How to Find the Best Jordan-Hare Stadium #VantagePoint

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Auburn vs LSU 2008 from the South Parking Deck After the Game

This is an amazing time to be a photographer. Whether you’re a fan of the hype or not, the announcement this week from Apple about the iPhone 7 Plus, specifically the new dual camera, was something I was anxiously awaiting. The technical achievement to having two different camera sensors in your pocket brings a whole new life to what’s photographically possible… from something you can carry in your pocket! Another camera company working on multiple sensors I’ve been eagerly following is Light.co who have been developing a camera called the L16 which uses 16 different sensors. Light.co is taking a different approach to multiple sensor from Apple and LinX. The new iPhone uses two sensors to house two different focal length lenses where the user can choose to use one or the other. Light.co is taking a 16 images from 16 different sensors and stitching them all together for a final 50mp high res DSLR-like image. But none of those advances alone creates a beautiful or successful image. After watching the progress on the L16 for a while now I was thrilled when they asked me to explore the aspect of  finding a good “vantage point” here on my blog.

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The Rural Decay Photo Ops in the South

Abandon House Engulfed in Growth

This house is being consumed by the ivy and tree growth around it since being boarded up.

I have a few projects I’m kicking off on my blog and one of them is The Rural Decay Project. I’ve been interested in this topic for a while now, and have made some loose attempts at photographically capturing these images but until recently without much cohesiveness that one needs to tell a story.

One of the things about photography that took me a while to learn is you can’t always be thinking about that exotic locale that you might get to visit some day to finally make some great images. To be a photographer is more than vacation or travel, you have to photograph what is around you all the time in your daily routine of life. That can sound quite boring for some of us that don’t live in some beside resort community, but it works, and it’s unique to you.

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Don’t Include Power Lines in Your Photography

Power Line Sunrise

Power lines run all over the place in rural Alabama, no such thing as underground lines.

Since January I’ve spent a good bit of time reading and re-reading all of Eric Kim’s books on street photography. There is so much practical real world advise in each one of his books that they are probably the few collection of books I’ve read multiple times. While we share different philosophies on life, we both share a love of photography, and it seems, a driving desire to continue to learn and improve. One of the reasons I continued to read and follow Eric Kim’s work over the years is he has completely changed and rearranged how I think about photography.

He’s made me re-think how I view my own personal photography, what’s acceptable as a quality image and what’s not, and even what equipment is actually truly needed. All those rules I spent years learning, like “don’t include power lines in your photography” it will ruin the shot, were disseminated by Kim’s books. I think I was 10 years into photography before I actually realized it was ok to include people in the images (my main teacher and book learning early on was 100% nature photography).

When you have been doing something, like practicing photography for 25 years, you don’t often come across new ways of thinking about the art, so it’s been a super refreshing experience so far this year. The ideas below came straight out of one of his books, The Street Photography Project Manual, which I was able to read because of his vision on open source information.

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Graflex Speed Graphic Medium Format Film Camera

Graflex Speed Graphic with 135mm f/4.7 Lens

Medium format 4×5 and 220 film camera with 135mm f/4.7 lens made popular in the 1940’s

If you study the history of photography from it’s first shot through today’s almost incalculable iterations, you will see the art form takes on an enormous range of artistic expressions. I’m actually proud to say I started off in the age of film photography. I know what it’s like to have to be super intentional about the exposure, about getting it right the first or second time because film cost a fortune, and getting it developed cost even more. I also know what it’s like to take a photo and not see the results for a week or more (that was probably the worst part about shooting film back in the day), which made improving as a photographer a slower, more intentional process. Looking back at all that film I shot, I know it helped me tremendously when it comes to shooting in today’s digital world.

My grandad was a photographer as well, and he of course also did all of his work in film, but it wasn’t the 35mm film I grew up shooting, it was a medium format, 4×5 film, and still popular 220 film roll that he used. The one 4×5 negative I still have of his is this self-portrait, taken with the very camera showcased in this post. It was taken back in the 1970’s (when you kept cameras for more than a year or two), back in a time when these were called “self-portraits” not selfies.

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Post Process of Smelling the Roses

Portrait of Emerson the Cat

Portrait of Emerson the Cat

I finally had a chance to get out and “smell the roses” as they say. I’ve found it to be harder and harder over the years to just slow down and spend an hour or two walking through the property, there always seems to be something pressing that needs attention, and that is not my most enjoyable (or effective) pace. I took a few images here straight out of the camera that were my favorites. There was no post-processing done on these images, they were the jpg’s right off the card (and as such need a little sharpening and so on).

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That On Again Romance with Photography

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Spring Wisteria Blooms in the South

One of the first pictures created was said to have been taken in 1838 by Louis Daguerre, which shows Boulevard du Temple, in Paris. Susan Sontag in her classic 1977 criticism On Photography said “to collect photographs is to collect the world,” and as a photographer I often ask myself, hasn’t the entire world been collected yet? Why does the world need one more photographer taking one more photo?

The inventory started in 1839 and since then just about everything has been photographed, or so it seems. This very insatiability of the photographing eye changes the terms of confinement in the cave, our world. ~On Photography, 1977.

The answer often seems much more complicated. What is amazing about Sontag’s words from almost 40 years ago is we actually haven’t yet photographed Plato’s cave, our world. Today we upload over 2 billion images a day to social media sites, and just trying to figure out how many images may have been taken in the world is basically impossible. How, with billions of photographs being taken each day, has the entire world yet to be fully photographed? Because time is always moving forward, and the world is always straining under the constant change that time provides. If constantly changing, the art of photography an always ever changing medium, showing the world we live in 1/250th of a second at a time. A small point in time, but one that will never happen again.

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Fall in the Face of a Child and His Parents

The Brian Johnson Family

Last week I did a photo shoot with this little guy and his family. I love his countless expressions, his pure innocent adoration of his father, and the love he has for his mother. Here are a few shots from that day on one of the last warm days for a while. We just barely have enough leaves on the ground to make it somewhat fall like, but being the first of November, fall is finally here.

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

The Brian Johnson Family

Jacob: The Limitless Sky Video at the Royal Observatory

Jacob: The Limitless Sky Video  for the Greenwich Royal Observatory

Jacob: The Limitless Sky Video for the Greenwich Royal Observatory

I few months ago the guys from Lonely Leap Films came down from New York City to do a piece on my nephew, Jacob Marchio, for the Greenwich Royal Observatory highlighting his work in astrophotography. This year Jacob competed in the Young Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest at the Greenwich Royal Observatory in Greenwich England. This video was part of his image being selected from a huge number of entries over the 2012 year (see some of his moon photography here and his astrophotography hereon Flickr). This yearly contest is a really big deal for astrophotographers worldwide, Wired.com even wrote a nice article about the context in Royal Observatory Picks Best Astronomy Photos of the Year.

Obviously being a photographer myself for almost 20 years now I am more than a little excited about one of my nearby relatives taking an interest in photography. I know he is just getting starting in his understanding of telescopes, cameras, and astronomy so I can’t wait to see what’s next. He has already started talking about building his own telescope here on the property so there may be photos of that down the road. For now, please check out the video shot by Lonely Leap Films. They did such a fantastic job (and for you tech junkies out there, they shot this whole thing with 2 Canon 5D Mark II’s, including the audio).

Jacob: the limitless sky from Royal Observatory Greenwich on Vimeo.

If you have a chance to head over to his blog, his updates include everything from astronomy to techniques used in photography to just life in the South. Even after shooting as long as I have he inspires me to want to get out there and shoot the night sky again and again.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Solitary

Children's Remand Facility in Uganda Africa

A teenager watches others play at a children’s remand facility in Uganda

As soon as I read the topic for this week’s photo challenge I immediately thought about several images I took at these so-called remand homes in Uganda (to read more details and see more photos go to these two posts They are Hidden but Not Forgotten and The Challenge of Being Salt and Light in the Darkness). These two images presented here for this week’s post were taken 24 hours apart from each other at two completely different areas in Uganda hours away from each other, at a place defined by solitary from the rest of the world. The desperation for children who sometimes get stuck in here for years ranges from joy in just being alive to actually dying from malnutrition.

There is a missional group called Sixty Feet who have a team on the ground there 24/7, and they do some fantastic work over there with these kids. Since these images were taken, Cornerstone Church has sent several teams to visit these facilities to try to provide a little hope to those who find themselves in this situation. We have another team leaving this coming Tuesday (see updates on this blog) with plans for several more teams over the next six months.

As a part of the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge on Solitary I would challenge everyone to take a look at Sixty Feet and just see what they are doing in Uganda. Even if you have no intention of partnering with this group at all, just check out what they are doing in Uganda and make yourself aware of what life is like for some of these children. They are in a desperate situation, but many had more joy than I’ve seen anywhere else in the world within the most unimaginable situations.

Children's Remand Facility in Uganda Africa

Child looks on at a children’s remand facility in Uganda

The Beauty of History and Tradition in a Church Sanctuary

Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham AL

The inside of the main sanctuary of Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham AL

Yesterday we had the treat of being able to tour the Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham on our way home from UAB, and what a gorgeous church it is. If you haven’t been to Birmingham, Alabama before, the Magic City has a ton of things to see, but the skyline around town has several incredible churches that sit nestled into the rolling hillside between downtown skyscrapers and medical buildings. Many of these churches were built around the turn of the 19th to 20th century, and this is one of them, founded in 1915, with the sanctuary being completed in 1926. I absolutely love getting to visit and photograph churches like this, I just rarely get the opportunity to do so.

Unfortunately I did not come prepared to do cathedral-type, stain glass, wide angle vaulted ceiling church photography when I left the house yesterday morning (not sure why, I should always be prepared for anything), but I did have my cell phone with me. The shot above was taken with my iPhone, so it doesn’t quite give you the overall beauty that a super-wide fisheye lens would do (like when I shot this museum in Auburn), but it worked ok yesterday, and I love getting creative with iPhoneography. I know one iPhone photo does not make a photo essay, so call this a preview for “some day.” They say one photo is worth a thousand words, and I could probably do that here, so for now one photo will have to do. Hopefully some day I will be able to go back and do a proper job with tripod in hand.