Posted by: Terry Mayer
in Terry's Blog on May 15, 2009
Tagged in: Untagged
This photo recently received a 2nd place in pictorial from the Wisconsin News Photographers Association (WNPA). It was one of my favorite photographs from last year and one of my dad's as well. This photo is one that I have always had in the back of my mind, with the snow on the ground and an old steam engine bellowing steam and the engine silhouetted in the center. I always thought my chances were low that I would find an old steam engine in the winter. Then I got an assignment last November to cover a documentary that was being shot in Whitewater. Lo and behold, they had an old steam engine as part of the documentary. I packed my cameras and was on my way.
It was very cold that day. In order to keep the batter warm, I had to keep my camera in my jacket, only bringing it out for a minute or two to get a photo. I got the photos for the paper of the film being shot but as cold as it was, I decided to hang around a little more, like I normally do and see what happens.
They were done with the train for the shoot so they were going to head out. It took a while for the engine to build up the steam and slowly it backed out of the depot. I then ran to the center of the track as it backed away. Even though the train was backing up slowly, it would be gone in less than 3 minutes. I had only a couple minutes to think of all the possible photo ideas and shoot it.
The first couple of shots of the train were way over-exposed, the sun illuminating the steam and drowning out the engine. With the train backing up faster and faster, I was losing time so I made some adjustments and fired another shot. It still was not right but it was better. I then switched to my spot meter and got a reading on the front light on the train which that paid off. I then went to all manual to get a more precise setting. I could do it in Photoshop but if I can do it right the first time in the camera I think the images turn out better. The train was surrounded with steam, the sun was highlighting the steam and I had my settings, but time was about gone. My ISO was at 320, my f-stop was set at 4.5 and my shutter at 1/8000; any later and I would have missed the photo that I've wanted for who knows how long.
In hind site, I am glad the train was further away. It left more room for the steam to expand out; the others were too tight. I also got some shadow on the track and ground in front and more of the steam on top. Originally shot in color I made it into a duo tone with a hint of blue, I felt it brought a new look to the images but yet held and older, classic feel to the photograph.
The shoot really showed me how to think on your feet and I think my experience paid off. I didn't get to try everything I wanted. I had some ideas that I will have to try for another day but when I have only moments to get the photo, running through the scenarios in my head and going after it works for me. I am forced to think quickly and act on it with little error.
Posted by: Terry Mayer
in Terry's Blog on May 08, 2009
Lately, I have received quite a few comments on this photo of Steve Sorg and his plane. Most people ask how in the world I got a shot in front of Steve with the runway in the background. One person asked me if I was on a tower with a long lens, another asked if I had a timer or a remote shutter release.
The paper was doing a story on Steve’s refurbished classic plane. I met him at Palmyra Airport for the shoot. Afterward, Steve asked me if I wanted to take a ride. There are two cockpits in his plane; the one in back is where Steve was flying the plane. The other cockpit is located in front of the other and is a very small space, consisting of a seat and a bar handhold. Realizing that the limited space wouldn’t allow me to take my regular camera and gear bag, I decided to take my little Canon point and shoot. Once we took off, I was glad I made that choice. The force of the wind on an open cockpit would have prevented me from getting pictures with my other camera. But the little point and shoot that I bought from the clearance table for $150 was perfect. I was able to hold the camera above my head without it flying out of my hand and get the pictures I wanted. When we did a fly-by of the Lake Lawn airport and pulled up I snapped this photo. There is about a second or two delay with a point and shoot so I had to think ahead and even then I wasn’t sure if I got what I wanted until we landed.
The photo took a second place in the Wisconsin News Press Association in the portrait personality category. What I like best about the photo is that is was made without a big expensive camera. I’ve made several presentations to 4H groups and use this photo to illustrate the point that a great photo is up to the photographer and his/her vision; it’s not about having big, fancy equipment. You can have a point and shoot camera and still get a great photo.