Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Pocket Wizard Meet Up

One Canon 580EXII flash into an umbrella. That's it!

As some of you may know, I have been testing and using the new Pocket Wizard TT1 and TT5 system now for several months. What has been consistent is the inconsistency of the system. When it works, it is truly great. But when it doesn't work, it makes you look like an idiot in front of your client.

Pocket Wizard has been sponsoring events all over the country to get photographers on board with this radio transmission system. They admit there has been problems since the launch but they've been pro-active working on solutions. Like all new technology there is a learning curve. Some of the problems could be user issues but that is limited compared to the larger issues of misfires, inconsistent bursts and limited range.

As of Dec. 19, the Pocket Wizard evangelist Mark Wallace has insured us to believe the problems are behind us. We now have a radio frequency noise eliminating sock to put over the flash unit, in addition to a noise insulated hot shoe adapter and new beta software for better up-to-date radio communication with the 5D Mark II and other new Canon Camera's.

I was only able to attend the last 40 minutes of the meet-up where I received the noise socks and a tech downloaded the latest beta software into my units. I was given instruction on the proper use of the new equipment and given tips on how to get the best out of the equipment.

The photograph above was shot at the event where there were several models available. I took about 100 frames. I had no misfires from a distance range of 6 feet to 80 feet using a 70 to 200 2.8 zoom lens on a 5D Mark II. I had very consistent frames but I did experience about 4 or 5 typical Canon full capacitor flash dumps. A flash dump blows out your subject by overexposing the image.

Compared to before, I can live with an occasional dump. As long as I have been using Canon gear (20 years) the flash units have always had the occasional full capacitor dump.

I used my Pocket Wizard units today for the first time on an assignment and they worked flawlessly. I hope this remains the case.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Man in the Window

I was driving home from Tucson last week when I saw this shirtless man laying down in a window. After a double-take, I realized it was a Tattoo Parlor and he was getting a tattoo. I thought how strange. It felt sort of creepy to me. It seemed to me this street-side scene was some sort of human voyeuristic performance art. I just have to ask could you be this guy? I know, I couldn't.

University Of Arizona Nursing School Graduation

I went to Tucson last week with the family to watch my niece Brittany graduate from the University of Arizona's Nursing School. It reminded me once again how fast time is flying by. It seems, I was watching her at High School swim meets just last year. Here is a few photo's from the event.

Nutcracker Dress Rehearsal

I received a phone call from dance teacher Elizabeth Pease at Desert Vista High School a couple of weeks ago. Her boyfriend is a personal friend of the family that referred her to me. Her scheduled photographer had called her 3 hours before the dress-rehearsal to cancel. Needless to say she was in a panic. I said, "I would love to photograph the rehearsal for you." It was very little money but I enjoyed the dance and wanted to help the school since both of my sons graduated from there.

These are just a few of my favorites from the evening.

Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center

Muhammad looked straight at me for quite a bit of time during a very crowded event that had all the Arizona media present. After a while, I wasn't sure if he was giving me a clean shot or if he wanted to knock my block off.

I made this photo of Muhammad and his wife Lonnie walking the halls of the new facility. The hallways are covered with historic photographs of Muhammad's incredible life.

During the Parkinson opening luncheon, Muhammad was presented a gift from promoters of the Muhammad Ali Celebrity Fight Night.

Muhammad Ali was present during the ribbon cutting ceremony to open the Muhammad Ali Parkinson Center and Movement Disorder Clinic at St. Joseph's Medical Center and Barrow Neurological Institute. This was a huge media event where I felt like I was back in my old environment again. It was competitive to navigate around all the people and fun to see Muhammad Ali for the first time.

If you would like to see more information about the center this link will take you directly to the center

Looking back to 2009

It has been an interesting year and one of huge changes for myself and my family. As many of you already know my wife Lore and I both lost our jobs of 20 years and 14 years respectively. We have faced the challenges head on and have learned that 2009 wasn’t the end but only the beginning. I am proud to say neither of us ever applied for or collected unemployment of any kind.

I was sitting with my son Chris on Christmas Day and I said to him, "at 56 I still think my future is in front of me". He looked at me and said, "well of course it is". It would be easy to say my future was 20 years ago and that was my time to build and learn. You can’t sit on your hands in today's computer age. If you’re not evolving and pushing yourself today you will be left behind tomorrow.

I try! That is all I can do. No one is holding my hand and I haven't had a mentor in my life to encourage me. I have great friends that have helped me but my early years where very much alone. I encourage mentor-ship and have seen first hand how a positive mentor can help a person's growth and success. My path has always been a self-taught journey. In my wisdom, I would advise a person starting out in anything to seek out a mentor!

Being independent has been great. It’s challenging and very different than anything I have ever done over the past 20 plus years. As I write, I have the news on the TV in the other room, the dog at my feet, no one to bother me with petty corporate power struggles, and in house-fighting. How good is that? I love it! The hardest part of this is reminding myself to get out of the house periodically and not to work 14 hours a day.

I look forward to 2010.