Elsie and Me

Reverse engineering photography, random thoughts and other stuff


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Here’s to the morris

douganddon

Morris dancing — or as my significant other likes to refer to it in the presence of non-morris folk, “that weird dance thing we do” — is one of my favorite subjects to photograph. It’s colorful, and sometimes I can catch the dancers in midair (like this), or capture a perfect facial expression, like in the shot above.

Elsie and I shot this on May Day in Washington Park, Albany, N.Y. The two gentlemen are Doug and Don from the Pokingbrook Morris Dancers, Albany’s local morris team.

I used Elsie’s sports setting (very handy for shooting morris) and continuous drive mode. She chose a shutter speed of 1/400 and f2.6.

If weather permits (and that’s a big if), we will be back in Washington Park on Saturday, May 13, to dance at the Tulip Festival, with a dance stand earlier in the day at the Apple Blossom Festival at Riverview Orchards in Clifton Park.

On another note, I want to thank Chuck Miller, formerly a Times Union community blogger who now blogs here, for the shout-out and link. Chuck is an award-winning photographer who does some amazing work. He’s a master of thinking outside boxes and pushing envelopes to create one-of-a-kind images.

You can see some of his best work now through June 30 in the gallery at St. Agnes Cemetery in Menands. (What? Of course a cemetery has an art gallery. Don’t they all?) His “Vivaldi’s Pond” absolutely must be seen in person — it’s both breathtaking and mind-blowing.

Chuck is also a talented writer. His Collarworld stories are pure brilliance — he has created an afterlife for animals that is moving without being maudlin.

Oh, and he’s also a total sweetheart. I met him at the reception for his gallery show, and he couldn’t have been more welcoming and supportive.


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I sprayed. I prayed. I got this.

airborne

“Spray and pray.” That’s an insulting term that some professional photographers use to describe the “fauxtographer”* method of taking a whole bunch of shots and praying that a few come out.

I don’t take offense at it because I’m not a fauxtographer (more on that below), and because the technique works for me when I’m taking action shots. When I shoot morris dancing, I use Elsie’s “sports” setting (she also has a “kids and pets” setting for the same purpose — capturing moving subjects) and continuous shooting mode.

I took dozens of shots using sports setting/continuous mode at this particular morris event. This is my favorite. It’s not a great shot, because the dancers could be in sharper focus, and there’s distracting stuff in the background, but … airborne! I just love capturing morris dancers in the air.

Elsie chose an f-stop of 4.0 and a shutter speed of 1/160 for the above. When I go to this event again this summer, I hope to have a better handle on settings and get even better airborne shots.

*Re “fauxtographer”: It’s generally used to describe folks who get their hands on that first “fancy” camera (often an entry-level consumer DSLR) and decide they’re ready to go into business, offering their services as a portrait or (the horror!) wedding photographer without knowing even the basics of technique. They tend to charge peanuts and send the wrong message to potential clients, who think, “Why should I pay Skilled Professional $3,000 to shoot my wedding/senior/baby pictures when Fanny Fauxtog can do it for $100?” Short answer: Fanny’s work sucks.

I don’t consider myself a fauxtog because I’m not in business. I’m just an amateur with a point-and-shoot who occasionally gets lucky. I do have some of my “lucky” prints available for sale in a friend’s gallery space and my company’s craft fairs, but that’s about it. I’ve sold all of two!

You can read more on the “fauxtog” phenomenon here and here.