Finding some angles on another gloomy day

There are two constants when it comes to my job here at The State: One, I get the assignments few people want; and two, it's generally raining and/or gloomy when I have to go shoot them. Today was no exception.

When the Woodrow Wilson home on Hampton Street here in downtown Columbia closed about five years ago for renovations, I recall shooting a tight little web video about it for our website. That video is probably long lost on a server somewhere, but I do recall enjoying walking through the musty interior and up the creaky stairway. So today, I get an assignment handed to me: "Major exterior renovations are wrapping up at the Woodrow Wilson House ..." Not a bad way to spend a Monday, even though there was a fine mist in the air.

I also knew it was going to be a challenge to find something compelling to shoot what with the washed out sky and flat lighting. And lets face it. This isn't a dynamic assignment -- mainly people standing around and pointing. (I know it may come as a surprise to my loyal followers, but I don't always get exciting, whiz-bang assignments!)

But I did what I could, starting with this shot, where I allowed the backlight to overwhelm the scene a bit for some drama:

Wilson Home, Nov. 23, 2009Later, an inspection of a root cellar produced a shot with some persepctive:

Wilson Home, Nov. 23, 2009Again, this isn't exciting, in-your-face, lit-to-the-extreme stuff. Most assignments aren't.

Using the wide end of a 16-35mm f/2.8L and standing behind a brick pile, I was able to bring some layers into the composition for this one. 

Wilson Home, Nov. 23, 2009Then finally, the shot I was "looking for" happened. Some of the Historic Columbia guys decided to take a trip up to the roof. I fired off a few shots, thinking I had a good one in the can, then I saw something better. If I went directly under the ladder and pointed the wide-angle straight up I could capture a figure on the ladder AND get the reflection of the figure from the mirror. I love using reflections when I can ... 

So I waited. Nearly a half hour went by. I had things I needed to do back at the office. Where were these guys? Did they fall off? Finally, I heard movement and voices and my subjects began their descent.

Wilson Home, Nov. 23, 2009And with that, I'm off to shoot Christmas lights ... heheh.



The life aquatic

I've worked at The State newspaper for the past five years but most of my job has been related to video and online production. Lately, they have entrusted me with a camera and I get random assignments from time to time. I'm currently in the middle of shooting a series of portraits for Lake Murray Magazine, which is a publication we produce here at The State.

It's almost like shooting the Palmetto Portrait Project again, but in a span of a week. On Friday, I had two.

I arrived at Lighthouse Marina on Lake Murray around 8 a.m. in hopes of capturing some early morning light. It was a foggy morning and my hopes of using the fog and rising sun were dashed as a low cloud cover produced white-out conditions. By the time I met with my subject, Lighthouse manager Stan Jones, it was even misting a bit.

I tried this shot first:

Stan Jones, Lake Murray, November 2009Not too bad... maybe a bit busy though. And dreary. Nothing really special about it.

We returned to the front by the water. Shooting into a white sky and fog, I decided to resort to some trickery to make the shot a little more interesting. I set my camera's white balance to tungsten, and filtered by flash with an orange gel. The result was this:

Stan Jones, Lake Murray, November 2009These white-balance adjusted shots rarely work for me, and I didn't think I had been successful here either. But once I brought the image into Photoshop and tweaked the color a bit, it really popped, resulting in a nice twilight look. Another photographer here said it looked "creepy." Our visual director said it looked "romantic." 

No one said anything superlative about my other shots from the day. The director picked the blue one for publication.

Here are a few others:

Stan Jones, Lake Murray, November 2009Stan Jones, Lake Murray, November 2009

Later that day, I headed to Saluda Shoals park near Irmo to meet with Gerrit Jobsis, southeast regional director of American Rivers. Since he's an avid kayaker and conservationist, Gerrit selected this area of the Saluda for his shots.

Gerrit Jobsis, Saluda Shoals, Nov. 2009Using a single light with the sun providing the cross-lighting. He was literally standing like this when I met him, so I put a light stand in front of him and started shooting!

Then, while he was making his way up the river, I snapped this one. I like it, although it's probably not ideal for publication:

Gerrit Jobsis, Saluda Shoals, Nov. 2009


Travelin' man: Wedding photos from Vegas, Puerto Rico

Jen and Ken were married in October and Jenny and I were guests at their wedding in Las Vegas, which was held at the iconic Flamingo. The casino had their own wedding photographer, so I didn't shoot their ceremony for them, but I had the camera in hand for the celebration afterwards.


... And then, a week later, we were jetting off to San Juan, Puerto Rico for my first destination wedding. I knew Jae because his brother Keith was a groomsman in my own wedding. I met with Jae and Adrienne for engagement photos on a cold rainy day in Washington, D.C. Their wedding day was the exact opposite: Even in October, PR is a warm, humid place with amazing light!

 Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington, D.C., 2009


Nothing in Between photo shoot

Lots of nice images from this meet-up, but we all really liked this one.

Nothing in Between, Columbia, S.C., 2009


It's not all doom and gloom (I like puppies)

From a recent shoot in Trenton, S.C.

Ginny's Twins with Puppies, 2009

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