Wow, another year has passed.  After 25 years or so it still is a privilege to participate in the weekend of events for WAVM, our local, student-run, radio and tv station.

Friday night it was skating and “lazer tag” at Roll On Americal in Lancaster…

 

Acme’s latest production is “The Queen of Bingo” running May 1st through May 23rd.  The show is directed by David Sheppard and stars Kerry Anne Kilkelly (“Sis”),  Tricia Akowicz (“Babe”), and  Ben Atherton-Zeman (“Father Mac”).

Some photos from the show:

Visit Acme Theater for showtimes and tickets.

Photographed with Fuji X-T1, XF 55-200mm; Fuji X100S.  Processed in Lightroom CC 2015.

 

 

Kelli and Nick from Gallery Seven have once again done a yeoman’s job in the organization of this year’s Spring Art Walk sponsored by the Maynard Business Alliance.

As with last year’s event there was a flash mob at 6pm in front of Serendpity Cafe.   We managed to get some footage of that (sorry, but the audio is not that great because the camera is across the street..)   And once again expertly choreographed by  Nicole Kosersky.

(I hope the YouTube gods don’t block it because of the soundtrack…  Sorry, if you can’t view it..)

Here’s a set of images from the day.

I was out of town Saturday evening, so many thanks to Jay Griffin for the photography and videography.
Photographed with Fuji X-T1, XF18-55.  Processed in Lightroom 6.  Video mostly from a pole-mounted GoPro 3 Black, edited in Adobe Premiere Pro.

Favorite photos from the 2014 WAVM Beacon Santa Telethon

This was my 22nd mostly sleepless weekend spent with a hundred or so amazing high school students, parents and volunteers as we raised money for needy families in the area. The WAVM Beacon Santa Telethon is a hallmark event here in town and I’m proud to play a small part in helping the WAVM staff achieve their goals and documenting the event for future generations. It is a 40-hour, non-stop, television and radio event – but there’s another 10 or so hours before and after that make for one really long weekend. You can head over the the telethon website for updates to the total and to see all of the pictures that were posted during the event.

Here are my 100 (plus 6) favorite photographs from the weekend:

 

 

Technical stuff for those interested…

I shot the entire event with my Fuji equipment. It was a joy to not be lugging the Canon glass around all weekend. (With the exception of some video work, my Canon equipment is now idle and I have plans to sell it off in the next year or so.)

The X100S was used for general candids and I tended to have it with me at all times. I shot 412 frames with it and kept 337. The X-T1 was used for both auction item photography (around 300 frames) and the “heavy lifting” of shooting bands, acts, and general activity. Most of the time I had the 55-200 lens on the X-T1, but the wide-angle lens got heavy use for the finale (large group in a studio). I tend to shoot in burst mode, so that artificially moves the frame count up. So, 2,200 frames shot with 1,900 still left in the Lightroom library. That’s nearly 3,000 images shot for the event.

To process and deliver the photographs during the event, I bring them into Lightroom and do a quick edit to throw out the obvious errors and bad images. When you get into band performances a lot of the bursts are either all good or all bad, but for the good bursts I really don’t have time to toss out the subtle duplicates, so I usually keep a couple from each burst just in case the band is interested in variations after the event. If I were to spend a bit more time I’d probably chop another 20% out of the X-T1 pile: perfectly good photographs, but not different enough to really keep.

After a few hours I had the camera and Lightroom settings established for the 3 major shooting areas (items, television studio and the auditorium). I’d let auto white balance and default settings take care of the rest of the candids. This makes the workflow go pretty quickly as I can get a large batch of photographs looking pretty good with a few clicks. From there I do the selects to create the gallery. After selecting the images, I go back and fine tune the exposures (I find that with the Fuji cameras I tend to underexpose more than I did with the Canon DSLRs — not sure why yet, but I think the EVF has me shooting conservatively).

While the cameras generally performed well, there were a few issues that I’m still working through to make sure I have more successful shoots. For a number of previous projects I’ve found the combination of the X100S and the X-T1 to be really powerful. The X100S is lightweight and unassuming, making for great candids while the X-T1 would have the telephoto lens on it for the close-ups. For this event, with the wide variety of settings and lighting conditions I found myself really wishing I had two X-T1s for two reasons:

  1. The X100S has a nice fixed wide angle lens, but sometimes you really want something wider.  But the killer was that the situation of documenting an event without interrupting it means that I really can’t “zoom with my feet” and need a real zoom lens to properly frame the scenes.
  2. The X100S and X-T1’s controls are sufficiently different that I found it increasingly annoying to remember which set of button pushes did this or that and when seconds count that cost me some images (or just made simple tasks a bit harder).  Even though I shoot with different Canon bodies, the controls have enough “family” similarity that they don’t often get in the way (not 100% true of course).  Having 2 X-T1s in my kit is now an increasing priority.

As discussed before, I’m still not happy with the autofocus of the X-T1/55-200mm lens.  When it locks on, it does a great job – but it’s just way too slow and doesn’t do well in low light.   I think there’s a f/2.8 telephoto coming to market soon and, if I sell my Canon glass, I will probably spring for one of those and hope it does better.

All in all, the Fuji system continues to be a great investment and is the future of event photography for me.

Photographs from the 3rd Annual Sip and Stroll event sponsored by the Maynard Business Alliance.  Unlike past years, the weather didn’t exactly cooperate, but a fairly large group of hardy souls braved the cold rain to enjoy the tree-lighting, carolers, and numerous open stores in downtown Maynard.   Thanks to everyone who came out to the event and the many businesses and volunteers who made the night possible.  And a huge thanks to the Maynard Police Department for keeping us all safe in the rain (as the probably only other person who was outside  in the rain the entire event I can identify a little bit…)

This was an “all-weather” test for my Fuji cameras.  It was raining steadily through the entire event.  The biggest problem was my glasses (and the eyepieces) fogging up or getting raindrops on them.   While the X-T1 has weather seals, the X100S does not, nor does the 55-200mm lens I had on the X-T1.  I wrapped the lens in a ziplock bag and did my best to keep the X100S under my jacket when not shooting.   When shooting at night, one’s “success percentage” drops significantly and the rain made that number go even lower, so it was a bit of a challenge to find good photographs.   That said, I’m still impressed with both cameras and really enjoy the EVF in low-light situations (vs the optical viewfinders).

Photographed with Fuji X-T1, XF 55-200mm; Fuji X100S.  Mostly at ISO 6400. Minimal processing in Lightroom 5.

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The Maynard Community Fest is an annual event sponsored by the Assabet Valley Chamber of Commerce which celebrates community, culture and commerce.  Main Street and Nason Street are both closed down and are lined with tents, booths and food carts, Memorial Park becomes a concert venue and a parking lot holds bouncy castles and thousands of people stroll through town.   I’ve been happy to be the photographer for this great event for many years now.

It’s a 6-hour event and an ever-changing set of activities, so that translates to a lot of photographs.  Here’s a slice of the day:

Usage: High-resolution digital copies of these photographs can be requested by sending the photo id’s (lower left corner) to dave@confluencevisuals.com.  I’ll try to get them to you in a reasonable timeframe.  No charge for participating businesses/organizations.

Technical Information: I continue to eschew my DSLRs for events (and continue to not miss them at all as I’m on my feet for 6 hours and probably walk 4-5 miles during the day with my gear). The setup for the day was a Fuji X100S for the wide shots and the Fuji X-T1 with the 55-200mm f/4.5 was used for the closeups. I did a set of “high angle” shots and a quick pass through the fest with the X-T1 and the 10-24mm wide-angle lens. Processed with Lightroom 5 with custom presets for sunny and shade scenes.

This is my 13th year photographing the OARS annual river cleanup of the Assabet (and now Sudbury and Concord) River(s), that event in its 28th year. It’s logistically impossible for me to visit all of the cleanup teams that span from Westborough to Concord, but I try to capture a number of them. The ever-changing nature of the cleanup and annual changes in river flow make some years less “photogenic” than others. I found some small groups in Concord (near Nashoba Brook), Acton, Maynard, and Hudson.

To learn more about OARS and how it protects our local rivers, please visit: oars3rivers.org.
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Photographs from the Acme Theater production of “God of Carnage” (by Yasmina Reza). Directed by Michele Aguilon playing September 12-October 4. Actors: Bill Stambaugh, Rebecca Shor, Gordon Ellis, Sara Jones.
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Edit1.Still001 Did you know that July 26th was National Dance Day?   I received an email from Carol Leary, who organizes the Maynard Famers’ Market, who asked if I would photograph a flash mob that was being organized for National Dance Day.   Of course I would!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F1yTzIZ50m0


I love it when people come together to bring a little taste of the arts into everyday life. Congrats to Judy Quint for organizing the dancing (including being one of the talented people teaching the choreography in the weeks leading up to the Day), and thanks to Carol for inviting me to record it for everyone.

Technical Stuff: A Lightweight Gig

A “one-man band” can have a hard time doing both photography and videography of an event.  Normally the client has to choose one or the other.  And this “event” was going to be 5 minutes tops.  But I worked out a plan so that I could get video footage while allowing me to photograph – and it kinda worked.  One of the extenuating circumstances was that I didn’t have a vehicle that morning, so everything had to be carried there from my home.   Fortunately my Fuji gear plus a few extras made for an easy hike.  The primary photo camera was the Fuji X-T1.  I started with the 18-55 and then switched to the 55-200 about halfway through the song.  For the overhead shot I had a GoPro Hero 3 on a light stand next to the PA/music.   I set up the Fuji X100S to record video from a MeFoto tripod that I set up off to the side a bit.  (You’ll notice that it only reframes once — I was busy running around taking pictures…)   There aren’t too many places you leave your equipment out in public, relatively unsecured, but my town is one of those places.  Had everything set up 15 minutes before they got the iPod to play the right song and I was walking home with my cameras and some cinnamon rolls from Cookie Lady Treats for Sunday’s breakfast 30 minutes later.  Fun stuff.

P.S. – You may not be able to view the video.   (Sigh!) I know that it appears to be blocked on iPads.  I’m pretty sure this is because the video is flagged for using copyrighted material (the song they dance to), which is a technically legitimate but somewhat awkward claim.  The Dizzy Feet Foundation, which organizes National Dance Day, selects (suggests?) the music and encourages people to post their videos online – but sadly this is essentially encouraging mass copyright violations.   I suppose I could post a copy of the dance without the music, although that seems to defeat the point (and sheer joy) of the entire day.  Thanks music industry!  Well, at least in the spirit that Dizzy Feet has, we tried…

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For the Fourth of July I was invited to photograph an event held at a beautiful 19th century farm  in Maine.  The owner has held this event for 20 years now and he wanted to capture this community event that he stages each year — mostly for the kids (and the kid inside all of us).

Mother Nature threw us a curve ball with the first hurricane of the season passing off the coast on the 4th and bringing driving rain to the area, but the forecast for the 5th looked fantastic — and it was!

The photos from the event are for the attendees, but if you are are interested in having a similar event photographed please contact me and I can provide access to them.

jw-fireworks-grid

Technically this was an interesting project.  Half of the event takes place in complete darkness (well, a setting gibbous moon), so finding focus, etc. is a bit challenging.   My original plan called for sending the quad-copter up above the fireworks for a unique point of view, but while the weather was quite nice for everyone on the ground it was way too windy above the treetops for such an operation, so that part of the plan sadly remained grounded.   I did have the opportunity to attach the GoPro cameras to some go-carts and other vehicles which was great fun.   I only wish I had more time (or another set of hands) to do more.

Here’s a shot of my equipment depot tucked away in the corner of a barn:

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I hope to be invited back again some day.  While I’m quite happy with the results, armed with a bit more knowledge about how the event unfolds would open up a number of photographic and video opportunities without intruding on people’s enjoyment of the day.