‘F/8 and be there’

A collection of spot news images
An aerial tanker drops a load of fire retardant on a fire at Mount Pisgah southeast of Eugene during fire season in 2019.

The quote above, attributed to Arthur Fellig, better known as Weegee, likely apocryphally, is a popular expression among photographers of my era to acknowledge the role of presence in capturing a news picture.

It is a bit of a joke as well.

While an f-stop of eight is a good general-purpose aperture choice — yielding satisfactory results under a variety of circumstances — the quip overlooks a host of other factors that play important roles as well.

Every situation is dynamic. Capturing a successful news photograph requires expertise, wits, reflexes, nerve and luck. Somedays you get the bear, somedays the bear gets you.

Here are a few of my favorites.

Chris Pietsch is the director of photography for Gannett Newspapers in Oregon, The Register-Guard in Eugene and the Statesman Journal in Salem.

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