Monthly Archives: June 2010

Tanzania Photo Safari Redux

I had all but given up on the video footage I shot with my D300s when leading a photo safari in Tanzania last February for National Geographic Expeditions. Although I used a beanbag and did my best, the ever so slight movement of the Land Rover, even parked with the engine turned off, were enough to give most of my clips a little shake. A shake that became painfully obvious on my 30″ Cinema Display!

Of course, I didn’t notice it at the time on my LCD—I thought everything looked solid.  Oh, the lessons learned (see the post–Prides Cometh Before a Fall)

I’m working with the son of a friend this summer, trying to learn Final Cut Express, and together, we tried to salvage what we could from my clips, posted above. As regular readers know, I’m currently struggling with video and wondering if I might be better off forgetting the whole thing and sticking to my strong suit, or plunging ahead.

Plunging…hmmn, unfortunately, that’s still the operative word when it comes to my video chops so far. But I’m not giving up yet!

I spent last weekend shooting video of the first ever Jazz Academy at Solebury School, one of the projects of the Jonathan Krist Foundation.

We had students from inner city Camden and bucolic Bucks County side by side all weekend, learning jazz from some great pros like James McBride, George Laks, Brent White, Marlene Rice, Devyn Rush, Jamal and Nasir Dickerson, Hassan Sabree, and Dave Bachart.

Next week, I’m teaching my travel photography class up at the Maine Media Workshops….it’ll be great to be back in New England, teaching a subject that I know something about!

The Road is Truth

Somewhere near Mexican Hat, Utah.....

Ah, the lengths we go to to gain inspiration on an assignment. Whether it’s staying out even though the skies are cloudy and pouring rain, or channeling Navajo spirits near Monument Valley, the wise shooter will leave no stone unturned in the quest for the photographic Holy Grail, a great picture.

Unfortunately, I won’t be able to share the results of this shoot in the Four Corners until the publication drops in late September. But in the meantime, I can share with you some valuable truths I learned (or actually re-learned).

One of the immutable truths of good travel photography is to find knowledgeable local help…folks who know the area well and can help you make interesting pictures. To that end, here are a few folks who helped me out bigtime on the assignment.

If you want to beat the crowds and the forest of tripods at the famous Antelope Canyon, the popular slot canyon, try visiting another, slightly smaller but no less spectacular slot canyon located on private property and solely accessed by the folks at Overland Canyon Tours.

These small private tours give you plenty of time to explore the rooms, with few, if any, other shooters getting in your way. If you get Charley, the owner, as your guide, you’ll even get expert photographic advice and a great stories to boot.

For touring Lake Powell, contact Steve Carrothers at Antelope Point Lake Powell marina. Steve can set you up with a comfortable boat and captain who will take you to some spectacular places to see and photograph beautiful Lake Powell.

And if you want an insider’s view of Monument Valley, try Harold Simpson’s Monument Valley Trailhandler Tours. Owned and operated by Navajo people, the sunrise and sunset photography tours will put you in the right places at the right times to do justice to this magnifcent landscape.

Ask for Richard Frank as your guide, and be prepared to be blown away by his portfolio of stunning photography shot on his little Sanyo Xacti hybrid still/video camera.

Richard’s work proves once again that being out there day in and day out is worth more than all the expensive photo gear in the world when it comes to capturing magic moments!

What’s wrong with this picture, er, I mean, this video…

www.whattheduck.net

In the midst of the packing and last minute details for an assignment I’m leaving on tomorrow (note to self: no more blog posts about Photoshop or plug-ins…whoa…you guys are tough, tough, tough), I took stock of my upcoming shopping list for gear, gadgets, and software.

And none of it was for still photo stuff.

I should be upgrading to CS5, but all my cameras are covered by the version of Adobe Camera Raw in CS4 so what I’m really getting ready to plunk down near four figures to upgrade is to Final Cut Studio from Final Cut Express, and not from CS4 to CS5.

And yes, I’d like that tiny new 85mm Nikkor DX  VR macro lens, but what I’m actually buying next is a fairly pricey little Sennheiser wireless mic setup. And I’ve been hitting the videography blogs with alarming regularity.

What the hell is going on? Hit the jump to find out just who, or what, has hijacked my brain.

Continue reading »

Bokeh in a Box

Photo © Bob Krist

Photo © Bob Krist

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Ordinarily, my clients don’t let me mess with reality, but I had a shoot last weekend for the Arthritis Foundation‘s annual report cover that was clearly considered to be a “photo illustration,” and as such, I had more than the normal leeway.

The AD wanted a shot of a remarkable guy named David who cycled across country to raise money for the foundation, despite the fact that he’s pretty heavily laden with arthritis. And the concept was to get him moving along on his bike—trying to keep him sharp but getting a sense of movement to the rest of the shot.

So we popped open the trunk of my car and I got in, rigged up an SB800 on the lid, put my trusty 20-year-old KenLab KS 6 gyro stabilizer under the D300s and 24-70mmf/2.8, and had David trail the car (which was piloted by my good buddy, photographer Jerry Millevoi) at upwards of 20 miles an hour down a country road near New Hope. I tried a variety of shutter speeds, some resulting in very dramatic blurs, but for the cover purposes, just the hint of movement seemed to do the trick.

The 1/30th of second shutter speed picked up a nice bit of blur, the flash froze David (an excellent and fearless cyclist who tracked the car without breaking a sweat!), and the shot worked nicely. But the trees and the road behind him didn’t fall off a lot because we were down at f/11 or thereabouts. So if you wanted to run a cover headline and cutlines, the foliage would be pretty defined and distracting. But how to soften that background after the fact?

Cue the software cavalry…

Aaand bingo! A program called Bokeh, from Alien Skin, comes riding to the rescue.  Hit the jump to find out how. Continue reading »

Enter This Into Pop Photo’s “Travelographer of the Year” competition!

Well, the foxes have been put in charge of the photo contest henhouse again, this time by Popular Photography. Their “Travelographer of the Year” photo competition is another thinly-disguised rights grab similar to Frommers’ notorious contest.

Yes, the good folks at Popular Photography who depend on you, the photo enthusiast, for their bread-and-butter subscriptions have no compunction about ripping off your work. Where, you might ask, is the love? I suspect it’s left on the conference table in the Legal Department, in the folder marked “F__k ‘em if They Can’t Take a Joke,” or “Their Ignorance is Our Bliss.”

Truth be told, Pop Photo has been sliding down this path for a while under their new ownership and without the guidance of the late, great Burt Keppler, and the host of real photographer friends on staff like Monica Cipnic, Mason Resnick, and the crew from that era.

Fortunately, an organization called www.pro-imaging.org is helping to call out these rights grab contests. They offer the all-type jpeg seen above that you can use as a contest-entry, calling out the organizers of these rip-off contests and offering to educate them on issues of rights and rates.

Their Bill of Rights for photography competitions is worth a read, since these contests are springing up like weeds from all quarters, and many of them have this boilerplate ripoff rights language.

This kind of pro image-creator rights activism used to be the mainstay of the American Society of Media Photographers (ASMP) before that organization got bogged down in a lot of internecine squabbles about dues increases, director payments to one another, and gadfly censuring.

I’ve been an ASMP member since 1982, but am reconsidering renewing in 2011 because of this bureaucratic nonsense and the erosion of member benefits that seem to move in lockstep with ever-increasing dues demands.

Pro-Imaging.Org looks to be a UK-based entity and is totally non-profit and run by volunteers. The membership is £30, which is about US$50 (as opposed to ASMP’s current $335 per year). And all the money goes to the programs (photo contests are just one aspect…they deal with all types of rights-grabbing organizations), not the leadership.

It’s too soon to tell how effective Pro-Imaging.org will be in the long run, but so far, I like the cut of their jib and it’s worth my $50 to help their cause.

Hit the jump for a read of the Travelographer of the Year contest rules. 

Warning….your sensibilities as an image producer are guaranteed to be offended, sometimes resulting in agita (aka “heartburn”), and general irrititability. If symptoms persist, see a lawyer! Continue reading »