On Friday, April 8 I photographed the Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field meet at Civic Field in Bellingham. I went with about a half dozen members of the Western Washington University chapter of the National Press Photographers Association. Everyone went their own separate ways in an attempt to get something different.
With that in mind, I got the idea to do a remote camera from a high vantage point. At first, I was going to clamp a camera (in this case a Nikon D300 with 17mm lens at f/8, triggered w/ Pocket Wizards) to a standard at the pole vault area. Then a volunteer came up to me and wanted to know what I was doing.
I explained, and they offered to let me put a camera on a pole vault pole! I jumped at the idea, no pun intended, and in a few minutes and a guess at focusing I had my rig up in the air. I shot hundreds of images and after much finagling and adjusting I made a few frames I am happy with. I definitely would like to do this setup again at another track meet — the vantage point is just so different!
Here’s a photo of me shooting with this pole vault pole cam, by Rhys Logan
I also did a remote camera with the same lens at the steeplechase event. The camera was protected from the waves of water by a Penn Camera/Think Tank cover system that leaves just the front lens element exposed. Everything else is waterproofed! It came in handy as those runners really gave the system a soaking.
After each pass of the athletes I literally poured out water from the lens hood and quickly wiped off the front element to get rid of the accumulated droplets. I felt like a member of the NASCAR pit crew!
With a remote camera, I have the choice of being in two places at once! I put a Pocket Wizard II in the hotshoe of my main camera and each picture was synced with my remote. I got this steeplechase moment from two different angles:
All in all it was a fun couple of hours spent hanging out with photo friends and enjoying the sunny weather. What more can ya ask for?
Thanks for looking!
Late last month I received a call from art director Samantha Gardner at City Vision Magazine, asking if I was available to make a portrait of Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike. Available? Yes. Excited to get started? Definitely. As a Bellingham photographer, I am always interested in getting to know people in my community. What better way than getting to photograph the chief of the city?
The most challenging part of the assignment was figuring out how to connote the transportation angle the story discussed. In Bellingham, transportation, specifically public transit, are key issues for local government. My assistant and I had a half-hour with the mayor, which is an enormous amount of time to be able to spend with a high-profile subject.
The shoot was to begin at 2:30, and by 1:00pm we were on-location scouting shooting areas and setting up lighting. We also choreographed how we would move Mayor Dan Pike through our three separate lighting set-ups. Since we were limited to shooting near and around Bellingham City Hall, I decided to photograph him on the beautiful lawn just out front and across the street at an abandoned bus stop — an apt metaphor for the public transit issues Bellingham faces today.
The Mayor was a great sport and everything moved smoothly. My assistant called out the remaining time left at 20, 10, 5 and 1 minute remaining, and we had the mayor back in his office exactly 29 minutes after the first photo. Scouting out a location ahead of time, pre-planning shoots, angles and lighting setups ensure that the experience goes as smooth as possible. And that, is more key than a lot of things to a successful portrait assignment.
Check out the September/October issue of City Vision Magazine at http://www.awcnet.org/cityvision/0910/Cityvision_0910.pdf
My portraits of the Mayor are on Page 2 (Table of Contents) and on pages 11 and 12 of the article. I really like their layouts and design!
Thanks for looking!
Joel Smith hopes to become an Eagle Scout after cleaning up the steps leading from the tennis courts at Shoreview Park to the new Shoreline Dog Park.
I used two Nikon SB800 speedlights w/o modifiers as my main and fill, with the sun over his right shoulder providing the rimlight.
Thanks for looking!
- NOTE: These images are copyrighted and may not be downloaded without written permission. If you are a participant and arrived at this page, please contact me and we can discuss re-use of the images.
It is not every day that an event as photogenic as Bhangra Bash comes along.
Dozens of teams from across North America competed for cash prizes at the event, held Saturday March 28, 2009 at the University of Washington’s Meany Hall.
The event is an intense and colorful celebration of the East Indian cultural and musical tradition of Banghra. The rhythmic dancing is mesmerizing, and although there was only a 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place, each of these groups put on a beautiful show.
I brought my remote gear with me for the shoot, anticipating that I would want to be in multiple places at once. The great thing about good remote camera photos is that they bring the viewer somewhere they can’t be, or allow them to see an event in a different light.
That’s why I put a camera directly above the performance.
I asked a lighting technician backstage if it would be possible to lower the lighting carriage down to the ground and setup a remote camera on it. As luck would have it, the technician was totally into the idea and gave me all the time I needed to ensure the setup was safe that high up in the air. As always, safety is my biggest concerns when elevating a remote camera; I used numerous safety cables, strapped through the camera, magic arm, clamp, and the lighting carriage, along with gaffer-taped connection points, to ensure that if the camera became loose it would not endanger participants.
Here is a picture of my camera attached to the lighting carriage as it is raised into it’s regular position:
I chose a Nikon D2H with an 18-35 lens, set to 18mm, so that I would not have to worry about the participants staying within a certain part of the frame. Also, at that distance, the infinity focus would allow everything to be in focus. I had the lighting tech flip on the lights that would be used for the actual show, and from the ground, picked a base exposure and set the camera to manual exposure, 1/250 @ f/4 @ iso 1000. From the elevated position, I could see basically the entire stage, and this setup worked very well. I found that out by setting up the camera, having the lighting carriage raised, triggering the camera, and then bringing the carriage back down and checking the photos. The 30 seconds it takes to raise/lower the setup felt like an eternity. At intermission, I was able to change the battery and memory card.
Here are a few of my favorite images from the remote camera:
Although I had a good feeling the remote camera images would work out, nothing is for certain, and I used my main handheld camera more than I did the remote.
Some images from before the show, in the basement where all of the participants were getting dressed in their elaborate costumes and having fun hanging out:
As I was about to head back upstairs to shoot the main competition, I spotted this participant singing and dancing as he went down the hallway:
And here are some of my favorite images from the rest of the competition:
This was a terrific event to photograph, full of visual opportunities — I am just glad I got the opportunity to cover it. Thanks for looking everyone.
I shot this during a photo shoot with a basketball player for Shoreline Community College.
I lit this using 3 Nikon speedlights, all connected to Pocket Wizard Plus II Transceivers. My main light was a small softbox camera left, background light was flagged top and bottom, and there was also a hair/rim light subject left-back.
There is a certain cool factor and edge to this picture that I really dig. I showed the picture to Ryan post-shoot and his quote made my day: “I look like a badass.”