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

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A Day Of Photographing Beauty

I photographed two events that were at total opposite ends of the spectrum this past Saturday. I began my day in Macon at the Douglass Theater covering a bodybuilding event. My friend Terri Hancock’s daughter Tracy was competing in the event and I decided I could get a good story and photos from the event. Four ladies from a local gym were competing.

Mary Ellen Mulley, in the lower photo, was one of those competitors in the 2009 INBF Southern Natural Bodybuilding and Figure Championships. She began bodybuilding and competing back in 1988, was winning events quite regularly when she decided to stop competing to raise her family. Now the last kid is in college, so she hit the gym in 2005 and has resumed her winning ways. Cool story.

Saturday afternoon I went to Mrs. Marie Anderson’s 90th birthday party. Another beautiful lady to photograph. That is Mrs. Marie in the top photo. Doesn’t look 90, does she? Her birthday was the previous Wednesday, and when I asked she replied, “You can’t have a party on Wednesday, you have to have a party on Saturday.”
A great lady. She and her late husband were both educators.

We fast forward , our paper was delivered yesterday. Lots of folks commented on the bodybuilder photos on the sports page. One lady called up, really upset about those “naked ladies” in the paper. Sorry ma’am. Hope you get over it. Those women put lots of hard work into preparing for their competition. They deserve some exposure…pardon the pun.

No one has said anything about Mrs. Marie yet. But Mrs. Marie came by the office to see me today. Wanted to thank me for coming to her party and putting her in the paper.
We talked for quite a while. She told Nathan Mathis and me about her life here in Fort Valley as a new bride. How blessed she was to have been in love with the most wonderful man in the world. She expressed her ability to be happy, and how some folks never figured out how to be happy.

As our conversation ended, she thanked me again for coming to her party. Thank you, Mrs. Marie, meeting you was the highlight of my Saturday.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Doing My Job

I have been working here at the Leader Tribune now for about nine months.
I didn’t realize that I would be as busy as I am, but I can’t not be shooting pictures.
Sometimes I miss being at a daily. It is sometimes really hard to wait a week for my pictures to be in print. The photos accompanying this blog fit that category.
Last Wednesday afternoon we had a really bad wreck here in Fort Valley.
A dude in a pickup truck failed to yield to an ambulance, hit the ambulance and flipped it upside down. I had to wait a week for these photos to make the paper.

In this past nine months I have shot a pretty good bit of spot news. Mostly fires and wrecks, but still real spot news. More frequently than I was doing the last couple of
years in Warner Robins as a Telegraph staffer. Being in a small town helps. It is easier to get to stuff, and sometimes I hear quicker.

I still, after 38 years, have the same inward battle when I shoot something like this.
I always get really excited about the great photos I am getting, caught up in the moment. Looking through that viewfinder, clicking away. That is what I am supposed to do. I don’t edit, I shoot away. The editing comes later. So does the
feelings of guilt , shooting photos of people who are really having a bad time.
This is my job, and still the best job in the world.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The Bookstore Portrait

I did an environmental portrait of book store owners Abbey and Shane Gottwals this morning. I wanted something to show off the interior of the store. Had an early idea of sitting them in the floor in the middle of an aisle of books. Then I thought ‘wow, with a pile of books around them, maybe.’ I planned on probably lighting the picture with one off camera flash.

I got to their Byron store and looked around. I found a great spot that showed nice book store surroundings, and there was a big display of books sitting in the floor. I told them where I wanted to shoot, and it surprised them when I told them to sit in the floor. The light was really nice, a front window lighting their faces, other windows adding a nice rim light to them and filling the background.

I began shooting with my 15mm, and got the image below. I shot around with it, then switched to my fisheye. Came away with the top image. Really like the way it flows, like seeing down the aisle on the extreme right. Also like the books in the foreground. A little distortion, but it adds to the photo. By having Shane and Abbey in the center, they are pretty distortion-free.

Think it made a nice photo.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Meet Jessica Weidner

I spent this morning with Jessica Weidner, Fort Valley’s Animal Control Officer.
I was to do a ride along with her. She is new to our town, began working in June.
She began her day digging six very young puppies out of a trash-filled dumpster.
Wish I had met up with her about 45 minutes earlier, but I got to the Police Department while she was still washing the dirt and fleas off them, and was there when they bottle fed the little critters. These guys will live to be adopted.

I had hoped for something interesting to photograph to go with my story, but this was really a great opportunity. We did the ride along and I got the more typical photos of her at work, but the first set of photos really captures this young lady’s caring heart.

She said about her job "This is something I enjoy doing, and somewhere I can make a difference." Well, Jessica, today you made a difference.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Good Ole Days

Okay, go ahead and laugh. That is me, circa 1978. Notice three cameras and various prime lenses. That was once the way, zoom lenses for the most part were a lot slower than prime(fixed focal length lenses), most were fairly heavy to boot. And not as sharpe.

The cameras are mounted with a 20mm, a 105mm and my trusty 180f2.8. In that huge Leitz bag hanging from my shoulder I usually had a 24mm, a 35mm and and 85mm. Most times an old 300f4.5 Nikkor was stuffed in the bag. There was a flash, a bunch of “AA” batteries and lots of film. Lots of film. I carried a huge load of both Tri-X and slide film. The film was most often Fuji.

Also note the huge hand-held two-way radio hanging from my bag. This was way before cell phones. My first handheld cell phone was about the same size. On the other side hangs a Pentax Spot Meter. There was a handheld Sekonic incident light meter in the bag. Shooting slide film required fairly accurate metering. The meters were a bit of a holdover from earlier days when my beloved Nikons had terrible built-in meters. The F2-S hanging on my left side was Nikon’s first really reliable meter for the F/F2 bodies. The little FM’s hanging on the other side had good meters.

By the way, this photograph was done on Kodachrome, which Kodak has now discontinued.

The times have certainly changed, and photographically speaking, these are the ‘Good Ole Days.”

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Little Man-Robert Davis

Saturday I covered the 4th of July celebration at Lane’s Southern Orchards here in Peach County. The wonderful thing about going to this kind of event is seeing folks you have not seen in a while. One of the first folks I ran in to was M.L. Holland. While at the Telegraph I photographed his young grandson Robert Davis several times. Robert is around 4 years old and has a fatal heart problem, pulmonary atresia. The youngster has had way too many surgeries for someone his age.

Little Man, as family and friends call him, is constantly tethered to an oxygen tank. The last time I went to the Holland’s to photograph him; he was riding his big wheel with the line to his oxygen trailing along behind him.

Several weeks ago he was in really bad shape, the doctors had sent him home and Hospice was called in. Little Man bounced back and was doing good enough to come out for the celebration Saturday.

I did the top photograph of him Saturday. What a sweet kid. Always has that infectious smile, always.

In my 38 years of photographing folks in Middle Georgia, some just stand out above the rest. Some of them I would really like to forget, but that’s the subject of another blog. Young Robert Davis is one of those really special people. Regardless of their circumstances, you walk away from them feeling a whole lot better about this world we live in. I hope I took a little bit of that special cheer and spread it to the rest of the people I talked with last week.

God bless you, Little Man.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Cool Images From The D90

I did pictures and an interview this morning with Greg Comer. Greg and his wife Marti are opening a bed and breakfast here in Fort Valley. Greg has been busy getting the 100 year old house ready for an August opening. This morning he was scrubbing floors. The photos were in the dining room. The rooms have some great windows and daylight filled the room Greg was working in as well as the room behind him. Seeing through the house made for great depth in the photos.

I shot from various angles as he worked, beginning with my back to the windows and moving around. I knew my best pictures were going to be looking back into those huge windows. Thought I might have to use a bit of fill flash to make it work, but luckily I was wrong. The light walls bounced plenty of light back on Greg and his son Mason.

The bottom photo was early in the series, the top photo was almost to the end.
The lower image was with my old trusty 15mm. It is a nice photo, like the light, love the 5 year-old watching his dad working. I thought “hey, this is it.”

I moved around looking back into the windows as Greg moved more into the room and was mopping across in front of me. Mason moved farther back in the room and leaned against the table. I swapped the 15 for my 10mm and continued shooting.
I expected to have to really photoshop to make up for all the backlight, but I did very little to this image. It was shot with the D90 on auto using shutter speed priority. Came out of the camera looking really great. Wish I had done a couple with the D200
just for comparison.

I liked the bottom photo a lot, but the top one will make the paper. Love the way the backlighting makes Mason almost ghost-like. It makes you take a second look.

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