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We heard that a few military aircraft were going to be stopping at Grand Rapids airport for a quick visit. So we grabbed a camera at hopped over to the Gerald R. Ford International Airport – only a mile from our offices.

As part of the Armed Forces Day, the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) was displaying different military aircraft and equipment. The event, which honored those serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, was held inside the Amway Corporation hangar so the threatening weather was not a problem.

The aircraft on display included a Blackhawk helicopter and a B-17 World War II bomber.

The “Yankee Lady” B-17 World War II-era bomber.
The ESGR is part of the Department of Defense for Reserve Component Employers. Its goal is to develop relationships with employers that support workers who serve in the National Guard and Reserve. Several representatives from all branches of the U.S. military were available to talk about the military.

The Blackhawk was another favorite with the visitors.

I didn’t, however, see anyone climbing into the very cramped quarters of the ball-turret gunner on the B-17…

The aircraft were definitely “hands-on” so you could climb into the cockpit of the Blackhawk helicopter or check out the very cramped quarters of the ball-turret gunner on the B-17. I saw people of all ages from little kids up through veterans of World War II talking with the military personnel.

The U.S. Coast Guard displayed some of their rescue craft and law enforcement craft. Two sharpshooters were also present talking about their camouflage techniques and work Although it wasn’t extensive and took only a short time to walk through, it was a good way to kick off the days leading up to Memorial Day.


Written By Scott Slaughter


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Staying close to mother earth


One thing that I’ve tried to do to increase the intimacy of my photos is to GET LOW – stay close to the path leading from the camera lens to the subject.

By path, I mean the space between me and the subject. The subject may be very close, slightly close or far away. And the space between me and the subject may be the ground, water, grass, whatever. By including this space up close, I think I’m better able to convey the scale of the subject.

In my younger days, I had little problem photographing these paths by crouching down or even laying on the ground to capture this space. Unfortunately, my legs and back no longer afford me the same body flexibility.

For some years now to save my back, I’ve used an angle viewfinder. The angle viewfinder that I use snaps onto my camera’s eyepiece and has a built-in diopter adjustment (handy since I use eyeglasses for distant viewing) and two levels of magnification for more precise focusing.

This angle viewfinder is for a Canon DSLR. Nikon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony have similar viewfinders for their cameras.

Using the angle viewfinder, I’m able to compose and focus very low to the ground without breaking my back.

The angle viewfinder let me capture a closeup
of the pine cone. Instead of a top-down photo, I was
able to include the pine needles with this
side view of the subject.

Many of the new DLSRs have a feature that minimizes the need for the angle viewfinder accessory – an LCD which swivels.

Below, the LCD on this Sony A55 is articulated. You can swivel the LCD to provide a large view when the camera is sitting on the ground and from almost any other angle too.

Among the other camera models which have a swiveling LCD are the Canon T3i and 60D, Nikon D5100, Sony A33 and Olympus E-620.


The LCD on this Sony A55 conveniently folds out to provide a 3″ live viewfinder.

In the field, I can place the camera on the ground and compose the photo from my sitting position.

The swiveling LCD made it easy for me to
include the surroundings at Monument Valley.
Although I was very distant from the monument in
the background, this was a convenient way to
show the texture of the ground. BTW, my pants
remained clean afterwards.

I have many photos of little people taken from above – great if you don’t mind seeing the tops of their heads and hair. But with an angle viewfinder or swiveling LCD you can easily lower your viewpoint for kids’ portraits.


Here I was able to get down to the level of two of our
grandkids. From down here, it’s much easier to see their eyes.


The next time you’re out taking pictures (hopefully very soon), make it a point GET LOW. Take a few shots from the very lowest point of view that you can. It can make for some interesting photos.



Written by Arnie Lee


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Beyond the Faces

06th May 2011

Adding Action to Portraits


As a grandfather with a camera, I’m very often snapping away when the grandchildren are nearby. So it shouldn’t be surprising that I have hundreds (maybe thousands) of photos of these kids in my collection.

Yesterday, three of them were out playing in our backyard. Here’s a few snapshots that I took. I’m a big fan of trying to incorporate action into these portraits. You be the judge of whether the action helps to make the picture.

My favorites are the candids. These are shots where the subject is totally unaware. When they’re preoccupied with having a fun experience, they may not know that you’re “spying” with your camera.


Obviously this is not a candid. Eden
knows that I’m taking her photo

But here she is unaware that
I’m snapping away

When it’s not possible to be totally candid you can use a semi-posed action shot. The action helps to avoid a face that’s preoccupied with the picturetaker.


This full length portrait of Logan
shows little motion

Here the angle of the shot
emphasizes his action on the slide

With a little patience, you can turn a static shot into a live action photo. A few minutes after taking the photo on the left below, she was being doing calisthenics – making the photo on the right much more exciting.


Here Ezra is clutching the wooden
post that’s supporting the swing set

Here she’s showing me the
agility that I wish I could still muster.


While each of the left-hand photos are OK, I’ve learned that adding a little action to the mix can turn my snapshots into real “keepers”.

Do you agree?



Written by Arnie Lee


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