Rocky RAW

portrait by paul ottaviano

In this corner we have a super mini-mini-flyweight from Hillsboro, Oregon. He is the dance and prance bruiser, the tiger unleashed, and the next champion of the world!

Actually, he is one of the nicest five year old boys you would ever meet and was a rock star in front of the camera. Mr. Luke, as I call him, likes soccer and football best but was open minded enough to try on my boxing gloves. Mr. Luke is not a boxer, but he really didn’t need any direction from me. Once the gloves were on, he went right into his Rocky and Apollo Creed routine. Once the gloves came off, he posed with stuffed animals and his baby sister. Mr. Luke, for lack of a better word, was awesome.

Wandering at 85mm

photo of silo and farm near a corn field in Banks, Oregon

There are photography assignments, pet photo shoots, and student work. All of them are worthwhile and keep me plenty busy. But every once-in-awhile I have to go back to my roots in photography and just walk somewhere with a camera in hand. I don’t over think shot selection or composition. I just stand in places that intuitively seem right and get the exposure. It’s not quite random snap shooting or photojournalist style, although both can be fun, but it’s certainly photography for pure enjoyment and freedom in the moment.

Lately the autumn weather has been wonderful here in the Portland, Oregon area and so last week I decided to take an afternoon photo walk on the Banks Vernonia trail. I had recently acquired a new 85mm f/1.8 lens, and knowing its best function is for portraiture I wanted to see what else it could do. As I said above, I just shot when it felt right to shoot. Whatever could fit into an 85mm frame is what I captured.

The photo of the silo you see above is my favorite from the photo walk. I like the layering and the lens’ ability to shoot for moderate depth-of-field with a bright sun front light. I’m also a sucker for trees, especially during autumn.

photo of creek near Banks Vernonia trail

Here is another shot I like from the walk, but not for any technical reason. It’s a nice stream in a picturesque area that has a bit of mans laziness and ingenuity mixed in with the natural driftwood. The title of this photo is “Driftwood Bucket” for that reason.

It’s always nice to do a photo walk simply for the experience.  I highly recommend that you do the same on occasion.

 

High Socks

Photo of Hillsboro Hops baseball player at bat

Baseball returned to the Portland metro area this summer in the form of the Hillsboro Hops, a class A short season affiliate of the Arizona Diamondbacks. The late afternoon, early evening natural light at Hillsboro Ballpark is a photographers dream. This is my favorite photo shot during a game I attended in July.

The interplay of light and shadows were appealing. Notice the woman in the stands using a program to block the sun while those just a few rows above her seem quite comfortable and many didn’t bother with sunglasses. Bright sun or not, the fans seemed in good spirits.

In sports photography intense selective focus is usually employed. On this occasion I was a fan in the seats and did not have the proper lens to blur the background at this distance. Sometimes it’s okay to bend the rules, and in this particular moment, the faces in the crowd are just as interesting as the game being played.

 

Pretzels

pretzel merchant photo Oregon Renaissance Festival of Hillsboro

Today’s post is written by guest blogger Beatrice Benedick.

Paul took many wonderful shots at the Oregon Renaissance Fair, as you may have seen on this blog this past week. Many of them exemplified his talent for using 55mm focal length to make colors vibrant and pop off the photo as if taken on Kodachrome. Those images are rich and immersive.

But my favorite image of the set doesn’t have that trademark color. The light is actually a bit hard, making the blues more elemental and muted. But if the blues of the photo had been very strong, they would have dominated the photo in great contrast with the almost severe look on his face. (And that face has so much subtext and complexity.) Unlike a fairy princess or the queen, neither his character nor his outfit is made to garner attention, and the color of the photo truthfully reflects that.

I think the framing is also critical here. Too close and the picture becomes too on-the-nose, like a dour portrait with overwrought emotion. Too far and the surrounding fair (and its patrons) could take the focus away from him, or, worse, make his emotion seem melodramatic or silly. Instead, just enough of him is exposed to honestly reveal a working man on the job.

Demolition Derby Day

Truck tug of war photo. Demolition Derby day in Banks, Oregon.
Tug of War in 55mm.

Banks is a small town in Oregon that on most days is a bit sleepy, yet polite, and a fine place to start a bicycle ride in the country. But on a hot Sunday afternoon last week the town came alive for a tractor pull competition and a combine demolition derby of all things.

Now I don’t pretend to be an expert on motor sports such as this and I don’t live in this town. What I do have is a press pass and camera, which gave me access to the infield of the track. Always looking for something off the beaten path and being a lover of the vibrant in life, this was an action photography shoot that was a lot of fun to do.

Combine Demolition Derby in Banks, Oregon
If you look closely at the nearest combine, you can see the reflection of its cab in the dust.

For many of the shots I chose a 55mm focal length because I discovered that, for one reason or another, when combined with ISO 200 in bright sun the color pops. This tends to be true whether a polarizing filter is used (it was here). And this event was delightfully saturated with color to begin with.

Adventures in new places, such as this, is why I got into photography.