Monthly Archives: January 2011


Let’s face it, as a breed, we photojournalist types can be a laughable lot: passionate, self-righteous, and committed as much to our own egos as to our work.

Finally, there’s a site that recognizes that and calls us out on it….hysterically. Called “Shit Photojournalists Like” (a takeoff on the popular “Stuff White People Like” blog),  it is satire at its best.  

Take this entry below on multimedia (Warning: If you are offended by profanity, read no further. As an entry on the site itself points out, photojournalists just love using profanity!). If the type is too small, click on the image to enlarge.


Or here’s another gem about why photojournalists love international travel…ouch!


Ooooohhh, delicious irony! How about this one?


I love this one…the tags are priceless:


Well you get, um, the picture. Check out the site when you need a good chuckle. Just make sure you have a thick skin and a tolerance for salty language!


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Nikon D7000 Audio Kit


With Singular Software finally announcing the Mac version of Dual Eyes (a stand alone program that makes it easy to sync video with separately recorded audio), the last barrier for getting great audio to complement your DSLR video is gone.

(Of course, if you use any of the professional NLE’s like Final Cut Pro or Adobe Premiere, you’ve had the company’s Plural Eyes plug-in for ages. But it was not available for us beginners in iMovie and Premiere Elements and so we had to wait for the stand alone version).

I’ve also more or less finalized my own audio kit, one that I take with me whenever I need to gather audio, either for an audio slide show, or for a video gig. This kit does not represent the be-all and end-all of audio equipment….I’m not using any XLR based gear and serious audio guys will tell you that you need XLR gear to get the best quality.

I have no doubt that they are right. But here’s my deal: I have to work alone, and my stuff needs to be small, portable, and still do the job well enough. I need professional sounding audio, but the difference in what this gear can get and what the “pro” stuff will get is all but undetectable to my ear. So let’s call this a kit for guerilla soundgathering, something for the one-man band types.

So here’s the latest gear in my audio bag (which is tiny).

538924.jpgOlympus LS 10 recorder  If it were available when I was buying, I’d have gotten the LS-11, which has a bigger memory and some nice software features, but the LS 10 is fine.

534023.jpgSennheiser MKE 400 mini shotgun–I’ve got the deadcat windmuff for it too. It’s still the smallest shotgun for DSLR and does a great job.

574785.jpgKoss PortaPro Stereo Headphones–They’re not closed cell, but they’re packable and do a good job.

126229.jpgCool-Lux MD 300 Light and Sound Bracket–A Y-bracket that provides two cold shoe mounts, one for your mic, one for the recorder, or you can skip one of those an add a small Litepanel.

254828.jpgHot shoe to 1/4″ 20 adapter–This allows you to mount the Olympus onto the the Cool-Lux.

mt830_sp.jpgAudio Technica MT 830-SP subminiature High-Gain Lav Mic (with 20 foot extension cord)–If my interview subject is stationary, I prefer to hardwire this mic to the Olympus. It’s no hardship to hide the wire, and the sound is rich and impervious to radio interference.

553684.jpgSony UWP-V1 Wireless Lav Mic Package A great wireless package, and half the price of a similar Sennheiser setup. I worked with two pro documentary videographers on two continents who swore by the Sony and that was good enough for me.

Dead Cat Windmuff for Olympus

Gorilla Pod tripod used as mic stand

That rounds it out. The audio kit fits nicely in my camera bag and allows me to cover just about any audio situation. 



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Shedding Light on Canon Flashes

screen_shot_2011_01_18_at_85822_pm.pngFinally, there’s a speed light at the end of the tunnel for Canon users trying to make heads or tails of their flash gear. Now, I’m not looking to start a flame war; I’ve always thought that the Nikon/Canon debate is pretty much a wash and certainly a waste of time.

But it is true that each system has its strong and weak points, and let’s just say that flash is, um, not one of Canon’s stronger points. At workshops and seminars, I am constantly asked by Canon users about how to do the same things I can do simply and straightforwardly with Nikon speedlites and I’ve been unable to answer coherently.

Not for a lack of trying, mind you, but more due to the fact that when I canvas my Canon-using colleagues, I never get the same answer twice on the specific workings of their lights and how they are used them in various situations (let’s just say that when it comes to flash, Canon is a faith-based community….Kidding!  Okay, I’m just kidding.)

But, then, thank the lord, along comes California-based pro Syl Arena and his book Speedliter’s Handbook. Finally, Canonites have a comprehensive look at small strobe lighting, specifically Canon small strobe, that demystifies the process.

Syl’s book goes over in detail the workings of the Canon flash, but that’s only about 35% of the book. The other 65% is good basic, lighting knowledge and lots of great tips about modifiers, lightstands, clamps, etc. Syl is up to date on all the latest grip gear for speedlights and you’re sure to pick up a lot great info.

Now I won’t kid you: this is not exactly “Hot Shoe Diaries“—Joe has covered far more interesting subject matter. But Syl shows you, in detail, shots that anybody can make using real world people as his subjects. In fact, I’d say that the approachability of the sample photos is one of this book’s strong points. 

At last, the prayers of Canon flash-users have been answered by this book–one that can help lead them out of the darkness. And I say with all my heart to my Canon brethren across the aisle: hallelujah brothers and sisters…and welcome to the world of goodness and speedlight!

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A Master shoots Rio


I’m just wrapping up a really demanding, two-week advertising shoot in San Diego that was made all the more complicated by a wicked bout of bronchitis (figures: leave the snow in Philly, catch your death in sunny San Diego).

But I wanted to share this video of my friend Dave Harvey at work on a story about Rio for National Geographic.  It was shot by Dave’s son Bryan, an accomplished filmmaker in his own right. I can’t decide which I like better, Dave’s pictures or Bryan’s film. Either way, you’ll learn a lot from each of them.

Dave’s intensity and eye have always been an inspiration to me, and now I’m picking up a lot of video tips from watching the work of his son Bryan.

I hope to be back to regular posting as soon as I can go more than  a minute without coughing….

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