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.

Photo © Bob Krist

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

He’s an actor and he’s hanging out in the Eaves Movie Ranch outside of Santa Fe. And I wasn’t on a magazine assignment, but one of those  instructional DVD shoots for Nikon that I’ve been lucky enough to host lately. This one was for the old N80 (remember film?). I had an interesting subject, a great setting, lousy light, and a few minutes before they needed me on set. Now, one of the truisms of working on those DVD shoots is that the videographer’s needs come first…and that means that I don’t have a lot of time to make my own shots. (I know what you’re thinking: “in a photography how-to video, shouldn’t the still guy’s needs come first?”, but you, dear reader, are probably still functioning in the rational world!).  So if I have an idea for an “off script” shot (that is, a still shot they don’t need for the video but I’d like to have, well, because it’s there) on these gigs, I have to move fast.

One of my friend Joe McNally‘s favorite techniques is to stick a strobe or two outside windows and shoot them into the interiors.  Movie and TV guys redirect shafts of light into windows and doorways too, only sometimes, they just use the sun.  By utilizing everything from mirrors, to flat reflectors called “shiny boards”, or in this case, the Gold surface of a 42″ Impact 5-in-1 fold-up reflector, you can grab a shaft of strong sunlight and send it fairly far into an interior.

So in between video shots, I recruited my buddy Stephen Hussar, one of the world’s best documentary videographers, as a grip and asked him (nicely!) to redirect a shaft cold blue midday sun from the middle of the street (made gold by the reflector) in through the doorway of the lawman’s office, and voila!  Michael is lit with a moody, sunset shaft of light. It’s a cool technique if you have a traveling companion along, and even better if he or she has some “chops” working with reflectors (over the years, my wife Peggy has become a reflector holding ace).

Here’s another friend, Bermudian photographer Marshall DeCouto, directing a shaft of light into the window of a historic property I was shooting on the island for a guidebook gig:


Inside, I’m shooting a static, fairly boring still life (but it was on my shot list, and by god, you don’t ever want to miss a shot that’s on a shot list if you do these guidebook gigs.) In the end, I actually preferred the “before” picture to the shot with the golden shaft of light coming in to illuminate the still life, but at least now the editor has a choice of picture on the left (without the reflector) or the picture on the right (with the reflector sending in a shaft of golden light).

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This Post Has 17 Comments

  1. hey Bob,
    Nice to hear from you. terrific Blog!! my initial reaction is its’ hard to read with dark pewter(?) background and black text. will comment more later.. still in the office( my day job) always–Dan

  2. Hi Bob,
    You’ve got me hooked, I like the idea of your blog and wish that I could be one of the people to hold the reflectors for you. But most of all I wish I could attend one of your classes on digital photography, that is if you give them any more. All the best…Fred

    1. The fact that I’m able to make a living with my eyeballs is thanks to you, Fred, for not flunking me in art classes in the 8th grade at Fort Lee Intermediate School!

  3. Terrific site; I am truly in awe of your work. It has been an absolute pleasure getting to know you, and working together these past years.

  4. Bob: This is a really great blog site! It’s a great way to connect with you again.

    Cheers! Peter

  5. Hello Bob.

    I just loved this article.
    Seeing the image above made me want to read it right away, without having any knowledge of museums, Santa Fe etc…I just loved the golden light making a beautiful mood in this image and that`s it.

    You have an amazing gallery and I really enjoyed stepping into your world Bob. Thank you.

    As I live in Norway, our worlds are a… apart 😉
    If you have the time, please take a look at my images from norwegian wilderness and tell me what you think.

    Seung Kye Lee

  6. Hi Bob-
    Great Blog! You always make it interesting no matter what the subject. It’s an honor to know you and learn from you.

  7. What fun ! Thanks for the inspiration. Are you teaching any digital classes anytime soon? Best, Marilyn Staff

  8. This is a great premiere, Bob — thanks, most of us would never think to jerk around the sun that way. want to hear about Peru soon. you are El Conquistador de la Luz!

  9. Heh Bob – Great to ‘see’ you here in the blogosphere! I’ll look forward to reading it and will add it to my links on my blog. I’ve always loved your stories…

  10. Me again – how do I set an RSS feed for your blog, so when you enter a new one, it shows up in my browser or email box? This link on the posted entry only works for that entry…

  11. Bob, How has digital photography made it easier for a travel photographer beside not messing with film at airport security checkpoints? Doug

    1. Doug: It’s made it easier because you know what you’ve got before you go home. But it’s made it harder in that you need to spend more time backing up on the road. What it hasn’t made any easier, though, is getting coffeetable books published! Hope to see you soon! Bob

  12. Nice Blog. Glad you changed the background. Now my tired eyes don’t have to work so hard. I will visit often. Hope you are off on some interesting assignment and having more fun than I am, working late on this Friday night! Renee

  13. Hi,

    Great blog. Will be visiting regularly.

    Thanks very much for the putting that “Hands-on guide to Creative lighting” DVd out. Super great resource!

    Take care

  14. Great blog site Bob, always love your work I look forward
    to seeing you on the 28th.

  15. Thanks Bob! I have a 5-n-1 reflector myself, but I’ve never tried bouncing light that far with it. Holy cow! It looks like your assistant is standing 25 feet away!

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