Monday, May 30, 2011

Capturing a Memorial Day Flag feature

Being a Navy veteran of nine years nine months and twenty-seven days, I’m somewhat patriotic. My wife, Amy, is a retired Navy Chief Petty Officer and patriotic as well. One year, while in search of a feature photo for an advance article in the paper announcing Memorial Day events, I was somewhat disappointed to find only photos of Boy Scouts setting out miniature Flags at the local veteran’s cemetery. Throughout the years this was a photo I took time and time again. So I spent about an hour capturing pictures using different lenses and from a variety of angles. Still, I wasn’t satisfied, but decided to take a lunch break when rainfall started.

After pulling into our driveway I noticed that the holiday flag strung across the two doors of our garage was captured in the raindrops forming on my windshield. The hundreds of drops magnifying various parts and shapes of the flag immediately lifted my spirits.

Since my wife’s car was parked right in the middle of the driveway (it’s a habit that she has that just pisses me off) I grabbed the macro lens and jumped into the front seat of her car. Meanwhile it was a race against time, as the sun reappeared and the drops were evaporating and disappearing right in front of my eyes.

Remembering a trick I learned while attending Syracuse University Newhouse School of Public Communications’ photojournalism program, I had once sprayed glycerin mixed with water that enhanced the water drops on a swimmer during a studio shoot.

Grabbing a bottle of vegetable oil and pouring some into a spray bottle used to water flowers I headed back outside to spray the windshield. Now the windshield was once again filled with perfect long-lasting drops featuring the flag and I could take as long as I wanted to get the right shot.

Feeling pleased with myself, I headed back to the paper to download the images and put into the system. Because of my effort, the photo story was moved from a section front to the front page.

About a half hour later, I received a call from my very irritated
spouse, who was headed out to pick up one of your kids at school. She had gotten into the car, turned on the wiper blades and my oil-water drop mixture smeared across the whole windshield and she couldn’t see.

Whoops, even through I forgotten about cleaning her windshield, I saved the day by capturing a Memorial Day feature shot.