May 15, 2009

The Waiting Game (San Francisco, California)

No I'm not bored at the airport. I'm still in the city. I just wanted to do a quick post on sports photography.

I didn't get to shoot any serious rugby while in Australia/New Zealand and I was a bit disappointed about that, but, I got to shoot some baseball here in San Francisco.

Baseball is the toughest sport to shoot. First you have to stay awake. (I'm kidding, it's not as boring as I use to think it was). Second, you have to make sure you're always focused, because the key play might happen on any given pitch. Third, you hope you don't miss THE play, because it might be the only one, if that.

And if THE play happens, maybe the ref will be in front of you, or it's the batter on-deck, the teammates celebrating... Maybe it just doesn't look good from your angle (Fred told me when I was just starting out and I showed him a picture I was particularly proud of: "yeah... would have been a good picture if you were on the other side of the court..." and that was the end of me being proud of it!). Maybe you were on the computer filing pictures, maybe you were pointing the camera elsewhere, maybe you weren't paying attention, maybe your frame is out of focus. You see there's a thousand reasons why you might miss what could be the only good picture of the game... don't let it be something that you can control.

So here's my story. I had a photo-pass for the day game on Wednesday (when I met the Sports Illustrated guy) and the night game on Thursday.

For the first game, I rented a lens that was longer than what I carried with me on the trip. It always helps to have the big lenses when shooting sport. But the one I rented turned out to be a piece of crap, and because of that, I was starting to make excuses about why I didn't have any good pictures.

Fred always told me about shooting sports: "Go big or go home". Now I couldn't go big, because I didn't have any of those cool huge lenses. I couldn't go home either, cause I'm in California. So here's what I did:

I wasn't working the game, I was just sitting there, enjoying the action (or lack thereof for 17 innings out of 18). The only difference with the other spectators was that I didn't have to pay, I was allowed to have my cameras and I had a better seat. I decided to pick a spot that you wouldn't usually shoot from, thinking to myself "so what if I miss the double play at second base, I'm not working". The other photographers did give me the look "what the hell are you doing in that spot", but I imagined a picture that, although very risky, would look cool from that angle, it wasn't too far from home plate, so I could manage with my shorter lens, I sat, and I waited.

The picture you see here happened in the very last inning. It could've just as well never happen (in which case, this blog entry would have probably be titled "Baseball Sucks"). But that's the beauty of it, you have to be patient, and, at some point, you get a keeper. And Bob, the San Francisco staffer for Reuters, will remember me as "the guy who came out of nowhere and gave me the great home plate picture".

(By the way, people are slacking comment-wise. I bashed the US, talked about a cute girl, posted some aerial pictures, introduced you to my korean homeless friend... Come on!)

May 14, 2009

Silver Screen Quotations (San Francisco, California)

Last post from this trip. Not to worry, there's more in the works, starting sooner than you could think.


Doug built a plane. He bought the plans, and built it. From scratch. And I thought I was quite handy...

I took many pictures, and I'll be writing (yikes!) about it, and hopefully get something published. It's a story that's worth being told. More on that in the book, and in some other form of publication at some point.

Doug is a great guy. A bit too humble about the whole "I built a plane" thing, but what are you going to do.

He took me for a plane ride over the Bay Area; it was amazing to see it from the air.

(Note: I rarely use black-and-white, I still stand by my opinion that some photographers are abusing of B&W, transforming mediocre photos into something half decent. That said, I like the feel of the B&W images, and do plan to include more of them in my book.)


Then, I went to shoot a baseball game at the AT&T Ballpark. I met up with Brad Mangin, Sports Illustrated's go-to guy when it comes to baseball.

May 12, 2009

Be Sure to Wear Flowers in Your Hair (San Francisco, California)

Police officers are dumb, clerks are rude, cab drivers are reckless, passer-bys are suspicious, burgers are greasy, strangers are either scary or scared and people are fat. Welcome to the USA.

Don’t get me wrong, as much as it stinks, I like it here. I’m back in my home-hemisphere; people drive on the right side and nobody is going to smile at you unless you, somehow, give them money. It’s my first time in America (as they like to call it) since Barack is the big guy, and no matter how black he is, I can’t see any change. (They must have stored all the “hope” in a New Jersey hangar to make sure there’s still some for the 2012 campaign)

America is the fat chick. Everyday she looks in the mirror and tells herself she’s pretty, but deep inside, she knows. If she could be a little more humble instead of parading around in a short skirt or a bikini, it would be fine, but humbleness seems to have too many syllables for America to know what it means.

I love the American’s patriotism. Black or white, rich or poor (these days, mostly poor), fat or obese, they all have the flag on the porch, on the car, on a t-shirt, and in their heart. There’s a fine line between pride and obnoxiousness, but I respect and envy the way Americans are proud of their country. It’s not the best, not anywhere near (in fact it’s the worst of the four countries I’ll have visited this week), but it’s exceptional nonetheless. (The fat chick won’t disappoint)

I’ve been dreaming of visiting California for quite some time now, and here I am. I ate in a diner, a real one, earlier today; I watched the sun set behind the Golden Gate yesterday, and I’m shooting a baseball game tomorrow (cricket made me miss baseball). That’s the American way.

The American Dream, the last thing that hasn’t been outsourced to China, is just a dream. And getting old. I walked down the Jack Kerouac Alley (a place where the author use to hang out) and I wish I could have visited the America of his time - when she was young and slim - back when the Dream was alive and well.

More on the city of San Francisco in the days to come. So far I’ve seen more hills than gays, that might change as I plan on visiting the Haight and Castro tomorrow.

May 10, 2009

Last Day Downunder (Auckland, New Zealand)

Well back to the airport, and this one’s a long run. I have about 30 hours of transit in front of me, but I’d frankly rather not think about this now.

So do you want to know about my last day in Sydney? Well I’m telling anyway.

Which part do you want to hear, the part where Steve (British, cop, widower) woke me up by taking a piss on my bed before puking all over his friends’ luggage or the day I spent with the adorable Swiss reporter?

I knew you’d say that.

Je vous présente Sophie:

I introduced her to Jay, my homeless Korean/Chinese friend, which I met when I ran up the stairs of a church, seeking shelter the time to rearrange my gear, on my way to shoot the picture of the lightning striking over the Opera House a week ago. He said then that it’d be great for me to be able to capture the lightning in a picture (I tried without success to explain it wasn’t that hard), and on the way back to the hostel, I stopped again and showed in the photo.

This time Sophie and I gave him the rest of the Toblerone we shared earlier during the day, and I took a quick photo of him.

Jay was reading a book on global economy when I first met him. Ironic for someone who’s homeless because of a gambling problem. But the guy is happy “no money, no problems” he said, and he was interesting to talk to.

Earlier that day we went to the World Press Photo exhibition at the New South Wales State Library. It was interesting to see that a big crowd was interest in photojournalism, I guess what I do is not useless.

The World Press Photo, if you take out the fact the pictures are winners in their category and just look at the photos for what they are, is a great exhibit of photojournalism. Otherwise, you’ll often ask yourself who the hell are the judges.

The photo nobody is watching in my picture is the photo of the year. It’s not just a coincidence, people didn’t pay attention to that one, which means I’m not the only one to think it’s a mediocre photograph, at best.

The next photo is our friend Valentin Shkolny, a Russian political refugee, and fellow photographer. I took a photo of him, he took a photo of me. Don’t let the look of the camera fool you, it’s a Leica M7, worth just as much as my Nikon D3 (the best camera there is).

Valentin is seen taking a nap in the exhibition room.

May 08, 2009

- insert clever title here - (Sydney, New South Wales)

It was a pretty quiet week at the newspaper, but a great opportunity nonetheless to spent some time at one of the world most renowned daily.

So here goes; a bit of what I did this week.

Air Supply's Australian lead vocalist Russell Hitchcock, in concert with the Sydney Symphony at the Opera House. I was excited to shoot at the famous Opera House, and the other photographers, who don't give a damn about the building anymore, gladly let me have the job.

Here's a portrait of one Ellida Hafouri, I thought it was kinda cool.

A reporter apparently thought of writing about a mummy exhibit because of the upcoming Mother's Day. And I thought nothing could be more lame than that time someone captioned "Grave situation" for my picture of a car accident in a graveyard...

This was for a Lifestyle section, they feature a different cocktail every week. Which means a photographer gets to "try" them each time.

And finally, I snapped this on a job at Sydney University. Nothing great, but being that I graduated just a few days ago, I thought I'd post it here.

"School's out... forever!"

May 05, 2009

Sydney Morning Herald (Sydney, New South Wales)

Currently working with the nice people at the Sydney Morning Herald, which explains why I took a break from taking pictures of the Opera House.

I feel like a fish in the sea spending time in a newsroom and on the road with a camera on each shoulder.