LAMU KENYA – We took a long walk in Lamu today, ending up at Anidan orphanage on the edge of the town. Anidan defied our expectations. It’s full of happy kids of all ages, 240 of them. It draws its population from the entire region. Children are orphans or abandoned or badly abused. It was started by a wealthy Spanish family that has a house in Lamu Interestingly the house is operated as a hotel, Red Pepper House, when the family is not in residence. Red Pepper House is our first choice for hotels in Lamu.
I took the Alpa with me on the walk. It’s poorly suited to photographing children – it works best on landscape and architecture – so I didn’t get any pictures of the kids that I’m proud of.
NEW PRESTON CONNECTICUT – I’ve developed a rule of thumb for landscape photography. There are rare moments when the light is absolutely magical. It may be the “golden hour” or the moment when the sun breaks through after a storm. Some days and places are better than others, but really great magic light moments are fairly rare. Here’s my rule of thumb: If you experience a magic light moment stop whatever you are doing and photograph whatever is at hand with whatever equipment you have available. Even if the subject is mundane the light transforms it – perhaps turning it into a serious statement.
After endless rain we finally had a few moments of late afternoon sun creating a brief magic moment. Fortunately I had my Alpa TC and 60 meg back in the car and managed to find a place to stop in New Preston.
NEW YORK NEW YORK – We attended a dinner sponsored by the Harvard Business School Alumni Club of New York, which named my friend of long standing, Tom Barry, as “Business Statesman of the Year”. Past recipients of this award include David Rockefeller, Felix Rohatyn, Paul Volker, Louis Gerstner, Henry Paulson and Michael Bloomberg. Tom spoke on the role that luck (the “ovarian lottery”) has played in the fortunes of the attendees – one of Tom’s recurring themes. Here’s Tom at the dinner, at the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum, taken with my Panasonic GS2 and a 20mm pancake lens.
On this date one year ago: Jim and Kelly. May 19 seems to be National Portrait Day.
WARREN CONNECITCUT – I’ve been experimenting with tilts and shifts on my Hasselblad with an HTS 1.5 tilt/shift adapter. One of the traditional reasons to tilt the lens on a view camera is to extend depth of field by tilting the focus plane; the technique is known as the Scheimpflug principle. I’ve been struggling with getting accurate focus with the HTS 1.5 so I’ve gone back to an alternative digital solution to the problem of extending depth of field, focus stacking. The idea is to take multiple images with the focus point shifted slightly from image and stack the images in specialized software to achieve an image that in focus throughout. See my post for January 4, 2011.
Here’s an image taken with my Hasselblad H4D and an HC 300 mm lens. I used the long lens to obtain compression in the image and to compose it to my taste. The 300 mm lens has shallow depth of field, even when stopped down, and there are image quality issues with stopping down to extreme levels. So I took 9 frames moving the focus plane through the image, and stacked them in Helicon Focus. The process is relatively painless as long as you have a lot of computing power. As I’ve noted previously black and white conversions from the Hasselblad are more like large format film than any other camera that I’ve used since I started with digital.
On this day one year ago: Snow drifts! How about that. Also taken with my Hasselblad. I guess this demonstrates that there are only so many landscape subject to photograph when the landscape is covered by snow. I prefer this year’s effort.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – I carried my Leica around as I went about Holiday preparations. I stopped at a costume rental place on West 38th Street to pick out costumes for a New Year’s Eve party. Here is a portion of a wall of photographs, sent to the shop by clients, showing their costumes. Of course I had the Walker Evans image Walker Evans Studio in mind.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – I spent the morning visiting galleries in Chelsea. There was a terrific Hiroshi Sugimoto installation at the Pace. Pictures of “lighting” manufactured by a telsa coil and a few of his much earlier “beyond infinity” seascapes, shown below. My largest regret in life is that I didn’t buy one of these images years ago when they were first offered at $3,500 each (well it seemed like a lot of money at the time). Here’s a link to Sugimoto’s seascapes.
I also spent some time with Elizabeth Kabler, a friend of my daughter’s and now a friend of mine, at her gallery Skylight Projects.
NEW YORK, NEW YORK – We had a dinner party for Michael and Penny Hayward, visiting Australian friends. This image was caught with my Nikon D700 and an 85mm f1.4D lens. For more pictures from this dinner see my flickr account: Dinner party for the Haywards.