How about some cross blog pollination? Here is a recap of our first trip in the van. It was a quick 6 week shakedown cruise to suss out the vans capabilities and trouble areas. If you’re a van nerd, there are a bunch of photos:
I turned 40 years old a few weeks ago. To celebrate I decided to drive the van to the Tetons to play in the snow.
Actually I think it was to prove I could still ride big mountains on a snowboard like I was 20 again.
Some of that plan worked out great…
After a few weeks at Jackson, Grand Targhee and Yellowstone I am convinced that this area of the country is at its best in the wintertime. Huge snowpacks, beautiful light and outside of the ski areas and towns there aren’t a lot of people.
Sarah and I are still on the road(currently in Everglades National Park) but I have been cutting together this video of some snow adventures in Wyoming and wanted to share it.
So here it is:
Woohoo! After 8 months of waiting I have finally begun the process of turning a 2016 4×4 Sprinter into a badass home on wheels. The full build-out will be documented over here but I thought I would at least post a few photos.
Sarah, Ruth and I took it out on an inaugural run to the Adirondacks this past weekend and it did what it was supposed to. Almost 20mpg and the 4×4 and extra clearance got us over some rocks that SUV’s wouldn’t even try.
We found this spot that backed up to Cathedral pond and had it all to ourselves since we were able to get over those rocks. Opening the back doors and taking a nap with a nice breeze and absolute quiet was worth the 8 month wait. I cant wait to see where this rig is going to take us.
If you’re interested in becoming a van nerd and falling down this weird rabbit hole follow along on the build over here.
Back in late June I decided it was time for a full breakaway. No computers, no facebook and no cameras(except for the gopro). Sarah and I decided on the seldom tourist-ed islands of Trinidad and Tobago. This ended being a good decision.
We both got a nice break and you get this nice video. It was shot entirely on a gopro and I was entirely on vacation.
Along with the FACTORYTOWN stills I shot some video and cut it together in a kind of supportive companion piece. Check it out(less than 2 minutes):
Johnsonburg PA is about 1.5 hours south of Buffalo on route 219. You have probably driven through it and said: “Holy shit, whats that smell?”.
That was my reaction the first few times. But the more I drove through here, the more I found myself slowing down. The town was practically inside the gigantic industrial works of a large scale paper mill. Fascinating.
I spent a few hours with a notebook sketching out what kind of shots I could get and seeing if this had any legs. I decided it did and waited for the right weather conditions for a visit.
I knew from watching other smokestacks that extremely cold temperatures and still winds will produce really interesting conditions around the base of the stacks. And what was around the base of the smokestacks in Johnsonburg? A town…
So one insanely cold morning in February I left Buffalo at 4am to drive to a town surrounded by a paper mill. And I’m glad I did. Once the sun got above the ridge lines of the surrounding Allegheny’s the top section of the stacks steam exhaust lit up while the ground level steam stayed dark and blue colored from all the surrounding snow. Beautiful.
Originally I thought I might publish only a video, but the stills were just too damn strong to stick them in a video. They needed their own space.
Here is that space:
(((full still project))) FACTORYTOWN (((click me)))
Thanks for taking the time to read this. Now go look at the full project at the link above!
I was lucky enough to be a guest on the incredibly ambitious Photography Bang Bang podcast. The host, Mark Townsend is a talented photographer from Sydney Australia with a mission to drop 1 podcast a day. Ambitious!
There are a ton of great interviews already up on the site, so go check em out.
Anyway, heres my interview:
Here’s the link to the NYTimes piece I shot a few weeks ago. Its getting hard to believe this is the same city I remember from my childhood. People crowding the waterfront and downtown restaurants and bars on a weekend in the middle of winter… Mindblowing.
It was a lot of fun shooting this and even more fun seeing it in print:
Want to impress people with that brain of yours? Drop this little known fact: The Venus Fly Trap(Dionaea muscipula) grows exclusively in a 60 mile circle near Wilmington, North Carolina. And when I say exclusively, I mean on this entire planet.
That’s right. These little carnivorous plants are endemic to a small patch of coastal wetlands and gorgeous pine savanna that I explored for a few days. The goal was to find some of these endangered and hard to find plants; dig them up and sell them for profit.
Not really, I just wanted to see if I could find some.
So what is a pine savanna? It’s a nitrogen poor wetland, covered in grasses and various tall pine species. The trees are naturally spaced to feel park-like by fires. The forest fires are what regulate and keep a pine savanna healthy and allow understory flora to grow. Flora like the venus fly trap.
The pine savanna has some straight up swamps spread throughout and this is where you find the fly traps. I found myself wading through some half mile patches of stuff like this:
I really loved the swamp sections. The trees and their root systems were on display, and the only sound was water being displaced by my boots. Really peaceful.
Just get to the plants! Where’s the fly traps?!
After exiting one of the swamp areas I came across a dry(ish) section that was covered by low grasses. It looked pretty similar to all of the photos I had studied of the fly traps habitat. There are no wooden signs pointing to these endangered plants. They are routinely dug up and sold on the black market and the native population is protected and dwindling fast. It is actually a felony to be caught with harvested venus fly traps.
Putting down my gear I started crawling around with my face pushed into the muddy grass. I had very little hopes of actually finding these things in the wild, but you gotta give it a shot… Within a few minutes a little red patch showed itself. Holy shit! I found some venus fly traps.
The little red tentacle plants next to the fly traps are called Sundews, another carnivorous plant.
And for sticking around to the end, here is some bonus footage. Trick flying the drone under the canopy and between the trees in the pine savanna:
That’s it for my meat eating plant adventure. I hope you enjoyed it.
Italian company IMA Life hired me to take some images of an assembled medical freeze dry machine. These are giant(15′ high) machines that are used to flash freeze medicines and compounds used in the pharmaceutical industry. The amount of polished stainless steel on these things… just beautiful.
However, lighting 15′ machines made of polished stainless steel is a bit of a challenge. The answer: 7′ strip boxes with grids and lots of very precise light stand adjustments.
After a few weather delays and some rescheduling I had the pleasure to shoot the head honchos over at ERW Law. Yes there was snow on the ground and yes the temperature was hovering around 10 degrees F, but you have a job. Do it.
From the beginning we knew we wanted to get some exterior environmental portraits. Something to connect ERW with Buffalo. That’s pretty easy to do with the iconic landmarks scattered around town. Add some snow and I cant think of anything that says ‘Buffalo’ better.
Even with the sub freezing temps the power packs kept up with the shooting and the snow acted as some great ballast for the lights. No sandbags! Stephen and Liz were great sports in the snow and after some more post work we’re going to have some unique images.
We moved inside on day 2 and got some more traditional stuff, using natural light and some strobe fills. A 3rd floor atrium ceiling and some direct winter sunlight made for some gorgeous light.
I’m usually not into the judgey from-on-high posts that some photographers’ blogs take. Except for this one.
Several years ago I sat down at an ASMP breakfast meeting with Jim Cavanaugh or Luke Copping or possibly both of them. They mentioned that they had an annual practice where they would sit down with notes, goals, financial records, anything from the previous year and try and process it. Look at the goals not met, or successes that they had. Try and track where they went wrong on a bid or draw up goals for the next year.
When I first heard it, I thought it sounded awful. Sitting down and looking at old shit? Last years garbage. Why…?
But I respected both of them and how they handled the business side of things so I sat down, drank entirely too much coffee, and gave it a shot.
That was in 2008 and I’ve followed this practice religiously ever since. In fact, this year I’ve decided to expand it to twice a year since its so effective/thought provoking/refreshing/cathartic.
Thank you Jim and Luke.
Im not going to try and write a how-to manual on this. Everyone will approach it differently (and thats a good thing). But here is a quick run down on how I fell into the system that I’m using now. Use it or modify it or just ignore it.
First things first. Go out and buy some kind of bound hard cover journal (or just use that one you got as a gift last week). The stuff I’m about to talk about below will only fill a small section of the front of this book. Use the rest of it for notes/journal type stuff for next year’s sit down (you’re so emo).
So what are you supposed to write down, look at, ruminate over? Everything. The first year you sit down to do this, the past years data might be a little scarce (or it might not be if you keep a journal. You should be). Thats fine. It just means this year’s sit down will be shorter.
Take any notes you do have and read through them. What did you do right? How did you screw up? What could you have done better?
Take a look through your financial statements from the past year. Did these meet your expectations? (nope, you’re a poor photographer.)
Take a look at your website and print book. Did you add enough new stuff to it last year? Does the website look stale from a design standpoint? Is your print book tired and stained?(gross)
Great. Now you’re jittery from too much coffee and second guessing your life decisions and why you ever wanted to become a photographer. This is exactly where you want to be. Seriously. Finding a detached view of your business and creative output is tough to do but incredibly beneficial when it happens. Real breakthroughs happen in this state of mind.
Grab a piece of paper and draw a line down the middle. Make one side a positive column and the other a negative. Jot down all the great stuff you did last year in the + side and all the stuff you totally dropped the ball on in the – side. This is a nice way to condense all the previous scribblings and get a quick overview on your past year.
From all this digging into last year’s mess-ups and successes you’re going to start to get a feel for what you want to do in the upcoming year. Suddenly you can’t sit still and all you think about is new projects, how to do things differently and goals and… (still too much coffee)
Now comes the planning for the upcoming year and after a few dry runs I settled into the system that follows:
- Break down your upcoming goals into categories. ‘Creative’ ‘Professional’ ‘Financial’ ‘Personal‘…etc. This was helpful to me to separate this stuff out. Just a little structure helps.
- Inside of these categories make some sweeping generalized goals ‘Revamp Current Web Portfolio‘. Then inside this general goal, make actionable items ’10-12 new images by October’. This is where things start to get real. These actionables are sometimes difficult to write in the beginning of the year. Too bad, do it anyway. When you’re revisiting these goals and action items throughout the year, this gives you real direction and not some wishy-washy generalized goal. This little exercise with the action items nested inside the goals I learned from a free webinar Selina Maitreya put out. This was the only part of that webinar I used…
- Revisit this book throughout the year. Flip through each category and look at the goals. Make sure you’re hitting the action items that you had laid out. Keep doing this all year. Maybe once a month or quarterly or whatever. But don’t lose the thread and momentum that this exercise created when you started it.
And that’s it. Now you have a living document that you adjust, add to, delete, whatever throughout the year. And next year you have some seriously good data/insight on what your past year was like. The perfect thing to look at next year when you’re doing your second annual sit down.
The picture to the left is my 2014-2015 sit down escape perch in the Outer Banks, NC. I’ve been here for about a week with last years journal and a shiny new one for 2015. A week of 3-4 hours a day doing all the stuff I outlined above. This is not a quick process. Give it 7-10 days to do it properly. I also suggest some kind of seclusion or disruption from your day-to-day grind to do the sit down. And try to do it all at once in one big binge of coffee and writing and planning. It keeps a continuity to the exercise.
Ok, I am stepping down from the soapbox now. Have a great 2015 everyone!
Its a bit of an annual tradition for me to wrap up the year by cramming a post with as many of my favorite images as possible. This ends up being a LOT of images… its hard to be your own editor.
But this year…this year its gonna be different. I cut a video to sum up the 360 day trip around the sun in a quick, easy access format. Of course you’ll watch it to the end. Right?
2014 was really good to me. Many of the ideas/goals/ambitions that I had laid out in the beginning of the year actually came to pass. Things like a solo show at CEPA, some national and international press on the rice project. I was nominated ASMP best of 2014. I hit(and smashed) my financial goals for 2014. I was able to secure new clients and work on some great projects with old clients. I landed a contract that will take me around the world in 2015.
Is that enough bragging yet?
Thank you 2014! Oh and 2015…? I am going to kick your ass.
Here’s the video:
A quick video of the snow wall here in Buffalo NY. This was not shot with an intervalometer, but instead video. Speed for some of the clips is at 8000x.
This is quite the honor. I’ve been named one of ASMP’s Best of 2014.
When the call for work came out, I noticed one of the guidelines was to display a visual consistency for the images submitted. The Rice project definitely fit this description. Between the images selected and the post work done on them, the project as a whole has a ‘look’ to it.
And since I have a page with a lengthy interview on it(click that screencap on left to go to it) I feel I can be a little self indulgent…
Visual cohesion in a project
I find that Im approaching most new work in a specific way:
-Get the concept ironed out
-Let the technical details and execution steer the concept(a little)
-Early looks and experiments with post work while still shooting guides the rest of the footage gathered
I think the last point is what can really tie a project together. Obviously we are talking about something that takes several days/weeks/years to shoot and not a quick editorial portrait. Reviewing footage in a meaningful way while still shooting the project is really helpful. Applying early looks and experiments with post processing to the footage can suddenly bring out an a-ha! moment and guide the remainder of what you shoot and how you shoot it.
This approach worked well for me in Alaska. After several days of shooting I was reviewing footage and started noticing the shots wanted to get darkened up with just hints of light/color. This changed my lighting, my f-stops and angles for the rest of the trip. I knew what I was shooting towards so I could get there quicker with the camera and keep the images looking consistent even before they hit Lightroom.
Ok, thats it from me.
Head over and take a look at the interview. Its pretty entertaining:
In what amounts to version 2.0 of the website; I have added several new galleries, totally changed the look of the site, added and removed, culled, refined and just plain made better scottgable.com.
One of the cool new chunks of content is the awkwardly named Chi.Lao.Cam.Tai.Viet.Thai gallery. After wrapping up the rice project, I realized there was a ton of great images from the general banging around of Asia that happened in between shooting the rice stuff. Like, a ton of them. And the hardest part(as it always is) was trying to edit myself and only bring the best images to the gallery. So many stories in the cracks between these images…
I hope you enjoy them for what they are. A lot of hard fought miles went into making this gallery.
The rest of the site desperately needed a makeover. I had a bunch of new work and the old layout was starting to get a little tired. I wanted something that showed what I was doing even quicker and maybe had a little motion to it. Enter the new OVERVIEW…
Im loving it. It quickly and graphically lays out what Im all about and the GIFs for the motion stuff was perfect. Plus I can jam even more images onto my landing page…
Theres plenty of other new content(the NAVIGATE gallery) in particular that Im proud to show, along with thumbnail tweaks and other boring stuff. Who has even read this far…?
Just go take a look. You wont regret it:
About 6 weeks ago I bought an entry level drone. I thought it would be a great way to add some production value and unique perspectives/viewpoints for my clients.
I needed to practice using the technology, practice the new mindset it takes to capture compelling( I hope) aerial video and practice some post production techniques. I decided that the city I live in would make a great training ground.
So, here is several weeks of flying around Buffalo, NY:
Over the moon excited to announce that my rice project will be hung at Cepa Gallery, here in Buffalo in mid June. June 20th to be a little more specific. And June 20th thru August 20th to be even more specific. After seeing so many great installations at Cepa over the years, it’s truly an honor to have this project shown there.
I think I already mentioned I’m excited…
Here is a quick video with the details that I made with my friend Andy Buscemi’s microscope and a camera mount.
A few weeks ago I found myself in Florence, SC with the wonderful people from Crowley Webb and ESAB in one of their technology lab playgrounds. There were plasma torches, huge plates of 2″ thick steel, cranes, and magnets strong enough to move that plate in my head. Just kidding, I never got close enough to it…
Thanks to Lillian Selby and Lauren Molenda from Crowley for making the shoot a pleasure and thanks to Alex Sewald for being on top of his game.