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*Capture the Road has recently been featured in the Calumet Photographic blog that goes into great depth about the photography perspective of the CTR travels. Below is the full written article. Feel free to visit the and read the article on the Calumet blog as well.
I’m Chris Hershman, a Chicago based photographer and filmmaker. Taking photos and filming bands perform live has been my job for the past three years. Not long ago I was working in a music store selling these bands drums and guitars, now I’ve transitioned to creating their content, propelling their brand forward.
I recently created a cross-country photography project that I call Capture The Road. CTR is about creating time in our busy schedules to pursue personal dreams and aspirations to act out those dreams of wanting to become a great photographer one day.
For me I needed to carve out this time to grow my photography skill set. I knew there was much I needed to learn about the art of capturing striking images of people, places and things. Forcing myself to shoot all day for 12 days in different landscapes and colorful terrain totally changed my perspective and approach to shooting in natural light.
-Nikon 50mm f1.4
-Nikon 14-24mm f2.8
-National Geographic Camera Rucksack
-Calumet reflector zip disc
-Calumet reflector disc stand / holder
-Lacie external hard-drive
-Capture The Road business cards
-”Maddie On Things” by Theron Humphrey
-1968 Kodak “Master Photoguide” booklet
-Chevy Blazer Keys
-Topman leather shoes
-Levi’s Denim Jacket
-Stolen ex-girlfriends glasses
-Tortise frame sunglasses
Photography is challenging and the best way to learn is through travel and daily practice. By limiting the gear you take, you’re forced to shoot in ways that keep things fresh and innovative. I limited myself to carrying one camera body, two lenses, a ZipDisc reflector/diffuser with stand and a lightweight tripod. A huge part of making this trip successful is having the right gear, and the ability to shoot confidently with equipment that’s going to enable you to take the best quality image possible.
Knowing that I needed to shoot some major landscape images, I needed a sharp wide angle lens to capture the enormous mountains and vast stretches of open land. After all, the project was about strengthening my shooting skills and forcing myself to grow by stepping out of my comfort zone as a photographer. I don’t own a wide-angle lens so I called up Calumet’s rental department, where I was able to rent a Nikon 14mm-24mm f/2.8 for the entire two-week duration of my trip. It’s fraction of the cost of having to own it, and a much better solution than buying a cheaper, lesser quality lens for just one trip. Being able to experiment with a massive collection of lenses available to rent at Calumet has really helped me to grow as a shooter and given me that hands on experience that I would have never been able to get without the ability to rent and loan different gear that I currently own. The option to rent a single lens for long periods of time is extremely useful, especially if you want to take the nicest quality gear on the road for long trips or vacations. I highly suggest taking them up on their offer to rent this equipment and to get well versed in shooting with top notch gear.
One of the main goals of the project was to shoot with only natural sunlight. Since it was only me and my model, Amanda, I needed something to hold my reflector disc. Calumet happened to have an excellent stand with a boom arm that holds the disc securely in position without the assistance of another person. An excellent solution for traveling light with limited hands! I was really set at ease when I left Calumet with my rental lens and my reflector, the simple things that gave me the big confidence to know that as long as I had the right gear, my mind could worry about just taking the best shot, not fearing the ability of my gear.
SHOOTING IN SQUARE
I took the challenge of shooting primarily in a square format. I’ve noticed a large push of square images on Facebook, Instagram and other social networks. Shooting in squares completely disrupted my normal approach to shooting. The challenge forced me to step back, gather more detail and surrounding landscape into my image. The worst thing you can do is shoot too tight and to not have enough room to properly crop into your square image. Being primarily a portrait photographer, this pushed me to pay more attention to the surrounding buildings, shapes and shadows and use them to create a more interesting image and a way to creatively focus the viewers eyes toward the subject.
“Maddie On Things,” a book by Theron Humphrey, has been a great guide to me for framing and composing an image. It’s a photo documentary of his travels with is companion, Maddie, a shelter-rescued Coonhound dog that has incredible balance and patience. Theron manages to make every image one worth examining and studying. The amazement of seeing a dog balancing on a fire hydrant is enough to make you want to share the image with all of your friends, but his approach to shooting is clean, balanced and incredibly well placed. They’re simple images, but the composition of each image makes you really admire his eye and ability to capture the moment. If you haven’t tried shooting a series of images in square, I’d highly suggest it. I think you’ll find yourself doing the same thing I did, and taking a fresh new approach to framing up your images and paying closer attention to the overall composition of the photo.
Chicago has some great colors in its skyline and lakefront, however I’ve never seen such natural deep blues and saturated greens as I did on this trip. The perception of depth with colors in mountainous landscapes are something that I don’t get to experience living in the Midwest. No matter where I stood in the sunsets of Colorado, I couldn’t shake how much everything looked like an actual photograph, with the rich blues, gorgeous orange and yellow lights of sunset set against the more hazy blues of the distant mountains. When I sat down to edit these images I was overwhelmed and quite inexperienced with having so much color in the frame. This changed and challenged my typical editing process in order to allow these bright bold colors to remain in the final image.
One thing I’ve learned is to keep it simple. Let your eye take the images in, set the controls for the right exposure and adjust the f-stop to either let the colors blur and blend together with the soft background that the 50mm f1.4 can create, or ramp the f-stop up and make an insanely share picture with the 14-24mm. Most of the time I chose to capture images with very sharp detail and clarity. And when you’re shooting RAW and using Adobe Lightroom, the clarity-adjustment tool adds such a beautiful look if you’re wanting to sharpen an image in a creative manner.
The clarity-adjustment tool can easily be overused. It’s the first thing that can ruin your images by making them appear over-edited. I enjoy how this tool will slightly de-saturate the color and still create super sharp images. However, it’s important to lower the level of the contrast in order to create large dark shadows without the loss of detail. I would say the biggest challenge is using these tools together. They can be very effective when balanced properly, but can create unwanted dark blotchy shadows if used improperly.
Overall, I didn’t spend hours and hours editing one image. I would shoot it and make minor adjustments with exposure and white balance. There are many photos I would have done differently if I had more time, but now I’m more confident in my shooting and prepared to take the best image I can in the moment.
Capture The Road gave me the opportunity to push my photography career forward by growing my portfolio and becoming as proficient as possible in portrait photography. I’ve been a filmmaker for several years, and it’s easy to work with your camera everyday and not take a single photo. CTR gave me chance to balance my skill set and to challenge and grow myself.
Did I have time for this trip? Not at all, but I knew it would be the key to taking me to where I want to go with my career. Sometimes you have to force time, leave some plans and people aside, and position yourself to go down the direction you want for yourself. My boss in Chicago has a sign above his desk that reads “Potential is great, but results are everything.” It’s not enough to say you want something, it’s going to take you getting up, going out, and pushing yourself to do the things that are going to result in you being closer to what you want. It’s a drive that only you can stir up in yourself to run after what you want.
Capture the Road may not be the great visual project that blows everyone’s mind, but it was something that I dreamt, and put into motion as opposed to allowing it remain only a dream. My ability to have taken an idea and follow through with its creation, from beginning to end was the entire goal. As the saying goes, If you don’t live your dreams you’ll spend your life building someone else’s.
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Capture The Road Presents: An Eye Spy Optical Film
We’re Home! We’ve spent the last week back in the “real world” and Chris has been hard at work editing the video footage from our trip. Here is the final video of our travels to the West Coast and back!
During this trip we’ve partnered with an amazing eye glass boutique called Eye Spy Optical, located here in Chicago. They sent us on our way with a dozen or so designer frames that are sold in their shop. The collection included frames by Theo, Anne Et Valentin, Francis Klein Paris, Rapp, Mykita and Anni Shades.
Stay connected with us on Facebook to be updated about our next journey. We would like to thank the entire Eye Spy crew, Nick at Paice Studios, Ryan Lodge, and Tyler Rima for showing us Denver and letting us film him, and our bosses for giving us the time off to pursue our ambitious dreams.
*Capture The Road is the tale of two determined travelers who don’t let the work week stop them from perusing their passion for living life on the open road. We encourage others to force the time in their busy schedule to pursue their deepest passions for their lives and to inspire people to live their life to the fullest, without excuses.
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We headed East from San Francisco. It was a two-day drive out to Denver, but well worth it. We were lucky enough to catch up with our friend, Tyler, who had just gotten back from touring Europe with his band, Churchill. Tyler brought out the nerd in us; Showing us his music gear and bringing us to his favorite book store. We captured a unique view of the city from a parking garage in Denver and did a sunset shoot near Boulder, overlooking the mountains.
We would like to say thanks to our friend Alyssa and her roommates for letting us stay with them. We are on our way back home. See you soon, Chicago!
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Portland to San Francisco was one of the more exciting and spontaneous legs of our journey. We could have made it down the coast in far less time by taking The 5, but we wanted to get the full road trip experience by taking the scenic Pacific Coast Highway, overlooking the ocean. While in the heart of wine country, we stopped to get fruit from some local produce vendors, ate a corndog from the road-side stand that invented the perfect travel food over 70 years ago, and flew an airplane.
Yes, I just said “flew an airplane”. Up to this point, I (Amanda) had no idea that Chris’s dad was a pilot and that Chris had grown up around aviation his whole life. Before I knew what was happening, we had pulled off the road, parked outside of an airfield that Chris had spotted, and he was uttering the famous last words, “Wouldn’t it be cool to go for a ride in one of those things?!”. We were in the air within a half hour.
Our Pilot, John, has been flying for almost 50 years and, luckily for me, he is also a flight instructor. He took us up in a small, 4-person aircraft and flew us over wine country for about an hour. The most exciting part, by far, was getting our first glimpse of the Pacific Ocean from the air; soaring a mere 100ft over the water directly next to some epic cliffs. John gave me a quick flying lesson and then let me loose to steer us back to the runway.
In San Francisco, we met up with our friend, Kathleen, in Dolorus Park. She brought along her friends, Molly & Jill, who embodied the fun, colorful atmosphere of San Francisco. We couldn’t pass up a photo op with them in some funky frames from Eye Spy Optical.
Big thanks to Jimmy and the gang for letting us crash with them in SF. We’re headed back East, stopping through Denver then Omaha.
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Portland is the first stop on our trip where we had both never been and both knew no one. We found our way around the old-fashion way; Yelping the best brunch, Goggling the cheapest places to stay, and using Siri to get us from point A to point B. Our first impression was that Portland has A LOT of bridges, and even more local businesses. Capture The Road loves local so we are going to take this time to highlight the best of what we found in Portland.
We stopped and talked with a couple of guys who were working on a motorcycle in their front yard. Since Chris is a motorcycle enthusiast, we asked if there was any good motorcycle shops in the area. They insisted that if we wanted to check out the Portland bike community, we had to hit up See See Motor Coffee Co.
See See is a fully functional motorcycle shop with apparel, gear, and parts. The front part of the store is a coffee house that serves locally brewed Stumptown Coffee. It was exactly what we needed; caffeine and Cafe Racers.
We noticed that there are a lot of multitasking businesses here. Our next great find was The White Eagle. Owned by the McMenamins, this legendary rock n’ roll hotel and historic saloon is popularly called “The most Haunted Hotel in Portland”. White Eagle has some serious ambiance, the cheapest prices in town, 11 rooms, live music every night, and a fire pit out in the beer garden. The waitstaff filled us in on everything we needed to know about Portland, and we got a taste of home when we noticed that one of the touring bands, Northeast Northwest, was sporting a guitar strap made by our friends at (Souldier Strap).
Last Stop, Cap’n Crunch donuts from Voodoo Doughnuts. Enough Said.
Stay tuned for our next post where Capture the Road takes flight!
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A lot has happened since our last post. The journey has been long, but we have finally made it to the West Coast! We Left Sioux Falls, South Dakota and drove through the night to Billings, Montana. We ran out of gas, cell reception, and paved roads. Luckily, we were traveling with a full gas can and the pitstop gave us the opportunity to step out of the truck and stand in awe of the incredible amount of stars in Big Sky Country. We were welcomed to Billings by our friends, Mike and Erica, and their two sweet dogs, Luah and Bailey. We cannot thank them enough for their extraordinary hospitality!
The plan was to leave Billings and drive straight through to Seattle on Friday, but we only got as far as Bozeman before we broke down. We were insanely fortunate to have broken down directly outside of a repair shop that was able to fix the truck and get us on the road within a few hours. While we were waiting, we got some editing done, shot photos with a vintage VW that was on the lot, and took a look around the local sidewalk sale. That’s where we met Elisha, a 60-year-old, original “jpausa”, (A member of the Jesus People Army movement that started in Seattle in the 60′s) slinging some mean slide guitar.
We pulled into Seattle one day later than expected; but it felt so good to finally be on the West Coast! Our first stop was the famous Pike Place Market. We couldn’t pass through town without visiting our buddies in Deep Sea Diver. Our friends, Peter and Jess, let us stop by their house for a Deep Sea Diver band practice. Jess is well known for playing previously with The Shins, Beck, and The Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Her husband and bandmate, Peter, plays drums and makes a mean cup of Seattle coffee.
Big thanks to everyone supporting us on the road and at home! We have made it to Portland as scheduled and will be posting some more updates soon.
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CTR is about people as well as places. In our posts, we will be featuring pictures and stories from our friends and folks we meet while traveling.
Last night we crashed with our friend Danny in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. He joined us for our shoot this morning at “the falls” and brought along some gems from his eclectic instrument collection.
Tonight we will rest in Billings Montana, then onto Seattle in the morning. Check back each day for more updates from Chris and Amanda.
We would like to extend the deepest gratitude to Danny for supporting our trip, giving us his towels (we knew we would forget something) and making us feel like we had a home out on the road.
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We made it through day one with everyone in one piece, truck still running, and our first shoot completed. We drove up to a lookout point in Castle Rock Wisconsin and despite the 95 degree weather and mosquitoes, we were able to get some great shots of the breathtaking scenery and gorgeous frames courtesy of Eye Spy Optical. Check out more of their eyewear at eyespyoptical.com Look for more photos of our adventure on Facebook and Instagram.
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We are Chris and Amanda, Chicago city dwellers and long-time friends with one thing in common; our many passions and talents don’t fit neatly inside “the box”. On July 16th, we will take a break from our 9-5s and take a 12-day-long road trip across the country.