Sunday, June 26, 2016

Troop 175 50th Anniversary

Photo #1
Sometimes a seeming simple assignment turns out to be prime example of how Murphy's Law affects photo assignments. A simple 50th Anniversary of a local scout troop get-together became of sequence of catastrophes which I did, and didn't, manage to stay in front of.

Photo #2
Photo #2 was the shot I wanted to work with. I was told that the scouts would build a rope bridge, and felt it would be an interesting photo challenge.When I arrived, the bridge had already been assembled, and they were testing the bridge by having scouts walk across it. This first shot was made with an X-100, initially with a paper plate reflector. That did work as well as I had hoped, so I pointed the flash straight at the subject to get an idea of where I would take the image. I got my blue sky, but the "deep woods" effect made the trees much too dark. Also, you can't see the scout's feet, so the context of a rope bridge was completely missing.

As I thought about how I could improve the shot, I saw the bridge collapse, taking one unlucky scout on a 4-foot fall.He dusted himself off after a few moments, and the groups attention turned to whether to attempt a repair, or to dismantle the bridge. They chose the latter, and following a spirited discussion, had the structure disassembled in a few minutes. One of supporting posts had snapped, perhaps because in a effort to re-cycle the materials, kept the beam well past the limits of its useful life.

Photo #3
Piling On: Needing a wider view, I changed to a X-T1 with a 10-24mm F 4.0 Fujinon lens, supplementing the daylight with a Nikon SB-80DX triggered with an SC-17 cable connected to the hotshoe. The next activity involved getting a troop of scouts over a rope strung between two trees. At first, the Scouts attempted to make a human pyramid which would allow the smaller scouts get over without much difficulty. This proved unworkable, as they hadn't figured out a way to the last scout over the rope (Photo #3).

Photo #4
The final solution included passing the younger and lighter scouts over first. This they started in earnest, amid some laughter and encouragement. On this first attempt (Photo #4), my angle was too low and the tangle of hands was too distracting. Also, the lone scout in the background, silhouetted against the blue sky, acts to draw the viewer's attention away from struggling Scouts in the foreground. The eye will always be drawn to contrast, he this lone scout in the background definitely has it!

Photo #5

I made this shot (Photo #5) from a low angle, and from further back. I liked the sky, but the exaggerated foreground and the blue tarp drew too much attention away for my original subject.

Photo #1
The final shot, taken from about eye level minimizes the exaggerated perspective of the feet. One of the two spotters in the foreground has his hands out, visually isolated enough to suggest that he's about to catch somebody, which he indeed is.

There is an indirect object lesson to be learned. First off, the chosen photograph was more the result of some lucky accidents: the spotter's outstretched hands, the placement of the foot over the rope, the prominence of the troop's shoulder patch, and the numerous red accents make this a visually interesting photo. Taking a higher shooting position helped to improve the exaggerated perspective produced by the wide angle lens and the short working distance. But I obviously didn't make that happen. I just saw that everything worked well together, and picked this single, story-telling photo from a small collection of near misses.