Friday, November 30, 2007

Jim and Susan's Family at Lake Norman

I first photographed Jim and Susan's extended family a few months back and Susan wanted to get more photos of her immediate family.
They live in a magnificent home off Lake Norman which had been used for some of the filming of the Will Ferrell movie Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.
Son Colin is awaiting deployment to Afghanistan and Susan wanted more photos of him as well.
We also had to get some new pictures of son Nate and daughter Peyton.
Thanks guys, I enjoyed working with you all again!

Family photo

Jim, Peyton and Susan


Nate and Peyton

Peyton and her pal

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

More Adventures with Ali (Chasing Your Dreams)

Alison just emailed some photos of her quick trip to Prague over Thanksgiving weekend.
We are so proud of her spirit of adventure and adaptability. She has taken her passion for travel to many incredible destinations.
Ali and her good buddy Amanda had a great time exploring the historic city as they braved freezing temperatures.
The photos are a bit low in resolution so I put them together in a collage. If you look closely you can almost feel the cold.
I know Ali is getting ready to settle down and get a "real" job, but for now she is taking advantage of a great opportunity to chase her travel dreams.
We are all also excited that she is coming home soon for Christmas!

Ali in Prague

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Turkey Day

There are so many things that I am thankful about and tops on that list is family. I'm thankful for Betsy and our children and for our extended family. We are lucky to have several relatives living close by and we get together often for family celebrations.
Thursday was no exception as we had 14 people at our house for the Thanksgiving meal. We had a pretty serious ping-pong battle with son Sean taking the overall crown. We got to have a long conversation with daughter Ali (in England) before her European "Thanksgiving" trip to Prague this weekend.
We are also lucky be seeing several of our northern family members this weekend.
I hope everyone out there had a great day celebrating with family and friends!

Record house 1:45 p.m.

Record house 4:30 p.m.
(We're missing a few in this shot but you get the idea)

Monday, November 19, 2007

Warm Memories of a Cold Day

Seeing the Carolina Panthers return to Lambeau Field to face Brett Favre and the Green Bay Packers Sunday brought back some cold, yet fond memories of my former life as a newspaper photographer.
It was January of 1997 and the Panthers were an upstart expansion team that had fought their way to the NFC Championship game. I made the trip to Green Bay with fellow Charlotte Observer staffers Jeff Siner and Bob Leverone.
The conditions in Green Bay were brutal as a strong breeze combined with freezing temperatures put the wind chill at 22 degrees below zero. (That's cold!)
I remember we were still shooting film in those days and I had to change the batteries in my Nikon F5 at halftime as the conditions caused them to drain very quickly. Loading and unloading film in three camera bodies was no picnic either as we fought with many layers of clothes, gloves and the hand-warmers in our pockets.
Leverone, now a staff photographer with The Sporting News, did his usual stellar job on the action and Siner edited the photos in a trailer behind Lambeau.
The Panthers gave a good fight but were outclassed in a 30-13 loss. Green Bay went on to defeat New England in the Super Bowl.
The Panthers had nothing to be ashamed of as they had gone farther than most anyone had expected.
Linebacker Sam Mills perhaps best signified the overachieving team. Mills was an undersized middle linebacker who gave his all on every play.
I ran onto the field after the game and Packer receiver Andre Rison gave Mills a quick pat on the helmet to recognize his effort. I was right on top of Mills with a wide-angle lens and caught the moment.
Siner and the editors back at the Observer selected the photo for the front page because it summed up the feeling of loss felt by the Panthers and their fans.
Mills was a class guy who was later diagnosed with intestinal cancer. He inspired the team on its run to the 2004 Super Bowl as he continued coaching during his cancer treatments.
Mills died in 2005 and there is a statue of him outside of the Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte.
The Panthers trip to Green Bay this year didn't go much better as they lost Sunday and this season looks pretty much shot as they fell to 4-6 on the year.
It also made me glad that I didn't spend the day watching the game. My buddy John called and we got in 18 holes of golf on a beautiful, warm fall afternoon.

Andre Rison, left, and Sam Mills

Friday, November 16, 2007

Cover Photo

Just got a copy of the Fall 2007 Davidson Journal, which has my photograph of new college president Tom Ross on the cover.
Following many, many years of seeing my work on poor newspaper reproduction, the beautiful glossy stock of the magazine was a real treat.
One of the many bonuses of having our studio in Davidson is getting to know some of the fine folks at Davidson College. Meg Kimmel, editor of the Davidson Journal, and media relations head Bill Giduz have been wonderful to work with.
Ross is a former Superior Court Judge and he becomes the 17th president of the 170-year-old college. He has a engaging style and it was a pleasure spending some time with him.
Here is the cover and a few other photos from the session.

Davidson College President Tom Ross

I wanted to mention an incredibly interesting talk I got to attend last Friday night at The Studio at the Cedar Street Design Center in Charlotte.
Our friend Nanine Hartzenbusch, who has started a children's photography business in Charlotte, organized a gathering to hear David Hobby, the creator of the Strobist photographic lighting blog.
David also comes from a newspaper photography background and I was glad to get to pick his brain a bit. I would encourage anyone interested in better, simpler photographic lighting techniques to check Strobist.
While I think many at the gathering were expecting to get some new lighting techniques, Hobby focused his talk on his blog and how his niche site had turned into somewhat of an international phenomenon. So much so that I would be very surprised if he ever returns to newspaper work.
He started small with his ideas of how to use off-camera flashes to improve the drama and quality of your photographs. As it gained popularity, Hobby's job has changed into more of an administrative role as he funnels the huge volume of ideas he gets from his readers.
One of his main concepts is freely giving information and knowledge.
Much like David Jay's Open Source Photo, Strobist encourages everyone to share knowledge for the common good. Hobby proved to be an incredibly smart and humorous speaker and his ideas gave everyone food for thought.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Photos of Beautiful Fall Day

It's been a strange fall here in Charlotte with a prolonged drought and warmer-than-usual temperatures, but a cold front moved through Thursday bringing some rain, colder weather and then a brilliant afternoon.
I had a few things to catch up on at the studio so I headed up to Davidson. I love fall and the conditions prompted me to grab my trusty Nikons to record some of the intense colors around the Davidson College campus.
It's somewhat ironic that I used to hate so called "wild art" assignments like shooting fall color when I was a newspaper photographer at The Charlotte Observer. But I think it's good to keep your creative juices flowing with many types of photography and I thoroughly enjoyed my personal assignment.
I feel so blessed that my passion for photography remains so strong and I get so much enjoyment out of my job.
Here's what I saw Thursday - enjoy!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bridal Portrait Session

Wanted to share some photos from a fun bridal portrait session at our studio Monday.
I'll be photographing Chris and Sheryl's wedding in Winston-Salem in early December. Sheryl traveled down from Raleigh for the shoot and to make other wedding preparations.
Betsy and I had a good time working with Sheryl and she had some creative ideas for the photos.
We tried several approaches using both flash and available light in the studio and some off-camera portable flash. I love to shoot at very wide apertures to "wipe out" the backgrounds and I often use my Nikon 85mm f1.4 lens for that purpose.
I have a set of Dyna-Lite Jackrabbit strobes that can be used in the studio or on location (they have portable battery packs but can also be plugged into an AC outlet). I also utilize my Nikon SB-800 strobe off camera for certain situations.
As far as the post production goes, I really like Kubota Image Tools and I use them mainly for black-and-white conversion as well as to "punch-up" the color on some shots.
Thanks for making the trip Sheryl and I'm looking forward to working with you and Chris!

Window light Nikon D200 ISO 250 1/100th at f1.4

Available light Nikon D200 ISO 400 1/60th at f1.4

Betsy gives an assist with the veil

Betsy used her Nikon point-and-shoot to catch me in action

One Dyna-Lite strobe Nikon D2X ISO 100 1/250th at f10 (17-55mm f2.8 lens)

Window light Nikon D2X ISO 320 1/50th at f2.8

Off-camera Nikon SB-800 Nikon D2X ISO 250 1/30th at f2.8

Open shade Nikon D2X ISO 200 1/2500th at f1.4

Open shade Nikon D200 ISO 200 1/2000th at f2.8 (70-200 mm f2.8 lens)

One Dyna-Lite strobe Nikon D200 ISO 100 1/250th at f20

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Alison's European Adventures

After a brief stay in beautiful Switzerland, our daughter Alison has moved to a new home in the English countryside near London.
She is an au pair for a family with two young children.
Aside from the challenge of driving with a stick shift on the wrong side of the road, she is having a terrific time.
She is able to make frequent trips to London to visit her great friend Amanda (who is from Salisbury). She spent her second straight Halloween in England and will spend her second Thanksgiving in Europe, last year in Florence and this year in Prague. She'll have to search hard for turkey and stuffing.

Ali at her new digs (kidding...this is Leeds Castle)

On another note, I'm looking forward to reconnecting with some old friends and meeting some new photographers tomorrow night at a talk by David Hobby, who has a site called Strobist. The Baltimore photographer gives technical tips on how to better utilize off-camera flash techniques.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Innovative Works

The North Carolina Dance Theatre (NCDT) held its dress rehearsal Wednesday night for the upcoming Innovative Works.
The show includes premieres by Mark Diamond, Sasha Janes, Dwight Rhoden and Uri Sands.
NCDT company member Janes, a fantastic dancer, begins his professional career as a choreographer with his Lascia La Spina Cogli La Rose (leave the thorn, pluck the rose).
Here are a few scenes from the rehearsal. (To see more NCDT photos, click here: To see our documentary wedding images, click here: As always, click on the images for better viewing.

Sasha Janes and Rebecca Carmazzi