Archive for Sunday, January 9, 2011

Behind the Lens: Improvisation a key ingredient to good photography

I decided to do a photo book on the 2010 Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. The pace of the parade and the number of entrants kept me on my toes because I wanted to document every horse-drawn vehicle. Had I not been concerned about photographing everyone, I would have certainly focused more time and photographs on this unique scene, of a young girl riding on one of a team of horses.

I decided to do a photo book on the 2010 Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. The pace of the parade and the number of entrants kept me on my toes because I wanted to document every horse-drawn vehicle. Had I not been concerned about photographing everyone, I would have certainly focused more time and photographs on this unique scene, of a young girl riding on one of a team of horses.

January 9, 2011

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2010 Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade

Journal-World chief photographer Mike Yoder set out to photograph every horse-drawn entry in the 2010 Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade and create a book from the work. This slide show captures many of the photographs and all the parade horse-drawn entrants. Enlarge video

I decided to do a photo book on the 2010 Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. The pace of the parade and the number of entrants kept me on my toes because I wanted to document every horse-drawn vehicle. Had I not been concerned about photographing everyone, I would have certainly focused more time and photographs on this unique scene, of a young girl riding on one of a team of horses.

I decided to do a photo book on the 2010 Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. The pace of the parade and the number of entrants kept me on my toes because I wanted to document every horse-drawn vehicle. Had I not been concerned about photographing everyone, I would have certainly focused more time and photographs on this unique scene, of a young girl riding on one of a team of horses.

On Dec. 4, I photographed the Lawrence Old-Fashioned Christmas Parade. I had decided to produce a photo book on the parade using an online, print-on-demand company that requires no money upfront. The person purchasing the book spends the money. This would enable me to create a unique document of the event with an investment of only my time and skills as a photographer.

My first priority was to photograph every carriage, buggy and wagon during the parade. There were over 100 entries, but I figured this shouldn’t be too difficult. It’s not like they would be galloping through downtown. But I also realized I needed a sprinkling of crowd shots to give the event some additional atmosphere. I decided to use two camera bodies, one with a wide-angle zoom and one with a telephoto zoom, to give me the widest range of coverage. I used autofocus and aperture priority for my exposure setting.

Photographing in this way is similar to being an official graduation photographer. Your responsibility is to get a photo of every student being handed their diploma — in focus and exposed right. Aesthetics are not a priority.

My plan was fairly simple. When I spotted a carriage I would photograph them from a distance with the telephoto lens. As they passed by me I would grab a shot with my wide-angle lens. But I soon realized that my stationary position meant all of my backgrounds looked alike. This would create a really boring book. By changing my position I could get different scenes but this increased the possibility of missing a carriage. So throwing all my intended plans away I started walking and running forward and back alongside the parade, alternating between the wide-angle and telephoto lens. At times it did feel like the horses were galloping passed me. But by reacting quick and moving with the parade I managed to make my goal.

While I couldn’t always make the best shot of every horse-drawn vehicle, I was able to find moments within the chaos when a rider’s smile or wave to the crowd would capture something more than a simple document

Planning out photo shoots is wise, but good photography is often like good jazz — improvisation is always a part of the mix. Or, don’t photograph the cart before the horse.

View the whole book at http://www.blurb.com/books/1842493.

Comments

ksriver2010 4 years, 5 months ago

Thanks for posting. That was a great day. The horses came by so fast that I had trouble getting pictures of all of them.

One of my favorite times living in Lawrence!

What online biz do you use to get the books made?

Mike Yoder 4 years, 5 months ago

I use Blurb.com They do a real nice job and I believe have the best prices. You can download their software free off their site.

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