Last week I had an oppertunity to spend the weekend with National Geographic photographer Bob Krist, seen here in a picture from Garden of the Gods, in Colorado Springs CO. What a fantastic photographer, and a inspired teacher and speaker. This was a weekend class put on by National Geographic Traveler.
Bob Krist started Friday evening with stories about his travels and how he became a photographer, then proceeded Saturday and Sunday, to step us through how he gets to a picture and how he manages to complete a shoot. For reference, he typically refers to a magazine shoot in the ballpark of 7000 images for the editor to review. On had to give that side of the story were image editor Dan Westergren senior photo editor from National Geographic Traveler.
In todays zuuper high-rez full-frame world, both Bob and Dan were a refreshing breath of fresh air.
Bob use a Nikon D700, and was very happy this year when Traveler did a complete issue using "only" consumer DSLR's... that the camera he prefer was in face thought to be a consumer camera.
Dan is a sworn Olympus user and (along with me) brought the only Olympus E3's in the camp. the Olympus is known for beautiful colors and files, which Dan were more interested in than the cameras ability to claim top predator in the camera market.
Part of the class involved a trip to "Garden of the Gods" a very lovely area, we split into two groups so Bob could get into details about shooting with "off-camera" flash. a pair of SB's with Pocket Wizards, for this part a trio of local native American was available to model, I was not too excited about the models or the "getting to try a wireless flash" part as I have done extensive studio shooting for work already.
Dan's group worked on landscapes, this I was much more interested in, I don't really "DO" landscapes, and don't understand them, so it was very exciting to have a chance to play with the landscape after dark, under Dan's instructions. I feel that I have a much more successful "recipe for landscapes" now and will be using it a lot more. Most of the students were hand-holding, I stuck to my trusted gizo and cable release on the Leica. the Leica held its own just fine, next day during screening the images from the Leica did stand out being smooth and clean.
Bob Krist is a fantastic portrait shooter.
Some of his portrait pointers include.
- Share with the subject about yourself and your mission. it helps the subject understand the project.
- Stay in contact, regardless of language and culture, continue to communicate, telling them what you are doing and encourage the subject with positive reinforcement. baby-talk your way to closer and closer poses.
- KEEP the camera to the eye ALL THE TIME. Film is cheap, don't stop, keep working and keep shooting, get the right pose, don't stop and wait for something to happen. (I gotta work on this)
- Suggest poses to the subject, help them become photogenic, get them to rest, lean on something etc.
Finally - Sebastian Salgado said:
If you take a picture of a human what does not make him noble, there is no reason to take the picture..!
Soooo. Back to the important stuff. Bob likes to say "Magazines don't print excused, they print pictures".
Bob's checklist for categories to cover for a successful shoot.
People (both visitors to the area and locals)
Festivals, is there any local events during the photography.?
Culture / Arts / Local products
Sports / Recreation (both visitors to the area and locals)
Wildlife, animals in the city, etc.
Everyday life and street scenes
Weird and unusual.
Bob, is preaching, "film is cheap, and now that we all shoot digital its even cheaper, so take some more pictures." and keep taking more.
Bob and Dan deserves credit for their screening of the pictures. Each picture were talked about in a very positive and inspiring manner. I had carefully prepared mine in lightroom so the exposure looked great, they never looked at the histograms but just focused on the images in positive terms. which were good since a huge number of images were either flat or wildly underexposed.
Talking about the students, this was a big surprise for me, probably because I have never gone to a "photo class weekend" before, Dan and Bob had their hands full of questions such as "how do I set ISO?" and "how do I set the shutter speed?" The wast majority of the class was inexperienced in using their very nice cameras and had no significant understanding of exposure and photography in general.
That said - This weekend was a FANTASTIC experience, Bob Krist is a gifted teacher whom I would spend a weekend with any time.
But more than that, I did meet a great guy, Justin Balog, not just a fine guy, but a fantastic Image Maker, without a doubt in my mind, Justin is the stand-out student in the class. He brought a fantastic attitude to the room and a fine eye for great images. Justin is a lover of HDR, the funny part is that Dan Westergard did not like HDR that much, and sure enough, when Justin presented a "typical" web HDR, Dan was not too keen on it, but the cool think about Justin is that he did not flinch and reworked the image to look like a frame of Velvia, smooth as and elegant, guess what, Dan loved the image, Justin must be the first to please a National Geographic editor with a HDR image. Justin, was probably also the most deserving in the weekend, he WON his way to the class with a fantastic HDR image in a contest by the Broadmoor hotel which hosted the weekend. WAY TO GO Justin. I wanted to copy his winning image, but instead take a moment and visit his blog, see the link below.
Camera-Sensor cleaning. OK so this may sound strange, but I figured while I had a couple of National Geographic guys in front of me, it might be a good time to ask how they keep sensors clean.. After all NG have a huge tech department and ought to know a thing or two about this.
Dan Westergren (Nat Geo Traveler senior photo editor), promptly volunteered that National Geographic tech have approved the Dust-aid product, this is a low-tack tape on a stick which simply picks up the dust from the sensor. They have tested it and found no problems what so ever with this process. For what it is worth, I did see a similar product being used on a video from the Leica factory, where the person testing the new M9 cameras hit them with a sensor sticky thingie before finishing. Sooo I am buying a couple of packs of Dust-Aid platinum packs for myself.
Bob said the same, but more importantly said he almost never changes lenses, have have stopped and keep a short zoom on the one body and a longer on the other body, to prevent swapping lenses and getting dust in the system.
For now I'm adding Dust-Aid to my system along with a bulb blower to keep dust off the sensor. process is blow dist with blub, then hit the sensor with the Dust-Aid IF required.
Bob Krist have a great blog at - Click to visit Bob Krist's blog
Justin Balog's blog can be found at www.lightasmagic.com
Dust-Aid Platinum can be had from Amazon.com at DustAid Platinum DSLR Sensor Cleaner