Progress

Progress
There is something about watching a building being constructed that I find fascinating. Seeing a plan become reality in steel, glass, and concrete, by the hard work of many highly skilled people, over a period of years, is simply amazing.

That is why I enjoy handling construction progress photo assignments. For these assignments I am required to deliver the digital images as unaltered originals, straight out of the camera. The terrain is sometimes rugged and muddy, and I always need to be aware of my surroundings, since construction vehicles can come at you from any direction. Wearing a hard hat, steel toed boots and a bright OSHA green shirt, vest, or jacket is essential.


I learned by being yelled at, not to ever cross an area that has red tape surrounding it. I also learned why hardhats must be worn on construction sites, since I have banged my hardhat on many overhead objects, that I thought I had cleared.
Documentation is critical with construction progress photos. Embedded in every digital photo I take on a construction site is a GPS coordinate that also includes altitude, the direction the photo was taken, as well as the date, time taken, camera, lens, and exposure setting. The information embedded in each image is called EFIX data or  "exchangeable image file format".



I use an architectural site map and produce a PDF file with the frame number and direction arrow of each photo taken, that I deliver with the original digital images..




On a rare occasion I get to see compelling action like the time I covered a huge crane hoisting an immense steel beam over the Massachusetts Turnpike: http://info.2cimages.com/blog/48/big-cranes-in-boston , but recently my progress photos are taken after 2:30PM when all the construction crews have left for the day. It is much safer that way. Here are a few examples of the progress I have seen.











The hard part to take is that at some point in the future, the building is completed and there no longer is a need for progress photography. That's when I hope to find another building project that is just getting started; so that I can continue to be amazed.

Timothy Becker
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040
860-528-7818

Back to College

Back to College
Last year I was asked to produce a Google Virtual tour of Paier College's new campus location at Seaside Park in Bridgeport. After purchasing some of the buildings and space which used to be part of the University of Bridgeport, Paier needed to capture its own interior and exterior photography for marketing purposes. This effort required multiple visits to capture the interior space when it was more vacant, and in fairer weather in the Spring to showcase the beauty of the campus.There was just one wrinkle: since the move to Bridgeport had just occurred, there was not yet any formal branded signage on the interior walls or speaker podiums. I was given an official logo of the College and worked to make the branding elements visible in the photos.  


Another concern was the new street address was not confirmed with the post office and the Google Business page where the images are published. By December 2021 the new address was confirmed, and I published the Google virtual tour, which you can take here: https://goo.gl/maps/cyqyaGAbU6LjpbwN8


An interesting aspect of the school is the structure in front of the building that looks like a flying saucer landed there. Commonly called "the bubble", this structure was initially designed to appear floating. While for years it went neglected, Paier has big plans for this unique space. 


 The virtual tour goes into a lecture hall, the art gallery, and continues on the stage of the historic Mertens Theater. There is a large meeting room on the 9th floor that has a beautiful view of Bridgeport harbor which you can see here:  https://goo.gl/maps/ZFjW5GpCoq9XZ9Bw8 The podium and the wall behind it includes the school logo which I placed into the image using Photoshop. This room now serves as the office space for the Admissions Department, so that every new student gets to take in these spectacular views! 


I enjoyed visiting this college as it reminded me of my younger days studying photography at the Rochester Institute of Technology. I am also very pleased that Paier College has been incorporated into the University of Bridgeport and will continue to train photographers, artists and art directors in Connecticut. 

Tim Becker
Creative Images Photography
901 Main Street
Manchester, CT 06040
860-528-7818
https://2cimages.com/
 
 
 
 
 

My Days as an Intern

My Days as an Intern
Recently I was contemplating how much has changed in photography since my first job as a "professional photographer" working as a summer intern news photographer for $85 a week, during my college days at The Rochester Institute of Technology. I was lucky to get two great internships after my sophomore and junior years. Although I had a good education in college about the theory and usage of photographic lighting, composition, as well as photographic films and chemistry; it was the practical experience of being a photojournalist for a daily newspaper that helped me to become a successful photographer.  I would never have learned how to operate in the real world by reading a textbook or listening to a lecture in class. Here is a photo of me from that time, taken by my friend and fellow photographer Tom Kielick.


At age nineteen I wasn’t very confident in my ability as a photographer, and I was afraid that I would make lots of mistakes. My photo equipment was very basic: one Nikon F body, a 35 mm f2.8 wide angle lens and a 105mm f 2.5 telephoto lens. I didn’t own a flash nor understand how to use one. I carried my gear around in an old Army surplus gas mask bag.


At my first job at the “Manchester Evening Herald” I learned that when I was given an assignment; I had to find the address (before GPS), take the photos, develop my film, make a good black and white print, and write a short caption while making sure all the names were spelled correctly. This all had to be completed and brought to the editor's desk in time to meet the publication deadline which was 2 PM. There were three to four assignments each day. If it was a slow day I was expected to go out and find an interesting “weather picture”. Here is my first ever front page photo:


Since I didn't own a flash, I was given a compact flash that had a reflector that unfolded and a box of peanut sized flashbulbs. I had to be careful removing a used flashbulb after I took a shot because it would burn my hand. Fortunately, I had very good news photographers to teach me. Unfortunately The Manchester Evening Herald ceased publication in 1991.


                                                                                                                                           
 After my Junior year I was hired as a summer intern photographer at the “Hartford Courant” and made an extra $15 a week. I saved up and bought a professional flash that had a 510-volt battery pack that I hung over my shoulder, just like all the other Hartford Courant photographers. I got pretty good at holding the flash up high with my left hand, holding my camera with my right hand and focusing with my finger. I shot that way until the Vivitar 283 flash came out in the 1980s that went on top of my camera and I could tilt it up to bonce the light.


All the Courant photographers developed their film in a small darkroom with a sliding door that contained a two gallon tank of developer. Once I loaded the film on a reel and placed it in the developer tank and put the lid on, it was time to load a new roll of film from the bulk loader into my special Nikon metal cassettes. Then I could come out and sit at a manual typewriter and start writing my captions on sheets of newsprint paper. Every minute or so I needed to go back into the small darkroom, shut the door and agitate the film reel, which was on a stainless-steel wire, by lifting it up and down. When the timer went off after about seven minutes, it was time to put the film reel into the fixer and then the wash tank. After washing for a few minutes, I unwound the film from the reel and clipped one end to a large table fan with a clothespin and the other end to a wooden box that contained more clothespins. When the film was dry I snipped the 35mm negative sprocket holes of the frames I wanted to print with a scissors. That made It easy to find those frames in the darkroom.
The print darkroom at the “Hartford Courant” was a fascinating place. It was designed so that several photographers could make prints at the same time. The entrance was a light baffle instead of a door and the walls were all painted black. The darkroom was lit by several amber safelights. There were three omega B22 enlargers and one D2 enlarger that could print from 4X5 negatives on a table along the back wall. On the other side was a large sink with an 8X10 tray of developer and next to it a tray of stop bath that contained acetic acid, which had a sharp smell. Next to that was a large tank of hypo fixer that also has a bad smell. The deep fixer tank extended all the way outside the darkroom into the office. There was another large sink in the office, just outside the darkroom that contained the other side of the fixer tank and a large wash tray.
 
The chief photographer at the time did not believe in having timers on the enlargers, so there was a light switch in front of each enlarger and I had to count the seconds off to myself as I exposed each print. After I developed a print and placed it in the fixer tank, there was a long cord that I pulled to click on a spotlight that shone just on the fixer tank. If the print was good; I would push it through to the outside part of the fixer tank with a wooden stick. After I washed my prints for a few minutes, I dried them on a flipper dryer that had a canvass cover.  Then I went to the newsroom and delivered my black and white prints along with the typewritten captions. Looking back, it is amazing to think that a team of eight photographers produced their work this way, seven days a week.

The most exciting assignment I had during my Hartford Courant internship was photographing the implosion of an old building on Pearl St. in downtown Hartford. The building was in between two modern office buildings. In anticipation of the event, the chief photographer had us practice without film in our cameras, taking photos as fast as we could. None of us had motor drives on our cameras so after each photo was taken, the film was advanced with a lever, All eight photographers had to get up at five AM on a Sunday morning and we were stationed around the downtown area. I was assigned to the roof of the Hartford National Bank building right next to the Aetna photographer. Aetna had insured the demolition contractor. The demolition was over in about ten seconds and we all scrambled to develop and print our photos. I was absolutely thrilled when my photos were chosen to grace the top of the front page the next day. 


Now the entire newsroom is gone. Reporters, editors, and photographers work remotely. The Hartford Courant is now printed in Massachusetts and is owned by a hedge fund; but the Hartford Courant is still the first thing that I read every day.

I am extremely grateful for the great newspaper photographers that had the patience to teach me. I will never forget what I learned those two summers and I will always fondly remember making beautiful black and white prints in the Hartford Courant darkroom and shoving them through the fixer tank with a stick.
 
Timothy Becker
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040
860-528-7818

 
  
 
 
 

Paci Restaurant

Paci Restaurant

From time to time something can go terribly wrong on a photo assignment that has nothing to do with my photography gear failing, or a big mistake I made.

On a bright sunny Monday in August, I was assigned to photograph a beautiful restaurant in Southport, Connecticut which is over an hour drive west on I-84. The Paci Restaurant is in an old renovated brick train station. The train platform is still there adjacent to the restaurant. The train mainly brings commuters to work in New York City and back home again.


I introduced myself to the owner and I took a self-guided tour of the bar, outdoor patio, and the dinning rooms on the first and second floor to get a feel for how I would create the Google virtual tour and still photos. The restaurant was normally closed that day and it was set up nicely for photography.

As I started taking the still photos I was approached by the owner who was quite upset about a clock in the main dining room that wasn’t working. I told her that I would continue taking photos of the outdoor patio, and the bar area while she got it working again. She told me that the clock has always been a main feature of the restaurant's ambiance, reminiscent of the bygone days when the train station was in full service and I wouldn't be allowed to photograph the dinning room if the clock wasn't working. I didn’t remember seeing a clock anywhere in the dining room.


I had the sinking feeling that I would need to complete the assignment on another day, taking another one hour drive each way again, wasting half a day. Additional help was called in to diagnose the issue with the clock. As I eventually found out, the clock was virtual. It was a projection of a clock on the brick wall from a laptop computer. After a long wait it was discovered that the problem was a faulty HDMI cord that had frayed. 


As you may remember from a previous post, I strive to have back up gear with me at all times. I happened to have a new HDMI cord in my camera bag which had come in handy when an owner of an auto dealership wanted to view the photos I had just taken, on a big screen tv in his office. Having it with me saved me from a rescheduled photo assignment this time. The virtual clock looked great; harkening back to the time when most people didn’t own a watch and trains were the main mode of long-distance transportation. The trains were always expected to run on time.




I happily worked my way through the restaurant photographing still images and panoramas which would go up on Google and Google maps. The owner told me that often couples would meet at the restaurant to have dinner after a long day at work and a train ride back home from New York City. You can take the virtual tour here: https://goo.gl/maps/vxxnDpBfFeANousm8



Despite the anxiety, this is why being a photographer brings me joy. I can’t think of a more pleasant way of spending the day than photographing a beautiful restaurant on a warm summer day, except maybe the time I got to photograph the marina in Old Saybrook, CT.  http://info.2cimages.com/blog?search=perfect%20day


Tim Becker
Creative Images Photography
901 Main Street
Manchester, CT 06040
860-528-7818
 

Norwalk Havoc Robot Combat

Norwalk Havoc Robot Combat
For readers receiving my blog for the first time, I’m Tim Becker, a Connecticut based commercial photographer. Every month or so I share an interesting photo assignment or my thoughts about photography. Please feel free to unsubscribe if you would like to be removed from the distribution list.

 As a commercial photographer I have enjoyed many opportunities to experience places that I normally would have never seen: like the view from the roof of city skyscrapers, underground tunnels, sewer culverts, construction sites, and the inside of factories where things are made. I have photographed in beer breweries, foundries with sparks flying, plating plants, plastic injection molding facilities, industrial painting plants, and many factories that machine and form steel, aluminum, brass and exotic metals. I always enjoy making interesting photos and videos of these fascinating places. It’s fun!


In July I experienced another first. I was asked to photograph Norwalk Havoc Robot Combat: http://www.50day.io/ where robots engage in combat. The huge warehouse type building is divided into a spectator area with several arenas where robots do battle, the pits where the robots are repaired and readied for combat, and there is even a green room (it's really a pink room) for combatants to relax prior to their match. You can take the Google virtual tour that I produced here: https://goo.gl/maps/bNAf4dET7vnsdjJZA


There is also a large video control room where the live broadcast of the matches and commentary by the two play by play announcers is directed. There are three weight classes: 3, 12, and 30-pound robots. The bouts last 3 minutes, however an addition 30 second encore can be added by the panel of three judges, if the match is particularly exciting. The judges decide on the winner by how well the robot is controlled, attacks and dominates the match, and by how much damage is done to it's competitor. A “knockout” is called if a robot is unable to show controlled locomotion for ten seconds.


Robots that fly or hover, crush other robots, use fire and heat or compressed gasses as a weapon are all allowed.
I asked if there is a fee to enter a robot to fight and was told “it is free, this is our owner's hobby.”  
If you would like to watch the ten-hour July 2021 event on YouTube the link is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DtlIWhSw7yQ


I never know where my my commercial photography assignments will take me. The enthusiasm level of the employees preparing for this event was very high. I was told that several college admissions recruiters will be attending the July event to meet some of the future engineers and industrial designers from all over the US who come to Connecticut to compete in this hobby.

Norwalk Havoc Robot Combat is located at 165 Water Street Norwalk, CT.  Anyone who would like to attend an event in person, there is another event scheduled for Saturday September 18th . The fee for spectators is $10. Robot combat is fun to watch, and no one gets hurt!

Tim Becker
Creative Images Photography
901 Main St.
Manchester, CT 06040
860-528-7818
tim@2cimages.com








 
Read Older Updates