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

Thursday, July 31, 2008

Another Fluke..Check Out This Sky

My friend Gary Harmon emailed me this morning asking about my radio slaves. I sent him a link to the B&H Photo website to check them out. This afternoon we were both shooting the Warner Robins little leaguers departing for the regional championship games. He was asking about how they worked and I told him I would show him after we were done shooting.

Anyway, I took my flash with radio slave out to show him and fired off a couple of frames. I was holding two flashes in one hand, the camera in the other. The camera was about waist high, and I was not aiming it. He was in front of the camera.

This photo was one of the frames. Kinda cool. The color one is okay but it makes a killer black and white. This is a real fluke, the flash and camera were both on manual.

If you want to make a black and white from a color image, in Photoshop just go to Image, down to Adjustments, then to Desaturate. It leaves the image as an RGB. If you want to make a print you will get better quality black and white than by printing from a Grayscale.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

My Heritage

I mentioned that there was a death in my family last week. It was my uncle, Ed Warren. That is him above. He was more than just an uncle. He was like another father, and a good friend, and teacher as well.

He was a professional photographer, and was the reason I first picked up a camera. I went with him to shoot my first wedding when I was around five years old. He was a very patient man. This was in the old 4x5 camera era. I would hand him flash bulbs and film holders. When I was old enough I spent summers working in his studio.

He gave me my first camera, an old Brownie 127. Later replaced it with my first 35mm, an Argus C3. He taught me how to develop and print black and white. I got my love of black and white images from him. He started me on this path I have spent my life following, helped me discover and grow in this art I love so much.

He also taught me the importance of capturing these little slices of
time we call photographs, and the joy that comes from sharing them. As I look back at these wonderful images of my family he saved for us, it impresses on me the fact that it doesn't have to be a huge event to be a really great picture 50 years down the road, the little moments can be so cool years later. This photo of my mom and dad, the one of Mom and my Aunt Gould walking in downtown Macon. I just get lost in these pictures every time I drag them out.

I hope that in 2058 someone will be enjoying my pictures this much.

Thanks Uncle Ed, I miss you.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Reflections of Band Camp

Sorry I have not posted lately. I had a death in the family last week and just didn't have time.

Last Tuesday I spent my morning sweating with the Warner Robins High band. They are out each morning getting prepared for football season. The band was working on their marching routines, learning new stuff. They were concentrating on marching in the mornings, then inside later in the day working on the musical part.

I was glad they had a few instruments on the field, even if they were not playing them. I saw a row of Sousaphones on the sidelines, and knew I wanted an image with them. I had planned on getting low and shooting across the instruments and having marchers in the background.

Before I could get a picture they took a break. I noticed the reflection in the bells of the horns. I tried to shoot with the 300mm, but too little depth of field. Kinda worked but not quite. Tried vertical and horizontal. I swapped for my 70-200 and shot at 200mm and got what I wanted.

Anyway, when you are shooting be sure to consider trying different lenses when you are composing your pictures. Just like moving around trying different angles, using a different lens can give you another option.

Monday, July 21, 2008

It's Monday!!!

One of the things I like about my job is the fact that you can never be sure what you will be doing when you come to work. It keeps things interesting, to say the least. I had my day planned when I left home this morning. Or so I thought.

Friday I has set up an assignment that would give a nice photo package but would take time. After I finished I was going to Houston County High and catch the end of softball practice to get a photo of Jessica Burroughs, one of their players. I had tried to photograph her last week, but she was out of town.

When I got to the office I realized that the team didn't practice today, would be tomorrow. We needed the photo today by 2pm. H'mmmmm. What can I do?
I called Jessica's dad Joe to see if she was back in town and available. He was in Montezuma, but said he would see what he could do.

I leave for my originally scheduled assignment and see this beautiful hawk. I park, get the 300mm and walk as close to the hawk as I dare. He keeps eating. I shoot some, and then move closer. He looks up. eyeballs me and goes back to his breakfast. I shoot some more, then move in really close, less than 3o feet away. Must be really good pigeon because he takes another look and goes back to eating.

My phone rings, the hawk doesn't even look up. I catch the phone and it is Jessica's mom Alicia. She can bring Jessica to Houston County High on the way to an 11:30 appointment, will meet me at 11am. I will have about 15 minutes at the most to shoot. I tell them to meet me by the baseball field, the dugout has the HOCO Bear painted on it. That will help the the photo.

I reschedule my original assignment, won't have time to shoot it and get Jessica's photo turned in on time. I head to Houston County High. I get there early to set up my lights. New fence, the dugout is behind a locked gate. D'oh! I thought I had everything worked out.

Along comes the crew cutting the grass. I explain my plight, they let me in. Jessica and her mom arrive, I shoot for ten minutes, and have these three to turn in.

Not bad for a Monday morning.....

Friday, July 18, 2008

Shooting Through A Fence

Last week I shot Houston County softball coach Angela Crawford and her husband Ryan with their new baby Cole. The fact that Ryan is a football coach at Northside made this a neat story. Angela's having practice daily so I caught up with them at the HOCO softball field after practice.

I wanted something more than just a portrait of the coaches with their team caps and stuff, although the team logos would have to be in the picture. I shot the safe shot inside the dugout looking over their shoulders to the softball field. Since they are both taller than me(baby Cole hasn't grown past me yet) I borrowed a ladder to see over them.

I set up one light to my right angled in to them from about 45 degrees, and balanced my exposure to capture the clouds, but be a little less than my exposure on the Crawfords.

I moved them outside and shot through the chain link fence. I felt like that added a touch of drama to my images. I wanted some light on the wire so it would not blend into the background, so I kept the flash inside the dugout. The first image was pretty loose, with lots of fence. Also had a screaming baby. OOPS.

I repositioned them, got a happy baby Cole, and moved in close to the wire. The image below is the result. Just what I wanted. Nice light on them, a happy baby, and the fence makes a really nice frame. The angled light hitting the wire just highlights it without washing it out even though it was much closer than my main subjects.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

This Oops Is A Keeper

I went to Centerville yesterday to photograph baker Tammy Burke. I was doing her photograph for a business story. I wanted to photograph her with one of her great custom cakes. We decided on a cake, moved it onto a table and I set up my lights.
I was shooting with three lights, one to my right, one in the background aimed in from her left, and another behind the cake. It was cut down to to as low a power setting as I could get. I only wanted a little fill from it.

I began shooting from table level, and moved my angle of view up toward the top of the cake. I ended up standing in a chair shooting down for the final set of images. The second photo was from this set, and to me is the best of the shoot.

While moving the chair over by the table I accidently hit the shutter button. I do this all the time, firing three or four frames. . The bottom photo is one of those random shots. I usually get my feet and the ground when I hit the button this way. This time I got a keeper.

Monday, July 14, 2008

A Little Help Is A Good Thing

I photographed a wedding Saturday, Amy and Nathan were the bride and groom. My shooting style for weddings is like almost everything else I shoot, documentary-style. I do much better if I go and cover them like any other event I shoot. Serendipity rules!

Although my approach is doing mostly candids, there are still some you pictures you gotta have, such as the cake and toast. I always try to do something a little different. Saturday I got down low with the glasses prominent in the foreground with the idea of shooting one with the bride and groom out of focus in the background, then reaching for the glasses.

I shot one frame, and then Nathan bent down and kissed Amy. I stayed low and kept shooting. The first frame was a bit dark, but on the last frame someone on the left side pushed their shutter button the same instant I did. The extra light really made the image much better, lighting them and giving some separation between them and the glasses.

Just a little free off-camera lighting.....sweet.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Artist on Asphalt

I photographed Patrick Powell, Jarvis Ingram and Edward Scott Wednesday morning painting turn lanes on Georgia Highway 49 between Byron and Fort Valley. Guys painting roads always make good art. These guys were no exception.

I first found them at the top of a hill near Old Powersville Road. I got out knowing I wanted the top photo, them on the crest of the hill, shot with the 300mm. I wanted the compression effect of the long lens, the backlight to show the heat and steam from the machine. I had planned on coming away with one photo.

They were about finished at this location, so I followed them to their next stop closer to Byron. I had planned on waiting for them to get the striping machine running again before I started shooting but when I realized they were doing the design pretty much freehand, without using stencils, I decided to do a photo package.

I shot the rest of these while they worked. i really liked my first imae, but it didn't fit with the rest of the story. I tried a telephoto shot here , but it didn't fit into my story telling as good as the wide angle shot that showed the pattern forming.

I really liked the first image, but felt like my choice was go with it alone, or use the others as a photo story. The second image was so strong that the photo story won.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

A New Flash Technique

My flash photography has moved to another level, or something. I have been using multiple lights fairly often, sometimes doing one flash hooked to the camera with my trusty SC-17 cord(which lets me get the flash off camera and still shoot an auto exposure mode) and one flash on a light stand triggered by an optical slave. The flash on the light stand is set on manual, usually around 1/8 power. Just move it to get the amount of light needed on the subject. I have gotten fairly good at knowing where to set the stand.

The other way is doing both lights on stands fired with a radio trigger on camera. Doing this requires both camera and flashes on manual. Yesterday I spent the morning at Boney's Lawnmower Service in Warner Robins. i really needed a bit more light than I had so I began with one flash on a stand using my radio trigger.

As long as I was shooting back toward the door all was well. When I moved around to shoot the top image, I needed more light. I started to pull out the SC-17 cord, and decided it would not give enough freedom. I left my other light stand in the car, so I put a slave trigger on another flash, held it in my hand and started shooting.

I was able to move the handheld flash where ever I wanted it. For this photo I held it so it didn't light the front wheel, that is all daylight through the door. The flash near the camera was at a lower power than the backlight. For both the top and middle pictures I wanted to light the bottom of the mower.

All three of these photos were shot this way. I had to watch the flash to subject distance with the handheld light and compensate when I got closer to my subject.

Really love the bottom shot of Mr. Fred Boney. The lines in his face and hands would not of had near the detail with available light, and the lighting looks pretty natural. The backlighting doesn't overpower, just gives some separation, and I balanced the light to keep detail seen outside through the open door.

Gonna play with this some more.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Advice For Young Shooters

Cal Powell emailed me this week. He teaches journalism at First Presbyterian Day School in Macon. He is about to lead a photo class for young students and asked what advice I would give to "very young, very curious students of photography."
I came up with my answer a lot faster than I thought I would.

Guess the first part of my reply would be always stay curious, always learn. That is the only way to grow as a photographer. Every assignment I shoot, I think of fifty things I could have, or should have done to make it better. And that is before I see my images in the computer, while on the way to the next assignment. I start as soon as I drop my gear in the car.

Never be satisfied with what you are doing. Make yourself be more creative, become the best you can technically. Make that image shine in photoshop

Keep a camera close always. If you think something will make a neat photo, shoot it. Don't be afraid someone else will see it and think you are crazy. You often don't know til you try. Some pictures work. others don't.

And that leads to the last bit of advice, and the most important: always remember that photography is a very personal art. Whatever you do has to be for you first. Each image a is a bit of you. Don't shoot your pictures for someone else's approval. If someone else likes what you are doing, then cool. That is just icing on the cake.

All of these photos I shot just for me, and I am glad I did.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

HDR, Too

My last high dynamic range images were processed in Photoshop CS. I had heard about the program Photomatix, but had not tried it. The stuff I had read seemed to recommend using Photoshop. I downloaded a free trial version of Photomatix yesterday and gave it a try. It is easier to use than Photoshop, and processes faster as well.

Today I tried two different images in each program. These are the results. The top image was done using Photomatix, the second was in Photoshop. I am sure with more tinkering, I could get equal results, but what a pain. Photomatix is much simpler to use. The lock and chain photo was from RAW files, The last two were JPG's.

The third image was processed Photomatix, and the last was in Photoshop. All were handheld when I shot them, which I should not have done. Photomatix does a better job of lining up the multiple images as it combines them.

If you give this a try, or you have already been doing HDR images, let me know how you do.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

The Sun News

Today we came out with a new publication, The Sun News. Saturday was our last Houston Peach. The Sun News will be full of community journalism each Wednesday, and a new home for my photographs. The old Houston Peach was pretty much mine photographically from May of 2005. I had a lot of fun shooting for it. A lot of the centerpieces were my enterprise efforts. It was kind of intimidating at first, but I soon was having fun finding stories and shooting them, often writing the copy to accompany my images.

My first photo package for the Sun News was a collaboration with writer Jenny Gordon on Georne AuCoin and her International City School of Ballet. Made really nice art, and hopefully sets the tone for what is to come. I am blessed to have a this section as an outlet for this passion of mine, and so people like Georne to photograph, who have an equal passion for what they do.

Keeps me inspired.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

High Dynamic Range Images

This my first attempt at High Dynamic Range images. A lot of folks are playing with them now.
These are basically multiple images of the same scene that have been merged to yield one image that has great detail in the shadows, midtones and highlights. Something that is near impossible to do in the camera. One article I read said it was "Seeing more like the human eye" which is a pretty good description.

The peach above is an example of extremes between the highlights and shadows. It was done very early in the morning, the peach in the deep shade while the rising sun was lighting the background. With a lot of photoshopping to burn and dodge, I could have had a decent image, but would have lost a bit of detail somewhere, and would have created a good deal of noise in the shadows. I would not use this technique for news photos, an ethical no-no, merging images, but fun for my personal work.

The top image is the merged HDR image. The second photo was my middle exposure when I captured the images. I set my camera to bracket by 1.3 stops, and shot three frames. One over exposed, one right on, and one under. You really need to set up on a sturdy tripod so you don't have any camera movement. Your subject needs to be perfectly still as well.

You can use a program like Photomatrix to merge your images, or if you have Photoshop CS it has an HDR tool. Supposedly, from my research, Photoshop gives better results.
Google High Dynamic Range images and you will find a bunch of free tutorials. Give it a try.
Just don't be in a hurry, because the process takes a while, even on a fast computer.

This is a cool toy. I will be posting more images I am sure. Give it a try.

Blog Archive