ECU vs. Tulane

At the beginning of the 2014 East Carolina football season, Todd Owens of asked me if I would photograph on the sidelines of an ECU football game and get some images for his blog. So, I emailed a few people who knew a few people and managed to procure media credentials for the November 22nd game against the Tulane Green Wave.

This game was Military Appreciation Day and the festivities started with two skydivers, one with a giant American flag and the other with the game ball, landing on the 50 yard line. Emerging from a giant pirate skull filled with purple smoke and Jimi Hendrix’s “Purple Haze” blasting over the loud speakers, the team is preceded onto the field by Steve Whetzel, a professional pirate actor, who raises his cutlass and sword to signal the procession. First, head coach Ruffin McNeil comes out, followed by flag wielding players. Now with the crowd worked into a frenzy, we are ready for some football!

The entire first half of the game was spent paying very close attention to one player, Justin Hardy. Justin started the game only needing 4 catches to break the FBS record of Ryan Broyles’ 349 career receptions. After Justin, #2, caught the 3rd pass, I positioned myself to take the photo that is the feature image for the article. Out of all the shots that I missed or were out of focus, I am so glad that I was prepared and ready for this shot. It’s truly a historic moment, considering that ECU still has two more games left in the season, not to mention a possible bowl appearance. Hardy is well on his way to setting a reception record that will stand for a long time to come.

The rest of the game was spent trying to catch as many moments as I could. I spent most of my time behind the end zone or at the line of scrimmage. I found that the end zone was the best spot to photograph players facing you. The side lines were more difficult because you couldn’t photograph near the center of the field, only the 20 yard line or less. If a play was along your side of the field, often you weren’t able to even see the action, mostly because of the officials or players and coaches standing along the sides.

Another highlight of the evening was right after the game, when the players were walking off the field. I saw Breon Allen and Jimmy Williams walking together and asked if I could take their photo. I was taking a few shots when a few more players jumped in. Before I knew it, Isaiah Jones, Jordan Williams, Jacen Murphy, Davon Grayson, Fred Presley and Detric Allen jumped in and started hamming it up. What a perfect game. ECU 34, Tulane 6.

Home for the Holidays

Visiting my mother is like going to a museum. She collects antiques, mostly early American artifacts from the turn of the century. Collections of rolling pins, wash boards, and tobacco tins cover the walls and decorate every spare inch of her comfortable colonial home.

As an artist, bent towards design and illustration, I am mostly attracted to the ephemera of bygone packaging, advertisements, boxes, and tins. Here is a small collection of her items that I find so influential to my work.

Great Gully Photos

Great Gully 4 Great Gully 3 Great Gully 2 Great Gully 1

The Great Gully is a creek that flows into Cayuga Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in Upstate New York. Every creek that flows into one of these lakes has some sort of waterfall. Some falls are more spectacular than others. They were all formed in the same way and at the same time as America’s most famous waterfall, Niagra Falls. At the last ice age, the ice here was over a mile thick. It carved out these narrow yet deep lakes that we now call the Finger Lakes.

The Great Gully has two sets of falls. The lower set drops around seven feet into a huge pool. The upper falls drop about eighteen feet into a deep yet smaller pool. At the upper falls, there is a hard layer of rock that covers a softer layer of rock, creating a dramatic overhang. In the cliff walls you can find fossils of small clam shells. We have even found trilobites, an ancient arthropod, which date the rocks anywhere between 526 million to 250 million years old.

These falls have always been a favorite place to take my camera. Through tons of experimentation, the best times to go up there is on dark and cloudy days. The low light allows for long camera exposures. Long exposures give the effect of smoothing the water into soft, silky ribbons.

These photos were taken with my trusty old Canon G3. It’s a digital camera about ten years old and only 4MB, but it has always taken decent photos. I like using this camera because if I drop it into the water, I can feel like I got my money’s worth!

After taking over 100 photos, I download and pick out my favorites for processing. Since I take photos like these in the RAW format, I have a huge range of effects to use without degrading the image. For this series, I choose to create black and white images. Photoshop Raw gives me many tools for complete control over the tonal quality. I select which parts of the image are bright and which are dark. Each image took at least an hour to process. Most of the time was spent experimenting and reflecting on the quality of the scene.