Wednesday, August 19, 2015

SF Chronicle Day 08

I was just looking back at rhe blog entries and can't believe I missed two days without even noticing!  I really thought I had been posting every day, but I guess not... 

I can't believe it is already 8 days (and they have been 8 days in a row).

Tomorrow will be my ninth back-to-back day and the last one.  I already have 3 stories assigned to me.  The first will have me leaving at 8:30 in the morning and my last assignment ends at 7:30 p.m. in Berkeley.... Then I have to file the photos and find my way home.  I'll be home after 9p.m.

I counted today, and so far I have shot 7 stories, and by the end of the day tomorrow it will be a nice round 10!

On Monday I got a car and some gear. 

I had my first panic attack when I could not get the Chronicle gear to auto focus.  Luckily I still had my gear in the car, so I ran back and switched out the gear.

It turns out that the Chronicle bodies had been set to back button focus, which I have never used.  I am getting mixed responses of other photogs about using that function.  I figure it is not a bad idea to try to learn a new technique, and I shot that way today with mixed results.  Most people say it is faster, and maybe it is, but I had a lot of out of focus shots.

For those who have never used back button,  basically instead of the half click to focus and full click to release the shutter,  you press a button on the back of your camera to auto focus and then fire away.  The idea is that each time you pull the shutter release, the camera re-focuses.  With back button, you focus once and can make many exposures with that same focal point.  HOWEVER...  if your subject moves between the first and second exposure, then they may be out of focus.  ALSO... if you move they may be out of focus.  With the shutter release as the focus, it takes the camera another fraction of a second to refocus, but... atleast your shot won't be soft.

I think there may be a time and place for this technique, maybe for sports when there is enough depth of field and a specific player stays within the boundaries of the critical focus (an at bat baseball player for instance). 

But dark places where you are shooting wide open and hand held, the movement is too great and the the depth of field too shallow to keep each shot in focus without letting the camera refocus.

That is my take on it.  I plan to shoot a few more assignments with the back button focus settings to see if i can find another advantage that I have not yet seen.  If nothing, then I'll reprogram the bodies back to shutter release/focus.

So the image I leave with you today is a shot I took with my phone while filing photos from the car.  After an assignment,  many times we need to file the images right away.  So I filed my images in the shade of a little residential neighborhood in Redwood City today. 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

SF Chronicle Day 07

On Sunday morning I met veteran photographer Brant Ward.  He had just come back from shooting the swim from Alcatraz.  It was fun and educational talking to him about his shooting process and his workflow.
Instead of using a 70 - 200mm he prefers to use a 135mm prime with a 1.4x teleconverter.  I had never even thought of that!
After watching him file his photos we just talked a bit and it turns out his son went to UCSC and is a musician. 
We watched a few videos that his son's band, Bear Lincoln, made.  It made me feel old because when I was playing music the promotional tool we used was a demo (cassette,  that is).
After talking, Brant suggested that if i had no assignments I could walk around and try to get a weather photo.  Sunday we had record breaking heat and if a day is a particularly slow news day, sometimes papers need to fill a hole and will use weather realted photos.
It was a lot of fun walking aroumd and talking to people about the weather and how they were dealing with it.  I got a lot of fun street stuff.  We will see if they had a hole big enough hole.

Here are the photos I selected:

Sunday, August 16, 2015

SF Chronicle Day 06

Yesterday I had my first assignment.  I was asked to take photos of trees.  Yes, Holman... TREES!

The story is about 193 trees that have been tagged for removal.  In their place a new dedicated bus lane will be built.  The thoroughfare in question is the two mile stretch of Van Ness Avenue from Lombard to Mission streets.

I went first thing in the morning and got three shots I was happy with in the first 15-20 minutes.  However, since this was sort of a test run and my only assignment for the day, I had been encouraged to stay out there and try to get as many shots as I could.

I roamed up and down Van Ness for a couple hours and talked to a few people on the street.  

I came back with 20 shots I was happy with and met with the editor, Brian Feulner, to review the images.  He picked his top images which had us narrowed down to 6 for submission. 

One of the six images was a long focal length shot that I used to compress several tagged trees that were on the median and curved up the road to make way for the left hand turn lanes for both the north and south facing traffic with a bus in the background.

Brian asked me to go back and get another shot with the same framing, but to try to get the bus more prominent in the photo.  

I went back and faced two challenges.  One, when shooting a moving target (the bus) I found that I was naturally tracking the bus.  In so doing, I was panning away from the row of trees.  I noticed this after the first bus went by, but it still two passing buses before I could force that habit out.

The second challenge was that on Saturday afternoon there are not a whole lot of commuter buses driving up and down Van Ness.  To get the bus large in the image, I needed the bus to be in the closer lane, but as we all know, most buses travel in the lane closest to the sidewalk (for obvious reasons).  

Finally an express bus came down the close lane at the same time another bus was at the sidewalk.  I got my shot and headed back to the office.

Here are the images that were selected.  My fave is the top right.  

Which is yours?

Which will run in the paper?

Saturday, August 15, 2015

SF Chronicle Day 04

Yesterday I got to shoot at the SF Ballet.  But the best part of the day was getting to work with Scott Strazzante.  
It was a day of shadowing like Day 01.  I think shadowing is actually really great for me.
The last two semesters I acted as an editor at the Guardsman and was not on assignment that many times.  In the past 9 months I have been working on a lot of personal projects, all of which have been long term projects.  I have not shot daily news with daily deadlines since The SF Examiner.
Today I will work with Russell Yip in the SF Chronicle's studio space.
The word is that by Sunday I may have a computer and without a computer I cannot actually file photos.  So, maybe I will have my first published photo for The SF Chronicle as early as the Monday.  Let's  go for a cover story, right?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

SF Chronicle Day 02

This week I will be shadowing other seasoned veterans.

Yesterday I was privileged to follow Michael Macor around.  Michael has been with the Chronicle for 22 years.  He got his start printing contact sheets and making enlargements of selects.  He dropped out of school after a few years of  of Jr. College and just started knocking on doors.  After a while his editors let him shoot weekends and evenings and shortly thereafter they realized he was a their best photographer.

I followed Macor to a Cal Berkeley football practice.  He shot with the monster 400mm f/2.8 with an extender and i shot with my little 70-200mm.

After, we went to cover a police involved shooting in Oakland.

Today I will follow Scott Strazzante.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

SF Chronicle Day 01

Today I start my internship at The San Francisco Chronicle.

Here is the gear I packed, hope it is the right stuff.

Last year I was offered this internship, but decided to keep looking for a paid internship.   Unfortunately I did not find one.

The silver lining is that I had the chance to finish all my coursework for my Photography degree.  I am officially an art school graduate... yippeee... haha

So, I returned to Judy Walgren to ask again for the internship at The SF Chronicle. She was kind enough to accept me.

Last semester two of my colleagues wrapped up their internships and are both going on to great things in the world of photojournalism.  

Jessica Christian,  my fellow intern last year at SF Examiner,  recently was accepted to the coveted Eddie Adams Workshop.

Santiago Mejia, my photo editor during my first semester at The Guardsman,  has gone on to intern with The New York Times.

So, today I start my adventure.

Watch out world, my turn to get some...

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Event Photography Flash vs. Video

Well, I just had a member of the conference that I am shooting tell me she has a medical condition and the flashes I am using are causing her to feel ill. 

Oddly, I just spent almost $500 on external battery packs, diffusers and stands (plus accessories) so that I could make some killer light from a nasty lit conference room.

Luckily,  I had an idea of shooting video also. I had hoped to upsell the client, or at very least, have a portfolio piece to get work doing videography for conferences.

I was stressed because I wasn't going to be able to do both.  I got myself in too deep.  I am always trying to learn a new technique and master new equipment. Sometimes I give myself too many things to do.

Sooooo... down come the new lights and now I get to focus on video! 

This is exciting. 

I turned lemons into a margarita! 

Well... we'll see, right?