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Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category

Lots of Miles in July…

Jul 19

In Travels at 5:35am

Used to be summer slowed down a touch. Not so much this turn of a very hot July. The month started with shooting a simple day or so for Geographic, and then spun into a huge, festive wedding weekend. It was a wonderful event, but one with lots of moving parts, so we put together a team of four shooters and went after it to the tune of 330 gigs in a couple days.

Less than 24 hours later, headed to Canada, and Drew and I were on seven flights in eight days, stopping in Vancouver, Calgary, Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal. Flew a lot of Westjet, and they did a pretty good job. Spent so much time up there over the great white north I  figured I’d make a quickie Iphone pic of a familiar view.

Was in Canada for Kelby Media, teaching on the “One Light, Two Light” Tour. (Next stop, Miami, Aug. 20th.) It was fun, and I really have to thank everyone who came along to the various stops and helped out. I simply pick audience members out for subjects, and we work our way through the day, keeping it resolutely simple. We do TTL, manual, one light, two light and three light solutions. It’s a fast paced day.

Had some really fun, adventurous people help me out on stage, for which I am very grateful. They took the plunge and were willing to be photographed in front of three or four hundred strangers, and have the results go immediately to big screens. Talk about a leap of faith. The main point of the pix is to shoot  simply, with super basic tools, and not really finish anything, but just keep experimenting. The above grids were just quick selects I made in Aperture and did screen shots of.

I asked at one point for someone small, and a wonderful, expression filled young lady answered the call. She had a terrific range of moods she could project, and we worked our way through a bunch. Her being about the age of my oldest daughter, I asked her to give me a facial expression that might accompany that time honored, exasperated phrase, “Whatever, Dad!”

We had a blast together. And then, there was Nancy, in Montreal. She fairly bounded on stage and before you know it we had quite an array of visuals.  A Montreal based wedding shooter, she was just a non-stop live wire everybody in the room enjoyed.

By the time we rattled through some pix, the audience was laughing so hard that I just looked at her and said, okay, give me the expression you might give a guy who sidles up to you in a bar and hands you a cheeseball pickup line like, “Would the keys to my Porsche fit in your handbag?”

Okay, then! The audience, Nancy, Drew, and I just lost it. Below is a crowd scene, with the big guy from Adorama, Jeff Snyder, tucked in the corner.

Arrived back home just in time for a Welcome to Newburgh party at David Burnett’s new digs. Hard to believe I’ve known David, who is one of the quintessentially important photojournalists of our time, since the 70’s. It’s great to have him and Iris in the neighborhood.

Also, over the last couple weeks, FakeChuckWestfall suggested I had been separated at birth from a sock puppet. I’m okay about that. I’d always wondered where that puppet had gone off to.

It has also been eventful over at, where hell froze over. For the first time in forever, the Strobist site picked up and ran a tip from none other than Gary Fong. It’s a good tip, and the Fongster did well in offering it, and DH responded in kind by noting its usefulness. It’s called “The Red Hallway Trick.” Kudos to both gentlemen.

About that time, Gary also sent out a missive to his fans, soliciting their participation in an opinion poll about the cover of his newest book. He promises to abide by the results of the poll, and run whichever cover folks deem the best.

Here’s the link to vote. I think it’s still active. Weigh your thoughts carefully. These are the kind of decisions, quite frankly, that keep me up at night.

Just arrived a couple days ago in Hong Kong to lots of clouds. Teaching at a wonderful event called Creative Asia, with some excellent instructors. My daughter Claire is with me, and we’ll go on together to Kuala Lumpur, along with Louis Pang and Zack Arias.

Working my way through the fatigue. Had some great dim sum the other night, and grabbed a bunch of that amazing Asian medicine that I have always found to cure all manner of ills, aches and pains.

More tk….

Announcing The Australian/New Zealand Tour 2012!

Apr 4

In Tours, Travels at 5:13pm

Come May, we are taking a huge leap through the looking glass and going to the magical land of Oz and New Zealand. Many thanks to the great folks at Mentem and Nikon Australia who have been laboring tirelessly to pull this together. Only been down under once before, to shoot the 2000 Olympiad for Time magazine, and it was wonderful, but the whole country was seized by Olympic fever. Visiting now, to multiple cities, during “normal” times, will be vastly different but equally wonderful, I suspect. And, of course, this time, we’ll be teaching and demonstrating all manner of lighting techniques and approaches, doing workshops and seminars. Drew’s coming along from our studio, and we’ll be lugging lots of gear to work and demonstrate with. All told, looking to be an amazing month.

The Olympiad was terrific. Didn’t hear a bad word for the entire games, except from my editors. It was an Olympics of great grandeur and scale….

Of surprising and beautiful runners…

And equally surprising victors…

And elated medal winners.

So, now we go back to this amazing continent. I personally can’t wait. Oz has magic, right? It’s so often the reply you get when you ask someone, “Where in the world would you most like to go?” And New Zealand! Holy smoke, never been, always wanted to go. I’m hoping to meet Gandalf.

We’ll be doing stops in Sydney, Melbourne, Gold Coast and Auckland. In between, doing some shooting for the Tourism Australia and, very importantly, auctioning prints and attending a ball to raise money for the non-profit Miracle Babies Foundation.

Can’t wait for May. Hit this link for all tour info, location and dates! More tk…

Travels, and, Calling Dr. Brown

Mar 26

In Friends, Travels at 10:22pm

Russell Brown is one of the geniuses and driving forces behind all the innovation over at Adobe. To say he speaks a different language than I do is really putting it mildly. When I’m amongst people speaking in a foreign tongue, I can usually pick up a few words here and there. But Russell uses terminology quite regularly that is from a dialect of tech speak that I can’t even begin to get a handle on.

But, the wonderful thing about Russell is, no matter how manic and formidable his intellect, he is always up for a prank, a laugh or a photo session. He came by my lighting class at this past weekend’s Washington DC PhotoShop World seminars dressed as “Abe Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.” For any explanation of this costume, you’ll simply have to ask Russell. But it was cool and the class was up for it as we tried to go about making Honest Abe look like he was auditioning for True Blood. Many thanks to all at my classes over the last few days, and of course to the Kelby Clan for pulling off a terrific PSW for the first time in our nation’s capitol city.

Then I spied Philip and Alexandra in the audience, and I could tell from a distance they had something special going between the two of them, so I called them up on stage. Turns out, Philip asked Alexandra to marry him the day previous, and and he had worked out a making a snap of his proposal while they were out making pictures with remote flashes. Awesome! I was able to use the new Elinchrom indirect soft box, which has an unbelievably forgiving quality of light, to make an impromptu engagement snap.

My path since PSW has been interesting. Left after my Sunday class, and jumped to Dulles Airport. Flew to NY. Then flew to Prague. And then to Tallinn, Estonia. Landed in Tallinn at 3:10 in the afternoon, of course without my luggage. Had to abandon even doing the lost bag paperwork and get into a car, and by 3:45 I was lecturing with Bill Frakes at Nikon’s week long D4 tour of Scandinavia. (His blog yesterday was titled, basically, “Waiting for Joe McNally.”)

Did not stay in Tallinn. Went back to the airport. Flew to Helsinki. Had a wonderful dinner last night with Peter Brodin and the whole Nikon group, went back to the hotel and passed out. Woke up this morning in Finland.

It’s always an honor to do stuff with Bill. We’ve known each other for 30 years, roughly, and to say we’re no strangers to the road is, well, accurate. He leaves here after this tour, flies back to the States, and walks off the plane to shoot the Final Four. I go back and pick up shooting this Nat Geo story that has been routinely kicking my ass for the last two months. Lots of miles, lots of pictures, laughs and friendship.

More tk….

Beijing Update

Oct 12

In Links, Travels at 10:24am

Been back from Beijing for a bit now, and cranking away, finishing a new book, Sketching Light. I’ll be done writing in a couple of days, which is good, or I’m gonna go blooey. My long suffering editor at Peachpit, Ted Waitt, probably thinks I already have, and I’m holed up like the Unabomber in a shack someplace, with an old Royal typewriter and a kerosene lamp, laboriously typing out a change of heart manifesto titled, “Flash is Bad.”

Had the pleasure of shooting with a bunch of good photogs over there, Trey Ratcliff amongst them. He’s a terrific shooter, with an amazing touch for HDR. He also uses his Ipad as a bit of a flying carpet, zooming around, doing videos, interviews, and BTS stuff with it as he shoots. By contrast, Mongo here just use it to see movie on plane.

Very graciously, he shot a couple of chats we had and posted them up over on G+. We talked a bit about the picture above–this elegant Chinese musician at the Peony Pavilion opera. It’s an ISO 2000 shot on a D3S, out of camera, with no noise reduction. Not a photo to rattle anybody’s timbers, but I simply enjoyed the serenity and the expertise this young lady demonstrated during the performance. I found myself tuning into the music, honestly, more so than the actual staging of the show. Trey has since posted up a part 2 of the Ipad chat here. Speaking of Google Plus, we’re going to get more active on it shortly. Right now, just about every keystroke is about the book. Sigh….

Beijing was fascinating, as it has always been. Eventually going to post some stuff that dates back to my original visit there in 1987, but for now, thought I ‘d throw some stuff up from the recent trip.

At the Water Cube…..

Science Museum. Amazing the tools we have now. ISO 1600, D3S, 16mm fish, AF. I’m not looking through the camera. I’ve got it extended at arm’s length, over a glass splash board down into the bubble bath these kids are playing with. Try that with a non AF film camera….

More tk….

Shadows on the Concrete….

May 16

In In The Field, Travels, Videos at 1:01am

Hey gang….blog’s been, well, a little light lately. Truth be told, I had a hard book deadline to meet, so I shot 13 portraits (none of which I can show here quite yet) in 17 days, then jumped on a plane and headed out to California for a Digital Landscape Workshop Series stop. Whew!

In between finishing the portrait series and coming out here, I managed to spend a wonderful day with Scott Kelby and a video crew from NAPP. They started in my studio, and my garage, and shot everything about that day in the field from the conceptualization of it, to the lens selection, to the packing of the truck. In between we took a tour of the  studio workroom, and talked about pictures, from the ones we were about to shoot to the ones hanging on the wall. I’ve got some of my own stuff up on the walls, but we are blessed at the studio with lots of work from other shooters I have known for many years. And we talked about it all. And then we talked and filmed some more while driving through traffic into the city. And then some more, walking around, assessing the location. And then some more, while shooting. And wrapping. A whole day in other words, from packing the lights to using them, from shooting the job to going back home.

The above is the kind of stuff I shot, which is to say the kind of stuff I’ve shot in NYC for thirty years. A day in the life of a shooter. It won’t be out right away, as they’ve got a bunch of editing to do, but it should be a fun class to take a look and have a listen to. One Quadra flash, with a honeycomb grid. That’s it. One light, high angle, done deal.

Many thanks to Scott and the gang for hanging in the Big Apple for a day. Nothing like shooting in the city……more tk….