Robotics Researcher Sergey Levine for MIT Technology Review 35 under 35 | Seattle editorial photographer
Robots! Labs! Robotic hand labs! Had an awesome shoot back in July that just ran this month in MIT Technology Review. I was commissioned by the art team to photograph and film University of Washington CSE Professor Sergey Levine for #TR35, the magazine’s 35 under 35 feature. Levine has helped pioneer some incredible scientific research on how robotic limbs can be taught to touch and manipulate objects, learning independently through trial and error. I visited the sophisticated lab and was struck by how this robotic hand could be an asset for the future of everything from assembly lines to people requiring fully functioning prosthetic limbs. It was a joy to meet Levine and his co-lead on the ADROIT project, Vikash Kumar. They were gracious with their time and allowed me and my team all the access to do the shoot and get exactly what I envisioned for this story.
It’s not every day that you get to see and hear a piece of history. Make that pieces. I got an assignment last week from KUOW to photograph Charles Corey, the 30-year-old caretaker of the Harry Partch instruments collection at the University of Washington School of Music. In a fun story by Marcie Sillman you can actually hear the renowned, intricate instruments. Partch created the instruments between the 1940s and 1970s, and they are based on the Just Intonation scale, not anything like what we are used to hearing from traditional instruments. You can find some really intense theatrical productions of Partch’s arrangements on Youtube too that help put his life’s work in context. He wasn’t just a composer and musician, he was also a playwright and auteur.
Yesterday I photographed a celebration of the University of Washington’s NCAA Softball College World Series title, at the Don James Center overlooking Husky Stadium. It was pretty cool to see so many people turn out to welcome home the winning women. The players were all smiles throughout the ceremony, and when a handful of them took to the mic to speak, they couldn’t help but announce their nervousness. It was entertaining to hear how much these women have persevered through over the course of a season. I heard it multiple times yesterday, and even from one of the players: let’s hope we can hold a celebration just like this for UW football next year. Well, one can hope — at least.
Thanks for looking!
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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.