I am on my way home from a 9 day photo expedition around the Grand Canyon run by National Geographic Travel. In going over the itinerary I was excited to see that we would be spending several days in Havasu Canyon. We've all seen images of this magical place over the years and I wanted the challenge of coming up with a new picture of the place. It can be hard to see a place differently than the thousands of other photographers who have seen it before.
My solution to wanting a new image was to light the waterfall under a 1/4 moon. Thanks to all the photo expedition participants and to National Geographic Travel for asking me to go.
One of the things that I love about living on the Cumberland Plateau is trail running in the winter time. The woods are open and light, but it is a hard thing to make a picture of. Runners tend to fade into the woods. In this photograph I've used studio strobes to brighten the runners and lift them out of the frame. Studio strobes are wonderful things to take out of the studio. They let you overpower daylight and brighten the subject.
I received a lot of email over the weekend about the Bat Crash photos that appeared in the Daily Mail last week. In general there were two questions, 1 how did you actually make the photograph? and 2 aren't you hurting the bats by shining strobe lights on them?
Let me see if I can answer both the questions at once. When I was assigned to shoot the bat photos I knew I wanted to disturb the animals as little as possible. Photo Engineering at National Geographic (think of them as the photo version of James Bond's Q Branch) sent me a nikon camera and special strobes modified to record the near infrared spectrum that bats don't see. I also rented a special infrared camera that actually sees heat (that is what the photos above and below are from).
The scientist that I was working with assured me that the bats were going to wake up no matter what I did. People in the cave at all would rouse them, it didn't matter to the bats or the scientists if I used special non invasive technology or not so long as we worked quickly. The scientists were doing the count because the felt (rightly as it turns out) that the winter of 2010 was the last time that they might be able to get an accurate count of a healthy bat population.
above assistant Bennet Farkas standing in as I set my lights
Last month a friend asked me to start a big portrait project. 140 people in 3 cities. My first thought was "I need new lights!" I've been using Elinchrom Ranger Quadras and an Elinchrom 600 monolight happily for a couple years. But I knew I'd have to light entire office spaces so I wanted to add a couple extra monolights. While I like the 600 I'd always been bothered that it is 110volts only. Lots of my work does happen over seas so a multivoltage light seems better. The Elinchrom BX500Ri seemed to be the perfect light for me. Almost as bright as the 600, 90-220 volts, plus it takes the same flash tube as my Ranger Quadras. Sounds perfect so I ordered 2 along with a 27.5-Inch Rotalux Deep Octabox.
When I first switched from film to digital I was shocked at the amount of time that digital photogrphy took out of my shooting day. Every day there was an extra 2-3 hours that I had to suddenly be renaming, downloading, backing up and captioning files. 2-3 hours out of what were already 14 hour days. That was time that I used to eat and sleep. At one NG meeting an editor said "listen I can not get that time back for you, it is gone..."