Thursday, March 6, 2014
I was in the Soviet Union in 1990, just before its breakup. We traveled to Moscow and then-Leningrad, as well as Kiev and Odessa. It was an interesting time (in retrospect, perhaps in the sense of the Chinese proverb). New, independent political organizations were springing up everywhere, and I had brought a wide range of cameras -- including my broadcast-quality TV camera and gear -- to catch it all.
In Leningrad, we went to the first meeting of Democratic Russia, a new pro-democracy umbrella group, where we spoke with a largely unknown KGB officer turned pro-democracy advocate, Oleg Kalugin. In Moscow, we met with the young leader of a group who recommended the public simply form a new government regardless of the old, Communist state. "Well, what about the current government?" we asked. "What are you going to do about them?" He waved the thought away dismissively. "Ignore them."
In Kiev, with Ukraine still a province under the Moscow government, we found a large protest in the city's central square.
Mostly young people and students had taken to camping out there -- driving, as near as I could tell, tent pegs in through the seems between the huge paving blocks to set up shelter. Fortunately, the fellow working as our translator was friends with the fellow who was "head of security" at the protest, and the rope barrier that contained the massive campsite was lifted to admit us.
I made a number of pictures there, but these are the prints I found the other day in my box of negatives. I know there's at least one more: a portrait made of a Gulag survivor, wearing a prison uniform, in front of his tent as he spoke with us.
Later, we visited the offices of Rukh, an early independent political group. Access to these groups was quite free -- something one finds in times of great change like this. In later years, as organizations become more formalized and people rise into more official positions of leadership, both in their parties and government, availability becomes more difficult and rare.
The above is a picture of one of the Rukh activists. It was a time when non-Communist symbols began to come out from under the shadows. I saw -- and bought -- pins in Moscow with the old (white, blue and red) Russian flag and the double-headed czarist eagle. This man's belt buckle, he said, was his grandfather's, issued to him by the old, czarist army.
And this, here for no other reason than I like the picture (it was my Christmas card that year), is a scene from a show performed for the benefit of the group I was with at a kindergarten in Odessa.
Everything was shot, if I recall correctly, on a Canon F1 with Tri-X film, except for the picture of the little girl. That was done with color negative (probably Kodacolor 400).
Wednesday, February 5, 2014
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A few posts back, I pondered on how I would photograph a wedding.
First of all, I don't really do that. Wedding photography, like architectural photography or fine portraiture or any other specialty, is just that: special. The people who work in that area have developed skills and techniques and reflexes to produce the best possible results. Now, most reasonably experienced photographers can do any of those things competently, but one should go to the guy who does something all the time -- and is the thing he chose to do -- to get it done right.
All the same, I have done a couple of weddings. Once, many years ago, it was for an extremely budget-strapped colleague at UPI. More recently, it was truly the only wedding present I could afford for a friend.
In the end, because she knew who I was and what my work was, I'm pretty proud of the product, as I shot it the way I wanted with the gear I wanted to use ...
Another thing that worked for this was that the subjects were friends, meaning they were used to me shooting all the time, including the dinner on the first night as everyone arrived.
And then there was the rehearsal, in the field at a nature center where the bride worked at the time.
A quiet moment for the bride before practicing the march in.
Flower girls and ring bearer.
NEXT: The Wedding Day, preparation and ceremony.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
So we shot a story last Sunday on a local pro wrestling camp. It's run by Jimmy "Boogie Woogie Man" Valiant, a veteran of 50 years of pro wrestling who now lives and runs his training camp in Shawsville, Virginia. He's a delightful man, generous with his time and a pleasure to talk to, vigorous at age 71, despite the abuse of decades in the ring. He told us he still runs 2 miles a day ...
The Boogie Woogie Man, left, with Tara Wheeler, co-anchor of the Fox 21/27 Morning News.
We spent the day there, our anchors learning how to wrestle with the other students at Boogie's ring. After shooting for the story, I took the opportunity to get some still photos of the regular students at their practice.
Training is also offered for "managers," characters who also take part in the wrestling drama, often as villains who try to stop the ref from noticing violations like choking.
Sadly, still shot with the Nikon D200 (the Leica was with me, but loaded with Fuji Sensia 100 film for the autumn leaves -- not really suitable for the darkened ring area) on a 17-55 f/2.8 Nikon zoom lens. I set the camera at 400 iso, and processed the pics in Photoshop to remove the color, dodge and burn a bit and increase the contrast some.
Monday, October 14, 2013
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Still not shot with the Leica, though I did have it along (unfortunately loaded with TMax 3200 ... not very useful on a sunny day). However, I wanted to share some shots from a VMI reunion, made during the "Old Yell" in the barracks, when current cadets cheer along with alumni.
The newest students -- not yet cadets but "Rats" -- are lined up at attention throughout the event, and cheer along while "braced up." They hold the M-14 rifles (yes, fully functional) they just carried in the parade while passing in review for the alumni and guests. To show approval (when, say, an alumnus climbs to the top of the guardhouse in the barracks central courtyard without assistance of the ladder provided), they pound the rifle butts on the floor.
I think perhaps the sign speaks for itself...
The officer left in charge of the Rats. In the lower floors, you can see upperclassmen still in their parade dress. They are not required to brace up, but casually and lustily cheer along.
The general view of the barracks courtyard, guardpost in center. The cheer is led from its roof, reached by the ladder to the right ... or, if you want to prove your vigor still, by scaling the wall. The alumni are clustered in class groups (three classes attend each reunion weekend) and the band stands drawn up at far right.
All shot on a Nikon D200, with an old, manual Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 lens.
Friday, September 20, 2013
Something worth looking at, though National Geographic seems to always produce stuff worth looking at, a new blog called Proof. It opens with a brilliant video of Geographic photographers talking about photography, that ends with a brilliant line:
"If you want to be a better photographer, stand in front of more interesting stuff."