Archive for April, 2009


Advanced Techniques Class: Painting With Light

You may have seen some of my previous “painting with light” pictures that I did last semester (and this one too).

Well, lucky me, I actually get to do it for a grade this time in my Advanced Techniques class.  Along with my group members Chelsea, Elisa, and Darren (and Jason came along to help as well) we spent about three hours shooting this photo at the Old 63 Diner just north of Columbia. Since the diner is re opening in a few weeks, we thought it would also be newsworthy.

Our whole idea was to ghost a guy and a girl in front of the diner to make it sort of a nostalgic 50’s image.  We even rented 50’s style costumes to give it an authentic look (Chelsea is rockin’ the poodle skirt!!).  I played the greaser who pretended to be an overall badass who was too cool for Chelsea (who was clearly very interested in me).

Unfortunately, we picked a very hard building to light.  LOTS of metal and glass caused a lot of problems with reflections but we eventually worked it out.  There are still a few reflections that I wish we could have fixed, but I think it worked out pretty well.

The picture is really more of a choreographed dance than anything.  The exposure is 44 seconds long and it took 5 people to make the picture happen.  To give you an idea, once the shutter button was pressed, Chelsea and I had to pose and hold completely still while Darren flashed each side of us 3 times.  Jason held up an umbrella off to the side of the frame to block out reflections coming from a gas station across the street. When Darren was done flashing us, I had to immediately get up and take my LED light and light the tail lights of the car and the gas pump.  While I did this, Jason handed off the umbrella to Chelsea who then stood up on the car to block the clock (so it wouldn’t be overexposed). Elisa then shined two flashlights on the license plate, the trunk of the car and the bumper of the car.  In the meantime, Jason held up a big newspaper so he could continue to block the reflection of the lights  from the gas station.  When all of this was done, I had to run back to the camera on a tripod and close the shutter to complete the photo.

Confusing enought for you?….. I thought so.

Here is the completed image:

dsc_0248_edit_resizeThe Old 63 Diner, a once popular hangout in Columbia, MO, has been closed down for the last year because its original owners defaulted on their loans.  Decorated with memorabilia from the 50’s and 60’s, the diner has the atmosphere of the days past.  Julie Cook, a Columbia resident and one of the restaurant’s former waitresses,  purchased the diner from the bank and has plans to reopen it.  Renovations are currently underway and although there have been some delays, Cook hopes to reopen the diner in the coming weeks.


Advanced Techniques Class: Blending Assignment

Yet another flash assignment is due tomorrow.  This time, it is the “blending” technique (also known as 2nd curtain sync).  Its a great tool to have if you want to convey a sense of motion in a dark situation and still keep your main subjects in focus.

At first, I tried to shoot the Society for Creative Anachronism practicing in Peace Park.  But, it was still a bit too light outside so the technique was not working too well.  I tried shooting again this evening at the Cherry Street Artisan during their Latin Dance Night.  This time, i think the technique worked a lot better.  What do you think?

blog_20090420_bl_schrj_0168_edit1Tracy Ell, left, helps Matthew Schurwanz, right, practice a sword technique known as the “onside flat snap” Monday, April 20, 2009 at Peace Park in Columbia, MO.  Both men are members of the Society for Creative Anachronism, a group dedicated to re-creating 17th century European arts and skills.

blog_200904222_bl_schrj_0052_edit1Van Beasley, left, practices her salsa dancing skills with Elmo Overton, right, during Latin Dance Night at the Cherry Street Artisan in Columbia, MO Wednesday, April 22, 2009.


Advanced Techniques Class: Multiple Flash

As if one flash wasn’t enough, now we had to venture out with multiple flashes!!!

I was pretty pressed for time on this assignment because I spent the weekend shooting for my final project.  So, I could have done better, but I am not too disappointed with what I got.  Here are two selects from the assignment.  Definitely not the best pictures I have ever taken:

blog_20090416_mf_schrj_0084Yongfei Zhang shows his surprise after winning a hand of poker during the Student Union Programming Board Poker Night Thursday, April 16, 2009 at Memorial Union on the University of Missouri campus in Columbia, MO.  The event, held each Thursday, awards gift cards to the evening’s winner.



Final Project Day 2: Coalition of Historical Trekkers

Yesterday was our second and final day at the National Gathering of the Coalition of Historical Trekkers at Fort Osage near Sibley, MO.  It started out very rainy and miserable (It is always fun trying to keep $15,000 worth of electronics dry) but the photo gods smiled on us and the sun came out for the afternoon.

I had an amazing time shooting this event.  The members of the coalition could not have been more welcoming, hospitable and friendly to us (not to mention very tolerable of four photographers putting big cameras in their faces all weekend…).  We took a keen interest in what they were doing and visa versa.  It all worked out and helped us make some good pictures for our final project.

The final product should be done within the next month.  For now, here are some photos from yesterday’s shoot:








Final Project: Coalition of Historical Trekkers

My group and I are all out in Sibley, Missouri at Fort Osage this weekend to shoot our final project for Advanced Techniques in Photojournalism.  We are shooting the National Gathering of the Coalition of Historical Trekkers.  Here are a few shots from tonight’s “Tavern Night.”  It was great… We photographed the group drinking butter rum, playing 18th century games and singing 18th century songs in one of the hisotric buildings– all under candlelight (Thank God I was using the Nikon D3 for this.  Most of these photos were shot at ISO 5000 at 1/25 of a second!).  Like one group member said, you really feel like you are back in the 18th Century.  More to come later…. Looooong day of shooting tomorrow.






the horror!!!! oooh the horror!!!!


While I was home for Easter last weekend, Dewey, my golden retriever, found my hat while I was in the shower and proceeded to do what he does best– chew.  After a half hour of chewing, the hat was ruined!!  For those of you that see me every single day, you know I wear this hat every single day.

Some of you may say– “John, doesn’t that add character?”

To you I say, yes…. It does add character… That sort of  “my dog chewed on this for a good half hour” kind of character.

The hat and the culprit are below…

hat_blogThe Hat…

dewey_blogThe Culprit…


Advanced Techniques: Fill and Balancing

In this episode of Advanced Techniques in photojournalism, we had to use flash for “fill and balancing.”  Basically, this is the perfect technique for a sunny day when your subject is wearing a hat.  Or, if you are trying to shoot people in shadow with a bright background.  It sort of evens things out.

I tried to do part of my assignment while in San Francisco this weekend and then went down to see Marvin start the spring corn planting season.

Here are my top images.  Still haven’t decided which to turn in.  The first three photos are examples of “fill” flash:

fillbalance_blog_41Katie Ball reads a book and tries to ignore the busloads of tourists at Alamo Square in San Francisco, CA Monday, April 6, 2009.  The park was made popular by the opening scene of the sitcom “Full House” and is a popular tourist destination in San Francisco.

fillbalance_blog_1Marvin Sapp combines two seed bins of a corn planter during his  first day of spring planting Wednesday, April 8, 2009 in McBaine, MO.  The green color of the seed is the result of pesticides and anti-fungals used to protect the corn in the early stages of its life

fillbalance_blog_2 Marvin Sapp refills seed bins on the corn planter during the first day of spring planting.

And the below photo is an example of “balancing:”

fillbalance_blog_3Marvin Sapp plants a field of corn in the new tractor he purchased last January.  “It’s a slick tractor… but it is smarter than me,” he said.

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April 2009
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