Friday, August 28, 2009

Friends, Bikes, and Toys!

This week started out being somewhat slow, but then ramped itself into 7th gear all of the sudden starting on Tuesday night/Wednesday morning. I'm trying out a new toy thanks to Jeff Penn at Nikon. It's only to borrow and there will be more on that later, but I'm excited about it. No it's not something that isn't out yet either, so don't think that I know something that other people dont know that they think they know. Last thing I want is for these guys to come after me:

(Nikon D3x, ISO 200, Nikon 18-35mm F3.5-4.5 @23mm, 1/200th@F5. Single SB-900 Speedlight to camera left fired by an SU-800 Speedlight commander from on Camera set to +3 output)

I've been trying to find anything to shoot just to put this thing through the ringer to see what it can do. I've shot 3 beds at Ultrasun this week, I've arranged for a fashion shoot at the beginning of next week, and I'm working on trying to get 2 derby shoots done before I leave for Canada next weekend. That means that the next post is going to be full of technical information and big pictures. (Hey that's my kind of post! Big Pictures! EEEEEP!) It's actually sort of rekindled the artistic shooting in me honestly. Wednesday night Brad and I went and shot downtown for about two hours, using our tripods as swords to fight off the homeless people muttering, "chaaaaange.....chaaaaaange" as if they were some sort of zombies.

We got some good stuff, but that'll come in the next post too. Until then, I'm going to try to make the most out of this toy Nikon loaned me for a bit. I'm also going to try not to get hit by any motorcycles over the weekend with my friends from out of town. Seen it happen, figure it's overrated. Not only that but State Farm is mailing me a check for that SB-800 that got eaten by the Hot Rod as seen in this post. I don't think they will want to deal with me being run over so recently afterwards. Either way it'll be nice to see my friends from out of state while not having to work the GP, and to have a full set of speedlights again to play with at the beginning of the week. Maybe I'll shoot some GP stuff as just a fan; we'll see. Until then, have a nice weekend. More soon.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009


This morning I found out that I would not be shooting the Indianapolis Motorcycle Grand Prix this year. It's fine and good, since I will now be able to spend time with friends that I have coming into town for it. In truth though, I will miss the event. Some people know it, and others don't but before I worked for the Newspaper I shot sports at Purdue University in West Lafayette, IN. I was by far not the shooter then that I am today (not that I'm leaps and bounds better today), but I enjoyed it. To this day in fact I continue to enjoy shooting sports because it is a difficult unlike anything else. Sports can be a ballet of action in which you are either in the right place, or you are not. You either get the shot, and are even looking in the right place; or are not. Your photos are sharp, or they are not. The horrible part is that I'm incredibly anal about photos being sharp.

(Notre Dame vs Purdue in 2005. Nikon D70s, 1600ISO, Nikon 70-300mm F4.5-5.6@155mm, 1/250th @F4.5)

Lighting challenges occur, people get in the way, you don't have enough lens, you have too much lens, you can't make it someplace fast enough, you hesitate a half a second and miss a shot, and many more problems can arise while shooting sports. It takes a special kind of thinking ahead, or at lesat it used to. With Today's cameras you can shoot at 3200ISO and feel confident that you can even crop in on your images. When the image above was taken in 2005 that wasn't the case with digital. 1600ISO was cleaner than film was, but you couldn't crop in on it very much without showing off the 'grain feature'.

(Purdue Womens Basketball 2/11/2006. Nikon D70s, 800ISO, Nikon 80-200F2.8@125mm, 1/320th@F2.8)

While I was at Purdue I shot all of the sports. Everything except for golf, which was ironic since I actually played golf and understood the sport better than many of the others. I shot for the Purdue Debris Yearbook, as well as the University itself later on, but it didn't matter who I shot for to me. I just enjoyed it, and why not? I had the best seats in the house!

(Purdue Womens Volleyball vs Ohio State University. Nikon D2x, 500ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR @105mm, 1/250th@F2.8)

Sometimes I wish I'd have been better at Shooting Sports when I was, so that maybe I'd still be doing that today. The newspaper pays better though, and I can't tell you how much I've learned about on location shooting, and lighting while working there. Honestly though, there will always be a part of me that will miss the Basketball, Football, Baseball, Volleyball, Tennis, Soccer and more that I shot at Purdue.

I can't say that I haven't shot any sports while for the paper. I do shoot the Indiana All Star Basketball games as you can see in this previous post. If you've read my blog more than once you'll know that I also shoot for the Naptown Roller Girls Roller Derby Team. I love shooting the Derby, it's like nothing I had ever shot before and it maintains a special place in my portfolio because just like any other sport; it's not easy to shoot.

(Nikon D300, ISO 1600, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@102mm, 1/250th @F2.8)

I guess the whole point of this blog is that when I do get to shoot things like sports I feel lucky. I just find it a unique challenge that is different every single time I have a chance to shoot it. Last year I got to shoot the MotoGP, and I"m not sure exactly what circumstances allowed that but hey I'd rather be lucky than good right? The shot below was from the 1st Annual MotoGP last year. I have a 24"x11" version of it hanging on my wall here at home because I liked it. I'd never shot a motorcycle race before, and was incredibly pleased with this shot.

(Indianapolis Motor Speeday's 1st Annual Motorcycle Grand Prix. Canon 1D Mark II, 800ISO, Canon 400mmF4DO with Canon AF 1.4X extender, 1/100th@F13)

Funny part about the GP shot is that it might have been during the worst shooting experience of my life. That weekend in Indy was the worst weather in IMS History that a race had been run. The rain and the wind was so bad, that Matt Detrich had to use his belt to tether himself to where he was stationed on the roof to make sure he wouldn't fall off. With 40mph winds the rain felt like needles on your face, and visiibility was low enough that the auto focus in my camera was having trouble on the bikes traveling at 200mph several yards away. That was of course if you were lucky enough to be able to hold your lens pointed towards the bikes in the 40mph wind and rain. The weather was pretty awful, and honestly I'm glad I shot with Canon Equipment on loan to the paper from CPS that day instead of my stuff. It was an unforgettable experience, and I'd do it all over again. Why? Because I love what I do. Maybe one day I'll figure out exactly what I'm doing. Of course if I do I think I'd still almost rather be lucky than good. More soon.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Disco Performances, and more Roller Derby

So it's been over a week since my last post regarding the lovely Rachel. For that I apologize once again in fear of losing any one of my 8ish all very valuable readers. The fact is though that those 8ish readers make me look forward to updating my blog despite the fact that I don't think I'm all that interesting, and I secretly know that you all look at the pictures while merely skimming the text anyway. That's ok though, pictures are what I live for.

(Nikon D3, 560ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@160mm, 1/125th @F2.8)

The photo above was from the Gregory Hancock Dance Theatre's performance of "Romeo and Juliet at the Disco" on August 14th. The Photo Venture camera club was offered the opportunity to shoot the dress rehearsal of the performance because one of the members was performing. That same member happened to be one of the Naptown Roller Girls who proceeded to tell me that they would be there. Feeling like this would be a good oppertunity to provide the league with some photos of the event as to inspire more cooperative ventures such as this in the future I decided to sneak in with the Camera club and shoot the show. It was an excellent show; I definitely enjoyed it. I also am pleased with my photos from the event.

(Nikon D3, 200ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@105mm, 1/10th @F2.8)

In all truth though I got pretty lucky. I was somewhat flustered as I ran into the auditorium. I happened to walk in behind a few other people that seemed just as flustered by being late. Luckily they knew where they were going because I certainly had no idea. As soon as I got inside, I said hello to a few of the Venture Club members that I knew and proceeded to be startled by the lights going down. Then you have a slight moment of "photo panic" thinking you might miss something. I had all my gear slung over a shoulder; not even loaded with memory cards. In the dark I loaded my gear up and got ready. It showed too, because during the intermission the lights came on and my thinktank photo belt was on upside down dangling two of my lenses near death. I think the worst part is that it took me a minute to realize it was on upside down. I remember looking down at it thinking, "when did I get a new bag?"

That tends to happen when you are in a hurry though. Regardless, everyone seems to be enjoying the Photos from Romeo and Juliet at the Disco, and that's the most important part.

Speaking of Roller Derby, I've got quite a few Derby related things coming up. In fact, I just got done assisting at a shoot in Broad Ripple for the 2010 Calendar. Tom wanted to do this shoot since last year, and I am not the kind of person to stand in the way of someone having a brain child. Coincidentally I did jump in a puddle a little earlier which then caused it to look like I wet my pants that afternoon. The goal was to splash Tom though; that I definitely accomplished. Not only did I accomplish that, but ZOMG there's a photo of me!

(Photo by Tom Klubens, Canon 1D Mark II, ISO 250, Canon 16-35LF2.8@16mm, 1/40th@F7.1. One Dynalight 400JR at 1/4th power to camera left shot into the back of a stainless steel outdoor walk in refrigerator activated by magic eye. One Canon 580EX Speedlight bare bulb set to 1/4th power activated by pocket wizard about 50 feet to camera right.)

That was me trying to look tough or confused while on the phone with the Art Director right after we had set up the lights. I don't remember exactly, but either way it doesn't matter. It started to pour down rain very shortly after this shot was taken. Despite that fact, this was going to be the scene for a month out of the 2010 Roller Derby Calendar; which YES, did get shot tonight despite the rain. Let your imaginations run wild. More soon.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Meet Rachel...

OK so this is a quickie blog post, just as very much like it was a quickie photoshoot. I get a call on Monday afternoon after I had gotten over my WTF food poisoning in regards to a last second photo shoot for a girl named Rachel who needed very fast, shots to send to her agency in Florida. I am not going to lie, I hesitated at first because I hate doing things very last second, but in the end I agreed to shoot the pictures; and am very glad I did. Rachel is an awesome girl, and I've sort of half known her for a month or two now. By half known I mean she has been my waitress a few times where she works. Either way, she had a few shots in mind and I pulled a few things out of left field, which brought us to this:

(Nikon D3, ISO 250, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@175mm 1/40th @F5. Single SB-800 set to 1/4 power triggered by pocket wizard to the left of camera, shot through an umbrella slightly above Rachel. SB-900 Speedlight set to half power zoomed to 200mm triggered by pocket wizard wedged into the saftey release of the glass door directly behind Rachel, fired at her back.)

Rachel needed these shots absolutely immediately after they were shot, to send to her agency. These shots are what the agency was going to use to try to get her into the Ducati Runway show over the weekend of the Indianapolis Motorcycle Grand Prix. If I'm not shooting the race (which I hope I am) I'm going to have to try to get in there to see her. Or maybe I'll try even if I am shooting the never know. The interesting part of these shots is this: YES, I did send them like you see them now. Why is that important? Because they are straight out of the camera; untouched by the airbrush gods, or by my feeble photoshopping skills at least. What does this hint at now? This hints that YES, Rachel is really that smokin gorgeous!

It's funny because I'm sure this shoot was incredibly tame, lame, and downsized as compared to all the shoots that she's been in for her Agency, or for the Miss Indiana competition's she's participated in. She was a 500 Princess, hooters calendar candidate, and probably been in about a bajillion other awesome things.

(Nikon D3, 250ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@150mm, 1/40th @F2.8. Nikon SB-800 Speedlight to 4 feet above camera left triggered by Pocket wizard set to half power shot through an umbrella)

We had a lot of fun shooting, Rachel is a riot. She was super excited that we were able to shoot Monday night, and in the end I'm very happy I was able to shoot as well. I am very pleased with the outcome of the photos, as well as the possibilities they will open up for her. She also gave me the greatest compliment on my photography I've ever recieved. In fact it was so great (and subsequently hilarious) that it is the name of the facebook album that she started with the shots she sent to Florida. She said, "I am going to build a church, and name it after you". I was so flattered, and laughing at the left field aspect of that statement that I had to stop working for a minute. Thank's Rachel, everybody gets lucky from time to time. Greatest compliment I've ever recieved. Itwas awesome.

Hopefully in the future we'll have more time to shoot some more, as the time and format constraints on this shoot were pretty tight. Needing to have them in as soon as they were shot, as well as that they all needed to be full body shots was sort of restricting. Either way, it was a good shoot and I look forward to the possibilities. I also look forward to editing through the rest so I can provide final photos to her as well (seriously, who wouldn't like looking at 300 photos of her?...come on). Best of luck Rachel, hopefully I'll get to see you make the walk down the Ducati Runway in a few weeks. To end, I leave you all with her favorite out of the few that we looked at already. Thanks again, and More soon.

(Nikon D3, 250ISO, NIkon 70-200mmF2.8VR@155mm, 1/40th @F4. Single Nikon SB-800 shot through an umbrella at 1/2 power through an umbrella above camera left by pocket wizard. SB-900 Flash unit dialed to 50mm set to 1/2 power fired by pocket wizard about 100' back on some stairs fired into the brick wall with the Florescent white balance gel supplied with the unit).

A slightly better setup shot can be seen here:

(Photo by Brad Clampitt) (No the camera on tripod is not mine, Brad just likes to have more cameras than me, when he documents things like this. That and that camera/tripod is wedged in my light stand to hold it from being blown away by the fan)

Monday, August 10, 2009

Derby, Concerts, Food, and overdue posting...

Whoa so it's been over a week since I posted something last. I decided I needed to take a minute and do that real quick, before all 8 of my readers stop reading due to lack of content. It's either that or something shiny flew past and I would be forgotten completely. Whichever/or.

So yea that means I've been busy. Big surprise right? It's summertime, and summertime is super busy for me. I tell that to any girl I've dated, "Enjoy me now, you wont see me much over the summer." For the record; no that doesn't always go over that well... These bad boys though......These will make anybody smile.

(Canon EOS 1D Mark II, 160ISO, Canon EF 100MM F2.8, 1/100th@F7.1. Single 580EX Speedlight at 1/2 power through an umbrella above left fired by pocket wizard, Single 580EX Speedlight fired by pocket wizard shot directly into a silver reflector 3 feet to camera right at 1/8th power)

I really need to figure out this whole online color profile thing. I post photos and the colors are sometimes muted down due to the browser that people look at them in. On my comptuer the pancakes are that perfect golden brown pancake color, and the jam is that blueish purple awesomeness color. I've heard (again from those 8ish readers) that sometimes the colors look muted. That bugs me. It might even keep me awake at night actually...

Other things that keep me awake at night are things that I shoot on weekends. Friday night KJ Testin had her first big live performance at 8 Seconds Saloon here in Indianapolis. KJ did an awesome job, and I'm really happy for her. I hope that her music goes noplace but up, and from the looks of it; I can't imagine anything different happening.

(Nikon D3 560ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR @200mm, 1/100th @F2.8)

On an earlier blog post I showed the Music video that we made for one of KJ's songs, and we had a ton of awesome feedback on it. Live, KJ really did put on a great show. The fans seemed to dig her, and the GM of the venue seemed very pleased with the crowd that she brought in. As for me, I was thrilled to get to shoot a concert type event. I don't really ever get to shoot anything like that anymore. Especially not events where I know the artist even. It's so cool, I almost wanted to wear blues brothers glasses while I was shooting. I really needed to give my buddy Adam a call and get a few pointers on shooting concerts, but I didn't end up having any time to do such a thing and just had to wing it. I think I did alright though, but more importantly a great job goes to KJ! Keep singing the great music! Everybody should check her stuff out here.

Quick side note here: This is the kind of thing where Auto ISO is a godsend. Nikon has really done their AutoISO right, and I have absolutely no hesitation to use it in this type of event. You can see that the two photos that I posted are at 400ISO, and 580ISO (580? WTF?). I shot everywhere from 200ISO to 6400ISO that night, but the camera knew when 6400 or 1600 wasn't necessary and allowed me to shoot at these lower sensitivities. That's right folks. that means that if KJ wants to make a 40" poster of her singing on stage; she can do it with these files. I'm telling you. AutoISO. Check it out.

(Nikon D3 400ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@110mm, 1/100th @F2.8)

This week finished like many others have or are bound to finish, and that's with a page out of the 2010 Roller Derby Calendar. Next week will be no different. I ended up being home sick today with some kind of WTF food poisoning. Am better now, but this morning I felt like death had been microwaved and served to a prison inmate on one of those Styrofoam plates (which of course made the trip through the nuker as well). The good news is that the shots from last night turned out pretty good, if I do say so myself. Of course I can't post anything interesting about it here, but I'll try to find something that I can post by the end of the week. Last night we shot in Salon 6 in Broad Ripple, next week we are doing Bikers. The logistical challenges never end it seems... More Soon.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Finding an Xscape...

Last week was a bit of a release from the extreme workload that I've been having between the paper and side projects. Not that I don't have a considerable amount of editing to do, but from time to time it is nice to have a few days that aren't constant bombardment with emails or phone calls ranging from Photos that were needed yesterday, or Video that needs to be shot tomorrow. It's all the life of a newspaper Photographer/Videographer and I can't complain, so don't think that I am. It can just get stressful at times, but in an almost masochistic way I kind of dig it too. On top of the normal load I tend do shoot things on the side of the paper as well. Weddings, Posters for Advertising, modeling comp cards, events and Videos. Between the side projects, the newspaper, and random shenanigans that I tend to find; I keep rather busy. Last weekend was no different.

(Nikon D3, 2000ISO, Nikon 70-200mmF2.8VR@130mm F2.8, 1/60th. I was standing in a 1 foot space against the wall at turn 1 of the track, my assistant Mike was standing on the pitt wall with a single SB-900 zoomed to 50mm, which was fired by my SU-800 Commander unit on Camera.)

That's a shot from the Xscape on 38th Street in Lafayete Square mall. I've shot some things for them in the past, and they asked me to come back and snap a few last weekend. It wasn't a commercial style shoot, as much as an event style. Either way, shooting in a place like this presents several technical challenges to photographers that quite honestly can cause nightmares for many (especially myself). Being as that this was an event style shoot I was pushing my Nikon equipment to the max, trying to get some dynamic shots at a reasonable printable quality. This will be one of the few posts where my Shooting info is at 1600iso or above. That's what the D3 and D700 are known for though, is the clean printable image as high as 6400ISO! (although I dont like going much above 3200 for anything if I even have to go above 200 of course). There was even a shot that was so dark, that I shot a few frames at 1/15th at the dreaded and yet simultaneously awesome 12,500ISO. 12,500?! ZOMG!

(Nikon D700, 12,500ISO!, Nikon 18-35mm F3.5-4.5@18mm F3.5, 1/15th sec.)

It would have been nice to use large and small lights and set things up very commercially, but sometimes there just isn't the budget to do things like that. I understand the challenges of the economy these days, and I understand that's why someone like me gets called. Newspaper shooters are known for being resourceful in terms of ambient light and exposure. Most of the time Newspaper shooters are a one man show that goes to the most random assortment of locations with the requirement of taking a printable shot. I'm a relatively young and new shooter to the profession, but I'm honored to be associated with some outstanding photojournalist photographers at the Indianapolis Star. Many of them are at least 10 times the photographers that I am, which is why I always look at the things they are working on to learn as much as I can. Working for the newspaper, and knowing the people that I've come to know is the most valuable thing that has ever happened to my career as a photographer. The toughest thing I have to deal with though, is having to put advertising's top priority on print quality at the top of the to do list.

(Nikon D3, 2500ISO, Nikon 70-200F2.8VR@F2.8 1/125th. Mike was standing directly across the lane from me with my SB-900 Flash unit dialed to 17mm triggered by my SU-800 Commander unit on camera.)

All in all it was a successful weekend. I am happy with the photos that I took at the Xscape, I got on some roller skates for the first time in quite a while and didn't die (always a plus), and I got a few minutes to relax. This week will be busy at the paper with a video for Gannett Corporate, a run to catch up on Suburban Homes, and in the end another month out of the 2010 Roller Derby Calendar. On Friday night I'll be shooting KJ Testin's Performance at 8 Seconds Saloon here in Indianapolis, and on Saturday I'll be shooting at Skateland on 38th Street where Seth Green and the creators of Robot Chicken will be hanging out with The Naptown Roller Girls. I also have about 1800 photos from Xscape to continue to work on, as well as some Q8 photos that need some more attention. So back to normal for me. I just hope that I don't end up like my assistant Mike from Saturday; who was worn the heck out. Not to mention the fact that the plague is a nasty thing when you're on a putt putt course. More Soon.