Answering the call to Photography

I’ve been keeping myself occupied with my models. But last weekend, I didn’t want to spend it torturing plastic again. Sunday morning, I felt the familiar itch to go somewhere locally and do some photography. So, I grabbed up my gear and headed downtown. I had no expectations about this brief trip. I just wanted to spend some time behind my camera. While driving to Detroit, I figured something on Belle isle should be in bloom. And the large patches of yellow lilies on the approach to the bridge to the island was very promising. Once there, the crisp morning light illuminated the Detroit skyline against some approaching dark and moody clouds. I made my way over to the fountain where to my delight the Cherry blossoms were in full bloom.

Soon the angry sky was overhead, the sharp contrasting light faded, and a light rain slowly overtook the island. And in a spirited pace, I made my way back to the comfort of my car where I sipped on my coffee and reviewed my shots. With the rain beginning to let up, I wondered if there were any tulips in bloom around the conservatory. As I got closer, I spotted numerous colorful signs of spring blossoms. But unfortunately, the conservatory was closed. That was strike one.

Well, let’s go hit up those patches of lilies before the bridge. I headed off the island and found parking close by the lily patches, but this would be strike two. The passing rain clouds was still hiding the Sun, making the shots flat and muted. But my itch to keep making photos was still strong. So, I drove into downtown to look for other spring blossoms. If anything, it would chew up some time for the sky to clear and maybe come back to the lilies later.

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Driving through the city, rekindled my love for Detroit. All the familiar sites along with some new ones. But still no tulips. So, I headed down Grand River boulevard to check for some new street art. There were a few blocks that was the epicenter for graffiti in Detroit. But now, there’s barely any to be found. I did manage to spot a new piece by Sintex and other artists. I’ll call this a foul ball.

With the sky slowly clearing and my desire to photograph some tulips unfulfilled, I head back downtown. I made my way to Campus Martius and guess what was in bloom and seem to be peppered everywhere? Tulips! Red, white, yellow, pink, orange… holy fuck! Where can I park? Eagerly searching for a spot, minutes seemed like hours and all the pretty little petals would be dead and gone before I would find a parking spot. After what seemed like a week, I found one.

Parked about two blocks away from the little beauties, I’m now facing a problem. What lense to bring? The 24-70mm or the 70-200mm? Fuck it, the 24-70 should be enough Right?! I slapped in on my 5DSR, put everything else out of sight, lock up and make my way to the plethora of tulips. Finally, tulips in bloom and in some gorgeous light. But after about 5 or 6 shots, I found myself wanting more focal length. The 24-70 could not get in close enough to produce the images in my minds eye.

Time to hike back to the car, switch lenses, walk back and continue shooting. This time, after the first few shots, I heard myself say, “I love this lense”. Home Run!

After using up all my bag of tricks and finally fulfilling my desire to photograph some tulips, it was time to head back home. Despite the hiccups, it was good to get out of my pandemic weekend routine and practice one of my other passions.

Until next time, stay safe and keep busy!

Steven

Hello, My name is 2020…

If 2020 was a person and you had the opportunity to talk to him or her, what would you say to them?

Here’s some of the responses I’ve received from friends and family.

“I appreciate what I’ve learned about myself from you, but now it’s to get the hell on!!”
“Sit the f#%k down and chill man”
“That’s a tuffy I’d probably just say wtf 😂”
“ Lol I’d say not cool ”
“ Hmmm, I think I would say thank you for giving me the chance to learn new things and also it’s time for 2020 to leave.”
“ Id say “2020 what are you trying to teach us, and why are we not receiving your lesson/message?”
“ Oh man. Thank them, and then slap the shit out of them.”
“ Don’t do drugs. Lmao!! I hope things turn around soon!!!
“If 2020 was a person, I would thank them for the opportunity to slow down and re-evaluate what life’s true priorities are. Without 2020, my wife never would have had the opportunity to spend as much time with the kids as she has this year. Sure it’s been tough, but at the end of the day, we appreciate the change of pace. Although, I would also tell them that they didn’t have to go so far… A global pandemic is a little overboard, don’t you think? “

Stay safe and keep busy!

Steven

Leave your reply in the comments below.

How I shoot with intent: Setting some personal goals

If you follow my blog, you know I’m always stressing how important it is to know what it is your trying to show before you start shooting. This practice is called shooting with intent. You may ask yourself, “Why is that so important?” For me, it motivates ambition and sparks creativity. Along with allowing your creative eye to be your guide. To shoot with intent means you consider many factors before creating an image. Such as what camera and lense to use, where are the edges of your shot, what auto focus point to use, just to name a few. Putting thought into your photography and not hoping that you’ll “Get lucky” and somehow magically capture the images you want. For me, setting some goals for myself insures I shoot with intent. Let’s talk about goals and how to come up with some of your own.

The only wrong way to come up with goals is to not to have any. It could be as simple as looking for some interesting light or trying some different settings. When it comes to making goals for yourself, you want to state what it is you wish to accomplish, how long you’re giving yourself to do them and ideas on how to meet them. Keep in mind, you’re not writing an essay; simple one liners will do fine. You can keep them on your phone, in a notebook, on the back of a business card, somewhere to keep track of them. And bring them with you every time you venture out. I keep mine on my phone, so I know they’re always with me and I can add to and or edit them wherever I go.

It’s important to be realistic with yourself when making them and that they’re within reach of your skill set. Something that if you push yourself just a bit, you’ll be able to accomplish it. It’s a good idea to set deadlines for them as well. A day, a weekend, a month or a year. Some kind of time frame so you don’t get lazy and procrastinate. The idea is to challenge and expand your creativity, not to overload yourself. If you don’t meet your goals or a deadline passes you by, don’t be hard on yourself. Reset them and try again later. Just don’t give up on them. Follow the links below to see examples of my shooting with intent.

In each instance, I had a clear target to aim for. Some took me longer than others to check off my list, but they kept me focused and actively seeking the images I wanted. It also helped me rediscover my excitement about photography that had been slowly eroding away from doing the same unstimulating routine over and over again. Shooting with intent also help me define my growing style of photography. And after meeting each goal, I have a greater level of satisfaction and fulfillment with my photos. Because of that, I always have a list of ongoing goals to insure I’m shooting with purpose. Here are a few of them.

  • Finding a unique image
  • Interesting light and shadows
  • Sense of speed
  • Sense of aesthetics
  • Strong and interesting composition

Adding some type of goals to your routine can be a healthy challenge to motivate your drive and grow your creativity. Something to guide your creative journey through photography and to start to shoot with purpose. I hope this post shed some light on shooting with intent along with encouraged you to set some goals for you and your photography.

Stay safe and keep busy,

Steven

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Aviation Expo 2020

During all the years I traveled from one airshow to another, I’ve always played with the idea of a “Dream airshow”. If time didn’t matter, what would it look like? What aircraft, demos and jet teams would attend. 2020 is looking more and more like a year without airshows due to the COVID-19 pandemic. So, I decided to put together “Aviation Expo 2020”, a virtual airshow based on images from my photo archive. There’s aircraft I wish I could add to this, but I haven’t gotten around to shooting them yet. But after searching my vast archive, I did manage to round up a very impressive group of aircraft. Here’s my adventure from “Aviation Expo 2020”

After parking the rental car, I geared up and made my way to the staging area for the morning photo tour. The participants were hand pick and I was lucky enough to be selected. The tarmac was laid out perfectly. There were no tents, Porto potty’s, food vendors or anything around the aircraft to clutter up the background while shooting. Canopy covers were removed and everyone in the group was respectful, courteous and professional. Enjoying the spectacular morning light and the historic aircraft, time quickly passed, and the main gates were open and flying soon began.

Before the morning humidity burnt off, the flight activities started with a vapor contest. Each participating aircraft got 5 passes to make the most impressive vapor. Including prop and wingtip vertices and the showstopper, the full cone. The USN Super Hornet demo team with multiple cones, was the mornings clear winner.

Following the vapor contest, there was going to be only 4 heritage flights. But with so many qualified pilots and variety of aircraft, it quickly got out of hand with all the number of different combinations. But of all the amazing formations, we didn’t get to see a “Thunderbolt Flight” with a P-47 and a A-10.

After the heritage flight fiasco was over, it was time for the photo pass challenge. The challenge was split into two categories, single and two ship. Needless to say, Dale Snodgrass smashed his opponents with grace and style and Steve Hinton came in a very close second. The twin Thunderbolts from Tennessee easily won the two-ship class.

“Aviation Expo 2020” was the largest warbird gathering in history. Aircraft from World War Two to Vietnam was present and flying. The sound of all those historic Engines running at once was unforgettable. There were a few jet warbirds too and they didn’t disappoint. The show set a new world record for having the largest mass takeoff of warbirds since World War Two.

Now it was time for the show headliners. One by one, the jet teams took to the air and performed. The USAF Thunderbirds were up first. Followed by the RCAF Snowbirds, then the USN Blue Angels with Fat Albert doing a JETO takeoff. The Starfighters team got back together for this show. Flying from “across the pond” was the Breitling jet team and the RAF Red Arrows for the grand finale.

There was a short pause in the show come late afternoon. During this time everyone walk the static aircraft and got a bite to eat before the evening show.

As the sun made its slow journey toward the horizon, fuel tanks were topped off again, engines started up for the final performances of the day. It was amazing and the light was magical.

Stay safe and keep busy,

Steven

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