Thursday, April 24, 2008
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
I thought the built-in pop-up flash on my Canon 40D was a nice novelty and not very useful for much shooting. I just thought it was too small for most of my shooting and I plan on buying an accessory hot shoe mounted flash for it eventually. However that little pop-up flash makes a great fill flash tool for outdoor portraits. It works wonders filling in the shadows under the hat on this portrait of hiking partner Alice DeLaurier-O'Neil along the Del Valle trail. Just enough flash to balance flesh tones with the lake background. A handy feature I will use more often.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
It has been just over a year since I took my first hike on the slopes of Mount Diablo and as I looked through the viewfinder today on the trail at Del Valle I finally saw it.
It was hidden just off the trail in the shadow of a withered tree, nestled among its fallen branches. I spotted it again in the sea of wild mustard carpeting the side of a hill. And on a lonely section of broken fence and twisted wire stretching toward the sky I saw it again.
You would have thought I would see it every day on assignment shooting for the newspaper. Sometimes I get a glimpse, a faint look at it but it is always fleeting and too distant to focus on clearly. There never is enough time on assignments these days to look for it and I feared I would never see it again.
But along the trails of all the hikes I have been on I started to see it more often. I thought I was getting better at seeing it and even trying to photograph it. And today along the grassy hills, looking back the dirt trail to the lake I knew I had seen it. What was more important to me was I was actually looking for it, not because I had to or because I was assigned to but because I wanted to.
It took a long time to learn how to see it again but it has been a great journey, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.
Friday, April 18, 2008
I had the strangest comment appear on a story I did the other day. I photographed two south side Tracy activists near a tree and the following comment critical of my work appeared:
“written by Crack friend , April 17, 2008
Come on Glenn, did you really have to use the "walleye lens" to exhilarate those broken curbs like that. I have a broken curb too boys!”
I think he is talking about a fisheye lens, an extreme wide angle lens often 15mm or less that induces an extreme amount of distortion in the image when held anywhere other than parallel to the subject.
I shot the photo in question with my 16-35mm Canon wide-angle zoom. No fisheye distortion. Now my “walleye lens" I keep in a special watertight case and rarely use it on assignment but in case your curious here is what it looks like.
Thursday, April 17, 2008
Wednesday, April 16, 2008
I have a routine I go through when I cover a sporting event like a baseball game. Shoot a batter, shoot first base, get a fielding shot, the list can go on for quite awhile depending on how much time I have. Among the shots I always shoot is one shot of the pitcher.
I have a couple of ways I can shoot the pitcher, straight on through the backstop fence, third base view wind up, third base view delivery, first base view wind up and first base view delivery. I settled on a shot from the first base side. I wanted the ball just rolling off his fingertips. How many frames did I have to take until I got the shot I wanted? Not bad, only sixty frames trying to time his windup and delivery before I was quick enough to catch the moment I wanted. All that coffee I drink comes in handy.
I was shooting a track meet and wanted something a little different. I have playing around with shooting form a high vantage point in the bleachers and I like the look.
Hurdles are a fast paced event but the good thing is you always know where the runner will be. Usually I shoot with a 300 mm lens with a 1.4 extender to get as much compression effect and a shallow depth of field. Problem is I can have a fairly ugly background as seen in this photo of the boy’s 100-meter hurdles. It is a decent shot but not very spectacular.
Moving upstairs would allow me to isolate the runners against the track and infield grass. The high angle also gave a nice perspective to the form of their legs and body on the jump. I used a 70-200mm zoom and adjusted until I had the crop of the track I wanted. I was set up on about the forth set of hurdles down the track, and shot the runners as they hit the first hurdles. As soon as they cleared that set I spun the focal length all the way out, refocused on the hurdles below me and fired away for a cool view of the race.
Thursday, April 10, 2008
I was shooting the Wicklund School performance of the ‘Wizard of Oz” when I decided to go for some unique views. Everybody sees the action on stage but few get a glimpse of the action behind the scenes.
Thirty minutes to show time and the students gathered for costume and makeup. There were the occasional nervous jitters as the students wondered aloud about the crowd and their lines.
It was quite a colorful sight as they donned their Munchkin outfits, flying monkey costumes and wicked witch makeup.
I have to admit; I can’t remember making it through the movie or book. I am sure my parents forced me to watch it many years ago but I am lost on assignments like this when I try to figure out which character is which. I still long for the day when I am sent out to photograph “Reservoir Dogs-The Musical”.
Overall it was a fun assignment. Where else are you ever going to hear someone say “Munchkins and flying monkeys line up at the wall”?
Wednesday, April 9, 2008
Sunday, April 6, 2008
You know you feel cursed when you almost hit a cow driving to an assignment. Driving through the twisting curves of Patterson Road I knew I was in for a fun day as I headed to the Altamont Motorsports Park for opening day races.
I have never shot a race at the Altamont track so this was going to be an adventure. I figured it was going to be a lot like shooting any other sporting event, use a high shutter speed; long lens and a lot of follow focusing.
The raceway is actually three tracks, a ½ mile oval, a ¼ mile oval and 1.1 mile road course. The course is said to be the largest oval course outside Los Angeles. Having never shot there I wasn’t really sure where to shoot. The only thing I knew was never stand near the outside portion of a turn. With a VIP pass and a suggestion to shoot from a tire stand I was ready for racing.
The view was nice, I had a good view of the start finish line but I was looking for more dynamic shots. I spotted a couple of other photographers shooting from a position right next to the safety barrier, a line of K rails and rubber tires. I headed over and set up for the next race.
The spot was a good one; I switched from a 70-200mm zoom to the 16-35mm zoom to get a different take on the line of cars. It was dizzying trying to follow the cars as they sped by at their top speed past me. I was startled when a couple of cars went sideways in front of me and one slid through the grass toward the barrier I was standing next to. I managed to get off several frames before I began to bail out of the spot. I have been run over by a football player, I didn’t want to see what it felt like to be splattered by a racecar.
I guess I did ok shooting my first race. I came back with a variety of views, I even had time to for an artistic pan photo to show the race cars speed. Looking back I should have packed a jacket to fight the Altamont’s bitterly cold wind but all in all I think I did well, I didn’t hit the cow on the way in and I didn’t get run over on the way out.
Thursday, April 3, 2008
Wednesday, April 2, 2008
Nothing says your work is appreciated more than having it ripped to shreds in front of your eyes, literally.
We had a newsroom visitor today. Copy editor Melanie Smith brought her Lhasa Apso “Pepper” to work for the day. “Pepper is a pretty quiet guy beneath that layer of hair. He spent most of the day quietly sniffing the area around my desk or stretching out for the occasional nap. He does have one funny habit though, he loves to rip apart paper.
I have never seen a dog have so much fun with a simple piece of paper. You can make his day by wadding up a sheet of newspaper into a ball and then tossing it at his paws. He pounces on it with a fury as he goes about his work tearing it into strips.
I don’t know, maybe he disagrees with the paper’s editorial viewpoint or just maybe he just likes the taste of ink.