Blog

The Eclipse

I had been thinking and planning on shooting the Eclipse of 2017 for almost a year.  Plans changed a few times, but I ended up heading down to Tennessee in my Jeep Wrangler with Jim Lenon and Bryan Minear.  We got there three days early to scout and shoot in the Smoky Mountains. 

 One of my favorite stops was the Foothills pathway.  There are several overlooks and my favorite was one that is on the nothern part of the road.  We shot sunrise and did some astrophotography on this spot. 

One of my favorite stops was the Foothills pathway.  There are several overlooks and my favorite was one that is on the nothern part of the road.  We shot sunrise and did some astrophotography on this spot. 

 Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the Smokies and we got up early on the first morning to catch sunrise peaking over the clouds rolling off the mountain beside us.  This location is the place to get layers and layers that set the Smokies apart when it comes to mountain ranges in the US.

Clingman's Dome is the highest point in the Smokies and we got up early on the first morning to catch sunrise peaking over the clouds rolling off the mountain beside us.  This location is the place to get layers and layers that set the Smokies apart when it comes to mountain ranges in the US.

 The valley looking east over the Foothills Pathway was a great spot for astrophotography.  I shot this with my 14mm Rokinon at 30 seconds, ISO 3400, at 2.8.   

The valley looking east over the Foothills Pathway was a great spot for astrophotography.  I shot this with my 14mm Rokinon at 30 seconds, ISO 3400, at 2.8.   

 By now everyone knows not to stare at the sun, but when an eclipse is happening you need to be prepared because too much exposure can not only damage your eyes but also your camera's sensor.   Fortunately, the Camera Shop in Lansing made me a custom filter using Mylar and a filter ring that fit onto my 70-200mm.  I was able to get the partial eclipse due to the Mylar's 98% light reduction.  I also used a 1.4 Teleconverter so I was essentially shooting at 280mm to get in close to the sun. 

By now everyone knows not to stare at the sun, but when an eclipse is happening you need to be prepared because too much exposure can not only damage your eyes but also your camera's sensor.   Fortunately, the Camera Shop in Lansing made me a custom filter using Mylar and a filter ring that fit onto my 70-200mm.  I was able to get the partial eclipse due to the Mylar's 98% light reduction.  I also used a 1.4 Teleconverter so I was essentially shooting at 280mm to get in close to the sun. 

 Jim, Bryan, and I were all pretty worried because clouds were moving in and we were afraid that all this planning would be ruined, but it turned out the clouds added some great depth to the photos.  Bryan edited a shot right away, uploaded it and it took off on Instagram.  To date, Bryan's photo has almost 90k likes!    To get this shot, I took the Mylar filter off and treated it almost light a night shot.  I can't forget to mention just how eerie everything got. The light changed dramatically, frogs jumped into the lake we were at and it looked like there was a sunrise on all horizons.  We had two and a half minutes to take it all in, get all of our shots and hope for the best. 

Jim, Bryan, and I were all pretty worried because clouds were moving in and we were afraid that all this planning would be ruined, but it turned out the clouds added some great depth to the photos.  Bryan edited a shot right away, uploaded it and it took off on Instagram.  To date, Bryan's photo has almost 90k likes!  

To get this shot, I took the Mylar filter off and treated it almost light a night shot.  I can't forget to mention just how eerie everything got. The light changed dramatically, frogs jumped into the lake we were at and it looked like there was a sunrise on all horizons.  We had two and a half minutes to take it all in, get all of our shots and hope for the best. 

 All in all the trip was a success.  We had an amazing time staying with some of my family who live in Maryville, we cruised the infamous Tail of the Dragon, and spent time in a beautiful place with people we like.  I can't wait until the next eclipse and I hope to make it down to Tennessee more often. 

All in all the trip was a success.  We had an amazing time staying with some of my family who live in Maryville, we cruised the infamous Tail of the Dragon, and spent time in a beautiful place with people we like.  I can't wait until the next eclipse and I hope to make it down to Tennessee more often. 

The Gates of Hell

Driving to the badlands, trying to beat the dark to set up camp.  The storm had been on the prairie horizon for four hours.  I had asked Rattlesnake Joe to stop for pictures at least ten times and he was patient, but we were losing light.  So, I had my telephoto lens on and took this picture out the window at 80mph on Route 90.  The Gates of Hell will not prevail. 

Working With Brands

Lately, I've been working with some brands that I really love, t-shirt companies, restaurants, coffee shops all places that I inherently can get behind.    

When working with brands it's all about mutual benefit and relationship.  If what you bring to the table is valuable to the needs of the brand, and you receive the benefit that you expect, then things tend to work out.  The missing piece that sometimes creatives lack is follow-through.  We tend to push deadlines, get lazy, tired, or busy with other priorities.  That's not going to get you very far in such a competitive field.  

It's really important to build actual trust.  To me, this means you need to put your cards on the table, tell the brand what makes sense to you, what your end game is, what you hope to accomplish. Listen to the needs of the company.  What are the benefits that they will tangibly receive from your work?  What does a win look like? What is a miss?  Is there a good avenue for constructive criticism both ways?

Then once expectations are set, follow through with your commitments and over deliver.   It's just like any other relationship you have, building trust comes from a genuine care for the other party. Of course, you don't want to undervalue your work, but you also need to care about their goals as a top priority for your job.  

It's one of those simple to say, hard to do, things.  

Let me know in the comments if you've experienced either a huge hit or miss when it comes to business relationships and why the results ended up being what they were. 

 

Prescribed Walks

In November of 2012 I got a fever.  It lasted a week.  Then another.  Then another. It was a low-grade fever that seemed to correspond with joint pain and fatigue.

I explain the fatigue to folks this way.  In Michigan, you get cold nights in the winter.  Sometimes -10 degrees.  The best thing about the end of a long day is getting under your three blankets and getting warm.  Then a thought hits your mind.  Shoot. Tomorrow is garbage day.  So you force yourself to get up out of bed, put your coat and boots on, and haul the trashcan out to the curb. That's what the fatigue felt like, only it never went away.  Every day was the same. 

The doctors checked me for malaria, lupus, and Cat Scratch Fever (which I was hoping for).  They tested for all the normal cancers as well.  Eventually, in the fall of 2014, I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease.  

I never remembered a tick bite and never got a rash.  But Lyme it was.  I subsequently spent the next two years on a rotating wheel of antibiotics, first oral and then IV. 

With the fatigue and all that, I wasn't exercising.  My doctor told me I needed to move, I needed to exercise,  so I started walking 30 minutes a day.  I'd bring my phone, take some pictures and eventually bought a camera.  


I would have never started down this road without the gift of this pain. 

Quick Stops

As a working family man, time is often limited.   I find myself stopping on the way to work or a meeting for a couple minutes when I see the sun peeking through the Michigan clouds (which are almost always there).  This tight timeline forces me to get a shot the first time.  It helps me frame the shot in my mind before I even get my camera out of its bag.  This shot was on the way to work one morning as it was the first sunny day in three weeks.  I had two minutes to shoot.  But I had to stop to take a shot and hopefully get some much-needed vitamin D to keep me going for the next couple weeks of cloudy days.  

And there was light.