The General

The day after it was officially announced that I would be “voluntarily laid off” at the Lexington Herald-Leader, I received an email from Craig Duff, a multimedia director at Time.com. The timing seemed more than coincidental. My primary profession post-Herald-Leader would be that of photojournalism advisor/coach/cheerleader/pot-washer at the Kentucky Kernel. But to keep my shooting appetite whetted, I plan to ramp up the freelance and work on some selected projects that have been rattling around in my head for some time.

On my to do list among many other things: Start networking the national news outlets – the ones I’ve worked for in the past, and a whole slew of others – to let them know I’m available and looking for some shooting and multimedia work. So imagine my delight at seeing an email from a multimedia director from Time.com. Craig had seen the Turtle Man video that Amy Wilson and I had produced and wanted to talk about it. At the end of his email, he mentioned a possible interest in a piece previewing the Kentucky Derby. Doubly odd about his timing was the fact that I had that very day posted the Keeneland Blossoms video which previewed the spring meet and Keeneland Race Track.

After a brief discussion with Craig, I decided I would attempt a video based on the outcome of the Blue Grass Stakes race at Keeneland. So I spent the day at Keeneland focusing on the favorites. Naturally, they didn’t win. An underdog named General Quarters, owned and trained by Tom McCarthy, won the Blue Grass Stakes and was headed for the Kentucky Derby.

Amy and I interview Mr. McCarthy at Churchill Downs. Photo by Jonathan Palmer

Amy and I interview Mr. McCarthy at Churchill Downs. 70-200 f/2.8 on the 5D Mark II with wireless Sennheiser mic. Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with 2180 fluid head. Photo by Jonathan Palmer

After the race, I made contact with Tom’s son and asked if I could come back for an interview in a couple of days. Three days later, Amy and I were at the stall of General Quarters on the backside of Churchill Downs. We shot Mr. McCarthy working through his regiment with the General, which took about four hours. The horse wasn’t ready to go out to the track that day, so I came back a few days later to shoot the General on the track.

Amy did a great job of writing – as usual. Our goal, whenever we work on a piece together, is to be as complete as we can in the time we have. While our videos tend to be a bit unconventional, I like them for that. As I’ve become more and more accustomed to working with the 5DMKII, I’m realizing why I like it so much. It is allowing me to “see” much the same way I looked at things when shooting stills.

Only now, the photos move.


Some technical stuff about the video:

All shot with the Canon 5D Mark II

70-200 f/2.8 with 1.4 teleconverter

24-105 f/4

300 f/2.8

Interview mic was Sennheiser wireless lav

Ambient sound from the track and bath was recorded with the Sennheiser MKE 400

Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with Gitzo 2180 fluid head

Glidecam 2000 HD steady cam

Really Right Stuff plates allowed quick switching between tripod and steady cam

Neutral density filter

Edited in Final Cut Pro

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One Response to “The General”

  1. Curt Chandler says:

    I’m always the last to know about this stuff. Good luck on your new path. This is a great loss to the Herald-Leader, but a great day for a national audience that hasn’t seen enough of your work — not to mention the lucky students at UK.