Archive for September, 2010

Manfrotto just announced their speaker schedule for the lectures and presentations taking place at Photokina. Bill Frakes and Joe McNally will be alternating days in the Manfrotto School of Xcellence Theatre, Hall 5.1. Get the schedule full schedule and learn how to sign up for the presentations here.

Friday I was walking through the Zurich Airport. As is always my custom I glanced up at the list of departing flights and started rapidly making a mental list of the places I still want to visit for the first time. This time I realized strongly what I of course knew but had not before put a firm face on--that list of destinations is shrinking quickly. And I remembered again just how lucky I have been. I have a great job.

Nikon is showing two of our films in their theatre at Photokina. I have been making images for a long time and have been getting them published for almost the same--but walking into the Nikon booth here in Cologne and seeing our films on their big screens is just a really great feeling. As I stood there with Gen Umeii, the art director from Tokyo, who I worked with creating All Over Down Under, I had such a surreal feeling. It is in fact a very small world, with amazing possibilities.

We have a new favorite travel companion. The imaging options just keep getting better and better. This little guy is loaded with features and is just so cute.

On Wednesday Nikon announced several new products. A 85mm f/1.4 and 35mm f/1.4 not least among them. Bill spoke at the Nikon Switzerland launch party in Zurich and we were able to see all the new products first hand.
Bill at Nikon's launch party in Zurich

Bill speaking to the audience, playing the music video we did of the Backyard Babies, at Nikon's launch party in Zurich.

They are all extremely well engineered, but the Coolpix P7000 is the one that caught our attention. It's a point-and-shoot with power. It gives you full manual control with the option to save several presets. It's light and quiet. The shutter is literally silent. It records jpegs and NRWs -- a new Nikon raw file. It allows you to shoot from 28mm to 200mm at apertures from 2.8 to 22. You have the option to shoot from the LCD screen or the range finder. It's incredible. The files are extremely sharp and robust. You can do with a point-and-shoot what you could never do before. Pascal Richard of NPS Switzerland has graciously loaned us his and we have used it non stop over the last couple days in Zurich. Normally Bill and I get along pretty well, but deciding who gets to use the P7000 is causing more than a few arguments. A couple examples of what we came up with...these files came straight out of the camera, the conversion to black and white was done onboard, in this case a red filter was applied in the profile........
Bill and Pascal Richard

Bill and Pascal Richard of NPS Switzerland. He has been our gracious host all week.

Zurich in the rain

I made this from Pascal's car as we drove through Zurich in the rain.

Late last night I was roaming the back streets of ancient Zurich. 24 f 1.4 on a D300s, just appreciating a lovely early autumn time in one of Europe's treasures. Freed of technical limitations--that camera can literally see in the dark-- and it's so small and light, and with that lens attached I feel a connection to an earlier group of photojournalists working the scenes with fast 35 millimeter lenses attached to the smallest film cameras of the day. Romantic maybe, but those who have been on the ground doing this work can feel what I am feeling. I was thinking about an earlier time in my life--my second trip to Europe--I was in my early 20's and had 18 hours in London enroute to a meeting with a baby orangutang in the Hague. (The trip with the small primate is a story for another day.) My father was in the Army Air Corps during the second World War, stationed in Sherwood Forest, and always spoke so captivatingly about England. I was determined to see all of old London town, and capture it on film. So I refused sleep. All night, strolling the city, making long, slow exposures on transparency film and the venerable, omnipresent TriX loaded in my Nikon F2, pentaprism--no meter, no motor drive--with a 24 2.8 attached. Having to make each exposure count--no blasting away hoping. It was about thinking first, knowing the limitations of the film, and then making it work as best I could. I thought it might be my only chance to see one of the Capitals of Europe--as a young newspaper photographer in the South, visions of globetrotting were not yet on my horizon. Half a lifetime later, 8 million miles flown, thousands of trips taking their toll on my back, so many visits out of the US to places relatively near and far that I lost count long ago, and I am still restless. Driven to photograph, to get what's in my mind and my heart captured on something--film, a sensor, paper--so that I can share it with the world. I used to look at things twice, once especially for my Dad. Now I do the same, but now the second look is for Havana, my daughter who always reminds me to take a picture of what I see just for her. While I was taking that slow walk in this wonderful Swiss city, soaking in everything around me I started thinking about the distant past. The great painters, DaVinci, Bruegel, Rembrandt, and I wondered what they would do with the tools we have now. What could they see, what would they record, where could they drive the art? Or more recently, Gordon Parks. Imagine what he could have done with these tools. I know I would read his blog every day........... I love the technology. And I am determined to use it to not do things more easily, but to do things better. To go further. And those thoughts just pushed me to keep going, and looking. Enjoying.

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