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Monthly Archives: June 2009
I love the pageantry of the horsey set, like four-in-hand carriage races and fox hunts (especially if the fox gets away), because these activities are just so downright photogenic. Recently, in my never-ending quest to improve my multimedia chops (in the hopes that someday, somewhere, a client will actually pay for this skill set!), I sent myself to the annual Point to Point race at Winterthur in the Brandywine to shoot and gather sound for an audio slide show.
There were a fair amount of guys there shooting seriously, with big motor drives and long, fast, glass. Ever since my early days on the staff of the Hudson Dispatch, I’ve always felt intimidated going to sporting events to shoot because, frankly, I don’t know much about sports and consequently, I’m pretty bad at shooting them!
Plus the fact that by the time I was able to afford those giant cameras and lenses, my back was too bad to carry them:-). But I managed to be the only guy to get this shot (both the horse and rider were okay). Hit the jump for the reason why. Continue reading
I finished my audio slide show on blues clubs in Chicago , with a music bed I licensed from the great John Primer, seen above. I’ve put up the show on my website and linked it rather than post it here because I can show it in a larger window on my website. In the near future, it’ll also be running, in a smaller size, on National Geographic Traveler’s Intelligent Travel blog.
I learn something new with every show I put together…mostly, I’m learning how hard it is to get good pictures and good audio. And how hard it is to get non-professional speakers (that is, people who aren’t politicians) to speak in sound bites rather normal (i.e. “far-ranging”) conversations.
I had two wonderful, knowledgeable narrators in Barry Dolins, director of the Chicago Blues festival, and Buddy Guy, the legendary bluesman who carved out a 10 minute time slot for me on the night that Koko Taylor died, even though he was inundated at his club by Chicago and national media who wanted his take on the loss of another Chicago blues legend. So many of their insights had to get cut, and another bluesman’s interview got cut altogether….oh audio editing, you are such a cruel master.
But I was encouraged, as a DX format D90-shooter, how much I could get away with at ISO 1600 with an 85mm f/1.8 Nikkor and a 30mm f/1.4 Sigma. Yes, I sure could have used a D700 or D3‘s ISO 6400 magic, but my gear is lighter, cheaper and less obvious (and that latter quality can be important when you’re hanging out in juke joints way in the outskirts of Chicago in the middle of the night! I was wishing for the “invisible” mode here and there, but I don’t think either Canon or Nikon is working on that feature).
Soundslides Plus , and its creator Joe Weiss, continue to be a joy to work with, although I notice that now iMovie 09 and the latest version of Fotomagico both allow the integration of stills and movie clips in their slideshows. This is a feature that all multimedia journalists will need (and Final Cut Pro and Express both facilitate), but after my first few forays into video, I’m happy just to be doing stills and audio at the moment….if I have to add video, I think I need to grow a second head and a couple more arms!
UPDATE: It’s ironic that this post runs on the day that Kodak announced the death of Kodachrome. Yes, that old stalwart is no more. Alas, we knew you well. R.I.P.
My head is just chock full of useless trivia, like vintage song titles that make great blog entry headlines. But there is someone else, besides Sandy Denny and Judy Collins , “Who Knows Where the Time Goes.”
He’s a photographer named George Remington from Cleveland, Ohio and he compiled a list that more or less sums up the reasons why our lives are being sucked down the twittering rabbit holes of the info-cloud and the eternal, unending, everlasting upgrade shuffle.
So if you’re wondering why you’re working harder but getting a lot less done (and a lot less billed!) make a mental note of how long it takes you to reach the bottom of the list, and you may lament, as I do, how many days pass without ever making it down to those two last items, despite all the conveniences of our new digital reality.
(BTW, the watch illustration is a shot I did for Nikon’s “Hands on Guide to Creative Lighting” DVD using Nikon’s SB-R1C1 closeup Speedlight setup…a nifty little “piece of kit,” as the Brits would say.)
So, hit the jump for the list that describes where my time, and probably yours, goes….
One of the better assignments I’ve had was to shoot a story on ryokan, the traditional inns of Japan. My brother Gary was the writer, and we got to crisscross the entire country and stay at a variety of inns from the very fancy to the unelectrified rustic.
One thing the editors wanted was a sequence of shots, showing a Western couple checking in and going through the activities of a typical ryokan day (i.e. you take a bath, have tea, eat dinner, and then go to sleep…the latter three all in the same room!)
We couldn’t afford pro models, but our fixer found a very nice, attractive young couple who were teaching English nearby and were agreeable to pose…but they only had two hours on a Saturday afternoon between 3-5pm to do it! They couldn’t stick around for the “futon” shot.
It was looking like we might have to sacrifice that night shot for a while there, but fortunately, I had a complete battery-operated flash setup with me…five units with stands, gels, radios the works.
To see how we made day into night, hit the jump.
Google, the info-cloud juggernaut, has just pulled the classic ruse of every company seeking art for free by soliciting well-known illustrators to contribute work to the “skins” of the company’s new web browser for “exposure.” No money, just “exposure.”
This is a familiar ploy to anybody in our business, usually coming from two-bit outfits scrambling to survive, or just plain unscrupulous concerns who know they can take advantage of artists with the promise of “exposure” or “links.”
My stock answer to these requests is usually something along the lines of “when my supermarket accepts links for food, and my bank accepts exposure on my website for mortgage payments, I will be happy to provide my work to you on the same terms.”
According to the NY Times, a lot of illustrators are refusing the offer and complaining loudly. Let’s stand behind our brush-and-pencil-wielding brethren. I might actually try Microsoft’s new search engine (hmmm, out of the frying pan, into the fire???).
This behavior, by the way, comes from a company that is making hundreds of billions of dollars and whose unofficial slogan is “Don’t Be Evil.” Oh, pass me that well-used cup of cynicism, so that I may take another deep drink….
According to Wikipedia, Google’s unofficial company motto, Don’t Be Evil, came about this way:
“Don’t be evil” is the informal corporate motto (or slogan) of Google, originally suggested by Google employees Paul Buchheit and Amit Pate at a meeting. Buchheit, the creator of Gmail, said he “wanted something that, once you put it in there, would be hard to take out,” adding that the slogan was “also a bit of a jab at a lot of the other companies, especially our competitors, who at the time, in our opinion, were kind of exploiting the users to some extent.”
“Don’t be evil” is said to recognize that large corporations often maximize short-term profits with actions that destroy long-term brand image and competitive position. Supposedly, by installing a Don’t Be Evil culture the corporation establishes a baseline for decision making that can enhance the trust and image of the corporation that outweighs short-term gains from violating the Don’t Be Evil principles.
So soon they forget….