Working with Flash

I picked up a pair of Canon Speedlights a few months ago and I’ve slowly been teaching myself flash photography. I’ve really been enjoying the results – the photos are really fun and can add a whole new depth to your photography.


Remembering Marion Barry

Marion Barry’s funeral procession took place over three days in early December. On December 5th, 2014 I took my bike and camera and set out to interview and photograph people who came out to line the processional route.  I was struck with how many DC residents had a personal connection to Barry – it was clear he was very beloved by many people.  People had so many different things to say, but if I had to sum it into one sentiment it would be thanks.  Marion Barry was a champion to these people and he will be sorely missed.

4th of July Weekend

I had a busy 4th of July weekend. I brought along my 7D and new Canon 70 to 200mm lens.

Overall  I’m really enjoying the lens – its super fast, sharp, the IS helps immensely, and its great to have a 2.8 throughout the entire range. Great lens for shooting people from a distance, portrait shooting, indoor/low light shooting, and anytime you need to get close to the action. The only complaint I have is the crop factor really makes this lens pretty tight and its very difficult to use as all purpose lens.

I know its a lot to ask a single lens to do it all – particularly a telephoto lens, but I can’t help but feel this lens would be a lot more practical on a 5D.  Going forward I’m either going to have to be more judicious about using this lens exclusively or just bring along a 2nd body with a wider lens.

The Abel Cine – Field of View Calculator is a great way to see just what the crop factor between camera body looks like.

Here are a few photos from the weekend.

American Documentary Showcase

Last year Ian Cook and I finished a short documentary called Corner Plot.

The film explores the life and work of Charlie Koiner, a 90 year old man who tends to an urban farm in downtown Silver Spring. Check our our website for more info:

We submitted Corner Plot to a whole whack of film festivals and one very special program run by the State Department: the American Documentary Showcase. The Showcase is part of the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs – a branch of State Department dedicated to “advancing U.S. foreign policy objectives through educational and cultural programs that enhance mutual understanding between the people of the United States and people of other nations”

Click on the following link for a write up in the NY Times about the program:

It sounds very official but what it boils down is this: Once a year the State Department sends independent documentary films – and their creators – abroad to educate and inform on “the American Way of Life”. As far as I’m concerned, this is a good thing, a very good thing.

Documentaries have always been powerful tools of propaganda. In the 30s American documentaries were political pieces created to sell Americans on the New Deal polices of the Roosevelt Administration. In Britain John Grierson was creating documentaries to appease class tensions and propagate a unified United Kingdom. Canada went so far as to create the National Film Board, an organization explicitly created to foster a sense of national identity in a new and culturally unsure nation.

But times have changed. For better or for worse an entire genre of documentaries have become accessible to a wide swath of the population. Lower cost production technology has created new opportunities for more diverse stories and storytellers. The beauty of the American Documentary Showcase is that it culls the very best of documentary film and promotes a diverse body of work that illuminates the American experience from many perspectives. And many of those documentaries are pretty critical of the US. I think the idea is that by having the State Department promote documentaries that shows warts and all – we demonstrate what a free and open society we really are. That is a powerful message in countries with limited freedoms.

We’ve come a long way.

I’ve had the opportunity to screen some excellent Showcase films.

Click on the following links for more info on some of my favorites: