The last few weeks have been HELL to the tenth degree. And I’m just not going to go there. I decided to take one day off and do nothing but split wood. Due to Hurricane Sandy I had two, hundred year old oaks come down. I decided to cut it up and split it for firewood for next year. I used a chainsaw to cut the wood but an old-fashioned maul to split it. The reality is, I genuinely enjoy it. It’s great exercise and it can stop you from going postal. And the real thing about splitting wood, at the end of the day you can actually SEE finished product completed, done, that you did yourself. Not some stuff floating around cyber space-never really knowing if it has any meaning at all sometimes. Towards the end of my day I split a piece of oak and I looked inside and I just freaked out. I went into the studio and picked up a brand spanking new Canon G15, power shot. Never took a photograph with it. Robert Luckett sent it to me for test and evaluation for Adorama TV. I had used its predecessor before and loved it. As photographers we need to constantly be looking up, down, left, right, in front of us and behind us looking for an image. This may be one step above a snapshot but I like it. I did it for myself.
So the lesson for today is simply this: pick up your camera give yourself a little bit of time and make a photograph. Heck, it’s not a snapshot, it’s a photograph. If you ever have an opportunity to split some wood make sure of 2 things-you wear gloves and take a lesson that if you make a mistake, you could be in a lot of trouble.
I had an opportunity to teach at the University of Arizona. It afforded me time in the desert, in the dead of winter to photograph some interesting characters. Here’s a young man taking a short cut. I had no idea he was going to do this. The lesson of the day is to make sure your camera is ready to go. Pre-select shutter speed, aperture, color balance, ISO, type of metering, and exposure compensation. The next part of the equation would be experience and some would say luck, I believe you make your own luck. This photo was taken with a 35 mm camera, a 100mm Macro lens, ISO 50, shutter speed 1/500 f/4, single exposure.
The problem is with making anything world class, tremendous quality,and so reliable that it can outlast most of the patrons that use it. Like an old pair of socks or an old work shirt, I have a problem discarding old friends. Approximately in 1972, I purchased a large heavy Gitzo tripod. It virtually went around the world with me. It went to several Olympics, a World Series, major advertising assignments, and at the Apollo Soyuz. That tripod held a 400mm, a 600mm, and a 800 mm, and was the Rock of Gibraltar. About 10 years ago my studio manager complained that the tri pod was too big and to heavy. I procured a smaller Gitzo and two Manfrottos. They are fabulous tripods, but I missed the big Gitzo. Who knew 40 years ago, that much of my work in 2012 would be with DSLR’s for videos, I certainly did not. I decided to resurrect my first Gitzo as the new technology. I gave a call to Chris Brunngraber. I purchased the new 504 HD bridge, of course I did not tell him I was going to put it on the old Gitzo, and soon found out that my tri pod had a 150mm yoke. Two days later Chris sent me a 75mm adapter. WOW! how cool is that?! I am now able (with the help of Manfrotto) to breathe new life into an old tripod. To all the ships at sea, obviously I am not taking any thing away from the new technology. Let’s just call it a green thing. Wow I’m acually keeping up and recycling. Hell it is all good, go out and make some new photos, that’s the most important thing.
To all the ships at sea II, in the lead photograph there are two absolutely fantastic people Ron Thompson- senor tech adviser for Nikon ” and a lot more.” Ralph Morse- the best LIFE magazine photographer when it came to the space program, and much more. A separate blog will follow
Everyday of our lives, is an important day. Six months ago I made a decision to teach a work shop at Gleason’s Gym. When my studio manager reminded me that it was my birthday I said great. I consider work a privilege and what better to do then teach photography at Glesons’ Gym. Its just does not get better then that. I knew it was going to a very special and an amazing eclectic group. From Brazil, Chili, Colombia, England, Norway, and all over the east coast. A great balance between men and women, and great help from JoAnne Kalish, Larry Malang, Peter Poremba. It was a hell of a great day. Life is funny, I was on a great natural high, and I got back to the studio. Did not check my voice mail, did not check my email, downloaded the cards, checked facebook. I don’t check it that often and I find one of my close friend died of a heart attack. It was Bert Sugar. On Wednesday, I called Bert, he answered me as usual “Uncle Joe.” I always call him the “Bertster”. I asked him how he was feeling, and he said” I have lung cancer, and have internal bleeding but that’s not the problem.” Then I asked him what the big problem was? He said, “I have F@$!#ing terminal acne.” Thats the Bertster, no matter what the dialogue is he always finds humor in it. He was loved by millions, hated by thousands, he was a true Damon Runyon character and a great friend. I will miss him, yes I will miss him… Off the record, he suffered “Cuttysheimers”, his words not mine. RIP Bert Sugar.
Bert Sugar, Playwright Budd Schulberg, and son Benn Schulberg
A wise man once said, there is nothing you can do about the weather so just grin and bear it. That SOB must have had six layers on because it is just brutally cold. I guess it’s a global warming thing. Or maybe its the ozone layer dissipating. No that wouldn’t make sense then it would really be hotter. Enough of this. I’m not only running you in circles, I’m running myself in circles. I was going through a hard drive and I ran across a photo done in Tucson, Arizona, it was done with a 16mm lens severally backlit as you can see. I was under a jump while a mountain bike flew over. The key here to remember is the balance between the sun in the background and the biker’s face. I took a rigid 4’x8′ piece of insulation which was black on one side and chrome on the other and laid it down as a guide for the biker to hit his mark. The sun light reflecting off the chrome surface of the insulation gave me as close to a proper exposure as I could make. If I was to remake this photograph today I would consider using the Lastolight 36″ super reflector. Why? It folds up a whole lot better than a 4’x8′ piece of insulation, and you don’t have to drive the Lastolight back to the construction site and give it to the foreman. It just makes sense. In 2010 all cameras and all lenses are great. Its up to you, the photographer to come up with a different composition, and maybe a little different lighting. They say everything has been done before, and that may or may not be true. But as Photographers/Artists we have to come up with a different viewpoint.
To all the ships at Sea – Stay warm, I think I’m going to get on a plane and go to Tucson.