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... is a freelance photographer working in Middle Georgia

Monday, August 31, 2009

Let The Games Begin!!!!!

I shot my first real football game of the year Friday night. Spent all day watching it rain. but
the clouds were gone at game time. I was glad to have a dry night. Still have a camera that
doesn't work from that scrimmage game in the rain. I did pack a poncho this time.

Friday night was a good test for my D90, shooting action and also high ISO. Peach County
plays in a dark stadium. Still had some daylight when the game cranked up at 8pm, but it went away pretty quickly. The color from this little jewel amazes me.

The camera is quick enough to shoot action, and does well at 6400 ISO. I have shot all week using the D Active lighting and it has been a help in low light shooting high ISO's. It balances out the shadows and highlights, giving some shadow detail I would not have had.

I also got to shoot with Grant Blankinship Friday night. He broke out the laptop before halftime to make deadline. That part of Friday night football I don't miss. Kinda nice having all weekend to get pictures ready.

Looks like this will be a good season.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Picking Grapes

These photos were done several weeks ago for a group of folks who are opening a winery. They needed photos of grapes being picked for publicity.

The shoot was early in the morning. The grape vines were in deep shadow, with really strong patches of sunlight in the background. There was also a house in the background that was really distracting. The grapes were photographing really flat, no highlights at all.

I set up one flash on a stand and moved it around until I had some light on the picker and the grapes. The light ended up being between the camera and subject. As I shot I moved the light trying different angles with both camera and flash.

The wide shot has the focus on the grapes and the distant background fuzzed out enough to be okay. The angle of the flash gave the grapes some highlight and seperation from the background.
The second shot was with a wide angle lens, but I used the picker to hide the backgrond. The lighting worked well, making nice shadows that added to the image. The cluster of grapes hid deep in the vine could have used a touch more light, but they are visible.

For the last photo, I backed up with the 80-200mm zoomed in pretty tight. The light was still good, the grapes hanging on the edge of the basket really pop. The telephoto gave some helpful compression and threw the background out just a touch.
All in all, worked out pretty well.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Hay Baling

There is a field between Byron and Fort Valley that Deborah and I drive past quite often. It is really a beautiful spot, rolling hills hit by the afternoon sun at just the right angle. We usually pass by this time of year and see huge rolls of hay scattered across the field. I always comment about the picture possibilites and hope one day to come by while the farmers are baling the hay.

Yesterday Deborah had a doctor’s appointment in Warner Robins. She called me as she drove home to let me know the farmers were baling hay. Needless to say, I hit the road.

Keith Story and his dad CJ were hard at work, CJ was running the hay rake making windrows while Keith ran the baler. I spent an hour in the field shooting pictures.
When you are shooting tractors working in large fields, you have to be patient. It takes a good while for the tractor to make the trip across the field. I had some nice pictures with the 300mm, but found a spot at the end of a windrow with a roll of hay in just the right spot.

I brought out my 10mm, and found just the right spot. I had time before the baler came back so I shot a few frames to make sure all my elements were in place, great sun, incredible clouds and the roll of hay was where I wanted it in the frame. When you are shooting with a really wide lens from a low angle, it is hard to balance the exposure for the huge expanse of sky and the much darker ground. My test shots had a washed out sky.

The old way to handle this was to switch to manual exposure and try various exposures until you got it right. I was using my D90 which has a feature called Active D-Lighting which helps keep detail in both the highlight and shadow areas.
I turned it on and did another test shot. Really evened up the sky and ground. I waited for the baler to come back and fired away.

This is a great feature on a cool little camera. The image quality continues to amaze me. After years of shooting Nikon digital and doing a bunch of color correcting on all my images, this is a dream. Very little work to get them looking good. Plus a really decent 6400 ISO. We will try that next week as high school football gets cranked up.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Another Leaf Photo

Saturday morning while walking the dogs I found these leaves laying on the sidewalk. I swapped the pups for a Nikon and took some photos. I knew I wanted to shoot from ground level with the fisheye. I tried several angles and this was one of the better shots.

I downloaded them and came up with the top photo. I really liked the image. I love the texture in the leaf and the sidewalk surface. The leaf is still moist from the night’s rain.

I thought about converting it to black and white, but love the color in the leaf. I compromised and desaturated everything but the leaf. Think I may have to make a print of this one.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Cat's Eye

This is a photo I shot several weeks ago and forgot about. I had been in our
garden photographing some flowers and stuff when I saw this stray cat hiding under some plants.

All I could see was her eyes and thought I should shoot a frame or two. I shot it, downloaded it and forgot about it. I found it and really like the results. It is kinda neat.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Football Is Back

I shot my first football of the season last Friday night. Peach County had a scrimmage game with Northside in Warner Robins. This was my first game back at McConnellTalbert Stadium since I retired from the Telegraph. This is always a great stadium to shoot football in, especially early in the season when there is still a bit of daylight. The field runs East to West, and the late afternoon light is awesome.
It is also a bad stadium for rain, cause if you don’t have rain gear, there is nowhere close to go. The Weather Channel said no rain. I drove Deborah’s car to the game, took only cameras, lenses and extra batteries. I did wear my old White Sox cap. That old cap has seen way too many football games. It is about as worn as my knee joints.
As always I got there early. The Weather Channel lied. It was 25 minutes of really heavy rain. I had no poncho, no towel, just an old baseball cap. I was glad to have the cap.
I was really looking forward to shooting my first football with my new D90. It got wet and screwed up. My D70 got wet and four days later it still don’t work. Guess its dead. I shot with my old trusty D200.
The rain stopped a good bit before the game started, but the sky was still really overcast. The western sky was open and the sun was coming in at the perfect angle.
The top photo of the players warming up before the game shows the cloud cover. The lower photo was during the game. Really sweet light.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

I did a feature story last week on singing probation officer Paul Caraker. His office is in the new Byron Municipal Complex. The building has a really cool lobby with lots of glass and a neat staircase with wrough iron railings.

I wanted to do the photo using the stairway. I positioned him on the stairs and started out using ambient light. I shot using manual exposure because of the strong backlight. It made an all right photograph(above), but the backlight was really distracting. The light on his face is a bit flat as well.

I broke out my flash and decided to pump a little light in. I knew I wanted the light coming in from the camera’s right side. This image was exposed manually as well. I adjusted my exposure to capture the outside background scene.

Any time you are needing to use flash you will get a much better picture if you get the flash off the top of the camera. Directional light adds a nice depth to your photograph. Also takes care of red eye. You can get an off camera flash cord. Nikon makes one that is coiled and moves the camera about an arm’s length away(this of course is dependent on the length of your arm.)

Don’t be afraid to play a bit. And don’t be afraid to do some using the manual exposure mode. It’s the only way to be really creative with flash. The more you do, the easier it gets.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Little Beauty Is Good For The Soul

I went down the road to Brown’s Farm Market last week. It is about a thirty minute drive and well worth it. They plant several acres of zinnias across the road from the market every year. They make wonderful pictures. I have gone three or four times before and always come back with a happy camera.

It started raining fairly early the day of my planned trip. Rained pretty steadily for a couple of hours. I had decided not to go, but in the afternoon the rain stopped, so I hit the road. By the time I got to Montezuma, the sun was back out.

I went into the zinnias and started following butterflies around. The flowers are planted in red clay. After about fifteen minutes I had so much mud on the bottoms of my shoes, I could hardly keep them on. The field slopes down away from the road, and I almost busted my butt a couple of times.

No pain, no gain. The good pictures are always a bit more trouble. These are two of my photos. I love the red in the background on the top image. Really sets it off. I saw the red thru the lens and moved a bit to get it like I wanted it. The second one was shot as the butterfly left the bloom. It really creeps me out. The legs look like an alien.

You should make a day every so often to do some pretty pictures. It’s good for the soul.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The Tomato Whisperer

We were putting the paper together yesterday afternoon when the phone rang. That in itself is not unusual. It usually rings constantly on Mondays and Tuesdays when we are busy building pages. Renee, our graphic artist took the call. I heard her side of the conversation, then she said “Well, why don’t you talk to our photographer.”
I thought, “okay, this is gonna be either really good or really bad.” Sometimes you just know. Yesterday had been Monday all day log. I was expecting the worst.

The caller was Earnest Habersham, and he wanted to tell us about his garden. Huge tomatoes, plants ten feet tall. I went on out to see him and his garden. Mr. Habersham is quite an interesting guy. The picture really doesn’t do him or his story justice.

He said he began gardening after his last retirement. His first retirement was from the US Army after serving in World War II, the Korean War, and Vietnam. His second career was as a funeral director and an embalmer. Later he worked for the State of Georgia in the Department of Professional Standards. He was born and raise on a farm, was plowing behind a mule until Uncle Sam called him in 1942.

He said “Now I just grow my vegetables and do the occasional embalming if anyone calls.” He credits the large tomatoes to the fact that he sits and talks to them every day. “If you talk to your tomatoes and tie them up, they will grow.”

I missed on this one, the photo should have been better.

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