Driving to Distraction

The Gallup city council is looking into a possibe ban of using cellular telephones while driving, much the way that Santa Fe and Albuquerque have done. What seemed like a simple assignment took some creative problem solving to shoot. The assignment sheet said simply: "People talking on cell phones while driving."

Shouldbe easy. I'll just head out and find a busy intersection, stand around and watch for a driver on the phone. Easier said than done. I was amazed at the number of vehicles with windows tinted so dark that there is vistually no way to see inside the vehicle, let alone make a photo of a driver on the phone. A few cars drove by with their windows down and drivers on the phone, but by this point I had another issue keeping me from taking the photos.

I am going to speculate that this gentleman was inebriated, as I could only comprehend about 1/3 of what he said, and after telling me he was a Vietnam vet, doing two tours of duty in the special forces he grabbed my arm and shoulder to steady himself from keeling over. He righted himself, but continued to hang on to my arm for balance. Not really a huge issue, he wasn't trying to be a problem, and he certainly wasn't hurting me, but wouldn't you know it - just then I saw three cars, one behind the next, with windows down and drivers on the phone.

Soon it was time for me to head off to my softball game, and the light was failing fast by the time I was done. Fortunately I had been thinking about an alternative way to illustrate the cellular phone story, and with the help of fellow staff photographer Brian Leddy, I made the following images:

I prefer the top image overall, as it has some nice reds in it, but the fingers have a hot spot from the flash which bothers me. The lower image has better exposure on the hands, but none of the nice color in the windshield.

The actualy execution of the images was pretty simple. I sat in the back seat while Brian drove. I put on my 12-24mm Tokina lens on a ikon D80 camera with an SC-17 off-camera flash cord connected to an SB-800 flash. To keep the flash focused on just the telephone and hand I placed a gridspot on the front of the flash. Then I experimented to get an ambient exposure on the windshield that I liked and started shooting.
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