Sweet Week!

Shutter: 1/640, Aperture: ƒ/6.3, ISO: 640, Lens: 150-600mm

My week was completely packed with awesome photo opportunities. Let me give you a run down.

Earlier last week I received my Sigma 150-600mm. I rented it to use at the 2016 Miss America pageant, and it was a champ, but I didn’t get to do too much else with it before sending it back. When I was looking to buy I weighed my options for months and finally pulled the trigger. Now it was in hand and I was dying to give it a chance, but the weather didn’t cooperate. So finally I got go on a hike and see how it performed in the wild. Above is a female cardinal I spotted on a brief nature trail. Click below to see what happened next, it includes The Smashing Pumpkins, Miss America, and yoga around DC.

Shutter: 1/640, Aperture: ƒ/5.6, ISO: 20000, Lens: 150-600mm

Sunday night I had photo passes to shoot Smashing Pumpkins at the Lincoln Theater. I knew they had no pit, so I brought the 600mm to shoot from further back. Since it was a seated show, I thought I had to leave after the first three songs, but luckily I had a friend with an extra seat in the VIP box right about the stage. It was a fantastic show. Corgan performed Bowie’s Space Oddity on acoustic, and opening act Liz Phair joined in for 33. Tonight, Tonight and 1979 were some of our favorites.

Shutter: 1/400, Aperture: ƒ/6.3, ISO: 20000, Lens: 150-600mm

This lens was stellar in the low light. I usually shoot concerts at ISO 1600, and f/2.8 or lower. This lens gives me the reach at 600mm, however the aperture is fixed at f/6.3 (or above) when zoomed all the way in. This is perfectly fine in bright daylight, shooting wildlife. This was also fine for the Miss America pageant; since it was a live television broadcast, the lighting was perfect. But here I was worried it may not give me the clarity I want (the higher the aperture, the slower the shutter speed is typically required). I do love that my Canon 6D can bump up to ISO 25,600. Still, I didn’t want the image to be too noisy. I’m pretty pleased with how it performed in the dark.

Shutter: 1/125, Aperture: ƒ/2.8, ISO: 1250, Lens: 70-200mm

Speaking of Miss America, one of my life goals came true this past week. On Tuesday I was asked to come take photos of Miss America Betty Cantrell visiting the national 4H headquarters for an appearance she was making. Every year I tell the PR people that I’m in DC and available to pop around town and get a couple of photos of Miss America whenever she’s in town. This time it finally happened. The organization reached out to me and asked if I’d be available. I was ecstatic! The day came and I arrived to take a handful of pics. I like getting the journalistic images like above, but a lot of times they want the looking-at-the-camera posed snaps. I’m trying to deliver a healthy mix, and perhaps capture behind-the-scenes images that are more compelling than the posed shots. I enjoyed getting to meet Betty one-on-one, and had some time to chat with her before she gave her remarks. I love the fact that Miss America knows who I am.

Shutter: 1/500, Aperture: f/5.6, ISO: 100, Lens: 150-600mm

Later that day I had an opportunity to try out the new lens at a high school track meet. I could station myself safely out of harm’s way at the far end of the track, and zoom all the way in. I love the amount of energy and passion I could capture at 600mm. Currently I’m trying to get some good energetic “stock” images to use in a publication at my job. I want something that pops and grabs the viewer a little more than traditional stock sports images.

Shutter: 1/2000, Aperture: ƒ/1.4, ISO: 100, Lens: 50mm

One of my favorite springtime activities is taking photos all over DC with people, sometimes with cherry blossoms, sometimes with architecture. This week I had been asked to take yoga pictures of Elle all over DC for her class project. I love this pose in particular because it’s human, but it’s very intentional. You don’t pose like this by accident. It’s also very difficult to pull off. It takes a lot of practice and discipline to get this flexible. I have to admit I always have a hard time putting the camera down and returning to work after doing this for an hour.

Shutter: 1/250, Aperture: ƒ/6.3, ISO: 100, Lens: 150-600mm

I love astrophotography and this is a shot I’ve been dying to get for years. My 70-200mm just didn’t get the reach I wanted. The first three or four nights that I had the 150-600mm, it was a new moon, or too overcast. I finally got the opportunity so I set up my tripod and used the remote shutter function on my phone to get this image. My main goal was to get the texture of the craters at the edge of the light. I played around with the aperture and shutter speed a little, but the images were all pretty close once I got the focusing figured out. I’m happy. Now I want to try and see what I can get of the ISS.

Shutter: 1/320, Aperture: ƒ/6.3, ISO: 100, Lens: 150-600mm

There she is! Miss America was back, this time performing in the Cherry Blossom Parade. I had been asked to grab some images from her appearance in the parade, as well as follow her to help the Miss District of Columbia organization with their Day of Service activities. Each year, the Miss America state title holders all commit to a unified day of community service. #MissAmericaServes. It was great that Miss America spent the day in DC with 2015 Miss District of Columbia, Haely Jardas, and the 2016 contestants.

Shutter: 1/160, Aperture: ƒ/2.5, ISO: 1600, Lens: 18-35mm

We visited the Armed Forces Retirement Home and the VA Hospital, where Betty, Haely, and the 2016 contestants performed and met with residents. They were getting lots of selfies, so I was trying to bring something else to the table. To me, it shows more honest work being done when it’s candid and from across the room. I was specifically trying to bring more significance to the event with my photos and their style. I was trying to frame the activity with a journalistic eye so casual viewers would give the event a longer thought. Just like with monster trucks and Toy Fair, the public can be dismissive of beauty pageants. I wanted to use my viewpoint to hopefully present the activity and the organization, in its best light. The trick is providing everyone with what they want, and with what they need.

Shutter: 1/200, Aperture: ƒ/2.8, ISO: 1600, Lens: 70-200mm

This one is one of my favorites. I feel it shows Betty as genuine and caring. She’s got it down when it comes to the smile and posing for pics, but here, when she’s not aware that I’m capturing this moment, the genuine integrity of the moment is captured. I also like how it features Betty yet the hospital resident is obscured, preserving her anonymity. Yes, you can argue the background blurry people aren’t quite blurry enough to be anonymous, and you can also argue that Betty was most likely aware this photo was being shot. But I feel this shot is the best at showing the day, and that good things were really accomplished.

So as a reward for all this, this press release arrived in my mailbox yesterday, and my name in the Photo Credit. Check it out! Also, in addition to that, I got a toe dip photo signed, one for me, one for my son. Betty loved the pics, she’s looking forward to when we work with her again this summer. That’s right, the next adventure is on the horizon and I’ll spill about that in a little bit.

We’re hardly done. This coming Friday is Snoop Dogg! and my first time shooting pics at Echo Stage.

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