High School Football Portraits

© Times-Call 2012/MediaNews Group 2012

I’ll admit it. I used to hate my speedlights. The first one I bought sat in my camera bag for 6 months before I even turned it on for the first time. I didn’t understand how to use it, when I should use it or what it was capable of. I got over my hatred but only after a lot of experimentation and studying the work of other news and editorial photographers. Once I understood what could be accomplished using speedlights, modifiers and a solid knowledge of lighting, I never approached a portrait the same way again.

Click through for to learn about how the picture above was made.

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State Cross Country Remote Camera Outakes

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

I set a remote camera during every race I had to cover at the 2011 CHSAA State Cross Country Championships this year. I had some success and a few failures. Speaking of failures (WARNING: Rant Approaching), CHSAA has once again made covering the finish line nearly impossible for photographers. They continue to insist on having non essential personnel clogging the finish line. It is the most disorganized event I cover each year. I dread having to cover it. I know I’m not alone in this respect. (Rant over) Anyway here are a few select pictures from my remote along with some explanations.

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I Think I’m In Love: Fujifilm Finepix X10

Photo Courtesy of FUJIFILM North America

Wow. This is a seriously cool camera. I made a promise to myself to post as little about gear (and more about pictures) as possible since my redesign but I just couldn’t help it. I have always loved the look and feel of rangefinders but have never been satisfied with the “enthusiast compact” digital cameras available. I think that feeling might change. Behold what appears to be the best combination of retro style and modern digital technology I have seen to date. I want one.

Here’s a quick rundown of the most important specs:

  • 2/3″ 12 megapixel EXR CMOS sensor
  • An f2.0 to f2.8 lens consisting of 11 glass elements in 9 groups, including 3 aspherical
  • An all-metal lens barrel and smooth manual (YES PLEASE!) zoom ring
  • Film Simulation Modes including Velvia, PROVIA, and ASTIA (Excited yet?! Wait, what’s film again?)
  • 460K dot high contrast LCD screen
  • A glass optical viewfinder with a wide 20° viewing angle (That’s right, OPTICAL)
  • 0.8 seconds start up time using the on/off power switch built into the lens ring
  • P, A, S and M shooting modes accessed through an external dial
  • Quick shutter-release lag time of approximately 0.01 seconds

A few more press pictures after the jump.

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Fall Football Preview Portraits

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

About 6 months ago our sports editor, Michael Hicks, came to me with an idea for the fall. He wanted to put together a multi-page, pull out section filled with previews for the fall high school football season. I was immediately on board. It has been a long time since we had tackled anything this big. Newspapers with a circulation size as small as ours do not get to work on projects like this often. As everyone is well aware, the newspaper business is a little unstable right now. With that instability comes budget cuts and physical page count and size reductions. Getting a full color, multi-page section is a difficult pill to swallow for most publishers, especially if there is a lack of committed advertising to offset the cost.

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The Next Big Thing?

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

With more than 325,000 views on his YouTube video for Jonah, 18-year-old Graham Stookey might get his wish to play Red Rocks. I had the pleasure to make a few pictures of him for an upcoming story in the Columbine Courier (which is still a free online publication).

When I first started to light portraits, I used to overpower everything. I cranked up the power on my lights and totally blew away the ambient light. Lately I have been taking a much simpler approach to lighting environmental portraits. I add to what is available. With the portrait above, I was looking for a certain mood. Stookey shot the video I linked to in his basement. His theme has been to make a living playing music to get out of the basement and onto the stage. While not that creative, I chose to shoot the portrait of him “where it all began”.

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iFixit To The Rescue

I just wanted to give a quick mention to ifixit.com. Once again they have saved me money and time by both providing the instructions and parts to repair my out of warranty MacBook Pro. A local shop quoted me almost $300 for the repair. I was able to do it myself for half that. After 4 years of being on the move, the optical drive finally gave up and stopped reading or writing CDs. I ordered a used drive and within 3 days it arrived. The installation instructions were detailed, easy to follow and provided a list of tools needed. After about 30 minutes of installation time I was able to perform a software update from a disc that I was previously unable to. If you are the DIY type, I highly recommend checking out ifixit first if you have an out of warranty Apple device that needs repaired.

One From This Weekend

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

I made this picture on Friday night at Evergreen High School. That gym is one of my favorites to light. I’ll take good action and good color over ISO 3200 and a motor drive any day. This picture was made using techniques learned from strobist.com. Speaking of the strobist, David Hobby himself will be visiting Denver on March 22, 2011 along with Joe McNally on the flash bus tour. If you are looking for a good (cheap) workshop that will most likely be packed full of information about getting your flash off of your camera this is it.