Monday, April 23, 2007

Santa Barbara

I was out in Santa Barbara, California this past weekend to help shoot a wedding with one of my high school friends, Chris Humphreys. Chris is a fantastic wedding photographer who is currently based in southern California, and if you are looking for someone who will never let you down (besides me, of course!), he's the guy! It's kind of strange how in high school, photography was not even on our radar screens but many years later, we have taken our own paths to become what we are now.

Anyways, Chris has come back home to Barrington a couple of times to visit family and has been lucky enough to tag along with me to a couple of Northwestern football games. It was about time to reverse roles, so I headed out to Southern California to meet up with some old friends, and of course, to shoot a wedding with Chris and his wife Katie.

I always joke around with Chris about how much I have, as a lowly sports photographer, made him a better shooter: the back-button auto-focus trick, the recalibration of his lenses so his AF actually worked right, center-point/peripheral point focus accuracy, and custom white balancing. Of course, I couldn't resist trying to pass him some more of my technical advice to help improve his image quality and sharpness such as center vs peripheral AF point accuracy and custom white balancing. I also argued against the focus-recompose technique and to start cropping his photos (or at least use high-sensitivity peripheral AF points to compose), but he wouldn't buy any of it. Then again, his images week-in and week-out prove that he doesn't need any of my tips!

In any case, it was great to tag along with a "real" wedding photographer. In just one day, I learned not only learned countless tips and tricks for shooting weddings, but also was able to take in different ideas and approaches to every situation. I can't wait to put all this new knowledge to use when I shoot my weddings in 2007! Anyways, here is some selects from Santa Barbara (note to Chris: some cropping may be necessary to achieve these results!). Let's start off with the bride getting ready:

I didn't really shoot much of the ceremony because I wasn't the main guy, but here are some stuff from the "formal" portrait sessions and reception:

Lookin' good, huh? Well, it's still nothing compared to the master!

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

No No-No

I have shot baseball every day for the last four days, so I finally got a night off. So of course, what happens? Mark Buehrle throws a no-hitter.

I was watching it on TV, and as it got later and later in the game, I was sitting there hoping that one of the Texas Rangers would find a hole and bust up the no-hitter. Yes, I am a selfish photographer. I want it all, WAAAAAAAH!!!!

So I'm checking out the wire service photos from this game on Yahoo!, and I notice this one by a fellow colleague. What I'm wondering is, how the heck did the players get the beer so fast? Is there actually beer in the clubhouse for after the game? That doesn't seem right. I know there's a famous quote out there: "I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player!" But seriously, this is the MLB. How did they get the beer so fast? Did someone run down a case from concessions?

Despite not shooting this no-hitter, I have had a very eventful and news-worthy sports week. Sunday was Jackie Robinson Day, Monday featured Alfonso Soriano getting injured, and of course, yesterday was Sammy Sosa's triumphant return to Chicago. If I shot a no-hitter on top of those three events, I seriously might have just quit photography right there, because things could only go downhill from there!

Slammin' Sammy

Just like old times: a swing, a hop, and a kiss. Trademark Sammy!

Sammy Sosa
was back in Chicago for the first time since getting run out of town by the Cubs in 2004. A lot of people in the city don't like Sammy for various reasons: him being a Cub, the suspected steroid use, and of course, the aforementioned ugly breakup with the North Siders in '04. Not surprisingly, he was booed viciously by the crowd every time he came up to the plate. Although I'm guessing these autograph seekers weren't part of the boo-birds!

To me the booing, although somewhat justified, is still kind of sad. Despite all the controversy surrounding Sammy's last few years in Chicago, as a Cub fan and a baseball fan, I will never forget what he did for the Cubs and the MLB in the late 90's and early 00's. All the man did was clobber 545 home runs with the Cubs and is credited as a major reason for saving baseball after the strike in 1994.

Anyways, Sammy made the largely anti-Sosa crowd happy by striking out and flying out in his first two at bats. Maybe the boos were getting to Sosa? Well, maybe not. In the 7th inning, Sosa regrouped and doubled to deep right field. Then in the 8th inning, he dealt the Sox a big blow, by smashing a three-run home run into the right field bleachers making it 8-1 Rangers, sending Sox fans home early.

But the home run was vintage Sammy. It featured a powerful swing:

A hop:

And a kiss:

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Da Bulls

Of course, less than 24 hours after my last post, in which I mentioned how my basketball shooting season is pretty much over, I get a call to go cover a basketball game. A Bulls game no less, which is something I almost never shoot!

For the most part, it was a pretty ordinary basketball game as far as action goes. Well, as ordinary as you can get for a 98-69 ass-whoopin' of the Knicks. In a situation like this, you just have to try to find pictures from the game that show how lopsided the contest was. So I went looking for shots of the Knicks getting outhustled, the ball getting stolen or blocked, and anything else along those lines:

On top of action shots, we want to try to show dejection of the team that received said ass-whoopin.' Basically, any shots of players hanging their heads, throwing their arms up, making faces, etc. For the most part, they're also pretty ordinary, but editors and newspapers demand them because "they tell the story."

Well, with this game down, NOW my basketball shooting season is officially over! Unless of course, I get assigned to cover the last Bulls regular season game on Friday ;-)

Monday, April 09, 2007

Swedish Glass Artists

Wow, it sure has been a long time since I've updated this, haven't I? To be honest, there hasn't been a whole lot going on. The Big Ten Tournament effectively ended my basketball season (since I don't shoot the NBA), and hockey was pretty much over with. That's not to say I've had nothing to shoot. As far as sports go, I've been shooting plenty of lacrosse: both with the Shamrox and #1 ranked Northwestern Wildcats. I will show some of my images in a future post.

But I've been shooting a bunch of news and feature type stuff the past few weeks. About a week ago, I was given the great honor of covering an exhibition opening at the Rockford Art Museum. Bertil Vallien and Ulrica Hydman-Vallien, a husband-wife team from Sweden, are internationally acclaimed glass artists. However, their HE & SHE exhibition in Rockford is the first time in about 30 years that they have hosted a joint exhibition of this size (10,000 sq ft exhibition!).

Now this particular shoot really is a new type of photography for me. Technically, this assignment was a public relations/corporate assignment. Basically it means I'm shooting right off a "laundry list" of items, including an isolated photograph of a majority of the work, like the glass head you see below.

I love how all of Vallien's work was in a darkened room, with the work a spotlight illuminating each piece. The results were pretty cool looking, but wasn't really that difficult or overly exciting to get. It was also pretty time consuming! How many pieces of work do you think you can stuff in a 10,000 sq ft exhibition hall? Yeah, lots.

When that was all done, the gallery was officially open to the public. This is where I was able to shoot in a more documentary/news/feature type style that I know and love instead of the bland, cookie-cutter type style that is commercial/public relations photography.

All in all, I had a great time helping out the city of Rockford and shooting their gallery exhibition. The staff was fantastic to work with, and if asked to help out on future projects, I would not hesitate to make the 75-mile drive out there! If you are interested in seeing the HE & SHE exhibition, the works of Vallien and Hydman-Vallien will be on display at the Rockford Art Museum until July 8, 2007.