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Archive for March, 2009

Hannah at the shore…

Mar 10

In Lighting, Seminars & Workshops at 5:02am

We have a wonderful companion along on this DLWS, Hawaii style. Hannah, 13 years old, is here with her photo enthusiast dad, Richard.

Seeing her here brought memories back of my daughters as dad dragged them along on various photo misadventures. My oldest, Caitlin, went to at least 7 Eddie Adams Workshops. Claire came along with me to China during a photo jaunt for the Beijing Olympic Committee. Their reactions ranged everywhere from eye rolling bored to ecstatic. (“Dad rented a convertible!”)

Being female, they were invariably conditional and measured in their responses and willingness to participate in the miracle of photography as they got older. “Hey, Dad’s got this shoot going at XYZ interesting place! Wanna come along?”

Response: “Maybe.”

Hannah followed suit. “Hey, you wanna help me with this picture?” Her comeback….”Okay. I’m not doing anything else right now.” Okaaayyyy. Now there’s a wild endorsement!

She was a lovely subject, indeed. She arrayed herself on the rocks in the athletic, pliable way that is the province of the youthful (she is an all star basketball player) and let the wind take her hair various places. The light is one SB900 unit, camera left, shot TTL through a Tri-grip diffuser. Tried an umbrella, but that was truly misguided as the sea breeze made short work of it. Drew and I had a mildly hysterical moment as that particular light shaping instrument was turned into a jigsaw puzzle of shredded fabric and twisted metal in about, oh, 10 or 12 seconds.

Shot a few frames, aperture priority, minus 1.3EV on the camera, nothing dialed into the flash. Sweet and easygoing, just like my subject….more tk…..

This Has Been One Long Ass Trip…..

Mar 8

In Seminars & Workshops, Travels at 5:22am

Like Indiana Jones said, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”

I went to Vegas on Feb. 10, fresh as a daisy. Then I placed  the Vegas Casino Forced Indoor Air Mask over my nose and mouth for a week and got soggy, you know, like a 24 hour old bag of MacDonalds fries.  Our first order of business was a Vegas casting. That got the trip off with a bang.

Word musta got out beyond the agencies somehow, cause a couple of these young ladies came by with their, uh, agent, and, uh, well, I looked over at Lynn and asked if she had placed a call to the local Roller Derby. She shook her head “no” vigorously. One of them got out on the seamless and asked if she should pose “like this” with a voice from the deep end of a barbershop quartet. First time I ever saw Drew nervous behind the camera.

Truth be told, there were some lovely young ladies who did show up, some truly talented people, and we were very lucky in our choices.  I was blessed to work with a stunning model out at the Pioneer Saloon, in Jean, Nevada. Great place. Stop by for a beer, or a shot. Actually, that’s all you can stop by for cause they don’t serve food. Got this.

D3X, 14-24mm f2.8 lens, one SB900 out in the parking lot, gelled with a full CTO, and triggered TTL with an SU800 running off of 2 SC29 cords. To sorta borrow a phrase from my bud Martin Prihoda, who runs a terrific workshop called “Big Lights Far Away,” this is “One Small Light, Far Away.”

Smoke is courtesy of a hazer, which I highly recommend over a smoke machine. Smoke machines burp out a big dollop of smoke which you then have to spread out by running through with Tri-grips or flat boards or your winter jacket and flap around like you’re doing an interpretive dance. Hazers just put out a steady, ongoing smog. Think of it as having Dr. Phil on the set with you all day.

Then I drove to Santa Fe. 10 hours, 650 miles. It went quick though, cause about midway some dude in an Escalade with kids in the back just about sucked out my headlights blowing past me and I noticed he had “The Phantom Menace” playing on the ceiling monitors. So just tailgated the shit out of him so I could see the action. I got the dialogue pretty well memorized, so all I needed was the moving pictures. Really made the trip go fast.

Great week in Santa Fe, even with the kebab factor. We tulle’d up Mawgie in what has become my favorite garage in Santa Fe.

Mawgie is the mother of the irrepressible Maddie, who you may remember from an earlier blog.

Then it was onto Vancouver, and thence to Tampa, all the while having DLWS in Hawaii in my sights. (Kept telling myself, “You’ll make it, you’ll make it.”)

Hit the plane, ate a bite and fell asleep over Nebraska (why not?) and woke up about to land in Honolulu. Wheels up again to Kauai and I was in the exit row, so I got the speech, which was slightly more elaborate than I’m used to. I was cautioned…”in the event of a water landing.” Like there’s another kind in the South Pacific?

Then I was told, “Please remove the emergency door and first look outside to assess whether the situation is dangerous.” Hmmm. So. What am I supposed to do if the resounding belly flop the plane just made that was the equivalent of a dinner bell for the local sharks and there’s a bunch of those finned fellas  queued up by the exit door like a bunch of old folks waiting for the Saturday morning Ihop buffet special? Stay inside the sinking plane? Try to distract them by throwing out a bunch of those Bischof cookies?

I think not.

Then she cautioned about the door weighing 41 pounds. “Please throw it away, and don’t hang onto it it. It is not a flotation device.”

No shit. And here I was gonna try surfing with that puppy.

But I made it, and well worth the travail.


I tell ya, you look around, and you never know what you might find. The ever gracious Peterson’s worked out a trip for the DLWS staff to float aimlessly (we’re good at that) through the irrigation canals and tunnels that used to serve Kauai’s massive sugar cane fields. Very cool. So there we were, Moose and I, with our butts screwed into inflatable cheerios, drifting uncontrollably through these hand carved tunnels and waterways. Dueling Coolpix!

Check out catching the flash….couldn’t do that on purpose if my life depended on it. I mean the Coolpix are way cool, but usually you can press the shutter, go out for coffee, walk the dog and wash the car, and come back and the little pocket darling is still making up its mind. DLWS, Hawaii style starts on Sunday. More tk….

Leaving Santa Fe….

Mar 1

In Seminars & Workshops at 4:58am

Leaving a week with a great class….

Home of the amazing Rick…

And the fabulous Freddie…

And former home of the magnificent Mawgie….

Leaving Santa Fe doesn’t quite have the same ring as, Leaving Las Vegas, but there you go. It’s what I’m doing. Wheels up and goodbye to the Land of Enchantment, Sister Moon and Brother Sky. And, this week, we had a visit from Uncle Indigestion.

Now don’t get me wrong. I love teaching at Santa Fe. Reid Callanan and Renie Haiduk have put together a wonderful atmosphere for learning about and teaching photography. Love it down there. Even the cow skulls over the all the fireplaces are growing on me.

I guess I’m just not cut out for Mexican food. And when that south of the border stuff goes wrong….

I had a great class who thrived, learned, and shot great stuff despite half of them being hampered by the aftermath of a visit to one of Santa Fe’s regular Mexican family style restaurants. It was a fun evening to be sure, filled with pixel banter, gregarious waitresses, paint thinner margaritas, and….southwestern food.

Hmmm, good. Green chilies, red chilies, refried beans, black beans, salsa slop, sour cream, taco this and that. Sorry folks, I fail to see the attraction.

The stuff all runs together in the middle, ya know? It congeals into this weird eddy of colors that looks suspiciously like the Cuyahoga River in the fifties. You might remember the Cuyahoga. It was such a pungent mix of effluvia, hospital waste and spilled diesel that it would regularly combust on it’s own and give the fire department the fits. I mean, how do you put out a river fire? More water? Open bottles of Evian and throw them in? Dunno. I lived in Cleveland as a kid, and the flaming Cuyahoga was always in the news. It must have been tough for the folks at the chamber of commerce to spin that positively.

Anyway, my valiant class bull dozed their way through a bunch of intestinal difficulties and found some great stuff to shoot. I told them about being in England as a photo student, and the whole bunch of us eating at the local kebab house down the block. We’d all be printing, and inevitably one of those kebab puppies would get legs and the unfortunate consumer would have to do a Carl Lewis to the john. This would occur so regularly that we developed a code word, which was, quite predictably, “KEBAB!” It would be shouted in the dark, and we all cover up the paper and make way for whomever to dash for the white light.

So, “KEBAB!”  became a bit of a class joke this week. Tough to concentrate at the lens when you feel like you’ve just ingested the equivalent of a welterweight boxer. Jab jab! Poke! Jab! Combination! Then of course the whole deal heads for the exit ramp with the insistence and force of a busted water main. I mean, it’s gotta go somewhere.

Anyway, I digress. In the air. Heading north. Lots of air time on this trip. Great flight attendant. She has one of those knowing looks, you know what I mean? Been in the skies for a while, this one. She gave the seat belt demo with an indulgent smile and a wicked gleam in her eye and for all the world she could have had a neon sign on her forehead that was blinking, “And now for all you complete, utter morons.” Click! She also encouraged us to fasten the belt “low and tight around the waist.”

Not goin’ there, sweetheart. Given the reverb of all that spicy food, I was thinkin’ high and loose, or all those folks on that tiny plane we’re gonna have a problem with me.

Speaking of morons, she had a few on the plane, by the look of it. I got one across from me for sure. We’re on a commuter hopper and he tried to stuff something the size of a hockey bag into the microscopic overhead. It had unzipped pouches at either end of it, and stuff just started pouring out. Watch, cell phone, loose change, Tonka toys, Etch-a-Sketch, you name it. He was wearing a ball cap. Think it said something like, “Did You Get Yours’ Today?”

I had my Ipod on, listening to Bruce Cockburn’s “If I Had a Rocket Launcher.” Had to stifle myself.  Good thing I’ve got Annie’s voice in my head much of the day. “Inside words, honey…..”

More tk……