Monthly Top Ten

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Here are ten “May Flowers” – Enjoy!

Matt Cashore and Barbara Johnston

May 1, 2015; Jogger on St. Joseph Lake. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 1, 2015; Jogger on St. Joseph Lake. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 5, 2015; Maxim Kantor, renowned Russian artist and Director's Fellow at the NDIAS paints in his studio at Notre Dame. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

May 5, 2015; Maxim Kantor, renowned Russian artist and Director’s Fellow at the NDIAS paints in his studio at Notre Dame. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

May 11, 2015; Reflection of the Main Building after a rain shower. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 11, 2015; Reflection of the Main Building after a rain shower. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 13, 2015; Tassels representing areas of study (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 13, 2015; Tassels representing areas of study (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 13, 2015; Senior Mark O'Dea demonstrates his fire dancing skills on the shore of St. Mary's Lake. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

May 13, 2015; Senior Mark O’Dea demonstrates his fire dancing skills on the shore of St. Mary’s Lake. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

May 14, 2015; Construction crane for McCourtney Hall. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

May 14, 2015; Construction crane for McCourtney Hall. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

May 16, 2015; Prayer at the Grotto on the night before Commencement. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 16, 2015; Prayer at the Grotto on the night before Commencement. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 17, 2015; Confetti covers a program after the conclusion of the 2015 Commencement ceremony. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 17, 2015; Confetti covers a program after the conclusion of the 2015 Commencement ceremony. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

May 17, 2015; Graduates toss their caps in the air on the steps of the Main Building as family and friends gather to capture the moment. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

May 17, 2015; Graduates toss their caps in the air on the steps of the Main Building as family and friends gather to capture the moment. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

May 28, 2015; Bradley Toothaker, president and CEO of Bradley Co. at the Ignition Park construction site in South Bend. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

May 28, 2015; Bradley Toothaker, president and CEO of Bradley Co. at the Ignition Park construction site in South Bend. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Trusty, Dusty, Film

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I finally got serious about de-cluttering my basement.  Worthy of mention only because it caused me to re-discover this dusty old shoebox:

(Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

And inside…that pile of $100 bills I forgot about?  Sadly, no, but…

(Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Whoa.  I made the transition to digital around 2003 give or take, and apparently it was sudden and all-in because that’s a LOT of un-shot film.

My best guesstimate puts it at over $500 worth.  Never shot.  Now more than a decade out-of-date.

(Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Mmmm Hmmm… $140 for 20 rolls–720 clicks.  That’s roughly 30 cents a click, processing extra.

(Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

So yeah, I wasted a bunch of money 12 years ago.  Oops.  But it got me thinking quite a bit about the differences between the film photography era and the digital world we now enjoy.  

First off–digital photos are not free–there is a production cost every time you press the shutter button.  

However:  In the days of analog, when you added up film and processing and the occasional rush fee, you routinely spent 50 cents, and even at times a dollar or more *per click*.  Today, even factoring in the increased cost and shorter useful life of digital camera bodies and the need for computer equipment to support it, you’re looking at around 5 cents a click.  At a football game where I easily shoot 1000 frames, that’s the difference between $500 in production cost back then and $50 today.

Second–all the clicks represented in this photo could probably fit 100 times over on a single memory card the size of my thumb.  Wow.

Lastly for now–there are nine different types of film in this photo.  Why?  Because each type behaved differently under certain lighting conditions and gave a different final “look.”  When I wanted sharp, saturated colors (think fall campus beauty shots), only Velvia would do.  Outdoor day sports?  Provia.  Indoor sports?  Astia if I’m lighting it, and 800 speed color neg if I’m not.  Outdoor night sports?  800 pushed a stop, maybe two.  Available indoor light?  Whole ‘nuther ball game:  Fluorescent or tungsten?  There’s a film for each.  

This is not a technical blog so I’ll sum it up by saying that every situation demanded a specific kind of film to get the right look.  Velvia made fall colors pop, but use it for portraits and let’s just say…it got weird.  And the look was baked in for ever and ever.  If I shot black and white, then black and white it was gonna stay.  

Today’s digital cameras let us do all what all nine kinds of film did–in a single body.  Changeable and reversible, even.  Make a photo black & white and then go back and give that same image the super-saturated Velvia look.  

But the other side of the coin of the flexibility of digital is the requirement for expert post-processing to finish the images to the needs of the shoot or the vision of the photographer.  With film, we made the choice before the shoot and we were stuck with it.  Now we have the flexibility to choose, control, and change the final look of a photo after the fact.  

So despite my momentary nostalgia when I saw the box full of film, I’m glad we are in a digital world. It’s cheaper, quicker, gives us more flexibility, and ultimately better quality…but with an asterisk.  I often say: “The picture isn’t done when I put away the camera,” and hopefully this a little background on what I mean.

Now then…anyone wanna buy some film??

-Matt Cashore

It’s baaaaaaack!

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A while back we set out to do a monthly blog post of ten images we liked from the previous month. As these things often go, the “Monthly” Top Ten became the “Monthly…ish” Top Ten and then the “Semi Annual” Top Ten, and, well, you know.

So here’s the newest installment of the re-booted Monthly Top Ten, chock full of science and scenics from this past October.

We’ll see you in a month.

(No, really!)

Matt Cashore and Barbara Johnston

Oct. 8, 2014; The Word of Life Mural, commonly known as Touchdown Jesus, reflected in the reflecting pool. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 8, 2014; The Word of Life Mural, commonly known as Touchdown Jesus, reflected in the reflecting pool. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Oct 11, 2014; Notre Dame Stadium at the end of the North Carolina game. (Photo by Matt Cashore)

Oct 11, 2014; Notre Dame Stadium at the end of the North Carolina game. (Photo by Matt Cashore)

Oct. 14, 2014; Hesburgh Library (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 14, 2014; Hesburgh Library (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 15, 2014; David Lodge, director of the Environmental Change Initiative, is interviewed by Ira Flatow during a taping of the radio show "Science Friday" at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 15, 2014; David Lodge, director of the Environmental Change Initiative, is interviewed by Ira Flatow during a taping of the radio show “Science Friday” at the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 16, 2014; ND LEEF Barn Raising Event at St. Patrick's Park in South Bend. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 16, 2014; ND LEEF Barn Raising Event at St. Patrick’s Park in South Bend. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 22, 2014; Cirrus clouds form above the steeple on the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 22, 2014; Cirrus clouds form above the steeple on the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Oct.27, 2014; Main Quad (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Oct.27, 2014; Main Quad (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 27, 2014; Main Building and Golden Dome at sunset. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 27, 2014; Main Building and Golden Dome at sunset. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 29, 2014; Light panel in the College of Science. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 29, 2014; Light panel in the College of Science. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 28, 2014; A student rides past the main entrance of Jordan Hall of Science. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

Oct. 28, 2014; A student rides past the main entrance of Jordan Hall of Science. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

 

Chasing The Magic

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One of my favorite quotes by photographer Ansel Adams is:  “Sometimes I arrive just when God’s ready to have someone click the shutter.”
Like Ansel, I hope to be in the right place at the right time for that confluence of light, weather, and season I refer to simply as “The Magic.”  I’ve been fortunate enough to have seen rainbows:

1
Lightning:
4
Snowfalls:
blog snow
And now the recent lunar eclipse better known as the Blood Moon:
blog blood moon
The Magic is utterly un-schedulable, rarely happens during business hours and is almost always brief.  Two things help me in my pursuit:  1. Living close to campus and 2. An understanding wife who understands what I do, how I do it and encourages it.  More than time, it takes energy to chase The Magic–random interruptions and absences–and that support keeps the energy up.
I’ve gotten more response to the Blood Moon photo than any other picture I’ve made.  Ever.  Thanks for the nice comments on social media, emails and in person.  I’ve gotten quite a few questions as well so this blog post will hopefully answer some of those.

 

1. “How come my iPhone photo didn’t look like that?”

Without getting too technical, moon photos usually work best with a telephoto lens and a camera with full manual exposure and focus control.  The telephoto lens will make the moon appear bigger, and manual exposure is required because the moon is much brighter than people think and most automatic exposure modes will overexpose the moon.  The moon is so bright, in fact, that un-eclipsed, the Dome would have been a silhouette as it was for me when I made this photo in 2006:
Oct. 5, 2006; Mary statue and moon Photo by Matt Cashore
The reason the Blood Moon photo worked so well was because the eclipse knocked down the overall brightness as well as the fact that Notre Dame recently re-lit the Main Building with LED lighting which made it much brighter:

 

Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame
So thank you Paul Kempf, Tim Golichowski and everyone at ND Utilities for making the Dome brighter and thank you…God…for making the moon dimmer.

 

2. “Were you on top of a building?”
 
Nope, firmly on the ground between Breen-Phillips and Farley.  The hardest part of making the photo was finding a spot not obscured by trees or a building where the moon and Dome would line up.
Here’s my contact sheet of how the moon moved into position:
contact sheet

3. “You must have been out there a long time.”
 
Again, no.  The Magic, as I mentioned, is brief.  Thanks to digital camera time stamps I can say with certainty that I began making pictures at 6:20am and stopped at 6:46.

4. “Did you Photoshop that?”
 
As the contact sheet hopefully shows, I made adjustments to boost shadow detail, hold highlight detail and adjust color to my recollection of the moment, but the moon was really that size, that color, and in that place.

5. “What lens?”
 
300mm.  That was a lucky guess.  Longer would have made it difficult to have both the moon and the Dome in focus, and shorter would have made the moon appear smaller. I manually focused just past the Dome, and the depth-of-field made it possible to get them both sharp.

6. “What was going through your mind when you made the photo?”
 
(This was my favorite question)  Honestly and truly: U2’s “One Tree Hill” from The Joshua Tree album.  Great song with the line “I’ll see you again when the stars fall from the sky, and the moon has turned red over One Tree Hill.”  Being the age of instant gratification I even got out my phone and played the song while I was making the photos.

So in a way, I suppose I can say I did use my iPhone making the picture.

-Matt Cashore

2014 Kickoff

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It’s a new year and a new field for ND.  We stayed (mostly) dry, too!  Here are highlights from the football weekend:

Fans crowd the library quad under the gaze of Touchdown Jesus. Photo by Matt Cashore

Fans crowd the library quad under the gaze of Touchdown Jesus.
Photo by Matt Cashore

The field turf is ready for the game. Photo by Matt Cashore

The field turf is ready for the game.
Photo by Matt Cashore

Nothing says "Here Come The Irish" quite like a sign that says "Here Come The Irish." Photo by Matt Cashore

Nothing says “Here Come The Irish” quite like a sign that says “Here Come The Irish.”
Photo by Matt Cashore

Everett Golson scores one of his TDs. Photo by Matt Cashore

Everett Golson scores one of his TDs.
Photo by Matt Cashore

The Leprechaun celebrates. Photo by Peter Ringenberg

The Leprechaun celebrates.
Photo by Peter Ringenberg

The Notre Dame Marching Band performs at halftime. Photo by Matt Cashore

The Notre Dame Marching Band performs at halftime.
Photo by Matt Cashore

Offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley (78) blocks for running back Greg Bryant (1) Photo by Matt Cashore

Offensive lineman Ronnie Stanley (78) blocks for running back Greg Bryant (1)
Photo by Matt Cashore

The student section stands and cheers. Photo by Peter Ringenberg

The student section stands and cheers.
Photo by Peter Ringenberg

"…aaaand our hearts for-eeevvverrr…LOOOOVVE THEE NO-TRE DAAAAAAAMME!!!!" Photo by Peter Ringenberg

“…aaaand our hearts for-eeevvverrr…LOOOOVVE THEE NO-TRE DAAAAAAAMME!!!!”
Photo by Peter Ringenberg

And don't forget… Photo by Matt Cashore

And don’t forget…
Photo by Matt Cashore