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Archive for the ‘Thanks’ Category

A Gift at the End of the Year…

Jan 5

In In The Field, Lighting, Thanks at 11:54am


Everybody’s got a bucket list, or something akin to it, I imagine. Photographer’s bucket lists are most likely pretty extensive. It’s not average, almost certainly. (That’s a presumption that any “average” bucket list exists, which is most likely not the case.)

But, I guess what I’m saying is that a photog’s list is not just, “I wanna climb Everest!” It’s, “I wanna climb Everest and carry a drone up there and make aerials of the top!”

“I wanna meet JLo!” Not enough, perhaps. “I wanna meet JLo and photograph her for the cover of Vogue!”

Obviously, there are most likely a lot of unrealized items on photographer’s bucket lists. I’m certainly in that boat, or bucket, myself.

But I did get one lately, with all thanks to Scott Kelby and his intrepid group, and their legendary patience for my meandering imagination. Their home office in Tampa sits just about right at the doorstop of the Weeki Wachee Springs, home of the America’s favorite underwater creatures, the Weeki Wachee mermaids.


I went diving years ago with these legendary ladies of the deep, sinking an American Olympic snow boarder into the springs to be attended to by merfolk as he did his swirls and turns in a somewhat weightless environment. It was a fun, and obviously bubbly shot. It was also only marginally successful, falling short of my hopes, for reasons, as I look at the picture now, I really can’t remember. I just have always wanted another go at trying to make a picture down there.

It’s not easy. Or, maybe it is when you have sun. Which is never guaranteed. For instance, on the morning of our Kelby shoot, it was hard to distinguish where the fog stopped and the water line started. Pea soup, in other words. So, I was glad I had toted in about 10,000 watt seconds of Profoto flashes into the viewing theater and had them lined up at the windows, ready to pick up at least a bit of the slack.


This is all for a coming video class that is less instructional than it is a fun account of an attempt at a very uncertain photographic adventure. Not too many folks are going to wake up some day and think they might want to light the Weeki Wachee Mermaid Springs, to be sure.

The class has a working title of “Photographing Your Sense of Humor,” though that may change. Making an odd, quirky, or outright funny picture is hard to do. At one point, when I was a staffer at LIFE, I was allowed to do a series of tongue in cheek looks at America’s winter Olympians by putting them in offbeat environments. It was a reasonably well received effort, and actually, a couple pictures have stuck to me a bit over the years, which means, at least, they weren’t instantly forgettable, as so many pictures I’ve shot are.




Some years ago, I had sold a notion to Sports Illustrated to photograph the elite of the PGA tour in a way that visually represented their playing style or spirit, or the persona they have created for themselves out there on the links. Someone would be “The Battler,” styled as Rocky with a golf club; another would be “The Professor,” the player who studies the courses most thoroughly. The setting for him would be obvious. Another might be “The Machine,” renowned for his clinical precision.

And another might be “The Risk Taker,” the guy who’s always going for it, trying for the killer blow, going for the long ball, over all manner of hazards that would make a more prudent player pull up short. He ends up in the water, frequently. To represent this, I had the notion of dropping a golfer in a reef, addressing his ball, nonchalant as could be, trying to improbably save par. But here in Weeki Wachee, he would be assisted, yea, even directed, by the locals, in this case, mermaids.

So, my imagination goes out for a silly ramble now and then. In the case of the pro golf crowd, it was not appreciated or understood. Even with the muscle of SI behind me, the golfer’s agents, who only see the color green, would not play. They wouldn’t even ask the golfer. They thought I was a nut job. They might be onto something, there. Witness below…..hmmmm.


The underwater mermaid picture we just did is obviously highly illustrative, but it is one where I wanted all the subjects in situ, real time, not just disconnected pieces to be composited later. Here’s where the current state of camera tech really is helpful. The film image I made of the snowboarder, seen up above in the post, was shot on Ektachrome, has that traditional, seriously blue cast caused by underwater conditions, even with all the flash I applied. With the D810 I dove with for the current golfer with the mermiads pic, not only is the post production of digital able to bring this back to something approaching dry land color, but the resolution of the D810, combined with its remarkable high ISO capacity, makes it a wonderful tool for making this shot. Specs on the final pic are, 1/200th @ f8, ISO 800. Underwater crispness is not an issue, given the res of the 810. We are living in an era of amazing photographic tools.

And it was a bit of a production, getting all the pieces to work together, for sure. Below are some watery production pictures from the day. The water was cold, so I thankfully I didn’t notice how much I was sweating this out.

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What was wild to me was the way the fins of the mermaids, which above the water were a neon, shiny pink, reacted to the flashes. I’ve provided here a step by step, from the original to a somewhat halfway post treatment, to a full-blown finished file, which is otherworldly. The golfer is concentrating, and the mermaids offer their input as to how to rectify his dilemma. Their finny appendages are fairly glowing, with even more vibrance than they even have in regular daylight. Unpredicted, but fun.

Jpeg out of the camera….


Partial re-touch….


Full blown re-touch, fins aglow!


Almost all the light is coming from the theater, which is camera left. I’m triggering all the flashes from an on camera underwater flash, which in turn is triggering another trigger flash, which in turn is triggering the dry land power packs which is in turn triggering the hand held Sea & Sea Pro flash that Cali is literally floating around with. It’s not the first time I’ve deployed an underwater VAL and I suspect it won’t be the last. He did a great job, consulting my LCD periodically to determine how close he could get without over filling the mermaids. And Jon Cospito in our studio did a great job on the post. The shot at the beginning of the blog is a final, with the our finny, colorful friends of the deep toned down a bit.

Numerous things went wrong, and we only had thirty minutes with the ladies of the deep to get it done, given safety regs. Being underwater magnifies more than just the image you see. It hampers communication, slows things down, and makes a fix a laborious, time-consuming effort. We came close to not getting it, but we recovered some problems, and ended up with a shot that comes close to a picture that has lived in my imagination for many years. It was risky, to be honest, trying not just to do this, but do it while being recorded, fer chrissakes. It’s a good thing there was no audio track running in my regulator as it would have been a non stop string of language that would have made a pirate blush and the mermaids swim away.

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Many thanks to John Athanason, who made it all happen for us at the park, and to the artist in residence, photog Andrew Brusso, a long time New York pro who has relocated to Weeki Wachee, for his assistance and guidance on the underwater microphone. And of course to the underwater stars, Chelsea Stewart and Danielle DeMonaco, and our intrepid golfer, Dane Karcher, a noted free diver and all around wild man.

And to the Kelby crew—Adam, Mark, Jennifer, Meredith, and Lisa—thanks for attempting to film one nutty idea. And special thanks to Curt Leimbach and Kathy Porupski, who worked unbelievably hard and shot a lot of fun and important BTS stuff.










Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to All!

Dec 24

In Fun, Memories, Thanks at 6:04pm

Into the woods!

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Fog and rain by us this Christmas. Not at all like the day below, when I made the shot below, of my kids, years ago, just in from the snow. Saw both of them today, all grown up. So much to be thankful for. Home with Annie, made it through another year of making pictures. Best to all for the holidays and the new year. Much to be thankful for, much to look forward to. All best, and, as always, more tk….

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Happy Thanksgiving to All!

Nov 27

In Thanks at 5:41pm

Even though Garfield is gone from the field of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade balloons, he evidently still retains his ranking amongst the favorites of all the years. Over on the MTV blog, he is listed as the number one most stylish float of all time. A natural, I imagine, given his legendary appetite.

It’s been many years since the parade floats drifted by my street. I had a tiny apartment on West 65th St. between Columbus and Central Park West, and if I went out and sat on my fire escape I could see them, bumbling their way south on the avenue.

I’m far afield this year, out of the country. But, many things to be thankful for this year. Best to all….more tk…


Last Week of the Show

Nov 17

In News, Thanks at 10:50am

It’s been a wonderfully heady six weeks for the studio, to have our work up on the walls of the Monroe Gallery in Santa Fe. The show was reviewed well in the prestigious journal of the photography gallery world, Photograph. And lots of people stopped by the gallery. It’s been a terrific experience, from the search through older files to scanning and printing images that had not ever been printed before. My heartfelt thanks go out to Sid and Michelle Monroe, who initiated the idea of the show, curated it, and saw it become reality on the walls of their beautiful gallery.  

We made the quick video above while we were there, just to remember the way the pictures felt on the walls, and to acquaint folks with the gallery. It also offers thanks to the Nikon Ambassador Program, and to the Epson Corp. for their help in creating the opportunity for the show. Huge thanks to Mike Corrado and Mark Suban at Nikon, and Reed Hecht and Dano Steinhardt over at Epson.

To commemorate the show, we made a series of keepsake 8×10 prints. Foot Selfie and Coolpix Selfie (below) are signed and available at the gallery for $100. (info@monroegallery.com)


Often times, as a long standing freelance photographer, you feel like you are standing in one very long storm. Uncertainty, adversity, and setbacks can rain down on you fast and hard, like the drumbeat of rain on a tin roof. Occasionally, there’s a break in the clouds, such as a wonderful assignment that allows you to shoulder the cameras once again and go into the world. Or it can be a big job, one of those things that come in the door here and there that gets you through the winter and pays some bills. Other times it might just the grace and blessing of a good frame that you like, no matter if anyone else notices. This show was one of those wonderful breaks in the clouds, a shelter from the storm and a reassurance that the occasionally odd, perpetually stressful endeavor of seeking pictures for thirty years has been worth it.

My thanks to all involved in the show, in particular everybody at our little studio, who pitched in mightily to make it happen. Special thanks to Lynda Peckham who oversaw the printing, and made everything happen on time.

More tk…..





A Big Thank You (in the words of Lynn DelMastro)

Nov 3

In Thanks at 12:26pm

Hope everyone had a fun Halloween weekend! How best to say it in the photographic world, but through pictures! I had the extreme pleasure (okay, make that challenge) to produce two amazing Halloween themed photo shoots for Joe.

I have many people to thank! Starting with lots of love going out to Nikon for their incredible support of this project! And also to PPE 2014 who provided huge banners of the images at the Expo!

For the “Faerie in the Bedroom”…. thumbs up to my incredibly competent assistant producer, detail driven Treviana DelMastro (okay, the apple doesn’t fall far from the crazy tree). Our awesome photo assistants (who just happen to be easy on the eyes) Michael Cali & Jon Cospito. Also, Lynda Peckham, who shot BTS stills for the Bedroom. Special thanks to wildly gifted Andrew Tomasino who shot and edited our BTS videos.

Shout out to Judy Sillen, who provided a beautiful location home, and to the awesome prop stylist, Katherine Hammond who did a fantastic job dressing up the set, along with her assistant Ashley Naum. Our child model, Alexis was outfitted by classy wardrobe stylist Samantha Brown Peterson.

A huge thank you to the enormously talented Polly Wood-Holland who referred me to her colleague Dana Heffren who created the unbelievably stunning mural featured in the photo. Dana’s talent and skill set is beyond the moon.

Supreme body painter Anastasia Durasova and her incredibly talented colleague, Jha Villanueva together tirelessly painted the body of our gorgeous model Tanya. Also pro manicurist Elisa Ferri, and talented hair designer Jerome Cultrera created the birds nest hairstyle for Tanya, who was ultimately transformed to blend into the landscape of the mural as our stunningly evil Faerie.

Ah, and the “Trees in the Forest”……. now there’s a bit of Joe’s imagination that went straight to crazyland……. Once we got to the shoot day, our basic support crew played a huge role, as we had Trevi, Cali, Jon, Andrew & Samantha back in the game, in addition to our fabulous summer intern, Carly Tumen. For this shoot, Anastasia and Jha had the additional help of skilled make-up artist Mickayla Pence. Together they worked non-stop with our gorgeous models Minyoung Cheong and Marcela Melnic, along with hair stylist Shalom Sharon and his assistant Taylor Tedeschi to transform them to blend into the forest. Of course the added element of theatrical horror was provided by our child stars, Ava & Ben, who were absolute dreams to work with.

Naturally, none of this would result in the spectacular end image, if not for our reigning photo master supreme, Joe DMC (drive me crazy) McNally! Gotta love this guy’s imagination http://portfolio.joemcnally.com

Definitely check out the behind the scenes videos for both shoots:

The Bedroom:

The Forest: