Late last year, I purchased a tilt-shift lens. This rare specialty lens allows for the correction of distortion, primarily in architecture photography. One of my goals at the beginning of this year was to get my money out of this lens and to explore all the possibilities with it. This client shoot down at Myrtle Beach, SC was significant because the only way to get these exterior images was with the tilt/shift lens. I have gone on to use the same lens all year long in all kinds of photography well beyond architecture but this was the first “have to have this to get what the client wants” opportunity and it was a great one. Jeff Owen, my longtime friend and photography partner, helped me with this shoot. We did the whole shoot in 24 hours and that included over 12 different sleeping room types, all the public spaces, exteriors at dusk and more. It was by far the largest hotel shoot we have ever done and was awesome project.
In late April, one of my trip guides and team members, David Griffin and I attended Sports Shooter Academy in LA. Our main goal was to get the chance to photograph sports that we had not already done (which is quite the feat considering I have shot over 20 different sports). Anyhow, horse racing and swimming were on our list to experience. The first day was swimming and while the level of competition was not what I had expected, I captured some neat images and the one above was voted as Picture of the Day by our instructors. This was a surprise to me as there were some very talented photographers participating. Secondly, it motivated Dave and me to work together even more as a team for the following two days of shooting to push our boundaries in our photography skills. This paid off as both of us had top images for the next two days. It was also a great reminder of how we value teamwork in a profession where people can be pretty individualistic. Beyond the new sports shooting opportunities, we learned in our critiques with some of the staff about how tight cropping can make images better. We shared this concept with our team photographers when we returned and have worked on it as a group for the remainder of the year. This one experience has changed the types and quality of the images all of us produce, so it was well worth the time to participate in SSA. By the way, we loved photographing horse racing and here is one of the more creative shots I had the chance to capture.
On Jan. 20th, we had a crystal clear night that was the coldest of the winter. I had a big family event the next day and had not even planned to photograph the eclipse but started receiving emails and social media posts asking about the correct camera settings, etc. which I shared with them. So, seeing the interest of our students, I decided at the last minute to do it myself as well. I captured my first Lunar Eclipse shot and thought it was pretty cool.
Many of you know that I shoot a huge number and variety of images each and every year. 2019 was no exception with my shot count being in the ballpark of 130K (which has been the average over the last 4 years). While I have usually chosen my best photos and put them in a gallery for people to see from a given year, in addition to this, I had the idea to do something different as well. I have collected some of my, not only photographically pleasing images but ones that also have meaning and significance to me. Whether that was the conditions or location the image was created at, an example of trying a new technique or just a representation of my own photographic journey; the images that will be part of this series are memorable to me. Over the coming weeks, I will be sharing them and the story or background that goes with each one. Hopefully, this may be inspiring for you as you consider what your goals are for your photography this year. Or, maybe it will be just interesting for you to get a glimpse into what photography represents for me. Either way, I trust you will enjoy the images and maybe even the words that go with them.
In early March, I attended the Annual Meeting for Carolina Nature Photographers Association (CNPA) for the first time. Beyond winning the Small Stuff category in their Member’s Choice contest, the other highlight of the weekend was just being reminded that sometimes choosing shutter speeds that cause some blur of motion (but not all) is OK. I tend to see motion as needing to be either frozen completely (fast shutter speed) or blurring completely (slow shutter speed) but in this situation and many other examples throughout the rest of the year, I started thinking about using medium shutter speeds to show some blur. This image was after a major storm the night before on our Outer Banks Expedition in April and one of the participants, gave me this idea to show some motion.