Dance the Night Away

Participants of Saint Louis University's Dance Marathon danced the night away from 3PM Saturday November 19 to 3AM Sunday, November 20. They raised $27,883.71 to be split equally between St. Louis Children's Hospital and SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center, in Saint Louis, MO. (SLU Photo / Candra Johnson)

About a week or so ago SLU Dance Marathon hosted a few hundred students and former patients from SSM Cardinal Glennon Children’s Medical Center and St. Louis Children’s Hospital, to raise money for the two hospitals.  The Exec Board pulled together a great night for all and the Morale Team kept the excitement high for the students and kids.  One of the activities of the night was the Morale Team teaching several parts of a line dance, adding on to what they’d learned about every hour.  My image is from around the middle of the night after they had completed the dance and practiced a few times.  They divided into two teams and more or less competed against each other for which side danced the best, but really it was all just good fun.  I like that the image is close and tight for the most part, but also that there are other people in the background.  I love the emotion on their faces and the excitement they all convey, and I think that the similarity in outfits and bows, only add to that.  I can’t say I love the bright exit signs, but I don’t know that they take away too much, being that they are too small.  The lighting in there was rough; I mean it was great and cool, and created a fun environment, but was difficult when it came to exposing pictures.  But I think this was one of the better shots from the night – in terms of lighting, emotion, and composition.


Favorite Cohen Photo

"Watching headstones pass in Arlington National Cemetery, Bill Keenoy, 85, traveled last Sunday with the St. Louis chapter of Honor Flight, a non-profit group that brings World War II veterans to Washington to see the National WWII Memorial. Keenoy, who laid communication lines as an infantry soldier in the Army Signal Corps, lives in hospice care after contracting mesothelioma, a cancer of the lungs caused by asbestos exposure traced to his work as a pipefitter before joining the Army." (STL Today / Robert Cohen)

I think this is a really great image.  It says a lot without too many things going on.  You can see the tombstones layer back far into the image, out of the frame, which I think adds to the gravity of death in the image.  I like that image is almost cut into the thirds with the man, in the far left, his reflection in the center, and the graveyard on the far right.  I think that his reflection looking back at him is almost eerie – as if he is so easily back in time, on the side of the war again and all that entails, even death.  I like the little color detail of his hat, shirt, and what looks like a lanyard, emphasizing his country and patriotism.  I also like how he and his clothes are the only things that are really in color on the bus, really focusing in on him and the scene outside.  This image, in my opinion is a great shot.  It saddens my heart, but at the same time, it also evokes a certain feeling of respect and gratitude, both for the man on the bus, and all the those beyond the glass, wherever they may be, who put their lives on the line for others.


Monday, October 31, 2011, students of Saint Louis University gather to worship Jesus, study his Word, and and figure out what it means to follow him in college at the Edge. The Edge is held every Monday, in BSC 253 B/C at 7pm, and is hosted by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. (SLU Photo / Candra Johnson)

About three weeks ago, on Monday, October 31, Noah Oldham, Pastor of August Gate Church, kicked off a new series at the Edge, “LIVE OUT LOUD” and taught us about what it meant to “Live Locally.”  But before everyone showed up, myself and a few other members of our InterVarsity chapter’s core team, played around with a sharpie and my camera – experimenting with depths of field and different angles.  The larger image, as well as the one within the box were some of the results from the mini photo-shoot.

The larger image I cut and pasted on to a black background, having to use a soft brush to shave off some of the jagged and rough edges.  I cropped the smaller image and fit it into a white box to give it an old polaroid type look.  All of the words – except the letters on the knuckles – were typed in, and I used shapes to create the cross. The hand holding the image was actually from another one of the photos I’d taken that day – the one originally on the larger photo was very rough (edge wise) and splotchy (color wise), and I struggled to get it to the point I needed it to be.  I think this illustration could be better, but I don’t think it’s too bad for my first one.

I wasn’t sure where to go with my illustration, in terms of ideas, and I tried out a few different things before I landed on this.  It took me a while to get started, but then it just just kind of got going.  I guess it ended up being an ad or promo piece to an extent.  But I can’t say it’s something that will be posted up around campus or anything.  I’m not too sure about how the fist coming out at you in the larger image really conveys the right mood, idea, or emotion even, in relating to inviting someone to a Christian event.  The smaller image with the smiling, is a little more inviting and playful, but the larger one not so much.

Dinner & a Show

On Friday, November 4, 2011, the Indian Student Association at Saint Louis University hosted their annual Diwali event. One of the opening performances included a telling of the story of Diwali through dance. (SLU Photo/Candra)

Last Friday (November 4) I went to the Diwali celebration, hosted by the Indian Student Association.  Diwali, also known as the “festival of lights,” recognizes the defeat of good over evil with stories of gods and goddesses in the Hindu faith.  The evening started with dinner at 6pm, with the show following the meal.  This dinner and a show duo proved to be a really awesome event.  I didn’t personally partake in the dinner aspect, but I heard the food was great!  I can, however, vouch for the entertainment.  It was a night of dancing, musical performances, video clips, all sorts of skits, and even a fashion show.  From dress to talent, the Indian Student Association, presented a night that was nothing short of sensational.

One of the first performances of show was a story telling of gods and goddesses in the faith, through the art of dance, with good triumphing over evil.  The above image is one from that performance.  I really enjoyed photographing this event!  The lighting was, for the most part good, and my place in the crowd presented me with a good view and a lot of shooting opportunities.  Several white wall lights created some difficulty, but it wasn’t a constant problem, which was nice.  I like that in this image in particular the bright colors on the clothes wasn’t overexposed or blinding.  I wish that the dancer in the back was a little more clear, but to an extent I think her movement can add to the shot – contrasting with her clear, still partner.  I also like that her arms are extending into the air and the reflection it casts on the wall behind her.  I think that the layering – in the dancer in front versus the one in the back half of the stage – really works for the image, as does the contrast between the dancer in front bending down, facing the camera, while the dancer in the back is looking and directing her attention upward.  I can’t decide if I need to do a little straightening with this image, but I think overall, it is one of my favorites.

That’s What I Do…I Play

Mike Moran fires the glass eggplant he has just created glassblowing, at Third Degree Glass Factory in Saint Louis, MO. Moran spent the bulk of Monday, November 7, 2011 in the HotShop creating varies glass pieces. (SLU Photo/Candra)

After a suggestion to take pictures of glass blowers at Third Degree Glass Factors, I was sold immediately and on Monday, November 7, 2011 I spent an hour or two hanging out at Third Degree Glass Factory on Delmar Ave.  The people I met there were great, and the pieces they were make were equally neat – leaving my friend and I wanting to be wanting to bed skilled and creative in that way as awell.

So about these pictures.  First of all, I don’t know that I can properly convey the struggle I had with light.  Three things, made it especially difficult.  (1) The weather.  The door to the HotShop was open, letting the heat escape the garage.    While I was glad to not be overheated, the cloudy sky with an awkward glare didn’t bode well for my images.  (2) Aside from the weird natural lighting, and the fire, the garage was somewhat shadowy, – more in some places/from some angles than others – which again wasn’t helpful when it came to moving quickly around the HotShop, composing, and exposing.  (3) Fire.  It was definitely cool to photograph fire and melting glass, but with the weird natural lighting, and the shadows of the garage, it was difficult to expose for the fire, or another brighter point, but still keep other aspects of the image well exposed.  I got some good shots, but I also lost a lot of cool shots to poor exposure.  Lighting aside, however, I would have been nice to more angles and perspectives, but there were limitations to where I could stand, for safety reasons and to stay out of the way of the glass blowers.

I started my time in the HotShop where I hung out with some cool guys blowing glass and creating really awesome pieces.  The guy pictured (above) is Mike Moran.  He made several really cool glass eggplants (pictured) that took some serious skill and patience.  In the image, he is firing the end of the stem to remove excess glass.  He was really intense.  The woman pictured (below) is Eileen Wade.  She spent her time in the flameworking and kilnworking studio creating glass beads to add to her collection and jewelry pieces. In talking to her, she explained that she took a class to get started, and then just started experimenting with different techniques, colors, and glass.  She has a lot of really cute beads and beautiful pieces of jewelry that she sells – check out her Etsy page.  In describing her work, she said: “That’s what I do; I play,” and by that and her enthusiasm, you can tell that she really loves what she does.  I really enjoyed photographing Eileen, Mike, and some of the other people at Third Degree Glass Factory – what a fun assignment!

Eileen Wade experiments with different colors and types of glass in the flameworking and kilnworking studio of Third Degree Glass Factory on Monday, November 7, 2011. Wade works in flameworking to create many glass beads and jewelry pieces that she later shows in galleries and sells. (SLU Photo/Candra Johnson)


Do What You Can

The Saint Louis University men’s soccer team practiced midday on Tuesday, November 1, 2011. Their next game is Saturday, November 5, 2011, at home, against Charlotte. (SLU Photo/Candra)

I don’t know that I have a favorite image out of this set for the assignment on sports.  I was unable to get to a soccer or basketball game to get the experience of sports photography that I wanted, but working with what I’ve got is another experience all in itself.  So it’s Tuesday, and I have a few images I could use for this assignment, but like i said, I was really looking for something more.  I’m walking over to my public health class in McDonnell Douglas Hall on the far end of campus, and the soccer team was practicing – oh how great to catch this midday practice.  I only had my 18-55mm lens, but again, trying to be happy with what I have.  A few awkward stares from the team, but it was fine, really a small price to pay for impromptu photo opportunity.

Anyway about the image.  I like it, I don’t love it.  I can’t decide if I want to crop the goal out, on the right.  It’s slightly distracting because it’s so bright, but at the same time I think it adds perspective to the image.  It allows you to really see all that’s happening, the goalie’s misstep, but also that the kick may be slightly wide of the post.  I like that the ball is mid-air and somewhat centered within the image.  Surrounding the ball, the rest of the image takes hold, from a play running from behind, the kicker just having finished following through with a kick, and the goalie lunging to stop the ball, albeit seemingly in the wrong direction.  There seems to be an invisible line from the top left corner of the image to the bottom right, crossing over players, and ending at the goal.  So there are things I like about this image, but I think I could have done better.

Saxophones and Stained Glass

Jazz in Pink headlined the Community Women Against Hardship Auction, Sunday, October 16, 2011. The all female jazz band from LA wowed the crowd in Sheldon Hall in Saint Louis, MO. (SLU Photo/ Candra Johnson)

I really love this image.  I took a lot of shots at this event, but this one was definitely one of the best.  It wasn’t easy either.  Every time I thought I had composed a good shot of the band, I’d review it and see that the microphone was covering part of someone’s face or I’d caught an angle where someone’s guitar looked like it was coming out of another band member’s side.  Very frustrating.  And the lighting was good…on part of the stage, but dark on the other and so flipping between aperture settings was a pain, something I often forgot to do as I quickly changed my view on the stage.  But I think this one turned out well.  I think it is well exposed and there were no awkward protruding instruments.  This saxophonist in particular, was working the stage and audience loved her (as did I) – I think this really image shows her fun personality!  I also like how I used the rule of thirds setting her in the far right third, leaving the other two to show the character of the building!  The stained glass windows are a beautiful addition to the shot and the colors of them drift from left to right down the rainbow, ending on the red and pinks, which happens to be the same color (pink) of her dress.  If you look hard enough you can see people in the seats, although I think it would have been nice had I been able to get them more visible.  That most likely would have cost me the exposure on the stage – as I struggled to get both in the same shot – and may have made the image seem to heavy and crowded.  Overall though I think this image turned out nice and I’m definitely excited about it.


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