Black Friday – Humans Behaving Badly

We are the most compassionate country on the face of this planet. There are those who would think that a bold statement; however, when you consider worldwide contributions in the form of relief efforts and international aid, obviously there is not a more giving country anywhere on Earth. With that said, we also own the distinction of being the most materialistic society on the globe.It seems that we are also incapable of learning from the mistakes of past behaviors because we see this lunacy every holiday season. A Walmart employee in New York was crushed to death early Friday morning when crazed shoppers were so eager to get inside the store that they ripped the doors off the hinges, stampeding the employee and other employees coming to his aid, in the process.In a separate incident at a Toys-R-Us in Southern California, two men shot each other to death after the women they were accompanied by began to fight near the checkout lanes. According to Toys-R-Us officials, as well as the Associated Press, the incident in Southern California was not related to Black Friday, but the tragic result of a personal dispute between the parties involved. This is pure conjecture on my part, but I have to wonder if that dispute originated over a particular toy. Stranger things have happened.Apparently, we have become so de-sensitized to violence and equally indifferent to human behavior that the underlying issues have largely been ignored. On the surface, these were two unrelated and completely unnecessary human tragedies. While the deaths of these three individuals are disturbing enough, there are some profoundly disturbing issues at the root of both incidents.In published reports that I have seen involving the Walmart incident, it was reported that when the store announced that it was closed as a result of the employee’s death, the reaction of some shoppers in the store was stunning. Some customers angrily proclaimed “I’ve been in line since yesterday,” and continued their search for holiday bargains, seemingly undeterred by the senseless tragedy that many of them had a hand in.Have we lost our collective minds? Who in hell carries a gun into a Toys-R-Us? Obviously, some folks do; and now, two men (presumably with families) are dead. Christmas is less than a month away and there are three more families that will spend theirs grieving instead of celebrating as the result of a mindless act of violence and a bizarre accident.Walmart may not be found liable in this instance; although, there were certainly some measures that could have been taken prior to opening the store. Some sort of crowd assessment could have been helpful in avoiding this horrible tragedy.From a legal standpoint (I’m not an attorney), I’m not sure if Walmart is liable or not. They run a very aggressive marketing campaign prior to Black Friday, as do many other major retailers, in anticipation of the busiest shopping day of the year. It is incredibly unfortunate that they underestimated shopper turnout. There is still the issue of humans behaving badly. Have we become so animalistic in our material pursuits that human life is of no consequence?If that’s the case, we are in serious trouble people.

Nikon D7000, Depth of Field

I shoot a majority of my photography using Aperture Priority, and my number one concern beyond how to frame the shot is what depth of field to use. Depth of field can be critical in telling a story. If I want to create a portrait with a blurry background, I use a large or open aperture, such as f/1.2–2.8, to create what we call a shallow depth of field, meaning an in-focus foreground with a blurry background (Figure 9.1). If I’m shooting a landscape and the whole scene needs to be sharp, then I’ll use a smaller or less open aperture, such as f/16, to ensure sharpness.

Here I wanted to focus in on Smokey’s eyes, so I used a large aperture (f/1.4) to create a shallow depth of field—notice how everything other than the focal point (his eyes) is blurry.
Figure 9.1 Here I wanted to focus in on Smokey’s eyes, so I used a large aperture (f/1.4) to create a shallow depth of field—notice how everything other than the focal point (his eyes) is blurry.

Occasionally a greater depth of field is required to maintain a sharp focus across a farther distance. This might be due to the sheer depth of your subject, where you have objects that are near the camera but sharpness is desired at a greater distance as well (Figure 9.2).

Or perhaps you are photographing a reflection. With a shallow depth of field, I could only get the reflected mountains and the mirror in focus. By making the aperture smaller, you will be able to maintain acceptable sharpness in both the subject and the reflection (Figure 9.3).

Typically we want landscape photos to be very sharp, so use a tripod and shoot at a very small aperture to allow for maximum clarity.
Figure 9.2 Typically we want landscape photos to be very sharp, so use a tripod and shoot at a very small aperture to allow for maximum clarity.
Getting a distant subject in focus in a reflection, along with the reflective surface, requires a small aperture. Keep an eye out for opportunities like this—these are always fun and creative shots.
Figure 9.3 Getting a distant subject in focus in a reflection, along with the reflective surface, requires a small aperture. Keep an eye out for opportunities like this—these are always fun and creative shots.

Photographing Reflections

A mirror is a two-dimensional surface, so why do I have to focus at a different distance for the image in the mirror? The answer is pretty simple, and it has to do with light. When you focus your lens, you are focusing the light being reflected off a surface onto your camera sensor. So if you wanted to focus on the mirror itself, it would be at one distance, but if you wanted to focus on the subject being reflected, you would have to take into account the distance that the object is from the mirror and then to you. Remember that the light from the subject has to travel all the way to the mirror and then to your lens. This is why a smaller aperture can be required when shooting reflected subjects. Sit in your car and take a few shots of objects in the side view mirrors to see what I mean.