Monthly Archives: July 2009

Post-Palouse Post

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Photo © Bob Krist

Moving on to Montana, after a frustrating couple of days in Palouse…either grayish blue hazy cloudless skies, or just plain totally socked in! A few flashes of decent light between the clouds. But basically, no middle ground. Fortunately, the B&W infrared isn’t as fussy about haze as color and can make even the wispiest clouds pop.

Killed me because I found a couple of tasty new locations, had a plane lined up to do aerials, but “wizzout ze light, we are nuzzing.” Plus, Peggy says this is supposed to be relaxing trip…so why have I been up at 4:30am the last four mornings? Guess I’ll just have to come back! Or rely on my film archives of the area from my first trip.

We did find a very fine restaurant, Swillys, in Pullman and enjoyed a bottle of wonderful Walla Walla white wine  (say that three times fast), so my observation that the landscape in the Palouse, but not the food and wine, really reminded of Tuscany needs some (but not a lot) of modification.

It’s a little off topic, but remember my recent post about the death of Kodachrome? Well, some folks over at a Leica forum are holding a Kodachrome shooting contest. I think you have to shoot it in a Leica (I didn’t read all the rules) but the poster had a very interesting tagline.

I have to admit, it’s a very colorful way of stating the difference in the look between digital and film, a difference I’ve often noticed myself as I’m pixel-peeping at 100%, but never thought to state it so, um, graphically.

“Digital is like shaved legs on a man – very smooth and clean but there is something acutely disconcerting about it.”

Remember, I didn’t say it, I’m just reporting it.  Now, discuss among yourselves, and have a great weekend!

Hit the jump for a couple more Palouse images, and I’ll keep you posted.

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Photo © Bob Krist

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Picturing Palouse

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Photo © Bob Krist

Off for a bit of R&R with Peggy. We visited her family out in Colorado, and now are making a long lazy loop around the northwest. First stop, the Palouse. I was here 10 years ago with one of my sons, and we had a great time, and made a few decent pictures. This time, the weather is a lot more hot, hazy, and cloudy, so we’ll see…

And of course, this time it’s digital, including some black and white infrared with my Lifepixel-converted D70. I get up early, she sleeps in, we tool around the countryside in the evenings…no assignment, no editors, no pressure, not bad! The area looks like Tuscany, but, um, the food and wine (if you can find wine) are a lot different:-).

Last night on Steptoe Butte (where the picture above was made at sunrise this morning, between passing squalls), I met another photographer named Jack Lien. I recognized his name immediately from my research, because he runs a lot of photo tours here.  He didn’t recognize my name (so he wasn’t being nice out of professional courtesy) but that didn’t stop him from offering a ton of tasty advice on some of his favorite routes in the area.

It’s great to meet such a generous shooter. A lot of people in his position would be guarded, especially since he makes a part of his living showing folks around. Just based on my brief interactions with Jack last night and today at breakfast (we’re in the same motel), I’d bet his photo tours of the region would be first class. If you’re thinking of exploring this photogenic area (and you should, cuz it’s gorgeous!), you couldn’t do better than tagging along with Jack.

We’ll be here another day or so and then on to Montana.  I’ll keep you posted.

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Photo © Bob Krist

One flash portraits for Nikon

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Photo © Bob Krist

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Photo © Bob Krist

Recently, I got a small gig from Nikon to shoot some “travely environmental portraits with the D90 and one SB600 that look like something an amateur photo enthusiast could do.” When they need stuff that looks like a pro could have done it, Joe gets the call!

But since I’m probably the only guy in the Nikon stable who doesn’t find using the D90 or SB 600 to be a hardship, I got the nod. Sometimes, it pays to be a simpleton.

Of course, the D90 is my main machine these days, so that was a no-brainer. The SB 600 did the job admirably. Once I got the hang of its menu navigation (yes, it’s different from the 800 and the 900), and realizing that I had about a stop less power to work with, it was smooth sailing.

It’s a bit smaller than the 800 and a lot smaller than the 900….If it had a receptacle for the SD-8A battery pack, I’d probably pick up a couple. Although 4 Lithium AAs did wonders in this unit.

Hit the jump to see a couple of other examples. Most of the keepers came using the SB 600 in slow synch, off-camera mode, with the D90 pop-up as the controller. I either bounced the unit off a wall, or through a white reflector or small umbrella.

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Overhead views….

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Photo © Bob Krist

These days, you really have to watch your overhead. That goes for your business, as well as your airline travel (and occasionally, your photography. An aerial, like this one of a sheep roundup in Iceland, can really spice up your coverage).

As far as business practices go, I’ve always gone lean and mean, with my wife Peggy handling the stock and the billing and the office stuff, not to mention single handedly dealing with our three boys when I was on the road. Why a few years ago, I even started paying her…I know, but what can I say, I’m a generous sort:-).

The same cannot be said of the airlines though. They’re getting more venal all the time. Including their carryon allowances.

The long and short of it is that here in the US, we get away with a lot. From what I’ve seen lately, one carryon and one personal item can mean anything up to and including  two steamer trunks…if you can drag them to the gate, more than likely, they’ll let you carry it on (that is, if there’s any overhead left by the time you board. Which is why you need to patronize one or more airlines enough to get into their Elite programs with advanced boarding, OR book seats in the back of the plane, which most airlines board first).

But overseas, they’re really strict about the definition of “one” and  “carryon.” Strangely enough, it means one really lightweight bag. And they weigh them, and they can be really sticky. So avoid culture shock when connecting through foreign countries; before you fly check posts like this one for ideas on how to slim down, and know your airline rules.

For your added convenience, and thanks to my friend Steven Frischling, of Flying with Fish fame, hit the jump to get a list of the carryon allowances for 68 different airlines. Continue reading »

Audio Au Go Go

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I’ve been fooling around with audio enough this last year and half to have finally put together a kit that meets my criteria: good sound, versatility and small size. Audio geeks philes will tell you that there are better choices in every one of these categories, (although the Olympus is highly respected even by them), but these are all plenty high-quality for what we photogs need to do, while retaining the all important  portability factor.

The lynchpin of the setup is the Olympus LS 10 recorder….tiny and full featured with good sound. It has great built-in mics and they have foam windscreens, but adding a crazy-looking “dead cat” windscreen over the top is the best for windy conditions

The Koss Portapro Stereo Headphones are great because they sound good, block out a lot of the external noise, but fold into the themselves for a tiny package. Not as tiny as earbuds, mind you, but better able to block out external sound. Using headphones whenever possible will really help you hear stuff like humming fridges and vibrating airconditioners, and all that subtle ambient sound that can really screw up your audio.

An external mic is good, and you might as well get one that does something your built-ins won’t do, and that is focus its throw out a bit so you can record at a distance. A shot gun is great for this, but most of these are a foot or longer. Enter the tiny Sennheiser MKE 400.

It’s a few inches long, weighs ounces, runs on one AAA and offers as an accessory  its own dead cat (not shown) and does an outstanding job. You’ll need to buy a headphone extension cord (same thing you use on your iPod) to connect the mic to the recorder, because this mic is designed to ride on top of a mini-camcorder and has a short built in cord (this is my only critique of this fine mic…that little cord should be modular and user-replaceable).

And finally, the original Gorillapod works well either screwed into the recorder and used as a stand (and one that you can wrap around the back of a chair or something so you can place that recorder really close to your interview subject), or as a handle for the shotgun (you never want to handle your mic and/or recorder directly, because it’ll record that sound.)

Total weight: about a pound or so.

Total cost: Under $700 (it kills me, but those dead cats make up 1/7th of that price! At $50 a piece, the price/value ratio is totally out of whack considering their, um, low-techness, but absolutely commensurate with their value in the wind!)

Total size: Fits in a camera bag pocket or small waistpouch.

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