Thursday, September 29, 2011

I put a lot of pressure on myself to try and write a clever entertaining blog post every time. The problem is, that whenever I go to do it, I say to myself, "No, no, now is not the time. This has to be something special. Something that will make people stand up from their desks and start an 80's movie "slow-clap"when they are done reading"

But I'm going to stop thinking that, and start posting more frequently instead. You know what they say, More is More. It has been a few months since I posted, due to a VERY busy summer. My last post was actually taken down because of a friendly, but stern letter from Wes Andersen's production manager, as they were filming in Rhode Island. For those of you that read that post before it was taken down-good for you.

Speaking of concerts, I haven't been to one in a while, and am considering going to see Lee MacDougall in Boston Thursday night. I photographed him last winter for the Pattinson Post, since he is a buddy of the freakishly famous Robert Pattinson. He played at Club Passim in Cambridge, and before the show we were able to spend about 15 minutes in the alley outside for a speedy photo-shoot before the performance. He was a  truly gracious subject, standing in the FREEZING cold for the sake of the shot. It was interesting photographing someone before you even know who he is, and later becoming a huge fan of his music. He put on an amazing show, and his CD(Yes, I still religiously buy CD's instead of downloads) has been on heavy rotation for months now. Here are some of the results. For you photo geeks out there, since time was of the essence, it was a very simple set-up--single 580EX, off-camera on a light stand fired by a Pocket Wizard(I NEVER really trust Canon infra-red) Maybe I had a Fong diffuser on it? Enjoy! And if you want to check out Lee, Thursday, September 29th at Market in Boston. Tickets are only $8 bucks.

Monday, May 16, 2011

What kind of camera should I get? That's easy..

With summer rolling around, I suspect that there are a lot of people buying new cameras in preparation for such an event. Why do I suspect this? Is it just a hunch? A feeling in my bones? Or is it a consistent stream of people texting and leaving messages for their photographer buddy Dan, that usually go like this: "Hey man, I've been thinking of getting a camera. What should I get?" So instead of having this conversation, over and over...and over, I will from now on refer you to this blog post. 
To a me as a photographer, the broad question "What camera should I get?" has one simple answer:

A 40 Megapixel Hasselblad that's only $29,999. And it's a limited edition "Ferrari" edition, 1 of 499. It's freaking awesome. This is the camera you should get.

Now that I got that off my chest, we can move on. 
I always tell people, that the best camera is the one you have with you. The smallest, slimmest camera that you can fit in your shirt pocket, is better than any sweet DSLR that you left at home because it was too big.

There are so many cameras out there, it's impossible to narrow it down to just one (except the Ferrari Hasselblad) Here are some simple guidelines that can make it feel a little less daunting. For a point-and-shoot camera, don't worry about megapixels. Just about everything now is over 10 megapixels, and anything greater than that, is much more than a small camera can handle. Do not base your choice on whether one camera is 10MP or another is 14MP. If it is a point and shoot camera, you will not notice the difference.
Do you go to the beach, or like to drop things?
Try this: Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 It has a Leica lens, it's small, waterproof, shockproof, and costs $375. There are cheaper versions of the similar camera as well. Avoid the Olympus all-weather, I've heard multiple complaints about picture quality.

Are you not concerned about all weather, and want something a little thicker than your shirt pocket, but has more manual controls and shoots RAW?
Try This: Canon PowerShot G12 It also has a hot shoe for an external flash. Nikon has a similar model. I've personally had the rock-solid G9 since 2007. $499

If you like shooting video, and want an interchangeable lenses, but don't want to go with the size and expense of a full blown SLR there are a lot of "mirrorless" cameras like this:

Sony Alpha NEX-5 Interchangeable Lens

These are cool. They have sensors the size of most SLR's= great quality photos, stuffed into a tiny little body. However the protruding lens takes away from the true "compactness" of the body. A friend of mine shot this video with this camera. There are also many brands with similar style cameras. This one is $699

The options are endless. I didn't even get into the traditional looking SLR cameras. Which nowadays can be had starting at $450!!! Like this 

Nikon D3000 

Bottom line is get into a camera store, and put your hands on some cameras. You will know which ones are clumsy, and which ones feel right. Just don't be too pre-occupied with megapixels and how far one zooms. If a camera feels good, good enough that you end up taking it with you places, and it makes sense to you, and it makes you take more pictures-- THAT is the camera for you. I'm going to get back to work so I can save up for my Ferrari. if I know I can never have one in my driveway, maybe I can have one in my camera bag...

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Darling, shall we go to the symphony this evening?"

A lot of my shoots nowadays aren't as simple as they used to be. They might be studio or location setups with multiple lights and reflectors and people holding things, and moving things around just so, and there's light stands and extension cords to trip get the idea. I recently shot the Cape Cod Symphony Orchestra for Cape Cod Magazine, and it was the most fun I've had shooting in a long time. No flash, no fancy lights, just running around trying to capture the preparation backstage, and the intensity of conductor Jung-Ho Pak. Some of the backstage photos stretch the limits of modern technology. It is amazing how LITTLE light you need shooting with a 1.8 lens at ISO 12,800, or even 25,600!! With a steady hand you can shoot in near darkness. I would have loved this back in the day, shooting Fitchburg High football games for the Sentinel and Enterprise under the Friday night lights when ISO 800("pushed" to 1600 whoa mama!) speed film was considered fast! 

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Lenny Clarke+Captian Jenny+their boat+Menemsha=good times

One new voicemail. Hmm, I wonder who it could be? I don't recognize the number. Let's see who it is.

"Dan, you son of a B!*@#. I just wanted to call about the photos you took of me......"

Uh-Oh. this is the point a photographer panics. What did I do? Usually this would be a very bad message. Unless it's from comedian Lenny Clarke.

Earlier this year I had the pleasure of shooting him and his wife Jenny for Cape Cod Life, while we took a trip on their boat to Martha's Vineyard. Topics of conversation ranged from Vince Wilfork's love of fishing, to his wife's bass-capturing prowess, to his knowledge of who lives in which sea-side house, as we rode into Menemsha harbor. He was generally hilarious. But this wasn't your typical glitzy celebrity photo shoot. There were no stylists within miles. No makeup or hair to fuss over, no primping. Just Lenny in the raw.
And oh yeah, did I mention he was wearing sweat pants? SWEAT PANTS!!!
 To have your picture taken for a magazine!!  I have a general "don't leave the house rule" when it comes to sweatpants. Heck, if my wife is home, I often opt to go straight into jeans when I wake up in the morning. But here we were, doing a photo shoot with a 57 year old man in sweat pants. However, what Lenny lacked in wardrobe, he made up for in graciousness. He was willing to do whatever it took to get the shot. When we jumped off the boat near a fishing shack, I spotted a random pair of white boots. When I sheepishly suggested he put them on, "No problem" he responded. Then I saw a random clam rake- "Hold this." Again, "No problem". As I centered him on the blue door, and ran to grab a couple lobster trap buoys--he comes alive. He sensed we had the shot, and it was go time. He grrrrrd like a tiger (theoretically), laughed like a maniac (literally), and truly made love to the camera. "This man is a professional" I thought to myself. That day I officially became a fan, and by the sound of the voicemail he left me, he was pretty pleased as well.
"....those pictures were f@$%&*ng fantastic!" No Lenny, YOU were f... fantastic.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Best of Boston Home 2011

Sometimes photo shoots are really easy to come by. An editor calls you and says "Hey Dan, there's this great story about kayaking in your pajamas, it's the newest craze. Can you shoot it?" and I say "Sure, sounds fun, I've never gone kayaking in my pajamas." The photos are then submitted, and then I see them 6 months later in a magazine.

But sometimes you really have to work at a story. You see something really amazing, and you don't know when, or where or who is gonna publish it, but you just KNOW that if you take the time to shoot it, it will get published.

I first saw the home of Randall Darwall and Brian Murphy a few years back when I was photographing them for an article about their woven textiles and "wearable art" fashions. When they invited  me in for a cup of coffee (which was the first of many cups in our friendship over the years), I got the grand tour. Through their extensive travels and visits to art colony's and craft shows, they had amassed one of the most interesting and eclectic collections of "stuff" I had ever seen under one roof. I knew it was magazine worthy.

I took some scouting shots, to get the ball rolling. But I knew I needed more if I wanted to submit it to a magazine. After bugging myself for a year (A YEAR!!) I finally scheduled a day to photograph the house, on spec. With a busy summer schedule on Cape Cod, it's a leap of faith to commit to a project, and hire an assistant, when you might never get paid for it.

It also takes trust on the homeowners part, when you call and say, "Can I come and invade your home for ten hours, move around all your furniture, and make a general mess of your valuable art. But I promise I'll put everything back." Then they say, "Great! Is it going to be in a magaizine!?" And then you come back with the confidence inspiring response of "Maybe. I mean, not right now...but someday. We'll try our best!!"

After exploring many avenues to get the piece published, a friend of mine, writer Jaci Conry was interested. She showed the images to Boston Home, and they too were interested. However yet another final photo shoot was needed. So about three years after my initial scouting of the house, I'm pleased to say that it appears in the newest issue of Boston Magazine's Home edition. As you can see, they even used one of the images for the table of contents page. I'm glad they chose that photo. It rewards the quest for perfection of myself and Bryce (photo-assistant extraordinaire), since we spent about 20 minutes adjusting the positioning on those dice, which were on the bedroom mantle, but were transferred to the dining room to be included in the photo festivities. So in this crazy world of instantly being able to publish anything you want (like this blog), sometimes, good things come to those who wait. Here is a slideshow of some of the detail photos in all of their un-cropped glory.