Archive for the ‘Travels’ Category
Just being in Hawaii with DLWS brought up in my head the kind of cool places the Moose man tows us along to.
Vermont in the fall….
Yellowstone in January….
Really big rocks…..
And now, the islands….
Definitely cool. I’ve been shooting a lot of stuff that don’t talk to me. That’s rough, cause I’m kinda chatty, and it’s hard for me to get into that serene, “become the forest,” kinda mood. Moose is trying to teach me, though, and teaching is one of the many things he’s good at.
So goodbye Hawaii….heading for the mainland. Actually happy about that. Nice to get back to someplace where they number their streets. I mean it’s tough asking where Kalihalimannawanna St. is. “Oh, I see, I take a left on Makalakaleka Avenue, bear right on Nakepunawallamaka Blvd. and then at the T intersection…”
Man, if you’re a non-islander, it’s a challenge.
Anyway, it was a great trip. DLWS rocked. Moose and I shot together in a pool. Yep, me and the Mooster in our bathing suits in the pool, whole class watching us. I tell ya, put us both in there and it was definitely high tide. Water sloshing over the sides, and me and Moose out there like a coupla channel buoys. Shit. I think he brought a D3X out there with him. Pretty ballsy, but then again, I think it’s Mike Corrado’s camera. Don’t tell Mikey!
High speed sync, one SB 900, 8000th at about f2.0, 200mmf2 lens. I tell ya, that lens is the sharpest telephoto lens I’ve ever used. It’s opened new doors for me with my dance photography.
Got a chance to update Where Is Laurie’s Hair?
In the pool!
She used Drew’s hair gel cause she said her hair wasn’t behaving. Hadn’t been to the salon in a while, which really surprised me, cause usually the top of her head is as meticulously tended to as a Japanese garden. She’s just been traveling alot, doing her own workshops, and hadn’t gotten in to the hair guy to do the blond tips she usually sports. The staff was really disappointed, cause we’re all in agreement that Laurie’s got really great tips. Hmmm. Did that come out right?
Moving along, here’s the crazy kids who make all this happen, my dear friends Moose and Sharon…..
Nice light, nice folks…..
Speaking of folks, I saw something on Kauai that really stuck with me. We were at the blowhole (no, not the U. S. Senate) but the Spouting Horn, right on the shoreline, where onrushing wave action sluices through rock formations and spouts 20 or 30 feet in the air. They have a fenced off observation point and i was up there, just doing my usual lazy ass thing. Spouting water! Cool. There it goes again. Where do we eat?
An elderly couple shuffled up the path, and I mean shuffled. These folks were ancient. Had probably been together 60 or so years. He had a cane, she used a walker. They were both stooped and bent–a pair of walking S curves. They got up to to the fence and looked out, enjoying the day and the late light.
Next thing I know, the gentleman moved away from the fence and held up a cell phone camera, beckoning his wife to look his way. She turned, positively beaming. She had one of those sun hats on, the kind you tie around your neck with a big, old fashioned ribbon. She was beautiful. He shot a couple of those “my honey at the shore” shots. They came together for a brief hug. Then they shuffled off.
I didn’t shoot. It was their moment, not mine. Two things ran through my head as I smiled both inwardly and outwardly. First was how much I missed Annie.
Second came to me as I watched them make their way, very slowly, in the sunset light. They were so frail the sun could have been shining right through them. And they were gone. And soon, they really will be gone, most likely. But they were here. Duly noted with a cell phone camera, an instrument much younger than they are. That snap might have been circulated already to dozens of grand kids and great grand kids, and might be saved, you know, forever. That last trip grandma and grandpa took to the islands. Remember that picture when she looked so pretty? By the shore?
Our pictures are our footprints. It’s the best way to tell people we were here.
Like Indiana Jones said, “It’s not the years, it’s the mileage.”
I went to Vegas on Feb. 10, fresh as a daisy. Then I placed the Vegas Casino Forced Indoor Air Mask over my nose and mouth for a week and got soggy, you know, like a 24 hour old bag of MacDonalds fries. Our first order of business was a Vegas casting. That got the trip off with a bang.
Word musta got out beyond the agencies somehow, cause a couple of these young ladies came by with their, uh, agent, and, uh, well, I looked over at Lynn and asked if she had placed a call to the local Roller Derby. She shook her head “no” vigorously. One of them got out on the seamless and asked if she should pose “like this” with a voice from the deep end of a barbershop quartet. First time I ever saw Drew nervous behind the camera.
Truth be told, there were some lovely young ladies who did show up, some truly talented people, and we were very lucky in our choices. I was blessed to work with a stunning model out at the Pioneer Saloon, in Jean, Nevada. Great place. Stop by for a beer, or a shot. Actually, that’s all you can stop by for cause they don’t serve food. Got this.
D3X, 14-24mm f2.8 lens, one SB900 out in the parking lot, gelled with a full CTO, and triggered TTL with an SU800 running off of 2 SC29 cords. To sorta borrow a phrase from my bud Martin Prihoda, who runs a terrific workshop called “Big Lights Far Away,” this is “One Small Light, Far Away.”
Smoke is courtesy of a hazer, which I highly recommend over a smoke machine. Smoke machines burp out a big dollop of smoke which you then have to spread out by running through with Tri-grips or flat boards or your winter jacket and flap around like you’re doing an interpretive dance. Hazers just put out a steady, ongoing smog. Think of it as having Dr. Phil on the set with you all day.
Then I drove to Santa Fe. 10 hours, 650 miles. It went quick though, cause about midway some dude in an Escalade with kids in the back just about sucked out my headlights blowing past me and I noticed he had “The Phantom Menace” playing on the ceiling monitors. So just tailgated the shit out of him so I could see the action. I got the dialogue pretty well memorized, so all I needed was the moving pictures. Really made the trip go fast.
Great week in Santa Fe, even with the kebab factor. We tulle’d up Mawgie in what has become my favorite garage in Santa Fe.
Mawgie is the mother of the irrepressible Maddie, who you may remember from an earlier blog.
Then it was onto Vancouver, and thence to Tampa, all the while having DLWS in Hawaii in my sights. (Kept telling myself, “You’ll make it, you’ll make it.”)
Hit the plane, ate a bite and fell asleep over Nebraska (why not?) and woke up about to land in Honolulu. Wheels up again to Kauai and I was in the exit row, so I got the speech, which was slightly more elaborate than I’m used to. I was cautioned…”in the event of a water landing.” Like there’s another kind in the South Pacific?
Then I was told, “Please remove the emergency door and first look outside to assess whether the situation is dangerous.” Hmmm. So. What am I supposed to do if the resounding belly flop the plane just made that was the equivalent of a dinner bell for the local sharks and there’s a bunch of those finned fellas queued up by the exit door like a bunch of old folks waiting for the Saturday morning Ihop buffet special? Stay inside the sinking plane? Try to distract them by throwing out a bunch of those Bischof cookies?
I think not.
Then she cautioned about the door weighing 41 pounds. “Please throw it away, and don’t hang onto it it. It is not a flotation device.”
No shit. And here I was gonna try surfing with that puppy.
But I made it, and well worth the travail.
CAUSE I FOUND A MOOSE IN A TUNNEL!
I tell ya, you look around, and you never know what you might find. The ever gracious Peterson’s worked out a trip for the DLWS staff to float aimlessly (we’re good at that) through the irrigation canals and tunnels that used to serve Kauai’s massive sugar cane fields. Very cool. So there we were, Moose and I, with our butts screwed into inflatable cheerios, drifting uncontrollably through these hand carved tunnels and waterways. Dueling Coolpix!
Check out catching the flash….couldn’t do that on purpose if my life depended on it. I mean the Coolpix are way cool, but usually you can press the shutter, go out for coffee, walk the dog and wash the car, and come back and the little pocket darling is still making up its mind. DLWS, Hawaii style starts on Sunday. More tk….
And people are going nuts about it, emailing him, wanting to know about every bit and piece. He showed the kit during the video, pulling out all the stuff, but not a couple of the crucial items, such as the heating pad and the flask of Geritol.
He’s one tough sonofagun, though I tell ya. Check out the fight we had on the set…..
Actually, it was a pleasure to knock out this instructional video with Bob, who is one of my dear friends. When you are still carrying cameras and shooting great stuff at his age, there are several things that are true. You are a complete gentleman and a pro. You know your stuff and learned a long time ago that this business is all about what comes around going around, again and again. Bob, who considering his career as a Geographic shooter and peerless travel photographer and writer, could easily have let Mr. Ego out for a healthy, career long romp, has never done that. He checks the self important bullshit at the door, rolls up his sleeves, and gets to work. He is one of those rare commodities; a good shooter who is also a good teacher. He communicates well, and his avuncular “Sit back and Bob’s gonna explain it all for you” style puts people at ease and lets them learn in a zone where they are comfortable making mistakes and asking questions, which is the real key to any teaching environment.
Bob and I are the same age, by the way.
Take a look at a couple of his pix…He has, as he says, over time, covered the waterfront.
This tome is a must if you want to dive into the competitive world of travel photography, either as a pro, or as traveler who simply wants good pictures to show at the end of the experience. He talks composition, lighting and flash, photographing people, using color, you name it. He shows you work flow and what to do with all those gigabytes when you come home. And he talks turkey about how to survive out there, right from when you get on the airplane, to getting to the hotel and then up and down the river at dawn or dusk. In a word, its complete. The whole nine or even ten yards. Right from when you pack your bag till when you get home and unpack that same bag. (If you read this book, there might even be a good chance that when you unpack, you’ll still have the same stuff you packed:-)
One of the things Bob has learned over the years, is to travel light. So, here you go…..
The Bob Krist Lighting Kit, As Seen on TV!
Bracket: Morris MTH-202
Smallballhead: Giotto MH-1004 Mini Ballhead
Cold shoe on ballhead: Stroboframe General Purpose shoe
Compact lightstand: Bogen Manfrotto Retractable
Collapsible Umbrella: Westcott 43″ Collapsible Umbrella with Removable Cover
Rolling case: Stormcase iM2500
You can get most of this stuff from Jeff Snyder at Adorama (firstname.lastname@example.org) and if you ping him, he will be able to put the whole damn thing together for you.
Trust me, if Bob can pull and haul it, so can you:-)
I joshed a bit the other day about our precarious place in the tachycardiac economic universe, prompted by yet another edition of the ongoing black humor fest Bill D. and I have been engaged in now for, oh, about 20 years. Things are admittedly a bit terrifying of late, which in its own way is reassuring.
Hear me out. Engaging in anything creative pushes the meter anywhere from uncomfortable to risky to flat out screaming bejeesus anxiety attack status. Just does. Couple that with the uncertain (now there’s one way to put it) nature of being a shooter and trying to make a living at this, especially now, and you can see your way to terrifying real easy. But, when has this not been terrifying? So there you go. At least that hasn’t changed a whit, and immediately we’re back to reassuring. Stable, even.
Whew! Nothing like a big, fat juicy rationalization or 30 or 40 to get you through the day!
As the bhagwan says, the only constant is change, and that dude is definitely onto something.
I grew up shooting for mom and dad’s magazines. You know, National Geographic, LIFE, Sports Illustrated, Time, Newsweek. Change has hit those books hard and they have come in for some rough sledding. LIFE of course, after giving Lazarus a run for his money, finally gave it up for good. When I was a staffer there, I would always note that it was appropriately titled, seeing as it would reincarnate endlessly. And, of course, “Death” didn’t test well.
Nat Geo is still kicking, and bless ‘em, they’ve kept me a bit busy this year. I tell ya, though, I wish I had a nickel for every time I’ve been in the field and somebody said, “Oh yeah, my mom and dad used to get that. The attic was full of old issues.” That usually produces from me a strained smile that is more akin to a grimace than an expression of shared joy and reminiscence. Much more likely now, though, you get, “National Geographic, dude, cool! When’s this gonna be on?”
No, no, young person. This is for the printed page. It has no buttons or blinking lights. You don’t turn it on. I hear that from a teenager and my D3 feels like some parchment and a quill pen.
All this uncertainty is okay, though. I’ve been fired from almost every job I’ve ever had, so by now, I guess I’m comfortable with not knowing where the next assignment or check might be coming from. I was fired from my very first job in journalism in NY, at the NY Daily News. It was fun while it lasted. I’m still friends with some of the gang there, though the real classic old characters have long since shot their last holder.
My bud Johnny Roca, a terrific street smart shooter and all around NY original is still there, 35 years in. Quintessential ladies’ man who had a phone booth of an apartment in Tudor City with nothing in it but a circular bed and an entertainment system. The whole staff would live vicariously through John and his tales of leggy women in the windswept dunes of the Hamptons, where he would regularly seclude himself for much of the summer.
One year he had copped himself a good chunk of freelance work and bought a convertible Mercedes. He called me up. “Joe, Joe, you can’t believe it. I got women diving in the car with me, they’re diving in the car. It puts out a male scent, I swear to God.” He would tell tales of his exploits and a bunch of the photo guys’ eyes would glaze over in rapture. Of course it wasn’t that tough a crowd to impress, as many had, you know, a house in Massapequa, a battle axe for a wife and their groins had stopped working sometime during the Truman administration. Their idea of really cutting loose on a weekend was to pop open a brewski and fire up the weed wacker.
I don’t have 35 years in anywhere, having been fired from the News during the Pleistocene Era, and, from that point taken, well, a different road. Not so much a road, really, more of a cow path. But back then, I was bent on being a newspaper guy. Johnny and I would ban together as apprentices in the studio, waiting for a spot on the street to break open. We would pass the time by complaining to Al Pucci, the lab manager, about our schedule. Al was a lovely, decent man with one helluva stutter. (Think K-k-k-Ken in A Fish Called Wanda. “Otto tried to k-k-k-k-kiss me….”) It was one of those painfully wonderful moments in life that would occur when Bill Umstead, managing editor, crashing the night owl at 5:30 would scream over the newsroom intercom about where the hell was his page one, and poor Al, also on the blower, under pressure, on deadline, would attempt an answer.
The silver lining in this of course was that, if page one was not ready at that moment, Al’s crafting of a response would give the printers a bit of extra time to slosh the print through the fixer and slap it on the drum dryer.
The printers were a cool bunch. Union to the core, and utterly unflappable, seeing as one of the chemicals in regular employ back there in the dark, right next to the dektol and the hypo, was Johnny Walker Black. (Does wonders for a flat neg.) They had unique skills. Soon after the night owl went to bed, the presses would start to roll, and literally, the entire building would start shaking. At that point, getting a sharp print meant that the enlarger had to be oscillating at the same frequency as the print easel, and boy these guys had that down pat.
They spoke their mind, too. Bobby Hayes, master printer and ex-jar head, was hammered a great deal of the time, and come one newsroom Christmas party time, had a brisk exchange with Mike O’Neill, the exec editor. The News would give out Christmas bonuses every year, based on length of service, but it was ridiculous. Guys with 30 years in would get, like, 300 bucks. O’Neill, a glad hander who spoke like his mouth was full of marbles, was working the crowd, and had the occasion to wish Bobby Christmas tidings. Bobby was appreciative. He thanked Mike for his bonus, but added something along the lines of, “Usually, when I get fucked, I like to be lying down in a dark room.” O’Neill mumbled something like, “Sorry to hear you feel that way, Bobby,” and meandered off in search of some egg nog.
Anyway, back in the lab, Johnny and I would appeal to Al’s better instincts to make our skeds more regular and desirable and Al would simply say, “Y-y-y-y-you boys want a regular schedule? Get a job in a b-b-b-b-b-bank.”
Never did that, either, cause I suck at math. It was the freelance photo life for me. Until I got a staffer job at LIFE, of course. I got fired from that one, too. In the waning days, they brought in some dipstick of an efficiency expert to go around and see if corners could be cut. He came into my office and I fruitlessly tried to explain that photography couldn’t be metered on an efficiency scale, couldn’t be plotted or graphed and wages and hours and time spent didn’t necessarily add up to usable “product,” to borrow his term.
None of it washed, or even dented his numerically driven psyche. He tried to prove his point by singling out one of my pictures, and telling me, while jabbing his finger at it, that he just didn’t understand that photo.
I told him that was vastly reassuring. I was fired soon thereafter. Actually not. In Time Warner parlance, I was “riffed.” (Reduction in force.)
SI is still going strong, though not according to upper management who would have you believe that their poor magazine is the equivalent of the guy on the street with a tin cup and an eye patch. (They would try to convince you of this from their regular table at Elaine’s.) Steve Fine and Jimmy Colton, the bosses in photo, routinely do more and more with less and less, witness SI’s stellar photography outta Beijing.
Colton and I go way back. As kids together we were over in Poland for the first papal trip JP2 made to his homeland. Talk about doing more with less. Newsweek was always a distant second to Time in money and resources. As Jimmy used to say, “Time is a hospital and Newsweek’s a mash unit.”
I was designated as the courier to get Newsweek’s last batch of deadline Ektachrome back to NY. Sheesh, was I nervous, sitting in the bare bones waiting room of the then Communist Warsaw airport, clutching a bag of about 200 rolls representing the efforts of some 7 or 8 fellow photogs. I was routed outta Poland to Zurich, where I picked up Swiss Air, first class. The home office knew the trip had been hell, and sprang for a seat up front.
Hot damn! First class on Swiss Air! The flight attendants were super nice, constantly filling my plate with fancy foods, even though I’m sure they were mildly bemused by having someone whose face more likely belonged on the side of a milk carton than in one of their first class recliners. That stuff, by the way, doesn’t happen anymore. Tough enough to get a day rate, much less a first class ticket.
Called Jimmy at the beginning of the Beijing Olympics, and told him my ruse worked. He was like, “What?” I told him I had circulated a rumor on the internet of a major sporting event happening in China, and SI took it, hook, line and sinker and sent their entire staff out of the country, creating a wonderful window for us lonely freelancers. We had a good laugh, but I didn’t get a job out of it. Last day I worked for them was last November, when I put Shawn Johnson on a balance beam in an Iowa cornfield. One day job, which produced the lead double truck for their Year In Pix female athlete portfolio last December.
Didn’t like what ran.
Would have preferred this.
What I really would have preferred is for the clouds to hold off for a bit longer, but no. Slogging a 300 or so pound balance beam outta the Iowa mud was one of the aspects of photography I don’t believe they dwell on at say, Brooks or RIT.
It ain’t the way it used to be, but what is? There’s never been any guarantees, or forgiveness, or for the last 10 or more years, fairness, in this industry. But here’s the thing.
We are out there, in the air, in the world. We don’t go to a cubicle farm everyday and stair at dismaying numbers on a screen. We make pictures. At the end of the day, we create something potentially significant that did not exist at the beginning of the day. We go forward, despite the uncertainty. Because this is an act of love and passion, which defies reason and prudence.
And we make that occasional good frame, the one that sings, the one that lifts our hearts and the hearts of everyone who sees it. That well and truly is as good as it gets. More tk.
Jerry Courvoisier is a good guy. He’s also a terrific shooter, a great Photoshop/Lightroom guy, and a gifted teacher. I love to teach with him cause he’s down to earth and easygoing about everything. We get along, in short. We often teach the National Geographic Expeditions workshop courses offered via the Santa Fe Workshops, and it’s always fun, even when he gets the entire class to pick up buckeyes in the park and pitch them at me when I start a lecture. When we teach an NGS class in Santa Fe for instance, we often assign the class to go to the town square and be adventurous with their camera. We go to one of the benches in the square and sit there, ostensibly to be a resource to the class, but in truth we just talk and toot, doing our own version of Grumpy Old Men.
But boy, did he screw up. Last time I was in Santa Fe, he proposed a bet. We calculate our weight (vetted by our wives, who are scrupulous and honest about this stuff, something Jerry and I would never be) and whoever lost more weight by the time I got back to SF wins. Loser buys dinner at Geronimo, a really tony restaurant on Canyon Road, the heart of the gallery district, a street where a lot of rich folks go to buy really bad art.
I arrive in Santa Fe on Saturday, and man, is he in trouble.
Jerry sent me an email after we made the bet, noting his weight, again, with Julie’s stamp of approval. He evidently has got one of these fancy pants scales at home cause he sent his weight (won’t tell you exactly, but it was north of a deuce), his body mass indicator, his muscle to fat ratio, his shoe size, his favorite cologne, and whether he wears boxers or briefs. This machine calculates all that stuff in one shot. We ain’t got one of those, so Annie and I jumped in the car and headed out on Interstate 95, where Annie pulled off at an inspection station and threw my sorry ass on a truck scale, where I clocked out at an eye popping 211.
Jeez. Who knew. I fell off the gym wagon about 3 years ago, when work kinda sorta took over my life. I got real busy, and real lazy, at the same time. Another unfortunate trend intersected with this development. I tied on the feed bag, big time. There wasn’t a plate of pasta out there I didn’t like, from straight up spaghetti with meatballs to expense account truffle ravioli soaked in squid urine. Not good. I was like a hot air balloon, and 211 wasn’t even my low/high point. I remember after one really bad, excruciating job consoling myself with a beer and a Baby Watson cheesecake. I topped out at 215.
Leave it to Jerry to motivate me. (Geronimo is a really expensive restaurant, and their truffle ravioli in squid pee is excellent.) I’ve been working my ass off, kinda the way I used to. I figure this is a good time to attack, cause I know Jerry’s been working on this book he can’t talk about much, but it will be all about post production, workflow, digital asset management, you name it. Given the depth of his knowledge of these areas, it’s gonna be one of those go-to, gotta-have books that will stay by your computer for a long time. Pretty sure it’s out very soon, like this summer. Track it and sign up now, is my advice.
So I gotta figure Jerry’s been up at night, stressing about this book, writing actions and workflow plans and scarfing Freihoffer’s. Too bad for him, cause I’ve lost 25 pounds, and I’m around 190, cruising for 180. Annie’s been helping, cause she’s super healthy, and a great cook. She’s been preparing all this stuff that probably lives on the underside of mushrooms but tastes like a Delmonico steak the way she spices it. (How does a man get this lucky?) Jerry will get off easy at Geronimo’s though, cause I pretty much consume only rainwater, bark and sprouts now.
Poor Jer. i think he proposed the bet to get back at me cause when we teach together I demonstrate flash by using his head as a fill card. He never gets ruffled, though. That’s why it’s great teaching with him. I always say, he’s got good bedside manner. We’ll have a workshop participant positively melting down, I mean just spritzing about some thing or another, like I lost my files, or where did my pictures go, or I turned on my computer and it’s making a noise like a thirty horsepower milking machine, and I’m ready to go for the defibillator and shout CLEAR! when Jerry walks up and says okay, well, let’s take a look, maybe you have them behind that other file on your desktop, the one with the pictures of the family trip to Niagara Falls and those other almost certainly personal pictures, and, ahh, there they are, underneath everything, just around the corner and down the hallway inside this monster Dell that causes a brownout in most of Santa Fe every time you turn it on. There they are!
He’s calm, in word. Knowledgeable. Along with Reid Callanan and Renie Haiduk, he’s helped build Santa Fe into a powerhouse workshop center, especially in the realm of digital and workflow. It’ll be good to see him. All 200 plus pounds of him.