A few days ago, a fellow former University of Texas graduate student, Grace Sherry, and I killed an afternoon wandering through Austin with our cameras. I shot most of a 36-frame roll of 35mm film. We didn't have much of a plan but that was the beauty of the day.
So often I am assigned photography. In other words, I am told where to go and what to shoot and left only then, to my own devices to deliver the product. This day was relaxing and nonchalant by design and in then end, we still found some worthy subjects.
I kidnapped Ashley from work about a week ago and took her kayaking on Lady Bird Lake. I brought my 35mm filmer and snapped a few shots along the way. I wasn't impressed with most of what I shot on the water but I was pleased with a few photos I made on the way to the water. I also included a photo of a bottled buried by time which I took during a geocaching trip a few days prior to the kayaking adventure.
Guess Who's Back In Action?
After what felt like an eternity, the United States Air Force Thunderbirds jet demonstration team has been cleared to return to flying, along with several combat squadrons previously grounded as part of sequester cutbacks. I, for one, am happy to see them back where they belong -- high overhead, standing tall as the face of the finest air power on the planet.
Dial P For Photography
I was asked by one of my regular clients, The University of Texas Department of Theatre and Dance, to take a promo photo for a play it's running this fall, Dial M For Murder. Certainly the shot called for a film noir style and luckily my contact at UTTAD knew the perfect place. We scheduled an evening when all the required parties could meet, which is never an easy task, and set up the photo. The weather gave us the little help too. Rain was in the forecast but never materialized. What did show up was a nice unsettling mist. The shoot went great. I took about 30 shots total then punched up BKW and color versions. Both were used well, but I always liked the BKW one better -- felt a little more Hitchcock I think.
My wife and I are definitely going to see the show. Tickets go on sale in early August.
See you there.
Round and Round They Go
Fall is officially here, though I don't know how anyone in Texas would know since the thermometer still regularly strikes above the 80-degree mark. For an Idahoan, 80-anything is summer, but according to prescribed Lone Star State doctrine, this is fall.
As such, I can't help but notice the distinct lack of midsummer-to-fall staples of years past -- demolition derbys, air shows, boating etc. The government did splendidly in its apparent effort ensure air shows this season consisted of nothing more than crop dusters sputtering by as they flew from field to field and boating really struggles to please when the boater is without boat (Oh how my parents continually refuse to mail our inboard outboard Freedom down from Coeur d'Alene). The point is, I have a need, a need for something loud, fast and dangerous.
Generally the rush of wooshing past trees and dodging slow-movers on the top of some mountain would handle the issue this time of year, but even though ski season is pretty much here for some of the United States, the powder just hasn't fallen in Austin as required by the snowboard. I digress.
Believe it or not, I was leaving Costco last week, struggling to hold my box, which was balanced for weight about as well as a city bus, with one hand while fumbling through my pocket for the receipt I can never seem to remember I must use to exit the store when a motorcycle on display caught my eye. Instantly I could hear the sound of the two-stroke twanging in full throat, feel the weight shift as the clutch pops and smell those glorious fumes, telling of a day well-spent. The brief, bittersweet experience was enough to make me dig through my archives for a few shots of the Arena Cross event I photographed for the Statesman last year.
As usual, I thought I'd share a few of them with you. They filled the arena over the weekend but I was assigned a qualifying day because the paper wanted to preview the event, hence no spectators.
One of my favorite subjects to shoot for myself is aviation. I find sitting along a runway or under an approach on a nice day with a breeze peaceful and liken it to a day at the beach for most. The sounds of aircraft engines winding up for takeoff and throttling to full as the reverse thrusters pop out after landing hit me just right. I even enjoy the smell of jet fuel; I always have.
So often the job of a photojournalist revolves around covering news and events for a given entity -- someone else. Common phrases within the industry, such as, "on assignment" work to form the imaginary box delineating the boundries within which a journalist must exercise liberties and expend his skill. On days such as my trip to Austin-Bergstrom International Airport last week, I shot with freedom and blissful carelessness. I took photos of sights I wanted to remember and interchanged my eyes with the camera frequently, allowing myself to better experience that which has captivated me since childhood.
After all, photographs are memories at their base.
I fear today, with the widespread dissemination of cheap and inexpensive camera gear and the dreaful "kit" haunting the remains of the legitimate breed of wedding and portrait photographers, what was once was the art of photography has become a race -- a competition replete with tangential rules and subtexts meaningless to those who respect its origins and appreciate both the beauty of the products as well as the science behind them. Legendary works which leap to mind are some of those masterfully crafted by greats such as Cartier-Bresson and Ansel Adams, who was making seamless and breathtaking HDR photographs when HDR was nothing more three consonents inconspicuously linked.
Considering the reasoning behind my day at the beach, please enjoy these photographs as what they were made to represent -- moments during which I chose to trade a diminished experience for the opportunity to remember them for a longer period of time.
I shot these with my 35mm filmer using Ilford Delta 100. I prefer the 400 speed HP5 for general purpose and most news photography but considering this typical Texas day -- nearly cloudless sky saturated with sunlight -- and the knowledge I would probably want to crop a few of the photos, I decided to roll with the slower speed.
I believe I was still running around 1/1500 at f/6.5.
I was thumbing through some photos today and found these photos I shot at a Texas Stars game against Oklahoma City. These reveal the first professional goal for Brett Ritchie (top), scored on his first shot, and NHL veteran and Stanley Cup winner Mike Commodore scoring his first goal with Texas in his first game with the Stars. That was quite a game, especially considering the goals came against an outstanding Yan Danis.
Since the closing seconds of last year's MAACO Bowl, I have been anticipating Boise State's inevitable season-opening trampling of the udub dogs. With so few days remaining until this occurs, I thought a new profile photo would be fitting.
So, I set up the studio accordingly, assembled a couple very bronco photos and selected the best for your viewing pleasure. Caution: Might cause blue bleeding and/or sudden onset vandal dispreference.