Round two testing on the Lensbaby Composer with Sweet 35 optic. A trip to the park with Chris, a martial arts instructor and former gymnast.
Once again, I shot with both my Canon glass and the Sweet 35. Sure, I could have photoshopped the images to look like the results but it was fun to make magic happen up front.
Once again, it’s an added level of difficulty moving around a sweet spot on a moving target while focusing but then you just shoot a few extra frames and have fun with it. I love the lower contrast. The non auto aperture makes focusing a bit tougher even shooting in daylight. I could see where a mirrorless camera could have an advantage here but that’s not in my gear bags and just a guess.
This year, and for the past decade I have had the pleasure of shooting the cover for the WLA issue of Consulting Magazine. Each year, I’m amazed with the brilliance, power and grace these women bring to the table. Though I don’t get to be a fly on the wall as they navigate the corridors of power, their peers present them, each with a story of commitment, humbleness and dedication unparalleled. This year nonetheless seemed even more pertinent given the political gyrations and social upheaval we’re experiencing.
Those who know me as a left wing nutjob or libtard might a different attitude in my interaction with the subject set but this isn’t about me, the companies they consult for or my shallow understanding of their world. Honestly, after listening to them and their peers it seems they get to the stage because of the good they do as much as the team spirit they bring to the table.
I wish them all the best in the coming years and to continue to bring a greater perspective to the C-suites of the world.
Congrats Debbie Simpson and everyone who stood before the camera this year, and thanks to whoever bought the wine and scotch. Unwinding after fast high pressure shooting is easier with a single malt and truffles.
For the tech side, this year we had 12 women on the deck, that means 12 portraits and the cover shot all in about an hour with an hour to set up ahead of time. This year I opted for DC powered strobes, Elinchrom as I have had issues in the past with blowing circuit breakers and I just can’t afford down time when there’s so much to do in the allocated time.
Thanks Rob for keeping me from jumping out a locked window and running away and for hauling all my stuff.
This fall we produced and created images for The College Board‘s social media campaign ads. We created happy and engaging lifestyle images of students, at school Production took a few weeks, a good part of which had to do with casting, location scouting and logistics, all handled in-house with a bunch of help from my wardrobe stylist Amy Auslander. Budget was decent though not lavish by far. Weaning the client off royalty free stock, the pricing had to be competitive yet there was allowance for images more unique following a shot list. Comparison wasn’t linear scale but there was some relationship. Talent could have been astronomical so it required using “real people.” There are always trade offs as such. I’m fine working with un-seasoned talent but it’s a different ballgame. More talking/directing and lower throughput. There’s a reason good talent isn’t cheap! Still, it was a great bunch of kids, they were enthusiastic, some surprisingly stellar in front of the camera and petty much wore me out for the day.
The shoot took place in Queens NY, we rented a bunch of gear from Root, a big cargo/passenger van to move a good portion of the crew and loaded into a rented high school on a Saturday. Weather wasn’t stellar but then a little rain is much better than a lot.. and maybe better than a bright sunny day in some respect. Hair and Makeup by Jerry and Sophie.
Takeaways… after wrap, don’t eat the rest of the pizza. Orange juice is great when you’re going to be directing talent 10 hours, digital tech is good, very very good!
We’re back on “The Curated Fridge” again, I love having my photos refrigerators & cubicles!The next two months, Daniela Momo from Taragano Dance Theater is being exhibited on “The Curated Fridge” if you’re in Boston, you can see it live, otherwise see it online. Fun exhibition. If you request one, you might just get your own postcard copy in the mail.
Did I mention RJ was really tall? It’s really strange standing next to a pro ball player. I got a Lensbaby, wanted to get a few frames on it and see if it would be worthy creating originals vs Photoshop. It’s fun, some filmy sort of serendipitous feeling shooting with it though I doubt I’ll be using it on a commercial job when a frame can easily be converted to have the look. I’ll make more notes on this in the future as I play with it more.
The three images are shot within an hour under pretty similar lighting conditions. Okay, the third is shade but we’re trying to have fun without getting overly techy. I post process my RAW files in Lightroom, in this case I threw stock filters on them because Instagram is free, Lightroom is amazing so why not.
Differences to note, and partly because you can’t see the original data you just have to read my analysis.
Lensbaby Composer with Sweet 35 is fun to use, requires some coordination, some trust and doesn’t have an undo feature. You lose some frames because you can’t focus as well, you lose some because you are tilting and swinging and having fun. You shoot some more and have fun. Would I use it on a commercial shoot, sure but it would likely be to warm up, play a bit and show a client what can be done with a situation other than making it a normal shot.
Canon glass, kicks ass. I love my 24-70, probably use it on 95% of my work… at 24mm around f8. There you have it, you can now be me. It has great contrast, matches well with the camera and is easy to focus, manually, because I was born in the 60’s and still like to focus my own lens. Of course, having used the lens so much for years I know what’s going to be sharp, how to blur or defocus on demand… and what to do in post to make something look like it was Lensbaby. Have I tried to make an image look like it was done with the Lensbaby, no I’m not worried about it.
“Artist-in-Residence HOTTEA transformed Viacom’s worldwide headquarters with his largest installation to date.” Artist uptown residence Dave takes Pictures was brought in to make pretty pictures of said person going by HOTTEA for Viacom. Nobody told me I shouldn’t touch the thread! Okay, I should have known… but it was just yarn hanging from a ceiling with a few kinks and tangles here and there!
One of our lights touched yarn, HOTTEA was present, he was distressed, before anyone could get a ladder we used a light stand to unstick a few stands that had stuck together. Good thing we weren’t in the elevator lobby where the HVAC had tangled up a few yards of yarn. Sure does look pretty though!
Thanks Mike for giving me a hand with the gear and running through the shots. Thanks Julie for not wanting to do it and tossing me the work… and also walking through a shot.
More than just guys in suits here at Dave takes Pictures! I’m starting a project, yep another project. Since it’s hot out, I’m going to wrangle some talent to stand outside in the heat and sweat in front of the camera. First shot, into the gym, an A/C’d private gym on the East side with Oliver. I really just wanted to test a new softbox and computer. Now that I’ve started, why not!
It’s a bit of a throwback to an older shoot with a similar feel. The original below was film, illuminated with fluorescent tubes, cross processed and scanned. My recent test was simpler in some ways, digital using lightweight DC strobes, the new octabank, strip bank and a bare head.
Major differences in shooting the two. I could see pretty much what I had captured on a laptop immediately after shooting the digital yet using strobe you have to imagine how your light will look as you can’t see it when you’re shooting. when I shot Athalon Group collateral below, I could see almost exactly my tonality in the camera but wouldn’t see the film finals until a day or so later. Either works for me.
By the way, Oliver hates this photo, he thinks it makes him look fat. I remember when my abs might have looked fat like that, that was probably 25 years ago.
Do you want to sweat in front of the camera? Drop a note, let me know what you have in mind. Mistress Eliza included wherever you are…
Anyway, if you’re looking for a personal trainer in NYC, Oliver is 6’5″ or something like that, can pick up a horse, speaks mean French and might be able to make you look like him. Drop a note I’ll pass you on to him. I’d link back but they he might see the fat picture and track me down.
T’was the day before my birthday, we put together a nice dog and pony show at a friend’s studio in DC, Studiowerks DC. Budget was tight so we went cozy for the day. It’s a great studio but with 13 people and two sets running space is tight. Other than some words of wisdom, don’t eat the steak at a seafood restaurant, the day went smooth.
So, thanks Paul and Chris for hooking me up with the studio, thanks to the crew for doing everything while I lay on the floor wishing I was dead, feeding me occasional sips of diet caffeine free Coke, and not letting me fall over when I tried to stand up or get off my stool. Thanks Johnny’s Half Shell for feeding me a $40 steak that was alive enough to fight back for three days. If you decide to eat there, get the Crab Cake, my Art Director Hosea ate two and a half, he was fine. Oh yeah, thanks Hosea for carrying pharmaceuticals enough to keep me alive for the day. Thanks Kane & Crew for looking good. It helps!
Just a day or two before The Great Blizzard of 2018 we were scheduled to photograph The Wizard of Blizzard: Joe Costanzo for Snow and Ice Management/Snow Business Magazine. Oh the perils of scheduling ten days out, and having other jobs on the calendar include missing out on an opportunity to photograph a snow plow with snow rather than a snow plow on wet pavement.
Joe was a trooper, gloveless after dark on a cold and windy day. As much as I would have liked to have snow on the ground, shooting in a blizzard would have posed some interesting challenges not the least of which would have been getting to the location when orders are in place for essential vehicles only to be on the streets and the prospect of gigantic hunks of snow dropping from the sky at a hard angle with 50mph gusts doesn’t sound like a whole lot of fun. Well, if I hadn’t already been booked I would have done it. Thanks Consulting Mag for keeping my warm, dry and well fed instead!
Thanks Joe for pulling it together, thanks Rob for hauling my crap around, thanks NYPD for not noticing my car double parked illegally across the street, the tripod, lightstands or my 100′ driving through Fulton St. Mall to get to the location instead of driving over the sidewalks.
It’s always sweet when one of my favorite images resurfaces. In this case, my wife Alice prodded me to get in touch with an old acquaintance on my next trip to Boston knowing fully well how I’d love Joe Davis’s art and attitude. She hadn’t been in his studio space though if she/I had any idea what I was about to encounter, the whole day might have been blocked out to poke around and play with gadgets. Joe’s a classic hands on tinkerer, researcher, artist. Renaissance man in flannels with a baseball bat for a lower leg. Thanks for an entertaining afternoon Joe. I’d love to have a few hours more to look at your work, if I was only 21 and fresh out of college I might beg for an internship though I get the feeing I’d be waitlisted.
I have two battery systems in house. Profoto Acute B and Elinchrom Ranger Quadra. I started with the Acute B a decade ago and still love it though I bought into Elinchrom looking for fast and light digital with lots of heads. Though the Acute B has been discontinued, additional reasoning for sticking with it, it’s compatible with AC powered packs.
2400W/S or 9600 Joules/min
2M swap up to 10M plug-in
Sure, I love my D4, had it for years, it’s solid. A power cable you could anchor the Titanic with. It puts out enough light to overcome sunlight yet can dial down low enough for just a little fill. I was about to put my Acute B out to pasture due to battery issues but as written a few posts back have given it LiFe or LiFePO4 for a future!
The profoto Acute replacement Li battery cost more than the ECO ringflash and I rarely used ringflash above 150W/S so along the way I grabbed an ECO. I have used the D4 at higher powers though in the rare case, I may be renting higher output packs as well as diffuser/reflectors for it.
First impressions of the ECO. It’s lightweight, will make shooting 2lbs easier. It’s a little deeper, maybe 1/4″, makes manual focus tougher with some lenses.
The diffusion cap.. ugh. I’m going to modify it with black paint… if you don’t have your lens stick out the front of the diffuser cap it causes flare! Bit of a drag, not sure how that was released in the wild. To use it the focus ring on a Canon 24-70 f2.8 has to be completely witin the confines of the ring making autofuckus mandatory. Check back in a few days, maybe I’ll post the hack.
The tripod mount… I put a 1/4-20 adapter in it and it protrudes from the bottom too far to tighten, needs some chamfer. I found this out on set and had to insert it from the top to make it work, not an easy thing as you may be able to see from the bottom view. It has to be inserted between the rear support rails and screwed in using… anything but a screwdriver which won’t fit in there.
Back again, from the garden tractor pull series my submitted image to the ASMP 2017 Annual is about to hit the streets. Here’s your jump start, you can say you saw it here first! Woo Hoo! Look out, I just scooped the Daily News!
Feel free to toss me some dough to continue the series, I’d love to keep it going.
I had a previous post detailing my research on an alternative power source to the Profoto branded battery for the Acute B.
After exhausting my search for a battery within spec for the job and in some form of personal protest I made a battery. Not so much made as assembled a battery of batteries with some protective circuits but still, it’s a project!
WARNING: Lithium batteries can explode or catch on fire, they can dump massive amounts of power, will melt things and burn up your devices. Build and use at your discretion, this is a record of what I have done not a suggestion that you do it.
First off, my design spec… it had to fit in the original battery cassette, handle at least 26A draw and I didn’t want to exceed 14V which pointed to LiFePO4 cells over LiPo which would have given 16… and done who knows what to the electronics. I wanted it to cost less than $650, and preferably not take hundreds of hours to build. It’s a battery, not a car. It took about $100 and probably too many hours but if I want to make another…. maybe two hours not including print time.
In the first photo you can see the cassette, with the original Pb gell cell removed. You can 3d print the cassette for the 26650 cells from this design.
25560 cells can be bought in several chemistries. LiFePo4 gave me comparable voltage to the original PB. I had wanted to use a different cell made by Nitecor originally but thought 3.7V cells combined to make 16V might increase the chance of catastrophic failure. I used Tenergy 26650 cells. You can buy A123 cells, same capacity for double the price. The reviews were favorable on Tenergy, I have used their NiMh cells in previous projects, I’ll tell you next year how the 26650’s hold up.
BMS Board- Battery balance and protection PCB. This allows you to charge the battery using a relatively stupid LiPo charger and to not blow things up. It took a while to source a board that could supply up to 30A continuous and fit in the box. This just made it, barely! It can peak discharge over 100A, kind of scary but there’s a fuse on the cassette as well to limit it to 40A. Note, the board didn’t work at first. After removing it, I found a reference online that mentioned hooking it to a charger to reset it. Bit of a pain that I had desoldered it but after successful testing with a batch of alligator clamps I put it back together and went on to live testing. How to wire it or “the secret spec sheet!”
Just because I can… I had previously printed a custom jumper set that allowed me to power up the Acute B with the battery outside the generator that was able to handle serious amperage. I was concerned that battery clamps might short out on the bench. It’s overkill but that’s what you do when you have a 3d printer. It has lights to indicate correct polarity and a power meter to catch peak draw. I metered the original Pb cell at 24A, a drop in replacement LiFePo4 I bought five years ago which is no longer available at 25A, then my new homebuilt cell at 31A. Pretty nifty, likely I’ll get a bit faster recycle on the unit. I might consider that as the cassette has a 40A fuse on it and hopefully the pack has it’s own internal temperature monitoring I’ll be safe… but then the heads for this system are not fan cooled so I’ll have to be aware to not overheat the heads/pack. It’s rare that I’m rapid firing at full power for any length of time, and for that matter on huge shoots I usually rent equipment.
Note: the . I have it wired externally to test it… I’ll have to upload the files for the rig perhaps…
Thanks to Jamie Allegre for initially putting the test rig on an oscilloscope to get power readings and see charge profile. The initial tests kept me from buying a bunch of possible replacement that would have just shut down on start up. Thanks for Michael Curry for encouraging me to fry my pack… enough to make me second guess the LiPo pack I bought and never test it on the rig.
Last month, we photographed Peggy Wang, a Buzzfeed founder, for Tulane University Magazine. We had sample layouts, a bit of instruction for self AD’ing the shoot and and Peggy’s email address to get the ball rolling. We almost nailed down the time, date, place and some ideas with Peggy before the PR handler jumped in. What started as an hour shoot with an hour setup was hacked down to twenty minutes setup and twenty minutes to shoot for two to three sets. From run of the shop to two tight locations. You take what you can get sometimes, and even if you have to spend 5 of your forty minutes looking for a two replacement light bulbs. We found only one. Just do it? Photoshop the lamp to look like it has two bulbs in it? Maybe tomorrow.
Peggy, seasoned with a decade plus in public eye was easy to work with. PR advised her not to dunk the cookie for us even though she convinced Pres. Obama to dunk a cookie for Buzzfeed. Thanks Obama? Once again, you take what you can get. Though I would have liked to have some silly in the shoot, here’s the serious Peggy Wang from Buzzfeed.
Some new work just went live, results of a two day shoot for Kognito.
Kognito is “a health simulation company that believes in the power of conversation to inspire and inform, impact how people think and act, evoke empathy and change lives. How do you say that in pictures? The assignment was to get environmental portraits of the leadership team and a set of images from around the office to put a face behind the technology. Pretty fascinating and innovative place in my opinion.
Challenges we faced were working in a live workspace using real people while working, minimal styling and a pretty loose shotlist. Though the office usually has nice sunlight, the week we had to shoot turned out to be very wet so everything was lit using four Elinchrom Ranger Quadra packs. We had a small crew and did a whole lot of hustle. Usually keen on a tighter shotlist but can manage fine on the fly if we have to.
Early one morning, as commuters began to filter into the tubes heading midtown, we photographed Grant and Michael at Citibike rack by Grand Central. They are Risk Managers associated with bike shares accross the US.
As our taxi rolled past loaded citibike racks on the UWS a bit before sunrise, I lamented not riding my cargo bike down loaded with gear in a show of solidarity but my assistant didn’t have a bike and would have put me a bit over capacity. We arrived half hour prior to Grant and Michael, to find an empty rack! I could have put Rob on a Citibike and at least we would have one! Hopefully Grant and Michael would bring a few! As the sun began to shine (strobe) fortunately the bikes began to roll in. To the frustration of a few commuters, we used administrative access to lock a few props on the rack for the shoot… sorry;)
Not my money, but Dr. Singh was a pretty good sport for having been swindled out of nearly a half million bucks and being photographed on a miserably rainy day in January for the writeup. The Profoto AcuteB is still chugging along, though I brought the Elinchrom’s along too for the ride. I’ll save the smiley outtakes for Dr. Singh. He’s a pretty upbeat guy and even gave me some sidewalk medical advice for free!
I have a 1st generation Profoto Acute B, 600ws pack/generator. The original battery is a Lead Acid (Pb) 4.5Ah 12V in the form factor of a home alarm backup battery. Several times I have re-celled the batteries and attempted to use 3rd party cells with mixed results detailed below in addition to a current attempt to find a suitable LiFePO4 (Li) 3rd party replacement.
Profoto sells replacement PB cells for about $65 and a replacement LiFePO4 battery for $655. You can find 3rd party Pb cells for as little as $20 and LiFePO4 for $60 but don’t expect them to work so easily.
My first attempt at using an off the shelf Pb 4.5Ah (PowerSonic PS-1250) in 2010 was lousy, where the original would give about 160 full power flashes, it gave about 45 and never rose the battery level out of the red zone.
A few months later I purchased a Tenergy 4.5Ah LiFePO4 which is no longer on the market and was getting over 200 full power flashes per charge. I should have bought four of them.
Recently as the performance of the Pb and Li cells have sharply dropped, I began shopping for another drop in Li and it’s turned into an engineering project. After a two month wait for the only drop in I could find out there, a CTC LiFePO4 I was disappointed that the cell would shut down when the generator was powered up. I’ll go into the details a bit more below and document my attempts to avoid dropping $655 which just seems like a steep hike… until you start doing research.
The Profoto AcuteB is rated at 600J output per flash and charges the capacitor bank in under 2 seconds using a stock PB 12V 4.5AH
with a 40A automotive fuse on the battery case. Speaking with a tech on the phone at Silvino’s in LA I found the approximate surge pull on the battery was 30A. He was also searching for a feasible LiFePO4 solution.
Considering the lack of a drop in replacement I began looking at configured and tested packs that might fit into a 3d printed battery case vs building a pack using off the shelf cells and protection circuits.
So far, I’m unable to find a preconfigured pack that will supply over 22A peak discharge let alone the 30-40A I need. In conversation with a battery tech, we surmised that it would be possible to wire a large capacitor in parallel to the battery pack to buffer the peak draw, keeping it from shutting down during the initial surge and also lengthening the life of the batteries as a bonus.
Breaking out a calculator and the internet, I did a little math to see how this would work.
The AcuteB has a rating of 600WS or 600J
WS = Watt Seconds
J = Joules
S = Second
A = Amps 1AhV=3600J
I’d like to cut the peak draw from 30A down to 20A, if a capacitor could hold 14.5V 10A it would appear that I might be able to make this work. A few more google searches and scribbles and I calculated I need a 15V 1F cap or (5)2.5V 5F caps in series parallel with the battery to do the job. Here’s where I need someone to chime in and tell me it won’t fry.
Q=Coulomb=1A/1S 1Amp supplied for one Sec
C=Capacitance (Farad F) 1F cap can store 1Q
C=Q/V for Parallel
Alternative Solution: I spoke with a tech today at bioenno power about a 4.5Ah pack with 18A peak cutoff and a 6Ah with 24A peak cutoff . The tech said that they could be programmed to cut out at a higher current though it would decrease the battery life/charge cycles though pose no danger of overheating.
I’m working on a series of Garden Tractor Pull images. Yes, it’s a real sport. Some five years or so ago, I happened upon a county fair somwhere three or four hours northwest of NYC. Following the sound of loud engines to a dirt track raceway there was a queue of garden tractors lined up to pull an incrementally weighted sled. I knew the term Tractor Pull from TV & radio ads in my childhood but never had a visual to go with it. The entries were anywhere from stock up to sponsored racing machines with glossy custom paint jobs. The pulls generally aren’t what you might consider jackrabbit fast. They’re loud and it’s common amongst participants I’ve spoken with that they’re spending way too much money on rides that in many cases won’t mow a lawn. A few riders still had a mower deck and blades hanging below. I’m finishing work on a few images to post soon and will get them up on my site.
I love having my photos refrigerators & cubicles, making this one of the most fun exhibits I have been in. Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to hang a show in MOMA, maybe it will be hung on refrigerator doors?
The next two months, “Space Improvement Day” is being exhibited on “The Curated Fridge” if you’re in Boston, you can see it live, otherwise see it online. Fun exhibition. If you request one, you might just get your own postcard copy in the mail.
Makerfaire Mega NYC huge edition, 2016 and then some. It rained this year on the only day I could attend so here are two photos from last year and one from this year without sunshine in a tent covered with plastic. Hey, it was fun, just kinda wet. I was working on PRS, Power Racing Series for which I’ll soon have a larger post and web gallery update. The lower, Monty double will likely get into the main galleries. There’s only one Monty, of course it’s altered, twins are funny.
I was just wondering if clickbait would get you here. We took a trip got tired on the way home and spent the night in some hotel in Connecticut that had seen just a few too many changes on ownership/management. Still, it had funky green curtains and some nice morning light. Good morning Alice & Max! And the stalker outside the window.
2016 Photoville ASMP container, Charlamagne tha God made an appearance selected as one of about fifteen or twenty images from the New York chapter to represent. Quite an honor, the image was also selected for the 2016 annual to be delivered tomorrow to a few hundred creatives across NYC. I hope everyone enjoyed browsing images on a lazy August weekend between the bridges.
On a recent trip to Baltimore working on the PRS series, I dropped in on a former co-worker Todd Blatt at Baltimore Node. Todd is a 3d designer, tinkerer, maker guy and part of the 501st Legion Garrison. The Storm Troopers do fundraisers for charities and look pretty good at a party. I had a camera, Todd had armour, the whiteboard… just a coincidence I couldn’t resist. Storm troopers don’t sound quite the same without the sound effects guy in the house so keep the music up when they march in. Preferably Vaughner?
Another day working with Power Racing Series teams….
We went out to the legendary Bellworks Labs in Humboldt NJ for a mini Maker Faire where the PRS was having the first exhibition race to help local new and old teams tune up their rides. Two major teams I have already worked with were there and a few new entries below working out the quirks in their new cars. We ran some tests and will hopefully get some fun race shots at the big race this Sept in Queens!
At the American Museum of Natural History #AMNH NYC for game night kid free! After ping pong and Cocktails I found myself playing with clay feeling inspired for something a little retro. Mr Bill is back! Not the original of course (was he ever the same twice?)I gave it my best shot I left him on the table fully intending to go back and see if someone might have mauled him well but unfortunately was directed by security before I had a chance. I’m kind of hoping to look online and possibly find someone posting a follow-up if so I’ll post a follow-up.
Midway through a fun day shooting the FUBAR Labs Power Racer Series team in New Brunswick NJ, Rob and I got to take a few cars out for laps. Fun day! I probably should be wearing a helmet here, they are not slow! Now why didn’t I think of handing my camera to someone instead of waiting for a bad cell phone shot. More to come soon, have to edit down quite a bit!
We had a snow day last month, a snow day without snow. From the set design side, a little snow might have been nice but if it had snowed I probably wouldn’t have been able to get these guys to drive over to the TransCanada power plant in Queens NY for a photoshoot either. Sure it was cold, sure I was wearing a fur hat, down parka and mittens but these guys are snow pros! Interesting showing up on location and having security tell you you can’t photograph the power plant, smokestacks, waterfront, barge, dock or any infrastructure. Okay, not interesting but that was the gig.
Profoto AcuteB & umbrella
What I learned: Mac Laptop battery life is reduced by… maybe 7x when it’s below freezing so tethered shooting can be precarious. If it was my car, it would have had an inverter in it. Oh well, NYC sucks for owning a car so I rent.
Beginning of 2016, I’ll be partnering with Agency Access to do promotional legwork and planning. The beginning, a potential revamping of my identity, promos and some edits to my website, compiling new target lists and calls will start again. It’s been quite a few years since I sent out anything other than social media so it will be interesting to see how things have changed.
Step one, editing images…. this is intimidating though I have done it many times before… starting with a library of over 300,000 images, culled down to around 35o. It doesn’t look as difficult to edit when reduced to .5″ cells in a grid?
Question is, where do I focus on the promotion… advertising, corporate or editorial and even then how much more focused will we go. It seems as though I have become rather focused in the past decade but it may become more narrow for the purpose of the campaign. Anyhow, this is the starting point!
If you don’t know about Max’s wolf suit, you missed out on childhood. Max is Max, of course he should have a wolf suit and of course it should be furry and soft and he should get pizza and dirt on it to make it authentic. Max loves his wolf suit though it seems other kids love it even more as he becomes a big fuzzy animal toy. Is peeing in your wolf suit a good way to show love? Ask your dog. Is my kid cute or what? Rhetorical question.
A few weeks ago, Max’s wolf suit was a blanket. Nice to be handy and creative at times. Sorry no pattern to post for you, didn’t use one and it really didn’t fit perfectly either… nor will I pass it on for another year’s use to someone else because I don’t want to be liable for pin sticks, the trip hazard tail or heat stroke. Still, next year maybe I’ll do another, better version because if you’re a kid named Max, your wolf suit always be a good standby and it only cost about twenty bucks to make it.
Benefits of self employment, I’m getting to spend some quality time with my boy. A few days a week, he gets to run errands with me, indulge in my cookie addiction and see the sights of NYC. I pity the kids that get stuck on the subway every day. We have a Kona Ute, I did a previous write up a while back if you want to know more about cargo bikes/long tails. A Ute is probably tougher to handle with the current config. but it’s what we have… Maybe a HaulADay in the future? We bought apples too, Max loves apples!
Teach a man to fish and he’ll eat forever, teach a kid to take pictures and he’ll eat dollar pizza and spend all his money on equipment.
We went to Maine, this wasn’t the first time I let Max hold a camera, but the last time he was sitting on a bed, not on the beach near the water. The fun part about getting this was that we had to run back and forth to try and stay in the frame as Max shot away, having the time of his life and not paying much attention to where he was aiming. Great shots Max, maybe competition worthy.
I’m a few weeks off of bringing home a new camera, likely the Canon 5DS over the Sony A7RII. I decided to do some testing of my own so I really know what I’m getting for my dough. As I mentioned in the previous post, I use a 5DMKII and love it. Nearing the point where my backup DSLR really is obsolete, upgrading to make my beloved 5DMKII the backup seemed like more fun than buying a new backup. I invited Heidi Klum over to stand in for the test but she got a last minute booking so I had to do the test alone. The following series of images were shot with studio strobe varying the power as much as possible to maintain consistency in camera settings though I had to stop down at the high ASA end and open up a little on the low. What I’m really looking for is excessive noise and funky colors at the high end and creamy smooth low end. I’ll shoot the same series with the new camera in a few weeks. Images were processed to JPG 65 using Lightroom. There is a default amount of color noise reduction which does make a big difference on the high ISO files but as I use it on all my files regardless I left it on. There is no applied luminance noise reduction. The images are reduced cropped sections, click on them to inspect at full resolution.
I’m shopping for a new camera, why? I skipped a generation, the 5DmkIII as it was only 1MP higher and I didn’t see the need for top end ASA increase. Sony and Canon recently released the next generation Sony A7RII and Canon 5Ds & 5Dsr. My backup camera is rather obsolete, I fear my main camera going down on a shoot, probably a time to invest again. Caught up in the buzz surrounding the Sony A7RII, it seemed for a while that I might be leaning towards a platform change. The prospect of buying new lenses again $$$ was enough to get me to scour the internet for reviews. In the end, well, almost the end, It looks as though I’ll go against the flow and get the new Canon 5Ds.
I used DP review’s camera comparison tool to look at the Canon 5DMKII, 5DMKIII, 5DS and Sony A7RII at ASA’s from 100 up to 12800 and pushed the cameras capable of higher ASA’s up more for grins. Though the 5DMKIII and A7RII are capable of higher ASA’s, and possibly can resolve the same as the others at another stop of sensitivity, the gain once again probably doesn’t matter so much to me. What surprised me most was that my existing 5DmkII really wasn’t as bad as I had assumed at the higher ratings. Other considerations were, do I really need 50Mpixels? Should I get the 5DmkIII instead? I’ll post a follow up on my choice perhaps next month, though the deciding factors are as follows. The Sony mirrorless line is always on “live view” and has a battery half the size. You get about 300 frames on a battery. It’s not uncommon for me to shoot over 3000 exposures in a day. Do I really want to manage 10 batteries in a day? Dual battery grip and charger aside, it’s one more thing to go wrong. On Mega pix, why wouldn’t I want 50Mpx? Sure it will kill my computer and stuff my server with files, but then I can crop with reckless abandon? Oh yeah, and it costs more too!
Pros and cons
normal ISO 100-6400
Shots per battery
USB 2 micro
Another set of close ups from DP review, this time at 6400ASA, a more likely top end for me. Notably on the target test, the solid grey has more noise on the Canon. I’m not thinking it’s a problem for me. When I shoot product, it’s with strobe, with people it just doesn’t matter as much and additionally, these are supposed to be RAW files processed without noise reduction which in my tests using Capture One and Lightroom give a whole lotta latitude more in capability. There’s a chance that the camera itself has some noise reduction prior to writing the RAW file as well so comparisons aren’t always so simple. That in mind, nevermind the comparing color below, they are RAW files which need profiling/correction. For the record, I use both C1 and LR, noise reduction is added by default. I’ll go into this more on my next post, the 5DMKII benchmark. Guess I should have shot my original 5D too… oops.
And one more test group, because rarely do I shoot anywhere outside of 100-400 ASA, as I mentioned, I’m a user of strobe as a primary lights source, people use me for my particular style so why would I start shooting available light portraits at 6400 ASA? First impression, 5DS has more noise, more contrast and more resolution… but once again, Lighroom or Capture One would likely make that comparison moot. Only in some extreme situation would I expect one to look better than the other that extreme being full resolution use in which case the 5DS would pull ahead or extreme low light situation where the 7RII has the advantage.
Fact: I shot this shortly after the bagphone’s obsolescence. I had my first flip phone which may or may not have had text message ability. I was digging through a box of chromes today cleaning off a shelf and ran into originals from this set. Unfortunately scanning the originals wasn’t going to happen today for a quick post but I did have some copywork from a print on an archive drive from a decade ago. This was my first big job, PSINet shot in NYC, Toronto, Hong Kong and Paris, a three week stint with five primary locations. The individual shots were stripped into the stack of flat panel monitors we shot in Toronto in the second row. Caption was something like the internet is knocking are you there? They were a big deal, at about $10K/monitor, shipped in from some rental somewhere at a time when a 21″ monitor was a 60Lb CRT that cost $2K.
I can’t help but to notice my last blog posting reached and converted almost 4x more than the last FB promo and converted 16x more than the last. When my first website was posted in HTML, I populated metadata with words stripped out of a porn site to increase hits. It was a bit of a joke to me at least, thinking people might go there for #boobs and find a bald fat guy in a nasty wifebeater playing guitar on the toilet.
After a bit of a hiatus, I have returned to my blog, with a backlog of material to fill in and release. I’m not really good with blogging as I go, maybe I’ll get better this year. Encouraging as it is to see hits to my words, I went into the stats today thinking I’d figure out some pattern to success and amp it up a bit but it’s hard to see where Moby would only get 59 hits to my random model in a towel getting 78 hits. I have to find out what exactly the reach means. Doesn’t everyone getting my feed get my post on their timeline? Has something changed? Is FB broadcasting me more since I’m posting more? What gives? I want to see it give more! At the risk of giving my competition a trade secret or even worse, motivating them to do the same, I ask you… was it the clickbait that drew you in? Did you just happen to get caught up in the statistical cloud and drawn in? Was it the photo?
Though the shoot had four main images to be composited into to three final images that would rotate on the site, there were oodles of selfies that had to be taken to fill in the quadrants on the phone screens and to be scattered in various places on the website. It took about four days to shoot the groups in enough varied locations that they could be reassembled on screens without much redundancy in the talent. We discussed shooting the images with an actual smartphone but shutter lag and the inability to sync a smartphone easily with strobes made it impractical. Sure I could have probably done the lighting with Kino’s or other but the impracticality of redundant grip outweighed authenticity. SLR it was, and it gave us the advantageous options of cropping and RAW files.
For the record, this is my 95% smiley face happy edit, look at the ads in the previous post to see OOVOO’s selections to their concept.
A whole lot of pictures in pictures was the plan… action packed week of production and location shooting made this one up. The plan was to show a bunch of teens/twenty somethings slacking about and chatting on the phone app, having a good time with their peeps. The shot list was pretty packed, the producer had to watch the checklist pretty closely to be sure we had every option we needed to use each person on the screen as a possible chat mate for each landing page scenario so things multiplied quickly. I shot this in 2013, why now write about it? It’s been sitting in a folder on my desktop for two years waiting, Max was born in the middle of the production so it kind of slipped my mind. The site was recently overhauled, not quite as conceptual I’d say. Just checking in? I’m going to do another post on the selfies. Nice collection, may as well use it.
Not calling cards like AT&T but Biz cards. Another round. Address changed, I decided it was time to make the small print easier for people that don’t carry around a magnifying glass with them all the time. Here’s a few of the candidates that rose to the top jumbling around elements of the original ID done by Axiom. I know the “Dave Says” version is over the top busy but I always loved my tape and just wanted to see it live on. If I ever get a silly enough image to put it on, I may do a version with it on the face.
And the finalists for the backsides of the cards….
Megabike, Kona Ute, cargo class 1. I made that up, there are no standards on Cargo bikes but this one has a rather conservative 100KG rating. It was a tough decision between Extracycle, Trek, Surly and Yuba but the winner came from Craigslist as the first available. It works, the center of gravity is a bit high as Kona went with 29er wheels rather than 26″ as most manufacturers do. It makes mounting and dismounting a bit precarious, expecially when overloaded as I often do. Otherwise, it handles like a tank, the bags hold a pile of stuff and it’s sexy as all hell. Fitting it into the elevator and or the bike room in our Co-Op is a real challenge so as it’s been on the street now the greater part of the year, I have in mind my alternatives for when it gets stolen. Bike Friday has a new cargo bike which weighs in about 10 lbs less and is about a foot shorter due to smaller wheels. I missed the kickstarter but maybe one will hit Craigslist at the right moment.
Max is sitting in his Yepp Maxi, he is older than 1 year making him legal to carry on a bike in NY and he is wearing the latest most fashionable outfit I won’t describe.
In case you’re shopping for a cargo bike, here’s my take on the competition… in longtails. I didn’t visit bucket bikes.
Extracycle – The original, created the standards for most accessories, makes a frame extender kit or a frame. Not cheap but well designed
Trek Transport – No longer made, hard to find, was pricy but nice! Very well made frame, compatible with Extracycle
Surly Surly is just cool. Bombproof, not cheap though most of their bikes are pretty well priced
Yuba Mundo – Very reasonable and super cargo capacity probably due to the oversized rear axle.
Kona Ute – The only one that uses a 29er wheel, high center of gravity reasonably priced, just went back into production after two years off. They also make the MunUte, a shorter version for your average city dweller.
Bike Friday Haul a Day – Compact, never seen live… sounds like a great bike, missed the kickstarter on it but hope to get one without having my bike stolen.
In case you missed it, Max is all grown up! Here he is at 26 months, now three feet tall, walking along the beach at Lake Memphemagogg Vermont. We grabbed a great little Air BNB cottage on the other side of the treeline for a long weekend of much needed time outdoor. Thankfully, the heat didn’t follow us from NYC!
One fine morning we got to play in the studio with Elvis Duran and his production team. Having recently slimmed down a bit, Elvis was ready to show the world his new image and boy did he look great. Thanks to Sophie, Sophia and Yasu for getting them all prepped for set and thanks to my crew for keeping things moving. We shot at Elk Studios, Chelsea for the day and the wonky large Chimera seemed to do the job just fine. Another two feet of ceiling would be nice but hey, it’s NY.
Thanks Elvis for smiling when repeatedly calling me an asshole. It truly was a fun day and I got to take home a bag of almonds!
And if you are reading this post and wondering why it suddenly appeared backdated… I promised I wouldn’t release images until publication so… here you go.
We’re having breakfast in the subway corridors! The Breakfast Club, coming soon to a subway platform near you.
They’re back! DJ Envy, Angela Yee and Charlamagne, in a subway near you. No, not the store, the L train, Corridor from 6th ave to 7th, etc…. I get a kick seeing my image unexpectedly appear when scurrying from a subway car. Last sighting, Broad St. at the end of the J & Z. If you come across a poster, send a the location and a selfie for giggles. Bonus points if the poster hasn’t been defaced. There should be some billboards up in other markets, maybe stop the car if you’re going to selfie at them and especially if you’re the driver.
Fun, outgoing, athletic, stylish and handsome. That’s my boy! You should see him roll over!
Perhaps there should have been an “It’s a Boy” post this past, ahem, May. Being aware that parenthood suddenly zaps all your free time away you may just give me a pass on that one. On the other hand, if you were following me on facebook you have seen a selection of the thousands of images of Max already online. Make him a marketing machine you say? Without further adieu, Max Mercury Neff, at 10 months. I’ll backfill a bit in a few posts then go forward again as I try and reclaim a bit of time and get things out there.
Fun, outgoing, athletic, stylish and handsome. That’s my boy! You should see him roll over!
Rewind ten months, back to May 21st. Sometime about 11pm Max had his debut breath of fresh air. Here he is right after having his footprints done thus the inky feet.
An interview with Wilder Duncan, classical artist, taxidermist and Brooklynite
A happy coincidence, having missed a special seminar at the Secret Science club a few years back: a client from Chicago asked me to introduce his nephew to the Great Fredini thinking there could be some symbiosis. Before passing on the info, I thought it best to check out his credentials. To my delight, Wilder happened to be a rather colorful person well deserving of documentation.
Wilder honed his craft at Wesleyan University. A mashup of classical art education, the lifelong love for animals, art, history and diorama. His reanimation of roadkill began in Newton, Massachusetts. Self-taught as a taxidermist he went on to be the make it look alive again guy at the Evolution Store. When he’s not making or protecting art, he teaches workshops in preparation of zoological displays.
When he was 12, Wilder’s aunt found a dead Oriole, that would be the first bird he stuffed. When I asked him what got him started, he said, ” People love animals so much they decide to stretch their skins over something else so they can look at them forever; this phenomenon fascinates me.” He had already professed his love of animals ten minutes earlier. What would he hope to do with his work one day? Show it as a whacked out, crazy natural history collection. Hellooo Museum of Natural History, anyone want a resume’? Sideshow! Take me with you! You can pay me (David) peanuts to brush the beetles out of the dioramas.
Coincidentally, a few days later I ran into The Great Fredini as I was passing through Union Square. Introduction done. Museum of Natural History, meet Coney Island, I see great hairy reanimated possibilities. Did someone say sideshow?
* note: Wilder would like it to be known that all animals used by him are acquired legally as well as ethically. Please practice responsible taxidermy. Live animals are to be respected, expired animals are to be admired.
Chelsea Miller makes hand wrought knives from reclaimed files and tools in her Bushwick Brooklyn workshop.
Chelsea Miller, I met her at a loft party five years back. We spent many eves biking Brooklyn & hacking the human grid with the gang at Pedal Power NYC. Last summer she began selling a line of knives she creates using repurposed files stockpiled in a top secret Vermont location. A couple times a year she hauls a suitcases of mill bastards, rasps, woodchucks and tapers down to her Buswick Brooklyn workshop and works her magic on them, turning them into hand wrought one of a kind original knives.
A few weeks ago I dropped in on Chelsea to see her new shop and a few of the knives before they rushed out the door. She began selling her blades at the Brooklyn Flea last summer. One day we visited her tent to see the collection and shoot the breeze. Maybe the flea wasn’t the spot to sell a knife that costs more than the table in the booth one over but great for marketing, picking up a nice page in Saveur. Go Brooklyn magazine people! She’s making knives faster than the cuts on her hands can heal. All are hand wrought by Chelsea one of a kind knives with riveted hardwood handles. Check out her knives, get one with a matching cutting board. Do it while you can still say you got a Chelsea Miller Knife back when she made them all herself! You can sometimes find Chelsea at the Brooklyn Flea, if you don’t recognize her from the photo, look for the girl selling knives wearing bandaids not nailpolish.
I dropped in on Fred a few weekends ago, and talked shop a few hours before he pulled out the sequined tux for a few photographs. If I had thought of it sooner we could have pulled the Stanford bunny out of the hat but print time for a big one could easily be a day. Having first encountered “The Great Fredini” as a performer at Coney Island’s Burlesque shows, his enthusiasm toward 3d printing seemed out of place. Fred is the longtime Creative Director at an interactive/gaming company Funny Garbage, with a history of putting sharp objects in his head, Brooklyn resident, living just a little closer to an undeclared Superfund Site than I. Maybe it makes a little more sense to me now. I was introduced to Fred by a friend Keith who works for 3d Systems. He and Keith collaborated on the trophies for last summer’s Mermaid Parade. It turns out, Fred, has become quite the 3d printing enthusiast as you can see here, working on a scaled reproduction of Coney Island’s famed Luna Park. On the Rostock to camera left is one of Fred’s scanned people. Off to the right is his first machine, a Printrbot. The recent launch of his new pet project, Coney Island Scan-A-Rama portrait studio is a really fun project using some stuff from the hardware store and a hacked Kinect Controller. See his blog for more info, go get scanned! Alice and I are scheduling our scan in the next week or two…. follow up to come. Knowing Fred what I have seen people under his spell perform, we should be seeing some interesting works!
Wondering what that strange Rostock thing is? quick explanation, it’s part of an open source project to build 3d printers at low cost out of common materials. The Rostock is an original approach in the way it moves the print head on x,y and z axes. I’d hate to see the math behind it but it’s truly entrancing to see one in operation much as most of the machines on the market.
Sometime last month, and kept under wraps until the client had a chance to release images, I had an assignment to photograph Power 105.1’s The Breakfast Club. If you follow my work, note, this is not a bunch of guys in suits. The image to the left is an outtake, they were going for lighter smiley shots. After four hours with the club, the image to the left I can relate to more. Between wardrobe sets we took the club out in the lobby and picked up a few extras with backgrounds. Bonus rounds! Images are just filtering into the web… http://www.power1051fm.com/pages/onair/tbc-weekends.html If anyone catches a billboard out there, send me a snapshot and a location, I’d love to see it. So what did we feed The Breakfast Club? Bubby’s! I love Bubby’s, reminds me of Bubby. Davepix.com, more than guys in suits!
Thanks to Hosea for making the call, Thanks to my crew Sophie, Sophia, Yasu, Maegan and Simon.
Marni & my laundry does it again, pulls in some traffic to the site. Shot many years ago as part of a series on ballerinas it’s gotten a whole lot of mileage and been in and out of my portfolio for years. This was shot in Charlotte NC using one of my first pro digital cameras. Recently I reprocessed the file using Lightroom 4 and put it back in the portfolio. Amazing how reprocessing has improved the image but you would have to see a high res print or screen detail to really tell. Thanks again Marni for a fun shoot wherever you are.
Another NYCC ride, when it should be 15° out and snowing, here in NYC this January we got 44°F instead. Left behind the tights, balaclava and winter gloves, instead went for leg warmers, beanie and lighter gloves, none of that you will see in the video, at least not me. Thanks again to the Harry & Co. for getting me out of bed 7am to tie on 80 mi and cross the state line four times.
Once again, the POV camera tagged along for a new view. This week I designed a mounting bracket to hang onto my seat bag so we get faces instead of backsides. Don’t mind the debris and water coming off my tire. I’d considered a fender but that would have meant taking off the seat bag… and a different bracket. Next time, I’ll just put in for a sunny day in the 70’s? More likely, next week will be more the same but I’ll go for the helmet mount. Without further adieu, 2.5 hours of the ride in 3 minutes, starting from Rockland Lake.
I think I love photography as much for the gadgets as the art. Playing with open source and free 3d design and manufacturing has enabled me to play engineer and make some simple problem solvers that in the past I might have used standard grip gear for. Of course there is no substitute for a magic arm, mafer, superclamp or cardinelli when you’re hanging a seven thousand dollar camera on something but when your camera costs just over a hundred, why not hang it on your own prototypes.
Once again, the technical part.
Camera: Swann Freestyle on Full auto (no other choice)
My father introduced me to cycling, not just by taking off my training wheels, but by showing me his trophy and a newspaper clipping of his thanksgiving prize turkey won at a Philadelphia Criterium back in the early 50’s. I did my first century ride with my dad when I was 13 but it wasn’t until my late 30’s that I would make them a regular weekend Saturday ride. The last time I got dad on a bike was three years ago, and unless modern medicine gets a whole lot more scifi, it’s unlikely that we’ll have his bike out for another century. About every Sunday, I speak with my parents and when I tell dad about my ride, I always wish I could share a bit more of it. Round one, seems batteries only last for the first 35 or so miles, it’s a start. This week, tested my first iteration of a handlebar mount fabbed at home on a 3d printer. If you don’t mind staring at backsides in spandex, not so bad. Helmet mount is a little better but not quite as comfortable. Maybe next time. Also in the works, maybe shooting a seat mount. Ride behind me? Say cheese!
Camera: Swann Freestyle on Full auto (no other choice)
This is the first prototype for the mount, with 65 miles on it, I have a few mods in mind and will print out another maybe tomorrow. The part I fabricated is the silver clamp on the bars, it integrates with the proprietary mount that comes with the Swann Freestyle camera system.
Reprocessing older RAW files with the new Lightroom 4 algorithm makes for surprisingly wonderful renewed improved images!
It’s been a long time, almost fourteen years since I shot my first RAW file. And thanks to Lightroom 4, suddenly some of thouse images shot with obsolete cameras look a whole lot better. I just may be putting a few “retired” images back in the book soon! Looking at the images above and details below, you might just think a little adjustment in Photoshop is all the difference between them but it isn’t so. The image on the left spent plenty of time in processing and was limited at the time by moire patterns and ugly color artifacts when you tried to zero it in. In print (CMYK) it looked pretty good, but on the monitor, no comparison.
Notably improved color and detail without sacrificing tonal rendition in LR 4
A couple weeks ago during Photo Expo, I was sitting in a seminar on Adobe Lightroom, a product I know like the back of my… well, maybe my head? Really, I’m quite proficient with it but these days without a good solid manual to read over all the features, you’re just guessing that the latest release is better as you occasionally find a feature here or there. Oh yeah, the point, Bryan O’Neil Hughes, the guy running the seminar, mentioned that lightroom 4 algorithms are so much better than the previous versions that you should go back and reprocess your portfolio. Being that I am not the heaviest Photoshop manipulator and prefer to do not much more to an image than you might have done in the darkroom of yesteryear, it seemed like a good idea. now, two weeks into the project, I’m saying, maybe I should be more selective with my edit! Crap, hate to not have all the finest be as fine as they might be but really, this is taking forever. Below is a selection of what I have worked on the past few weeks. Even with uber powerful super duper Macintosh running LR4.0, its an ordeal searching a library of a quarter million images spread over a bunch of drives. So, Josh, you’re looking even finer in those panties these days thanks to LR4.0. What can I say, Victor’s Secret was one of my most hilarious series, hated to see the files become obsolete, and really had no desire to do that series over again… unless someone wants to jump up with a checkbook!
The question of the day, and perhaps I should be sending this by my long lost designer Brandon Scharr, but I thought I’d give it a shot… Is there any reason for me to have a street address on my card these days? I do almost all my transactions on the web and only occasionally send out a hard drive via FedEx loaded with high res files so it really comes down to design. Can the card stand on it’s own without an address (and slightly larger type than I have used for the past fifteen or so years to adjust for aging.) Ten years ago, I dropped having a fax number on the card, it took the text down from four lines to three. Does anyone have an opinion? Feel free to let me know.
Perhaps there should be more background here, maybe you know, maybe you don’t and soon likely I’ll have more in depth ramblings. In summary, I spent the past two years on a hiatus from my freelance to help out a friend with his startup, Makerbot Industries LLC. After a year of hard work growing the company as General Manager, I moved into the marketing department to let the new investor installed management take over the place. Maybe not so voluntarily but somehow I guess I was rewarded. A year later after building their library of images for collateral I am back out on my own again. Ahhhh, what a relief.
A title chosen for impact though likely unrelated in any way to what I hope you were thinking. Remember, I’m trying to sell a photographer, they’re saving the world…
I did a gig a few days ago, not like my usual kind of photoshoot.* I was hired to photograph the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority for The Israel Project. It was amazing to be surrounded by such an intellectual and accomplished group of people as they discussed ideas sure to be in the headlines of coming months.
The photoshoot took place in the amazingly well appointed 10 million dollar penthouse apartment of… well, I’ll just say Raoul Panache?** I would feel like it was an invasion of privacy to post this and the accompanying images if there weren’t already image online so here goes.
I’m looking for an apartment in NYC, something no normal person would ever wish to endure. By normal, I’ll define that as a person near median national income levels and moderately sane? Not only are the art pieces in the place probably worth much more than the apartment buildings I am looking to buy into, they wouldn’t fit on any of the the walls. Should I trying to collect smaller art pieces? Okay already, I’ll share the photos.
* Note I say “photoshoot” and not “shoot” on this one, I had to practice for my ineveitable encounter with US Secret Service where I was sure to be asked why my assistant and I had just arrived with several cases of strange equipment. I would not ever suggest casual use of the word “shoot” with Secret Service. They tend to be literal and are not known for having a sense of humor. Also to be avoided, expressions like, “you da bomb!, You’re Killing me or show me your guns.”
** I made it up in an attempt to not piss of some really wealthy and powerful people that could make my life miserable if they wanted but probably wouldn’t because they were really nice and are saving the world while I take pictures to pay my rent.
This past June I had the pleasure of photographing Moby for a Japanese publication, Illustration Magazine. Though short on time, Moby wasn’t short on character. A wall of fame adorns his Lower Manhattan studio with another wall of analog electronics that will make any tech head drool let alone one with musical inclinations. Setting up in Moby’s ultra cool loft, my urge to play with electronic toys was squelched when I was shut down in an attempt to move an extension cord out of the frame. Yuko (designer, illustrator and reporter for this one) and I decided on a tag team approach, or would it be bait and switch? Interview a bit, shoot some available light, come up with good angles for lighting, pull him into a lit set, ask a few more questions, shoot a few frames. Moby wasn’t having it. He’s media savvy, experienced, and quite an energetic showman. Not that we didn’t get what we needed, but in his own, gentle way, Moby ran the show. He gave us what we wanted, and then some.
Thanks, Moby, for the 45 minutes. I wish we had noticed before we wrapped, but we finished 15 minutes early and didn’t even know it until we entered the elevator. Maybe he’ll give us that 15 minutes another time? I promise I won’t try to play with the synthesizers. Thanks, Yuko! We should to this more often.
Oh yeah, and about that phone number… 212-243-1895 it’s still the same but if you were using my 917 number that one is no more so please make the change.
Presentation day! So I made something nifty, a lighting control unit for and RGB LED strip. It’s been a conversation piece and accent light in our dining area for the past half year and today it got some street cred in the techie world and was used for a photographic lighting tool too! More to come on that one. Neat things I spoke about but not in the notes, it’s easily programmed to do whatever lighting effect you want. Additional controls can be added as there are plenty of pins left on the microcontroller. Also there are plenty of unused outputs so dream as you wish. You can see the full presentation here: Glowcamp if you follow the link in the description my presentation will pop up in a new window. I’ll try and post a few shots here later but I wanted to get something in writing before a wild night in the East Village distracts me from such important things. Part of the fun at Glowcamp, a couple of photogs that go under the handle M R I wanted to do some time exposure portraits with people in camp… nifty LED Strip controller turned out to be quite good for the show. Perhaps I should get a few hundred thousand of them made in China and bring the cost per unit down from the hundreds to something marketable?
July 2010 Kayak trip on the Northern Forest Canoe Trail
A much-needed vacation! Abs and I took off last week and headed up to the Adirondacks with a rough plan to paddle part of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Equipped with a pair of Feathercraft folding kayaks and a bunch of backpacking gear stuffed into dry sacks we set off to do about 34 miles in four days of paddling.
Late Monday evening we put in at Floodwood Pond and paddled only a few hundred yards to our first backwoods water-access -only campsites. We hired a shuttle from St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake to shuttle our car to our endpoint the following Friday. They were amazingly helpful in our trip planning and had a very well-stocked shop where we picked up a few last minute supplies such as a nifty dehydrated dessert for Abby’s birthday dinner on Wednesday, replacement deck bungee, and a rental dry box (you will likely see in every photo I took) for my big camera.
Late Monday evening we put in at Floodwood Pond and paddled only a few hundred yards to our first backwoods water-access -only campsites. We hired a shuttle from St. Regis Canoe Outfitters in Saranac Lake to shuttle our car to our endpoint the following Friday. They were amazingly helpful in our trip planning and had a very well-stocked shop where we picked up a few last minute supplies such as a nifty dehydrated dessert for Abby’s birthday dinner on Wednesday, replacement deck bungee, and a rental dry box (you will likely see in every photo I took) for my big camera.
We rushed to assemble the boats in the early evening on Monday, and found our site just before dark with fear of being eaten alive by bugs. Waking up early Tuesday to get out on the water, I realized that we had landed in paradise. Our very own island, free of trash, broken glass, and people! After bowls of instant oatmeal and packing up the boats, we set out into the wilderness, stopping to swim in the amazingly clear and fragrant ponds whenever the urge arose.
Day Three: paddling in Middle Saranac Lake, a few hundred photos taken and a few pages could have been written. Here we approached a tiny island smaller than our Manhattan apartment, er, maybe. Our next campsite was just a quarter mile ahead, but how could I pass up an island that mimicked the shape of my bow? Stopped for a snack, tied Abby’s boat to my stern, and she swam the last leg to camp (sans swimwear).
Yes, paradise once again. Our very own cove with amazing breezes coming from the west across the lake and blowing the bugs into the woods beyond our tent. Cooked an amazing birthday dinner (from a package… just added hot water) and a strange birthday dessert that after paddling all day we devoured like wolves. As the sun began to set, we paddled out on the lake to watch the constellations appear in a moonless sky. The wind and waves died down, and the lake became smooth as glass.
Day Four: out on Middle Saranac Lake, early in the morning before the breeze chopped the surface, but this time there was enough light to take a few photos. Yes, amazing still, and the trip kept getting better!
Last night I received a text from a friend, Daniel Bowman Simon, an activist involved in The WHO Farm asking if I was interested in meeting up with him for a little urban gardening. It’s been a while since I had my hands in dirt so I dragged my lazy ___ out of bed and off to Greenpoint Brooklyn to do a little work outdoor. I was pleasantly surprised with the scene that awaited me upon arrival at the Eagle Street Rooftop Farm. Cool brezes coming in from the East River, amazing views of Manhattan, chickens clucking and a full rooftop of organic greens awaiting attention of the many enthusiastic volunteers in attendance. After a few hours of milling about and being mildly helpful and more, just amazed, I bought a bag of greens, went home to have a fresh salad before class.
Figment Festival Governor’s Island New york review
Amazing festival to attend if you have the time. I am pretty sure this is the third year they have done it the festival. It began as a low budget gallery walk through where artists set up temporary galleries in the abandoned housing left over from the island’s former use as a military base. The energy level in general was very positive, an amazing number of family oriented open air exhibits and interactive events are all over the many lawns, under beautiful trees and in the houses once again. Pictured above, something I absolutely loved, shipping containers converted to use as picnic pavilions overlooking the Hudson Harbor at the south end of the island. Make time for this one, read more about it and get involved. Even the free ferry ride from Manhattan to the island is worth something… all free! and plenty to see and do.
A relationship begins, My Dream Boat…. Feathercraft Khatsalano, 18′ of techno love!
The deal of the century! My Dream Boat! Feathercraft Khatsalano, an 18′ aluminum framed hypalon & poly skinned beauty. This one is just too much for words, I am now held captive by a full schedule and unable to get out and play but still I got out the boat the other day to inspect it and do some minor repairs. Can you believe this fits in a backpack? A great big heavy backpack but still… you can carry it. My office is on an island… its seven blocks from the water and on the 5th floor. There is no way to get the boat out of my office without taking it apart again other than throwing it out the window which has it’s own issues. Oh well, it’s back in the pack again today. Hopefully I can get out one day next week and put her on the Hudson.
Taking a lazy afternoon break in the Union Square Green Market, a visit to the Hot Bread Kitchen table yields some great eats!
It’s too nice to be in the office, it’s too hot to be at home (haven’t put in the AC yet, maybe next week.) Off to Union Square, it’s Green Market day! Abs was helping out Jessamyn with the latest expansion of the HBC street crew so here I am (not in the picture) eating fresh bread, vine ripe strawberries and catching a cool breeze. If I could make a living blogging about the Green Market and spend my days in the shade enjoying the breeze this would be mighty sweet! Unfortunately I’ll have to go back to my office and make a living again in the very near future.
Bench Test of the 2010 i5 and i7 MacBook Pro vs older Dual Core model and a Quad core Tower
I sent my IT expert (uh, er, me) to the Apple Store in Chelsea to see if the new MacBook Pro i5 or i7 would be a worthy investment, and the results are below. Now remember, I am a photographer, so the tech specs you find on most sites don’t make much sense to me. I thought it would be simple to run my own tests.
I had to install my software on a jump drive to run at the store as you can’t install software at the Apple Store, and they don’t regularly load Lightroom on the machines. Lightroom is the biggest number cruncher I use and often a bottleneck so I used it for my testing.
For benchmarking the two machines I used Lightroom to convert 50 RAW files from a Canon 5D and 25 RAW files from a Canon 5D MKII to DNG from CRW and added the files to an empty library while generating previews.
Results: the MBPs differed only slightly, so I bought the less expensive one with the i5 processor. Detailed results below.
Lightroom was running from a USB2.0 jump drive on all machines and the files to be converted were copied to the HD.
I moved into another office/studio recently, this time in Midtown West on 36th Street.
Most of my work is still on location, and in reality, all I need is a good space with a freight elevator reliable enough to get my equipment down to a taxi. For just a little bit more dough I upped the footage to have a play space. The majority of the shots in my current portfolio were taken in Manhattan office spaces more cramped than mine, so I thought I’d give shooting in it a try.
Results: it works! Here are two rounds of model testing. I shot another gig last week in here with models lounging naked on a riser, but to see that one, you’ll have to go to the gallery opening in a few months when we get it all together. For today — Sherry P — a fun girl to work with! Tiny studio, yet compact, efficient, and sleek!
By now you kind of get it– that is, assuming you know me or you have read some of my more personal entries. I’m a cyclist and a bit of an environmentalist. This past weekend we partook in the 33rd Annual TD Bank 5 Boro Bike Tour. This year 32,000 cyclists rode a 42-mile route beginning in Manhattan, touching the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and ending in Staten Island. This year marked my fifth 5 Boro Tour, including three as a ride marshal. It’s a fun ride, and not a competitive one. I prefer a hard 80 miles at a faster clip, but it’s fun to be social, see some sights, and be with Abby and 31,998 other car-free enthusiasts!
Notice we’re wearing green vests to identify registered riders. That is where the impetus for this entry arises.
Thirty-two thousand riders! That makes at least 32,000 vests printed. …and what do you do with them post-ride? If you live in Manhattan you don’t have space in your apartment for such keepsakes. Photos on your hard drive are enough. But throwing it away? Not very green for my green vest, is it?
Reuse, Recycle, Reduce!
Here is what I did with our vests: an easy craft project and one that will give you bragging rights at work, the grocery, wherever. Make a bag!
You, your mother, your neighbor, your grandmother, someone out there you know has a sewing machine. This is not a high-skilled project, and you can make something useful out of something designed to be tossed.
Take your vest, turn it inside-out, and start sewing the front and back sides together from about where the dark-colored stripe is, down to the bottom, and up the other side to the striped top again. Turn it inside-out again, and you will have a nice, light, packable tote bag about the size of a grocery bag as a memoir of your ride. Imagine how much landfill space 32,000 of these vests will require! Make a difference. Save the Earth. Reuse your vest! I used it for my lunch bag today.
I received a request today to shoot some Polaroids for a model to submit to an agency in L.A. Coincidentally, I’m sitting on a stash of expired Polaroid I was saving for… the next Cold War? Doris arrived around 3. I dragged out a few cameras and went to work. Fun to shoot. The colors are a bit off, but I did enjoy playing with some analog technology. Thankfully, Doris has some idea of what to do in front of the camera, otherwise I would have wasted a pile of ‘roids.
I’ll have to do it again. A few partial boxes of 4×5 Polaroid remain, and possibly a few twins of 669 at home. Unfortunately the Pola pack back I have for 4×5 doesn’t mount well on my Busch Pressman. The Graflex is set up for pinhole, and the Sinar P, well, it was liquidated recently. Maybe I’ll throw a lens on the Graflex.
It’s been a long time since I have rented a studio for shooting. Usually I shoot in my own, but we needed something a little bigger and a bit more polished for my peeps this go ’round. So, off to 28th Street– James Weber’s studio. Another change for this gig involved renting most of my gear. The rental joint was only six blocks away, and yet I felt paralyzed with the following choices: push a giant handtruck loaded with equipment, take taxis six blocks, or worse yet, rent a truck? I decided to rent the lighting gear instead and arrived with a stool, camera case, and some snacks. Fun day! Two assistants, a great stylist (Thanks, Jerry!), and really nice clients. Randi was fun to work with, and I look forward to doing it again, perhaps on at a more scenic location next time. …and just moments after we wrapped and shut down the lights I powered up for a group shot. It’s not often I remember to put myself into one of these.
The NY Regional FIRST Robotic competition happened last weekend, and somewhere between amazed and elated, we found ourselves frantically preparing to compete in the Championship Round! With a robot originally designed with low goals, literally, we competed for high scores! The uniqueness of our design, its reliability, simple functionality, speed, and maneuverability were enough to get chosen to compete in an alliance for the finals. I’m still amazed. When I began working with the team, the participants had hoped that other teams would have no luck going for the high goals and would not score well. Our machine was well-designed to get respectable point scores in the low goal. We were surprised with the level of engineering demonstrated by some of the machines. On the other hand, there was a lack of engineering on some, or maybe you would say a lack of sportsmanship on the part of one team that didn’t score any points, but successfully tipped over our machine– an incident deemed accidental by the referees. See the replay, and you won’t agree. All in all, a frantic and fun day. It was great to work with the kids, see them compete, and even better to see them with ear-to-ear smiles holding the second place trophy at the end of the day. Anyone at all interested in the FIRST program, feel free to contact me. Mentoring a team is a rewarding experience!
At the risk of making all the rest of you manly-man dudes out there look bad, here’s what I did for my favorite woman who happens to think fresh-cut flowers are not such a nice thing to get as a token of enduring love. (Dying flowers?)
The idea was influenced by an exhibit at X-Initiative (during the show where we presented D’Nono) and a post on my friend Deb’s Blog.
Anyone who knows me well eventually discovers my inner nerd– the nerd that spent a year in an engineering program before the passion for pictures pulled me away from my calculator. I never had a pocket protector; I drove a Camaro. The urge to play with electronics happens once in a while, like when I built solar panels and power adapters for Me and Abby to power phones, iPod, camera and lighting while cycling for a month off the grid in eastern Canada. [Hmm… that’s a post I should recover from a while ago.]
I spent this evening working with students at Washington Irving High School in Manhattan, helping them build and tweak a robot for the FIRST Robotics FTC competition. The team is well-equipped with kits and underwhelmed with the number of participants (2). … and the beautiful workshop classroom that has been looted of tools. (Yay! Drill press. Boo. No chuck key. Pliers, anyone?) We will succeed! We are the underdogs!! (Ah, Saints!) Anyone want to sponsor the team? We could use some tee shirts with nice logos, tools, and hot meals delivered for late-night tinkering. No reasonable offers refused. More to come! I’ll link to the school’s program site soon, with Dave’s special images.
Here is an image of our installation with John Bonafede manning the Table of Denial.
We had great turnout last night at X Initiative Gallery for the closing exhibition. More than two hundred people were denied service! One bottle of champagne almost filched, many smoked almonds picked with some returned upon request. We have much work to do sorting out who is whom in our image captures and editing the body down to something presentable. Considering the 3am wrap-up for the crew, and a few days of shooting ahead, expect images next week.
For the new year, I decided to up my megapixels. Does that make me a mega-geek? To counter the possibility, I thought it best to photograph scantily-clad models and prove my alpha-photographer-superior-male status. Of course if you really want to see a comparison from the old camera to the new one, I didn’t do it. That alone should drop the geek thing from your vocab. If you’re a regular follower, you know I’m in a new studio on West 26th Street. Gorgeous, huge windows, amazing light, but the shots above are from the space next door. Oh well, maybe we all can’t afford $20K/month rent. Not sure who is as of yet, but with fresh walls and electrical wiring, we’ll know soon. Bummer… it was a lovely space for rogue shooting.
Just another play date, Erin Reiter Burton, a friend of wardrobe stylist Crystal Thompson popped in today to try on the silver set… Erin is a showgirl, I hope that is a proper term. Currently she is a cast member in the Phantom show. She is the first person that actually fit in the outfit, a bonus for starters. Add in dancer’s moves and physique… a little fan to the right… and here is what we get…
Perhaps tomorrow I’ll get into photoshop, extend the background and touch it up. There are a few more tests to come…. Fumi, Samantha need to be edited still. Okay, back to work.
So we went out on location today…. early… much too early… I have a new camera! So testing has resumed of course. Who are we? Yep, David Neff Photography can often be more than one person, it’s a crew, it’s a production machine, today it was Evan and I, in a taxi, off to conquer the world. So what happened? half way to the location, the shoot was scrubbed. Kill fee to be negotiated but the hunger to kill still in my veins (note the switch to singlar.) Really it was the urge to take a picture, not really an urge to kill.
I’m in a new studio, that you know if you read meticulously through my blog, maybe if you read a little of my blog? ten minutes later… three phone calls, four emails….
Where were we, okay Evan is working on catalogs, I should be editing, but instead I’m going to shoot a bit. Crystal came over today (as if you know who Crystal is?) from the Costume Lab next door and dropped a few tidbits of fashion off to play with. Now you see where I’m going, probably you already knew, likely you saw the photograph first but if you were following my train of thought you would have also had the half hour delay between typing this and posting the image with it that you looked at before you read this.
Blah, blah, blah. Later we shoot it on Jenn and maybe it will look more spectacular.
Does Jenn look ridiculous?
I don’t think either really look ridiculous, though I have gotten about 45% less sleep this week than I should have and my judgement is beginning to slide. I really think Evan looked quite regal if not gladiator-esque in the silver suit. I tried to get him to take his shirt off, I have better luck these days telling the opposite sex to bare some skin. Hmmm, am I getting old? Okay, enough said, off to the old 37th St Loft to hellp Bonafede with his leaking sink. Why don’t my friends call a plumber? Better get dinner out of this! Yes I know I need to retouch out the bra strap.
Always a nice way to start the holidays, I took some time out to visit Miss Eliza and a friend, just my assistant and I with five cases of lighting gear. It was a wonderfully intimate setting…. until we showed up and turned the place upside down. So you wonder if it’s tittilating to be face to face with a rubber clad dominatrix wielding a crop and six inch stiletto boots. Yep, you bet it is. Alas though my desire to be bound, gagged and whipped though has not yet arisen.
Maybe just a little spanking would have been nice though.
And the follow up begins. Really, it’s an illustration on a wall… and a really nice colorful illustration that bears about as much resemblance to humans as the Peanuts characters. Back in 2005 I had an assignment to shoot a dude on a couch eating popped corn with his blow up doll. When the art director showed up with the Paris doll all boxed up pretty I had to admit there was a part of me that hoped he would leave the prop behind after the shoot. We mounted up a bike pump and set to work on Paris, fully expecting her to look somewhat like the Paris Hilton lookalike (sort of) model on the package. When Paris was fully inflated to her full 4’8″, she was less than stunning, triangular head, mittens for hands…. needless to say, I encouraged Dave to take her home and share her with his wife. Hell, what do you want for thirty five bucks anway. Reminds me of a song by My Life With The Thrill Kill Cult; Mystery Babylon. Look it up… one of my faves!
Holiday Shopping, more like holiday tasting with my favorite person, Abby. We biked to Brooklyn to see 3rd ward and check out the holiday craft sales. Merchandise quite nice, chocolate covered things…. even better. Part of the purpose of the trip though was to check out the facilities there. It’s an impressive community of creatives sharing resources. Wood and metal shops, photo studios, beautiful windowed space and a nice bunch of people. If only it were not so far out in Brooklyn. Supposedly in Williamsburg but it seemed like Jamaica. Maybe I should have worn another layer or a balaclava.
Check out the Bank of America ad running this week.
I couldn’t help but to rant on this one…. “All the tools you need to reach new heights.”
Come on now. Put a little thought into your propping! Perhaps ask a climber to prop it? They put an ice axe with nuts (for rock) and a rope almost long enough to hang yourself, but not long enough to tie the dinghy onto the roof of your Hummer. How about that stainless steel water bottle? Sure enough it would freeze to your lips as you tried to lick the ice cube inside as you ascended that couloir? The lighting is pretty, though, and the color coordination is superb. Consider also a leash on that ice axe; they are hard to hold onto (for your life) in the cold while wearing gloves.
Why don’t you call me today and license this wonderful picture of Ken Lewis? Y’know, the Bank of America CEO that is in the news so much these days. It’s one of the few stock images I have online. Come on and license one today! He’s newsworthy!
If you’re on the list, hopefully you received the new promo. If you’re not on the list, or you are but did not receive it, email me. This one resembles the original; I’ve been playing with templates, but go easy… I’m not a designer nor a programmer.
Greetings [My Esteemed List],
As the sun sets earlier, and days turn colder, I thought I’d share some images from a sweltering few days this past August. I shot production stills on the set of an exciting short film that should work its way through the festival circuit in 2010.
In 1960, students at Sycamore University volunteered for an experiment that sought to stop the external aging process. The experiment worked, and the resulting drug, Juvenol, went on to become the most popular prescription drug in history. Fifty years later, the Sycamore Class of 1960 has gathered for a reunion. Some look young, while others have chosen not to take the drug. JUVENOL is a short film directed by Yale University graduate Xander Dominitz and executive-produced by Stone Phillips (Dateline NBC).
Enjoy these images, evidence of the fun I had working with talented filmmakers, cast, and crew. I’m grateful to the JUVENOL folks for allowing me to establish my own off-set narratives featuring various cast members in character.
Please contact me directly if you wish to see a portfolio in person. Portfolio delivery available by foot, bike, or boat.
Another model test with Roxanne and Yassira on a sunny day. Central Park. Autumn chill and Rox’s dress was lace. She only shivered a little. What a trooper!
Photoshopped images? You bet. Just a little bit. After many years of avoiding major tonal mod, finally, I’m tired of not having cross process and all the fun, serendipitous things film gave us. I gave in. My mantra was: “Anything one can undo is not pure.” Having recently processed a roll of film, the first in years, I decided I no longer care. I might start altering images more. There are just too many options. However, I’ve enjoyed saying, “I made it with lights, not the camera/computer.”
Poking around on the Web, I came across a shot of Bre Pettis I did in 2007 when we shared a loft space on 37th Street. I was setting up to some headshots when he wandered through and sat in for some lighting tests. Now I live in the East Village and Bre moved to Brooklyn to start up Makerbot Industries and NY Resistor. Of course the goal is for the Makerbot is to build the empire on its own! Go Bre!
What a view! I had a really neat assignment to photograph the Empire State Building for the real estate section of a magazine a while back. Bonus Feature: a two-hour tour of the building from the sub-basement to the antennae six stories above the publicly-accessible-by-ticket observation deck. The elevator car looked as it did seventy or so years ago, only now it was coated in fifty layers of paint.
So here’s my touristy version. The actual photo printed was something I shot from the street before the tour. The experience was well-worth the editorial rate on this one.
Ok, ok. At least it’s not matching sweaters, robes, or cars. We found a folding kayak for Abs, and this is its inaugural paddle. Or the inaugural paddle with its current owner. The kayak is an older model Feathercraft K-Light, but surprisingly easy to dis/assemble. The folders are amazing. After the paddle, we packed up, threw the kayaks on a bus, and headed back to the city.
Gorgeous fall afternoon on the Housatonic River, and we even spotted a bald eagle pulling apart its fresh catch on a lofty perch.
This is a double test: of the Davepix Blog system and some test shooting with Rox, a jewelry designer who likes to be in front of my camera. Good test? She’s also particularly useful as a model when scheduled models, er, flake.
Heading to Martha’s Vineyard from NYC, we decided to spend a night out in nature. A night in between our existence in the East Village and a rural Island. We found a campground, still open long after the tourists have gone that would allow us to make an early ferry to the Vineyard. Horseneck Beach State Reservation. Beautiful ocean views, sandy campsites and late access, good for leaving after work to drive late into the night. Only drawback, being used to wandering out at 3am and getting pizza or falafel…. find some food in the middle of nowhere at 11pm. We did though, and had a wonderful feast of salad bar items with a bottle of wine. Ten minutes later and the grocery would have been locked up for sure.
What really is “off the grid?” In some ways I feel it might be out in the wilderness with only my significant other, some rugged boots and a bowie knife. Maybe off the grid means you live in a city without a grid pattern? Can you just unplug power and be off the grid?
Abby and I took off one day on our trusty touring bikes to take a little tour of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. The plan was to follow a loose schedule from Yarmouth NS around Cape Breton, round to Pictou and finish our last week touring Prince Eward Island before shipping our bikes back and catching a plane home to NYC. We carried typical backpacking camping gear including a tiny stove and would resupply as we passed through towns.
Being that I’m a self employed photographer, as much as I love to think I can walk out of the office and leave it all behind, I end up bringing a pile of technology wherever I go. No surprise here, I shoot digital now. We (mostly I) had about 8Ah of lithium ion batteries between the camera (Canon 5D) media viewer/downloader, Ipod touch for checking email via WIFI (is that still off the grid?) and two cell phones. Had we needed to charge devices along the way, we would have required a receptacle and four or five chargers, maybe a hundred foot extension cord? How about a dynamo on a bike and then I could just ride in circles while taking pictures? I opted for solar panels, we had a nice stable platform on the back of each bike that would be facing the sky for 120 kilometers or so a day over most of the next month. How to make it all work? Rather than reinvent the wheel, I found a nifty little device in Radioshack that would enable, with a little modification, us to charge most any small battery powered device with our setup. Perhaps I’ll detail in a another post modding the Igo dual power adapter shown below.
Off Ebay, I purchased a couple of 1/3 watt 12 volt thin film (flexible) solar panels that would not only charge our stuff, but with a few bungee cords, keep our sleeping pads, food and miscellany from flying off the back of our racks.
After leaving Rabshi, we ended up in a taxi for 34 hours through mountain passes heading toward Chengdu. We were detained at 11 police checkpoints along they way, turned back at one and had our belongings searched at four. I had to delete a series of images off of my hard drives that I had taken at a previous checkpoint where we had been invited to dine on mystery stew and noodles with the police. Regretfully, I lost the photo of them all waving goodbye as we departed but there wasn’t much I could do with few words of Mandarin at my disposal. Any more vocabulary and I might have ended up in prison.
Here I has stopped the taxi to photograph a tent set up at the roadside in pretty much the middle of nowhere. Within minutes family oured out and surrounded us curious what two really odd looking white guys were doing out in the middle of nowhere China in a taxi.
After a greuling 16 hour bus ride into the mountains of the Tibetian Plateau, John and I caught a taxi two hours further west to the village of Rabshi. Here we visited a monk, the brother of an artist friend living in NYC. The photographs I took here are being used by the Tibetian Bridge Foundation to raise funds to build a more modern school for these children.
Somewhere down the Delaware River in a sleepy, little (not so little) town north of Philly sits a really big landfill owned by Waste Management Corporation. The story here isn’t necessarily about them, but rather, the club.
When I was a kid, we occasionally trespassed there, swam in the coves, fished the waters, biked and made a ruckus. Why would anyone care? It now sits next to one of the largest landfills in the region. It’s like a little campground next to a mountain of trash. Actually, it is a little private park next to a mountain of trash. Yep, private. Recently a few buddies and I rode our bikes from NYC towards Philly, and en route, detoured through a bit of the grounds on a cold winter day. A security detail ran us down and threatened us a bit to chase us off the grounds. When I asked where we could get a day pass, he said we couldn’t as if we were hoodlums cycling from NYC in full Lycra to terrorize the grounds which were shut down for winter.
When I was a kid, before the mountain of trash came, when it was all woods between the Delaware and Tullytown, I wanted my parents to get a membership there. It was prestigious, so I thought. My dad replied, “Why would we ever rent a seasonal campsite a mile from our house when we could go to Vermont or Canada?”
I didn’t see it. Now I do. Silly place that Penn Warner Park.
The infamous New York Rat costume (that’s me!), complete with red diodes that light up the plastic-spoon eyes. I had known Abby then for two weeks, full of energy, an amazing English teacher at The Beacon School on the UWS. We made her cheese for Bethany’s annual Halloween blowout. Egg-crate foam, yellow spray paint, and sewn with dental floss. Best_costume_pair_ever. Photographed in my ol’ living room, 102nd & Riverside.
My plane to Istanbul landed about three hours earlier. I was whisked by relatives of my friend Shane’s Turkish husband to a wonderful outdoor cafe where we wined and dined for a few hours. Soon after we went to Erhan’s house for a film screening. He is a collector of films in all forms, and thus set up a projection room and an amazing audio studio in his apartment. The film was book-ended by intellectual discussions of all sorts, politics, art, etc. An amazing introduction to the region.
Hopefully I spelled it sort of similar to what it’s supposed to be, my friends pronounce it Ishmir. A sleepy little town on the tukish coast with a fine view of the Greek island Cos. Here is some of the most amazing windsurfing in the world, consistent wind of course being the primary attraction. Sheltered body of water with moderate waves and just amazing wind. I rented a board and gear here and for three days proved how inexperienced a windsurfer I really am. Still it was a great time in the middle of nowhere.
Univega touring bike, outfitted for city riding. This is my beater bike, the one cheap enough to lock on the streets of NYC and not worry so much that it is going to be vandalized or stolen. It’s been with me long enough that if it were stolen I got my money’s worth but I’d miss it. No idea how many flats it has had at this point. I average about five flats a month at times, ride it almost year round and usually have kevlar belted Gatorskins on the rims. I have replaced the front wheel twice, the rear wheel once, the cranks twice, chainrings four times, chain maybe around the fifth. It’s a great bike, never intended for the abuse it gets but what can I say, steel is amazing. Softer ride, tough frame. Light too.
Wandering in places where I stand out like a sore thumb late one eve, on a three day layover with intent to acclimate on the way to China. Somewhere between tourist destinations maybe wondering if it would be a good idea to be able to speak a few words of Thai. If only I had enough time to get over what I would get eating the stuff in this market I might have been more adventurous. Instead I stuck to things that were fried and drank bottled beverages. Nice that beer is one of those things.
I ran into this again today, a write up in the New York Times for an Advertisement I shot ran in Heeb Magazine. it was posted on a friend’s blog, I was searching for an old image and… well, here I go, getting a little more life out of it.