Monthly Archives: May 2010

Passing of a Legend

Al Paglione, a one of a kind personality and shooter. Photo by Steve Hockstein/The Record

It’s with a heavy heart, sitting here in an airport motel near Heathrow waiting to come home, that I’ve learned of the death last week of Al Paglione, the dean of New Jersey newspaper photographers. Al was a one-of-a-kind talent and character whose work touched thousands, myself included, because he took me under his wing when I was a rookie news shooter.

Al was a high school dropout and a longshoreman before he picked up the camera. He went on to create a body of incredible work, documenting the real people, the downtrodden, and the characters of New Jersey in his 30-plus years on the staff of the The Record.

Along the way, he won countless awards, was named a Nikon “Legend Behind the Lens” and mentored dozens of young shooters.

When I was first starting out on The Dispatch, Al offered me the opportunity to “ride” with him on my days off. I spent many of my days off for a couple of years, just hanging out with Al while he worked.

I saw the way he handled the street people, cops, criminals, nuns, teachers, truck drivers, and celebrities he came across in his assignments. He could relate to anybody, put people at their ease, and had an incredible eye and imagination for feature stories and pictures.

Over the years, he became a good friend of Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist Eddie Adams, who once told me, when we were teaching together at a symposium hosted by Nikon, that “Al can shoot rings around me, and you too, Krist.”

Amen to that.

I learned so much from him, and at a critical time in my fledgling career. To this day, I don’t know any shooter who has more of a natural eye and feel for story-telling pictures than Al had.

Of course, like all the greats, Al had a bit of the con man in him.

Once, I was with him when he was shooting a picture page feature about a Catholic run old age home, where the nuns started a wheelchair bowling league for their charges.

I watched in amazement as Al conned a couple of nuns into clearing an entire auditorium of folding chairs because they ruined the background of his shots. He would have done it himself, he assured them, but he was “busy finding angles.” All this with a Jersey accent so thick, he made Tony Soprano sound like Ian McKellen.

Of course, it goes without saying that he created a series of heartwarming pictures of what was essentially a non-event. But that was Al.

Give him a sow’s ear, and you’d not only get a silk purse in return, but a whole set of designer luggage to boot!

I saw Al about a year ago, and he was as upbeat as ever and shooting CD covers for some rock musicians who were friends of his son.

If there is a heaven, Al is certainly up there; no doubt drinking “cawfee” with the angels, and talking them into a photo session.

Rest in peace my friend.

The Great Video Dilemma…Redux

It would have been cool to have a video clip of these Shinto priests processing out of the temple after a ceremony, but while my video rig wasn't ready, my camera was! Photo © Bob Krist

Well, my marathon trip is coming to a close in beautiful Istanbul. And one other thing (besides the weather) has been bugging me on the trip.

Whether it’s a speed dating tour like the one I’m currently on, or a more in-depth assignment like my recent city profile of Buenos Aires for National Geographic Traveler, I am having a devil of a time fitting in the time to shoot video, let alone collect audio.

I’ve seen such stunning work from younger PJs who are combining both in beautiful stories. Maybe it’s because I’m from a pre-multi-tasking generation, but I really find it difficult to do both, or all three. I’ve written about this before and it hasn’t gotten any easier since.

I think part of the reason is that, while video-enabled DSLRs produce stunning-looking video, shooting video with them still presents, shall we say, ergonomic challenges.

First you put on your Zacuto viewfinder, then you put on your mic, your mixer, and your follow focus rig, and by the time you do that, the subject you want to video is three towns away, and maybe even retired. When, I wonder, will Nikon or Canon come up with a camera with the same chip, that takes the same lenses, but is actually designed to shoot video and not jerry-rigged to do so?

For my speculation on that and other video ironies, hit the jump.

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One Day in Armenia

Our first day in Armenia was pretty much of a washout, thanks to the weather that has been dogging me for seven weeks!

But we did have an amazing second day….We visited the haunting and beautiful St. Geghard monastery, where the choir gave us an a capella concert in one of the monastery chambers cut whole out of the mountainous rock in 4th century.

Then we visited Garni Temple, another ancient structure, where I recorded a man playing the traditional duduk in the ruins. We had lunch at a village house where a woman was making delicious flat bread in an oven in the ground. When she pulled one out, she would fling it like a frisbee towards her helper, who would then ferry them out to us hungry visitors.

And after that, we visited Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin, the “vatican” of Armenian Orthodox church for a tour of its treasures. In between, we caught some lovely scenery and even a glimpse of Mt. Ararat, said to be the resting place of Noah’s Ark. Not bad for a day’s touring.

These charter jet tours are not photography specific in their design or itinerary, and we move fast. And dare I say it, I’ve even taken to grabbing a shot through a bus window (go ahead and laugh, but that’s the way these things go!) as we whiz by. There’s a couple of those shots in the above multimedia. Thank god for clean bus windows, and the active setting on the Nikon VR lenses!

Next and final stop: Turkey!  I don’t know if I’m more excited about seeing Turkey (a first for me) or getting home….well, I do know, but I ain’t talkin’.

I will, however, keep you posted.