Photoshop World is less than a week away and we (the entire Peterson Herd will be at PSW) can’t wait! There are SO many GREAT folks at PSW, there is simply nothin like it! Well…where can you find me during PSW? The PreCon will be a ton of fun, it was sold out the day it was posted but you’ll find me in the hall in front of the room at least an hour early. There is the Art of Digital presentation where eight of us share nothing but our photographic passion with you. There are my classes, information about them is below (they are completely updated from April!). And you’ll find me on the Expo Floor at either the Epson Booth (ya baby, got prints there!), Wacom booth or the Image Wizards booth (got prints there as well! And you’ll want to find me! Why? First, I want to meet you and put a face to the name. Also, I have some give aways! For example, I have DOZEN Copperhill Cleaning kits to give away to folks. Watch for my Twitters for when and where I’ll ne giving stuff away. Can’t wait for the fun! We all look forward to seeing you all in Vegas Baby!
Dang, I want to Get Started in Wildlife Photography!
If you read my book, Captured, you probably got disappointed when you read my statement, “If you want to play with the big boys, you gotta have 600mm!” But I started with a 400mm and that was my longest lens for my first 5 years. That focal length taught me all the main lessons I depend upon today to be successful. You have a basic DSLR and a 70-300 or a 100-400. I’m going to share with you all that my 400mm taught me, permitting me to get where I am today. These are all techniques, tricks and tips you can apply to your photography to get you way beyond “started in wildlife photography.”
The Art of Aviation
There is an art of flying metal. These speed machines that defy gravity bend light just as gracefully. But how do you take these gas fueled machines and make them a piece of art? This is basic photography of light, exposure, focal length, moving the viewer’s eye around the image, manipulating it while you tell the story. The subject might be “just” a plane, but the techniques, tricks and final results must make the heart fly. Don’t let the title fool you. There is a lot more to this than just airplanes, we are talking romance!
B&H has just posted what has to be my longest web article, 3000 words. It’s a topic and format presented to me, I trust it will help you in your landscape photography.
The alarm went off at 02:50 and the TV went on. At 03:01 we saw our dear friend Meb take off in the marathon in London. Meb is not just a runner, an Olympic athlete representing our country, but a 37 year old pursuing his dreams (he ran an Olympic marathon at 37!)! Meb was in the front of the pack at the beginning of the marathon but about 1/3 of the way through the pack started to pull away and he was in a trailing pack around 17-19th position and a few minutes behind the Nigerians. When the final lap was turning the corner, there was Meb with Japan and then shortly passing Brazil and in the end, he finished his last Olympic game career in 4th. 4th in the world, simply, bloody, amazing!
In the post race interviews, it was alluded to how Meb’s story is the American Dream. You really don’t know just how true this is! Spending time with Meb while he trained and to see all the runners of all ages here in the Eastern Sierra training stop to talk to him, inspired by him, I know when they said in the post race that he is an inspiration to this countries runners, he truly is! Meb’s “motto” Run to Overcome comes from his life. His book tells his story and just how with a spirit like Meb’s this country is still an amazing place to call home. Whether you’re a runner, athletic competitor or photographer, this book lifts you up and brightens any day.
Ten hours after the end of his race, an email came in from Meb. I can’t even imagine how jam packed his day must be after that amazing finish so I opened it up instantly. Even with all he has going being on the other side of the pond, he took time to reach out. That’s just the kind of amazing human being he is. We’re very proud of his accomplishments and honored to be able to call him friend! Congrats Meb!
Run Meb! at 3am PST, Meb who is 37 will be running in the marathon at the Olympics. All of here in Mammoth will be up and rooting him to the finish line!
And if you’ve been following the blog this past week, you know part of the story of how this image was created for Meb.
And how did I create this last image? You will never guess what I had to do. The folks at the NAPP Safari at Photoshop World will here the whole story and be amazed! I will tell you this much, is was with a D4, 24f1.4AFS and 2 SB-900s attached to SD-9s!
As photographers, we have to have some loyalties, the first no matter what I firmly believe is to ourselves. That photograph is our expression of so much we know as creatives and humans. Another loyalty is to the subject and lastly to the story. It’s these loyalties that push us each time we click. So after getting some of the ground work images in the can, it was time to focus in on the mission, telling the story of where Meb lives and loves to train.
The Eastern Sierra has many iconic locations known around the globe like Death Valley and Mt Whitney and the ghost town Bodie. It has even more iconic locations known just to Californians and one of those is the Green Church. It’s been around since dirt first fell here and had been the focus of many, many events in history. It’s also where many park before taking off on their workout on the road. Many think it’s still an active church because of all the cars seemingly always parked there. Well we finished our “road” work and drove back to the Green Church to bring the shoot back to its purpose, Meb’s home in Mammoth. Now in this photo, while Meb and we know it’s the Green Church, it looks like just a green wall to anyone else.
To at least tell the story that it’s a church, I needed to include the steeple (open the doors you see the …). So shooting with the D4 and 200-400VR2 zoomed to 400mm (Sharon filling in Meb’s right side with Lastolite TriGrip with softgold), I walked the side of the road where I could get just Meb and the Steeple and not the rest of the “junk” that is around the Green Church. Meb didn’t have to run any great distance because as it turned out, we only had two strides where I had just the right background. Now if I didn’t write all of this story, you wouldn’t understand why the last picture here is the photo we were going for. So one its own, the photo doesn’t tell the story without a caption but thank goodness, that wasn’t why we took this photo. It wasn’t meant to stand alone but be part of a greater story. But what does bring a smile to my heart was Meb’s big smile when he saw the photograph because he’s the client, he was who the photo was being made for. So while being loyal to my concepts and skills as a photographer, I was able to stay loyal to the subject and the story. That’s make the photograph successful. But were these the photographs that really were on my mind for this assignment? mtc.
With the road portraits done, we started to work on some road work. Sharon & I figured pretty quick we weren’t going to run and keep up with Meb so the reflector was out. His first “run” up the center line proved that thought right. Since the sun was going down and the clouds were building, the light had mellowed some so I just went with basic front lighting. I grabbed the D4 and 200-400VR2, sat down on the center line and had Meb Job up to the lens. In the composite of the stills below, you can see how far Meb was from me when he started (shot at 400mm) and in a few strides, he was on top of me. The first time it was so fast I just laughed. What was I thinking, I wasn’t going to have much time to shoot.
The D4 was on CH and it did a killer job! Using my typical center AF sensor technique, I placed it on Meb’s chest, kept the center line dead center and just had Meb run a couple of sets up the road. Neither Meb nor the D4 missed a step and luckily, we had no road traffic to interrupt us. This still you see above, we printed up 50 5×7 copies and sent along with Meb. He has so many fans and Meb is such a nice guy, thought he would enjoy handing them out. When we gave them to him the evening before we left, he gave us that Mab smile and said holding up one of the prints, “Hope this gets me a first class upgrade.” I hope it did, he’s a first class human being!
Meb doesn’t train just on mountain trails. We have a road here in the Eastern Sierra which at times is a highway filled with hundreds training by either running or biking. Meb has been running on the road since his days at UCLA. So it was only natural we continue on with the project by shooting down on the flats.
At Meb’s feet is a mark where he starts his training run. It’s a top a rise in the highway and was a natural place for the portrait. The funny thing, I had scouted it prior to this day and picked this spot without knowing it was his start. Meb does A LOT of road work coming up on so many miles he would have circled the earth four times! I wanted the first shot to look like he owned the road. Wearing what he’ll be running in on the 12th, we placed him on the center line. This puts the light over his left shoulder so to light up his right side, used a simple Lastolite TriGrip with softgold. I shot D4 with 200-400VR2 at about 350mm. Other than dodging cars, we started off with a simple shot.
The road has produced many champions over the decades. One is our son Jake who trained there during the summer for his winter sport cross country skiing. Our oldest son Brent did his dry land training down on the flats as well and one occasion, dad would go down and do his best to stay alive trying to keep up with them for a hundred yards. Just working out on the road doesn’t guarantee results I can report firsthand. mtc.
While the basic portrait was OK, the story is Meb runs these mountain trails to train for the London Olympic Marathon. The photograph has to say this without a caption. Still shooting with SB-900 powered by SD-9, D4, 70-200VR2, we had to put Meb in motion (not hard to do). The SB-900 was on a pole about a foot out of the picture. There was a spot on the ground, a drop of light which was the mark for where I was going to focus and where the light would be at the angle as you see it in the photograph. All we had to do was put Meb in motion and go click. Pretty simple stuff.
I received a lot of emails asking about the exposure, like, “How’d you do that?” I was torn about how to do it and what solved my dilemma was staying true to the client. How did Meb see the forest he trains in daily? It would have been easy to do a more “landscape” type forest scene shooting at a different hour with no light on the forest floor, much more mellow, landscapie look. But that’s not when Meb trains. It might have been more appealing to the masses, but not an accurate telling of the story. So I went with the “nasty” light version here to stay true to the goal, tell the story of Meb’s training on these mountain trails. I dialed in minus 2 in the D4 and with CSe4, simply left the SB-900 at 0. Wide angle dome was attached and a 1/4 CTO used to warm up the light. The D4 AF was set to d21 so all I had to do is keep Meb dead center in the frame, count his pace as he ran, look at the spot on the ground and shoot when both feet were off the ground.
The short answer then is, used technology with the story to be told to make the click. We did the standing portrait first to get him comfortable with me (he is not camera shy) and for me to zero in on the final look I wanted for the exposure. Then a couple runs down the trail and we were out of there. It all took less than 10min. Meb had to get to his ice bath so the clock was ticking. mtc
Meb is simply just a great person! He’s been our next door neighbor for over a decade, we’ve seen his family and wins grow, both very exciting! Meb is on the USA Olympic team, running in his third Olympics running the marathon on the 12th in London. His training is nothing short of amazing to me, “Ya, ran just 16 miles today” he will say so matter a fact. We’ve never photographed Meb before so over the last couple of weeks before his heading to London, we’ve done a number of shoots with him. The goal wasn’t so much a “portrait” but telling visually why he loves Mammoth and trains here. This was the first shoot, a pretty simple one, Meb on the mountain trails where he trains (this was shot after his doing a 16 mile “maintaining” run). It’s a simple single SB-900 powered by SD-9, D4, 70-200VR2 click, well, sorta simple. I’ll be telling the whole story at the NAPP Safari at PSW because no photo is truly “simple.” At least the black bear we’d photographed the day before didn’t make an appearance. mtc.
There are a number of photographers out there I have a lot of admiration for. It’s because they are out there doin it, following their heart and making the clicks. One of those is my dear friend Jeff Cable. I remember the first time we went shooting together, I couldn’t shake the guy. Talk about a ton of questions…sheeesh! Nothing has stopped Jeff though from pursuing his photography despite working long hours around the globe in his “day” job. In that spirit, Jeff is at the summer Olympics as the official photographer for the USA Waterpolo Team. Jeff is blogging about his experiences and it’s well worth your reading. I encourage to you read it if for no other reason then to know that everything in photography is possible for everyone! Well done Jeff!
To say Patrick has talent is really slighting Patrick because what he does is so much more than just talent. What you see here is a total original piece of art. The reason it’s on my blog because Patrick used a Bison image of mine for a reference. Working with Patrick is great, what he comes up with always makes me smile. Patrick created a time lapse of it’s creation you’ll enjoy watching. Nicely done Patrick, can’t wait for the next one!
Yesterday we went to our first fly-in birthday party and man, was it great! The birthday party was for our dear friend Scottie, one of my pilots for air to air work. Since I know he reads my blog, I won’t embarrass him. But I can tell you this…he knows how to throw a party!
And for those who don’t know what a fly-in is, it’s where a bunch of folks hop in their planes and fly to a location and get together for great conversation and flying. This is the party from last night and a sampling of the aircraft that came in. There’s a AT-6, a couple Cessna 170s, A-35 Bonanza, Cessna 180, Cessna 182 and Stearman. It was one helluva great time and I have a couple more stories and clicks to come. But Scottie asked me with them puppy dog eyes, “I will make the blog?” I’d better get this post up. Happy birthday buddy!
We sure do appreciate the excitement folks are feeling for our next issue of the BT Journal, vol 15.4. It’s in layout, Brent is working his magic so we are hoping the iPad version will be available in the next 10 days (cross fingers). This issue, a new issue (opposed to a back issue) will be included in your iTunes subscription. And this issue is chuck full of information whether you own a D4 of a P&S, I’ve covered it all when getting a new camera body. So..keep the good vibs comin! Thanks!
Some say it’s the gear, some say it’s the person behind the camera but in my years, I’ve come to appreciate the positive influence friends make on my photography. This is my bud Gabe, some of you might have seen him at various events like NAPP Training but he’s the guy at B&H who takes damn good care of me (like getting my my D4!). He introduced me to the skies of Manhattan and the delicious pastrami at Katz Deli. Thanks my friend!
And my favorite shot from the flight. The difference from the other images is the direction of light and the elevation the shots were taken. What a morning!
You might remember a few weeks back my looking for and finding an easy and inexpensive way to clean my sensor brushes. Well, during that process I went looking for other sensor cleaning solutions. My current MLP Ed sent me a great product shot he had done of Copper Hill brushes so it made me think about their products. I contacted them and while I was in Dayton, their box arrived. I just got to FL and my first opportunity to work with them. THEY ROCK!!! First, their brushes are gorgeous and really inexpensive. Next, their cleaning swabs are killer (seen pictured here)! You use a “common handle” over and over again, simply swapping out the cleaning cloth. This is not only environmentally friendly and really inexpensive, its the same basic system (but not the tools) Nikon uses to clean sensors. I can carry the one handle and a tone of cleaning swabs for pennies and no space with the Copper Hill system. So while I love Visible Dust, I’m switching to Copper Hill!
We’re getting better! Our latest issue of the iPad BT Journal was accepted by iTunes the first time and we’re excited to bring it to you. We worked hard to greatly expand this incredibly popular issue of our Journal. Brent was constantly asking for more images, more images which he inserted into this issue. When he went to my Triple Scoop account and got some music and my huge video library and grabbed a number of segments, I was getting really excited and he does not dissapoint. This is a great issue waiting for you!
Your response to the iPad version of the BT Journal has us working on more and more issues. Now this issue is a “back issue” and can be purchased singularly. If you bought a subscription, you can simply click and get it. All of these things you can do in app.
Yeap, this week you could see not me but you could see my photographs. Check it out this weekend, will rerun in some parts of the country