'Roid Week 2011


With my iPhone I can now take pictures and not only see them instantly, but share them instantly. In the studio the LCD screen on my digital camera (or a separate monitor) provides the instant preview a Polaroid back once did for my predecessors.

Fact is, Polaroids are obsolete for nearly all consumer and professional uses. That doesn't make them any less fun to use, though.

In the right conditions, these cameras can still take surprisingly good pictures, but qualities that would normally be seen as undesirable, like light leaks, faded colors, and lens flare, are part of the charm of shooting with vintage cameras.

For me, Polaroid cameras are toys. It's nice to leave behind the weight (figuratively and literally) of professional digital cameras and the need to make technically good images and just go with the flow. 

You might get something cool out of a Polaroid or you might not, but there's something fun abou pulling, waiting and finally peeling the film apart to see what you got.

In an ironic twist, the internet has helped spawn a new cult following for Polaroids on sites like Flickr

In 2006, one group on Flickr started 'Roid Week, a loosely organized, annual, five-day celebration of all things Polaroid. This year, over 1,400 people contributed nearly 4,000 polaroid images to the group.

These are a few of my shots from my wanderings around town during 'Roid Week 2011. I did break the rules a little by making it a seven-day affair starting on a Wednesday, but being a Polaroid enthusiast has never been about being a conformist.

Loray Mill



William Partlow

William Partlow

This is William Partlow, a local basketball player soon to be inducted into the Gaston County Sports Hall of Fame. He told me he used to be a model when he was younger -- had an agent and everything.

I'm not normally a fan of smiles in posed portraits, but I think the photo above shows his personality pretty well, even if he was taking direction like a pro. The headshot below is a decidedly more serious treatment. I think they both work, but in different ways.

William Partlow

Artificial Portrait

Artificial Portrait

I think it's important for portrait photographers to occasionally remind themselves what it feels like to walk away from a shoot seeing doughnuts (from a ring flash).

So, as I was tooling around yesterday taking some self portraits I decided to make like Brad Trent and do what he calls an "artificial portrait" by pulling back to show the reality of the lighting being used to create the picture.

I usually find including your lights in the frame to be cliche, but Trent's portraits are about pulling back the curtain rather than than saying "Ooh, look at the cool gear that I have and you don't." He pulls it off.

As far as portraits go I've largely been influenced by the work of Dan Winters and Ben Baker, among others. I think my own style is somewhere in between the subtle but dramatic Winters and the high-contrast, almost surreal look of Trent, but for these pictures I went for the more contrasty look.

To do this right I should have pulled the camera back and included my ring flash in the shot too, but there was a wall right behind the camera position so I had to zoom out rather than back it up.

Also, I cut my feet off. Oops.

Below is the shot that I was originally going for (in my defense, I didn't have the best raw material to work with).

Swamp Gas

Extreme Runner

CJ Barnhart
Runner CJ Barnhart poses on top of Hidden Wall at Crowders Mountain State Park on Tuesday July 5, 2011. Barnhart runs the trails at Crowders to train for races involving obstacle courses like the recent Super Spartan 8-mile race in Winnsboro, SC where he took home a medal.

Summer (feature) fun

New friend

A few features from the past week's festivities. Click on photos for captions.

Ranlo Family Fun Day

Jump for it

Happy Independence Day!

Gastonia Fireworks

Here are a few of my favorite fireworks pictures from this long Fourth of July weekend. The top one is from Gastonia on Monday and the bottom two from Cherryville on Friday.

Cherryville  Fireworks

Cherryville  Fireworks