Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Medium Format’

Some of the regular highlights of my New York existence are the amateur soccer games I play in Chinatown. Some fellow kickers and I started to get together quite a long time ago for a midweek pick-up game on a 7 a side pitch at the edge of Barrio Chino. The game proved to be very robust and survived the cold winters, hot summers, stretches of low popularity, stretches of too much popularity, and many personnel changes for over a decade now. Even though soccer has its fair share of whiners, complainers, braggers, spoiled brats, bullies, people teetering dangerously close to sanity, as well as people that are all of the above, we managed to keep the game clean, competitive, friendly and fair.

Out of this pick-up game a weekend league named Groupstage evolved thanks to the efforts of Matt

and Tomas.

Matt and I have been bouncing the idea of a photo shoot around for quite a while, partly to promote his league, partly to promote my business, but also to do something creative with people we like to hang around with. As a matter of fact we’ve been talking about it for so long that it got kind of embarrassing. So this November I finally got my derriere in gear and picked a date for the shoot. Production becomes much easier with a deadline.

I started off with a location scout. The shoot had to be on a weekend or an evening when people would have a bit more time, and I don’t really like working in the evening, since then’s when I do my deep thinking. Field time on weekends is at a premium with tons of leagues competing for space. We decided on a field in Brooklyn that had good turf and was big enough to claim a corner for the shoot even while people were playing. Since the budget was midgety and since I’m still a bit confused about the (not so)new NYC permit process I decided to chance it and shoot permission free.

Since I was going to take action shots, flash sync speed became an issue. I normally shoot with a RZ67 with a 1/400 sync speed. I usually like to get a little blur, since I’m kind of bored with all the full freeze shots out there (if you can’t do something, it’s usually best to pretend that you wouldn’t want to do it anyway), but at that speed (1/400th that is) it’s sometimes hard to get just the right amount of movement. My pal and fellow photographer Juergen Frank was nice enough to loan me his Phase One 645 body and I rented a new Schneider lens with a sync speed of 1/1600. Beside the lens I rented a Profoto 7b with 2 heads (in addition to the 2 packs and 4 heads that I have), and a ton of sandbags. The rentals this time came from Nucleus in Red Hook.

The right amount of blur.

I worked with Chris as my one and only assistant and we set up a grey muslin backdrop that I had stuck in the dryer twice and ironed (!) the night before just to decide that we didn’t really like the grey for this set-up. Emotionally it was hard for me to let go, since I really don’t like ironing, but eventually I agreed with Chris and we put up a black cloth.

The next problem was surprisingly sync speed. Even though the lens can handle 1/1600, we could only get it to work properly at 1/800th. I’m still not sure why. One theory is that the radio slaves wouldn’t work that fast, but if anybody can think of another explanation, let me know. Luckily 1/800th gave me just the bit of blur I was looking for, so whew.

Bad backdrop, bad sync, good assistant.


Between these two issues we were still in a bit of a scramble by the time the first player showed up. Fortunately nothing else went wrong and we could start to concentrate on taking pictures. I set up 2 cameras, the 645 with the 110 mm and a Phase One P45+ at a distance for the action shots and full portraits and the RZ with a 90mm and my own P25 for close-ups. The RZ is a beautiful camera for tight portrait work and it cut down on time for lens changes.

Shooting action with an unfamiliar camera proved also to be not so easy. The shutter release point was way further back than in the RZ and the ball was often already in the fence when I took the shot. There was definitely a larger than usual blooper reel:

For lighting we set up 2 7B packs with 4 heads with regular reflectors from the front and the sides. We had another 7B with 2 heads coming from behind the models from each side and there was also a bit of sunshine from high and right.

The postproduction was minimal except for darkening the backdrop, and dealing with a bit of glare we sometimes got from the backlights, because the players didn’t always end up in the same place, and removing the shadow of a light or two on the floor, and cropping, and sexyfying the color, contrast and saturation a bit.

au naturel

a la vogue

If you’re thinking about joining a league in New York and playing against some of these handsome devils here, you might want to check out Groupstage.

If you want to read a roaming, eclectic, soccer-inspired blog, with league news thrown in for good measure, check out the Groupstage Blog.

If you want to read ( and I mean read) a roaming, eclectic, mildly melancholic, soccer-inspired blog, without league news but in German ( I know you Germans are out there), check out Freitagsspiel.

If you want to see the entire Chinatown Ballers series, click here.

Hope you all have a high scoring 2012.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

There’s a new gallery on my website with portraits and action shots of some of my NYC soccer colleagues. A more in depth post will follow shortly. In the meantime a big “thumbs up” to Matt Penrose at Groupstage who helped organize the shoot, posted it on his blog, and runs a terrific league, in case you’re looking for a game.

Read Full Post »

As I have mentioned in an earlier post, the Missus and I recently made a trip to the left coast of Amurrrica so I could finally relax from my mediterranean lifestyle. As usual I decided to bring the shabang (2 7bs, 4 heads, and the Mamiya RZ) on our road trip from San Francisco to LA and back.

The project I had in mind originally was to find and photograph motocross riders in the hilly desert of Southern California. It would have worked out great, if only they were there. Even though I found plenty of tracks, I could not rustle up one single rider in the time we were there. Maybe they needed a vacation, too.

So faced with the depressing possibility of schlepping (and paying extra luggage charges for) all my gear without getting anything noteworthy out of it, I sent an SOS call to my good friends Jerry and Laurel in SF. J & L worked already on several other bay area shoots of mine, one of them detailed in great detail in an earlier post here.

Laurel told me about her friend Isabella, who is a passionate mountain biker, though injured at the moment, who could hook me up with other riders. It was very short notice, unpaid, and the shoot was happening on Monday afternoon. Somewhat close to ideal conditions.

After a location scout in different parts of the city, the tourist in me won, and I decided to shoot on the Marin side of the Golden Gate. Obviously it’s one of the mostest oftenest photographed locations ever, but the beauty of the span is just too damn hard to resist. During the scout, we went to some of the military installations in that area and the one closest to the bridge had some interesting structures that provided for good riding and angles without tourists in the background. I tried out different lenses and liked the slightly abstract (safari) look I got from the 250mm tele.

On Monday we started setting up for a one o’clock shoot. We didn’t know how many models would come, but we knew that they wouldn’t have a lot of time. When three riders finally arrived an hour late, the fog rolled in. Initially I was ready to kick something small and innocent, but the fog turned out to be not really solid. Every so often the veil would lift and the bridge would appear in highly attractive half-visibility. Laurel was standing on a little hill, telling us to get ready when a hole in the mist would blow our way. When we got the timing right it looked like this:

…and when we got the timing wrong it looked like that:

The rider in this picture is Remy, who is not just an all around good guy and very skilled rider, but also the owner of the tip-top Mojo Bicycle Cafe in San Francisco. A very nice combo of bike shop and cafe.

We did a quick group portrait (Ralph, Remy, and Isabella),…

…and moved up the hill for a second location. This is how our first spot looked from above:

The second location was on the other side of the hill and had a little patch of spectacular trees. We placed two lights amongst the trees behind the rider, one head pretty much from the front and left of camera and one head from the sharp right aimed at the rider but skimming the gnarly tree next to her. The rider had to start in the background, get some speed, duck under that big branch, get photographed, and roll down a sharp little hill while avoiding the camera. The two guys went first, but then Isabella’s competitive side kicked in and she went for it, too, freshly surgically repaired knee or not, giving me the best image in this spot (and possibly the day).

It was a short little shoot, but more than justified the schlepp.

If you’re into bikes or coffee or both I highly recommend to check out Mojo if you should find yourself (or lose yourself) in San Francisco (with flowers in your hair).

Read Full Post »

So the good news is that that image above from my Dead Indian Pass series received an honorable mention at the International Photo Awards (the Lucies), but the bad news is that nobody mentioned it to me. I had to find that out all by my poor pitiful self. The same thing happened already last year. My Giddy Up series placed second and I was definitely told about that. I even received an official certificate that I could frame or fold up and keep in my wallet in case I’d ever run into an art director. So last year I was checking out the winners’ gallery and, still basking in my own glory (even though my old coach said placing second only makes you the first loser), moved on to the honorable mentions gallery just to stumble upon The Sultans there.

I didn’t make much of it. I figured it was an honest mistake or maybe they didn’t think I could handle two successes at the same contest without my head swelling up to a grotesque size and exploding and soiling that nicely framed certificate on my wall.

But this year they did it again, not mentioning my honorable mention that is, and now I think they might be doing it on purpose.

I know, it’s not exactly earth shattering news (to be the 7th loser in the 32nd category) and they would have to send out a lot of emails (my picture is about # 1487 from the top) but still, every little bit counts and that’s why we enter contests:  To brag about winning (or being mentioned, honorably at that), to go to an editor or art buyer and proudly proclaim: I’m not just something the cat dragged in, no sir, I’m an award winner, you can trust me with your multi-dollar shoot.

For every photo contest already out there, there are 3 new ones springing up, blunting the effect of all of them.  Generally they charge quite a bit of money and it’s becoming very questionable if entering (and winning in some fashion) any of these is actually worth it, but what’s not questionable to me is this:  If you decide to have honorable mentions in your contest than you should put in the effort to let the mentionees know.  You’re welcome, don’t mention it.

You can check out the winners and honorable mentions here.

 

 

Read Full Post »

During a short and sweet road trip with the missus through Wyoming last year I noticed that there were a lot of bikers out and about and after a while it dawned on me that they were on their way to the big yearly meet-up in Sturgis, South Dakota. Most of them have been on their bikes for days and you could see in their faces the effects of the wind and the sun. It seemed like we could do a nice little portrait series.

The first day we wanted to do the shoot was too rainy and we decided to use the time for a thorough location scout. We drove out of Cody and took the Chief Joseph Byway to the Beartooth Highway, which took us all the way up into Montana. One road was more spectacular than the next. We decided to set up shop the next morning at a place called Dead Indian Pass.
The spot overlooked a beautiful valley where Chief Joseph and the Nez Perce faked out a pursuing US Army on their (painfully close but unsuccessful) run towards the Canadian border.

We set up lights at a pull-out and asked the bikers that stopped there if they wanted to sit for a portrait. I think we got a nice collection of Amurrrican (and a few Canadian) archetypes.

To check out the entire series, click here.

Read Full Post »

There is a new gallery called “At the Races” on my website.  I spent a day at a messenger track race in Kissena, Queens which has a velodrome (what doesn’t New York have?).  The images were taken last year on the glorious, glorious day when Germany whooped Argentina 4:0 at the World Cup which might explain why it took me so long to post them (I’ve just stopped celebrating).  In any case there will be a longer post about the nuts and bolts of the shoot soon.

Read Full Post »

As I might have mentioned 20 or 30 times before, I had a show with the Upstream series at Intermedia Arts gallery in Minneapolis recently, and as I am working my way out of the post-show laziness I thought it would be nice to share a few snaps of my Minnesota adventure.  The closing of the show coincided with the 5th year anniversary party (and fundraiser) of Upstream Arts, the fab non-profit I produced the images with.

Leaving New York in miserable weather.

As a difficult New York artist I demanded a VIP lounge (aka guest bedroom)…

and VIP transportation (btw that color is salmon and not pink, I’ll have you know).  I also demanded lots of snow, since I developed a habit for the white powder over the winter in NY.

Then I had a look at the show, that was printed, mounted and hung in Minneapolis with me sitting in NYC and hoping for the best:


That’s how it looked.  Apart from a few minor details it turned out great and I was one happy camper.  Then it was time for the big party, which I deemed to be one of my biannual suit wearing occasions.

A suit always helps make me look better nervous.

Final doll-up in the Green Room.

Whew, a few people showed up.

Double whew, quite a few people showed up.

Triple whew, it was packed…

probably because there was beer…

and cake…

and an expressive performance…

and… uh… stuff by the great Upstream Arts’ artists that were on hand.

It was absolutely awesome to see a good number of the models come, like Ben to give me shit positive feedback and constructive criticism….

and to see old friends, who should have visited me in New York a long time ago, but instead always lure me to their snowed-in neck of the woods.

It was a great experience and I want to thank again the people that made it possible with all their help:  The good people at Upstream Arts and Intermedia Gallery, Susie Green, Janet and Joe Green, Sabine Scheckel for help with the retouching,  Jeff Cords and 8th Street Studio for the printing, Joe Besasie for the mounting, Dave Luke for hanging the show, Simone Mueller for designing the postcard, Raoul Duke from Flashlight Rentals for overall goodness and niceness, Mike Garr for general advice and living room basket ball clinics, Stella Kramer for doing an interview with me about this work on her blog, Amber Terranova for showing the series on PDN Photo of the Day, Matt and Lillian Guidry for their hospitality, and most of all Julie Guidry for being the driving force behind this project.

Photo by Corey DeGuia (thanks Corey).

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »