Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Photographers have always liked covering music, photographing other artists.

Covering a concert is always a challenge. It's the music and a still photo doesn't really capture the mood. Now with cameras able to capture still and motion, it brings it all together. Hear the music and see the artist's mood, effort to make it.

Shea Stadium, NYC, August 1970

Trying to be the visual artist, I've been experimenting with motion. Covering some boomer's jamming in Fort Worth in 2013. I set up a video camera on one side then went to the other side of the stage to capture images with my dslr, still camera that now does motion! This also requires learning how to merge the images together using Adobe Premier.

A lot different from capturing one photo of fans cheering at the Music for Peace concert in 1970. Lots of bands preformed over the weekend, but it was the crowd that captured the concert in 1970 protesting the war in Vietnam.

The next year I was in San Francisco on the staff of the Examiner, and as the youngest member of the staff covered weekend events. Billy Graham had to close the original Filmore concert venue and I got to cover a new location. Not the big old theater but more of a gymnasium.

Apparently the Examiner had not been a fan of Graham and they didn't really want to let me inside to cover the event. Only giving me 10 minutes to take a photo and get out. I rush in and go to the foot of the stage looking for a photo. On stage was Annie Leibovitz who seeing me with my Nikon moved over and kneeled down in front of me. Blocking any shot of the band. I moved, she moved...to heck with that, what else is can be captured? I move around and go to the rear, then see my photo. The Examiner publishes a vertical photo of a basketball net silhouette against the bright lights on the stage. Could of gotten a nicer photo and helped promoter Graham if Annie hadn't blocked my shots.

D. Gorton was the assignment editor and was terrific ad coming up with ideas. Arthur Rubenstein was going to preform with the Philadelphia Symphony and he was tired of the distant shot taken with a long lens of the soloist from the back and conductor in the distance. He thought it might be nice to get a shot of the conductor Eugene Ormandy with Rubenstein preparing to go on stage. I start work at noon and already Gorton has contacted Ormandy and Rubenstein's wife. They all agree, but are afraid to ask Rubenstein, because he will refuse. I show up backstage and Ormandy tells me that once I'm inside the dressing room I'm on my own.

What's it look like inside the dressing room, is there enough light? I know I'll only be able to take a few shots, better take a flash. What exposure? How high is the ceiling? I take my bare-tube Mighty Lite strobe and guess it will need to be 800 ISO. Well here we go. . .

Ormandy knocks and opens the door with me right behind him. Immediately Rubenstein wants to make some changes, discuss a part and how he wants to play it, Ormandy concentrates on what he is saying and I start taking a picture. Flash goes off and Rubenstein stops, stands up next to Ormandy and says "take the picture." I respond that I'd like to stay and take pictures of them working. Rubenstein responds telling me that when the conductor says to play he plays, "take the picture and get out."

Not a photo of them preforming, no sound, but it is one of my favorite shots.A little luck, I admire the off stage shots of Elvis Presley coming to New York taken by Alfred Wertheimer who was trying to break in as a photographer in 1958. There was a lot of competition, but rather than taking in the higher fee that gave all rights to the record company, he was willing to work for less and keep rights to the images. He left shooting stills to be a cameraman for movies and TV, it paid better. But the still photos of Presley off stage give added meaning to the music.  Other photogs like photographing musicians. Gjon (John) Mili was famous for capturing multiple exposure to show action in one photo, Pablo Picasso drawing a picture with a flashlight. He also used his huge studio to shoot a movie of jazz musicians which is posted on his Facebook page. Interesting lighting set on the side gives a special look. He was ahead of his time.

W. Eugene Smith moved into a warehouse in the flower district in New York to finish his Pittsburgh story, but it was a popular place for musicians. Cheap and just for business, no residents to complain about noise. Apparently Smith was pulled into capturing sound as well as images. He wired the building and recorded hours of music, talk and silence. His photos were published in Life magazine. He died at 59 in 1979, but his tapes have only recently been released.

Ansel Adams was training to be a professional pianist, but had fun taking photos in Yosemite. But after the sun rose and the light was too high in the sky he wanted to practise, he found a piano and ended up marrying the daughter of the local souvenir shop owner. He like music, listened to it while he worked and entertained people at parties. But I don't remember any photos taken of musicians!?

Music and photography compliment each other combine two senses, sight and sound into one experience. But as the melody changes the visual needs to change too. Motion and music work.

Forever Jamming ~ 2013 from Jim Domke on Vimeo.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Photography 2013

Things keep changing, back in the "good old days" taking photos was a pain. Simply lugging the camera around was a pain so most families left it at home or in the car. Missing the memorable shot of their child riding rides at Disneyland or playing with friends at the birthday party.

But now with cameras in our cellphone, in laptops, in tablets, and part of the digital player there is not excuse for not capturing and preserving the moment. BUT when you are taking photos you are an observer, not a participant. How will you remember the event, trying to find the right angle, or really seeing and experiencing what is happening? Now, psychologists feel the camera is in the way, it takes away from the event. 

I remember hearing Michael Evans, President Reagans official photographer, tell how he refused to take photos of his kids. He wanted to enjoy the moment, be part of their lives, not an outsider.

Photography is changing. I go to a Best Buy store and see customers take photos of the information label beside a product so they can remember what the store price was and compare it to online or competing store prices. The photo doesn't lie.

Many companies require employees to take photos. No problem. Show how the product was installed, or how much damage happened to the car. Just point and shoot.

With all these images we forget the event, remember the photo? Now tv/video captures the motion and the sound of the event. But as newsphotographers know, there is other action happening outside the frame and the camera is limited.

I find it interesting how back in the Sixties the "new journalism" was creating images with words. Writers wrote about what the subject was wearing, the smell, sounds and even what they were supposedly thinking. It is interesting pulling up the image in your mind, but is it real?

The reporter is the observer, pointing out what they were wearing and their hairdo so as to describe the person's personality. I remember how a story on an architect started off describing how casual he was dressed, but the photo taken a few days later had him dressed in a suit!? Who is lieing?

The writer was impressed with how relaxed the architect, wasn't a stuffed shirt, formal or traditional guy. Telling how his shirt wasn't tucked in led to how he had designed a new hotel with unique atrium. But the photo killed it. Words and pictures have to work together.

If  the writer had taken a photo the same day that he interviewed the architect, everything would fit together and get the message. Trouble is that taking a photo while asking questions of a subject, takes your mind off getting the best picture. This is why photojournalism suffers when the reporter is both writing and taking the photos.

Nobody seems to notice how the quality of the image has declined as we share more photos. Photos seem to be more important than ever, they pull readers into reading a blog, quickly tell what the main story is, help sum up the topic. Nobody cares about composition, does it support the story, or show something we've never seen before.

We just need to take photos to prove we were there, to share, not to inform. 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

America Cup creates images that look real

Visit to the America's Cup Park walking along the Embarcadero in San Francisco and you see huge photos of catamarans racing. Action shots with Alcatraz Island in the background or the San Francisco skyline. It looks real, but they were created BEFORE the races even started.

Were they taken during a practise race a year earlier or were the yachts pasted in front of skyline shots? I can see that the sails and marking have all been retouched. But pasting the entive sailboat over a photo of San Francisco is hard. Matching light. . .perspective . . .scale... but it works.

They could of simply had graphics, type and a shot of the trophy, instead they created action shots. Covering the event for Demotix/Corbis, I was interested in spectators, They had predicted that it would bring a billion dollars of business to the bay area, but on a weekend during the height of the tourist season it wasn't crowded. Fisherman's Wharf was just as crowded, few people seemed to be interested in the sailboats.

America's Cup was doing everything right, with giant action shots, they also had the crew stop and come ashore prior to the race to be interviewed on stage for "fans." Live TV coverage, aerial views, remote cameras positioned on the boats, it is a big event. But baseball and football teams don't have to worry about it stealing fans.
Does sailing have fans? Countries competing for the America's Cup might create a national following, but if you've never sailed it's hard to get excited.
Digital illustration at America's Cup Park

Friday, August 2, 2013

Media is the message, from serving regional needs to global network

Last week I wandered west of Fort Worth, "where the west begins," said Amon Carter who founded the Star in 1906 then merged it with the Telegram in 1909. A long time ago and Carter was just 30 years old. It is amazing how back then the train was the only way to go, roads didn't exist, but companies were building railroad tracks linking cities. Fort Worth had trolleys linking up to Dallas, Denton and Corsicana. Carter saw a need of the farmer in West Texas. Newspapers were the only way they communicated. No telephones, no radio, no TV and no internet.

Solar power comes to west Texas

High school senior changes tire, but they were the first to arrive in LA
Reading Amon, The Texan who played cowboy for America, a bio by ex-Star-Telegram reporter/editor Jerry Flemmons I start trying to put technology together with the times. Dallas was a bigger city and the Dallas papers covered the business and social life in the city. But people on the farms were being overlooked. Carter focused on the farmers needs and promoted Texas. Making the readers feel good, they're the best.

Back then newspapers were owned by local families, the regional paper like the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Louisville Courier-Jounral, Los Angeles Times, Philadelphia Bullitin, Des Moines Register, Denver Post were the evening papers and what everyone read. The only way to know what was going on around you. 

Benjamin Franklin saw as a printer he had to publish a newspaper. He franchised other printers to reprint his newspaper and saw that farmers ( who made up most of the colonies) needed an almanac. 

I  find it interesting looking at Europe and seeing how their newspapers were more political, instruments of a political party. Amon Carter was a southerner and therefore a Democrat, but he supported Texas and liked Ike. Carter restored Eisenhowers birthplace in Dennison, but went against the wishes of Sam Rayburn and Lyndon Jouhnson.

It's the timing. Newspapers were the king in the beginning of the 20th century, the radio and weekly magazines took some of power away. National brands found the magazine's reproduction would make their car, fashion, appliances, etc. look and sell better. Radio got the word out to a wide audience, so the newspapers simply focused on the region. 

The thirteen colonies all linked to their British roots, but Carter had to make Texas special. He saw the new silent movies and invented the cowboy. Helped sell ads. Most newspapers used agents to sell national accounts, Carter apparently traveled around the country selling directly to the large corporations, dressed as a cowboy he invented. He needed larger circulation, but instead of buying more papers he increased the circulation of the Star-Telegram. Using hundreds of local corespondents to send in news about their small town, before Associated Press! The Star-Telegram was unique and only source for news, weather and sports.

It was terrific time for newspapers in the 20's and 30's, people looking for work needed to buy a newspaper and businesses ran ads to get customers.

Carter was unique in marketing the region. Believing "if the lake rises so will the boats." He saw World War II as a big event, important to readers, not for the news, but to cover Texans in the war!

He loved the airplane and worked to get the biggest and best airport. He got American Airlines to base in Fort Worth, and airplanes to be built in Texas. He heard about the radio and apparently didn't understand how it recieved stations, instead of buying a reciever the staff got confused and bought a transmitter. 
The radio WBAP, (We Bring A Program) expanded to the first television station west of St. Louis in 1948. And Carter wanted it to only go to the Star-Telegram readers and apparently was upset discovering how the signal would go to Dallas. Things were changing and Carter was losing the control, his way of looking at things was in the past. 

He started cutting back, letting the readership in West Texas go to new more local papers. The Amon book concludes that after the big war, the power had shifted and Amon was not the king. Concluding how being in control of the newspaper Amon Carter had more control than politicians, he was king over what happened in Fort Worth and everything to El Paso.

Is Facebook, Linked-in, Twitter, Google Plus what the daily newspaper use to be? Instead of promoting the region, the reader picks their friends and builds their own region. Television closed Life and LOOK magazines. But TV isn't like the internet. Google, Yahoo, MSN, Huffington Post, etc are competing to get readers and advertizers. . .globally! Where is the local pride?

Carter was interested in selling advertising and large circulation helped sell the ads. Many thought newspapers would always have a local, community service advantage. But the internet not only reaches the broad readership like the Life, Time magazine, BUT users can localize it to know what friends like and how local sports teams are doing.

Times change and technology rules. 

# # #


Monday, July 29, 2013

Once a journalist always a journalist - - - Jeff Guinn covers Charles Manson

Is he a journalist or a historian? Simply an author? Exec Editor Jim Witt in the Op-Ed page writes how Jeff Guinn was simply a reporter when he was hired to be city editor in 1986 and Witt thought there were better writers on the staff. Today Guinn has published 15 books and will launch Manson: The Life and Times of Charles Manson in New York City this week.
   I worked on the photo desk while Guinn was a reporter and then when he got "promoted" to the book editor I was pulled by technology to prepress. We both call ourselves journalists.
   Witt has to start off saying how he was never that impressed by Guinn's prose, there were other reporters who he thought wrote better. Jerry Flemmons was asked to write the official biography of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram found Amon Carter, Amon: the Texan who played cowboy for America published in 1998. When he retired after 33 years at the paper, he wanted to write, teach and fight cancer. I remember reading an interview he had with a young TCU journalism student who told him how much she admired his work and him responding how depressed he was that nobody remembered the stories he wrote. That the words were only read and remembered for a short time.

MOVE 1979, what was they real story? jgdomke photo
 Being a travel writer didn't make the contacts for a career change, being the book editor certainly helped Guinn's future.
   Flemmons was his own worst critic, but Guinn has found a niche.
   Reporting on old stories! ? ! Old news is interesting.
   Bringing back information from many sources and putting it all together, giving time for the people involved to think about it. A journalist turned historian.
   I was pulled into photojournalism because I saw it as recording history. It isn't like the weather, it's chronically life, capturing a moment, freezing it in a still photo so we can understand it. Today and in the future. I thought photos did it better than words. It was the truth.
   But here the truth is shown to take time, sure the basic facts are interesting, but words pull it all together.
   Guinn is now working on telling stories of more recent events, events also covered by photojournalists. I hope he adds photos to help tell the story. Apparently the cover photo for the Manson book is an early school yearbook photo? I hope they have some family snapshots, too. I wonder if some newspapers can dig back and bring back some feature photos and maybe find some photos that have never before been published.
   There are a lot of photos, taken by pros, whether freelance magazine or newspaper photographers that didn't make the daily paper. They shouldn't be forgotten, or lost, these photos still tell the story. More so now that we, the reader, knows all the facts.
   Civil Rights pictures taken by Flip Schulke were viewed more in 2000's according to Schulke than when they were taken in early 60's.
    We are seeing how today's news doesn't go away. it's interesting to look back and pull all the pieces together. Not just words, but old photos can be seen and understood differently. Really tell a story and SEE what they have to say.
  As Guinn has discovered, " real history is more fascinating than fiction."
 # # #

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Being at the right place at the right time

It opened in 2010 in Los Angles, but Alfred Wertheimer's exhibit of photos taken of Elvis Presley has come to Fort Worth and got a Op/Ed write-up by the Star-Telegram executive editor Jim Witt. Several things make it unique, this may have been the only time a photographer got 24/7 access to Elvis, time makes the images even more powerful and it takes luck.
   Wertheimer tells how he was just starting out in 1957 and shared an apartment with two other photographers. One roommate, Paul Schutzer was trying to get his foot in door at the weekly LIFE magazine. The PR photos of a singer wasn't as important as an assignment from LIFE magazine, so he passed it along to his roommate. Wertheimer didn't have any conflicts and gladly took the assignment, but was offered a choice in what he'd be paid.
   The assignment was with RCA records, who along with paying for film and processing offered to pay a day-rate of $300, and they would get copyright and exclusive use, OR they'd by just $50/day and Wertheimer kept ownership of the negatives. Wertheimer didn't know who this new singer was, but he didn't want to give up his artists rights and worked for $50 (plus expenses). It was several days and wasn't that bad in the 50's.
   What's interesting is how he kept the negatives and went on to become a documentary film cameraman. Schutzer went on to become a staff photographer at LIFE covering major news around the world and ended up getting killed in 1967 covering the Six Day War in Israel. Photos people wanted to see that week, but not that interesting 40 years later.
   Wertheimer's pictures of Elvis are worth seeing. They last and although he took lots of other photos the Elvis photos are the only ones anyone wants to see. Retiring from film, he spends his time filling the interest in seeing the pictures, selling to other pubs, doing his own books, selling prints and exhibitions. Reminds me of Andre Kertesz who brought out his old photos taken when he was in his 20s in Paris and after he retired as a staff photographer for House and Garden in 1960, he started having shows. People looked at them differently. Not to go in a publication but just as photos documenting a period. A variety of scenes in Paris and then in New York City in the 1930's when he was freelancing.
Photo by JG Domke - 1973 San Francisco
  Do you need to wait forty years and go back to look at the photos? What do they tell? Was it a passing event, or captures the era? I was in San Francisco and they were very active in speaking out against the Vietnam War. I was working for the San Francisco Examiner covering the events, but they didn't want to save the negatives of anti-war protesters. I kept the negatives, theses are my pictures. 

But what does it say, is it simply old news or is it art? Save your photos, you never know.

P.S. - As far as roommates go they were on the cutting edge: Schutzer makes it onto the Life staff, Wertheimer captures Woodstock in 1968 and other documentaries. 
Photo by JG Domke 1973

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Photojournalism started when?

Excuse me, but I think you're wrong when you give Mathew Brady credit for founding photojournalism on the CBS Sunday Morning show (7-7-2013). But photography was the cutting edge, must have item in the 1860s. Like the smart phone today. Still photos are still here, but have been replaced, or have they?

My old clan around 1900, archiving the family
Running over to my bookcase filled with books on photography I find that the first photojournalists, or reporter photographers, go way back to the 1850s with the invention of the photogravure and get photos published! That's photojournalism.

Readers got to see what's happening rather than just read about it. Real pictures showing what the land was really like. (It does take a lot of effort and type setting is also all done by hand. A large publication had 15 pages.) Slow shutter, slow film speed, meant that people moving disappeared.

Today with the cellphone we always have a camera with us, back then it took hours to shoot and develop a print. Now only seconds to share it with the world.

But the still photo isn't totally useless, or obsolete,  with all the wonderful detail, they are preserved. Historical images of the past that we still take today.

Roger Fenton in 1853 photographed the Crimean War for the London Illustrated News and Il Fotografo in Milan.

Photography was a real big deal from the start, it showed what words couldn't describe, and for many in the mid-1800's it was a way to stay close to family. People carried the photos with them, like the cell phone today. But today it rarely is a big deal. We are flooded with photos.

Editors saw how they had instant impact for publications, and the still photo by itself let people stay close to their loved ones.

It also immortalized time, preserved the moment for history. Looking at old movies and I'm left want to know more, the images just fly by, there's no time to study what people in the videos are wearing, hairdos, or what the buildings looked like.

I read in my old Photojournalism textbook, by professor Clif Edom, that photojournalism came with the invention of the halftone screen and the ability to stop action. Edom claims, photos of Lincoln had to then be converted by hand to wood plates if a publication wanted an illustration to go along with the words. He doesn't see Mathew Brady as a photojournalist.

Engraving photos was discovered in the late 1870's and the first halftone with "graded lines" was created by Stephen Horgan but didn't get into wide use till the 1920's.

In The Techique of the Picture Story by LOOK magazine editor Daniel Mich  and art director Edwin Eberman published in 1945 they nail down "four basic uses of pictures." Something that still applies in the digital age.

1.) Illustration for text. This is what I see too often in many web stories. The photo is simply an illustration to show there is a story. Clip-art or photos used as illustration  "dress up the printed page . . .they increase readership, But, so used they are merely adjuncts to words."  Too much of the photography on the web is simply "adjuncts to words." (They show a posed photo of a couple in front of a fireplace to illustrate teenage sex.)

2.) Picture-text combination. This is where the storytelling is done by related pictures, which in the case of LOOK magazine a team worked on the story using several pictures, lengthy captions and a designer to layout the pages. Today the slide show has replaced the picture page. In the page layout they combined "related photos." Grouping a couple of photos together that showed a detail or overall view of the main photo. Doesn't work in an online slide show. (They're example shows how blood Plasma saves an airman's life.)

3.) Pure Picture Stories. Requiring no text. "They are seldom obtained by chance; the photographer and his subjects almost always owe their fortunate relationship to the planning and arranging" of the assignment editor or writer. (Illustration? Example shows dancers doing "shine steps.")

4.) Picture stories within text stories. Combines a combination of item #1 with #2 "For the role of the text is to help the pictures tell their story with utmost effectiveness and to blend with them into integrated narrative containing as many facts as space permits."  Now with the Internet there is no space restriction! (Shows an article 25 years of growth in Russia!? They go on and define continuity as "a scenario for a motion picture."

They had to take into consideration how it took time to layout and print the magazine. A news photo wouldn't be news a month later. The picture story had to have interest that transcends spot news, picture impact, sharp focus, focus on people (opposed to things) and universal interest.

Technology has evolved and the still photo no longer shows us what we've never seen before, the video camera shows the fire, the approaching tornado, the winning touchdown better than a still photo. But the still photo keeps the memory alive.


Thursday, June 20, 2013

Photo management from the shoe box to the digital shoe box --- edit out the good ones!

I was annoyed with how I didn't have the right lens with me when I went out shooting, so I designed a camera bag to get me carry what I needed and get to it.

With the computer and digital imaging we are making it hard to find the good shots. Slide shows show all the photos at the same size, mix up the order and often show similar shots showing the same thing.

I always saw taking photos was like a reporter taking notes. Back in the office you review your notes, listen to the tape recording, research and they write the story. Same for the photographer, take lots of photos and then come back and pick the best. The beauty and challenge is to get the one picture that tells the story.

This all ties around how today we are taking photos with a DSLR that saves the image on data card that gets transferred to a laptop and then uploaded to Facebook, or Picasa, or various other websites, or a client.

Gigaom recently published a survey on the need for apps to manage photos, seeing this a calling for software to browse cell phones, tablets, laptops and the cloud for "dispersed" photos.

What they are trying to figure out is how to organize. Adobe solved the problem simply by tracking by date taken. This works okay, except I like to change the filename and have separate folders for month and assignment during the month. If you open and SAVE AS it is another photo at a different time and you are challenged to group them all together.

Gigaom studied picassa, picturelife, myshoebox, thislife, etc and saw variations with organizing "dispersed photos." Many sorted by unloaded date, but they wondered about browsing and see an "unmet need" of syncing, browsing and backing-up the hi-res images. Many online services simply have thumbnail shots. 

I remember the old days at the newspaper where photos were sent up to the morgue, the library. It varied at the various newspapers. The negatives were all saved, we made a few prints and only the photos that ran in the paper were saved in subject folders.

For example, there was a folder for baseball, then another for the local team and a few others for individual players. Organized to meet the needs of editors looking for a photo to go with future stories. They couldn't save everything.

They saved all the photos for a week, by day, then sifted through files some by subject and threw the others away. A lot of photos that showed life during the time, feature photos, special events, have been lost.

What's interesting to me is how I took photos like the reporter takes notes. I'd go back to the photo lab and develop several rolls of film. The photo editor would look over the film and pick just 2 or three shots that stood out and told the story. My goal was to try to get the one shot, you don't know until your done, but you keep shooting. It was always nice to agree with the editor and get your favorite shot run on the front page.

It was the bad editor who was insecure and nervous about running anything different. Many of the old-times always took the over-all shot because they knew that's what the paper expected.

But I want to address archiving photos and the need to better organize the images. Newspapers didn't save everything, I liked seeing the one photo that captured the moment. Like the returning POW photo by Sal Veder that covers the end of the war.

Or, Joe Rosenthal's flag raising on Okinawa, is one photo that gets the message out.

I see taking the photos and then having the filenames changed to include a "slug" word that tells what they are about and the date. During the year, or on the computer's hard-drive I find it useful to keep the photos in a folder under the year, with a folder that starts with the month then the "slug."

But as time goes by, the photos need to be edited down. Just save the favorites. I usually have an "edit" sub-folder where I have cropped and toned my favorite shots. Like I use to do at the newspaper.

These are hi-res shots, 300 dpi, too big for the web. If it is going to be uploaded I reduce the size and save in another folder, labeled "web." Inside this folder the photos are saved by subject.

What I want to so is after a year, save the photos by subject not by date. Get all my landscapes in one folder, all the shots of Fort Worth in another, shots take around home of the family in another.

Changing names and changing folders goes against the save everything Lightroom program, it won't find the new files and keeps telling you that it has lost images.

For this reason I like using Photo Mechanic by Camera Bits. I can move things and find it. Simply because of the name and folder.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Photojournalism is not newsphotography

I always have been proud to say I was a newsphotographer. Newsphotography was capturing the moment to share with readers and preserve what had happened. Captured in time so you could look back the next day or 40 years later. News photographers were recording history.

Grabbing Andre Kertesz's catalog from his 1985 exhibit, I started reading Sandra Phillip's biography of Kertesz and it surprised me to read how in the 1930's Kertesz (who had come to America to work for the news agency Keystone) describe the newsphotographer has "an assembly line worker charged with making the same photograph over and over again."

Remember back then, there was a lot of competition and with the Depression, you wanted to keep your staff job. Even though it didn't pay much, it was a job.

Back then the photographers looked after each other. If your 4x5 film holder messed up the sheet of film, a competitor would give you one of his shots. They stood together so everyone got the same picture, so the editor wouldn't get upset about the competition beating them. They had families to take care of and decided to play it safe.

This was before television and the Internet, the latest technology was the magazine, with better reproduction they focused on subjects, food, fashion and the news.

Kertesz saw the freelance photographer as a "different breed." Where he and Henri Cartier-Bresson had worked for weekly newspapers in Paris, he saw taking photos for the American magazine as "producing interpretive picture essays that in the highest form expressed what they felt about the subjects they were asked to observe. Photographers recognized that they were of two social classes, one slightly blue-collar, the other philosophical and intellectual."

Okay, I don't see newspaper photography ever getting intellectual. We did move away from copying each other, with less competition we were creative and refused to pose the subject, but tell the story and show what was happening. It was my goal to get the newspaper with 80 dot screen to crop tight and run it big.

With the Internet we can see slide shows of small 3-col photos, and newspapers are now running the photos smaller than ever before. We aren't using our minds, like the intellectual Kertesz.

Looking back I see the photographers in the 30's as the Internet today, trying to take advantage of the new presses, offset, and national circulation. Buy the time the 50's rolled around, many magazines had folded, but there were a dozen fighting it out for exclusive stories. But at this time the pioneers like Andre Kertesz and Walker Evans had been pushed aside, Kertesz was productive as staff photographer for Conde Nast's House and Garden while Walker Evans was an editor for Fortune.

It wasn't till they retired that they truly became artists. Exhibiting photos they took in the 1920s and 30s. Both played with the Polaroid, like the Instagram today!

I find it interesting seeing the black and white photo get replaced by color photos. Does it get the message across better? And now, just like the switch to color we are going video. Sound and motion helps tell the story, but what do you see as images come and go, what do you remember?

I like the still photo. It stops the action and gives you time to look at the background, look at what they are wearing, look into their eyes. I still like B&W! Without having to worry about making sure the sky was blue, using flash, etc., with black and white you simply focused on the facts.

Newsphotographers became photojournalists thanks to the magazines in the 1930's.

But are we artists?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Is this worth putting on your wall?

 Going back to some old photos that I entered in photo contests. Taken as a staff photographer for the San Francisco Examiner, it no longer exists. So do I have ownership? They never saved the "weather picture" anyway.

Forty years later, is it ART?

Was in a Paris cafĂ© in 1972 and took photos of a little kid playing pinball. Before electronic games, he had to flip the levers and could barely see the steel ball.  The French are very strict on the right tpo privacy, but the law may not have been in effect when I took the photo.

A drill bit, is in ART? 

I seeing older colleagues call themselves artists. I've always looked at the publishing side. Get the photo in print. Never thought if myself as an artist. But the photos were taken to capture a moment and be a permanent record of the times.

Drill bit is just a pretty photo. I wonder if anyone collects Vietnam war protesters? Probably not, but then it might be interesting for history books and I need to upload them for stock, not art.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

We're all artists - - - it's how you look at it

At the Laura Rathe Fine Art in Dallas 2013
It was interesting meeting up with Steve McCurry at the opening of his show "The Unguarded Moment," on Thursday Mary 23rd in Dallas, Texas. He's now an artist!

We first met in 1977 outside of Philadelphia on a farm near Valley Forge, he talked about quiting his newspaper job and going off to freelance. Rather than starting with an assignment, he was going to visit India and then bring back photos. Going with his girlfriend Lauren, who wasn't a photographer but his assistant and worked to sell the photos. All McCurry had to do was just take the photos. 

Hearing him talk about how he had initially majored in film production which required classes in theater, speech, English and and beginning photography. Introduced him to the medium of photography, he realized that shooting still photos was a statement by one person, unlike film which is a team effort. Sort of like tennis versus football.

McCurry discovered he liked finding the picture and not having to rely on a team and a storyboard, this led to a job on a small weekly in Valley Forge, PA, where he took photos of the  volunteer fire departments, weekend festivals and high school sports.

And he liked to travel, had been to Europe, so he decided to check out India  His girlfriend returned with the film and started showing off his photos to publications and his 90-day tourist visit turned into 2-years covering events in India, Pakistan and Afghanistan for major publications worldwide. He was a photojournalist. Reporting with photos of people, he wasn't a war photographer he says, he concentrated on local people, not soldiers. 

For me, I still consider myself a journalist, covering issues affecting readers for newspapers  in black and white, Tri-X, fills a need for me to share information. (like blogging) I always felt  photos told the story along with words. (I get pissed when writers start telling what you can see in the photo. I want to show the who, what, wheres that was happening. Let the words, give quotes from people, and tell the rest. 

But for McCurry, he's pulled by the art, the face, the dress and color in the photo. 

Feeling that color is bad for the story teller, it takes viewers attention away from really looking at what's in the photo, their faces, gestures and the facts. But as technology advances I have had to learn to capture images in color (thank goodness they can easily be converted back to B/W), and now see how it is evolving into video. I'm learning to shoot video, it's become a one-man operation, I can do it all!


McCurry isn't interested in playing in the darkroom, Kodak even invited him to shoot the last roll of Kodachrome, he never learned Photoshop or Premier, he says he's now the artist.  Let technicians tone and color correct his digital files.

 His photos are not reporting on specific events, they're art. Nice to look at. As my Webster dictionary says " purely aesthetic."
McCurry in 1979 -Afghanistan

And it's true. His photos are great to look at, they aren't tied to any particular timely event. You don't need to read a story to appreciate what it says, like you do with journalism

The pictures just look good. 

Where I use to carry multiple cameras to be ready to capture fleeting images, he carries one camera and one lens looking for interesting people. Not celebrities, just people in the town.

Ansel Adams was an artist and photographer, who took full control- - - from customizing the developer to making the print. Adams also said his specialty was photographing beauty. Especially landscapes.

McCurry is also focused on beauty, but instead of landscapes his specialty is people. Not fashion photos but life in southeast Asia, third world countries and getting it in color.

He sees color, contrast and composition. They're nice to look at, but also tell a story.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Along the California trail it's Beaux Arts along the Red River

In Cooke County Texas near the border between Oklahoma and Texas in the county seat of Gainsville, is their courthouse. Built in 1910 the Dallas architecture firm of Lang & Witchell built something simpler and more modern than the Victorian courthouses that flourished in the 1880's.

They designed a round window under the dome and in 1920 the citizens installed a clock for everyone to see as a memorial to WWI. But wait, you need to go inside, recently restored it has been returned to the way it looked when it was build over 100 years ago.

There is a stained glass skylight at the op of the open center of the courthouse. Flowers or are they palm trees? The interior is dark and cool, away from the hot Texas sunshine.

I think the interior is equal to the exterior as a landmark piece of Texas architecture, where the residents wanted had pride in where they lives. A marker outside claims that Gainsville was the early route to California for pioneers, before Rt 66 was built in Oklahoma.

A major route for the Santa Fe railroad it missed the oil boom that occurred in Wichita Falls. They were farmers and proud of it.

Architecture photos by Jim Domke - www.jimdomke.com

Monday, May 6, 2013

Spotting Future Trends - - - Things are going to change

After a busy week I was surfing in front of the old TV and started watching an interview with Daniel Burrus about his new book Flash Foresight. His specialty is predicting the future, and claims to be better than most. He showed the audience how they could make predictions, polling them on whether they computers would get smaller and more powerful. Everyone said yes.

Film days by J.G. Domke 1974
He made some interesting points on how the desktop computer evolved, but is it getting obsoleted by the cellphone?

No, these tools are just getting "re-purposed."

Burrus calls this a "soft trend," where the roles change. Which then I relate to the horse and carriage, the automobile didn't kill off horses. In some parts of the world they're still a daily part of life, but in the US they've evolved to be a hobby, recreation and a sport. Not work. This is a soft trend of the 20th century.

A "hard trend" is how video tape and the 8-track tapes have been replaced by DVDs and the Internet. They "can't be changed," says Burrus so they disappear from daily life. 

This makes me, the journalist, start thinking about media. I wonder will print newspapers go the way of the VHS tape? Will all books be eBooks?

I predict the large coffee table books will survive, they are art, they are portfolios and a record of life to preserve. No batteries, they capture history. I predict they will be more expensive, but still be printed on paper. However, a lot of books and magazines will be online only.

Where do newspapers fit? I've thought for years that the old daily newspaper printed on paper should go back to a weekly paper, like the Sunday Times of London. Reporting on the past week local, state and national stories, along with previews of the coming week. A leisurely way to spend a Sunday breakfast reading articles in the Sunday paper. (After spending the rest of the week staring at a computer screen.) We need to be aware of what's happening around us, the facts not gossip. A weekly paper will do this. 


So what about the photo?  I watched how newspapers went from Linotype to offset. From Black and White to Color. Word journalists reluctantly gave up newspaper space to the photo because they felt it pulled readers into reading the story, pulled people into buying the newspaper off the news stand. Color caught their eye better than B/W. So as we evolve to the Internet it is the video that keeps viewers on the page. Smaller photos, but you need to scroll over and click on the picture to see it bigger!? Who has time to take the trouble to do that? Still photos are clip art.

Slide shows of 40 plus photos all the same size, good photos mixed up with so-so photos of the same thing? Where is the editor?

As an in print newspaper photographer, I cover the event and then edit it down to one or two of the best shots. Looking for photos that told the story!

The whole idea was to capture the story. In sports it was get a great photo of the player who scored the winning touchdown doing something amazing. (That was the goal anyway.) I always was striving to get the who-what-where-how in one single shot. I liked the challenge of getting one photo that told the story. Let the words fill in the details around the photo.

I liked the picture page in magazines and newspapers we picked a main picture. Ran it big. A headline pulled you to look at the main photo and then 3 or 5 other photos filled in with detail shots. Close-ups of people, maybe an overall view, photos of things that supported the main photo. The layout took in eye-flow. Hopefully guiding the viewer in a proper sequence. There were also captions under photo and a brief story. 

A picture page told the story better in pictures than words!

I see the slide show best used when showing the top ten this or that. It isn't a picture story. 

In his Fort Worth Star-Telegram column Bob Ray Sanders comments on the future of newspapers and journalism. For him paper or online is the same, it is opinions from blogger versus journalistic reporting.

Journalists find the Internet a great tool for research, they find sources and can verify what actually happened. But the viewer doesn't take the time to be a reporter. They just take everything as fact.
Photo by J.G. Domke - Color or b/w?

So what does this say about the future? Burrus defined "crisis management" as being forced the change. 

We are flooded with information and what we need now are editors. Photo editors, word editors to verify and get to the real story.

Video works, it tells the story. 

But you still have to admit that a BLACK AND WHITE photo of the event lets you study the surroundings, see what really happened.

Watching change the B/W news photo needs a place. I think the Boston Bombing photos needed to be black and white. Color is a distraction. Make it bigger! Gray scale file is smaller so the bigger photo will load just as fast as a small color photo. Edit down to just photos that add information. Just like the word reporters are writing shorter stories, pictures are important to telling the story.

But we are going from 17" laptop screens to 7" tablets. More reason to have a bigger photo. No photo? Just video? A still photo that tells a story is a quick read and helps viewers know/study what happened. This works for news, but will features just be told with video.

I wonder where the still photo will be in the future.

# # #

(In my family I also use to try to pick up the roll of film from the drugstore and edit it down before I got home. My wife always found some detail in every photo and wanted to keep them all. Fewer photos focused on the event and made the memories inside your head come back.)

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Looking at technology in 1979. It was TV or print.

I remember hearing from the Philadelphia Inquirer's Executive Editor, Gene Roberts, (later Managing Editor at the NY Times) how he saw the need for newspapers to tell people what was going to happen.  Television told everyone at 10pm what had happened during the day, so why read a morning newspaper?

Roberts liked investigative reporting and didn't buy the USA Today's no jumps, short articles. I'd worked at other papers that covered press conferences, but he felt the paper could find their own stories and refused to write a story simply about a press conference.

Buckminster Fuller lecturing about the shape of things.
This view of the news was hard for the photo staff. Taking photos of an event before it happened! But photos were what readers noticed and pulled them to read the story to find out more.

Reporters had weeks to research and interview people, then edit it down and write the article. They didn't know what info they'd use till they started writing. Sending a photographer out with the reporter often resulted in having great pictures, but no mention in the story. The photos then were never published, if it called attention to something only briefly mentioned near the end of the article.

To solve this problem it meant waiting for the story to be written then recontacting the people to set up a time to take the photo. This actually was the best, going together meant the subject had to worry about the reporters questions and didn't have time to be told to stand here and look this way. Photo editors called to get the subject in the right location at the right time, Not distracted by the reporter's needs and questions. (Although sometimes during an interview the subject will make some great expressions and gestures.)

Getting the best photo was easier, since the photographer had a copy of the story. Could pose the subject in a similar environment. Reporters however thought the best picture was the one the reader formed in their mind. They wanted to describe the scene, the way the subject looked in terms that would help tell who the subject was. Why not have the picture show the person?

I remember one story where the Inquirer saw how a new hotel was being completed and they planned a big ribbon cutting. Roberts wanted to beat television and run a story the morning of the ribbon cutting, let the TV channels cover the ribbon cutting. The morning Inquirer would write about the architect and what unique features he designed for the hotel.

The photo department set up an appointment to take an environmental portrait in his office. Laying out the paper there was a problem. The reporter wrote about how laid-back the architect was wearing tennis hoes and blue jeans. But, the photo was of a guy in a suit and tie!

The story ran the next morning, so everyone knew what was going to happen later in the day. Beating out television. Did anyone notice the lede of the story didn't match the photo?

I remember this watching the Bush Library dedication, I had taken Roberts the view that with live TV coverage, other pubs needed to tell what was going to happen before it happened. I thought editors would want photos for a weekly preview of upcoming events, and I tried to get photos of them setting up the exhibits.

It was surprising how little preview coverage there was. The local papers ran special sections the Dallas Morning News on Sunday and the Ft Worth Star-Telegram and Dallas Business Journal coming out three weeks earlier. It was free advertising for the Presidential Library and Museum, hopefully it motivated residents to then watch it live on TV.

CBS tied in a tour inside with Charlie Rose interviewing both President Bush and Laura Bush.

I wonder what will be on the evening news?
After the fact, S.F. Examiner

I also wonder about the new trend for the reporter to take the photos to go with the story. Having been a writer and a photographer, I realized that to take photos first was a mistake. You were chatting, which led into quotes and missing the picture. It's best to do the interview and then concentrate on the photo. But you've already taken up so much of there time, you just take a few photos. Not good.

If you are writing the sorry, or interviewing a person for a video, you need to concentrate on the questions and followup question. The photojournalist is listening and looking, worried about lighting and getting it in focus, but also composition. Hearing what the subject is saying brings out where to pose the subject. Maybe show them working with or on something. So what he is talking about, while the reporter takes notes.

I don't think one person can do both, take photos and take notes. Just running a Q&A doesn't give all the facts. Video flies by too quickly and I think freezing the moment in a still photo lets the viewer study and remember who, what, where and when.

# # #

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

No photographers allowed

It happened again. I wanted to take photos of the staff preparing the new George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum. The dedication is Thursday, April 25, and I could see an interesting picture of someone hanging a sign, "Oval Office this way," or with half the display hung and the rest of it laying in order on the floor. It would be a great promotion to run previous to the opening. But nobody would return my calls or set up an appointment. After several days of cloudy weather, the sky was blue and I thought I'd go to the library and try to argue my case.

It was a beautiful day and I wanted to take advantage of the afternoon light, so I arrived after 3pm when the light was best. Parking near the loading dock, I started looking for the staff entrance and noticed the wildflowers blooming. The light was just right, so I started taking photos. Finding a walking path, I walked around looking for a good foreground with the Presidential Center in the background. 

Then the security officer arrived and I had to explained how I wanted to do a photo story on the library. I called the communications director and was told that I had to make an appointment to see her.  In order to arrange for another appointment to take photos?

So I'll just take exterior views, the security said it was okay if I stayed on the sidewalk. I started around looking for photos to upload to Demotix, Alamy and Tandem Stock.

It was around 5pm and with the Presidential Library facing north the only shot would be at dusk with the lights on, so I had a few hours to wander around trying to get stock photos. I saw several signs directing visitors to the visitor parking, but then found one which let me get the library in the background. I started taking pictures and the Southern Methodist University campus police drove up and said I was trespassing again and they had to issue be a warning that forbid me to step on the Bush property. 

Okay, I got some pictures and maybe the other building shots could be taken from across the street on SMU property. I took a break for water, then came back at 6pm to scout out the best location for the night shot and the police pulled me over. I thought I was on the campus sidewalk, but they said it was the Bush Library sidewalk! They had to give me another trespassing warning, this time I was forbidden to ever step foot on the SMU campus!

I uploaded the photos that night to the agencies, I still think I got some unique bluebonnet shots that show off the urban park better than they'll look at the dedication. 

My specialty has been to come back with a picture.

At the Philadelphia Inquirer I was sent to Dover AB in Delaware to get photos of the Marines killed in a failed attempt to rescue US hostages in Tehran. I get to the base and they tell me the press wasn't allowed on the base. I drove all this way and don't have a picture!

I  start circling the airbase and wonder if I shoot through the fence with a long lens I might be able to get something of them unloading the plane. I sit beside bushes and wait, and wait getting eaten by bugs, then I see a line of hearses driving out.  I watch them through the lenses and as they drive out a cargo plane starts to land. It tells the story and ran 8-col on the top of the front page!

The Inquirer was still competing with the Philadelphia Bulletin,  and sent me to Kansas City to cover the Republican convention. Shooting b&w and getting prints made in the AP darkroom meant waiting in line and squeezing transmission time in between network transmissions. A transmission might tame 20 minutes, which meant spending a couple of hours editing and waiting for it to get transmitted. 

Friday night was the last day and I wanted to get a different shot. There was a press seating area in the balcony to the rear of the podium, but it was for word people, no photographers allowed.

But it was a great angle to get the convention delegates in the background when President Gerald Ford and his running mate Sen Robert Dole greeted the crowd. Seemed to me to be a good conclusion to the convention and tell the story. I had time and put my camera in the camera bag and walked to the section showing my press pass. They let me in, I chose a good seat with a view and sat there.

They did the roll count, I just sat there waiting. Then they brought the candidates on stage with their families. An exclusive shot, I raised my camera and started shooting. The security didn't notice they were watching the action on stage. I got the photo I had envisioned. 

Rushing to the AP darkroom we transmitted it to the paper. But it never ran. The editors thought it was old news. It had been on TV and they had reported Doles nomination in Friday's paper. No reason to take up space with a photo. Darn

Then there was another time when I had rushed to get the Philadelphia Police arresting illegal occupants living in a commune and calling themselves MOVE. It had been going on for years and I'd taken photos of MOVE members yelling at police who were stationed across the street. 

Photo Director Gary Haynes thought the arrest would be quick and I happened to live the closest to MOVE. I got called at midnight and rushed over, thinking I'd be using my strobe to get a picture of them being led into a paddy wagon.

I waited in front with some other photographers, lots of police were around. We waited and waited, nothing except more police and a big semi truck arrived with a bulldozer? 

The sun rose and they started setting up barricades at the end of the block, two other Inquirer photographers with long lenses arrived. My longest lens was a 90mm!

They told us to clear the street and Bill Steinmetz with his telephoto positioned himself in front, Behind the barricades 50 yards away was no good, but across the alley was a three story apartment building, I rushed inside and went to the managers apartment. He had a view of the back of the MOVE building. 

Both of us wanted to watch and I talked him into removing the screen from the window, a policeman arrived and stood beside me watching. We heard the police demand they come out and then gunfire. I didn't want to hang out and risk getting shot. They sprayed water into the house to get them to come out. 

Then Delbert Africa came to the basement window. Hands up, a policeman behind a protective shield pointed a pistol at him and told him to get out. He walked out with hands held high, two policemen walked up and started beating him, pulled him by the hair to beneath the building kicking him along the way. I kept shooting with my Leica and 90mm lens.

The TV reported how successful the police had been and how they had finally brought order to the neighborhood, then the next morning the Philadelphia Inquirer shocked the city showing the beating.

I got the picture because I wasn't allowed to stand in front of the building.# # #


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Watching the show set-up, gets me to reflect on safety. . .

It was interesting, covering business in Texas has taken me to drilling pads where you need to wear a hard hat, steel toed boots, protective glasses and watch training video before getting to go to the drilling rig.

Setting up a multi-projector (8) to cover a wide curving screen involved taking safety into consideration. Setting up a hotel the main concern was fire and accidents from tripping over cables.

I was impressed with how the crew anticipated the risks and double checked to make sure everything met the fire code or even surpassed it. They explained how required steel clamps holding lights and projector to the rigging wasn't as safe as nylon! That under high heat the steel gets brittle, but new "nylon" asbestos core cables take the heat better.

They didn't have to be told, but straightened huge cables and put them under narrow risers to prevent the crew from tripping. There was a lot of attention to detail and I reflected on the energy industry, couldn't they avoid problems if they made the effort to think ahead.

I'm thinking of the accidents, where they had to dispose of salt water. Existing laws simply stated that it had to be taken to local water treatment plants which were not prepared for it. The law was simply for getting rid of flood water not dispose of frack water. Workers simply followed the rules and dumped in the local creek.

Why didn't companies spot the risk and avoid polluting the streams? Because it wasn't a law.

Seeing the crew make the effort to avoid accidents setting up for the presentation impressed me and made me think that the energy industry needs to make it the rule to avoid problems. Not just follow the state law, but know from experience the risk they are taking.

Putting on a multi-media show means making sure the show would go on, despite equipment failure, Multiple projectors added richer color, but also eliminated the risk of having the projector lamp fail.

Huge screens in front showed the speakers on stage what to say and what was happening behind them on the huge curved screen.

The projectors had to be in exact alignment with the screen all images line up and everything was in focus. Couldn't have happened in the old days, thanks to the computer they were able to blend everything together and are sharp from corner to corner.

As they finished I got to walk up close, standing behind the stage I was surround by images.

# # #

photos by Jim Domke
for Lakeshore  Audiovisual/Chicago

Sunday, March 24, 2013

The lights went out and we all started to shine

Shine your flashlight
For a spring evening in Texas it was cold, and granted there were a lot of events happening on Saturday night, along with the NCAA March Madness, but some of us had to come to Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, Texas, and shine a light on the world's largest indoor stadium.

A year ago when they started planning the event co-founders Bill Dubois and Michael Peres had hoped to have 20,000 and set a Guinness Book record for number of people participating in a photograph, (and then Guinness World Records rejected the category) but the 27th BigShot by the photo students at the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York had to work with  2400 volunteers to light the building on a cold foggy, more Rochester like weather, on Saturday, March 23rd 2013.

Some of us came with shoe-mount strobes, but many simply brought flashlights. Then there was the guy from Dallas ("nakedlens" is his name) who had a backpack fitted with four studio strobes that he fired with the shoe-mount flash he pointed behind him. Who needs 2000 volunteers when one guy can do it? I'm not sure the folks at RIT let him shine.
NakedLens brought lots of light 

Signing in we got assigned to various groups setting up along the southeast corner of Cowboy Stadium. I was assigned to Lighting Team 7B at the far right under one of the two big support girders. Other people were assigned to the parking lot along side the stadium, all around the roadway and even back in the distant parking lot where the elevated camera took four shots.

Wanting to control all the light they asked Cowboy Stadium to turn off ALL the lights inside the building and outside in the parking lot. The moon could be seen poking out every once in awhile behind cloud cover, so it was dark and all those little flash lights don't put out much light. But they said it "looks good."

RIT students flew down Friday morning were also stationed 25 feet apart with their digital cameras around the service road saying that they plan on stitching all the images together to make a super panorama. They got a tour on Friday and one student showed me a neat app he has on his iPhone that let him create and scroll around 360-degree view he took in seconds during the tour.

Using the siren on an emergency rescue van, they opened the shutter for about a minute, with my shoe-mount flash and fresh batteries I was able to fire off two times and once using the flash on my Olympus Pen camera. Folks with flashlights were told to keep moving and move the light around.

I wonder what the picture will look like? They say we can download a file after April 15, 2013 from http://bigshot.cias.rit.edu/bigshot_28_file_download/

RIT called it "painting with light" and the faculty members coordinating the event said the stadium size and glass exterior  posed the biggest challenges for the annual project since they started in 1987. They have previously lit up the Alamo, the USS Intrepid, the Pile Gate in Croatia and the Smithsonian National Museum of Native Americans in Washington D.C.

Cowboy Stadium will host the NCAA Final Four in 2014 and maybe the RIT photo will help everyone know where they are going. # # #

Monday, March 18, 2013

Big Shot from Alamo to Cowboy Stadium

Cowboy Stadium by JG Domke
They were hoping to set the Guinness Book of Records with over 20,000 people standing around the Cowboys Stadium. largest indoor stadium in the world, located between Dallas and Ft Worth, Texas.

With articles appearing in newspapers and on television, the Rochester Institute of  Technology say they need people to sign-in by Monday, March 18th at www.rit.edu/bigshot

Hoping for thousands to come with flashlights or using the flash on a camera, RIT's School of Photographic Arts and Science will hold their annual "paint with light" on Saturday ! (March 23 at 7:30 p.m.)


Early sign-up helps RIT's assign and organize groups to spread out to light the entire stadium. I wonder how they will light the dome with everyone standing in the parking lot? Or will this be a team effort in cooperation with light from the moon?

This started over 25 years ago as a student exercise to master flash, inspired by a publicity campaign by the flashbulb maker Sylvania to come up with an original image using the flashbulb. But this reminds me of an exercise I did at the University of Missouri J-School where we photographed the brightly illuminated "columns" with the administration building in the background. 

The assignment called for taking one exposure and developing the 4x5 sheet film normally, which just showed the columns, then develop another sheet using a water bath to let the developer bring out shadow detail. What do you know? There, in the background, was Jesse Hall. You could see it, where there was nothing but black darkness before. Amazing.

So I wonder with everyone pointing their FLASHLIGHT at Cowboy Stadium is it the light really doing anything, or the way they expose and process the image? I sort of see this as publicity for RIT and with only light  from flashes in the parking lot it isn't going to light the roof.

Where we used the water bath during the development of film, I wonder if they are using film or is this digital? If it is digital I'm guessing they can take several exposures at different exposures and then weave them together. What they call High Definition! This way we'll see all of the stadium!

What's the flashlight adding to the photo? Is the goal to get a great photo, or simply to have something in the foreground?

Still I'm looking forward to shining my light and help make it a great photo. See you there!