Saturday, September 3, 2016

Louisville Zombie Walk 2016

Zombies are huge in pop culture these days. Great movies like Zombieland, combined with the enormous popularity of the TV show, The Walking Dead, have cemented zombies as a staple in all forms of media. Long lines at conventions to see the stars of The Walking Dead attest to that. There have been a plethora of zombie shows to hit the airwaves the last few years. And it doesn't seem to be losing steam any time soon.

In Louisville, Ky, the love for zombies goes back before the current high level of popularity. Before The Walking Dead. 10 years ago, a group of friends started the Louisville Zombie Walk as a way to celebrate two friends' birthday. They repeated this every year on August 29. It quickly gained momentum, becoming an annual event in which the city shut down a section of Bardstown road for several hours to hold the event.

This year being the 10th anniversary, was a testament to how big something can become from what a few people can get started. At last count, I have heard 42,000 people participated in the walk. That is not counting people like myself who were there to document the event. Several high end effects makeup artists, many of whom I have the pleasure of calling friend, were available to do their incredible work. On top of that, many of the citizenry have become quite good at doing their own makeup. Some have even become regular characters people look forward to seeing every year.

As a photographer I look forward to the next zombie walk, planning out how I want to cover it, as soon as the current walk is over. To see my full gallery from this year's walk, visit
Louisville Zombie Walk 2016

Sunday, August 14, 2016

It's not about the gear, except when it is

No matter how technique, all about the image, a photographer may be. He or she inevitably talks about gear. I fall somewhere in the middle, as I love to try new or different gear. While I understand that ultimately it's the person making the decisions about how the gear is used which determines the outcome of the photo. I also understand that having the right gear makes getting that photo a lot easier. Also, certain gear is part of what develops the photographer's style over time. Certain lenses, lighting, or some combination of both are a key part of developing a "look" specific to a particular photographer.

For a very long time, I shot with Canon gear. As I could afford it, I upgraded my way through their camera line. Starting with Rebels, working my way through full frame 5D bodies, ultimately landing in Canon's 1D series. 1D bodies not only are capable of stunning images, but they can also hold up my Jeep on a trail for tire change. 1D's are built that tough. Sometime 2-3 years ago, several friends of mine who I regard as the best of the best photographers started switching to Fuji mirrorless cameras. The draw being that the Fuji gear is capable of the same image quality as the professional Canon and Nikon gear. At a fraction of the gear weight. Having just come off of con season, where the weight of carrying a Canon 1Ds mk2 and Canon 1D mk3, plus three pro DSLR lenses had really worn me down. The thought of being able to carry much lighter gear and still maintain my image quality was very appealing.

The very last week of 2013, I received a Fuji X-E1 with a Fuji 18-55mm and Fuji 35mm 1.4. What I quickly discovered was three things. Fuji is indeed very capable of delivering incredible photos, Fuji doesn't have a bad lens in it's lineup, and that none of the gear I bought was right for me. So, I did what I do with gear, bought and sold to get Fuji gear which best fit how I liked to shoot. Which is the near standard prime trinity. 24mm, 85mm, and 135mm. 35mm is the norm for that trio over 24mm, but 24mm is what I had come to love shooting.

This presented a problem, as Fuji was still developing it's lens lineup. Fuji is brilliant about offering focal lengths in lenses which when multiplied by the crop factor of the Fuji sensor, gives the focal lengths people are used to shooting on full frame DSLRs. The problem I had was that none of my focal lengths were available yet. Which led me to going through gear like an addict trying to make things work. Finally last year Fuji released a 24mm equivalent 16mm 1.4, and 135mm equivalent 90mm f2. Of course my making things work had changed my style some, as well as the type of events I shoot changed more towards the con/event opposed to weddings and portraits.

I enjoyed the 16mm and 90mm along with the 85mm equivalent 56mm 1.2 for a short time. Some critiques made me realize that my work was not up to it's normal standards. The suggestion was made that maybe it was time to try zooms for my work since Fuji now had 24-70mm and 70-200mm equivalent 2.8 zooms available. So I switched out to the Fuji 16-55 and 50-140 zooms. My work got a little better. More importantly, I realized why my work had gotten worse in the first place. I also realized that there was something different missing from my work now with the zooms, which I did not like. Again, doing what I do, I found a buyer for both zooms and re acquired two of my favorite focal lenses, the 16mm 1.4 and 56mm 1.2.

I am only going with two lenses to get back to the simplicity in shooting which comes from only having two lenses that my friend Mark Schueler always talked about with me. It feels like a coming home. Comfortable and familiar. Now armed with the knowledge and experience gained from the past year, I feel like I am finally at a place where my photography can improve.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

Fandom Fest 2016

Another Fandom Fest is in the books. The event keeps me so busy, that I had to take a week off from writing for my recently started blog. Life would be great if we could take a vacation from any job three weeks in. Unfortunately that practice seems to be frowned upon. Speaking of vacation, I had to take a week off from mine just to recover.

While staying on the go constantly, Fandom Fest is one of the absolute most fun jobs I have ever done. The entire staff is all smiles, even through the most stressful of situations. I run the media crew. A team of consummate professionals who are the very best at what they do. Our job not only consists of doing video interviews along with event photography. But also setting up of sound boards/speakers, lighting systems, projectors, large projector screens, and anything else associated with having the panel or event rooms ready to go.

The con itself was a weekend full of laughs and excitement. Towards the end of his final con appearances, we had Stan Lee. Who through comics, movies, and TV shows has been a part of people's lives for decades. Fandom Fest 2016 also saw the return of Kevin Smith, along with his daughter Harley Quinn Smith. The guests who were huge for me, pun intended. Were the original Godzilla suit actors. I grew up with, and continue to watch Godzilla movies. As someone who has been covering cons for a long time, this was the first instance of me truly being excited for guests on a purely personal basis. With Sunday the 31st being my birthday, I got to kick it off by going to breakfast with all of the Godzilla actors, and Bin Furuya, better known to the world as Ultraman. Needless to say, that breakfast, spending time with so many of my close friends, and family, made for one of the best birthdays anyone could ever have.

To see the full coverage of Fandom Fest, go to this gallery where all of the work from our incredible staff is posted.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Prep Time

I am one week away from my second year as the official photographer for Fandom Fest. In 2015 I signed on to work directly for Fandom Fest, as opposed to just covering it for some other reporting outlet. A lot can change in a year. In this case, I went from photographer to taking lead on a full media coverage crew, including live broadcasting. I have been blessed to have worked with some of, if not the best coverage crews in the state. Even more blessed that almost all of them were available and happy to sign on. We are now the official media coverage team, including broadcasting live from the event. While I had a blast photographing Fandom Fest with Harley Morris in 2015. There is an immense comfort level that comes from working with my team. A team I have worked with in one capacity or another for several years. Also having absorbed Harley into the team, as well as new additions of Chelsea Skalski, and my Dad, Lou Tingle. While the people in charge, during some breakdown in good decision making, decided I should be any form of leadership. I have full confidence that my team can do what they need to do without ever hearing any appalling bad ideas I may have on the fly during the con. Poor Jerry, our department head and fearless leader, is in for a noteworthy weekend. Hope to see you next weekend.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Lemonade Stand

I've been blessed with being able to photograph many diverse subjects. One subject which always tugs at your heart is benefit for a kid with cancer. Yesterday I photographed Sam's Lemonade Stand, with Heros For Higher, the local garrison of the 501st, and the Blue Moon Clan of Mandalorian Mercs. Sam, a very brave, selfless little boy held his lemonade stand to raise money for his medical expenses in a battle with cancer. Held at The Nerdy Planet, the event was a great day of fun for everyone. Sam and his brother were adopted into the Blue Moon Clan, by a teary eyed Dar Kyram, leader of the clan.

Sam posing with his favorite hero, The Incredible Hulk

There are many people suffering in this world. Some, like Sam, are fighting battles which are vehemently unfair. Sometimes, all we can do is use the gifts we have to help them and make their lives as enjoyable as possible. Never underestimate the power of a small gesture.

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Starting a blog

It would seem, that being a photographer these days, also means being a writer. The large majority of photographers with any form of web presence, has a blog to go with their web site. And that is along with whichever forms of social media the photographer uses. So here I am on a Sunday morning, checking social media, making final design adjustments to my portfolio site, and making a blog. I'm not sure how regular this will be, hopefully weekly. Covering my photography and my personal life.

This week we attended a beautiful wedding, celebrated the 4th of July, finalized the crew for Fandom Fest, and celebrated my good friend, Melissa Majors', birthday with a big surprise party. I have my portfolio site finished and live on the net. And spent a lot of time with my family. To say it's been a great week is an understatement. Despite it shaping up to be quite busy, July is going to be great month. Ending with one of my closest friends getting married.