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Archive for the ‘Equipment’ Category

Maddie at the Piano…

Apr 10

In Equipment, Lighting, On Location at 7:43am

Or, maybe, Little House on the Prairie? Dunno. Doesn’t really matter, cause I just like the picture. One of those things about being a photog, is that you can occasionally make a notion a reality by making a picture of it.

Let me explain. I teach a bit at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops, and during the lighting classes, we often go to pretty cool locations, with some models, who are also pretty cool, and try some portraiture and some lighting solutions. We use everything—big strobes, small flashes, reflectors, Octas, strip lights, beauty dishes, and even, when one presents, a lace curtain.

Maddie here is Mawgie’s daughter. Mawgie is one of the loveliest, liveliest people I have ever met, and she brought along Maddie to a class we had recently. Everybody had a ball with her, and being a bit of a ham, Maddie didn’t mind all the photographic attention.

You know how faces stick in your head sometimes? You just see a face, and it hangs around in your photo imagination. When I saw Maddie, I thought, you know, one of these days I might try to get a picture of that kid.

So we were doing one of the Kelby Online Training videos on lighting, and we were pretty determined to get out on location and away from Tampa, where we had shot the first four. Hello Santa Fe! Phone call to Mawgie. Whadddaya think?
Next thing we know, we found ourselves at Eaves Movie Ranch, run by Thomas Wingate, a dear friend and possessor of one of the great all time American faces. Thomas has been the subject of more photos than Carter’s got pills and he deserves every one of ‘em. He honors the lens with an instantaneous combination of grit and dignity that you just don’t run across every day of the week.

At Eaves they have this old ramshackle (actually, everything out there is pretty ramshackle) saloon that always gives up a good crack at a photo. I’ve wanted to do a couple of simple shots in there over time, and never really had a chance, till Maddie sat down at this dust laden piano, which stands by a lace curtain, yellowed with age and dirt. Pulled the curtain over the window, and she dressed in frontier wardrobe, courtesy of another great cowboy subject, Thadd Turner, who’s got this terrific stash of cowboy and cowgirl duds.

Put an Elinchrom Ranger out in the street with a long throw reflector, and just pointed it at the window from about ten feet away. Ran it on the B port of the Ranger, which gives only 30% of whatever power setting you have programmed, hence the light was real minimal, just a small pop through the curtain. That enabled me to shoot it with my favorite telephoto, the Nikkor 200mm f2, wide open at f2, at 250th of a second.

And of course Donald came along. Already blogged a bit about his decency, wit, and presence in front of a camera. Told him I did that, and he was quite pleased, though he hasn’t seen it. He admitted he’s been having a problem figuring out how to turn his damn computer on. He tries to keep things simple. Doesn’t have a cell phone. He did tell me he and his honey complicated their lives a bit this year, though. “We learned a new dance step,” he said, with a twinkle in his eye.

The pix of Donald and Thomas were shot, by the way, with one light. Again, an Elinchrom Ranger, stuck outsided the building and bouncing down into a white sheet, mimicking and amplifying the hard sunlight that was bouncing around out there.

I always say a bad day in the field beats a good day at the office, anytime. Gotta figure out what a great day in the field compares to, cause Tuesday was one of those days.


Feb 26

In Equipment, Rants, Seminars & Workshops at 1:44pm


Moose PetersonI 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]

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How to Light a Fence!

Jan 30

In Equipment, Tips & Tricks at 6:46pm

Snow Covered Yellowstone Fence with Strobe and Exposure Compensation at -1 EV

A fence is just a fence….unless you have an SB-800.

Flash has always been painful, right? Especially painful in the cold. Really, really painful in the kind of cold that exists in Yellowstone National Park in January. Batteries dying, trying to meter the sky, meter the flash, meter your diminishing heart rate…

Now we have wireless strobe! Pretty fancy stuff. Cameras and strobes keep talking to each other, even when you can’t say a bloody thing cause your teeth are chattering like Carmen Miranda’s castanets.

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The McNally Tripod Rig

Jan 28

In Equipment at 6:42pm

McNally Tripod Rig

One of the big questions I get when I teach is about my tripod and computer platform rig.

It’s all off the shelf Gitzo/Manfrotto stuff, available from Bogen…

I use the Gitzo GT-5560SGT tripod, and mount the Manfrotto Accessory Arm 3153B to it, and then the Gitzo G065 Laptop Platform to that. Couple that up with a ball head such as the Manfrotto 468MG, and you be cooking. I keep the platform at eyeball height so I don’t have to stoop to see the computer. I’m tethered via Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 and a USB 2.0 cable with an extension. Everything is taped down, cause I’m excitable and accident prone. It works real well as a location rig.

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