Good equipment supplements our eyes

Alyssa Harris of the Lady Buffaloes scores and the Glenvar catcher is not happy.

Questions from readers often concern my photography and video work with more than a few wondering “if I have equipment like yours, can I produce images like you?” Equipment is good, particularly good lenses and graphic chips that produce high-definition detail in images that capture attention.

But the best graphic chip rests in our eyes and the visual parts of our brains that let a photographer or videoographer compose an image that brings a smile or shock to the viewer.I use the best equipment I can afford to shoot photos for news media use and moving images for both news and documentary projects.

I appreciate the kind comments about my photography but please understand that I have been shooting photos for media use for more than 60 years and experience plus luck play more of a role than talent. I’m a self-taught, journeyman photographer, nothing more, who is just plain lucky in most cases.

Let’s remember that what some consider a good photo may strike others as routine. I won a photography award from the Illinois Press Association with a photo that I considered unfit for publication. In another case, a photo rejected by the newspaper I worked for in Illinois was picked by Rolling Stone to illustrate a concert by Credence Clearwater Revival. John Fogerty, one of the founders of the group liked it so much he asked for a 16×20 print that I’m told he has hanging in his home. Fogerty has also given me blanket permission to use his music in videos because of that photo.

I shoot many images or video footage to give editors a wide selection of shots. My Canon EOS-IDX shoots more than a dozen shots a second in high-speed mode and that lets me capture the exact second I need for a usable sports photo.

For video use, I normally depend on a Panasonic shoulder mount Electronic News Gathering (ENG) shoulder mount video camera for news footage or a Canon C-100 camera with interchangeable lenses for film and documentary use. The C-100 is considered more of a digital film camera.

For lenses, my “go-to” ones are Canons: a 24-70 MKIII f:2.8 and the 70-200 MKIII f:2.8 zooms for sports use, sometimes supplemented by 300 or 400mm telephotos.

The footage of street music on a Friday evening recently was shot on a C-100, using the 24-70 zoom:

Street Music on a Friday Night in Floyd

A sports shot of Lady Buffaloes below provides sharpness and detail when shot on a EOS 1Dx with a 70-200mm zoom:

Chloe Boothe throws out runner from Glenvar

Shooting music is a challenge in video or still photography. In settings like FloydFest, I often utilize more than one camera for detailed filming:

A look back at previous FloydFests

Getting a good image means dealing with unpredictable action and varying light.

A favorite photo of FloydFest from 2007.

Sometimes, a good photo is a case of being at the right place at the right second:

(Photo from Camp Jeep in Nelson County, VA, in 2004)

Sometimes, a grab shot of someone on stage turns out to be a portrait:

The beauty and music of Martha Spencer of the Whitetop Mountain Band

Using video and photos to help tell a story:

Mike Mitchell, Abe Goorskey, Bernie Coveney and Chris Luster tell the story of “Paradise”

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