Thursday, March 03, 2005
Picture of Success
Better than Cinefoil, a couple of layers of gaffer tape did the trick. The
tape covers the left side and the red AF-assist lens on the front. Gaffer tape
is the best to use, because its adhesive is designed not to shed all over
whatever you put the tape on. To my surprise (and the shock of my eyes) one
layer wasn't opaque enough.
This way, I have access to the sync port, the battery compartment, and the
controls without having to unwrap the unit.
Kim Zorn Caputo (1952-2004)
I picked up a copy of Blind
Spot Magazine last night, and was shocked to read
that Kim Zorn Caputo had died. I found out about Kim and Blind Spot just
last year, through
a series of lectures sponsored and organized by Blind Spot at The New School.
Kim was a striking and poetic personality.
When she introduced photographers at the lectures, she shared her appreciation
for the speakers in a
lyrical way, and invited us all to listen. That's a special skill. The artists
and work that she
presented, coupled with her personal style, even made me wonder if there was
room to work in her organization. As vibrant as she seemed, I had
no idea that she was suffering from cancer.
Toward the end of the series, Kim stopped coming.
We were simply told she wasn't able to be there, and I assumed that it was
because business was keeping her busy. Though she was probably increasingly
ill, she continued to write intros for the presenters, but the people reading
those sheets of paper were able to muster only a fraction of the presence that
It seems that Kim and her circle communicated regularly through poetry. Kim
wrote a piece to
her son for his 15th birthday in February, 2000, that was published
in issue 15 of Blind Spot. On an early page of Blind Spot issue 26, is a poem
in elegy by Joyce Carol Oates, written
her son Matt, written in January '05.
Seeking to find details, I googled again. I didn't find what I was looking
for, but I found something that speaks of her attitude
toward having terminal cancer:
I dying? No. I am living until I can't live anymore.’
Again, she'd expressed herself through the pages of her beloved magazine.
She was living out loud, even as her voice was fading.
This year, the New School is doing
a photography lecture series with Aperture Foundation, instead of Blind
I hope the magazine continues to be vital in her absence. It would be a fitting
expression of her verve and commitment; a lasting impression.
Wednesday, March 02, 2005
I was hoping that the folks at Nikon would have some secret remedy for me. After
going in the wrong direction via e-mail, I picked up the phone and ended up talking
to the guy I'd exchanged e-mails with.
I'm impressed. He'd actually done a little research to find out what PocketWizards
are. We went through the configuration I wanted to set-up, and he ultimately
confirmed that the way to go is using SU-4 mode. He also told me precisely
where the SU-4 sensor is. A few experiments later, and could see just how I
need to cover the unit to blindfold it without compromising the synch terminal or the controls.
Looks like I'll have to get on the phone to DirecTV, too. As good as e-mail
can be, it's not always effective at getting ideas across. I can see why some
people seem to avoid it altogether.
I didn't want to believe it when I saw it scrawled on a subway poster yesterday.
The train was coming, so I scratched a fragmentary note into my journal to
remind me: "Ota Benga - black man on disp. Bronx Zoo 1919 - true?"
I googled it, and found out that only the date was wrong. Benga was exhibited
in the Bronx Zoo monkey house with a parrot and an orangutan in 1906.
...he was initially brought to Saint Louis in 1904
for the Louisiana Purchase Exposition after being sold as a slave by thugs
on the payroll of the Belgian government, who'd butchered his wife and children
in the Congo. Colonization of Africa and Asia by Western nations had awakened
public interest in the new science of anthropology, and throngs of fairgoers
could gawk at indigenous tribespeople from around the globe in replica villages,
where they conducted native ceremonies, made crafts, and so on. (One star
of the show was Geronimo, the legendary Apache chief, then in his 70s.) The
fairgoer being but little removed from the swamps himself, Ota and several
other Pygmies exhibited with him were subjected to ridicule and abuse – poking
them with lighted cigars was reputedly a common experiment...
- From The Straight Dope
killed himself in 1916, despondent over being unable to return to Africa
to escape the label of 'freak.' He shot himself through the heart
in (of all places) Lynchburg, VA. I had always thought Lynchburg was named for Charles Lynch [see below] but it is actually
named for John
Lynch, a Quaker and
ferry operator. Still, the macabre connection with the term 'lynching'
to miss; a lynching strangely akin to the one Clarence Thomas claimed to suffer during his confirmation process.
...Legend credits Charles Lynch of Virginia as the term's source, based
on his suppression of loyalists during the American Revolution through extralegal
beatings and killings. The term became common currency during the 19th century
to describe the killing by a mob of an accused individual, regardless of
Though some newspapers condemned the practice, others saw it as a reflection
of the popular will and a necessary means of maintaining order in frontier
- Book review of The Many Faces of Judge Lynch
Well, it wasn't like the finale of 'Cheers,'
or better still, the finale of 'MASH,' but it was nice to stumble onto the
final episode of 'NYPD Blue' last night. I hadn't watched in several years. Dennis
Franz is the only cast member to span the entire 12-year run, and his
character was as strong as ever in this last episode.
The pre-show was very enjoyable – in many ways more interesting than the episode
itself. It gave me an even greater appreciation for what it took to make the
and what an interesting guy David Milch is. If I had HBO, I'd be checking out
'Deadwood.' It also reminded me of the episodes I had seen, and the ones I
wish I'd seen.
As I watched the final episode, I was keenly aware
that a lot of things had to be tied together by
they didn't make it
the characters come to the door one by one to say 'goodnight' got to be a
little much. Still, I'd be interested to see some of the classic episodes on
DVD some time.
I've missed a lot of 'ER' this season. I'm starting to wonder about that show's
... Well, maybe not 'babes' in the classic sense... The cover of the Village
Voice this week features a story about how Hillary Clinton is shifting to the
right, and how she might be positioning herself for a presidential run. Meanwhile,
there's speculation that the GOP might consider fielding a woman of their own.
The Post ran this headline yesterday: 'Condi tops Prez and Hill in New Poll.'
Hillary vs Condozilla? Could it be?
Tuesday, March 01, 2005
Thanks 4 Ur Support
:: PART ONE: Nikon
Any use, dissemination, distribution, posting on Internet bulletin boards, disclosure
or copying of this e-mail or any information contained herein by or to anyone
other than the intended recipient(s) is strictly prohibited. If you have received
this E-mail in error, please notify the sender by reply e-mail and destroy
all copies of this E-mail without reading or saving in any manner.
Posting the message I got back from Nikon about using my SB-800 with a PocketWizard
might have allowed you, dear reader, to glean something I hadn't... As far as I'm concerned, I asked a specific set of questions that related
to the operation of the SB-800, and the support guy wrote back to say that
they don't support PocketWizards, and to repeat what I already know: that
SU-4 mode means any other flash can trigger my unit. The response was totally
posting the disclaimer above is also a violation of their prohibition, but so be it.
Here's my original question:
I'm using a pair of SB-800's wirelessly with my D-100. I connect a pocket
wizard receiver to the port on the side of the SB-800, and set both units
mode. The SU-4 mode keeps the 'main' unit that is connected to the pocket
wizard from going into standby, and also makes the unit issue a beep when
it is recharged. Unfortunately, that also means that other strobes, not
just my pocket wizard, can cause my strobes to trigger. Remote mode seems
the CLS system. I can't get the pocket wizard to trigger the SB-800 at
all when it is in Remote mode.
Is there a way that I can make the 'main'
unit stay awake and issue a beep
when it recharges, but only triggers via the pocket wizard?
Thanks very much.
One more try. I took 'PocketWizard' out of the subject line, changing it to
'Re: SB-800 with D-100, using synch terminal.' Here's my reply to their reply:
Thanks for getting back to me on this.
Let's try this another way. Forget that I mentioned the PocketWizard.
>> If I want to trigger the SB-800 flash unit, I can connect a cord to
the synch port on the side. That port will cause the flash to fire if it is in
or in manual mode.
In manual mode, the SB-800 will go into standby after a specified delay, unless
I set the delay to " --- "
>> SU-4 mode is the only mode that gives a tone when the unit is ready
to fire again. For instance, I can't set the SB-800 to beep when it's used as
>> There is no option where I can set the SB-800 to trigger only from the
shoe or the synch terminals.
Thanks again for your assistance.
If I am correct with all of the above, the only way to set this up and avoid
triggering with other flash units, is to cover up the sensors with something
like Cinefoil or opaque plastic.
:: PART TWO: DirecTV
From me, 02/25/2005 10:10 PM
I'm interested in upgrading to a TiVo unit. I think the unit will replace
my current RCA receiver, and that it costs $99 for the unit, plus an extra
$4.50/mo for service. I only need the dual dish if I want to record two shows
at once, or watch one show while another is recording, right? Finally, how
long will it take for delivery once I order? Thanks very much!
DirecTV reply, 02/27/2005 09:02 AM
Thank you for writing. We're excited to hear that you're interested in upgrading
your current DIRECTV System to a DIRECTV DVR with TiVo. For answers
to all of your DVR questions, to find what great upgrade offer we have for you
to buy one today, visit our DVR web site at DIRECTVDVR.com. If you choose
to upgrade your system, you can still use your existing receiver on another
in your house (additional receiver fee of $4.99/month may apply).
Thank you again for writing and I hope you enjoy your new DVR!
Not that long ago, there were a spate of books about how the customer comes
first. The gist was that the companies that gave the best service to their
customers, the ones that were willing to go the extra mile, were going to be
the winners in corporate competition. The proposition of providing good customer
support is an expensive one. Seems that in our new era of cost-cutting, assisting
the customer isn't the priority it used to be.
In the case of Nikon, I already
own the stuff, so their pitiful support incident won't cost them much – I'll
still buy and use their products.
In the case of DirecTV, I'd consider getting
a TiVo somewhere else. I don't think anyone else sells them that cheaply,
though, and the integration is good... I wonder... what if I switched over
to digital cable? How much would that whole deal cost?
glimpse out the front window
this morning. I set a small aperture to get some
depth of field, and used my SB-800 with the PocketWizard off-camera (set low
and bouncing off the ceiling)
sufficient fill flash to keep the foreground
from silhouetting and to avoid glare on the window glass. (Actually,
that little halo above the wing on the right side of the bird statue is from
If this were a critical publication, I'd have either re-shot, or finessed it
ISO: 800; 62mm; 1/60s @ f13
I suspected I could have gotten a similar result with the SB-800
the head rotated toward the ceiling, but the result wasn't as good. The first
shot had a ton of glare. I rotated the head back for the second shot, and
that was better, but it was clear that the fill light was coming from much higher
in the image.
An alternate approach to dealing with the foreground/background contrast problem
is to set the camera on a tripod and take two exposures: one optimized for
outside the window, the other for inside. Then, you sandwich and mask the two
images together in Photoshop. With that approach, the light on the interior
can look even more natural.
In the specific case of this photo, though, I think
the bird would have needed some illumination anyway. A soft reflector might
have also done the trick. So, there you have it: one picture, many approaches.
Monday, February 28, 2005
were fun to watch last night, but I think the program lacked a lot of the charm
and mystique of the old days. That was particularly evident, just watching the
clips of Johnny Carson as MC.
The tribute to Carson only seemed to underscore how much Chris Rock was out of his element, though he did
get some good ones in. I wonder if he knows that Gap and Banana Republic are
the same company. That metaphorical dig was his most sophisticated routine of
the evening, and I'd bet his overall performance still went over better than David Letterman's one and only appearance.
About half an hour before the show started, I finally put pen to paper and
made my predictions. I ended up getting 16 of the 24 right.
- Leading Actor: Jamie Foxx - 'Ray'
- Leading Actress: Hilary Swank - 'Million Dollar Baby'
- Supporting Actress: Cate Blanchett - 'The Aviator'
- Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman - 'Million Dollar Baby'
- Directing: 'Million Dollar Baby'
- Best Picture: 'Million Dollar Baby'
- Foreign Language Film: 'The Sea Inside'
- Documentary Feature: 'Born Into Brothels'
- Animated Feature: 'The Incredibles'
- Screenplay - Adapted: 'Sideways'
- Screenplay - Original: 'Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind'
- Cinematography: 'The Aviator'
- Visual Effects: 'Spider-Man 2'
- Sound Editing: 'The Incredibles'
- Original Score: 'Finding Neverland'
- Makeup: 'Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate Events'
Wrong (my pick/actual winner):
- Art Direction: 'The Aviator'/'Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate
- Costume Design: 'Lemony Snicket's a Series of Unfortunate
- Documentary Short: 'Autism is a World'/'Mighty Times: The Children's March'
- Film Editing: 'Finding Neverland'/'The Aviator'
- Original Song: 'Learn to be Lonely' - 'The Phantom of the Opera'/'Al Otro
Lado Del Rio' - 'The Motorcycle Diaries'
- Short Film - Animated: 'Gopher Broke'/'Ryan'
- Short Film - Live Action: 'Little Terrorist'/'Wasp'
- Sound Mixing: 'The Aviator'/'Ray'
If I had entered one of those Oscar pools, I don't know that I would have
prevailed. I've been to Oscar parties where folks got nearly perfect scores.
Of the movies I got right, I didn't see Lemony Snicket's, Finding Neverland,
or The Sea Inside. We had an interest in The Sea Inside, but never made it
to the show. Handicapping the ones I got wrong was harder this year, because
I didn't find any pundit's forecasts for those categories. I usually factor
those comments into my picks. The Aviator took two of the categories I got
wrong, and I'd picked it for two of
– just the wrong two. I tossed one to Lemony Snicket's, but again, it
was the wrong one. Regarding the shorts - well, each was a one in five crap-shot
didn't pan out. The sound on Ray was fabulous, but even sitting through both
films, it would be tough for me to come away with a comparative gauge of the
sound mixing in those two movies. It takes a very critical ear... maybe if
I'd heard bits of both with the picture turned off (my eyes closed?)...
Well, we're well into the first quarter of the new movie year. Let's see what filmic wonders this year brings.
Back in April of 2002, Denise, C, and I spent '8 days in paradise with never
a bad meal,' as I described it in
this blog. We became fast friends with our
hosts, Captain Jack Feireisen and Chef Rona Ramkhelawan. At the end of the
special, something beyond the monetary/services transaction of your basic commercial
charter; we had forged new and lasting friendships. For a week, these new friends
had assisted us all in a great escape.
Denise and I planned unsuccessfully
VI to see our friends again, but still managed to hear from Jack and Rona
now and then by phone and e-mail. As the weather has turned nasty, thoughts
climes connect once again with images of the beautiful waters under the Dreamwalker,
and the charm and wit of Jack and Rona. Ah, to be with them again!
But yesterday, the bad news arrived. C found out that Jack Died in a hospital
in Trinidad. Complications from a cancer treatment. We won't get to share another
smile or spirited conversation about politics or aquatic fauna with Jack. No
more amazing meals on board Dreamwalker.
The saddest part, though, was not
knowing. Not being able to at least call and wish him well. That may not
have had any impact on his prognosis, but it would have been nice to let him
know once more, that he touched the lives of many people in a very special
way. I'm sure that many of those people still don't know. I hope that he wasn't
alone in that hospital during his last days. His spirit was too wonderful for
In a brochure about his charter business, Jack wrote 'A Dreamwalker is
one who, through dreams, escapes from the chores and worries of everyday life
and romance.' My bet is he thought he was merely explaining how his
boat got its name, but I think he was describing the ideals he lived his life
by. He was unique. He was his own person.
Now, it seems he's finally embarked on his ultimate dreamwalk. Sleep well,
I picked up my second SB-800, a PocketWizard set, and a Sekonic L-358 meter with
the radio module this weekend. A second Manfrotto light stand with a mini boom
a convertible umbrella
and very portable lighting system complete. Metering and shooting wireless is
very cool. If you've had to shoot with synch cords for very long at all, you've
a flaky one, and you've probably had to fuss with snaking synch cords around
stands, power supplies, and so forth, or maybe you've had to deal with a cord
that was just a couple of feet too short... PocketWizards do away with all
of that. No muss, no fuss. We're talking power!
In researching this set-up specifically with the SB-800, I came across a message
thread where someone was complaining that the PocketWizard would fail to trigger
other time. I was concerned about that situation when I tested the system out
at the store, and I think I know the cause:
If you don't put the flash in SU-4 Remote mode, it will eventually go into
standby. Hit the PocketWizard at that point, and the first pulse only wakes
up. Standard Remote mode won't work at all.
There is a potential problem with using SU-4 mode, though. In that mode, the
flash will fire any time it 'sees' another strobe firing. In private sessions,
that's not going to happen, but if I'm trying to shoot wireless in a club with
other flash photographers around, it could get very messy. The low-tech
solution is to wrap the body of the flash in something opaque like Cinefoil.
That will cover
the sensors, effectively blindfolding the unit. The nuisance is that it also
covers the display and controls. I've dropped a line to Nikon. We'll see what
they have to say on the matter.