Archive for the ‘In The Field’ Category
Last year, when I stood on the railing that supports the aircraft warning lights atop the Burj Khalifa, 2,716 feet over the sidewalk, and I leaned forward slightly, I was cautious, of course. Not that I was going anywhere. I had safety ropes attaching me to the structure. And my cameras were hooked to me, and were quite secure. (Whenever I make a climb over an urban area, I run heavy gauge wire through my camera straps, so the cameras are literally wired to my person.)
What wasn’t connected, or tethered in any way, was my Iphone. I took that slippery son of a bitch in my hands, with great and grave care, looked down, and saw my feet. Made a snap, pushed a few buttons, and it became an Instagram. I had a sense of standing at a window clutching a bird I was about to release into the wild. I flung it outwards and up into the sky, and I knew it would go many places, and I wouldn’t have a shred of say in the matter. Which, for this pic, was okay. (If anyone out there had similar childhood reading habits, you might remember the last page of Sterling North’s Rascal, one of my favorite books as a kid.)
This little picture did in fact cover a lot of ground, and was retweeted, screen grabbed, printed, and chatted up all over the internet. It easily, and quite rapidly, became the most seen picture I have ever shot, and I have shot lots of pictures. And it certainly became an education for me about the life of a digital image, as it’s still being retweeted on a regular basis, even now, almost a year after shooting it.
I have to admit, when it started hitting lots of screens and the retweets piled on and on, I sort of stared at my own computer screen somewhat slack jawed, a look of bovine wonder on my face. ” I mean, at the risk of sounding stupid, or old, or both, I knew the internet was big, and fast and linked, but the speed of dissemination and numbers of eyeballs glancing at my battered shoes was definitely bracing.
Here’s an upside, speaking of my shoes. I’ve been buying the same model Ecco Track II, for at least twenty years, maybe more. A pair of those shoes has been with me to the top of the Empire State Building, up some bridges, onto power line towers, in and out of helicopters, and trod ground in Asia, Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Siberia, South America, and coast to coast back home. I guess the Ecco folks were pleased to see their shoes atop the tallest man-made structure on earth, but also mildly embarrassed by their disrepair. So, they sent me a new pair. They reached out on Facebook, and next thing you know, I had a new pair of size 11’s. Haven’t used them yet, as there’s still life in my old ones, but it’s nice to have brand new shoes in the wings.
The other cool thing about the marriage of the internet and the camera is that the resultant, instantaneous, widespread migration of your images can make someone like myself, who started looking through a camera way before it was also a phone and a tweet machine and all the rest, appear somewhat with it, even to my kids. The pic, as I mentioned, still gets rerouted and retweeted, though it has all died down to a comparative simmer. But with one recent mention, my daughter picked up on it again, and shouted out the below.
So, that’s kind of cool…..what an amazing world we live in….more tk….
Thankfully, without too much travel, at least right away. Have a local job over the weekend, and next week, down in DC for the annual National Geographic Seminar. Photographers don’t have too much of an opportunity anymore to gather as a group, so it will be fun to see friends, long time shooters and colleagues. In between, on Tuesday, 1/7, I’ll be at Adorama in NYC. Starting off the year with an irreverent, impromptu, seat of the pants (is there any other way?) floor of the store small flash demo in the Adorama pro department. It’ll be a hoot. I’m giving away about a dozen books, pocket guides, a few t-shirts in response to important, impertinent, rash, insightful, goofy or otherwise interesting questions. Here’s the link.
Speaking of Adorama, while in Mexico, in December, I did a shot at a tailor’s shop for Ado TV. Here’s the link to that episode. As you might see in the video, it’s a simple pic, done with one Elinchrom Ranger from across the street, firing through a bed sheet hanging in a door way, and minimally tweaked with a bounced light inside the store.
I was in Guanajuato, working with my dear friend, Hector Segovia, with PhotoXperience Mexico, which is rapidly becoming the go to learning center for photography in all of Mexico. I kept passing this tailor shop, with the whir of ancient sewing machines and feel of long time family ownership, and I asked Hector if we could go in. And, it being Guanajuato, we were warmly received, and made arrangements to do a photo session in there.
The Adorama TV segments, by necessity, go very quickly. After finishing up, I decided to pull the camera angle a touch to the right, to pick up a weird/interesting store mannequin, off by the doorway to the back of the shop.
Now, I really liked the mannequin guy, with his studious glasses and ascot, but the big black hole of the doorway was bothersome. And, rightly or wrongly, I do believe in lighting through a shot, however minimally, to create interest and detail for the viewer’s eye all the way through the three zones of a photo–foreground, middle ground and background. So we stashed another Elinchrom back there, sporting a full CTO gel to simulate the bare incandescent bulb that was already existing in the room.
On a shot like this, radio triggers are required gear, pretty much. The two power packs don’t really see each other, and neither see the camera, so a radio is the way to go. We’ve been using both the PocketWizard Plus III units, and the PlusX units with a good deal of success for simple stuff like this. Not too much in the way of interference or range issues. We do use the Multi-max units, but they have much more capability than is needed for a shot like this, which, from the get go, is aimed at making it look like no lighting was applied at all.
Looking forward to going to the city on the 7th. My wife Annie runs the Adorama Pro Department, and of course Daniel and Efraim will be there, so it will be like family. Maybe we won’t do any flash demo, and we’ll just get together and sing some songs. Uh, no….I’ll stick with flash stuff.
All best for 2014! More tk….
Anytime Nikon puts an “F” in the name of a camera, photographers who have been around for a while (and that would be me) take notice. My first motor driven camera was an F, which of course was a tank with a lens. I forget if it had treads. But the F was an undisputed classic of design and toughness. It was simple, as its name suggests. A rugged bunch of shutter speeds looking for a set of f-stops. The DF harks back to that simplicity. It’s a classic blend of old style film camera bundled with new fangled digitally fancy footwork.
The beauty dish is a fave of fashion photogs everywhere. I call it a “cheekbone light.” It is short, sharp and it clearly, definitively crisps out human facial architecture, especially architecture that’s been facialized, powdered, defined, beautified, and otherwise made to look all sorts of crackling super human…in other words, a thoroughly worked over fashion model’s face. Read the rest of this entry »
Been traveling like a banshee, but thankfully, back in NYC, where it’s always fun to shoot. Teaching for the National Geographic this weekend, and roaming Manhattan’s canyons with a great group of folks. Above, a morning scene at the Winter Garden in Battery Park City. Read the rest of this entry »