Sunday, April 25, 2010

power to the people...and other stuff

unlike last week, when it was almost mind-dumbingly slow in terms of assignments, this week seemed pretty packed - this job is like a constant roller coaster, i swear! i guess that's not always a bad thing - it keeps you on your toes...but it seems i find myself getting stressed out by it faster and more often - being too slow feels just as stressful in some aspects as being super busy...maybe i just need to take a real vacation....
anyway, i have to say i did have some pretty cool assignments this week in the big mix of things...
starting with wednesday (just to pick up where i left off at last post)....
got a call from a business (a resale shop benefitting the homeless) - they are having a "hawaiian themed party" to honor volunteers, and they're all having a great time - can we come out? - editor asks what i've got going - i'm just doing officey stuff until my first assn, but that's in an hour and a half, so i can run over and check that out....well, there's a cake, and they're wearing leis, and they did put a colorful umbrella on the snack table, but really, that's about it - so i hung for a while and managed to get this moment between 2 of the volunteers as they looked at the board of commemorative fotos set up in one of the aisleways..

then it was back and getting ready for my assignment
our coal-fueled power plant - which i learned is one of the 5 biggest in the nation - is doing a major overhaul on one of its 4 "units" - a unit being a boiler, turbine and radiator, and of course all the inter-related parts - including miles of steel coils, airducts, cool down, etc etc, etc - it's all being replaced throughout the course of an 80-some day shutdown...
project leaders were giving a tour of the unit and work - well, the tour being for the newspaper - the reporter said before we left - gimme a sign when you're set with fotos, 'cos i don't want to be there more than an hour.....
so, of we go, after clearing the security gate...
i have to admit i was a little looking forward to going in there, because this is one of those places where you just never go in there - it's super-high security and you just think about taking a picture of something if you happen to be in the perimeter, and they're all over you - mind you, not as crazy as our local nuclear plant - where the gate guards greet you with AK-47's in hand (and if that's not accurate, then suffice it to say, very high-powered scary looking automatic weaponry), but still, pretty high-security, and in my 8-plus years here, i've never been inside this place - what good journalist doesn't want to know what's behind that door with the big DO NOT ENTER sign plastered all over it!
so, we go in, met by 2 reps of the project and their media relations guy - they have hard hats and goggles for each of us - damn! hard hats and goggles - this is a serious impediment - just try shooting vertical with a hard hat on, not to mention the big bulky goggles that are pressing down on my already spring-allergy beleaguered sinuses in such a way that i am having serious trouble breathing through my nose! oh well, whatcha gonna do, eh?
we head up to the "unit" where they give us the background on the project, then tell us all the scary things we're about to encounter - we'll be going up to the 12th floor (yes, the boiler extends up 12 floors!), and walking on grates, so if heights bother you, you might be feeling pretty uncomfortable - yikes, that'd be me, but i guess i'll just cross that grate when i come to it - and you better tuck your hair into your collar, and remove your tie (for the reporter, since our dress code dictates that all the guys have to wear ties on the job), and it's gonna be pretty hot, but you better keep your jacket on for safety, and watch where you're walking (which is an interesting conundrum since i don't WANT to look down and see how high up we are), here are some complimentary flashlights since it might be too dark to see in some spots, and avoid standing water, etc etc - well, i think they were erring on the side of caution, cos i really didn't feel like we were ever in imminent mortal danger, but they kind of made me feel a little uneasy about what faced us on this tour...

the boiler is broken up into multi-floor sub-units, each of which is a spider web of scaffolding so that master welders can weld together the myriad of coils that line the walls

to get the new equipment into the plant,
the work team essentially just cut big holes in the outer walls, bringing part and pieces in on a huge crane, then sliding them into place to be welded - it's all very complicated - way over my head, but it looked very very cool, and crazy to be standing in the huge space which would, upon operation, be a 3,000-degree burning oven of coal-fueled fire!

on our way up to the 12th floor, i saw this worker also awaiting the elevator (thank goodness they didn't make us walk all the way up there! we did hoof it all the way back down though - so we could stop at floors along the way) - i just loved that green window behind him, the goggles, his gloves - so i asked if i could make a picture - that and being in the big elevator with these guys going to their respective job sites, all goggled up, in their work clothes, dirty, hot, nobody saying anything as we travelled up and up and up into the plant, i felt like i was in one of those old fotos of coal miners all packed into the shaft elevator taking them down to the job....
saw these other workers taking their break near the huge space that had been cut out of the wall, which i liked cos it just had that timeless plant-worker feel to it
the window gave a much-needed breeze

and offered a great view of Lake Erie, and perspective of just how high up we were

air duct
so, we finally wrapped up the tour after 2 hours! i swear, once you get those guys talking, they just never want to stop - like i said at the beginning, you ordinarily can't look sideways at this place without getting hassled, but once they let you in to show you what they're doing, they're just NOT letting you go!
after getting that in for the next days' paper, i walked over to a new art gallery - all themed on work featuring water and/or boating - i didn't have the light kit, but i figured i could make do - nothing too memorable or post-worthy (and i forgot to save a frame to post anyway), but that was the end of the day!

back on the night shift thursday - had 2 assignments - first to meet a group of women who had been "rosie the riveters" back in WWII - all worked as riveters constructing B-24 bombers at the Willow Run Bomber Plant....this is for our senior/retiree magazine - there's huge back-story to this, which only makes it funnier or more annoying to those involved, but will be a snooze to any of you....suffice it to say, we needed to get a portrait of these 3 women, all upper 80's to 90 in age, at the Yankee Air Museum, which according to google map, is conveniently located on the west side of the Willow Run Airfield just a couple roads off I-94....
well, let's just say, don't believe everything you read...the copy editor who was writing this story and went to EMU later told me they used to jokingly refer to that area as the Willow Run Triangle (ie, Bermuda Triangle), because it was so damn confusing, people went in and never came out....
well, i can fully get behind that reference!
so, i left monroe early, cos i wanted to get there first, check out the place and get a jump on lighting the portrait - as it turned out, i wound up getting there a good 45 minutes late! (and the writer, with the elderly women in tow, hadn't beaten me by much either)
in that time, i got sidelined by construction and closed on-ramps, then found the place i thought, except it wasn't where it was supposed to be, and then i somehow got dumped out onto the interstate, and then i got horribly lost, nearly got into a bad accident which likely would have killed my car or me or both (VW Golf vs Yukon, do the math!), and finally, FINALLY, after going round in huge circles and making many many illegal u-turns, i found them...

mind you, at this point, my blood pressure is so high, it feels as though my eyeballs are about to be jettisoned from my skull, and it turns out the museum isn't really open, cos the building has been condemned, and they're not there - they're in a field outside, which, in terms of how i'm going to light just knocks me for a total loop - yeah, cos that's just what i need at this point!
so, anyway, we make this portrait there - a bit limited in terms of where to position them because the plane (like one they built) is amid a bunch of other old planes, many of which are being worked on, so there's scaffolding around, and i don't want that cluttering things up...
after the portrait, we went back to the (former) museum space, where they have one of the B-24's they actually did build there and which likely these women put together - it's all in parts, but they hope to put it back together, and though no one is supposed to be in this building, the museum guys got us in anyway so the women could see and touch it

then we went outside the hangar, and one of the guys pointed out the plant entrance across the way to the building in which they worked

it all brought back a flood of memories for these women (who i can't believe were 90, or near-so!) one of them women recalled how some of the girls would implant notes inside the planes for soldiers to find, with messages like "we're proud of you" or sometimes their name and addresses for possible was an interesting end to a harrowing start, and afterward, it was back to monroe, where i downloaded their fotos just before heading out to the community college where a dedication ceremony was to be held for the new deck built around their outdoor telescope...i never even knew this thing was there - one of those dome-housed telescopes - all be it a small one - but the old deck on which it sat was so rickety, they really couldn't even safely use it...and now they can....had enough dusk left that i could get some pix of them starting to focus it and look at the moon, which thankfully they did, cos the light would have been rough (for me at least) once it got dark and they really started their star gazing...

friday morning a south county elementary school was going to have a bus safety emergency drill - 8 am SHARP!! the assn. sheet said, so, i got there a bit early, just so i wasn't scrambling to get my gear ready once it got going, cos it sounded like it might be a quick event, and i needed to get something for the daily and the weekly south county publications....turns out it was very quick - probably about 8 minutes - the kids jumped out of the side emergency exit, lined up by the flag pole, and that was it...but they did it in a very quiet and orderly manner, which i guess is really the whole point of these things...

after that, headed up to a northern part of the county for a golf invitational - i hate shooting golf - i think i just don't really know how to do it, or do it differently, so it's a tough one to me (and i'll get to do it again next friday! yay for me!)
i turned around and notioced this coach inside the clubhouse watching the near green and framed between the reflection of the protective netting hanging over the windows - so, this was my favorite from the golf...

saturday, Gordie Howe, hockey-legend, was making a promo stop at a local dealership, giving autographs and taking pix with the public...

then, up to the mall for the annual Celebrate Children Festival - god, i think i've shot this every single year i've been here! it's info booths for all things child well-being related, each of which has give-aways or crafts or games - like, pick-the-lollipop or bean bag tosses - always has potential, but it's kind of the face-painting, inflatable, balloon-animal kind of event - kind of liked this moment/image, though it is just a visual trick in the bag - kids and reflections, but still, i liked it...

took a little break, then was going to head out to the soccer invitational cham,pionship match, which was supposed to start after 3 - luckily, i ran into the sports guy covering it at the office after the mall shoot, and i gave him my cell, just in case none of our local teams ended up making it into the finals - he said he'd know before 2 if that were the case, so by 2, i was feeling like i could plan on sticking with the plan, until i got a call from a JV coach at quarter after 2 telling me that they were already half-way thru the finals game, which had started early - well, crap, hurry up and run!
so, i got there for the start of the last half of the game - which they were winning, and the score-keeping moms asked if i were going to stay and shoot the award ceremony, which we normally don't, cos that's not what the sports guys are gonna run anyway, but they hadn't won the tourney (which is their own tournament, incidentally) in years, and please won't i - so, yeah, i said i would and put it in the web gallery at least\actually kind of liked this moment, before they got into "pose with the trophy for pix mode"

and this action we didn't use - it was a near miss - just a little too tight, but i like it best for its potential

then, back in later to tone on the desk, then home!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

america's sport

shot my first official baseball game of the season yesterday...not a very good one - the visiting team really didn't present any all, so that doesn't do a lot to help with the action, but i did at least get this play at home, which isn't a knock-out, but it's decent for the daily

before the game, i had a prep feature to shoot - also baseball - this story on a kid who has been a surprise as a starting pitcher, holding a 3-0 record so far...since it was practice, i took the opportunity to get out on the field and laid down in front of the mound, shooting as he pitched - took me a while to get a shot where the ball wasn't in his hand, but also was still in the frame - it's amazing how short a time span you actually have, even with a souped-up 9-frame per second (or thereabouts i believe) shooting capacity....timing is everything!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

more stuff from me

let's see, this week, from where i left off, nothing too terribly exciting - more feature hunting - thursday was a beautiful day - just missed breaking the record-high temperature by one mere degree - but 83 degrees, 84 - tomayto-tomahto, potayto-potahto - since school is back in, i knew there weren't going to be a ton of people out and about early in the day, but i thought maybe i'd hit the soft serve stands - checked out 2 that usually have traffic, but zippo at both, hmm, so keep driving, decided to go check out a neighborhood that i never feature hunt in - mostly cos past experience has proven it's gonna be a bust, but i did actually spot some kids out playing in their little park - they were spinning round on one of those, well, spinning park playthings - whatever they're called - that was always my favorite too, next to the swings - what is it about spinning around in circles that is just so damn fun?! i remember sometimes when my dad would have to pick us up from school, he'd get us (sister and i) a bag of chips and pepsis, and we'd hang out in some small unused conference room while he finished working - the best part was that all the chairs spun around, so i'd sit there for like an hour (okay, maybe i'm exaggerating just a wee bit) with my feet raised up just enough to clear the chair legs spinning around and around and around - and the best part was when you'd just grab onto the table and come to an abrupt halt - you'd be stopped, but the room hadn't quite caught up with you - holy vertigo!
happy times....
but i digress....

anyway, hung with them for a while - and i really wanted to get that cool/off/timeless foto, but it never quite got there, or i didn't quite get there - sometimes i feel like i'm losing ground in my photo journey - just at one of those plateaus, but it feels like i've been sitting here on this ledge an awful long time, and i don't know whether i'm working my way up to the next one, or if i'm about to slip back to a place from whence i came! it's hard to be objective about your own work, though, especially if you're the sort that's inclined to be pretty hard on yourself to begin with....
later that afternoon, i walked to the square for our city's addition to the national spate of Tea Parties - not a big crowd - not even close to last year's, and the only person really decked out in a visually interesting way was the guy whose picture i took last year at the tea party, so he's out - then i heard the speaker announce that after his comments they were going to be showing a couple different power point presentations under the gazebo, and that'd be about it - i just about fell out! your protest/rally is POWER POINT PRESENTATIONS????? i mean ,what the hell kind of political rally is THAT?! cos nothing gets me riled up and all excited about my political passions like trying to make out the image projected on a screen under a gazebo on a bright sunny day......
good gravy! like we don't have to go shoot enough power point presentations - now this turns into one, too? whatever, once they broke out the projector, i was outta there - after making pix of some of the attendees hoisting their signs and listening

this isn't the one that ran, but i think i actually like it best - something about kids attending these things that interests me
yesterday, it was out at a track meet in the morning - horribly cold and windy, and not alot of events going, but i was able to get a weather feature for our community page out of it - man, just a brutal day! and particularly cruel to be in the 40's with a wind chill of lord knows how low after being in the 80's just a day ago!
mother nature, what ARE you thinking?!

later that day, off to a private reception for a slew of political candidates - from governor all the way down to local - at a family home (and a very large home, at that i might add) prior to the annual Republican dinner and, got to watch as the hob-nobbers went about their hob-nobbery...not terribly easy to shoot - the lighting in there was brutal - huge windows all over in the background, but nothing but spot track lighting in the room where most were gathered - so, technically pretty dodgy - but i did like this one moment - just for itself - think we should do a story on politicians' wives sometime in the upcoming election series...that'd be interesting

anyhoo, tis all for now....sorry for all the writing and digressing - i think my morning caffeine just hit me!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

buds & blooms

got inspired by my Easter tulips to break out the lensBABY and go exploring last night - let the macro weirdness and multi-flora revelry begin! now i can't wait to get things blooming in the ground, bask in warm days and summer sunsets and once again probably set my neighbors to wondering just what IS she doing laying there in the ground with her face pressed amid the plants?!
these are just a few that stood out to me

god bless my billious blue living room walls! what a back-drop

can't decide whether i like the closer or farther version of this

today, back to work - nothing on the schedule, so i went to check out graffiti along the riverwalk - nothing too memorable there, but i did like this one alleyway i walked past

and some of the blooms on the trees against the building-scapes

Saturday, April 10, 2010

the remains of the days

the rest of the week was a bit of a bumpy ride, visually....started by having a morning portrait of a golfer at the same course i was at the day before for the other golfer portrait...this one, not quite as successful - trying to pose/compose/shoot while keeping one foot on the lightstand in the very gusty wind and slight rain, well, let's just say it wasn't a recipe for success...and no, i am not posting up the mediocrity that ensued
later that day went out to search for a feature - the weather had turned even colder, gustier and rainier, so, needless to say not a lot going on out there, nor much on our events calendar, but i figured, it being spring break, with little opportunity for the kids to be outdoors, i'd hit the little pool hall/store - haven't been there in a while....found a dad and his son playing - dad had a short work day and promised his son they'd spend the rest of the afternoon together doing something fun, and here's where they ended up - nothing stellar, but it's just a decent slice o' life-ish picture

next day, still nothing on the schedule, and they had no main art for page 1 - so we were just going to have to feature hunt - again, the community calendar was sparse, but i did find a church rummage sale going on - didn't sound too promising, but i figured maybe there'd be a moment or something, so i went to check it was a little tough, but i did like the lighting and bit of a moment between these 2 church volunteer workers inbetween welcoming people in to their sale...

saturday was to be pretty full - first went to a big annual antique sale at the community college - shot a lot of the usual kind of stuff - framing people up as they perused the tables and shelves of items, did the reflection thing in the old antique mirrors, and then i came upon these ladies trying on old hats - kind of hung back and shot some while they were talking - they seemed pretty lively, then i moved in, and this one lady put on a hat for her daughter and immediately broke out into this "strike a pose" diva attitude - to the amusement of the vendor - hey, at least it's a moment, which is kind of tough to get at things like, after shooting some more before i had to leave for my next assignment, i was at least able to leave feeling like i'd done a little better than i'd anticipated...

next on the agenda was to meet up with 2 brothers and their friend who said they'd be downtown shooting for an indy film they're making...note, we'd rearranged a lot with assignments that came in later so that i could keep this appointment to shoot them shooting, as opposed to ending up only with the opportunity for a, i was a little dismayed when they showed up and said, well, they didn't really have anything to shoot, so they figured they'd just leave the pix up to me - oh, seriously?! so, now, i'm not only really not prepared for a portrait, but i was frustrated that there was all this back-story of rearrangement that had gone on all in the attempt to not have this turn out to be exactly what it was turning out to be....aargh!
so, we checked out a couple alleyways and other "urban" looking spots downtown, and then, that was that...

took a short break, then came back in to head toward a play rehearsal - a ballet version of "Peter Pan." had to shoot this for 2 different publications - as an entertainment preview story, then later as a story to run in our Parent magazine - so i needed to shoot rehearsal, but also some more set-up/portrait kind of shots - brought the light kit, but i liked the stage lighting they had, so i didn't end up using them...anyway, the shots i really liked were these behind-the-scenes moments....

this is an "almost" - by the time i saw this come together, composed and focused, it was already just about gone, and i'm not sure it quite works, but i still kind of like it....
and then, the more offstage moments - i'm such a sucker for these, but they're a little different from my normal sidelines images...

really liked the weird color in this one, and the moment, too
then it was back in to tone fotos for the night,
and such was my day

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

april's fresh start

i always feel the pressure at the start of every new month to, admittedly superstitiously, get off to the best possible work-success...lest i be cursed to mediocrity for the remaining 30 first assignment in april was a portrait of a woman who'd been awarded an honor for her work with women by the local soroptimist club...i really wanted to do something cool, but she had little time and was gonna be in her small office at the police station, so i was mentioning that to mr. bosch before heading out and wondering how to jazz this up, and he wisely suggested that we really don't have to put her in her environment per se - we just want a nice portrait, and he showed me some work on, we started brainstaorming, and i came up with a possible location to take her to near her office, and then we were talking lighting techniques, and he offered to come with since it was a slow day - help me with the set-up - he's been studying lighting a lot and has been making some kick-ass portraits - and i've been really hit-or-miss with my attempts at stepping it up in that way, so i was very thankful for his input...on the way over to her woffice, i noticed the entry to the historic courthouse - the original, very stately one that isn't used anymore...i said, hey, let's try there, so, we set up some lights and tested them for position and bosch is a very good model
then, as it was almost our appt time, i walked over and grabbed my subject, tried to line her up just as we had arranged it with him - her framed right within that dark portion of the column, which stands out more given our light inbetween the following column row

i was happy with the result, and it was a great lesson in using multiple lighting...but for some reason, i think i still like bryan's foto better!
friday - another slow day, another feature hunt - came upon these kids playing hoops in their driveway - wasn't sure i liked this, but it's one of those, the more i look at it, it's growing on me kind of pictures

back in for another week...there wasn't anything on the schedule, but then i was told about a possible protest outside the nuclear plant - the union is in negotiations with management over the hiring/use of contract (ie, non-union) workers, and some people were supposedly gathering to voice their union opinions prior to this week's vote...worked it best i could to try and get moment/story-telling....sun started coming out of the overcast skies near the end of their protest, so i tried working that moment as they shouted and cheered with other plant workers coming out of the plant complex at shift change

today, did a fair bit of office-y type work, but i had a portrait for sports for a story on a high school golf coach who was finally rejoining his team after recovering from a near-fatal stroke - luckily, it didn't actually start raining til we were done - busted out the light kit, and i was really happy with the result - very simple one-light set-up, but i think it works

and now i am ALL CAUGHT UP!!!!! PHEW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!