Emily at the Riverfront

I teamed up with my awesome and lovely friend, Emily, to shoot a portrait set down my the Cuyahoga Falls Riverfront. Since half the shoot was at night, I got experimental with the lighting. The shots by the fountain in particular used a combination of shutter dragging, one off camera flash for fill light, and a second remote flash with a spotlight modifier. The post processing was more elaborate than usual to, How did I do? Let me know in the comments below. 

‘Lost in Oscar Hotel’ Book Signing

As I stated in a previous post, Lost in Oscar Hotel has officially been released! For those of you who don’t know, Lost in Oscar Hotel is a book on Ohio aviation I collaborated with some classmates and professors with over the past two years.
I and all of the rest of the collaborators got together for a book signing at the university bookstore. It was fantastic to see everyone together again, talk shop, sign each other’s books, and talk everyone who came out to support us.  Joe, Gary, Phil, and Laura are some of the most talented people I know, so go follow those links to see the rest of their work.

If you’re interested in Lost in Oscar Hotel, you can find it over on Amazon. We only have two reviews so far, but I would love to see more. I normally write book reviews, but I think reviewing this one would create a slight conflict of interests. So, if any of you think you have a solid, well written review, send it off to me, I’d love to see it.

Working on this book has been nothing but fantastic from start to finish, and I can’t express how fortunate I am to have had the opportunity. Now, I just want to start work on the next one.

Book Review: The Photographer

The-Photographer-Guibert

The idea behind The Photographer is a basic one: make a comic using photographs instead of hand-drawn illustrations. Sounds straightforward until you realize that, while photos are fantastic at delivering an entire story in a single frame or even a small sequence, they don’t hold upwhen used in comic form. All the dialogue boxes, speech bubbles, and sound and motion effects just don’t gel together in a way that feels coherent for the reader (I tried it earlier on this site). Fortunately, an incredibly talented group of Frenchmen has managed to find a way to make it all work.

In The Photographer, writer Didier Lefèvre uses a combination of text, photographs, and hand-drawn illustrations to tell the story of his experiences documenting a group from Doctors Without Borders in Afghanistan. The book opens with a brief introduction from Lefèvre, followed by story that flows through his preparations, sneaking into Afghanistan, his trials, and his grueling trip home.

After a brief introduction and glimpse of the whirlwind of preparation, the reader is thrust into the mountains outside Peshawar as Lefèvre and company sneak past Russian helicopters and over the border into Afghanistan. Once across the border, the journey then begins the slow, grueling trek across the mountains into a small Afghan village where the doctors spend weeks treating the sick and injured. However, Lefèvre begins to feel restless and stagnant, so he decides to strike out for home on his own ahead of his comrades. What follows is a nightmarish expedition of injury, disease, extortion from local bandits and officials, and a fight against nature that Lefèvre struggles through to return to France.

Lefèvre often uses groups of negatives in a sequence to establish a scene and characters.

Lefèvre often uses groups of negatives in a sequence to establish a scene and characters.

The Photographer’s greatest strength is the way the photographs, illustrations, and narration all work together to tell a more completenarrative than any one of them could individually. The best way to think of it is to compare it to the construction of a play.  Lefèvre’s photographs set the stage itself. Landscapes of vast mountains, valleys, villages, and desert become breathtaking backdrops which he then populates with intimate, piercing portraits of those around him. Through a skillful combination of gorgeous single shots and compelling sequences, the audience can feel a living, breathing world. Lefèvre essentially takes the literary mantra of “show, don’t tell” to its most extreme conclusion and in doing so pulls readers more completely into his journey.

 With the stage’s environment and characters strongly established, the images created by illustrator Emmanuel Guibert and colorist Frederic Lemercier breathe life into the actual narrative. The illustrations move the story by showing Lefèvre himself, the dialogue between characters, and any other details and interactions that Lefèvre could not have photographed.

Untitled-1

Finally, Lefèvre’s frank, succinct narration ties together and fills any gaps left by the sequential art. 007He never seems to try to dress up or unnecessarily bolster the written text, He doesn’t need to. Every line feels raw and personal, and it is through the narration that the audience learns most of the small details that make the story feel all the more real.

It is The Photographer’s focus on smaller details of the journey that makes it so engaging. Including smaller bits of minutia like inconsequential but personal conversations, a stubborn pack animal, doctors arm wrestling with the Afghan guides, seeing every bit of Lefèvre’s damaged photo equipment, and even the nuances of going to the restroom while wearing a galabiyya (traditional Afghan clothing for men) help to give the reader a much truer sense of the overall experience.

 Even when trying to look for faults with The Photographer, I have been unable to find anything wrong with it. The only possible sticking point might be that the pacing is very much a slow burn until the last quarter of book. That being said, odds are you aren’t going to be picking up a book about a photographer documenting a group from Doctors Without Borders for the action to begin with, so I can’t see that as a true issue for most readers.

Simply put, The Photographer is an amazing book whose diverse use of different media makes it a unique, engaging, and memorable story that I highly recommend. Just follow the Amazon link below to order your own copy.

http://www.amazon.com/The-Photographer-War-torn-Afghanistan-Doctors/dp/1596433752/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1377755728&sr=8-1&keywords=the+photographer

The Complete WACO Club Fly-In Experience

WACO BLOG Edits -1-2

WACO BLOG Edits -8

Rocking my new hat, I snapped a quick self portrait using my reflection in the steel of a biplane.

I got a last minute email from one of my former professors asking me if I could head down to Wynkoop airport to photograph a big annual WACO Club Fly-In for our aviation book, Lost in Oscar Hotel .  After wrapping up some work for my other various jobs, and a hectic packing process, I hit the road to Mt. Vernon.

            I arrived later in the evening, so I had missed most of what was going to happen that day, so I made my way over to the camping area where some of the pilots were staying overnight. Exhaustion from a full day’s work and the long drive out, combined with the fact it was already too dark to see, I delayed setting up my tent and just slept in the car.

            I was up by 6am, and hit the ground running to make the most of the sunrise lighting and meet the pilots.

I even managed to get a few wide angle GoPro shots to get a unique perspective on the planes.

Unfortunately, things slowed down around noon. Most of the few pilots who were coming had already arrived, the heat had driven most people into the hanger and under the tents, and the lighting wasn’t good for much of anything by that point. However; it did give me the opportunity to slow down a bit, grab some lunch, talk with the pilots about potential stories, and even swap some tips with some of the event’s other photographers.

A particular highlight was this photographer’s homemade monopod. The left hand grip for stabilization was an awesome idea, and he even had rigged up a follow-focus. 

A massive storm came up out of nowhere. Those who couldn't make it under the tents in time hid under the planes' wings.

A few minutes later, the sky opened up, forcing the Wynkoop visitors under whatever cover they could find. Fortunately, I was already under

the main tent conducting an interview as the downpour started. It gave me the opportunity to shoot those who had ducked under their planes’ wings for cover.

Just taking shots from under the tent wasn’t quite enough for me though. After tucking my camera into my bag and making a break for my car, and stashing my Nikon, I braved the storm with my waterproof GoPro. I was soaked and freezing after, but it was worth it to get the tighter shots.

Eventually, the storm blew over. Most of the crowed trudged through muddy mess that was formerly the air field and headed home. I stuck around to get a few more photos and a couple more interviews, but it was mostly mop-up work. I wound up leaving around the time the pilot’s banquet started since there wasn’t much of anything left to cover, 

 

WACO BLOG Edits -2

Dispite the poor weather and low turn out, I had a blast covering the WACO meet up. Anything for Lost in Oscar Hotel is usually a blast, and I almost always wind up with some killer photos. I even got a bonus free hat, courtesy of Brian, the awesome Wynkoop worker.

With all of the photo editing done, I can move on to typing up the stories, conducting interviews with the contacts I made, sending off photos, and maybe even do some layout work for the book.

WACO at Wynkoop Airport

I got a last minute email from one of my former professors asking me if I could head down to Wynkoop airport to photograph a big annual meeting of WACO biplane pilots for our aviation book, Lost in Oscar Hotel . It was a great experience, even with the storms cutting the attendance by more than half. Even with the rain though, I was able to track down a handful of decent photos and a few potential stories for the book.

I still have about 2/3 of the editing left, so I’ll do a bigger post once I get those done. I just wanted to get this up in the mean time. So, keep your eyes out for more on Wynkoop.

I Found Some Old Work

In preparation for judging last week’s high school photo contest, I dug out my high school portfolio. And, since people really seemed to like checking out my old college stuff, I figured that I’d scan some to post to the site. Unfortunately, there are quite a few photos that I couldn’t find. If I find them, I’ll post them later.

That being said, most of what I shot back then was pretty terrible, I just didn’t realize it. My friends, family, and photo teacher just sort of fed my ego. College was a pretty rude awakening when I realized just how far behind some of my peers I was. What do you guys think?

But I didn’t just find my high school portfolio when digging through storage, discovered a bunch of photos that I shot back in middle and elementary school. Most weren’t worth looking at, but there was one little photo packet that had a handful of double exposed images that I shot with my old Canon SLR. It was a fun experiment, wandering around the neighborhood, and seeing what images I could piece together. The goal was to juxtapose shots of nature with industrial objects. Almost all of the images were a mess, but a few turned out interesting to look at. There’s also a handful of other photo I found that just amused me. The best being an attempted self portrait I took between two mirrors in a hotel in Canada. Too bad I failed to take the flash into account.

Do you have something that you’ve been practicing since you were a kid? Feel free to share in the comments below. Don’t forget to “like” and “follow” for more content every day.