Tuesday, December 29, 2009

On Assignment: Surfing Day Two

Got back out to shoot some more surfing today - however I got to do a little swimming this time.


The Tokina fisheye lens on the camera was set to infinity, otherwise it could scratch the dome port on the housing. Not so good for self portraits.


It was a beautiful morning to be out in the water, cold, but not bad for December, good thing the waves were not too intense, as it was my first time out trying to swim with a camera.



After seeing this, I dived down, then felt a surfboard leash run over my ear. My buddy thought the surfer took my head off!

Monday, December 28, 2009

On Assignment: Redondo Breakwater Surfing

It's been at least a year since I've shot any surfing pics [we don't have much of it in Missouri].

Must say I miss it. Only having a 300mm + 1.4x teleconverter is a bit limiting at times, but its still a blast to watch great waves.

The size of the waves vs. the Redondo breakwater rocks vs. man is pretty nuts - if you fall and get pulled into the rocks you are basically done for.

With some sweet waves breaking on the rocks, got the 16-35mm out to see what the view was like as the surfers launched out.

A friend of mine here has a surf housing, hopefully I will be able to use it soon to shoot from the water! Thats the perspective I think is the most interesting for surf pics.

Full gallery - click on it or use the buttons to scroll through all 50 some pics.

Redondo Breakwater Surfing Dec. 28 - Images by Patrick Fallon

Saturday, December 26, 2009

The Camera You Have With You

As the say, the best camera you have is the one with you. I've only had the G11 for two days now, but its proven its worth as a camera I'll always keep with me. Coming back from work today at Silvio's photoworks, I did not have all of my normal gear in the car - but I had my G11 on my belt.

As I witnessed a police car speed past me hell for leather, I knew something big must have happened. I turned around and took a lucky guess at where it was heading - PCH and Diamond Ave.

Unfortunately, Evan, a 14-year old boy, was hit by a pickup truck that according to witnesses ran a red light - the kid luckily was only struck by the side view mirror and is in stable condition, but was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. As a photographer still for the Easy Reader newspaper, this was a newsworthy situation as there are currently debates about red light cameras and the danger this intersection is for the high school students who cross it daily, before, during and after school. These kids were just riding their skateboards to McDonald's - but one ended up getting hit by a driver. The driver tested negative for alcohol during a field sobriety test. "All zeros" as the police said.

The G11 was the only camera I had, but it held up well working in low light and less than optimal conditions - I am not sure if the paper is going to run the images and a story, but the files themselves certainly hold up well enough for print.

It's been said a million times before, but the best camera you have is the one you have with you, it's really quite true.

Have a safe New Years and drive safe and sober.

Friday, December 25, 2009

First Look: Canon PowerShot G11

Just got the new Canon PowerShot G11 point and shoot camera as an Christmas gift.

I wanted to have something with high-quality files, good low light performance without flash, yet still compact for shooting feature pics while working at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver this February.

While the G11 is only 10mp, unlike the 14.7 megapixel G10 - the designers of the G11 seemed to have looked at the features that really mattered, not just the megapixel race. Canon brought back the flip out LCD which has been around since the G1 - but disappeared a few generations back.

As a whole, the camera feels quite snappy [pun intended] - its quick and responsive with intuitive controls.

The controls on top are well laid out, with a dial for ISO from Auto up to 3200 as well as multiple shooting modes [P, Av, Tv, M], and an exposure compensation dial. I see myself shooting with this camera mostly in aperture priority, no flash, setting my ISO and my exposure compensation depending on the situation - if I am looking to expose for the foreground in a backlit situation or create a silhouette.

A backlit portrait at 3200 ISO, better than I expected from a point and shoot.

The other feature I have enjoyed is the "quickshot" mode, its fast, snappy, to the point - the idea being you don't miss the shot. You just use the optical viewfinder [or hip-fire it], it focuses quickly without flash and gets the shot

The movie mode, though not HD [a major disappointment] has good color and quality, even when recording at night. I'm interested in learning more about multimedia, until I can get a more powerful rig, I hope to use this to make cool movies just for fun as an exercise in this.

A solid Macro Mode has been fun to use so far - but also quite sharp - even at 3200 ISO

Photographed close up, in "Macro Mode" at 3200 ISO

Detail of noise, or lack thereof, at 3200 ISO, hand held, 50% quality.

A candle at the dinner table:

50% Crop of that candle:

The camera features a remote port to connect a pocketwizard cable release as well as a hot shoe that supports my Canon 580EX II. There is also a water housing available from Canon - I hope to try these out soon.

While it shoots RAW - it requires Photoshop CS4 to open the files, or using Adobe's DNG converter as a workaround to open - so looks like I will have something else to buy unless the DNG conversion works well.. ugh.

More macro action at the dinner table.

As a whole, I'm excited about the potential of the camera for shooting feature pictures in situations when a full DSLR is just not appropriate or allowed - my dad said the layout reminds him of his Leica - you could carry it anywhere, people would not think it is as powerful as it is, maybe the G11 can get close to that too.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

On Assignment: Mizzou Basketball vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Photos from tonight's basketball game between the Missouri Tigers and the Arkansas-Pine Bluff Lions.

Mizzou Basketball Dec. 19, 2009 - Images by Patrick Fallon
Mouse over for caption information

This one will win CPOY

Friday, December 18, 2009

On Assignment: Air Force ROTC Commissioning

It is the end of the fall semester and thus, college graduation for some seniors. However, for a select few, graduation from college also means the end of their service as part of the Reserve Officer Training Corps. [ROTC] - and the beginning of their lives as commissioned officers in the military.

Air Force Second Lieutenant Kyle Wilmut speaks after receiving his commission underneath the portrait of Army General Crowder, in Crowder Hall on the University of Missouri campus Friday afternoon, Dec. 18, 2009.

While there was just a single Air Force officer commissioning taking place, this was an interesting experience for me as my brother was just offered an Navy ROTC scholarship. This gave me the opportunity to ask other ROTC students and instructors about the ROTC programs and the experiences they have had.

Without any rank insignia on his jacket, Air Force ROTC cadet Kyle Wilmut smiles before he is commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force, receiving his gold bars.

Air Force Colonel David Wilmut and wife Karka Wilmut, pin gold bars on the shoulders of their son, Second Lieutenant Kyle Wilmut after he received his commission in the Air Force.

Air Force Colonel David Wilmut assists his son, Second Lieutenant Kyle Wilmut put on his jacket after receiving his commission in the Air Force. Col. Wilmut, who has served over 28 years in the Air Force had the honor of reading his son his oath for his commissioning.

Air Force Colonel David Wilmut shares a moment with his son Kyle Wilmut before Wimut is commissioned as a second lieutenant in the Air Force. Col. Wilmut was also a member of the Air Force ROTC and had the honor of reading his son his oath for his commissioning.

Columbia College Graduation tomorrow! More to come.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Our Community: Sports Shooter Academy VI

Looking back at what has happened this year, I thought it might be good to write about my experiences from SportsShooter Academy VI.

The Sports Shooter Academy is a memorable opportunity for students and professionals striving to move their sports photography to the next level. Like with any great photojournalism workshop, you'll make some new friends, see some old ones, and have experiences you won't forget - but here, its about sports and great pictures. Robert Hanashiro and the rest of the SSA faculty have put together a cool workshop featuring three intense days of shooting college basketball, volleyball, soccer, swimming & diving, water polo, track & field, softball and tennis.

The chance to shoot sports completely new to yourself - but with the coaching of experienced photographers - is fantastic, plus the faculty is great about encouraging students to think differently about their work, to make frames that you would not normally make for a "daily newspaper" - to get creative and shoot pictures that you want to shoot.

I am particularly grateful for the SSA experience as one of the images I made at SSA VI was part of my sports portfolio that won bronze in CPOY this year. Beyond just the pictures I made then, I learned a lot more that I have yet to express in my images. The experience from the workshop continues with you into every assignment you have after that week.

There is not a set way of shooting at SSA - you can shoot how you want to, but you can also get advice and ideas from other students, you start to think more about how you see the world and sports - the emotion, relationships, and moments that happen on and off the field. The workshop doesn't just deal with the technical [though a lot of that is available], it teaches you about how you think about sports photography as a whole, making every picture mean something.

I really cannot say enough good things about the workshop and would encourage other students and professionals to apply, you will find it time well spent. I did not apply this year, but I will certainly do so again in the future.

For more information about the Sports Shooter Academy, or to apply for SSA VII check out SportsShooterAcademy.com

Horse racing remote camera set up under the fence with the help of LA Times' Wally Skalij at Santa Anita Park.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Our Community: Atlanta Photojournalism Seminar 2009

The photojournalism community is a unique and wonderful thing.

Daddy D'z BBQ Joynt! Great ribs, not a fan of their cornbread though.

Thanks to the internet, there a lots of powerful sites like SportsShooter.com, APAD, and Lightstalkers. These sites provide message boards to learn, interact, and discuss - but nothing compares to the chance to make new friends and build relationships in person. We learn not only from interesting speakers and late night portfolio critiques, but from the people around us. Other students and journalists gather with open minds and a willingness to learn and share. The top names in our industry give up their own time to help the up and coming, college kids with aspirations and dreams.

Mr. CPOY 2009, but Ryan's attitude is so down to earth, you wouldn't know it without looking at his portfolio!

While I go to a big PhotoJ school like Mizzou, where I've made great friends and connections, I feel that the personal relationships I have made while attending workshops and seminars like Atlanta PJ, MPW and The Mountain Workshops have been a tremendous part of my photojournalism education. I've learned more in a few days than an entire semester, meeting great people from across the country along the way.

ZUMA Press founder Scott Mc Kiernan talks about the biz of photojournalism with ZUMA's Tessa Ferrario and freelance journalist Stephen Alvarez

In an industry as small and as difficult as ours, the people you know and trust are the ones you will turn to first, who you will ask for help and advice - and who you will try to help when the tables are turned.

I love being a photojournalist. Spending my time with friends who feel the same way as I do about storytelling and pictures is second only to making great photos [and sometimes the two even collide!].

Driving back from Atlanta to Columbia, Missouri - I've never had a 10 hour drive pass by so quickly. There is more to life than we realize sometimes, it never hurts to just admire the beauty in the world around us and appreciate what we have.

Assignment Archive: Wedding Portrait Lighting

About a year ago, my father got a phone call from some family friends, their photographer had bailed on them the day before they were supposed to re-shoot their wedding portraits [they had rain on their wedding day].

With the expense of flights to get everyone together, Tux rentals, and renting the location again, there would not be a chance to do this again. With not much time to prepare, we got together a lighting kit that would be flexible enough to work quickly, but also would allow some creative control.

The couple had a specific concept in mind for the main picture, underneath the main big tree on the golf course, overlooking the ocean. The golf course was not terribly cooperative, telling us that there was only a short time for one of us to go with the couple down to the tree, meaning I was had to work alone with the bride and groom via golf cart. A great couple to work with, they valued our time and brought a good attitude to the shoot - always helpful on a murky day!

Usually my dad, Bernard Fallon and I work together as a team, he keeps a good eye on the subjects clothing, hair, body positioning - and other little details that really make a difference, while charming them with his British accent. I tend to focus on the tech, exposure, lighting, etc. No assistants meant I had to do both jobs.

Unfortunately, it was a very cloudy, flat day, with little sunset light coming from over the ocean. However, this made the strobes more effective. The couple was still back lit, however.

With a backlit bride and groom, flash was the only way to show the color and detail of the couple and the tree, while also maintaining a well exposed background.

Using speedlights, including the Canon 580 EXII and the Nikon SB-800 [On SU-4 Mode], I could add light under the tree and into the faces of the couple, balancing the exposure to allow some of the nice ambient light off the ocean, while also minding the white of the dress and not blowing it out.

The effect of using strobes to add fill light

I could check the details I needed and make sure the couple liked the main frame, with enough time to try a few other setups before we had to leave the course.

Once we got back to the main putting area at the course entrance, we were able to set up the two strobes on stands, with translucent umbrellas, to take some more formal portraits on the putting green. We had the two flashes, on Bogen stands and umbrella swivel heads.

At this point there was almost no light out, so I was dragging my shutter to try and get every ounce of light I could from the background, without completely blacking out the background.

Looking back now, I would like to get radios and a 3rd speedlight, so I can start to add more hair lights and rim lights to the subjects, to create more depth and make the pictures more dynamic.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

On Assignment: Speedlight Lighting

This afternoon presented me with an interesting challenge - a sports feature about a new tradition within the Parks family - tattoos.

The initial assignment sheet was confusing, since the 'climax' of this story - getting the actual tattoo - had already happened. This looked like a portrait situation was in order, but little time or gear was available. The concept was to feature the tattoos, but to also show a sense of family.

Rock Bridge senior forward Logan Parks and his sister Morgan Parks display their matching tattoos of a Chinese symbol meaning "family", Thursday evening, Dec. 10, 2009 in Columbia, Mo. Parks got the tattoo on his right shoulder as a symbol of the bond he has with his sister, who first had the symbol tattooed on her wrist. (© 2009 Patrick T Fallon/Missourian)
Shot with a Canon 1D Mk. IIN at 30mm, 1/250th sec., f/14, 50 ISO

With Nikon SB-800 on the SU-4 Slave Mode, I could get a second speedlight off camera, with no extra pocketwizards or radio triggers, just the flash from my Canon 580EX II on a TTL cable.

Stopping down the lens and using low ISO, with the flashes close, I aimed to create a studio look inside a living room with lots of distractions and clutter in a small working environment. Knocking down the ambient light made my flashes the only source of light.

Since this was in a tight space, the "strobist" style lighting was perfect, Dynalites would have probably been too big.

I would have appreciated some additional light modifiers like grids and gobos, to block off more of the light and the addition of a reflector perhaps to try and get an additional hair light.

Shot with a Canon 1D Mk. IIN at 35mm, 1/250th sec., f/22, 50 ISO

Rock Bridge senior forward Logan Parks displays his tattoo of a Chinese symbol meaning "family" on his right shoulder. (© 2009 Patrick T Fallon/Missourian)

Ultimately I think this was a success, though looking through the take, I am seeing how I would like to try some things differently in the future and improve my lighting in the new year!

Rock Bridge senior forward Logan Parks displays his tattoo of a Chinese symbol meaning "family" on his right shoulder. (© 2009 Patrick T Fallon/Missourian)
Shot with a Canon 1D Mk. IIN at 35mm, 1/250th sec., f/14, 50 ISO