Incredibly Dense Fog!

Hello everybody! As the title says, it was an ominously foggy day! In Colorado, we do not get fog that often and when we do, it usually lasts for an hour or so before dissipating. Today was a special case. The fog was there when I woke up at 8 AM and lasted well into the night! I tried to take advantage of that by walking around my neighborhood and taking pictures with the Canon 6D and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 combination. With these photos below, I thought I was able to show you all just how unique this day (and night) has been! Enjoy!

PSA: you can click on the images for their native resolution sizes.

Foggy Road

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Foggy Tree v3

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Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones

First Post with the Canon 6D

Hello all! It’s been WAY too long since I’ve made a blog post. Sorry guys, life got in the way! 😛 Well… that and I didn’t have my own DSLR to keep shooting and posting on here for you guys. Well, that’s no more! I’ve finally gotten my own Canon 6D with the 50mm f/1.4 lens.

It’s been tough re-learning all the tools that your generic DSLR offers, such as the aperture, ISO, white balance, etc. I’m working towards getting the lens to be micro-adjusted for the Canon 6D so that the focus can be tack-sharp. It has been three days since I have owned this camera and I’m still learning many new things about it. That’s just fine with me because this is such an enjoyable hobby!

Within the next week or so, I’ll be playing with the famed Brenzier Method! Stay tuned.

It’s been a blast so far, I’m just shooting everything I see (ha ha) and picking out the best to edit in Lightroom 5. The results are what you see below. Enjoy!

Shadow, my cat!

Shadow, my cat!

Great Plains of Colorado

Great Plains of Colorado

Canon T70

Canon T70

A random plant in my backyard

A random plant in my backyard

Random plant in my back yard

Random plant in my back yard

John and his daughter, Jolie.

John and his daughter, Jolie.

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones

My First Shoot!

The recent weekend was a very exciting experience for me! I shot the Freezefest 5K race, basketball/hockey game, and now I was able to take charge of my own photo shoot at my apartment. This was a nerve-wracking yet an entertaining experience!

On February 3, a Sunday, the Freezefest 5K was happening, my friends and I had to take care of off-campus errands before 2, when the photo shoot was supposed to happen. I decided to buy a black queen-sized flat sheet to act as the background in my photos. I did not account for the time it took the sheet to de-wrinkle in the dryer! The photo shoot ended up being postponed until 3 PM and my models were anxious to go somewhere by 4 PM. I did not even do a test shoot!  While the sheet was drying, I took advantage of the down time I had to set up the light stand for the softbox in a loop light pattern on the subject’s right side. I went to get the sheet from the dryer, and on the way I met my subjects, which made me embarrassed because even though I am a novice photographer, I still do not like wasting people’s time by not being prepared before they showed up.

I still grabbed the sheet and chatted with the models on the way back to my apartment. I set up the black backdrop with a tall friend (thanks mate) and did a very quick test shoot. I used Dylan’s Canon 7D body paired with the 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. The 580EX II flash worked wonderfully, the chair had to be pushed closer to the camera so that the background wouldn’t be so obvious, and the rest of the subjects arrived. Three men and one women. I had them do a series of shoots, but I found that the straight-on approach offered the best results in a single light situation. I learned later that for less harsh shadows, the softbox should be closer to the subject’s face.

In a single lighting situation:

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Test Subject 1

Andy

Test Subject 2

It was then realized the pictures seemed dull and the subject’s hair was embedded into the background. Dylan Heuer suggested the use of a rim light. The rest is history because the subjects now stood out and looked great in the process!

Dylan

Dylan Heuer

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Test Subject 3 Rim Light

Joe

Test Subject 1 Rim Light

I found that even though the shoot got off to a rocky start, things started to pick up because the subjects were comfortable with me and I was able to entertain and keep them smiling throughout the shoot. It showed through the pictures, I think. They actually want to come back for some more Facebook pictures, which I more than welcomed them to. For my first ever shoot, I would have to call it a smashing success.

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones

Freezefest 5K

The last time I wrote, I chatted about my experiences at the women’s basketball game and the hockey game for men as a photographer. For this blog, I’m going to chat about my interesting experiences as a photojournalist. A roommate was supposed to participate in the annual 5K run known as the Freezefest 5K. It is when students, faculty and staff get together to run during the bitter cold winter in Henrietta, NY. Turns out, my roommate overslept. Oh well. Dylan and I still went out to shoot. This was the first time he actually allowed me to shoot the whole thing because he wasn’t getting paid to shoot the race.

I went out there with the Canon 7D paired with a 70-200mm f/2.8L lens. I shot everyone (not literally… well, wait…)! I began with the start of the race, as can be seen below:

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US Air Force cadets Running in Unison

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One of the Top Participants

Reindeer in Camo!

Reindeer in Camo!

Some of the things I struggled with were the auto focus and perception. I kept thinking I could press the AF button once and then shoot  as the runners were running past me. I realized that the AF worked only at the fixed distance from the lens and that it does not change magically when the runner goes further away or closer to you. Oof, the pains of a growing photographer. I also shot the end of the race, where everyone was either prancing, limping, or vomiting their way to a personal victory.

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The Tip-Toer

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US Army Gentlemen

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The Mysterious Prancer

I had a very good time shooting all the different subjects while their bodies endured the very cold day. The variety in facial expressions, body language, and uhh, masks kept me shooting.

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones

An Attempt

Hello all! It’s been a while since I have written anything, but it is because I have been up to some fun stuff. I asked my friend, Dylan Heuer, a professional sports photographer if I could borrow his photography equipment so I could gain some insight into the hobby I intend to become involved with after graduation. He did me one better. He took me to an annual 5K run on campus called the Freezefest 5K run, a basketball/hockey game, and allowed me to use his own equipment for my own photo shoot. These experiences will be split into three different blog posts, so let us begin with the basketball/hockey game on February 1, 2013.

When I parked my bike and went up to the doors that led to the Clark Gymnasium at RIT, I was momentarily overwhelmed with strobe lights going off during the women’s basketball game versus the Skidmore thoroughbreds. I went through the memory banks and realized that I had never seen the permanently installed strobe lights inside the gym. I looked for and found Heuer, who was busy taking shots of the heated game between the two teams. He was excited about the 6 overhead strobes because prior to his knowledge of the lighting system inside the gym, his photos always had a noticeable amount of noise, and to any photographer, unless intended, that is frustrating. We then shot the entire game with a Canon 7D body paired with either a 70-200mm f/2.8L or 16-35mm f/2.8L lens. I do not have any photos shot by me that I can show, but I do have a few of Dylan’s, as can be seen below:

Kara Wheeler

#22, Kara Wheeler

Leslie Havens

#5 Leslie Havens Driving to the net

Wide

#22 Kara Wheeler Attempting a Layup

The strobes can be seen going off in sync with the camera. There were two obvious challenges, though. The strobes, once they go off, need to be given time to recover the power lost by flashing. When this happens and there are multiple photographers covering the event, the strobes will not go off immediately after someone who has access, uses it. For instance, if a photographer takes her shot and then Heuer attempts to take one of his own right after, his photo will be dark while the girl will have a perfectly lit photo. This caused Dylan to miss some decent shots.

Another issue with strobes was that Dylan could not spam the shutter button because that would just cause the strobes to become an unnecessary distraction to the players. He had to be selective with what shots he took. This took the level of mastery of sports photography to a whole new level. This is when he gained even more respect from me because he took some decent shots.

I actually put whatever photographic skills I had to use at this game. The things I found difficult were controlling the zoom and auto-focusing when the field was either running away or towards me. I had to spam the button repeatedly to get a shot that was actually in focus. That game was when I also realized I did not have the manly forearms required to hold up the heavy 70-200 lens. I nearly drowned in shame as my manhood was weighed down.

When the game wrapped up, the men’s hockey game was starting. It was RIT vs. Connecticut. Already tired from the basketball game, I was not prepared for the extremely FAST pace of a division I game… I have been to more than a few hockey games myself, but I have never once been at eye level with the players with a camera in hand. It was actually difficult for me to keep track of the puck since a lot of things were happening at once: the rowdy crowd, my lack of skill with the camera, and the fast paced game.

It was an excellent weekend of sports photography. I think I’m going to stick with portraiture photography, ha ha.

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones

Street Shots

Whew! What a busy week it has been. Attending a private University using the quarter system does take its toll on you. Anyway, this week I was wondering about what genre of photography I would write about. Astro-photography? It takes too much to get a decent photo. Forensic photography? No, too graphic and morbid for you and I! Hm, what of street photography? Well, there are a lot of variables involved:  the environment, atmosphere, and my favorite subjects: people.

The environment is a critical aspect and sets the mood of the scene. Are you shooting inside a busy city such as N.Y.C. or at a run-down metropolis such as Detroit? Below is an example of the environment dominating the photograph:

streetRomanas Naryskin

Upon sight of the photograph, one can tell that it is a train yard that hit a day of rest since it is empty and a few drifters come and go with small adventures to share. The fog in the background adds to the ominous feeling of the empty train yard. There also is a silhouette in the mid-ground that adds to the mystery of the photograph. Whew, the hairs on my arms momentarily stood up!

As for the atmosphere, I am talking about the culture of a certain region that a photographer might decide to shoot in. Do the people mind at all if you took pictures of them from across the street? Are you surrounded by a culture that is very self-conscious and might cry out at you for taking pictures of them without their permission? Is there a turf war going on between two rival gangs that may be affecting the atmosphere negatively?

***This brings up another subject entirely: A photographer’s right to shoot the public. It should be known that the laws vary from place to place, especially from country to country. Every photographer should be aware of the Legal Handbook for Photographers by Bert P. Krages II.***

Here is a comparison between a friendly culture and a hostile one:

Hostility-005Hostility – Naterally Wicious, Flickr

swearing

Romanas Naryskin

The two men smiling at the camera above seem to be friendly, right? Well, they weren’t exactly happy with Romanas taking a photo of them. Before smiling, they were cursing at the photographer. Unfazed from experience, Romanas kept on shooting until he was satisfied and left the scene immediately.

That’s the amazing thing about humans. You could guess all day what they are thinking or showing in a photography and your conclusion would still be wrong. That’s the uniqueness of street photography, you never know what you are going to get and you are forced to interact with people, indirectly or directly. Here are two more pictures from NYC to complete the blog:

blackgirlmirror-2012-copy

09_by_dechobek

’09 – dechobek, deviantART

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones

Sports Photography

We see it all the time. Whether it is on TV, the Internet, or most famously: the Sports Illustrated magazine. Sports photography is a form of documentation for what occurred during a game. Here is some history for the origin of sports photography. It all began with a gentleman from England named Eedward James Muybridge. He was initially interested in nature photography (in the 1870s, where photography was reserved only for the rich due to the high expenses required for a decent photograph), but then he was requested by Leland Stanford to take photos of his horses in movement (Equestrian) to prove whether horses had all four legs off the ground in a trot or gallop. A sequence of photos animated can be seen below:

File:Muybridge race horse animated.gif

And then there was the birth of sports photography. Some might debate it wasn’t true sports photography because no competition was involved. The .gif seen above involves a professional rider and a purebred racehorse, so I will allow the reader come to their own conclusions whether the genre began in 1878.

Ever since the late 1800s, sports photography has grown immensely but also is avoided by many due to the high level of mastery needed to capture the right moment in any sport. It seems that there are three major components to having a profitable photograph from any sport: location, prediction, and as expected: skill with a camera. Location is critical when deciding on a player to photograph. A sports photographer wants to find the optimal location where he can have many angles for better chances at landing the “shot.”

A good location, however, isn’t everything. You have to channel your fortune-telling powers to predict whether a soccer player juggling the ball will turn towards your camera or when a lay-up is going to occur in an intense game of basketball. Lastly, tremendous skill is needed with a camera. Auto-focus helps a lot, but the muscle memory is needed to automatically go to the AF button and then promptly press the shutter button when the right time comes.

Now believe it or not, we have our own sports photographer! His name is Dylan Heuer and he is an alumni of the Rochester Institute of Technology with a BFA degree in Visual Media. His photos have been used by ESPN, CBS, MLB and the NHL.  To conclude this blog, I ask him several questions to get a professional perspective on what it takes to be a sports photographer.

Ceasar – Thank you very much for taking a few moments to answer my questions. Let’s cut to the chase. Why sports photography?

Dylan – Ah, that’s no problem at all! I love sports. I love photography. When you combine the two, my work ethic is unmatched. I know how to find the right image. I know how to capture the right play at the right time. I know how to catch the right emotion in any given game. I know what makes an image look powerful that shows a story of 1,000 words. With my vast baseball knowledge and the passion, I believe my clients won’t be disappointed with my motivation and enthusiasm.

Ceasar – Which sports do you get the most excited about shooting and why?

Dylan – Baseball is definitely my favorite sport to shoot because it’s simply my favorite sport. I love to watch the game through the viewfinder of my camera. I love capturing the right moment where the ball makes contact with the bat. I love capturing the right moment as the pitcher releases the ball from his fingertips. I can’t resist the love of the game.

heuer2Victory Celebration – Dylan Heuer

Ceasar – What is the most difficult or frustrating aspect of shooting sports?

Dylan – Even though baseball is my favorite sport to shoot, I’ll have to say that it’s a harder sport to shoot, too. Baseball is a slow sport with sudden bursts. That means, just like a player, you have to be ready for anything at any given moment. Sometimes I’ve missed great photo opportunity because I’d set my camera at second base where I predicted the action would be, but it happened in left field. Also, you have to include the countless close calls that I’ve had with foul balls whizzing right past my head while I’m in the dugout.

heuerTommy Field, Sky Sox Shortstop – Dylan Heuer

Ceasar – What were your highest and lowest points as a sports photographer?

Dylan – My most favorite memory of shooting sports has to be the RIT men’s hockey team’s memorable run to the Frozen Four in Detroit in 2010. At that point, I was just starting out as a photographer. I captured some of my greatest photos and some of those photos are still in my top five of the best photos that I’ve taken in my life. Some of those photos ended up on ESPN and CBS. It was also one of the greatest times in my entire life. And I really don’t have a low point. What does that mean? I’ve found the right calling for me in life. This is what I was meant to do.

Ceasar – Thank you very much Dylan! I appreciate you taking time out of your busy schedule to chat with an old friend.