Calming Ways and Sharp Eyes

Over at The New York Times Lens blog, David Gonzalez looks back at the first African-American woman to be a staff photographer there. Ruby Washington, a South Georgia native, died earlier this year.

“The temperature would go down a couple of degrees because she had that nice, calming way and was nonthreatening with a ready smile,” Ms. (Nancy) Weinstock said, echoing the remarks of her colleagues on social media. “She would observe, step back a little, and she was very observant. She would see before shooting. She wasn’t one to shoot from the hip.”

Worth some time to look at her work.

Don’t forget that we have Kevin Ames in class on Wednesday – make sure you’ve studied his work and background.

State Fair Images

Here are some links to state fair packages worth looking at, I may update this from time to time.

Newbie at the Minnesota State Fair – New York Times

Seeing the State Fair of Texas through the iPhones of Our Staff Photographers – Dallas Morning News

Iowa’s County Fairs – Jim Lo Scalzo

2017 Georgia National Fair Coverage – UGAVJ

New York State Fair –

I suspect there will be some politicians, thoughts on how how this visit was handled?

ASSIGNMENT: Sports, Reading

Due on eLC by 8 a.m. on Wednesday, September 26, is a photo package that looks at action, reaction and atmosphere from a sports competition. You should have at least three action/competition images in your package – you need to demonstrate that you can cover sports.

Many years ago, a photo editor told me she wouldn’t hire me to shoot sports for her wire service but would hire me to do news – because I had demonstrated an ability to cover sports. Being able to work quickly in an evolving situation tightens up all of your skills. Covering high school football is one of those things that helps in so many ways – from the technical challenge to finding a story to getting the captions done.

Make sure you’re thinking about the long glass we have available in the cage, there are very few sports that work with shorter lenses. Shoot tight, shoot clean, keep your shutter speeds up and your sharpness on point.

If you want to see some great sports work, look up folks like Neil Leifer, Walter Iooss, Elsa Garrison and Maddie Meyer. There are hundreds more …

As I noted in class, there are three books on reserve at the main library for you to look through:

  • Self-Portrait U.S.A. – David Douglas Duncan
  • Choose Me – Arthur Grace
  • American Politicians: Photographs from 1843-1993 – Susan Kismaric

Please make sure you’ve spent some time with those by Monday, September 10.

ASSIGNMENT: The Working Portrait

You’re going to tie together your flash experimentation with a portrait focused on someone for whom Labor Day was created – so you should know the back story of the holiday.

You need to choose your subject wisely – find someone who does physical work and has an interesting story that we need to understand. Who’s the longest-working mechanic in town? Who fixes farm machinery? Is there a female welder in town?

This is a lit portrait using both of your flashes. One will be attached to your camera (either in the hot shoe or by the cord). The other you will need to place elsewhere. I do have some stands with clamps you can check out or you can bring along an assistant to act as a flexible, directable stand.

Think about who they are and the environment they work in – how can you show us who they are in just one frame? This is due on eLC by 8 a.m. on Wednesday, August 29.

A couple of videos for you to look at, both by Joe McNally who is one of the masters using small lights and modifiers. Pay close attention to how he talks about shaping, how he uses light to create shadows.

In this piece, he talks about light as language – and that’s a great way to think about it, whether you use a strobe or not. Light is what we use to describe, to inscribe, to share knowledge.

Another one to look at is this TED Talk by Ralph Gibson which is very much about composition, but has some elements to help you compose better portraits.

Some others that pertain to this week a little more …

Fred Conrad at The New York Times has a set, though there isn’t much environment to them.

Some nice ideas by Berthold Steinhilber.

M. Scott Brauer did a series for MIT on workers on that campus.

As you are thinking about who you will photograph, please keep in mind that for the upper level photojournalism courses, campus topics and people are off limits.

Here are a few samples from last year. These are a bit different as they were only required to use a single strobe, you need to use both.

Collin Skahan, 26, a mechanic at Main Street Garage in Winterville, Georgia, poses for a portrait on Friday, September 1, 2017. Skahan has had a passion for cars ever since he was six years old and knew from there that he wanted to fix, and eventually customize, cars. At 18 years old, Skahan was really able to pursue his career at TEAM 1 Fleet & Auto Experts in Alpharetta, Georgia, where he previously interned at when he was only 16 years old before their insurance company got involved due to his age. (Photo/Reann Huber,

Charles Osborn, 68, a cattle farmer, from Watkinsville, Georgia, poses for a photo on his cattle farm on Friday, September 1, 2017, in Watkinsville, Georgia. Osborn has been farming since 1972 when he bought his first calf, and although he is slowing down, Osborn still tends to 251 female cows and 19 bulls. “I’m never going to retire. Everyone I know who retired is dead,” says Osborn. (Photo/Marlee A. Middlebrooks)

Brenda Barron, a 30-year-old housekeeper, prepares to clean the pool area at the Dillard House in Dillard, Georgia, on Saturday, September 2, 2017. Barron moved from Mexico City to the U.S. 12 years ago and has been a housekeeper at the Dillard House, a staple restaurant and inn in North Georgia, for 10 years. Her husband is also a server at the restaurant. (Photo/McGee Nall,

Garrett Holloway, 23, a craftsman from Tifton, Georgia, poses inside his latest building project in Bishop, Georgia, on Wednesday, August 30, 2017. Holloway is in the process building a “tiny house” entirely on his own. September 2017 marks one year since he began the project. (Photo/Chamberlain Smith)

ASSIGNMENT: Pictorials and Quick Flash Experiments

For Monday, August 20, please make and upload 3-5 pictorial images to eLC. These images are all about light, texture, color, shape … I want to see how you see. Content really doesn’t matter, use the tools you have to try different things. Shoot a detail at 200 mm and 16 mm just to see what it looks like photographed.

Pare of getting better at this is to experiment and explore. Go somewhere you haven’t gone before and think about what details you would write about to bring someone to that place. Try going to a common place at an uncommon time. Everyone knows what North Campus looks like at 12 noon, what does it look like at 7 a.m.? Or 7 p.m.?

You should also be experimenting with your flash by harassing your roommates, classmates and co-workers. How can you use one flash to bend the light in a way that shapes a face. We will spend more time on flash in class on Monday, so figure out what you haven’t figured out yet.

There’s a dropbox on eLC for these experiments, please drop one image in there by the noon deadline on Monday and it can be a success or a failure – show us what you tried to do that worked or didn’t so we can all learn from it.

Please remember our file naming conventions and generic captions for this, you don’t need finalized ones this week. (If you need a refresher, scroll the the Tutorials page for hand outs and videos.)

One of my compositional idols is Henri Cartier-Bresson whose work we dipped into on Monday. There’s an elegance in his slices of life that I love, but there’s a deeper layering of information and style in his work that becomes apparent when you spend more time with it. So spend a little time with this breakdown of his work …

ASSIGNMENT: Light Reading

You should take a look at the manual for the 80D, particularly the segments on manual exposure, controls and the autofocus options. We’ll go into some more detail on these in the coming days.

Please also take a look at the manuals for the Canon flashes – you may have either a 600EX-RT or a 600EXII-RT or one of each. Mak sure you know how to put it in ETTL mode and Manual mode and how to adjust the output in Manual.

Please run through the Syllabus and Policies, as well, just as a refresher. I don’t expect any issues, but to be safe make sure you know what’s happening.

Wednesday will be a deep, messy, confusing dive into flash – do not panic, we will go over it multiple times. Please take a look at this (incredibly old buy mildly useful) basic lesson on flashes.

ASSIGNMENT: The Portfolio

Your portfolio is a collection of 20 images shot this semester that show what you have learned and experienced. You should show a good balance between all of the types of photojournalism we have explored – features, news, sports, portraits, packages and event coverage.

Technical excellence should be demonstrated – if it’s not sharp, don’t put it in. If it’s not properly exposed, don’t put it in. Strong compositions and moments are also necessary – these 20 images should stop people in their tracks, get them to linger and ponder, foster curiosity. Check your captions ruthlessly – you know the format, don’t cut corners or make mistakes. State names should be spelled out and every image must have IDs and contact information. If it does not, that image will not be considered as part of your portfolio.

As for the balance of images, up to five can come from the Georgia National Fair workshop. You can have other packages of up to three images, but you must have at least five stand alone images.

In addition to the 20 images, please include a statement about why each image is in your portfolio. This is a simple document, just a sentence or two on why each images is being included. Think carefully about the images you select and this will come easily – it’ll also prepare you for portfolio critiques as editors will almost always want to know why you included certain images. It should also get you thinking about why you are, in fact, including these images – if you can’t articulate it clearly and concisely, why is it in here/

For those of you finishing the program, your equipment is due back during your exit interview. Please make sure everything is in your kit when you bring it in. I need to clean and check everything to get it ready for the new kids in January, please let me know if there are issues.

As for the deadline … the syllabus says you have until December 13, so the eLC drop box will close at 5 p.m. on that day. As noted in the email I sent, I need your portfolios prior to your exit interviews. If your portfolio is not in by 5 p.m. on December 10, you will not have an exit interview and I’ll calculate your grade based on the syllabus. (I know, it’s not much of a choice, is it?)