Progress Report: Showing improvement

February 23, 2012 

It's been a nostalgic couple of weeks, and digging up six-year-old photos for last week's blog got me thinking again about how my approach to certain assignments has changed.

I remember grumbling about last-minute assignments in college if I didn't have at least a day's notice to come up with a concept. These days, I rarely know what I'm shooting until I start my shift.

On busy days, I'll sometimes put off forethought as long as possible as I scuttle to and from different shoots. Often, my first ideas are crappy anyway, so I've gotten used to coming up with concepts on the fly.

But when Vera Robbins showed up 45 minutes early at the office last week, I was totally caught off guard. That was 15 minutes before I was even going to start thinking about setting up the studio, and I scrambled to come up with an idea.

Thankfully, she brought nearly 70 hats with her, but the easy go-to of having her lay down on the hard floor of our studio, buried in hats, didn't seem pleasant for a 72-year-old, so I picked out a comfy chair in our reading room.

Then I rigged up an old shipping box as a platform for the hats, enlisting reporter Loretto Hulse and Vera's husband for structural support:

Note to my bosses: the refuse I refuse to clear from my desk comes in handy for work stuff.

I worked a few angles, deciding the disembodied hands from the shadows didn't work here,

wanting a bit more hat there,

before settling on this look for the final shot:

And we had some some fun dumping the pile after:

It's simple, colorful and Vera was a delight to work with. That certainly helped the situation, but knowing my equipment and being able to solve location problems quickly is what has made last-minute shoots go relatively smoothly.

On Monday, I stopped in before Richland's practice for a feature shot on their three leading guards, Adam Baker, Colter Quick and Tyrell Turner.

I had an idea in mind and after setting up my lights, went from test,

to final shot in about five minutes:

Sure, the poses and lighting could be finessed a bit more and I could have worked harder to get a little more intensity in their faces, but I knew they had a big game on Tuesday and wanted to wrap by their usual practice time.

It's a feat and finished product I couldn't have managed even a year or two ago. And while there's always more room to grow and improve, it has felt good to look back and see the growth that's hard to notice when you shoot as much as we do.

Speaking of no real segue...

Lens has the first of Stephen Crowley's “Smoke Filled Rooms" series up. It's an interesting presentation style and layout, and I'm excited to see where it goes.

Check out this crazy shot of a ballsy dude in a suit walking the keel of a tilted yacht. It's a sign of the times that Petapixel's headline explicitly mentions that it's a "non-manipulated photograph."

There's got to be some digital trickery used in these flying baby photos at Time's Lightbox. I'm guessing it's a similar technique to this bouncing baby walkthrough, but photographer Rachel Hulin is being coy about her technique.

For some low-fi fun, check out these DIY photo projects. I'll have to start making some funkeh bokeh for myself.

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