Tagged: photojournalism

This is one of those photo assignments that stress me out long after it’s over. Reporter John Stucke had done his shoe-leather work in securing the interview with the two friends and the brother who witnessed the murder of Jennifer Sitliff, 20, by a mutual friend of theirs last Saturday night. We all met up at the victim’s grandmother’s house. I  tried to be a fly on the wall during the interview. As the subjects recounted the shooting and its aftermath, they all showed their grief in different ways. It’s hard to trip the shutter at a moment like this, but it is one that I felt was honest and revealing. At home that night, I didn’t feel good about the emotional photo that would appear in the morning newspaper.  Instead, I just felt haunted by their tragic story.

From left, Matthew Setliff, Nikki McConnell and Daja Varnell mourn the loss of Jennifer Setliff, who was shot and killed Saturday in an apparent murder-suicide.

Why is it when I need to find a feature photo for the newspaper, it is usually an exercise in frustration? I can drive around for hours and not find a fun moment. But on my day off, I practically run into one. I was headed to a coffee shop Saturday afternoon when I spotted this young man on his bike playing his guitar just as a hail storm unleashed. There was no way I wasn’t going to slam on my brakes and snap a few frames. Maybe I protest too much. In a way,  this is why I love what I do. It is the serendipity of  life’s little moments that makes all the times when I cant find a photo worth it. Nikon D3s Nikkor 300mm 2.8

With hail falling, Mark Breckenridge strums his guitar as he heads north on Tekoa Street at 28th Avenue Saturday. Breckenridge said he's been playing his cheap $100 guitar for three years. "I don't need to us my hands to ride, so I play my guitar," he said. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review

As a photojournalist, I’m constantly presented with impossible lighting situations. Dark basketball gyms, dim living rooms, etc. I try, in most cases, to leave the strobe in my trunk. Adding artificial light, too me, takes the reality out of a documentary photograph. In recent years, the low light capability of high-end DSLR cameras has improved dramatically. But even cranking my ISO to 8000 didn’t give me the results I wanted in this photo of inline speed skaters. Pattison’s Roller Rink is a cave. Only minimal ambient light was available. Two get this effect I set my camera to 1/13 of a second for the shutter with 5.6 aperture at 3200 ISO. That gave me a normal exposure for the ambient light, but to freeze the action I set my strobe to rear-curtain shutter, which fires the camera shutter first, then at the end of the exposure the strobe triggers. This added the ghosting effect to the skaters. I also panned the action–where my camera matched the speed of the skaters as they rolled past. This effect  made the background blur horizontal. I shot about 100 images and this one the best.

Members of Pattison Inline Racing, right to left, Michaela Roske,17, Haley Glatt,14, Jameson Dumo, 12, and Reece Dunlap,15, practice at Pattison's North Skating Center on Tuesday, March 15, 2011. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review

Sometimes after a photo assignment, I’ll search for a feature photo by taking the long way back to the newspaper. As I was leaving Mt. Spokane High School Monday, I spotted a whitetail deer sprinting across a field. It had just started snowing. Bad weather can always make for a good snap, so the hunt was on. The deer disappeared on me, so I continued driving the back roads until I came across these two horses in a field. They came up to the fence line to greet me.  I played around with the composition until this one stood out.  Getting back in my car, I felt as cold as the horses looked.

A pair of horses weather a Monday morning snow flurry in a field off of Stoneman Road on the Peone Prairie Feb. 28, 2011. Rain and snow are likely today as a strong cold front drapes across the region and moves from north to south. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review


When I teach my Intro to Photojournalism class at a community college, I always tell my students: “There are photos all around you–you just have to see them.”  As I got behind the wheel of my car parked in my driveway, I almost hit the windshield wipers before stopping an staring at the maple leaf nestled in raindrops on the glass. I grabbed my Nikon D700 with a 60 mm macro lens from the trunk and fired away. My neighbor’s porch lamp added a warm light element that adds some mystery to the image. Without a caption, I think most people viewing the photo would stare at it for awhile as they try and decode all the layers of information.

A soggy maple leaf, photographed from inside a car, found a resting place stuck to a windshield Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2011. A mix of rain and snow may change to all snow tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

Slow news day

February 10th, 2011 Permalink

A slow local news day had me cruising for a feature picture today. I took a walk through Spokane’s Riverfront Park and found myself standing in front of this metal sculpture of the Canadian flag. I have, on several other occasions, tried to make this photo, but it always was missing the elements of decent light and waterfowl.  I like the layered composition and simplicity of the photograph. Nikon D700, Nikkor 80-200mm 2.8

A female mallard duck, seen through the Canadian flag sculpture in Riverfront Park, swims against the fast current of the Spokane River Thursday, Feb. 10, 2011. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review

I was taking a group shot today of a musician and two belly dancers for my newspaper. When dancer Nicole Richardson arched her back, I quickly reframed away from the two other subjects and made this photo. My photo creativity is often triggered by me seeing body language in my subjects. When I am shooting, I often watch people’s hands because, like a face, they can exhibit great emotion. From a clinched fist, to a finger wiping away a tear, body language leads me to great snaps every time. Nikon D700, Nikkor 85mm 1.1.4 lens at F.2

Belly dancer Nicole Richardson performs with the dance troupe Koreshakti Tribal Fusion. Tribal fusion is a mix of traditional belly dancing and modern funk. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review

How do you illustrate a non-visual story about the City of Spokane wanting to add a twenty-dollar-a-year license tab fee on cars? Why you shoot a car. These process stories are always tough to come up with something visually interesting to shoot. For this assignment, I used my trusty old 400 mm telephoto lens. I set my exposure to a slow 30th of a second shutter speed, then panned the cars as they drove by. Not much to it really.  This one frame, out of a hundred shot, jumped out to me during my edit. I liked how the sharp driver really stands out among the streaks of blur. Nikon D3s Nikkor 300 mm F.4 lens

A commuter heads up the Division Street hill Friday Jan. 7, 2011. A $20 annual tax on cars in the City of Spokane will be considered Monday by the Spokane City Council. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review

An unusually dense fog descended on Spokane Monday evening just as I was headed to an assignment to photograph holiday light displays in nearby neighborhoods. I chucked the idea when I found that most houses were so shrouded in fog that it made getting a decent photo impossible. As I made my way back downtown, I started to see the photo possibilities. Car headlights backlit the fog, which was kind of cool, but it still needed a human element to make it work. I parked my car on Sprague Avenue and grabbed my camera with a 300 mm lens and waited for some pedestrians to mix against the headlights. After I got something I liked,  I called my photo editor and she was kind enough move the photo I snapped to the lead position on the region page.

Pedestrians walk through dense fog and traffic during evening commute Monday, Dec. 13, 2010 in downtown Spokane, Wash. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review