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Shot by a woman traveling with her husband from Atlanta to Aruba in the Delta lounge Miami

Shot by a woman traveling with her husband from Atlanta to Aruba. Great framing!

Since we started this blog, we have been shooting a lot of photographs in and around our jobs, especially whilst on the road.

One of my favorite things to do has been to stop random strangers while waiting for planes, trains, meals, hotel rooms etc… and ask them to shoot our photograph.

Shot by a man traveling with his two daughters by train to NYC

Shot by a man traveling with his two daughters by train to NYC. Obviously needs help with focus...

Its always fun for us to go over the photos that these people shoot and see just how they approach photography.  Do they have an eye?  How do they deal with composition, can they even focus the camera?

Starting today, I am going to try to keep up with this loose series of down and dirty portraits shot of us by random strangers.  It should be fun to see what they come up with.  I will start to shoot a photo of these strangers to accompany their portraits.

Here are a couple from recent days… I hope you enjoy!

Shot by a Dominica woman traveling to Lima to visit her mother.  Remember, there is a zoom on the camera...

Shot by a Dominican woman traveling to Lima to visit her mother. Remember, there is a zoom on the camera...



Last Wed was spent over at MIT at Franz Kaertner’s lab.  The professor had requested a simple video tour so he could show prospective new students what his lab looked like.  We cut the film over the weekend, and will be posted on his groups web site.

We shot the tour down and dirty using available light, and a wireless mic.  This new footage will be inter cut with more graphic photos and video captured the last time we shot in his lab.

You can watch the Investigator Profile film we produced previously here:

I will post the film when we finish final revisions.

Pelican cases are our first choice when on the road

Pelican cases are our first choice when on the road

There are so many choices for equipment cases these days, it is often hard to figure out exactly what the hell to buy.  This is especially true early in a photographers career when one has to make smart decisions with the wallet.

Really there are two camps to choose from.  On one side you have the hard case, and on the other, the soft.

In my opinion, the two leaders in these camps are the Air Case by Tenba, and the Pelican Case.  So the question is what to buy????

For me, the choice used to be very simple…  Pelican!

Pelican cases are by far the most durable, environment-proof, kick ass cases around.  They have traveled with me around the planet, and have never ceased to amaze me with their professional reliability.  There is one small bug that has slowly crawled its way into into our sleeping bag, and that their weight.

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I was bumping through some images last night tyring to gleen some inspiration for todays post when I came accross a photo we shot last summer.

The photo was shot on a 1988 Boston Whaler in the outer harbor (Boston.)  We were shooting some life style images at sunrise, and set this photo up using a camera mounted on a boom off the gunwale of the boat.

Looking at the image suddenly brought back a flood of wonderful memories of shooting out on the water, and really got my juices flowing for the warm weather.

But as I examined the photo, I remembered why I loved this particular image.  The fact is… the perspective is a bit different!

The point I am tying to make is this:  Put your camera in a different place.  Often times we grab our point and shoot cameras and take photos from a common perspective.  This is usually lazily standing fully erect, with the camera to our eye.  The net net is  a  photograph that everyone has experienced.   Boring!


One of the real keys to making a unique image is to put that damn camera in a place that other people usually don’t go.  This may mean laying down on your belly, climbing a ladder, or even being underwater.

A nice example is seen above.  In the photo of the sail boat, I climbed the mast and shot the boat using an X-Pan from a perspective that we usually don’t get to see.

There are a lot of things that make this image interesting, but its the perspective that really makes it a great image.


On of the cooler effects you can do with a camera is to combine motion with a flash.  This is called the flash blur.

In a nutshell, you use a long shutter to create the effect of the motion, and then freeze the action with a flash.

Normally, the flash goes off at the front of the shutter cycle, or as soon as the shutter opens.  In the case of the fire photo above, I used what is called a rear curtain sync.  This means that the flash goes off at the end of the shutter cycle, or just before the shutter closes.

Sometimes this can get a little confusing, so think of it this way…  For the sake of this illustration, lets expand the shutter cycle to 10 seconds.  We press the go button and the shutter opens.  One, two, three, four….. nine, ten, the shutter closes.  When your camera is set to “normal,” or front curtain sync, the flash is triggered on the one count.


Now imagine the camera is on a tripod, and a man is walking from left to right across the frame.  As soon as we see him in the lens, we press play, and open the shutter.  One (the flash goes off and freezes a bright, clear impression of the man on the left side) two, three, (the film is continuing to burn his image as he streaks to the right,) five, six, seven, (the man is still moving and his image is still being blurred as he walks.  Nine, ten (the shutter closes.)

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We do a lot of science and technology photography, and are often shooting scientists and their labs.

Of course it is easy when they have hand built some insane smoking platinum time machine, or have a grizzley robot that is controlled by mind rays, or are even spinning golden thread from crushed 55 Plymouth using a 40 foot prototype laser array.



These are the easy jobs, and obviously no one complains when there is a “cool” subject to photograph.

The real question comes into play when your mandate is to tell the story of a scientist that is involved with theory.  What do you mean… “thought experiment?” “How do I shoot that?”

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Jim from Calumet Cambridge with his DC Shoot Off t-shirt

Jeff from Calumet Cambridge with his DC Shoot Off t-shirt

I don’t want this to be too big of a plug… But I did honestly want to thank my friends (Jeff, Steve and Jim)a over at Calumet Cambridge as well as Michael Costuros over at Livebooks for their support of the D.C. Shoot Off.

It is a big deal for these guys to support young photographers, especially in this rough economy.  I appreciate their commitment, and certainly will remain a loyal customer of both.

Thanks again guys!

Dominican Highway...

Dominican Highway…

I was begged me not to post this… but its just too darn sick not to share!

In the Dominican, I shot another photo for the “Road Kill” series.  It’s getting pretty gross, but hey, what the hell are you gonna do?


CB Goes to town

CB Goes to town

Most people don’t know, but CB is a graduate of the North Bennet St School, which is one of the most prestigous woodorking schools in the country.

I’ve been after him for a while now to build us some bookcases on the second floor of the studio, and alas, this week he installed them!


They are truely very beautiful.  I could never have come close as far as matching the craftsmanship.  Chris has been slowly transitioning away from assisting (cherry picking the travel jobs) and moving into his woodworking.  (We are going to really miss him once he really throws in the towel…)

If your interested, check out CB’s website…  He has pretty much fully set up his shop, and is focusing on 16th and 17th century furniture, as well as high end kitchen and livingroom cabinets.  You can see photo of his shop and follow the orgainization of his woodworking shop on his blog.

Check it out!

Go Rabbit go!

Go Rabbit go!

Off on the road again, but not without a laugh…  We saw this officer at the airport while switching airplanes and just had to pester him for a ride on his Segway.

We both got a chance to run down the hallway beteween terminals.  It was a blast!

DC Shoot Off Crew.  Photo by Johnny Bivera

DC Shoot Off Crew. Photo by Johnny Bivera

Well we made it to the Navy League Building without incident, and were immeadiatly greeted by lots of familiar faces, the first of which was Brien Aho, who was one of the event organizers.

Brien is an great military photographer, and has been spending a lot of time as of late mentoring young photographers.

Greg and photo ledgend Ken Hackman

Greg and military photo legend Ken Hackman

One of the photographers that I was excited to see was Todd Frantom.  Todd is an amazing combat photographer whose images really strike me.  We also got to catch up with our Coast Guard friends Tom Sperduto, Etta Smith, Annie Berlin, as well as lots of other old as well as new friends.

Mark and Mark from Nikon

Mark and Mark from Nikon

Just as at the DINFOS workshop, the Nikon crew was in attendance.  I got to hand it to Nikon for their participation.  Both Mark and Mark kept busy handing out rental gear for the competitors to experiment with.  Thanks Nikon!

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Rabbit loving the train station...

Rabbit loving the train station...

This month I was asked to be a guest lecturer down in Washington at the D.C. Shootoff, so last thurs night Rabbit and I headed on down.

We would normally fly down to D.C. from Boston, but because we had to shoot till late on Thursday, and we had to be back in Boston early Sat morning, the only transportation we could get was the red-eye Amtrak.


I actually like taking Amtrak, but that’s to NYC.  (and that’s the hi speed train called the Acela.)  Unfortunately, the only train that was running that late at night was the Regional, which takes 10 hours.  I figured, what the hell… it was better than driving, so we grabbed some tickets.

Can you tell I rode a train all night long....?

Can you tell I rode a train all night long....?

So here was our travel plan:  Depart Boston at 10pm, train all night long, arrive at 07:00, subway to the Navy League Building, hang all day, give our presentation, subway back to the Amtrak station, 10pm departure back to Boston, 07:30 arrival, at our location on Sat at 09:00.  (yes, we are insane…)

Train food....

Train food....

The train proved to be quite pleasant.  We brought some beer and some sandwiches, and were able to have a relaxing time.  I was also able to get a ton of work done on the computer which was nice.  (I also was able to get some solid zzzz’s thanks to Ambien.)

Once in D.C., we grabbed the subway right to our location.  I will post tomorrow about the day, so stay tuned.

D.C. Metro Station...

D.C. Metro Station...

Mmmmmm.... fish heads....

Mmmmmm…. fish heads….

Rabbit has to be one of the bravest eaters I know.  One of my favorite parts of traveling with him on location is meal time in a distant land.

Rabbit loved the food down in the DR (as did I.)  One the second day, we had some AMAZING fresh fish.  Rabbit devoured every scrap he was given, and when there was none left, and he was still hugry, we dared him to go ahead and try an eyeball.

I will just say this…. I almost puked.


For the most part, the buisness of photography, careers, sucess etc, is really about luck.  All we can do is the best we can, work hard, keep our heads down, our noses clean, and hope that someone might notice us for what we love to do.

It doesn’t really matter what it is that we as individuals choose to do with our lives, but the fact is that “to whom much is given, much is expected.”

Jo, a yoga teacher here in Boston

Jo, a yoga teacher here in Boston

Rabbit, CB, and I have all been very fortunate this past year by staying busy.  It is for this reason, that we are making an effort to volunteer as much as possible.

This week, we volunteered our services to shoot portraits at the local yoga studio.  The portraits that they have up now on their site are a hodge-podge of home snaps.  I thought I would be nice to have a nice uniform look, so we offered to shoot all their instructors.  The head shots will make a nice addition to their web site, and is something that they wouldn’t be able to spend money on.


The point is, get out there and volunteer.  At the very least, you will keep your skills sharp, and at the very best, you will be helping spread some good karma!

Best of luck!

Shawn... (my favorite instructor)

Shawn… (my favorite instructor)


Part of the great atmosphere that surrounds a day at Work N Gear is the creativity it sparks!  During yesterdays photo shoot, I had the brilliant idea that we should all work hard and bring back “pegging.”

As it turns out, there are actually lots of sites devoted to pegging.

From now on… if you want to work for Greg Hren Photography, you will have to work the day with your pants pegged.

I think they look awesome……



We had a great day back at Work N’ Gear yesterday.  It was a nice mellow day shooting cloths on seamless.  I really like shooting for WNG because we have such fun with their people.

We spent the afternoon with Chris Capella, one of their designers/art directors.  (Thats him holding lazily holding the ladder making sure I don’t tip over… I think)  Chris is actually going to be running a marathon a bunch of Sundays from now.  And he’s never run before!  Kick some ass Chris!

Chris is also a partner with our friend Gary Hedrick.  The two of them run Elefhantworks, a design firm here in Boston.  They too have a blog that is worth checking out if you are into design.


CB has found his soul mate…

Of course a day at WNG wouldn’t be the same without CBK.  He makes the day run so smooth… Especially in the laugh department.

(BTW, I can only show the above photo as the blog is PG13.  Keep it up CB!)


Chris laying down spring

A lot of folks have been following the Dominican Republic job that I have been posting about and really liking the photos.  (thanks BTW…)  But the thing to always remember is that it is the clients like Work N Gear who are the most important.

These jobs might not be as glamorous, there is no travel, no helicopters, no SCUBA gear, but they are the cleints that stick with you year after year, trust what you do, and love what you provide.  It is important to never forget this, and take care of them FIRST, becuase they will be by your side long after the helicopter and sun drenched model jobs fade away.


The Hacienda, looking from the bay

It was a great trip in the end.  We were able to shoot lots of fantastic images, ate amazing food, and made lifelong friends!  What more can one ask for a day of work?


Our flight was at 2pm, and we had a 4 hour drive ahead of us, so we were up before the sun, made a couple of last pictures, shot some time lapse video of the sunrise, then packed the gear and hit the road.

Of course the drive back was just as exciting as the drive when we arrived.  Actually, it was probably even more exciting as we were following Henry (the care taker) who incidentally drives like Colin McRae. Most of the first hour was an intense high speed dust bath.  It took every ounce of concentration to keep the cows and mopeds out of the front grille.

Rush hour traffic in Ensenada

Rush hour traffic in Ensenada


Once on the hard top, we said goodbye to Henry, and made a B-line across the mountains toward Santiago and the airport.

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The afternoon of day 3 down in the DR was spent shooting portraits of the local folk of Ensenada.

The main drag of Ensenada (main drag is a stretch, as it is small dirt strip about a quarter mile long with a cul-de-sac at the end.  On one side are these little Casitas or mini open air restaurants, and the other side is the beach)gh2_7297


The street picks up during the weekends when (mostly Dominicans) arrive to hang on the quite secluded beach, and eat great fresh food.

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The Hacienda

The Hacienda

Day three down in the DR was spent shooting the Hacienda, and the local color.  We spent the sunrise hours shooting exteriors, and then walked down to the beach shooting landscapes, and detail shots of whatever was interesting.

The grounds of the Hacienda

The grounds of the Hacienda


Stanley, the care taker coming to work

Stanley, the care taker coming to work

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Some of you may or may not know this little trick… but if you dont, it is a must have for your camera bag.

The circular polarizer is one of my FAVORITE filters of all time.  I will let Wikipedia explain it better, but in a nutshell, it basically increases the contrast between the sky and the clouds.



Below are a couple of images that I made whilst traveling through Iowa this past summer.  For each of these images I used the circular polarizer.  Even in the case of the image with the crop duster (with no clouds) the filter darkened and saturated the sky.  I did this as I wanted  to play a deep blue sky against the bright yellow fuselage.

I tweaked the saturation very slightly in post, but for the most part, the images are out of the camera.

The effect is very cool, and worth the space in your bag!  Give it a try!

Good luck-



Today couldn’t have been better as we were able to spend most of the day both out on, as well as underwater the water.

Shooting underwater presents an entirely new set of challenges and can be fairly difficult.  It can however also be very rewarding!

Working with the underwater housing

Working with the underwater housing

The biggest challenge is lighting, and as we had limited space for gear on this trip, we had no room for underwater strobes.

Luckily, as the underwater element for this job was relatively small (just needed enough to convey the feeling) we were able to shoot great images using natural light.



The trick with shooting underwater with natural light (which is the same as with shooting strobes) is putting the light in the right spot.

As we cant move the sun, the best bet is to get on the other (or dark) side of the subject.  If you can get the light behind, you will more times than not create a cool looking image.

A perfect example of what I mean can be found with the first image of this post.  Getting below the swimmer (back lighting) provides a large scale drama as well as wonderful shafts of light streaming down.

a dramatic example of shooting from the "dark" side

a dramatic example of shooting from the “dark” side

The confusion that happens with most beginners because of the presumed “lack” of light.  It is natural to think that the image wont be exposed properly because we are on the “dark” side of the image.

In the case of the swimmer, we wanted him to be a bit dark because he is representing not a particular person, but the activity of snorkeling.  In the case of the underwater cave above, we let the foreground go completely dark to give the feeling of mystery and adventure.


After diving the reef, we spent an hour or so exploring the rocky shore.  The image above was inside a small surf cave.  The light in the shot was from a shaft high above which acted like a big soft box.  It was fantastic.

Rabbit, the infamous "underwater assistant"

Rabbit, the infamous “underwater assistant”

Of course, Rabbit was like a pig in shit.  I think underwater assisting has to be the simplest of assignments.  Once the camera is buttoned up inside the housing, there really isn’t much to do except burn one’s pasty white English hide….. (sorry man…)

Stanley, Greg, Henry, Rabbit

Stanley, Greg, Henry, Rabbit

At the end of the dive, we met up with Henry (the care taker) and Stanley, his right hand man where we headed over to the local Casitas for some cold beers and some fresh fish!

In the end, it was a perfect finish, to a perfect day.


Up close and personal with dinner

Up close and personal with dinner

Waiting for bags in Santo Domingo so we can clear customs

Waiting for bags in Santo Domingo so we can clear customs

Thanks to American Airlines, we arrived in Santo Domingo alive with all our bags… (which is more than I can say for past trips to distant lands.)

Picked up our rental car, and we were off!

All bags arrive safe and sound

All bags arrive safe and sound

Renting a car outside the US can be a dramatically different experience.  Even though we rented through Hertz, and we are Gold Members, the process of picking up the car took well over 60 minutes.  There was paper after paper to sign, deposits to be paid, and a full inspection of the little Fiat.

Traffic in Santo Domingo

Traffic in Santo Domingo

Once we finally made it out of the airport, we hit the road.   The airport in Santo Domingo is a bit to the east of the city, and since there is only one highway that goes north south, you have to drive directly through the center of the city before you can hop on to the highway (which is called John F. Kennedy BTW) and head north.

If you want a white knuckled adventure, definitely go for a drive in the Dominican.  The drivers are INSANE.  (but this was a good thing….  so much fun!)

Traffic light count down

Traffic light count down


The drive north toward Santiago (the capit0l) was pretty damn cool…  Lots to see.

Once out of the city of Santo Domingo, it was about a 2 hour drive.  (Of course no self respecting traveler in the Dominican Republic would miss a stop for a Presidente… the local beer, so the total drive took a bit longer)

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Checking bags at Logan

As an older photographer friend used to say… this job sure beats tarring roofs!

Just in the nick of time (winter is getting old) we are off on another adventure.  Its not really for a long bit of time, but we are fortunate enough to be heading down to the Dominican Republic to shoot tourism photos for a remote Hacienda on the north side of the island.  The photos (as well as video) will be used for a new web site.


Rabbit wont be needing that hat

We will be shooting architecture, environmental portraits, underwater photography, video interviews, and video interviews of the owners.

Boston to Miami, then off to Santo Domingo DR where we rent a car, and then drive 4 hours across the mountains.  I will post more as the trip goes along.


Leaving Miami


Sawing logs...

lbhomepage1Last month I wrote a post about my experience working with Livebooks (my website company.)

Shortly there after, I got a nice eMail from Michael Costuros the founder and chairman of the company thanking me for the kind words.  (it was actually easy because the experience was a positive one…)  Anyway, after his eMail, I got to thinking…

This month, I will be volunteering at the DC Shoot Off along with some other professional colleagues to give a lecture.  I had just approached Calumet Cambridge in order for them to support the event, and I thought that Livebooks would also be a good sponsor.  I pitched the idea to Michael, and Livebooks agreed.

The good news is that Livebooks will be donating a gift certificate for $800 off any LB web package!

So a big thanks to both Michael, and Livebooks for their support to the photo community!


One of the most important aspects of what we try to do with our work is to bring value to the client.

Whenever, and wherever we shoot, we make a point to go above and beyond the clients needs and to shoot as much as possible.  Often times, we end up shooting additional images that were not planned or had a specific use at the time, but came in handy down the line.

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March 2009
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