Shot in the dark

January 25, 2013 

Webster's defines terrible introductions as ones that rely on dictionary definitions. On a semi-related note, photography means light and stuff from Latin or something. But in this job of few conveniences, sometimes you find yourself working in the dark.

While coming up with a concept for a feature on Southridge wrestler Kevin Del-Angel, I chatted with sports reporter Kevin Anthony about the story angle he was working. He shared his lede and I threw out the idea of having Del-Angle standing atop a pile of fallen wrestlers like an unstoppable conquerer.

He liked it and even went so far as to suggest that the rest of the team would probably be down to help out. I came up with some safe backup ideas and thought about using some pads to help fill out the pile and avoid crushing anybody at the bottom. I also worried about getting kids to volunteer for the pile and whether coach John Hogg would be OK with the idea.

As started pitching the idea to Hogg, he knew exactly what I was going for and rounded up the team to find volunteers. I had suggested maybe getting some freshmen or J.V. wrestlers looking to pay some dues and thought eight or so would do the trick. It seemed everybody wanted in on the photo, however, and the team scoffed at my suggestion of using some pads to help fill out the pile.

They were also pretty keen on goofing around during lighting tests:

and started diving on each other without much direction:

For the actual shooting, I had them kill the lights to make overpowering the ambient much easier on my small strobes. I could have powered them up, but would have had much longer recycle times and I wanted to be able to get a few looks from Del-Angel quickly to finish quickly.

The low ceiling killed working the low-angle shot,

so I moved back and worked a longer focal length:

The problem of working in the dark was screwing up a few compositions, though,

and the shoot had me longing for a modeling lamp.

Shooting the dark also didn't allow me to keep an eye on how the pile was shifting around and who was looking and laughing, as you can see in the final shot,

and I could have worked better with Del-Angel on his expression and pose with some light to work with. In hindsight, I could have done things a lot better, both with the setup and lighting, but ended up boxing myself into a conceptional corner once the kids committed to the pile.

I'm not sure when these learned lessons will pay off again, but here's hoping it's a lesson that sticks.

Whether I can see it coming or not.

Speaking of dark times...

NBC Peacock Productions put out a casting call for a reality show about life at a community newspaper and got more than 70 responses. As much as I'd cringe to work at a paper featured on the show, there are a few Herald people who would be pretty great in a reality show setting. Here's hoping this actually gets produced somewhere.

The further dismantling of the once-profitable world of stock photography continued, with Google Drive announcing new images available for use. Apparently, some Getty and Flickr photographers were paid a one-time fee of $12 for the honor of being included.

Carlos Miller ran into trouble again for photographing and shooting video at a train station.

And if you're over inauguration photos, check out this fun behind-the-scenes look of how the first digital portrait of a sitting president was shot four years ago.

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