Friday, September 23, 2016

Get-R-Done is being performance driven

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 360, ƒ/1.4, 1/100
Comedian Larry the Cable guy is attributed with the American phrase Get-R-Done. I will let Larry explain it's origin and what it means.


The last five weeks I have watch my daughter and her friends Get-R-Done with Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night.

That is my daughter on the right in the first photo with her friend Jessica who is in the play with her. they are also president and vice-president of the high school theatre club.
The highest levels of performance come to people who are centered, intuitive, creative, and reflective - people who know to see a problem as an opportunity. –– Deepak Chopra

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2000, ƒ/3.9, 1/60
I watched my daughter as she designed the costumes for the play. Some from scratch and then buying clothes at the local thrift store and then modifying them for the period. This all happened from just five weeks ago.

By the way the rest of the cast also was just as busy. they made this quite elaborate set. There was much more work in this project than their musical they did last year with 10 weeks of time.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 800, ƒ/4.4, 1/60
Now at the same time they are memorizing their lines. Now if you haven't listed and read any Shakespeare, let me just say this is like learning a foreign language. It takes some time to not just say the words but understand what you are saying.


I did a quick recording of the play last night for my parents who couldn't come for the play. Just listen to some of it and see all the set and costumes for yourself.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 2500, ƒ/4.5, 1/60
I watched the passion of the students rise so much that tears would pour down their faces. They were frustrated when the lines just were difficult and not coming as easily as other material had in the past taken to memorize.

I watched when some of the cast would get it before others in the scene and get frustrated with the others who didn't understand who they were talking to during some of their lines, which can happen on a first read of the language of Shakespeare from that time period.

Then I watch as the students would calm down and then take the time to work with each other and help each other understand a scene and how they worked to make the scene better together.

While these kids are trying to figure out their roles in society they were learning some of this from learning their roles in the play. They learned how blocking and purpose for their role was important. How they are acting even when they have no lines but are on stage.

How about you?

You have a lot on your plate for your work. Do you Get-R-Done? As Larry the Cable Guy's says this is when you give it your all and give 110%.

Just like all these high school students realize they practiced over and over so when the audience was present they were being entertained. They wanted to perform at the level where the storyline moved the audience to laugh and cry.

Is all the stuff you are working on today behind those closed doors going to WOW the audience? Are you passionate as these students about their play.
Don't lower your expectations to meet your performance. Raise your level of performance to meet your expectations. –– Ralph Marston

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Lessons learned from Shakespeare, Bill Clinton and Steve Jobs


Our house is quite busy this week. My daughter has not only been memorizing lines for her role as Olivia in Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night, but also she is has been making all the costumes for the actors as well.

When you study Shakespeare you soon realize how revolutionary he was and I think creatives today can learn a lot from him.

The English language owes a great debt to Shakespeare. He invented over 1700 of our common words by changing nouns into verbs, changing verbs into adjectives, connecting words never before used together, adding prefixes and suffixes, and devising words wholly original.

In the Twelfth Night here are some of the words he created:
  • Improbable fiction
  • Laugh yourself into stitches
  • Out of the jaws of death
  • consanguineous
  • control (n.)
  • dexterously
  • hobnob
  • lustrous
  • malignancy
  • to negotiate
  • whirligig

Innovative


I think what creatives today can take away from Shakespeare is the importance of innovation rather than just variations within a style.

"Advertising" was created by Shakespeare–that is the word was created by him. Photographers use his word "exposure" a great deal in their craft.

At the root of his creation of words is that of a problem. I believe Shakespeare was just solving the problem of how to talk about life when the words just didn't exist. He was helping the audience understand a storyline by addressing the lack of words to describe something.

The key to our success is our ability to tackle new problems and come up with new solutions.


"I feel your pain" – Bill Clinton

Your business success is based in your ability to have true empathy for a client and the struggles they are going through. Your ability to communicate that empathy is key to your success. Bill Clinton huge debate moment was when he was able to connect with the American people and talk about their problems and connect with them emotionally.

After the debate Clinton shortened this into his slogan "I feel your pain."


Steve Jobs, like Clinton, articulated the problem someone experiences with mobile phones before his introducing the iPhone.
"Business School 101 graph of the smart axis and the easy-to-use axis, phones, regular cell phones are kinda right there, they’re not so smart, and they’re – you know – not so easy to use."
Jobs, like Clinton, then goes on to talk about how Apple is the right company to tackle the problem because they did it before.
"We solved it in computers 20 years ago. We solved it with a bit-mapped screen that could display anything we want. Put any user interface up. And a pointing device. We solved it with the mouse. Right?"
Steve Jobs roll outs of new products are studied today by marketing experts just like we study Shakespeare in schools.

Just watch Steve Jobs bring up problem after problem and then show how the new iPhone will handle this for you. While this is an hour presentation, people were on the edge of their seats because he continued to introduce a new problem and the solution to that problem. The iPhone was to revolutionize how you will do life–and it did just that for our culture.


What Problems Are You Solving?


You want to be successful–then solve the problems of others. Those who rise to the top are those that serve others.

Did you know that your problems tend to disappear when you focus on others problems and help solve them? The key to your happiness is by serving others and making them happy.


Monday, September 19, 2016

Mr. Robot appeals to the cerebral audience–Especially visually

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/125
Rami Malek picked up the Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor for his role in "Mr. Robot.” Malek had the perfect Elliot line to deliver: "Please tell me you're seeing this too."

"I play a young man who is, like so many of us, profoundly alienated," Malek said, which lives with social anxiety disorder and clinical depression in the show. "And the unfortunate thing is I'm not sure how many of us would want to hang out with a guy like Elliot.

"But I want to honor the Elliots, cause there's a little bit of Elliot in all of us." Tod Campbell, the director of photography for Mr. Robot, helps make the show visually cerebral. This helps to connect the show to the nerds. For a writer's concept to truly connect with cinema a director of photography helps to bring out the writer's moods and tone through the visual. The cinema-photography is writing with light to compliment the words to bring the audience along on the storylines.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 18-55mm, ISO 500, ƒ/3.2, 1/60

Campbell's use of the negative space helps to make the audience's eyes wonder through the scene. Also by not using a lot of movement within a shot the audience does have time to ponder the surroundings of the actors.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 18-55mm, ISO 800, ƒ/3.6, 1/60

Most movies today have more than 50% of the scenes being closeup shots. This technique makes you wonder what is outside the frame to engage the audience.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/60
Notice here when you go close how you wonder what is beyond the frame.

Fujifilm X-E2, Fuji XF 18-55mm, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/60
Now going much wider you see what is going on, but your eye wonders much more. In this process you start to write you own visual narrative even more. For me this is a much more cerebral exercise for the audience and if you pause long enough on your visuals the audience will start to take it in. Here is the trailer for Mr. Robot.


I think to appeal to the nerds and deep thinkers you have to give them the content that allows their brains to engage and process the content. Mr. Robot does this not just with the storyline, but the visuals help truly engage the audience in a way that is rarely done within cinema today.

Maybe the biggest reason Mr. Robot is such a big hit is because it is being unconventional. By being different the show's creators appear to be revolutionary. For me it is a style I grew up on in magazine photojournalism.

Mr. Robot to me proves that the audience is not just ready for much deeper storylines, but craving them. They are tired of the quick sound bite and the simplistic closeup visuals. People are ready to think and enjoy having their brains do some exercise to keep up with the storyline.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Understanding Copyright and Cost of doing business isn't the secret to success

Nikon D3S, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, 4–Alienbees B1600, ISO 200, ƒ/11, 1/160

For the past 20+ years the photography community has been pushing for photographers to know their rights. Copyright is at the top of that list. Right next to it was you knowing the cost of doing business.

I even perpetuated many of these tips that photographers needed to know to be sure they were running a healthy business.

Before 2002 quality images were hard to come by versus today where almost daily the amount of well exposed, in focus images are being created faster than we can calculate. The reason I picked the year 2002 is that is when a 6-megapixel camera went from $25,000 to under $2,000. This made if very affordable for the masses.


Today there are so many images available that for the most part photography is now a commodity.

As photographers were pushing for more from customers and trying to explain why they must get more money the customer needed them less and less.

Let me start the business lesson where we never did in the past for photographers. We need to start running our business based on the customer/audience.

Nikon D100, Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 EX DG APO OS HSM,, ISO 200, ƒ/22, 1/160

What is the customer's problem?


The best possible customer for you is the one going through a major crisis. You can be the super hero and help save their business. You can see plainly their problem and you have a solution that will not only fix the problem but also help them be more successful.

The reality is that this is your only kind of a customer. If they have no problem needing to be fixed with your services they do not need you. Businesses don’t spend money on things that will not help them reach their objective. At least we know they cannot afford to do that very often without going out of business.

Next you need to figure out how much it costs you to provide that solution to the client.

You see if you don’t know the problems you are solving for a business you cannot figure out what you need to be doing in the first place.
[Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]

Do the math


Now this math you are going to do has two parts. You have what we call ongoing expenses, which you must spread over all your jobs. This is not just what money you need to pay your home budget needs, but also your business budget. This includes your gear, your costs to find out about customers and costs to communicate to them about your solutions. Remember you have to do all this because they may not hire you and you still have to pay for it somehow.

This cost of doing business is then spread out over all your jobs through a year. Maybe that figure is about $600 per the average job you must build into the price.

Next you must do your math again and add up all the expenses to do the specific job to solve this client’s problem.

You add these together and this is what you must make to stay in business.

How you arrived at this price or what this figure is should never be discussed with the client. This is for you only.

Now if you have a client for example in a ditch with their car in the middle of no where and you have a tow truck and are there to help them you are in a great position, especially if they are in a hurry. This is when you can get a lot more money than had you been in a large city with many more options for the customer to choose from than just you.

Take the time to get to know your market and what prices are typically being charged for these services.

Determine your Target Audience


Now if the going rates are lower than your figure you need to charge you have a problem. You will need to somehow convince people that you are a better solution. That is possible because an oil change can run from $19.95 to $20,000 for a Bugatti Veyron.

Believe it or not there is a formula for true luxury and it is called the Intrinsic Value Dependency Index. Now I am not an expert in this, but in general a product must be of the best quality and in the process creates a space in the market of it’s own. It is important that this item be rare as well. True luxury comes with over the top service as well.

When you get a $20,000 oil change they are doing a lot more than you driving into a bay and stay in the car while they change your oil. They are offering your wine, Champaign or a wonderful latte. Good chance they even picked up your car from your home and brought it back to you at your convenience.

Once you know your figures that you need to charge and you know the market place and have decided where you want to be in that market you not only set your price you create a marketing plan to execute.

You have a website, portfolio, brochures, business cards and other materials you will use to help showcase your work, which is a solution for the customers problem.


Going back to the side of the road with our customer in distress you give them your sales pitch. I am here to help you. I can have my limo driver come and pick you up and take you to where you need to be next and while that is happening I can get your car out of the ditch and take this to the repair shop of your choosing. If you don’t have a repair shop you prefer I have a few that I use regularly that will work with your insurance and get you back up and running.

They love it and ask you how much. You give them the price and they gladly pay. Your limo driver picks them up and offers them some beverages and takes them to their appointment.

Your business is grounded as every other business–you solve other people’s problems. The key is much more than the cost of doing business, copyright or having the latest camera gear. Knowing your client first and foremost is the key.

Photography/Video/Multimedia is the tool to solving problems for customers. Those who are the most successful are not waiting by the phone like a plumber getting a call because a toilet overflowed. The most successful are like Steve Jobs creating products to solve the problems for clients that they didn’t even know they had until they saw the solution.

Summary:

  1. Start with the problem of the client
  2. Come up with a solution to that problem
  3. Know all the costs involved in providing that solution
  4. Create the sales pitch that addresses their problem with your solution and how the outcome will look if they use your services.
  5. Create a price that will cover your costs and help position your services within the market place. Hopefully one that is a luxury and not a commodity.
The secret to successful business is one that is focused on solving clients problems.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Mr. Robot conjures the photo style of photojournalist Don Rutledge

Portia Doubleday and Rami Malek in the pilot episode of "Mr. Robot"
I love the depth in the imagery in the cinema-photography. 

by Don Rutledge
I was talking to my long time friend Ken Touchton on the phone. We had both talked about the TV show Mr. Robot.

Watch On-Line Now Here
We were talking about the photography style of the show and quite frankly it is unique. We were thinking that with today's large screen TVs of LCD Sizes 32, 40, 42, 46, 52, 55, 70, 82 it was now bringing the cinema into our homes. The BIG SCREEN has finally arrived so that the director of photography for TV shows is no longer limited.

John Howard Griffin the author of Black Like Me walking down street in New Orleans. photo by Don Rutledge.
The last show that Ken Touchton watched he actually turned the sound down and just watched and studied and this was when he realized it was like watching Don Rutledge's photography once again. You can see in this 1956 photo of John Howard Griffin walking down the street the similarity of using the negative space.

by Don Rutledge
Now to run Don's work in a newspaper was more difficult than in a magazine. In a magazine the designer would take a photo like this one above and run it across two pages. Sitting in your lap it has the same affect as a 55" TV screen would have across the room–Cinematic as we might call it today.

Using negative space like this helped Don to create mood both positive and negative to help tell a story.

by Don Rutledge

Don had a way of finding a wonderful scene and then letting the scene unfold with the people moving in and out of the frame. You will see this over and over in Mr. Robot.

by Don Rutledge
This photo of a Russian pastor is a great example of one of the compositions used over and over in the TV Show.

by Don Rutledge
When two people are in the photos in Mr. Robot you see this quite often.


Here is how Don Rutledge has shot some street scenes in the past.

by Don Rutledge
Don created tension by playing things off of each other in his compositions.


While the director of photography for Mr. Robot is doing what they think is unique it has been around a long time, just harder to see in the media when it started in magazines like LIFE magazine back in the 1950's.

While most of today's video is 50% the closeup Mr. Robot is pulling upon a style of the great photojournalists like Don Rutledge.

Who's your Audience?

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 7200, ƒ/5.6, /500
When Jimmy Carter became president of the United States back in 1977 the world started to hear about being a "Born Again" Christian.

Many years later I would be in seminary where Wes Black, my youth education professor opened my eyes to understanding "Born Again." Professor Black pointed out that in the scripture of John 3:1-21 Jesus was talking to specifically Nicodemus.

Nicodemus was Pharisee who was a member of the Jewish ruling council due to being born into his family. His status in life was due to his parent's. Jesus was pointing out that his true value must be placed solely in God and not into things of this world. He needed to be "born again" or as in the Greek it meant be "born from above."

This was the starting point for the lecture that day many years ago in Professor Black's class. Black would go on to talk about how Jesus would talk to the woman at the well, to those he would heal and others to help us see that each time the message was different. He didn't tell all of them they needed to be "Born Again", he only said this to Nicodemus.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/2.8, 1/75
Dr. Black shifted from the scripture and went to the white board and started to draw the map of a school. He then labeled the different rooms and places around the campus. One room was the band room, another art, then the library, on to the cafeteria and then the other end of the school had the shop class and the gym. Out front of the school he drew a tree and talked about where the smoking students would hang out.

Then room by room Black asked us how would we talk to them about God. In the gym people talked about God being like the coach or the quarterback. When we got the the library, where many of the geeks hang out, someone said that God is like ROM. ROM is strictly, read-only memory refers to memory that is hard-wired in a computer and the computer relies on to work.

It was becoming quite clear that the lesson was that before you can communicate who God was to a person or group you had to know them. You had to know their nomenclature.

Moses had predicted that Jesus would be the greatest of all the prophets. He was predicting that he would be the greatest of all communicators.

Dr. Wes Black opened my eyes that day in class as to one of the biggest reasons Jesus was such a great communicator–Jesus started with the audience.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/800
To truly communicate you must understand your audience. You cannot assume the same way you communicated to others will work with the new audience. You cannot assume that if you are interested in the subject they will be. Also you cannot assume they will understand why they need to know something unless you communicate this clearly.

Too many Christians went around telling people they needed to be "Born Again." There largest mistake is the audience had little in common with Nicodemus.

Do you know your audience? 

Thursday, September 08, 2016

Shot the photo, Now the Poster & The Banner


I posted last week how I shot this promotional shot. Here is that link if you missed it.

After I took the photo I created a 11" x 17" poster that they could put up around the school and in the community. So if you are around Roswell, Georgia this next couple weeks you will see this up in the restaurants, stores and places the public visits.

To make the poster I brought it into PhotoShop and added the text and created a drop shadow with the text.


Now to get all the traffic going by the school to know the play is just around the corner I made a banner 6' x 9'.


Here you can see me installing the banner with my wife. This is will give you a good perspective on the size of the banner.



Here is that banner next to the HUGE football banner.


Feedback we give to first time Multimedia Storytellers

James Dockery, ESPN editor and co-teacher, is in Lisbon with me as we are teaching the students multimedia storytelling. [Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 18-55mm,  ISO 6400, ƒ/6.4, 1/90]

Each time I teach multimedia storytelling I find myself sitting with the student and talking about what they could do better.

This summer I taught in a program the same thing I teach in a workshop, but they needed to have a grade, which required me to write out those tips.

Here is the gist of what I am writing when grading or giving someone feedback on their first multimedia storytelling project.



Since this is the very first time you have done multimedia storytelling and have few friends who have been through something like this you may feel like you are flying blind at times.

I know most students when signing up for a course like this have often talked to other alumni of the classes and made their decision to take a class based on what those students told them.

This is to say that for the most part the only person helping you with this assignment would have been myself. This puts a lot more burden on you to ask more questions and push harder to grasp new concepts.

I saw through the class this grappling with storyline and storytelling. I think this is actually the most difficult part of the content to master. If it were that easy to do then there would be blockbuster hit after another coming out of the studios around the world.

One of the key elements of this project is that the success of the project has a lot to do with how well you take ownership and control. It requires leadership skills as well as the skills of the technician to capture the content.

You did a great job of adjusting from the first interview to the second time. I think you really showed the concept really well with what I call the “Radio Cut.” A “Radio Cut” is where you can close your eyes and just listen and get the story as if you were listening to it on the radio.


One area I would encourage you to work on is what I call the peeling of the onion of the story. I thought you did a pretty good job with peeling the onion and getting a deeper story than you had on the first round. I think in time you will know how to get deeper faster with your subjects.

The reason I think it is good to dig deeper is the more you are able to help the audience understand that this is a problem that is so difficult to over come and needs a miracle to make it happen they will not be as engaged.

Zacuto Z-Finder

My advice on the technical side would be to get a viewfinder for your LCD. Many of your shots were slightly out of focus, which is typical if you cannot see the LCD up close.

Fill the 16x9 frame. Make is a cinema piece and don’t use verticals where you see the black on the sides. Fill the frame.

I would also advise getting more variety in these types of shots as both video and stills.
  • 25% Wide Shots – Establishing
  • 25% Medium Shots
  • 50% Close-ups
I think if you had more time with your subject you could have shot a lot more and had what we call more b-roll to use while he is telling us his story through the audio.

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm f/2.8 DG OS HSM, Sigma 2x EX DG APO Autofocus Teleconverter, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/2000

Another tip is to fill the screen with b-roll when someone is talking about things in the past. This is where abstract visuals can really help you.

This is where you may have what I call a video portrait of her can help. The subject is looking out a window for example and you just slowly move the camera or it is on tripod and they might move just a little.

Fujifilm X-E2, FUJINON XF 55-200mm, ISO 6400, ƒ/4, 1/420

Another thing you could use is what I like to think as visual eye candy shots. This might be a close-up of water drops during rain hitting leaves. Could be a shot in a room as people walk through the shot. Where you rack focus in and out of focus on elements in your subject’s world. Things like a book, a flower on a table, tools he may use in the job and things that just when used as b-roll are kind of what you might see when you are day dreaming and looking out a window.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 10000, ƒ/8, 1/100

For non-journalistic piece you can coach the talent/subjects. Their voices sounded the same even when they are talking about killing themselves or running a successful business. Their voices need to have a little more emotions than the same one. Most people need a little coaching and doing several takes until you capture the emotion of what they are saying is necessary. Just as good light can impact the mood of a photo, the tone of the person’s voice can bring mood and emotion to the storyline.

Sequencing needs to keep me on the edge of the seat. Meaning every 10 to 15 seconds you need to create a little tension. Sometimes this is visual and sometimes it is in their voices, the words or something that makes it a page-turner.

Remember this from all that I taught on storytelling. Your clients for the most part do not know their stories well enough or they don’t need you. Also, they don’t know how to take your content and put it together into something for their audience. They need you to take control and capture their stories and put them into packages for their audience. They also need help with promoting their stories. So individual social media posts to drive people to the “story” are also needed. Still image with a few words and pointing people to the project on Vimeo or YouTube can not just help the client promote their work, but give them ideas on how to promote their work as well.

Remember you are not just telling their stories; you are educating them on how to tell their stories without you as well. They will take tips from the process and now be better speakers when they speak due to you helping them see the nuggets of their story. You will help them become more transparent so that ultimately their stories are told in a way that the audience is moved to action.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Can you tell me what you do?

While we do lectures, we are careful to show examples. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1100, ƒ/4, 1/100]
If I were to ask you what you do or what does your company do what is your answer? Maybe you start to stumble around trying to find words and even say things like “Well …”

One of the greatest struggles to communicate what you do or what your company does is that words alone often do not do justice to what you do. No matter how well you craft your words it still can fall short. Too often using words alone takes too long and you lose your audience.

Visual content reaches an individual’s brain in a faster and more understandable way than textual information. Or, more accurately, a person’s brain is hardwired to recognize and make sense of visual information more efficiently, which is useful considering that 90 percent of all information that comes to the brain is visual.

We have discovered that showing students the setup and how to do an interview working with a translator improved the results for students. [Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1800, ƒ/8, 1/100]
Storytelling tactics focus on different functions of the brain related to understanding and perception. The brain processes images 60 times faster than text, and 92 percent of consumers want brands to create stories around ads. Because of this, marketers should be delivering linear content with clear narratives and using images to tell their stories.

I work with clients by listening to them and asking lots of questions to help pull out the most compelling storyline that will engage customers to pay attention to what they do. I teach my clients the seven elements they need in their story and then capture that in a visual storyline to build their brand.

A great example of how I did this was with a professor at Georgia Tech. We played basketball together during our lunch breaks. While standing on the sideline waiting for the next game I was just asking what he was working on.

He was creating a bomb detector for about $30. He had presented this a few times but no one was willing to give him a grant. I asked if he would like my help. The solution was simple. By changing his visuals with his story then presented at the next conference and got a $1 million dollar grant.

Size of experimental microneedle array is shown by its placement on the researcher's finger. There are 400 needles in the array. "Microneedles" much thinner than the diameter of a human hair could be the basis for a new drug delivery technique able to administer small quantities of high-potency medications through the skin without causing pain.
I really do believe that “Seeing is believing” for most of the population. It leads to a way of teaching that "seen evidence" can be easily and correctly interpreted, when in fact, interpretation may be difficult.

Give me a call and let me help capture your story in a visual way so that you too can make what you do understandable to your potential customers.

I also teach this to people in workshops. This summer I taught a workshop in Nicaragua and in Togo, West Africa. In Nicaragua James Dockery, ESPN Video Editor and Jeff Raymond, Director of Visual Communications for ABWE led 9 students through the process of visual storytelling. In Togo, West Africa professor Patrick Davison, UNC School of Media/Journalism worked with Jeff and I in leading 10 students through the same process.

Here are two examples of storytelling done by those students in just one week.





Give me a call if you want me to help you in telling your story or to help teach your team how to do visual storytelling to build your brand.

Monday, September 05, 2016

Nikon D5 was worth the purchase

Georgia Bulldog's Freshman Running Back #35 Brian Herrien Scores his very first collegiate touch down while UNC's Safety #15 Donnie Miles was unable to stop him during tonights Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game September 3, 2016 at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
While I have to know where to point the camera, which does take years of expertise to develop the Nikon D5 camera is coming through on keeping the camera in focus, great exposure and wonderful dynamic range.

One of the settings I use to help me get this photo is using the 72-point dynamic-area of AF.




You want to pick Autofocus Continuous mode for sports.



In the menu Pencil selections pick AF Activation under the Autofocus settings.


Then choose the AF-ON only. This will mean when you push the shutter release it will not focus, but just fire the shutter to take a photo.


By changing these settings you will notice the camera will stay in focus and shoot faster frame rate. Great for following a baseball player sliding into a plate and another player trying to tag them or maybe a football player running towards you to score. You will find more photos tack sharp in a series.

I generally put my focus point dead center and lock it so I don't bump it. I am trying to get photos of moving subjects and off center is too difficult for me. I may crop later for a better composition, but I want the subject in focus first.

UNC's wide reciever #3 Ryan Switzer is tackled by Georgia's defensive back #2 Maurice Smith & defensive end #51 David Marshall. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 45600, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
The key to getting great photos no matter the subject is always preparation. It is setting the camera up to execute what you need it to do. Dialing the camera to sports mode on some cameras will come close, but dialing in all the fine tuning makes a HUGE difference.

Georgia Bulldog's #2 Defensive Back Maurice Smith breaks up the pass to North Carolina Tarheel's #3 Ryan Switzer in their win over UNC 33 to 24 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Maintaining focus is very important. You often start following a receiver as I did here before the ball arrives. They are not standing still. They also are not running in a straight line. In football the running tends to be very erratic and this is where the technology of the Nikon D5 does a better job than every other Nikon that I have ever owned up to this current model.

Georgia Bulldog's #27 Nick Chubb Tailback pushes for more yardage as North Carolina Tarheel's defense trys to contain him. Georgia defeated UNC 33 to 24 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Now this a tip that has improved my photography more than anything when it comes to photographing sports. Get in a spot where you will see the athletes faces. Expressions make a big difference in communicating the effort being put forth in a play.


That is the spot I was in to get all the photos you see in this post other than this one that I took in the press box of the half time bands playing. We had another photographer at the same place on the opposite side of the field. We had the plays covered.

Georgia's #5 Terry Godwin Wide Reciever is tackled by North Carolina's #90 Naxair Jones defensive tackle after a reception during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff at The Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 40000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
In football if I am looking into the faces of the offense then I am where they are trying to go the entire game–The End Zone.

Georgia's tail back #22 Brendan Douglas fumbles at the North Carolina 12 yardline.  [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
The other thing is the closer they get to me in the end zone the more that background goes out of focus. So the biggest plays are often the ones where they are in the Red Zone. The Red Zone is the 20 yard line to the goal. 

Georgia Bulldog's #27 Nick Chubb Tailback is tackled by North Carolina Tarheel's safety #15 Donnie Miles. Georgia defeated UNC 33 to 24 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 36000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
If you notice in all these photos the players for the most part are running right at me. Being in the end zone is like being at the finish line of track and field event. Now if you are in the end zone they do run to the right and left of you, but you are not running up and down the field to get a good angle. You just need the lenses to get the photos.

This is the lens that I have fallen in love with for sports. It is the Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S. It is on sale now for $3,399. 

I have also the Sigma 1.4x and 2x converters. The 2x makes the lens a 240-600mm ƒ/5.6 lens. The 1.4x makes the lens a 168-420mm ƒ/4 lens.

For football I am using the 2x converter most all the time.

UNC's tail back #34 Elijah Hood is pursued by Georgia's defensive back #35 Aaron Davis. Hood had less than 10 carries during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 32000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Now just to give those who have older Nikon models some of my insights here are a couple things I am loving with the Nikon D5.

Nikon D5

Compared the the Nikon D4 that I moved up from I went from 16 megapixels to 20. The frames per second of 2 more frames has made it where you don't really loose sight of the action. At 12 FPS it looks like a movie in the viewfinder while shooting.

Nikon D4
I gained 3 more stops due to the higher ISO. 

Georgia Bulldog's #27 Nick Chubb Tailback pushes for more yardage as North Carolina Tarheel's defense attempts to contain him. Georgia defeated UNC 33 to 24 during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff game at the Georgia Dome on September 3, 2016. [Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 32000, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000]
Buying a Nikon D5 will not make you a better sports photographer. However, if you understand the technical side of photography the Nikon D5 will let you do a better job of capturing what you want to do than earlier model Nikon cameras. 

Now if you are like me with more than 30 years of experience then you know that you need to keep fresh. You need to practice with your gear just like the professional musician does every day. Take the time and shoot kids playing sports in your community regularly and refine those skills which let you anticipate what is going to happen rather than reacting. That is the other huge key to great sports photos. Those who can anticipate will always be a better sports shooter than someone who reacts and the shoots. They never get the moment.

One last photo for those interested in the highest ISO I shot at during the game. That was ISO 65535.


Nikon D5, Sigma TC-2001 2x, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, ISO 65535, ƒ/5.6, 1/4000