Making it Rain…..


One of the more memorable jobs that I have had in the field of photography involved freelancing as a printer for the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. A few times a month I would drive over to West LA, take the tram from the parking garage up to the museum, and smile to myself as my employee pass would allow me to “go behind the curtain” as it were to see behind the scenes of one of the top museums in the world.

While there, I printed black and white repro prints. I would be handed a stack of dupe negatives of pieces of artwork in their collections, and would fill print orders from around the world. These images were inserted into books and used for research, among other things.

During my lunch hours, I would quickly eat a sandwich and then stroll through the buildings taking in the amazing artwork on display (If you have never been, you owe it to yourself to visit the Getty. The site is amazing – set on a ridge overlooking Los Angeles… the buildings are impressive – they supposedly emptied an entire quarry in Italy for the facades…..and the gardens are simply unbelievable. Oh, and admission is free!).

While I was touring the museum, the staff photographers that worked there would be sitting at their desks reading, or occupying the remains of their lunch hour with some other banal activity. When I asked if they had seen any of the things that I have discovered during my adventure, they answered that they rarely, if ever, ventured out to see what was on exhibition in the museum. I, to say the least, was dumbfounded….. but not necessarily surprised. The museum had simply become a job to them…..and they didn’t want to spend their free time “working”… matter what they were missing out on.

It was not uncommon to talk to photographers, for whom photography had simply become a job. I like to think that we all got involved in photography because it was something we loved and felt extremely attached to…..but some photographers had lost the love along the way and were simply doing it because they needed to keep the $$$ coming in.

Back then I vowed to myself that if I ever “made it” (whatever that might mean), I would remain a passionate photographer for the rest of my life…..while secretly fearing that I may not have the talent/aggressiveness/connections/whatever to actually make a living as a photographer.

What does all this have to do with a photo of some leaves?

I’ve been a photographer for around 25 years now, and I feel that I am well past that point where I might have become burned out or lost interest. I still get excited about shooting. I still look forward to exploring new places with my camera. And I still use my camera bag as my carry on whenever I fly….lest I land somewhere without a camera when something amazing presents itself.

I like to think it’s because I’m so passionate about photography…..but I know that there are other reasons that are more manufactured. Those reasons are Stock Photography, and Instagram. Stock and IG are two things that I pursue, and both help me to remain hungry looking for photographs that will either sell, or gain me more followers. My goals are to upload 1000 images per year to my stock agency, and to upload one photo every business day to Instagram.

The photo of the leaves and rain above is a perfect example of how these two things keep me excited to try new things. I had been trying to come up with some photo ideas for the beautiful fall that we were experiencing in Boston this year, and felt that simple photos of the leaves were not what I wanted….I wanted something that would hold a little more interest. Enter the spray bottle!

As I traipsed around the bushes and underbrush near our apartment, I would position myself so that everything was backlit. Then, while holding my camera with one hand I would start spraying water to get the “rain” to fall onto the leaves.

In the end, I played around for 30-40 minutes and got some fun results. I also learned a bunch about how still you think you can hold a camera, and how still you ACTUALLY are holding it (due to some amazing, but slightly soft images). The usable images supplied me with a number of images for Stock, and a week’s worth of IG uploads.

Thanx for listening!

Here are a couple of other shots from that day…..



Fatbikes on a Trail in Golden Fall Light


One of the great things about being with a stock agency is that it not only brings in some $$$, but it keeps you motivated to shoot…..and gives you a great reason to try new things that might result in images that are unlike anything in your agency’s collection.

I had an idea that I’ve been wanting to try, and last weekend gave me the chance with some decent weather. My wife and I loaded up our fatbikes and drove over to Wompatuck State Park. Once there, I rigged up my Canon 5D to sit off the back-left side of my bike. This entailed a Manfrotto Magic Arm, a Couple of Super Clamps, an Atom Clamp, and a few other various pieces of grip equipment (see photo below). Testing had shown that I needed to use an extremely wide angle lens, and so I rented a Canon 8-15mm zoom (I kept it between 13-15mm).

I used two Pocket Wizards to trip the shutter – one (receive mode) mounted on the camera hot shoe and connected to the camera using their Remote Trigger Cable…… and one (transmit mode) duct taped to the right side of my handlebars.

We started riding and everything went smoothly for about ten seconds. That’s when I kicked one of the ratchet handles on the magic arm and the whole thing basically fell off. This happened just as some people were walking by, and immediately one of the guys started asking me questions about what I was “filming” (There’s nothing worse than trying to sort out a problem with a complicated setup while someone is asking what your favorite f-stop is).

I got everything mounted back up, double checked that everything was tight, and then rotated all handles out of the way of my feet while pedaling. We cruised around on some pretty mellow trails (no catching air with this set up!), and I experimented with shutter speeds and lighting direction. This image is one of the stronger ones and was shot at 1/25 of a second. There was a real balance going on between a shutter speed long enough to allow the ground to blur…..yet short enough eliminate camera shake.

One of the things that I really love about digital imaging is the improvements in lenses that have resulted. 10 years ago if I shot this on film, there’s no way I could have shot into the sun and not had the image ruined….lens flare would have exploded across the frame. With current cameras/lenses though, it’s no problem 🙂

I didn’t actually take a photo of my set up that day, but here’s a shot from a couple of days before when I was testing everything out on my regular mountain bike. A few of the angles are different, but all the gear is the exact same as I used….

Thanx for listening!



Mistakes in the Woods

IMG_8726When I have time…or get bored…or distracted….or maybe have a deadline that I want to ignore….I’ll sometimes head out on my mountain bike with my camera. Recently we had a beautiful fall day and I did just that.

The trees were a combination of green and yellow, and the trails were a golden pathway leading through the woods. I truly love photographing action when Mountain Biking, but being alone ruled that out. I started thinking about the various ways to introduce motion into a photograph with stationary subjects. Exciting motion photographs come down to one of three situations:


  • The subject is moving.
  • The camera is moving.
  • They are both moving.


Since it’s pretty difficult to photograph myself while I am riding, I had to settle for having the camera move. I have played around with a longer shutter speed and zooming before, but wanted to try and add a little something more. Something that might be a little more identifiable.

This kind of experimentation really lends itself to digital. With film, you’d have to shoot a roll, and then wait a few hours to see what you got. Then, you may or may not remember what you did exactly to be able to reproduce anything that you got that was acceptable. Being able to see the image immediately allows you to build upon small successes as you go.

As any photographer can tell you, a lot of successful images are actually failures that turned out better than expected. Such is the case with this shot. I was kneeling on the ground next to my bike (that was propped up against a tree), and trying to introduce some motion into the image by zooming while I rotated the camera. Normally when doing this, I really try and keep the camera rotating around the middle of the lens….but this time, I was a little off balance and ended up rotating the camera around on point that is very close to the middle of my front tire. This left the tire almost intact (and very identifiable), but allowed the rest of the frame the movement (blur) that I was looking for.

Here is an example of doing exactly what I wanted:

IMG_8728 In the end, I liked both images…..but the mistake of rotating around a point off center of the middle of the lens allowed the tire and wheel to by much more sharp and identifiable, which in turn, makes it a more interesting image.


Thanx for listening!