COLUMN: Perry Bergson — Feb. 24, 2014

Perry
Perry Bergson
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Last week I was less Perry Bergson the editor and more Perry Bergson the photographer.

And it was a blast.

While I enjoyed wearing jeans and my Daily Herald vest to work for a week instead of my traditional suit and tie, the fun came from the fact that I had a chance to flex a different creative muscle.

When I arrived in Prince Albert, it had been years since I had done much photography. In Brandon, I was lucky to work with a number of amazing photographers, including my close friend Bruce Bumstead.

I’m not sure if you can completely develop a photographer’s eye -- I think at some level you’re born with it -- but looking at great pictures every day for more than 22 years gave me a glimpse at what they saw.

In Prince Albert, I was lucky to become friends with Geoff Payton, the single most influential photographer in this city in the last few decades. He has done much to nurture photography with his club Northern Images Photography.

I think you can argue the lessons he gives at the Arts Centre for many years have been even more valuable. I’ve already taken one of his classes and am currently in the other session he teaches.

The students vary from someone like me -- a wannabe photojournalist -- to people who just want better pictures of their children and grandchildren.

If you’re interested in photography, I can’t say enough about my friend’s class, regardless of your photographic ambitions.

I also hope to get to his club meetings on the second Tuesday of the month at the Arts Centre, but fate and work keep conspiring against me. I will keep trying.

Another friend of mine, who also knows photography, told me she’s seeing improvement in my work and that meant a lot to me. While I think good equipment and shooting 30,000 shots a year should bring about some improvement, I’m hoping a little of that photographer’s eye is taking root.

Anyway, after that lengthy aside, I spent a lot of last week taking pictures.

I had an opportunity to shoot the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2014 Saskatchewan Winter Games, along with judo, hockey, wrestling, cross-country skiing, synchronized swimming, speed skating and table tennis.

Each was a wonderful experience, because except for hockey, I had never taken pictures of any of them before. It’s nice to challenge yourself.

If you’re interested, the best pictures can be found on our website because we put a pile of slideshows up last week. Each has 10 to 20 pictures.

But in the wild week that just passed, I had some other jobs I enjoyed just as much. One was the Canadian Challenge dogsled race.

If you were anywhere near the museum, that was me on River Avenue lying on my belly on a blue tarp with my camera on a tiny tripod. I wanted to be looking eye to eye at the dogs. I was fortunate to get a couple of pictures I really liked and emerged with a newfound admiration for these amazing working animals.

On Monday evening I was at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre when ’80s rock icons Platinum Blonde came to the city. That was officially the night that I became an old guy because I found the show much, much too loud for my tender ears.

It was fun hearing some of the old songs, although the band was performing in darker, coloured light, which can be a challenge when you’re trying to get skin tones. Fortunately for me, they met in the middle and were beautifully lit for a few moments.

The biggest challenge of the week came on Tuesday evening at the E.A. Rawlinson Centre.

I had committed to putting a picture of Bryan Adams on the front page, as we often do when big acts come to the city.

Most of the bigger performers have a three-song rule for photographers. You have three songs to get your picture and then it’s time for you to go.

They say it’s for the crowd but I’ve always suspected that it’s more about image conscious magicians not wanting to be shown sweating profusely.

I pride myself on fading into the background when I’m taking pictures, whether it’s at a Raiders game or a concert. It isn’t about me.

Back to Bryan Adams.

That afternoon I learned that I would have a single song to shoot. That’s fine; it’s his show so it’s his rules. And I was grateful to have the time I was given.

But it wouldn’t be easy. I would have to read the light on the stage and adapt to how bright or dark it was.

I learned as much as I could about the stage setup before the concert began. I knew that he would be in the middle with a piano at stage right.

I learned that his light was considered fairly bright.

I didn’t know if it would be coloured or flickering.

He walked out on stage just after 8:20 p.m. I snapped my first frame at 8:20:45 as he saluted the crowd.

Soon after, he started into his 1984 hit Run To You.

I would snap a few shots, change a setting and snap a few more. I needed to cover as many settings as I could in as short a time as I could.

I twice changed my shooting spot so that I could get some different looks in the photos.

I was back up on the top step as he saluted the crowd again after the song ended.

My camera on the last frame reads 8:24:34. I had three minutes and 49 seconds and I took 252 pictures.

I’ll admit to being very nervous as I drove back to the Daily Herald to look at my shots. If I blew it, I had a giant smoking hole on our front page on Wednesday.

The good news was that it turned out all right. I don’t love the best picture that I took -- I like a few of my dogsled shots better -- but it was OK.

Standing there before the show began, I was nervous. And that’s a good thing. When you stop worrying, you stop caring.

 

 

Perry Bergson is the Daily Herald’s managing editor. You can reach him at 765-1302 or by email at perry.bergson@paherald.sk.ca

 

Organizations: Daily Herald, Arts Centre, E.A. Rawlinson Centre Canadian Challenge Raiders

Geographic location: Brandon, Saskatchewan, River Avenue

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