US Grains Council Conference in Sacramento – Day 3

The US Grains Council’s 62nd Annual Board of Delegates Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento is in the books! It was another fantastic event. I am humbled and honored to be the official photographer for this amazing group.  Their destination conferences are always so informative and inspirational!!! Here are a few shots from the final Day 3…

US Grains Council Conference in Sacramento – Day 2

The US Grains Council’s 62nd Annual Board of Delegates Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento is in the books! It was another fantastic event. I am humbled and honored to be the official photographer for this amazing group.  Their destination conferences are always so informative and inspirational!!! Here are a few shots from Day 2…

US Grains Council Conference in Sacramento – Day 1

The US Grains Council’s 62nd Annual Board of Delegates Meeting at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento is in the books! It was another fantastic event. I am humbled and honored to be the official photographer for this amazing group.  Their destination conferences are always so informative and inspirational!!! Here are a few shots from Day 1…

New Orleans Greenscreen Event

We live in interesting times!!!

Photography certainly has evolved over the 40 years since I first got “hooked” with my Dad’s Pentax K1000. I photographed all through high-school as the senior yearbook photographer with that camera and a Rikoh KR-5, switching to the Pentax Program Plus and ME Super in college. I upgraded to medium format Mamiya 645 when I turned pro after college. When auto-focus technology arrived, I converted to Nikon N8008, N90, and F100. Things got really interesting when digital hit the scene. I was an early adopter with the D100, progressing to the D2x, D3, D4, D5, and many other variations in between. Most recently, the big change has been switching to mirrorless. I’m currently working with the Z9 and loving it!

But what’s really cool is how cameras and computers have become so integrated! Last week I had a fantastic time photographing a greenscreen event in New Orleans for one of our favorite clients, the US Grains Council! Similar to how the weatherman shows you the maps on TV, I used a green background that the computer would later drop out and replace with a digital background.  With my D5 tethered to one laptop, Lightroom would instantly import the image. Then a special program from the awesome team at Photo Party Upload would watch that “hot folder” and pop the image up in an intuitive kiosk app.  If the first laptop was still being used by the previous guest in the booth, I had a second laptop set up with the same kiosk app running on it for the next person to use.  After getting their picture made, guests would go to one of the kiosks to choose which background image they wanted, and use the touchscreen to pinch and zoom their photo, placing themselves in the “scene” wherever they wanted. Finally, they could instantly share the final image on social media, or simply email it to themselves.

It was so much fun watching everyone get creative and have fun with the system! 40 years ago, if you had told me I’d be doing this king of “magic” with today’s technology, I would have told you you were crazy!!! 🙂

Commodity Classic in New Orleans

The Commodity Classic is America’s largest farmer-led, farmer-focused agricultural & educational experience! It’s a massive 3-day event where farmers gather every year to find the answers, solutions, and information they need to gain greater clarity and vision for their farm’s success.

This weekend, I had the pleasure of photographing the 2022 conference and trade-show for the US Grains Council.  They are an amazing organization, focused on developing markets for American corn, barley, and sorghum…enabling trade…and improving lives. The 3-day program was held at the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. With over 7,000 attendees, it was a huge success!!!

(All images captured with Nikon Z9, Nikkor 24-70 f2.8 S, and Lexar XQD cards.)

Retirement Reception at William Aiken House

Sweeping ballrooms, lush private grounds, and open-air piazzas make this historic 1807 mansion one of Charleston’s most sought-after venues for weddings and events. Tucked behind it’s ornate black iron gates on King Street, the William Aiken House is a peaceful retreat that carries guests back in time to the 19th century. The formal dining rooms, museum caliber artwork, and giant 200 year old magnolia tree are highlights of the many wonders of this beautiful property!

I always enjoy working events and weddings at this venue. And this recent corporate event in honor of the retirement of one of it’s esteemed members was no exception! The evening actually started down the block with cocktails on the rooftop bar at Stars. As dusk fell, we enjoyed a leisurely stroll down King Street to enter those beautiful gates for the main event. Everyone paused on the lawn for a few shots of the whole group which I captured from the 2nd floor piazza. Drinks and hors-d’oeuvres continued as historians shared interesting anecdotes about Charleston and details about the William Aiken House. Dinner was upstairs in the main dining hall. Finally wonderful words were shared, and a fine gift was unveiled for the guest of honor!

It was a beautiful evening and a delightful celebration I was delighted to be a part of.

First Event with the Nikon Z9

Prior to the deliver of my Z9 from NPS, I had a chance to borrow my friend Gary’s for an event. It was a chilly evening, with extremely low-light conditions. So I figured it would be the PERFECT test for this new flagship camera from Nikon!

The event was held at the beautiful yet rustic Hart Meadows Ranch on John’s Island. I arrived early to get a couple shots with the drone as the sun set over the horizon. I had about 30 minutes of twilight after that to get some establishing shots during “blue hour” before guests arrived. It was a new moon. So after that it was completely dark except for the string lights, up-lighting, and bonfires dotted around the property.

I slung my tried-and-true D5 on one hip, and Gary’s Z9 on the other. That way I could do a real-world comparison between the two models, switching back and forth as needed. I carried the 14-24 f2.8, 24-70 f2.8, and 105 f2.8 Micro.  These were all Nikkor F-mount lenses to keep things consistent, using the FTZ adapter to mount them on the Z9.

It was a fantastic evening! The Z9 was AMAZING. For example, the shots of Tiera Kennedy, who is an incredibly talented up-and-coming country artist from Nashville, were shot at ISO 8000!!!  Yet the files look incredibly sharp and noise-free.  When there was enough light, the new Eye-detect Auto Focus was pretty awesome.  However, it did struggle to acquire focus in pitch black conditions where I had to use flash. I don’t know why mirrorless cameras don’t “see” the Infrared Auto Focus Assist beam from our flashes! Can anyone answer this? That is my ONLY wish for the Z9 is that it could see that AF Assist beam when things are pitch black.  Maybe I needed to switch to a different auto-focus mode.  But I usually ended up just pulling out the trusty D5 for those conditions.

Other than that, the Z9 performed flawlessly! I didn’t want to give it back to Gary that night on my way home. HA!!! And I’m excited to finally have received mine from NPS last week. 🙂

Awards Ceremony at The Ocean Course

Kiawah Island is such an amazing paradise! Whenever I have an assignment out there, I can feel my blood pressure dropping as I drive the scenic road out to the island. Then once I’m on the island, I love slowing down and looking for alligators, egrets, and osprey, which hang out in the many ponds and marshes.

A few weeks ago I had a fantastic time photographing a very special awards banquet at The Ocean Course. Cocktails took place on the back porch, overlooking the historic 18th hole where so many Ryder Cup and PGA moments have taken place. As the beautiful sunset faded into blue hour, everyone moved inside for dinner. Heartfelt speeches were made about each incredibly deserving award recipient. The room was truly filled with warmth and appreciation for their dedication and service!

For smaller events like this, I choose to wield my Nikon D5 + 24-70 f2.8, Nikon D500 + 105 f2.8, and Nikon SB-5000 Speedlights.  Of course the DJI Mavic Pro 2 comes in handy for those hard-to-reach angles!

US Grains Council 19th International Marketing Conference – Day 3

The 3rd and final day of the 19th International Marketing Conference and 62nd Annual Membership Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville was a time to celebrate!

All the Advisory Team Leaders shared the progress reports and final results from their intense break-out meetings. Recognition Awards for exemplary service were handed out to deserving recipients. And final words of inspiration were shared before the conference was finally adjourned.

It was an absolute pleasure being back in person, photographing another fabulous event for the US Grains Council!

US Grains Council 19th International Marketing Conference – Day 2

Day 2 of the 19th International Marketing Conference and 62nd Annual Membership Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville begin with some fantastic presentations. But the majority of the day was spent in break-out meetings, focusing on different sectors of the market.

That night, everyone got to blow off some steam during an off-site reception at the famous BBQ at Zen!

US Grains Council 19th International Marketing Conference – Day 1

Day 1 of the 19th International Marketing Conference and 62nd Annual Membership Meeting at the Hyatt Regency in Greenville started off with a bang!

A very full schedule included highlight appearances from Mayor Pro Tem of Greenville, Lillian Flemming…Ryan LeGrand, President and CEO of the USGC…Ambassador Katherine Tai…Jason Hafemeister, Acting Deputy Under Secretary for Trade and Foreign Agricultural Affairs…Sharon Yuan, President of The Asia Group…and many more!

A casual Welcome Reception Welcome Reception was held in Noma Square that evening so everyone could de-compress from the days events.