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Archive for September, 2012

Back and Forth….

Sep 10

In Travels at 6:21am

Lots of air miles lately. Was out at PhotoShop World in Vegas last week, and had a blast. It’s become a bit of a tradition now that, Dr. Russell Brown, the wonderful genius from the planet Post comes by my lighting class in or as his latest incarnation. This one, as he said, resulted from a too energetic use of the burn tool.

His madcap visage was in stark contrast to another subject, Marshal Joe of Bonnie Springs, who is the strong, but not so silent type. Joe, as opposed to the traditionally laconic Southwestern lawmen, is pretty chatty, and always ready with a zinger. That, I suspect, is because he’s not from Bonnie Springs, Nevada. He’s from Brooklyn, New York.

Dr. Brown was photographed with big flash, a Quadra light source to camera left, running through an Elinchrom indirect 53″ softbox. There’s a green (what else?) gelled SB900 behind his head, and another off the white seamless. For the marshal, there is one SB900 to camera right firing through a Lastolite 3×6 panel which he is standing very close to. The light is maneuvered so it is low and scoops under the brim of his hat. Another SB900, in Group C, is very lightly firing into the back wall. Only shot one frame. That’s all the marshal will give ya:-)

We were out at Bonnie Springs on our regular Photo Safari, organized by the legendary Moose “Dances With Clouds” Peterson. Moose ran this amazing session where he lead the class through exactly what he would do when confronted with the array of clouds, light and mountains out there in the desert. Without looking through a camera, he knew all the settings, the composition and then, each and every move he would make in post to bring the scene to life. I tell ya, the guy’s a walking zone system. One of these days, Nikon’s gonna make him a D6 or a D7 with his own custom menu item, M2, called simply, “Moonrise.”

Then, red eye back to New York. Annie picked me up at JFK, and up we went to Cape Cod for the wedding of our niece Katie. What a great way to end the week! Katie and Michael are an amazing young couple, so filled with happiness and love it just overflowed the whole day.

Now, I was not the shooter of record for the wedding. That job was entrusted to the very capable hands of our own Mike Cali, who assembled a terrific trio of shooters. But, neither could Annie or I sit still during this wonderful day, so I just took one lens and wandered to some offbeat angle and looked a little bit. I managed to get a couple moments, including a relatively astonished flower girl, and the ring bearer, relaxing after performing his rigorous duties.

Congratulations from the bottom of our hearts to Katie and Michael, and their families. It was a beautiful day on the Cape. Now, looking at Luminance 2012 in NYC tomorrow, and then Phoenix for Kelby Training on Thursday. Then, a few days off before the fall really starts.

More tk….

A New York Wedding!

Sep 4

In Fun, In The Field at 8:14am

Gene is a good guy, and a good shooter who works at Adorama. He was about to get married, last week, at City Hall in downtown Manhattan. He mentioned to his colleague, Annie, my wife, that he kinda, sorta, needed somebody to take some pictures. Annie made a call.

How could you not shoot a joyous few hours like this? Gene’s bride, Olivia, was radiant and beautiful. Gene himself was so over the top in love I coulda used his bald pate as a Group B kicker light. Sharing this day with them was a great way to start the year. (I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve never gotten off of school schedule. August is always dog days, a reprieve and recharge period. September means back at it.)

The day started early at an East Side hotel. Olivia donned her veil (very proud she had found it for $5) and pulled herself together while Gene clutched the marriage license and engaged in deep breathing exercises. Rings? Check! ID’s? Check! Metro card? Check!

And off we went to the subway.

If New York City were a human body, the subway system would be the veins. They nourish the city by ushering people on a mission to every nook and neighborhood. On a subway car, you hear everything from Swahili to French to German to Farsi to English—the unique, mixed jargon of the underground. Very international, which is to say, quite local, given the fact of New York.

Gene, from Ohio, and Olivia, from Zimbabwe, fit right in, and given their attire, and the fact they had a photog in tow, were warmly received on the six train to City Hall and the courts. As block after block zipped by overhead, the congratulations flowed, and good spirits filled the car. It was such a treat as a shooter. Instead of being greeted with the usual mix of subway suspicion and indifference, punctuated by the occasional growl of annoyance at a flash pop interrupting the morning look at Page Six, I was an honored guest. People suggested shots, and had no problem with me squeezing into a crevice on a bench to get an angle.

We flew to City Hall. And found some light along the way.

Once inside, I found myself in an effervescent swirl of happy humanity, all of them there to simply declare their love of someone. This wasn’t atheist, or Christian, or Jewish, or Buddhist. It didn’t have a color, or a preference. It wasn’t about where you were from. It was about where you were about to go with the person you had just declared your love for.

Now, it’s still a government bureaucracy. You have to stand in lines, take a number, report to windows, have documents checked, and pay a fee. But, given the mission of the folks on those lines, there was none of the irritated clock watching and tense conversations that often occur when the public faces off against an overworked bunch of folks behind a counter. Think of a deliriously happy version of the DMV.

At a civil service like this, with literally hundreds of people waiting to give each other their first married kiss, the ceremonies are short and sweet. You walk in single, and three or four minutes later, you’re married. You walk out to the cheers and clapping of total strangers, who bid you good luck, and then walk in to try their own in a whole new chapter of their lives.

I thank Gene and Olivia for the invite to their wedding day. And Annie, who made the call. She snapped this Iphone shot of Gene last week. I’m sure today, he’s back at his station at Adorama, doing his thing, which he does quite well.

Being part of their nuptials was a great way to start the fall, a breath of cool air to blow out the sogginess of a long summer in the big city. It was also a powerful antidote to our current, roiling season of discontent and politics, announced daily in tiresome headlines that fairly reek of nastiness, exclusion and blame mongering. It was a wonderful, emotional reminder that when you find your beloved, your life becomes automatically good.

For the technically minded, the pix were all shot on Nikon D4 cameras, with ISO ratings ranging from 200 to 1600. A little bit of hot shoe flash was mixed in here and there. On the bridge we used a shoot through umbrella, with two SB900 units firing through it, maxed out, given the harsh sunlight. A lot of frames were shot with available light, and I pretty much, for the backgrounds, just let New York be New York. Lenses were 24-70, 70-200 and a 35 f1.4. Post was super basic–a bit of burning and dodging and contrast. Couple got sharpened a touch. Couple others had some NIK lighten/darken center. Other than that, these are JPEGS out of the camera.  Gene and Olivia, with their expression of love set against the vibrant mess of NYC, are as real and durable as the concrete they walked that day.

May the road rise up to meet you both…..more tk….