4x5 Portraits: Bigger and Better

My friend Robert is an absurdly talented photographer. He almost exclusively shoots film and I’m repeatedly fascinated by his work (some tasteful NSFW here). Oddly, I met him through my graphic design work and not through anything photography-related.

Last year he started offering portraits done on his 4x5 camera. It’s a Calumet CC-400 4x5 with a Rodenstock 210mm lens. I normally dislike having my photo taken, but I was actually looking forward to having these done. I love the photos he took and if you look at my profile shot on my contact page, you’ll see one of them. He showed me through the whole process and even developed the photos in his kitchen. Seeing the amount of work involved with taking photos with this type of camera is quite awe-inspiring.

My wife Amy wanted him to do a few of her so he obliged and about a month ago came over to our place and spent an hour with us doing what he does best.

Double the Fun!

Next weekend I’m going to Watkins Glen International in Upstate New York with my father-in-law to see some car races. He’s been into racing for years, both as a driver and as a writer. He goes every year to cover some of the races and do a bunch of interviews and this year I’m tagging along to shoot a pile of photographs. I went with him last year up to Mosport in Bowmanville, Ontario and enjoyed it quite a bit. It was my first time seeing a car race right up close. We both have media passes so we’ll have access to a lot of areas which means I might want to invest in some ear plugs if I go into the pits.

I’ll be shooting primarily with my 70-200 2.8; my 50 1.4 and 24-70 2.8 will also be packed. The 70-200 gives a good amount of reach, but I’ve always wanted to try out one of Canon’s extenders and figured this was as good a time as any as I don’t know exactly how close I’ll safely be able to get, even with the media passes. Anyhow, I rented Canon’s 2x Extender III from the folks at Lens Rentals Canada. Originally it wasn’t supposed to arrive until Tuesday, but I lucked out and it arrived on Friday. I was actually almost able to bring it to the ball game we went to in Toronto that night. We sat in dead centre field so it would’ve been perfect but we had to leave by a certain time and the delivery person didn’t come until a few hours after we left. Anyhow, I was able to pick it up early Saturday afternoon and have gone out a couple times with it to see exactly how much further it can reach.

Short answer: far.

Fastball is Fast

This week, Kitchener is hosting the ISC World Fastball Tournament. Over 60 team will be competing for the ISC World Championship, ISC Legend Championship, and ISC U-21 Championship. I’ve only been to the tournament once before and since my friend Marc pitches for one of the local teams, we went to watch him play on Friday night. My dad and I will also be checking out a few games at the end of the week.

Those that know me know that I’m a baseball fanatic. I played little league as a kid, and frankly, I was terrible. I was never able to get over the fear of getting hit by the ball which drastically inhibited my ability to hit it while up to bat. I only lasted a couple seasons before I realized that “Major League Baseball Player” was off the career list. This never killed my love for the game of baseball, however.

I play slo-pitch on a weekly basis and I still can’t fathom how hard it is to keep up with a ball thrown so hard and so fast. They say hitting a baseball is one of the hardest things to do in any sport; it has something to do with hitting one round object (the ball) with another (the bat). Now, I don’t have a huge amount of experience in all sports to say this is totally true, but after watching this game and seeing many other big league contests in person, I can see where this idea comes from. I remember once trying the fastest pitching machine at a batting cage and I was barely able to make contact. These were balls that were just pumped down the middle every time and I could hardly manage any foul tips, so being able to make contact in different locations in the strike zone all within a fraction of a second is something I’ll never quite wrap my head around.

Regardless of how poorly I can hit anything above a slow, underhanded pitch, I’m quite happy with my current slo-pitch skills, even if it pales in comparison with what these guys can do.

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