Really happy to have intersected last week with photog Bob Carey and his wonderful, heartfelt photo project, The Pink Tutu. Read more here….
Ok, so how do you shoot a flash picture….when you don’t have a flash?
The list of stupid things I’ve done with a camera, incorporated into a book, would make for a heavy tome indeed. Sort of a War and Peace of photographic misdemeanors. Remember the book in Young Frankenstein–“How I Did It?” My title could be “How I F%#@&*$d It Up, Again and Again.”
I could dream up excuses for many of these, and I have dodged responsibility for my own stupidity on a couple occasions, but that is cowardly, and a strategy that only compounds the stupidity of the committed offense. So, it’s better to just take it in the face (or wherever) and own up. Promise you’ll do better next time, and advance the film. (Sorry. Dated reference. What would you call it now? Go onto the next capture? Sounds lame.)
Anyway, after a full day of teaching my recent Nat Geo Expeditions workshop class about flash, out on the streets of NY, during Hurricane Joaquin, they were done and done with flash, at least temporarily. I had a feeling, as I approached our next rain lashed location, that if I pulled a Speedlight out of my bag and once again lectured my sodden troops on the advantages of artificial light, there would have been mutiny. Below are the conditions, with the irrepressible Ari Espay on a wet chair in Times Square, holding a Nikon Speedlight for a participant, Marci, who had dragged her fiance Seth out there to be her subject. He is already developing the patience of a photo spouse.
I went with available light techniques. Hand holding. High ISO. Being inconspicuous. White balance. Lens use. I wandered up to the bridge at Pershing Square, with the hugely handy 28-300, to show the class the notion of compression with longer glass.
And with Joaquin drenching the Big Apple, very few folks were interested in a bicycle ride.
All those available light tips were pertinent, as we opted for the blessedly dry environs of Grand Central Station for our location.
And then, our intrepid producer, Liza Politi (Fancy Girl, Street Boy Productions) came to me in an absolute fever and said, by chance, she had met The Pink Tutu folks, and they were here, and wouldn’t it be great to shoot?
Ever get that frozen smile on your face as you nod your head and say all the right things–“Great, awesome! I can’t wait to shoot it! Gonna be terrific!” All the while, you know that most likely one of the crucial pieces of gear you might all of a sudden need to handle this unexpected development on location is safely tucked away in your hotel room? Yeah.
I started shooting Bob, who is patient, and a terrific shooter, along with everybody else in Grand Central. I mean, how you not gonna shoot this gutsy guy in a tutu?
Thank goodness for the upgraded high ISO function of the D810, as I shot this at 2500, available light, with Bob out there in the cavernous reaches of Grand Central, naked save a raggedy tutu. There was a certain pathos to it, but I knew I needed to get closer. And also, let’s face it, the light in Grand Central ain’t great. What to do for some measure of contrast and pop?
Use other photog’s flashes. I didn’t borrow one, but I thought, if I could drag shutter long enough, maybe I would get lucky. I used this technique long ago for a Vera Wang runway show, shooting a story on globalization for Nat Geo. The yellow border mag wasn’t interested in straight up runway shooting, so I found a spot at the opposite end of the other shooters, and just opened my shutter.
My class saved my butt. I asked them to go behind Bob, and at the count of three, start shooting flash pictures. I hunkered down on the floor, figuring, eh, maybe f8, which gave me a shutter drag at 1/5th. Went to consecutive high, and hoped for some crossover of my open shutter with a couple of pops of light, just to sharpen Bob a bit and give the whole deal a bit of an event feel. Got the below, and felt better. At least I had something I could chip in to the tutu project. Many thanks to my wonderful class.
If you don’t bring it, you’re gonna need it. Sigh.