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2011
4:30 am

The Lee Brothers Cook New Albany

This past Sunday I was treated to watching the Lee Brothers prepare a meal as an audience watched them at the Jeanne B. McCoy Community Center for the Arts in New Albany. The brothers Matt and Ted Lee talked about their lives growing up in Charleston, South Carolina, starting a business while in college in the Northeast, and the stories they gathered along their journey to being authors and culinary celebrities.  


2011 Lee Brothers - Images by Tim Norman

The audience seemed to enjoy the brother's stories, and I enjoyed hearing that even they have a few screw ups in the kitchen. They have a book out titled "Simple Fresh Southern: Knockout Dishes with Down-Home Flavor" which features meals for the average person with a busy lifestyle and features recipies with ingredients that are not from a can or difficult to prepare.

These two aren't what I would call celebrity chefs. They are more of down-to-earth, regular guys who would be great to have over for a grill out with some steaks and beer. I don't know if they are like it in person but they seem to be able to talk off your ear while cooking a some great food.

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2011
4:30 am

Focus on Summer

Olentangy Liberty's Zach Glase picks off the ball during the game at Hilliard Darby High School on Saturday, April 2, 2011.The boys of summer are back. Baseball season for high school is in full swing along with softball and track & field and other athletic events. So far the games I've covered have been high scoring and I'm hoping that trend continues. It can be interesting to watch a pitching duel but that often means less on field action and more reactions in the batters box, the pitching mound or in the dugout. 

When photographing baseball timing is critical and reactions have to be quick. About 10 years ago I remember a mentor telling stories about what the photographers in the dugout at Cincinnati Reds games did during breaks in the action or rain delays. The photographers would have duels. They would race each other on who could pick up their camera and get second base in focus the quickest. Or maybe it was the center fielder or maybe some one in the stands. The point wasn't to be able to focus on a single spot but to be able to handle any situation. They had to instinctively know how to use their camera.

Westerville Central pitcher John Whitaker gets to a ball near the mound before making the throw to first for an out of Westerville South's Ben Jones in the fourth inning of their game at Westerville Central High School on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.

This was in the days when photographers had to manual focus a camera in a split second. They had to know if they needed to pull the focus forward or backward. Go the wrong direction and you'll lose the moment. 

Today many photographers rely so much on auto focus that the skill of being able to quickly manual focusing on a subject isn't as honed. There are still times when today's $6,000 pro cameras can't pinpoint accurately nail a picture in focus. Throw the camera into a poorly lit room or place something like a screen, mesh or an old warped glass window in front of your subject and it will continue to hunt for focus or land on what you don't want in focus.

At the same time, auto focus has not only allowed amateurs to capture better images but it has also allowed professional photographers to continue to perform even when their eyesight starts to diminish. And it also gave them a little more time to concentrate on the subject or the right moment to click the shutter. 

Olentangy Liberty's Zach Glase cannot quite reach the ball as it scoots past him while Hilliard Darby's Chase Campbell dives back to second during the game at Hilliard Darby High School on Saturday, April 2, 2011.

As a photographer I often hear something like the phrase, "Wow I bet that camera makes nice pictures." And as person who has put a great deal of effort into learning to create and capture images, I would love to respond with, "Do you compliment a chef for the nice whisk he must be using?"

But that statement about the nice camera has a little bit of truth to it. The camera does help a professional create a photograph. It has some advantages that the cheaper cameras don't. But the camera is just a tool. You have to learn how to use it. Learn it's limitations, and learn where it shines.

Knowing how the camera will react in a given situation and knowing how to compensate for it comes from hours, days and months of taking photos. It comes from taking hundreds if not thousands of good photos, bad photos, boring photos, accidentally taken photos, and photos you wish you could blame your dog for taking but instead blame the neighbor's cat. 

Olentangy Liberty's Zach Beard breaks for second base as Hilliard Darby's Chris Ramsey pitches during the game at Hilliard Darby High School on Saturday, April 2, 2011.

All of these baseball photos in this post were taken in the last couple weeks using auto focus with a Canon 7d with a 70-200mm lens and a 1.4x extender. It's quicker, more accurate and sharper than my previous camera. And when I first got the camera and lenses I spent hours with them before going on an assignment. I photographed lots of things around my place and took some walks with it in nearby parks and took photos of friends and family.

In years past when I've had cameras fail and gotten another to replace it, I had to get used to the new camera. Sometimes it was a little more sensitive to light. Sometimes the focus didn't quite act the same. Sometimes the LCD display had more contrast. Sometimes images seemed more saturated or tinted with an overall color cast.

The key to it was knowing how the camera would react, how to compensate for it, and knowing how to make it sing when it was off key. 

So the point I'm trying to get across is that if you want to be a better photographer and take better pictures one of the first thing you need to do is step away from the computer. Put down that Joy of Photography book. Put away the apple iPad or your Android phone, and go take pictures. Grab a friend and take a walk Westerville South's Jayson Perkins hits a double in the second inning of their game at Westerville Central High School on Wednesday, April 6, 2011.in the park or down your neighborhood street. Learn the camera and its limitations. Experiment with it and see how it reacts in different lighting and different distances from the subject. See what f2.8 does and what f22 does. Take photos of the same subject with different settings, from different angles, from different distances.

And when you get back look at the photos on the computer screen. Check out why a photo looks the way it does. What you did differently from one shot to another. 

Oh, and read your manual from cover to cover. You can skip the stuff that is in a foreign language though unless you feel like it all is a foreign language. Part of learning what the camera does is learning what the camera can do. If you don't understand something in the manual then play around and experiment. Take a photo with the mysterious setting on and off. Look at the photos and see if you can visually see a difference or watch how the camera reacts.

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2011
4:30 am

Sheriff Shock of Alana's Food and Wine

Like a sheriff who knows she is the boss, Alana Shock stands in one of the rooms at her restaurant. Shock is the owner of Alana's Food & Wine at 2333 North High Street which is located North of the Ohio State University campus area and South of Clintonville on the West side of High Street. There is a big patio outside but unfortunately the weather didn't allow us to photograph there.

I photographed Alana Shock for Columbus Business First for a story on woman restaurant owners in Columbus. You can find the story in the April 1 issue or checkj for it on their website. Shock opened Alana's Food & Wine 12 years ago, and she told me she wears the sheriff's badge every day.

Alana was absolutely easy to photograph. In addition to a few portraits I took in the dining area I also stuck around for a while and photographed her and her staff as they prepared for guests. The smells coming from the kitchen were absolutely wonderful and I picked up a few tips on food preparation too. (Thank you!)

I cannot believe I have lived in Columbus for 15 years and had never been told about the restaurant before. I'm going to try and get down there soon though. I do recommend the restaurant just from the smell of the food and great staff. Everyone was easy going as they dogdged around me. Along with the smell of the food, the three distinctly different dining rooms hold some visual treasures as well as exuding an inviting ambience for guests to relax, share a glass of wine and enjoy a wonderful meal. 

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24
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2011
4:01 am

Sweet Snowy Marshmallows

Copyrighted Photograph http://www.timnormanphoto.com/

No it wasn't snowing inside my house when I made this photograph, but the cleanup was sweet.

When I decided to take pictures of some marshmallows I didn't know what to do with them at first. Initially I just took a photo of them in their bag which was how they were presented to me. And then I placed them on the white paper background. You can see some more photos in this gallery.

To me when I think of marshmallows I think of hot chocolate which makes me think of cold weather because that is pretty much the only time of year I ever drink hot chocolate. Following that I decided to go with a blue tone to the image. I would have loved to have had a big huge cup of hot cocoa to dunk them in but as they are about 2 inches by 2 inches square I didn't have a cup big enough. But I might expand on that idea at a later date.

Progressing along I knew I ]wanted the marshmallows to stand out. After all they are the star of the show here. My first thought was to place a snoot on a flash with a yellow gel on it, but inspiration struck me as I was playing around just taking a photo of the marshmallows themselves. In order to focus the camera in the low light of my living room studio I was using a small mag light to help out.

So I turned off the rest of the lights, set the camera color temperature to tungsten to turn the white light from a softbox tipped at a 45 degree angle on the left of the photo, and set my camera to expose for a second. For each exposure I moved the flashlight around a bit to see how it would change the shadows and how the marshmallows would handle the light. On some photos I used a white bounce card on the right side to push the softbox light back in to fill in shadows.

I liked how the effect was giving the marshmallows a spotlight effect and I was also able to paint some light on both sides so it didn't have really harsh shadows.

To add a bit more to the cold weather theme, I pulled out some confection sugar I had in the cupboards of my kitchen from some Christmas cookies I made for the family. I also pulled out some wax paper to help with cleanup and a small sifter. After a little practice and several dozen photo failures with the marshmallows not wanting to stay stacked, I got the image you see here.

I've thought about adding a few fake snow flakes to the image to sell the effect some more, but as it stands I like it. I did clean up some of the edges of the wax paper in the background to make it appear more seamless and did a few other small touch-ups.

  • F-stop: f/8
  • Exposure: 1 second
  • Focal Length 35mm (16-35mm lens)
  • ISO: 200
  • Canon 7D

What food have you played with lately?

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17
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2011
6:00 am

Cupcake Surprise

Copyrighted Photograph http://www.timnormanphoto.com/

While playing with the delicious mini cupcakes from Cupcake Yum.Yum (and yes that is bacon in icing), I had an accidental miss fire of the main light and saw something interesting I didn't expect. 

The cupcake wrappers really reflected the blue light from the flash below more than I thought possible. So I veered off from the normal shot I was trying to get to chase one a little off the beaten path. The background is still lit by a flash with a red gel on it, but it is now over exposed which pushed the red into a yellow/orange mixture. The overhead softbox is off and the blue glow from below is a flash with a blue gel on it. 

The gels are from a Rosco sample pack I bought years ago. They are the perfect size to fit over the head of a flash except for a hole in it for it to be attached to a key ring. Sometimes if you don't position the gel right it can let some of the white light come through. Often this doesn't do much beyond diluting the color you are looking to achieve, but here I believe the white light is partially causing the yellow color of the background.

I wouldn't say this photograph presents the cupcakes in a tasty way, but it is eye catching and sometimes that is the point of a photograph. One of the things I normally do when building a photograph like this is take a photograph with each light individually so I can see what each specific flash is doing and then build from there. I shoot these photos that way. I put the flashes where I thought I wanted them and then at the end added the blue gel under the cupcakes just because I thought it might add a nice element and glow to the base. 

You can see more photographs in the gallery.

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