Environmental Portrait: Longmont Welder

JOAN_OF_ARC© Times-Call 2012/MediaNews Group 2012

I made this picture for a story on a local welding company owned by the woman in the photo. It was an idea I had for a while but didn’t have the opportunity to shoot. To create it, I used the cutting torch as the main light and a variety of gelled speedlights to shape the rest of the environment around the subject. It turned out more or less how I had envisioned and it ran at a decent size in the printed edition. Click through to see the final page.

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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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Favorite Basketball Photos From the 2010/2011 Season

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

Basketball season has come to an end. All of the teams we cover have been eliminated from the playoffs. It was a long season. I must have shot 30 games this year. Out of those 30 games only a couple of them were not lit. My light kit (blogged about here) worked great for most assignments. Every year my timing gets better and I enjoy the challenge of lighting different gyms more and more. I have selected a few of my favorite pictures from this season. You can see a few more over at my sportsshooter.com member page here. Thanks for looking.

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The Gallery Owner and the Speedlights

© Matthew Jonas 2011/Evergreen Newspapers 2011

I shoot a lot of environmental portraits and have written about it before. Generally I choose to light a portrait and not include the gear that I use to do it with in the actual picture. I’m not sure where I got the idea or what I was looking at that gave me the inspiration but this time I decided to leave it in. I’m still not sure if I like it or not but think I am going to run it this week as the main photo in a supplemental publication we have called Upslope.

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A List of 5 Things I Wanted to See in 2010

As I look back over 2010, there were a lot of things I wanted to see that just didn’t happen. The list is short but these are the things that I think about while I am working as a photographer.

  1. Canon failed to update the firmware on the EOS 7D to allow disabling the Automatic Gain Control. I am finally starting to enjoy using my 7D for work. I shot an entire football season without using a flash this year. But when it comes to video, I am still better off using a dedicated video camera because it takes an additional $500+ worth of gear to capture decent audio with the 7D. Canon’s low end (under $400) High Definition camcorders feature a mic and headphone jack and allow you to set the levels. Even the consumer oriented 60D allows you to disable the AGC.
  2. Paul C. Buff can’t seem to meet demand with many of their products. I had planned on purchasing a lot of Alien Bees monolights and light modifiers this year. Specifically I wanted to buy a couple of Parabolic Light Modifiers and a bunch of Einstein 640 units. Both have been on back-order or have had manufacturing issues for several months. Needless to say I don’t own either and will probably buy monolights from another manufacturer.
  3. Speedlight makers are still using a prehistoric PC sync port on modern hardware. I use both Nikon and Canon speedlights for off-camera work. I have to constantly bend and tweak the PC sync cables I use to get them to fire consistently. Why can’t they use the 1/8inch mini jack like Pocket Wizards have? It’s stronger, fits tighter and is widely available. 2010 is in the past. In 2011 the PC sync port must die.
  4. I really wanted to see the price of lenses decrease. Instead, most of the line of Canon lenses and camera bodies actually saw about a %10 increase. The weak dollar really screwed the US on that one. Canon announced version 2 of many lenses including the 300 f2.8, 400 f2.8 and 70-200 f2.8. The lowest price for the 70-200 f2.8L IS II is a little over $2K. I won’t even mention the prices of the other 2 lenses.
  5. The standard sized hot shoe disappeared from many non-pro camcorders instead of being included. Canon only makes 1 camcorder that includes a standard width hot shoe and it’s on the endangered species list. Sony no longer makes any. Most of the non-pro camcorders now have a smaller, proprietary hot shoe that somehow bares the name “advanced mini accessory shoe”. How advanced can it be when 99% of mics, lights and accessories no longer work without an adapter?

Should anything else make the list?

The Ice Crew

© Matthew Jonas 2010/Evergreen Newspapers 2010

Last week I went up to Evergreen Lake to check on the ice skating situation. For those of you who don’t know me, I am a huge fan of both playing and watching ice hockey (I have already played 4 times this week). I had an idea for a picture last year that I never got around to making. This year I grabbed a strobe, a light stand, a couple of Pocket Wizards, my Yak Trax and headed out with the Ice Crew. Maintaining the skating rinks at the lake is a lot of work. It takes a lot of flooding to get the surface just right.