Every now and then I concentrate too much on technique and subsequently lose focus on what the assignment is all about. After giving it some thought, I believe that suitable images should incorporate all of what I will call the 4 C's:
- Content: Does the foreground reveal additional details about what is happening?
- Composition: Does the arrangement of you main subject/s keep the viewer engaged?
- Calibration: Are the tonal values of the foreground kept within a range commensurate with the background?
- Context: Does the background suggest the location or purpose of the event your photographing?
Photo #2: Dorothy Boyajian Teacher Award winner Ashley Gray of the Sequoia Union High School District receives congratulations from Honorary Chairperson Dr. James Hutchinson at the 17th annual celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Monday, January 18 at the San Mateo Train Station. The award is given to teachers who Inspires their students in the areas of justice, understanding, civic engagement and diversity awareness. The presentation was followed by a ride on the new Celebration Train to activities at the Yerba Buena Center For the Arts and Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco.
Simple on-camera flash fill was used for this shot. The highlights are a tad hot, but processed the image straight from the JPG instead of making some exposure adjustments with the RAW file.
This shot was done with the flash connected to the camera with a neutered SC-17 cable. Again, some manipulation with the power output of the speedlight to minimized overexposure. The flash itself was mounted on a Canon Chest Pod so I could get my light slightly above my subject's face from my low shooting position. Incidentally, I made more than 20 images, and was sure to thank the Mayor for his cooperation. I should have showed him my press pass before I started shooting. Oh well.
This was an on-camera fill flash shot made at an extremely low angle. The LCD on the back of the Fuji made it fairly easy to get this ground-level shot.The flash head was angled up slightly to prevent overexposure to the lower half of the frame.
Time To Panic: As soon as the first three images were sent, I got a call from the Editor: "Do you have a shot that shows more of the crowd? We need a lead photo." Actually, my Spider Sense kicked in, and what I heard was, "These shots suck. Do you have anything, I mean ANYTHING that might show more of the crowd?"
I remembered I made five shots of the bright yellow banner held up by some event volunteers. I initially rejected them because I wasn't pleased with the Calibration (shadows, improperly filled), and the Composition. There was some Content (The big MLK on the banner) and some Context (the train in the background). I looked them over, and chose this last shot (Photo #5) as the best compromise. I held my breath, and sent it.
It ran the next day, above the crease, and a full three columns wide. It anchored the accompanying article well, and in retrospect, spoke to the event far better than the earlier three, in spite of my initial reservations about this image.
My singular mistake was forgetting that it is acceptable to use each assignment as a chance to experiment with equipment or techniques under field conditions, as long as I ultimately submit a photograph that meets the important requirements of context, content, composition, and calibration, something I obviously forgot in my excitement. The first three photos met three of the requirements (content, composition, and calibration), but most important for the purpose, context, was completely missed.