Happy New Year everyone! I ended my 2012 on a high note and have been working hard to keep the momentum going into the new year. As always, I’m looking for ways I can develop and grow in my photography and I hope to improve on some things for the new year. So far so good. Here are some of my favorite images I’ve made so far in 2013. Thanks for looking, -M
Yesterday my assignment was to photograph a wild turkey that was being rehabilitated by our local Suisun Wildlife Center. He had had his wings clipped by someone hoping to have him for a Thanksgiving day dinner. Tom the Turkey, as he is called around the center, somehow escaped and is now healing at the center until he can be released. My job was to make a cool photo of him. Sounds easy enough, right? Not the case. He was constantly running away from me before I could get close. I was set on getting a close up photo of him. The question was how could I achieve this? My answer was to make a camera trap, a remote camera setup that I could fire the camera shutter from a far off distance much like what the guys at National Geographic do to get their photos of evasive snow leopards. Center manager Margie Furco said that Tom hated the color blue and would attack it. She had made a makeshift toy for him to attack/play with from knotting up a blue piece of plastic and shaking it to make noise. That would be how I could bait him into my trap. So all I had to do was get him to do it in front of my camera.
I spent the next hour and a half encouraging a wild turkey to chase me while shaking a blue plastic bag to get his attention. Getting him to chase me took some time but soon I was running all over the yard being quickly pursued by this large squawking bird. I’m sure the ladies at the wildlife center were watching me through the windows laughing their heads off watching being chased. When I would run past my camera trap I threw the plastic in front of my camera. Tom would stop short. I must have tried this at least a dozen times. The third picture in was the closest I could get him to my camera trap. Fail. In the end, Tom won and walked off with his plastic. I have a new found respect for the Nat Geo photographers. Sometimes our best efforts don’t work out like we planned. Oh well. Taming the wild is not as easy as it looks. -M
This is Tom attacking the plastic covered box with Center manager Margie Furco watching.
Never have I been more relieved to put a month behind me. I started 2011 nursing the wounds from a Christmas Day car accident where I was hit by a guy running a red light. Wear your seat belts folks. They saved my life. Despite my Subaru being totaled, a massive concussion, some stitches and some ongoing deep aches and pains, I am lucky to be relatively unscathed. I’ve lost count to how many doctors appointments I’ve been to in January. Because of my accident, I have missed quite a bit of work. But as I rounded out the last days of January, I could honestly say that I am starting to feel a lot better and I am looking forward to a new year of making photos. Here are a couple shots from the past couple of weeks that caught my eye.
I checked the mail the other day to find that the newest edition of The Flyfish Journal issue #3 has been published. It’s exciting because I had another one of my photographs published as a double truck in the opening spreads. I’ve been with these guys from the beginning and I am anxious to see where they take it next. These guys are rewriting the definition of the fishing magazine at a time when the industry and magazines in general are in a state of flux. The magazine has coffee table quality printing, is well written and has excellent photo play. I have yet to find another venue that displays my photos so well. You can check the magazine out for yourself here or find it at any major publication store like Borders or Barnes and Noble. Sweet.
Like I mentioned in previous posts, the last month or two I have been shooting some pretty cool assignments. I met this pigeon racer and his wife who own over 600 pigeons. A short story that yielded some cool shots. I’ve been continuing to play with my Profoto lights and apply them to our annual Athletes of the Year section of our paper. Far from perfect but as I continue to grow as a shooter I am starting to really dial down and command my light. It’s an ongoing battle to say the least and a hell of a lot of fun.
I just got back from a weekend fishing the Klamath River with my buddy Ryan Peterson, travel specialist at The Fly Shop. It was just gorgeous this time of year. The fall colors were really popping. I recently purchased a new Profoto AcuteB 600R power pack and lamp head and decided to test them out this weekend. Oh the possibilities. I think I am just scratching the surface with these images of the fly line ripping off the water. I was really pleased with the results. The best part of the trip was that I finally landed my first (small) steelhead. A long time coming. It was great to be back out on a river.
On a side note, I wanted to thank all of you for your votes and support of my work. The book voting end yesterday on the 9th of November. I really appreciate all of the feedback and comments you all posted. Alas, after getting around 265 votes I don’t think I reached enough to make it into the final round of the book judging but I was able to reconnect with many of you and meet some new friends in the process. I look at it as a challenge to improve for the next time. Thanks again everyone. Tight lines, -M
Well after a long summer, football season has finally arrived. Things are starting to get busy around the paper with the dawn of the new school year. Prep sports are getting underway and my newspaper, like so many others, does an annual prep football preview section to ring in the new season. I was assigned to shoot portraits of the new guys filling in the empty positions on varsity. I have been shooting nothing but portraits all week. Actually a fun change of pace for me. The last two are from another story about die-hard pro football fans. Getting ready for some football. Go Bears!
Every once in a while at my job, an assignment comes up where all the elements fall into place and I get to make a really creative portrait. Such was the case with this photograph. This was for a story on 17-year-old Danielle Burmudez who was recently awarded membership to the National Society of High School Scholars. To earn such an award a student needs to not only have good grades but also to be involved with their school activities and community. Burmudez was on the swim team and also created her own non profit program with two school mates to raise money for the Foundation for African Medicine and Education. She collects plastic bottles and then cashes them in for money that is then sent off to children in need. Already she has raised almost $300 through bottle donation.
She showed me her mountainous collection of bottles in her garage. I think one of the elements that go into making a good picture is getting your subject to hop on board your idea. This can be achieved many different ways but mainly through your enthusiasm, attitude and convincing argument for its purpose. The quicker you can establish trust with your subject the better your photos will be.
So for this shot I saw the bagged, plastic bottles all bundled up nicely and told her that I wanted to bury her in them. Swimming in the success of her achievement. After promising to help her clean up she agreed and we got started. I think that really made all the difference. Here is another version of the picture showing how I lit the image. I had a strobe on the upper left side of the image balanced on stacked boxes about 4 ft tall and another strobe in the lower right corner illuminating her feet. The top strobe was bounced off the poster board at right to give a little fill light to the right side of her face. I was pleased with the results.