Thankfully, this year will start pretty much the way last year did–with the Digital Landscape Workshop Series in the cold of Yellowstone Park. It is magnificent. Hell, even I got a couple of decent landscapes, but that was mostly cause I went over and stood by Moose.These jaunts are terrific for me, cause I get to brush up on my wildlife biology. Did you know bison use their overlarge head as a snowplow in winter months to push aside the surface snow and get to the vegetation underneath?
Actually, me in the wild is ridiculous. I can spot a creep or a weirdo three cars away on the NYC subway, but out there I’m frikkin’ clueless. I looked up last year and the whole staff was waving at me, desperately gesturing. A bison had walked up behind me and was close enough to pick my pocket. This horned beast bigger than a mini-van just strolled up beside me while I was like, checking my white balance or blowing my nose or doing some other nerdy, East Coast, big city, pansy ass flatlander bullshit . Thankfully, he was uninterested, probably cause I had been wearing my snow pants constantly for about three days and smelled bad. After he walked past, I looked out at Moose, standing on the road. He just closed his eyes and shook his head.
I’m looking forward to it. Maybe we’ll have the same driver! I tell ya, wheeling around in a six ton snowcat with somebody as psychologically brittle as the ice in the trees adds zest to the day. We had a couple brothers out with us last year who were both docs, and they sat directly behind me. After one particularly harrowing slide around the back roads, complete with narration, I must have looked very worried cause one of ’em reached around and patted me on the shoulder and said, “Don’t worry, Joe, we’ve got the hypodermic ready.” I hope they signed up again.
Hey, how about that Kelby guy? Has he got connections or what??!! A custom made Nikkor 14-24 f2.8 lens with VR! Talk about having your cake and being able to hold it steady while you eat it!
Scott was joking around of course, and the lens don’t exist, but some folks kinda took the news and ran with it. It re-convinced me of a couple of things….A) the power and reach of Scott’s voice in this industry, and…B) the passion folks have out there for digital photography. Pretty cool. Got me to thinking.
If I could custom design a camera, what would I put in there?
First, it would be called the D3Z Transformer model, or something like that. It would have the voice of Optimus Prime and at the start of each shoot, his rich, reasonable, impassioned baritone would beseech the subject: “Give this worthy photographer time and access to do his good work upon which the fate of many hangs.”
I mean, who wouldn’t listen? If they didn’t you could switch to “Vader Mode” and the camera would start to emit aqualung type noises. A far more sinister voice would then intone: “I find your lack of enthusiasm disturbing.” The camera would then send out some sort of sonic infrared radio signal that would constrict the subject’s air passages. I mean, they figured out how to send flash exposure information wrapped around light frequencies, surely they could figure this out. Talk about useful technology.
It would haveâ€”Custom Menu Function M3â€”This is the “NOT THAT LENS, ASSHOLE!” custom function that activates automatically whenever you are about to make an irretrievably stupid lens choice. I would hear this often.
It would definitely have “The Moose Peterson Move.” This would cause the camera to stop and make a beautiful picture out of something you just walked past and didn’t see.
I would attach the blinking highlight warning to an air raid siren.
The grip on the camera would be wired to read my pulse and blood pressure, and it would also have audio sensitivity so that my muttered utterances which currently simply bounce quietly off the lcd and disappear unrecorded into the air are actually duly noted and metered for stress in my voice patterns. If my pulse or BP spikes, or I complain too much about the situation, the light, the time, the fee, or my own ineptitude, a voice from deep within the camera quietly but firmly says, “Remember Joe, you said yes.” Thus admonished, I continue to shoot.
It would have a very selective function button called the “Celebrity Tool.” You could only apply it to certain subjects who have, you know, potential. This would lighten and coif the hair, maybe trim a few pounds, smooth out the skin, automatically turn the photo vertical and slap some appropriate tabloid magazine logo on it, like, you know, “Starrzz with Buzzz!” In a sub-menu of this move would be a variety of add-on or design options:
Insertion of an incredibly cute puppy.
Selection of splashy, eye grabbing pull quotes, such as…”____Speaks! I’m Still Pissed!” Or, “Available Now! Space in My Womb!” Or perhaps an inflamed admission: “_____to _____ : It’s The Bodyguard’s Baby!” Thus packaged, it would then be dispatched wirelessly to your agent who could possibly pass this person off as “the next big thing.”
Right next to the RGB selector in the new color menu would be an autofocus mode called GWB…means the camera will focus on nothing.
I would also request a sports version of this highly advanced picture making machine that would include:
Custom Function “Brett Favre” -An auto function. Whenever you make a good frame, the camera runs around and slaps you on the butt, shouting “Way to Go!” Being whacked on the ass is vastly preferable to what is generally happening back there to most photographers in the current business climate.
The “Plaxico Burress Default Mechanism”-This is a locking device that initiates whenever you have it slung over your shoulder, dangling at your hip. It prevents the camera from accidentally shooting your leg. (Good thing Burress didn’t shoot himself in the ass, he’d have brain damage on top of everything else.)
Lessee….hey, if you want to start your New Year off right, have a laugh, be photographically enlightened, and look at pictures that leap right out of a very spring loaded imagination, go to Drew Gardner’s website and blog.
As they say in England, positively “mad” not to mention “brilliant.” Drew is based in London, and shoots and teaches everywhere, including good old Maine Photo Workshops and over at GPP in Dubai. He has categories on his site, like “Epic Fashion,” which perfectly describes his approach and invariably involves beautiful women, dangerous men, funky teenagers, all manner of woodland creatures and an entire array of barnyard animals. He also has the audacity to have a category called “eccentrics.” I pinged that and expected a self portrait.
He’s unstinting in dispensing his considerable knowledge, a genius at controlling huge shoots (fashion models and wild animals, what could go wrong?) and a hoot to boot. He’s also a good guy. I know this cause he tolerates my antics when we teach together. Last year in Dubai I tried to light a room by bouncing an SB800 off his bald pate. He was very patient, even though he got a little sunburned when I went to manual 1/1.
Check out the K-Man who almost took the plunge with a bunch of Jersey Polar Bears who ran into the Atlantic Ocean for charity. Cool post, and nice shooting. Photographers. We’re crazy, right? The manual says don’t get the camera wet, and we just don’t listen.
I’m always shooting my own stuff, but might try for some sort of personal project stuff this year, along the lines of Mark Seliger’s pictures in his elevator shaft thing. I’m thinking about, “Pictures from Under my Porch.” There’s a lot goin’ on down there, I tell ya.
I jest of course, though a buddy of mine, Aaron Ansarov, started a project called “In My Backyard” which has taken on a life, literally, of its own and the last news I had, a piece of it might run in the National Geographic. As I always say, the best pix are right there in front of you.
Hope some real good ones will be in front of all of us in 09….