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Birthday Horoscope

This New Moon in your sign symbolizes the initiation process you may now experience. With buoyant Jupiter so close, you could be feeling upbeat about the life-changing possibilities that are before you. But your Scorpio mind cannot let go of the darkness on a whim, so analyze what you are holding on to and why. Once you know the source of your motivation, the next steps will be much easier.

-Courtesty of

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SSA III – The End

And so it ends…

Reflections on five days of photography, sports, new people, and new ideas.

  1. Have fewer students. That might have meant that I didn’t make it in, and I understand that, but there need to be at most 20 students. If there are only 5 faculty, then you need to make sure that there are fewer students. The face-to-face time is crucial, and some students just gave up having someone look at their work because there were too many of us, and too few of them
  2. I really enjoyed the classes, but I felt that they were a bit disconnected from the reality of my situation. For lighting, get two 550EXs and set up location lighting. That’s where I am economically, and that’s what I want to learn right now. When I’m ready for what’s next, then it’s my job to get assistant positions that teach me those skills.
  3. If you can find a good photographer to assist, then you’ll learn a lot about how to become a good photographer. Given the opportunity, assist. That’s where you learn workflows, ideas, etc. I definitely saw how much it can really help
  4. Stop and appreciate for one moment the beauty of what you’re doing. Here you are, taking pictures (which you love to do), surrounded by others who should be challenging you, and mentored by the best. That’s pretty cool. The best part is knowing that GPS does that for you everyday.

I grew up a lot as a photographer this week. I’m happy about that. I said that I wanted to get to the next level when I started the workshop. I don’t know if I’m there, but now I know what it will take.

the pictures…

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SSA III – Day Four

And so it ends. My head hurts, my neck hurts, and my eyes hurt. I’ve grown a lot these last few days, and I know this workshop was worth it. The faculty were great, but their ability to teach was severely hampered by the fact that there were too few of them, and too many of us.

I woke up, took a 30 minute shower, and headed out to football. I had a great day. I got good photos, I timed things well, and then I got the shot. During the second half, I just played around with the light and the fan’s umbrellas, and whatever else. It was definitely one of my better football performances in a long time. I’m happy.

From there, I got some dinner, and headed to volleyball. Volleyball kicked my ass. I mean, it kicked my ass. Good, when you’re up, and you fall, you appreciate the ride. But gosh was it hard. Why? I was trying to shoot with a 300mm, and it just didn’t work. The game was too fast, I was too slow, and my frustration was through the roof. What did I do? I went back to a comfort zone, and then started working out of it. I didn’t get great stuff, but I got good work. Then, I started getting lucky. And finally, I made a shot. I’d like to see the reaction to a the pictures that I chose for today, because they aren’t what I would have turned in in the past.

We didn’t have a review tonight, so I went out with Bryan, who I interned with this summer, and Lena, his beautiful, Lebanese girlfriend. Not that Bryan isn’t a good looking guy, but the Internet is a pretty judgemental place. We saw the film “The Prestige” which was really good for about 97%, but had a terrible ending. I think I’m going to sleep tonight, and write about it tomorrow.

Good-bye Sports Shooter Academy…

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SSA III – Day Three

Today was a tough day. In fact, I’ve probably never had a harder day shooting pictures.

So, the day started poorly. I was supposed to wake up early and get to the barns. I didn’t wake up in time. When I did wake up, I got really lucky and found someone who was heading over to the horse race. That was about my only luck today. There was no gorgeous light. I thought that there was going to be beacons of gorgeous light. I was wrong. Clouds all day. I thought that the color was going to be great. I was wrong. The afternoon shadows were going to litter the field. I was wrong. Here’s the thing. You can’t come into a situation with pre-conceived notions. You can’t come into the situation thinking that you are better than it. I learned my lesson. I still love horse racing, but I don’t know if I’m going to ever be able to love shooting it.

I ran away from horse racing and into rugby. We got lost, and we stopped to get some dinner, and then finally made it. When I went out there, I headed over to one of the “end zones” and the coach was chilling there. He and I bonded a bit, and it made the game easier to understand and then shoot. It allowed me to forget about how bad horse racing went, and just enjoy shooting. I borrowed a friend’s 300 and it made things a bit easier as well. I’m making a bit smarter photos then when I did coming in. I’m learning slowly. Gosh it hurts, but that’s the name of the game.

The review session was harsh. They were really attacking the photos that they didn’t like, but they did speak highly of the ones that were strong photos. After seeing photos, you think that submitting photos that others won’t see/enter is crucial. In fact, if you’ve ever seen it, don’t turn it in. There’s an intense degree of mean-ness to the ordinary. I got good reviews. I’m content. I need to do better.

1 day to go, and I’ve got to be big time…

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SSA III – Day Two

Wow, what a day. It started early, it ended late, and man did it kick my ass.

I started with location portraiture. I wasn’t phenomenally impressed only because we’re using gear that’s leagues away from where I am. I wanted to see if I have 2 550’s how can I create location portraiture. When Matt Brown (who was leading the session) was a beginner, how did he take portraits? I learned a lot, however. I feel like just being there started a lot of juices flowing about things. I think though, I need to invest a bit more in a flash and sync chord, or some kind of strobe device. It’s time. Part of what really helped was being the “tape” boy. I held a gel over one of the grids, and it let me hear a lot of what people were thinking/muttering/proposing. It allowed me to understand what folks thought and think about what I would do differently.

Then we moved on to studio lighting. I think I excelled a bit more in this environment as I got over the fact that the equipment was beyond me, and took the opportunity to make good pictures. I got commended by Michael Goulding for “not following the leader.” That meant a lot to me, but it was crazy having so many people and such little time. I think it’s easy for people to feel safe in following others. I’m more afraid to follow the pack because it makes me feel like a conformest. I just can’t do that. It isn’t the GPS way. Then, the games began…

Let me quickly make a rude comment about west coast, Big West basketball. What a joke! The pace of the women’s game was terrible. I think that the first half ended in 45 minutes. The teams were in the bonus by the 12th minute, but the refs missed it, and they went until the 7 minute mark before realizing that they were in the double-bonus. Wow! And I thought ACC refs were bad. I didn’t get into the zone at all at the games. I got one good picture from women’s basketball, one good picture from men’s basketball, and then a gorgeous frame from water polo.

The story on water polo is an interesting one. We thought we were going to get an outdoor pool at sunset. Instead, we got an outdoor pool after sunset under lights that make Cary High School seem great. So, what did I do? I went Monet on the place. The pictures weren’t anything that anyone could ever use, but I really liked it. During this weekend, that’s all that matters to me.

Then we got back just in time to rush like crazy to submit our pictures. The pictures from horse racing were amazing. I can’t wait to go tomorrow. I’m really excited. We’re going to wake up at 4:00am to get there at 5:00am with the sun rise. There were some very average pictures, some bad ones, and some generally great ones. I feel like I’m stuck in the middle to the bottom third, but I’m working on it.

Until tomorrow…

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SSA III – Day One

The flight today was really difficult. I stayed up all night doing laundry because I’m an idiot, and then made it to a 8:15am flight. A gentleman woke me up before final boarding call, and that’s the only reason I made my flight to Atlanta. I hit the window and woke up after half of the plane had de-boarded. The flight to Orange County was a good one though. The person next to me is getting her Ph.D at NC State in education, but she’s a Tar Heel. She was talking about helping out kids on Franklin Street after they had too much to drink. She works for housing at UNC. It made for good conversation, and helped the time go by quickly.

After arriving at the airport, I called the hotel to get a shuttle. Turns out, I didn’t ask the right question, and I ended up waiting an hour before the shuttle finally arrived. I felt like an idiot. When I arrived, I went straight to the Early Bird workshop. We talked about a lot of Photo Mechanic stuff, but I knew most of it. It was just good to know that I had arrived. We have a really good staff, and the opportunities to learn are going to be great.

In the evening, we had our official kick off. Everyone had to state their name and goal. “Melih Onvural, and my goal is to reach a new level. I’m really excited to see what that will be.” What does that even mean? I don’t know. We’ll find out in the next four days. We got a great t-shirt and some really great stuff from one of the sponsors. There is obviously an attempt to build a customer base, but I think it’s a labor of love in a lot of ways. The way that the “faculty” speak about having the opportunity to help us and give back. It’s quite beautiful. I got really, really lucky and ended up getting the 9th position of 10 for Friday’s horse race shoot. That’s going to be great I think. I’m also going to shoot water polo, basketball, football, and volleyball. I was hoping to make it to rugby, but they’re saying that it probably won’t happen. Tomorrow I’ll be doing two classes in lighting – one studio, and the other location. I’m really going to learn a lot here. I might never use it again, but that’s not the point.

My goals, if I really think about it, are:

  1. I’d like to win at least one photo of the day
  2. I’d like to whittle down my portfolio to the bare minimum in excellence
  3. I’d like to meet and greet with folks who I can keep up with in the future

Goodnight California, what an adventure you’ll bring tomorrow.