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Archive for the ‘Jobs’ Category

Profoto at the Opera!

Jun 26

In Jobs, Lighting at 2:35pm

It is always advisable to travel light going into China. It is a country of many rules and regulations, and that age old photog ethic of “Damn the rules I’m here to make pictures!” can be blunted a bit if displayed to the wrong, say, customs official. Hence, I was exceedingly grateful that Profoto USA, Sweden and China all pulled together and offered the assistance of a strobe package for my latest visit.

The city of Beijing is a fascinating place, filled with practitioners of ancient and time honored art forms, such as Chinese opera. I was very lucky to work with these actors and actresses for a few hours.

I was using mostly B1 units, for the first time. First experience in the field, for me, with these guys, was all positive. They’re not just good, they’re terrific. Solid state, built like a little armored vehicle of light, and just locked on in terms of the getting the signal from the air remote. (I always approach the transceivers, signalers, radio remotes, or smoke signal system associated with specific lighting brands with a bit of trepidation. In some instances, it feels like an afterthought, and performs like one. No worries on these. Even at distance, reception was reliable.)

For the basic light setup, I had a 4×6 RFi soft box overhead of camera, and a 2×2 under for beauty fill. As I backed off, to incorporate the actors in their staid, traditional poses and stage personae I noticed the ornate ceiling of the theater was going black. I put one B1 back there and just banged it into the ceiling, and it had more than enough juice to bring out the detail.

All the above were shot at one second on a D800E, which is a super resolved, sharp camera. Hence I really relied on the power of the flashes to chisel out the details. In the tight beauty portrait above, for instance, the right side of the frame does have the vapor of motion about it, which I ended liking in that instance. But most of the time I’m keeping my tripod steady, and encouraging the actors to make their moves, and then hold, hold, hold.

I love working over in Beijing. The folks I work for are pretty exacting in what they want, but you also get to have fun as well, such as with a legendary chef and his helpers in a famed duck restaurant. Below, I’m just blasting some B1 light through a shoot thru umbrella, working fast, and hoping to get out of this busy kitchen’s way before the chef decided to take a cleaver to the annoying photographer.

I learned a lot on the trip, and had a blast with, what was for me, some new lighting gear. I’ll be continuing to experiment, which at the end of the day, is what a career as a shooter is all about.

Quick note: Tomorrow, Friday, I’m in Seattle teaching The Power of One Flash Tour for KelbyOne. I’ll be using B1 units on stage for the first time, which again, is a new wrinkle for me, and it should be fun.

More tk…

Old School Meets New School

Jun 4

In Jobs at 3:48pm

Had a pretty intense assignment week last week, in Beijing. I was photographing “living masters,” a group of individuals whose unparalleled excellence at their art or craft had deemed them to be one of the treasures of China. It was a push of a job, shooting two, and occasionally three of these in a day, spread over six days of shooting. 380 gigs, total, jpeg/raw combo files.

When I got there, I felt I had the usual bases covered, lens-wise, but then realized, I was foolishly unprepared to get super close. Wukesong to the rescue! I visited that big box known as Wukesong, which contains many photo stores in downtown Beijing, and found a relatively untouched 55 micro-Nikkor f3.5, built, most likely, mid 1970’s. The tried and true F-mount, coupled to a D800E, presented no problem. It lacked certain of the technology advantages of lenses today, to be sure, but the years had not dimmed its sharpness. My eyes, by contrast, have definitely dimmed in sharpness, so focusing this puppy was a workout. But it got me in close, and sharp, giving me a window on the heart and soul of being a true master. These folks were amazing.

Above, Nikon D800E, 55mm Micro-Nikkor 3.5, shot at ISO 800, 1/60th at about, I’m guessing f5.6, on a Lexar card. Backstage prep for Kunqu Opera.

More tk….

The Last Mile

Dec 4

In Jobs, Memories at 8:15am

I have always liked getting my camera into a different place, so it was no surprise to me that I loved a long ago assignment underneath New York City. I have often climbed something for a unique view, but this time, I went way, way down.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sports Illustrated Cover

Nov 6

In Jobs, News at 8:05am

There are many things that identify a city–the location, the food, the weather, the music, the culture, the pace of life. All solid, wonderful indicators of the character and soul of a locale. Another one of those indicators, and often a big piece of the puzzle of any metropolis, small or large, is the local sports teams. It’s incontrovertibly true. You don’t even have to be a sports fan to acknowledge it. When the ball team does well, the heartbeat of a city quickens.  Read the rest of this entry »

Marathon Day

Nov 3

In Jobs at 7:52am

Marathon day in NYC is always an amazing day. I’ve off and on covered it for many years. It used to be simpler, back in the day when there were just a few thousand runners winding their way through the boroughs, the bridges and the canyons of the city. In fact, the first time I covered it, for the UPI, I was the only photog they assigned. I went to Brooklyn, walked up to the middle of the Verrazano, shot the runners coming over, got back on the subway, and made it to Central Park in time to make a snap of Bill Rogers crossing the finish line first. I went back to the office on 42nd St., they processed my B&W, made a couple of prints, dropped them on the wire, and gave me my negs back. I believe I got paid $50. Life was indeed simpler then. 

The most fun way to cover the marathon is from the air. The spectacle of over 40,000 runners chugging across the Verrazano Bridge is irresistible. It’s a suspension bridge, designed for wheeled vehicles to roll forward in smooth fashion. When all those runners are crossing the span, arms and legs pumping up and down like pistons, and thousands of feet are tromping the tarmac like mini jack hammers, from the air you can see the cables shimmering and quivering.

The above couple of pix were shot with a Fuji 617 pano camera, which is a medium format film camera. It was a trick, loading this puppy while hanging out of the open door of a chopper, to be sure. The leaf shutter was a pretty essential thing as well, as these are roughly 100 speed chrome film, so my shutter speed in the bird is around 1/60th to 1/125th. With a quiet little pfft! of a leaf shutter in the lens, instead of a robust, voluptuous bounce of a giant mirror inside the camera box, I had a prayer of sharpness. Even as I shot them, I knew Geographic wouldn’t use them, as these style of pix need to run really, really big to have impact in print. This race was just a small piece of coverage for an overall story on human performance, and thus not worth a four page gatefold. But that fall day in the air over NY was crystalline, and the breeze was like a big broom that just swept all the usual airborne crap that hovers over the city like a bad, germ laden cough out to sea. So I shot them.

Geographic ran with this.

Which was a bit of a trick to shoot as well, as that marvelous, aforementioned breeze was making it tough for the chopper to hover, and hand holding a six hundred in the wind whipped doorway was dicey. You’re framing while bouncing, focusing manually, grinding your teeth, bursting the motor drive, and praying to God you don’t drop anything. You also, in between shots, have to help your pilot out. On marathon day, the Verrazano looks like a beehive, with choppers aplenty buzzing and darting every which way. The pilots have to have eyes in the back of their head, and it’s advisable for you to have the same. Below, is a pullback view, most likely with a 70-200, or perhaps a 300mil.

It’s a big day in NY, and a big race. Runners from everywhere are in the city, jogging about, gobbling pasta, getting ready. It is often won by African marathoners, who quite frequently hail from the Rift Valley area of Kenya. I’ve covered them as well, too. Their skills are developed in quite simple ways, in rustic runners’ camps, often running in two’s and three’s, not thousands.

Early morning runs, early morning meals.

Under big skies…..

Good luck to all in today’s race! More tk….