Saturday, December 31, 2011

Last Day of the Year

Boston, MA 123111 A gaggle of Canada geese displace a seagull as they land on the Charles River, a friendly feline vies for the attention of passersby from his South Boston store window display and a florist loads a truck with white-feather center pieces for a new year- motif wedding later on the day. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe staff)/ BEHIND THE SCENES: This is the first time in about five years where I am not scheduled to work the late shift on New Year's. Therefore I am going to miss all the preparations for Boston's First Night celebration, its parade and the fireworks. It really is okay since I get to spend time with my lovely wife instead at a friend's restaurant. Anyway, I only had one official assignment today and it was to photograph a restaurant in South Boston. I took it upon myself to look for features since I know the latter are always well appreciated by the photo editors. Sometimes these kind of photos also known as "no-stories,""stand alones," "enterpise photos," or simply "features" are hard to come by if you look too hard but sometimes like today they are everywhere you look. It is in days like this one, I appreciate even more what a great job I have when the world around me is my visual playground. TECH STUFF: two cameras: Mark- IV, Nikon D3, 24-70mm 2.8 Nikon lens, 70-200mm 2.8 Canon. ISOs 400 to 1,000. Speeds from 1/80th of a second to 1/25oth of a sec. Apertures 2.8- 5.6.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

X-Mas Pageant Trinity Church Boston

Boston, MA 122411 In front of a full house, children perform during the Christmas Pageant at the Trinity Church at Copley Square on December 24, 2011. The official cast is only Mary, Joseph and a couple of angels but then the members of the congregation are asked if there is anyone out there who'd like to play the roles of stars and manger animals. This is the point where hundreds of children and even some adults take to the front of the church. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff) BEHIND THE SCENES: In my 10 years at the Globe I've covered several Christmas pageants in different denomination churches. So I kind of knew what to expect... up to a point. At first I was a bit concerned since I saw the official cast was only about five children or so and I knew the Globe was counting on my photos for page one display so when they asked for actor volunteers and I saw how many came up I knew it would be all right. TECH STUFF: I was told by the officials at the church not to use my flashes since these disturb the children. I acquiesced and left them in my car. A decision I regretted the moment I saw the number of parents who crowded around the front of the church with camera in hands and flashes popping everywhere. As luck has it the girl's face in the main photo, the angel with open arms, was light by a red-eye reduction beam coming from a camera belonging to one of the parents. Had it not been for this serendipitous accident her eyes would have been cast in shadows due to the overhead-light scheme. ISO: 3,200 to 5,000/ Speeds: 1/60th to 1/160th of a second/ Cameras: Nikon D-3s, Mark IV/ Lenses: 24-70mm 2.8 Nikon, 70-200mm 2.8 Canon/ CompactFlash cards: SanDisk Extreme III 4GB and SanDisc Extreme 8GB (UDMA)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Santa's Land Closing

Putney, VT 121711 Butch Johnson (cq) left, of Vernon, VT, who last visited the park twenty odd years ago and who came this weekend with his son and his family (not in photo) and the Swallow (Cq) family of Palmer, MA: (l to r) Danny (Cq), 11 (orange cap), Hunter (cq), 8, and their parents (mom and dad) await on December 17, 2011 for Santa's Land Express as they visited Santa's Land, a Putney, VT, Christmas theme park since 1957, which is closing its doors. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)/ MET
BEHIND THE SCENES: When an editor asks me if I feel like taking a ride I usually just answer, "Sure, where am I going." This time it was Putney, VT, about 2.5 hours away from Boston. The home of Santa's Land which was closing its doors after having been an attraction cherished by generation after generation since 1957. We as journalists get used to not paying to enter places like these because we are indeed working when we are there. But today I was a bit taken aback when I was told, "It's $10.60 to get it in..." It certainly wasn't the price but the fact that I was paying to do a story on them. But after I thought it over for a bit I realized why not? This was its last weekend and every penny counts. So more power to them. There were still some ponies, and llamas around but a lot of the animals which used to be part of their regular attractions were no longer there. Interesting enough the park was filled with people on this day. Some heard about its closing and wanted to rekindle a childhood memory, others had never been there before and figure they'd at least visit once before it went the way of the dodo. The forlorn look on the faces of the people waiting for Santa's Land Express told the story best in my opinion... however I'm pretty sure that is not what will make the paper tomorrow. TECH STUFF: 2 cameras: Mark IV and Nikon D3s, a 24-70mm 2.8 and a 70-200mm 2.8 w a 1.4TC. ISOs 640, speeds 400 to 1600.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Occupy Boston: Protesters being removed

Boston, MA 121011 After several false alarms and rampant rumors Boston Police Department forcibly removed protesters from the Occupy Boston encampment at Dewey Square on December 10, 2011. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff) BEHIND THE SCENES: During my career as a photojournalist, I've covered a lot of civil unrest confrontations between police and protesters. I must say this was one of the most well-planned, managed and executed massive arrests I've seen in my 18 years in the biz. Once the police arrived they herded the media to specific areas and we were told to shoot from our "assigned location." I've always had issues with the "media amoeba" (that amorphous mass of shooters who move as one and get the same images.), the mass mentality. I've felt I've always worked best when I act on my own. So I kept trying to step back into the off- limit area a couple of times. After the second time I was told very politely by a police officer if I were to do that again I would be subject to arrest. At this point I decided to move away from the immediate area. I saw one of Boston Globe star reporters, Maria Cramer, talking to Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis, whom I've photographed several times in the past, so I inched my way next to them. He saw me and he said hi as he acknowledged my presence. I hung out near him even though he was at the outer boundary of the "arrest perimeter." This was progress but I was still pretty far away and the arrests were about to commence. So I turned to the commissioner and said, "Sir, those people are about to be arrested and there is no media near where the action is happening. If some allegations of police brutality or alike were to be brought up in the future don't you think you ought to have someone from an outside source in there documenting exactly what's going on." I added, "sort of a tight- pool situation." He looked at me and said, "You are right, follow me." And that is how I got to be the only still photographer allowed to be so close to where the massive- arrest action was occurring. Lesson learned: Sometimes all you gotta do is ask. TECH STUFF: 2 cameras, a Mark IV and a Nikon D-3s. Two lenses 16-35mm 2.8 and 70- 200mm 2.8. Two flash units with external battery packs. ISO 1600, speeds 1/15th- 1/125th of a second.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Waiting for the Witching Hour at Occupy Boston

Boston, MA 120811 Occupy Boston protesters which have been occupying Dewey Square for over two months lost their last legal battle yesterday and were given eviction notice for today December 8 at the stroke of midnight. (Essdras M Suarez/ Globe Staff)/ MET BEHIND THE SCENES: I haven't covered the Occupy movement that much so the fact that I'm here tonite on their final "legal" night makes it a good night for photos. I'm sure there will be an update to this blog later on. TECH STUFF: 1 Nikon D3 and 1 March IV, a 70- 200mm 2.8 on the Nikon and my trusty 16-35mm 2.8 on the Canon. Tonite Im going to need as much range as I can from shooting. As is Ive been using ISOs from 3200 to 8,000 so far. Later on I will use my strobes and take down the ISOs. I havent used the flash yet (2145 hours) the cold tends to kill batteris fast, Im saving these for the action photos later no tonite ... LATER UPDATE: So the witching hour came and nothing happened. Protesters awaited expectantly but Boston Police Department never amassed with riot gear. BPD officers present just kept their distance. After a while the protester crowded around an adjacent street, Atlantic Boulevard, and eventually brought traffic to a stand still... at 1:00AM in the morning. The police just diverted traffic one block away and business as usual continued. I finally left around 1:30AM to file images and barely made it my newsprint deadline. The top photo where the protesters are starting to sit on the street was the cover of today's paper. TECH STUFF: Turned on my flash finally but the cold kept sapping batteries away which made it falter quite a bit. Thank you for the gods of technology which allow you to shoot at 12,800+ ISO. INTERESTING POINT: It always amazes me how people will put themselves in front of the cameras to be photographed so the world can see them but when you approach them for their name they tell you, "You don't need my name."

Monday, December 5, 2011

Trainers Artemis and Eric

Needham, MA 112711 My trainer friend Artemis Scantalides and I have been talking about updating her website photos for about a year and it finally happened a couple of weeks back. She and her business partner, Eric Gahan, are both personal trainers and they specialize in kettle bells training. TECH STUFF: The studio in which they train GStarfit in Needham, MA is a pretty cool studio with all the accoutrements of the trade. Big olympic cages, straps, barbells,medicine balls, exercise balls, etc, etc and a good amount of windows all over the place. From a photo shoot point of view, this basically translates into a lot of competing visual elements. Since this was about showcasing Artemis and Eric I decided to go with a black velvet background and side lights. However I hadn't realized their uniforms were black and the kettle bells they use were also black. This presented a lighting problem: I was working with people dressed in black, against a black backdrop (black velvet is the best when you want to drop the background out because it swallows the light), using a black prop (the kettle bells). I realized I needed to off set so much black by pointing spotlights in all of these elements to makes them stand out from the background. So the set up is as follow: Two autopoles against the ceiling, a crossbar and a custom-made black velvet backdrop. I used a strip softbox (14" x 56") to one side, a hair-light with a wide grid on it coming straight down from above and behind them. In the shot with the two of them I had one spotlight right behind them pointing at them so I could get a nice rim-backlight effect. And finally I had my assistant Timothy Dunn, hand hold another spot light and his job was to keep following the movement of the kettle bells as they executed training moves. EQUIPMENT: 2 battery packs, a 2400 and a 1200 watt Elite packs, three to four lights depending on the shot. One camera- a D-3S, and two lenses: 70- 200mm and the 24-70mm both 2.8s. The ISO was 100, the setting for the camera was RAW + JPG. I was pretty satisfied with the results and so were my clients.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Enjoying the Boston Weather

Boston, MA 112011 Today was one of those rare warm November days in New England so I was assigned to look for "weather art." This means find someone or something which visually illustrates the kind of day Bostonians were experiencing. BEHIND THE SCENES: When you've been as a photographer for a while you develop a mental check list of places you can go visit for specific situations. The Esplanade along the Charles River, which divides the cities of Boston and Cambridge, is usually a sure thing. And my instincts didn't fail me this time either. At first I photographed runners, and bicyclists and then people with their dogs called my attention but I finally knew I had it when I saw this woman setting up a "slack line" in between two trees. I've seen these daredevils of the "low-altitude wire" do their thing before and I knew it was only a matter of waiting for moments to start occurring. The woman turned out to be the founder of the Boston Slack Line Club and she was quite adroit at this activity. Then as passersby would stop by to watch she'd asked them if they wanted to try and a great number did try indeed. The girl being guided by her dad and the slack-line expert made for a great moment. I just threw the dog jumping as a way of showing my attempt on how to photograph the mundane in an interesting manner. In this case I used a telephoto, I made sure my subjects were backlit and I waited for a moment: dog jumping. TECH STUFF: 2 cameras: a MarkIII and a MarkIV, two lenses: a 16-35mm 2.8 and a 300mm 2.8 with a 1.4TC. ISO: 200-400, speed 1/250th of a second to 1/3200th of a second. Aperture: 2.8- 22

Thursday, November 3, 2011

First of many: A La Carte Photo Journeys/ Cuba 2011

Havana, Cuba 10/27- 10/30/11 I recently had the privilege of accompanying four Canadians to Cuba on a photographic journey. I was their mentor on site. I've never posted so many photos at once but Cuba is Cuba and it deserves these many and more. Keeping to my style of shooting I followed my journalistic compass and simply allowed life to pass in front of my lens as I documented the scenes. I went for the ordinary and not the exceptions. From the beautiful Capitolio building being bathed by the rising sun rays to the man about to step into a puddle after an afternoon thunderstorm. Everywhere you look in Cuba, time seems to have stood still as colors explode, people mill about, and the texture of life beckons the eye. TECH STUFF: two cameras a Nikon D-3 and a Nikon D-3s, two lenses: 70- 200mm 2.8 with a 1.4TC, ISO:100-640

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Italy on a Point and Shoot

Italy October 2011 I recently had the blessing of celebrating my 20th wedding anniversary and my gorgeous soul- mate, Sara, and I agreed Italy was a place we both wanted to visit. I being who I am and she knowing me as well as she does, immediately told me, "this is not going to be a photo trip." I said, "Of course not..." But in reality I was not very happy about the prospect of visiting such a visually-rich environment without my trusty DSLRs at hand. So I came up with a creative solution: instead of taking my big cameras and all the lenses that come along with it I convinced her that if I bought a point- and- shoot camera that would be all that I'd need. I did a lot of research and I asked a lot of professional photographers their opinion. At eh end I concluded I would try this specific "point-and_shoot" (which I now think is a blatant understatement and misnomer):the Leica X-1. I've always heard these camera brand and its legendary optics celebrated reverentially. As someone who'd never tried one, it always seemed to me as if such high praises had to have contain a great degree of exaggeration... that is until I tried one. The optics performed magnificently and the degree of control afforded by the camera when it came to aperture and speed control as well as its many yet simple features made it feel just as if I were using one of my big "guns." By using this tiny camera and making the photos I was able to make, I was once more able to prove one of the mantras I teach during my photo workshops: "It's not about the gear, it's about how you- the photographer- sees the world around you." However I think now I must add to that statement,"... it doesn't hurt if you have great optics backing you up." So if you don't want to log around your big cameras while on vacation or while simply not on assignment, or you simply want to give your weary shoulders and knees a break, then the Leica X-1 is a great alternative.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

2011 Head of The Charles Regatta

Cambridge, MA The 2011 Head of the Charles Regatta took place under a perfect New England fall day which brought thousands of spectators to watch the competition. (Essdras M Suarez/ Boston Globe) BEHIND THE SCENES: I have photographed this event about four or five times in my career and I can not recall a more beautiful fall day. The temperatures were in the 60's but the sun was shining for most of the day. On top of having to get enough images for a gallery in they wanted me to get features that said fall, thus the beautiful wide angle shot with the rowers, crowd and clouds. I was also asked for other features. Regularly I try not to photograph children and babies for the sake of them being cute. I believe these to be too much of an "easy" subject to photograph. I usually require a moment within context in order for a situation to appeal enough for me to make a photo. In this case the mother hoisting her six-month old worked beautifully because it was a way to show the reader/ viewer the crowds attending the event plus this was a bona-fide moment. The same with the man and his dog. It is because I caught the jump in mid air and how this slice of time blends with its environment and how it told the story of the good weather and the crowds watching that I deemed the scene worthy of this photo. The clean black background in the rower images is because I know where the sun is going to come from and how it hits the faces of the rowers and the dark background of the bridges that I knew enough to be in that spot. However this year I'd forgotten where it was originally and it took me about 20 minutes of walking around to find it again. TECH STUFF: low ISOs between 200- 340. Speeds in the 1000th's of a second. WB at cloudy. EXTRA NOTE: The image of the boat, the crowd, the clouds and the sun starburst I designed by closing my aperture all the way to 22 to make sure I would get that beautiful effect. GEAR: Two bodies a MarkIII and a MarkIV, three lenses: 70-200mm 2.8, 17-35mm 2.8, 300mm 2.8 and a 1.4TC.