Motivation is Rewarded

01After photographing dance in Cuba & then at Chautauqua Institute in 2017 I was hooked on this subject. Earlier this year I sent out emails to potential resources seeking to collaborate. This gave me the opportunity to explore other genres & environments of dance. The basic challenges of capturing dynamic images during rehearsals or stage performances were the same as the limited ballet photography I had done. That experience proved to be of value.

02Attack Theater performances are of the modern/contemporary genre. Although the dancers choreography is significantly different than classical ballet, the movement, athleticism & the forms are entertaining & inspiring. I did notice that more often than not, the number of dancers on the stage was an even number. I prefer odd numbers of primary subjects but I was able to adapt.

03During a tech rehearsal I was able to be very close with my 40mm lens allowing me to capture some of the facial emotions, which are an important aspect of this performance. The side lighting was typical for a stage performance but the production also included projected images on the background screen. The imagery of the projections added to the impact of the performance. However, for still images it was distracting when on the dancers body. This image is a good example of why I like odd numbers of subjects.

04“Game Night” was a chance for Attack Theater to engage with the audience in a relaxed atmosphere while developing an upcoming performance. The space is a rehearsal hall with no defined seating for the audience. This was a good opportunity for me to be close enough to use my 28mm. I targeted to pools of light waiting for the dancers to move into them. The background worked surprisingly well. Stage lighting, while not always good for photography, can create strong shadows.

05Using the shadow to make this a 3 shot works for me. The ISO is high making it grainy but that’s OK. At first the wooden apple box bothered me but the strong low/side lighting on it adds to the geometry in the frame. This is an image I would like to choreograph for photography. I also like the re-crop to a 2 X 1 format.

06Wide shots with empty space can be as dramatic as a close-up & can be an important part of the story. Each of the dancers hit the perfect mark for the lighting. Positioned near stage left & slightly elevated I was able to add some dimension while including well-lit props. Even when the dancers are not moving, I believe including the space they are in reinforces their form. Using the 2 X 1 crop again, I emphasized the weight of the lower 1/3 pulling your attention down to the floor.

07Call it modern or contemporary, the movements & choreography on stage are entertaining. Attack Theater incorporates music & theater into a dance performance I found as powerful as my limited exposure to more classic ballet. The human form is a wonderful brush to paint with. Including emotion with character while doing this provides an inspiring performance that sticks in your mind.

08In a post from 6/15/18 I explored the creative process of Mary Miller & Charles Hall as they developed a dance piece with a story-line about friendship. My early involvement with their work allowed me to know when & where to be to get that moment while providing a better understanding of creative development.  Initially I was disappointed at the vertical split of the background in this shot but I got over it. The strong lighting & the facial expressions dominated my eye. The motion blur of his right hand is a nice reinforcement to the message on his face.

09bAt the performance of the Nandanic Dance Festival I had the chance to see different styles of Indian dance. It is not Ballet or Modern. These performers have exclusive genres of movement with elaborate costumes & make-up. In this medium close-up shot it is easy to see the importance of the eyes & facial expression in the character of the dancer.

10Another dancer in the Nandanic performance provided his own soundtrack as he choreographed his drum playing with impressive dancing. The combination of coordination, musical talent & expression made this piece exciting.

11While I thoroughly enjoyed the performance on the stage, as a photographer, I would like to have controlled lighting in a studio with this genre of dancers. The costume, the jewelry, the make-up when used on these performers deserves special attention separate from a live performance.

12My initial attraction to this image came after I cropped it square. The depth & the balance worked well. However the lighting, the background and the color were distracting. With no offense to photogs that do good B/W, sometime just removing the Chroma can make an OK image much better. I am fortunate that I was able to explore more dance photography. Come 2019 I will try to coordinate more opportunities or even enroll in a workshop.

What I did this Summer

01 7D2L1093 copy.1More than anytime during the recent past I spent a lot of this summer reflecting. The slower pace of summer at Chautauqua provides a space where introspective motivation is easy. The passing of time is a partner with the changes in our lives. They bring both dark & bright moments that alter my perspective on my life & the world around me.

02This summer, volunteering for the Bemus Point Stow Ferry didn’t include any trips across the narrows. Dry-docked for repairs I was able to document some of the work necessary for it to pass safety inspection. I did become a 3rd grade apprentice grinder working on the deck. As a “Steel-town Boy” I got a taste of the type of work my hometown is known for. I have confidence that the Ferry will be back in the water continuing her 3rd century of service to Chautauqua Lake. I am proud to be able to help keep this historic icon operating as well as accepting a position on the Board of Directors.

03 05Wip copy copyI know to many good bird photographers to say I am one. However, when I’m sitting on my front porch watching a Northern Flicker pose I will take advantage of the opportunity. The Kingfisher that occasionally sits on the mast of my sailboat continues to eluded my camera.

04Golf is a perfect sport for my 100-400 lens. During the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy’s tournament I was able to get a very high percentage of images I was happy with. Knowing the basics of the game, recognizing where good foreground/background locations were as well as having very nice weather allowed me to enjoy a very pleasant day on the links. I thought about picking up my clubs this summer but didn’t. I’m doubtful playing golf will become anything more than a minor part of my retirement. So much for stereotypes.

05Often the voices of nature can complement the serenity of the outdoors in a way that is uniquely familiar. The shoreline of ponds isn’t fully complete unless you hear the voices of frogs. I find it a great exercise for my eyes to find them in the weeds or the shallows of the water. It isn’t often I can get close enough to get a good image but if they are going to make it easy by sitting on a log I will make an attempt to grab a shot.

06I enjoy portraiture but for me it is difficult with people I know. That doesn’t mean I will stop trying. Since I have known Barb Koerner all of my life I can’t begin to explain the many deep qualities this portrait captures. Much of what the image means to me is totally unseen by the camera. It is my personal knowledge of the “sense of place” that is an untold story of this wonderful woman. Other than my family, this may be my best capture of someone I know. OBTW the pie was homemade from fresh hand picked blueberries!

07 7D2L1156 copy copyRecognizing your tastes helps define your motivation. I like boats. I enjoy old school as part of my life. I appreciate the craftsmanship of people that create & preserve things with wood. Knowing that, I stalked some participants in a local wooden boat show. This classic Chris Craft arriving from the north had beautiful early am sun that highlighted the high gloss of the wood. The strong sunlight also painted the contrasting green trees in the background giving a nice balanced hue to the image. If only I could have been about 5 degrees higher to have isolated the bow flag against the water. I always look for ways to make something better.

08 7D2L0735 copy copyDriving the back roads of Chautauqua County I spotted this farm on wash-day. My photographer’s instinct immediately thought leading lines. I realized that unless I invaded the family’s property I really couldn’t explore the full potential of this setting. Since I was on my way somewhere I just took this generic wide shot. It serves as a seed for future opportunities.

09 7D2L0848 copy copyEven though I’m less than satisfied with images of musicians I have taken, there is still a lure I can’t resist. I also believe many of the best shots I’ve seen include the interaction of 2 or more musicians. However, the smaller mandolin fit nicely into a tight single frame. The mustache, goatee, sunglasses & hat gave this musician character worthy of an attempt of musical portraiture. The Blue Heron Music Festival did a good job of providing entertaining music that didn’t overwhelm the audience with the volume.

daf01_8 copy copyThe life cycle of monarch butterflies is almost as amazing as watching them dancing in the wind. Thinking about their journeys as these frail creatures migrate across much of North America, I am in awe of their capacity. Splashing the landscape with color they intensify the beauty of flowers. They remind me not to ignore the simple pleasure of each & every day.