To go through and show you all some of my favorite images from the last five days – I feel like I have to build into it, and tell everything in chronological order as a story.

Monday and Tuesday were normal days for me this past week. Wednesday – Veteran’s Day – I had off from school, and my father had off from work. Together, we drove up north of town to go look at some specialty wood for his shop and carpentry projects. We were helped by several nice Georgian guys, and my father got a stellar deal on some wood, which hopefully will get turned into something beautiful.

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Later that day…I received a package…a PACKAGE! It was a rental lens…a super, well, maybe a SUPER telephoto zoom lens. I wanted to try a 200-400 F/4 lens, which retails for $7500ish, and is not something I predict I’ll be able to afford any time soon.

It is a mac-daddy of a lens. Utterly ginormous. Not really hand-holdable at all. #MonopodLyfe

Here you can see its height/length with the lens hood on versus the longest (80-200mm) lens I own, with its hood on.

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So of course, after I got it out of the box, I felt like I had to go “practice” [play] with it some. And these are all just playing around with the new lens, both with my brother in a neighborhood park, and then at the pool prior to coaching.

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Thursday was quite normal too – I didn’t shoot anything that day.

Friday was the start of an adventure. I had volunteered/offered to drive down to Stuart, Fl, to photograph the FHSAA 3A State Swimming and Diving Championships for the local paper. I got up at 2:00 in the morning, and left my house by 2:30, that I could be at the pool before the preliminary session started at 9:00. It was was a really cool experience to show up at an out-of-town venue, and collect a credential with my name on it. I was really pleased with the quality and variety of images I was able to capture. I thought that what I got represented a wide array of things from tight detail shots, some artsy shots, and typical action shots. That being said, it has been four years since I went to a State swim meet. That was when I was a junior in high school and qualified, and swam the 500yd freestyle. When I came back as a photographer (and having coached a high school team this semester) I was really thrilled to get to re-experience it. I don’t know if it was just because I was tired, maybe because I’m just older, or maybe because I have been blessed and privileged enough to be able to compete at national and international levels since then, and am sort of jaded to high school events, but I just didn’t feel like there was passion present at the meet. Sometimes I am moved by watching athletics…and I have been by soccer this season, but I just didn’t feel it at the meet. Granted, I tried to put some passion and heart into creating images, and maybe try to convey what the athletes could have felt.

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I was really STOKED with some of the pictures I got in the morning light, and the picture below of the water bending blew my mind. 400mm is just unparalleled at helping get some “different” types of shots, and I was on POINT capturing this type of bubble/bending shot the rest of the day.

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I stayed after the morning session finished to shoot a local diver, and although I didn’t capture any “WOW” images, it was the only shot that I got printed in the paper…

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After I left the diving session, I had a few hours before the evening finals session started, I checked into my hotel, imported some images, and rested. When I went back to finals, I was really pooped. I was running on only four or so hours of sleep, but I wanted to get some more shots – even if I knew they weren’t going to be as good as the morning-lit ones. AND, I wore kneepads ALL. DAMN. DAY. And I was really pleased. I would’ve had some freaking bruised knees had I not.

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Saturday morning I got up early again…around 4:00 – I needed to drive the 5+ hours back to town, because I had a PASS TO SHOOT THE FSU GAME!!!!!! Almost a year ago I had decided I wanted to shoot FSU Football, and it has taken around eleven months to get here, but I got there.

Driving…

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And here, just for kicks and giggles, I thought it was so funny that my camera gear was heavy enough in the passenger seat to set of the “no seatbelt” warning.

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On another note – it was nice to come home to a wedding thank you card from the wedding I shot, and to know that my work got sent out to so many people…

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And then…Doak S. Campbell Stadium, versus North Carolina State – the Wolfpack. I was so thrilled and pumped and excited and stoked and just !OMG! ready to be on field.

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I had totally forgotten it was homecoming too…and that just made it all even cooler.

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It was a really interesting experience. I was so, so, so, excited to get down on the actual grass field. But once I got down there and started shooting, again, I’m not sure if I was tired, or what. But I just felt so chill, so at peace. I didn’t feel like there was pressure on me, and that I just got to shoot. All of the photographers I spoke with or had any interactions with were super helpful and genuine, and I learned a lot. I…I don’t really know how to describe it. It was a dream that I’ve had for a while, and it was amazing to be there, but it wasn’t exactly how I had imagined it. If you get what I’m trying to say – great, if not, I’m sorry. Just know that I had a freaking blast, and really enjoyed myself and learned a lot, but still have a long way to go and I hope that I get to go back.

As a bonus, here are some shots of me doing what I love…(the first two are by a family friend, and the third is a iPhone shot by a friend who recognized me from the stands).

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And then today, I had planned on just chilling and hanging out, but the temptation to play with the rental lens one last time was so great, and the weather was so great that I had to do something. I ended up shooting some candids of my brother, and then going to an “Artists in the Garden” event at a local plant nursery (I did tote around a 200-400, even though it looked a little ridiculous).

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And after I’d gotten home, I got a text from the photo editor for the student-run newspaper that I shoot for, and was asked to photograph a vigil on campus, in honor and memory of those killed and injured during the terrorist attacks on Paris. I showed up to where I was told to be, when I was supposed to be there…but, as is sometimes typical of a student-run organization, I was misinformed, and didn’t know where I was supposed to be, so I wandered around a bit, shot some, etc. Eventually I did find out where the vigil was, and it was small, heartfelt, and touching.

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And then the coolest part of the evening, was on my wandering back to my car, I ran across some people playing with FIRE!

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So over five days, I drove probably 800+ miles, shot close to 3000 frames for several different events, and even got my household chores and some schoolwork done! I had several new experiences for me, and overall, even though I’m feeling a little under the weather from lack of sleep and fatigue, I’m still stoked about some of the images I got, and a little bummed about having to ship the rental lens back tomorrow.

So, I hope you enjoyed it all!

And as a bonus – if you didn’t see this selective color image from the swim meet I coached a week ago, VOILA!

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Regards, and again, I hope you enjoyed it all!

-Colin

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