After a five month hiatus, I finally returned to the fencing scene this weekend photographing the two-day Remenyik Regional Open Circuit tournament at Northwestern University. Although the new fencing season began months ago, the last time I had knelt down by the side of the a piste with a lens and bore the risk of being gored by a charging fencer was back in May. Despite being out of action for some time, the skills of photographing fencers that I had developed long ago quickly resurfaced: shooting at a low stance for a more balanced composition, tracking the autofocus point on the more passive fencer, anticipating any sudden moves from an attacking fencer to ensure that one of the 24 frames in a three second burst of squeezing down the shutter release actually captures something meaningful. It definitely felt good to ease back into my element over the weekend.
I hope to be able to expedite the post-processing of these images soon, though a time frame of sometime in the middle of November is much more realistic. I still have many other projects in the post-processing phase from the various shoots in the past month, however, from the Chicago Marathon three weeks ago to the partial solar eclipse last Thursday. Fortunately, returning to my roots as a fencing photographer has instilled a sense of vigor and zeal to publish my various works for viewing as soon as professionally and artistically possible.
While many photographers will rarely show anyone—even peers—their raw image files (in fact, Daniela Bowker of Photocritic.org posted a well written article today to that regard), I am showing below sample contact sheets of the works I have lined up to display in the near future. In the old days of film, a contact (or proof) sheet contained the non-enlarged prints of all of the images a photographer made in a roll of film. These sheets were indispensable tools for photographers and editors, using them to as previews to select which frame specifically to use and edit. A single contact sheet is a rather intimate to a photographer. It bares the entire work process of a photographer during a shoot, revealing his or her mindset, inspirations, and of course, mistakes. Showing a contact sheet of unedited, unredacted, raw images can reveal a photograph’s talent and dedication, but it can also shatter the romantic mystic that a photographer’s eyes are superhuman.
Although I offer below a few of my own digital contact sheets of my current work, I do so with much reservation still, and I have given thorough consideration as to which sheet containing which sequence of frames to reveal. The thought of my follies and mistakes becoming publicly disseminated disturbs me greatly, but at the same time, I must own up the fact that I am only human. As you view the following (carefully selected) previews of the works to come in the near future, I ask of you to please do so gently.
All images © K. Dao Photography 2014, all rights reserved.