"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