Advanced: Blending

Oops…I forgot to upload my Blending select last week.

I’ve been accidentally blending for a long time now, since I like shooting with slow shutter speeds, so, of course, as soon as I tried to intentionally use the technique, I ran into some problems. I knew a lot of other people were going to turn in selects from bike polo, so I was reluctant to fall back on our final project subject, but none of my outtakes (there were a lot; I shot in four different places (apologies to Charles, who had to go through all of those while grading)) were as good as what I took during polo.


Pete Abram (left) races past Columbia Bike Polo members Chris Williams (back left) and Tim Donahoe (back right) on April 22, 2009, as an unidentified member (right) attempts to catch up to the group. Abram crashed his bike earlier that night and injured his arm, but made a makeshift bandage for his wound and continued to play.

Photo in Society: Icons! (and a video)

Okay, so I picked that picture as my paper topic- or rather, that’s one of the incarnations of the photo. The other is nearly identical (except for being in color), was taken by Neil Leifer of Sports Illustrated, and gets way more attention than poor John Rooney’s ever did, despite the fact that Rooney’s was the one that all the newspapers ran in the first place (in fact, according to the Internet, John Rooney might as well not exist. I spent all weekend trying to find something, anything, about the man besides the fact that he was an AP photographer. It’s the only time Google has ever failed me).

John Rooney/AP

Anyway, the Leifer image was used in 2004 as part of the Adidas “Impossible is Nothing” campaign (interestingly, they converted it to black and white, so it look even MORE like Rooney’s photo), which a) helps boost the whole ‘icon’ argument (woo!) and b) lets me segue into a shameless plug for one of the greatest commercials ever.


Which is the entire point of this post, really. I just wanted an excuse to link to the video, because I love it so much.

Photo in Society: paper topic

Help me decide on a paper topic for Photo in Society!

Or, more to the point, help me figure out if the photo I want to write about is ‘iconic’ enough.

[John Rooney/AP/1965]

It didn’t raise mass awareness of an issue, or anything comparable, but I have a hard time coming up with any sports photos that are as ingrained in the public consciousness (the Black Power fist salute is the only other one that comes to mind). I suspect people remember sports moments more in terms of video than anything else.

What do you think? Is this picture sufficiently iconic? Am I just blanking on other well-known sports images?

Advanced: Multiple Flash select

After careful scrutiny, we determined that the photo I wanted to turn in as a select was in fact a single-flash shot. Oh well.

Here’s the one I actually turned in. I wish it were more of an action shot, but the moment is still a nice one:

20090415__mf_ashei_0343_lrColumbia Bike Polo team members Nicholas Charles Jacob (right) and Pete Abram (center) assist new teammate Ryan Heath (left) after Heath crashed his bike during a game on April 15. The team practices on the roof of the Hitt Street Parking Garage.

Advanced: Multiple Flash + Final Project take one

Something that often gets me into trouble when I’m photographing: I believe very much in the idea that luck plays a huge part in making good images. I actually wouldn’t want it any other way. True, I want control over my images (otherwise I wouldn’t be spending two extra years in school learning all about it), but I like surprising myself when I go back and look through a take. This mostly applies to content and composition decisions, and not so much the technical side of things (this I would prefer to manage closely), but it’s also fun to play around with different apertures and shutter speeds (and flash ratios…) and see what works best. The benefit of this approach is it’s all the more satisfying–well, in my experience. I can’t speak for everyone–when you do get it just right. The cost is it’s not the most practical way to work, and it doesn’t guarantee you a good image.

I suspect this general attitude towards photography is why I was so overwhelmed in the studio at first (what? I have a say in EVERYTHING? nothing’s left to chance? nothing at all? oh geez…). It’s probably also why, of all the different photo subjects out there, I like shooting sports best. People/objects are always moving around, which means instant variability that must be accounted for. Yay!

Tonight I went with Mito (Calin and Lesley, our other group members, were also there) to work on the Multiple Flash assignment and to get some images for our final project. The Columbia Bike Polo team (its members will be familiar faces with everybody in Advanced by the end of the semester, given how much our group has already made pictures of them) holds its evening practices up on the roof of the Hitt Street parking garage; thanks to the wonders of Daylight Savings Time, we were photographing in about three different light situations as the sun started to go down, twilight set in, and evening finall fell. It was ridiculous trying to use multiple flash while the sun was still bright, since the flash Mito was holding just wouldn’t respond to the one on my camera; it thought that the light from the sun was just fine for photo-taking. This was not helped by the on-camera flash being Canon, and the others being Nikon.

We thought things would get easier once it got dark, but were still getting mostly single-flash images, as the Nikon was still refusing to go off. Calin finally solved the problem by switching the trigger settings to Auto (instead of Manual), and after that we were pretty golden with the multiple light sources. It took some messing around to get the lighting ratio just right (we ended up using 4:1), especially since, during the whole flash-not-going-off deal, I was using a much more powerful beam from the on-camera flash than I should have had to.

Also, a HUGE thank-you goes to Mito for being a human flash-stand all night!

Here are some of the 400+ images- there are quite a few that I can probably fix in Photoshop later on, but for now, these are the ones that were okay as is:


I think I’m turning this one in as a select:


Advanced: Fill and Balance

I fell madly in love with balance flash for this assignment, to the detriment of my potential fill flash skills. Both of the techniques are excellent solutions to photo lighting problems, but I have been driven crazy by blown-out skies and shadowed foregrounds for long enough that mastering balance definitely took priority for me. Fortunately, neither fill nor balance is particularly hard to control, so I’m pretty sure that I can get more of a hang on fill in the weeks to come.

That said, I’m not completely happy with my select because it’s weak in terms of composition, and because Akyra, the girl who works in the Tiger Team Store trailer, was wearing dark clothing that did not stand out so well from the dark interior surroundings. Crap.  (And, as always, the color loses its saturation when I upload to WordPress. How do I get around that? Help, please…)

On the plus side, though, I am getting much more comfortable using my flash, bouncing it around, and learning when to dial up and down. Success is slow, but I’ll take it.


Akyra Davis (left), a senior at the University of Missouri, works a shift the Tiger Team Store trailer during an MU baseball game against Oklahoma on April 4, 2009. The trailer is located outside of Taylor Stadium, and offers fans the chance to buy Mizzou gear before heading to the game.

Advanced: Audio Slideshow

As part of this week’s assignment, we had to find an audio slideshow that was either a) stellar in all ways or b) pretty good, but could use some improvement. I started browsing around on the Boston Globe website, spent way more time than I probably should have watching the various multimedia projects, and found these three that I liked:

The first one, So Percussion, is somewhat weak in terms of photographs (tooooo much repetition, among other things), but I did like the idea of using still images rather than video to present the subject. It lets you focus a little more on the audio, which is in itself fascinating (this is so bad, but it reminds me of the opening minute or so from the Dhoom 2 soundtrack. Except better).

The audio in Dream Chase Farm, however, is a little overwhelming–at least in terms of some of the ambient sounds. I understand why you would want the sound of horses whuffling (is that a word? does this sound even have a name?), but the levels are so high that it sounds like Cujo is breathing down your neck. The interviews and incorporation of racetrack audio are well done, as are most of the images (there seems to be a little self-indulgence going on with the inclusion of some photos, but there are enough good ones as to even the scales). Overall, the whole thing could probably be edited down to about thirty seconds shorter without losing the overall storyline…so this is my example of a “slideshow with potential yet to be realized”

My favorite audio slideshow, though, was The Old Men and the Sea, by John Tlumacki. First, the images (all of them) are excellent. There’s so much variety and color, and every angle Tlumacki’s shooting from is a compelling one that draws a viewer right in. Paired with (correct-levels) ambient sound and strong sound bites (I love the Bahstun accents)–not to mention the catchy little song at the beginning and end–the photos do a great job telling the story. True, it’s a pretty straightforward features piece, and not a in-depth news package (for something more along those lines, I like Ed Kashi’s Iraqi Kurdistan), but I almost have an even higher standard for features than for, say, hardcore issue reporting since they aren’t as intense in terms of content material, and the photographer likely has a little more access flexibility, etc etc etc.