Monday, November 23, 2015

Senior high school photo shoot: Justin

Lee Ann's grandson Justin is graduating next spring, and he and his mother asked me to shoot his outdoor senior high school shots recently. They pushed the timing of the shoot almost as late into the year as my niece Erin's family did two years ago, but fortunately, we found a day and time on Nov. 3 to squeeze in a late-afternoon session in Garfield Park in Indianapolis.

Unfortunately, Justin, who lives in Fishers, couldn't get to the park until after school that day, a Tuesday, so we started later than I would have liked. Darkness sets in much earlier these days since clocks rolled back for standard time earlier this month, so we tried to work quickly.

We got pictures of Justin and his girlfriend, Rae, in a dozen or so poses while we had good daylight. A few were taken inside the pagoda, others outside the amphitheater to exploit the brick facade, a few along the jagged stone staircase south of the arts center and several leaning against a tree and a light pole. (I did not attempt to get permission from Rae or her parents to use any of the photos with her in them for this post, which is why you don't see any of her here).

When it became too dark to get decent background into the photos, Justin, an artsy guy, asked me to shoot some pictures of him in available light -- without flash. I didn't bring along my tripod, so I boosted the ISO to very high levels (2500 and beyond) so I could continue hand-holding the camera. I figured that if it was an artsy, "different" look he was interested in, he might not mind the noise from high ISO levels. We were near the amphitheater at the time, so all of those photos were near that facility. Justin seemed pleased with those shots, which for the most part were cast against dark backgrounds of minimal natural light and illuminated by the park's tungsten pole lamps. Such lighting brings harsh facial light contrasts that photographers ordinarily wouldn't seek, but Justin wanted that mood, that look.

As it turned out, I took several of those shots using shutter speeds too slow (e.g., 1/25) for hand-holding a camera without a lens equipped with built-in stabilization. Some of those shots had to be discarded, requiring a reshoot with higher ISOs and faster shutter speeds. A few of the picture with slow shutter speeds, however, amazingly, actually turned out OK. A special nod of thanks to Lee Anne, an experienced studio portrait photographer, who gets the credit for posing her grandson.

The photo leading off the post was taken inside the pagoda with camera settings of f/2, 1/180 and ISO 200. Right after that shot, we took another with the same camera settings -- this time with Justin smiling. That shot is the first below.

Photo geek stuff: For the entire shoot, I used my Canon 6D and Sigma 85mm f/1.4 lens, which I've turned to recently for all of my portraiture-related shoots to exploit that fast aperture and bokeh. For the majority of the shoot, I also used an on-camera flash, Canon 580EX II, in manual mode set at 80mm w/light intensities of 1/32 to 1/8, depending on the stage of natural light availability, to highlight the subject. The flash was equipped with a white Graslon Insight (flat) diffuser. I made a point to shoot most of the photos at or around f/2.0 or f/2.4, adjusting my ISO (which usually was in the vicinity of 160) to compensate for any needed light, which wasn't an issue until darkness set in. In the darkness, I boosted ISO levels to in the range of 2500 to 10,000. In post-processing, the subject's facial features were enhanced in Portrait Professional Studio software, version 11. 



Sunday, October 18, 2015

Game Day, Part III:
Marching band, dance team
entertain Trine homecoming crowd

Trine University's marching band provided entertainment before last Saturday's homecoming game against Oliver (Mich.) College, and it returned at halftime, delivering an enjoyable program that included a bit of dancing and xylophone music as well as the traditional marching and formations.

I open this post, the third and final in a series devoted to my visit to Trine last weekend, with a shot composed around one of the conductor's hats, sitting on turf during the halftime show of the Trine-Olivet game. I needed a few seconds to set this up. I hoped the band wouldn't change formation before I was able to press the shutter button ... and fortunately. I lucked out.

After the band performed at halftime, the school's High Voltage Dance Team came out to the field and danced a routine. Some images of that performance are included here.

You can view the full shoot at a gallery in the music portion of my site at SmugMug.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Game Day, Part II:
Trine helped inspire photography project

Ever since I committed to doing the "Game Day" project, which has taken me to a dozen campuses of Indiana small colleges and unversities since 2009, I'd mentally put Trine University toward the bottom portion of my list of campuses to tour. I did so mostly because it would require the longest commute time for me, coming from Indianapolis.

Trine is in Angola, Ind., the seat of Steuben County in the northeast corner of Indiana, about eight miles south of Pokagon State Park. I'm in Indianapolis, about 2.5 to 3 hours away. Last week, about a month after an unsuccessful attempt to schedule a visit to another campus, I decided to tackle Trine University next.

For 120 years of its existence, the university had "Tri-State" in its name because of its proximity to the Michigan and Ohio borders. It began as Tri-State Normal School, evolved to Tri-State College in 1906 and, in 1975, to Tri-State University.

The final name change came about in 2009 when the university's board of directors decided it wanted Trine to appeal to students beyond the three-state area. The board chose the name Trine for alumnus Ralph Trine, the largest-ever single donor to the school and, with his wife, Sheri, owner of Angola-based Vestil Manufacturing Corp.

I learned about the most recent name change a few months after it went into effect. I was well into my revived interest in photography, and in May 2009, I'd purchased my first Canon "L" line of glass -- the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens. I was itching to try my hand at sports photography, and noticed that nearby Franklin College was hosting a game against a school named Trine on Sept. 26. I did a little checking, and that's when I learned that Trine was the school I formerly knew as Tri-State. I called the Franklin sports information director, Kevin Elixman, who fixed me up with a photographer's credential.

It was a dramatic game to shoot and watch. Franklin came from 13 points behind late in the third quarter to win 30-29, Trine's first regular-season loss in two years. Junior quarterback Eric Watt had not only a strong game that day for Trine, but also a terrific career at the school. The following season, when 11-1 Trine annihilated most of its opponents (its only loss coming 45-31 to eventual D3 champion Wisconsin-Whitewater in the playoffs), Watt would win the postseason Gagliardi Trophy, Division III's equivalent of the Heisman Trophy, and the school would retire his jersey number (13).

Two years later, in 2011, with that wonderful experience shooting the Franklin-Trine game in mind, I officially decided to do the small-college tour. I'm happy I made it to Trine when I did. I chose this game on Trine's schedule because the opponent, Olivet (Mich.) College, was a school I had not seen before, and because it was Trine's homecoming. I had some colorful pictures when I visited Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology two years ago for its homecoming (a narrow victory over Defiance College), so I wanted to experience that "welcome back" atmosphere again.

Trine's is a compact campus on 450 acres, right next to Zollner Golf Course on the western edge of Angola. Almost all of the campus is south of Angola's main thoroughfare -- Maumee Street (Ind. 20) -- and features a lot of new buildings, some beautiful landscaping and one structure on the north side of Maumee, the T. Furth Center for Performing Arts, where the Oak Ridge Boys would play that night as featured homecoming entertainment.

For a full gallery of images of my Trine University campus shots, visit my site at SmugMug.

Photo Geek info: For most of the campus landscape shots, I used my Canon 6D and Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L lens mounted on a tripod and bracketed three shots per image for exposure so I could process the images in Photomatix high-dynamic range (HDR) software in post-processing. For most shots, I set the camera to average white balance, aperture priority mode (f/9), and ISO-160, using the shutter as my exposure changing variable. I hand-held the camera for the shots taken indoors at the student center.  

Next up: The Trine marching band and High Voltage Dancers, both of which performed at Saturday's football game.

Above and next dozen below: The Rick L. and Vicki L. James University Center was the hub of activity for this homecoming weekend. Outdoors, it included games and attractions for children, cycle fun, face-painting and a petting zoo. Indoors, there were art, gatherings for alumni and merchandise available for purchase at the campus bookstore.

Above and below: I arrived a bit late to catch any of the live action in the school's Tour de Trine tricycle race, but I did manage to snap these shots of the aftermath. 

Above and next two below: Student organizations adorned sections of the sidewalk and fencing outside Fred Zollner Athletic Stadium, where the homecoming football game was played. 

Above and next seven below: Campus buildings and landscaping ... and a squirrel that found its way into a below-ground drainage basin outside a classroom window in one of the academic plazas.

Above: T. Furth Center for Performing Arts.  

Above and below: Studies of lines and patterns outside the Depot Mexican Grill along the railroad tracks at the north end of campus.

Above: The Athletic and Recreation Center.

Above and below: Shots of some of the outdoor athletic fields, including the Zollner Golf Course in the background of the photo above.  

Above and below: A brief look at some early, game-day tailgating activity near the Zollner Athletic Stadium. I arrived early, so many of my campus shots were taken before tailgating really blossomed.