Mar 31, 2012

Quick Pic - Baseball and airplanes

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Friday night was a perfect baseball night... great temperature and atmosphere at QuikTrip Park in Grand Prairie. Of course I was constantly distracted by airplanes flying overhead in the dusk light.

The baseball action was fun too :)
Baseball at GP-9410

Mar 23, 2012

Quick Pics - Lets hear it for the drummers

The Will Graham Celebration event is in town for the weekend, with music from Rend Collective Experiment and Brenton Brown.

Of course, I am partial to percussionists of all varieties..

Pretty ones
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Intense ones
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Hairy ones
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And best of all, ones that play something that looks pieced together from random parts
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I had to shoot soccer and did not get to stay for the whole event to hear Will Graham (son of Franklin, grandson of Billy) preach, but the production value was very high for the music set. Having good lighting certainly makes taking good looking pictures a lot easier.
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Here is an over-processed version of a quick portrait we did for Sunday's Tribune.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Mar 18, 2012

The circus is in town..

A traveling circus is really great for people watching. Unfortunately they were running late in setting up the big top tent, so we did not get to see any of the acts perform.


According to one employee, the circus spends 8 1/2 months of the year on the road, with no breaks in the travel schedule. Something about this woman selling ride tickets made me want to know her story, but I did not go ask.

Instead I got a photo of her looking out the window of her little trailer, and I will make up a story to match what she may be thinking as she looks out on a nameless town that she will be leaving tomorrow.

Mar 17, 2012

Watching photogs at the Dallas Arboretum

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The Dallas Arboretum is certainly a photog hot spot. The beautiful grounds, unique features and events are hard to beat for pretty pictures. It can get crowded, but if you are willing to wait your turn in some of the displays, good photos are going to happen. Or go on a week day.

Of course, the flowers are beautiful and all of that, but I have more fun watching all of the people taking pictures. Almost everyone in the place has a camera, and that ranges from kids snapping at everything to professionals making portraits of both people and plants.

Part of the fun is just seeing what other people are doing and seeing...
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Or just enjoying the human race as entertainment.
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Finally, it is refreshing to see so many people enjoying photography as a fun meaningful and personal thing. Looking back through Renee's scrapbooks, it is amazing how much of our memory is dependent on what we have recorded.
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OK, one for those very scrapbooks...
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The Arboretum is very photographer friendly. You do have to pay to get in, but there are no restrictions for pros or amateurs shooting portraits etc. The photo info page is here.

Mar 6, 2012

The strobes give, the strobes take away

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I've set up strobes for basketball in the past, but high ISO's work pretty well these days too. With North Forney advancing to the second round of the high school playoffs, they played at Texas A&M Commerce, where the basketball facility was built in the 1950s. That does not bode well for lighting, so some research was in order.

I found photog Brad McClendon through his images from the TAM-C Field House on Flickr. He was very helpful with lighting info, as well as hooking me up with the sports information office to get access to the building's built in strobes.

Shooting with strobes gives a very different dynamic in basketball, and the TAM-C setup put the lights almost directly above the corners of the court. Both ends of the court fired at the same time, and one of the four corners was not functioning.

The first thing that the strobes take away is the ability to shoot multi-frame sequences. Timing is everything and you have to be patient and wait for your shot. It is good practice, but also a limitation.

The second is, if the strobes do not fire (this happened several times), you get nada.
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The other problem is shadows. You want to limit the amount of ambient light in the exposure so that the strobes stop the action. With players waving their arms around, harsh shadows can fill in a player's face, ruining a shot. This was especially problematic on the end of the court with only one strobe.
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One more negative... if you shoot from the floor, the strobes on the opposite end find their way into a lot of shots, as you can see above. The affect isn't always terrible, but it is distracting and problematic when you are already shooting fewer frames than normal.

This one has both the shadow issue and the strobe flare craziness.
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When everything comes together, though, the strobes give a unique, clean and dramatic look that is impossible to get shooting in ugly gym lighting.
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My favorite shots came from the mid court area. With the single strobe on my end reflecting off of the floor and filling faces of defenders, and the dual stobes acting as rim lights, the effect was very nice.
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The cheerleaders, meanwhile, got the spotlight treatment.
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Big thanks again to Brad. Now that basketball is over, and daylight savings time has begun, there is hope for some decent baseball and soccer photos.

Have a great week,

Don J.

Mar 3, 2012

Track season is in full swing ...

Track meets have incredible photo potential, but I really wasn't feeling inspired this morning. Seriously, when I left the house I really just wanted to get a shot or two of our local athletes early and get back home. And when I arrived, I found out that I had already missed one of the Terrell girls taking second place in the high jump. Bummer.

This girl helped motivate me by crashing on the first hurdle, then getting up and finishing her race anyway.
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Clean backgrounds were hard to find but the morning light was nice.
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Behind the finish line, big yellow busses.
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Behind the shot put (and everywhere else) fences and lots of random stuff. This is after cropping a lot of it out.
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Solution one... get low and use the sky. Using a long lens helps, but you also have a good chance of someone walking between yourself and your subject at a track meet. This is with a 300mm lens.
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Lower and wide angle if you can get close and shrink background objects.. This is at 24mm.
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Solution two... didn't work this time. Get high and use the ground. I tried this near the end of qualifiers as I was about to leave. I like the shadows, but not the hurdles in the background.
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A few others that I liked..
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Random photo... sometimes I see things that make me scared for the future, when my son reaches daredevil stage.
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Mar 1, 2012

Choosing sides

Photojournalism puts you in situations to make the best of what light is available to you. On a good day, a room with a bunch of bright windows can be a wonderful thing, as long as you are free to move around.

In this case, at an event in a church, one side of the sanctuary is all windows. I had moved to to side opposite the light to see how that looked. WIth a window behind the subjects (in this case, cute kids) it made a neat rim-light effect, but the back light killed it too.

Zooming in to avoid the window in the background made better looking light, which I liked a lot. If I were doing portraits or something like that in the room, it would have been worth playing with some more, but these kids were not performing for very long, so ....

You can tell in the previous photos that the windows are making a big, beautiful soft light from the opposite side. I made my way around the back of the room, and sure enough, the light was very nice, if less dramatic.

Then it was just a matter of finding a great expression, which was provided by this young lady as if on cue.

Two points here..
First, it really helps to move around and find shooting angles you like. Being frozen to one spot can be a shot-killer.
Second... look at the light!

Have a great day, and go make some pictures!

don j