Sunday, November 23, 2014

Found my Kodak Master Photoguide

Found this in the drawer today and it took me down memory lane. What is it you might ask?

Well while this Kodak Master Photoguide has been gathering dust the insides of the book are burned into my brain from years of using this book over and over to help me learn the principles of photography.

Here is what is on the first page of the book to tell you how it is to be used and I did:
You can carry this Photoguide with you when you take pictures so it will be handy when you need it. It's just the right size to fit in your pocket, purse, or camera bag. The Master Photoguide contains in compact form a great deal of information normally found in photo books. You'll find it useful whether or not you have an exposure meter or an automatic camera. This Photoguide will help you set your camera for the correct exposure, select filters, use supplementary lenses for close-ups, determine depth of field and much more.
     In addition, the Photoguide is especially helpful for planning purposes to show you in advance what the photographic requirements will be for the pictures you want to take.

The "Sunny 16 Rule" is right here on the Daylight Exposure Dial. I would often have to use this dial because my earliest camera didn't have a meter. You lined up your ISO with one of these:
  • Daylight or Hazy Sun
    • On light sand or snow
    • Average
  • Weak, Hazy Sun
  • Cloudy Bright
  • Heavy Overcast
  • Open Shade
On light sand or snow you would dial your ISO and the corresponding ƒ/16 would be the exposure and the shutter speed would be the closest to 1/ISO.

I would often pull this little book out when planning a new adventure and find the tap and then flip to the page. Just like the book says, "the Photoguide is especially helpful for planning purposes."

Click on photo to see it larger
Click on the photo above to see the existing light choices.

Click on photo to see it larger
The little book even helped you figure out your depth of field. Say you were to put a lens on the backboard in a basketball game. What ƒ-number will you need to be sure the rim to the players faces is in focus. This would help you in planning. Back then you would have to buy the right ISO film for such a situation. This helped you preplan.

Even planning on doing some macro work with extension tubes or a bellows this would help you figure out the right exposure, because we could't take the photo and adjust right away. You would have to go and process the film and then see the results.

For those of you starting out you need to know for most of us we had to really work at understanding the principles because the learning curve over time was longer with film. You didn't click and look at an LCD to see your results. Sometimes it would be weeks later after you got back from traveling for a coverage for a month or so on the road.

While this book isn't as necessary to the photographer's bag it is still relevant for those wanting to see principles of exposure on a dial.  It is great for planning what you might need on your next assignment.

The best part is this book was like a cheat sheet for photography. 

Friday, November 21, 2014

Remember Photography is Writing with Light

Nikon D3s, 14-24mm, ISO 200, ƒ/8, 1/500
I shoot a lot of exteriors of restaurants. The reason I am sent to cover these locations is often because they are in a new market. My job is to capture that they are in the new market.

Chick-fil-A opened a new restaurant in downtown Chicago by Loyola University. I wanted to capture they were in a major downtown location. So I shot up to show the skyscrapers.

Nikon D3, 14-24mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/60
Later in the day I would shoot a similar photograph. I think the best time most of the time for architectural shoots is at dusk or dawn. I prefer dusk rather than getting up early. However, I shoot both most of the time. It had been overcast and raining earlier that evening and this is close to midnight in downtown Chicago.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 160, ƒ/7.1, 1/100
Later I was to return to Chicago and capture a new Chick-fil-A at an iconic location at the corner of State and Lake. I went up on the train tracks above to get this photo. I was doing everything I could to show that the most photographed location in Chicago–due to the Chicago Theater sign was next door to our new restaurant.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 125, ƒ/11, 1/100
I was shooting this from every place I could on the street. The problem with daylight when doing these photos is that everything thing is equally lighted. Therefore the lighting doesn't help you emphasize anything. You are limited to the graphics of composition to make the photo work.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/100
Notice how shooting at dusk now the Chick-fil-A signage and the Chicago Theater signage now pop.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/8, 1/80
Even though my composition takes more of the street in here, due to the red in the Chick-fil-A sign your eye is drawn to it. Compare that to this one below, even tho they are different angles you can see how the daylight overpowers the Chick-fil-A sign.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 100, ƒ/7.1, 1/200
My eye goes to the Chicago Theater, but I really have to work to notice the Chick-fil-A. For the reason I was sent to Chicago, this photo fails.

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/6.3, 1/80
One of my favorite images from my time in Chicago was capturing this image here. I like the night time because the Chick-fil-A sign shows up, but now I can see inside the restaurant. I can see the customer chillin and just enjoying being inside the restaurant.

My tip to you is to plan your coverage to be at a location at dusk or dawn to get these photos that pop due to the lighting values changing from the artificial light verses sunlight. Remember that the word "Photography" means to write with light–so do it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Do you feel adrift? Time to take some action

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm, ISO 12800, ƒ/4.5, 1/60 [President of Honduras talks with Maria Saporta]
Do you feel like you are working hard, but just are not getting any traction? You might even feel adrift in this world.

Here is a good indicator you are struggling and not getting traction to move forward in your life. Look at your calendar and see if you can see things on it that you put there that are different than what you had on your calendar last week, last month or even last year. If things look the same all the time then you are in a rut.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 5000, ƒ/6.3, 1/30 [Vince Dooley talks with the President of Honduras. They are building a soccer field in the Agalta Valley that will be named Vince Dooley field]
Once you are in motion on a bicycle the spinning of the wheel helps to stabilize you due to angular momentum. You may remember a physics teaching taking a bicycle wheel and then spinning it at a high speed and maybe sitting in a chair and having a student move it and watch how it moved them.

Watch this video if you need a refresher course on the concept.

Using this principle of angular momentum you will not move as long as no change is made. If the bicycle wheel spins and you do not turn the handlebars you will remain going straight.


The largest obstacle to your life getting better is your willingness to change your routine.

While I do not recommend just doing something different today than you have in the past, it will change your life. Why not just do anything different, well that will likely result in you turning your bicycle into a ditch.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 5600, ƒ/5.6, 1/250
The other day I was in the Delta Airlines corporate offices board room. This room was magnificent and where the airlines board meets. This room is where change happens for Delta.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 5000, ƒ/5.6, 1/500
While my board room is our kitchen table changes happen around here that affect our family just as much as discussions around the board room tables changes.

Here a few tips to help you steer your life in a new direction:

  1. Brainstorm–Take some time and just dream.
  2. Pick the best ideas
  3. Be SMART
    1. S–Specific
    2. M–Measurable
    3. A–Achievable
    4. R–Relevant
    5. T–Trackable over time
Since many who read my blog are photographers you might have goals in several areas:
  • Portfolio–You may want to grow artistically and add new images to your present portfolio or even completely change it
  • Financial/Career–You may want to achieve working for certain media or corporations. You may also want to have a certain income 
  • Lifestyle–This can be family goals of marriage, children or moving to a new place
  • Attitude–You may just want to be more positive and not as negative
  • Health–Maybe you want to lose weight or get into better shape
  • Volunteer–Maybe you are wanting to give back and find an organization you can plug into to do more public service
I can tell you from my own life two types of changes have had profound effects on my life. 

First are those accidents or things that were from more outside forces. Car wrecks, layoffs, health emergencies and you get the idea, but all of these had dramatic impact on my life.

Second are those things where I made conscious decisions. Marrying my wife was one of the most profound and life changing things I could have ever done. Having a child was life changing. Going to college and later to seminary changed my life.

Here is my challenge to you. Take some time and just sit still and ponder where you are and if this is where you want to be in life. Then if there are things that are not where you want to be then brainstorm for what could be. 

Be realistic in your thoughts. Your plan that you come up with will be very similar to you planning a vacation abroad somewhere. You will have to had picked your destination and what all you want to see and do. Then you will put aside the money and then make all the plans to make it happen.


You can easily set a goal that age 35 to retire and many have done this. I recommend a goal that all those who reach that goal then put into place. Setting a goal that gives your life meaning and purpose. This way everyday you are much happier and satisfied than having a goal that eventually you realize was empty.

Monday, November 17, 2014

My takeaways from the Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar

Nikon D4, 14-24mm, ISO 1600, ƒ/2.8, 1/160
One of the best things for photographers when they go to conferences is reconnecting. Here you see Robert Seale talking with Andy Dunaway, the Nikon Representative while in the background Gladys and Frances are busy doing clean and checks.

What I like about the photo is the expressions capture why I attend these events year after year. Now do I connect with everyone like this? No. I really wish all conferences were more about relationships than just how good you are or what gear you own or even who you work for.

Nikon D4, 85mm ƒ/.1.8, ISO 2000, ƒ/1.8, 1/250
The Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar has been running continuously since 1973. My uncle Knolan Benfield was one of the organizers in those early years. To this day I am still close to some of the founders like Ken Touchton.

Don Rutledge
I have heard the stories about getting Eugene Smith to come and speak. My mentor Don Rutledge has a piece of paper framed with a photo of him meeting Eugene Smith. Don spoke the same year as Eugene Smith, which was 1975.

Don Rutledge was one of the 20 Black Star Photographers back during this time. He had better connections and could call many of the big names and ask them to speak at the seminar. This is how they would get Howard Chapnick and others to speak in those early years.

Here is Don's talk that year if you want to hear it:

Here are a few more links to hear Don Rutledge:

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 25,600, ƒ/4, 1/220
This photo is of Oliver Janney who is currently a CNN photojournalist based in the Washington bureau. His topic for his talk during the Friday workshops was "Shooting With Your Ears."

He realized too many still photographers who add video/audio to their skills do not understand that audio is what drives a successful package. He went over the gear and more specifically the audio gear he uses daily in his work.

One of the tips I took from Oliver and a new technique to me was to "Lead with Audio." This is where you start the sound before you show the visual which shows what is making that sound.

While some of what he said isn't new to me, how he worded it was new. I loved his statement, "shooting audio without headphones will fail for the same reason when shooting video without looking at the screen."

One last tip I might try was he would mic people with a wireless lavalier and then say he was going to shoot some b-roll for a moment. While shooting the b-roll he was listening. If he heard them talk with good content then he would turn and shoot some longer lens capture of the person, but had great "real" audio of the person.

He also tries to interview people while they are working if possible. This tends to get them to be more natural.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 25600, ƒ/4, 1/350
This is Jamie Squires who is a Kansas City-based staff photographer for Getty specializing in Sports. I remember him as a student at Emory University back in the 1990's.

One thing that I noticed with Jamie's successful images they were not about just reacting to a moment. He had often arrived early and set up a remote camera sometimes as much as 10 hours earlier to capture one shot.

He first understood the story and then would break down the day to the big moments. He would know for example that the celebration at the World Series final game was normally between home plate and the pitchers mound, so he had one remote just on that area.

Knowing that someone will often get in his way he setup remotes to cover this as well. But with all the remotes he reminded everyone that remotes fail and the one camera you must depend on is the one in your hands.

Fuji X-E2, 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/20
"GoPro: Dos, Don'ts, and Drones," was the topic that Eric Seals spoke to during the Friday Workshop. Eric is a staff photographer for the Detroit Free Press.

Eric is a gear head who showed us all his toys and reminded us gear will not hold the attention of the audience. The Story Matters Most.

Eric uses gear to help leave visual breadcrumbs for his viewers. He also warned about over using gear and then your package will become gimmicky and lose your audience.

One thing that I could not agree more with Eric was how he emphasized knowing your gear. Read the manual he said. Know what it can do and then take chances with it.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 25000, ƒ/4.8, 1/30
Miami photojournalist Al Diaz has been presented the Humanitarian Award by the National Press Photographers Association. He was given the award because of his actions to put the subject first and being sure a baby that had stopped breathing was taken care of before he picked up his cameras.

You can read more about this on NPPA's website by going to this [link].

The best part of Al's presentation was giving us the story behind the story.

When photographers share their work the best thing they can do is to share the events surrounding the photograph and how they happened to be in that place at that time.

The other thing that is good about Al's sharing is that it is therapeutic for everyone. He shared more images of the baby today being healthy. We learned the baby had a cyst in the throat and that has now been removed.

We also learned that to get the images and tell all the story required a lot of people skills from Al Diaz and patience. Some of his friends helped him, because the woman was really upset at him for taking the photos. She didn't even know he was the first person on the scene to call 911 and get the EMS to the scene. It was days later when she would put this together with Al in a meeting they had.

What did I learn? First connect with people and develop a real relationships. Care for them as human beings and then the story will tell itself.

Nikon D4, 85mm ƒ/1.8, ISO 12800, ƒ/1.8, 1/60
Ken Lyons is Senior Photo Editor at The Denver Post. Why was he a speaker? Here is the text they used to promote him:
The Denver Post was recognized with the Angus McDougall Overall Excellence in Picture Editing Award in 2013. The Denver Post has recently been recognized with two feature photography Pulitzer Prizes. The staff received the Pulitzer Prize in 2013 for coverage of the Aurora Theater shootings. Other honors for his picture editing work include first and second place picture editing portfolio in the POYi editing competition. The newspaper has also been awarded first place Best Use of Photography in the Best of Photojournalism competition.
One thing I really liked that they are doing at his paper is a 'Photo Night'.  This is where they invite the public in one evening to listen to their photographers talk about stories that the public votes on to hear. The first few to arrive win a signed print. Often they invite the subjects that were covered in the story to be a part of the evening as well.

Ken is all about elevating photojournalism in your community. I am now thinking of ways I can help do this with even corporations that I work with daily.

Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 25000, ƒ/3.8, 1/45
 Scott Strazzante is a staff photographer at the San Francisco Chronicle, where he recently starting working after a 13-year stint at the Chicago Tribune.

My favorite thing about Scott's career is Common Ground–a personal project on the transformation of a piece of land in suburban Chicago from rural to suburban. He took photos of a farmer who lost his farm and then years later went back and showed those living on that land in a subdivision.

Here is a trailer that tells you a little about the project.

CBS News Sunday Morning just did a package on Scott this past Sunday. Here it is for you in case you missed that package
Fuji X-E2, 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/3.6, 1/17
Amy Toensing has been a regular contributor to National Geographic magazine for over a decade.

My takeaway from Amy is that we need to be curious. It was her curiosity while shooting stories that would lead to her discovering another story that she would then pitch to National Geographic Magazine and eventually would shoot for them time and time again.

She was shooting an assignment given to her in Australia when she was asking herself about who drew these stories on the rocks thousands of years ago. Then she met a aboriginal couple and realized they were a connection to the past. They had lived in the wilderness without clothing up until World War II when the husband was asked to help the Americans build a landing strip that they used to fight the Japanese.

She also shared how this was an ongoing lifelong story for her.

Like Al Diaz she put the subjects first. They even asked her to film a ceremony for them and not to publish it in the magazine. She honored their request and because of it deepened the relationship with the community.

My Tip To You

Go to conferences and take notes. Learn from others and get inspired. But remember most of all that it isn't about the gear or you capturing images–it is about the relationships you develop with the subjects that you then share with your audience.

Friday, November 14, 2014

How I covered the President of Honduras for a day

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/50–Image stabilization on
Yesterday was a whirlwind for me and felt like a highlight reel. I was the official photographer for the President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández all day long.

This photo of him with former President Jimmy Carter was my favorite.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 5000, ƒ/6.3, 1/50
Maria Saporta interviewed the President of Honduras at the Georgia Chamber breakfast at the Piedmont Driving Club in Atlanta.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 9000, ƒ/5, 1/100–Image stabilization on
Edward H. Bastian, the president of Delta Airlines met with the president in their board room. It was a difficult picture to make of the meeting. I wanted to be sure to capture the warmth of the meeting. So I had to concentrate more on the individuals.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 9000, ƒ/5.6, 1/100–Image stabilization on
I think I got the expressions of the open and transparent discussions. But this isn't enough.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 6400, ƒ/5, 1/250–Image stabilization on
As you can see the table was huge and made them look far apart. But they were able to sit across from one another and sit eye-to-eye.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/250
I decided to make some photos that were just visually appealing to give to the client.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 5600, ƒ/5.6, 1/250
I just continued to look for ways to make it look interesting after I got the basics covered.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/50–Nikon SB900 off camera triggered using the PocketWizard Transceiver TT5, PocketWizard Mini TT1 and AC3 set for -3EV
While throughout the day I had photos of the president speaking at podiums even here I was looking for something different after a while.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, 1/250
I am shooting through plants on the corners of the room.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 2800, ƒ/6.3, 1/100
Again, I am looking for a different angle to make the viewer feel like they are there, or just peaks their visual interest. I am shooting like someone leaves breadcrumbs to lure you into the story.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/200
My point is not to go and shoot all the artistic angles. My point is to do this in addition to the standard shots you would expect.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 10000, ƒ/5.6, 1/250
Most of all remember that the best photo I liked was the first one, a good expression and moment between the two presidents.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 4000, ƒ/8, 1/40
This was the attaché with the President of Coca-Cola International.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Nikon D4, 85mm ƒ/1.8G and High ISO are great combination for bands

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 12800, ƒ/1.8, 1/200
I returned to Swayze's Venue in Marietta last night with my daughter and her friends to see Say We Can Fly.

I put one of his most popular songs here so you can hear his music. Braden Barrie is the singer who grew up in a small town and feeling a sense of abandonment, he shows listeners that no matter what struggles we face, we always have the power to make it through.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/60
Since I broke my foot less than a month ago I wasn't feeling like running around to setup lights. I decided to shoot the entire concert with available light.

Couple of things that become a problem when there is very little light in the venue. The major concern is bands are moving so too slow of shutter speed and they will be a blur.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/60
This is why I love my Nikon D4 camera and combining it with the super fast lenses Nikon makes like the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G and the AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 51200, ƒ/2.8, 1/80
Since Say We Can Fly was the headliner for the night, I took the opportunity to try a few things early on to see what I needed to capture all this with just the lights on the stage. By the way that is only 3 household tungsten light bulbs lighting the front, which seemed to be in the 60 watt range with one as a backlight. The one in the back I think is for the drummer to see his drums.

I started shooting Like Mike band at ISO 51200 and realized that would work, but I decided to continue to compare the different ISOs. But with the punk band Like Mike I would have had to stay at ISO 51200 because they just bounced around the stage.

Nikon D4, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 25600, ƒ/1.8, 1/320
I would later in the set of Say We Can Fly shoot some of the photos at ISO 25600 because I wanted to shoot faster than 1/200 shutter speed.  Here you can see one of those photos.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/2.8, 1/60
I worked on moving around and trying to capture the small venue feel and show my daughter and her friends down front enjoying the concert.

I also like the fact that my daughter not only got to meet Braden but interview him for her YouTube Channel.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/160
Besides getting some photos of her interviewing Braden I also got some posed photos of her and friends with Braden.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/5, 1/160
Now the most important photos to my daughter will be the ones with her friends and Braden. One of the front bands got my daughter and friends attention and that was Sanchez.

Nikon D4, AF-S NIKKOR 14-24mm f/2.8G ED, ISO 12800, ƒ/4, 1/10–Nikon SB900 bounced with soft dome, slow sync and -1EV
Here they are with Sanchez.

While I was prepared to shoot low light concert photos, I also had my flash for a moment just like this with my daughter and friends. There was no light on them and the flash made this a moment to be held dear to her and her friends.

If I was covering this for a publication the photos of my daughter with her friends most likely wouldn't be included like this. I most likely would have shot a photo of someone taking a photo like this to show how this is part of the event.