Picturing 2016: Colgate photographer picks 13 favorites

 

Student silhouetted by the sun while tossing a frisbee

1.) "A camera is a tool for learning how to see without a camera." –Dorothea Lange

As the old saying goes, timing is everything. When composing this photo, I wanted to achieve separation between the disc and the hand of the thrower to capture the disc mid-flight. This took a little planning, and I had to watch the thrower's movements and activate the shutter at the moment of release. If I took the photo too soon, his arm would have been bent and the disc would have still been in his hand. If I took the photo too late, his arm would be outstretched but the disc would be too far away from his hand or out of the frame entirely.

When making this photograph, I also wanted to silhouette the disc thrower against the backdrop of a deep blue sky. This was achieved by using the combination of a low ISO, fast shutter speed, and a smaller aperture. The advantage of using a smaller aperture with a wide focal length lens, in this case, is that the foreground, middleground, and background are all in focus.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 24mm)
Exposure: 1/4000 sec.
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 200

Students rush to and from classes on the Persson Hall stairs, with the Colgate Memorial Chapel cupola visible through the trees in the background

2.) "Photography is (a means by which we)...learn to see the ordinary." –David Bailey

As a new photographer at Colgate, I am still acclimating myself to the best locations for scenic photographs. During my first week, I came across these stairs between Persson Hall and Memorial Chapel, and I knew I had found a prime location. I loved how the iconic chapel was framed by the trees; the staircase added diagonal lines; and the pathway is a major pedestrian thoroughfare, adding a human element to the photos. Multiple planes within the composition create separation between each person. I know it’s a spot that I will revisit many times throughout the year’s seasonal changes.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 62mm)
Exposure: 1/1600 sec.
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 320

Faculty in academic regalia sit in the pews of Colgate Memorial Chapel as President Brian W. Casey addresses them at his inauguration ceremony

3.) "To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event." –Henri Cartier-Bresson

Capturing inauguration was an immense responsibility and one that came with expectations and pressures largely imposed on myself. Although much preparation went into planning, one thing that experience has taught me, working as a photojournalist, is that you have to work your focal lengths and multiple angles while anticipating action, reaction, and emotion. I am constantly being mindful to capture the precise moment when these elements come together in the photograph to tell the story while also being compositionally engaging.

When President Brian W. Casey gave his inauguration speech in the Memorial Chapel, I knew it was an event that I wanted to photograph from multiple angles. After getting my tighter photos at the podium, along with several photos of intent listeners in the crowd, I knew I needed a wide overall shot that not only showed the number of attendees present but also a shot that spoke of the audience engagement and how Colgate as a community was embracing its new president. When photographing a significant event, I do not want to get hung up on one moment for too long. Doing so may cause me to miss a better one.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 14mm)
Exposure: 1/125 sec.
Aperture: f/5
ISO: 3200

A group of male students cheer excitedly in the stands of the homecoming football game

4.) “It is more important to click with people than to click the shutter.” –Alfred Eisenstaedt

When photographing football, I often look for opportunities to immerse myself among the fans to capture their spirit and emotion as the game unfolds. This includes putting the camera down for a few minutes, taking time to watch the crowd to determine which fans react most, and then homing in on them. On overcast days (like the one we had at homecoming this year), I put the camera in manual mode and dial in my shutter speed, ISO, and aperture ahead of time because the light seldom changes when there's 100 percent cloud cover midday. This way, when the emotion happens, I am ready at a moment’s notice to make the image.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 24mm)
Exposure: 1/1250 sec.
Aperture: f/7.1
ISO: 400

Cars and people rush by the entry of Colgate's newly built Class of 1965 Arena.

5.) “Photographers deal in things which are continually vanishing and when they have vanished there is no contrivance on earth which can make them come back again.” –Henri Cartier-Bresson

Part of being a photographer is not only having an intuitive understanding of how a given combination of settings on the camera will achieve a technique, but also knowing when to employ it. The dedication and opening of the Class of 1965 Arena during homecoming was a widely anticipated event that drew in much of the student body as well as alumni from around the country. My vision was to capture the building in all of its grandeur, in twilight, while there was still some light in the sky and while the building was illuminated. I also wanted to capture the fans in motion entering the building. I borrowed a ladder and placed it in the parking lot, climbed to the top, set my camera on a slower shutter speed (1/2 sec.) and waited for a group of hockey fans to enter. Luck paid off and, at the same time that a line of fans was entering the building, a car passed by, adding to the color palette and motion in the image.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 18mm)
Exposure: 1/2 sec.
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 50

Student walks along Willow Path on a sunny autumn day as yellow leaves fall around him

6.) “The eye should learn to listen before it looks.” –Robert Frank

Something very special that Colgate has going for it is being located in a rural part of the northeast where every season can be experienced. You can revisit the same outdoor location time and time again to witness, feel, and listen to how it changes throughout the year. Willow Path is no exception. I've watched and photographed how fog, rain, leaves, and blizzard conditions have transformed the look and feel of this favorite route through campus.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 200mm)
Exposure: 1/6400 sec.
Aperture: f/4.5
ISO: 400

Students seen studying through the windows of the Persson Hall bridge, with Colgate Memorial Chapel reflected on the windows

7.) “I am not interested in shooting new things – I am interested to see things new.” –Ernst Haas

The photographic mind develops not only through constant practice but also by a self-imposed challenge to always see the familiar differently. You always want to push yourself to have a different look at something you have seen hundreds of times. The reflection of Memorial Chapel produced well in the window of the Persson Hall walkway due to late-day sunlight hitting the tower against a cloudless sky. However, I wanted to look and wait for more dimension to happen in the image to give it more layers. I liked how people moving through the walkway were silhouetted against the western sky, and I waited a few minutes until students started to sit down at the tables before taking several photographs.

Much of the photography that I do is to find a magical spot (in this case, the reflection and row of windows) and wait for more elements (the students) to come into the field. That is not where it ends, though. I like to watch and wait for the balance, the body language, and react with the camera shutter as the people change their position. I watched as the students dipped their heads in unison and buried their noses in activity. This caused repetition to occur in the left and right sides of the frame. Compositionally, I did my best to frame each student in the spaces created by the windows from the angle at which I was standing.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 112mm)
Exposure: 1/1250 sec.
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 400

Student walks on the academic quad with a brilliantly orange-colored autumn tree in the background

8.) “To consult the rules of composition before making a picture is a little like consulting the law of gravitation before going for a walk.” –Edward Weston

I often look for compositional elements to divide up the frame. One of the most common compositional techniques in photography is the rule of thirds. It is a practice of dividing the frame into nine equal parts using two equally spaced, imaginary, vertical lines and two equally spaced horizontal lines and placing important compositional elements in the frame along those lines and their points of intersection. When I made this photograph I took some liberty with the rule. The maple is the most dominant compositional element, and it is placed in the center instead of along one of the third dividing lines in the composition. Remember, rules are meant to be broken. The student, Lawrence Hall, and Lathrop Hall still occupy thirds within the frame.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 24mm)
Exposure: 1/1600 sec.
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 400

A scenic view of Colgate's campus and hillside from a distant with dramatic lighting

9.) “Wherever there is light, one can photograph.” –Alfred Stieglitz

The golden hour, also known as the magic hour, is that time of day when the sun is low to the horizon and light travels through the atmosphere at a greater thickness, causing it to be warm and soft and to create long horizontal shadows. It is the reason why many of the classical painters chose to add this light into their landscapes.

I spent several of my first weeks at Colgate looking for a spot at a higher elevation to photograph the campus from a distance, also keeping in mind that I wanted to photograph Colgate through seasonal changes from this same location. From one of our west-facing office windows in Merrill House, I noticed a farmer's field across the valley that might offer this view. With some asking around, I was able to find out who owned the field and to get their permission to access it. On the day this photo was taken there was heavy cloud coverage with few breaks. I knew that I might not have a good chance of seeing sunlight break through, but I tried anyway. It took about 45 minutes. I remember watching as the clouds drifted south, and a beam of sunlight broke through an opening just north of Hamilton. It slowly made its way in a south easterly direction, first illuminating the stadium at Hamilton Central School, then drifting over the campus to illuminate the buildings on the academic quad. I had to be quick in composing and taking the photo because, seconds later, the light was on to the next hill.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 300mm 1:2.8
Exposure: 1/2000 sec.
Aperture: f/9
ISO: 500

Two students in traditional Hindu attire hold a gold object together

10.) “I believe that, through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us.” –Henri Cartier-Bresson

One of Colgate's traits that I have noticed in my short time here is how this campus recognizes and celebrates world cultures. When I read about Diwali, the Hindu autumn festival of lights, being celebrated at the Hall of Presidents, I knew that I wanted to capture how students here share their culture with the larger campus body.

The challenge for me as a photographer was being able to make photos in difficult lighting conditions. Indirect fluorescent lighting mounted to the walls illuminated the outer edges of the room more than the center of the space. I had to do my best to balance my camera strobe — angled up at the white cathedral ceiling — with the fluorescent ambient light. It can often be challenging if there is too much variation in color temperature between ambient lighting and the camera strobe.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 24mm)
Exposure: 1/40 sec.
Aperture: f/2.8
ISO: 2000
Camera flash: Nikon Speedlight SB900

Exterior view of Chapel House as dusk, with the opaque windowed wall of the chapel giving an orange glow

11.) "In my photography, color and composition are inseparable. I see in color." –William Albert Allard

A universal truth in all visual forms of expression is how complementary colors work powerfully together in a composition. Each one intensifies the other when they are placed side by side. In this case, the orange glow from Chapel House pairs well with the blue dusk sky. It is the same reason we are all drawn to sunsets. When you have warm and cool colors working in balance, they create harmony.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 14mm)
Exposure: 1/4 sec.
Aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 400

Students silhouetted in foggy morning sunshine on Colgate's residential quad

12.) “In photography there are no shadows that cannot be illuminated.” –August Sander

Photography for me is just as much about the absence of light as it is about the brightest part of the frame. Atmospheric conditions can always make for good photography. The highly illuminated morning fog can add to an image by acting as a backlight behind a dark subject to emphasize a silhouette effect. The fog is also the reason behind the starlight effect, as the sunlight shines through the pine branches creating rays in much the same way as a laser beam can be seen when particulates are suspended in the air in which it travels.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 70mm)
Exposure: 1/4000 sec.
Aperture: f/8
ISO: 500

A large group of first-year students smile and laugh as they participate in a tug of war for Konosioni Field Days

13.) “A good photograph is knowing where to stand.” –Ansel Adams

One thing I am always looking for as a photographer is emotion. I want the viewer to experience the ambience and energy of an event by connecting with the human emotions on display. It has as much to do with where the action is happening as it does with giving the viewer a first-hand feel for how it was to have been there. I wanted to capture this Konosioni tug of war in such a way that the viewer felt as though they were on the other end of that rope, and also to use the rope as a diagonal leading element to lead the viewer into the action.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 200mm)
Exposure: 1/2500 sec.
Aperture: f/5.6
ISO: 250

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