Seattle Photographer Daniel Berman | Seattle editorial photographer | (206) 387-3767 daniel@bermanphotos.com

Bellingham photographer | Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

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

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

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:

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Ralph Vernacchia Team Track and Field Meet 4/8/11 at Civic Field in Bellingham, Wash. Photo by Bellingham photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

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!

Daniel

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Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike for City Vision Magazine | Bellingham editorial photographer

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.

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

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.

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

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.

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

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!

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Bellingham Mayor Dan Pike portraits- Monday August 23, 2010 at Bellingham City Hall. Photo by Bellingham photographer Seattle photographer Daniel Berman/www.bermanphotos.com

Thanks for looking!

Daniel

Seattle photographer | Eagle scout portrait

Eagle Scout portrait in Seattle, WA by Daniel Berman | www.bermanphotos.com

Eagle Scout portrait in Seattle, WA by Daniel Berman | http://www.bermanphotos.com

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!

Daniel

Bhangra Bash 2009

Posted in assignment work, music, news, Remotes, Washington by bermanphotos on March 29, 2009
    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.

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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:

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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:

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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:

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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:

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And here are some of my favorite images from the rest of the competition:

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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.

Daniel

Ryan’s Tattoo

Posted in assignment work by bermanphotos on February 7, 2009

I shot this during a photo shoot with a basketball player for Shoreline Community College.

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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.”

Daniel

Trying A Backboard-Mounted Remote Camera

Posted in assignment work, Remotes, sports, Washington by bermanphotos on January 22, 2009

I have wanted to try out a backboard-mounted remote camera setup for a long time, pretty much ever since I got my Bogen Magic Arm last summer. I finally got the chance last night when the stars seemingly aligned. Okay, it certainly felt that way after convincing the college athletic director, three officials, two coaches, and the facilities manager to allow the remote camera.

Once I got all the okays, I was off to work. I had arrived at the gym at 3:00pm for a 7:30 game. This would give me at least 2 hrs until the team started practicing, as well as allow for trouble shooting and set up. I wanted to give myself a lot of time since it was my first time doing the backboard camera.

The first thing to do was figure out what kind of shot I wanted. I knew the SCC men’s team likes to get up high in the post, and that they tended to be mostly right-handed, making the choice to put the camera in the lower right corner pretty obvious.

The most difficult part was composing the image. I included a bit of the hoop for a point of reference, and hoped that I did not aim it too high.

One of the hardest parts of setting up any remote is figuring out your focusing distance. Since I will not be behind the camera, manual focus is a must. I learned from a good backboard camera remote setup guide that a focus point about 1.5 foot in front of the basket and down at a 45 angle (with a wide angle lens) would be my best bet. To focus, I had a person in the gym at the time stand on a folding chair and hold my pre-made “focus finding sign” around where I thought a basketball player might fly into my frame:

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I like this high-contrast image of a bear because it makes it really easy to be assured I am in focus. Even the best idea for a remote will fall short if the camera is not in focus.

On that same note, make sure you have several batteries on hand, as the camera must remain on and “active”. Since you will likely be setting up hours before a game (I recommend at least 2-3 hrs), you will probably need a new battery at half time. And don’t forget to have a nice big memory card in your camera. Nothing could be worse than thinking you got the shot when all your camera is thinking is “I’m full.”

ANYWAY…

So once I had the image composed, and the focus set correctly, I made sure to gaffer tape down everything that could move. That especially means the zoom length and the focus ring, but also meant the lens hood its self, any setting dials, and the pocket wizard switches and cords.

Oh yeah did I mention Pocket Wizards? These devices are about $200 a piece, and you need one for the device you want to trigger, and another to trigger that device. In this set up, I used 2 pocket wizards plugged into my camera. One was set to trigger the camera, and another was set to trigger flashes I had set up in the corners of the baseline. Basically a relay of sorts.

I had the transmitter pocket wizard on a lanyard around my neck, so all I had to do to fire the camera was hit the test button. If I had so desired, I could have put that pocket wizard on my in-hand camera and fire both at the same time — although only the backboard camera would sync with the strobes.

My lighting was two Nikon SB800 Speed lights, 1/4 power, zoomed in to the 50mm setting. They were placed near the corners of the court, about three feet off the baseline. That may sound like little power but believe me, this gym is dark. Ambient is around 1/160-1/200 @ f/2.8 @ ISO 1600. It was not hard to add a little flash to the scene. I also used Cinefoil as a gobo to prevent the light from spreading too far left or right from my strobe. After all, I want to light the court, not the referees or the popcorn guy.

But what does a camera in a backboard look like? Well here is a picture of my remote setup from the front and from the back:

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What you might not be able to see are the safety cables going from the camera to the magic arm, and from the magic arm to around a bar on the back of the backboard. For good measure, once I had everything finally set up I wrapped gaffers tape around the clamp connection points, the cable connection points, and the pocket wizards. I did not expect the camera set up to move but I also didn’t want it to, and all these precautions are important to ensure the safety of the participants firstly and also my gear. If you can, I recommend adding a 2nd magic arm to any elevated remote setup, one going from the magic arm you just placed to a sturdy spot. This will eliminate quite a bit of shaking. I only had one, so I made do.

So finally, here are a few of the frames that worked out.

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A lot of the photos did not work just because the players didn’t get up high enough. So when I do this setup next time, I am going to try and get the camera up higher and aimed further down. It should up my keeper rate.

But as the saying goes, never put all your eggs in one basket — so even though I had this remote setup, I was still shooting images hand held. In the event my remote didn’t even fire or sync or whatever, I would still at least have something usable for publication.

Yet the remote worked okay for my first attempt and even though I have a lot to work on, it was a great learning experience and fun to do.
Thanks for looking!

Daniel

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