Saturday, February 27, 2010

PPAM 2010 Convention Wrap up...

Gail and I are still coming down from our last 4 Days at the PPAM (Professional Photographers Association of Massachusetts) convention.

Every year we have certain session that we feel bring the most to use personally for where we are at that point in time. This year I believe we had two direct hits.

The first direct hit for us was Ricky and Bernie’s session on “Teaching how to Teach”. People have been asking Gail and I to run a basic photography course for years. The hurdle for us was to find time in our already crazy life to pull a thorough syllabus together..Yea…Sorry... not happening! Enter Bernie and Ricky. They went over there own courses that they have taught and chiseled out from there personal experience and for what Gail and I agreed was a STEAL, wrapped it all up in a neat and organized package. Having a planned curriculum laid out in front of you is 90% of the battle. We would not have felt right about taking on the responsibility of making that kind of promise to anyone and not feel as if we could deliver. Happy to say thanks to Ricky and Bernie’s material’s we have already picked out some dates and will be announcing our first class to our clients shortly. Thank you boys!

On the last day of the convention, Gail and I were honored to be the Chairpersons for Jenn and Mark Garber. This was our second direct hit. It was kind of fitting as they were also a married couple running a photography studio together. Seeing their interaction was hysterical. Gail and I would laugh every time they jockeyed for the floor from each other. They paralleled the way Gail and I work in our business. Mark started off by filling all the guys in on one of the most important facts about wedding photography that I myself learned years ago… “It’s a women’s worlds”. I have said it a million times myself and is the reason I without hesitation handle the wheel over to Gail years ago. Their presentation was awesome and could have easily been spread out over several more hours. It was vindicating to see what Gail and I had done right so far and even more importantly what were not and where we could improve. Jenn, Mark… A big thanks to the two of you, we had a great time and we learned a lot. SORRY about the roof leak, we could only control so much = ). Remember, buckets and table clothes, buckets and table clothes!

Here is freind Mrs. Swift right on task again this year posting two more blues to her name.

Look at this will ya!...her picture still looks freakin’ awesome even after being taken with our little Canon point and shoot and scaled down!

Look out for the new kid on the block! New to PPAM this year and looking much younger then he really is (another good reason to hate him...just kidding Chris = )Chris Rioux stepped up to the plate with this awesome image appropriately named "Fear".

So when this print spun around during judging, everyone knew we weren't in Kansas anymore! My jaw dropped when I first saw it. It's funny, as wide a variety of work we see at comp, it is great when you see something that breathes yet another new life into the organization. This was futher verified to me when he was presented with the Kodak Gallery Award. Nice job Chris!

Not to be outdone, Mr. Steve Sedman himself showed him how the big boys do it. Look at this guy. If he won anything else he would need another arm!

Gail and I were happy to see are old freind Ted Dillard there. He presented the RAW and Smart Object Workflow session on Sunday. Ted has his own series of "Pipeline" books that can teach you everything there possibley is to know about digital photography and printing. He was the one that was responsible for pulling me into the digital world some 8 years ago. (Check this out, I look like I am pulling a great Deniro impression here..."are you talking to me?")

So here it is, one of my favorite parts of the whole weekend. The Print judging! To the photographer, it is 6 hours of gut wrenching anticipation. Waiting for your print to come around is nerve racking to say the least.

Like being forced by your parents to swallow that awful tasting medicine, you have to listen to what the judges have to it or not. You can choice to listen or ignore it.

As for Gail and me, I think we did a good job listening to the judges advice last year. We went from one Merit worthy print (Blue Ribbon) to three along with a Special Judges Choice Award that I received for my "Heat of the Night" shot. Admittedly, I indeed was glowing as much as the print was = ).

Here is Gail with here first Blue ribbon called "La Ballerina". Nice Work Babes! Special thanks to our favorite dancer Elizabeth. We are very fortunate to her beautiful dancing talents grace our studio!

Gail was additional honored by our friends over at DSI when they asked if they could use her image in their booth. They printed both of our Black and White images this year that both Blue Ribboned. Thank you guy

Thursday, February 18, 2010


(Prepping for the 2010 Print Competition and Convention)

So once again this year we have managed put oursleves right on the deadline for the PPAM Print competition the following weekend. Deadline of course was the next day. I don't know... we seem to love the heat. We did not get to enter into PPANE because of major computer issues last year a week before the convention, so I did not want to miss a print comp again!

We made a couple of attempts at outsourcing our print work this year. I just really still have an issue with outsourcing my own print work. Always have been a "do-it-yourselfer" which is curse that I would not wish on my worst enemy. We did send out our black and whites to DSI and loved them right out of the box. Thank you Eric and Chris = )

I again called on Nancy Green for guidance and, as she did for us last year, she kept me from jumping. Thanks again Nancy! And a thank you to Steve Stedman as well!

So for our color entries I toiled all night to get my four entries and Gail's one done.

I set-up lights pretty much on spec. The halogen model lamps in our Alien Bees cast a nice smooth light and I was able to meter them right into ISO 100, 1 second @ f16 at a distance of about 4 feet. Even though the lights are not set at the exact distance and spread, I figure this will be close enough for me to ensure that my whites are not over the top.

With that done, the latex gloves were snapping, hard drives were spinning, printer were spooling, test strips were flying, glue was spraying and matt cutters were cutting. Still have glue stuck to my arm hair (curse of the Italian, comes with the territory).

Can't wait to see how they do. I felt like I entered a good a variety of work this year. I like to see how these differnt areas of my style will fair. Gail has only two she is enetring this year and I think she might kick my ass with it...we'll see. Best of luck Babes!

Friday, February 5, 2010

HOS 2010...OMG!!

Boston Rock Gym's Heart of Steel 2010

The Heart of Steel Bouldering competition was this past weekend.

The Staff at t he BRG did an amazing job setting up again this year bringing on even more excitement than last year. They worked with the folks over at Brewers to fashion what was deemed “The Dark Crystal”. This feature, cooncealed by a tarp, was revealed at the start of the final round. The tarp dropped and there was this spinning diamond that swung freely in the cave. The crowd crazy. Everyones jaw dropped when the tarp did.

Here is some pics from Jon Glassberg’s site "Louder than 11" from earlier in the week when they first hung this beast in the cave. A finalist last year (and my poster boy if you will) he helped out the BRG Staff this year and set some amazing routes. Jon has a pretty cool site. You can check it out here...

Climbing on this was a dynamic task on all axises imaginable. I was fortunate to be able to at least hang on it the week before the finals as it was covered up as soon as it was hung.

They also had this 3’ diameter semi-sphere fashioned just for the comp. This all made for some sweet images as the climbers twisted and contorted themselves in ways I don’t they could have anticipated.

So how do I some up the spirit of the event…well as a fairly avid indoor sport climber myself, I have to say it is about the overcoming of a personal challenge. I would say that even though by the end of a LONG day of climbing for the competitors there are ultimately 3 Guys and 3 Gals competing against each other for the top spot in the finals, the crowd there understands that is about working out the problem and overcoming it. Trying, failing, try again, failing, and trying again until you get it. That to me is truly the spirit of the Heart of Steel.

This was never made more apparent to me then when Rob D. from Phili was up last for the guys on the finals wall. After a couple of minutes I could tell that he was not going to be able to get this route down like the other two finalists had, however he kept hoping back on as the crowd cheered him on. He was going for this HUGE dyno move (essentially a flying leap from one spot to another) that he missed twice. Everyone started cheering for him “COME ON ROB!” “GET IT ROB!” , I was one of them. Eyes focused on his target, he went for again and this time his hands stuck. Feet and body still swinging out wildly from all the momentum, he held it! The crowd went nuts! It did not matter that we had seen the previous two climbers get it on there first attempts. That was Rob’s challenge and he sent it. All the other climbers there know that feeling and at that very moment they were all right there with him. HEART OF STEEL!

I spent the previous week planning some remote camera set-ups and ended up only sticking with one, but what an angle it was. I made what amounts to large smooth stud that screws into there wall which I attached an adjustable stand head to use that as my remote camera mount.

This is one of my favorite shots. Sasha tops out on one of the ladies final routes and plucks a $50 from the wall. Remote camer with a fisheye lens. you can see me on the ground (just to the right of her head in the frame) triggering it.

Here are the finalists and man, can they climb. Worth the mention, Vasya (orange top)and Francesca (blue top)repeated there visit to the finals again this year as they did last.

Check out all the images we took here...

You can can also check out all the videos of the final climbs here on Thomas Sherman's Blog.