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Evolution of a picture

July 19, 2007 by Herald Leader  
Filed under Behind the Photo

Photos can be moving, inspirational, amusing, touching and heartwarming.

When you’re the photographer, they can also be dangerous as all get-out.

You don’t have to be in a war zone or a major metropolitan disaster area to put it on the line for that one really good shot that makes it worth it all. It can just be the beautiful fury of Mother Nature flying overhead.

Yesterday I was on my way back to Lexington from an assignment in Shelbyville when I ran into a monstrous thunderstorm just inside the Fayette County line. I actually beat the storm back to Lexington and wanted to photograph lightning along the downtown skyline.

We all know lightning is dangerous and I really wasn’t looking to get myself fried, but I figured that the storm would be far enough north that I would be reasonably safe. What I didn’t know was that another storm had popped up directly west and was barrelling right for me. I didn’t get anything from the first storm and ended up retreating into one of the lower levels of Parking Structure #5 on the University of Kentucky’s campus, whose roof is my favorite spot for shooting thunderstorms in Lexington.

Once the storm had passed, lightning was flying fast and furious, but there was too much light for an exposure with a longer time length and I didn’t have a tripod. Instead, I opted to just shoot a whole slew of frames and pray that lightning would strike in one of them.

After about 150 or so frames, it did. Here’s the original picture (click for the whole thing):


This photo really doesn’t look like what ran in the paper, though. That’s where editing and the imaging technicians come in.

The job of the folks on the imaging desk is to take a picture and make sure it’s properly toned. This largely applies to making sure the color settings are correct for the print edition of the paper. For online, it can also mean correcting for the camera’s natural color deficiencies and white balance problems. They can also crop the photo for maximum effect.

The end result?

Voila. Well worth the danger.


Technical details: This photo was shot with a Nikon D100 at ISO 200, F20, 1/60th of a second and at 35mm.

— Dariush Shafa |

Multimedia from the Boys’ Sweet 16


Herald-Leader reporter Todd VanCampen and Helena Hau, from our imaging desk, (pictured above in a photo by Charles Bertram) have been working hard behind the scenes of the Boys’ Sweet 16 basketball tournament at Rupp Arena this week to bring our internet viewers something they have never had before in our basketball coverage – sound. We’ve mentioned multimedia frequently in our blog posts, and we felt like this coverage deserves a mention here as well. We’ve been getting a few questions about how we are producing it, so here’s a technical behind-the-scenes, how-it’s-done explanation.

As the photographers (David Stephenson, Charles Bertram, Frank Anderson, and freelancer Jo Rey Au – also in the picture above) are shooting the game. Helena and Todd are gathering ambient sound of fans or other arena noises. Between games, Helena begins to assemble the sound in Soundtrack Pro while Todd writes up a brief game wrap-up. Todd records himself reading the game notes and Helena incorporates that into her edit.

We primarily use two pieces of software for our online galleries: Soundslides and Slideshowpro. Soundslides is a great application for pairing audio with images, but we decided to stick with our usual way of displaying our game albums since Slideshowpro gives us the option of having sound or not.

Within an hour or two after a game when the sound and images are completely edited to a predetermined length and number, the show is uploaded to the internet for the fans to enjoy. In addition to our first-ever multimedia coverage of the Sweet 16, reporter Mike Fields is blogging all through the tournament.

-David Stephenson

Eclipse Awards Announced

January 6, 2006 by Herald Leader  
Filed under David Stephenson

So in my second attempt at entering the NTRA’s Eclipse Award competition for photography, I was lucky enough to get recognized with an HM for this photo of Culinary shot on the backside of Churchill Downs in the week leading up to the Kentucky Derby.

To see the winning photo and read the complete news release, click here.

Kirk Schlea also got an HM for his great photo of Afleet Alex’s bump with Scrappy T. in the Preakness.

A bigger congratulations goes to Herald-Leader reporter Janet Patton for winning her second Eclipse Award, this time for her four-part series Wrong Side of the Track. I had the good fortune to be part of the team that worked on both of her Eclipse Award-winning stories – the other being about the mare reproductive loss syndrome which claimed the lives of hundreds of foals in 2001.

Photographers are allowed to enter up to two single photos in the Eclipse Award photography competition, so I was unable to enter a photo story or body of work like reporters can. I chose to enter one photo from the Wrong Side of the Track series. The other photo that I entered was the one that was recognized with the honorable mention.

It’s nice to be recognized, particularly since I concentrate on thoroughbred racing for only a few weeks out of the year. There are much more dedicated and talented equine photographers than me out there grinding away at it all year round. Maybe in the years to come I’ll get lucky again and this time win the top award. Fellow staff photographer and 2003 Eclipse Award-winner Frank Anderson put it in perspective for me. “Be patient,” he told me. “It took me 38 years to win.”

KNPA Seminar coming soon.

December 31, 2005 by Herald Leader  
Filed under David Stephenson

Kentucky News Photographers Association announces its 2006 Educational Seminar and Photographer of the Year contest on Jan. 20-21, 2006 at the Louisville Marriott East.

More info can be found at the website. It’s a good opportunity to hear and see some fantastic work by great still and TV photographers from around the country.

For you KNPA members who plan on entering the contest, the deadline is fast approaching: Jan. 9.

Pablo Alcala Year in Review

December 30, 2005 by Herald Leader  
Filed under Pablo Alcalá


pablo’s year end show

My show went up this morning. While I had a quieter year than others in terms of national news, I thought I made a few nice photos.  Learning to use the programs to make the shows was a good, if time consuming, experience.  Here are some quick thoughts on the past year.

I was proud to get to know the Castillos.  After getting their immigration status in order, they have bought a home, improved their jobs, started a family and used their good fortune to help others do the same.

I had several opportunities to see people caring for our national parks by cleaning them up or repairing trails. And like every year I do this, I met people from all walks of life, doing all kinds of interesting things.

I began Nuestro Kentucky this year.  It’s my monthly photo column where I show a little slice of our Latino community that maybe people don’t know about.

Personally, this year I celebrated my one-year anniversary of marriage.  We bought a house and adopted a puppy.  I biked my first century, 102 miles, around Lexington, VA, during Bike Virginia, a week-long bike tour of the state.

-Pablo Alcala


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