Saturday, August 3, 2013

First Day of School

Today I was rummaging through some older images for maybe using on my revised website when I ran across an image from over 10 years ago that really has stuck with me. I was covering the first day of school at an elementary school. Of course, for many of the youngsters, it was really their FIRST day of school ever. I saw kids hanging on to moms and dads as well as those that were excited to be in school. As always, I was on deadline and that means looking quickly, finding the shot, capturing it, and moving on to the next one. As a result, I did not get the chance to really "see" an image. Such is the case here. As I roamed through the school, kids and parents coming in, parents leaving, kids in a new environment, I started looking for the right combination of people. This image caught my eye due to the posture of the little girl (obviously in distress at being left alone in a new place) and her teacher looking to calm her anxiety. I snapped the picture, took another quick look around the classroom, and moved on.

A few hours later I am back at the office downloading images from the morning shoot. When I brought up this image I suddenly noticed a key part of this image that I had missed while shooting - a tear on the little girl's face! A little correction for exposure and color due to the sunlight and fluorescent light mix and I had a front page photo for that week's edition.

But fast forward to today and my change in gear. That shot was taken with an Nikon F100 and 80-200mm f2.8 zoom. Now that my equipment is comprised of a 35mm and 50mm lenses, how do I get this shot without interfering in the action? That is something I am mulling over as I continue my conversion to a different shooting style. To get something intimate like this requires some thought on my part as to how I accomplish still being the "fly on the wall" that I have done in the past. I would love to hear others' thoughts on this and, if you have already done it, can you think of anything specific that worked for you?

Well, I hope you enjoy the image. It is what I consider one of my better journalistic shots in my short career as a newspaper photojournalist.

And, as always, make a comment!! Let me know what you think! Until next time, keep on shooting.....


  1. So poignant! The picture says it all.

  2. Thanks, David. The one problem I am having is being able to capture "slice of life" images like this without the availability of a long, fast lens, prime or zoom. This one was captured with an 80-200mm f2.8 zoom @ 200mm on a Nikon F100 (forget what film). Now that the longest lens I will have is an 85mm (127.5mm in full frame), I am concerned about being close enough to "fill the frame" (remember Capa? "If your pictures aren't good enough, you are not close enough!"). I have always hated cropping images AFTER the shot. To have gotten this shot with my X-E1 (still on its way) and my 85mm would have meant being closer by several feet and possibly intruding into the situation. I am trying to resolve this in my own mind to make use of the capabilities of the Fuji 16MP sensor to crop to some extent. Only time will tell. I just need to get comfortable with my new system so I "see" what my stable of lenses will provide. I really don't want to go back to a pair of big DSLRs like my Nikon D2H bodies with huge, weighty fast zooms on them. Have you any thoughts along this reasoning?

  3. Richard, I know what you mean about not wanting to crop after the shot, but as you say, if you had taken this picture with the Fuji, the only alternative would have been to move several feet closer and that would have been an intrusion into the situation. I have just got back from shooting some pics for a friend's video shoot. The stills of the set were easy enough because I could move in close to get the shots, but I also found myself resorting to the 70-200mm lens for more candid shots of the crew doing the filming, sound recording etc. I felt if I had moved in closer they would have been conscious of my presence and the shots would have been less natural.

    Without going back to your Nikon DSLRs, I guess the only option is to crop post image capture - at least the 16MB sensor gives you some room for manoeuvre. Depending on the style of picture, the additional noise from close cropping might even add to the 'mood' of the picture?

  4. That could be, David. I guess I will have to find out. I am trying to get involved with a local theater soon for a production later this fall. It will give me a chance to try some different things. Since it is a free gig staying with just the pair of Fuji's with a couple of lenses for the X-E1 is doable. AND will give me a chance to experiment...
    I won't be going back to DSLRs. Too old to be carrying that much weight all day again. Besides the f2.8 zooms (one on each body), I used to also run up and down sidelines of high school American football and soccer with a 300mm f2.8. Just too much of a load anymore. With the exception of my Nikkor 1,8/5mm, all the Nikon stuff has been sold.