Archive for February, 2008
In Milan right now, Milano, as the Italians say, which of course is in Italy, which, in my mind, means I’m in a place that’s a step closer to heaven than much of the rest of the world. Happy to come back here, as the only time I had ever been to this city before was on a corporate shoot, and I didn’t see much except an office park somewhere between downtown and the airport. You know, one of those luxurious, expansive shoots where you fly in, work all day and into the evening, stay at a box of a motel off a cargo route from the import area of the airport, the one where trucks load all night and punctuate their minute to minute departures by sitting on the air horn. After a restful 3 hours, you stagger back onto an airplane for a quick hop to the next office park, located somewhere else you won’t really see.
Milano, is great, though, now that I have a chance to wander a bit. I’m predisposed to like the place as it is evidently named after my favorite cookie in the world. Also staying at a tiny hotel, run by wonderful people, kind of a mom and pop shop feel. Folks at the desk know your name, and the view from your window is, for a change, not of a parking lot.
Teaching and lecturing here, in conjunction with an 80 picture show opening this weekend at the Foundation Bandera for the Arts. These folks are terrific, and do an amazing job of finding a way to fund the arts on a consistent basis. The trip is sponsored by the Foundation, and by Verve, a magazine that is all about Milan, and Azonzo Travel agency, expert shippers of people to far off places.
And it would never have happened were it not for Federica Brunini, who is an all around journalist and photographer based in Milan. We met at the Santa Fe Workshops, where she took a course from my wife Annie (astounding teacher, patient, kind and knowledge of all things digital) and then we worked together on a couple of National Geographic workshops in Tuscany. This was her idea, and she knitted together all the appropriate pieces to make it happen. She is a talented wonder, and very central to the active photography scene here in Milan…
Gotta go…have my fingers crossed the meeting with La Scala Ballet goes well today.
In Equipment, Rants, Seminars & Workshops at 1:44pm
I actually pulled the above cited fictitious piece of glass out of the very thin air of my noodle to get even with Moose Peterson. You know, he mentioned in his blog the other day that one of the reasons I was launching a blog was to get even with him. So here it is, I scooped him!
A first! And a last! And a, well, not real………
Here’s the deal: Ain’t nobody gonna scoop Moose. He knows first and most about every doodad, crawdad, pixel splitter, wing-jammer, loose-screw, toy, widget, beebop, biddybastard, whoozywhatsis, and thingamabobber before anybody else. I get my knickers in a twist at DLWS and say, “Hey, they’re comin’ out with this new wireless hyper drive that automatically sucks your images out of your camera straight to a re-touch operation in Bangalore, prints them on T-shirts and embeds them with software that automatically arranges for shipping, handling and depositing all sales revenue in your off shore account in Bimini!”
Moose’s reply: “Yeah, I’m aware. I’ve been on the beta team for that software for the last seven years.”
[More after the jump]
The book has been pretty well received. When I first looked at its ratings climb on Amazon, I just figured it was my sisters, clicking away, running up their credit cards, helping out their baby bro.
But, the book kept climbing, and holding up a pretty high ranking, spiking all the way to #10 of all books on Amazon. That puts us up there with all the murder mysteries and romance novels!
I thought about it and figured the appeal must be the noir-ish, sweaty style in which I wrote it, thrown in with some good photo info. Think of mixing the Adorama catalog with a bodice ripper.
It was a dark and stormy night. Outside the windows of the cheap motel, the thunder rolled. Her heart was quaking. He had sparked her with a pepper, re-arranged her pixels, and she knew she would never forget it.
“Will you stay?” she asked, though she already knew the answer.
In the flashes of lightning, she could see his face was stern and resolute. “I can’t stay, babe. I told you when all this started I wasn’t a stick around kind of guy.” The lightning effect was augmented, of course, by the Pocket Wizard transceiver he had in his pocket, tripping an Elinchrom Ranger RX unit with a Free Lite head and a long throw reflector on a c-stand complete out in the parking lot. Inside the reflector pan was loosely taped a Rosco Cinegel quarter blue (Quarter CTB), to give the light a pale, cool feel, just like lightning.
“I know,” she replied. Her voice was steady but her quivering bosom gave lie to her words. “Will you come back?”
“Depends if there’s ever any news again in this lousy burg,” he said. “It would also help if you had a twin sister. But I guess that’s no go on both counts.”
He shouldered his cameras and stepped to the door. Framed by the lightning and the slashing rain, she could see he had a Nikon D3 with a 200-400mm AFS VR Zoom f/4G IF-ED. How she longed to touch it one last time!
He tossed her an Lexar 8gb UDMA 300x CF card, and on it was scrawled a note….”Thanks for the good times…”
When she looked up, he was gone.
Kidding of course….
[More after the jump]
A couple of folks were interested in a sketch of the lighting grid for the ballerina and the wall, so here it goes.
Now I was just starting coffee, and the twitch in my pre-dawn fingers hadn’t yet disappeared, so this artwork is less than magnificent. But hopefully you get an idea. The bed sheet is camera right, two SB units behind it. Camera and model are pretty straight up. The gaffer tape gobos I spoke of are on the wall side of the strobes, shielding the wall from spill. Always remember, when you set a flash off, those photons go everywhere. Omni-directional, in other words. They just don’t go in the direction the head is pointing. (Would that they might do that!)
So, you feather the units. There were a couple of questions about that as well. In this case, I feathered the lights by swiveling the left, towards the camera, and almost past the dancer. They are actually aimed at the empty space between the camera and the subject. Pretty radical, but the soft spill created by the bed sheet covers her well, and the feather move lets the light fall off before it hits the wall. Thus the wall is just, you know, there, and I didn’t light it up and hang a sign on it, “Here’s the wall!”
A wall is just a wall. But it was intriguing enough to take a second, and even a third look at. Made a quick snap on aperture priority and got a picture, well, of a wall. Looked like a nice color palette but kind of like a coral reef below at about 40′ or so, the color was muted and bluish. (I was a big fan of Jacques Cousteau when I was a kid. Read all his books, and I always remember his early underwater flash photography, and his musings as to why all this magnificent color got stashed in a place where the eye couldn’t see it, except when you hit it with artificial light.)
So there’s the wall.
It’s a beautiful backdrop, for free, right there in front of you.
[More after the jump]