27 April 2009

*"The Greatest Story Never Told (Sold)..."

Personal Work. NGO volunteerism. Self-assigned projects. Whatever you want to call these initiatives that we photojournalists undertake throughout our careers, I wanted to again look at one of my ongoing projects that I'd previously posted to the website last year, and figured it was now time to post it here as well. In combination with my longstanding volunteerism with clients Operation Smile and Americares, as well as a few personal trips back to Africa, this is a piece I put together to highlight some of those images. Working anywhere in Africa means the world to me - so hopefully this piece w/ audio will give you a brief idea of my love affair with the continent. -cg.

*(Use the arrow at the bottom left of the player or click the image to start the slideshow. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the credits button at lower right of the player. Remember to turn up your speaker volume as well.)

24 April 2009

*"Happy Birthday, Natasha..."

Balboa Park. San Diego, CA. Aug. 1992

Natasha Banks-Gordon born on this day, 22 years ago in Portland, Maine. April 24, 1987.

22 April 2009

"The West Point Bionic Foot..." 4•22•09

Something special from today at West Point:

Army Sgt. First Class Patrick A. King (left) of Highland Falls, NY rests as Joseph Miller (right) Chief of Prosthetics at Walter Reed Army Medical Center adjusts King's prosthetic foot as Colonel Joseph Hitt and cadet Ian Jones (background) examine the "West Point Bionic Foot" at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY on Wednesday, April 22, 2009. Three West Point senior cadets helped design the prosthetic foot under the guidance of Colonel Hitt's Engineering program. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

19 April 2009

"I know I've made this same, exact image before..." 04•19•09

It happens a lot (to me) in the process of just working. Of just putting yourself in place to make a "nice image." Or perhaps a few dozen. You never know. Bring the gear you'll need; i.e. a long lens, strobe for fill-flash, and a willingness to keep challenging yourself to "get closer" or do what it takes to make a pleasing image. The image above at left was made yesterday on post at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY during the 43rd. annual Sandhurst Military competition between service academies & even two British Royal Sandhurst units.
Not really thinking about it all at the time, I knew I'd made something very similar a year and half ago in northern Thailand of these really entrepreneurial Burmese cats that ferried people across the Mae Moi river between Thailand and Myanmar (Burma.) I was there on my off time during an Operation Smile volunteer mission.

Let's not forget about covering last year's Sandhurst competition (below) were I got these Britsih cadets giving it their all in a light rain:

Come to think of it all now, particularly when you examine these frames, I can recall how I tried to make it a point of getting down close to the shoreline to make sort of a "straight-on" image of the competitors and the water-taxi guys on the Mae Moi river. Here's another one from yesterday at West Point. It doesn't mean much and wasn't submitted for publication or anything, it's just an image I liked of the cadets about to enter their raft.

Semper fi. -cg.

18 April 2009

*Thoughts on being a "Troublemaker..." 18 April 09

Lake Baikal. Irkutsk, Russian Federation. June 2005. (Photograph by Ivan Shapovalov / JSCo. Russian Railways)

As you probably know from the growth of this blog, I spend a lot of time on the computer, and of course on the web. A lot of time. For work, pleasure, and even just everyday radio. I haven't shared many links here from outside sources, particularly opinion pieces, but this one I had to share. It is making the rounds in the photo-trade sites now. Actually had to stop myself a few times to keep from calling colleagues to point them to see this piece. The way the business has turned the last few years, especially the 'corporatization' of newsrooms, and all the PC attitudes now permeating on every level, this piece knocked me out. Give it a read and save the link below, share it with friends, and remind yourself if you've ever been labeled a "troublemaker" or "hard to work with" in your career, then you my friend are doing the right thing. Always, always be truthful to yourself, your passion and your work... -cg.

Here's a few lines from the post:

"Great photographers are fundamentally unhappy people. Not in the suburban housewife way of unhappy and waiting for something tremendously beautiful to happen and be swept away, a la “Madame Bovary”. Not at all. They are unhappy with the world around them and how it functions. What bothers them is the way reality is commonly perceived : Normal, bland, boring and uninteresting.
What is compelling to a photographer is not the way reality is presented to them, but what is behind. Or on the sides. great photographers are those who are not accepting things the way they are. They are trouble makers..."

Click here to read the full blog post: The Trouble Makers.

16 April 2009

Back on 'Track...' 04•15•09

Good to be back out covering sports on a nice Spring afternoon yesterday. Utilized the long 300mm w/ the 1.4 tele-extender (for clean backgrounds - at left) again as well as the wide 16mm - 35mm zoom (below images). These images are from a dual HS meet, so there weren't a lot of folks like judges, athletes, parents & coaches milling about the infield, so it made for good images. -cg.

12 April 2009

*"The Weekend Was Literally a Blur..." April 10 - 11, 2009.

All I can remember about the past few days was that I had to do a lot of driving. HS baseball. Division I level College Football. More HS baseball. Walked with the Stations of the Cross here in my hometown on Friday morning for the third Good Friday in a row, which proved for good images again. Hop back in the car - hustle back to the office some 30 miles West of here. Edit and upload images to the paper's server. Back in the car to head to West Point for the annual ARMY Black / Gold scrimmage game at 4:30PM.
Back in Michie Stadium was kind of fun, but by the time I got going and making good images, it was almost 'halftime' of this scrimmage. It was good to work hard with the long glass to make a few file images of ARMY's new head coach, Rich Ellerson on the sidelines, and to see their two quarterbacks go at it again.
But C'mon, this is April. Football...?
Saturday wasn't any nicer on the legs, hands, and the rest of the body. A Spring storm brought a cold, blowing rain through the area. I secretly had my fingers crossed that a HS baseball tournament would be cancelled but the photo-gods would have non of that.
There I was trying to hide on the first base side of the dugout to shoot in a driving rain. Changing lenses was a challenge, and sitting on the wet grass was out. Ironically, our sportswriter and I talked on Thursday I think it was about making "cold weather" images at any upcoming games for a piece he's doing next week.
This proved to be the perfect day for these kinds of images. Just as I was about to leave the first of three games that afternoon, the weather began to clear up.

Well, I wasn't having any of it, as I was on my way back to the office. That's right, you guessed it - another 30+ mile drive. *Oh yea, "Welcome to the 50th. year on the planet..." -cg.

10 April 2009

"#49..." 10:16PM. 10 April 09.

Vanilla ice cream & Angostura bitters. 'Nuff said. -cg.

*"It's Official. Spring is Here...!" 09 April 2009

Brian Ditoto (#3, right) of Port Jervis steals second base as James I. O'Neill second baseman Jimmy Doonan (#10, left) misses the throw during their game at Roe Park in Highland Falls, NY on Thursday, April 9, 2009. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

"Spring is (finally) Here..." OK, I know it's cliched and all that, but while most of the NYC Metro area media are still buzzing about the two new MLB ballparks in the Bronx and Flushing, Queens; I had the opportunity today to photograph a well played HS varsity baseball game at noontime on a beautiful Spring day. All by myself down the third base line of a nice, quiet neighborhood park. It was good to shoot the season's first outdoor game on long glass (a 300mm f/2.8 with a 1.4 tele-extender "welded on" camera #1) and a second camera with the 70mm - 200mm f/2.8 zoom. I really like the tight looks that the long 300mm provides, particularly the soft or out-of-focus backgrounds. Fast shutter speeds and high (wide open) f/stops helped to clean up the backgrounds and stop the action clean. I'm digging that dirt in the face of a diving base runner (top), and the ball stopped clean on several occasions where you can actually see the laces and seams on the baseball in a pitcher's delivery (above.). Should I need anything wider, I'll probably just bring out another body with the 16mm - 35mm short zoom. Can't wait to start running a remote camera down the third base line soon as well as shooting other outdoor sports like lacrosse, and track & field. Big track meets coming up in May soon I believe. Stay tuned. -cg.

04 April 2009

"2009 POTY..." (Player of the Year)

Got the assignment earlier this week to photograph our newspaper's HS Player of the Year again. Cory Quimby (left) is a repeat winner of the award - and he had the numbers to prove it. I think he averaged something like 27 points / 17 rebounds per night. No way would his Minisink Valley HS team made it to the sectional playoffs without him. He's a good kid, a hard working big man under the boards, and really "brings it" every night. Here he is photographed at the playground he starting playing at as a youngster. I've included a few of my other POY portraits from the paper the past two years, including Quimby's images from last year:

It was good to bring out a set of lights on location again and light him up on the court, as I intentionally underexposed to make the sky a little deeper blue (we got lucky with a beautiful early April day) and add the strobe. Camera: Canon 5D MarkII. ISO 100. 1/200th. sec. @ f/16. Set-up time about 15 - minutes. (Ideally this portrait would've worked better at 7PM or so instead of 5PM, as I was hoping to have the court in shadow or silhouette, but of course availability of the subject and our scheduling doesn't always allow those finer details & requests.) Actual shooting time: 5 minutes.
Onto covering the outdoor Spring sports seasons now like lacrosse, baseball, and track... -cg.

01 April 2009

"Winding Down..." 2009 HS Player & Coach of the Year portraits.

Well, it's finally over. The basketball season, that is. After a few days of recovery & a good night's sleep after my third trip to Glens Falls, NY over the weekend (drove nearly 1,000 miles on three trips upstate the past two weekends) in covering Newburgh Free Academy in the NY State and Federation Championship Tournament games. It was all well worth it. Hands down. Three cameras. Four cameras. (4) Dyna-Lite strobe heads, Super-Clamps and about a dozen Pocket-Wizards. Too much other gear to list here. Besides, it doesn't really matter now. The whole month of my March basketball coverage was about making good sports images. Period. I think I worked hard to never slack up, never deny myself a good angle to be in position (or particularly putting a remote camera in position) to make good secondary images. I have the bruised knees, sore hips, and raw hands still to prove it. Napping in the car on the way back from upstate in a thunderstorm isn't fun, but it kind of reinforced how hard I'd worked...
This week is the time for our Player and Coach of the Year portraits. The past two years I've shot a lot of the P/COY portraits on location, and they've proved to be a different kind of challenge, but most of all still fun. Yesterday, I dragged in the same four Dyna-Lite Uni-Jr. heads into the empty NFA gym for the COY portrait with three of his players who are on the paper's first team All-Stars. With not nearly enough warning, I thought of how I'd put this image together while still packing up the gear yesterday morning. The same four heads I'd hung in the rafters upstate. About 100' of the heavy-duty orange extension cord strung all over the gym floor and taped down. Fortunately, a HS student stood in as a model so I could set everything up before the players & coach stepped into position. The gym supplied the ladder - one used by the volleyball team for their referees. Then to top everything off and reminding me how crazy this whole business can sometimes be - while I finally had everything going nicely after making a few images from the ladder, and adjusting the strobe heads, the coach's cell phone rings. "Yes, I'm in the middle of a photo-shoot for the paper", he explains. "Oh, I completely forgot it was today" he chimes on. Dentist appointment. "I'll be there in 15 minutes..." Needless to say, after working for about an hour to haul in all the gear, set-up lights, and finally get going with the subjects, I only got to make about 15 - 20 images of this take, which took ten minutes. (I checked the time stamps on each image file.) Very few variations, but I'm happy with what I have here. Not sure yet if I'm going to be photographing both the Boys & Girls POY's on location during the week. Stay tuned. -cg.