Category Archives: Students

Craig took me up today to practice for the CPPA aerial seminar. We have a flight plan in mind that will circle you around campus once and then fly by the casino on our way back. If you want to deviate from it, let us know right away. After you pay the fee, you will be put on a list. You may choose your flight time, first come first serve.

aerial 01

This is my daughter, Betsy, 8, during takeoff on her first small aircraft flight. You may feel the same. This is where I will be sitting and coaching you. We will communicate through headsets. Put the mic right up against your mouth. It is voice activated. If you can hear yourself then we can hear you too.

aerial 02

This is Craig Beins. He is an amazing pilot. So good at understanding what you want to accomplish. I have worked with Craig for 10 years. Never came back without a picture. He is going to circle you around campus. Be ready as soon as you get on the plane. Bring two bodies if you can. Don’t forget to put your camera strap around your neck!

aerial 03

Do not shoot this type of scene. It is too loose. Nothing to hold your attention. Just information. Nothing more. Nothing interesting.

aerial 04

Shoot tighter. Look for good composition. Look at the light. Shoot lots! And by the way. Open the window. The wind will keep it up in the air.

aerial 05

It’s really no different than shooting out of your car traveling around 100 miles per hour. It’s windy. You will need to hold on to your camera tightly. You will need a shutter speed of at least 1/1000 of a second. I suggest aperture priority. Lens at it’s widest aperture. Set the ISO to get the shutter speed. Do not rest the camera on the window and do not rest your body on the back of the seat. Sit up straight and shoot out the window without touching anything. You will avoid heavy duty vibrations.

aerial 06

Don’t forget to shoot verticals.

aerial 07

I prefer to use an 80-200 2.8 lens. If you shoot Canon, I will have it with me to lend you. If you shoot Nikon, you can use mine. Auto focus is fine to use. Make sure your focus is on Continuous for Nikon or AI for Canon.

aerial 08

Shoot tight. Look for good angles and good light.

aerial 09

Continue shooting and using your zoom to compose. Notice this one is wider than the one above?

aerial 11

Don’t shoot directly overhead like this. Notice the strut in the way on the right? Shoot to the right of it instead of in front of it.

aerial 12

Shoot farther away and lower like this (compare to picture above).

aerial 13

Looks like the Chips are working hard to make up for last Saturday.

aerial 14

Saw it. Opened the window. Shot it.

aerial 15

This is where you will meet us.

aerial 10

It will be exhilarating, and educational. If you are timid of flying, don’t worry, you will be focused on the task at hand. Who knows. Maybe someday you will specialize in aerial photography!

Eleven of my students participated in my first Aerial Seminar on November 7, 2009. Expert pilot Craig Beins took each student up from Mt. Pleasant Airport for their first time photographing various areas in the Mt. Pleasant area. Each student had 15 minutes to photograph the area they desired, including Central Michigan University, the casino, farm lands, homes, and places they are shooting for class assignments. It was so great to see the smiles on their faces as they made pictures from 1,000 feet up in the sky.

location light 02

Sihang Zhang poses in the hallway just before my students set out in groups with pocket wizards, strobes, light stands and umbrellas. F5.6 at 1/200, ISO 400. Strpbe is on half power. 200 mm lens about 40 feet away. The umbrella provides a beautiful soft light espcially when fairly close to your subject.

location light 05

Nate Kostegian, right, and Joe Tobianski set up a light in the hallway of CMU’s new education building. F6.3 at 1/80th. 70mm lens. Slower shutter speed to lighten background.

420 poker student photos-4

Studio student, Krista Tacey, brought in her childhood piggy bank and set this up during a hands on still life exercise. An SB 800 Nikon Speedlight was used with a Lumiquest Softbox III. A gobo was used to darken the background and eliminate a distracting reflection. In this case the gobo was a black piece of foam core held underneath the light and between the light and the piggy bank. The image was cropped slightly all around the scene to add impact.

In class last Wednesday, my JRN 420 students and I had a fun time photographing each other as an exercise for studio portraits (see their blogs above). While this is a mug shot and not the type of photos we are trying to make, these do illustrate what each light does. Four lights were used for the top left photo. The main, fill, rim, and background lights. We turned off one light at a time to see how each strobe affects the lighting. The rim light was turned off for the top right photo. Then at bottom left, we turned off the background light. At bottom right the fill light was turned off. Try to imagine what Aliscia would look like if lights were turned off in a different sequence. What purpose does each light serve?

Studio-Demonstration_titlesThanks for posing, Aliscia!

Compare the two photos below. The top photo was shot bouncing the flash on the wall to Martha’s left. The bottom photo was taken with the flash turned around and aimed directly at her. Huge difference! The reason the light is so soft in the top photo is because the light source was about 6 to 8 feet in diameter coming from the wall. In comparison, the bottom photo’s light source was extremely narrow at about one inch by three inches. Notice also the fall off of the broad light lit up the background while the harsh lit photo had little fall off keeping the background dark. Also, with the broad light source the intensity diminishes. Notice the five stop difference between the exposure for each photo. Which do you prefer? Why?





Peggy Kelsey spent over an hour with my class speaking about her travels to Afghanistan. She showed images of daily life in afghanistan and portraits of women. She had amazing stories. She even spent some time in a women’s prison. One highlight of her visit was allowing some of us to try on a real burqa. It made me claustrophobic! Kelsey traveled to Afghanistan in August and September of 2003, returning with photographs and interviews of 40 women. They are of various ages and come from differing social classes, ethnic groups and areas of the country. Currently, 21 of the women form an exhibit at the Park Library at Central Michigan University, that also includes their biographies and excerpts from their interviews.

The annual journalism awards banquet at Central Michigan University is a highlight of the year for many students and honorees. The program is a special time to honor those who have won journalism awards, received scholarships, and to recognize the distinguished alumnus. This year, award winner, Tom Montgomery was honored. Tom has hired and mentored many CMU journalism interns at the Cass City Chronicle who have gone on to promising careers. Also, my colleague and mentor, professor John Palen was  recognized for his many years of service as he enters retirement.