Saturday, February 28, 2009

Makes My Heart Ache...

Have a look.

Last One Out, Please Turn On The Light.

Lee Williams' darkroom really tugs at me - it looks so much like the little garage darkroom in which my father first taught me how to make photograms. I used my lego giraffe. Still have some of those.

Friday, February 27, 2009

Goodbye, Rocky.

This morning I nearly broke down in tears as an NPR reporter announced that today the Rocky Mountain News will publish its final edition - 149 years, 311 days since its first one.
This was one of the few smaller papers left that published in the tradition of truthful, honest journalism, asking the hard questions and taking the important photographs. The publication was characterized by sharp, smart, thoughtful stories. I counted it as one of the top ten papers in the nation. A newsroom full of staff who wouldn't just run the articles that advertisers wanted to see. Staff who believed in hard-hitting journalism, not fluff and not PR. Photographs run large, full of emotion and light. I was always inspired by their photos, always, always.
This is devastating news, friends. I'm shocked and disgusted that the Scripps corporation didn't do more to preserve a top-notch paper and a staff of breathtaking quality. The paper was for sale for one month before it was shut down. What a disgrace.
My hat is off to the photographers, editors, writers, and countless other behind-the-scenes staff, who suddenly find themselves out on the street in cold and dark economic times. Best of luck, friends. You can read their final edition stories at the Rocky Mountain News website.

Rocky Mountain News - Final Edition

Rocky Mountain News, Final Edition

Talent Show

Trying out the flickr method of posting. All photos are clickable and link to their flickr page.

From the Moorpark College "Winter Wonderland" Talent Show last week. 

MC Talent Show 09 - 02

MC Talent Show 09 - 05

MC Talent Show 09 - 04

MC Talent Show 09 - 03

MC Talent Show 09 - 06

MC Talent Show 09 - 01

Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Very Good and the Very Bad

...of sports photography.

Lately I've been using that basketball ceiling bounce trick an awful lot, and it's beat out my other methods - the Canon infrared wireless system, on-camera flash, and going commando - so far. Last week I tried using two 580s, one on-camera master and one as the slave, and that was a disaster. The slave fired a full second after the master, and only fired at all when I was within 10 feet! Useless, totally useless.

However, bounce flash has worked quite well. I turned out some really nice images in the past two weeks. We're just getting into CIF basketball games, my very favorites. The bleachers are full, the crowd is passionate, access is restricted so you don't get people running into your gear or in front of the lens. The players are brilliant, great action, and tons of emotion. And the best part - all players are wearing the right jerseys (usually with numbers on both front AND back!) and coaches always bring a roster! Those two factors make my life so much easier.

The downside of this season is that I'm also shooting a lot of soccer. Night soccer, on dimly lit fields. The play ranges far and wide, so there is absolutely no way to light it except on-camera. Action is hit and miss, the referees are uptight, the stadium lights create hotspots and every field has black holes, devoid of even the puniest photons. It wouldn't be so bad if I had a 70-200, a 400, anything with sharper glass than my cheapo 70-300. I end up follow focusing so much because the autofocus is sketchy. Even so, the glass isn't sharp anymore and I end up with fuzzy images that need a lot of post-processing. Which I hate.

But editing those basketball photos is a real dream, and that almost makes up for slogging through hundreds of fuzzy, noisy soccer shots. The latest basketball game fit onto just one card and editing took less than a half hour! The images needed almost nothing, just a bit of sharpening and color balance (just barely). Here are a few from a game last week:

Sleep well, and dream of Pocket Wizards...
Kudos to you if you caught that Princess Bride reference. Greatest movie ever.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Bounce Flash

This is an easy, easy, easy technique that anyone using a hot shoe flash with a swiveling head can do. For this portrait of four tv/radio broadcasters who are now moving to internet-based broadcasting, I had a big conference table in a small, white-walled room. Boooorrriiingg. But they had a pair of rabbit ears on a tv nearby. Since these will be obsolete very soon, I thought it would make a cool prop for these broadcasters who are now using new technology.
I stood them all very close to me and put my back up right against one of the white walls. With a bare flash head, I swiveled it around to point behind and slightly above me, at the wall. I shot wide with them in front of me, exposed for the flash using aperture priority, then upped my shutter speed until the ambient exposure was about one stop underexposed. I actually could have underexposed it even more, but it worked okay for this shot. I scooted the people in so the closest guy was about a foot from my lens and shot away. Then I moved the rabbit ears around until they were in a good spot, and voila! A nice, simple portrait with soft but dramatic light. The key is to have a big, white wall. This technique would work even better if you can back into a corner for even more diffused light.

Dog Whisperer Auditions & Controlled Burn

Here's a few shots from the controlled burn I mentioned a while back. I arrived on time, but they had started earlier than expected and the flames were mostly out when I got there. Just lots of smoke and steam left.

And from auditions for the Dog Whisperer late last month in Moorpark. Some owners brought the cutest, sweetest dogs and insisted that at home, they were monsters. One owner brought a darling boxer and told the interviewers that she was just "too friendly" and worried that she might get into a fight with a more aggressive, territorial dog. Maybe it's just me, but I didn't think an overly friendly dog was a big no-no! I guess it's one of the better problems to have, when it comes to behavioral issues.

He's making his best "Who, me? Behavior problems? I think not!" face.

Aw, a 10-month-old bulldog. Nothing cuter. Or more slobbery.

Snow Days!

Always love shooting these, especially on warm sunny days. Lots of fun, get a little wet, cute kids and snowballs. Good stuff.

She was so adorable. Here she was holding out her hand, er, paw for me to feel how cold it was from playing in the snow. I love her little bear hoodie.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Soccer Players Need Rest, Too

From a quick shoot at Rio Mesa High School, during boys' soccer practice.