Today, a Romanian Fulbright student at the University of Missouri School of Journalism will defend his project to his committee to earn his M.A. in journalism. When I met Calin Ilea two years, ago, I had no clue our friendship would change the way I approach photography. He’s headed home on Thursday, but I can’t be in Missouri today to celebrate the (likely) completion of his project with him. Are rain checks good in Romania, Calin?
This evening I spent a solid two hours in the pouring rain to photograph fans outside of Memorial Stadium before tonight’s football game. In particular, my editors wanted a photo for Vox Magazine that would illustrate the tremendous amount of refuse and recycling generated by the tailgaters to football games. Too bad that the assignment seems to have killed my 50mm f/1.4’s autofocus, and possibly my cell phone!
I have finally had a chance to go over all of my images from the Tour de Missouri, as well as my other shoots from the week, and found three images that I thought were particularly interesting but were unpublished–they did not find their way into the Columbia Missourian, or my Blog, for that matter–until now!
I saw this composition with the imperfect reflections of office buildings and the Old Court House as I was walking to the downtown Hilton to pick up my press credentials for the first stage of the Tour of Missouri. This is cropped fairly heavily, so I do wish that I had switched lenses to the 70-200mm f/4 I L IS, but I was in a rush to get to the race before it started without me!
One of the photographic conditions that I never had too great an appreciation for before I switched to digital capture in 2003 is the classic, cloudy day. Overcast skies can yield striking images because the light is delightfully even, not “flat” as too many casually dismiss it. Working to minimize shadows by photographing on sun angle (with the sun 180 degrees from your lens) or on a cloudy day does not mean that you’ll be working without shadows. However, it certainly lets you study the shadowed areas much more closely, and the gradation between dark and light tones becomes far greater.
It’s the reason people love the “Shadow/Highlight” tool in Photoshop, or the “Fill Light” slider in Camera RAW / Lightroom: we like shadow detail. So, consider how much more shadow detail you get on an overcast day, and reconsider any bias against the giant diffusers in the sky known as clouds.
In this case, along the shoreline of the Great Salt Lake in Saltair, Utah, I was actually photographing on a brilliantly sunny day, and the light was about as harsh as can be. I achieved the soft light by using my body as a gobo, and I photographed in my own shadow. It’s a useful technique that I had forgotten about until I saw Artie Morris using it in the Galapagos to photograph a Lava Lizard.
As promised, I have finally edited my photos from the Galapagos and uploaded them online at my ZenFolio gallery. I have also placed a slideshow of the best photographs below. (More wildlife, landscapes, and other details of the trip are at the Zenfolio site.) These would have been up sooner, but I was camping in the Uinta Mountains in the Wasatch-Cache National Forest in Utah for a week with my girlfriend, which culminated in a visit to Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge in Brigham City. Images from that trip should also be up shortly.
Today, in a moment of stupidity, I allowed a grocery store security guard to put my backpack in “safe keeping” while shopping for bottled water and other supplies in Quito, Ecuador. I was in the store for three minutes. My bag didn’t last that long. Inside was one lens, my Panasonic 14-45mm (28-90mm equivalent), my windbreaker, my dad’s windbreaker, some ibuprofen, some generic Dramamine, a pair of earphones, and a couple of AA batteries.
My name, e-mail address, and Web site are featured prominently on many of the items in the bag, as well as the bag itself. If the person who stole my bag (mochile) from the supermercado, please e-mail me as I will pay you to return my bag. Yeah, this is a shot in the dark, but I bet you’re more reasonable than the security guard who told me “No me culpa.”
Um, yeah, it was his fault for not noticing…as well as the fault of the two motorcycle police directly outside the supermarket for not noticing you running away with my favorite camera backpack, the Kata 467. But it was also my fault for ever taking it off of my back to start with. So, hopefully we can make a deal.
I’m leaving for the Galapagos islands tomorrow, but will be back next Saturday.
In spite of your thievery, I did make a few pictures that I’m happy with. I cannot edit them as I’m simply traveling with my MSI netbook for this trip, but here are some rough cuts, including the last good photo I made with the lens you absconded with:
About three weeks ago I traveled to Washington, D.C. and decided to take only my Lumix G1 and what was at the time my only lens for it, the 14-45mm “kit” lens (28-90mm 35mm equivalent). These were some of the more experimental images I made on the walk around the National Mall, the National Museum of the American Indian, and a few rides on the metro.
The idea I had in mind for this image came through almost as well as I had hoped, aside from a compositional error that left the monument not quite centered. Also, I have no idea why I allowed the camera to go up to ISO 200 or chose f/5 instead of f/8. I will say that some dials can move inadvertently with that camera when walking around with it hanging at my side.
The style and mood of this image is an homage to that of one of my close friends from college, who recently earned her M.F.A. and was also married, Meghan Kirkwood. I actually enjoy the wide expanse of negative space on the left, but I appreciate that it’s not for everyone.
The D.C. metro provided a lot of opportunities for photography. I wish that the G1 was less noisy in these situations, but I think the grain adds something to this scene. Still, it’s certainly not like the 5D II or the Nikon D3 or D700 in its low-light abilities!
Probably the most conceptual of the images I’ve made in a while. I intentionally overexposed the train tunnel to give the scene a black and white negative-like look.
I’ll be heading off to Quito, Ecuador and the Galapagos islands this Thursday and will return on the evening of the 19th. I don’t expect to have much internet access (if any) while I’m away, so I thought I would post a few images I’ve made in the past few weeks. Mostly “people without people” photographs. More details and a lens review to follow…
I’ve been battling a cold ever since grad school got out for summer–a great way to celebrate the end of the year, but at least it didn’t strike during the week before when projects were due!–but yesterday, for the first time since getting home, I felt like making some images. The bird activity at home has been really great, although I picked a slow day to photograph (less likely to disturb the migrating species, though!). The suet feeder has been getting a lot of activity from our resident, nesting pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers and our Downy Woodpecker, but it was really the nuthatch that let me get a good look at him.
Three flash units were set up on stands, combined with the late-afternoon sun, made for a four-light setup, albeit back-lit. I was trying to get some rim-lighting, and between the sun and another strobe back and to the right, I figured I would get quite a bit. I certainly got some, but not quite what I wanted. My key light was backed up quite a bit, and I had a fill on the left, which is casting the nuthatch’s shadow that you can see on the suet feeder.