Over the years, many amateur photographers have ask me, how to make a great portrait, whether it be a formal portrait, a casual portrait, or an environmental one. What focal length lens should be used and what is the best aperture? Some other questions have been what is the best light to use and how to expose properly? Which is better – front, back or side light?
In my opinion, it’s all about the person you’re photographing. There are some basic rules, the first; being to focus and concentrate on the eyes as they are most important. In the case of Nobuko, her eyes are beautiful and full of life. If you look closely, you will notice her eyes, are that of a young person. The reason being, is that she is a young person of heart and mind. This was an impromptu shoot and I did not set up to photograph her, as she came for a social visit. I took one look at her and was so taken with her eyes, smile and her inner beauty. I knew the camera would love her, and it did. When I was a young photographer, just a couple of years ago, there was a cliché. The cliché was f/8 and be there or f/8 and show up. I’m pretty sure that most photographers, would be able to get a great photograph of this beautiful lady.
My cousin Denis Dermody was awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. The award is for gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States. (Please take your time and read what he did on March 17, 1968.)
The President of the United States of America takes pleasure in presenting the Silver Star to Corporal Denis James Dermody (MCSN: 2242960), United States Marine Corps, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity in action while serving as a Fork Lift Operator with Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron ONE HUNDRED FIFTY TWO, FIRST Marine Aircraft Wing, in connection with military operations against the enemy in the Republic of Vietnam. On the afternoon of 17 March 1968, the Khe Sanh Combat Base came under intense North Vietnamese artillery fire, and an ammunition storage area received a direct hit which ignited a fire. Reacting instantly, Corporal Dermody unhesitatingly maneuvered across the fire-swept terrain toward the site. As he approached the storage area, a large secondary explosion occurred. Undaunted by the explosion, Corporal Dermody continued to the location and, upon arriving at the site, fearlessly approached the flaming ammunition and commenced spraying an extinguishing agent on the blaze. Despite the enemy rounds impacting near him, he ignored several additional secondary explosions and continued his resolute efforts until the fire was extinguished. His heroic and timely actions prevented numerous nearby personnel from being seriously injured and detonation of large quantities of ammunition. By his courage, calm presence of mind under fire and unwavering devotion to duty in the face of great personal danger, Corporal Dermody inspired all who observed him and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and of the United States Naval Service.
It never ceases to amaze me what some people will do to help other people. Some of these people don’t do it for money, power, or position but do it to help their fellow man. I’ve know Timmy for a long time. He’s a great educator, football coach, and a great dive instructor – that’s how we met. One of the finest volunteer firemen in New York.
To all the ships at sea, I think most people when they’re young learn to deal with things like mother nature. Or I wold hope they would. When you get right down to it, Joe DiMaggio against mother nature, I’m gonna lose all the time. You can’t win. growing up in New York City, winter sports were never an option; skiing, snowboarding, and when it came to ice skates I roller skate. I lived on the beach for a few decades. I really loved the salt water, the beach, boating, swimming, diving, etc. But when winter time came, break out the hot chocolate or a a warm Brandy. I just don’t like the cold. Oh, by the way, I shot three winter olympics. Did I say I didn’t like the cold? I guess so. Now that our studio is in the upper Delaware valley there is a beautiful waterfall which I use as a place to pray, meditate, and to be alone. Shut the phone off, and just try and become one with mother nature. Works out really well in the spring, summer, and fall. But there are 4 season, not the hotel, but winter. Here are a few photos, all taken with a Fuji XT2 or Fuji Xt3 lenses vary from 8 mm, 16 mm, 90 mm, 50 mm f2. Incorporating photography with my mediation. The opening photograph was taken by JoAnne Kalish, world class photographer. Taken about 40 years ago.
Two technical points, I have approximately 7 or 8 tripods. Some weighing over 30 pounds, some that go up close to 9 feet, a couple of Gitzos, a Bilora, it seems my tripod of choice is a Velbon 450. The Slik head is 44 years old. I should also mention that some of the tripods range from $1500 to $500. The heads are $300 to $500. The tripod I used for these photos I purchased at a yard sale for $7. You may ask yourself why do I do that? the obvious reason is, it works! And it works very well. And its light, I can set it up on the ice, and it works. Did I mention that it’s light? Best $7 I’ve ever spent on a photographic product.
I have approximately 11 or 12 pairs of gloves. Some specifically designed for photography. Others for skiing, others to keep warm. What stops me dead in my tracks in the winter time is when my hands get cold. My automobile mechanic has black gloves that he wears when he repairs cars. Every time I’m there I steal, no borrow, 10 pairs of gloves. I’d slip the black gloves on and put the other gloves over those gloves. The problem is I can’t focus and I can’t hit the button, so I decided just to wear the black gloves. And they works great for about an hour. At 0-20 degrees. After an hour, you get cold. The name of the game is to have fun, do not allow mother nature to stop you from making a photograph. With any luck at all, we won’t be talking about cold and ice until next year. Remember, press the button.
Like all great relationships, JoAnne had to find a way at getting back at me with Ace. So while I was shooting at Gleason’s Gym two years ago, JoAnne left me and drove to Huntington and adopted Mia. She was the runt of the litter. Her mother was killed in a car accident. Mia believes that I was put on this earth to be her personal pin cushion, of course I think I’m smarter than the cat, and faster. NOT. You can playfully slap a dog, don’t try it with Mia Psycho Kitty, because you’re going to bleed. She sleeps all day 3 o’clock in the morning I find her under the butcher block with her eyes wide open in pitch darkness, looking for a mouse. Everybody’s gotta earn their own way. A great photographer by the name of Roy Morsch spent 30 years with the Daily News, would give a lecture on how to photograph cats. and inevitably someone would ask him, “my god, you have so many kittens! Where do you keep them?” and Roy would explain “When I finish photographing them, I flush them down the toilet.” I’ve seen audiences horrified. We all have a different sense of humor, one hell of a great photographer. Hopefully I’ll run into you at the ASPCA or is that ASMP.
I’d like to wish my dad a very happy birthday. I lovingly called him the gray fox. There’s no doubt he considered himself the golden lion. One of the greatest men I’ve ever met.
It’s Dad’s birthday but if it wasn’t for Mom he wouldn’t have a smile on his face, and he would not have gone as far as he did in this world. She was the backbone, she was the motivation, she was the beauty, she was great.
Wow, what is the definition of photography? well, exactly what is the definition of photography Photo and graphy. It’s recording with light. That’s what we are doing, we are recording with light. Without light you don’t have a photograph. You can get away with a pinhole and make a photograph but you have to have the light. As you may have guessed ,I desperately try to stay away from talking about particular cameras and particular lenses. Today it is almost impossible to buy a bad camera. They’re all good and the lenses are all good. Whatever you’re shooting with, start looking for that magic light, which does not have to be in the magic hour. In my book “Fill the Frame” somewhere in the fifteenth chapter I realized that 90% of everything I shoot is either severely backlit or severely side-lit. I was weened on Tri-X processed in D 76, 68 degrees and always shooting for a #2 negative. Now, the only people who are going to understand what I just said, pretty much have to be over 50 years old. As much fun as it was, and as great as that film was, the new digital cameras are capable of making some unbelievable black and white images. We’ll break tradition today and give you some more tech information. Of course with a smile on my face. That’s for all the people that think I’m too serious. To them I say, “just press the button.”
If the outside temperature is 10 degrees and the windchill is minus 15. You may want to go into your digital library and prepare to print a few photos. Near a beautiful fire at 74 degrees.
In my humble opinion what makes a great portrait is a great person. I’m not talking about the photographer but the person you’re photographing. I personally dislike the word subject. Hugh Brodie is the Jazzman. Portrait was done with an 85mm lens, Canon camera 5D. Shot one frame and opened up one full stop and shot another. If I recall the numbers it was ISO 800 shutter speed 1/250 f/3.5 and I allowed him to be the beautiful human being he is. The second portrait was literally done on the run, I was heading for a meeting at the Museum in Ecuador and passed this woman working. She was half in and half outside of her Bodega. I slammed on my brakes, came back, smiled at her and pointed to my camera. I then picked it up and made 2 frames. My God her eyes are beautiful. This woman made the photograph I was just there to record it.
I’m still in love with what I do every day! Who knows, maybe in the next 50 years I will get a little better. Go out and make some great photos. It’s a helluva lot of fun. Photo of woman was shot with XT2, 23mm lens ISO 1600 1/500 of a second at f/28.
To all the ships at sea, 70 years ago on Christmas Eve, my brother and I were in my mom and dad’s bed. I was 5 and he was 3. My aunt (who was not my aunt at the time, but my uncle Sonny’s girlfriend) gave me a Christmas present of a Brownie Camera. I have no idea if this changed my life, actually, I do have an idea. It did change my life. The combination of having my own camera at that age plus my grandfather’s two cameras circa 1890s, 6×7 autographed Kodak cameras started me as an amateur photographer. My grandfather, Salvador DiMaggio, was a great amateur photographer in Italy and Grenich village New York. Dottie Pennino (Dorothy Pennino) broke up with my uncle Sonny, A miracle of miracles, 15 years later they hooked up, got married, and both were avid amateur photographers. Aunt Dot, thank you thank you, thank you.