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Posts Tagged ‘Florida’

Back in 1985, I was a year out of film school and had worked my way up from a freelance photographer to being the Director of Photography for Yary Photo. It was a still photography gig mostly centered around taking team photos of sports teams throughout Southern California. My last post was on taking the 1985 Los Angeles Rams team photo, but there was another pro team we shot that year—the L.A. Raiders. I didn’t take the photo below, but was part of the Yary photo team that helped setup the shot.

There were many challenges to shooting this kind of photo. You don’t get to pick the ideal time to shoot the photo. You have limited options to work with lighting and backgrounds—because you are on their practice field in El Segundo. You’re working with both white and black jerseys and shirts, and light and dark skin tones of players and coaches which are exposure and dynamic range challenges. And you have a limited time to setup and shoot the photo, because this was taken right before practice. And Photoshop wouldn’t be developed for another two years.

So all in all I think this photo holds up pretty well over the years. Perhaps the thing that bothers me most is he heavy fill flash shadows falling in some of the coaches. But this was shot in the days before digital cameras (with an Mamyia RZ 67) and Norman strobes. I guess taking Polaroids could have heaped tweak things, but there wasn’t time to take Polaroids and make little tweaks. (I once watched an advertising photographer spend over four hours lighting a marine depth finder for a brochure cover. This was not that kind of shoot.)

But forget the nitpicking that photographers love to do. This was a great life experience. I was 24-year-old and hanging out with some legendary pro football players. Many of these players were on the Raiders team that won Super Bowl XVIII in January 1984. Some of these players were even on the Oakland Raiders that won Super Bowls in 1977 and 1981. Players I remembered watching play on TV when I was in high school. Some of legendary players in that photo are Marcus Allen (32), Lyle Alzado (77), Jim Plunkett (16), Howie Long (75), Mike Haynes (22), Cliff Branch (21), Lester Hayes (37), and Ray Guy (8).

There are interesting stories buried in that photo. One of them is the head coach of the ’85 Raiders was Tom Flores (in the center in the third row from the bottom). He was not only the first person to win Super Bowls as a player and as a head coach, but he was the first Latino head coach to win a Super Bowl. When the 84-year-old Flores was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year, the son of migrant workers in Central California referenced that he said to assistant coach Sam Boghosian after his first Super Bowl win, “Sam, not bad at all for a couple of grape pickers.”

Art Shell (who is also in the Pro Football Hall of Fame) was an assistant coach on the ’85 Raiders after his playing days were on and before be would become a head coach.

One of the non-player/non-coach related stories is one of the Yary photographers on that shoot was Robert Galbraith. (Pictured below l in shorts talking to QB Rusty Hilger #12 in an old photo I found during the COVID pandemic.) Galbraith had been a photojournalist in West Virginia and I was blown away by his portfolio. And I learned a lot from him. He had headed west to see where his skills would take him in Los Angeles. The next year he did some freelance work with AP before becoming an AP staff photographer. He later became a staff photographer with Reuters in San Francisco. Over his career he covered Barry Bonds and Tiger Woods in their prime, the America’s Cup, and several Super Bowls. Back in 2016, Insider named one of his photos taken on assignment after Hurricane Katrina on their list of “62 of the most powerful Reuters photographs ever taken.”

Galbraith spent a over a month in Florida this past December and January working on a book project of photographs in the style of the classic Robert Frank book The Americans. I was able to meet him for a couple of hours in Mt. Dora, Florida and hear about some of his adventures in the last 30 years. He’s been posting his travel photos on Facebook and Instagram (@rindeaux) and it really is remarkable work. He’s still in the game—and performing at a high level. Here are a handful of my recent favorites he’s allowed me to publish here. (All taken with his Leica camera and a 50mm lens.)

At the end of meeting Galbraith last month, I pulled out my Nikon and tried to capture a photo of a man whose eyes have seen a few things, and packed in a few miles, since leaving Wheeling, West Virginia many images ago.

Photographer Robert Galbraith in Mt. Dora, Florida

P.S. Sometime around when I was in film school, I made the the trek from Burbank to Hollywood via Barham Rd. one day and saw what is still my all time favorite billboard. A graphic image of L.A. Raider Lester Hayes in his crouched position as defensive back. Just one striking image. I had no clue what the billboard was even advertising when I first drove by it. Later, I saw the Nike swoosh in the corner. It was boldness and subtlety at the same time.

Related post:
‘Straight Outta Compton’ (Wearing Silver & Black)

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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“You know it when you see it: whether it’s the symmetrical lines, pastel hues, immaculate composition, or something idiosyncratic and beautiful that you can and cannot describe at once, the director Wes Anderson has an immediately identifiable style to his films.”
—From the book Accidentally Wes Anderson

A couple of weeks ago I was kayaking on Lake Howell and came across a newly built dock and I could see a Wes Anderson inspired shot. One of my friends commented that it was ”Accidentally Wes Anderson.” I didn’t know there was a whole social media movement around #accidentallywesanderson. I later tracked down a book based on shots from around the world echoing the influence of filmmaker Wes Anderson.

Wally Koval with Amanda Koval have turned many of the photos into the book Accidentally Wes Anderson.

A few days ago I went back that same dock around sunrise and decided I could tweak my composition to improve the shot. This one (the one at the top of this page) I call Purposely Wes Anderson since I trying to fill the frame in a way that Anderson might.

Of course, there is more to Anderson’s films than quirky framing, and here’s an video by StudioBinder that is an excellent overview of what make his style some unique.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Edited in Prisma app with Thota Vaikuntam

I failed. They say that it’s better to have a goal that you fail to meet, rather than not have a goal at all. I think that’s because in taking steps toward your goal you’ve made progress. My goal was to get the first episode of my podcast uploaded yesterday. That didn’t happen—but I’m just going to push that back a week.

In meantime, here‘s a nice little sunset shot I took Saturday night in Pass-a-Grille on the southern end of St. Pete Beach. It’s a good example of “the best camera is the one you have with you.” Just a few minutes before I took this photo the sky was flat because the sun was buried behind the clouds. But it popped out just before it lowered itself toward the Gulf of Mexico skyline. That’s when the ordinary became extraordinary. It lit up parts of the sky in a way that I’d never seen before.

I zoomed in so far with my iPhone that the picture is pretty pixelated. So I ran it through my Prisma app to cover all the flaws and like the end result.

Perhaps the takeaway is this—More than one writer has spoken about feeling like their work is ordinary, only to stick with it and have a breakthrough toward the end of the process that make it extraordinary.

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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Jackie Robinson made my success possible. Without him, I would never have been able to do what I did.”
—Martin Luther King Jr.
(King was a student at Moorehouse College in 1947 when Robinson became the first black player to play Major League Baseball)

“A life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.”
—Hall of Fame baseball player Jackie Robinson

To learn more about Jackie Robinson read his autobiography I Never Had it Made and check out the documentary Jackie Robinson by Ken Burns, Sarah Burns & David McMahon. Then there’s the movie 42 starring Chadwick Boseman as Robinson.

P.S. The following scene from Spike Lee’s unproduced script Jackie Robinson takes place at Sanford Memorial Stadium. A stadium I played many games as a high school baseball player. It’s where Hall of Fame baseball player Tim Raines played his high school games. And it’s also just a few miles from where Trayvon Martin was killed. Gives that scene a little more punch doesn’t it?

Related posts:
Martin Luther King Jr. and Writing Strong-Willed Characters
“Let justice roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream”
Marlon Brando & Johnny Carson After the Death of Martin Luther King Jr.
Chadwick Boseman, Jackie Robinson, and the Struggle for a More Perfect Union
Spike Lee on Why You Have To Make Your Own Movies
Filmmaking in New Hampshire (Ken Burns Style)

Scott W. Smith is the author of Screenwriting with Brass Knuckles

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I took this photo around 6:45AM yesterday just about 15 minutes after sunrise. A massive dust storm off the coast off Africa—nicknamed “Godzilla”—made its way across the Atlantic to Florida this week causing unusually hazy conditions.

The Spanish moss hanging from trees is not only common in central Florida where I took this photo, but throughout the south.

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P.S. I heard on the BBC this morning that India on top of having a Coronavirus outbreak is dealing with the largest swarms of locusts than they’ve experienced in 30 years dangering the food supply and economy in some regions. What else can 2020 bring?

Scott W. Smith

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2013 Post by Patrick Mahomes

“As a 17-year-old, Patrick Mahomes dreamed one day that he would be able to say those words [‘I’m going to Disney World’] if he won a Super Bowl. Fast-forward seven years and Mahomes’ dream certainly came true.”
Eduardo Gonzalez
Los Angeles Times
Feb. 3. 2020

Last night, Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes led his team to a 31-20 victory over the San Francisco 49ers. And he picked up  Super Bowl LVI MVP honors along the way. Here’s what he’s been up to the last 17 hours or so.

Disney World in greater the Orlando, Florida area just is 12 miles away from where I’m typing this post. It’s sunny and 73 at 5:00. It’s like Disney and Mahomes wrote the perfect script.

On Wednesday, the Chiefs will be honored back in Missouri with a parade. Having won their first Super Bowl in 50 years, I think it’s going to be quite a celebration.

About a decade ago I spent some time on a various productions in Missouri and took a little time visiting some of Walt Disney’s old stomping grounds. In a 2009 post I talked about visiting the town of Marceline, MO where Walt Disney spent time as a child. That Main Street that Mahomes is visiting today at Walt Disney World was inspired by the Main St. in Marceline.

In the 2011 post Walt & Walter in KC, I touched on driving by the building where Walt Disney “built his own studio that created Laugh-O-Grams that became popular enough for Disney to have a building and several animators.” Though he eventually filed for bankruptcy and had a nervous breakdown.

But every story needs a reversal—a comeback. It took Disney few years, but he found wild success in California. It only took Mahomes a few months to find his wild success, coming back from a knee injury earlier in the year that he thought was going to sideline him for the season.

P.S. Watching the NFL honor the top 100 players of all time before the Super Bowl, it was fun to see three players that I’ve had the opportunity to directly work with in my career as a cameraman and video producer—Eric Dickerson, Reggie White, and Deion Sanders.

Scott W. Smith 

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“Spending too much energy romanticizing the past or dreaming about the future can come at the expense of appreciating today.”
Casey Neistat
What Just Happened? 

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Many years ago I crossed paths with Orlando-based photographer Bill Bachmann who had one of those jobs that creative people dream about—get paid to travel around the world taking photos. He was a tall guy with a dynamic personality, and incredibly talented.

He invited me to his home studio to talk about a project and I was instantly impressed with his photos that were from everywhere on your bucket list (and a few that aren’t). He gave me a signed copy of one of his travel books before I left that day and our paths unfortunately never crossed again.

Last year, I wondered what he was up to and I found out he died from cancer in 2017. (His obituary said that he’d traveled to 200 countries, authored 15 books, and photographed five U.S. presidents.)

On the last day of 2019 I found myself driving by a cemetery where I knew he was buried and I decided to pull into the cemetery to see if I could find his mausoleum. Because mausoleums have a way of standing out it only took me about a two minutes to find it.

I’m one of those people who finds peace in cemeteries. They remind us of the people who’ve gone before us, and of our own mortality. It puts things in perspective.

This puts things in perspective, too . . . a few days ago I was working out when a old movie started on TCM and I realized as I watched the opening credits that I did not recognize a single name of anyone who worked on the movie.

Let’s all get back to work this new year, not forgetting to work on building lasting relationships with the ones we love.

Scott W. Smith

 

 

 

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Last night my wife and I went to the Toledo restaurant at Walt Disney World to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The restaurant is on the top floor of the recently opened Gran Destino Tower at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. If you’re ever at Disney World in Orlando and want an ideal place to eat and watch the fireworks then I’m not sure you can do better than the 16th floor of the Toledo.

It was a great experience and it once again reminded me of the words of Walt Disney on reflecting on all they had done, “… I only hope we never lose sight of one thing, it was all started by a mouse.”

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Related posts:

Screenwriting Quote #53 (Walt Disney)
Walt and Walter in KC
Imagineering with Walt Disney

Scott W. Smith

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Lake Baldwin_7892

This fountain was about 100 yards away when I turned a corner while driving this morning and something told me it had potential for a nice photograph. All the layering componets were there. You have a fountain with water giving movement in the foreground, some trees in the middle area, sun in the background, and lots of negative space at the top of the frame with interesting texture in the clouds.

Taken in the Baldwin Park neighborhood in Orlando, Florida. An interesting side note is this fountain is located in Blue Jacket Park which was a former Navy training area. The park is named after the USS Bluejacket, 2/3-sized replica (230 feet) of a destroyer ship that was used for training in the same general area from 1968-1993.

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The Bluejacket landlocked Navy training ship in Orlando

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The Bluejacket opening had an official ceremony in 1969, and was demolished 30 years later

Scott W. Smith 

 

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Until earlier this month I hadn’t been to the Rio Pinar Golf Club since Jimmy Carter was in The White House. But on my way to a video shoot two weeks ago I drove by the classic midcentury modern building and took this photo. (All it needs is Rick Dalton’s ‘60s Coupe de Ville in from Once Upon a Time …  in Hollywood in the driveway) Then after my shoot I drove by again and looked at the newly remodeled inside.

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It brought back memories  to the late‘70s when I was a teenager and saw Jack Nicklaus and Arnold Palmer play in the Florida Citrus Open Invitational. (The successor to the Arnold Palmer Invitational.) 

It also brought back to memory a video shoot I did in the ‘90s with golfer Payne Stewart (top left corner) and a photo shoot I did with Greg Norman (on the other end of this wall but not in this photo) in Los Angeles way back in the ’80s. And it also brought back a more recent memory of driving by another midcentury modern building in the Orlando area about a month ago.

On August 31 I drove by The Maitland Civic Center and noticed the grip trucks and lights outside and wondered what they were shooting. When I saw the classic old cars I figured it was for the TV version of The Right Stuff that’s been in Florida shooting recently. I took a couple of photos with my iPhone but didn’t ask what they were shooting, nor did I see executive producer Leonard DiCaprio moving any C-stands around.

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P.S. And to add a little color to this post— I found this old photo online from Rio Pinar back in its heyday. Cheers…

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Scott W. Smith

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