digital

The group of friends with whom I used to do “Top Gear and Tacos” (back when the British Top Gear was still chugging along with Jeremy, Hammond, and May) most every Tuesday of every week did something called the 80’s Turbo Challenge one year. The next year, we attempted to do the same, but due to lack of planning, it turned into more of a “Top Gear and Tacos Goes Camping by a Neat Lake, Not Quite the 80’s Turbo Challenge.” Since we were in northern Michigan, I took a camera and a tripod and did some shooting in the woods near the campground. This watch tower, no longer used for watching for forest fires but still standing, sits against a Milky Way backdrop. Photo shot with a Nikon D7200 and a Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8 lens.

For a few years, I shot white seamless portraits at Ann Arbor’s Pirate Swing. I dragged a bunch of white reflective boards to the Saturday night venue, laid them all out on the floor, set up a white background and three studio strobes, and invited the costumed dancers to cheese it up for me in front of the camera. This is one of my favorite images, if nothing more for the sheer contrast. Photo shot with a Nikon D700 and a 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6, with Pocket Wizards triggering three Alien Bees B800 strobes.

I shot this picture back when Detroit Region SCCA still ran autocross events at the Pontiac Silverdome. I went around the grid and tried my hand at taking people portraits. This was one of my favorites: two young novices getting ready to make a run. Smiles were captured using my favorite technique — aim the camera, start firing away, move my head away from the camera while still firing the shutter, and giving the subjects a glare or an evil grin, thereby usually getting rid of the deer-in-the-headlights stare and getting a laugh, which then becomes the photograph I keep. Photo shot with a Nikon D700 and a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

I’m… not quite sure what is going on here. This was the band for Pirate Swing, the members whom decided that they wanted a white seamless portrait of themselves. I’m sure there’s some sort of meaning here that is too deep for me to understand, so don’t ask me why one person is holding a roll of gaffer tape and another is hoisting a jar of spaghetti sauce in the air like it’s the Stanley Cup. Photo shot with a Nikon D700 and a 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

Some dance photographers are passive observers. Then you have photographers like me, who… aren’t. It’s no secret that I get up close to the dancers I photograph, and occasionally encourage/goad/cheer on fellow dancers. This is one my favorite dance photos. Notice that everyone else is standing around. Why? Because the song ended 10 seconds ago. I spotted this dip, trained my camera on the pair, and simply kept shooting and shooting. Without moving the camera, I moved my head away from the viewfinder and gave the lead an evil grin as he struggled to keep the dip going, eventually nearly dropping his follow on the floor. The laughs I got from the lead and the follow are what make this image for me. Photo shot on a Nikon D700 with 24-70mm f/2.8 lens.

Here’s another portrait from Rantoul, a picture of a friend who has since moved out of the Midwest to the western United States, making me jealous of all the cool off road stuff he constantly posts on Facebook. I had rented a Canon DSLR and a couple of lenses for shooting autocrosses and dances. I nabbed this shot from in front of grid. This was the last picture in a series of pictures; I just kept shooting until the normal serious face gave way to something a bit more whimsical. Photo shot with a Canon 5D MkIII and a 75-300mm f/4-5.6 lens.

I brought along a set of Alien Bees B800 strobes, a roll of white paper, and several white glossy boards in the back of my Ford Focus hatchback and traveled to Terre Haute, Indiana for Rose-Hulman’s Winter Gala dance. I set up a studio outside the dance hall in the lobby and tried to shoot white seamless for the very first time, relying on the stuff that I had read from Zack Arias. After a bit of a rocky start, I finally was able to get a series of decent shots going. Thankfully, the swing dancers that I shot were more than accommodating to my stumbles. Towards the end of the night, I decided to ask someone to stand behind the camera and take a shot of me. Photo shot on a Nikon D7000 with a Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, with a trio of Alien Bees B800 studio strobes triggered by Pocket Wizards.

While the majority of the Midwest decided that the best course of action for a day that never even got close to cresting double digits was to stay inside, I did the stupid thing and joined a bunch of other foolish people to go rallycrossing in a snowy field in the middle of Michigan. I got pulled in to work as the trophy photographer, and spent much of my time on my feet out in the freezing cold trying to keep my camera battery and my digits from turning into icicles. The final heat of the day took place after 4pm; with the sun setting and the wind picking up, it got really, really cold. On one hand, I was cursing the weather. On the other hand, I was overjoyed that I had the opportunity to shoot cars during what photographers call the golden hour — the golden light that makes everything pretty as the sun sets. And this car, heavily modified and always driven balls-to-the-wall, looked very pretty indeed while kicking up a rooster tail of snow and frozen dirt. Photo shot with a Nikon D7200 and a 70-200mm f/4 lens.

While the majority of the Midwest decided that the best course of action for a day that never even got close to cresting double digits was to stay inside, I did the stupid thing and joined a bunch of other foolish people to go rallycrossing in a snowy field in the middle of Michigan. I got pulled in to work as the trophy photographer, and spent much of my time on my feet out in the freezing cold trying to keep my camera battery and my digits from turning into icicles. For the first run group, there was plenty of undisturbed powder, so I made a beeline to a sweeper to shoot photos of cars doing silky snowy rooster tails. I like this shot quite a lot; I’d probably have the same grin if I was doing a sweet high speed drift in a car that could actually stand a chance of putting power to the ground. Photo shot with a Nikon D7200 and a 70-200mm f/4 lens.

I went to a New Years Dance party in Chicago back in 2012. Literally just weeks prior, I had taken delivery of a trio of Alien Bees studio strobes and spent an evening putting together a “portable” white seamless setup. I brought the setup to the dance party and set it up out in the hall, if I recall correctly. After some serious stumbling around for an hour, I finally got into the grove enough to shoot pictures that weren’t completely terrible. Being that today is the New Year, I thought it appropriate to share this image, taken moments after we rang in the new year, 2012. Photo shot with a Nikon D7000, a Nikon 70-300mm f/4.5-5.6 zoom lens, and a trio of Alien Bees B800 strobes triggered by Pocket Wizards.