Monthly Archives: November 2009

Black Friday Blues

WTD848

www.whattheduck.net

I petitioned the CEO/CFO of my organization again, as I do near the end of every year, for a budget to upgrade my aging Mac G5 PowerPC tower to a sexy, fast, new Quad Core Mac Pro with lots of RAM and huge drives.

(My presentation usually goes something like this: “C’mon, honey, puhleeze. You know it’s a tax deduction, right? It’s gonna help me get one of those high-paid editorial assignments I’ve been reading about in PDN….c’mon….“)

And lo and behold, this year, she said yes!

So that means that, now, I actually have to do it (before she changes her mind and/or the economy gets any worse). And here’s where the anxiety sets in.

First, it’s a whole heap of money. I paid less for each of the first two new cars I ever bought (admittedly, I drive small, cheap, but reliable cars).  I can get over the sticker shock. What I really fear is….(cue creepy soundtrack) upgrade incompatibility.

At the advice of my local Mac store, I’m eschewing the usual migration routine of connecting the new computer to the old computer  (“Get some help in here, stat! The Power PC Leopard to Intel Snow Leopard transfusion isn’t working…all systems are shutting down…where the hell is House when you need him?!) and will cleanly install all my apps one by one (yeah, sure, because I’ve got nothing to do for the rest of my life, so it should be okay).

But already (and the computer hasn’t even left the factory) I’m reading that Snow Leopard causes all kinds of problems when you try to profile your monitor. Nobody’s got it figured out. It’s affecting all brands of colorimeters and their respective softwares. There is much gnashing of teeth on forums all over the net.

Ah yes, this is just what I need: a non color-managed workflow on my new, expensive, turbo-charged computer. I dunno, maybe I can use my Hyundai’s built-in diagnostic computer to create a usable monitor profile…it seems to do a pretty good job of diagnosing just about everything else.

Oh Kodachrome, oh Velvia, why did you have to go??????????????

Strobist Spider

Photo © Bob Krist

Photo © Bob Krist

Long before the advent of the internet and The Strobist, I was toting small flash units all over the globe on a variety of editorial and corporate assignments, learning to do more with less.

In fact, even my buddy David Hobby, who single-handedly put small-strobe lighting on the map with his incredible Strobist blog, admitted early on to reading my book Secrets of Lighting on Location (published in 1996—I know, that qualifies as pre-history for many of you), and picking up a thing or two about collapsible umbrellas and compact lightstands.

Now I’m not going to pretend to know as much about lighting as David, but I know he talks a lot about using  a direct, off-camera main light with an on-axis fill. He likes it for people photography.

Personally, I don’t like direct light on people whether I’m filling or not (Again, I’m showing my age. This type of direct light is a very contemporary look for people pix. And David is nothing if not contemporary. Why, he even wears shorts in the wintertime…in Baltimore).

But I’m an old dog….I like a big soft directional light source for my people pix, ala Annie, Vermeer, and all those other highly-paid portraitists.

I do like a direct, off-camera main light with an on-axis fill for critters though….like this Pink-Toed Tarantula in the Peruvian Amazon. To read why and how I shot the hirsute arachnid this way, hit the jump. Continue reading »

Kinobe!

Picture 5

www.kinobemusic.com

My assignment this afternoon was to document the visit of Kinobe, six incredibly talented musicians from Uganda, to the Creative and Performing Arts High School in Camden, NJ, where they gave a concert and workshop for the music kids in this inspiring school.

It’s a program sponsored by the Jonathan Krist Foundation, and the kids really seemed to enjoy it and get a lot out of it. Kinobe seemed to have a good time too.

We brought the guys back to our house tonight for a spaghetti dinner and a place to crash before they hit the road again tomorrow  (these are true road warriors—-they make me look like a stay-at-home Dad….they haven’t been home in 9 months).

What a wonderfully talented, friendly, and well-traveled group. I can’t remember the last time we’ve had dinner guests with whom I could swap stories about the best places to pitch your tent during the music festival in Timbuktu, or the ins and outs of the world music scene in Paris.

They are all Mac enthusiasts too, and we’ve spent some good time trying to figure out the cheapest way to soup up basic Mac laptops for audio.

Now, I’m not going to dwell on the mistakes I made in my second or third time out as a documentary videographer, other than to tell you that during one of the key speeches, I was doing this super creative pullback from the keynote speaker’s image in a mirror to the  speaker herself (genius!) and I thought I was recording when I was just on preview! But I was running my Olympus LS-10 Audio recorder (something I know a little better than my Panasonic camcorder) the whole time, so at least I got audio.

But so far, as a videographer, I make a very good spaghetti chef.

Check out Kinobe—-their music is guaranteed to make your weekend!

Amazon Audio Slideshow

Picture 3

Well, I bit the bullet and just spend the whole day (4:30 am—jetlag wakeup—to 7:30pm and did my audio slide show of my recent Amazon trip in one day.  Believe it or not, that’s a new record.

I’m getting better at the audio stuff (the picture editing takes, um, about 15 minutes. The audio takes anywhere from one day to three months!).

Here’s a list of what I learned from this, my most recent stumble foray into multimedia.

1. I don’t want to be a wildlife photographer. I will hold my buddy and colleague Ralph Lee Hopkins‘ coat while he shoots wildlife (and I have a glass of wine in the other hand), but geez, how can you work with friggin’ creatures that can’t take direction and stand so far away?

2. Folks who can speak well and tell stories succinctly are rare treasures. A good narrator or interviewee can make you or break you in the audio slideshow racket (and I’ve been broken a lot lately).

I hate to resort to doing the VO narration myself or running long text slides (hey, it’s called multimedia. If they wanted to read something, they’d be buying enough of the magazines in the first place so that all of us old dogs wouldn’t have to learn these new tricks!).

Fortunately, I had two gems on this gig. Jorge Davila could be the first naturalist I’ve met who could just as easily make a living doing stand-up comedy. And Expedition Leader Jorge Salas has a voice so rich, he makes James Earl Jones (“This is CNN”) sound like a castrato.

3. Video Sucks. Okay, that may be a little harsh, but honest to god, I had a lot of clips that represented moments I should have been shooting stills or catching audio (Yes, I know I can extract the audio, but it’s a pain), and what can I do with them?  Thankfully, Fotomagico can now handle video along with stills (but alas, not Soundslides Pro yet) so I don’t have to learn  Final Cut (not enough lifetime left for that). But I still haven’t figured out how to integrate the two without having it look clunky and home movie-ish.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I think video has its place. In fact, I’m shooting a mainly video gig for my capo di capo, Peggy, later this week. I’ll be documenting an event sponsored by the Jonathan Krist Foundation.

But I just have to shoot it, and one of Peggy’s cadre of video-genius volunteers will put it together in a nice MTV-like presentation for the foundation website on a pro bono basis. Now, I’ve tried to cut a deal with these guys, and while they’re smart enough to realize that I, too, function basically as a non-profit, they also know that I’m nowhere near as worthy a cause!

Hawkeye

Amazon_Peru2113

Photo copyright Bob Krist

Just back in Lima after a week on the Amazon and its tributaries aboard the ship Amatista. What an amazing voyage through the rainforest!

First I’d like to thank you guys, Brenda Tharp and everybody else, for the comments that came in while I was gone.

Seems like the TSA has been losing a lot of locks lately, Nikon Capture DX has some very devoted fans (watch out Adobe!), and also that the readers of this blog are extremely  well read and well versed in the cinema and simply defy all notions about us photographers being semi-literate. (I think that’s just a rumor spread by writers who are jealous of our protection of our rights and rates:-)).

I don’t pretend to be a wildlife shooter (geez, how do you guys do it when you can’t talk to your subjects?!), but we had a lot of looks at incredible wildlife this past week. Much of it defied the magnification of 300 and 400 mm lenses, but occasionally, we got an upclose and personal  look at nature “red in tooth and claw.”

(Okay, if you get that reference without Googling, you should be reading a blog for English majors and not photographers!).  To get the scoop on this shot of a black collared hawk taking out a piranha, hit the jump.

Continue reading »