Thursday, November 17, 2011


Occupy Miami Rally 
November 17, 2011
I went to the Nov. 17 Occupy Miami rally and march looking for faces, and I found one face everywhere: Guy Fawkes, the “V for Vendetta” mask that has become a symbol of the 99% protests, was reproduced in several forms. 
Some wore the pointed, smiling mask tipped back on their heads, leaving their own faces visible beneath it. The grin was also printed on cardboard with “We are the 99%” printed above its eyes in English and Spanish. One protester even had the image on the back of his smartphone, so it was visible every time he raised the device to take a picture.
I was interested in how the pointy, squinting shape of the Guy Fawkes mask played off the protesters’ real faces, and I wanted to see the protesters used the same image to make unique statements. For each protester that obscured his face with a mask, another stared boldly at the authorities and media around them as if to say that he, and not the image of a 17th century Englishman, was making a statement. 

Apart from the mask, I focused on individual faces in the crowd of protesters, and in the groups of people who watched them march on Miami’s financial district. Two McDonald’s workers caught my eye as the march continued from Little Havana to Miami’s financial district. The pair huddled together in the drive-through window, and the man appeared interested and excited about the protest passing by. The woman frowned deeply, and the exaggerated expression was the upside-down version of the Guy Fawke mask’s broad smile. 

I had a few problems to solve as I looked for faces in the crowd. To start with, I was using a new lens with a different depth of field than the 50mm wide-open lens I normally use. I worked on keeping my backgrounds clean so that each face stood out, but still appeared in the context of a a protest and not as a pedestrian in the street. 

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Shot in the Dark

By Jennifer Kay

Photography is problem solving, Brian Smith told us at his Miami launch for his book “Art & Soul.” Photography is creating opportunities out of problems. Lately, I’ve made a point of shooting in problematic situations. I’ve only allowed myself to shoot with available light, which means I’m often shooting in the dark.

Solution 1: Find the Light

 I’ve incorporated a lesson from the spring semester into this exercise -- find the good light, and wait for something to walk into it. One night this week, some of the Occupy Miami activists held a candlelight vigil on the beach. My only light sources were the moon, the moonlight reflecting off the sand, the electric candles and cell phone screens. I set my exposure for those lights and kept my shots wide to allow for as much light as possible, and then I watched for how the activists interacted with the light.

Solution 2: Know What Your Camera Do

 My DSLR can set the ISO as high as 6400. The higher the iso means I can still shoot clear frames in low light, but it doesn’t solve everything. I wanted to make portraits of the Haitian musicians performing on an outdoor stage during South Beach’s Sleepless Night arts event, but I didn’t have the kind of up stage access I had when I shot Shenita Hunt at The Clevelander last month.

My 50 mm lens has a wide open aperture to collect the most light, but it wasn’t getting me close enough to the singers. To get closer, I switched to my point-and-shoot camera, which has a zoom function.
I set the camera to a “high grain” setting with a 1600 iso to compensate for the camera shaking in windy conditions.

Solution 3: Make Trade-Offs

Shooting in the dark means I have to give up some things. Changing the ISO to 1600 or higher means that I lose the mid-tones in my images. The singers appear as bright spots of light and color surrounded by darkness. I also get noisier, grainier images because of the high ISO. I get high contrast, black and white, without soft grays or soft light.

Solution 4: Move My Feet

My 50 mm lens shoots fast, letting in the most light with the widest aperture. On the other hand, it’s a fixed lens. I can’t zoom in, and I can’t shoot wide. The only way to change the perspective is to move. In the Hotel Urbano, a trio sat talking at a table in front of an abstract painting hung on a bold red wall. When I first saw them, I tightly framed the shot on one half of the painting, a sliver of the red wall and a small portion of the table. What made the painting, and the scene, interesting was the red wall framing the painting. In order to get the whole table and painting in my viewfinder, with enough of the red wall framing the scene, I had to physically back up several feet.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Iris Rising: Miami Ironman 70.3

By Jenny Romney/IPC Visual Lab Student

Since its inception in 2006, the Ironman 70.3 series has become the fastest growing triathlon series in the world. Events around the world qualify athletes for the Ironman World Championship 70.3. The grueling Miami triathlon took place this past Sunday, October 30 in downtown Miami and about 3,000 physically fit men and women participated to test their mental and physical endurance. The race started at Bayfront Park with a 1.2 mile swim in the bay waters. Participants then hopped on their bicycles for a 56-mile ride through downtown Miami, Hialeah and the Everglades and all the way up to Southwest Ranches in Broward and back to Bayfront Park for two loops up to to Star Island, completing a 13.1-mile run, which add up to the 70.3 iron miles.

Well, I also had he opportunity to test my mental and physical endurance as a photographer when Carl Juste, who was on a photo assignment for the Miami Herald invited me to come along.

I knew I would have to set up the 2 alarms on my radio and the one on my cell phone which I kept under my pillow. I needed to be at Carl’s house by 5:30 am and it was already 2:00 am when I went to bed after the IPC Masquerade Part on Saturday. When the alarm went off, I jumped out of bed and ran out of the house with two cameras, two lenses, an umbrella and the all-access media pass.

When we arrived at Bayfront Park, I was worried that the rainy day would ruin my motivation to shoot and I was seriously concerned that I would also ruin my cameras. Carl kept saying, what you can’t ruin is the opportunity to make some great photos. And he was right. It was an amazing learning experience that kept on my toes and forcing to be constantly problem-solving. Shooting for news coverage is very exciting and I couldn’t pass up this opportunity!