Tag Archives: 50mm

Andrew + Jamie | McCall, Idaho | 09.06.14

Andrew and Jamie brought me out to one of my favorite areas in this state — McCall, Idaho. Not only does this town share the same name as yours truly, it is one of the most scenic slices of land in the entire Pacific Northwest.

 

The wedding screamed Idaho, and reminded me of why I love calling this state home.

 

Congrats guys; it was a privilege documenting your day!

 

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Jake + Mariah | Hayden Lake Country Club

Jake and Mariah’s wedding at the Hayden Lake Country Club was spectacular. Awesome couple, beautiful venue, blue skies and great company and made it one for the books. Thanks for having me along Jake and Mariah, and congrats!

 

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Food. Music.

 

Concerts are a crazy animal to shoot.

 

Yet, there’s something about this challenging breed of photography that keeps me coming back for more. It’s unpredictable, exhilarating. It keeps you on your toes. There’s always a moment to catch that can be lost in the mere blink of an eye.

 

The Flying Mammals

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spokane’s annual Pig out in the Park was an opportunity to satisfy my urge to document music in pictures all day long. With some 80+shows over the course of six days, there were endless opportunities for sweet photos. Further, the whole event is named Pig out in the Park for a reason — there’s food everywhere — good food. Amazing food, actually. From Jambalaya to gourmet grilled cheeses, elephant ears to bricks of french fries, there’s something to tickle anyone’s taste buds.I spent the day Saturday wandering around, grabbing photos of food, people and culture in between shows.

 

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The first group I shot was The Flying Mammals — a high-energy alternative rock band whose stage is not complete without trampolines to help catapult themselves from when jumping off amps.

 

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The next group up was a funkfied nine-piece group by the name of The Freddy Pink Band. Pulling from jazz, funk, rock and R&B, these guys put on a dymanic show chock full of groovy tunes that were sure to get you on your feet and moving around.

 

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Lunker shook things up a bit with their extreme, high-voltage punk rock. Between the three of them, Lunker produced a wall of sound that penetrated your bones — sure to wake you up from your inevitable food-induced coma.

 

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Headliners Carbon Leaf hit the stage at dusk. Some bands are hard to lump into one genre. Carbon Leaf threw a bit of folk into the mix, playing a solid set consisting of high-energy rock, to foot-stomping folk, including a cover of Zeppelin’s Bron-yr-aur stomp. From piccolos to stand-up bass, they put on a visual show as entertaining to the eyes as it was to the ears — the perfect openers for the headlining group — Marcy Playground.

 

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By the time Marcy Playground took the stage, people were lined up as far as the eye could see, anxiously awaiting the alt-rock trio who topped the charts with their 1997 hit, “Sex and Candy.” Guitarist/lead singer John Wozniak broke out with raspy vocals and distorted strumming reminiscent of Kurt Cobain himself. These guys captivated the audience and were the perfect cap to a long, perfect day of food and music under the big, blue Inland NW sky.

 

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Oh, and on a side note, I shot everything with a 17-35mm and 50mm lens. My 70-200 2.8 lens — yes, the lens that seems to always be attached to one of my cameras at all times — the lens that I’ve taken a solid half of my concert shots with — is in the shop, getting a second repair in less than a year of buying it (For more information on why Sigma lenses are crap, email me). But, that’s what being a photojournalist is all about — adapting to situations despite the obstacles. While I could have gained even closer shots of the performers had I had this lens in the bag, I’m pretty satisfied with what I was able to come up with. Not to mention you really can’t beat the sharpness and bokeh (out of focus areas) of a good 50. Luckily I was granted stage and photo pit access to get closer than usual for concert shots.

 

The funny thing is — nearly everyone uses zoom lenses to shoot shows. Look down the sidelines of a photo pit; most likely every single shooter will have a zoom lens, no less attached to their full-frame Canon or Nikon camera ($3k + bodies). While a Canon 5d Mark II is on my wish list for the near future, I optimistically approach shows at a total disadvantage, with my Pentax K10d and K20d bodies. While all my lenses are f2.8 or faster, I’m still working withing an ISO 1600 range on my backup camera. The great thing is, when I attach my 50mm on it, capable of shooting at a lightning fast f1.4, I’m able to get acceptable shots at a mere ISO 800 with no motion blur. It’s somewhat ironic that more concert shooters don’t use fast primes like the 50mm 1.4.

 

My apologies for non-photographers who tried to decipher that last paragraph.

 

 

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Bob & Cyndi’s wedding – Lake Roosevelt, WA

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This wedding threw me a curve ball — in a totally good way.

 

Bob & Cyndi held their wedding at a vacation home overlooking scenic Lake Roosevelt in Eastern Washington. With only immediate family attending the wedding, I was given a whole new playing field to work with — one that I fell in love with.

 

I instantly felt completely comfortable around these folks as they treated me like family from the get-go. This gave me access to much closer, intimate photos that really showed the bonds that hold these families together. As a result, the 70-200 stayed in the bag for all but 10 minutes of the entire day (none of which photos became keepers). The 50mm on my main body provided 90% of the pictures taken, with the remainder shot with my wide angle on the backup.

 

A quick jaunt from the home which the ceremony was held provided vast, open fields complete with rustic barns and the whole works. A quick portrait session out there provided for some great country-feel shots, and we were back to the house for the reception.

 

I’ve never felt more welcomed and at home with clients before as I did with these guys, and I’m so thankful for their hospitality. It was a fun day of shooting and Bob & Cyndi’s love for each other radiates through the images I took of them. Thanks for the great time guys and best wishes to many happy years together!

 

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Selfish shots

Sometimes you’ve gotta be selfish.

 

I love all the work I’ve done for clients. It keeps me busy doing what I love and pays my bills. However, I decided to take a break from taking pictures for anyone, opening the door to a world of pure freedom for my camera and I.

 

I set out on my road bike with my camera and 50mm lens strapped around my neck. In the matter of an hour or so, I managed to snap 24 shots in the downtown Coeur d’Alene area I thought I would like to look at. Nothing more, nothing less. I came away with 12 keepers.

 

Some people might hate some of these photos. Some people might hate all of them. But that doesn’t matter — see, that’s the point. If every time you click your shutter you’re making a photo that will appeal to everyone, you’re never going to find your style. I’ve been thinking a lot about what defines what I like in a photograph. This might be just a small glimpse of what that something is.

 

I’ve found that reducing what I see through my viewfinder to mere colors, lines and shapes tends to help me think outside of the box, coming up with something the average person wouldn’t see. Many of these shots were merely walls or doors on common buildings around town — Goodwill, a grocery store, etc. But for some reason, these rectangles caught my eye and deemed themselves worthy of clicking my shutter over.

 

I realize shots like these have little to no value for any sort of publication or potential client, but that’s the point. It’s not as if I’m going to start shooting the carpet or a wall during a wedding ceremony because I like the way it looks. It’s just that sometimes you need to shoot entirely for yourself, and that’s what the following images represent.

 

I love feedback, so please comment if you have any thoughts.

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Back to basics

I recently picked up a Pentax K1000 film camera with 50mm f2 lens attached for $35. The camera is one of the most, if not the most popular film slr produced from the ’70s through the early ’90s. Anyone from photojournalists to budding photography students were liable to pick one of these cameras up. Lucky for me, I got mine for about $200 less than what they sold for new (Thanks digital photography!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I tell people I shoot “fully manual” with my DSLR cameras, but I realized after shooting a couple rolls with the K1000 that putting a DSLR in “manual mode” is far from a true manual camera like the one I just picked up — manual focusing, manual film advancing, manual everything.

 

I’m not sure how photojournalists were able to use cameras like these, especially when shooting sports, but I bet they were less lazy than we are with our digital cameras. Every time I went to make a frame with the K1000, I had to carefully think about what was in the frame and make 100-percent sure my exposure was where I wanted it and that I was focused in the right spot. Taking a garbage photo means nothing with a digital camera — no cost, no consequences. But with film, that’s a waste of time, money, and film. When you only have 24 exposures in a roll, you tend to make each one count.

 

Most of the photos from the two rolls I shot in the morning to afternoon along Santa Monica, Venice and Muscle Beaches in Southern California. I have a lot to learn about film (as I know practically nothing at this point) but I was pretty satisfied with my results. I used Fuji 200 speed film (cheap stuff — $6 for four rolls) and had my film scanned at Costco and put onto a cd as jpegs. I did minor editing in Adobe Lightroom 3 and sometimes Photoshop CS5.

 

My first mistake was probably using cheap film as it seemed quite grainy for 200 speed. My second mistake was underexposing most images a stop or two. I typically do this shooting digital because I always shoot in raw and am able to bring the exposure up while maintaining excellent color detail due to the underexposure, allowing me to add extra saturation in selective color, making the colors really pop after processing. I realized with film that this just results in dark faces that can’t really be recovered successfully in post. I converted most of the files to B&W because I’m really fond of the documentary stuff shot with B&W film. There’s definitely something to be said about making frames with a 50mm. I’m starting to really take a liking to shooting with a 50 again.

 

Hope you guys enjoy these and I’m sure I’ll be posting more down the road.

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Shot in the dark

You never know what you’ll be dealt.

 

When the Angela Marie Project emailed me about shooting a gig last night, I was already on board for it. I had shot them performing outdoors in Downtown Spokane on Earth Day; but this gig would be the extreme opposite of the Earth Day performance. I knew I was in for a challenge.

 

The venue was Carr’s Corner — A cozy little joint on the corner of an intersection just a few blocks off the freeway exit in Downtown Spokane. Having dealt with awful stage lighting at other joints, I didn’t set my hopes too high. Sure enough, the lighting was dim, but luckily this little spot had a lot going for it.

 

Being that it was a Wednesday, there were few people. Not so great for business, perhaps, but this meant I had a wide open space to move about without getting in others’ way, or vice versa. The band was set up in the corner of the venue, with a colorful brick wall on one side and a nice big window on the other.  The brick wall and the artwork on it made for a great backdrop, and the open window allowed for some nice bokeh from the street lights in a few of the shots.

 

Now, on to the lights. There were two small, dim lights shining on the stage from above. The great thing about these lights? They stayed on consistently, which meant I wouldn’t have to combat flashing or moving light sources. And the best thing — They were colored. One was green and one was blue. Without the blue light, albeit a very dim blue light, the images would be far less colorful. The splashes of blue against the brick wall made for awesome color. It’s funny how one small detail, such as a small blue light, can make a world of difference in the outcome of the photos.

 

This definitely pushed the limits of my gear. I tried using flash with my wide angle on my backup camera, but I wasn’t feeling it. The flash kills too much of the color that makes the pictures, leaving me with a black-and-white conversion as the only pleasing way to pull it off.

 

When all else fails, I throw the 50mm on my K20D and shoot wide open at f1.7. There’s not a lot that f1.7 and ISO 6400 can’t tackle. Since noise becomes a little much past ISO 4000, I ended up backing my ISO to 3200 and my shutter to 1/30. This is where my camera’s in-body stabilization is such a huge help. Granted, not many shots are going to be keepers at this shutter speed due to motion blur and focusing issues in the poor light, but at least the shots are vivid with color from using the available light rather than relying on flash. It becomes a matter of locking your focus point and just waiting for the right moment when the musician’s movement will be frozen (or mostly frozen) in the shot. I ended up with about one of every ten shots being a keeper.

 

It’s always a blast working with musicians. They are naturally creative and artistic people and are easy for me to click with. It was great to work with these guys again and hopefully I will be shooting more of them this summer!

 

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