Juggle joy

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Brojangles and I grabbed some dinner at Ethel’s and then walked down to the public square where, so often, serendipity awaits. I saw these two guys juggling in a serious way and it was on. This is Zack Hunt in the t-shirt, with 16 years experience under his belt, and Darren Donelle in the hoodie on smoke break, clocking in with 7 years.

As I usually do, I grabbed a couple of quick shots, chatted them up and showed the shots, gave ‘em the makebright business card, and then the guys were totally down to make some photos. Awesome spontaneous collaboration. Massive thanks to Zack and Darren, and much respect for the skills.

I shot this photo above with the 14-24mm opened wide while lying on the ground, danger-close to falling clubs (I think both guys swatted a few away from smashing me in the face). The way I was positioned and wide-angle distortion made Darren appear as if he was up in the sky, which I thought was a cool complement to Zack juggling. I shot this with (very little) available light. I’m sure there would have been cool things I could have done with a strobe, but I was already hauling around my holy trinity of Nikkor lenses, so no desire to pack even more gear for a Bro Night walkabout.

Before I turn you loose on photos from the rest of the shoot, a quick thought: a lot of people look for “something to do” in the public square. What we’re really looking for is each other. This is Waterloo.

More juggling…

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When I arrived there seemed to be some sort of juggle-off going on, where the guys challenged each other to do different techniques or get more balls up in the air. A lot like the skate that I shot here a couple weeks back.

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As I checked the shots of Darren, the balls stood out so distinctly that I saw a face in this shot (two eyes, mouth)…

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then this had to be a die with a 4 rolled, and then…

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this looked like the Orion constellation (see the belt?)

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Me: ok, guys, back to back, little to the left, step closer to me, need a clean background! Zack and Darren totally delivered. This is 10 minutes after we first met.

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Shot a crazy slow shutter speed of 1/60 here at f/4.0 and dug the blurred hands in the frame.

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I asked if I could get some close-ups, which is a good time to get names (spelled correctly, eh Tony?) and then as often happens the subjects start suggesting stuff. Wicked! This is always so cool to get a window into the domain they know so well. Zack holds the balls in such a way, and then Darren helps him balance…

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more on arm, shoulder, and…

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Some behind the back work going on here.

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Visually, from a trying-to-make-good-photos perspective, the public square makes me crazy. There are very few clean backgrounds with all the signs lit up, but with the juggling action happening up in the air I was able to get in the dirt and shoot up against the sky. I’ve been studying the work of photographer Zack Arias pretty hard over the past month and one of his mantras is “head in a clean spot”. You know, make sure the “Yogurty” shop sign isn’t growing out of the side of your subject’s head. So photography is a lot like golf: in addition to exposure and concept, I’m also trying to get a clean background for the head, too. Not always possible, but sometimes you just step two feet to the right or drop down on a knee and you get it. I’ve burned so many hours in post-processing over the years that I’m really focused (ahem) on getting the captures right inside the camera.

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This is cool. This is the look of somebody doing something that they totally love. And both Darren and Zack assured me they love to juggle.

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Jugglers keep their head still a lot of the time as their hands are flying around. That helps me in low light.

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In street shooting like this, with no strobes, low light, and lots of moving parts, you have to shoot a lot of frames and pull out the gold. I shot several hundred frames, many where faces were obscured or out of focus or the composition was whacked. Creatively I was looking for interesting forms of the clubs and the arms.

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The juggling happens so fast, it was surprising to see the different orientations of clubs in the air when frozen by the camera. These two clubs seemed to be dropping like bombs.

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I liked the arms in this shot, but not so much the clubs.

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Started to hit my stride on this capture. Remember, until half an hour before this was taken, I had never shot juggling before. A photog that is familiar with a domain can anticipate where to be and when to pull the trigger. For me the unfamiliarity is a bit of a rush. As soon as I say hello to a potential street subject, the “patience clock” starts ticking. Gotta get some shots, yo.

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Liked this vertical stack of the clubs in air.

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Clubs wrangled, and…

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clubs set free.

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I mostly liked this shot, but not sure about the crop. Tony, what do you say?

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Capturing the intense concentration.

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I’ve heard juggling is a great stress release because you pretty much can’t think of anything else while you’re juggling.

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Thanks again to Darren and Zack. Great to meet you guys. Hope you dig the pics.

Juggle on!


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3 Responses to Juggle joy

  1. Joe says:

    Killer stuff, Darin. How you completely got rid of the background of Waterloo Town Square is magnificent. I’m proud to say I can juggle, but only three at a time and only small bean bags; not bowling pins, flaming torches, or cleavers.

  2. Meg says:

    Your photos are always incredible Darin! Thanks for always sharing out all the coolest things going on in town!

  3. Darren says:

    Zack and I are so stocked about how well your pictures turned out. Maybe next time you catch us with Glow balls and torches for some night bright action. Thanks again Darin

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