Making Not Taking Photographs

Backstage views on making photographs professionally

Archive for the ‘Photojournalism’ Category

The Wide angle telephoto…

Posted by Mike on August 12, 2014

You need one of these… you have one of these… whether you know it or not…

The secret is in the photoshop “Photomerge” panorama machine…  Figure it out you will love the results…

Here we have a photo which would normally be made with a 35mm wide angle lens (on a full frame 35mm digital camera). But instead I have pieced together 75 photos taken with a 200mm lens…

Mt. Rainier

Because this is a 2 gigabyte file (or more) you can zoom in and see people climbing the mountain from 5 1/2 to 6 miles away (Canon 70 to 200mm L lens 1/640th at f10)pano jpg b pano jpg dHere are some other multi shot panoramas made with telephoto lenses (mostly an 85mm f1.8 Canon which I think is the perfect panorama lens).


Posted in Advertising Photography, fine art photography, Landscape Photography, Photojournalism, Software techniques | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Getting Fired by the Associated Press

Posted by Mike on January 30, 2014

January 2014:

I am an ex UPI employee so I don’t care much for AP (they act too much like a monopoly and helped kill UPI for one thing)… I would never work for them because of their “work for hire” “rights grabbing” contract anyway.

But it is bugging me… this last thing when they fired one of their well thought of photographers for spotting out a distracting element in a photo. For the record… I have never produced a photograph for newspaper or magazine that wasn’t painstakingly burned, dodged, spotted for dirt, treated with potassium ferricyanide, cropped, selected over another photo for artistic or informational rationale, or had the color or tone shifted to make it a “better” photograph capable of conveying the situation in the best way possible to the end reader.

That’s what we all want is for the photo to be transcendent… (not in the way of the information).

AP cut ties with Contreras publicly after the photographer informed the wire service that he had removed a video camera from a corner of an image of a Syrian rebel soldier taking cover during a fire fight. Contreras says he knew it could end his relationship with AP, but that he didn’t expect to be shut out of the process.

AP-photoshopWas this firing really necessary? Was the picture compromised? I doubt it. Really, the picture doesn’t tell you much anyway so that presents another problem where the cutline writer can spin it anyway he/she wants. (In the old days Pravda was humorously famous for making up cutlines that were just  amazingly fake.)

Here are two examples of my own work which would probably get me fired I guess. When it comes to the scenic of the boat which photo is fake? As far as I am concerned the retouched one is actually more accurate than the dead looking one from the unprocessed RAW image the camera produced.  Under AP rules are we supposed to be stuck looking at dead, automaton generated purely “documentary” crap a camera produces. Then I guess you don;t need photographers to interpret the RAW file because there is no need for “artistic” or “explanatory” efforts in news photography, right? What a load of crap IMHO.

023sunset-2 023sunsetIn another example I worked on a food shoot yesterday. And I am always looking for a better way to enthusiastically promote my client’s efforts to produce a quality product and sell more stuff (so they can afford to pay me help them sell more stuff).  But back to “accuracy” Which photo is more accurate?

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Posted in Advertising Photography, Concept Photography, fine art photography, Food Photography, Photojournalism | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

2013 in review

Posted by Mike on December 31, 2013

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 2,400 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 40 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Posted in Photojournalism | Leave a Comment »

Digital or Film… Has 100 years made an improvement?

Posted by Mike on July 13, 2013

YEAH, YEAH, YEAH… digital cameras are good and getting better but take a look at these and try to match the quality of these images made 100 years ago with even a $5000 digital camera… you can’t do it.

Posted in Photojournalism | Tagged: | Leave a Comment »

My Close up rig…

Posted by Mike on January 31, 2013

Update June 2016. The is my new rig for light in 1:1 close ups. It doesn’t work for everything but it is pretty good. Go here to see some very satisfactory results:  and



It is certainly possible to go to a camera store and spend hundreds of $$ on stuff…. I made my diffuser from a $1.89 milk jug. And I put the pieces together from other stuff lying about which I use for lots of other types of photography…. The ETTL extension cord is one of the most handy accessories you can own. A bracket to hold your flash over the camera (vertical or horizontal) is deemed necessary by many photographers for candid and wedding work. (there is nothing worse looking than a vertical photo with a flash shadow beside the head on the wall behind the subject… a sure sign of poor amateur technique).

A $1.89 half gallon of milk (empty container) and a small slice of velcro and you are in business.  The photos below are from a 1Ds Mk2 with a 100mm macro lens ISO 100, ETTL Flash through the milk carton (set on minus 1/3 stop). Camera was manual f 16, 1/125th. I go back and forth on the auto focus thing….  I cannot see as well as the camera can so for still stuff one shot…. for bugs continuous servo focus…. expect a lot of failures…. There is no depth of field at 1:1 close up focus distances…  Any closer (bigger) and you will need a camera mount (stand or tripod) and a rack to move the whole camera back and forth for fine focus….

_R7F0472_R7F0450 _R7F0466 IMG_7076

Posted in Animals and Bugs, Photojournalism | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

No retouching…. trying to be on a budget?

Posted by Mike on November 3, 2012


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Commercial and Editorial Photography Portfolio

Posted by Mike on January 15, 2011

My new brochure (january 2011).

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Posted in Advertising Photography, Annual Report Photography, Architectural Photography, Food Photography, Photojournalism, Yacht Photography | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Thousands die eating YOUR trash….

Posted by Mike on October 29, 2009

If you go here:

You will find the final resting place of your trash… Tens of thousands of birds are eating plastic because it  “looks like” food. They die. The Midway atoll is covered with their bodies. As they decompose the contents of the stomach does not. Plastic is forever, apparently.  Anything you discard that finds it’s way to the ocean ends up here… If you’re a litterbug you did this.


Posted in Animals and Bugs, Photojournalism | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »


Posted by Mike on September 28, 2009


They built a nice DNA shaped bridge for $10 million, but now what?

When Immunex wanted to build a new company campus on cheap property located in an under-utilized area of Seattle’s waterfront they were granted a building permit with a couple quid pro quos that the city would build them an off ramp for $19 million and the the company would build a foot bridge. Otherwise, the property was going to cut off from the public a waterfront park… As a practical matter Immunex employees who wanted to ride the bus would have to dodge railroad trains at the busy grain terminal where ships load grain from railcars and silos.

The deal was the foot bridge had to remain open to the public….

So today while I am photographing a “public place” (a bridge on a public right of way required by the city of Seattle) and buildings visible from a “public place” on all four sides the AMGEN (owner of Immunex) security guard comes running up and tells me to stop taking pictures that “she can’t allow that sort of thing”. I handed her my business card and informed her that she no such authority. The buildings were visible from a public place and to leave me alone. She began jabbering into her radio and walked off.


PR Calls 9-28…. Sorry… Our guard was just doing her job (maybe not as she should have been)  and we know it’s a public place but we need to protect our intellectual property… (which as, explained, is all inside the building and not visible).  Please remove the “horse’s ass of the week”  denotation on your blog…

Ok, so we will.. for now.

Lets see what happens on a return visit at a future unannounced date.

Amgen’s website has photos both inside and outside the building that can tell you corporate espionage types a lot more than my photos can…

click here:



Beat the Guard back to the car…. I think she outweighs me so I am safe…

This next image is 3 exposures (at ISO 200 at around 10 seconds or more) processed by Photomatix into an HDR image. Then the image is reimported to Lightroom and processed more as a 16 bit Pro-Color Space Tiff… Then exported as a sRGB jpeg in 8 bit color for the web. The rest below are hand held single exposures… processed to sharpen and reduce noise in 1600 ISO exposures down to 1/8th second.




Published: January 22, 2013

For a disheartening example of how intense lobbying and financial contributions can distort the legislative process in Washington, consider what happened to the “fiscal cliff” bill approved three weeks ago by Congress.

Senators who play a major role in federal health care financing were happy to help Amgen, the world’s largest biotechnology company, evade Medicare cost-cutting controls by delaying price restraints on a class of drugs used by kidney dialysis patients, including Sensipar, a drug made by Amgen. That provision was inserted into the final fiscal bill by Senate aides. Many members of Congress did not know it was in the bill until just hours before it was approved.

Although other companies will benefit financially from that delay, Amgen, which has 74 lobbyists in Washington, was the only company to lobby aggressively for the provision. The delay will cost the Medicare program up to $500 million over a two-year period.

The disturbing details were revealed in a report by Eric Lipton and Kevin Sack of The Times on Sunday. The maneuvering to exempt these drugs undercuts a five-year effort to change the incentives used to pay for kidney dialysis care. Previously, Medicare had paid providers separately for the drugs and for administering dialysis treatment, a system that often encouraged overprescribing.

But, in 2008, Congress reversed the incentives by requiring Medicare to pay a single, bundled rate for a patient’s dialysis treatment and related medications, starting in 2011. But certain oral drugs, including Sensipar, were given a two-year reprieve, to expire in 2014, from being included in that more cost-effective bundled system. The fiscal bill has now extended that exclusion for an additional two years.

Supporters of the delay — notably, Senator Max Baucus, a Democrat of Montana, who leads the Senate Finance Committee, and Orrin Hatch, of Utah, the ranking Republican on that committee — say it is needed to give the Medicare system and dialysis providers time to absorb other complicated changes in federal reimbursements for kidney care. But there is good reason to suspect other factors were involved as well. Both senators have political and financial ties to Amgen, as does Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader, who exerted great influence over the fiscal negotiations and praised the Medicare provisions.

A top aide to Mr. Hatch, who was involved in negotiating the dialysis delay, previously worked as a health policy analyst for Amgen. The current lobbyists for Amgen include former chiefs of staff for both Mr. Baucus and Mr. McConnell. And the three senators have received substantial contributions from Amgen’s employees and its political action committee since 2007 — almost $68,000 to Senator Baucus, $59,000 to Senator Hatch, and $73,000 to Senator McConnell.

Amgen’s strong influence prevailed even though it had pleaded guilty just weeks ago to marketing an anti-anemia drug illegally and agreed to pay criminal and civil penalties of $762 million, a record settlement for a biotechnology company.

This dreadful episode is a classic example of the power of special interests to shape legislation and shows how hard it may be to carry out the reforms needed to cut health care costs.

Posted in Architectural Photography, Photojournalism | Tagged: , | 5 Comments »

Old Lady versus the Corporation….who won?

Posted by Mike on September 27, 2009

July 8th, 2009

By Nick Perry and Charles E. Brown

Seattle Times staff reportersBy Nick Perry and Charles E. Brown

The strange and inspiring tale of the Little Ballard House That Could took another bizarre twist Tuesday.

The cottage once owned by Edith Macefield, an elderly woman who turned down an offer of $1 million to sell her home to developers, has been sold to a company run by a motivational speaker who says he intends to raise the home into the air — both literally and philosophically.

King County property records show the home — now hemmed in on three sides by the five-story Ballard Blocks retail and office complex — was sold Tuesday to Reach Returns for $310,000. The seller was Barry Martin, the construction supervisor who became Macefield’s friend and caregiver before her death last June at age 86. Macefield left Martin the home in her will.


Greg Pinneo, the co-founder of Reach Returns, said he intends to remodel the interior of the home and then raise it to the height of the surrounding building, using a steel supporting structure. Underneath the home would be a two-level open space accessible to the public called “Credo Square,” Pinneo said, where for $250 to $5,000, people could etch their credo into tiles to be installed at the site. The home, meanwhile, would become the offices for Reach Returns.

“This endeavor is much more philosophical in nature than it is about real estate or construction,” Pinneo said. “It’s continuing to think deeply about what’s important. That’s what Edith put out there … to consider the great questions in life.”

The home was recently used to promote the Pixar movie “Up” — in which an elderly man ties thousands of balloons to his home to escape encroaching development and fulfill a lifelong dream to see the wilds of South America.

Barry Martin said one thing Edith didn’t want was for the home to become a memorial or shrine. He said that after talking to Pinneo, he felt the project was suitable.

“I like the fact that the house is going to stay,” Martin said. “It’ll make me feel good every time I drive by there. It will remind me of Edith. She’s been gone a year now, but she still touches me.”

Martin said he got to know Edith by being friendly when working on the project. Soon he found he was running her to hair appointments, and then making her three meals a day, taking her laundry out and doing whatever else she needed.

He said her legacy has sometimes been misinterpreted.

“Everyone liked to think she wanted to stick it to the man,” Martin said. “But she really just wanted to do what she wanted to do, and money didn’t mean anything.”

Martin said that when Macefield told him she was leaving him the house, she said he’d need it to put his two kids through college. With a son and daughter both in college now, Martin said, that’s where the money will go.

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