Friday, May 29, 2009

Jumping for joy...literally

"Betty, Mark Smallwood's year-old boxer, leaps into the air after Smallwood mentioned the word "walk" to a Baltimore Sun reporter at his home in Baltimore City, Thursday, May 15, 2009. Smallwood is responsible at Whole Foods to ensure they buy products locally, and was about to show the reporter a field where he hopes to begin a side project to teach urban farming, cooking, selling, and canning."

I was scheduled to have a single noon assignment when my phone rang at 9 a.m. seeing if I could be downtown by 10 a.m. to shoot this dude Mark Smallwood. Sure, why not I thought.

Smallwood is responsible at Whole Foods (a local grocery store here in Baltimore) to ensure they buy products locally. His story is that he has an organic garden in his tiny city backyard where he practices urban farming, cooking, selling, and canning. With all that, he wants to start teaching it to kids, but needs to get some land near his house from the city to do so.

I get down there, super sleepy, really hungry. Just not feeling like my normal self. If I drank caffeine, I'd say, "I needed a cup-o-joe." But I don't. I just needed some more time to relax and eat some breakfast.

So I make some frames of him in his garden as the reporter and him chat it up. We walk inside and he says to the reporter, "We should take a walk down the block so I can show you the nearby field where I hope to begin my side project."

Instantly, his year-old boxer pup, Betty, starts flipping out. Sprinting back-and-forth around the house like her ass was on fire. Obviously she likes walks... a lot.

"Alright, alright. You can come," a smiling Smallwood said. We make our way for the door, Betty still darting around. It almost reminded me of when you see a cat and dog cartoon, where they are crashing into furniture and walls.

As he went for the leash by the door, Betty leaped into the air. Wow. I totally missed it. I was in shock. I never seen a dog jump that high before. Then she did it again and I had just enough time to react instinctively and snag a frame.

The reporter was smiling ear-to-ear and laughing aloud; as was I. It totally made my groggy morning and put a smile on my face the rest of the day. I love when moments like this happen.

Is it a great frame? No. Did it go with the story? No. Will it ever run? No. Did it make my day? Yes.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Damn dam

"Fishermen cast their lines into the Susquehanna River at the Conowingo Dam in northeastern Maryland, Sunday afternoon."

I needed to burn some time, and being in the area of Conowingo Dam, I decided to venture down to the water.

Every spring, my middle school class would take a field trip to the dam and trek through the woods. They would show us mundane stuff like poison ivy and ants. Since I grew up running through the forest behind my house, this stuff was never exciting.

When I got there this time around, I realized I'd never been up close to the water or damn itself. That's what I always really wanted to see when we went.

So I made my way up close and personal and ended up talking with some fishermen. I hung out talking to one older gentleman for about 45 minutes and then snapped a couple frames on my way out.

Beat sitting in my car playing on my computer or driving around wasting gas.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Pool shark

""Irish Mike" of Hampden lines up a shot as he plays another local at Frazier’s on Sunday night."

As per usual, the usual suspects and I went out for some food and drinks last Sunday. I tried to fake it until I made it when I challenged "Irish Mike" to a friendly game of pool.

I don't royally suck at pool, but I saw him playing and was intrigued by him and how I'd actually do against his skills.

Little did I know, I'd have to actually have to call all of my shots and would end up getting, for a lack of better terms, my ass kicked.

Nonetheless, Irish Mike was a character and super friendly. He told us about a pool tournament he and about 10 others enter every Monday night. "If you think I'm good," Mike said, "Just wait til you see the other guys. I've not once won the tournament."

The game also opened us up to the employees at the bar who we quickly became friends with. A bunch of really good guys.

Yet, they also kicked my ass in pool and everyone else, too.

The picture above is alright. I shot it with Charlie’s 5D Mark II. I had no clue on how to operate that thing being a Nikon guy. Hahaha.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Going out on a loss

"Catonsville pitcher Kristen McCleary finds comfort in teammate KC Kolorek after losing to Franklin, 2-1, in the Baltimore County championship game at Catonsville High School, Wednesday, May 6, 2009."

With every win, comes a loss. I tend to focus more on the winning team, although it depends on my assignment.

After such a dramatic ending to the game, I wanted to put my attention on the losing team, since I already had my jube image.

There were some tears shed on the bench as the game ended and Catonsville failed to get on base in the bottom of the seventh inning.

But once the game ended, there were more tears, hugs and lots of heartbreak.

I wanted to make sure I found players who were really apart of the fight to stay alive, and what better than the pitcher and catcher who could not make the play to save their team from losing.

The fading light, the dark trees in the far off distance and shooting with a 400mm gave me the perfect background and made this image a great telling moment of the county championship game.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Sneaking the go-ahead run

"Screaming at the top of the lungs, Franklin's Miranda Miller (center) and Erika Murray exert their joy as Kim Dorsey (No.8) brings home the tying run in the top of the seventh inning during the Baltimore County championship game at Catonsville High School, Wednesday, May 6, 2009. Franklin would bring home the winning run behind Dorsey on the same play, which sealed the title, 2-1."

Bored to tears. That's what I was at this softball game. All I wanted was some diving outfield action.

I thought I'd take a risk and sit near the outfield, hoping, wishing, waiting for the low lobbing ball that would make a player have to leap out for it. But it didn't come.

In the sixth inning of this very slow, low scoring game, I made my way to third base and was waiting for the end of the game reactions. They came a little bit early.

To set the scene, Franklin was down. One out in the top of the seventh and trailing, 1-0, and a player on second and third base.

I am thinking at this point, they have to tie the game. There is no way, no how, they are going to blow this opportunity. So I set up, prefocused on the fence behind home plate for some sort of reaction.

The pitch is delivered and it sails into the backstop.

Franklin's Kim Dorsey sprints from third base toward home. The Catonsville catcher valiantly makes a diving throw to the pitcher, who attempted a leaping tag for the out.

All I see is dirt and cluttered players in my frame. I am not sure what happened. The umpire calls the runner safe.

With players laying in the dirt, cheering parents and players going wild, another Franklin player snuck into my frame. With everyone thinking the play was over, she raced home with the go-ahead run. It shocked me, I know it shocked everyone else, too.

This boring game ended up turning into a full range of emotions in the bottom of the seventh inning and transformed into a fun game to shoot as tensions ran high.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The walk

"Perfecting the walk on the runway, a model showcases an outfit during Center Stage's recession-inspired, annual fashion show, May 1, 2009."

Photographed a weekly fashion piece (portraits of fashionable people) before a fashion show and decided to stick around to actually see it. The reporter had two free tickets because: A. I assume she knew the people who ran it; B. She did her piece there. With that, she convinced me to stick around.

Since I had some time to burn, I did. I have never been, nor seen, a fashion show and thought it was pretty interesting. Not only are the wardrobes far out there in my t-shirt and jeans eyes, but the continual bass from the techno beats put a smile on my face.

Oddly enough, I didn't shoot much during this. Not sure why, maybe I was more intrigued by the style of the models or laughing at some of the crazy stuff people had on. Whatever the reason, I snapped the equivalent of one roll of film and liked this frame.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

What a drag

"Tire smoke from an automobile seeps through the air as spectators watch car racing at Cecil County Dragway, Friday night."

I am always in the mood to shoot photos even if I don't have an assignment.

Last weekend, with weather being beautiful, I decided to head up the highway to the local auto dragway Friday night. I had not been in more than five years and thought I'd venture up.

I ended up recording some audio and shooting around until I called it quits when it got cold.

All in all, it was a fun, relaxing evening. Too bad I smelled like a burned rubber for a week.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009


"Emilie Balius, 6, of the 10 and under Parkville Patriots cheerleading squad, performs a routine at spirit building show at Parkville High School, Sunday afternoon."

It's not every day we photographers take advice from the "word side" folk. But the reporter on my assignment was spot on.

When I arrived to this cheerleader spirit building performance, he told me to do my thing, shoot what I felt would tell the story, but to definitely stay and shoot the actual dancing, cheering portion. He said that's where I'd make the best images.

Well, since I wasn't telling him how to write his lede, I figured I'd shoot the girls warming up and goofing around since I had 30 minutes to burn anyways.

Almost immediately, the girls acted like I wasn't standing two feet from them. I found that really odd considering these little 10-year-olds and 14-year-old girls seemed like they would be grinning and posing for every single pictured I'd take.

I worked the pre-spirit building show hard. Trying to capture the happiness that was this young squad. They were pumped because they were about to embark on a national championship competition in coming weeks.

But to my dismay, I didn't get anything really worth writing home about. So I opted to actually stick around to the four teams performances.

Having never shot cheerleaders, let alone never even knowing one personally, I had no idea how energetic they were. When someone says they have a painted on smile, these girls had it.

Originally I thought the older girls would be the more photogenic, however, when the litter girls got up, I couldn't stop laughing. They were simply endearing. Trying their hardest and really putting on a show.

The reporter was right. The best images came from their performance.

Monday, May 11, 2009

We're back!

As you probably noticed, my blog was down all weekend. This was due to a small error when going live with my new Web site. Wait. What? I have a Web site now? The simple answer: Yes.

It was a long two months of designing and getting everything to where I want it. There are still a couple little tweaks and bugs I am working through, but it's live as it will ever be right now. And obviously, the blog is back up, and also has some new visual aspects. Now I just need to play catch up with all these posts!

Well, what are you waiting for? Go check out my Web site:

Bargain hunters

"A patron gazes at numerous novelties scattered on a back table during the first Towson American Legion Hall Post 22, 125 flea market, early Sunday morning. Visitors could find everything from movies and cameras, to knives and clothes."

Sometimes I think assignments will be really, really visual even if they don't seem to lend themselves to be prior.

Case and point at this flea market. It was the first time the Towson American Legion Hall held one and I thought it would be full of interesting folk and junk.

To my dismay, it was nothing spectacular. While everyone was friendly, no one in particular screamed take my picture. Although, I did find myself camped out in front of one table where I met a really outgoing, charismatic dude selling everything from knives to old nudie magazines.

I guess he got me thinking about other things than shooting and I began seeing differently. I had been frustrated that the flea market wasn't what I thought it would be.

Making my rounds, I passed his table more than 20 times. It wasn't until I made my last pass when I noticed the reflections in the glass.

I marked my spot and worked it for a good 30 minutes before I decided I was only going to get what I had. I really, really wanted that perfect clean frame of just the silhouette and collectibles, but the angle to get that wasn't going to produce the same.

Alas, I am not sure if this or another shot ran because I forgot to look. But on the bright side, I snagged an old school Polaroid camera for $1 on my way back to my car.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Diverse, clean and safe

"In downtown Toronto, folks enter and exit the Art Gallery of Ontario, which is one of the largest art museums in North America, Friday, April, 10, 2009."

It feels like I was in Toronto so long ago, but I guess I was, a little less than a month ago I was roaming the streets and doing some shooting up there.

If you can remember, I traveled north to Ontario last month for a week and had a blast. Toronto was one of the stops I completly fell in love with.

Driving from Niagara Falls with Lake Ontario to my direct right the entire way up, I could see the CN Tower and city skyline during the drive. It made me wonder how fast it would be by boat straight across the lake.

What really attracted me to the most populous city in Canada is that Toronto is one of the world's most diverse cities. To me, it was almost like being in a super compacted New York City. Yet, with less crime.

The low crime rate in Toronto is the polar opposite of Baltimore and DC. Low murders. Its reputation is also on the other end of spectrum, as it posts as one of the safest major cities in North America.

Not only did I feel safe walking around during my short one-day stay, but the people were friendly no matter what neighborhood I was in.

I walked through many different parts of the city, including: Chinatown, Greektown, Little Italy, Portugal Village, and Little India among others. All equally as interesting as the other.

The city seemed very trendy and clean too despite all the bills and posted ads. I really could go on and on about what I liked about it. But I'll spare all the details. I would really love to go back for an extended period of time. Wonder if The Star hosts any interns? Hmm.

Aside from my personal likes of the city, I had to visit the centerpiece: The CN Tower. At a height of 1,815 feet, it stands as the world's tallest freestanding structure.

To give you an idea how tall it was, I went in the Yokohama Landmark Tower before, the tallest building in Japan, and that is only 970 feet tall. The Empire State building in New York City is a lot closer though. That stands at 1,453 feet, however, I am not sure how far you can go up in either.

Here are some frames I liked. Didn't feel like editing them down any further, so enjoy the extras.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Studio: outside

"Photographer Drew Anthony Smith jokes around with a soft box prior to shooting athlete of the year portraits in Centennial Park Tuesday afternoon."

Still putting in a lot of time trying to get my Web site up and running. I had a great edit last night with some friends and think the galleries are pretty much in the order and way I want them.

However, I am being told I need a new portrait by the same friends, so we are going to crank that out Wednesday afternoon.

Other than that, things look good and I think I'll be trying to go live by this weekend instead of my originally planned past Monday.

Hopefully, once I get this thing live, I'll be back to regular posting.

Happy Cinco de Mayo. Don't get the pig flu!

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Studio: inside

"Baltimore Sun photographer and multimedia editor Chris Assaf checks his exposure prior to a product shoot in the Baltimore Sun studio Wednesday afternoon."

I typically post stuff from assignments, but as I said, I'm changing my ways. So you'll be seeing more of my friends, random outtakes and a random amount of potpourri images from now on in addition to what I normally blab about.

These past two weeks I've been busy trying to get my Web site up and running and with that, I don't have much time to give anything I recently shot the time of day with words since I am trying to launch this thing by Monday, Tuesday at the latest.

The next two images are a little dated, but go along with each other well. The first being photographer, friend and multimedia guru at The Baltimore Sun, Chris Assaf.

This was a fun frame I made while assisting him a little while ago. I can't tell you how many times I've done this and how many times other photogs probably do it. I heard David Hobby even has a hidden gallery overflowing with these type of frames from his point of view. But that's just what I heard on this crazy, wacky Internet.

Speaking of The Baltimore Sun, it was a sad end of the month as I watched some close friends lose their design, reporting and photo positions with the recent cutbacks and layoffs at The Baltimore Sun.

Many talents were abruptly discharged and I'll miss working along side them, seeing their bylines in the paper and online, and interacting with them. Sucks. But I know they will go on to do great things in the future.

OK, keep it short, Patrick. Keep it short. Oh, yeah...

Now back to rearranging photos, making some edits and trying to upload multimedia in compacted sizes. Hmmmm...