ethics

Meridian Fastpitch Softball: Building a Cohesive Team

Over the past few months I’ve covered prep sports at Meridian High School in Laurel north of Bellingham, Wash. Overall it’s fun and yet challenging.

But I must apologize to the Lady Trojans softball team for not making it to enough games. Unfortunately, due to circumstances like rain, schedule conflicts, and more rain, I missed out on covering the Lady Trojans softball games. The games were postponed or scheduled when I had other plans.

For the Cure:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian Lady Trojans wore pink to support the fight against breast cancer as they hosted the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

As a result, I missed all but their last two home games. It would have been nice to be able to attend more and give them better photographic coverage.

Photographing fastpitch softball is like baseball: you have to be on our toes, be mobile to move to different spots, and pay attention to the game.

Watching The Runner:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian High School girls fastpitch softball hosts visiting Ferdale High School at Meridian HS in Laurel, Wash., on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian pitcher keeps an eye on the Ferndale runner during the 4th inning on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

This is the first year for the new head coach Jordan Chambers. Being as it’s the coach’s first year, so it’s a building year. New teams tend to take a few seasons to work the bugs out. But I believe with a little extra hard work, the team can become contenders.

As the games tend to be high scoring, you have to concentrate more on the game when runners are on base. They tend to defy logic and run full tilt to home when given a chance. So paying attention is extremely important.

Great Form:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A Meridian player smacks on into center field as the Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

Two major challenges I had to overcome: lack of rosters and a 7 foot high silver fence around the field.

As I don’t like not having names for people in photos as I think it looks like sloppy and lazy journalism. Having a roster would be nice so I can at least identify the girls. Who doesn’t like their photo in the paper and not their name?

Sliding In:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – A Meridian runner begins her slide into home plate in the 6th inning as the Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

Over the past few years, Meridian invested in improvements to the field. One of them is a new galvanized fence. Unfortunately, the fence is still shiny silver and very difficult to shoot through. It is 7 feet high so photographing over it is nearly impossible.

To get around it somewhat, I step into the dugout and shoot through the open door. Gotta try to get clean photos. For the photos I do end up shooting through the fence, I just burn the flare down in Lightroom or Photoshop. Just enough to get rid of the spot and add contrast.

Taking Aim:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian pitcher taking aim at a Sehome player as the Lady Trojans host the Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

I think next year I’m going to bring a ladder and hook it to the top of the fence so I can shoot over it. I’ve had to do something similar when I was in college at Western Kentucky University. My friend Daniel Wallace (he now works at the St. Petersburg Times) and I put a picnic table against the fence so we can stand on it. We were shooting the game for the College Heights Herald and the Bowling Green Daily News.

We got the same photo, but since the Herald published that night and the Daily News was an afternoon paper, his was published first. As a result, the editor at the BGDN saw it and pulled mine. We had nearly the same photo. Here it is: Western 2nd Baseman Jumping.

Ready For Action:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Meridian 2nd baseman prepares for a hit as the Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

One of the things I do when covering sports, I just don’t wait for action. I find compositions for players as they wait, seek subtle moments, and keep focused on the game. Again, you never know when the play happens that changes the game.

Intense:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The short stop for the Meridian Lady Trojans prepares for a hit as they host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

Another Serious One:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Meridian Lady Trojans host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The short stop for the Meridian Lady Trojans prepares for a hit as they host the Sehome Lady Mariners in fastpitch softball at Meridian High School on Wednesday afternoon May 6, 2014. The Lady Mariners won 15-5.

For the above two photos, I can’t decide which one I like better. In the top she has an intense look on her face, in the other she is ready to pounce.

Which one do you like better and why?

Concentration:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Meridian High School girls fastpitch softball hosts visiting Ferdale High School at Meridian HS in Laurel, Wash., on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography – The Ferndale pitcher goes against Meridian fastpitch softball action as the Lady Trojans host the Golden Eagles at Meridian HS in Laurel, Wash., on Friday afternoon May 2, 2014. The visiting Golden Eagles defeated the Trojans 13-0.

I see a lot of potential for Meridian as they begin to coalesce into a well-rounded team.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on various Social Networks:

Follow Me on Google+

“Like” my Page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Pinterest

Training Fire in Whatcom County North of Bellingham, WA

***Update: Discovered the Whatcom Sheriff’s report about the arrest of two former residents on the home. Follow the link at the end of the blog.

On my way to shoot a soccer game, I notice a column of thick black smoke rising in the distance. Being the fire chaser I am, I noticed it was on the way to the game.

Watching the Show:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Several Whatcom County firefighters take a rest as they monitor a controlled training fire on Kline Street one mile east of Meridian Avenue north of Bellingham on Saturday afternoon April 12, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – Several Whatcom County firefighters take a rest as they monitor a controlled training fire on Kline Street one mile east of Meridian Avenue north of Bellingham on Saturday afternoon April 12, 2014.

As I drove, I turned on my scanner app on my phone and tried listening to see if I can pinpoint the address. I didn’t hear anything so I drove along the main routes towards the rising column.

Letting it Burn:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - A house and garage go up in flames during a controlled training fire on Kline Street one mile east of Meridian north of Bellingham on Saturday afternoon April 12, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A house and garage go up in flames during a controlled training fire on Kline Street one mile east of Meridian north of Bellingham on Saturday afternoon April 12, 2014.

As I drove north on Cordata Parkway, I could tell it was east of Guide Meridian and north of Horton Road. So first chance I had, I headed east towards Meridian then headed north. As I was driving north, the column was becoming thicker and more pronounced. Still nothing on the scanner.

Watching the Show:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - A woman holds her child while watching a controlled training fire on Kline Street one mile east of Meridian Avenue north of Bellingham on Saturday afternoon April 12, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A woman holds her child while watching a controlled training fire on Kline Street one mile east of Meridian Avenue north of Bellingham on Saturday afternoon April 12, 2014.

When I reached Kline Road, the column was directly to my right so I turned. About 3/4 of a mile down the road, I saw cars lined up along the road and a sign stating it was a training fire for the fire department. I stopped and shot a few frames, nothing really important. But my two favorite ones are the three firefighters kicking back watching and the woman holding her child as they watch the structure burn.

Monitoring the Blaze:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - A Whatcom County firefighter monitors a controlled training fire on Kline Street one mile east of Meridian Avenue north of Bellingham on Saturday afternoon April 12, 2014.

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography – A Whatcom County firefighter monitors a controlled training fire on Kline Street one mile east of Meridian Avenue north of Bellingham on Saturday afternoon April 12, 2014.

 While I was shooting, I asked a few people about the house. In other training fires I photographed, the houses donated to the fire department are condemned and will be torn down. This particular house had an alleged meth lab in the garage and the house smelled so bad  of  chemicals the materials are not salvagable. I’ll keep you posted when I find out more.

Here’s the link to the report on the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office website concerning the home: Two Arrested for Methamphetamine Distribution

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.
Paul “pablo” Conrad
Follow me on various Social Networks:
Follow Me on Google+
Pablo Conrad Photography
“Like” my Page on Facebook
Follow me on Twitter
Follow me on Pinterest

Ups & Downs of News Photography: Covering an Assignment for the San Antonio Express-News

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine, Andy Bronson of the Bellingham Herald, referred me to Photo editor Luis Ruiz of the San Antonio Express-News for an assignment.

The assignment was to cover the official release of the U.S. Chemical Safety Board report which states the cause of an explosion that killed 7 people in the early morning hours of April 2, 2010, at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes. The refinery is about 45 miles southwest of Bellingham. San Antonio is home of the Tesoro Petroleum.

Refinery Lights across the Bay from Seafarer’s Memorial Park

© Paul Conrad/San Antonio Express-News - Public hearing and official release of the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation report on Thursday evening Jan. 30, 2014, at Anacortes High School in Anacortes, Wash.. The report concerns the safety failures at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes which exploded and killed 7 people on April 2, 2010.

One glitch in an otherwise routine news assignment, San Antonio is two hours ahead and the meeting at the High School begins at 6. The newspaper’s deadline is at 9 Central. So the meeting starts an hour before their deadline. Wonderful.

Refinery Lights Reflecting in Fidalgo Bay
© Paul Conrad/San Antonio Express-News - The Tesoro refinery as seen from Seafarers Memorial Park across Fidalgo Bay on Thursday evening Jan. 30, 2014. A public hearing was held with the official release of the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation report on the safety failures at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes which exploded and killed 7 people during the early morning hours of April 2, 2010.

I’ve worked on deadline before. However, it is usually at my newspaper so there is some leeway if you just call and let the editors know you’ll be 10 or 15 minutes late. But this was a big assignment for a rather large respectable metro newspaper. Looks like I’m going to work my ass off to get the images in.

The assignment was pretty simple. Other than the early deadline, the next day I was to spend with Vicki shooting images around Anacortes of people’s reactions and shots of the refinery. But as editorial assignments can sometimes go, that changed.

Chemical Safety Board Begins the Presentation:

© Paul Conrad/San Antonio Express-News - Chemical Safety Board lead investigator Dan Tillema during the public hearing and official release of the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation report on Thursday evening Jan. 30, 2014, at Anacortes High School in Anacortes, Wash.. The report concerns the catastrophic failure of a heat exchanger at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes which exploded and killed 7 people on April 2, 2010.

Which is fine as that’s not anything new to me. You have one of two choices: either bitch and whine about it, or just accept the new limits and finish the job. Water off a duck’s back. Roll with the punches. Improvise, adapt, overcome.
You must be flexible when working with newspapers. It is demanding at times, but that’s one of the reasons I like it so much. And you get to see some cool stuff on someone elses dime.

In this case, instead of going around town seeking local reaction, the business page editors just wanted shots of the refinery. No big deal, except fresh in my memory is a few disturbing reports of photographers being arrested while taking photographs of refineries. Here’s a link to a New York Times Lens Blog concerning photographers being arrested: Criminalizing Photography

Brian and Jeremy Hughes discuss the report: 

© Paul Conrad/San Antonio Express-News -  Brian Hughes of Seattle, left, and his brother Jeremy Hughes of Bellingham discuss the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation report on Thursday evening Jan. 30, 2014, at Anacortes High School in Anacortes, Wash.. The report concerns the safety failures at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes which exploded and killed 7 people on April 2, 2010.
The reporter was pretty friendly. Vicki was nice to work with and she knew her stuff when it comes to Tesoro. Strong communication skills go a long way to help reporters, visual and word, work to get the necessary information to the public.
I left a few hours earlier than I needed for several reasons:

  • To meet Vicki and discuss an action plan
  • To scope out and shoot some refinery shots for the deadline
  • To understand what was going to happen at the meeting, get names of the presenters, and get photos of the audience as they wait for the presentation to begin.

After spending about an hour shooting the refinery, I called Vicki and met her to go to the High School. Being as she was from San Antonio, I offered to pick her up and take her.

For an hour before the presentation I photographed people as they came in, sat together discussing the reports, and attempted to find any of the relatives of the victims. During this time I met brothers Brian and Jeremy Hughes. They are engineers who live in Seattle and were curious about what the CSB would show. (Read the full report here: CSB Release Report of Fatal Tesoro Refinery Explosion)

Unfortunately, I did not find any relatives of the victims before the presentation began. So, I shot an overall of the auditorium, the CSB presenters, and the closeups of the observers. Not very strong stuff, but you shoot what you can.

Ken Powell getting  hugged by Marie Howling Wolf
© Paul Conrad/San Antonio Express-News - Ken Powell  of  Mount Vernon, Wash.,  is hugged by Marie Howling Wolf (cq) during the public hearing and official release of the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation report on Thursday evening Jan. 30, 2014, at Anacortes High School in Anacortes, Wash.  Powell's daughter Katheryn Powell, 28, of Burlington, is one of seven workers killed in an explosion at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes in the early hours of April 2, 2010.

An hour after the presentation began, I needed to download my cards, make an edit, and upload to a Dropbox folder for Luis to use for the paper. In half an hour I had uploaded 6 images for them to use: 2 of the refinery, and 4 of the meeting.

While uploading, the presentation ended and then began public commentary with questions from the audience. I shot a few of these and as I did, noticed a few older people in the audience. As they began speaking, the introduced themselves. Some of the participants are locals interested in the safety of the community, and several others family members.

Herschel Janz listens to the Presentation. His son Lew died in the accident.
© Paul Conrad/San Antonio Express-News - Hershel Janz of Anacortes, Wash., listens to Estus Ken Powell during the comments section of  a public hearing and official release of the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation report on Thursday evening Jan. 30, 2014, at Anacortes High School in Anacortes. Janz's son Lew Janz and Powell's daugher Katheryn are two of seven Tesoro refinery workers killed in an early morning explosion at the Anacortes refinery on April 2, 2010.

As I was photographing one man, Herschel Janz just watched the commenters. Another older gentleman came up to the microphone and he introduced himself as Ken Powell. His daughter Katheryn Powell, 28, died from burns she received in the blast. After he finished, he stopped and shook hands with Herschel. Ken received a standing ovation as he returned to his seat.

Late afternoon Sun lights the steam as a tanker rests at dock:
© Paul Conrad/San Antonio Express-News - A ship is docked at the Tesoro Anacortes refinery in Anacortes, Wash., as seen on Friday afternoon Jan. 31, 2014. A public hearing was held during official release on Thursday evening of the U.S Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation report citing safety failures at the Tesoro Refinery in Anacortes which exploded and killed 7 people on April 2, 2010.

As I shot this, it occurred to me to call Luis and let him know of the images I was getting. It was past deadline, but in cases like this, it is always good to let the editor know if you are getting anything good and that you will be uploading them soon. Editors know that in these situations, you can sometimes get something good after deadline they will use.

Then next came Tesoro refinery worker Marie Howling Wolf. She was a good friend of Katheryn and knew Ken really well. After she spoke at the microphone concerned of the safety of her coworkers. She hugged Ken afterwards in a poignant moment.

After the filing the extra photos and story for deadline, I talked with Vicki to find out what we needed to cover and what time to meet her. She said the editors had changed the story to cover the safety record of the refinery and not local reaction. Basically, my job would be to drive around getting refinery photos.

The next day, the first thing I did was actually drive to the gate at the refinery, introduce myself, and let them know what I was doing. I was actually surprised when the Chief of Security told me that it was OK and to stay on the main road encircling the refinery. I was free to photograph any part of the refinery as long as it was visible from the road. That must made my job super easy.

Steam Rises from the main Stack:
© Paul Conrad/San Antonio Express-News - The Tesoro Anacortes refinery in Anacortes, Wash.

I spend most of the afternoon shooting the refinery from various angles from the road. While doing so, I discovered a walkway that goes from Fidalgo Bay Road, across Fidalgo Bay, and to the main road around the refinery. So I walked the Tommy Thompson Trail over the water shooting various angles.

As it began nearing sunset, I found myself looking east towards Mount Baker. The clouds still obscured the dormant volcano so a shot of the refinery with the mountain in the background would have to wait for another day. I still needed something with the huge oil tankers docked near the refinery. So looking at Google maps on my phone, I found a few spots to go check out.

One of them required a ferry ride to Guemes Island and drive along South Shore Road to find that angle. Lucky for me, the clouds parted in the west and let the Sun shine over the refinery. Got a few shots using my 80-200 and teleconverter.

Then the skies opened east as I was on the ferry ride back to Anacortes. The setting Sun lit everything in a beautiful orange as it dipped below the horizon. I drove back to Fidalgo Bay Resort to shoot a composition of the refinery against Mount Baker. The Sun had set but the alpenglow was phenomenal.

I parked my car and ran quickly to the shore with my gear. While running, I began extending the legs on my Manfrotto 055XProB tripod and placing the tripod mount on my Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8. I had to work fast as alpenglow can fade rather fast.

As I began shooting, the lights of the refinery began to turn on. I wanted the starburst-effect I know my lens can produce with the aperture stopped down to f/16 or f/22. So I based my exposure on these settings. I was getting 2, 4, and 8 second shutter times. Not only that, the alpenglow was becoming strong so I was getting both.

And in about 15 minutes, it was all gone. Taking a breather, I went through the images on my camera and found a few I liked. As I’ve had issues before of accidentally deleting them, I locked those images. One had a particularly nice twist in the steam coming from the main stack.

Alpenglow on Mount Baker as the Refinery Lights turn on
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Mount Baker is illuminated by the setting Sun as the lights at the Tesoro refinery in Anacortes, Wash., turn begin to illuminate the petroleum plant.

You can view some of the images on the San Antonio website: Tesoro Taken to Task for 2010 Explosion that Killed 7

Overall, it was nice to complete an assignment and to get a compliment from an editor I have never worked for.

If you have any work that needs covered in the Pacific Northwest, feel free to contact me here: Contact Form

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on various Social Networks:
Pablo Conrad Photography

“Like” my Page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Google+

My Page on 500px

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

What I’ve Learned Working Retail …

… And how it relates to a Photography business.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography- -Folklorico Mexicano dance team member Ashley Ventura,12, of El Jebel, Colo., watches others rehearse at Basalt Middle School during Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

Over the past year to help catch-up some bills, I worked at  The Home Depot here in Bellingham, Wash. I started as just a cashier but worked my way into the electrical department. It wasn’t as if I was going into something I didn’t know as I was an electrician in the Navy and for two years afterwards.

Even though I was part-time, I took the opportunity to learn as much as I could about

  • customer service,
  • stocking,
  • ordering,
  • inquiring, and anything else to make that job, and this photo business run so much easier.

Customer Service:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Kit Tramm of Indianapolis eyes his target while fly fishing on the Fryingpan River near Ruedi Dam in western Colorado.

The term customer itself is self explanatory. It is someone who needs something according to their needs. Even though I am a photographer and in that business, the requirements for customer service are the same as retail. You are offering a product and a service to your potential clients.

To provide the best customer service I can, I ask a lot of questions: What’s your goal with the photos? What’s their purpose? Would you like studio or location shot? Would you be flexible for both?

That is why it is important to schedule a consulting session prior to the actual photography. Find out what the client wants. don’t leave them nor yourself in the dark. Answer ALL the questions necessary before moving forward.

Stock Up and Keep Samples:

Not stocking per se, but having samples so the client can actually see what your work looks like in an album or book, on canvas or metal prints, or see your editing and Photoshop skills.
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Samples of my canvas prints.

It’s difficult to explain to someone what certain techniques look like on prints when you have none to show them. It’s worth the money to buy prints of several sizes, surface textures, and mounting styles to show your clients.

Let them physically touch and look at how crisp a metal print looks and how it mounts to a wall. Or how they can compare what an image looks like on canvas versus metal versus paper. How glossy compares to matte.
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Samples of my metal prints.

It’s also good for them to be able to compare sizes so they can be a smart consumer and order what they need. Show them what 8×10 looks like compared to an 11×14 and explain the value of each.

Let them physically feel your products to help them better understand all the options. You will make more sales in the long run.

Ordering and Ensuring High Quality:

The most asked questions we got are “How long will it take?,” “Is it easy to order?,” and “If I don’t like it, can I return it?”

It’s so important to know what the turnaround for each lab you use. I use two labs and their turnaround is reasonable: usually under a week. However, I have the items shipped to my house so I can inspect them. If they are not up to my standard, then I return them for new ones. Usually I have no issues.

For smaller projects, I give the client a three week time frame. A week to edit and post process the image, and two weeks for printing. You want to add a little time in case you need to get them reprinted. But if everything is good, you can deliver them early and this makes you look good.

However, usually it takes about 2 weeks total time. My week to edit is just in case something may happen. And the extra 2 weeks in case I have to get the prints made again. A worst-case scenario so-to-speak.

For larger projects such as weddings, those range 4 to 6 weeks to edit, post process, and get printed.

Inquire and Fulfill Their Needs:

I guess the better way to say this is Constant Contact. Keep in touch with the client so they not only know what’s going on, but make them feel comfortable to call if they have any questions.

Never leave the client hanging. If the client asks a question, respond immediately. If you have a doubt, ask the client to clear it up. Again, never assume nor leave the client hanging.

If you don’t have an answer for the client, find one. Even if you discover you can not do the job, FIND a photographer you know the client will be both comfortable AND happy with.

Go Above & Beyond:

“An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises.” – Mae West

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad PhotographyCoCo & Company make-up artist Antonio Cejudo finishes a client during the Seattle SMUG Cancer Survivor's portrait session at the Baroness Hotel in Seattle, Wash.

There is an old saying which I adhere to: “Promise nothing but deliver everything.” People are genuinely surprised when they hire me. I work hard, stretch my creativity, and deliver good images. I give them more than what they expected.

On the flip side, don’t make promises you can’t keep. The worst thing you could do is promise someone something and not deliver. It kind of follows the old adage “You’re only as good as your last photo.

Even though they hired you to do a job, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t deliver more than what they expected. After all, it will only increase your business and your reputation.

Thank the Customer:

© Paul Conrad/ Pablo Conrad Photography - Musician Mary Morley of Summit County belts out a few tunes with her group in Snowmass Village, Colo.

Be creative and find ways to thank your clients. Show them that you appreciate their business. It’s not enough just to do a good job, clients really appreciate it when you go out of your way to make sure they get what they need, and get a nice thank you for doing business.

Send them a nice thank-you card, send them a card during the holidays. Call them to make sure everything was up to their satisfaction.

Your job isn’t done when you give them their final product.  It’s really just beginning.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. Feel free to comment, critique, or just ask questions.

Also, feel free to share and reblog, link to, and add your site in the comment section.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Follow me on various Social Networks:
Pablo Conrad Photography

“Like” my Page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter

Follow me on Pinterest

Follow Me on Google+

My Page on 500px

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Some Tips & Techniques to Help You Improve Your Fireworks Photography

Happy 4th of July everyone.

Fireworks are fun and easy to photograph. The most important thing to remember is that timing and patience are your best friend.

With that in mind, here are a few tips to get you started in capturing some wonderful photographs.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Fireworks explode over Aspen Mountain as seen from Mollie Gibson Park in Aspen, Colo.

Before the Shoot:

First: Pick a good spot.

If you can, go out the day before and figure out where they will be launching from and the general direction where they will be exploding. Use that knowledge to find a unique angle to shoot from.

Make sure there are no trees in the way, power lines across your view, street lamps, or any other distraction. You may even find a flag pole with a lighted U.S. flag to add into your photograph.

Look for things to incorporate into the photo to add an extra dimension to your photograph. Things such as a lighted flag pole, or church crosses, or even a familiar landmark. This will keep your photo from being the old boring “this could’ve been shot anywhere” firework photograph.

By going the day before, you can avoid any crowds. You’ll have better access to a lot of places which will allow you to pick a better spot.

Second: Arrive Early.

Once you’ve figured out where you want to shoot from, arrive early so you can secure that spot. Nothing worse than spending time finding a cool spot only to have it taken before you get there.

Third: Be flexible.

You may pick the prime spot to shoot from, but you must be flexible. The organizers may have put up a banner, cordoned off the area, or someone may have gotten there before you.

Keep in mind, you will not be the only one shooting, so be courteous of others. By arriving early, you have a greater chance of securing a really good spot.

If you decide you want  a building or landmark in your photograph. Take a few test shots after you set up your tripod where you want it to find the proper exposure for the building/landmark. Use the aperture you want to use for you fireworks and figure out what shutter speed you will need.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Fireworks explode over Aspen Mountain in celebration of the Woman's World Cup ski races. I wanted to add some depth, so I scouted this location to get some of the town of Aspen and people. By using the tungsten setting, the lights on the buildings and people look more natural.

Add a bit of depth to your images by including people. Find a good angle that allows you to shoot both people and the fireworks. Personally, I think photographs of fireworks by themselves are boring. People, landmarks, and a different angle add to the image.

If you decide to use flash, remember that your Aperture controls your flash output. Also, remember that you’ll end up shooting in “tungsten mode” (see below) and this will help balance the color of your flash with your shooting. You will have to dial down your strobe to compensate for all the black in the photo.

Don’t be afraid to experiment photographing people during the fireworks. With a little experimentation, you can get some fabulous photos of a son on his dad’s shoulders, a hand waving the American flag, or anything else the adds to the depth of the photo.

Equipment & Settings:

Use full manual. Take control of your camera. Auto settings get fooled by the dark and when you push the shutter button, the camera may think you need 30 sec. at f/2.8.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

Fireworks blast the ashes of the late gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson into the sky above from a 150 cannon in the shape of his famous double thumbed-fist above his Woody Creek, Colo., home at Owl Farm. Knowing the basics of how to shoot fireworks helped me capture this image. The fireworks lasted less than 30 seconds.

Camera:

  1. Shutter: Set it to bulb. Use a cable release as your camera will be mounted on a tripod. This give you the option of when to open AND close the shutter.
  2. Aperture: Use between f/8 and f/11 to keep your highlights from blowing out and will keep the spark trails thin without a ghost effect.
  3. White Balance: Use tungsten. Due to the actual color temperature of fireworks, shooting using the tungsten setting will give you better and more accurate color. It is also closer to what some of the ambient light in buildings will be so those colors will be more correct.
  4. ISO: The lowest feasible ISO your camera has. Do not use the Lo-1, Lo-2, etc., setting. These clip the highlights. By using low ISO, you’ll see almost no grain (noise) due to the relatively long exposures and be able to make better enlargements.
  5. File Type: Use RAW. This will allow you to make minor color adjustments, exposure adjustments, and still keep the original file. I prefer RAW + Jpeg during all my shooting for its flexibility.
  6. Focus: Set your lens on manual. More later.

Lens:

The lens choice is up to you. Don’t go too wide or the fireworks will be small in the frame. If you go too tight, you may end up missing the show. Be ready to switch lenses quickly. With modern cameras, everything is set in the camera so you should be able to switch without having to change any settings.

Focus:

Do not use auto-focus. Your lens will try to focus on the dark sky and just hunt for a sharp spot. Rather, find a distant street light, focus on that, then tape down, with a small piece, the focus ring. The tape prevents it from going out of focus if accidentally hit.

Other Necessary gear:
Good sturdy tripod.
This is a must-have tool for anyone desiring to be a full time professional photographer. You need one for a multitude of reasons. You must keep your camera steady to keep your image sharp. Especially if you include stationary subjects such as buildings.

Cable Release:
As your camera is set your camera on bulb so you can open and close the shutter when you want. It will also help reduce camera shake.  (if you have one). Set your camera on manual mode and use the bulb setting. That is the setting where you start and stop the shutter. This is important as you want to open the shutter when the fireworks launch, then close the shutter after they have exploded and passed their high point.

You can get your camera maker’s version or an off shoot brand. If not, then press the button and hold. But be very still when doing so or you’ll introduce camera shake.

Extra Batteries:

You will be surprised at the number of photographers who forget to charge all of their batteries. Using long shutter speeds expends a lot of battery power and just when the grand finale begins, your batteries are dead.

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography

I went out earlier in the day to find a different angle. A lot of people I know were going to the Seattle Center to shoot the fireworks. I wanted something unique and remembered the crosses at St. Spiridon Orthodox Church.

Extra Tips:
Be careful of any street lights or other light sources. This is another good reason to check your angle before setting up your tripod. Take a few test shots before hand and check the image to see if you have any distractions.

Watch, don’t listen, to the fireworks. Begin your exposure as the fireworks begin their ascent (you’ll see them as they leave a trail of sparks), watch as they explode, then begin to fade. Don’t wait to hear the boom. Unless you’re directly under the fireworks, you’ll miss the shot.

After a few times, you should know the approximate height and direction they are exploding at.

Most Importantly: Have fun! Even if you don’t get something fantastic, at least you have the memories.

Thank you for stopping by and reading. All comments are appreciated.

Paul Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

“Like” my Page on Facebook

Follow me on Twitter