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Archive for April, 2010

I Can’t Believe I Just Said That….

Apr 29

In Tours at 9:31pm


You gotta stay loose and have fun, right? So does your subject. We had a great day in Denver Wednesday, doing a Kelby Lighting Tour stop there. Had a great audience, and two terrific folks to work with on stage, in Solomon and Lindsey.

Except that Lindsey was a bit nervous. Can’t say as I blame her. She’s up there in front of 700 people with a photog she had met precisely 10 minutes prior to taking her picture. And, trust me, my first efforts didn’t exactly inspire confidence. But we got it going after a few frames, and that magnificent smile of her’s flipped on like a searchlight at a movie premier.  I think I had something to do with that, ’cause back at the lens I tend to keep up a non stop stream of consciousness babble that ranges from mildly amusing to outright idiotic to veering close to legally actionable.

We gotta do that, right? I mean, here we ask our subjects to go along with us on what could be a long walk off a short pier, an adventure, in other words, so we in turn have to be adventuresome as well. I think the key part of that word is “venture.” We have to venture, to risk. We have to make a bridge. We have to create a comfort zone in front of the lens, a place which for many, many folks is very much just the opposite. Face it, lots of people would rather have their teeth drilled without novocaine than have their picture taken, especially publicly, with every frame going up on giant screens.

Lindsey, of course, needn’t have worried. With a face and smile like that, she made my job super easy, aand she was really patient with my antics to boot.

Solomon was great, too. Easygoing and amiable, he was also physically confident, which made him a magnet for the lens. (I’d be confident, too, if I looked like that.)

But alas, I am not as physically gifted or confident as Solomon. Quite evidently.


I never ask my subjects to do that which wouldn’t. Also, I occasionally try to play a bit of “simon sez” with them, by showing them exactly, or, in this case, a very ballpark approximation of what I would like them to do for my camera. Sigh. Perhaps I should change the title of this blog to, “I Can’t Believe I Just Did That in Front of 700 People.”


Solomon’s definitely got more hang time than I do. Perhaps that is because he doesn’t have a buttocks that is the weight and density of an anvil. Wild guess on my part.

Here he is, in a quieter moment.


Tech notes on the pix:

Beauty shots of Lindsey…Two Quadra units, one high, one low, both on c-stands. Overhead the Quadra head is in a deep Octa, a really nice, rich light shaper. Just under her face, in front of her, the other Quadra is into a smaller Octa, and it is running about minus one stop from the overhead, or main light. Pretty straight up, classic beauty light combo. Behind her head is an SB900 running on SU-4 mode, about 1/4 power, with dome diffuser still on the flash.

The, uh, leaping pix. Me, one Ranger unit with a long throw reflector from the back of the room. Solomon, one SB900 unit from about 50′. Zoomed to 200mm. No diffuser. That’s it. One light, far away.

Last, Solomon on black. Two 3×6 Lastolite panels, each with 2 SB900 units firing into them. He is much closer to the camera right panel, hence it is the main or dominant light. Very smooth light, due to the size of the panels, and his proximity to them. Shot at f11.

FYI: Drew found a way to make the pix bigger on the blog, if you just click on them, they will enlarge. More tk….

Excess Baggage…

Apr 28

In Rambling at 8:09am


Drew with his Iphone. Me, on the appropriately described baggage rack. Denver stop, Kelby Lighting Seminar. More tk….

Driving To Slovenia….

Apr 20

In history, Thoughts at 2:46am


Working in Europe, under a giant umbrella of volcanic ash. No fly time now. Just as well. I’d rather drive just about anywhere than fly. Except home, of course. Gotta fly home, and pretty soon, so hoping for a wind shift, or maybe one of those movie special effects deals where all of sudden the volcano goes into reverse gear and sucks back down what it just threw up.

Working with Nikon Europe and a bunch of Annie’s extraordinary colleagues over here. What started small in Copenhagen 4 years ago has become a barnstorming tour, with stops in a various cities across Europe, particularly, this year, in Germany. Yasuo Baba, the manager of NPS Germany, and a complete, total force of nature,  has put together a terrific itinerary that has us in Switzerland, Austria, Slovenia, as well as 6 stops in Germany. Somehow, through his efforts, every place we show up, there’s ballerinas and body builders.

Just crossed into Austria. Gonna be a while before we hit Ljubljana. Darkness closing in. Domen and Rene up front sharing the driving. Young guys, they are, somewhat oddly, into 80’s music. Dire Straits through the speakers. Annie eating gummi bears.

People across the board have been wonderful at the various stops. Meeting photogs from the commercial world, newspaper guys, wedding shooters, you name it. Playing with light and shooting stuff. Talking gear, the language we all understand.

Years ago, my first foray out of the US sent me to England. I was a student, and my photography professor, Fred Demarest, urged me to come over and mix chemistry for the Syracuse London photo program. I got 9 free graduate credits, and 5 pounds a week.

I jumped on it. Got myself a cold water flat with a shower down the hall in Parsons Green, south of the Thames, for six pounds fifty a week. Ran the lab, shot stuff at Speakers’ Corner, looked at lots of pictures. Went to the London Royal Photographic Society, where they had a show of Gene Smith’s work. Went back six or seven times.

Ate at the original, and at that time, the only, Hard Rock Café. Played basketball for a semi-pro team called London Amber. Had a blast. Starting five was a crazy Ozzie, me, and some terrific English blokes, one of whom was a chauffeur during the day. For a road trip, he could stuff the whole team into his massive limo. Played some pretty basic gyms, lacking, uh, amenities. Jesus, that car stank after a game.

Went to sea. Wandered up to Lowestoft, the eastmost tip of England, and signed onto to a fishing trawler named the Boston Shackleton for a two week stint in the North Sea. In November. On board, they called me “Hank the Yank” and made fun of the fact I had to hang on to stand up. Couple of them piped down a bit after I climbed the mast, which most of the crew wouldn’t do. Fun up there, a seaborne roller coaster, complete with salt spray.

Nighttime on the the Dogger, as some fishermen liked to call the North Sea, is particularly, deeply black. The wheelhouse was like a cocoon. Outside the sea circled the boat like a powerful snake, waves coiling and uncoiling. Wind sharp as a thrown knife. Inside, the glow of instruments, and the smell of strong tea.

Thirty five years and nearly 60 countries later, still at sea. Still love staring at darkness, slipping by. Still love the uncertainty of photography. Still love the fact that it kicks my ass. Nowadays, love knowing that all those millions of pixels, hot wired for color and speed, are still blind without the eye of a shooter pointing them the right way. Still love that my imagination precludes the possibility that I will ever grow up.

Still love the passport stamps, and the fact that each one means a connection made, a culture observed. Lessons learned. People met. Bridges, however temporary and fragile, made. Never get tired of the sound of a shutter. Never tire of nights like these, especially now that I share them with Annie. Here in the dark, asleep now, listening to her breathe.

Ljubljana still couple hours away. It’s okay. They can drive slower if they want. More tk….

Dusseldorf Diaries

Apr 16

In In The Field at 1:23am

In Germany now, rotating to various cities on the 4th edition of Nikon Europe’s “Speed of Light” tour. Lotta fun, great people.

Worked the other day at Brabus, who design, engineer, and re-tool cars that sell for over a half million dollars. Yikes. In the showroom, they had a huge curtain made basically of strings. In the distance was a white wall. Hmmm…..


One SB900, about 80 feet away. Raw light, nothing fancy. Warm gel. Part the curtains, enter Eva. Blog’s a little light this week. Traveling like crazy, and meeting some book deadlines. More tk….

Tri-Grip Thief Strikes in Florida….

Apr 12

In News at 6:36am


According to police reports stemming from the well attended NAPP (National Association of PhotoShop Professionals) Convention in Orlando, Florida, this man, David Ziser, shown above, has allegedly not returned a  Tri-grip “borrowed” during the event to its’ rightful owner. The owner has duly reported it to authorities as theft. Ziser, a well known wedding photographer from the little town of Edgewood, Ky., has apparently left Florida.

Joe McNally, the owner and operator of the tri-grip, was too emotionally distraught to speak directly with reporters, and simply offered this statement via an intermediary. “I have a few of them, but that one was my favorite. I used it to fan Michelle Pfeiffer. The gold reflective side still had baby oil on it from a Maxim shoot. I mean, I could get another, but honestly, I feel like some of my memories have been torn away.”

Drew Gurian, who is, according to police, “close to the situation,” spoke with the crush of media outside Orlando Police Headquarters. “I really sympathize with Joe, frankly. This is no small thing. He loved that tri-grip. He made some of his best pictures with it. There was this time, during an annual report for a band camp, he used diffusion to take the edge off the highlight on a tuba hoop. It was a moment that the job could have gone either way. And Joe saved it with that move, and that tri-grip.”

Back in the individual’s home town, people are coming forward. Neighbor Betsy Loopenwhopper stated flatly, “I knew all that squeaky clean, Mr. Nice Guy Wedding Photog stuff was too good to be true. There was something off. I mean, anybody who actually cuts the grass wearing a suit and tie is just flat out weird.”

Some feel it is a marketing ploy, plain and simple. Ziser, originator of the popular “Zumbrella” light shaping tool, may have economic goals in mind.

“Definitely, ” said RC Concepcion, who claims to know both parties. “He thinks that if he deprives Joe of his Tri-.grip, Joe will have to resort to a Zumbrella on his next job. I don’t see that happening, but it might.”

Likewise, Scott Kelby, President of NAPP, said, “A few weeks back, we had a couple of strobes, and some spot grids go missing from NAPP’s photo studio. David hadn’t been there in a while, and nobody actually saw him with the strobes, but…you just kinda knew it was him. He’s slippery like that.”

Ziser and his wife LaDawn, whom authorities have described as a “person of interest,” have yet to surface. Unconfirmed reports indicate they are in Mexico, where one of the poolside attendants at an unnamed luxury resort described a woman matching LaDawn Ziser’s description cooling her self with a “extremely large and unusual fan, gold on one side, white on the other.”

Most, though, feel there is no nefarious intent on the part of Ziser. In fact, some feel he may just be swept up in the euphoria of the success of his new book, Captured by the Light. Dr. Otto Focus, of the PsychoNeurotic Institute for Anxious Photographers (a division of the PsychoNeurotic Institute for the Very, Very Nervous) feels this is unquestionably the case. “Mr. Ziser says it himself, in the title of the book. ‘ He is “captured by the light.’ He obviously feels that he has this kinship with light, a direct line of communication to all things luminous. This will pass.”


Meanwhile, McNally remains in Connecticut, hoping Ziser will reach out to him. “Maybe if he sent me, like, a dozen zumbrellas. I’d feel better.” More tk….