A Day When Everything Went Right

Manfrotto International Journalists ©2011 Joe DiMaggio

It seems like nowadays, when you pick up a newspaper, turn on the news, or even meet a friend for a drink there are so many negative stories out there and it kind of drives you crazy. However, every once in a while, you have a totally blown out great day where everything goes right – no negative stuff.That was this past Wednesday. I had the privilege of taking 22 international journalists on a photographic tour in lower Manhattan for Manfrotto. I imparted some of my photographic knowledge and they were gracious enough to bring me up to speed on world issues from many of their respective countries from Italy to China and back again. A great time was had by all. To all of my new friends I met on the walk you have a open invitation anytime to come visit us at the DiMaggio/Kalish Learning Center. Afterwards JoAnne and I were attending Manfrotto’s special event by invitation only – An Evening to Imagine More and what a exciting and motivating evening that was.

My best friend and life partner, JoAnne Kalish, had a day that was equally special. Let me bring you up to speed, JoAnne did one of the finest portraits I’ve ever seen of a world famous artist  Will Barnet. I love the portrait so much that I asked her to make me a copy for over my desk so I could always admire it. JoAnne happened to be in Will’s neighborhood on Wednesday and gave him a call to say hello. The two of them spent the afternoon sitting in beautiful Gramercy Park catching up on life, the artworld, his last few shows, recent reviews, her photography and his future retrospective in September at National Academy of Art in NYC. I will end this blog with a quote from Will Barnet – as Will was telling JoAnne that everyone loves the portraits she did of him so much (including him) and that they are being used everywhere from Farnsworth to Naples to the Montclair Museum to the National Academy of Art and for all his catalogs. He told her he had numerous photos taken of him over the years (he will be 100 years old on May 25th) by many great photographers including Arnold Newman but her photograph of him is by far better than even Arnold Newman’s portraits of him. It took JoAnne very much by surprise to hear that, and certainly made her day even more special. 

All Photos © Joe DiMaggio (or JoAnne Kalish)

DiMaggio & Violante Placido

JoAnne Kalish with Marcus Samuelsson

JoAnne Kalish with Mia Moretti

Tripods When You Need Them You Love Them

Ralph Morse behind camera with Ron Thompson looking on © Joe DiMaggio
A few days ago, I did a blog on tripods. On April 30, my blog was “Tripods: Love them or Hate them”. I started to think about it a little more.  I looked over in the corner of the studio, saw that old Gitzo, and started to run the numbers. That tripod is 37 years old. It doesn’t look new, but it’s always worked perfectly. Pretty impressive. I looked around for a few photos and came up with a photo of the great LIFE magazine photographer Ralph Morse, an amazingly great Nikon tech-rep and good friend of mine Ron Thompson, and a very fine photographer by the name of Al Satterwhite. Ralph is alive and well and lives in Florida,  Ron sadly, went to the great dark room in the sky about 15 years ago. This photo was taken in July of 1975 at the launch of Apollo-Soyuz. For the record, I take this big bad boy out today when I want to mount 2 or 3 cameras at a time and it’s still viable. But please keep in mind I adore my new Manfrotto’s. They’re super light, easy to pack, and work very well with the new DSLRs. Talking about that, imagine if you had a DSLR and was able to shoot HD video in July of 1975! How cool would that be? Ralph was kind enough to take a young photographer by the name of DiMaggio and teach him the ins and outs of how to photograph rocket launches. He came from the old school, and while I’m at it,  he went to DeWitt Clinton High School, which coincidentally was the same school my dad went to! Sometimes it’s just a small world. 

It Ain’t Hollywood It’s Just a Test!

Please click the above link to see the Singh-Ray Gold-N-Blue filter in action!

One of the most common questions we get in our workshops and lectures – Do we use filters? If so, what filters and what brand? Let’s be clear – yes, we use filters but only Singh-Ray Filters. The two prominent filters are the Gold-N-Blue and the Vari-N-Duo.  Dr. Singh is an amazing designer and engineer and is always thinking outside the box. I’m notdreaming that I can improve on his filters, but what I’ve done is made a modification to a step-up or step-down ring. A great deal of my work today is incorporating video into our repertoire (we’ve always offered our clients video on a professional level.) In the day, it was the big Sony’s. Today, we’re able to maintain a great relationship with Sony, but we also utilize our DSLR’s because of the quality and because of their size, speed and the fact we have more lens selection. A simple raging river that was swollen by torrential rain when photographed with the Gold-N-Blue in the video mode is mesmerizing. You’re looking a normal photograph and over the next minute or so, it turns slightly blue, then, a darker blue, and then a more intense blue. By the time your eyes adjust to the gorgeous blue, it starts turning into a wheat color, then a yellow and then a midas gold color. That’s kind of cool! But, every time you put your hand on the filter, you tend to move the camera or photograph your damn finger! You want a seamless, smooth, Hollywood dissolve. The most simple way for me to do this was to build my little stick (it’s really not a little stick.) You take a 77mm filter, you put a step up-ring on it, put the ring into a vise, pre-punch two starting poles, start your drilling, then attach the nut, finish your drilling and insert extremely small machine screws. Then you thread your eye bolt into this and coat it with 4 or 5 rubber bands, putting the filter together with the ring, put the ring onto the lens, put the lens onto the camera, put the camera and the lens on a tripod.  I only use Manfrotto or Gitzo tri-pods.  You then turn the camera on, compose and by controlling the dissolve in the filter with the rubber band, it becomes seamless, smooth and gorgeous. To change the recipe to the famous “fade to black”, we simply replace the Gold-N-Blue with the Vari-N-Duo, which now allows you to go from one scene to another, or to open up or close down a scene. It’s quite pretty. Yes, you can do it in final cut pro, but I’d rather do it with a camera.

Fabulous Fabio

On a recent trip to Israel I had an opportunity to meet Bellina from Kata Bags. Bellina is Director of Production at Kata. She was kind enough to give my partner JoAnne Kalish, myself and friend Simon Jacob, a tour of her facility. While we were there Bellina asked if both JoAnne and I would like to be judges in their Dream Bag Contest which we were very happy to do. 

At the time, I mentioned to Bellina that I had an idea for a utilitarian photo vest. She was gracious enough to pass my ideas along to Fabio Prada. Fabio is based in the Northern part of Italy near Milan. Fabio is the Chief Design Engineer of the new line of Manfrotto photographic apparel. Fabio and I have spoke several times over the last few months. He agreed to entertain some of my ideas for the vest.  Fabio invited me to meet him at the Manfrotto Photographic conference when he was in town. He graciously told me how much he liked my original Photo Kilt which was sold in Europe 15 years ago. Just for the record, I did not come up with the name Photo Kilt (someone else’s idea)  but did design the product. Fabio pulled out all the stops with the new Manfrotto, photo Jacket/Vest (see below.) Actually it’s a complete photo system in one, including rain gear, poncho, shell and two proprietary back packs which are out-of-this-world.  For that matter the complete new line is awesome. The new Manfrotto apparel line will be available by March 1, 2011. You can rest assured, I will be treating myself to a new jacket.

When Its Cold It’s "$#*!’ Cold!

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.

-Joe DiMaggio