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Archive for the ‘history’ Category

A Life of Laughter

Aug 12

In history, Memories, News at 8:03am

A bright light just went out. Robin Williams could speak faster than most of us can think. And when he spoke (often in tongues) we laughed, long, hard and well.

Only photographed him once. Typical of his irreverent whimsy, he walked onstage to rehearse wearing a “Forty F%&*$#&G Niners” t-shirt, and dared the assembled photogs to take his picture and put that in your “family f%$*(**&^%g newspaper.” Had to bring my timing to get a publishable snap.

We were all lucky to get anything sharp. He kept it lively, doing his routine, and riffing here and there. His pinball wizard brain kept us anywhere from chuckling to outright howling. I know I missed a bunch of pics just standing there, slack jawed at the pace of it, camera in my hands and not to my eye, giggling like an idiot. Old style chrome, EPT pushed one stop. Radio City Music Hall, 1982. Long time ago, and lots of laughter since then.

Thank you….Godspeed…..more tk…..

 

We’ve Come a Long Way!

Jul 14

In history, Tips & Tricks at 2:12pm

I’ve been friends with Mike Corrado, the originator, orchestrator, and pied piper of the merry band of disparate, dysfunctional (hey, we’re photographers) talented oddballs who make up the Nikon Ambassador crew, for more than 25 years. He is a blood brother, a good shooter, and a fierce advocate for photogs and their worth. He is also blessedly inappropriate.

Together, we have lost a prototype Nikon camera in Miami Bay, smashed another one perched on the end of a hang glider into a telephone pole, and had a 70-200mm lens run over by a truck. We at one point tried to run a photo set on a beach spitting distance from another crew who were running a full blown porno shoot complete with scuba tanks, fins, masks, but no swim suits. Needless to say, Mike’s attention on that occasion was, uh, divided.

 

He also tends to show up on these occasions with the coolest, newest toys. Such as last week when he loaned me his newly minted D810, and, in the briefest of interludes, I shot 27 frames with it. Luckily for me, during that two minute stint, I had a wonderful subject, Joe McFadden, a Schuylkill River rowing legend, in front of my lens, standing in equally wonderful window light. I shot quickly, hand held, at ISO 1600.

My current iteration of this camera, the D800E, to me has been a camera all about control. I use it in the studio, and work with it when I need the res, have the time to manage the buffer, and shoot in the realm of lower ISO. (Like a flash portrait, go figure.) But, when confronted with the great unknown, a coverage that could go any which way, something that might head into the fire swamp of high ISO, I’ve dragged out a D4 or a D4S.

The D810 keeps the allure of high res, but removes the fear of high ISO. It was nothing short of remarkable.

In the days of ASA, 1600 was the magic number. It was a frontier. It was a factor of speed that enabled you to shoot most night time sports and still come back with a reasonable facsimile of what your eyes actually saw. To go beyond that number was like going north of the wall. Few came back to tell about it, or get another assignment. Below is an example of Tri-x hot souped in a closet of a darkroom at Yankee Stadium in 1978. Good shot, but grain you can drive a truck through.

Same with Giorgio Chinaglia, here heading the ball for the NY Cosmos, also circa 1978.

Film was a tricky beast to manage, occasionally, and I speak from the rueful experience of having mismanaged it on all too many a job. Below is a one of my favorite portraits of Carly Simon. I had to overexpose, given the nature of the bright sky behind her, which blows the neg apart a good deal. I could have done better with my focus, too. (I think I should have used a flash maybe? Sigh.) Still her ebullient expression carries the day for me, and I love the frame. Just wish I had done better. Or had a D810.

I’ve been living in the digital world of photography for quite some time now, and the technology can still take me by surprise. I shake my head in wonder. As Captain Jack Aubrey said in Master and Commander,  “What a fascinating modern age we live in.”

More tk….

With Thanks…

May 21

In history at 9:48am

Visited the 9/11 Museum on Friday night. Wandering the halls there was powerfully, meaningfully difficult. The images, feelings, and audio recordings that you walk through and among were staggering in their impact, and ricochet like an emotional pinball through your entire being—head, heart and gut. Read the rest of this entry »

Super Bowl

Feb 4

In history, In The Field at 8:27am

So the Super Bowl ball game is done, and has now modified and progressed into the Super Bowl of Trying to Get Home. A wall of snow just fell on NY, heavier and more sustained than a Kam Chancellor hit, and football fans of all descriptions are stuck in the Big Apple. I flew out this past Supe Sunday, and thus escaped before the city got rolled by the weatherman.

I shot one Super Bowl in my day, which was amazing to me, as I suck at sideline photography. This may sound odd, as I did have a contract with Sports Illustrated for a number of years, despite not being adept at shooting moving objects. I would get intrigued by the hoopla, color and obsession of the sport at hand, but was not all that compelled by the grunting and sweating out on the field. So, they would send me to something like a Super Bowl to shoot that which no one else was interested in, in this case, the refs.

The game was the 1987 matchup of the Broncos and the NY Giants, a game won by the Giants, and featured a legendary performance by QB Phil Simms. I don’t really recall seeing any of the game itself, as I had to key in and shoot pix of all nine of the refs. One of the biggest challenges was getting them all together for a group shot, however quick and dirty it had to be. And trust me, it was.

The above was shot less than two minutes before kickoff. I had made arrangements with the refs to meet me in the corner of an end zone that had a last sliver of daylight, with the field as a backdrop. To “fill” this picture, my ever grumbling SI staff assistant had to hoist a 4×6 Chimera soft box onto a monopod, and sling four Norman 200B battery packs on his shoulders and follow me out onto the grass. Phil Jache, the resident techno-wizard at the mag, had adapted a Speedotron Quad to Norman cables and flash tubes, so I had the equivalent of 800ws of portable power blowing through one lamp head. It was truly a Rube Goldberg arrangement, and the two us trundling this Frankenstein of a light out in front of millions of people I’m sure looked perfectly ridiculous.

And of course, there literally dozens of my colleagues on the sidelines, all being helpful. “Hey Joe, the flash isn’t working!” “You’re light’s not goin’ off, dipshit!” Constructive suggestions as to my lighting, staging, composition, overall demeanor, my looks and my ancestry rained down on me. The intimation my light was malfunctioning was a real possibility, as it was pre-Pocket Wizard days, and I was using a Hawk Radio transmitter system, which had all the sophistication and dependability of your basic garage door opener. Shot Kodachrome, no time for testing, or Polaroid.

I got a serviceable group shot, and then spent the rest of the day chasing the zebras during my one and only Super Bowl adventure. Story never ran. More tk….

 

 

 

 

 

Gentle Giant

Nov 21

In history at 4:08pm

Pursuant to the earlier post this week, about trying to craft a coherent portfolio out of the flotsam and jetsam of a lengthy career, there is another layer to all of it. Your pictures, portfolio quality or not, become one of the more elaborate scrapbooks anyone could hope to have. That’s what happens when you have a job that requires you to photographically notate the people you’ve met and places you’ve been. Well known folks have a habit of popping up in the news now and then, so downstream of your photographic intersection with them you might notice when they do this or that. I don’t lay claim to really “know” many of the people I’ve photographed over the years. But, they are, in a real, albeit odd way, a bit of an extended family. Read the rest of this entry »