To everyone who read last week’s blog, and to those who have commented so graciously. As I mentioned, the greatest reward of doing that project has been meeting a very special group of people, and the lasting friendships that have resulted.
Lots of folks asked about contributions. I mentioned Ellen Price, who is the curator, and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. She has worked incredibly hard at keeping the pictures on people’s minds, and putting it forward, especially to the folks making decisions down at the Memorial Museum. She also has obtained NYFA (New York Foundation for the Arts) status for the collection. If you email her, she can give you a link to the Foundation. Any funds accrued there would go to the care and feeding of the pictures. No money comes to my studio. For me, for now, thanks to the partnership at Adorama, the collection and the storage will remain stable for some time to come. Hoping of course, that they actually start building the memorial, which is an emotionally charged, tortuous process. Getting everybody on the same page in NY is a long haul, to be sure.
The above pix from the bad old days in NY, when I started at the New York Daily News….
Dudley and a couple folks were inquiring on Flickr about recent settings I used in a Kelby Training Video, specifically using 1/60th @ f5.6 as a kind of middle of the road starting point. Speculation was that using a sixtieth could introduce camera shake, and why wouldn’t I go to a higher sync? I think that was kind of the basis of the thread.
There was some further thinking along the lines that I’m an old newspaper dog, and that’s what I grew up with, and…they’re right. Youse guys got it knocked! Sixtieth used to be top end for shutter sync when I first took a camera in my hands. Old habits die hard, what can I say? I’ve always felt comfortable there, hand holding a camera when using flash, especially when I am dominating the exposure with that flash. (Pretty much figure I could throw the camera in the air at a sixtieth with flash and come away with something sharp. Come to think of it, most of my better pictures were made that way:-)
There’s more of course, just a bit of personal history. The Daily News was a real union shop. You went from being a boy on the newsroom floor, a copy boy, specifically, to being a boy in the studio, as what they called a studio apprentice. You weren’t a man until you went on the street as a shooter. Apprentices would do jobs like maintain the Versamats (70′s style processors, sort of like throwing your film into a wood chipper), captioning, filing, all the boring studio stuff. I was running the machines one day and the “Inquiring Photographer” came in with his roll of 20 exposure Tri-x. He was the guy who would ask people questions on the street, like, nowadays it might be, “How do you feel about the Governor playing grab ass with high priced call girls while running the business of the state?” He would write down their comments, take their head shot, and that was that. He had been doing this for, oh, about 75 years.
So he gives me the roll, and I stuff it into the machine, and it comes out blank. (That wasn’t an uncommon result for some of the guys at the News.) I brought it to him and he naturally blamed me, and started ranting and raving. “What did you do to my film?!!” I told him there had to be a problem with his camera, or he had made a mistake. He looked at me and said he couldn’t have made a mistake, he had shot it at a sixtieth @ 5.6!
And then it dawned on me. This guy had been on the streets for a major metro daily for years, and he thought the entire world was set at 1/60th @ f5.6. Okey dokey! That’s what I thought, too!
As boys back in the studio, we never took any of this shit particularly seriously. We would just roll our eyes, and try to have some fun. Passing the time could include inserting old style flash bulbs into the sockets of the boss’ office desk lamp, or tormenting some of the more colorful members of the staff. DJ was still on the street back then, even though his eyes were fading. He was a true NY original, and a dirty old man. Vain to a fault, he also wore a wig. This presented possibilities.
John Roca, still a terrific shooter, still at the News, and I got a small picture out of a girly magazine and taped it to the work desk just below the air intake for the pneumatic tubes that would powerfully suck the plexi containers filled with deadline pictures out to the photo desk. It made a big hissing sound, and you would insert the container, and with a big Thwock! it shot out to editors in the massive newsroom.
The picture was small, as I say, and taped down. Yo, D! Hey take a look at this! He can’t see shit of course until he bends his head over about 6 inches from the image of this young lady, and thus right in the firing line of the tube. BOOM! Roca and I hit the switch. This hairpiece just lifted right off Danny’s head and started traveling to the news room when, Danny managed to slap the top of his head and catch a couple of strands. Those strands held, and he hung onto his rug. All for the best, really, cause out in the newsroom they were waiting on page one, and not a wig to come flying out of the tube.
Anyway, I sort of have this background emotional attachment to that f-stop/shutter combo. Silly, really. I do embrace the faster syncs we have now, for sure. One of the most powerful tools in our bags. Gives us enormous control over difficult lighting situations and moving subjects. Another thing that I should really let go of, is the fact that in the days of radio triggers not being anywhere near as sophisticated as they are now, there was always a danger of clipping the radio signal at higher shutters. For instance, at SI, historically, whenever we would light a court or an arena, we used to drop a hard wire out of the ceiling (they might still do it as backup, dunno) so we could hard sync via zip wire to the Speedos in the rafters. Using a radio to trigger at 250th would often fail, cause the signal would have to travel too far to the packs, and by the time they triggered, your shutter would be closed. Never a problem in the studio, cause the radio signal doesn’t have to go far, but that sort of history lingers in my head, so I’m cautious, I guess you would say.
K-MAN ON THE STREETS OF NY……
Friday night in the meat district…..SB900 on the background, SB200 for the portrait. What is this man doing? More tk.