Sunday, October 25, 2015

Turning Test Shots Into Portraits

When I traveled back to Virginia I ended up in a city park to take photos of a childhood friend and her mother, but this blog is not about that photo session. Instead I am writing about the test shots that came before the actual session. I will often show up to a new location in advance and try a few different vistas. lighting scenarios or lenses.

My mother, sister and nephew were with me so I was able to use them as guinea pigs. There are cases where I have had to photograph myself in various spots but that is much more difficult to do with a remote control and tripod. My sister is a few years older than me, but that did not stop her from scampering up a tree. She was pretty high up there. I thought about throwing her a banana. Her son, Tyler soon joined her.

I had several cameras with me and believe or not, my pocket camera had a faster frame-per-second rate so I used it to snap Tyler jumping out of the tree.

I was keen to check my 70-200 lens since I thought that there might be a focusing issue. 

I created tight portraits and checked the eyes to confirm that the lens is tack sharp.

Though reluctant, Tyler did allow me to move him to different settings and snap away.

This kid is getting taller by the minute.

Lastly, my Mom who is more difficult to photograph than Bigfoot, sat still for a 1/2 second... just long enough to steal a single frame. I already know that she will hate it, but I don't. This is how I think of my Mom... surrounded by light.

Soon the real subjects showed up and the job began, but having help developing my modus operandi was excellent.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Bruce Munro's Light in the Garden Show in Atlanta's Botanical Garden

Last week I got a last minute invitation from an old pal of mine. He said that he would be touring the Bruce Munro "Light in the Garden" installation in Atlanta's Botanical Garden. His date fell through and he was going solo. I grabbed a pocket camera and hit the door...

Photo by Scott Dorman

Having a pocket camera does 2 things. One, it prevents people from saying "You can't bring that big camera in here" and it also frees me from obsessing over the photos. I used to shoot things just for fun so the limitations of the gear make is a no stress situation.

The images in this blog were created with the Canon S100 which is the size of a deck of cards. Grain... yeah, we got it. Crazy chromatic aberrations? Sure... we got those too. But, it also captured some of the color that I was seeing in the light sculptures that were lit entirely by miles of fiber optic cable... just like those fiber optic displays from the 1970s... but on a massive scale.

These towers were made of the same oval shape twisted and extruded. 

Did I mention is was pitch black while my eyes adjusted... 

These vantage points are identical but you can see how the colors changed over time.

My compadre, Mr. d

It was an unusually clear night with low haze.

I decided that I would love one in my back yard.

A longer exposure revealed some tennis courts right beyond the tree line.

 The last installation reminded us of the science fiction movie Avatar, and looked like Pandora, the fictional alien planet in the film.

The fiber optic "roots" connected everything together and added to the illusion of glowing organic plants.

See how quickly they can change? Now multiply that effect by thousands and you start to get an idea of the immensity of the show.

One thing is for sure... seeing art like this with your own eyes is something you should not  miss should you ever get a last minute call. However, you will have to do it somewhere else. The Atlanta show is officially over.