23 September 2009

"POTUS on Station." Newburgh, NY 23•Sept.•09

Air Force One is seen parked between two C-5A Galaxy cargo aircraft at the Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, NY on Wednesday, September 23, 2009. President Barack Obama was in Troy, NY on Monday and addressed the United Nations General Assembly today in New York. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

Always good to see this airplane, even if she's just parked in the far corner of the airport. Got the approval today to photograph Air Force One here in my area, as President Obama has been the NY area the past three days, finishing up today by addressing the UN General Assembly in Manhattan. Rushed home to grab my personal Nikon D-1X cameras and 300mm f/2.8 (manual focus) + 1.4 tele-extender to make a few hand-held images. I know it's a long shot view, but still a good archive image for potential future stories. -cg

22 September 2009

How Good Visual Design Can Save Newspapers

I just came across this video again on a photojournalism trade site I frequent. It's from an art director's / designer's conference in Long Beach, California last February. For all you visual and creative types out there, as well as those who truly appreciate good work that is properly displayed, I still find this piece to be quite inspiring. -cg.

21 September 2009

*"West Point is so much more than football..." September 2009.

OK, so I've covered two home games at West Point so far this Fall. I'd been thinking about those "in-between" or "daily" assignments I've shot the last few weeks at the United States Military Academy (USMA or WP) that are also so very special to witness and offer my efforts in documenting, and photographing correctly. West Point is one of the premiere engineering schools in this country, and was just recently named as the top college in America by Forbes magazine.
Nothing to be taken lightly at all. Besides being a Division I university for NCAA athletics, it is recognized the world over as the military institution were U.S. Army officers are made. Leadership. Integrity. Esprit de Corps. All buzz words to the mere civilian, but to a former military enlisted man, it's one of the reasons why I sometimes still get chills while working on post. There's just no getting around that. Everything changes when you drive through those gates. The top image made this past Saturday is evidence of that mindset for me.
It was made with a remote camera mounted atop Kimsey Hall in the south end zone of Michie Stadium. I'd mounted one of two remote cameras from that same position last Fall for the Army - Air Force game, so I knew ahead of time approximately how long it'd take, how much gear to bring, and what sort of image of the stadium / playing field view I'd cover with a fish-eye lens. Experience on station. Again, nothing to be taken lightly. Sure the stadium isn't filled at kickoff; as this was only Ball State in town for the game, but that's not what this image is all about anyway. It's proof that I got to the ballpark press parking lot early (around 9:15AM) and was on the roof installing this remote less than an hour later. Besides, the light was going to be good all day, and I wanted to capture some of it in other views besides game action from the field. Since I've always gone about covering games at West Point as if they're pro contests, I begin monitoring the weather reports a day or two ahead of game day. That's import in itself as last week's home opener was cloudy and overcast, actually bordering on a downpour at any moment. So as a photographer working a 3+ hour game on the field, you have to be aware of all those possibilities ahead of time and pack rain / cold or hot weather gear accordingly. It's not like I could run the quarter-mile back uphill to my car to retrieve rain gear. Big step up from the local high school game coverage.

*(this post is still under construction with a slideshow yet to come...)

20 September 2009

Eid al-Fitr Prayer. 1•Oct.•08

Last year on this day I photographed the first Eid al-Fitr prayer in a new mosque here in the Middletown, NY area. Wanted to revisit that piece here again: -cg.

*(Click in the text above or click the arrow at the lower left of the player 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 audio for the 5-minute piece. -cg.)

13 September 2009

ARMY FOOTBALL... 12•Sept•09

"Shaking off the rust..." *(or 'How I almost lost my groove in covering Army's home opener on a warm, overcast Saturday in September...') Back to Michie Stadium at West Point yesterday for the home opener of ARMY hosting Duke. Hard to believe it's another Fall football season already. Wasn't I just on this same turf field in May running a low-angle remote for the graduation hat toss...? My detailed thoughts on preparing for a game like this, packing gear, etc. begin after the game photo below. -cg.

Army quarterback Trent Steelman (#8) is tackled hard by Duke defenders Abraham Kromah (#8, left) and Catron Gainey (#23, right) during the second half of their game in Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY on Saturday, September 12, 2009. Duke defeated Army 35 - 19. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

I knew it was going to be a long, and possibly difficult afternoon at Michie Stadium. First of all, the weather didn't look like it was going to cooperate, so right up until the last minutes before leaving home, I was packing & repacking my gear; trying to figure out how much rain gear to bring; including duck boots, a favorite waterproof fedora, lightweight rain poncho, full rain suit, heavier Timberland rain jacket, dry socks, etc. I surely couldn't afford to be "under-geared" for a game played in a steady rain or downpour. (Friday night's HS games were played in the rain and I'm sure it was annoying for my colleagues working those games.) I was still undecided on even bringing a fourth remote camera set-up until I actually starting bringing all the gear downstairs and began loading up the car at around 8:15AM. Shoot, I was already running later than I wanted to be for the noontime kickoff. Finally decided on leaving the remote camera set-up behind as I was already leaving the house later than I needed to be if I was planning on setting up a stadium remote for my traditional view of the venue from the top of the stadium on a fish-eye lens. Besides, the weather forecasts called for showers at some point, and I wasn't in the mood to be worrying about a remote camera of mine clamped up somewhere above the stadium getting drenched again all afternoon.
Threatening skies at 8:30 made that an easy call. Knowing that Duke men's basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski was in town and had been inducted into the Army Hall of Fame the night before, meant I'd be spending a fair amount of time during pre-game fan fest and also at halftime on the field making feature pictures of him. So that meant any thoughts of a halftime bite to eat were already out of the question. Arrival was a little after 9AM in the media lot, and I was up in the stadium press box before 10AM - with the clock ticking before kickoff. Checked with our beat reporter to get an idea of his possible game stories, players to watch, etc.
We also planned on meeting down in the pre-game fan fest area behind the stadium before 11AM to start getting those feature images of Duke "Coach K" (left) signing autographs and such, as well as another former Army football player and hall of fame inductee he'd be writing about. That wouldn't leave me much time on the field to shoot the players and new head coach, Rich Ellerson. This is always an ideal time to make those types of "game face" images on the field during pre-game player warm-ups. Something I learned at the beginning of my career covering the pro sports teams in NYC. These are always good "file" images to shoot and have in the bag as it were, as the players won't have their helmets on while stretching, throwing etc., and usually they'll be smiling and joking about as well.
My take on this is make the effort to spend a good 10 - 15 minutes shooting these images as they're images that can be used all week / season long when the sports guys are writing about player "so & so" or the new head coach. I mean it's almost a no-brainer to continually make images of the new head coach in town, as well as their freshman starting quarterback Trent Steelman (left & top image getting nailed by two Duke defenders in the red zone.)
There was one thing missing in all this pre-game preparation for me though and that was the early meal for the media. There wasn't anything to be found upstairs by 10:20AM or so when I was leaving to go down to the field - which in a crowded stadium can be an adventure in itself. Not a muffin. Coffee. Nothing. I could already sense this might be problem for me later. By the time I finished the pre-game warm up photos and found my way outside the gates behind the visitor's side of the stadium - the area called "Black Knights Alley", it was nearly 11AM. One hour to kickoff. Stomach beginning to rumble. Made the Mike Krzyzewski autograph photos, moved through the crowd a bit to also photograph some general overall images of the crowd and festivities (above and here). Good file images I remember thinking, regardless of the overcast skies. By the time I was ready to head to the field, my only recourse was to buy an overpriced plain hamburger & Gatorade from the stadium vendors. Leaned on the tailgate of an ambulance near the players entrance to eat my pre-game meal. I think it was $8. Proceeded to the field to prepare for the show that is Division I college football. No parachute jumpers for this day due to the weather so that was a relief not to have to shoot them landing at midfield. I guess the whole National Anthem, Corps of Cadets "March - On" and teams running onto the field takes a good 20 minutes or so. Did I mention it was warm and humid on the field? I chose to wear my rubber duck boots, which kept my feet a little too warm, as I initially thought the field would be wet from the previous night's rainstorms.Notes to self: "Michie Stadium has good field drainage & remember to bring a sandwich & snacks just in case the pre-game meal isn't offered upstairs an hour+ before kickoff. Packing a few Advil or Tylenol capsules wouldn't be a bad idea either. Drink fluids on the field during the game..." (Those post games headaches from dehydration are a bear.) Remembering that I'd have to stay on the field at halftime, which meant no halftime meal back upstairs either. This surely had the makings of a long, and tiring day. All in all, it was a good day of shooting, considering I spent nearly 10 hours at the stadium. It was fun too yucking it up with fellow photographers on the field, including Albany staffer Mike Groll of the AP, Jon Malinowski, Chuck Stewart and Scott Strine - who made the image of me patrolling the sidelines (above). I was thrilled to have the image of QB Trent Steelman getting planted near the goal line, as I didn't realize how massive of hit he took. That image about said it all as far as the game was concerned for me too. It's sort of a game-telling image on how bad Duke handled Army after the Black Knights took an early lead in the first quarter. In winding down my day off here of final editing, I also made it a point of sending the paper 20 of those file-type images, anticipating any future calls for new photos of the name players and new coach.

Here's a slideshow from my game day coverage. -cg.
*(Click the arrow at the bottom left of the player to start the slideshow, or click the image / or the arrows at lower right to scroll through the show manually. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the credits button at lower right of the player. You can stop the small continuous slideshow in the right column by clicking the pause II button.)

11 September 2009

"8 Years..."

Smoke continues to rise from the rubble and crumbling facade of the World Trade Center's South Tower on Monday, September 24, 2001. A terrorist attack two weeks earlier on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2001 destroyed to the twin skyscrapers in lower Manhattan when two jetliners struck the towers. The facade was brought down by construction crews on Tuesday, September 25, 2001. © Chet Gordon

06 September 2009

"What the (photo-editor's) Voice Inside My Head is Whispering..." 6•Sept.09

When I have time off from work, I really enjoy entertaining all the nuances of my stock & personal editorial work. Moving and archiving personal image files, troubleshooting external hard drives, editing and re-captioning older material for delivery to my agency,
THE IMAGE WORKS and their newly launched division PRESSTOCK, representing the work of contributing newspapers and newspaper photographers. I cherish the good morning light and actually get out early some days to just make pictures for pictures sake. Well, not exactly. There's much more to it than that. Just about all of my photographs are made with the intention of potential editorial usage or resale at some point. My agency has been good to me the last few years and I'm working hard to continue contributing images whenever I can. That means even the simplest landscapes and seascapes made while on holiday in Bermuda to the few abandoned buildings and even an empty car dealership photographed this morning all have possible resale value.
Keeping in mind the current economic climate and state of affairs in this country, imagery like this can appear in any number of publications and uses. One can easily see images like these illustrating a business / economy / real estate story in publications like BusinessWeek & Fortune magazines, as well as the business section of the leading newspapers, trade publications and web editions. On these simple self-assigned "mini-projects", I try to challenge myself and think like a photo-editor down the road who might actually have a need for images like these. The files must obviously be publication quality, exposed properly, captioned correctly and the like. Seeking out these type of simple photographs becomes the self-assignment in itself. Whether I shoot for an hour or half a day, and spend another hour or two editing the take - it's usually rewarding to have accomplished even this simplest of assignments.

"When the light is good - I want to be out there making pictures, no matter who they're for..." -cg.

05 September 2009

"Gems..." 5•Sept.•09

Mechanic Quincy Sam pauses in an engine storage room at C & H Auto Salvage in Campbell Hall, NY on Friday, September 4, 2009. Sam spoke of the Cash for Clunkers program and the vehicles that eventually turn up at C & H Salvage. Times Herald-Record/CHET GORDON

It's been a good week for making images. (seems like I haven't uttered those words in quite a while - at least here in print.) Nice light. Wonderful stories. Great people. Attentive & respectful reporters. Met a "Master Tailor" earlier in the week, and it was a joy to listen to his soft Jamaican accent, as I observed his flow and "groove", if you will, while he hemmed a pair of trousers in his backroom workshop.
Initially I'd mistaken him (at right) for a "Trini" (Trinidadian) as his British vocabulary and enunciation was just simply elegant. Caught up with an articulate mechanic working in a auto salvage yard yesterday, and for a brief minute or two, "I had him." (top) Chased the new Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan up in Monticello on Tuesday night. He's the third leader of the New York Archdiocese I've photographed through the years. Also wanted to include a few images from a "Zumba" dance instructor from two weeks ago where I'd put up two small remote strobes to light up a library's community room for their early morning dance class. Find those images in the slideshow below.
The unexpected has a quick and unforgiving way of finding you and simply dropping "gems" right in your lap. If your antennae are up, with all your little technical aspects in place, and you're truly prepared mentally, physically and at times even spiritually, something beautiful can happen. The alternatives are that you pass them right by. And I hate stepping out of an opportune moment mumbling to myself, "I'm missing pictures..." -cg.

*(Click the arrow at the bottom left of the player to start the slideshow, or click the image / or the arrows at lower right to scroll through the show manually. Enable full screen viewing by clicking the 4-way arrow icon above the credits button at lower right of the player. You can stop the small continuous slideshow in the right column by clicking the pause II button.)