Category Archives: twitter

50 Portraits – 38

| currently listening to: Learo, You’re a Hole, Archers of Loaf, Icky Mettle, 1994 | LINK

the photography:
Portrait #38 is tony

i can’t remember who approached whom in my online relationship with tony. we both decided that it was either in reference to early SST bands or Archers of Loaf but we both agree that our shared love of music, culture, and aesthetics (photography and graphic design at the top of the list) has made us, at the very least, compadres. so i thought to myself, why not meet tony in person (IRL for those of you following at home)?

when i first looked up tony’s photography on the interwebs (Don’t Explode) i was grabbed by his attention to detail and the honesty presented in his portraits. my goodness tony can get to the point quickly with his photos. most of his subjects will lay out their life story for you with one deep look into their eyes. tony captures these moments with great precision while giving taking an off-the-cuff relaxed ‘studio-less’ style. it’s no coincidence that he’s quite an accomplished art director and his love of symmetry, colors, patterns, and composition play a large role in his photography.

because tony’s camera work focuses on two niche groups; portraits and skateboarding, i feel that i have found a kindred spirit. many artists these days spread themselves too thin artistically and they forget to practice their craft and focus on the subjects that they love. in trying to make a buck, lots of photographers accept mediocre results in the pursuit of being able to photograph everything for their clients. all of the kind things i said above about tony’s portraiture can also be said about his skateboarding photos as they are world class. you can feel the passion in his work because he is photographing the places he’s been, the people that he surrounds himself with, and the activities that he loves. even if you are not familiar with the subject matter, you can tell when someone truly owns their work.

music and culture can bring people together from all walks of life and tony and i just happened to meet at the end of a gorgeous spring day in chicago. we walked around the Ravenswood corridor right about the time that the light falls off the horizon and the world is left in a soft indirect glow. because we love the same music, because we make art that appeals to us, and because we are sticklers for doing it right the first time, tony and i get along smashingly. i hope that this mutual admiration continues and i seriously can’t wait to buy his first skateboarding coffee table book that encompasses photographs of everything that the modern skating lifestyle has to offer. hats off.

check out some of tony’s design and art direction work at Wellborn Clothing (they are currently undergoing some maintenance) and keep looking for his name in places like Thrasher, TransWorld Skateboarding, and keep an eye out for him up at the Wilson Skate Park this summer. he’ll be the guy with the fisheye 15mm who’s in the right place at the right time.

the music:
before eric bachmann was the leader of indie folk rockers Crooked Fingers, he was the tall front man for the lesser known Archers of Loaf. sprung from the depths of the fertile rock soil in Ashville, NC, these four dudes let us know what punk/indie rock guitar interplay could sound like. witty lyrics, odd finger picked guitar noises, and rabid fans made them underground heroes. speaking of underground, Archers are probably known for 2 famous phrases that they coined in their lyrics: 1. The underground is over crowded (written to show that the tube in London was packed) 2. She’s an indie rocker and nothing’s gonna stop her (written about a sassy riot grrrrl for sure).

if you haven’t heard the Archers before, it’s probably time you heard what all the fuss is about. go out and buy Icky Mettle and Vee Vee. you will be happy that you did (regardless of what Pitchforkmedia says…).

‘you’re a nervous brand of metal, i’m a solid state’.

flynn avenue, burlington, vermont

Exposure: 1/13 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/25 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/250 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/400 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/200 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 200 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/60 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/100 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 800 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/40 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/80 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/160 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/320 sec – Aperture: f1.8 – ISO: 400 – Focal Length: 28mm
Lens: EF 28mm f/1.8 USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Green Doors, Lowell Thompson & Crown Pilot, s/t, 2009, | LINK

the photography:
so this thanksgiving 2009 was much like any of my previous thanksgivings, it was mobbed with nephews, 4 generations of merritts, good food, great company, talk of babies, two different sit down dinners, and 1 happy dog waiting for us at home at the end of all the hub-bub. as i look back on thanksgiving ought-9, i see it as the end of a chapter in my life as it was the last thanksgiving for both my wife and i as a couple. the 2010 thanksgiving will mark our first as a trio. as baby merritt’s due date gets closer there will be lots of chapters closing and new ones starting. it feels absolutely wonderful. lots of “firsts” on the horizon, lots of ’em.

but more about this years thanksgiving in a later post!

PHOTO WALKING WITH A FRIEND: after traveling through 4 states already in 2 days, we finally arrived home at my parents house for 72 hours of some much needed r and r. i decided to take the opportunity to sneak out on a photo jaunt with an old friend who just happens to be a great street photographer whether he is in his hometown of burlington or roaming and clicking the streets of his former hood, san francisco. trevor is known on the interwebs as @roamandclick on the twitter and his personal photo website Roam and Click is quite fantastic. trevor also is a flickr-ite and can be found here under the moniker, [ bones ] : Flickr

i reconnected with trevor via facebook after 10 or so years of not seeing each other. he was heading into chicago and wondered if i would be up for a drink. since it was st. patrick’s day, i figured, what the hell. this was four years ago and we have kept in touch ever since. we’ve had our ups and downs as individuals but the connection trevor and i share is focused (pun intended) primarily on our love of two things: photography and urban decay. AND we both grew up in the same small town with the same group of 100 kids and we’ve both since travelled the world and seen the sights. last saturday we decided to tackle photos and urban decay. it was a blast. for the record, trevor is a Nikon guy. not that there’s anything wrong with that…

the photos are from just off of flynn avenue, in burlington, vermont. locals should know this area as the first magic hat brewery was located just around the corner. as usual, the lens is the trusted 28mm f1.8 and we hit the train tracks at the perfect golden hour of dusk. it was breezy and cool but not yet winter. you could smell the wood stoves in the air but you didn’t need a scarf. perfect weather for some photo walking with old friends. salt sheds, railroads, trucks, and dirty old buildings were provided by the city of burlington and it’s inhabitants. sigh.

the music:
lowell is a guy i grew up with who is making the scene in new england as what northern country twang means. he’s a heart-on-sleeve songwriter who delivers his brand of northcountry alt rock with a voice of gold and a cracking back up band containing some of burlington’s finest musicians. it’s a recipe made in “Wilco” fan heaven. go and check them out if you can and if they come to the midwest, you’ll see me in the front row.

THREE SIDE NOTES: i once worked for lowell’s dad as a house painter, lowell and i played high school lacrosse together, and his punk band in high school once opened for my ska band in (redundantly) high school. fact.

photogs and twitter part 2

| currently listening to: Girls On Film, Duran Duran, s/t, 1981 | LINK

the photography/internets part two:
twitter to me is a meeting of the minds where ideas can flow and friends can chat and people can show off what they’ve been working on. sure it’s an addictive way to spring your life onto old friends who haven’t seen you since high school graduation (sorry kids, i know i’m scary like that…). but it’s also a place to learn from seasoned veteran photographers and aspiring amateurs alike. for photographers at any level, the learning curve is never complete. practice does indeed make perfect but perfect keeps moving ever further out of reach with each photo you take. twitter, along with some tutorial style blogs and Flickr, allow for an open conversation about everything from the technical aspects of photography (lighting, cameras, lens’, editing, etc.) to the overarching creative techniques (styles, manipulations, cropping, etc.).

these days being a photographer doesn’t mean that you have to lock down all of the information you have accumulated through the years and store it away so that your favorite and most loyal assistant can abuse it and drag your name through the mud after you’ve retired. these days you can broadcast knowledge in 140 character snippets. sure, the market is being saturated by amateurs posing as professionals and vice-versa but the competition/posturing should inspire you to pass on what you know so that people can actually learn the trade instead of just speak it. i personally think it’s a great idea. i love spending hours looking at photos, the good and the bad. my best piece of advice for photographers is this: if you’re interested about getting better and learning more? go down to your local photography center and sign up to take a class. it’ll be worth your while. and lest we forget…

every great photographer takes a bunch of shitty photos every shoot.

so what is my favorite lens? well, let me tell you. i have 2.

lens 1:
for most of the week i work as a staff photographer for cars.com. most of my job revolves around documenting every car that comes into the office for review. i spend a lot of time in and around auto shows, new car launches, manufacturer tours, and proving ground tests so i see my fair share of metal shiny objects under crippling lighting conditions. to get through the day? i rely on the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM zoom lens. when i am looking to document the outside of a car, i shoot between 50mm and 70mm so as not to distort the proportions of the exterior (the photojournalist in me says “don’t distort proportions when documenting”. it’s fine in an artistic realm). for the interior, i make sure to use the lens across it’s range with wide dash shoots captured at 24mm and the fit and finish close-ups of the glove compartment at 70mm. it’s a fast lens that’s durable in various lighting situations and contains just enough range to keep my foot zoom to a dull roar.

lens 2:
when it comes to shooting portraits (a personal fave of mine and how i spend much of my time shooting photographs when not around cars) i like to grab my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM. fast, light, and with just the right balance of “i’m not trying to scare you with this camera in your face but i am trying to get you to make the perfect reactionary stare”, this lens is what i carry around with me even when i don’t have a camera on me. that way, if i’m trapped at work i can plop it on my camera body there. and if i want to walk the dog and some kid walks by with melting ice cream down his front? i won’t miss the shot because my camera body at home is always ready to be used. and let’s be honest. i tweeted this the other day:

@IDMPhoto: going out w/camera w/50mm prime. 50 f1.4 is the OG lens.
Twitter | Website

the first image is a collection of 81 photos i took of the all new 2009 Cadillac CTS-V. one heck of a car. 6.2L 556hp engine. basically a 4-door Corvette. not for the light at heart. 12mpg to boot. all photos taken with the Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8 L USM.

the second image is from a recent shoot with Markely. notice the man off frame left and the people just to his left shooting photos. there’s nothing more fun than watching people point their cameras at something (in this case, the bean in downtown chicago) and clicking away. ah… poetic. captured with my Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM.

the music:
what better way to write about the current state of photography than to listen to the former current state of pop music. my love for duran duran’s music is almost skin deep. sugary pop from england was shoved down my throat by an early babysitter who looked and acted every bit the part. she had spent a couple of years living with her father in london and when she moved back to the states (southern minnesota to be exact) she brought with her simon le bon’s hair style, nick rhodes’ grimmace, and enough swagger to fill any one of the taylor’s shoes. so it is with great head bobbing and no guy-liner that i listen to this record. sigh. to be in 2nd grade again and have a choice to listen to the dead milkmen or duran duran. as my brother always said back then (and probably today as well), “Twisted Sister sucks!” indeed.

photogs and twitter part 1

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1250 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/2000 sec – Aperture: F4.5 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/800 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

Exposure: 1/1000 sec – Aperture: F5.0 – ISO: 100 – Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: 50mm f/1.4L IS USM – Camera: Canon 5D

| currently listening to: Fully Completely, The Tragically Hip, Fully Completely, 1992 | LINK

the photography/internets part one:
photos are from the californian coastline on an awesome day.

the last couple of weeks I have been delving into the interwebbing version of a 7th grade dance, better known as, Twitter. all jokes aside, twitter is a great resource for photographers of all ages, abilities, and professional prowess’. the folks i have met recently are from all over the world and from all over the united states. we have been unified under one shutter flag as twitter has tied us all together in a jumbled mass of photographers trying out ideas, learning from each other, and just plain chewing the fat. for years as an artist i have been trying to find a group of like minded people who i could share an evening with and talk about what works, what doesn’t, where to shop, what gear you like, which lights are suited for which jobs, and above all, asking the inevitable question, “do you like my photography?”. this may sound like the perfect meeting of minds but i always felt like this group was meeting on Tuesday nights in the local VFW hall, sipping on Schlitz and talking about how the death of Polaroid is much more substantial and hard to deal with than the death of negative and positive film.

so after years of searching (albeit sometimes very slowly) boston, raleigh, and chicago, finding mostly jaded artists and galleristas hell bent on kicking your art to the curb, i have found a great place where I can present myself guilt free. long gone are the days of “hey, i know so and so, i use such and such, and oh my goodness, you don’t own one of these?”. just sit down and join the conversation. it feels great.

amongst the photographers i sought out to chat with, i asked a simple question:
what is your favorite lens and why? (actually 2 questions but phrased as one)

i asked this question because I love to hear what gear people love and why they love it. different photographers utilize different gear for different reasons and i absolutely love talking about it. twitter only gives you 140 characters to work with so it is interesting to see how people responded. here’s what I received.

@JamesHowePhoto: Favorite lens, Olympus Digital Zuiko 7-14mm (2x crop factor). Really like the ultra wide angle.
Twitter | Website

@hdconnelly: I use a 17-55 and a 50-200 – I hear I should get a prime lens but just haven’t done so yet. I’d love to see the article!
Twitter | Website

@photojack: without hesitation. canon 50mm 1.2. best glass in arsenal. tack sharp. a low-light lifesaver. killer for selective focus.
Twitter | Website

@PickupTrucks: Canon IS L 24-105: simply a great walkaround lens
Twitter | Website

@nofx: my “all time fav” lens would be Canon 24-105 f/4L. The most versatile and practical lens of all canon line up.
Tweet #2:
@nofx: Canon 50mm f/1.2L sharpest portrait lens. This lens adds life and emotions to the pictures.

Twitter | Website

@photosip: Canon 50mm f/1.4. It’s fast, good workable focal length, light, and I love using primes for their sharpness.
Twitter | Website

@whoisariston: Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 VR – Awesome range, amazing versatility, excellent optics…all around fantastic lens.
Twitter | Website

@JeffCamPhoto: nikon 50mm f/1.8 is my fave among lenses I own now. Small, light, sharp, fast. One day the 50mm f/1.4 will be my fave.
Twitter | Website

@NicholeAudrey: I love the wide-angle for the distortion but I can’t say I have a favorite. I guess it depends on what I’m trying to achieve.
Twitter | Website

@BellaValentina: Thx! So far the 105! SUPER sharp & fast! Love it for weddings for the macro/detail work as well!
Twitter | Website

@thewindypixel: Hmm tough ? – 4 ppl the 85mm f/1.4, 4 interiors 14mm f/3.5. Dream lens 45mm f/2.8 PC-E. If I had to choose 1 forever?! AI-S 28mm.
Twitter | Website

@zosokun: my fav lens so far has to be 35mm 1.8G AF-S DX NIkkor. So compact. fast, and the fov is nice. and the bokeh is lovely.
Twitter | Website

@annemariecarson: Toss up? Crop sensor=Nikkor 50mm f/1.2 and full frame=Nikkor 85mm f/1.4. I <3 superwide aperture for low light and narrow DOF.
Twitter | Website

@KringLerner: Karen here: My fav lens was my fix focus 24mm which I named Dolores. Now I use a 24-105mm which I like too.
Tweet #2:
@KringLerner: Joel and I were in a mixed marriage. He shot Canon; I shot Nikon. I still have my Nikons, but when I’m digital, I use our Canons.
Twitter | Website

@theshutterclick: My 24-70mm L f2.8 is my fav. spends the most time on my camera!
Twitter | Website

@jeffcrossphoto: Fav lens?! I would probably have to say my 17-40mm f/4L or 24-105mm f/4L (both Canon). Can’t wait to see the results from your ‘?’
Tweet #2:
@jeffcrossphoto: The Why?! The lenses are super sharp and very WIDE with minimal distortion…
Twitter | Website

@fleurdeleigh: AF-S Micro Nikkor 105mm 2.8 VR. Makes ordinary more artistic.
Twitter | Website

@bradleyspitzer: I really enjoy shooting with the Canon 35mm 1.4L lens. It allows a comfortable amount of interaction with my subject. And the images rock!
Twitter | Website

@radnauseum: the default one that came on my d40?
Twitter | Website

the music:
the tragically hip have been in and out of my constant listening rotation throughout my 16 year love affair with the canadian band. i first heard “new orleans is sinking” one day in the car with my dad. we were riding to something hockey related (game, practice, etc) and we were in the 1988 volkswagen rabbit that my parents had bought off of a uvm student who needed the money. since this was a college student’s car, the stereo had been upgraded to a blaupunkt tape deck and receiver. it was kicking. hearing the hip on such a small powerful setting (small being the operative word as a VW rabbit is about the size of a VW bug back in the day) made me want to buy their music. and to this day, i still do. i have missed a few albums as of late (don’t worry, a band that’s been making music for 20 years is bound to miss a few shots) but i keep going back to the good stuff. this song? it’s the good stuff.