I’m a bit of a photo bug and I’ve also directed quite a few professional photo shoots in my design career, so I can’t help thinking about what it would be like to be a combat photographer. Imagine being given this assignment: “Hey bud, wanna stroll along with the guys going to Omaha beach and snap a few pics for posterity’s sake? Americans would love it, whadya say?” Ok, maybe the D-Day assignment wasn’t given exactly that way, but even so, after clearing the lump in my throat, I would probably ask if I could just hang around the ship and get some shots of the guys coming and going. Not Frank Capa. He was not only up for the assignment, he requested going with the first wave to hit the beach. I can hear the other GIs joking, “hey Frank, don’t ya know that camera shoots film not bullets.” He knew! He took 106 photos but due to a lab snafu only 11 survived; the only photographic record we have of that treacherous assault. Amazing! 10 of the 11 appeared in Life magazine. This ethereal shot has always been one of my favorites.
I found this blog post at Muddy Colors very helpful and thorough. If you illustrate or paint professionally and need good quality captures without a lot of continuing costs the information and techniques here are golden.
Digging around in some of my old film shots I ran across this photo of Comet Hyakutake I took in 1996. It was a rare try at an astronomical image (something I want to do more of) and mediocre at best, but since I had never tried scanning the film negative of this shot, this became a technical exercise more than anything. My shot pales in comparison to the many beautiful images of Hyakutake taken by seasoned astrophotographers, but still it was a breathtaking, once-in-a-lifetime viewing event and I had a blast taking the shot. One hour photo prints being what they are (or aren’t), I wanted to see what I could do with this old negative on my present day Canon 8400f flatbed in 35mm film scanning mode. I was pleased to see the improvement I was able to make over the print. In Photoshop I ran a noise reduction filter, added a curves layer to fine tune the contrast and a hue/saturation layer to darken certain colors and reduce some of the atmospheric haze bringing out the tail a bit more. The 30 sec. exposure (using Fujicolor 1600 film) as you can see is a bit long and the stars are just beginning to elongate due to earth’s rotation, but all in all not a bad attempt and a fun memory.
History, particularly reenactors, is one of my favorite photo subjects. I was playing around with some black and white renditions of this image and was satisfied with the way this one came out. Most of the editing work was done in Lightroom. The buttonhole design on the uniform jacket made for a nice graphic element. Though it doesn’t look like it this guy was actually giving a lecture on 18th century militia tactics but this sort of unique contemplative pose stood out to me in the pics I had of him.
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight,
But they, while their companions slept,
Were toiling upward in the night.
Standing on what too long we bore
With shoulders bent and downcast eyes,
We may discern unseen before
A path to higher destinies.
Nor deem the irrevocable Past,
As wholly wasted, wholly vain,
If, rising on its wrecks, at last
To something nobler we attain.
If you’ve never seen the My Shot page on the National Geographic site you really should, some of the submissions there are incredible. Every day NG features the Daily Dozen twelve of the best pics for that day chosen by NG editors. Then each week the highest rated photos by viewer vote are featured in the Weekly Wrapper. There are also some interesting photo blogs with great pics, posts and tips from NG editors and photographers. Lots of photographic inspiration to be had, not to mention the fact that you can even submit your own photos if you are so inclined.
I shot this photo at a small local exhibit featuring 3 vintage World War II aircraft. I was reminded first hand how history is not just dusty facts and dates but an almost inexhaustible supply of stories passed on face to face by people with a twinkle in their eye, enthusiasm in their voice and an insatiable curiosity to know more, and, if they’re lucky, doing it all with a real piece of history sitting right in front of them.
As I moved from plane to plane snapping my pics, conversations wafted through the air like delicious aromas, young and old alike joining in the feast, asking questions, sharing knowledge and displaying a fascination for the history represented before them. On and on the conversations went. History is at its best on days like this because it’s stories are enthusiastically shared by people who lived them, love them, never want to forget them or all of the above.