Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Circuit Bouldering Gym Annual Member Party

I've had these pictures on the back burner for a while. It's not that I haven't had time to post them... I just am not happy with them. And so they've sat, idly, on my hard drive while I waited for a miracle.

Well... That miracle isn't coming. And sometimes, i'll just be disappointed with the photos I produce. I actually deleted A LOT of them already... you can find them on the IE Facebook page.

This shoot really woke me up to the necessity of strobes. I traded clean shots that would be blurry for a crisp (kind of) image with a lot of noise. I cringe when I look at these, and I'm disappointed that I deleted the terrible, but interesting photos. Haha, sometimes I might be too critical... Those shots would have made for good examples of failing. :)

Anyways, I'm hoping to get a real blog up tomorrow.

Take care,

And let me know what you think... be brutal, be honest. I've got some thick skin, so feel free to check out the pictures and leave comments either below the blog post, or on the facebook page. I'll respond to any questions or comments as quickly as possible.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Sand Lundy and Helium

The sun has arrived. It took forever and with it comes the hardest part of my job: sitting at a desk in a basement for hours at a time. Productivity is rapidly hitting an all time low. A list of work sits untouched while I play outside…

But how I’ve missed it. The warmth, the smell of sun-kissed skin, freshly cut grass. REI.com has a special on hammocks and I want one really bad. My birthday is coming… J

This blog is normally about projects that either push me, or are lessons for readers. This particular entry might not fit in those categories. In fact, this post is about bad ideas. A lot of people tend to scrap bad ideas. But I wonder how you learn from them if you don’t let them see the light of day.

First up is the Sand Lundy. The original footage of Tim wiping out while running down a sand dune wasn’t planned… the Sand Lundy video that footage spawned however, was. Now, I’m not saying there was any alcohol impairing our judgment when we came up with the concept of a father threatening his child with the mythical Sand Lundy… But I’m not saying there wasn’t, either.

My old coach played the father and the lines were just thrown at him. I said go. 10 minutes later, I packed up and left. This video is funny to me. But I say it’s a failure or “bad idea” because at no point was this video challenging. It just is, and I’m very hesitant to show it. The camera work on the staged part was very basic and the VFX work was a joke (took me a whole five minutes… I didn’t even color grade.) but we at IE found it hilarious. And I guess part of why we do this is to make things we want to see.

Which brings me to bad idea #2. I’m not even sure what got this creative masterpiece going, other than us talking about YouTube videos and songs and somehow singing with helium came in to the equation.

I think the video speaks for itself. I’ve been coughing up latex powder since.

Moral of this story: bad ideas happen to good people. Don’t be afraid to laugh at your moments of impaired judgment. You might be the only one who does.

Keep an eye out for upcoming blogs from our sound guru, Tim Lundy (the guy who eats it in Sand Lundy, and the guy playing guitar in the helium video.) and there will also be some changes coming to the layout of IEfilms.net.

:) James

Monday, June 13, 2011


I love to just disappear sometimes. Hop in the car and go. It’s becoming something I do less frequently now. I over-plan, over-think, hesitate, lose interest.

I bailed on a trip up north for the weekend because work was overwhelming me a bit. I was behind, more was coming, and I was tired. But after catching up on sleep, motivation and my projects I was ready for something. Enter my friend, Terra. She was in her hometown not too far away for the weekend and when she offered to show me around, I jumped at the opportunity.

She didn’t seem to understand why I’d want to go to some out of the way farm town. Not realizing “Out of the way” was exactly where I wanted to be.

I had no idea what I’d find when I got there. Single traffic light? Abandoned farmhouses? I was hoping for billowing fields of grass… Her family just happens to grow ryegrass, fescue, wheat and bent grass.

I arrived, met a very large and incredibly welcoming family. I think I may have gone into shock hearing so many names. Learning little pieces of information about their family history. My host and I eventually headed out to their property. We drove past a lot of fields to get there. I loved it. I tend to get stir crazy in cities. Hurried drivers, noise, constant stimuli in every direction. Sublimity was different, peaceful, and just out of reach from all that. I’ve felt that vaguely from places I lived in when I was younger.

I’ve been having trouble just taking a deep breath, relaxing and enjoying the moment. A storm was coming, and it was soothing.

We walked through fields and I was given incredibly detailed lessons on the different types of grass. I couldn’t describe them with any kind of justice, even if I used Google to help me. She spoke about them in a way you won’t find most 22-year-old college students talking. She seemed proud of the grass her family grew, and the work she personally put into it.

As we took pictures, the clouds began to play with my light. Part of me thought “crap… the storm’s coming.” And the other part was yelling “YES! The storm’s coming.” Here’s why: thirty minutes to an hour before a storm actually hits, the clouds will cause this incredibly diffused light (allowing soft edges in the shadows) while leaving the sky a dark purple-y blue.

You can see a really good example of the sky here...

Scientifically? We’ll say it’s because the clouds are swirling and condensing all around you. I don’t know if that’s true… I just made it up. But your lighting will change rapidly, keeping you on your toes if you’re shooting manual. But the results can be awesome if you take advantage of the moment.

(Also… I love storms. A favorite place of mine would definitely be sitting on a deck or hill, looking out onto the horizon as lightning creeps in.)

I tried to capture some lightning, but even with the super long exposures, I couldn’t catch a bolt to save my life.

I hadn’t stopped to think until now, how many coincidences had to occur for me to be there, at that moment with someone willing to share it with me.

A single different choice could have kept me home, and possibly in bed at a decent time (we all know that’s not likely to happen.). But because of that opportunity, I got to hang out, lying in a field of grass listening to the wind and not worrying or caring about anything else. I just got to be there with someone who I hardly know, and we had that moment.

I think that’s why I like these pictures so much. I was in them, enjoying them. It wasn’t work, it was playtime. My subject was awesome and great company. The lighting and weather weren’t what I asked for, but I can say without a doubt, these are the most satisfying pictures I’ve shot in a very long time.

Side note: at some point, I mentioned how dirty her feet were. She casually turns and says, “If you’re not dirty, you’re not living.” I’ve tried to word the rest of this in a way I can describe how that notion made me feel, and touched on everything I’ve felt these last few months/years… however long it’s been. But nothing does it justice. So I’ll leave you with this.

Sublime: Of such excellence, grandeur and beauty as to inspire great admiration and awe.

You can find the album with these pictures on our facebook page. :)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Size Does Matter

I’m 24 years old, out of college and trying to work with professional photographers. Veterans, who’ve worked for years, honing their skills, gathering the high-end equipment. I often find myself not being taken seriously because of my age, or because I don’t have the most expensive toys.

A few weeks ago, I get the opportunity to go to the GNAC championships held at Western Oregon University in Monmouth, Oregon. Odds were that I wouldn’t be allowed to go inside the competition area.

Before heading down to the meet, I was talking to my friend Kim, I asked if I could borrow his Canon 70-200mm 2.8L IS lens. I was surprised he said yes, as is it’s a $2,200 lens.

Upon arriving at the stadium, I attempted to get credentials. “Who sent you?” I fibbed… “Uhh… Western Oregon?” he looks at the camera, “Cool.” And I was in.

That’s kind of how it went all weekend. People saw the lens and didn’t hassle me. Another photographer even stopped me and asked “is that the 2.8?” “Yeah.” “Nice.” And he walked away.

It was nice being taken seriously for a while. Although I learned a few lessons… first off, I let myself get distracted by watching my friends compete. I stuck mostly to pole vault instead of covering the event. This really hampered the variety of shots I had to go through. 64 gigs and even I got sick of pole vault pics… this may go with the first, but I did not take it as seriously as I should have. I need to enjoy the shoot while still representing myself as a professional and delivering good product. That way I’m looked at as a professional because I am one, not because I have a big lens.

My old coach J.T. Statler, and the Outdoor Women's Pole Vault Champion and Teammate Kati Davis.

Tim Lundy, the guy who does IE's Logos and Sound Effects/Music was also there competing.

As far as the lens goes… I was in heaven. I typically don’t like my camera to be on anything other than manual. But due to rapidly changing light, and fast moving subjects I had to rely on the camera’s brains a little more. I put the lens on autofocus also. This is typically a huge no-no to me. I would NEVER use autofocus for film. But photography… with this lens? Oh man. It was so blindingly fast and accurate. I was lusting a bit. That’s also probably why my trigger finger got so heavy. This lens will be in my kit someday.

As for the quality of the pictures: I still find myself frustrated and not liking my results. They were good, using them just for coverage and such, giving pictures to the competitors. But I got a little cranky when I was searching for stuff for my increasingly dusty portfolio.

All in all, it was good practice. I learned some things. And as for being taken seriously: if you’re young and have a nice camera, expect people to not think much of you. But have a huge lens and get their attention. Size DOES matter. However, I will continue to learn and improve. I’d rather be known for the quality of my work, not for the kit I’m packing.