SXSW 2014 : When you see things that can’t be unseen

(Please note: there are photos posted after the jump from the tragedy at SXSW on 3/12/14 that may be disturbing.)

Austin, 3/11/14 – I had just finished shooting the ST. Vincent set at Stubbs. One of the most electric shows of SXSW, and the visuals that accompanied the off the chain guitar, made my night. She was incredible!


But one of the companies I was new to working with, had a venue a block away at the Mohawk. Music and signage. I stood outside Stubbs debating: go home, process the images and get em out, or continue on.

Had to press on.

With my Nikon D800 on the wrist strap and a 20mm lens in place, I set some exposure, and figured I’d get some late night crowded street shots outside of venues. I almost went under a rope to get closer to the sidewalk as I walked to the Mohawk. They dropped the rope so i stayed where I was, closer to the middle of one lane. The street was closed off and people lined up and milled about all over.

To my right, I heard the squeal of tires, and turned. A car that seemed to be going 70-80 miles an hour was screaming down the down, and the horror began. As i turned to my right one person was hit and almost simultaneously another on the other side. I can still hear The deadly thuds and screams as the car continued speeding down the block. After the person next to me was hit, the camera in my hand fired off a series of shots. You could see the police car enter the street and could probably time them by the sequence.

911 was busy, busy, busy. People rushed out to help friends, but I always thought the thing to do was not to touch them in case of trauma. I wandered through the street of innocents, broken and bloodied, and was in a daze. More photos were taken as I walked, still with phone to my head. The police and EMT’s had arrived, and I saw them tending to all and desperately trying to revive certain victims. Some iPhone videographer was asking questions, and everyone had opinions of what happened. Seems that a DUI suspect, fled the cops and went down a street that had been blocked to vehicles, but not well enough. More on that later.

2 blocks away the party continued. There was no sense of the tragedy. By the time I got back to the hotel, about 10 blocks away, I was numb.
Processing the experience was near impossible. I posted on my FB page what had happened but the CF card was still in the camera. Couldn’t face it right then. Hard to do now.
But what to do with the images? Could they be of use?
I contacted the police, and never heard back. The next day, I sent them a set of images. At least with a sequence of timestamped images, they can show how fast they were going in pursuit.
Still no response to this day.
So the question goes to photographers: What do you do? In war, the images are meant to tell us a story. The Kent State tragedy left us with an image burned into our memories.
The iconic My Lai Massacre photo, Nick Ut brought change, once people were confronted by the horror of Napalm, and the innocents destroyed by it.
This is not war. This is a horrific tragedy.
The camera was in my hand and I shot. Would I have reached into my bag to get a camera if it wasn’t in my hand? Probably not.
It was still very hard to look at the images again for this posting.

I can’t reconcile the lives of these poor innocents, just trying to hear some music and party, ripped apart in an instant.

What I do hope is that next year at SXSW, when a road is blocked off, NO vehicle can enter it, til the blockades are moved. In NYC before an event cement blocks appear ensuring no errant vehicles can enter. Maybe a policy of non-pursuit into a known crowded area. However, I don’t know all of the exact details of why that man drove into the crowd.

As a photographer, what would you do? We can discuss on the Photoinduced FB page, or comment here.

For the first time, I’m posting 2 images from that night. After the jump..

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SXSW 2014 : Lexar & Expodisc – 2 bits of gear that let me sleep

SXSW  is one long, stimulating, eye opening, head expanding, visual treat for the photographer.
It does go from the morning hours all around the clock to the wee hours.
And want/have to cover it all.
When I get back to my hotel room at about 2:30-3:00 AM this is the workstation awaiting me:
MacBook Pro 13″,  Toughtech Duo Qr (portable RAID 2.5″ drive) Seagate FreeAgent GoFlex 1 TB USB 3.0 timecapsule drive, a lifesaving G-DRIVE USB 3.0 1TB Hard Drive ,A color balancing tool that quickly made a difference in my post workflow, and sleep patterns ExpoDisc Pro White Balance Filter ,an external battery for the iPhone, and the latest post addition: The Lexar Professional Workflow HR1 Four-Bay USB 3.0 Reader Hub


So here is the simple magic of the Lexar Workflow Tower: Last year at the same event I used a simple Lexar card reader for 1 CF and 1 SD card slots.
The wait time to download all card the images off of a 32 gb card, and it was never just 1 card, lost me at least hour of sleep at the end of a very long day.
Solution: Lexar Workflow tower with modular readers to configure as you like: 4 slots for any combination of SD,CF and now XQD (yeah, it’s here and about to spread.
You can download concurrently with a software like Photo Mechanic, (consecutively to Lightroom) that is you are on deadline. that is the fastest working post tool out there. Download all, do a fast click edit, send em to PS, fast correction, send to editors, catch some Z’s. Or just get it going, go to sleep and you can be downloaded to Photo-Mechanic or Lightroom.
Plus you can use the modules on their own. No need to take whole tower (which uses ext.power) if you won’t need it.
ot an extra hour, at least, of sleep every night. Winner!

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SXSW 2014: First you have to get the gear there!

My favorite way to travel gear is ThinkTank Airport International. Period.

Airport International_08_CMYK-1

On this trip, there was a possible video assignment, so I added an Urban Disguise, with a Canon XF100 video camera already built (mic,light,batt,media cards) and ready to go with a wireless lav set-up in the side pouch, and other misc. goodies.

yes, I may be a bit old school, but find I get great results when shooting video with a…wait for it…video camera!

Think Tank Photo Releases the Redesigned             Urban Disguise® V2.0 Series Shoulder Bags “Carry the Right Gear with Less Fear” SANTA ROSA, CALIF – For photographers operating in urban or dangerous environments, carrying thousands of dollars

Tucked into luggage are various Muji mesh bags with extra cables, and Cocoon platters with battery chargers, back-up readers, power strips. And monopod/tripod.

OK, that gets the gear there. It all  travels on the plane with me. The Airport International has been with me for 4 years and has traveled around the world.

Arrange for early boarding to get that valuable overhead space. Window seats, extra $10. fast track boarding, seats in the rear of the plane, whatever.

Once on location, gear is organized and loaded into a walking/working pack, depending on the time of day, and events occurring.

In the past, an Oakley backpack was the working pack. This trip I committed to a twist and packed daily with great success: The Shape Shifter. It packs into luggage as a 3″ laptop case and expands to 7″ deep when loaded with gear.


Plus it’s carrying my laptop, batts, cables, card wallets, some energy bars, and assignment sheets. Incredibly comfortable.Check out this video.


Probably the major shift this year was having the Nikon D800 with 20mm, always in my hand using the Cotton Carrier Hand Strap – with Arca Swiss-compatible mini-plate.
Yep, always.


This combo Nikon D800 with 20mm 2.8 lens, always in my hand got me photos I never would’ve made. It became that further extension of my hands, with an all day comfort
I even use it with the 70-200mm 2.8, in the pit. The Shape Shifter bag worked fast, and the in and out with lenses, was smooth.

As I walked around the festival,the camera was always ready. Manual, RAW, and custom WB, which I’ll cover in the next post.

In a twist of fate, on Weds. 3/12/14 I had just finished photographing St. Vincent at Stubbs on Red River, in Austin. Moving onto the next spot, The Mohawk, I readjusted my camera settings, and went for some street photographs of the crowds.
The Cotton Carrier kept the camera in my hands.

What I saw next, and what the camera saw, has been kept on the hard drive. A drunk driver, being pursued by police, cut down the blocked off, speeding, as he hit 23 people who were rightfully in the street.

In the last SXSW post, I will show a couple of the images from the tragedy that occurred about 7 ft away from me.
And we can have a discussion.

Adobe Lightroom Launches on iPad – Is it ready for takeoff?

It’s part of the new Holy Grail: How can I work with my images on my faster, stronger, better iPad.

I spent hours at the Apple store trying to figure this out. All the apps, all of the dongles, all of the workarounds to maintain a similar workflow with an iPad were possible but clunky.

Maybe this is the answer. Lightroom Mobile. Part of the $10. a month Creative Cloud.

 Yep, new software included in your monthly fee.

Well, I’ll say that after seeing a demo, this is a 1st gen product, and while on the right path, still will take more iterations to get it to the place we need. But it;s not just the software that has to change; it’s the hardware.

If we can add an external HD to load images on, then it’s a solid working tool. Perhaps when tablets get a large enough hard drive and you can load the files you need, Lightroom Mobile will be ready.

Meanwhile, I may have to get a MacBook air.

and now, for the official word:

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SXSW 2014 – Austin’s Cultural Festival did it again!

A combination of Interactive, Film and Music make the SXSW Festival in Austin the best blend of pop culture events you can attend in a ten day period.

When you arrive they give you 3 muslin bags with designs signifying each portion of the festival and a guidebook for each. Welcome to Austin!


What does all of that mean? Continue Reading »

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Upcoming Events

  • Photoshop World
  • Sept. 3-5, 2014
  • Mandalay Bay
  • Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Conference and Expo

Is there an event we should know about?
Let us know on twitter.

Current Exhibitions

  • Whitney Musuem
  • “Edward Hopper and Photography”
  • July 17th – Oct.19th, 2014
  • 945 Madison Ave.
  • New York City, New York 10021
  • Tel: 212.570.3600
  • Annenberg Space For Photography
  • “Country: Portraits of American Sound”
  • May 31st -Sept. 28th, 2014
  • 2000 Avenue of the Stars, #10
  • Century City, CA. 90067
  • Tel: 213.403.3000
  • ICP
  • Urbes Mutantes: Latin America Photography 1944-2013
  • May 16th-Sept.7, 2014
  • 1133 Avenue of the Americas at 43rd Street
  • New York, NY 10036
  • Phone: 212.857.0000
  • Getty Center
  • Convergences: Selected photographs from the Permanent Collection
  • July 8th-Oct.19th, 2014
  • 1200 Getty Center Drive
  • Los Angeles, CA. 90049
  • Tel: 310-440-7300
  • Yossi Milo Gallery
  • Keld Helmer-Petersen
  • July 17th- Aug 29th, 2014
  • 245 Tenth Avenue
  • New York,NY 10001
  • Tel: 212-414-0370
  • Howard Greenberg Gallery
  • A Selection of Photographs from Life Magazine
  • June 26th-August 29th , 2014
  • 41 East 57th Street, Suite 1406
  • New York,NY 10022
  • Tel: 212-334-0100
  • Staley-Wise Gallery
  • Underwater
  • July 11th-August 29th, 2014
  • 560 Broadway
  • New York,NY
  • 10012
  • Phone: 1-212-966-6223
  • Museum of Modern Art
  • A World of Its Own: Photographic Practices in the Studio
  • February 8–October 5, 2014
  • 11 West 53rd Street
  • NYC,NY
  • 10019-5497
  • (212) 708-9400
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art
  • Now You See It: Photography and Concealment
  • March 31st-Sept 1, 2014
  • 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street)
  • New York, NY 10028
  • Phone: 212-535-7710

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