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

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

This has been a good year for me. I have truly enjoyed my work here with the Leader Tribune, and really loved the opportunity to write stories to go with my pictures.

I have photographed and written about some wonderful people this year. I sat thinking about today about the past twelve months and these three stories came to mind. I began the year with the story on the Lawnmower Man, Chester Dawson. He had been in his show out on Highway 49 for years and years. A sweet soul who loved his work, but even more loved the people who came to see him. He sold his place for the construction of a new motorcycle dealership. Hope you are enjoying your retirement, Chester.

I met the McDowell’s, James and Lorene, in May. A couple of folks who have a huge garden each year and bring the produce to the Byron Tailgate Market. They were my American Gothic 2009 photo.

My other pick of the year is Fort Valley Police Officer Jessica Weidner. She is the local animal control officer. The day I spent with her, she began by diving into a dumpster to rescue a bunch of throwaway puppies. Another sweet soul who loves her job, and is very good at what she does.

They improved my year by my being able to tell their stories, but also meeting them enriched my life.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Rain and Leaves

I was leaving home after lunch the other day. It had been raining really hard all day. As I crossed the sidewalk I noticed this leaf in a puddle of water. I liked the pattern and grabbed a camera. This is another one of those tight shots with my old Sigma 70-300. I have certainly got my 150 bucks out of that lens. The macro is great.

Anyway, the pattern caught my eye, and as raindrops hit the surface of the puddle, cool shapes would move across the water. I really like this. The colors are always so wonderful on an overcast day.

Glad I was looking down.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Using Backlight With Flowers

This photo is from a shoot I did earlier this month with Mark Ballard. Mark had picked an outside setting for the photo. I wanted strong backlight to help separate the arrangements from the background and to light up the fruit in the main vase.

We positioned them so they were in pretty heavy shade. I set up one flash to the left of the camera coming in at about 45 degrees. My original ISO was 250 which was too much. My first shot (the one at the bottom of the page) was way too hot. There was no detail in the table cloth. This first image was a test shot, with no flash.

I reset my ISO to 100, adjusted my basic exposure for the background and the table cloth. I wanted to background to be a bit darker than the subject. I was shooting manually, so I had to pick the shutter speed and lens aperture. I blanked them for my image, and then set my flash output to match the lens aperture I selected.

And there you have it.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


The contrasts we encounter each day always amazes me. They also present some interesting, or at least different images. I began my day today at the site of the new school on Highway 341. The building is still a work in progress. Students will move into the school in late January. It is a colorful building, very modern. The top photo is of one of the light fixtures hanging in the front entrance way. Like I said, very modern.

I left the new school and went by the old high school building. It was built in the 1920’s and has been sitting vacant for some time. Fort Valley State University is going to renovate the building and use it as home for their nursing school. I wanted some before pictures. It is a real contrast to the modern elementary school.

Old buildings have character that is sadly so often missing in our newer structures. The stairway leading to the second floor is awesome. Even in its present condition, the old auditorium makes for a great photograph. A really haunting image.

So many of Middle Georgia’s old historic buildings have been torn down to make way for a new structure when the old one could have been recycled. We should all say a “Thank You” to President Larry Rivers, Mayor John Stumbo and all the folks that worked to save this building from the wrecking ball.

And by the way, did I mention the pigeon?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Pictures With Santa

Saturday was the annual Lunch With Santa in Byron. It makes some good kids and Santa photos for the paper. A commercial photographer always shoots photos of the kids on Santa’s lap for Mom.

Each time I am at one of these events I am impressed with the patience of these brave photographers who regularly do photos of children. I am a firm believer that the best kid portraits are candids. Turn them loose and ‘em around with a camera. Shot for a while and you are bound to have some killer photos.

Just like these two here. The top photo, any mother would love. The bottom one, probably not too many. But it is still a nice moment. I have similar moments of my kids. Not always smiley, but a time to remember.

They are only kids once.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Fog and Christmas Lights

It’s an annual thing with me now, shooting the Christmas lights in Fort Valley. Each year I want to do a little better than the year before. On the way home from an assignment Saturday night I swung through downtown and shot some photos. It was wet and really cold. I suffered for my art, but got some nice pictures.
Sunday night was really foggy. I walked the dogs around 6pm and was thinking Christmas lights in the fog would be nice.
I ate dinner and sat around, putting off going out. After I walked the dogs at 11p.m., I couldn’t stand it any longer. Deborah and I(and Wesley, our wiener dog) cruised uptown in the fog.
These are my photos. Kind cool. Shoot with a telephoto to really get the feel of the fog(top photo). A wide angle sort of diminishes the effect of the fog up close. Spots of light really make it kick. I usually shoot my fog pictures on manual so I can get the exposure like I want it. These were all handheld, but if you are shooting in fog, you might want to bring along a tripod.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Fake HDR Images

I have enjoyed playing with HDR images the last several years. I have tried different programs to process the images, and the best one(to my taste, which many people have already questioned) is Photomatix. It is easier to use than Photoshop’s HDR program, and I like the results better as well.
I have also played with several programs that take one image and make it look like an HDR. Most of the ones I have tried were either a pain or the images didn’t really look like I wanted.

I was surfing today and found a program I had never tried before. It is HDRist and can be found at I downloaded it and have played with it a bit.

These three images are all done through it. Some photos work fairly well, others don’t. You can process several images that are bracketed and do real HDR’s. I will let you know how that works later.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Blocked Kick

I never shoot filed goals, or very seldom, anyway. Friday night I was jjust behind the line of scrimmage when East Side ran out of downs and decided to go for three points. For no particular reason, I shot the play, but with the wrong lens. Wish I had been just a bit looser. Peach County’s Travis Richmond came in and got one hand on the ball, knocking it down.

I got half of Travis, enough to see his hand on the ball. I did have enough wits about me to follow the ball. Ended the play with a nice photo of Luke Crowell running upfield with the ball, carrying a defender on his back.

Happy I did get part of the shot.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Just Another Photo

I photographed the Peach County/East Side game Friday night. I got to spend a bit of sideline time with my friend and former co-worker Grant Blankenship. The game was full of action and made for some good images.

Grant and I had moved into the endzone at the end of the first half expecting a long pass play by Peach County. Grant even remarked the pass would be to Lamar Zanders, Peach County quarterback Patrick Taylor's favorite target.

Sure enough, it was a pass to Zanders and we were in the right spot. So was an East Side defender who played the ball perfectly, breaking up the play. Were looking at our images after the play and Grant said "If Peach County looses, this will be the game picture."

Peach County went on to win, and the broken pass photo became just another picture.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

World AIDS Day

I went to our local World Aids Day event here in Fort Valley last night. It was held in a little park in the middle of downtown at our bandstand. Christmas lights and decorations cover the area.
I thought it was a great contrast, the AIDS message and the Christmas decorations.
There were some really compelling signs posted around the bandstand. Each one had signs on both sides. I shot some looking in to the bandstand and some against the downtown buildings.
The sign photographed against the empty streets kinda says something, too. AIDS is another one of those things that Americans(as well as most affluent nations) showed real concern about for a while. Guess now it is looked upon as more of a third world problem.
That is the way we are, like with bird flu, then swine flu. If its not knocking on our door, then it is not our problem.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

King Cotton

I have tried quite a few times to get a decent cotton picture. I did a black and white a couple of years ago that wasn't bad, but still didn't quite get it for me.
I went out yesterday looking for a little wild art to fill a hole we had in the paper. I knew this field had cotton that had not been harvested yet. I expected to get the machines running in the field.
Half the field had been picked, and work had stopped because of rain. The rain had stopped for a bit, but the clouds were awesome. I shot in several places and then saw this bowl that was a bit deformed. It had not opened and made nice fluffy cotton. I really like the gold spot in the middle of the frame.
This one I can live with.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

The Boot

Yesterday I was on the way to an assignment in Byron, my only Saturday job this week. As I neared Five Points(the BIG intersection in our small town) I noticed that folks were out in traffic collecting money. When I got closer I saw it was PEach County firefighters "filling the boot."

They were collecting monmey for Kids Yule Love, a local organization that provides gifts for children at Christmas.

I parked and grabbed my cameras and movedito the traffic. Still a scary thing if you do much driving. You realize how crazy folks are behind the wheel, and here you are looking through a camera while standing on the center line.

I saw firefighter Alan Whittington across the intersection, his boot standing on the white line between two lanes. The sun was looking like it was about the right spot to ad some drama to my photo. I moved around so he and the boot were between me and the sun and popped a few frames before the light changed and the truck on the side moved.

Made a pretty nice image. Cool for a Saturday morning.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Words To remember

”I think the best pictures are often on the edges of any situation, I don't find photographing the situation nearly as interesting as photographing the edges.” ~William Albert Allard.

The above quote by Photographer William Albert Allard is so true, and are words every serious photographer should keep in mind. So often when we are shooting we get so locked on what is in our viewfinder we forget to look around and check the peripherals.

Working with that thought, go early. There are moments that make great images before the first kickoff, or the opening speaker, or whatever.

Friday night I arrived at Anderson Stadium to see layers of smoke hanging in the lights. There are numerous grills cooking up food for the concession stands. The atmosphere was such that the smoke spread around but was between the lights and the ground.

This made for a cool photo during pregame warm-ups. Another shot was the cartwheeling cheerleaders.

While I was standing around I noticed the flag and the crescent moon. Keep your eyes open, and occasionally glance away from the viewfinder.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Ginkgo Tree

This morning at breakfast my friend Nick told me I needed to go by and look at this ginkgo tree. It is a couple of blocks from my home. Last year I kept saying I needed to do some photos of it and never did.
On Nick’s advice I went by the tree on the way to the office. I shot some stuff with
My 17-55 and with the 70-200 but wasn’t inspired. I wasn’t doing this beautiful tree justice.

I went back to the car and got my 10mm and got down on the ground. Wow, it clicked. I found one leaf that was in just the right position, just a little above the others. The sun was popping through the tree just above it. I knew that had to be my focal point.
My last shot was the complete tree. Had to have a record of the whole scene.
Ansel Adams summed it up when he said “Sometimes I do get to places just when God’s ready to have somebody click the shutter.”
Okay Nick, this one was for you.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shooting On The Sidelines

I usually shoot some feature art while coving football games, the band, coaches interacting with players, the crowd, cheerleaders, etc. In the stadium here in Peach County, the light falls off pretty badly at the ends of the field.
Last Friday night while shooting a photo of Head Coach Chad Campbell talking with a player on the sidelines, I noticed how the scoreboard was looking in the background.

Later in the game, I was down toward the endzone and the cheerleaders got cranked up. I usually shoot the cheerleaders from the midfield side so they will have a little fill on their faces. I decided to shoot from the endzone side to work the scoreboard lights in the background. From this side, their faces were quite dark. I waited to shoot when they were looking up, to capture the highlights.
Took a little effort in Photoshop, but made some interesting photos.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Okay, here is something new for me. I am posting a video on my blog.

Making slideshows with your pictures is really cool. Another way to show of your images.
Using programs like IMovie and Windows Movie Maker, it is quite easy to make a nice slideshow and set it to music, or use any audio with it.

I made this one with images from a shoot with model Kimberly Uso.

Check it out.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Flag Burning

I shot a Veteran's Day Ceremony this afternoon in Fort Valley. Our little town has its Veteran's Day Ceremony on Sunday each year. Seems more people will come on Sunday than a weekday.
The last couple of years, the Boy Scouts have done a Flag Retirement Ceremony at the conclusion.

I have shot quite a few Flag Retirements and have always been not quite satisfied with my images. I have gotten some okay stuff, but wanted something that was a real grabber. The flames and flags always make an interesting photo, but this year I decided to really work it.

The old flags are cut up before burning. The blue field is cut out first and used to hold each stripe as the flag is cut apart. The last two stripes are used to tie the bundle, then the flag goes into the fire. Two scouts were holding the blue star field as their scout master cut away a part of the flag and then dropped it into the field of blue.

Today they were positioned so the sun was coming down through the blue, really making the stars show up. I dug out my 10mm, and got down low so I could see the backlight through the flag. It looked really good. Then the scout master came into the frame.

WOW!!! I had my photo. His silhouette jumped out through the flag, with just a bit of flare from the sun popping over his shoulder. It was also magnified about four times bigger which really helped.

I had a decent flaming flag photo to make my package. I am a happy man.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Little Turtle

Anyone can go out on Halloween and get some cool photos. Kids and costumes always make
for good photos. This year I came up with several nice photos. Definite keepers. The one with Batman and his rivals Riddler and Joker I posted earlier.

Before I shot the Batman photo I photographed young Jacob Carter nad his dad Bill. Dad was holding Jacob in his arms, was a nice enough photo. I wandered around and got several more photos, then on my way back I came back by Jacob and Bill. Bill was about to put him down on the walk. HELLO, time to hit the ground with the old 17mm. Same charm that won young Jacob first place in the costume contest came thru in the photograph.

It is a blessing to be short enough to shoot up at a one-year-old.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Batman Meets Joker and the Riddler

I was covering the Halloween costume contest in Byron last night. After the contest the Moneypenny brothers were about to leave the stage when the young Batman's mom thought it would be neat to get him with arch rivals The Riddler and Joker.

I had already moved in to get a shot of the two villains so I waited, hoping for an interesting photo with the three kids together. Poor little Batman decided he wanted no part of these two. He stopped several feet away and as I saw his expression through my viewfinder, I knew I had a neat shot.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Trojan Man

Peach County High’s mascot is the Trojan. This county takes a great deal of pride in
Its football team. There are a lot of really dedicated fans. One of those fans in Daryl Hawkins. To me, he is Mr. Peach County Football. Actually, he is the Trojan Man.
Every Friday night but one since 1992 he has been on the sidelines wearing his Trojan outfit. He is one hard working dude. He is on the sidelines pre-game getting the fans fired up, having his photo made with young kids, being greeted by friends.

When the team runs through the big banner onto the field, Daryl is running flat out in front, carrying a huge flag. With each Peach County score, he is running the length of the sidelines with that big flag.

I have been wanting to do a story on him since the 2005 season. Every year I have gotten busy and put it off. This year I made it a priority. It ran in this week’s paper.
You can check it out at

Anyway, here are some of the images I did for the story. Not only is he a local celebrity, but the Trojan Man is even well known among Peach County’s opponents.
The bottom photo shows Daryl posing with the majorettes from Cairo High.
The girls came over and asked to have a picture made with them.

You go, Trojan Man.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Shooting into the sun

I really like these photographs. I was photographing model Kimberly Uso on a recent Saturday.
We were shooting with the sun coming in from one side. I was using the sun as a backlight with a flash set up on her right. It was making nice fill, the sun was doing its part.

Kimberly has really long hair. I asked her to try flipping her hair. I began with a longer lens, and came up with the first photo. It is a nice image. made a neat photo.
I swapped to a wider lens, and moved to a lower angle. The bottom image is the result. Wow.
Everything worked. Just enough fill flash, her neclance is hanging in the air, nice rim light and backlight in her hair. And the sun kicking inthrough the trees.

A definite keeper.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

The First Haircut

Friends Ben and Christina Forbus have twins, Abbie and Acie. I have photographed them quite a few times, they always make for good photographs. Last week Abbie was getting her first haircut. Her mom was cutting it, and this was the first haircut in Christina’s new business.

I figured that mom and daughter would make for a nice photo. Brother Acie and dad were sitting nearby watching this historic event. There is a special bond between dads and their daughters. That first haircut is a biggie. I should have remembered.
I still have a lock of hair from my daughter Tracy’s first haircut.

Anyway, I shot a photo early in the haircut that showed a lot of environment with dad and brother in the photo. Then I concentrated on the haircutting. I just happened to catch dad with that misty look in his eye. Glad I had the 70-200 on a body hanging off my shoulder. That is why I carry two cameras.

Whenever you are photographing any event, always keep an eye on everyone involved. You never know when a great photo opportunity will pop up.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Shooting Pigeons On Main Street

I was downtown last night shooting a play at the Austin Theater on Main Street. Like all downtown’s we have our share of pigeons. Usually I pay them no attention, but last night a flock flew overhead as I walked to my car. They wheeled and turned, flying out of sight, then came into view from a different direction.

I immediately brought my camera up and started shooting. The first frames had a bit of blur, the shutter speed was down around 1/60 second from shooting inside. I reset my ISO and shutter speed and shot as they flew around.

I love the texture in these images, the shadows and tiny points of detail. Cool the way the light falls on some birds while others are silhouettes, a beak and eye show up on one bird, the next in shadow.

I know folks were wondering why that fool was taking pictures of a bunch of pigeons. Who cares? I got some neat images.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

When Better Is Possible......

I was invited to a Literacy Week Celebration last week. The lady who was organizing the event
dropped a flyer by the office for me and told my boss she would really like for me to come to the program. I called her later that day and talked about the program. She told me some of the people who would be speaking. I told her I would be glad to come.

So, Tuesday morning I grabbed my cameras and headed over to the program. I walked in and Mrs. Lindsey waved me over. State Representative Lynmore James was at the podium. She said she was so glad that I was able to attend, showed me the program, and said "You are speaking next." I said "What!!!!" She said "you are the next speaker."

"Well," I said, "I thought I was coming to take pictures for the paper. I had no idea I was to speak." She said "If you don't want to, I will understand." I almost said I would just take pictures, but decided I should take my turn at the podium. I went to the back of the room and prayed til my time came, "Lord, don't let me look like an idiot."

The top photo is of Dr. Odessa McNair. She spoke after me. Wow, what a cool little lady. Love the photo of her at the podium. By the time I got through I am sure the audience had forgotten all about me. One bit of advice she offereed, "When better is possible, good is not enough."
Well worth remembering. Made me glad I took my turn to speak.

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