Archive for the ‘On Location’ Category
Or, as Einar Erlendssen, the originator and caretaker of the Focus on Nature Workshops says, heading up to join the stark raving mad Vikings. I always wanted to go to Iceland. It seems a land of true intensity, color, and personality. It’ll be a small workshop, and thus very hands on. Our merry band of speed lighters will evidently careen around the countryside (the place ain’t that big) looking, lighting, and shooting. At night we will gather over various Nordic intoxicants and commune with the pixel spirits, and discuss the successes and failures of the day. This will be a slightly different workshop for me, in that I will be pushing myself both as a teacher and a shooter. As I said, I have never been there before, and de facto that is fuel for the fire. As a group, together, we will go all week for portfolio images. Here’s the link. My pack will be a bit different, too. Cameras, lenses, SB units, Quadra flash, stands, soft boxes, horned helmet, broadsword.
I have been sent North before. Below is my bud, George Divokey, an ornithologist who lives on Cooper Island part of each summer, studying a bird colony and watching it respond to the effects of warming. Coop, as it is referred to, is a small stretch of earth and ice just a touch north of the northernmost tip of the continental United States, Barrow, Alaska. They have this sign just outside town that you can visit and thus know you have done the truly northern thing. Why you need a sign to tell you that you are standing on icebound nothingness and your travel agent deserves a serious ass kicking, I’m not sure. But it’s there, for those truly compulsive, check the box type folks.
Geographic has sent me to Siberia (in more ways than one) on a couple of occasions. For a story called The Power of Light, I of course had to photographically experience the total lack thereof, which is certainly a contradiction of purpose and terms, if not outright stupid. (Journalists are always sent to the extremes of things, so sometimes what looks like a dumb move is exactly what you should be doing for a story.) Below is noontime on Lake Lavozero on the Murmansk Penninsula, in February. I have never been quite as cold as that day on that frozen stretch of near total whiteout.
The cold didn’t seem to bother these Russian fellas, but then ingesting an entire bottle of rotgut vodka will certainly calm the spirit and deaden the nerve endings. I have to think these guys stay on the ice as long as possible just to avoid the old lady. The women up there were tough, I tell ya. I stayed at this collection of cinder blocks billed as a hotel, and while in my room, I heard this tremendous, repetitive smashing noise just down the hall. I went to look, and there was an enormous Russian female chef with a pry bar, knocking loose chicken parts locked in blocks of ice out of a large freezer bin. She would then hoist the frozen chunks over her head with both hands, and smash them down onto the ancient linoleum. Legs and breasts would skitter everywhere. At least I knew ahead of time what was being served that night.
You know, I accept the fact at this point in my career that the phone call sending me to do a voluptuous spread on the beaches of Tahiti ain’t comin’ in. Hell, at this point, I’d settle for the Jersey shore, but that’s probably not in my future, either. No, historically I’ve been sent to icy backwaters in search of even the faintest glimmer of light. I got so used to this for a bit that I after I got fired from LIFE I gave myself a shooting job in Norilsk, which historically was a gulag old Josef used to send anyone who disagreed with him. When I visited, it was largely an economic gulag, and home to one of the largest nickel mining operations in the world.
Average life expentancy for a male working in this factory is 50, mostly because they breathe carbon dioxide gas all day. Needless to say, they haven’t heard of OSHA up there.
So–I’m looking forward to Iceland, needless to say. There will be light, color and life. Very excited…….more tk….
A few folks were interested in the a sketch of the light grid for the hyperwall deal of yesterday, so made a quick Iphone pic of the above. Now, when the figures are silhouetted against the screens, the foreground lighting (the 2 units on left) are off, and you get real mood and saturation.
When you need to see what’s going on the in the foreground, the other two units crank up. One is for the face, and one is for the ground, which is important to see, otherwise the guy just….floats….in….space…..
Easy to trigger the whole deal by just bouncing the commander signal off the drop ceiling. Then, just play with the values and power of the lights. Pretty straight forward. Obviously, the Honl grids are on the foreground lights so they don’t spill everywhere and kill the saturation of the screens.
Hey, leave it to Scott Kelby to take Groups and Channels where they have never been before–T-shirts! And hoodies and coffee mugs. Just ordered a bunch. Pretty cool, and what’s even cooler is that all the dough goes to The Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya, which Scott has been helping for some time now. Check these out at cafepress.com.
My bud Moose Peterson is in someplace called Bosque del Apache, which if you say it quick, sounds just like Santa Monica. Anyway, check out his blog ’cause he’s just shooting some amazing bird stuff. Read his blog today, and he says, “Our third day of Base Camp Bosque was a killer! There’s no doubt the bird count is down but it only takes one bird to make my day!” Gosh Moose, I feel the same way!
I gotta get that boy out more often……..more tk…….
This guy once said, get your camera in a different place. I tell ya, sometimes when you have a camera in your hands you just feel you want some sort of hovercraft. Something that will let you magically float your camera into a different, unique position. That’s what I wanted down in St. Lucia. Instead, I got a 14′ ladder on an inclined tin roof, with a couple of guys for sandbags. Looks comfy, don’t it? By the end of this shoot, I was definitely numnuts:-)
It enabled me to get this, which is no screamin’ headline of a picture, but gives Karolin Troubetzkoy, the organizational and marketing force of nature who keeps Anse Chastanet/Jade Mountain running, a bit of a different look. Anytime you can offer someone something with a bit of difference, you might be ahead of the game, just a little.
What can you say? The place is pure romance. You don’t just look at the pretty flowers and trees. You are in them. You don’t just listen to the birds. They have breakfast with you. And you don’t just breathe the air in that mechanical, gotta keep gulping to keep living way you do when you are walking the streets of NY. You drink it in. You savor it. It is not just another lungful. It is an infusion of well being.
Good thing to, cause I came back to reality with a thud. Lightning in Atlanta closed the airport for a bit on Sunday, and I didn’t roll into my driveway until 3:30am. Kept moving somehow, blogged, showered, and staggered to the truck for the 6am drive to Philly where I’m shooting some annual report type stuff. Today was a corker. My whole body feels like it’s got some miles on it, just like these old Saint Lucian toes I made a pic of in Soufriere.
Had a blast in St. Lucia this week, hanging and shooting at one of the most amazing places I have ever been, the Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain Resorts. I fell in love with the place from the very first time I went there, some 15 years ago. And just this week, during our first annual hot shoe flash lighting workshop, came the news that lots of other folks really love it, too. Travel and Leisure named Jade Mountain the number one resort in the Caribbean, and number three in the world. Anse Chastanet pulled in at number four in the Caribbean.
And here the place was letting us run around with a bunch of cameras and speed lights. Considering it’s the occasional home of celebs, famous football players, and even more famous “girls next door,” all of whom were in attendance last week, we could have been built in, go to paparazzi corps. No need, though. We had great subjects, witness the pic above.
Victor is the best dive buddy you could ever have. He had, by last count, a bit over 27,000 dives. He’s on a first name basis with most of the fish who abound on the Anse Chastanet reefs. He is one of those hardy souls who defies time, and gravity. This portrait was done with a new unit I am pretty batty about, the Elinchrom Quadra. At 400 watt seconds, it is small and incredibly light (the heads weigh .5 pounds each) and it can fit onto a big light shaping tool, like the deep Octa. Check out Scott Kelby’s blog for a cool production shot of this pic. Another episode in my ongoing adventure with expensive electronic equipment and large bodies of water.
What was even more special about the week was my wife Annie surprised me by just showing up, unannounced and unexpected. And my dear friends Scott and Kalebra Kelby came down as well. Scott took over the reins for the last afternoon of the class, doing real time Lightroom magic that had everybody jazzed. Scott’s artistry with that program defies belief.
We had thirteen participants, and we cruised through lots of flash stuff…..blending exposure, light shaping tools, hi speed sync, rear curtain, flash and blur, portraiture, you name it. Then we wrapped the week with real time shooting in Soufrieres, the little fishing village a short boat ride from the hotel.
Way cool. Even in this tiny little Carib town, there is the power of the internet, and the reach of Scott Kelby’s voice. We wandered into the local fire department and met a wonderful guy with the improbable but terrific name of Garvey Charlemagne, firefighter, photog, PhotoShop enthusiast, and…reader of Scott’s blog.
Scott walked into Garvey’s firehouse and I thought we were going to have to turn the hoses on him to calm him down. It was just great. They rolled out the red carpet for us, and a bunch of the class had a blast shooting around the house.
Then, on Friday afternoon, it was time for Junior and the flambos. Lighting up the beach at Anse Chastanet is a long held tradition, just a bit longer than the tradition I have of photographing Junior doing it. He is remarkably patient with me, seeing as the first time I shot him firing up flambos was in 1994.
Once again, Junior lit up the beach and the sky for our class. I first did this with him 15 years ago, shooting with a Fujica 617 Panorama camera. Times have changed, and this was done on a D3 with 7 SB900 units, running on manual and triggering off of a Pocket Wizard. No going TTL here. It would have been possible, I think, with a little sleight of hand at camera, but we hadn’t tried PW triggering of manual flash during the week, so we played with that.
Following light in one of the most beautiful places on earth. You know, sometimes, when you don’t have a client or a deadline to worry about, and you haven’t got a wire service editor calling you names, and the gear is working as well as your eyeballs, and the world just plays out in front of your lens in a wonderful way…..being a photog….doesn’t suck…..more tk…..
Joe make joke. This is not small flash. This is not a job for small flash. This is the kind of job that makes your speed light start calling those internet 800 numbers that promise, well, enhancement…..
We were in the neighborhood of 30,000 or so watt seconds on this one. This is the LBT, or Large Binocular Telescope, which is the largest ground based telescope in the world. Shooting this observatory was the lynchpin of the telescope story I just shot for Nat Geo’s July issue. It sits atop Mt. Graham in Arizona, at about 12,500 feet of elevation, or just enough elevation to make climbing steel catwalks with a couple large power packs in hand a dizzying experience. Size wise, it is the equivalent of a 22 story building.
Vantage point is from a 175 boom crane, which in the wind at 12,500 feet gives new meaning to shimmy, rattle and roll. The crane operators on the ground were watching the boom pole dance around in the sky and were saying novenas that the wind didn’t pick up and exceed limits. If that happened, they woulda pulled me outta the sky. Bye- bye picture.
What shocked the heck outta me was that we did it in a day. Rob Stephen from San Diego, Dan Bergeron from LA, Drew and myself hauled 40 plus cases of gear up there at dawn, had the crane truck blocked into the side of the hill, staged the lights, tested, clamped the cameras into the basket of the boom, got the position, did a lot of light tweaking over the radio, shot the picture, had dinner, boxed everything up and drove over 100 hairpin turns off the mountain at about 2 am the following morning. Life inside the the yellow border…
LOOKING FOR LIGHT IN ST. LUCIA…..
Great workshop going here at Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain in St. Lucia. We are having a ball. The island is so beautiful every turn you make just astounds. Yesterday Claudette posed in spiritual fashion for class in the jungles by Anse Mamin beach. The gang hit the beach and Drew and I got into the pool with the Sylinator. Scott Kelby shows up today to start his Lightroom magic. The class is stoked……