25 November 2010

"Back in The New York Times..."

Got a call last week from an editor on the picture desk at The New York Times, requesting my permission to publish a photo of an internationally known businesswoman I'd photographed on assignment back in 1993. That's 1993 - nearly twenty years ago, when I was a very busy freelancer for them. It was good to know that a news organization such as the Times still goes by the book, and will pay me nearly their day rate again for the use of this image, which ran with the subject's obituary yesterday.

You can read Helen Boehm's obituary by clicking HERE. ~cg.

18 November 2010

"Men with Guns..."

A Sri Lankan policeman keeps an eye on traffic in downtown Colombo, Sri Lanka in August 1997. © Chet Gordon/THE IMAGE WORKS

One of the many reoccurring themes throughout my career continues to be photographing "Men w/ Guns..."

Sometimes it seems that some of these themes and mindsets for me are almost embedded within the subconscious if you will. This by no means is an attempt to make a political statement about the work, nor is it a highlight of those that work with weaponry everyday. It's just that I've been around weapons for a long, long time, beginning first in the military, on the streets with law enforcement personnel, and occasionally even with the bad guys. I have a great respect for those that are trained to use them correctly. (Keywords: Training and Correctly.) What always boggles my mind while on an international trip and in a foreign culture is how a lot of societies are accustomed to armed individuals weaved right into their daily lives... Weapons on the street make for good images, and I don't think there's any doubt about that, but they also tell a lot about how governments and the powers that be sort of "oversee" their populations.

I am always in awe how a population can readily accept the militarization of their communities, and probably just as harrowing - their acceptance of street violence & death, which is predominately the result of the immediate availability of firearms to the general population.
This post will be a look at how I've seen "Men w/ Guns..." through the years... ~cg.

13 November 2010

REWIND - Images from the Archive.

Lamu, Kenya. Family butcher shop in Lamu, Kenya on Saturday, May 13, 2006.

Lamu Island is a part of the Lamu Archipelago of Kenya. Lamu Old Town, the principal inhabited part of the island, is one of the oldest and best-preserved Swahili settlements in East Africa. Built in coral stone and mangrove timber, the town is characterized by the simplicity of structural forms enriched by such features as inner courtyards, verandas, and elaborately carved wooden doors. Lamu has hosted major Muslim religious festivals since the 19th century, and has become a significant center for the study of Islamic and Swahili cultures. The island is linked by boat to Mokowe on the mainland and to Manda Island, where there is an airport. There are no roads on the island, just alleyways and footpaths, and therefore, there are few motorized vehicles on the island. Residents move about on foot or by boat, and donkeys are used to transport goods and materials. A port was founded on the island of Lamu by Arab traders at least as early as the fourteenth century, when the Pwani Mosque was built. The island prospered on the slave trade. After defeating Pate Island in the nineteenth century, the island became a local power, but it declined after the British forced the closure of the slave markets in 1873. In 1890 the island became part of Zanzibar and remained obscure until Kenya was granted independence from Great Britain in 1963. Tourism developed from the 1970s, mainly around the eighteenth century Swahili architecture and traditional culture. ~ from Wikipedia.

REWIND - Images from the Archive.
A showcase for some of my favorite images here on the blog that aren't particularly in the working portfolio. Look for this occasional feature where I'll highlight a single image that's meant a lot throughout my career.
*To see my previous posts of this ongoing retrospective, click HERE.

11 November 2010

Veteran's Day.

"Fox" Battery. 2nd. Battalion / 12th. Marines. Okinawa, Japan. (circa 1986).*Yours truly standing @ second row - second from right. M-198 Howitzer F 2/12 Battery, Fire Direction Controlman. (0844)
Today is Veteran's Day. Yesterday was the United States Marine Corps' 235th. birthday. With all the happenings in the world today & in my career, it's hard to sometimes believe it's been more than 20 years ago when I proudly wore the uniform of the USMC. Being a Marine changed my life, and quite honestly, has had a lot to do with who I am each & every day. I think of my fellow Marines often..."Semper fi." -cg.

MCRD. San Diego, CA July 2004.

SAN DIEGO, CA. USMC Recruit Depot. Paying my respects to the Marines who've passed thru MCRD (Marine Corps Recruit Depot) "Boot Camp" in San Diego by touching the infamous "grinder" or parade deck while on vacation thru southern CA. I wet thru Parris Island, SC. 2nd. Battalion Platoon 2015. 16 Nov. 82 - 8 Feb. 83 "Ooh-rah!! ~cg.

08 November 2010

2 More Winners for July. NPPA Monthly Contest.

It's always nice to be recognized by the National Press Photographer's Association (NPPA) Monthly Clip Contest for work during the calendar year. Here are two winners from back in July. Hard to believe that the two 12+ hour days spent on the Chelsea Clinton stakeout in tony Rhinebeck was four months ago. ~cg.

Click HERE to see my original post from the two days' coverage of the "Chelsea Wedding Watch" and HERE to see my paper's Chelsea page. Funny, I remember backing up and bumping into Chelsea while covering her mother's announcing her run for the NY Senate race over in Westchester when Bill was still a sitting president... ~cg.

05 November 2010

"We have a double - homicide..." Newburgh, NY 5•Nov.•10

Newburgh Police Crime Scene Detectives and funeral home personnel remove the first of two bodies from 12 Liberty Street in the Heights neighborhood of the City of Newburgh, NY on Friday, November 5, 2010. Two men were the victims of a double homicide last night. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

The phone call came this morning at dawn (around 7:15AM) from my trusted colleague, the reporter who covers Newburgh here with me. Both the good and the bad. "Two homicides last night" he told me a few times as I tried to figure out what time it was on the work cellular. "I'll be there in 20 minutes..." I replied, as if rehearsed between the two of us. "Do I have time to make a cup of coffee?" I remember asking him before we hung up. Working at the scene in a misty, raw and damp morning, I managed to move 4 early images to the office of the cops & crime scene guys, and returned to make the coroner's office people removing the two bodies, some 6 hours after I'd initially arrived on the scene and began making images at 8:15AM. Moved 4 more images of the coroner's people and CSU guys on the scene, in particular these types of images (above). So it's already been a full workday schedule. I guess it's sort of a good thing that I'd returned to the scene to make the later images...
Time to get ready for the original work day tonight; a big HS Football sectional championship game up in Kingston under those dreadful lights. Let's hope the rain holds off at least until halftime / third quarter. Will surely be pushing deadline on this game, as there's no internet in this almost archaic stadium... ~cg.

01 November 2010

Football. The Way It Is... Oct./Nov. 2010

“The dictionary is the only place that success comes before work. Hard work is the price we must pay for success. I think you can accomplish anything if you're willing to pay the price.” – Vince Lombardi

For quite sometime now, I've been considering this latest post in an attempt to highlight my football coverage, and what it means from my perspective on the field as a sports photographer, and as a one-time HS player a long, long time ago. Not only during this season, because the teams and games seem to all run together at some point, so I cannot truthfully separate the work into one Fall campaign. Football is a violent, punishing, and brutal sport on both sides of the ball, and at no matter what level. Talented players shine continuously and their abilities are a wonder to behold at times. But there are also quiet, game telling moments that I always try to be aware of as well. Whether it is a defeated defensive lineman (above: Army's Mike Gann a few week's ago after loosing to Rutgers in overtime at the New Meadowlands Stadium) or a father quietly comforting his high school MVP son off the field after their loss in the state championship game in Syracuse University's Carrier Dome a few season's ago (right).

The action will undoubtedly come and covering games in the varying stadiums and venues I frequent presents a whole new set of challenges. Weather becomes either an added bonus in covering games in early / mid - September, comfortably dressed in shorts and a polo shirt, or a major intimidating factor in how one goes about planning their overall workday on the field, particularly at this time of the year. Gloves (usually two pair), thermal underwear, lined work pants, Gortex ski hat, turtle neck shirt, work boots, and a few packets of hand warmers become just as important to me as any lens / camera combination and my shooting position on a sometimes wet or even frozen field. It becomes a mental battle at times in not allowing the elements to interfere with your main objective in covering games, especially as we're now into HS playoff season, and those games are played at night, as well as the upcoming annual Army - Navy Game in mid-December. "Brrrr....!"

"Just Win, Baby." - Al Davis. Oakland Raiders GM

Football keeps me awake nights. Makes me (figuratively) bite my nails while driving to the ballpark. Even the most routine game coverage presents opportunities for phenomenal images, but the preparation and the photographer's mindset must be right on point - all the time. That's one thing about football, good pictures can happen 80 yards away from your position (for a game winning field goal with a 600mm at left) or literally right in your lap, five yards away in the end zone (with a third camera around my neck with a short zoom at lower right. This camera is sometimes referred to as a "bailout" or "oh Sh*t!" camera, as all you have to do is aim and fire, because you've taped the focus ring in place, and it's usually set at a smaller aperture to insure good depth of field on a wide angle or short zoom.) So in a sense, this third camera is like a remote - without actually being a remote, and on some days may never make an actual usable image on the field. Unlike basketball and baseball, where a high percentage of the pictures made in those sports are basically from a "station to station" viewpoint during a game. Meaning a photographer can anticipate where the action will take place; around either basket for basketball and along the base paths or home plate for baseball coverage. Players are photographed coming right at you; as in down the lane on a fast break or dunk in basketball, or running, diving, sliding into a base or a nasty collision at the plate in baseball. It is because of these familiarities with each sport and their playing fields that photographers can utilize remote camera(s), carefully aimed at one of these "stations" and literally just wait for the action to take place, and fire one or more remote cameras setup and pre-focused for that particular opportunity. Blog readers here know of my continual use of remotes, but I'm going to leave that topic for a later discussion, as I usually only install a remote camera in football for an overall view of a stadium, like this one (above) 3 hours prior to the annual Army - Navy game in Baltimore in 2007 - which incidentally means arriving up to 5 hours before game time to install that camera in a TV press box high above the crowd. This overall view is always a nice addition to the day's take on the game and also serves as a file image of each particular stadium, so when images are needed for general stories in the future on a particular team / season / stadium & city, we have them "in the can" so to speak. I routinely mount a remote in West Point's Michie Stadium; either on a rooftop of Kimsey Hall in the south end zone (below) to capture the pre-game parachute team arriving at midfield, and even mounted a remote a few weeks ago on their Jumbo-Tron scoreboard for a variation of this same view of the field from the north end zone.

Football also affords me the opportunity utilize a vast array of equipment. It is not uncommon for me to arrive at the ballpark with 4 digital camera bodies (remember the third one around my neck for anticipated plays right in front of you), and on occasion 5 camera bodies, as I've also begun shooting video clips for the paper's website at most of the games this season. The Canon 5D - Mark II is ideal, as it's 21MP chip delivers superb, broadcast quality video files, and I have the ability to also shoot it as a still camera even while rolling in video mode. Lens choice includes everything from my 10.5mm fisheye to a 600mm (actually a 300mm f/2.8AF with the 2X tele-extender attached). The fisheye is for the overhead views of the stadium (above), as well as using it for a neat huddle image with the camera mounted on a mono-pod where I actually extend the mono-pod or "stick" over the players, and fire the camera either by a hard-wire trigger or Pocket-Wizard radio transmitter & receiver combination.

*(to be continued.)