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

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.

Nature Photography

Wildlife. We seem to be so disconnected from nature due to our fascination with technology whether it be cell phones, laptops, or the latest kitchen appliance shown on TV late at night. However, there is one positive side to the rapid growth of technology: DSLR cameras. It is a tool that can be used anywhere, including the forest or at some isolated waterfall in the Appalachian mountains. It brings us back to nature no matter how much we may deny it.

Landscape photography is extremely popular because it is a simple case of getting the timing right, owning a DSLR and a couple of lenses, and then a steady tripod for long exposure opportunities that might arise when the lighting conditions aren’t so great. Here is an example of landscape photography:

CaptureMesa’s Arch, jmarshphoto, Flickr

This photo was taken in Utah and at sunrise. There are times where absolute self-discipline is needed for breath-taking photos while everybody else is asleep. This is a perfect example.

Another aspect of nature photography is the wildlife roaming the forests, seas and skies. It is quite fascinating how much time it takes for a half-decent photograph of any kind of animal. I would know. I vividly remembering witnessing something incredible: a line of squirrels parading along the top of the wooden fence at my previous home. The pack included 10 or more squirrels, perfectly lined up and evenly spaced from each other marching to some unknown destination. Wanting to capture the incredible moment, I took out my Sidekick 2 and attempted to take pictures, only to find that the cell phone did not offer zoom capabilities and had terrible quality. The most tragic moment of this attempt was: the fascinating parade had disappeared into some tree, so my tiny window of opportunity had closed, never to be opened again.

Below are some excellent examples of wildlife photography:

Lion, Mats Grimfoot

To me, this photo is absolutely extraordinary, but ordinary at the same time. It is perfectly normal to observe the basics of nature taking place: a predator capturing and devouring its kill. On the other hand, it is difficult to take photos of such a grisly scene and getting the composition right so that the viewers can clearly understand what is going on with the picture. Mats did an excellent job with this one. I think a bit of luck was involved because during the feast, very few animals dine like the french. Their heads and claws will constantly be moving. The intense eyes of the male lion was captured well here. It evokes me to think that even though the lion has successfully made a kill, it still has to remain wary for those pesky hyenas.

Another excellent example of wildlife photography also incorporates macro photography, as seen below:

Upon sight of the picture above, one can only wonder how many attempts it took for the determined photographer to capture the bee doing its natural duty: collecting nectar from what seems to be a  fresh dandelion. It is tough to get a clear picture when the bee is moving so quickly. I am going to take a wild guess and say that this shot was taken with a 100mm macro lens, one of the most popular macro lenses out on the market.

Some of the examples of nature photography I placed above is only a small insight into the wonderful world of photography. I have always appreciated the tough and motivated photographers that take these type of shots because it is a lot of work for a single digital file. To conclude, photography is an excellent motivator for us to go outside and spin the creativity gears in our heads while re-connecting with nature through a lens.

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones

That Hook

It’s amusing how quickly things that seemed uninteresting to you before just become the only thing you Google about these days. In my case, it was photography (especially portraiture) that piqued my interest. I figured, if I’m going to be wasting time on the Internet, I might as well actually learn something about a small part of the large world known as photography.

After looking at some iconic or powerful images from certain photographers, I as an photography enthusiast (a dude with no equipment to fuel his new-found interest), have always wondered what made them stood out as opposed to many countless digital photos taken today by various aspiring photographers or the annoying Instagram users. We’ll look at some examples:

Human Emotion and Contrast

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The Afghan Girl – Steven McCurry, National Geographic

Humans are simply an amazing species. We can do so many things, including expressing ourselves without having to say a single word. At first glance, Sharbat’s intense eyes are absolutely soul-piercing. Even though a passerby might not know the back story, the eyes still captivate them. The overall serious expression on Sharbat signifies that something is bothering her and she wants something to be done about it. In addition to the emotions portrayed by her, the clothes of choice fit the picture because the red fabric wrapped around her face is in contrast with her sea-green eyes, making the photo even more powerful.

Patterns:

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West County Camera Flickr

Humans are absolutely captivated by patterns, whether they notice it or not. We have an odd fascination with things that repeat themselves, especially in a continuously changing scene: Nature. Most of the time things go unnoticed because most of the time patterns are formed at the macro level of things. When pictures are taken at the macro level, things that seemed irrelevant (because we didn’t care enough to inspect every little thing we come across daily), now come to life and that is when we can recognize the true beauty of nature.

Perception and Surrealism:

Rainbow computer

Connect, I Must Be Dead, DeviantArt

In today’s society, we are trained to suppress our true emotions and conform to the norms that a large portion of the population has come to a general consensus on. As a result, we are afraid to be publicly creative or spontaneous due to the possibility of rejection. This causes for a lot of people to think inside the box. Those that are creative and natural artists are the ones that bring fresh perspectives to photography and more importantly, our eyes. Sure, some photos might be a bit outward, but they still have a meaning that is left to the viewer to decipher and come to a conclusion about.

These are only some of the steps involved in making our eyes focus on a certain picture that might evoke certain emotions. Like many other forms of art, photography is simply an outlet for us to capture memories, express our creativity, and for some to make a profit. For me, it is a way for us to truly study the different elements within a photo, especially with humans. Their faces are so capable of creating many different expressions but its tough to capture them all in real time. Anyway, enough jabbering from me for now.

Blink with meaning,

Ceasar Jones