separation.

It is a good idea to buy a hot shoe adapter that tightens in place so it will not move off the contact as you move around and pull on the synch cord. Lon Coleman at sells them, and also PC cords that screw into the adapter and into Nikon speedlights. They will not slip out.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Hail Mary

I guess you could say I am kinda vertically challenged. I don't quite hit 5'6" with my cowboy boots on. Makes it good when I am shooting low angles, but sometimes I can't see over the crowd.

On rare occasions I do the old Hail Mary, holding the camera up high and popping some frames. From past experience that is usually a waste, or has been for me.
I sometimes take a short ladder with me when I know I will need the height. At home I just call my sweet wife if I can't reach something.

Yesterday while shooting the Perry Player's Theater camp I had the opportunity to want a shot from above. Noelle Goodman was doing makeup on young Rebekah Gamundi. I had shot from really low and from the side, and wanted to try shooting down. I raised the camera above them and shot five or six frames. I chimpped through them and decided they were a bust.

After downloading my files I took another look. I really like this one. Made quite a cool photo. This will just inspire me to try it again, and I am sure from the next 100 times I try, it will only work once or twice.

Well, it doesn't hurt to try.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

One Cool Dude

Some pictures you just gotta shoot. I was in Perry this morning photographing the Perry Players Youth Theater Camp. As I was walking back to my car I looked across the street to and saw Reagan Bogue looking super cool in his shades and had to run across the street dodging traffic. Glad I had my D70 and 80-200 in my hand when I saw them.
Also glad his mom Sandy didn't think I was some kind of freak. Wish I had been a few minutes earlier, he was climbing on tractors. Sandy said he doesn't travel without his sunglasses.
Stay cool, little dude.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Old Family Photos

Yesterday was Father's Day. Hope it was a great day for you all. It was one of the best Father's Days ever for me. I spent the day with a bunch of special people. My two kids, Thomas and Tracy, my mom my wife and my first wife who is still a great friend. We traveled to Columbus to my mom's. My dad passed away five years ago, and I usually go to my mom's house on Father's Day.

We had a great day visiting, but the day was made a bit more special by looking at some old photos. We went through some old albums. A lot of these images I had forgotten existed. The kids both wanted copies of a bunch of them. Quite a few are old polaroids like these of my mom and dad with Thomas and Tracy. so they are the only copies. I brought one album home to scan a bunch.

We all have old photos. Some are arranged neatly in albums, some are just stashed in boxes. Take the time to sort them out and preserve them. Scan in the important old ones, put them on CD's and give them to folks who will appreciate them.

Treat them like the bits of history that they are.

Friday, June 13, 2008

My Favorite Photo of the Week

Gene Rector and I went to Robins Air Force Base this morning to cover the annual Junior ROTC summer camp. I was hoping for an image with some action, maybe a bit of drama. When we got to the group they were participating in relays, one of their team building exercises. Each participant would run a leg of the relay, and at the end of his or her section, do a set of exercises. I shot the situps and it was okay. Then I moved over to catch the next team at the pushups.

I debated on using a flash, and decided not to. Travis Avera ran his leg, dropped and began doing pushups. I dropped down for a low angle hoping to maybe get some sky above him and started shooting. I noticed teammate Sean Hoxie's hand reaching down, ready for the tag when Avera finished his pushups. I had my touch of drama. Silhouetted hand, nice sky above. Looking pretty good.

Then as Avera finished, he reached up with one hand for the tag. I had my photograph.

Digital makes situations like this a bit easier, you don't have to worry about reaching that 36th exposure and the end of a roll of film. You can work each situation and not worry about coming up short. It hurts to miss a great photo because you hit the end of a roll. The large buffer that today's digital DSRL's comes in to play as well. THe old DCS620 Kodak's that were my first digitals only had about a five frame buffer. Got bit by that puppy a few times, too.

I know I am geeting old and soft, but I do enjoy the day's newer technology.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Jesus And The Strawberry Shortcakes

Jesus and the Strawberry Shortcakes. This picture has always been special to me. I found it on Eisenhower Parkway one morning. I was looking for a feature photo and came across this street vendor's display. I pulled into the parking lot and immediately saw the image.

It just pulls me in every time I look at it. The lone Jesus and the Strawbery Shortcakes, then all those recurring Jesus'. The eagles top it off. I have had a bunch of folks ask if I arranged the figures before I started shooting. Nope, this is what I found.

As a Christian there is a symbolism here, too.The way my faith blends into my daily life. Lots of things can be read from this photograph.

Maybe no one else sees what I see here. Hmmmmm.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Checker Players

I had intended to write this back in May but we had tornados, graduations and other stuff to come along. A friend of mine, Greg Whitaker, told me about this gruop of guys who play checkers every week at a Fort Valley barbershop. About twenty guys gather on Wednesday afternoons, sit with homemade checker boards across their knees and have at it. This ain't your childhood checkers. These guys are awesome.

I love shooting stuff like this. You are always going to meet some really neat people, and this is a fading slice of Americana. Think these guys great grandkids will be meeting one day playing video games in a neighborhood barbershop?
I doubt it.

I moved to the back of the shop as soon as I got there. I wanted some photos that showed the players but also gave some of the environment. I wanted to see barbershop. That had to be from the back of the shop. After I got back there, I knew my main focus had to be these two players, Leo Green and Duhart Roberson

The whole front wall of the barbershop is glass. Huge windows. Lots of backlight.
The backlight made for nice images but tricky exposures. The easy way would have been to use fill flash, either direct flash or bounce it from the ceiling. Bounce would have looked more natural. I preferred to shoot available light. Without using a flash, I would be a lot less obtrusive.

The backlight wasn't too bad behind Leo, but really was a problem behind his partner. When shooting backlight you really have to pay attention to how the light effects your subject. There were some places where the glare killed all the detail in his face. You can see this through the viewfinder.

Working with backlight is a very necessary skill. Practice figuring your exposure, because most of the time you will be shooting manually. You will usually have to open up a stop from what your meter tells you. Give it a try.

Monday, June 9, 2008

That First Soccer Game

This picture is from the first soccer game I ever shot. This was back in the mid 1970's when the game was really rare. I had gone to an event
in Atlanta and was talking to one of my mentors, Billy Downs,a photographer for the Atlanta Constitution. Billy asked if I ever
photographed Mercer University soccer. I told him I didn't
even know the school had a team. We covered their basketball and
baseball regularly but soccer? He said it made for some great images.

I was really blessed early in my career to be taken under the wings of
several more experienced and realy talented photojournalists. Billy, AP photographers Joe Holloway and Charlie Kelly, Russ Yoder of UPI. I knew to listen when they gave advice.

Billy said I should shoot soccer, so I came back to Macon and called Mercer. One home game left and I covered it. I talked the sports department into running a photo.

The photo was entered in the annual AP Georgia photo contest and won first place black and white action. I went to the awards banquet and met Billy as I entered the room where the winning entries were displayed.He didn't crack and smile, just walked past and said "I see you shot some Mercer soccer,you son of a bitch."

Those guys impressed me with the need to share what we older guys have learned with the younger folks coming along behind us. They were highly competitive but never jealous of what anyone else did, just had a passion for this craft of ours and wanted to give something back.

They all long ago retired, Billy, Russ and Joe have passed away. I hope
they would approve of the photojournalist I have become. Even more importantly, I hope I have given back enough to make you guys proud.

Friday, June 6, 2008

The Week That Was

It has been a good week, happy with my pictures. Today was a great end to the week. The Museum of Aviation had the opening of their new World War II Hangar Exhibit. It was neat photographing the World War II vets who were on hand. Some of them, like William Smith, can still wear their uniforms. I can't get my fat butt into pants from 5 years ago. Pretty depressing.

My last shoot of the day was a group protesting gas prices. About time someone did an organized protest. Made nice images as well. Our Houston Peach editor saw them on Watson Boulevard and called to let us know.

I spent some time yesterday shooting a paving crew resurfacing Highway 49 in Peach County. If I ever needed anything to remind me how much I love my job, that did
it. I met a Freddie Flagg and Lewis Bonner out there. They spend their days on freshly poured asphalt. Flagg for 32 years and Bonner for 45 years. They love their jobs, too.

It is a wonderful thing to love what you do. A real blessing. Just glad what I love only involves short periods of being near 300 degree asphalt.

Ready to see what next week brings.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Do You Love Your Flash?

I have hated using a flash my whole life. Spent years developing my skills to use available light so I stay as far away from flash photography as I possibly could. Of course back a the dawn of creation our flashes were nothing like now. My first professional flash was an old Honeywell "potato masher" that put out a huge amount of light. It was great for bouncing but way too strong for direct flash.
For years I used flash to light up stuff I could not shoot any other way.

I began to use my flash with an off-camera cord about ten years ago, and that started my change of heart. I began to think more about using a flash more creatively instead of a necessary evil. My flash became another trusted tool. The new flashes usually do such a great job, just put them on auto and have at it.

My three foot cord became a limitation, so I started playing with off-camera flash.
This required shooting manually, and the creativity really picked up. The more you do manually, the more control you have. The more you control, the more you have to think.

These photos were done with one off-camera flash on a stand to the model's right just above head high. I used sunlight behind her to light the fabric and her hair. I only wanted the flash to hit her face, so I made a snoot from cardboard to concentrate the light. A pretty cool look considering it was done with what most folks carry in their camera bag all the lime. No expensive lighting. No heavy gear to tote and set up. Simple.

If you are interested in learning more about using off-camera flash, and seeing some cool stuff, check out The Strobist at

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

A Klan March In Macon

Here is another bit of Macon history for you. This is a set of images from the 1970's, a Saturday Ku KLux Klan march through downtown Macon. Klan leader David Duke
led the parade. Seems he was the only one who had any fashion sense at all.
Check out the dude with the mixed plaid and checks, no wonder they wore
sheets, an improvement.

The march was from the Coliseum parking lot to City Hall where Duke and others
spoke and tried to sign up new followers. The police presence was quite heavy.
So was the media presence. Fellow Teleegraph photographer Andy Jones is seen
in the photo above on the extreme left of the image. Another friend and fellow
Telegraph staffer William Berry was there as well. How could you not come and
photograph the occasion.

A good many people lined the streets, and gathered at City Hall. The majority of the onlookers were minority, and kept their cool through the entire time. They responded to the Klan hate with humor.

Hate is such a terrible, wasteful thing.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Nice Photo, Just Four Days Too Late.....

Last week we had a project planned for the Houston Peach centerpiece for Saturday. At the end of the week it was given, or taken, for the main paper.
Our next possible story went the same way, so at the last minute I had to scarmble
to find a photo for the centerpiece.

I knew the Museum of Aviation is getting ready for the big opening of their new World War II Exhibit Hangar, so I decided to give them a try. Was not a lot happening last Thursday, such is life. I came back with the photo below. Not much content, but if you like yellow, you are set.

Monday my first assignment was back to the Museum of Aviation for their Robotics camp. As I pulled into the parking lot I saw an aircraft just outside the huge door of the new WWII hangar building. Took a closer look, and saw it was being pressure washed. I grabbed my cameras and got down to the hangar as fast as I could, just knowing the guy would finish about the time I walked up. Knew this would be a good one.

The photo from the front, outside the building, was not too great, so I walked inside.
HELLO, here is a cool picture. The twin tails, the doorway framing the image at the top, workers silhouetted, nice clouds. Then I saw the guy reflected in the water under the plane.

Hey, where was this image last week when I so badly needed it? Oh well, guess I had my weekly quota already.

Monday, June 2, 2008

"I Saw Jesus Driving An Oldsmobile"

I have always loved downtown Macon. So many great places for photographs. Any time
you want to take the time to spend an hour walking downtown, you can find an interesting image.

I have a longtime fascination with the downtown alleys. My uncle, Ed Warren, introduced me to photography. He also introduced me to the alleys of Macon. When I was a kid, downtown Macon was thriving. My uncle knew the shortcuts through the alleys, and whenever you rode with him downtown, you got the alley tour. Seeing people working, other just kida lurking, turning up a bottle.
Those images stuck.

Cecil Bentley, Telegraph writer and fellow Macon native, and I decided in 1982 to do a story on Macon's alleys. We spent some time roamng these passages and I shot what has to be one of my all time top five images. "I Saw Jesus Driving An Oldsmobile." W Whatinspired this bit of grafitti? ZZ Top sang about Jesus leaving Chicago heading for New Orleans, but didn't say anything about what he was driving.

The photo has a certain mystique, and is truely a Tri-X moment. Color would not be the same.

Blog Archive