A photo contest with fair rules????

If you’ve been reading the fine print of the plethora of photo contests that have arisen lately, you’ve undoubtedly noticed that Somalia isn’t the only place experiencing modern day piracy. No, the rights grabs sunk deep in the fine print of most photo contest rules these days make the Somali pirates look like pikers and the bonus babies at AIG look like paragons of conscience. I’m amazed at what some contests ask for, just for entering (never mind winning), and also stunned that some of these contests are sponsored by allegedly photo-friendly organizations and publications (who really do know better, but don’t seem to care). I’ve got a whole column on the subject in an upcoming issue of Outdoor Photographer.

So it was with the usual world weary trepidation that I went to the website of Weibetech, makers of excellent harddrives that I use for backup, when they sent me a marketing email announcing a photo contest. I was expecting the usual “you grant us the rights to your life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, as well as the copyright to this picture…” jargon, and instead read this:

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Hands-free tripod toting

While it’s true that I’m not as adamant about tripod use as some of my nature and landscape shooting buddies, I’m not a photojournalistic purist who never uses a tripod either. For me, tripod use is a case of “situational ethics:”  if the situation requires a tripod, I’ll use one. Of course, to use a tripod, you actually need to have one with you, and here’s where the formula usually breaks down into the following dilemma: “which is better; the big, heavy sturdy behemoth tripod that you left back in the hotel, bus, or trunk of the car, or a lightweight one that you’ll actually carry?”

By now, I’m assuming that everyone’s discovered the strength, light weight, and downright beauty of the carbon fiber tripod, so I won’t even go into it (other than listing a few of my favorites at the end of the post).  But if you have to carry that lightweight ‘pod like this gentlemen (in a shot from OpTech, the good folks who bring you those wonderful neoprene camera straps–got ’em on all my SLR bodies– or in the case of this photo, neoprene leg wraps), your hands are figuratively tied up when it comes to shooting (although you would look cool toting that baby into the batter’s box at your next softball game).

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courtesy www.optechusa.com

Fortunately, there is an easier way…

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Get ’em out the door

Okay, I admit it. I’m a sucker for living history museums. You know, those places where folks dress up in period costumes and re-enact life in the days of yore. Think about it, how else can a travel photographer illustrate the “history” of a destination—there’s no shooting in the past tense (not like you writers, with your fancy tenses and facile flashbacks!)  So, yes, my name is Bob, and I’m a living history-shooting junkie.

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Photo © Bob Krist

But the lawman in this shot, a cool guy named Michael, is not in a museum….

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Waaaaay Off Camera Lighting

These days, you have to go to some lengths to bring home dramatic pictures of oft-photographed icons, like the moai of Easter Island, for instance. Seen ’em a million times in the daylight. But they’re in the dark at night, there’s no “son et lumiere” tourist light show, or even electricity out there. How do you light six 21-foot structures in the middle of nowhere?

You take that light waaaaay off camera.

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Photo © Bob Krist

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