ISN'T THAT THE SECRETARY OF THE NAVY?

 Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer talks with members of the Office of Naval Research STEM coordination office. Nikon D4S, 24-70mm, 1/160 @ f4.0, ISO 3200.

Secretary of the Navy Richard V. Spencer talks with members of the Office of Naval Research STEM coordination office. Nikon D4S, 24-70mm, 1/160 @ f4.0, ISO 3200.

I pride myself on being a prepared photographer. Prepared for an assignment, prepared to make photographs and prepared to move those images when the assignment is complete. That doesn't mean mistakes don't happen or things always go as planned, but again, I like to think that I'm prepared to deal with those instances as well.

So perhaps I let my guard down a bit while covering the 5th USA Science & Engineering Festival at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center over the weekend. This event which has over 3000 exhibits and draws in excess of 350,000 people takes place every two years and I've covered all five during my time as the photographer for the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

Maybe it was because I was coming off a pretty large job in Panama City, Fla., and looking ahead to the largest maritime exposition in the United States, Sea Air and Space next week followed by an at-sea job at the end of the month, that I was not as focused as I should have been.

I got a little later start than I wanted to on Saturday, but still arrived at the convention center around 11:15 and was surprised by how crowded it already was. I made my way to the Department of Defense exhibit space and made contact with those I was supposed to photograph. The booth was a little uninspiring, but those manning it were enthusiastic and were doing their best to engage attendees. 

 Nikon D4S, 70-200mm, 1/160 @ f3.2, ISO 3200.

Nikon D4S, 70-200mm, 1/160 @ f3.2, ISO 3200.

My frustration was that despite a huge convention floor, the booth space I was concentrating on was located in a corner surrounded by other booths, making it bit of a choke point, and making clear shots difficult. For around an hour I tried to get some photos, any photos, of engagement with kids, or kids and parents, who wanted to learn about STEM opportunities with the Naval Research Enterprise but came up short.

It was during this time I found myself spending more time talking with friends and only half looking for photo opportunities. I noticed a member the ONR team talking with a casually dressed gentleman, but only lamented the fact that it wasn't a child. Then I noticed several of our team talking with the same person. At that point, I took a look to see if it was perhaps an executive or program officer from ONR. Satisfied that it wasn't, I went back to my conversation.

Well, thankfully I was interrupted by someone who pointed out that the gentleman was, in fact, the 76th Secretary of the Navy, completely alone, just taking in the Department of the Navy exhibits. I regrouped and immediately began making photographs, first with a 24-70mm and then switching to my second camera with the 70-200mm mounted to it.

 A more traditional STEM image. Nikon D4S, 70-200mm, 1/160 @ f 2.8, ISO 3200.

A more traditional STEM image. Nikon D4S, 70-200mm, 1/160 @ f 2.8, ISO 3200.

Fortunately, the conversation lasted long enough for me to get several usable images. And just like that, I had my photo. Funny thing is that almost as soon as he left, I was able to make two more photos that featured more traditional scenes.

I stayed long enough to download and caption all my photos, transmit to DoD sites, upload to ONR's Flickr and Instagram accounts and email to our social media manager for posting to Facebook and Twitter.

Just another reminder to never take any assignment for granted and never take it lightly just because you covered it many times before or it's not as high profile as other assignments that are currently on your mind.

THE STORY OF TWO PHOTOS AND ONE COVER

 That's me on the left and my friend Mark on the right, both taken with a Canon Powershot G7. Photo credit goes to each of us respectfully.

That's me on the left and my friend Mark on the right, both taken with a Canon Powershot G7. Photo credit goes to each of us respectfully.

It was a weekend raft up at Still Pond on the Chesapeake Bay. Two sailboats, one heading north from Annapolis, the other south from North East, Md. At the outset, we all knew it wasn't going to be a great weekend weather-wise, but with busy schedules, you take every opportunity you can to spend time with friends.

I'll spare you the details of the weekend in order to protect the innocent, but it was clear when we awoke early Sunday morning and went topside that we should probably forgo breakfast and get underway. We weighed anchor aboard Valiant, my friend, and fellow photographer Mark's Tartan 34c and slipped out of Still Pond.

Almost as soon as we entered the channel and pointed the boat south, the first rain squall hit and the wind picked up. It was clear it was going to be a long wet slog back to Annapolis. However, one thing I did know is that I wanted to make a few photos. With Mark at the helm, I went below and grabbed my Canon Powershot G7, and made a few pictures as the boat heeled hard and the storm clouds continued to gather.

After I made a few photos, we switched positions and Mark captured me at the helm doing my best to keep the boat moving in the right direction. I think both images came out great and certainly represent that day on the bay, but I especially like the one Mark made of me because it captures more of the Bay.

But this is more about how one of those photos was selected for the April 2018 cover of SpinSheet magazine. The editor of SpinSheet saw the photos on Mark's Facebook page and contacted him about using one as the cover photo. Mark reached out to me and asked if I would mind if he shared them with the magazine, which I didn't. The only question left was which one of us would wind up on the cover and which one of us would receive photo credit. Well by now you know they choose my photo of Mark and according to him, it was due to the red jacket he was wearing. I really think it's because Mark is an Annapolis resident and lifelong sailor, which made him the natural choice regardless of jacket color.

 April 2018 edition of SpinSheet magazine featuring my photograph of Mark at the helm of  Valient.

April 2018 edition of SpinSheet magazine featuring my photograph of Mark at the helm of Valient.

For a quick snapshot, I think the cover looks great and I didn't even realize they flipped the photo until I was writing this blog. Doesn't bother me.

But more than the cover or how this photograph ended up there, It started as a great weekend among friends and ended with an epic day of sailing.

And with the money I made off this shot, Mark and I will get a chance to relive that day over a few drinks while overlooking the Bay from drier and warmer vantage point. We may even talk about photography and future cover shots.

RESETTING MY FUJIFILM X-PRO2 TO ZERO

 Select USER SETTING > RESET in setup menu.

Select USER SETTING > RESET in setup menu.

I think it is important to hit the reset button once in a while. Start over. Take a step back. Evaluate. Creatively or technically. In photography, it's popular to say that it isn't about the technology or the camera, it's about the creativity. Sometimes, however, the technology can affect the creative.

I've been shooting with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 for nearly two years. Shortly after receiving the camera I wrote a blog post titled: "Fujifilm X-Pro2 Initial Settings," and that was also the last time I took a deep dive into the entirety of the camera's menu system.

During the past few months there have been several occasions where I was seeing the photograph, but struggling with capturing what I was seeing. It seemed to be a case of technology getting in the way of the creative. Something that I never experienced before with the X-Pro2.

Over time a camera setting or two can get changed, new features are added via firmware updates (4.01 as of this blog), and before you know it, it's possible the technology no longer matches the creative. Or matches how you're used to capturing the creative.

Did I change or did the camera? I felt myself falling out of love with the camera, but I wasn't ready to get divorced. The X-Pro2 is still a top of the line camera and I see no reason to leave; maybe I just need a little marriage counseling. A reset button.

So with that in mind, I reset the camera to its factory defaults. A fresh start. Next, I opened the manual and went through every setting as if I had just purchased the camera. Lastly, I revisited that blog post from 2016 and compared those settings to what I had just done. Surprisingly, they matched up, with only one exception. I now use both Electronic Shutter (ES) and Mechanical Shutter (MS) depending on the situation. Most notably when using an electronic remote cable release, the camera must be set to MS.

There is no need to run through the initial settings again, you can go back and read them, however, I do want to talk about some choices I made that weren't available in 2016 when I wrote that initial blog post.

1. Copyright info in EXIF data. This allows you to register the photographer's name and the copyright holder's name in advance so that the camera automatically adds the information to EXIF data for each image. 

 I take the opportunity to add my email address instead of using my name twice.

I take the opportunity to add my email address instead of using my name twice.

2. Addition of "Eye Sensor + LCD Image Display" in the View Mode. This isn't an option I use all the time, but it does have some advantages, especially when shooting landscapes or if you need to compose a photograph while holding the camera away from your eye.

3. Voice Memo function. While not available during shooting, this function allows you to record a 30-second voice memo while in the playback mode. This is useful if you need to record a name or something special about a photograph without having to write it down.

Maybe, in the end, this is really more of a creative reset and I'm using the camera as an excuse. Nothing wrong with that. 

Finally, another new feature now available is support for backup/restore of camera settings via FUJIFILM X Aquire. In the future, if I want to reset, I will no longer have to return to zero, I can just return to my proven settings that match my shooting style.

PHOTOGRAPHING MEMORIES AND LETTING GO

Pooh.jpg

It is said that you can't take it with you. But that doesn't stop most of us from accumulating a whole lot of stuff over a lifetime. And associated with all that stuff are memories. Memories of a lifetime.

Nothing makes it clearer just how much stuff you have then when you move, or in my case, what I hope to be a final move. I've moved before and much of my stuff has followed and this frustrates me now, but explains why I still have so much stuff.

In the end, it comes down to decisions. Tough decisions that I've clearly put off before and most certainly have put off for the past 25 years in the Philadelphia house. What to keep, what to dispose of or donate, becomes the big question. 

One way I've come to terms with making the big decisions is to photograph my stuff, the objects that represent my life. Or at least the objects that represented the first 55 years. Note, I will not accumulate more stuff.

This is a photography blog, and I'm a photographer, so it may seem like this idea came naturally to me. It didn't. I have always been attracted to the physical object, but I've also spent the majority of my life capturing the physical object, first on film, and more recently, digitally, so now is the time to compromise. 

And compromise is the only way forward. To date, I've filled a dozen trash bags with more to fill. Some stuff is easy to let go of, for other stuff, a quick cell phone shot will suffice. For other items, a small studio set up and a proper photograph is the only way to truly do my stuff justice.

However, there will always be a few items that I can't replace with a photograph.

Which is probably why after photographing the stuffed Winnie the Pooh doll from my childhood, it went back in a box and has yet to be thrown out. Maybe some things are harder to part with than others.

I'd also caution against printing out all those photographs, because, well, you get the idea.