Cale Byers

Boys State 2017

If you enjoy any of these photos, please consider purchasing them. I have higher quality photos archived and can edit them, too. I depend on photography as a source of income, and my $1300 worth of gear used for this event was stolen last fall. Thanks!

Boys State, June 2017 (Google Photos Albums)

Reflections on Boys State

Back in 2013, I attended with my friend, Donovan, and it was a pretty cool experience. I ran for governor and won the beaver party nomination, but I lost in the general election. It was my first time debating and first time speaking on a stage in front of so many people. It was my first time being away from home, and I didn't have a cell phone. Somehow I made it everywhere on time. I think I had a printed schedule with me. I communicated with my mom by emailing her through AT&T's email to text relay. It was hard to get any rest, and I was pretty tired by the end of it. Instead of going back as a staff member in 2014, I played summer baseball and then went to college. I'm really glad that I went this year, because it was fun to participate and see old friends. I took close to 10,000 images, and I've learned a little bit here and there. I also did some video, but nothing substantial. I should try focusing on it more often, because video is nice sometimes.

Having to process so many photos is making me more comfortable with the software and editing workflow, although it takes so much time. Right now things are still being uploaded, but most of the editing and filtering is done. I’m taking breaks to clean up my site and write this blog, or just get more sleep.

One thing I did differently was occasionally shooting in live mode, because my T5 doesn't have mirror lock up. This lets the sensor immediately take a photo instead of having to open the mirror first, reducing blurry photos. It’s not really practical for rapid shooting, but it helps when you need to just get a few crisp photos of someone. I also shot with a self timer and sometimes a remote switch to reduce camera shake. I was able to shoot zoomed out to 160mm for 1/50 of a second exposure and get decent results, using my knees as a tripod. Nothing new, I know, but it's part of the process of trying other techniques. A monopod might be nice next year, but usually just getting closer helps.

I also tried to focus on timing my shots, because a lot of people would close their eyes or blink frequently while on a stage under pressure. There are also so many distracting backgrounds, both indoors and outdoors around the campus, so I paid attention to composing shots whenever I could. Experimenting with backlit shots or lens flare was another fun thing to do.

One day, I met Yo, a Japanese exchange student, who was skating by Ford Hall. I took some photos of him jumping in the air with his board. He said that there's way more space here at Willamette than in Japan, so it's nice to be able to skate freely. Also, we have more plants and trees on the campus than he did back at his Tokyo university, and he appreciates the appearance. Willamette is a really pretty campus.

I shot with my phone and my camera. 28mm on the phone was nice, and then 80mm was very tight on my camera. It would be nice to go to a skate park with a 35 or 50mm lens. I really like meeting new people through photography, so I'm hoping to continue doing street and other city photos. Getting a smaller camera and lens is necessary for this. I’m considering selling my lens but not sure yet.

I definitely improved a lot in terms of manipulating exposure in different lighting. Tripods are way too bulky and not an option for candid stuff. The only instance where a tripod would be nice is for a close-up of somebody on stage. Or a shot of the entire audience. But you only need a few of those, images and then the tripod doesn't get used for the next hour. That's why I just tried to use myself as a tripod, and I think it worked for the most part. I’ll bring one next year, but mostly for time lapse stuff.

I'm considering getting a better camera, like the Canon 7D Mark II or Sony a6500, but I'm broke right now and don't immediately need it.

A lot of my adjustments are just white balancing, and I'll have to pay attention to setting a white balance next time. The auto is not helpful for strong colors like the orange and green shirts. It's not bad changing in Lightroom, but it's something to do differently next time.

At first I was getting a lot of pictures of the back of people’s heads, and then I started to get inside of groups and be a part of the action. It’s a lot better that way. You get nice photos, and you talk with people.

During this past April and May, I took a lot of photos with friends on my film camera, using a 50mm prime. Manual focusing was often a disaster, but I got some nice shots now and then.

But anyway, my point is that I enjoy photographic moments where you’re meeting new people, and again, my 80-160mm lens is too tight for that kind of stuff.

Hope to have all the photos up fairly soon. I just have to literally look at thousands of pictures, adjust some things, export them, and then upload them. And finally, I have to select them in batches and add to albums online….

Thanks for being patient.