Monday, May 22, 2006

Of Bearded Tugboat Captains and Lighting

Photograph Copyright Stephenie Hollyman 2006

The bane of any photographer's existence is direct flash. Most of us like to shoot natural light during what Jay Meisel calls the "sweetlight" time of day.

But living in an imperfect world, most often we have to pop in a light or two. We then may have to break out lights, softbox, umbrellas and stands.

Sometimes we don't even have time for that, like in this picture I took last night of Captain Brian McAllister, standing in front of his company's 105 year old tugboat, the Helen McAllister at the South Street Seaport Museum. A real dynasty, McAllister Towing & Transportation is the only family-owned company remaining in New York harbor.

I used a nifty new gadget on my flash to take this picture. This Light Sphere II Inverted Dome Diffuser, invented by Gary Fong, which really does a pretty good job.

But if you're shooting with a Canon, people do seem to turn reddish. So Gary Fong tells you to switch your camera's parameters to:

Gary's recommendation for all Canon 10D/20d for greatest midrange detail and optimum workflow up to 10x15" prints is:
Parameter 1: SETUP:
  • SIZE - Medium Stairstep




  • FLASH - E-TTL with no exposure compensation

  • METERING MODE: Multizone (eyeball with two parenthesis)

Brian likes the way his new beard makes him look like his great great grandfather, James McAllister who arrived from Ireland in 1864 and founded this company with a single sail lighter. Brian's wife, Rosemary, doesn't like his beard.

Brian called me to take this photo before he shaved it off.

Brian's a friend and client for whom I have worked off and one over the years a freelance basis, writing and researching a book on his family's five generations in New York harbor. It's finished now, some 250-pages. In a later post I will give you chapters to download in PDF.

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