The lens and the law

Photo courtesy of Cam Getto

Attorney enjoys capturing images around Michigan

By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Attorney Cameron Getto followed his father into the law and behind the lens.

“My father, David Getto, who is also an attorney, interested me in photography at a very young age,” he says. “He was prolific at first in black-and-white photography and later color.”

As a boy, Getto enjoyed helping his father in the darkroom, using a lightproof bag to protect film when taking it out of the canister. An overhead light had a special filter, allowing father and son to see what they were doing under the enlarger without ruining the exposure. 

“Back then, taking pictures involved a lot more time, because the trial and error aspect could take days,” Getto notes. “When I would help my dad develop in his darkroom, if the shot was overexposed, we were stuck with it. If there was a fleck of dirt or fingerprint on the lens, we were stuck with it.

“Today, with digital photography, you can take the shot, see it, and make an immediate adjustment with the camera’s parameters, re-framing the shot, or shooting from another perspective to fix any problems.”

A shutterbug since sixth grade, Getto enjoyed taking his own photos, with his father’s camera, and one supplied by his school. But later, when he realized that getting great results meant taking reams of photos — an expensive prospect in the days of 35mm film — he wandered away from photography for more than two decades.

Then digital became king.

A few years ago, Getto purchased an iPhone and started capturing images; and also purchased his first “real” camera, a Panasonic Lumix G5, a micro 4/3-format camera, with multiple lenses and multiple filters. Photomatix is his main editing software for blending different exposures and most of the finishing touches are done by Lightroom or Paintshop Pro.
 He also uses an iPhone 6 plus with Olloclip lenses, and mostly uses Darkroom to edit, but also has used Camera+, AvgCamPro, AvgNiteCam (for low light shots) and Enlight.

 Getto enjoys the challenge of creating a photograph of something extraordinary that looks as close as possible to what he sees with his own eyes. 

“When any single photo is taken, the exposure is averaged — this causes the majority of the photo to be correctly exposed, but often the bright parts of the photo are overexposed while the dark parts are underexposed,” he explains.

“Our eyes are much more dynamic. Our perception of an image automatically tends to lighten the dark parts and darken the lighter parts, allowing us to perceive a more balanced image than most single exposures can capture.”

Getto uses multiple exposures (also known as auto-bracketing) and specialized software to blend the images, using parts of the higher exposures to bring up the dark portions, and parts of the lower exposures to bring down the lighter portions.

An attorney with Zausmer, August, & Caldwell PC in Farmington Hills, Getto has a statewide practice that takes him to every corner of Michigan, from Escanaba, Houghton and Sault Ste. Marie, to Traverse City, Gaylord, Grayling, Grand Rapids, St. Joseph, Ludington, and Jackson, as well as Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties, and his home county of Washtenaw.

“Many of my shots were taken on the way to or back from court or some other event in the course of a case,” he says.  “I keep my camera bag in the car, so it’s always with me. I always have my iPhone with me as well.”

Although he travels frequently all over the U.S. to take photos, Getto finds Michigan is one of the visually richest states. 

“Taking good photographs is a lot easier when I seek out things I can’t take a bad picture of,” he says, citing the Ludington Breakwater or Grand Haven Pier locked in ice in the dead of winter. 

“Detroit is a stunning subject, whether photographed from Windsor at sunset or from the roof of Cobo Hall in the morning. The historic Mason Courthouse just south of Lansing is beautiful in the morning light. There is a series of bales of straw I shot in some open fields less than a half-hour west of Lansing while returning from taking depositions in Grand Rapids,” he says. 

“Grand Rapids is full of exceptionally vibrant subjects that include my ArtPrize exhibit last year as well as an abundance of architectural and artistic subjects. Its river and bridges, along with other open spaces provide urban perspectives that many cities don’t offer.”

Getto’s entry in the 2014 Grand Rapids ArtPrize exhibit emerged from a single impulsive iPhone shot of the reflection of the McKay Building in downtown Grand Rapids. While leaving the courthouse on a cold winter day, he walked by the reflection. 

“I took my gloves off just long enough to get a shot — it was cold,” he says.     

A few months later, he was back in Grand Rapids on a day with deep blue skies and exceptionally photogenic clouds. Armed with his Panasonic Lumix G5, he spent an hour shooting the reflection from multiple angles. The series of shots became the genesis of the ArtPrize project, and made up about one-third of the images.

Some time later, Getto participated in a facilitative mediation with Bill Jack of Smith, Haughey, Rice, and Roegge who invited him to have lunch on the roof deck of the building.

“As soon as I saw the new and unique perspective of the McKay Building’s reflection, I ran out to my car, grabbed the camera, and obtained a new series of photos that made up the second third of the images,” Getto says. 

“I showed Bill my earlier shots, and he encouraged me to enter ArtPrize — which I initially laughed off, but the seed was planted.”

Getto returned to the area with his family on a personal trip and obtained some sunrise shots to complete the project.

Most of Getto’s ArtPrize exhibit is mounted on his office wall, along with photos of Red Rock in Colorado, Watson Lake and the Sedona Valley in Arizona, and Detroit from Windsor. He also shot a number of the photos on the firm’s website.

“Colleagues and clients alike have asked for framed photos, and I’m happy to accommodate,” he says.

Getto’s primary medium for public display is Instagram (user name @cambolah), where he has several hundred followers. His web page at displays favorite photos, and he is updating the site to include photos from a June visit to the Grand Tetons with his father.

Getto finds photography is a great way to unwind from legal work.

“I can think of no better way to clear my mind and take a break from the rigors and demands of providing my clients the quality of representation they deserve,” he says.

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