Photo Gauntlet

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Gauntlet: Action Is Not Only On The Field

By Gary Fong
Photographer: Octavio Jones
Figure 1
In the Speed Graphic 4x5 days, a sports editor asked a photographer to shoot the start AND finish of the world’s fastest athlete running the 50 yard dash. As many people can appreciate, old time photographers had to be fast, very very fast. 
He had to shoot the runners as the gun goes off, race down to the finish line with his camera, change the flash bulb, and shoot the winner coming across the finish line.  Now that’s fast. The judges should award the photographers first place…then award the athlete.
Shooting soccer might be a little easier…cause the photographer has the entire field to maneuver. It only gets tough when he tries to run down the ball kicked the entire length of the field (more than 50 yards) to photograph the goal.
Most photographers have a tough time covering both goals. Octavio Jones is no exception. So…he adds another dimension to his coverage…the fans.  
Now for the Nit Picking
Octavio, like many sports photographers, find it impossible to shoot both the start AND finish of a 50 yard dash…let alone a soccer game.  It’s hard being in two places at the same time.  A few people might be able to do it…but I haven’t met many who can.
However, I do know shooters who can cover the action on the field…then turn around to do additional coverage of fan reaction. Shooting the reaction of the crowd is a very important part of covering the game.  The action is not all on the field.  It’s in the stands, at the food concessions, and at the close of the game. It’s a good way to add depth to one’s coverage.
I’m going to think, there must be a few sports editors who want the red faces of Spanish soccer fans color corrected back to normal looking flesh tones. If it were flag painted team U.S.A. fans, most editors would catch the hint…the red, white, and blue faces are suppose to be like that!!!

Gauntlet: It’s Another Dog Photo

by Gary Fong
Photographer: Birgit-Cathrin Duval,


Figure 1

Dog photos, cat photos…rooster photos…it’s all the same to me. Maybe it’s my allergies when I get around animals…but I tend NOT to gravitate to general animal photos.  Pet’s doing tricks, running around out of control, or licking the shoe wax off my loafers is not the way to make photo points with me.
Birgit-Cathrin Duval, of Germany (the possible country of origin for the German Shepherd) sent us a photo of a “loving mom” watching “her child” beat off a dog with a stick. The dog thought he was playing fetch the stick…but I’m sure the boy was terrified of this odd strain of fluffy animal that didn’t fit the profile of a police dog.
Duval was doing a fashion shoot with professional models. Adding animals to the project escalates the need to controlling the situation in order to get anything done. The wrong animal chasing or biting people can destroy a whole day of shooting.

Now for the Nit Picking

Figure 2It’s nice working with professional models and professional dogs. Professional dog models have a sense of “time is money” on a shoot. Working with the average everyday mutt can create out of control moments.
With fashion shoots, control of the set is mandatory. If the art director and photographer are trying to build a very defined storyline in the image, cooperation needs to occur among all the subjects, the four-legged variety included. Independent minded dogs or cats with no sense of propriety often disrupt the storyline. In other words, “south end of dogs running north” means the storyline may be a distant aspiration.
Duval sent an image of the noise end facing the camera, but the smiling mutt changed mood moment. How frustrating on deadline. Don’t these dogs speak English???
Animal photos often take an enormous amount of time, watching, waiting, not to mention letting these critters get accustom to the photographer following them around their house.
Kendra Luck of often spends hours and hours watching and working with dogs to get the right moments with the animal “caregivers” (the people of Berkeley have a unique outlook on pet “ownership”). Her approach is generally free flow by constantly observing dogs doing what dogs do. She’s doesn’t have to worry about paying for expensive human models.

If the shoot requires dogs and human models, see if the budget can accommodate professional dog models. If the shoot requires dogs being…dogs, any mutt will do. But try to avoid the "south end of dogs running north" angle.

Gauntlet: Photographer in Transition


by Gary Fong
Photographer: Rachel Owens,
Figure 1Figure 2
Young photographers seeking to know more about photography always touch my heart. Before I get myself in trouble, it’s not limited to the young…but knowledge seekers can also be inquisitive youthful thinkers encased in old bodies.
Rachel Owens is neither old nor young…but “just right”…at the stage of her career where exploring her craft is a passion. She spent a couple years watching the light and witnessing her extremely youthful subjects defy the coaxing of watchful parents.
At the moment, photographing children and family seems to be her strength, with an eagerness to transform her photographic world into an instrument that would touch lives she’s not yet encountered.
Now for the Nit Picking
Rachel’s cuddly image of father and son is rich in treasured moments. Not only will the family cherish the photo, but of the “family of man”, it could become a generational icon.
Her eyes see delicate light, allowing the viewer’s eye to transcend from the child’s boyish haircut to the father’s parental bliss. It’s a delightful moment dad’s will appreciate in their rarified reflective thoughts.
However, Rachel’s walking silhouette is a bit centric for me.  By cropping the right side at the tree line, a stronger upwardly directional frame would contribute to more generic detail. Without the crop, the eye initially moves to the center; then to the right toward the highlight on the car.
It’s the simple techniques that improve an image for a lifetime. A quick “dodge” (lighten the darkness) around the man’s head, would offset the couple from the background. It allows them to sit nicer in the composition.
It takes a sensitive eye to see where the visual flow and balance is moving.  It takes a sensitive eye to see the light. Rachel has both and a transitional style that will take her wherever she wishes to be.