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Archive for the ‘News’ Category

We’ve Made PS Disasters Again!!

Dec 19

In News at 6:30am

This just makes me proud. All of us, actually, in our studio last week, observed a moment of silence, an interlude of quiet pride if you will, when the news arrived that we were once again featured in Photoshop,  that storied pantheon of post production goofs. Cali got a little choked up, truth be told.

Seems the gang over at PS disasters have well, issues with the more sensitive areas of the female anatomy. I’m still trying to figure out what they are. Sara, our absolutely lovely, graceful, athletic Icelandic model is perched on a rock in one of that northern island’s famed thermal lagoons. We helped her out there, and then, because I wanted to keep her out of the fading sunset light, and control the foreground area with flash, I asked her to see if she could comfortably, artfully crouch (We do ask ridiculous things, don’t we?) on this slippery, two foot square boulder poking out of the steaming, mineral laden waters of the lagoon. She popped down there as easily as a songbird arriving on a tree branch. If I had tried to assume this position, they would’ve had to medevac me out of there.

Okay, here’s the red circle image. Now, I’m still trying to figure this out. Do the guys over at disasters think her, as they put it, crotch, is missing? Or badly re-touched and manipulated somehow? Trust me, if the lovely, youthful Sara had arranged herself into a personal predicament, I would have pointed that out, and encouraged her to adjust. And, if she had been wearing, say, colorful, zebra striped underwears, and thus needed some re-touching, I do believe that’s a task the guys back here at the shop would have embraced in diligent fashion. But, we are shaking our heads a bit, because, well, see below.

Here’s a screen cap of our RAW D3x file in Adobe Camera Raw, and below is the untouched JPEG, right out of camera. Outside of a touch of color correction (very subtle) and a hint of saturation, we did….nothing to the picture.

Maybe that’s their issue. We did nothing, and we were supposed to? I’m unsure. One thing remains certain, though. I do suck at Photoshop. Me and the computer have never had a particularly comfortable relationship. So, I resolved this weekend, once again, to go to work on my post production skills, given the ignominy of once again being featured as a disaster, which of course is just a fulfillment of what virtually every nun who taught me said I would ultimately become. Some type of disaster. What do you think of the below? Do you think they’ll put a red circle someplace on this one?

This is the second time we’ve actually graced PS Disasters. The first summons they issued me was about a shot of Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson astride a tipsy balance beam in an Iowa cornfield, shot for Sports Illustrated. Her dad’s hand is seen, positioned under the beam to catch her if she fell.

It was a great opportunity for me to riff on the helter skelter nature of weekly magazine journalism. It appeared then, and I’m sure still now, that there are folks out there who think that the business of closing a news magazine on deadline is a considered, deliberate process, rife with nuanced debate, and delicately handled decisions. A parallel experience could perhaps be a classical music concert, held out of doors on a summer’s evening, where lovely notes mix with balmy breezes and fading sunset.

It’s nothing like that at all. It’s more like a screaming death metal concert at a beer sloshed mosh pit. It’s a business populated with intelligent, talented people who are stretched so thin, and so over-worked into a state of near delirium by the budgetary demands currently reigning in the world of publications that they might be hard pressed to find their ass with both hands on a good day. It’s a bruising endeavor fraught with frailty, ego, error, miscalculation, nastiness and outright bungling co-mingled freely with intrepidity of effort, dedication to excellence and moments of sheer, informational, story-telling magnificence. Much like, I don’t know, organized religion, for instance. My commentary on the above shot and the process of seeing it grace the pages of Sports Illustrated can be viewed here. It’s a lively read that actually has some interesting info.

Thanks to the gang at PS Disasters for one of what I would regard as our high moments of the year. More tk….:-)

A New Flash….

Nov 30

In News at 5:07am

As the bhagwan said, “The only thing certain is change,” and that’s definitely the case with digital camera stuff. Nikon announced a new flash today, the SB-910. It’s actually not really a brand new flash, but rather a collection of tweaks to the existing 900 model.

Absolutely the most important adjust is in the area of heat management, which has definitely been an issue with the 900, of which I have fried at least two in the course of time. From what I know of the electronics of the 900, they’re designed for fast recycle, and thus build up a heat component. The engineers, being the sane and safe souls that they are, installed a thermal cutoff in the 900, which is designed to shut the unit down prior to meltdown. I have always argued with the folks at Nikon that the cutoff feature should be coupled to a klaxon horn on an interval timer, blaring every five seconds or so, with an ominous voice intoning in between warning honks that imminent evacuation is highly advisable. Think Sigourney Weaver rescuing Newt at the end of Aliens.

They didn’t go for it.

But, in this unit, they did take the whole heat thing seriously, and it appears to be much, much better in that regard. Borrowing from the SB-700, there is improved thermal cutoff technology. Much more consistent, continued performance when pushing the unit hard.

This is opinion only, not hard scientific fact. I got a last minute call from Melville, asking me if I could shoot (quickly) a package of pictures to accompany the release. It took me about .5 seconds to say yes. I did what I usually do–take ’em into the field and try and knock the bejeesus out of them. I had ran them pretty hard for three days, trying to use them in different ways. For instance, the above pic is shot with three units together on a Tri-flash, spreading out the light, running at 1/4 power each. My light shaping tool? Uh, see below….

Thank goodness for battered, white trucks parked in fortuitous places. I didn’t have a big soft box, so this worked out as a light source as Jonathan went all sorts of Superman off the brick wall.  Which he is amazing at doing. The below was shot with one flash, roughly on axis with the sun, powered up full. It produces a double shadow of Jonathan, generally to be avoided, but here, I liked it. It actually extends the shadow of his legs in a fun way.

The good news on the timing was that I was able to drive those long suffering folks at Peachpit just a little more crazy than usual, and we held my book for a few days to insert a small chapter on this updated light maker.

Sketching Light is on the press right now, and will ship in about 10 days. I have many apologies to offer for delays in writing this puppy. It took a while. The good news there is that it delayed just long enough to be the first book to have a look at this new stuff. More on Sketching Light in  day or so, but, thankfully, it’s real, and done, and about to ship. It’s also, BTW, 420 pages. Yikes. As the sub-title suggests, it’s all about the possibilities of light. Lots of pictures, most of them driven by one source. Sketches, metadata, production pix. The whole skinny on each picture. Now that it’s done, I can honestly say it was fun to write.

Back to the flash. It’s got a couple new features, like click-on, hard plastic color conversion gels for tungsten and fluorescent, a dedicated menu button, and a locking feature on the battery compartment. And, the buttons are backlit, handy for night shoots, for sure.

I took them into a bar. (Where else at 10am?) And knocked out a multi-flash portrait of Jake, which was fun to do. Six flashes, all told, all TTL. Shot with fast glass, 35mm f1.4, at f1.4. Production snap below.

More on these TK, and in the book.

Summing up: Physically, a little bit sleeker and smoother. There’s a design continuance with the SB-700, so if you use that flash, this one will be a no brainer in terms of buttons and dials. Some other small stuff, mentioned above, that’s helpful. But the biggie is the heat management. They seem to wrestled with that particular SB-900 demon pretty successfully. In the three days in the field I had with them, they only complained a couple times, but kept performing, and kept exposures consistent. I used them in the studio and in the street.

Here, with Jasmine in the studio, I really pushed the overhead main. It is firing into a Flashpoint beauty dish, with a honeycomb grid over it, and running at full power. The background streams of light are from 1k Arri’s, constant, daylight balanced sources. The fill is another 910, skipping off the floor.

The main light kept up pretty well, and I was shooting fast, trying myself to keep up with the ever fluid Jasmine. I purposely shot it before it recycled, just to see, frankly, if I could fry it. There was some exposure variance, but it hung in there, and kept working. During a shoot like this with the 900, the 900 most likely would have given up, and I would have had to replace it with a fresh flash, or certainly fresh, cool batteries. So, there’s definitely improvement on a speed light that’s already pretty smart.

More tk, on the flash, and the book…..

Talking Pictures With Scott

Nov 14

In Friends, News, Upcoming Events at 7:43am

Looking forward to hanging with Scott Kelby and the gang down at Tampa this week. (Click on the image above.) Scott and I did a video together in NYC recently, where we started in the wee hours, right at my studio, in the equipment garage, packing the truck and talking our way through the shoot. We talk about the whole deal, from why certain equipment gets brought or not, to strategies for survival on assignment, to location difficulties and solutions. And not just the nuts and bolts. We talk back and forth about the why of a job, the choice of a subject and the motivation to put your camera to your eye in the first place. And, we wander through the workroom, checking out the stuff on the walls, the accumulation of thirty years of imagery, sprung from travels to what is now over 60 countries.

See the picture up above? I look a bit reserved, don’t I? Calm, almost. Well, as you know, it’s anything but calm when Scott and I get together, yakking as we will in the studio on Wednesday night, and also in the location video we did this summer. It’ll be no holds barred, and all questions welcome. Here’s the link to register.

During the day of the video, I shot dance in NYC, at the old Brooklyn Navy Yard, which was a kick, and something I have always loved doing. Below are a couple of shots we generated that day, one with Jonathan, an amazing dancer who uses the urban environment of NY as a springboard for his artistry, and the other with Jenny Ringer, one of the most elegant principal dancers with the New York City Ballet. Just a great day at a great location.

Hope to chat with you on Wednesday!  More tk….

Scenes from A Show

Aug 26

In Friends, News at 7:12am

We set up the show on Tuesday night. When you need to get something done, it’s always good to have FDNY on your side. Louie Cacchioli rallied the guys, and over 25 firefighters showed up and worked tirelessly from 9pm through till 3am to get this in place for the Wednesday opening press reception. Pushing these frames around, many of which are close to 300 lbs., more than once I was like, “Why’d I have to shoot ’em so big?”

I was just humbled, really, by the selfless way these guys, many of whom came from way out of town, just pitched in and got this done. My thanks also go out to Related, the owners of the building, which worked with me to allow this to happen. If we had to actually hire shippers and handlers to move it around, it simply would never get done because of the enormous cost. Louie, seen below, has been the face of the show since the book came out in 2002, and he ended up on the cover. I always tell people he’s firefighting’s answer to Robert DeNiro. He’s always been there to help.

It also would never have gotten done, were it not for the tireless efforts of Ellen Price, who has worked with the collection for almost 10 years. Her labors are done behind the scenes, organizing, cataloging, making sure it has been stored properly (24,000 lbs. of photography in museum quality, monitored storage!) and working with the 911 Museum to arrange for its’ eventual home. Below, Ellen works with the guys.

So it got done. It will be on floor of the Time Warner Center, free and open to the public, from 10am to 9pm every day until Sept. 12. After that, we’ll see what happens. More on that tk.

We had lots of press at the opening, and a bunch of subjects from the original project also graciously came. Below, Bill Butler speaks eloquently about the events of 911.

More than 75,000 people a day transit the TW Center. Which means that close to a million people will pass by these over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully, they’ll stop for a moment, and remember.

(all video shot on Nikon D7000’s by Drew Gurian, Michael Cali, Mike Grippi and Lynda Peckham)

More tk…

Uh, Hang in There, Guys!

Aug 23

In News at 6:34am

This just in: Bethany College players suspended over nude team photograph.

Seems the guys on a college golf team got themselves into the rough over the last couple of days by shooting a naked team photo. The gang lined up on a hillside and made what has evidently been deemed a provocative picture, wearing only their irons and woods.

Quoting from news reports: “It was only intended as a bit of fun with the lads,” said senior team member Jack Hiscock who is from England. “We all have our shirts off, our shorts to ankles and we are holding golf clubs in front covering up our um, male parts,” said Mr. Hiscock.

According to reports filed, the coach’s reaction was dismay. “My stomach dropped and I thought this can’t be good,” said Bethany College Head Golf Coach and Athletic Director Jon Daniels.

Even though no athletic department regulations were violated, the lads have been suspended for three tournaments, which they feel, understandably, is a bit over the top. “The whole team is frustrated. We think the punishment is a bit harsh–not fair,” Hiscock said.

The golfers claim to have found pictorial inspiration in a photo done some time ago of the UCLA men’s golf team.

Uh, sorry guys.

I shot this for Golf Digest during the course of doing a story about the physique’s of young golfers. Inspired at the time by the powerful physicality of golfers like Tiger Woods, the sport was in the process of shedding its’ time honored image of portly duffers tootling around the links on golf carts, knocking back golf shots and beers in equal measure. The “new athletes of golf” as the story was slugged, spend as much time in the gym as they do on the course. They are finely tuned athletes in every regard, as is evidenced below, by another shot I did of the UCLA varsity.

All I can say is that I’m rooting for the guys in the midst of this heartland tempest. There’s all sorts of calendars out there, for instance, raising money for good causes, in which everybody from athletes to octogenarians doff their duds for a lark and a charity. As Bethany team member Norrie Steyn was quoted in the news, “It’s just a fun thing, we all had had a great time doing it.”

The Golf Digest story was certainly fun to do. For instance, I shot this of the formidable Scottish golfer Wallace Booth, bare chested, in a kilt, swinging a club. Not the way he usually attacks a course, but a cool shot nonetheless, and seeing his arms and torso certainly convey the sense that he can drive the ball a fair distance.

Take heart, guys. You may yet be vindicated, or at least remembered. I shot this of the 1996 U.S. men’s Olympic water polo team, and it has since gone on to become one of the better known water polo pictures ever shot. Go figure.

More tk….