Between Christmas and New Years Day, swing dancers from all over the United States and even the world converge on Asheville, North Carolina for Lindy Focus, a nonstop day-and-night celebration of all things Lindy Hop leading up the the final dance party for New Year’s Eve. I only made it out there once, and by a series of unfortunate circumstances, had my digital camera stolen at the airport, forcing me to get by with a film camera and some rental camera equipment overnighted from Lens Rentals. Still, it’s hard to be a grinch when there’s so much excitement and exuberance in the air, perfectly reflected for me in this shot of a friend getting the heave-ho into the air once the clock struck midnight. Picture shot with a Nikon F100 film camera with a rented Nikon 28mm f/1.8 lens on Kodak Portra 400.

Why drag someone on to the dance floor when you can saunter on to it like a boss? I took this picture at Ann Arbor’s Friday Night Swing Holiday Dance, with the Aston Neighborhood Pleasure Club jazz band providing the live music. Picture this: the dance floor is empty, and the band begins playing their next song. These two are the first to step on the dance floor. I spot this confident stroll from across the room, grab my camera, and sprint across the length of the empty dance floor, raising the camera to my eye as I come to a sliding stop in my leather soled dance shoes in front of their path. They start laughing, as I’m sure this all looked ridiculous. Snap. Picture taken on a Nikon D7200 with a Tokina 14-20mm f/2.8 and a Flashpoint R2 speedlight.

I went with a couple of folks to a roller skating rink. Several of us dressed in our finest ugly Christmas threads, perfect for making us old people stand out from all the young, spunky teens that overwhelmingly made up the night’s roller rink population. Image was shot from the wall of the roller rink, panning the camera, and encouraging my friends to ham it up. As it’s Christmas today, I figured I’d post something appropriately festive. Picture shot on a Nikon D700 with a 24mm f/1.4 lens.

I was asked to shoot photos at one of the muddiest rallycrosses I’ve ever been to. It was so muddy, in fact, that I didn’t get to run — it was decided that Stock Front, the class I was driving that was due to run at the end of the day, would be spared the hours of undercarriage cleaning that would inevitably be needed, and that the club would clean things up in an attempt to close down the site at a reasonable hour. The mud, while making the driving agonizingly painful and slow for the competitors, did make for some very nice photos at the end of the day. To get the sensation of speed in my pictures, I was dropping my shutter speed down to 1/80 and even 1/50 of a second. Photo shot with a Nikon D7200 and a 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens.

Two dancers in close embrace during a Friday Night Swing social dance in downtown Ann Arbor. I love the grainy grittiness that this photo exhibits, thanks to the fact that it was shot on classic Tri-X film. I’m pretty sure that the film was developed at the box speed of 400; the dancers are well-exposed because as the resident local swing dance photog, I had the privilege of being able to bounce my flash at nearly full power off the low white ceiling. Photo was shot with a Nikon F100, a 24mm f/1.4 lens, and a SB-600 speedlight on Kodak Tri-X film.

The cameras that make my favorite images

I rebuilt my portfolio pages, putting together four groups of ten pictures each, grouped as Automotive, Dance, Landscape, and People. As I was whittling my favorite images down to a core of top picks, I realized that a ton of the pictures were in square format, which meant only thing — those images were shot by my TLR, the only 6×6 camera I have in the entire collection.

It got me thinking: of the pictures that would make it into the first iteration of the portfolio, which cameras took which images? And was there a pattern to what cameras I preferred for different purposes? (more…)