"One FLU Over the Photographer's Nest"

Been too long between blogs. Have been fortunate to be busy. Not so fortunate last week, when down with the flu of some sort. The older I get, the harder it hits. The older I get, the more wimpy I become. Due to the crud, two jobs were postponed. Thankfully, not cancelled. If I don’t work, I don’t pay the bills.

Bill Wyman, the former bass player for The Rolling Stones, once said. “If you can walk, you can make it to the gig.” That’s the approach I try and take. That’s the approach my dad took. In the 14 years I had with dad, the only time he missed a day at the hardware store was if we were on vacation. And after he was diagnosed with cancer.

With the work ethic in mind, l pulled it together to do three jobs for my friends at Monmouth College. I was at my lowest on Tuesday, and it was the most busy. Five separate sessions, spread over five hours. A day of variety, I made portraits of Dr. Mark Willhardt, recently named dean and VP for academic affairs. Interior photographs of the Alumni House. A new employee, a physics student who works with plants. And two basketball players.

Dr. Willhardt was first up on Tuesday. A really nice guy, easy to work with, We used a common room in Wallace Hall to make the portraits. Some were made as he spoke to Jeff Rankin, the man who coordinates a lot of the photos I make for the college. I tried to catch him smiling. I tried to use some foreground context. I tried to frame him between chairs. Anything to add interest to the photos. I also posed him for some frames.

Interior photos are more of a technical exercise. Lines, color, where to put lights. It went fairly easy. Details matter. Keeping flash glare off artwork can be a challenge. Turning on desk and table lamps adds a nice “warm” touch to the scene.

The new employee photo was, as us photographer’s sometimes use the term, “quick and dirty.” The young lady, outside the building she works in, with one off camera flash for fill. It was chilly out. She was accommodating.

The physics student provided us a small growing room to work with. It was tiny, and possibilities were a bit limited. The pink cast of a grow light provided me with a built in, colored gel.

Finished in Glennie Gymnasium with Will and Carly. They were patient while I made all the shots and angles the sports information director requested. By the end of it, I was sweating and chilled. And aching like being hit by a truck.

Thursday evening was men’s lacrosse. Monmouth put it to Clarke College, 10-2. Dominated the game. I’d rested on Wednesday, shot this game Thursday, still not feeling human. It was windy and chilly. First night game of the season for me. Used the 300mm lens and 1.4 converter. That meant an iso of of 5,000, which allowed me to shoot 1/500th at f4. Artificial light can work. The stadium has pretty even lighting.

Finally, Friday. I was tapped to photograph the rollout for the “Light This Candle” event. A campaign to increase the college endowment. Set up speed lights in each of the four corners of the room to bring out the color and detail. As well as override the big banks of windows on three sides of the room.

I’m busy again this week. Work for Monmouth College, the Galesburg Community Foundation, and the Knox-Galesburg Symphony. And I feel a lot better this week. That is o.k. by me.

"That Night"

Taking a detour from the subject of photography to that of music. As big a love, or bigger, than photography.

Duke Tumatoe & the All-Star Frogs (later, Duke Tumatoe & the Power Trio) were/are a regional rhythm & blues/rock band. Began following them in 1982, though they’d been around for much longer. I love them! Duke has a distinct guitar sound and style. And his song writing is witty, sometimes sardonic. And it all comes together best in a live setting. I’ve seen the band countless times.

John Fogerty needs no introduction. Creedence Clearwater Revival was one of my favorite bands in the early 70's. They owned the radio waves in 1970 and 1971. Albums were big sellers, singles from the albums, big hits. The sound is unmistakable. Still original and fresh today. One of the most original bands to come from America? They’d get my vote.

When I moved from Macomb to Chicago in June of 1987, I kinda lost track of Duke and the boys. When they played in Macomb it was easy to know they were coming to town. Chicago has so many more clubs it was difficult to keep up. By luck, a college friend, David Cronin, knew I was a fan, and got the word to me that they were going to play a couple of nights at a place on the near west side, and were going to record part of a live album those two nights. The producer of the live album was… John Fogerty!

Remember my comment about how good Duke and company are live? Well, John Fogerty happened to catch them at a club in Indiana one time. Fogerty said seeing them live was something like “Going to a small town and watching the local pitcher throw a 100 mph fastball.” Fogerty was an instant fan, and gave Duke his support.

The gigs were set for two nights. Friday, February 19th, and Saturday, February 20th (1988). My friend, Mark Dial, each got a ticket for Friday night. I don’t recall any word that guaranteed Fogerty would appear. I didn’t care. Seeing Duke again was good enough.

Dial and I met up and had dinner somewhere before. It was my first time on one of the public trains, as we moved towards the bar. Dials’ dinner had made him gassy. “I could clear this train with one flinch of my sphincter, “ he murmured. I gave him a horrified look, which saved everyone.

DeSalvo’s is in an industrial neighborhood. Duke had played there often. In fact, the album artwork for “Back to Chicago” shows the band in front of the bar. Dial and I arrived. Long and narrow, with two sides. One bar side, one side an open room for music. Dial and I arrived and were in. The music room was still roped off. We moved to the back of the bar side, ordered a drink and waited. I was sitting on a chair back, feet on the chair and distracted. Someone said, “Here he comes.”

One of the biggest heroes of my childhood music days, with a pretty blonde at his side, was walking right towards us. I remained calm, kept it casual, and didn’t move from the chair. He wasn’t very tall. I was looking straight into the eyes of John Fogerty. “Hi, John.” I stuck out a hand to shake and got the same response. He and the woman then ducked into the music room and stayed pretty much behind the sound board for the night, away from the fans.

Duke and band did their usual, great show. Three or four sets. Dial and I hung out in back, rather than get into the general admission, standing room, at the front. The place was small. We were in good shape in the back. One of my favorite Duke songs is “Can’t Judge a Book,” written by Willie Dixon. The interplay between Duke and Gus Starr (second guitarist) is awesome. The show got better, the audience wound tighter, as the night went on.

When Duke was done, Fogerty approached the stage. The jam began. That tale may be best told by the link to a story included here… http://riverising.tripod.com/john-articles/desalvos.htm

By the time Fogerty joined in, Dial and I were no longer sitting. We were standing on a table. One of those “folding type” tables used in cafeterias, etc. “Born on the Bayou” is my second favorite song of all time. When they played that, the table dancing and foot stomping by Dial and me was too much. The table collapsed in the middle!

I’ve worn the sweatshirt a few times to Duke shows since. Duke has admonished me. “You shouldn’t be wearing that,” he said once. He’s right. It’s a treasure and doesn’t come out much. Duke signed the left side, Fogerty signed the right side. Ironically, and by coincidence, a poster of Duke hangs above a magazine ad of Fogerty in my living room. The photo of Duke is one I made at some other time.

31 years ago tonight. A once in a lifetime night, with a once in a lifetime thrill.

"The Big Three"

My friend and fellow photographer, Rich Chapman, may have been the guy from whom I first heard this. “My cameras give me a front row seat to life.” I’ve borrowed that, and used it so many times I can’t count. When I decided I wanted to make a career in photography, specifically photojournalism, it was not because I wanted to use the camera to advocate for change, or change people’s lives. Those causes are very admirable. I was 14-years-old when I knew I wanted to make a living with a camera. My purpose was to have FUN, and witness events up close.

On February 16th, 1978, I got my first taste of what it’s like to be in the front row. Actually, the photo pit. I can not recall any event prior to this one, of any significance, that put me where I wanted to be. Access beyond the public. Emerson, Lake & Palmer performed in Western Hall, on the campus of Western Illinois University in Macomb, IL. As a staff photographer for The Megaphone at Culver-Stockton College, I applied for, and received, a photo pass for the show.

Ford, GM, and Chrysler were “The Big 3” of the auto industry. This is what I called ELP. Three musicians of massive talent, on tour for the first time since 1974. The Macomb show was on the second leg of The Works tour, which began in 1977. The band was popular, the shows were a big draw. WIU was a small venue, and I have heard unconfirmed, that an auxiliary generator necessary, and rented, to power the stage show ELP were known for.

My friend Lee Jankowski, who really turned me onto the band (I was familiar with “Lucky Man” but not much else), accompanied me to Macomb. We left Canton, MO late in the afternoon, so stoked that our dinner consisted of Nilla Wafers. Lee sat in a mezzanine seat, stage left.

There was no opening act. At some point, 3-4 of us photographers were led into the photo pit. the small area between the stage and the barrier that keeps the audience from getting too close. The house lights went down, and then, there they were! Feet away and a little above. They opened with “Peter Gunn,” and then went straight into “Hoedown.”

I am pretty sure I only had one camera body at that time. A Minolta SRT-101. I had a 50mm lens, and a Vivitar 70-200mm zoom lens with a slow aperture. I used Kodak Kodacolor II film. The film speed was 400 asa, which was pretty fast film in 1978. Making photos just about as fast as I could re-cock the shutter and recompose, I was able to work the entire show from the pit. This was before the “three songs and out” that is common practice now. I left the photo pit once, to get far enough back as to get an overall shot of the entire band. Emerson was my favorite of the three. My film negatives show I made more photos of him than the others. I was 19 years old and learning the craft. Not every frame is tack sharp.

The show was SO good! The band may have been at its peak. Emerson was 34-years old. Lake, 31. And Palmer, 27. Sadly, two of them are gone now. And they’ve gone in their billing order. First Emerson, and then Lake. Both in 2016.

This was it. The first example of being up close for a big time event. I loved the band at that time. The camera put me right there. ANY combination of music and photography, is good by me! The ELP concert is one of the biggest thrills of my career.

I’ve been back in Western Hall numerous times. I know approximately where the stage was located that night. A time or two, I’ve tried to stand in the area the photo pit was. I close my eyes and listen to hear a long gone, but still reverberating note. If there was one, it would be Lake’s song that also could describe where the cameras have taken me, and how fortunate I’ve been. The note would be from “Lucky Man.”

"A Field Day For Track"

Photographed the second of two indoor track and field meets for Monmouth College, last Saturday, February 9th. Lots of events, and the opportunity for solid photos of those various events. Unlike basketball, football, baseball, and others, the different events provide different “looks.” The 100 yard dash looks nothing like the pole vault.

Track and field events are also a lot of work. My former co-worker, Tom Loewy, once made the perfect analogy when he said, “Track meets are like a flea market. Everything is going on at once, all over the place.” He is spot on. I’ve repeated that dozens and dozens of times. It’s hard, if not impossible, to be everywhere at once.

Monmouth College has great indoor facilities. And it has a long history of a great track and field program. Head Coach Roger Haynes and assistant coaches, Woodard, Welty and Evers do a fine job. Expectations of the student-athletes are high. So is the intensity during a meet.

However. There is just enough “down time” between events for me, or before/after events for the athletes, that there is an opportunity for casual banter between myself and the athletes. Through those quick interactions, I’ve gotten to know some of the young people on the team. They are a good, fun bunch. I photograph them giving their best. They see me, running around from event to event, trying to capture them at their best. I hope, and think, there is mutual respect from both parties.

For this meet, I packed in three camera bodies, and three lenses. A short zoom, medium zoom, and 300mm telephoto. Also, for this meet, a small, table top tripod used for remote shots, a monopod, remote transmitters and receivers, and a four foot aluminum step-ladder. The ladder has become a staple, I can get just high enough to shoot down on some events. It works well for the shot put and hammer throw. It works GREAT for the high jump. I have lighted the field house a time or two. But its size swallows most of my light power. And, with lights, you must wait for them to recycle. Available light is usually 3200 iso, 1/500th of a second @ 2.8. Allows for the motor drives to hum, and many more images to be made.

One request for this meet came from my “boss,” Sports Information Director, Dan Nolan. “Try and get coach Haynes working with a student-athlete, and smiling,” Dan said. Coach Haynes doesn’t smile much during a meet. He’s all business. A photo is in this blog gallery. You decide if I got the mission accomplished.

The remotes paid some dividends this time. (The long jump and hammer throw photos). And I have new ideas for them. Fresh angles I’ll try later this Spring during outdoor meets. I did some “panning” shots. Using a slow shutter speed and moving with the subject to blur the background. I’m always looking for feature or profile portraits of any participant.

The “throwers,” both men and women. Have been red hot. Lots of personal bests for those who shot put or hammer throw this season. Two photos in this blog capture moments just after the throws.

It was a seven and a half hour day.. I logged 10,117 steps. The photos aren’t that hard to make. It’s just getting from point to point to make them. I start out fresh at the beginning and wind up beat at the end of it all. Everyone does. Athletes, coaches, officials…photographers.

"Above the Law"

“Don’t want to be the guest of the sheriff.” Those are lyrics from a song by Emerson, Lake & Palmer. On Monday, February 4th, I was a guest of the sheriff(s). Lots of them. All members of the Illinois Sheriff’s Association, gathered in Peoria for a conference involving the installation of new officers, recognition awards, and more.

Knox County Sheriff David Clague was sworn in as the new president. Originally, Sheriff Clague’s wife, Debbie, had commissioned me to photograph his swearing in ceremony. That led to working for the entire group. There are 102 counties in Illinois. Approximately 90 attended the conference. Lots of law! With all of them being away from their counties, I remarked to one that I didn’t know whether to rob a bank or be on my best behavior?

This job was a challenge. More so than usual. I wasn’t handcuffed, but I had my hands full. The mission was to do a group portrait on the steps inside the lobby of Embassy Suites, where the conference was held. Then, move to a banquet hall for the dinner and awards.

Always striving for a high level of quality on any job. Hard on myself, and always looking to improve, even after 36 years in the business, this job was a technical exercise. 1. Fit close to 90 men on a staircase. 2. Light a banquet room of approximately 5,000-6,000 square feet.

Rather than take the four larger and more powerful lights, I counted on using four smaller, less powerful, but a lot easier to maneuver, speed lights. They worked. But in hindsight, the big guns would have been better. In the conference room, the small lights were mounted for a direct light throw. I experienced some shadows. In hindsight, the larger lights would have been bounced into the ceiling, reducing the shadows.

For the group portrait, four lights were used. In photo 1, a test photo, three lights were used. I didn’t like the shadow the stairs cast, or the darker wall to the left. Hiding a fourth light behind the stairs corrected that (photo 2) The final set up was four lights (photo 3).

There I was. On a ladder, “above the law,” making the group photo. With any group photo of vertical nature, where the subjects trail back, it’s matter of fact that those in back will appear smaller than those in front. This is accented when using a shorter lens. I used a 35-70mm. In hindsight, i have wondered about shooting from further across the room and using a longer, telephoto lens, to compress the distance and make the men more equal in size?

The banquet room gave me fits too. Larger than anticipated, with room lights giving off a yellowish cast, it was all the speed lights could handle to do what I need them to do. I shoot everything in RAW format. It’s been a life-saver. I think it all worked out. The clients are happy!

With a nod to the song author, Bob Marley. “I Shot the Sheriff.” And there were some deputies in photos as well.

"Oooh, Baby!"

Thought I’d “deliver” a fresh blog. A blog born a week and a day after photographing the birth of a baby for a couple. The second for the same couple. They know me. I know them. We’re friends outside of my profession. After the first child, they began calling me “Uncle Kent.” This time around, I knew more of what to expect. But I purposely did not look back to the photos from three years ago as to not let those influence how I’d “see” this one. I also promised myself and the couple that I’d remain more calm and make less photos. There were no issues the first time. I just wanted to give the mother as much peace and tranquility as possible.

The due date was the 21st. I had it in my head as the 18th. There were signs the baby might come on that Friday the 18th. It did not. Thankfully, it did not come on Saturday the 19th, as I was tied up for 12 hours on another job. On Sunday the 20th, late in the afternoon, I received a text. “You might want to take a nap,” it read. That just set me pacing more. There was no relaxation after that.

Tom Petty sang, “The Waiting is the Hardest Part.” I’d been preparing for the birth since soon after the first of the year. Basically training and being ready, by carrying my backpack full of gear, and two camera bodies, with me where ever I went. The phone was ever present, always on and charged. If the baby came really early, I was ready. The equipment was laid out in an orderly fashion, by a back door. It felt like what a firefighter must feel like. Get dressed, grab the gear and go!

When the due date got more close, I understood more, what it would be like to be one of the parents. Even with the experience of the first baby, this time I grew more anxious, and slept lighter. Every day leading up to the due date, the odds increased the baby would come and I’d be on the run. “Baby roulette.” The mother has never gone past her due date. That was useful information.

So. On that Sunday, the 20th, after the text message, the thought was “any minute now.” But the minutes passed to hours. By this point, the phone didn’t leave my hand and the ringer was set to “high.” It rang at 11:20 p.m. Game on. Living only a block from the hospital, I was able to make photos of the couple walking in, and making their way up to the birthing area. Early labor. False alarm. We were sent home a little before 1 a.m. Monday the 21st. All but exhausted, I took a hot shower and actually did crawl into bed.

The second call came at 4:20 a.m. The prior process of photos repeated its self. But this time was for real. I followed the progress in the room and outside, with mom and dad. A natural child birth with a midwife and a couple of nurses. Let me tell you. The mom is petite, but tough as nails. A baby boy was born at 6:42.

What a privilege. What an incredible experience. When things had settled down, I photographed the dad, carrying his newborn son down the hallway for measurements, footprints, etc. After 30-45 minutes there, the father and I made our way back to the room. The mother had gotten herself up, showered, was dressing in street clothes and applying makeup! Men. Do you really believe we are the tougher sex?!

Yours truly was allowed to hold the little guy as his dad made a photo. Babies must bring out the true joy in a person. I didn’t realize I was smiling so much until I saw the photo later.

What an experience! Was I tired? Exhausted? Well, I slept like a baby that night.

"Talking Points"

It was a privilege to speak to the Kiwanis Club of Monmouth, Illinois on January 15th. The subject? Photography, how I began and where it has taken me. I didn’t spot anyone with their eyes closed, so maybe the photos were interesting enough. I don’t mind speaking to a group about photography. It’s my passion. But I am not a great speaker. I usually “wing it,” and can be a bit scattered. Every group is different.

This venue had no means to use a screen or projector. And with the Kiwanis group being smaller than some, I decided to take the laptop computer and hold it for all to to view the photos, planning to gather the group tightly. More on how that worked out shortly.

Also had the idea to take along a few props to show the group how much things have changed in a fairly short period of time. With me were a laptop computer, a Fiberbilt shipping case, one digital body with a newer lens, one film body with an older lens, and a 300mm 2.8 telephoto lens.

The laptop was to be used to view my primary web site. The Fiberbilt case housed older, mounted prints. A digital vs. analog thing. Guess what? The operating system in the old laptop wouldn’t allow that web site to load. How embarrassing! However, my secondary, SmugMug site, would load. Not all was lost.

“Show and tell” went reasonably well. Photos were held aloft. Many with a quick story behind them.

As the program progressed, it became MORE obvious to even me, how much has changed in aspects of the industry since I became a professional in 1983.

A photographer’s portfolio consisted of 20 or so prints, mounted on 11X14 matte boards. The prints served as a portfolio and may be used in contests. To make a perfect print, long hours were spent in a darkroom. It was not uncommon to spend one hour per print, to get the perfect combination of exposure, contrast, burning, and dodging. A lot of this went on after hours when one could have a darkroom all to their self. Setting up everything just right, maybe with music, and getting into a groove. Working late also prevented the supervisors know you were updating your portfolio and may be looking for another job!

If you were applying for a job, your prints were shipped via the before-mentioned Fiberbilt case (see photos). Somewhat heavy. If it got lost, you were hosed. Ambitious photographers may have put in the hours in the darkroom to have two portfolios. This allowed to have two job applications out at the same time. Now? The sky is the limit. A web site is your portfolio. Apply for as many jobs as you want!

To learn of open positions, the two “go to” sources were Editor&Publisher magazine, and the National Press Photographer’s Association job bank. With the job bank, one would send five, self-addressed, stamped envelopes, and job postings would be sent weekly for those five weeks. Now? In most cases, one doesn’t even reach the photo department. Some human resources robot who might not know anything about photography, is weeding out applicants before the photo editor may lay eyes on a picture.

In “the day,” it was not uncommon to contact a publication in advance, to let them know you’d be passing through. Most all would receive you and review your work, even if there were no openings. The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Dallas Times Herald, and Fort Collins Coloradoan, all gave me valuable feedback in such cases. These days, most aren’t receiving photographers, they are getting rid of them!

With today’s presentation, I was also able to point out the skyrocketing costs of equipment in this digital age. And why professionals have to ask what they do in rates.

The “good old days.” Things were more difficult. Tomorrow, I’ll take my digital cameras and make basketball photographs. I can see, almost instantly, if I got a “keeper” frame.

Oh well…Everything changes.

"Back to Work"

The first Monday of the new year. In the office and back to “full tilt boogie,” not that I haven’t spent plenty of time in the office during the holidays. I hope you had great ones. And there’s not a ton to report on. The work flow slowed down for about three weeks. Just checking in here.

Photographed on Sunday, for a gentleman, Bradley Hix, who is running for alderman in Ward 1 in Galesburg. Family portraits, and other campaign style shots which will be used during the course of his campaigning. The weather was unseasonably fine. The portrait you see here, was made using an old, manually focusing, 105mm lens, with the aperture set at f2. Space was intentionally left on the right hand side of the fame for the option of adding text to the photo.

Am also on standby, in the “expectant photographer” role. Have been commissioned to photograph a birth. The second time to have this honor. And for the same family as the first. The due date is the 18th, but I’m traveling with my gear and keeping my phone nearby at all times now. The second photo illustrates what I’m packing around. When I posted of this upcoming work on facebook, it drew mixed reactions. Some thought it will be a great experience. Some were very turned off by the thought of a photographer at a childbirth. Each to their own. The late, great, photojournalist, Brian Lanker, won a Pulitzer Prize for a series on childbirth. Personally, I’d rather make photos of a baby being born than a fatal car accident, or someone’s home burning to the ground.

The holidays, and break during them, brought college football games playoffs. Made me think back to the days at The National Sports Daily, and how I photographed every home Notre Dame game. Would make the drive from Chicago to South Bend. Good times! So, here are two from the Fall of 1990. One of Lou Holtz leading the team to the field. And one of Chris Zorich and Don Grimm celebrating an interception.

Lastly. The last publication I worked for as a staff photographer, The Galesburg Register-Mail, made a recent note of a huge blizzard that hit on January 2nd, of 1999. Approximately 20” of snow wound up on the ground. The snow began on Friday the 1st, but it was Saturday the 2nd when the photo in this blog was made. Galesburg was virtually shut down. I was out making photos and it was rough going to get around. I spotted this man, walking East on Main Street, and made some frames. After obtaining his name, I asked what brought him out in such conditions. He was walking to purchase a pack of cigarettes. I submitted this photo to the Associated Press and learned that a number of newspapers across the county had picked it up and published it. That always makes a photographer proud. You can see that the Galesburg paper ran it five and a half columns across the top of the front page.

So that’s what it’s all about for now. Waiting for things to pick up speed again. And reflecting back a bit on how fortunate I am to have the career I do, and what it allows me to witness.

"KGS Holiday Pops"

The Knox-Galesburg Symphony put me to work on Saturday night, December 8th, to photograph the first of two “seasonal” performances, the Holiday Pops Concert. The symphony uses my services from time to time. Its always a good experience, combining two of my loves. Music and photography. The symphony is very good at allowing me “artistic license,” and to be able to roam and have access to almost any area during the performance.

Photographing a symphony during its performance is not so easy. Most venues have great acoustics. And a symphony is not rock and roll. The sound of a camera shutter can easily be heard during quiet moments. And it’s distracting. A photographer has to be aware and respectful to the performers and audience. I do my best. They do make a device called a camera blimp that is said to reduce shutter noise by 99%. I have never used one. They can cost $1,000. That may be why I haven’t used one. A specialty item for sure.

Photographing a symphony is like photographing professional golf. There are moments it is fine to make a photo. And there are moments it isn’t. The quiet moments of the symphony are like the back swing of a tee shot. Quiet, please!

For the Holiday Pops Concert, with it being seasonal, my thought and goal was to make sure to make photos that show that it was! To use any color or decorations in the beautiful Orpheum Theatre, to tell the story that this show was different than any other symphony show. Using the two zoom lenses, and the 300mm 2.8 lens, I kept moving, and worked the theater from almost every angle. I have found one “sweet spot,” stage left and on the floor, where I can see most of the stage, but hide behind a wall and shoot through an opening. This position hides me, and reduces the shutter noise.

As I photographed the symphony on Saturday night I thought about the contrast of the beautiful music I was listening to, to the intensity of the music I was listening to exactly 39 years ago to the day. Saturday, December 8th, 1979. The International Amphitheater in Chicago. The Who!

"Three For the Scots"

Tuesday found me on the campus of Monmouth College in Monmouth, IL In terms of “volume,” I do a large amount of work for them. All aspects of photography. Editorial, sports, portraits, events. The Fighting Scots are very good to me! They support my business, and I’m grateful for that. Faculty and staff are fantastic. The students polite. And it’s always a good experience to go and make photos on the beautiful campus.

This recent trip over was a prime sampling of the type of work I do there. One sports portrait. A session that will make for a magazine cover. And the rededication of Grier Hall, a campus dormitory.

Thomas Lesniewski is a senior linebacker who will graduate mid-term. Portraits were needed to accompany a magazine story. Jeff Rankin, who coordinates a lot of the photography sessions, and myself, discussed ideas. With the unpredictable weather, we agreed upon the locker room. I began thinking of lighting set ups. Anywhere from two to three lights were used for the portraits. Speed lights. One shoot thru umbrella, One reflector umbrella, and a Rogue grid. Jeff sat in as my test subject. When Thomas walked in, we went to work. I was able to get 3-4 different lighting “looks” from one basic set up by moving lights, or shutting one down. One example is included in this blog.

The next stop was the Buchanan Center for the Arts, second floor. The versatile Rankin had painted a wall black, Had artwork added, and secured students for the shoot, whom he directed. This session wasn’t too difficult. I mostly “pressed the shutter button.” A three light set up here, too. See the “behind the scenes” photo. Normally, the two outside umbrellas would be more to the outside, and behind the subjects to rim light them. Space, and a bad shadow on the background from the overhead heater, prevented that. Still. They were set “hotter” than the main light to give an extra kick.

The third and final stop was the rededication of Grier Hall, a dormitory. This session included photos of rooms, a reception, and ribbon cutting. An on camera flash with a diffuser, bounced into the ceiling, was the main light. Most all photos were made with short zoom lens. Always looking for detail shots, I found one that helped tell the story of the event. Two photos from this session are included here.

"Farewell, President Bush"

October 10th, 1988. I'd forgotten the town until I saw the banner. Berwyn, IL. I was working for The Daily Herald. The photographers were on the back of a flat bed truck, running just ahead. I'm guessing a 180mm lens? Maybe the 300mm? Definitely a color transparency.

George H.W. Bush.jpg

"A Knight One Day"

Stumbled upon a "30 For 30" about Bobby Knight. As a staff photographer for The National Sports Daily, I was dispatched to Bloomington, IN to make a portrait of Calbert Cheaney. Someone at The National set it up through the Indiana SID. A pre-practice portrait. Though this session was planned, I'd been warned coach Knight was moody, and could make my drive from Chicago a wasted one. Cheaney was quiet, polite, and did anything I asked. The session ran maybe 20 minutes. I went about my business but felt Knight's glare and impatience a time or two. This was 1991, the same year a couple of Knight's verbal tirades against his team were recorded and used in the "30 For 30" program. I got the portrait and got out alive.



Saturday, November 24 marked the first time this season, to photograph basketball, or “hoops,” as we sometimes shorten it. I worked two games for my friends at Monmouth College. The ladies played Buena Vista College and won. The men came up just short against Iowa Wesleyan.

Basketball is not all that difficult to photograph. There is near constant motion. Plenty of chances to get “something,” whereas baseball and football usually have key or decisive moments. With basketball, one just hopes that something different may happen, and that one is in the correct position to capture it. Be it a dunk, scramble for the ball, or an excited coach or player.

I try and photograph basketball from different angles. My “go to” position is sitting along the baseline, just about where the three point arch line meets the baseline. An official may block you at times. But it’s a good spot. There are “overhead” positions, meaning slightly elevated from the floor. Usually the bleachers. Some arenas allow for positioning a remote camera in the catwalk, allowing for shooting down, directly over the rim. This allows for great rebounding shots. This is usually only an option at D1 and pro arenas.

The lighting in Glennie Gymnasium is really good. On par with those D1 and pro arenas. And, with digital cameras being able to handle the high ISO range that would have meant sacrificing quality in the film days, one can set the camera for almost any combination that suits the photographer. I still prefer to keep the ISO fairly low, but high enough to keep the shutter speed high. This prevents motion blur. For the two games Saturday, the cameras were set at 2000 ISO, the shutter speed at 1/500th, and the aperture ranged from f3.5 to f4.5.

I’m not sure what type the lights are in Glennie? They seem to be daylight balanced. That is, they don’t give off a color cast. Images straight from the camera don’t require much correction. But the lights do one thing that I’ve seen a handful of times in my career. They “cycle.” You can not detect this with the naked eye. You can not see this happening. But upon reviewing photos, one can see an ever so slight change in the color balance of the lights. Or also in the brightness/darkness. This can be eliminated by slowing the shutter speed, as the lights would “cycle” through. But slowing the shutter speed may mean blurry action. That’s not good unless that is the goal.

When I work for colleges, I’m usually asked for action photos, as well as watching for as many player profile or feature photos I can make. Especially key players. Coaches and fan reaction are also important. One has to be very aware and anticipate what is happening, or may happen. This is true in almost all sports photography.

What has changed the most in my shooting style, when it comes to basketball, is the format. Basketball is an “up and down” sport for the most part. head to toe, vertical format. But with social media ruling the day, this means shooting 90% in the horizontal format to match web sites, hoping something may be cropped vertical. I find it very frustrating. It’s a real challenge. But it’s a sign of the times. I’m the “pro,” I’m to work around it.

I did notice one other change on Saturday. Me. I’m almost another year older. Getting up and down, and off the floor, is more difficult!

"Back to Blogging"

Hello! The blog is back. I was very inconsistent in blogging (non-existent but for one original post) when I created this web site a few years ago. Eventually, it was deleted from this site. The new goal is to make shorter but more frequent blog posts, regarding all aspects of my photography work.

So. With that in mind. Here are 10 photos from recent work done for Monmouth College. Monmouth College Vs. Augustana College swimming. November 16th, 2018