2017 in Pictures: Our photographer selects his favorites

Student says goodbye to mother on arrival day

“A photographer is aware of the tiny moments in a person’s life that reveal great truths.” –Anonymous

Arrival Day is a threshold moment for many Colgate students, the day their college careers begin, when they will make new lifelong friends. It is also the day when many of them will be on their own for the first time. Part of being a photographer is developing patience, waiting for the moment. When making this photo, I was watching for those defining moments when a parent and child had to say goodbye for the first time.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 150mm)
Exposure: 1/400 sec.
Aperture: f5
ISO: 400
Colgate swimmer leaps from starting block

“To me, photography is an art of observation. It’s about finding something interesting in an ordinary place … I’ve found it has little to do with the things you see and everything to do with the way that you see them.” –Elliot Erwitt

I’ve always enjoyed photographing sports. Typically, I see the action through a telephoto lens or medium range zoom, and for the most part, I like to capture tight action and fill the frame — these are the sports images we often see in online galleries or the newspaper. For this photo, I wanted to go for something different and to photograph the swimmer from below, looking up. The Lineberry Natatorium ceiling creates an interesting pattern background for the swimmers as they leap from the starting block.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 14mm)
Exposure: 1/800 sec.
Aperture: f5
ISO: 1600
Bright lights and tents at Reunion 2017

“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.” –Ansel Adams

For this photo, I contacted the facilities department and asked if they had a lift they could put me in during the reunion bonfire. We tried a few spots while it was daytime to see what the view would look like, where we had to position the lift to get the angle we wanted — a place where we could see most of the tents, the bonfire, and the campus behind.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 14mm)
Exposure: 1/10 sec.
Aperture: f5
ISO: 2500
Students in waterfall lagoon in Jamaica

“My life is shaped by the urgent need to wander and observe, and my camera is my passport.” –Steve McCurry

In February, I traveled to Jamaica to photograph Colgate students studying abroad. It was an opportunity to tell a visual story: that learning happens in every environment and not just the classroom. While on a daytrip to Moore Town, a Maroon settlement located in the Blue and John Crow mountains, the students hiked to Nanny Falls — the perfect environment, picturesque with incredible lighting.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 24mm)
Exposure: 1/640 sec.
Aperture: f6.3
ISO: 400
Willow Lane lit up in winter

“I knew, of course, that trees and plants had roots, stems, bark, branches, and foliage that reached up toward the light. But I was coming to realize that the real magician was light itself.” –Edward Steichen

Willow Path is probably one of the most photographed and memorable parts of Colgate, and it rarely looks the same in any two photographs. Each season brings about changes in the foliage, the colors of the branches, the tone of light reflected on the tree bark and on the path. I photographed the path multiple times last winter as shifts in weather altered its appearance. The addition of lights this year to the willow trees presented a new opportunity to photograph the path in a different light — no pun intended. Brilliant blue evening skies silhouetted the bare branches while the lights around the trunks lit up the path, the lower parts of the trees, and the fresh blanket of snow. I used a small aperture to retain foreground, middle, and background focus and a slow shutter speed to capture movement in the treetops on this windy night.
Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8
Exposure: 1/2 sec. (with tripod)
Aperture: f11
ISO: 200
Water balloon bursting on student during Konosioni Field Day

“Who made the concept of smiling for a camera a social norm? It’s not required for one to smile unless you really are smiling while the photo is being clicked.” –Crestless Wave

Konosioni Field Day has become one of my favorite events to photograph at the beginning of the fall semester. There are many moments of genuine joy to be found, but you have to be quick with the camera. Sometimes, you just have to sit back and watch how an event unfolds to know where to stand and point the lens, where to set your focus. There were a number of students standing in a row and catching water balloons that were being thrown to them. I selected one student who was catching and tossing balloons, and it was only a matter of time before the balloon he attempted to catch would burst. To freeze the water drops in midair, a fast shutter speed is needed.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8
Exposure: 1/1600 sec.
Aperture: f4.5
ISO: 400
Band member at Family Weekend football game

“I really believe there are things nobody would see if I didn’t photograph them.” –Diane Arbus

When making photos, I keep my eye open for visual devices or compositional tools that help to frame and direct the viewer’s eye. In this case, the loop in the baritone saxophone helped to frame the face of Ryan Rios ’20.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 24mm)
Exposure: 1/3200 sec.
Aperture: f3.5
ISO: 200
Men's soccer players dogpile in celebration

“A photograph is a click away. A good photograph is a hundred clicks away, and a better one, a thousand clicks away.” –Kowtham Kumar K

When photographing a soccer game, the old saying “it takes a lot of milk to make a little cream” couldn’t be more true. The variables that make up each play will never be the same. Player orientation and expression, ball position, and background are always changing. And these are only a handful of the variables that contribute to each photo. For this reason, I often take thousands and edit them down to just a couple dozen of the best. For me, the most important photo from the Colgate men’s soccer victory over Oregon State in September was the team celebration on the field.

Camera: Sony A9
Lens: Sony G 70mm-200mm 1:2.8
Exposure: 1/2500 sec.
Aperture: f3.5
ISO: 800
Former Vice President Joe Biden takes selfie with crowd of students

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.” –Don McCullin

Podium photos are probably the most common visual representations of famous people. As a photographer, I’m always more interested in what a famous person means to the public and how that person connects with a crowd. Behind-the-scenes photos can tell a much more captivating story. Here, former Vice President Joe Biden immerses himself in the thick of the audience at Sanford Field House. He would probably have shaken every hand that evening if he had been given the opportunity. For this reason, he was very easy to photograph. That evening, it was more of a decision of camera placement to show his relationship and interaction.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 24mm)
Exposure: 1/160 sec.
Aperture: f2.8
ISO: 2500
University President Brian Casey and dog Emrys

“A portrait is not made in the camera but on either side of it.” –Edward Steichen

Every portrait session is a completely new experience for me. No two are alike — just as no two people are alike. Making this portrait of President Brian W. Casey wasn’t just about capturing him. It was about paying close attention to Emrys’ language as well. I also wanted to have a strong presence of James B. Colgate Hall, to show how it fits into the landscape with the June foliage. Environmental portraits are about a marriage of multiple elements coming together in the frame, human and animal, built and natural.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 35mm 1:1.4
Exposure: 1/2000 sec.
Aperture: f3.2
ISO: 200
Lighting: Prophoto B1 flash with octobank softbox
Sun shines on students at Commencement

“These are the two basic controls at the photographer’s command — position and timing — all others are extensions, peripheral ones, compared to them.” –David Hurn

Photographic composition is driven by position and timing. Take, for example, this picture of seniors making their way toward Sanford Field House shortly before the start of Commencement 2017. If I had taken the photo fractions of a second sooner or later, the composition of the soon-to-be graduates would have been dramatically different. In this instance, there is good separation between each person; a low angle provides the viewer with a perspective seldom seen.

Camera: Nikon D3S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8
Exposure: 1/8000 sec.
Aperture: f4
ISO: 160
Portrait of women's hockey defender Livia Altmann

“It’s one thing to make a picture of what a person looks like; it’s another thing to make a portrait of who they are.” –Paul Caponigro

In April, I had to make a portrait of Colgate women’s ice hockey defense Livia Altmann for the Colgate Scene. I wanted to make a portrait that was less about the space she was in and more about her. Out came the studio strobes with a beauty dish attached and a honeycomb grid (a device to limit the spread of the light). I wanted the area to fade into the background but still have a presence. What worked out well: there are lights above the Colgate lettering on the south wall.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8
Exposure: 1/125 sec.
Aperture: f5
ISO: 250
Lighting: Prophoto B1 flash with 24” beauty dish and honeycomb grid
Students in colorful art costumes

“The whole point of taking pictures is so that you don’t have to explain things with words.” –Elliott Erwitt

This photo, by student photographer Samto Wongso ’19, is one of the more surreal photos captured on campus this year. It directs the viewer’s eye through the frame, using the performers’ flowing costumes and the same colors in multiple areas within the frame. Were it not for the legs and feet of one performer, I may not know that those are people inside of costumes — I may have assumed that they were sculptures instead.

Camera: Nikon D4
Lens: Nikkor 28-70mm1:2.8 (zoomed to 60mm)
Exposure: 1/6400 sec.
Aperture: f4.5
ISO: 1000
Student on archaeology dig in Mexico

“I tend to think of the act of photographing, generally speaking, as an adventure. My favorite thing is to go where I’ve never been.” –Diane Arbus

While photographing Colgate students at an archaeological excavation in the small village of Xaltocan, Mexico, it was important for me to photograph every aspect of their time while in the field. As a photographer, I’m not only interested in capturing the dig but also every aspect of the student experience. This is one of my favorite images from this shoot, because it places a Colgate student alongside a local archaeologist and takes the viewer to the location of the excavation, with a 15th-century church in the background.

Camera: Nikon D3S
Lens: Nikkor 14-24mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 16mm)
Exposure: 1/500 sec.
Aperture: f5.6
ISO: 200
Winter shot from Colgate's hill

“I wish that all of nature’s magnificence, the emotion of the land, the living energy of place could be photographed.” –Annie Leibovitz

Weather phenomena often accentuate beauty. There is no doubt that Colgate is beautiful, but fresh snowfall and foggy conditions helped out on this winter day — separating the brown leafless trees from the hill behind, while giving a ghostly effect to campus.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 70-200mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 125mm)
Exposure: 1/1600 sec.
Aperture: f7.1
ISO: 400
Student celebrates Commencement with his mother

“I love the people I photograph. I mean, they’re my friends. I’ve never met most of them or I don’t know them at all, yet through my images I live with them.” –Bruce Gilden

As a photographer of moments, I always have to be ready to capture emotion — whether from a distance or inches in front of me. I also have to listen as I photograph, which helps me anticipate moments and be there even before they happen. When Chris Morgan ’17 was congratulated by his uncle following commencement outside of Sanford, I took a photo. His uncle then pointed him in the direction of his mother. Knowing there was yet another opportunity that was possibly going to be more emotional, I made my way to where his mother was standing and was able to catch their embrace as well.

Camera: Nikon D4S
Lens: Nikkor 24-70mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 24mm)
Exposure: 1/5000 sec.
Aperture: f3.5
ISO: 200
Student pasted with color at Holi festival

If the photographer is interested in the people in front of his lens, and if he is compassionate, it’s already a lot. The instrument is not the camera but the photographer.” –Eve Arnold

One of my common critiques of those new to photography is that they do not get close enough to the person they are photographing. The person in the photo is too small or far away, resulting in little intimacy or connection when the viewer looks at the photograph. This portrait, taken by Samto Wongso ’19, grabbed my attention because of his close proximity. We are instantly drawn to the person in the photograph and can relate to the joy experienced at the Holi festival of colors. We can see the texture of the colored powder and one of the hands that most likely threw some of it. If I could instill one behavior in young or up-and-coming photographers, it would be to get closer when taking pictures!

Camera: Nikon D3S
Lens: Nikkor 80-200mm 1:2.8 (zoomed to 185mm)
Exposure: 1/2000 sec.
Aperture: f3.2
ISO: 1600

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