#NoFilter: The best 26 photos from the first 6 months of my 365 project

The first six months of my photo project have changed the way I approach photography, both technically and artistically. But there’s more time to talk about that in the next few months. For now, let’s just all enjoy a bunch of photos from 2016.

For those of you just joining me, a quick recap: I’m shooting one photo a day on film. The goal is to photograph my life experiencing Reno and to get the photos displayed in a gallery at the end of it. The project started July 1, 2016 and will end June 30, 2017. Here’s a link to the #NoFilter blog tag to read more.

There are only 26 out of 216 pictures here. Think of what you’re missing out on.

Best of 2016

Lighting lessons you can learn at monster truck rallies

First rule of photography, always shoot in RAW, don’t be lazy


So I broke the first rule (that I totally just made up), and shot in JPEG for the Octane Fest Monster Truck Spring Nationals in Fallon, Nev. June 13. What happened because of that? I lost my ability to color correct these images to a perfect white balance, because JPEG just doesn’t allow for that. So what did I learn? Science.

Time Flys Monster Truck

Notice the color shift? Photo by Mike Higdon

This GIF is the most obvious if you look carefully. The color cast rotates between violet and green. This comes from inexpensive fluorescent bleacher lighting and American AC electricity. Power to the light comes in alternative waves (a sine wave) and on one side of the wave you get green and the other side you get violet. With a high-speed shutter such that can capture this monster truck’s high-speed spin, you will also catch that sine wave because it takes 1/60th of a second to shift from one to the other. If I had shot at 1/60th shutter speed it would’ve been white but then the truck would be a blurry mess. And in JPEG, you can’t really fix the color as well (it was way worse than what you see here). Source.


But enough about science, here’s some cool monster truck show pics





Illuminati Ball on black and white film

I spend so much time in a digital world, particularly in my job at Swift Communications managing technology, that sometimes it feels good to step into another world. For the first Reno Illuminati Ball, I brought my Minolta X-570 film camera to Reno Provisions to shoot the event, for myself, on black and white film.

I wanted to capture the candid, up-close shots of people’s faces or in this case, their masked faces. I particularly love the shots of people breaking out of character to check their smartphones. It kind of proves the point I was trying to make by bringing an analog camera. The best irony is that I attended an event hosted by Reno Instagrammies and used the slowest form of photography possible. It took three weeks to receive the developed prints.

The event environment and camera presented some interesting challenges. I knew the event would be incredibly dark and the costumes colorful. Nonetheless, I chose the black and white film for two reasons, both practical and accidental. Practically, I wanted to eliminate the distraction of color and focus on faces. Accidentally, Gordon’s Photo Store only had 3200 ISO film in black and white and not color.

Another challenge came from the camera and flash combo. The camera has an internal light meter, just like modern DSLRs, and allows you to set the film up to 3200 ISO. However, the flash meter only meters up to 1000 ISO. This meant the two devices wouldn’t communicate with each other very well. Nonetheless, I shot wide open on a 50mm f/1.7 lens, set the flash to auto distance, pointed it at the ceiling and hoped for the best.

I really enjoyed what I got. The scans, unfortunately, are pretty low res and add a lot more grain to the digital images than what appears on the nice, creamy prints.

The Great Reno Whiskey Hunt

In September 2014, I worked with Yelp community editor Michael Tragash to create the Great Reno Whiskey Hunt. Michael had the idea of approaching the Boys & Girls Club and Southern Wine and Spirits to partner with their event, Barrels & Bites. The idea was to create a city-wide game where people would visit seven different bars and collect seven different whiskey collector cards to spell the word WHISKEY. If you could collect all seven in three weeks, they could get into Barrels & Bites for free.

So, only having four weeks to set this all up, I set out to create the WHISKEY cards below. Overall it was a huge success. About 100 people played the game, meaning each bar went through an entire case of whiskey. Boys & Girls Club, Southern Wine, Michael, the bars and I were all pretty happy with the results.

The WHISKEY cards were designed to mock their specific whiskey bottles and used actual elements from the brand when possible. In the second gallery you can see them next to their bottles for better examples. You’ll note the final versions in the first gallery are a little different than the promotional pictures.




WHISKEY cards with their bottles

The Nevada Sagebrush news design

In college I worked at the Nevada Sagebrush, the student newspaper. I started out as A&E editor then moved into the Design Editor position. While there, I created a lot of really fun, uninhibited work. In each example below, I worked with photographers and writers to create the best design package. In many of the examples, such as Looking Inside Nevada Baseball, I chopped the baseball gear up, took the photos and laid out the section. With The Manliest Man Alive, I did the interview with Chuck Norris and used hand out art to create a two page story.