Monday, March 29, 2010

Hockey and WrestleMania in Arizona, 27 and 28 March 2010

The weekend of 27 and 28 March 2010 here in the Phoenix area as far as sports was concerned meant hockey (the resurgent Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Colorado Avalanche, reaching 100 points for the first time in franchise history) and the WWE’s WrestleMania XXVI, held at Glendale Stadium in front of some 77,000 screaming fans. Something had to give and since I could not be in two places at once, I had to miss the Paul McCartney concert going on nearby in Glendale on Sunday.

These are just interesting venues to take photographs. Many places prohibit cameras with lenses longer than six inches. That may be to protect the fans in front who might get bopped by a longer lens or it might be to just hassle fans who happen to be photographers. But at any rate, this meant I had to use my backup camera to my Canon 7D, the nifty little Canon SD950IS. It only takes jpg photos but sports a 12-megapixel resolution. The photographer has very little control over a camera like this, as it really is a point and shoot.

One of the first problems inside is the white balance, especially in the tungsten lit hockey arena. Luckily, I had Lightroom and could correct the lighting by hitting the AUTO white balance. Remember, this camera only produced jpg’s so auto or “as shot” were my only choices unlike shooting in RAW when you can easily change the white balance.  A side note on camera flashes in stadiums:  Folks, it looks pretty to see the flashes in the stadium, but it does not a whit of good for your photographs!  Those on camera flashes are good to light your subject, or blast your subject, for about six feet.  THAT'S IT!  So turn off your flash.

The major problem in the stadium for WrestleMania was the poor and unusual lighting and that I was much further from the ring. At least I was on the first row of the second deck and could steady my camera on the rail or by making a pyramid with my arms. Still, the close ups were mostly unusable. Do note how I salvaged the Undertaker photo making it look almost like a painting. I actually think that version looks pretty good. Also, the lasers and multi colored lights of WrestleMania made for some interesting wide-angle shots.

My experience with the Canon SD950IS (thank you Canon for at least building some image stabilization into this camera) made me yearn for my Canon 7D, knowing full well its tolerance for high ISO. Plus, my ability to zoom nicely would have made for some on top of the action ring shots.

Happy Shooting,

Jim Patterson

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Monday, March 22, 2010

Faces of Santa Fe, March 2010

I spent a week in March 2010 studying photography at the Santa Fe (New Mexico) Photographic Workshop.   In particular I worked with New York photographer Paul Mobley. Oh did he work us for that week.  Paul is a marvelous photographer who has done a lot of published portrait work, including his new book American Farmer.

Our first day of shooting had us go to the plaza area of downtown Santa Fe, where I had to approach total strangers and ask them to pose for photographs.  For me, that wasn’t that hard to do.  I’ve found being bold often catches people off guard and for most, they are flattered by being asked. 
Day two was a day of shooting at the old New Mexico State Penitentiary in Santa Fe, home of a riot in 1980 that killed 33 people.  Rick was the tour guide and he worked for the prison some 28 years, missing the riot he says by 15 minutes.  He told stories of how the prisoners attacked mostly rapists, child molesters, and snitches and killed them one body part at a time.  In my photos that follow, you will see the soulful Rick, face framed with white hair and muttonchops.  You will wonder what he’s really seen and what he thinking. 

On the third day, destination was the Bar S ranch outside of Santa Fe.  Our host was Powhatan “Pow” Carter, who also appears in many of my photos.  Pow was a real cowboy who competed in the Professional Rodeo Circuit.  I asked him and he did indeed compete in the La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros (Tucson Rodeo), which I’ve attended many times and hope to some day photograph.  Some of my favorite shots came from that visit.  Here’s a short television show from “America’s Heartland” where host Paul Ryan interviews Paul Mobley.  Later in the clip, you’ll see Pow Carter with Paul Mobley.  Watch long enough and you might see Pow turn the tables on Paul. 

On the final day of shooting, we went to a Santa Fe Harley-Davidson dealership and met some really nice and cooperative local Harley bikers.  They were patient as we found shafts of light to paint their faces and light them with professional lighting equipment.  One of my favorites was Rebecca, the lovely lady shown in my photo collection on her motorcycle wearing her leathers. 

It was a physically and mentally demanding trip to Santa Fe, but the effort paid off in the photos and friendships I’ve come away with.  To Paul Mobley, I said at the farewell party “I’m proud to be able to say I studied photography with Paul Mobley.”

Jim Patterson