RIP Ralph Morse

©JoeDiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To All the ships at sea,

I tend to be redundant; I also tend to have a pretty good memory. I also realize the journey I’ve been on for the last 5 decades could not have happened if it wasn’t for some amazing people, great friends, and generous photographers. My dear friend Ron Thompson introduced me to Ralph Morse at an Apollo march. Ralph was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.   He not only had a great eye and a great passion, he was a true innovator. The old cliché; you think you’ve done something original, but it was done 100 years ago. Guess what, Ralph was a true innovator; he came up with photographs no one ever did. He literally took me under his wing, and with no hesitation, taught me everything I needed to know on how to photograph an Apollo Saturn 5b Rocket.   At the time, I had no idea that he went to the same High School that my dad went too, Dewitt Clinton, and they were probably there in the same class. I also had no idea that Ralph generated one of the most famous photographs on the day of Babe Ruth’s farewell at Yankee Stadium, the same day that one of my other heroes Nat Fein won a Pulitzer Prize. I could go on and on and on. I will share one of Ralph’s funniest stories. He was photographing a Gemini launch   got back to his hotel to find the director of photography wanted him to go to Moscow Immediately. Ralph packed up all of his gear and his clothes and flew to New York. A messenger, who accepted all of Ralph’s film, gave him new film, and a small suitcase of clothes met him there. He immediately flew to Moscow to find that he had all the film he needed, all the cameras he needed, but he had summer and spring clothes… it was the dead of winter. Ralph was there for over several weeks, he made an executive decision to purchase a fur coat. When he returned to the New York office and submitted his expense account, the bean counters went crazy, rejecting the (I don’t know the exact number, but we’ll call it $1800) coat. They demanded Ralph redo the expense account. The total with the fur coat was $6200. When he redid the expense account, the total came to $6800. He attached a small note to a paper clip for the accounting department that said, “Find the fur coat.” On my return from my recent trip to Cuba, I was actually in Florida when Ralph passed. Unfortunately I didn’t know. Ralph, you will be missed everyday. Thank you so much for being the person that you were. On my next trip to Israel, I will put a prayer in the Western Wall for you.

RIP Ralph Morse

1917-2014

©JoeDiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

©JpeDiMaggio

©Joe DiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

©JoeDiMaggio

Tripods When You Need Them You Love Them

Ralph Morse behind camera with Ron Thompson looking on © Joe DiMaggio
A few days ago, I did a blog on tripods. On April 30, my blog was “Tripods: Love them or Hate them”. I started to think about it a little more.  I looked over in the corner of the studio, saw that old Gitzo, and started to run the numbers. That tripod is 37 years old. It doesn’t look new, but it’s always worked perfectly. Pretty impressive. I looked around for a few photos and came up with a photo of the great LIFE magazine photographer Ralph Morse, an amazingly great Nikon tech-rep and good friend of mine Ron Thompson, and a very fine photographer by the name of Al Satterwhite. Ralph is alive and well and lives in Florida,  Ron sadly, went to the great dark room in the sky about 15 years ago. This photo was taken in July of 1975 at the launch of Apollo-Soyuz. For the record, I take this big bad boy out today when I want to mount 2 or 3 cameras at a time and it’s still viable. But please keep in mind I adore my new Manfrotto’s. They’re super light, easy to pack, and work very well with the new DSLRs. Talking about that, imagine if you had a DSLR and was able to shoot HD video in July of 1975! How cool would that be? Ralph was kind enough to take a young photographer by the name of DiMaggio and teach him the ins and outs of how to photograph rocket launches. He came from the old school, and while I’m at it,  he went to DeWitt Clinton High School, which coincidentally was the same school my dad went to! Sometimes it’s just a small world.