I love photography.
When I first starting writing for the paper I never would have imagined snapping pictures would become such an important part of the job. I was told the reporters often took their own pictures to go with their stories and the editor gave me the standard issue digital camera.
A few years later the standard issue is no longer a digital but a 55mm Nikon D40. If you don’t know a lot about camera’s the old digitals we used to have were lower quality and similar in size and appearance to a bulky cell phone. The D40 looks just like a camera should, something you’d see around Clark Kent’s or Peter Parker’s neck.
I’ve developed my camera skills enough to be designated the newsroom’s back-up photographer on a number of occasions. I carry with me a 200 and 300 millimeter lens, which are like medium range sniper rifles for a photographer.
From about 10 to 30 feet the 200mm is choice and comes in handy for those situations were you want to get good pictures of people without them knowing you’re even there. I use it a lot in schools, community meetings and keeping my distance during a perp walk.
The 300mm is the great for controlling what I’d like to have the viewer, and often the reader, focus on. Looking through a 300mm lens is like looking through a pair of binoculars. You can only focus on a small range of depth at a time.
It comes in handy when I’m in a courtroom because I can focus in on a defendant while the jurors sitting in the background are blurred beyond recognition. Wildlife and emotional close ups of people’s expressions are also often captured. The 300mm means I can stand a 100 feet from an accident scene but still get a close up picture.
One time gas well workers barred me and another coworker from a gas well fire in Lebanon. Determined to get a picture I climbed a hill across the valley, zoomed in from maybe a few hundred yards with the 300mm and captured a decent image of the actual fire anyway.
Another time I was snooping out front of a drug front in Norwich snapping distant close ups of state police and city investigators. The officers finally noticed me and asked to delete some of the images because a few of the troopers were working undercover.
Some of the best photo opportunities are during community events like Pumpkin Fest, Colorscape and the Chenango County Fair.
Wandering through these events I often look for random people doing interesting things and take their picture. By doing this I meet all kinds, from all walks of life. I love leaving the office knowing the rest of the afternoon will be spent looking for good pictures. I enjoy the random people just as much as I do the photography and most are grateful to be published in the paper.
Kids are great in pictures because they don’t seem to care. Most adults get so anxious they make themselves look worse trying too hard to look better. Just relax, smile, and remember I asked to take your picture for a reason.
Also I’ve never had a parent say no to taking a picture of their child and often enough once they’ve said yes to that I can talk them into getting into the picture too.
Yesterday I traveled all around New Berlin and Columbus. I took pictures of a local business, a elementary school project and some great nature pictures at a sheep farm. Later today I’ll be following the Evening Sun to the darkest corners of Chenango County looking for ghosts. Being a skeptic these adventures tend to be more about capturing an image of creative art. As a newspaper journalist we have ethics on our presentations so we don’t modify pictures beyond cropping and a little lighting but these editorial adventures offer a chance for a lot of fun.
All together I’ve probably received just as much positive feedback for my photography as I have my writing.