Songbird II

Miss Maudie explains to Scout why Atticus declared that it was a sin to kill a mockingbird: “Mockingbirds don’t do one thing but make music for us to enjoy. They don’t eat up people’s gardens, don’t nest in corncribs, don’t do one thing but sing their hearts out of us. That’s why it’s a sin to kill a mockingbird.”

6 April 2015, Clayton, North Carolina

Nothing Could Be Finer!

A favorite rite of Fall is photographing the NC State Fair for Cary Citizen

I enter two of the photographs in next years competition – but not last year

This is from the 2019 State Fair and I delivered it today

2021 North Carolina State Fair Entry – Professional Photography Competition


Declaration of Independence

Letter from John Adams to Abigail Adams, 3 July 1776

“You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. — I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. — Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

Washington, D. C. 3 July 2009

Tripod Tale – In Pictures

This started simply and innocently. I just wanted to add a Full Fame camera body to my work. And I did. But of course I needed to add to my Full Frame capable lenses. And I did. But they are big, heavy and hard to hold for hours, so a tripod is needed.

But I was already using my tripod in rear of theater with a really long lens. So to use my new to me Full Frame 70-200 with the same Field of View as my APS-C 50-135 I’d need a second tripod. Which I had. Sort of. In the back of the closet.

Here’s the story – in pictures.

Focal Gobo

Try saying that three time fast!

So when we last left our hero (moi), he’d just sort of figured out how to project a pattern with a strobe. But there is more to the story!

12/12/12: I had an epiphany after making a photograph in theater and realizing I had no idea why, as much as instinctively liked it, it looked as it did. Which led to an adult dose of reality about how much I didn’t understand about light. And then I discovered the Kodak Reference For Cinematographers and the work of George Hurrell and Studio Harcourt

It took awhile, but I learned about and accumulated enough Made in Hollywood, Mole Richardson Tungsten Fresnel’s to make a portrait. Four 2801 Mini’s or “Inkies” and a couple of 2351 “Midgets”. I could do key, fill, rim, double rim and back with lights to spare. Okay, you don’t need that many but I fell into a bargain.

And I had all the ways to modify the light, starting with the internal Flood to Spot adjust and then left to right below: Color with a Gel, Reduce size with a Snoot, Shape with Barn Doors and Dim with a Scrim

But I didn’t know I could project a pattern or gobo. Until, I found that Mole made Focal Spot lenses for their fresnels! And they worked like the shutters and pattern holders in theater ellipsoids / lekos! Movie sets are like theaters!

So I found one that fits my Minis / Inkies. It has a rear condenser lens and an adjustable focus lens. Just unscrew an accessory clip, remove the Fresnel lens and mount it. Looks likes this.

This is old legacy stuff and Mole no longer make the Pattern/Gobo Holder or Matte Sets (think manual Iris). The Sales Manager at Mole in Hollywood was kind enough to send me the original engineering drawings for both. Which helped a lot. I found that an ETC Source Four Mini E Size was a perfect fit. And someone in the NYC Barbizon Lighting Warehouse found a set of original Mattes. It all looks like this:

So that works okay with a controlled, ambient light session. But 200 Watt Fresnel’s are anemic compared to strobes. And you can’t fit a strobe into an Inkie like a 2K Watt Junior. So the strobe has to go outside the focal Spot.

Back to the parts bin for these, again for these bits:

Bottom only

Plus some 1/8″ offset Mirror Clips and couple of knobs from a speed ring To make this:

All this was before it occurred to make to adapt the theater ellipsoids. Which are a LOT larger. The E Size pattern of this focal spot compared to the theater B size is well, it looks like this:

Today UPS delivered a Triple Riser Wheeled Junior Stand that will handle 60 lbs to 12 ft.. Which is a factor of three for my Altman Zooms. It was an open box deal and I’m pretty sure its going for a studio test drive next weekend.

It’s a never ending story. Chapter next, soon.

Gateway Gobo

It started innocently. I wanted to project a Gobo pattern with a photo strobe onto a background. The entry level projector was this. And of course, no longer available. Which made me determined to find one.

It didn’t take long surfing the web o sphere to find these had been sold for a long time by different brands:

Popular Photography Dec 1999

So I bought one branded as Smith Victor and probably the last one in stock at Adorama in January of 2019 for $82.95. The picture is wrong but the item was right. P/N on the box is Smith Victor 401275, non existent on their web site.

It’s simply two nested metal boxes with a pair of plastic Fresnel lenses and a Pattern Holder or Gobo slot and a gel slot. To focus, just slide the outer box in or out. The plastic mount was meant to fit around a small strobe and be secured by tightening a pair of threaded knobs. The pattern holder is sized for a standard B Size Gobo, the most common size found in theaters.

This is what it looked like out of the box. And it mounted unmodified on my strobes okay. I did however use a Paul C Buff Digibee with an Chip On Board LED Modeling lamp so I wouldn’t melt the plastic Fresnel lenses and still be able to focus the pattern.

And it worked! The Circus Tent gobo went in the Pattern Holder in front of a yellow gel that was in front of a piece of Tuff Frost Diffusion to eliminate the hot spot from the round flash tube. And Covid cancelled the show.

So while pandemic home bound, I decided to improve the safety and utility of the mounting. With these bits:

Just the bottom!

To create this:

But that’s not the end of the story, only the beginning. It’s my Gobo Gateway. To be continued…………

Project “Y” Hollywood Light – Continued from Jan. 2020

Recycled and added the original fresnel reflector to fit a Paul C Buff monolight (instead of using a Buff Umbrella Reflector which got used on Project Z). That means I cut a hole in it with a Dremel tool!

Here’s the bare mono light without the reflector in Spot and Flood positions.

Here’s the reflector added, in Spot and Flood positions.

Here’s what it looks like in use, Full Spot and Full Flood. Getting a little bit of flash tube shape in Spot since the Buff Digibee doesn’t have a diffuser like the Buff Einstein but it’s smaller so I get full travel.  I’ll probably fix with a piece of Tuff Frost.

I think the light dates from the 1960’s. Mole Richardson moved a few years ago and a lot of old paper records got tossed.  The “Ren Mar” stencil on the barn doors means it was at the original DesiLu Studios. Probably used on set for Golden Girls, I Spy and bunch of others.   Last week, I used it in studio in two different setups with a dancer as a fill and a key. I’ll post some of those when I get client approval.  Meanwhile here are two images made with this as a key light.  In the B&W image, it was the only light

Below is my original post from January of 2020

Finished bracket today to swap out the original 2K lamp for a Paul C Buff Einstein in a Mole Richardson 412.

Idea from Mark Kitaoka

Using this 10″ Fresnel will be a new ball game compared to a half dozen 3″ Mole Midgets & Minis for portraits.