Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Playing with fire, to flash or not to flash

I was shooting a fundraiser for Nawantale or Uganda Community School Project at Taliesin in Scottsdale. They are working with the Nawantale village to create this school that will better serve that area of remote Uganda, about an hour north of Jinja.

IN edition to a silent auction and presentation by student architects of their designs for the new school, a group of fire dancers provided a little excitement for the evening. Thus the question would arise.
Shall I use the fire as my only source of light and risk many, motion-blurred faces of performers or mix in a little flash to try and freeze and fill in the faces? Of course the dilemma is whether the flash would create a problem for people who were spinning balls of fire on the ends of short chains that would at times whiz within inches of their faces.

I tried a little of both and and decided that by shooting many frames with available light, to improve the odds of have some frames with sharp faces, it also created a more moody, shadowy atmosphere for the images. It also allowed for longer exposures which also allowed the painting of longer arcs of flame.
I tried flash a few times, doing it in a way that it didn't create problems for performers, but didn't like the overlit feel that technique created.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Your own perspective

I was facilitating a discussion of members' work at the Fountain Hills Photo Club, and made this point about critique and personal style, "understanding how other people see your work is important to helping you better communicate whatever it is you want to say. This does not mean that you are changing your style to conform to someone else's point of view. You are simply understanding how people perceive the photographed image so that you can harness it to show your point of view of beauty or humanity."

And then my friend Stacee posted this today from Oscar Wilde:

"Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken”

Photo: Guaymas fishing boat, 2008
Why? The little voice said, "this is cool light, find an image."

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Human Paint Brush

In creative fields, the creation is usually as satisfying as the final artwork. For sculptor, painter, artist of many mediums, Jeff Zischke, the process is not only part of the payback of creating art, it has become a performance. It has become the art itself.
During the monthly get together of Creative Connect, in Phoenix, April 14, hosted in Jeff's studio in Scottsdale, he unveiled his latest creative process, creating abstract paintings with a human paintbrush. He suspended his willing subject from a mechanism that allowed him to dip her volumous hair into a pot of watered-down ink, and then move her hair over the paper to create six or seven abstract black paintings to the delight of the 80 or so creatives in attendence. Creation as art.....

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Keep shooting

When it's slow there is the potential to get into the habit of spending more time, online researching, promo-ing, and yes, even playing a game or two. Of course researching and promo-ing are important too, but not at the expense of, as I like to say, keeping oil up in the engine.
The only way to stay sharp as a photographer is to keep shooting.
Last week I worked on two projects without paycheck. Both major undertakings for charity clients. One was all day, submitting photos all along the way.
Busy, hectic, challenging.
I have often told people in the past that I don't do weddings, "way too stressful."
In between the two pro-bono's, I photographed the wedding of a very dear family friend in the driving wind of last Friday and had a lot of fun. Aside from working for a friend, it was another chance to keep sharp, hone the skills.
From a business perspective, when times are slow, and the economy is challenging, what do you need to do to keep things moving?
Shoot.
Shooting regularly means staying sharp are keys to making good photographs whether covering news or working for specific clients.

Under 40 mph winds we still made photographs, challenging stamina and creativity, and trying to go with the flow.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Family and photojournalism

Meet Riley!

I love photojournalism. It lets me be the fly on the wall and capture intimate telling and emotional moments. Even better when I can record a bit of family history with this gift. My brother Andy and his wife Bryn added a little girl to their little family yesterday. For some reason this was one of the more moving moments of my first meeting of the many brilliant and beautiful nieces and nephews (hey I am their uncle, they are ALL brilliant and beautiful people!). I love when the emotion gets into my photographs. Here are a couple. I made a nice one of Bryn too, but she was recovering from the morning and probably wouldn't appreciate me posting that image.