Monthly Archives: May 2010

May Gear & Gadget Update

Large 220V Powerstrip

Compact Magellan Powerstrip

Kodak Zi 8 pocket camcorder

Wide angle auxiliary lens for Zi 8 (caution: soft corners ahead!)

Polaroid Pogo Printer

Bob’s Maine Media Travel Photo Workshop, July 4-10

Jumping through Hoops

I’m just in the process of ordering the big (up to 30″x45″) prints for my community portrait project, called New Hope: In Character.  I’m working with the great folks at Aspen Creek Photo and West Coast Imaging to do the printing, and I’ll be writing about them soon.

Our exhibit will be up for the last two weeks in August at the New Hope Arts Center, and it’s going to culminate in a big street party outside the center where we bring the prints outside (more on that as the time approaches).

Of the fifty-plus of my neighbors that I photographed, only two pictures will run in color. One of them is of Rachelle, a young lady who went to school with my sons and is currently a professional dancer. One of her specialties is the hoop dance, with a hoop that has built in LED lighting.

It’s just too cool to see her do her thing, and to capture the movement of the lighted hoop, plus Rachelle, we did some slow synch flash, using the same basic broad light I’ve discussed before (see the jump for a picture of the studio setup).

But we turned off the overhead lights and blackened out the windows and went for a long (1/2 second) exposure in the dark, and then the strobe fired to provide the light on her.

It’s a dynamic look, and when I was cycling quickly through the shots in Photo Mechanic to pick the one frame to print, it had a kind of flipbook effect.  So I grabbed all the jpegs from the session and made the timelapse in Quicktime that you see above.

For a look at the studio setup (one 4×6 softbox at a 45 degree angle, basically), hit the jump. Continue reading »

Friends in High Places

Photo © Bob Krist

I’m just putting together a stock submission of images from Buenos Aires  for a European magazine client when I came across the above pic of the Capitolio dome in Buenos Aires. It’s the seat of the government and notice how it’s nicely etched with light.

There’s a story behind that, and it’s another tale of who you know, not necessarily what you know.

My excellent friend and fixer, Bernardo Galmarini, knew the building manager of the Palacio Barolo building, an unbelievably beautiful art deco masterpiece from which we shot this view. It’s a work of art, and topped with a real working lighthouse complete with giant bulb and fresnel lens. That’s Bernando, below, checking his settings by the glow of the lighthouse.

Photo © Bob Krist

For the story of how we lit the dome of the Argentinian parliament without bringing the country’s Air Force or the Secret Service down on our heads, hit the jump.

Continue reading »

No Truer Words…

Photo © David Kay

You don’t often think of the U.S. government when you think of wise persons with perspective, experience, and fundamental good taste. And yet, I know just such a guy, who did Herculean work on behalf of all of us while in the employ of Uncle Sam.

David Kay was a weapons inspector for the UN, and is a very very good photographer. He spoke truth to power during the runup to the Iraq invasion, and since then, he’s retired and taken a seminar or two with me. Honestly, I’ve wanted to pick his brain (he knows what really went on in Iraq and a lot of other places) more than he’s wanted to pick mine (the longer I do photography, the less I know about it).

In fact, I linked to his blog, Trust Your Cape, ages ago.

Anyway, I was reading his always-interesting observations the other day and came across the following passage, which is just about the most cogent sum-up of our current photographic situation as I’ve come across:

Remember the days of Kodachrome 25 or 64 when the shot you took was the shot you got. Sure you could add filters and make variations in EV, but in the end the image that was on the piece of film was the image you were left with. Not today! We are rich in possibilities, have a poverty of time and, perhaps most frightening of all, dependent upon our own visual judgment and tastes.

Damn, if that doesn’t about say it all. I’m glad David is enjoying his photography these days, but I wish he were back in the trenches on our side, because we need guys with his brains and perspective watching our backs (and our fronts) if we’re going to make it through the 21st century…..

Luxury Hotel Peeves–A Rant in Four Acts

www.whattheduck.net

I’m back and furiously trying to get the three long multimedia slide shows, one for each leg of the jet trip, done and sent off to National Geographic Expeditions so they can dupe them and send one to each passenger. It’s fun working in iMovie and iDVD when you’re totally jetlagged. It makes you feel like you are not as smart as you think you are!

In the meantime, I had a chance to bang off a rant on the plane home. It illustrates just how nasty I can get when I’m sleep deprived, but what the hell, here goes:

It’s been almost two straight months, 18 countries, and countless hotel rooms. Most of the latter in much better establishments than I’m used to staying….much, much better.

By and large, the luxe hotel experience is kinda nice (but I tried really hard not to get used to it!). However, I am stunned at how many things about some of these these places are, well, downright frustrating. Things that much cheaper hotel chains got right years ago.

I don’t want to be whiny, (but I am, ‘cuz I’m profoundly jet-lagged) but there are reasons (besides my lack of income and inherent cheapness) that I stay at regular two or three-star business hotels and not these types of places. Here’s a quick list of my luxury hotel pet peeves.

1. Playing Hide the Plug–With a few notable exceptions, many of the fancy places don’t understand that we travelers need plugs, and we need plenty of them and we need them to be accessible.

I don’t care if the table I’m sitting at in my designer-furnished room is made from rare Burmese teak smuggled out of the jungle on the backs of thousands of specially-trained army ants in the service of Sultan of Brunei and carved to its current state of exquisiteness by a band of blind eunuchs who commit ritual suicide after they finish their works of art.

If I have to crawl on my hands and knees under said exquisiteness to find one damn plug, it’s all for naught. Why don’t they get that? What we need is a power strip with universal plug receptors on the top of the main table in the room. There are a few places that do something just like that in a very tasteful way (yeah, Four Seasons in Istanbul, you go!).

But if I have to get on my hands and knees to look for electricity, I think they should charge the damn interior decorator, and not me or my client, to stay in the room. C’mon! With apologies to Richard III, “My kingdom for an outlet!”

For a look at some of my other hotel pet peeves, and a chance to add a few of your own, hit the jump! Continue reading »