Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Wright Wedding - #2 for a friend

Angela and Gianfranco ("G") got married back in October of 2008. They're our best friends, and we're sad that we had to leave them in Indiana for North Carolina. They're coming to visit though!

This was the 2nd wedding I had ever done, but it was more of a "I'm a guest but I'll bring my camera" kind of thing. Their official photographer was nice enough to let me follow her around, and even set up a few of my own shots! After having direct contact with many professional photographers, there is definitely a small (but growing) portion of those who have an unfortunately elitist attitude about other people with digital SLRs. But it was wonderful to be exposed to a photographer who was open and willing to let me (get in her way and) set up a few shots. She even took those for her own portfolio, too, which was quite flattering to me.

Having been through a wedding myself now, it's interesting to see how little of the wedding the husband is actually responsible for. The picture below, however, was the groom's idea - pumpkin flower pots! He was particularly proud of these, and asked me specifically to snap a few shots. So I did!

Congratulations to the happy couple!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Redbull Superbikes

With yet another stroke of luck, I had another photographic opportunity at my fingertips. During the summer of 2008, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway played host to the Redbull Superbike Challenge. As always, these races have test runs before the day of the official race, so the riders can get a feel for the track and tweak their bikes to get the most out of the race. These practice runs were open and free to the public, and also allowed us to get right up on the track.

This event was a great chance to practice my panning skills (or lack thereof, since I had never had anything previously on which to practice). The benefit of panning allows the subject to have a nice sense of motion because the background is directionally blurred. These were hard for me to get, and even though I was on a tripod, my understanding of the camera had still be only elementary. But I did the best I could, and out of the 500 shots or so that I took (I subscribed to the "spray and pray" technique at the time...), these were some of the best.

Friday, June 26, 2009

DCI Finals

Drum Corp International, founded in 1972, is a non-profit organization that provides a competitive means for youth to express their musicality and creativity while working with a team of diverse individuals, ages 13-21. During the summer, the DCI competitions begin, pitting a large number of corps based all around the country against one another. Some think, "marching band? nerdy." HARDLY. If one were ever fortunate enough to attend of these competitions, it would soon be realized that these kids are in AMAZING shape to do what they do. These shots were taken from the lot in Bloomington, my alma mater. They were going to hold the finals in Indianapolis, but Lucas Oil Stadium was a bit behind schedule, so instead they held it at Memorial Stadium at Indiana University, Bloomington.

Just to give you an idea of the discipline and physical fitness required for this type of event, we'll look at it from two different perspectives; the drummers, and the brass corps. I can't speak for the color guard, as I don't know much about it. These kids practice all summer long, every day, for up to 10 hours a day, outside on the field, constantly running through sections of the show.

Brass corps: tone, pitch, timbre, and overall warmth comes from extreme control of shape/tightness of the lips on the mouthpiece, as well as extreme breath control. Now imagine maintaining this control of the instrument while marching around a football field at 164 beats/minute, all while watching the drum major conduct to keep time, listening for the overall balance of the ensemble, and marching into elaborate, moving formations, keeping the bell of the horn facing at 45-degrees towards the stands, and making adjustments as necessary, after having memorized likely 20+ pages of some of the hardest music. These performances are also often changed and tweaked throughout each season to elicit maximum crowd response. And everyone is under the age of 22.

From the drum ensemble perspective, imagine this: carrying around a 30 lb+ drum, matching technique for synchronicity with the other members of the line, matching stick heights, special effects, etc. again all while marching at 164 bpm around a field in set/moving formations. This I can only somewhat relate to, as I myself was a snare drummer for several years in the Indiana University Marching Hundred, one of the NCAA Big Ten collegiate marching bands. However, our formations and repertoire were not NEARLY as advanced as those in DCI. These kids are truly amazing at what they do, and if you ever have a chance to catch a DCI show, I highly recommend it. Very HIGHLY. For those of you who live in Indiana and surrounding states, the Finals will be held at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis for at least the next 10 years if I'm not mistaken...

To learn more, go here.