This is not an empty shell

( This article was first posted in 2008. Updated, it still feels the same.)

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Not like “This is not a pipe” (Ceci n’est pas une pipe) the famous painting by Rene Magritte, below

the-treachery-of-images-this-is-not-a-pipe-1948(2).jpg!HalfHD

Nothing like that. Well, maybe a little borrowed concept for the sake of this post.

Instead it’s a bit of memory that has a photo of an object as it’s touch point.

When I was a kid, we used to have thanksgiving dinner at our apartment. The cousins always joined us, the good flatware came out, and that’s just what you did.
Mom cooked the turkey in a paper bag to keep it at a certain moisture level, and the pies were a sweet pecan.
But the appetizer was the most unique item.
A seafood mixture with a creamy binder, the origins of which I can’t remember, and bread crumbs.

All mixed together and served in shells. Like the one shown above.
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Keegan Allen: Life. Love. Beauty – A Mature Collection From A Young Man

Keegan_01Pretty Little Liars fans will recognize the name Keegan Allen, as character Toby Cavanaugh.
But this isn’t Entertainment Tonight.
This post is about his new book.
I’ll admit that when I was first contacted about the book, my Hollywood spidey sense was tingling, as I imagined it could be a vanity press book, about a bored actor on set.
In the first pages my mind was changed. This was a passionate photographer, exploring life around him, and documenting it in a current style of images and journaling. Not someone who used a Leica as an accessory.

keegan old © Keegan Allen

From his early images of his mother and father, added to the explanation of getting his first use of a real camera, you get the sense of a thoughtful, open, person. The passion leaks off of the pages and I was hooked after the first section.

As many personal photographers chronicle life around them, when Hollywood is your street scene, it has a color all of it’s own.The grit is gliztier and reflects all the dreams that have faded or blossomed, but he chose first to photograph and feature the nearby natural beauties, sprinkling in the Venice Beach scene, as the journey advances.
Very aware of himself, as many actors are, there is a generous sprinkling of self portraits, all through the book.
But here’s the thing: I really don’t get a sense of arrogance with the self portraits, as much of a self reflective exploration. the difference? They appear more curious, as the accompanying text gives you a scenario or his state of mind. You wonder if he is building a compilation of his appearance as he ages. A little “Boyhood” perhaps.

131_life.love.beauty KEEGAN ALLEN© Keegan Allen

As every photographer does, you photograph those around you. And in his case there are many attractive women; friends and lovers.They are shot as honest, friendly, portraits. If there is a revelation, it is that the subjects are very comfortable with the person behind the camera.
As a successful, working actor there is an abundance of set photos and portraits. You can feel that he strives to make these images more than just a record of the time.

73© Keegan Allen

Was it Jack Nicholson who said “I don’t get paid to act, I get paid to wait”. Keegan Allen takes his down time on set, and buys himself time to indulge in his passion.

Overall this book is a good read, and because of the blend of images and text, it glides you through the 320 pages, easily. The writing style is easy going, and tells the story of his life till now with an accessibility, you may find more likely in social media.
It all feels fresh and emotional. Not sappy, but honest.

One particular thing I appreciate is the lack of many images going across 2 pages. He seems to know what that costs you in a narrative. Even with that restriction, the images live well within the page size. About 7×9. The trend is towards smaller photo books these days, other than the Steidl reprint of The Decisive Moment. Less shelf space, and I’m glad to have a hard copy of this.

Admittedly, the poetry, which is liberally sprinkled throughout, is not my cup of tea. Not much poetry resonates with me, other than Baudelaire.

Well worth your $20. You can pick up the book, here.

Octa : Tablet Mounting System – Packs Small, Plays Big

Since the incorporation of the iPad and others into your workflow, the biggest issue has been the best mounting system to use. It could be a tethered screen, or camranger, or shooting notes or lighting sketches you need to have in front of you
Whether you need to access the tablet on a light stand, table, or another grippable surface, the choices were few.
There is the Manfrotto clamp, magic arm (about $145.) and coupled with the Wallee iPad case (about $40.), gives you a solid and immovable mounting kit. But if you want to change the direction or move angle of the arm, it takes a strong arm to unlock the rig. Expensive full kit, and tablet specific. Has to be a naked tablet (no case).
Another choice is the iKlip who, with their experience in the music world, created a sweet ball joint, clamp system, that has an adjustable spring loaded tablet holder. Meant as a tool for musicians to us the iPad for lyrics, or recording, it’s perfect for the shooters needs. Right price, needed to stay close to the stand. Will fit a tablet with case. About $40.

Then came Octa, and the TabletTail: Lynx

Not a one-off product, but a system with a menu of attachments to suit your needs.

The design is based on a lot of ratcheting, to get the sizing you need.
To start with is the tablet holder. Spring loaded, it pops open with a button, and adjusts easily to whatever size tablet or E-Reader you use. It will hold an iphone 6, but not tight. Perhaps the iPhone 6 plus will work better but it’s designed for tablets.

The Bridge is a flexible, yet stiff connector, about 5″ long including rotating caps on each end. The clamp is also an adjustable ratcheting system, that will grip to most surfaces, and release with a button tab. There is a locking system to ensure that the clamp and holder aren’t going anywhere, yet can rotate. The 3 parts combine to give a huge amount of versatility.

It is able to rotate, change angles, and stay secure. The Bridge is a little shorter than I wanted, but there is a slew of options you can get, once you are in the system. It’s a little longer than the iKlip.
The screen stayed where I put it by just by moving the tablet, without having to unlock anything.
One of the other great things about this system was that it packs small, and plays big.
What do I mean by that? The parts can be unlocked, folded down and fit in a gear bag easily.
Brilliant design actually.

There is a small note about the ratcheting clamp: Octa reminds you not to over tighten, as this is made of high impact plastic, not metal. The rubber grips ensure no marring of a surface, but I was mindful of the warning.

The Lynx sells for about $99., and can be purchased direct from Octa or Amazon, with this link

Nikon D810A : Ground Control To Major Tom!

In a very interesting release, Nikon has introduced the D810A, a now classic series, with added features for Astrophotography.
Someone did the research and determined that the market was big enough to create a version of the wildly popular D810 series specifically for the folk who make images of the Space above.
Honestly, if this is your passion, and still want all of the capabilities of the D810. you win. Big time.

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more info after the jump.

Now at the same time, they have put together a D750 film makers kit,
Jim Lennon Photographer 175-H2 Commerce Drive Hauppauge NY 631-617-5872

First time I’ve seen a camera company do this: the package delivers a one stop videographers perfect storm of motion imaging. Talk about desired product, this kit has all you need to get started with the best primes, plus…

“For users who are looking to take advantage of the Nikon D750’s advanced video capabilities, Nikon is now offering a Filmmaker’s Kit that includes everything needed to get started in the world of cinema. The kit contains three NIKKOR lenses in popular focal lengths, including the AF-S NIKKOR 35mm f/1.8G ED lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 85mm f/1.8G lens and the AF-S NIKKOR 50mm f/1.8G lens; all which provide stunning HD clarity and excellent depth of field control for filmmakers. The kit also contains two additional EN-EL15 batteries, an ME-1 Stereo Microphone, one Atomos Ninja-2 External Recorder, and Tiffen® 67mm and 58mm Variable Neutral Density Filters (8-Stops) for superior control of light. In addition, the Nikon D750 Filmmaker’s Kit features custom foam inserts, which are ideally sized for use in a hard case for transporting equipment to your next video production.”

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Fotodiox Vizalex ND Throttle : Great Tool for the Black Magic Pocket Cinema Cameras

Since moving to NYC, camera size has become top of mind because many times the gear goes in a bag on my shoulder or my back. When the Black Magic Pocket Cinema camera became available for 50% less than normal, I couldn’t be happier.
Sweet, small and high quality, the BMPC can go anywhere. The first place I took it was to the street for a parade. Lot’s of them in NYC, and they last for hours so you get a lot of time to capture.
(Small note, these cameras run through batteries, so get a bunch)
Now, the camera was small but the daylight was large and changeable. Using my Nikon lenses, I needed an ND like crazy.
I didn’t want to just stop down the lens. That was not the kind of shooting choice I wanted to make.
The I found this: Fotodiox Vizelex ND Throttle Lens Mount Adapter

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With a solid fit, and a 10-Stop variable ND built into a smooth action ring, this is what I had been looking for. It’s the smooth variable part that was the winner. Being able to adjust the ND as needed, fast, is key.
Like most adapters, all of your auto anything operations of the lens were disabled, and there were no click stops for the f/stops, there is another ring to set your aperture, using 6 main markers. They are both fluid adjustments, Perfect for video.
Would I prefer a click-stop, aperture control? Perhaps for stills if shooting on the fly, but this unit did the job I was looking for @ a $100 price point.
There are a few other choices out on the market, but one in particular will always be in the conversation:
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Upcoming Events

  • Photoshopworld
  • August 10-13, 2015
  • Mandalay Bay Hotel
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • N1-800-201-7323

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Current Exhibitions

  • Annenberg Space For Photography
  • “Sink or Swim: Designing for a Sea Change”
  • Through May 3rd, 2015
  • 2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10
  • Century City, CA. 90067
  • Tel: 213.403.3000
  • Clampart
  • Luke Smalley | Retrospective
  • Opening April 4th, 2015
  • 531 W 25th St
  • New York,NY 10001
  • Tel: 212-414-0370
  • Getty Center
  • Light, Paper, Process: Reinventing Photography
  • April 14th – September 6th, 2015
  • 1200 Getty Center Drive
  • Los Angeles, CA. 90049
  • Tel: 310-440-7300
  • Yossi Milo Gallery
  • Alison Rossiter – Paper Wait
  • Feb 26th – May 2nd, 2015
  • 245 Tenth Avenue
  • New York,NY 10001
  • Tel: 212-414-0370
  • Howard Greenberg Gallery
  • William Klein: Tokyo 1961
  • Through May 2nd 2015
  • 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406
  • New York,NY 10022
  • Tel: 212-334-0100
  • Staley-Wise Gallery
  • Deborah Turbeville
  • Jan 23th – April 18th, 2015
  • 560 Broadway
  • New York,NY
  • 10012
  • Phone: 1-212-966-6223
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • Modern Photographs from the Thomas Walther Collection, 1909–1949
  • Dec. 13th, 2014 – April 19th, 2015
  • 11 West 53rd Street
  • NYC,NY
  • 10019-5497
  • (212) 708-9400
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris
  • Through May 4th, 2015
  • 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
  • New York, NY 10028
  • Phone: 212-535-7710

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