You can't get the photograph, in this case the U.S. Air Force Memorial, if you don't stop and take the picture.
You can't get the photograph, in this case the U.S. Air Force Memorial, if you don't stop and take the picture.
Stop and take that photo today! You know what I'm talking about. Have you been driving past a location every day and thinking what a nice photograph that would make. Why haven't you stopped? What are you waiting for? After all, don't you owe it to yourself to at least stop and see if it truly is your next great photograph or if it is one you can cross it off your list.

Do you make excuses like waiting for the right light or you have to be somewhere in a hurry. I understand, but then how do you explain that when the light is perfect and you have all the time in the world, you still don't stop.

Are you afraid to be disappointed? It happens, that somehow the photo you've pictured from the seat of your car driving by at 50 m.p.h. may in fact look very different when you stop and get a closer look. But the point is, how will you know unless you actually stop.

The two photos posted here are good examples of what I'm talking about. The Air Force Memorial itself can be interesting, but it wasn't until I saw it against a backdrop of storm clouds that I really took notice. The problem was, I saw this same picture on several occasions and just kept driving. Well, earlier this month I finally stopped and captured the image that I had seen previously. I was glad I finally stopped and am pleased with the photo.

I've been looking at this pickle from my car seat for a year and never stopped. Not thrilled with results, but not ready to cross of my list yet.
I've been looking at this pickle from my car seat for a year and never stopped. Not particularly thrilled with this result, but I'm not ready to cross of my list.
The other thing I've witnessed from my car seat is a large pickle, or what I believe is a pickle (it could be a cucumber), that hangs between two buildings just off the road. I was intrigued and couldn't figure out why it was there, after all there isn't a pickle shop, or even a deli nearby. I guess it really doesn't matter, because once I noticed it, I couldn't drive by without checking it out and thinking about photographing it.

So after nearly a year, yes, a year, I finally stopped and took a picture. The light was alright and the picture is not what I pre-visualized, but at least I finally stopped. I also learned that when I try this again, and yes, I will try again, it will be early in the day, or maybe with a clouds in the sky, but I will take this photo again.

So are your ready to stop and get the picture? Don't wait any longer!


IMAGE 1: The six selected images seen in Lightroom 4.
As I looked back through images from the FLIP assignment, I realized that I never really discussed the real reason I was sent to San Diego in the first place. The assignment was to cover the 50th anniversary ceremony. It included FLIP going to sea and flipping, which I previously wrote about.
So I thought I would give a few insights into how I covered the actual ceremony. The first thing I noted was that the ceremony was scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. so the sun was going to be high in the sky. Not the best light, but it does give you the option to photograph from almost any direction without worrying about shooting directly into the sun. I also took time before the ceremony started to walk around and check out what angles I was going to shoot from and what, if anything, would be distracting in the background.
IMAGE 2: Wide shot with banner, presenter and model after audio speaker was moved.
While I would never alter an image to remove something distracting from the background, I will physically move something prior. In this case there was a speaker placed in front of the FLIP banner that was affixed to the brow. I previsualized IMAGE 2 above except that the speaker was right next to the platform. I explained the photograph I envisioned to the audio specialist and asked if he could move it to the left. I did not insist or interrupt him while he was busy setting up, but rather waited until he was almost complete. Don't try and move someones equipment without talking to them first. You can see the new location of the speaker in the lower right frame of IMAGE 1.

I talked to the keynote speaker about his speech prior and learned that I would have about five minutes to photograph him and I wanted to get as many views as possible. I made 56 images total and selected the six shown in IMAGE 1 above to submit. You can see I captured a variety of views from multiple angles. I used both a Nikon 70-200mm and a Nikon 14-24mm.
IMAGE 3: Scene setter photo taken from deck of R/V Melville.
The scene setter photo in IMAGE 3 was actually taken from the aft deck of the R/V Melville (seen in lower right frame of IMAGE 1) which was docked on the other side of the pier. I knew that would take at least two minutes of my time to go aboard and make my way aft in order to get off a few shots, but having scouted the location prior, I knew it would be a nice angle to capture the speaker, audience and ship in one frame.
In this case zooms helped me get some different views, but there is no substitute for using your two legs to move around. Work fast and be deliberate. The audience doesn't want to be distracted by a photographer running around.


In my previous post I talked about pushing myself creatively and specifically pushing myself to create an image while covering the 50th anniversary of FLIP that hadn't been seen before.

That was lofty goal and in the end, I probably did not come away with that photo. That's not a bad thing because I did push myself and produced solid content that is still generating traffic. As of this post the video above has received 8,900 19, 400 (updated 7/26/12) views on the USNavyResearch YouTube page and a b-roll version of the same video has over 3,600 views on the usnavy YouTube page.

Something else I've talked about on this blog is previsualization, the idea of actually seeing your images before they are made, and in the same sense just knowing that you are pushing yourself creatively helps you before you even begin the assignment.

That thought process keeps you from just going through the paces, it helps you get there early and stay late. It means you might carry additional lenses or extra gear, because if given the chance, it means you have opportunities to create something different. It also means that you remember that you are not on vacation, but are working.

GoPro attached to railing aboard FLIP captured the transition from horizontal to vertical.
Arriving at the location early allowed me to place a GoPro camera aboard FLIP in order to get some point of view video. And in the end, while I didn't need the 300mm 2.8 lens I had lugged across the country, it was there if I needed it, and that was somehow reassuring. However, I did make a decision not to pack a video camera for this trip and challenge myself to shoot all video with the Nikon D3S. This is only the second time I relied solely on a DSLR for video needs and I'm getting more and more comfortable with the idea.

The title of this post is Producing. In the end that is what I get paid to do. But just producing is not enough in the long run. To go the distance means you have to not only produce, but do so time and time again. In the end I think pushing myself to think creatively means that I'm still having fun. And seeing results, translated into hits or views, of what I produced hopefully means others find the content compelling and interesting.


The space shuttle Discovery photographed with a 600mm lens from National Harbor, Md.
Recently I've been thinking more and more about the idea of previsualization, or previsualizing a certain photograph prior to an assignment. I never thought much about this before, however, prior to the last five or six assignments I've had a pretty clear idea of what it was I wanted to capture and then actually did capture that.

Maybe it's because I've photographed the same event year after year, so I pretty much know what to expect and then I just place myself in the right location and wait for the action to unfold. And recently photographing the shuttle Discovery as it flew over Washington, D.C., I was able to get pretty much the exact photo I had in mind. There wasn't any pressure since I was not on assignment to get this particular photo, so all I had to do was put myself in the right position, with the right equipment, to capture the previsualized photo as events presented themselves.

In this case I was assigned to photograph the Sea Air Space Exposition at the National Harbor, something I've done the previous three years, so I knew there were parking garages that would probably give me a good vantage point looking over the Potomac River. When it all came together I quietly thought to myself that this is exactly what I wanted, exactly as I had previsualized.

This photograph did catch me a bit off guard when it came from behind me and passed almost directly over my head.
Perhaps I've always done this. What I think is different now is that even though I have a pretty good idea of what photographs I want, I don't get discouraged if it's not happening as I envisioned. Even though I previsualize, I don't lock myself into what I thought was going to happen, so if things really start to go south, I don't come back with nothing. That is both frustrating and challenging at the same time.

So now previsualization has become part of my overall preparation, normally while going about all my other pre-assignment routines like packing gear and making travel arrangements. It's all about focusing on one assignment at a time.

Ansel Adams used previsualization as it related to the Zone System, the notion that if you study a scene and really analyze the tones, the photograph will come out as you expect. It was a turning point in his career. Of course I'm not shooting with an 8x10 view camera, or even comparing myself to Adams, but if previsualizing a photograph was good enough for him, then I believe I'll continue the practice it myself.