Having Fun

These days I don’t often see that many pictures that knock me out. I picked up a copy of the December issue of Outdoor Photographer yesterday and saw two absolutely wonderful photographs by Dewitt Jones. The one on page 50 can simply be described as a man walking, but just look at it:

The other is of water, but that too is an understatement (pages 86-87).

Also, he writes well and doesn’t make you choke on long rows of numbers and technical things. Read what he writes. It’s sparse and to the point. It’s so great to see work you love.

Every once in a while, I stop and think how lucky I am to live in NYC, where there is such an amazing wealth of galleries, museums, theatres, etc. – the list could go on forever, but you know what I mean.

Once I got back from a trip to Wyoming and was walking down the street with my daughter trying to explain how excited I was to be back in New York.

“My God, Amanda – look at the people, the color, the kaleidoscope of energy!”

Her reaction: “You must have been lonely out there in Wyoming.”

“No, it was monumental in its silence and size.”

And her final answer, “Dad, you are so sappy!”

And right she is. I’m sappy. I’m just so delighted with what’s around me wherever I am. I bitch and moan like hell about everything, but I am having a hell of a time – always have.

I realize that this is one of the basic things I try to convey in my classes. That you should be having fun, and if you’re not, how do you get to go back to it? And why are you shooting if it’s not fun for you?

I’m teaching a class now, and I’m taking time off to write this while the kids (average age, 60) are out shooting. I love shooting; I love teaching. The combination is enriching from one to the other and back.

Winter is coming and lazy bastard that I am I know I’m gonna shoot those great snowfalls from inside the house at least until I feel guilty and trudge dutifully outside in the snow to get close to the action.

And as I complain about the cold nose, frozen feet, wet cameras, numb hands, and non-functioning fingers, I think, “Stop whining – you know you’re having fun.”

— Jay

Carry Less

If you remember, I always advocated walking around with as little equipment as possible. I used to wear a small belly bag with a 24-70mm and there was a 70-300mm on my camera. Also, if you recall, ever since the D3, I’ve been shooting most of the time at ISO1600. (I know you can’t do it on a Canon, but that’s your problem – I never told you to get a Canon.)

Now, with the D3s, I’m comfortable at ISO6400 and even 12,800! These are numbers that in my earlier days had the same resonance as Carl Sagan’s legendary “billions and billions of…”

I am now able to shoot with great results in light that neither the meter or I can see in. For example, here is a picture I took of Dave Burnett, an amazing shooter for many, many years in sports and politics mainly, but overall, a world class photographer in whatever he touches.

David Burnett presenting images to the Jay Maisel Workshop.

This was shot in the back room where we looked at pictures. The light is from the projection of his pictures coming off the screen about 16 feet away. It’s handheld, but my elbows are on the table for support. If you want to try figuring out how dark it was, the exposure was 1/4sec. at f/5.6. The ISO was 12,800. Fucking amazing.

Also, and most importantly, Nikon now has a 28-300mm lens that has replaced the 24-70mm and the 70-300mm that’s the lens that made the picture of Burnett. Now I don’t have to carry the 24-70 at all and I don’t have to wear the belly bag which Amanda said made me look like an even bigger dork than I usually do.

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