My View: The latest from the Patriot Ledger photographer
From from Patriot Ledger photographer Greg Derr:
My View is an occasional photo feature of images I see across the South Shore. I come across many images driving between assignments or while covering the weather. I’ll often go to areas more than once if I find a nice view and try to get the best light for the scene or, in winter, see what it looks like with fresh snow. After more than 30 years, I still have a passion for making the best of a scene or the lighting conditions each day.
This feature will give space to images captured across the South Shore that might not fit in the physical newspaper. For the photography minded viewers, I’ll include the technical details of the image. Check back regularly for updates.
Thursday, March 2, 2023
I get a few readers who ask how I see so many that they never seem to see.
As a photographer, I spend my day looking. At everything. I don’t set out to find wildlife really, it just appears. I sometimes think that, at times, it's just them and me who are outside. Particularly in the winter.
Between assignments, I'm always on the lookout for what we call a “feature” photo. These are small slices of life in our community − the woman feeding her horses, the guy splitting wood or the lobster boat crew setting out of the harbor. Many times, when winter really sets in, there are few people outside. Maybe that’s when the animals really take over, coming out of the dense woods or presenting themselves to me.
As a kid, I always read the National Geographic magazine or, most likely, just looked at the pictures. I always wanted to know what that bird was in my yard or bug in the garden. I still have that curiosity. When I see something I've never seen before, I just want to know what it is. I also like the chance to get a great photo.
This sometimes turns into a sort of South Shore safari. I’ll get an email from a reader about an unusual bird or animal in the area, and then it's game on to get the shot. The black bear traipsing around a few years ago? I never did get that shot. But, there are now eagles in the area and reclusive coyotes fleeting through our neighborhoods. Once in a while, I’ll find a species in the area that we didn't know lived here. In bird watching or animal spotting, you need two people to see a species or someone to grab photo as confirmation. I once photographed ravens nesting behind the newspaper office in Quincy. At the time, they hadn't been seen that far east in the state. From an otter in Duxbury to a fisher in Marshfield, eagles in Quincy or an ivory gull in Plymouth, animals can make great news stories. The gull, which spent a few weeks in Plymouth Harbor drew hundreds of birdwatches from across the country who were interested in seeing the arctic species.
For imaging, I really don’t use anything special other than the lenses I use for sports. Maybe the 300mm lens with a 2X extended, the longest lens I use. I do like my Canon macro lenses for bugs and butterflies. The cameras are all Canon. The best piece of equipment I have is a keen eye and patience. I keep looking for movements in the forest or shore − then wait for the right moment to happen.
Friday, Jan. 27, 2023
I get a lot of questions about photo coverage of court cases. Mostly ,readers want to know how I feel about being face to face with some of the accused, many of whom are being tried for murder. The other questions are about how it works, when we are allowed in and what “pool” means.
Cameras in Massachusetts courtrooms goes back to the late 1970s, when the Boston Press Photographers Association presented the idea to the courts. We got the OK for one still camera and one TV camera. The rules were pretty strict − operators must stay in one place and be silent, and we couldn't change film in the courtroom. The click of the camera was an issue at first, but as courts grew accustomed, that faded away.
The Patriot Ledger was the first paper in the state to cover a trial in Norfolk Superior Court in Dedham. Fred Keenan was our photographer. Since then, we have covered hundreds of cases. I seem to draw most of them because I work in the morning and get to court as it opens. On large cases that have regional or national interest, we in the media form a “pool." One photographer is allowed in, but the images are shared among all pool members. I tend to cover some courts often, so we usually get to be pool for those cases. On long cases, we might rotate the pool among other papers.
It’s not easy covering some of the cases. For court coverage I use two cameras. One camera with a 300-millimeter lens for tight shots and another for wider, overall scene shots. We are not allowed to photograph the jury. The judge will usually decide where I sit in court to avoid disturbing the jury. These days, my Canon digital cameras are silent and there is no need to change film.
Looking through the lens into the face of someone that is accused a horrific crime can be a little unnerving, especially when the details of the crime are laid out in open court. Dramatic crimes that make headlines with speculative details often pale in comparison to the facts presented in court. I do appreciate the trial process: two sides making a case, the judge keeping order and the jury having to decide the truth. Some cases have a lasting impact on me, particularly in cases of violence against children. Some images still haunt me.
The recent case of Ana Washe was a topic of discussion with co-workers. There was so much attention by the national media, which felt a little hypocritical given that similar crimes happen frequently across the region and get little or no attention. COVID had one upside: fewer murders and major crimes. Unfortunately, this year will be a busy one for courtroom coverage.
Monday, Dec. 5, 2022
I love high school sports. After decades of covering the professionals, I've always enjoyed the armatures and school sports more. They play with a passion that comes with very little material reward. For some, it’s a defining moment in their lives; a memory for most; a line in a resume for some.
In my work, I try to capture that passion or disappointment. The action might not be as dramatic as an NFL, NBA or NHL game, but there seems to be more of it. Each player is excited and their faces are expressive, which makes for great photos. I shoot most of the sports with a long lens from a distance, but the MIAA tournaments allow for some hefty drama. Winners all, despite the outcome.
I got to shoot two sides of the sports coin this fall. The Hingham girls soccer team took home a state Division 1 title against Algonquin, which resulted in a joyous celebration. Senior Bridgette Harrington jumping into the arms of shutout goal keeper Ella Stadtlander was icing on the coverage.
Then, we had Milton High football, which had a fantastic season and didn't lose a game on their way to the Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium on Saturday night. They lost in a close contest. Senior Liam Flaherty was overcome with grief after the loss, and I felt for him. Both images are important to sports.
As games come to a close, I change my gear to much shorter focal length lenses (wide angle) to capture what can be a fast-moving celebration or, in some cases, a disappointing loss. Both shots were taken with a Canon EOS 1 Mk II using a 16-35mm lens. Settings are Priority with auto color balance, since things move fast at the close of a game.
Monday, Nov. 21, 2022
My view is not always pleasant. Monday was not pleasant at all. I hate seeing anyone hurt. I have to say, the tragic events at the Hingham Apple store were made less tragic by the efforts of first responders. The professional compassion by the firefighters, paramedics and police officers saved lives. Compound fractures, arterial bleeds and impact injuries all can be life ending. From the moment the first calls came in, there was a coordinated response from a dozen towns and the ambulance service of South Shore Hospital. Each person focused on the same tasks: treat the injured, save lives.
It seems that we forget how good we have it on the South Shore. The EMS, fire departments and police are highly trained for incidents like this. Not just this week, but everyday. I see it first hand. Car crash, fire or overdose, there is always help, not judgement. Monday was on a larger scale, but each person was treated like they were the only one that mattered. You saw all ranks, from rookies to chiefs, working together better than any professional sports team could.
This image will stick with me. A Norwell firefighter is treating a seriously injured man lying on the pavement in front of the crash. During his treatment, he held the mans hand and talked with him, all the while administering first aid. I can only imagine the injured man was terrified and thinking the worst. It's good to see the humanity and compassion in the worst of times. This Thanksgiving, be grateful we have selfless first responders and, if you see a red or blue light coming, move over. That's how we do our part in helpsave a life.
Monday, Nov. 14, 2022
There's something about old farm tractors - bright red and big wheels. They're just cool looking. This one, parked in front of the Norwell Grange No. 410 on Main Street, has always gotten my attention. With the yellow leaves, it just looked like fall in New England. I made two pictures this month, with two different lenses for two different looks.
The first photo was with a 24-70mm zoom lens, which gives a little more "depth of field" or focus, showing the grange building in more detail. The second was with a 50mm lens using a short depth of field or less focus. Both work well with morning backlight sun on the yellow leaves. I'll have to take a look at the tracker in fresh snow this winter. Both shots are with a Canon EOS 5D MK IV.
Wednesday, Nov. 9, 2022
I have always liked the bronze "Doughboy" statue in Quincy. The posture and size of the soldier, the way snow lays on its head and shoulders in winter. It has moved locations at least once that I know of. This spot is at Furnace Brook Parkway and Hancock Street. I shot this photo with a Canon "tilt shift" lens, which is designed for architectural photography. The lens elements can be moved to straighten lines of perspective. Here, the lens was used to selectively focus on the statue and throw the background out of focus, the technique is called "bokeh." The camera was a Canon 5D MKIV, ISO set at 125 in aperture priority.
Greg Derr is a 35-year veteran of The Patriot Ledger. He is a master photographer and author of two books, “Boston’s South Shore” and “Plymouth at Its Best.” He has covered everything from the Super Bowl to presidential Inaugurations while always maintaining his focus on the South Shore. He is also a U.S. Olympian.
This article originally appeared on The Patriot Ledger: My View: The latest from Patriot Ledger photographer Greg Derr