Otters, Bridges, and Coffee…

Been doing more work for All Over Albany, which has been a blast.

The day after the Winter Carnival we swung through Tupper Lake to check out the Wild Center. This place was cool, so I wrote something up about it, which AOA dug, so everyone was happy.

The Wild Center, Tupper Lake
The Wild Center, Tupper Lake The Wild Center, Tupper Lake

I didn’t get the best photos I could, and I attribute that to being photoed out from the day before. I should have worked harder, but I got enough to run with the story. I would really like to go back and get better shots of those otters, they are amazing and really hard to get a clear photo of. Don’t overlook how rad that owl skull is, it’s the one in the back and check out those eye sockets (you might need to look at a bigger, noisier version). Almost robotic.

AOA Also requested some images of the Livingston Avenue Bridge, which Carl Johnson wrote an article about. I’m not sure why they didn’t use some of his own photos, he has some good ones like this awesome night shot, but I was happy to oblige. I already had several photos of that bridge, but I knew I could do better, so I went out and did.

Livingston Avenue Bridge, Albany NY

I also learned that they will probably not run vertical shots.

Livingston Avenue Bridge, Albany NY Livingston Avenue Bridge, Albany NY

Most recently, I took a few photos at the Sunspot Cafe, which just opened. This is the closest I’ve come to actual photojournalism so far; while I’m in charge of coming up with the stories, this felt the most like an assignment. That had some impacts.

Sunspot Cafe, Albany NY
Sunspot Cafe, Albany NY Sunspot Cafe, Albany NY

First off, I initially visited the day before they opened. I figured I could get plenty of words from the people involved and have the place to myself to set up a tripod & flash and get some solid shots. Unfortunately, they were still putting on some finishing touches so it took some work to get a clean shot, and when I did it felt too sterile. I revisited after they opened and got some better images, but I really wanted something more dynamic, the servers pulling shots and everything. I was foiled by a few factors: one, nobody ordered an espresso or latte while I was there and I didn’t want one, or want to ask them to waste one; two, it is so dark in there, which is great for ambiance but I didn’t bring the tripod this time (and my flash sucks) so I really struggled with high ISO, slow shutter speed, and hunting autofocus; three, I am even more socially awkward than I ever thought. I need to be more outgoing, because I felt like a huge tool walking around taking photos and I don’t think the staff I hadn’t already met really knew why I was there. I did take a few photos of the girls behind the counter but I didn’t know what to say to make any kind of connection and I was so nervous about it that I screwed up the photos anyway. I was off my game and unprepared, which is a great way to learn. What not to do.

But that was a learning experience, I know I’m a more social person now than I was five years ago so it’s something I can work on, and I have a better idea of how to approach this kind of assignment from the start. Overall, I expected the photos to be the easy part and the journalisticalness to be where I needed a lot of work, but it turns out I could use plenty of practice at both. No, actually the writing is going better than I expected, which should make sense since it was my creative outlet long before I picked up an SLR, and I’ve been using things like this blog to stay on top of it. I am learning a about writing for an editor and especially about interviewing (which I find I like, contrary to everything I said before), which is the plan. Working with AOA is a step toward a bigger goal, not that it isn’t awesome so far itself, and it feels like it was the right step.

You can see slideshows with more photos from Sunspot, The Wild Center, and of the Livingston Avenue Bridge. You should also check out the articles at AOA: Sunspot Cafe, Wild Center, and Livingston Ave Bridge.

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One thought on “Otters, Bridges, and Coffee…

  1. Tim

    You touch on things that I also deal with when taking photos. I have made 2011 the year of capturing people. It is a goal I’ve set for myself because I also am completely uncomfortable asking people if I can snap a shot of them. I’d love to be able to just walk up to strangers on the street and ask if I can shoot them, but there is something so (you put it perfectly) “socially awkward” about it.

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