Going Down to Georgia

Athens Rocks painted on a colorful fire hydrant.
SONY f/3.5, 1/125 sec, ISO-1600

Welcome to Athens! For my first time visiting Georgia, I didn’t realize that Athens was an hour and a half away from Atlanta, but after the plane ride and a two-hour shuttle, I made it to the University of Georgia. This is where my UPAA Symposium conference was for the week. Located in downtown Athens, the university was a hilly area with many picturesque spots. I can see why this was chosen for the photography conference.

The top image was a random hydrant we found when walking around. Thought it was an excellent reflection of how downtown Athens felt.

Georgia Theatre sign
SONY f/2.8, 1/1000 sec, ISO-800

The Georgia nightlife was rocking, and after a few days at the conference, we finally did a thorough look at the nightlife for ourselves on a Thursday night. The downtown was colorful and lit up, giving an excellent backdrop for photos. It was the perfect ambiance for young college students with an active downtown nightlife.

Girls smiling at a selfie camera.
SONY f/1.8, 1/200 sec, ISO-6400

Gave me a great chance to practice more of my street photography in a lively downtown. The photo above was in a bar called the Church that was created after a nun left the convent and came down to Athens. Inside, these girls were taking photographs in the photo booth. With the pink lighting and some fun expressions, I lined up the photo for a great snapshot.

I had the 85 Zeiss lens on my Sony A7riii, so I could aim for some low light by not sacrificing a low shutter speed. Taking the lens down to F/1.8, I had to hold very still and aim my focus at the correct spot.

Football Player tossing ball around.
SONY f/4.5, 1/500 sec, ISO-800

Aside from the downtown nightlife, the conference had a lot of great photo opportunities at our workshops. One day, we were able to learn from Kevin Liles about sports photography. He had a UGA football player modeling at an empty Sanford Stadium. Focusing on him tossing the football around, I took a series of photos and landed one with the UGA logo straight on the football.

We also were able to visit the locker room, and it was gorgeously lit.

University of Georgia Bulldogs jerseys
SONY f/3.5, 1/160 sec, ISO-3200

During the photography conference, we had our Nikon Shootout. The annual competition was to see if we could produce a photo in-camera, with no editing. My entry below was the first one. I’ve since edited it, but imagine this photo with less color and some shadows in the middle of the bikers.

Bikers coming down the road in downtown Athens.
SONY f/3.2, 1/1250 sec, ISO-1000

Most of my photos that night were a lot of action photos. I was low for this photo, at the slowest stoplight in all of Athens. I crouched down and checked my settings as they waited for the light to turn green. As they took off, I focused on the first wheel in the middle while lining the background up with the top of the stoplight.

A guy skateboarding and high-fiving his friend.
SONY f/3.2, 1/320 sec, ISO-1000

The next photo above was a random guy who told me I had a great smile. This opened the opportunity to ask him if he’d help me with a photo. The rules didn’t say we couldn’t stage the photos, so I did just that. I asked him if he could ride his skateboard toward me, but it wasn’t enough. So I asked him to high-five his friend, who was also in the pink hat. I lined up the lights in the background and focused on her hand that was already out. Everything lined up, and the focus stayed on their hands and his face for a fun action photo.

I almost entered this photo, but it was too dark for me when I saw it. I edited the darkness out and adjusted the shadows and highlights to make the subjects pop.

Busy restaurant in downtown Athens called The Place.
SONY f/1.4, 1/500 sec, ISO-10000

The last photo I tried taking at a restaurant called The Place with my 35mm lens. It was a spur of the moment, and the lighting was a glowing yellow in the place. Luckily the young woman looked up, which made the photo come together. The place was very homey, and there was a lot of activity.

The last picture was during the previous day I’d be in Athens. Friends had a Graphix camera with them, and we’re testing it out by focusing on me. While they were setting this up, I took out my camera and pointed at the lens to pull the focus there. The others leaning over his shoulder made for a great candid photo.

Old camera left in focus.
SONY f/1.8, 1/500 sec, ISO-400

These are only a few photos from my time in Athens. Every day was a new adventure, and I haven’t even mentioned the other conference classes and activities I was able to participate in. It was a nice break from the real world, but I’m back in Texas, refreshed and ready to implement all the things I learned.