Friday, May 12, 2006

On Assignment: San Angelo, Texas- On The Water

"The Wake" by Wes Aldridge

The assignment was to shoot wake boarding on Lake Nasworthy. Well, I did that. Many shots of jumps, twists, pushes, pulls, spins and barrel-rolls. But I thought a different kind of shot was in order. Something that showed the action as well as the people having fun. Kasie was having fun, and she really tore it the hell up on the water too.

On Assignment: San Angelo, Texas- What a Day

"The Great American Writer" by Wes Aldridge

Today was incredible. I was fortunate enough to meet Elmer Keltonk, the man considered the greatest Western writer to ever pen a novel. He was a gentleman, a true rare breed rarely seen in our time anymore. He said he was 80 years old (I didn't believe him), but didn't seem tired at all. He always insisted that I walk into rooms before him because I was carrying all the heavy camera and lighting gear.

I chose Ft. Concho, a historic old military fort in downtown San Angelo, to do this shoot. The setting of this shot takes him back in time to the era that is his. It seems surreal to me. If I turn this shot black and white or sepia tone, then it looks like it could be found in one of the pages of the 50+ novels he has written. It was magic to me.

When we first arrived on location, he seemed slightly uninterested because he said his photo had been taken at Ft. Concho many times before. He humored me as we looked around the compound for the perfect place to make the shot. We wandered into an old soldier barracks where many cots were set up to look as they did so many years ago. He instantly told me he had been photographed in the barracks before. I needed something different.

I looked around a little more, hearing the old plank floor pop and crack under my feet, and saw a tiny room off to the side. It was slightly lit from window light and I felt this was the spot. We walked into the room and I asked him to just stand there and talk to me. We were talking to our guide as I was setting up a remote strobe light. It wasn't firing off (as the piece of shit sometimes does), but it opened my eyes to the natural light and mood of the room. I bumped up my ISO rating to 400 and I started firing frames off with the ambient light only. This was the ticket... a pure and wholesome natural setting where he belonged.

He seemed as if he was enjoying himself finally and said, "no one has taken my picture in this room before." At that point everything just came together. I got the ringing sound of silence in my ears and every frame I snapped sounded like a shot from the old six-shooter pistols Elmer wrote about. I felt like we were in his pages and I understood him with my lens. The shot is him, it is an accurate portrayel of the man he is.

I love the photographs of National Geographic and this reminds me of one of Sam Abell's shots of a cowboy from many years ago. I think it worked out.