Archive for September, 2008

Wild Art Hunting

September 25th, 2008
By



Hey y’all!

Wild Art is something all newspaper photojournalists have to shoot on a regular basis.  It provides the readers a light-hearted, slice-of-life moment amidst all of the headlines and hard lines of news stories and photographs.  All the Star-Bulletin photographers have to come up with Wild Art-an assignment known as the Wild Art Hunt.  

It’s not always fruitful, and there certainly have been times when I was struggling to find a great moment or a great picture and the light is fading fast.

A lot of the successful wild arts I’ve shot have been dependent on patience and waiting for the moment, as opposed to looking for it.

Monday, I decided to go to Kakaako Waterfront Park for my wild art.  I noticed several parasailors as it was a nice calm day on the ocean.  Even though Hawaii doesn’t really have seasons, it felt like one of the last days of summer.

 

I used this bike rack to make a graphically appealing shot of this parasailor.  Using the environment to add compositional elements in photographs is something I'm always thinking about whenever I'm out shooting.

I used this bike rack to make a graphically appealing shot of this parasailor. Using the environment to add compositional elements in photographs is something I'm always thinking about whenever I'm out shooting.

After several shots of this parasailor, I noticed that there was an iron signpost a few yards down from this bike rack, with the sign missing.  Hmm.  I stood back and photographed the parasailors through this signage.

 

The parasailors through that iron sign.

The parasailors through that iron sign.

I then noticed several pedestrians and cyclists using the walkway and a lightbulb popped on above my head–framing THEM through this newly found piece of artistic dimension!

 

Here's a man passing through, and although visually and graphically appealing, I wanted something that was more of a moment--more human interest.

Here's a man passing through, and although visually and graphically appealing, I wanted something that was more of a moment--more human interest.

 

I also tried using elements OUTSIDE of the four walls of that sign to see how it would hold, compositionally, but ultimately dumped that idea.

I also tried using elements OUTSIDE of the four walls of that sign to see how it would hold, compositionally, but ultimately dumped that idea.

After waiting for a while, I saw a man and his young son carrying fishing poles headed my way.  With my luck, they walked straight down the path towards the water and inside the four walls of that iron signpost. 

 

Father and son head for the water to cast their lines.  Visually I thought it was okay, but I thought it would look better if their whole bodies were in the frame.

Father and son head for the water to cast their lines. Visually I thought it was okay, but I thought it would look better if their whole bodies were in the frame.

So I waited and hoped that they’d stand on the concrete wall for a better glance at the water…they did, and I was able to make a frame I was satisfied with.

 

I try to use environmental elements to make my images visually interesting.  When the right kind of moment lines up within these elements, you score!

I try to use environmental elements to make my images visually interesting. When the right kind of moment lines up within these elements, you score!

All images taken with a Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 200mm (to compress the view), Manual exposure, ISO 400, 1/400 sec @ f20, daylight whitebalance.

Talking Heads (NOT the 80′s band)

September 22nd, 2008
By



Quickie update, since my last two have been novels.

Just shot the Stop Rail Now hearing at Supreme Court.  How do you make a talking head look interesting?  Today I used television’s pilot lights to make a pretty neat image of Stop Rail Now attorney Earle Partington.

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 70mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 800, 1/640 @ f2.8, Tungsten whitebalance.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 70mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 800, 1/640 @ f2.8, Tungsten whitebalance.

Now off to find some wild art!

Posted in news | 5 Comments »

The Primaries…the Loooooong Primaries…

September 21st, 2008
By



 

Hey Friends!

 

Well, the Primaries are over, and it was a very long day for not just myself, but ALL journalists covering it in different parts of the state.  I was slated to cover both Ann Kobayashi and Mufi Hannemann–Kobayashi after the first printout, and Hannemann immediately after that.  All staff photographers on elections that day were also required to shoot polling centers at different parts of the island.  I had Kamiloiki School in Hawaii Kai, where voter turnout was sparse, to say the least.  Still, I had to make a picture that told that story.

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35 f2.8L at 16mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 50, 1/2 second @ f10, Auto whitebalance

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35 f2.8L at 16mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 50, 1/2 second @ f10, Auto whitebalance

I was told by the polling captain (who happened to be one of my former English professors in college!) that we weren’t allowed to shoot voter faces nor identify them, so I used motion-blur to capture the two voters entering the booths.  So that was that.  Now off to Kobayashi’s headquarters to set up shop.  

When I arrived, I was quite shocked at how nice and tight the quarters were.  Of course, television had already set up their stages, lights, cables, etc. for their live feeds–leaving me with virtually NO workspace to edit and transmit a picture.

 

Nice intimate quarters at Ann Kobayashi's headquarters

Nice intimate quarters at Ann Kobayashi's headquarters

I arrived at about 4:40.  The first printout was supposed to be around (note: AROUND) 6:30pm or so.  And so the wait begins.  Kobayashi was not on the premises yet.  Luckily, there was a very entertaining and amusing fellow by the name of J.J.  He was poking jokes and talking up a storm with literally everyone who came within reach of his vocal calamity.  

 

J.J. badgering a woman at Kobayashi's.

J.J. badgering a woman at Kobayashi's.

After a while, I couldn’t take anymore of J.J.’s antics and decided to step outside for some air.  At this point, there were more members of the media than actual supporters at Kobayashi’s headquarters.  One of the gentlemen helping with the overall setup for Kobayashi’s camp walked by, and I asked what time Ann would be showing up, as it was getting near the 6 o’clock hour–almost printout time.

“Oh, Ann’s not going to be here til after 8 or so,” he said.

“Uh-oh,” I thought to myself.  How in the heck was I going to get hers AND Mufi’s reactions at the same time?  I decide to call the newsroom to give a sit-rep.

As fast as our man J.J. was turning people off with his antics and short shorts, plans changed for my agenda.  I received instructions to go down to the Senate gallery to make photographs of the ballot counting taking place.  From there, it was off to Hannemann’s, while our other photographer, FL Morris, would catch Kobayashi as she arrived at her headquarters.

I got to the Senate gallery and was intrigued at how busy the floor was with ballot counters, computer workers, and various other personnel milling around.  After shooting the activity with my 70-200mm lens (the Senate gallery is above the actual floor, so I was shooting down at the ballot counters), I decided to get a little artsy-fartsy and play with some slow exposures since the action down there resembled worker ants going to and from where they had to go.  There was detached circuit breaker housing leaning against the railing that lines the lower gallery.  Using that, I played with exposures of 2 seconds or more.

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 173mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 50, 2 seconds @ f10, Tungsten whitebalance.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 173mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 50, 2 seconds @ f10, Tungsten whitebalance.

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35 f2.8L at 16mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 100, 2.5 seconds @ f22, Tungsten whitebalance.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35 f2.8L at 16mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 100, 2.5 seconds @ f22, Tungsten whitebalance.

It felt rather weird shooting from up there.  The officials knew I was there photographing them, yet I couldn’t communicate with them in any way.  I like the feeling of connecting with the subject I am photographing–I didn’t get that feeling up in that second-floor gallery.  It was like photographing animals at the zoo.  Of course, not in terms of the subject, but the connection between myself and the subject.  I am in no way saying the officials are animals!

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 150mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 800, 1/15 @ f8, Tungsten whitebalance.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 150mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 800, 1/15 @ f8, Tungsten whitebalance.

After I got what I needed, it was off to Dole Cannery for my third and final stop on Primary day–Mufi Hannemann’s headquarters.  When I arrived, there were already over a hundred supporters having dinner and enjoying the entertainment.  Immediately, I scanned the area for a workstation so I could edit/transmit what I had shot as well as lock-up my laptop for later.  Nothing.  The usual stages for television were there, and there was noticeably more room, but I resorted to a corner of the room near the main entrance.  Here’s my view from there, as I sent my first take:

 

AP shooter Ronen Zilberman, left, and Ka Leo photo editor Kent Nishimura stand like sentries as I send my photos.

AP shooter Ronen Zilberman, left, and Ka Leo photo editor Kent Nishimura stand like sentries as I send my photos.

After I sent my first batch of photos, I chatted with Bill Brennan and he said that Mufi wouldn’t be arriving until 9 o’clock or so.  More waiting–how fun!  When Hannemann finally arrived, myself, the Advertiser’s Bruce Asato, Ronen Zilberman, and Kent Nishimura all hounded the front of the stage.  It felt like a rock concert with all these cheering people behind us.  Hannemann wasn’t as animated as he usually was during his first talk with the supporters.  He led the crowd in a prayer, gave his thanks to everyone, and proceeded to have dinner with his family behind closed doors.  

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35 f2.8L at 32mm, Speedlite 580EX set to E-TTL, 2nd curtain sync, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 1000, 1/50 sec @ f5.6, Auto whitebalance.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 16-35 f2.8L at 32mm, Speedlite 580EX set to E-TTL, 2nd curtain sync, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 1000, 1/50 sec @ f5.6, Auto whitebalance.

I made several stock images of Hannemann talking on the mic, but I wanted to give the reader a sense of place, and of the support he had.  I moved a row back from the front of the stage and waited to frame Mufi between the clapping hands of one of the supporters in front of me.  I’m a fan of little elements within the frame that add definition and place in juxtaposition with the subject being photographed.

 

As soon as he left the stage, I knew that the window of opportunity to make a picture of him interacting with people would be very tiny, so I maneuvered my way towards him through the sea of people and in position in front so I could catch him hugging, shaking hands, or doing something.  I didn’t want to send just a talking head picture of him onstage.  So I jostled and pushed and all of a sudden–BAM!–Mufi let out a huge “HEEEEEEY!!!” to a woman who he obviously was very glad to see.  But–BAM!–I was HOSED!! By another woman in the frame who conveniently pushed through and walked right through my frame. UGH.

 

I'm HOSED!  Thanks so much, lady on the left!

I'm HOSED! Thanks so much, lady on the left!

So Mufi disappears into the back room.  More waiting ensues.  The crowd has slowly started to trickle out, though a substantial number of supporters remain and cause a raucous every time one of the television stations do a live stand-up.  Meanwhile, I go back to my corner to send what I have to the newsroom.

Guess what?  More waiting.  In fact, Hannemann doesn’t even peek outside the door until after the third printout.  By the time he hits the stage again, it’s about 11:15.  With all that waiting, I took notice of the designs printed on the bright red “Mufi Hannemann” sign behind the stage.  “Mufi” was written in white cursive, and I thought it’d be interesting to frame him through the upper curve of the letter F while he’s talking.  It took a LOT of tries, especially because I wanted the right facial expression from him that told the story:

 

Almost...not quite.

Almost...not quite.

 

Ehhhh.....still not the one.

Ehhhh.....still not the one.

Frustrated, I tried something different, I wanted to get his wife Gail in the shot too, so I used a 15mm fisheye on a few frames.  He let out a really great expression that told the story of his race against Kobayashi and how he just fell short of 50% by THIS MUCH:

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 15mm f2.8, Speedlite 580EX, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 2500, 1/125 sec @ f4, Auto whitebalance.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 15mm f2.8, Speedlite 580EX, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 2500, 1/125 sec @ f4, Auto whitebalance.

I switched back to the wide angle and continued to pursue the framed, halo photo in the “F” of “Mufi.” There were other problems too, like flashes from other cameras:

 

Someone else's flash cooks Mufi a well-done...darn it!

Someone else's flash cooks Mufi a well-done...darn it!

 

Finally, FINALLY, I got one with the right facial expression and position:

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 24-70 f2.8L at 25mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 1000, 1/125 sec. @ f2.8, Auto whitebalance.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 24-70 f2.8L at 25mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 1000, 1/125 sec. @ f2.8, Auto whitebalance.

Why the relentless pursuit of the framed head, you may ask?  Backgrounds are just as important as the subject themselves.  Every element within the frame counts towards composition, and you don’t want trees growing out of someone’s shoulder in a portrait or powerlines running through their head.  This is the same reason why we shoot sports with long lenses and apertures wide open–to isolate the action.  In Mufi’s case, I wanted the background to add to the photo.

Meanwhile, it’s nearing midnight, and my cellphone is buzzing.  Deadline is grabbing at my heels.  Time to file!

After the night was over, it was 12:30am, and I was exhausted, hungry, and sore from all the standing and waiting.  I moved 22 photos of Mufi, 5 of the polling places, 14 of the ballot counting, and 3 from Kobayashi’s headquarters.  My framed Mufi shot made A1, so I was really pleased that our awesome designer Mike Rovner caught the elements I had in that frame.  Oodles of fun, can’t wait for November!  Sayonara for now!

Posted in news | 2 Comments »

Underwater…and under scrutiny

September 18th, 2008
By



I photographed this beautiful female tiger shark on Wednesday.

 

One of the most beautiful creatures on the planet.  Taken with a Lumix TZ5 and an underwater housing.

One of the most beautiful creatures on the planet. Taken with a Lumix TZ5 and an underwater housing.

I wanted to shed some positive light on these magnificent animals despite all of the media coverage and scrutiny in lieu of the recent shark attack and even more recent sightings.  This photograph, with one of the boat’s propellers framing the dorsal fin, represents the relationship between humans and shark.  The dorsal fin has been a symbol synonymous with fear and terror, and I feel this picture acknowledges and disintegrates that.  Sharks, like any other top predators, have been doing what they do for millions of years.  When we enter the ocean, we enter their world, and they are in control.  

Before photojournalism, I was initially going to become an ichthyologist–the study of fish–with an emphasis on sharks, so it’s actually a privilege for me to be able to photograph a shark in the wild.

FIRE!!

September 14th, 2008
By



One of the most exhilarating albeit difficult assignments to cover are fires.  Exhilarating in that you never know what you’re going to see when you get there; difficult in that you have to deal diplomatically with law enforcement, fire, and persons who may have been misplaced or lost their home because of the fire.

Saturday, I made my way towards the Catlin military housing area on a tip that there was a huge warehouse fire near the Navy golf course.  Sure enough, when I got there, both Federal Fire and Honolulu Fire were efficient in dousing the fire so that no flames were visible anymore, and the whole warehouse was reduced to a smoldering, smoking pile of rubble.  

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 75 mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 200, 1/5000 @ f2.8, daylight whitebalance

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 75 mm, Exposure mode: Manual, ISO 200, 1/5000 @ f2.8, daylight whitebalance

Catlin Drive was barricaded by military police, and KITV as well as the Honolulu Advertiser were milling around the barricade, waiting for access.  Quick thinking told me to drive past the barricade and park near the next bus stop along Nimitz Highway heading Ewa bound.  Luck was on my side today, as the burned warehouse was not but 50 yards from the bus stop, through the chain-link fence.  Rather than dealing with the MP’s and trying to get into Catlin, I walked right up to the fence and shot through it.

 

The scene as seen through the chain link fence behind the bus stop on Nimitz Highway.

The scene as seen through the chain link fence behind the bus stop on Nimitz Highway.

 

The fence had wood strips interlocked through the links, partially concealing me.  But soon, firefighters were aware of my presence, like this one who pauses to look at me from a distance.

The fence had wood strips interlocked through the links, partially concealing me. But soon, firefighters were aware of my presence, like this one who pauses to look at me from a distance.

Using my 70-200mm lens, aperture wide-open, I shot through the fence and was able to blur out the links in the fence to make some telling images.  Some looked good in black and white also:

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 70mm, Exposure mode: Manual, 1/5000 @ 2.8, ISO 200, daylight whitebalance, grayscaled in Photoshop

After I got what I needed from that spot, I get a call from our news desk saying that residents are being evacuated from the nearby housing area because of smoke inhalation hazards.  Knowing that Catlin Drive was still barricaded, I made my way onto Salt Lake Blvd. to look for another possible way into the housing area.  NONE.  I found myself back on Nimitz Highway, but when I got to Catlin Drive, I noticed KITV wasn’t there nor was the Advertiser. Hmm.  So I slowed down, rolled down my window to talk to the MP.  Luck was on my side AGAIN, because before I even said a word, he said “Okay, just turn right here, be sure not to run over the hoses, and that officer there will direct you.” SWEET!  “Okay, thanks officer,” I replied.  As I passed the command post where all the fire engines were situated, I noticed several EMS vehicles making their way north.  I decided to follow them, suspecting that they were probably there to treat people who had inhaled too much smoke.  They parked in a cul-de-sac, so I parked about a block away and walked along the street towards a t-junction, where I saw military police combing the streets to let residents know about evacuation.

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 155mm, Exposure mode: Manual, 1/1250 @ f4.5, ISO 200, daylight whitebalance.

Canon EOS 1D Mark IIN, EF 70-200 f2.8L IS at 155mm, Exposure mode: Manual, 1/1250 @ f4.5, ISO 200, daylight whitebalance.

I kept my distance, as what any responsible journalist would do, as to not get in the way of public service.  The smoke was getting pretty bad in this area, as you can see in the background of the photo above.  Naturally, I headed in THAT direction to look for people being evacuated.  As I stood on the corner, I turned around, and luck was AGAIN on my side!  Four children were walking towards me, covering their faces with their shirts from the smoke.  I fired away, pun intended.

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35 f2.8L at 16mm, Exposure mode: Manual, 1/1250 @ f9, ISO 200, daylight whitebalance

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 16-35 f2.8L at 16mm, Exposure mode: Manual, 1/1250 @ f9, ISO 200, daylight whitebalance

They had apparently been hanging out and were looking for one of their siblings.  I recorded their names with proper spellings via the voice recorder on my camera (one of the BEST things invented for photojournalists).  This imbeds a WAV file onto the particular jpg frame that you select, and so the ID’s of the kids were tagged directly onto the photo I made of them. 

Apparently my luck had finally run out though.  A minute after I was done talking with the kids, an MP on foot, one of the ones I photographed earlier making their rounds in the street, was on to me and was yelling “Excuse me, sir!” Uh-oh…..

“Hey officer,” I quipped. 

“Are you with the Navy?” he asked.  I said no, and that I was with the Star-Bulletin.

“News media?” he asked, shocked. 

“Yes, the officer at the barricade let me through,” I replied.

Immediately he was on his radio, uttering some code numbers and jibberish that I couldn’t understand.  What I could understand though, were the words “News media guy” and “not belong on the property,” being transmitted through that radio in a very angry voice.

“Sorry sir, you’re going to have to leave, this is military property,” the MP said to me.

“No problem, I’m leaving now,” I said.  I already got the shot that I needed, so I wasn’t about to argue with an armed MP.

Walking to my car, I was approached by another MP in a car, who proceeded to interrogate me with “Hey, what’s your problem? I told you three times already you can’t be here?”  I literally stopped in my tracks, dropped my jaw, and responded with “Excuse me, officer?  I haven’t seen nor talked to you up until this point, how could you have possibly told me two times before? I’m already on my way out, and it was one of YOUR officers that let me onto the premises to begin with!”

He was silent and stoic for about 3 seconds, then responded with a dull, “Well, you need to leave now…” Then he rolled up his window and took off. 

I jumped in my car, headed down towards Nimitz Highway and the barricade and waved at the officer who was at the barricade, though it wasn’t the one who let me in.  As I stopped at the intersection, I receive sharp stares from the Advertiser writer, who shall remain nameless here, as he stood outside the barricade still waiting for his chance to get inside, puzzled at how I was driving away from in there.  Nothin’ like blowing away the competition.

I wanted to make one more image that would establish the scene for our readers.  An “overall” shot if you would.  I drove through the airport and headed for the H1 westbound onramp, and luck had once again fallen on my side.  I hadn’t even pulled over yet, and I saw several streams of water pouring up and over the rubble from three different fire engines.

 

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 24-70 f2.8L at 32mm, Exposure mode: Manual, 1/125 @f14, ISO 200, Cloudy whitebalance.

Canon EOS 1D Mark III, EF 24-70 f2.8L at 32mm, Exposure mode: Manual, 1/125 @f14, ISO 200, Cloudy whitebalance.

After that, I hopped back into the car, and was on my way.  I smelled like the fire, was coughing up some rather unpleasant phlegm, and I had just started my shift!  It felt really great to cover all angles and aspects of a news assignment though.  Sorry about the length of this post, but hopefully you enjoy the words and stories as much as the photographs.  None of these on this post published for the paper unfortunately.

Posted in news | 11 Comments »