Flashy

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A few days back I ran across a site linking to Botzilla: David Hobby’s Strobist. Quite a popular site and full of hints and methods for strobe use by David and a few cohorts.

As a shooter for the Baltimore Sun David gets lots of opportunities to work through classic location portraiture issues. In this way his job is a bit like that of Neil Turner, and some of the site reminds me of Neil’s dg28.

It ‘s one of those little paradoxes that the standard way to light still photography is to not light it at all (in fact many photographers get indignant about “respecting the original light” and so forth). This is quite opposite of motion-picture photography, where much might look “natural” but everything is deliberately lit and often the lighting is far, far, from anything that nature would have actually provided.

A byproduct of this disconnect is that a lot of the little stunts that Strobist and the like have devised (like a cardboard-and-gaffer-tape snoot, as in the snap here) are pretty similar to the things that gaffers and lighting cameramen in the movie world deal with daily.

For movies, every location shot has to be location-lit. And there’s usually a crew to do the work. I find it fascinating to read Strobist and a few other sites and see so many of the classic gaffer’s tricks and crafts re-worked so that one person can do them, quickly, and how thanks to the use of small strobes instead of 2000W Molepars, you don’t need to worry about having the fire department on standby.

Bonus Round

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Last night as I was wandering back to the hotel and wandered through a few pachinko and pachislot halls, I was struck by the people who were watching, like the guys in this photo.

Inside the parlor I could understand — the players’ friends or whatever. But what about the folks gazing steadfastly from outside, through the windows?

1 min read

Perfect Foods

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Ah, the perfect food for the harried sarariman….

Only been here a few hours, took an hour or two walk too clear my head and move my legs after the two two-hour tran rides and the 10+ hour flight. Took a couple dozen bad pictures but maybe a couple good ones, had a curry, drank-in the neighborhood. Always the same, always new. It’s like running into an old girlfriend and finding out she’s even more appealing than you remembered. Dang.

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ChartThrob: A Tool for Printing Digital Negatives

The ChartThrob Chart

Updated Jan 2019

In 2006, at a Pacific At League meeting, I met Thomas Howard, and saw how he was using charts to hand-profile his process to make digital negatives for platinum-process contact printing.

I figured this labor-intensive process could be automated, so: I automated it, and made a tool called ChartThrob, which runs right inside Adobe Photoshop. It’s available for public, free-for-everyone abuse.

12 min read

"One needn’t write essays about it."

As many people have discovered, Alec Soth now has a blog and is one of the many fine photographers now writing about their work (and a bunch of other stuff).

Alec hasn't just appeared in his own blog, of course. Here's a snip from the Walker Arts Center blog which I like a great deal:

This is totally corny, but the way I think about it is I really close my eyes and I try to imagine an exhibition of pictures and see what kind of pictures — what is it I really want to look at? — and then go try to make those pictures. You never make those pictures, because they just don't emerge that way, but it takes you on a path. Recently, I was in Georgia and it was the beginning of a commission. What did I want to photograph? Like, I'm interested in hermits. So I do a little Google search on 'hermits,' 'Georgia.' And I find this Greek orthodox monastery in rural Georgia, and I go there and have this amazing encounter with these people. Those pictures weren't in my head — Greek Orthodox monks — but something developed and it took me on this crazy path.