The Snake

© Joe DiMaggio

The great author Berry Stainback wanted me to do an illustration for his book on Kenny “The Snake” Stabler, the premiere Oakland Raiders quarterback. To put it mildly, Kenny did not have an alter boy reputation. Let’s put it this way, Kenny may or may not have done things that were illegal, something I would not know anything about. And he may or may not have had more than one drink a day. Again, it’s not for me to say. The art director gave me cuarto blanco to do any illustration I wanted, and this was the cover illustration.

Done with a Nikon f2 55mm micro lens, one overhead wink light, one reflector, and one small electronic flash behind the helmet and bottle. I believe the exposure was 1/90 of a second at f8 ISO 64, but don’t hold me to it. See you next week, Joe D


© Joe DiMaggio

I had an opportunity to photograph Paul Newman six or seven times. One of the most beautiful things about Paul is he was a regular guy. He rolled up his sleeves (sometimes a sleeveless T-shirt), got dirt under his fingernails, and treated everyone as if they were his equal. Not pretentious, not a superstar (but of course he was!). In an impromptu environmental portrait I asked him why he was so comfortable in front of the lens; whether it was film, or film. He said to me when he was making a photograph, he tried to put the person at ease by saying “You’re beautiful, and you’re as pretty as you feel”. Please understand I didn’t tape record the conversation, so obviously, I’m leaving a few things out. He then said to me “Sometimes the camera falls in love with the person you’re photographing, and you cannot make a mistake. If the camera loves you, it’s all good”. Hannah is obviously no Paul Newman, but the camera loves her. I always remember that I am not the most important part of the photo; it’s all about the person you’re photographing, both their inner beauty and their outer persona.

Equipment used: Canon 7D camera, 24/105 zoom 100 macro lens, Dynalite 500 watt second Powerpack, studio head rhyme light, octagon modifier, Dynalite bare bulb, two silver reflectors, and a Manfrotto air lightstand.

ISO 100, 1/200th of a second, f8.

Wheeler at MOMA

I know everyone who attended the photo retreat on Memorial Day weekend- Every person, to a man and a woman all said the same thing. They absolutely loved Dennis Wheeler. The idea of sharing my 30 plus years relationship with Dennis with the students worked out better than I expected. To say Dennis is a master of the arts would be an understatement. He’s a Renaissance man on steroids. Every time I feel a visual block getting ready to bite me on the butt I call Dennis and invite myself to his farm, where he proceeds to motivate me to get off my duff and start producing work. I sat listening to every word that Dennis spoke and watching the faces of the participants and guests at the party. It was a beautiful thing. Here are a couple of comments.

“Thank you for inviting me to the Retreat/Party.  It was an enjoyable experience, in which I learned a great deal about photography, creativity and myself.  Meeting Dennis Wheeler gave me new insight into questions that remained unanswered until his down to earth, realism in his lecture.  

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“The Retreat was a great success on all levels.  Hope to see you on June 12, 2011 in Lower Manhattan. All the best.” 
     ~Ralph Mocciola

“A special thank you to Dennis Wheeler for demonstrating that creativity does not stop at 60 – whatever – years old!”
     ~Linda Pedersen

“It is hard to put into words what this past visit with you has meant.  I find the below a step in the process of putting into words what occurred at your home and Learning Center.  That said, I look forward to further workshops that explore what the below author suggests, and what Dennis Wheeler demonstrated.”
     ~David Kenny

“I had a wonderful time, learned a lot, got to exchange ideas with a great group of photographers, had an opportunity to listen and learn from an accomplished artist (Dennis Wheeler)…”
     ~Ann Raine

Thank you for a most wonderful day, I think it was better than any of us could have imagined.  It was a great experience to sit around and talk about the arts and meet and spend time with Dennis, and to be topped off with some great music with Bobby and the boys.  But the best was the hospitality you, Joe and Dylan exhibited by opening your home to us and ensuring that we all had a marvelous day.  Thanks again, and look forward to seeing everyone again, real soon.”
     ~Jeffery Thomas

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New Add-ons to your System – Rosco Litepads

I’ve been using electronic flash from the beginning of my career. In the 70’s I standardized by using Dynalite strobes. There is no doubt, in my mind, that Dynalite, pound for pound, penny for penny, is the best electronic flash system you can get. Broncolor is really cool, but it’s very expensive. I had an opportunity to experiment with a new product: Rosco lightpads. Rosco is a LED continuous light source that comes in many different flavors – 20×24, 12×12, and even circles.

You name it, they have it. It has a very simple
mounting system as well. The light the pads produce is sweet. When I take all the knowledge that I learned over the years, with the electronic flash and the bending of available light, I can do some really cool things. The greatest advantage of these lights, is that they last forever, the color is consistent, they’re relatively small & easy to maneuver. This makes them easy to use on location with batteries rather than with AC. Now, they may not replace all electronic flash, but they’re a great addition to your photographic repertoire. For the photographer who doesn’t want to go to electronic flash for whatever reason, this is a natural progression. Also see my partner photographer JoAnne Kalish’s blog and another example of what she did using these litepads.

Photo © MMIX Joe Maggio