Saturday, March 31, 2007

Mirror image

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I recently was assigned to do a prep sports athlete of the year section called Winter Peak Peformers. In the newspaper world there is not a lot of time to come up with a concept, coordinate with your subjects, and execute the plan in the required time. I decided on the mirror image concept as a means to work in the studio and have my subjects come to me. All that was really required was a mirror, some different colored gels for the background light, and some trial and error getting the subject to fit in the proportions of the mirror. The biggest challenge was to come up with a different concept with each athlete, and still have a uniform theme. The image of the swimmer is my favorite from this section, for the elements of mirror, subject, and background came together well. The technical details required a 4'x5' quarter inch thick mirror, 2 studio lights with softboxes, one studio background light with colored gel, a 1600-watt powerpack, Nikon D1X camera with 17-35mm 2.8 lense. I used two sawhorses and placed the mirror on top of them while using phonebooks to raise the front end of the mirror to fit the different height subjects. When the subject was lit by the studio lights the image would be reflected in the mirror. To avoid glare I feathered the light (instead of directly lighting the subject head on, the light is aimed to one side). The section will run April 6th, 2007.

Friday, March 30, 2007

My favorite subjects

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I’m often asked who was my favorite subject to photograph. They usually think it’s a celebrity or pro athlete, but I always tell them my favorite subjects have been the special people in our own community. A couple weeks ago I photographed one of those people. Wyzella Peavy has worked at the Springs Village Care Center for the last 30 years and brings joy to everyone she come in contact with. I spent about three hours following her as she worked from room-to-room on the rehab floor of the nursing home. She always had a smile for the residents and her co-workers. I know I had a smile on my face when I left. Check out the March 26, 2007, Life Section of The Gazette for Bill Radford’s story on Wyzella or go to and click on the "Life" link on the top tool bar.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

A fun moment

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I'm lucky to be able to make a living as a photojournalist. But sometimes the daily pressure of producing photos that tell the story or capture the moment makes me forget why I picked up a camera in the first place. It's fun to take pictures. That's why I try to spend a day every once-in-a-while shooting for no one but myself. It doesn't matter if the photos are ever published or if anyone but me sees them. The process clears my head and gives me a fresh viewpoint on the world around me. More often than not, I find fun pictures. This one I shot of my daughter, Alex, and my friend, Ben, playing around on these two benches. The picture just makes me laugh. What do you think?

It's all about the light

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Light makes a photograph. It doesn't matter if you shoot with film through a Leica rangefinder or with a compact flash card through a digital SLR Nikon. Without light there would be no photography.
Take it a step further. The quality of light can also separate a great photo from a snapshot.
Last weekend I was in Santa Fe visiting friends when I shot these two pictures. One was shot at the Tent Rocks National Monument about 35 miles south of Santa Fe. The other one of my wife was shot just outside town. The quality of light and shadows is what made the photos interesting. Both were shot in the late afternoon when the sun created hard shadows. If I had shot the rocks formations at noon, the sun would have been directly above me creating flat light on the rocks with no depth. Pay attention to the light. It can kick your photos up a notch.
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Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Howling happy

I love photographing animals in captivity or the wild. Some photojournlists don't like it but I do. It takes tons of patience to get just that right moment. I could spend all day doing this. I took this photo of Akeyla the wolf at the Colorado Wolf and Wildlife Center in Divide on Monday at just the right moment when she turned right at the camera and started howling. I photographed her using a 300 mm lens mounted on a Nikon D2Hs camera body. My settings were at 200 ISO 640 ASA at f4.5. The white balance setting was on cloudy. I was lucky. I had the photo I was looking for within 30 minutes.

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A Day in the Life of Fannie Mae Duncan

If you have not seen "A Day in the Life of Fannie Mae Duncan" at the Pioneers Museum then get in your car and get down there today to take a look at the amazing photojournalism created by Lew Tilley who documented a day in the life of Fannie Mae Duncan and the Cotton Club she owned in downtown Colorado Springs in 1958. The photos were all taken during one day. Having photographed "a day in the life" similarly, I can only imagine how long of a day it must have been for Lew. There are dozens of large black and white photographs to be seen. I was mesmerized by the display. Tilley's work easily translates into the photojournalism of today. The Pioneers Museum did a tremendous job setting up the exhibit. And it's free!

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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Losing my lunch

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A bungee jumper falls from a bridge over river Yantra in the town of Veliko Tarnovo some 125 miles east of the Bulgarian capital Sofia, Saturday, March, 24, 2007. A hundred bungee jumpers will try to jump more than 420 times from the bridge in 24 hours to attempt a new world record for mass bungee jumping. (AP Photo/Petar Petrov)
This is my favorite photo on the wire so far today. I would love to shoot the event, but I don't think I would want to jump once, let alone 420 times.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Photo of the Day

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Gazette photographer David Bitton had to shoot the change of command ceremony this morning at Peterson Air Force Base. It's the type of event that can look the same as the last one: the exchange of flags between the old and new commanders or a talking head on a stage. David worked the event hard and came up with some nice images. I liked the way he framed Secretary of Defense Robert Gates with the silhouettes of soldiers in the audience. We ran it on the cover of Saturday's paper. The story was inside metro, but the photo belonged on the cover.

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Best of Photojournalism

The judging for the National Press Photographers Association's Best of Photojournalism 2007 is underway. Check out some of the images at Los Angeles Times photojournalist Carolyn Cole is one of my favorites and she won International News Picture Story for her work in the Mideast.Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Wednesday, March 21, 2007


Check out the view the new skywalk at the Grand Canyon offers. The structure on the Hualapai Indian Reservation opens to the general public on March 28. The photo options will be amazing. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Friday, March 16, 2007

180 degrees from today

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Earlier this week I was searching through the bound editions of The Gazette Telegraph in Colorado College's special collections when I came across this 1957 front page. The headline read "Hit-Run Car Kills Aged Woman Pedestrian on Downtown Street" and the photo shows a policeman and two other people hovering over the dead woman. Blood is coming from the woman's nose and mouth into a pool behind her head. You can see clearly her identity. I was shocked. As a photo editor today, I would never run this picture. The photo doesn't tell the story well. It's just disturbing. The thing I find interesting is this photo ran in an era when television wouldn't show married couples sleeping in the same bed or a graphic murder on a police show. Today people are killed every five minutes on primetime TV. But today newspapers rarely run a photo like the one I found. Don't get me wrong. There are times when we should run a graphic photo. When the news value is that important. Even if it's going to upset readers. That is if they are upset for the right reasons. An example: When the terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, we ran a picture of someone falling to their death. I knew some readers would be upset. And many were. We all were. But the news value was important enough to run it. It helped tell the story of a tragic day in U.S. history. Let me know how you feel about this topic.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Is That Smoke on Pikes Peak?

So I was driving to work the other morning and saw this weird little cloud hovering over Pikes Peak looking as if it were smoking like a volcano. It was directly centered over the top but by the time I pulled into The Gazette it had slightly drifted south. It still made for a funny image and reminded me of a April Fool's Day gag years ago on the the front page of the Colorado Springs Sun newspaper which had an image of Pikes Peak spewing lava. If you'd like to share a unique image of Pikes Peak on our blog then email the photograph to either myself at or

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Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Photo of the day

This Associated Press photo came out of the West Bank town of Bethlehem today. The posters are from an exhibition called "Face to Face" which includes portraits of Israelis and Palestinians. The posters are part of a year-long project by artists and activists from Paris and Geneva. (AP Photo by Kevin Frayer) Check out the Washington Post's photos of the day at

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Saturday, March 10, 2007

Late notice

Deadlines. We live and die by them at a newspaper. Sometimes events don't work well with our deadline too. Like tonight. The Air Force hockey team defeated Holy Cross 3-0 in its Atlantic Hockey Association quarterfinals game. The photo deadline was before it ended so we ran a nice action shot by Kevin Kreck. But he also shot the end of the game celebration. Here's the picture you couldn't see in Sunday's newspaper.

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Friday, March 9, 2007


As a photo editor at The Gazette, I would like to welcome you to our new photo blog. Let's create a dialog between you, our readers, and the photojournalists at our paper. Our goal is to share photos and the stories behind them, answer questions you may have about photography and explain the workings of our photo staff.
Please if you have any ideas about how I can improve this blog, please contact me. We really want this blog to become a two-way door.

Christian Murdock
Photo Editor

Wednesday, March 7, 2007

All in a day's work

One of the more challenging things photojournalists face while working for a daily paper is finding good pictures when there's nothing in the way of "news" happening. Gazette photographer Mark Reis found a nice moment in our community that made a great photo. And 20 or 50 years from now people can look back at the March 8, 2007 paper and get a feeling of what Colorado Springs was like on that day. What are your thoughts on this type of photograph?

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Sunday, March 4, 2007

Gazette photographers audio slideshow

Check out last year's work of The Gazette photographers at The multimedia presentation features photo galleries from each photographer as well as commentary from many of them.