Friday, November 26, 2010

That time of year...

Year after year the people of our planet continue to celebrate the passage of time in several ways.  Thanksgiving is the start of this passage of time, as it's a holiday seemingly independent from religion.   Everyone gets together with families and talks about what they are thankful for, to which there should be a great list of such things if you're normal.  Some people are down on their luck, and really I start to wonder if the keeping of this tradition near the end of the year is on purpose, as it helps prepare you for what you want to do better the following year.  Keeping in with these traditions there are things like Black Friday and Christmas that get tossed into the mix as well.  Christmas isn't something as universally accepted as Thanksgiving, yet here in Indianapolis around a hundred thousand people pack the downtown for the festival of lighting the Monument in the center of downtown as a tree. 
(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 2500ISO, Canon EF16-35F2.8L@16mm, 1/15th@F6.3)

Personally one of the things I'm most thankful for is being able to continue to do what I love, which is taking pictures.  Definitely a dream job for myself, that I hope I'll be able to do for quite some time to come.  I've been honored over the last few years to be on staff at the Indianapolis star with the likes of Michelle Pemberton, Matt Detrich, Matt Kryger, Sam Riche, Bob Scheer and many more.  All are award winning photographers and rightfully so.  All friends of mine now, which I can only count my blessings as there are many days I wonder what sort of song and dance I had to do to actually get this job in the first place. 
(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 5000ISO, Canon EF300mmF2.8, 1/1600th@F2.8)
Those are the shoes of the tapdancers going on stage in the first photo.  I decided recently that one aspect of my photography that is lacking is some detail work at events, for which my thoughts were to go big or go home for this event.  With that thought I shot most of the event using a 300mmF2.8 lens, and rotated back and forth between using it with and without a 1.4x multiplier.  I probably should have thought about what I was doing as Matt Detrich shot this event as well for the news side of the paper.  I'm fully prepared to find his image on page A1 tomorrow, and he deserves it.  Outstandingly great shooter.  You can check out his coverage of the event here.  He beat me to santa on that first image.  I wasn't happy, but I guess that's the way things go, and I guess that's why he is who he is.  Always knows what he's looking for.  Photojournalism is something that I lack at as it's not something I have to do on a regular basis.  I'd love to do more of it, but in terms of what I do normally it's most likely not in the cards unless it comes from outside Indystar.  
(CanonEOS5d Mark II, 2500ISO, Canon EF300mmF2.8, 1/200th@F3.2)
Being this my 5th year covering this event, I wont even lie; I 'm running out of ways to shoot it.  I may have said something similar last year when I shot the event too, but I'm not going to go back and read about it. I suppose that another thing I'm thankful for is that my images don't get put side by side with Matt's, who I'm fairly confident only actually took 16 photos tonight; each of which were perfect and posted them up online. (Maybe not, but he is aweseome) I figure maybe they will discover the number of bad photos I take in a days time or something, cause me to need to clean the bathrooms, or something equally cruel and unusual.  I kid, I kid, they would just look at me funny; not make me clean the bathrooms....
(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 2500ISO, Canon EF300mmF2.8 with a 1.4x Teleconverter bringing my total to 420mm.  1/200th@F4)
One thing I am also thankful for this year is that I personally own Nikon Equipment.  I apologize for throwing this in here, but since I'm confident that nobody important reads this anyway I'll go ahead and say that I am absolutely disappointed with the 5D Mark II that is provided for me to use through the Indianapolis Star.  I have never used a camera with such abysmal autofocus whether in low light conditions or not.  I find myself firing three times as many frames as I do with my Nikon equipment because I need to make sure that I have a photo that is in focus to turn into our clients.  Not that I don't like the fact that I'm provided equipment, I just wish I could rely on it to produce sharp results, which I can't.  I'd prever my Nikon D700 or D3s ANY DAY, even at half the resolution.  

I feel like this blog post has been more of a rant than anything else, and that's not what I'm going for here I assure you.  I am very thankful for quite a few facets of my life.  Especially thankful that I've got Monday and Tuesday off this week.  Have a trip to St. Louis planned with the Girlfriend which should be nice.  The normal Photo of the day posting may take a hit unless I can figure out how to do it from the iPad, which I firmly believe is possible but potentially beyond the realm of my figuring out. 
(Canon EOS5D Mark II, 2500ISO, Canon EF300mmF2.8, 1/160th@F4)
I think everybody knows who that is.  If not than I cant help you.  He is a staple at this event and normally spends a lot of time with the coloring contest winner for the state (whose prize for winning the contest is turning the key to light the tree).  Really as a kid, that's a pretty solid prize.  Heck, if I won a contest and they told me I got to do that I'd be excited too.   

Really though I think I'm excited to have a few days off.  This weekend I need to finish the proof of Justin and Lori's wedding DVD and start going through the pictures again, as well as work on another few shoots I had last weekend.   But Monday and Tuesday are totally work free.  Unless I can do it on the iPad which I mostly can't.  (I can edit HD Video on the iPad?  Awww crap...).  Either way, I hope that everyone else can find things that they are thankful for.  Work related, family related, life related or just in luck.  I know I've found a few new ones lately, what about you?  More Soon. 

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Static Shocked....

Two weeks ago I got a very strange call from my boss at the newspaper.  That call was about an assignment that was very much unlike a normal assignment for me, in being that it wasn't a controlled environment, and a controlled subject.  This assignment was an event at the Vogue here in Indianapolis called Static Shock hosted as a fundraiser by Static Salon in Broad Ripple here in Indianapolis. 
(Nikon D700, 2000ISO, Nikon 14-24F2.8Nano@22mm 1/60th@F2.8)

Anybody that has read this blog knows that most of my newspaper and non newspaper assignments include things like business portraits or product photos for glossy publication.  A fewer amount of people are going to notice that while normally I shoot Canon for the newspaper (as that's what they provide me), This event I decided to break out my own Nikon equipment as it provides me cleaner and sharper images in this kind of an environment. 
(Nikon D700, 280ISO, Nikon 14-24F2.8Nano@21mm, 1/40th@F2.8)

Honestly I was very saddened by the number of photographers that I saw at the Vogue that night that were shooting just to get their names out there.  Don't get me wrong, I can definitely understand the need to get your name out there, but in order to even think about doing that you need to have some idea as to what you are doing.  There were several 'photographers' that night that had cameras that were most certainly set to program that had flashes on camera set to EPIC blasting the most amount of light as possible towards their subjects.  In some cases missing the most beautiful of light in the darkest of places...
(Nikon D3s, 450ISO, Nikon 50mmF1.4G, 1/80th@F2)

That was shot in completely ambient light that night in the Vogue.  Not but moments later I saw another of many photographer blasting Mr. Stuart Sayger with their direct on camera flash.  Not saying that using flash is always bad, and that you need to ramp to High ISO every chance that you get either because getting away with using High ISO all the time can make you lazy.  It's like when I was younger and because I survived the dentist I told my mom and dad that I deserved some candy because I had no cavities.  A month after I'd be using that same excuse for candy knowing full well that the reward time had long since past.  If you get away with using it once or twice you can easily start to always think it's feeseable.  Even thought my D3s is capable of very useable images at 12,800ISO doesn't mean I always if ever actually go there.

(Nikon D3s, 2000ISO, Nikon 70-200VR2N@116mm, 1/250th@F4.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set to 1/32nd Power zoomed to 105mm superclamped to the upper level of the Vogue pointed down at the runway fired by Pocket Wizard.)

That's one of the lovely ladies from the Fashion part of the show at the Vogue, after all; that was my assignment.  I can't honestly complain about having to take photos of so many lovely ladies either.  Honestly the only thing better than doing that is the fact that my girlfriend Shannon accepts the fact that I do what I do, knowing that these girls are doing their job while I'm doing mine.  Speaking of doing my job I had the fortunate ability to run an experiment at the vogue while I was there...
(Nikon D700, 2500ISO, Nikon 14-24mmF2.8Nano@17mm, 1/60th@F4.  Canon 580EX Speedlight set to 1/32nd power zoomed to 105mm superclamped to the upper level of the Vogue fired by Pocket Wizard)

Shooting Sports gave me sort of a crazy idea that I put into practice that night as you can see above.  That blueish light in the photo isn't actually as much a blueish light as it is a Speedlight superclamped to the upper level of the Venue.  Having shot enough sports using speedlights set to low power I decided to see what that could do for me in terms of sharpness at a venue with uncontrollable dynamic lighting.  Honestly, it was the best thing that I ever did as it allowed me to bring my ISO down to between 1600 and 2500 for the evening, and made my images more consistantly sharper than they would have been otherwise; just like when shooting sports this way.  
(Nikon D3s, 2500ISO, Nikon 70-200VR2N@70mm, 1/200th@F2.8.  Single Canon 580EX Speedlight set to 1/32nd Power zoomed to 105mm superclamped to the upper level of the Vogue pointed down at the runway fired by Pocket Wizard.)

All in all the evening was a heck of an event.  It had a great turn out, and was beautifully scripted to which the naked eye could tell no deviation, and I met at least one other photographer that I felt as though I could learn from.  Great job to the ladies out at Static Salon for the event that they put on.  I greatly hope that they decide to host such an event next year whether or not  I'm fortunate enough to cover it or not.  More Soon.