Thursday, June 14, 2007
Dave Black - The Art Of Sport
When Dave Black sees photographers collecting at a spot on the field, he runs—the other way. His images capture a different kind of decisive moment.
And that's not simply by accident or because Black has some magical insight into the events he shoots. Just about any professional sports shooter is going to understand the games he or she photographs well enough to be in position for the money shot. Even if the photographer isn't so intimately familiar with the sport, there's bound to be a mass of big lenses collected in one area that will be a hint of where to be. To get the shots that he gets, however, Black looks for that mass of other pros and then runs the other way.
Says Black, “A lot of photographers tend to gather together looking for the same shot. I don't position myself where everyone else is. I try to break out of the crowd mentality. I move away from the crowd. I run from the crowd.”
Migrating to his own perch almost always assures Black that he will get a different image than everyone else. But he's quick to declare that those shots may not be better than anyone else's images.
“Being different isn't necessarily better,” he explains. “It's just different. The shots may have value to buyers simply because they're different. The images really might not be all that spectacular.”
Despite Black's obvious modesty about his photographs, more often than not the photographs are both different and spectacular. Stylistically, Black lets the subject matter and the equipment dictate his approach. As a devotee of using the latest and greatest equipment, he was quick to embrace digital and he used early pro cameras that weren't necessarily well-suited to fast action.
“I've used cameras that couldn't handle a real high-speed burst so I got used to shooting single frame,” he says. “Today, I'm using the Nikon D2x so I don't have that limitation, but I still tend to see the action as single-frame events.”
Black may be an early adopter and an extensive user of digital technology, but one area in which he hasn't been doing a lot of work is Photoshop.
“I don't do that much to my images in Photoshop,” says Black. “I don't do manipulation as much as refinement. When I was shooting film for a particular job, I'd choose an emulsion based on what I was shooting and what effect I intended to generate—Fujichrome Velvia for super-saturated colors, Fujichrome Sensia for soft, muted colors and so on. Now that I'm shooting digital, my Photoshop work is mostly about creating a palette from the digital image file. Through Photoshop, I make an image look like it was shot on Velvia or Sensia. I don't really care to do a lot of Photoshop work beyond this sort of general toning, as it's called.”
Professional-level D-SLRs have become more and more advanced and packed with features. The Nikon D2x that Black uses is one of the most advanced on the market, and it has built-in settings that increase saturation and contrast, among other aspects of an image. Black prefers not to employ these features, however.
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