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I shot some quick photos yesterday.  It wasn’t really a big job, just some quick shots that a client needed.  Resolution wasn’t an issue, so I grabbed whatever camera was close as I ran out of the studio which was the D800.  ISO, white balance, and then I set the cam on high-rez jpg and I blasted away.

This AM I am loading them in Photoshop so I can eMail them out when I realized the computer was taking an exceptionally long time.  Strange I thought.  This computer is very new and its a rocket ship.  Maxed out RAM, 12 core, blah blah blah.

Finally I looked down at the image pane and saw the size of the jpg.  103.4M.  WTF?  I have been shooting with this cam for almost 9 months now (always NEFs) and had no idea.

I guess we are in a new era….  Good on you Nikon!



If anyone is interested, we posted the lecture I gave at Rule this June.  It’s a bit on the  long side, but there are some good nuggets.  To view the film on Vimeo, click here:

If you are reading this post on an RSS feed and want to see the video, click here:

Holy crap….  3TB SATA drive?!?!?!?

This is getting so crazy!  Where do we start?  What do we do?  Ugh….  The confusion can be endless.  I thought I’d take a quick sec to talk about what we are using in the studio.  What works, and what doesn’t.

When I saw that Western Digital had come out with a 3TB drive, I got pretty excited.  The thought that we could just swap out the 2TB drives we use in our RAID arrays for 3’s was pretty enticing.  We did this with the 1TB’s as soon as the 2TB’s came out, and it instantly doubled the size of the RAID 5 storage we had.  When I saw that there was now a 3, I thought, “easy, just upgrade the RAIDs and we are golden…” But would it work?

To get the answer, I jumped on the phone to WD to get the straight up skinny.  First let me say that Western Digital is one of the best companies to deal with regarding customer service.  Over the past several years, we have exclusively used WD drives and have found them to be exemplary when it comes to service.

Before long, I was able to speak to a product engineer in California and had a good long talk about the 3’s, and their use in a RAID.

The simple answer for us is:  No go.  Western Digital does not recommend these drives in a RAID because they are not TLER or Time-Limited Error Recovery.  In a nutshell, this means that when the drive experiences a normal error, it does not have the proper buffering, and could potentially drop out of the RAID.  The engineer went on to say that they would be fine for use inside the Mac in a single drive configuration, but that they were not supported in a RAID.

We use 2TB WD Enterprise drives in all our RAID's

So for us, we will just have to wait until they get a TLER drive on the market.  For now, we will just stick with our trusted bombproof 2TB Enterprise drives.

As output files get bigger and bigger in our cameras, the issue we often are confronted with is how to successfully manage all the data.

Some times, at the end of a large job, I am flabbergasted with the shear volume of files that we have to deal with.  It seems like a never ending cycle… A new camera comes out.  The files are bigger so we need larger storage devices… in turn we purchase the “latest and greatest” CF cards… 4gig, 8gig, 16gig, 32gig, and now, 64’s…. Ugh…  Its like a big joke.  The simple question is, how to we deal with all the cards?

A long time ago, we implemented a management system that seems to have stood the test of time, so we use it pretty religiously.  It’s  simple (perhaps a bit anal,) but works very well.

We love love love to label things.  The P-Touch probably gets the most use out of any office item in the studio.  This started for me back in LA when I worked as a camera assistant on large film sets.  The guys I worked under were real “type A’s.”  Totally organized.

In the beginning, I thought this was just too much, but after all these years of working on location, I am really thankful that I was trained by such anal mentors.

When a new CF comes into the the mix, it gets labeled.  Photo cards get one label, and video get another.  VID-1, VID-2, Photo-1, Photo-2 etc…  We label the front of the card with its size.  64gb, 32gb, etc…  The lower number card, the higher the gig size.  (I know if I see Vid-1, that it will be a 64gig card.)

The back of the card also gets a label.  In yellow, and in large letters we affix the word “Full.”  In smaller letters, we put my name, phone number, and “reward if found.”

All of our cards ride in Gepe cases, which do an amazing job at protecting the little buggers (even water proof!)  We use different colors for each type.  Yellow is video, Grey is Photo, Red is exposed, or full cards.  When a card is empty, or “unexposed,” it sits in the Gepe case with the card in the “Up” position.  (number facing up.)

P-Touch from Brother

Because the D3s can now shoot two cards at once, we set the camera set to “mirror.”  In other words, when an image is written to a card, a clone is simultaneously written to the other, creating a redundant backup.

Read the rest of this entry »

Just wanted to give credit where credit is due and speak quickly about a company that we have been continuously impressed with over the past few months. SmallHD is a small company in North Carolina with some pretty cool innovative products.

We have been testing there amazing DP6, which is a small HD monitor. I actually really shouldnt say “testing,” as we have fallen in love with the thing and are totally sold… Anyway, it has been a staple now on all our film shoots in recent days. It has already logged miles back and forth across the US, and made it as far as London and Madrid. (An unsolicited plug, but if you like really well made, bomb proof equipment, than you should check the stuff out.)

Anyway, on Tuesday, we were on set and one of their batteries started turning on and off the monitor in rapid succession. This was totally weird, especially after the great performance we had been getting from the batteries that ship with the DP6. We have shot with it probably on 5 or 6 jobs now and the batteries have consistently given us about 4.5 hours of running, which was really great.

So back to the studio at the end of the day we went, and set all our batteries to charge. Early the next AM (about 5,) I got in to the studio to find that the battery was still showing “red.” Furthermore, the charger, which had a “green” light that tells you it is working, was not illuminated. We had a bit of a panic as I have gotten used to having the DP6 when shooting. We had been traveling a lot with the charger stuffed in various cases, so I chalked it up to our generally rough abuse of gear and jumped on the web to order another charger and some more batteries form SmHD.
Read the rest of this entry »

Shooting with Cinevate's Core Rig

Not much to report except long ass days, Jamon, Tapas, and more Jamon

So far so good here in Madrid.  It’s day two of five here on location in Spain and we are having a blast. (Wouldn’t want to be anywhere/doing anything else)

I will spend some time speaking about the gear above in a short blog film we are making, but in a nutshell, we are testing some new gear from some new vendors in order to give our input.

With us on this trip, we have one of Cinevate’s Core Package, as well as an Atlas 30 Linear Tracking System.  We are also testing the DP6, a small hi-def monitor from Small HD.  (You can see it above with the hood attached.)

Anyway… Today, we kicked the shit out of the Cinevate Core Package using it solidly on a 13 hour shooting day.  We carted it around Madrid shooting B-roll the first half, and then spent the second running around a hospital shooting some of the top scanning machines in Europe.

Rabbit gives his famous "thumbs up" on the Plaza Mayor

There are a couple of minor bugs on the Core Package that we will have to get Denis Wood to iron out in order for this thing to be totally solid, but all in all, the thing is totally freaking cool.  Shooting DSLR video with this rig is where it’s at.  The build quality and machining are top notch as well as uber rugged.   Again, there are some bugs…but I’m sold.  After Denis makes the slight changes for us, I can’t see ever shooting HD video with out this thing…. (more on the rig later) Read the rest of this entry »

Anyone who has traveled since 911 knows that the good old days are gone.

It is pretty damn difficult these days to travel with your gear.  Now that the airlines charge you for each bag you want to check, everyone and their sister has decided to just carry their crap on with them.

This of course makes no sense when you look at the greater problem.  Charging for bags is really about having to pay for the added fuel costs.  In flying, weight equals expense.  The fact is that passengers are bringing the same amount of weight with them, its just that now it is sitting above your head rather than below your feet. Read the rest of this entry »

Ok… I know I am most likely way behind the times, but thought I’d share my new discovery.  I’ve had iPhones since they first came out, but have not been really good at using all of the functions.  I love the camera, eMail, web, etc… but really didn’t take advantage of the nuances.

The other week I had a shoot down in NYC, so we drove.  A bit more than half way down from Boston, I got the hankering for some Starbucks.  But where was I going to find my coffee rolling down I95?  Like a lightning bolt it hit me…. I wonder if my phone can tell me…?

Yep!  I did a quick search, and there it was.  A little program that would not only tell me where the closest Starbucks was, but would figure out where on the planet I was, and lead me there by the hand.  Well this was freaking fantastic! I wondered what else the damn thing was capable of.

…so now I can listen to all the white noise I want, tune my guitar, watch koi swim, translate English to Spanish, play with a light saber, as well as do all sorts of other inane things.  But today I think I found something that might be pretty useful for the slacking that I have developed over the past 6-8 months on this blog.

Logging into WordPress today I discovered they have an app that will let me post from the road.  Now I know that its probably been out for a long while and I have been just not paying attention.  I’m just slow, not retarded….  Anyway, I will give it a try and see how it works.

So far it’s not looking good for Data Robotics and their new DroboPro product.  (see last post)

thumbFirst let me explain how we intended to use the new DroboPro….  In a nutshell, I don’t think that the DroboPro is nearly fast enough to use as a primary storage device for professional use.  Even when you can speak to a Data Robotics expert, they will admit that hands down transferring data via an internal bus (i.e. and internal RAID such as in our MacPro’s) is leaps and bounds faster than via an external bus such as the DroboPro.

Knowing this, we decided to upgrade all the internal Macintosh RAID’s from 1TB drives to 2TB drives.  This would effectively double the internal RAID capacity from about 1.8TB to somewhere in the 3.5TB range for each workstation.  With respect to our “EditOne” (the main video work station which has both the internal Macintosh RAID as well as a 3Ware Sidecar,) upgrading to all 2TB drives would effectively raise the internal RAID capacity from around 3.8TB to roughly 7.5 or 8TB of primary editing space.

To make this move however, we would need to first move the data off the existing RAIDs, upgrade the drives, and then transfer the data back to the new, larger arrays.  (getting confused yet?)droboPro
This is where the DroboPro comes into play.  The idea was to set up a 16TB array, temporarily park the data onto the array, and then move it back to the newly expanded internal RAIDS.  Once this was completed, we would hang the DroboPro in the rack with the XServe, and have it act as a TimeMachine back up of both “EditOne,” as well as “PhotoOne,” (my primary photo workstation.)  In effect, this would give us double redundancy.  All data would be protected on each workstation via a RAID 5 array, and then it would be further protected via a TimeMachine back up on the network.  For data storage above and beyond the local RAIDs, we would count on the rock solid reliablity of the Promse RAID connected to the server. If the DroboPro seemed to work out, a second unit would be fitted in the rack for even more storage space.

Read the rest of this entry »


It seems that more times than not, this is the view from my office window.  I have been doing a lot of thinking as of late… and I believe it is this view that I am most grateful for.

As photographers, we have the chance at traveling the globe and meeting all sorts of people doing all sorts of jobs.  Often times these folks have views, but more times than not, they don’t.   Having the opportunity to visit these different offices and experience these diverse jobs has really made me become more aware of the view out my own window.

So let me just take today and say thanks to everyone involved with keeping my window open.  (You know who you are…)


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.

Read the rest of this entry »


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?”

Read the rest of this entry »

gh2_44081One of the things that we (Americans) tend to forget when we are traveling abroad is language.  Now of course I can only speak for my own experiences on the road, but I think this is an important one.

As English speakers, it has been my experience that we can sometimes take it for granted that everyone will understand us.  (For the most part because it is true,) most everywhere we go on the planet you can find someone who can speak at least a little English, and I think we just expect that the person we are speaking to will at least partially understand.  Even when we can speak the language of the country that we are visiting, when we get frustrated, we often just default right back to English.  

“Donde esta el…..el….., la…., shit….   the bathroom….”

Read the rest of this entry »


Rabbit dropped me off at the airport yesterday for a solo mission to Buenos Aires, Argentina and another long ass plane ride!

Traveling is getting both harder, AND easier.  Especially when traveling alone!  Weight constraints are much tougher, the bags you can carry on are smaller, and there are no more peanuts.

That being said, every once and a while though you do find a stress reliever here and there.  This was a small deal, but a good one.  KUDOS to Boston Logan for providing a powered set of seats!  Keep it up!


Anyway… Uneventful flight from Boston to JFK, a 3 hour layover and then on another jet to B.A.

Read the rest of this entry »

Back seat of a Bell 206 flying search and rescue in Alaska, 1999

Back seat of a Bell 206 flying search and rescue in Alaska, 1999

Tip number two… Don’t be afraid to hitch hike!

I have always been fascinated with aviation, and still get excited whenever I get a chance to set foot in a helicopter or airplane.  Even flying commercially still makes me happy.  Maybe its because its one of the few places on the planet where I can totally relax.  It has to do (I think) with the fact that I am forced to just sit in one place.  We are flying to Argentina on Monday, and I am so looking forward to the 14 hours or so I will spend in the plane.  Seriously!  People think I’m nuts…

Anyway… Here’s the tip.   When your starting out, building a portfolio from the air is inherently problematic as it is a catch-22.  You cant get jobs with out an aerial portfolio, and you cant get an aerial portfolio without getting up in a helicopter or airplane.  And frankly, who has an extra $1200.00 per hour to hire a Bell 206 to fly you around the ball park in order to get some cool air to ground shots?

So heres the trick:  Hitch hike!

Flying with "Wild Bill" into a gold mine in Alaska

Flying with "Wild Bill" into a gold mine in Alaska

Read the rest of this entry »

(L-R)  Mike Indresano, Michelle, Greg

(L-R) Colleague Mike Indresano, Producer Michelle, Greg (muscle pose...)

Spent the AM yesterday scouting a studio location for a cool portrait project we have coming up.


We first started last week by booking Exposure Place at EP Levine’s on Dry Dock Ave in Boston, however when our subject had a conflict, and pushed the shoot time till later in the day,  Exposure Place became unavailable and we had to scramble to find another location.

Read the rest of this entry »


This past weekend I spent some time reflecting on the year we just left behind.  Richard was finally taking a weekend off so I had some time alone in the studio.

What started at an attempt at cleaning and getting more organized ended up being a walk through memory lane in the drawers of the flat file.  I began pulling out a lot of old printed pieces where our photography lived, and realized that more and more of our photos were ending up not on the printed page, but solely on the web.



It’s not like it’s a surprise.  I realize that most of the things we shoot these days are ending up on the web, but there was something about physically thumbing through all the old annual reports that made me think a lot about where we are as photographers and more importantly the business is going.

Earlier in the day, I was spending some time with my sisters two twins (1.7 yrs) and sat with them watching some vintage Sesame Street clips.  (yes, for those of you who don’t know, you can watch all the original clips on the web at  Suffice it to say, I was in heaven….)


Anyway, I watched one clip with Ernie and Bert where Ernie got all existential asking the question do I exist?  Seriously!  This is a real sketch.

This then got me to thinking about my own current body of work.  Having less and less printed material to pull out of the flat file and touch,  I started thinking about my own career and wondering the same question old Ernie was pondering.  If my stuff was going to exist in the future only on the web, just how did that impact the larger philosophical questions about who I am and why am I here.



OK, maybe this is a stretch, but just put it into this context…  Say from today forward photography exists only on the web.  They are the same photographs, but only live on the web.  Somewhere down the line I get hit by a bus, and they put me in the ground, burn me up, spread me on a tree, or whatever they are going to do….

They come in to the studio and clean out my stuff and what do they find????

Most likely it will be a bunch of computers and drives.  Furthermore, most likely the computers will be password protected, and will not be able to be browsed.



Recently my Great Uncle Tom passed away.  Before he was sick, we had shot a bunch of interview footage, and while he was in the hospital, we were able to go to his house and grab all his scrap books in order to cut a short documentary together about his life.  What was profound to me was the ability to sit for hours and hours and revisit this mans life via his 80+ years of photographs.  It was a real gift to me as I was able to grasp a complete and full picture of who the man really was…. which brings me back to the question today regarding our life/work existing only on the web.



What happens to this passion of ours once they unplug the computer?    Stuff to think about eh…..

Below are a bunch of companies that we have shot photographs and video for.  With the exception of US Shipping and Entegris, we don’t have any of these images represented in the physical form.  I have only seen them live on the web…

Happy Tuesday!







Our good friend Gary Hedrick of Elefhantworks (who has also been working with the studio as our in-house designer) played a show the other night at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA.  Richard and I went in to cover the show, and I thought I would talk briefly about the “down and dirty” lighting with SB-900 Nikon flash in tandam with the Nikon SU-800 Commander.

This is a trick I was exposed to when I taught down at the DINFOS workshop from my colleague Joe McNally and has been discussed at length by both Joe, and also David Hobby of Strobist.  Both of these guys have posted many many great articles about how they approach this technique with far better skill than I, so I wont get too into the process other than to point out how easy it was to use the system.  I must admit, if I am working on a commercial job and need portability, there is no question that I would much rather be working with my Profoto‘s for many reasons.  But for this instance of wanting to work casually in a bar setting late at night with minimal gear, the Nikon Creative Light System fit the bill.

(I must also give credit where credit is due and admit that even after Joe explained how to work the 900 and Commander together, I totally spaced and had to call up my friend and fellow photographer Tom Sperduto and have him remind me of just how simple it is to use.  Thanks Tom….)

You can learn more about using the Nikon system here at Joe’s blog, and also here at David’s blog.

Anyway… With the SU-800 on top of the camera, I was able to set the SB-900 on its side resting on an amp up on stage.  This allowed me to walk wherever I wanted and shoot freely.  Great set Gary!

SB-900 loosly placed on stage

SB-900 loosley placed on stage

I just wanted to take a second out of today and wish everyone a happy holiday!  There is so much to be thankful for this year.



For me, this year has been a year of good friends, good memories, and good times.  On a professional front, there are so many people to be thankful for.  So many people got behind our effort this past year to help it be one of our most successful yet.  I do however want to make one thing perfectly clear.  Absolutely NONE of it could have been accomplished without the help of both Richard “The Rabbit,” and Chris.

They are not just co-workers, but my closest friends.  Thanks guys!  Happy Christmas!

Here are some of my memories of these two from this past year…… Read the rest of this entry »

Pre-drill self portrait

Pre-drill self portrait

I wanted to talk briefly today about the absolute miracle of the iPhone.  I just now came back from an experience we all have had at one time or another.

Now the fact that I was relaxing with tunes while I was getting drilled just may have to do with the 1mg of Lorazepam I took on the drive over, but the story is still the same.

"Whilst being butchered" Self Portrait

"Whilst being butchered" Self Portrait

I find it absolutely amazing what we can do in this day and age.  Folks, it is SOOO easy to be shooting photos while your out and about.  Document the life around you!  Shoot self portraits!  The weirder the better.   But don’t stop there…. Blog about the experience!  Even if you think no one is reading.  Just blog!  It has been an amazing experience for us, and I think it will for you too!

Best of luck!

And thanks to Jess White my Butcher… I mean my lovely Dentist!

Last month I shot some aerial footage (video and stills) for a Boston client. The client was watching the budget but wanted to get some great footage of the area in order to use as “B” roll in some films we are doing for them.

This meant we couldn’t hire a larger helicopter like a Bell 206 or have a Tyler Mount (gyro.)

The weather that day was great for the pictures, however it was pretty windy. The long and the short is we ended up flying, but the footage was shaky due to the wind.

The following clip illustrates how we were able to mitigate the shake in post production.

Thanks BTW to our friends at Blue Hill Helicopters (as usual) for the flight support

I was teaching a class the other day, and was asked what the secret of success was. As I really had no idea, I had to stop for a second and really ponder the question. Alas, after a few short moments, a light came on in some distant, dark corner of my cobweb filled brain.


Please enjoy a few iPhone photos Chris has insisted on capturing of my feet whilst on the road…  There is also a shot of Richard in NYC on our last exc shoot for Corning.  (although Richard doesn’t quite have it down yet…)

San Fran, CA

San Fran, CA

Corning, NY

Corning, NY

O'Hare International Airport, Chicago

O'Hare International Airport, Chicago



Boston Logan

Boston Logan

Richard in NYC

Richard in NYC


(OK…. YES I know I look “special” in the photo below. That is the point…. )

Ask any videographer, photographer, or filmmaker who is on the road a lot these days, and they will bitch and moan about all of the extra fees we are being hit with by the airlines. Every time we stand in line at the airport now we come away with less money, and for the most part, we have a hard time passing these costs along to our customers. There are overweight fees now, there are extra bag fees, there are even bag fees if you bring ANY bags. One airline just charged me an extra bag fee, and then on top charged me because the bag was overweight! It was a double whammy!

There is a simple solution that will help mitigate this. It seems a bit humorous, (it is…) and a bit self serving, (it is…) but it works.

For those of you who dont know, most airlines (except US Air) will allow the media to check extra bags, and some give waivers to overweight items.

This is a great help with one simple exception. If you are an independent contractor, or shoot commercial rather than news, you really dont have any ID to prove you are a photographer. And really what is the difference between a photojournalist, and a commercial photographer?

Here is the simple solution:


This ID took 45 seconds to make. Aim the laptop camera at your mug, click the shutter, throw it into Illustrator, add your type and logo, and print! Then off to Kinkos to use the lamanator and your golden.

Now whenever we fly, this comes out of the camera bag and around our necks. When the ticket agent says, “Im sorry sir, there will be an additional $100 fee for that bag,” we pull out or “official” ID’s and say, “Its all right. They usually waive those fees for us.”

Never underestimate the old “Jedi Mind Trick.”

Good luck!

We were shooting more catalogue work today on white seamless at Work N Gear, and as we were shooting larger groups of product, I decided to just mount the camera up in the air on a boom and fire the camera remotely.

I blogged a bit about this in the past when we shot that MTB rider in Wampatuck State park, but as it is a pretty cool thing to do, I thought I would bring it up again.

So heres what you need:  4 Poket Wizard Transcievers and a Pocket Wizard remote camera cord.

Connect a Wizard to the hotshoe on the camera, put that on channel 1.  Connect a Wizard to your strobe (also on channel 1.)  Connect a Wizard to the remote port on your camera via the Pocket Wizard cable, set that Wizard to channel 2.  Finally, set a fourth Wizard also to channel 2.  This 4th Wizard will be held in your hand and used to trigger the cascade. Read the rest of this entry »

With respect to my last post…. I did get on the phone this AM and called Mamiya USA to find out about using the Pocket Wizard to both trigger the camera remotely as well as fire the strobe.

As it turns out, the trick is this: You will need at least one Transceiver Plus II, as well as a Transmitter Plus II and Receiver Plus II. First, set the Transiever to channel 1 and put it on the hotshoe on the camera. Next connect the camera via the remote cord from the female mini plug to the remote port on the camera body.

Next, set the Transmitter to channel 1. (This will fire the camera.)

Lastly, connect the Reciever to the pack via the sync cable making sure the Reciever is on channel 2.

As the Mamiya tech explained it, the signal will go from the Transmitter via channel 1, to the Transciever, down the remote cable to fire the camera. When the camera goes off, the hot shoe will pick up the signal, in turn being sent out via the Transiever (automatically sending on channel2) to the Receiver (set to channel 2) on the pack, where it will fire the strobe.

I knew it could be done. I just wasnt keen enough to figure it out.

Now we know!!!!
BTW, for what its worth, the techs over at Mamiya were fantastic!!! Every time I call, they take all the time in the world explaining whatever I want to know. Kudos to Pocket Wizard and Mamiya!


August 2020