In the Jungle with Phil Flash


From aboard the National Geographic Explorer in French Comoros, Indian Ocean

It may seem counterintuitive to bring a flash into a tropical jungle streaming with hot beams of sunlight, but that’s just what I did when our expedition ship visited M’Bouzi Island, a small island near Mayotte in the French Comoros that serves as a refuge for lemurs.

The trees were loaded with these cute little creatures, found only on Madagascar and the Comoros, but they were usually backlit, or sitting in splotchy light or shade. Digital, and film, hates splotchy light—there’s just too much dynamic range for the chip to record.

Plus, when you’ve got a subject with big dreamy eyes, like these guys, you want to make the most of them and make sure those big eyes have a little catchlight. For the formula that worked the best for me in this situation, hit the jump.

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Don’t let the sun catch you squinting…

With apologies to Gerry and the Pacemakers (Merseysiders whose 1964 release “Don’t Let the Sun Catch You Crying” got me through some tough break-ups in middle and high school) comes another confession: I do some commercial work. Yes, it’s not all exotic landscapes and cultural documentary in my biz….sometimes it’s shiny, happy people having fun on behalf of the tourism industry.


I say this without apology as I enjoy the challenges of commercial work, and I appreciate the patronage of clients like Philadelphia tourism who have helped me pay my mortgage and educate my kids….but I digress. Why does this lovely couple look sparkly and yet are not squinting? There’s bright, harsh, late afternoon sun all around them.

It’s from a shoot at a winery in the Philly area. And I don’t just have this couple to photograph. No, Philly is an inclusive place, so when you do a shoot like this, you’ve got a half dozen couples of all ages, ethnicities, and lifestyle preferences. You shoot one couple, pull ’em out, and then insert the next demographic. It’s a buzz to say the least. So you’ve got to have quick simple setups that solve problems….like harsh sunlight on happy faces.

Photo © Bob Krist


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Epson’s “secret” killer feature…

Laptop-free travel is a dream of a lot of us who want to lighten our loads. One of the things that a lot of columnists and writers point to as alternatives are the multimedia storage storage devices like the Epson P6000/P7000.

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These are phenomenal little units, and I carry one along even when I have a laptop as a backup. But carrying one of these units in lieu of a laptop isn’t really going to help you as redundant backup unless you do one of three things:

  1. Don’t re-use your cards during the trip, so you’ve got a copy of your “take” on the Epson and a copy on the cards.
  2. Buy two Epsons (!) so you have your redundant backup. It’s an elegant, if somewhat expensive, solution.

For the third, most reasonable, and totally undercovered solution in almost every review and Epson marketing piece of these multimedia storage units, hit the next page. (more…)

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Blue-n-Gold to the rescue

One of the things I miss about film (besides the fact that I had a life outside of the computer) is using Velvia. I loved the look and color palette of that film. And I loved using it with the Gold-n-Blue polarizer from Singh-Ray. This filter punches up the blues and golds in a scene, and if used correctly in the right conditions, could make late afternoon magic light much earlier in the day, or punch up the colors in a twilight or sunset scene.

Photo © Bob Krist

So it was one of the filters I turned to right away when I went digital, and it slammed me between the eyes. It didn’t react the same way with digital as it did with film. Here’s what it looks like when it’s used properly with digital.

But that’s not the way it looks on your LCD. The way it looks on your LCD would send you running to the repair shop.  For a look at what a file looks like shot through a Gold-n-Blue Polarizer and how to correct it, hit the jump.


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