29 December 2011

"Run - Bags, Location Lighting, & Making the Portraits I Really Like..." Late December 2011

Sometimes the pictures are already in your head. You just have to show up. With the appropriate amount of gear and occasionally your "A-Game..." These few images made in the last week or so were just simply fun to create with really pleasant subjects in front of the camera.

(3) - Newly elected Newburgh mayor Judy Kennedy photographed during an interview in her Newburgh, NY home on Thursday, December 29, 2011. Kennedy will take office on January 1, 2012. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

(3) - Sort of an unconventional family portrait gig with my nephew, his wife & teenage son in the living room of their contemporary home on the NJ Shore last weekend. Available light at high ISO (1600) to hold the background exposure and then I added a just a kiss of strobe powered down to 1/16th. power, and bounced it off the ceiling with a remote sensor cord. A short telephoto is the ideal portrait lens at semi-wide apertures (f/3.2 ~ f/4.5), which then creates exactly the look I wanted. Soft background. Nice light. I remember thinking that I wanted these portraits to be about the subjects and not necessarily about the house, living room surroundings, etc. The trio image of them together (top) was an afterthought. A loft room upstairs overlooking their living room with slanted ceiling (for again bouncing the strobe) helped that image work out. The images of the new mayor (top 3) were shot a little tighter today with the 28mm ~ 70mm, and 70mm ~ 200mm zooms, also at wide apertures, but the lone strobe head was pointed into a shoot-thru umbrella, with longer exposures to hold the background, which allowed the window light in the kitchen behind her to sort of bleed through and fall out of focus... ~cg

24 December 2011

"The Card..." 24•Dec.•11

This year's version is in the mail. You may already be a recipient. "Happy Holidays!" ~cg.

MOMBASA, KENYA. A sidewalk Santa spotted along Moi Avenue in Mombasa, Kenya on Thursday, December 8, 2011. © www.chetgordon.com/blog

A small tradition for me continues. Here are links to previous year's efforts:

This year's card is en route to your doorstep, mailbox, desk, mail room or desktop. Special thanks to my very good friend and his family for having just "the right tree" on their property in Pottstown, PA two weeks ago. Wishing you all a very healthy, safe and prosperous 2011. HAPPY HOLIDAYS! ~cg.

(Inside message): "Fresh Cut." Sunday, December 12, 2010. 4:07PM

(Rear of card): Marc, Leonie, and Joel Brooks return to their house after cutting a Christmas tree for a customer on their family run tree farm in Pottstown, PA on Sunday, December 12, 2010.


It took a while this year. Yea, they're probably arriving late to your doorstep, mail slot, or post office box. But hey, can't break this longtime tradition of handmade, limited edition, 4"x5" holiday cards right...? Folks even called wondering where this year's version was.

What has become an annual rite of creative winter stresses coupled with maddening computer design & home printing time between two aging printers - has grown into a nice following of my personalized holiday cards. That all means a lot. I guess in some off-kilter way, it all serves as a brief therapeutic getaway from the sometimes ominous work schedule, to again try and refine this project into something meaningful for friends, family, clients and colleagues. I trust if you made the "short - list" you'll be happy with this year's effort... -cg.

For the past 12 years or so, I've been producing my own "Holiday series" cards. What initially started out as a few late nights slumped over developing trays in the darkroom at The Journal News in White Plains, NY in the mid-90's. (Boy that all seems like eons ago...) has progressed into a full-blown work schedule, and in past years, a mailing list of nearly 100 recipients. One year I think I put 105 cards in the mail.
Production of the cards has progressed along with my PhotoShop and Microsoft Word skills, as well as the self-assigning the work to actually photograph an image(s) intended for the card production. A lot of those early images were intentionally made on the streets of New York City, particularly found while roaming around the East Village neighborhood in lower Manhattan. Seemed as though I was always able to find compelling imagery down there. I will have to put together some sort of collage of those earlier images, as they've become a collector's item for quite a few friends and colleagues. As a photojournalist, there probably isn't any greater honor than to have a viewer make the effort to keep my work. -cg.

"Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night..."

This year's card was no easy task. Kept looking for an image or moment I've had in mind for a few years and couldn't find it yet again, so ventured quickly into NYC last weekend by train to roam one of my favorite neighborhoods to shoot something and produce the card this past week. I've included the other two candidtes shot on the same evening in lower Manhattan that were seriously considered. Had printer problems with both of my Epson printers for a few nights, so only 50 or so cards went out this year. Check your mailbox, as you may already be a winner...
Holiday card candidate #1. Tompkins Square Park tree. Sunday, December 16, 2007. Holiday card candidate #2. St. Mark's Place Christmas Tree stand. Sunday, December 16, 2007.
*(One plus from the week was that I bought a small rotary paper cutter, so will force myself to start producing "portfolio image" note cards sometime soon. this is a project I've always wanted to initiate, so we'll see.)

22 December 2011

My 2011 POY. (Pictures of the Year.)

Yep. It's that time of the year again. The task of combing through one's archive for the year's best images and posting them somewhere out here in cyber-land for viewers to possibly notice, and hopefully appreciate. These are my six favorites that were made for work during the year. (We've been asked to submit only six for publication...) Remote cameras & arena strobes. Lenses ranging from a 10.5mm fisheye to a super telephoto ~ 300mm w/ a 1.4 extender for HS baseball and other sports. Going early and staying late. Some were fun. Some were difficult. A few were award winners. A couple made it into the updated portfolio slideshow in the right hand column here on the blog. All were challenging at different degrees for me, and are the culmination of the physical work, patience, attention to detail as well as the subject, and represent a mastery of the equipment that I try to employ in creating these types of images. *(Dripping sweat above the arena floor while hanging the ceiling remote camera for the overhead basketball image comes to mind...). The paper is going to highlight our staff photographer's best images on the website with each of us doing an audio voiceover, so I'll be sure to include those links here as well. I'll produce a more in depth slideshow of my personal and work favorites here on the blog in the next week or two. It was a good year for making images. Thanks again for looking. Stay tuned... ~cg.

Newly commissioned 2nd. Lieutenants toss their covers skyward in the traditional "hat toss" during Army's Graduation and Commissioning ceremony in Michie Stadium at the United States Military Academy in West Point, NY on Saturday, May 22, 2011. Navy Admiral Michael Mullen, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff delivered the commencement address as 1,031 cadets received their diplomas and were commissioned as 2nd. Lieutenants in the U.S. Army. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record *(Link to original post by clicking HERE).

A man shovels the sidewalk in front of his Liberty Street home in Newburgh, NY on Wednesday January 12, 2011. The third major snowstorm of the winter has blanketed the East Coast from Georgia to New England. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

Newburgh Free Academy players (L-R, in blue) Parish Canty (#15), Antonio Harper (#2) and Dominique Jacobs (#11) reach for a rebound with Mount Vernon defenders Givvion Jones (#22) and Jabarie Hinds (#55) during their Class AA Regional Semi-Finals game at the Westchester County Center in White Plains, NY on Tuesday, March 8, 2011. Mount Vernon defeated NFA 72 - 49. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record *(Link to original post by clicking HERE).

Trevor "Little T" Mattis is led from Judge Don Willams' courtroom after an expletive laiden outburst in Ulster County Courthouse in Kingston, NY on Friday, May 6, 2011. Judge Williams sentenced both Mattis and co-defendent Gary Griffin to life sentences without parole in the shooting death of Charles "C.J." King Jr. in midtown Kingston last year. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record *(Link to original post by clicking HERE).

Livingston Manor shortstop Ken Fisk (#14) dives but can't make the play on a ball hit by Tim Steffens (#9) of Smithtown Christian during the fourth inning of their New York State Class D regional final at Pine Bush High School in Pine Bush, NY on Tuesday, June 7, 2011. Livingston Manor defeated Smithtown Christian 5 -3. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record *(Link to original post by clicking HERE).

A boy uses a smartphone to photograph exposed flames burning through the rear of a 3 - story house during a three-alarm fire at 488 Liberty Street in Newburgh, NY on Sunday, October 23, 2011. Nearly a dozen people were left homeless after the fire erupted in the multi-family home when a resident was cooking in a second-floor apartment in the rear of the building. All the occupants got out safely and there were no injuries. CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

18 December 2011

"Recapping the Kenya trip..." 18•Dec.•11

Well, I've been home a full week now and I honestly think it took that long to get over another case of serious jet lag. Flying back from East Africa is no joke, and adding another full day to the front end of last weekend's travel itinerary made it all even more difficult. The airline (Turkish Airlines) offers transiting passengers a hotel room if their layovers in Istanbul were more than 12 hours, so it was great to finally put my head down in a nice, comfortable room near Ataturk Airport on Sunday morning. You see flights originating in the East usually depart past midnight, and considering I'd left the coast Friday evening on an overnight bus (below left) back to the capital, Nairobi - which entailed another 8+ hour ride, I was totally beat. (Yea, those are mechanics fixing a flat on my bus at 3AM at the halfway point rest stop!) By the time we'd arrived back in Nairobi on Saturday morning, did some laundry by hand, had a decent lunch and started packing, it was nearly time to head to the airport, for the first of two long haul flights. Not to mention arriving back home into JFK on Monday evening and then right back to work the following evening. It must've taken 4 or 5 days for my body to adjust to the time differences and finally get into a regular sleep routine. Although I'd initially set out to try and get up into the Somali refugee camps in northeast Kenya, as well as search out a few other stories, logistics and scheduling just didn't allow for all I'd hope to accomplish. Tack onto those issues, the price of fuel, finding reliable drivers and secondary fixers, and before I knew it, I was into my second week of the trip. The only thing left to do for my few remaining days in country was to head down to the coast and explore familiar beach towns like Mombasa (above), Malindi, and a very peaceful beachfront area at Watamu Beach in Gede (right) on my last official day in Kenya last Friday. Swimming in the calming, warm waters of the Indian Ocean on that day really took a lot of the stresses away. It was all nearly perfect for those few moments on the white sands of East Africa...

ISTANBUL, TURKEY. Turkish Airlines aircraft are serviced by ground personnel at Ataturk Airport in Istanbul, Turkey on Monday, December 12, 2011. © me.

By the time I arrived in Istanbul and got over the intense travel schedule I'd imposed on myself for this personal shooting assignment (can this 50+ year old body continue to function like this I silently wondered?), I was completely exhausted and had to abandon any thoughts of touring the city for the afternoon. Fortunately the airline offered it's transiting passengers with extended layovers a hotel room near the airport, so that was a blessing in itself. I've spent more than my share of overnights in airports. The weather was grey and overcast, so any earlier ideas I'd had on making stock images in the Old Town neighborhood of the city faded really fast. In fact, my room was right in the glide path on final approach into Ataturk Airport, so I did manage to make a few generic aircraft images (left), and there were a few Bedouin women (right) roaming along a running stream within sight of my modest room as well. Pop on the 300mm and the 1.4X tele-extender and I was back in business for the afternoon, well at least until I collapsed for the night...

10 December 2011

"Mombasa, Malindi and Gede..." Day #2. 9•Dec.•11

Got in a bit more beach time yesterday, including a lengthy drive with friends up the coast to Malindi, and also managed a wonderful swim at Watamu Beach, in Gede (bottom 3 images). Temperatures had to be pushing right near or above 100ºF as we ventured north. Just putting a few images up here quickly, as we just arrived back in Nairobi this morning via the dreaded all - night, 8+ hour bus ride from Mombasa. It wasn't at all as tiring as I thought it would be though. Packing up in a bit for early AM departure tonight, and on to Istanbul, Turkey for a day's layover. stay tuned... ~cg.

08 December 2011

*"This is Africa..." Mombasa, Kenya. (Day #1) 8•Dec•11

As if my fixer / assistant Vincent Opondo needed to remind me of it at lunch this afternoon on the beach here in Mombasa. One of my favorite places on the planet to make images, get some sun, swim, and just really relax all of my senses. It must be pushing the mid - high 90º's here, with oppressive humidity, so I have to pinch myself in remembering the calendar date. (Sorry, fellow New Yorkers...!) I won't get into the 8+ hour bus ride yesterday to get here from Nairobi though. At least not now. Nor am looking forward at all to the return journey tomorrow night that will get us back to the capital city around sunrise on Saturday morning. Stay tuned. "Cheers!" ~cg.

05 December 2011

"Kenya v5.0" Nov./Dec. 2011

Here's a look at what I've been shooting this first week back in Kenya. It is my fifth time working in the capital, Nairobi and surrounding areas, and the eighth trip to Africa in the last ten years... "Asante Sana" (Thank you) for looking. ~cg.

01 December 2011

Nairobi, Kenya. Day #3. 1•Dec.•11

"(Just) Make pictures..."

NAIROBI, KENYA. A muslim woman steps gingerly through a muddy street in the Eastleigh neighborhood of Nairobi, Kenya on Thursday, December 1, 2011. Eastleigh is the main commercial center for Somali ex-pats, and is traditionally known as "Little Mogadishu." © www.chetgordon.com/blog