5.19.2011

A visual repudiation that "Strobism" and off camera flash were invented in 2006.

A1141699 by KirkTuck/photo

Love David Hobby.  Love his whole crazy bus thing.  But some of his followers have become rabidly zealous.  I just had a conversation with a follower who swears that David invented the whole idea of "off camera flash" and that the popularity of flash photography owes it's birth and subsequent burst into flame because of the Strobist blog.


Well......I have to differ with that.  And I scrounged up this image of moi (taken by Alan Pogue) as proof that we were slamming around photons off the camera for at least a couple decades before.  In fact, I'm going to bet that this photo,  showing a Canon EF film camera actually dates from the very  early 1980's.  What we have in this picture is Kirk Tuck in his twenties, a Canon EF with a 50mm lens and a six foot coiled cord connecting the camera to a Braun flash.  Sorry, I can't remember the model.


I was at the Sheraton hotel for the election night party with the then (obscure) Texas Republicans.  They lost.  Badly.  Really badly.  I am absolutely certain of one thing.......I was using hand rolled Kodak Tri-X film.


Off camera?  We didn't even have a name for it.  That's just the way we rolled back then.  We could figure out manual guide numbers faster than kids can text on an iphone.  And no screen on the back for a crutch.  I'll say it.  Photographers today are wimps when it comes to using flash.  Just wimps.  Turn that screen off and shoot some manual "off camera" flash.  It's not nearly as hard as everyone makes it out to be......  Did I mentioned that we were also able to focus our own cameras simultaneously with our guide number calculations?  Amazing.

Did they invent photography just so we could photograph our kids?

I already had a big octabank set up, along with a small softbox for a hair light.  I'd done a portrait earlier in the day of a new executive at one of the transportation agencies I work with.  At dinner Ben asked me if I had a recent photograph of him sitting around.  What is recent?  For me it's yesterday.  I don't know about anyone else.  I said, "no." But we could take care of that in minutes.  We walked out the front door of the house and marched the long ten steps into the front door of the intergalactic headquarters of The Visual Science Lab and proceeded to Mega Studio One.


Ben sat down on the pneumatic posing stool, turned to the camera and flashed his signature smile.  One click and we were done.  Seconds later I'd converted the file and sent it to his computer in the house.  He walked in and printed out what he needed.  It was part of an assignment for school.

I like working with Ben.  He's a pro.  He's produced about 60 video projects to date and has to direct people himself.  He now understands how important it is to get the right look in camera.  Before his last assignment for his cinema class at school he came into the studio for a quick discussion about best practices with microphone placement.  We popped open a Pelican case and he chose a mic for his project. He selected the Rode Stereo Mic.  Then he grabbed a Canon 60D with an 18-55 lens on the front, the "fishing pole" for the microphone and some cabling.  As an afterthought he also popped an LED light into his Domke bag  (yes, the kid has his own brown Domke bag....).

I was about to tell him which parameters to change in the menu but he gave me one of those looks that says,  "Thanks Dad but I had this memorized the first time I used it."

I wanted Ben to be interested in photography but he's not playing along.  His focus is film and video.  He's a freshman this year but his PSA about diabetes and peer pressure won third place overall in his school and they handed him $250 in prize money.  The judges said the production values looked like film.  The thing that made me proud is that he turned around and split the money with his crew.  When I finally grow up I want to be just like Ben.