Archive for September, 2011

I love my adopted Native brother, Wolfs Robe. So much so that my profane side (residue I am sure from a stint in the Air Force) has concocted so many variations on his ceremonial name that I am confident that but not for our close relationship, that I would be in fear of my life or liberty. And I am gratified that he forgives me these attempts to humor myself and that he is also at home in front of the camera and behind the microphone, because I truly enjoy spending the time to make images of him.

In the first year that I photographed him in his beautiful Sedona, AZ, we realized after 12 months that we had enough images through the seasons to make for him a fairly respectable calendar. My favorite image from that first year is probably this one:

Wolfs Robe in Sedona at Sunset

To make this image, we went out on the west side of Sedona at sunset; I brought a couple of lights. The first was a Quantum Q-Flash (one of my favorites) and a trusty Vivitar 285 (don’t laugh, it’s a great unit) for a kicker. I had not yet met Bruce Dorn — so I was not yet comfortable using Speedlights with light modifiers. Bruce was to enlighten me (so to speak) years later.

Anyway, as I have begun to explore the world of HDSLR video, Wolf has been there as my subject and victim as I perpetrate my learning curve on him. And once again, after a year, I surprised him by suggesting that we had enough tracks to allow him to offer to his fans a great DVD of him improvising on the Native American flute in the beautiful red-rock country of Northern Arizona. He agreed to release the DVD under the title of Red Earth.

As winter approaches, we are planning to start a new video project — one where Wolf will go even farther off the beaten paths of Sedona in any weather to improvise on the flute. I can hardly wait to film him in the middle of Oak Creek in the snow as he attempts to trill his way out of the cold.

In the meantime, he recently asked me to help him prepare a training video for the people who purchase his hand-made ‘granfather’ Native flutes. The first half is the care-of part, done in an intimate setting next to a stone fire place. The second half finds Wolf on the banks of Watson Lake.

Wolfs Robe Visits Watson Lake

The next time I pick a location to film Wolf, I am going to pick a place with less distractions. All this time, I thought he was a true professional, literally playing in rain or shine. But there were no people around. The morning we set up at Watson lake, the locals were out in force, kayaking, picnicing and hiking. And being by nature a people person, Wolf was distracted. First you see it in his eyes, as they glance at the pretty girl kayaking past with her lab leading the way by swimming slightly ahead. Next there is a guy adjusting his trunks. Then there is … it doesn’t matter what!

Finally he (as they say in show business) “went-up.” This expression means that he forgot what he was supposed to or was going to say and just sat there looking at the camera with at best a quizzical look on his face. As the frustration builds, he begins to verbalize his frustration.

Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to step in and talk to the actor. I thought, “What would my director friends Shayde Christian and Rod Menzies do?” But I was brotherly anyway. I stepped in and gently tried to get Wolf to re-focus on his message. He had locked on the subject of “breath control,” a highly technical technique. So I suggested that he return to the basics, and the fog cleared. This is the back-story to the silly clip that I have embedded for you below:

I don’t think that I will be coming out of retirement to be a life coach. But, on the other hand, how hard could it be? And, of course, what could possibly go wrong?


Read Full Post »

The opportunity to make an image of my Egyptian friend has eluded me for years. Finally, she found time in her busy life to let me photograph her.

I had fantasized about doing something that Monte Zucker might have done: use an Egyptian fabric as a combination background and veil, or maybe to put her on a white (high key) background with flowers or other adornments. But when the time came, it was a simple white sun dress on the beach in Malibu. Of course, I made images at the water’s edge. But the challenges that I like the most are getting out of the direct sun and finding an interesting place near the direct sun with soft, beautiful light that will wrap around the subject’s face with no need for flash or even a reflector — to get the image right when it’s in the camera.

I found it: a weathered sea wall near the water’s edge covered by the cantilever of a beach house. I metered on the wall itself at -1ev, anticipating that she would therefore stand out from the background, as the effective working space was rather narrow. ISO 100, F5.6, 1/200, Adobe RGB.

Now for the pose. (I thought of the masters that I have had the honor to know: What would Monte do? “Body turned away from the light … Face tilted and turned back to the light. Try a 2/3 angle.” What would Robert Lino do? (Something that I can’t, but I digress) “Now, drop your arm and lean, lean! Yes, the Lino Lean!” What would Bruce Dorn do? He would “dutch” the camera — probably to the left). “Now, relax the face and shoulders. Look down at that dog that just came up to you and is sniffing your right foot!”



So I posted this image in a way that I knew my son, Damon would see it … to make him jealous of course! He, by virtue of his worldly travels is in a position to know a bit of Arabic and therefore tried to confound me with the one-word response: Moza!

I quickly went to the Urban Dictionary, and there it was:

1. moza

is an egyptian [expression] ( most arabs use it as well )means chick , a very beautiful girl
ohhhh my god , did u see this girl , she is moza

2. Moza

Arabic word for banana

used to refer to cute Arabic girls with lighter complexions
“is that jouanna?”
“yea man it is”

she replies

Very funny! Seeking to further ingratiate Damon in my world, I texted her informing her that Damon thought that she was Moza. (What could possibly go wrong?)

She quickly replied, “Why is he calling me a banana?”

Read Full Post »

How did I ever get by without apps on a smartphone?

“Hi, my name is Patty — Denise said that I should call you. All my friends tell me that I need new images for match.com,” she said to me.  She continued, “It’s been 20 years since I have had good pictures taken – I hate my picture taken, I have ‘issues.’  I think ‘smart’ is sexy; I don’t want to show skin!”

This is not an unusual phone call.  At this time in my life, I think that I enjoy the “I hate my picture taken” call the best, because I know he or she is about to be thrilled with the results!

I asked Patty, “What are you doing when you feel most like yourself?”

“Reading!” she quickly replied.

I thought to myself and said, “reading can be alluring; bring a book and your reading glasses – how do you feel about the beach? — we’ll do something with you, and tide pools and books.”

“Great! I go to the beach all the time”, she said.

Tide Graph

Knowing that I would be near Malibu at a time convenient for the session, I pushed the button at the bottom of the iPhone and quickly checked my two go-to apps while I was still on speaker with Patty.  The first, to see if we would be inundated by the tide.  Enter Tide Graph.  I kept chatting with Patty about what she wanted to create while I quickly checked the tides two weeks in the future.

“How does 3pm two weeks from Saturday sound?”

“Great!” she agreed.

tide graph

Tide Graph App


Now, what kind and power of light will I need? Enter app 2: Sunseeker.

Sunseeker app

Then, for the date of the session, Sunseeker tells me the elevation and direction of the sun at 3pm – I can use either a Speedlight or Quantum Q Flash for a kiss of light and maybe a translucent screen to block the direct sunlight.

Without missing a beat, I can confirm that 3pm 2 weeks from now would be a great time to create her images.

“See ya then Patty. We’ll have fun!”

The Result

Postscript: And here the image is:

low tide right where we want it,

sunlight right where we need it,

the book in hand, and

the Quantum Q Flash gently filling in the shadows from the late afternoon Malibu sun.

I hate to think that I could probably sell the expensive DSLR camera that made this image and make the image on the smartphone.


Read Full Post »