Saturday, January 26, 2008

Tyler, TX

This was another one of those wonderful winter shoots.

It was rainy, cloudy and just a miserable week. One day, I'd just had enough and decided to get a haircut. I found this little barbershop right down from my hotel that had been in business since about 1968.

As I walked through the door, there was a man getting his hair trimmed in one of the two barber chairs, but something in the corner caught my eye. There was an older gentleman sitting in one of the chairs playing a guitar. Turns out, it's Cliff Lasseter. He owns Cliff's Precision Kuts and picks up his guitar whenever he has some free time.

Take note: this is why you should always carry your camera with you. At this point I realized mine was in the car. And before I could turn around and walk out the door, he had put down his guitar.

I missed it.

As he cut my hair, we got to talking about his guitar playing. We also talked about some other things, like the time he skinned a catfish in the bathroom of his barbershop for one of his friends. But most importantly, I told him I was going to come back and photograph him playing his guitar. And that's what I did.

One of my assignments was to photograph the Hudnall Planetarium on the campus of Tyler Junior College. I'd been to planetariums before and I was expecting his huge domed building with an incredible lightshow.

Not so much.

It was this tiny room that held about 50 people. I decided to be a little creative and do some lightpainting. I pulled out my trusty maglite complete with a little snoot made out of gaffers tape - I carry this with me whenever I travel - and set my camera on bulb. Tom Hooten, director of the planetarium, showed me how to run the lights and the projector. I was set. I did a couple of practice shots to get the exposure right and made a few atmospheric shots. I grabbed Tom and, about ten minutes later, had managed to make a couple of portraits of him.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Sikeston, MO

We travel year round, which is great if you're visiting a town in the summer, spring or fall. The weather is generally nice and there is plenty of foliage to be found.

But winter is a totally different story.

I had an assignment to photograph this old band stand in one of the parks in downtown Sikeston. I did a couple of drive-bys and knew it was going to be a challenge to photograph. The trees were all bare and the sky was cloudy, which wasn't going to make for an appealing picture.

I decided to shoot this as the sun was going down but soon realized this wasn't the best part of town to be photographing at night with about $5000 in camera equipment. My next option was to shoot at sun up, which meant getting up early. And I'm not a morning person.

I got to the park about an hour before sunrise and set up a couple of 580ex stobes with omnibounces and triggered them with pocket wizards. I put my camera on a tripod and waited. I took this about 15 minutes before sunrise.

Much better than the alternative.

If you're ever in Sikeston, you have to eat dinner at Lambert's. It features all the good food your grandmother used make after church on Sundays: chicken and dumplings, fried chicken, black-eyed peas and fried okra to name a few. 

Their claim to fame though is their "throwed rolls."

Story has it, back in 1976 and impatient customer couldn't wait for the server to bring him his roll. He screamed across the restaurant "Throw the damned thing!" And they've been throwing them ever since.

I followed Jeremy Prino, one of the "throwers," around during lunch as he continued the 40-plus-year-old tradition of the "throwed roll." His accuracy was pretty good. He could hit a customer from one end of the restaurant to the other. I watched him throw about six dozen rolls, with only about a handful missing their mark.