Super Dynamite Update: The Gap

Was fortunate enough to get a few minutes with Super Dynamite who was in town to close a huge corporate merger. His manager called and I got a power meeting. I signed a nondisclosure and we drank Singapore Slings. He was also sporting his new streamlined look. Tiny chicks dig tiny guys with scars and missing teeth. It didn’t seem to slow him down when it came to devouring a plate of grub. Someday soon it will be Uncle Dan losing all his teeth.

Super Dynamite Update

The great thing about kids is that you can convince them to do about anything when it comes to getting photographs. A piece of glass to press your face up against, a puddle to jump in or maybe even a screen door to get behind. Super Dynamite was in town and I took the opportunity to make a few pictures. Very few actually. This entire edit was ONE frame, the one you see here. Oh well, win some, lose some. One is enough for me.

“Press your face up against that screen.”

“No, I don’t want to.”

“DO IT!”


These last two images are with the M9 at 640 ISO. This camera is VERY sharp. I hear a lot of talk in regard to high ISO with digital cameras and the ability to shoot at speeds upwards of 25,000. I guess that is great. Personally, I’ve never had a need or desire to do that. As you know by now, I’m an oddball. With digital I RARELY shoot over 640. Digital sees in the dark, WAY beyond film, so if I can’t shoot it at 640 ISO and 1.4, I’m probably not going to shoot it. In most cases with digital I don’t go over 320 ISO, including all those weddings I did over the years. I’d go to 320 ISO and pop in a little strobe. The M9 is razor sharp at these speeds, probably higher if you feel the need.

Leica M9 + Super Dynamite

Leica M9 + Super Dynamite from Smogranch on Vimeo.

Okay folks, I finally had a chance to use the Leica M9 in a way that I feel really explores the potential of this camera. I thought I would get to connect with this camera on my Hong Kong trip but I never really connected with anything at the level I’m looking for. But, I was recently able to spend a few days with my nephew, Super Dynamite, and was able to really use the M9 like I would if I was working on a project. I have to say, it works. As you know, I’m very familiar with these cameras, so for me, I never skipped a beat. The only suggestion I have is to make the exposure compensation more accessible. Meter is good, quickness is good, it’s quiet. I also exported large files this time. Everything I’d done with this camera, up until this shoot, was small files for the web. This time, seventeen inch Tiff files. They look fantastic. The fallout, same as my M6, and the texture of areas outside critical focus,to me, look really good. In fact, I think they look like images that have been prepped to look like film, that small texture added in. So, take a listen and see what you think. By the way, when these images export to a Quicktime file when I do these voice overs…they really lose something. So, I’ve added two in here so you get an idea of how good these files look.

Vader’s Head

So I photograph kids. From time to time I get asked to photograph kids parties, and most of the time I decline those jobs. I find that many of these parties don’t really offer me the opportunity to make my style of image. The parties have too many kids and are typically going when the light is the worst. Plus, I always feel like I have to shoot too many different things. I end up taking a digital camera, shooting too much, editing too much, etc. But now and then, when the opportunity is there, I will shoot a few images at a party. In this case, Super Dynamite’s 5th birthday, which was a seamless blend of bouncy house, Star Wars and Lego, three things that go together like tequila, salt and lime. At first I grabbed my Leica, but early on felt I should use the Hasselblad. It felt odd doing this because this is such a slow moving camera. Twelve clunky images per roll, of kids buzzed on cake and light sabers would probably not be the first choice of the discerning photographer, but for some reason it just seemed like the thing to do. I had three rolls of film and knew that that was PLENTY of images (36) to really sum up this party, IF I was a good photographer. A photographer whose brain was not disconnected. I would make an image, then sit down, have a conversation, a beverage, chew on some item and then get up and look for another image. Sometimes a half hour would go by between shots. Clunk. Beverage, conversation, snack. Clunk. Beverage, conversation, snack. I was a kid party photographer mastermind. I felt NO need to photograph every kid, every parent or anything that didn’t have a direct relationship to my view of this event. There was no pressure, no expectations, besides those residing in my mind. And after sixteen or eighteen beverages I was beginning to think I was Han Solo.
Watching these five-year-olds navigate this party was worth the price of admission. They had no Blackberries, no pressures at work, no deadlines to meet. These kids were oblivious to the rest of the world. Clunk. Beverage, conversation, snack. Before long the cupcakes were unveiled and five-year-old eyes glazed over with anticipation. Their tiny veins coursed with pre-sugar adrenaline and someone took a short stick to the Vader pinata. Candy rained like down like hail from a Kansas tornado. The cupcakes were presented and what followed, I have to say, is perhaps my favorite all time kids sequence of images. The light, not the best, but the black and white film PROVED it’s worth beyond my wildest dreams. Depth, texture and light, oh that precious light, bouncing from extreme harsh to deep shadow, all there with a simple 125th at 2.8. The kids massed near the chocolate as they waited for the Vader candle to be lit. The birthday boy, intensely focused walked us all through a world that only five-year-old can know, buddies by his side, sharing in the experience, trembling with the idea of what was to come. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. Clunk. And finally, with my last image of the day, the entire experience was rolled into one split second of chocolate intensity. For a moment, one brief moment, Super Dynamite was one with the universe, the galaxy and all that’s in it. He was Luke. He was Han. He defeated the chocolate Death Star and lived to tell the tale.

[jwplayer mediaid=”6217″]

Super Dynamite: Conehead

Ice cream cone. The uttering of these three words can stop the rotation of the Earth. You might not believe me, but ask any five-year-old and you will get the real truth. Think back. Think back to those days. Food was just what you suffered through when the promise of ice cream existed somewhere out there in the post-meal world.

“What do you want to eat honey?” “I don’t care mom, whatever.” “I’ll eat paste if I have to.” “Did you mention we were going to get ice cream?” You tried to not act too excited. No need to cause parental alarm. Be cool and it will all work out.

And suddenly there it is. Amid the crowds, the swirling water, the late light of the day. NOTHING else matters. You will WEAR the cone. You will literally WEAR it and it really doesn’t matter. You have time to look good later. MUST HAVE CONE.

Your stubby fingers are coated in pure white heaven. Your chin, your face, your shirt, all casualties of the ice cream game. Your tiny veins course with the power of refined sugar. Life is good. Vanilla is the best thing in the entire world.

You wander, ignoring all but the cone. The cone is. The cone transcends. Super Cone.