Saturday, December 24, 2011

Miami Heat Media Day

The Miami Herald's Heat Season Preview dropped at all our doorsteps 
this morning as the big three begin their second NBA season together.
By Al Diaz
For the special section I figured I would stack up the three kings, Chris Bosh, the tallest at 6'11", LeBron James at 6'8" and the shortest, Dwyane "Flash" Wade at 6'4". No problem until page designer Robert Cohen said we need to have Wade above the fold. Good thing I have a set of wooden boxes in varying heights. The tallest for Wade.

Zander Brant assisted me setting up a Norman beauty dish as the main light source. Two Dynalight heads with grid spots and red color gel to illuminate the backdrop and a rim light. After setting up I scanned the room for stand in models. At first no one looked the part averaging 5'2". I finally recruited AP photographer Wilfredo "Wade" Lee, Reuter's Joe "LeBron" Skipper and the tallest of the three, Hans "Bosh" Deryk. 

Chuck Fadely came up with the idea of drawing a little birdie as a point of reference for the three to look at. We hung it on an extended c-stand.

The whole event was so much more subdued than last years frenzy of media. The players were much more relaxed and although I had just a minute and a half to shoot all three kings together I got what I needed with a little help from friends.
Wilfredo Lee, Joe Skipper and Hans Deryk play the part of NBA all stars!
Joe Cavaretta did not make the cut.
Assistant Zander Brant feathers the light.
Joe Cavaretta using something other than Think Tank Photo bags, I'll convert him.

At left is Chuck Fadely, David Santiago, center, and Zander Brant, at bottom.

By Jospeh Goodman
One perspective: The Miami Heat is the defending Eastern Conference champion. Success. Another perspective: The Heat collapsed in The Finals. Failure. One perspective: The city of Miami cherishes this team. Love. Another perspective: The rest of the world loathes this team. Hate. One perspective: For nearly an entire season, LeBron James thrived amid scrutiny that would have driven a lesser man mad. Strength. Another perspective: In The Finals, James imploded under pressure like a sinking submarine. Weakness. One perspective: The lockout was pointless. Fact. Another perspective: It was extremely necessary. Fiction. One perspective: All of this is true. Another perspective: What is truth? For most, truth is the absence of doubt. For the Heat, it’s a matter of perspective. SO BEGINS YEAR 2 OF THE BIG 3. Read more here:

Sunday, December 18, 2011

New urban phrase "Klink"

My friend Bill Cooke informed me that I had a broken link for the Think Tank Photo contest info on my blog. I fixed it. In the process my wife Cindy and I coined a new urban phrase! "Klink". A "Klink" is a "link" that does not work. As in Colonel Klink from the TV show Hogan's Heros. Klink couldn't do anything right.

Thank me later.

This could be your best holidays ever!  For 20 days I've been following the
Think Tank Photo "In a Bag" contest. The crazy folks there are giving away thousands of dollars worth of free photography gear including the creme de la creme of all rolling camera bags, the Think Tank Photo Airport SecurityV2.0 

Only two days left!!!!!

Below is a partial list of all the product they are giving away. It's an amazing amount of gear. I wonder if I can get prescription lenses on those Oakley sunglasses.

SmugMug Pro Account and printing to the value of $150.00
dPS eBook Suite and limited edition Think Tank Photo USB key
$50.00 Starbucks gift card & a crate of Coca Cola
$500.00 Adorama gift certificate
Nikon AW 100
orbis® ringflash and orbis® arm
A set of Harold Davis books
Two G-Technology G-Drives
40GB of Lexar memory cards in a custom Pixel Pocket Rocket
RĂ˜DE Videomic Pro & a Deadcat WindSheild
Lighting modifiers from Westcott
A Lensbaby Composer
Zenfolio Premium Business Account
3LeggedThing “Jack”
HoodmanUSA Loupe 3.0 & Lens Cleanse Kits
Trade Secret Cards “Chase Jarvis Portrait Sessions”
frio™ coldshoe
Capture by Peak Design
Oakley Sunglasses
3 Legged Thing have dropped a X4 Eric
Tether Tools “The Wallee" Connect Kit
Ninja 4 Channel Wireless Flash Triggers
Plus much more!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Iris PhotoCollective Visual Lab

By Al Diaz
The professor. That’s what I call Carl Juste now that I witnessed him deliver a passionate sermon on the importance of photojournalism at Iris PhotoCollective Visual Lab in Miami’s Little Haiti. His students, a diverse and talented group of photo enthusiasts to emerging photographers ranged in age from 12 to adults.

Carl asked me to present my work and demonstrate some of the Think Tank Photo products I use. Several IPC Visual Lab students, including Rubyann Smith-Hernandez and Nanci Thomas, were delighted to walk away with free Pixel Pocket Rockets provided by sponsor Think Tank Photo!
IPC Visual Lab offers a unique photography course that examines visual storytelling in the classical vein of photojournalism. Weekly classes run Saturdays starting March 24th at the Little Haiti Cultural Center. Open house will be held March 10th. 

The first six to apply for the next ten-week photography course will receive a free Think Tank Photo product.

Courses are held at Little Haiti Cultural Center at 212 NE 59th Terrace, Miami, Florida 33137. For more information please email instructor Carl Juste at

IPC Visual Lab is a partnership among Iris Foundation, Iris PhotoCollective, and the Little Haiti Cultural Center.

Its main target audiences are both children and adults who are engaged and interested in enhancing their knowledge of the visual language of photojournalism.

Students will examine the work of photographers like Gordon Parks, Mary Ellen Mark, and Eugene Smith, discuss techniques and strategies used in the creation of picture in terms of essays and stories.

Through collaborative exercises, discussions, critiques, and lectures, students will develop the skills necessary to reveal a strong photographic narrative using their own visual voice.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Bloody Sunday - Attack on Pearl Harbor December 7th 1941

Clyde Combs was a seaman first class on the Battleship USS Arizona. Survivor of the most devastating blow of the attack on Pearl Harbor, a Japanese bomb destroyed the battleship and killed 1,177 of the 1,375 men aboard on December 7, 1941. Photographed in the Miami Herald 
photography studio in 1991.
By Al Diaz
Intrigued by World War II, and the heroic efforts of the men and women who fought in battle, I jumped at the opportunity to travel to Hawaii and cover the 50th Anniversary of that Bloody Sunday, December 7th, 1941.

Twenty years later I still treasure the privilege. Today, for the 70th anniversary, commemoration ceremonies in the United States will honor the roughly 3,600 who died or were wounded during
the attack.

Quoting from an old ballad, General Douglas MacArthur once said, "old soldiers never die; they just fade away." Through the camera lens, I have captured images of many of these brave souls. I have discovered that even in their winter years, old soldiers still have spunk! They are my heroes.
At left, Jesse Dunnagan waded through oil and dead bodies to recover a scrapbook from his locker inside the USS California after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Dunnagan was a seaman first class assigned as a gunner on the battleship docked at the head of "Battleship Row," facing the harbor and the incoming warplanes. Art Williams holds a flag recovered from a dead pilot in a downed Japanese bomber after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Williams was a machinist mate 1st class on the USS Vestal. The repair ship was docked on the outboard side of the USS Arizona which was ripped by a hugh explosion during the attack. Frank Nolan was fired upon by an attacking Japanese warplane during the bombing of Pearl Harbor.On that day, Nolan was a seaman 2nd class assigned to the USS Pelias, a submarine tender docked at Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor Veterans on parade in Oahu, Hawaii for the 50th Anniversary.
Decades later, the target of Japan's surprise raid remains a profoundly moving place. A wreath in memory of those who died,  floats in the water at the site of the Arizona memorial. To this day, oil seeps to the surface from the sunken battleship.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Miami Herald Media Company Wins Regional Emmy Award for Haiti Documentary

Haitian women, attacked by looters, attempt to salvage their belongings from storage after the capital city was devastated by earthquake measuring over 7.0 on the Richter scale in 2010. As a contributor, many of Al Diaz's images are featured in the Emmy award winning documentary directed by Jose Iglesias.

Nou Bouke, a documentary that captured the mood of Haiti after the devastating earthquake in 2010, received a regional Emmy award Saturday in the documentary-topical category.
The Emmy is a first for the Miami Herald Media Co.
"With the second anniversary of that catastrophic earthquake approaching, we hope this award will serve to bring attention to the many needs still facing that nation," said Nancy San Martin, the film’s executive producer and The Miami Herald’s interactive editor. “Haiti remains far from recovery.”

The store NaNou on Jean Jacques Dessalines Street burns in downtown Port-Au-Prince. The earthquake killed an estimated 300,000 Haitians and left 1.5 million homeles. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Opening Day for Art Basel Miami Beach

Cherkashin Valera looks through a sculpture by artist Olafur Eliasson, titled, "Your Blue Planet" at  Art Basel Miami Beach at the Miami Beach Convention Center on Wednesday, November 30, 2011.
The Miami Herald
The shoppers lined up five-head deep, impatiently blanketing the entrances. Security guards held the crowd back as the appointed opening approached.
Then the signal came, the barriers parted and the throngs rushed through the doors to check out the merchandise.
This wasn’t Black Friday. It was the 11 a.m. Wednesday opening of Art Basel Miami Beach, the most important contemporary-arts fair in the United States. No one got pepper-sprayed, but buying fever was palpable as hundreds of holders of VIP cards massed at the Miami Beach Convention Center for an early look at the art put on display by galleries from around the world.

“It’s crazy!’’ one woman in line exclaimed into her cellphone. “You would think they were handing out free Picassos.’’
Christian Rosche walks pass a wood sculpture by Tony Cragg, titled, "Red Figure".
Monty Shadow takes picture of Sunny Hackenberg as she poses with sculpture titled "Engagement (with Prince William sculpted by Daniel Druet, wax and resin mannequin.
Artist Emmanuel Perrotin urged Pharrell Williams, right, to try on one Perrotin's Horse sculptures. Pharrell is an American rapper, singer, record producer, composer, and fashion designer.
Sculpture by Kehinde Wiley, Houdon Paul-Louis, 2011.
Bronze with polished stone base 34 x 26 x 19.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Think Tank Photo Gift Certificates and Rebates for the Holidays!

Buy any Think Tank Photo Retrospective shoulder bag and get money back!
Between now and the end of December, whenever you order any of Think Tank Photo’s Retrospective shoulder bags, you will receive up to $20 back.  The Retrospective bags are inconspicuous, soft-sided shoulder bags with a simple exterior that blends into the environment.   They range in size from the Retrospective 5--which carries one standard size DSLR with one to three lenses or a complete Micro Four Thirds or rangefinder camera system—to the Retrospective 30, which holds two pro size DSLRs plus three to six lenses.  Click on the “Support” tab on each Retrospective product page to download your rebate form.  And don’t forget, in addition to receiving the rebate check from Think Tank, you also get to select gear to receive for free with your order when you order using my special code!

Enter to win “A Gob of Free Gear”!
With the help of several photo equipment vendors, as part of its In A Bag random drawing, every day from today through December 20th Think Tank Photo will be dropping one or more free items into one of its huge Airport Security rollers.  Over 40 photo equipment items and other fun stuff will overflow the roller.  On December 21st, one lucky person will win everything.  You can enter once a day to win.

Wondering what to give this holiday to your photographer friends?  Or (hint-hint), wondering what to tell others to give you this holiday?  Think Tank Gift Certificates are now available.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Think Tank Photo Offers More FREE Gear for Black Friday and the Holidays!

Receive a FREE GIFT from Think Tank Photo
Think Tank Photo is offering up 11 camera pouches and memory card holders worth almost $300 that you can have added for free to your purchases. Every time you place an order with Think Tank, when you check out you will be asked which one of the items listed below you wish you receive for free. There is no limit on the number of orders you can place. You receive free gear with every order.

To get this “free gear with every order” offer, click on this link:

Cable Management 10 ($16.75)
R U Thirsty ($19.96)
LARGE Lens Drop In ($31.96)
Whip It Out ($35.96)
Skin 50 ($22.36)
Skin 75 Pop Down ($28.80)
Skin Double Wide ($35.96)
Skin Strobe ($28.80)
Skin Chimp Cage ($31.96)
Pixel Pocket Rocket ($18.75)
Security Tag ($25.00)

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Review of PDN’s PhotoPlus International Conference and Expo 2011

By Al Diaz
Sensory overload is the best way to describe how I felt walking onto the convention floor at PDN’s PhotoPlus International Conference and Expo at the Jacob Javits Center in New York. If you’ve ever been to the city’s B&H Superstore, multiply that sense of awe times the factor 10, sans the ceiling conveyer belt system.

PhotoPlus Expo, designed for professionals and enthusiasts in the photographic and imaging industries, showcases the latest advances in photography. Attendees are able to explore hundreds of exhibits and attend a wide variety of photography and imaging seminars.

As I stroll in, first up, the Canon U.S.A. Inc. pavilion. Holding court is Vincent LaForet speaking on stage to a large audience hoping they can soak up a fraction of LaForet’s vision, talent, branding and marketing skills.

To the right is the new flagship of the EOS line, the EOS-1D X on full display along with the latest Canon EF 400mm f/2.8L IS II USM Image Stabilizer AutoFocus Super Telephoto Lens, demonstrated by Canon Professional Marketing Specialist Chuck Luzier, National Manager Dave Carlson and a host of other Canon representatives.

Around the corner and popping away with strobes is the companies Explorer of Light educator Ken Sklute demonstrating the use of Canon Speedlights.
Canon USA, Inc. Field Engineers Fernando Echeverria and Paul Ng, at left, and National Manager David Carlson with Canon's Professional Market Representative Chuck Luzier at right.
Wow, I’ve only been on the convention floor 30 seconds as I’m soaking this all in. At this point I can’t see the forest for the trees. Where do I even begin!

Already, my convenient full-scale convention planner has imploded. My list of manufacturers I want to visit has multiplied with so much to see and hear!

Three months ago I decided to attend PhotoPlus after texting Simon Pollock and asking if he was going. The social media guru of Think Tank Photo said absolutely and convinced me I should too.

As a Think Tank Photo affiliate, the whole reason for me to be here is to meet the folks who have been so generous sponsoring me all year with product I give away at lectures or online.

With blinders on and my head spinning, like Linda Blair in the Exorcist, I race through the gauntlet of widgets and gadgets. Till, low and behold the holy grail of camera bags, its Think Tank Photo heaven with a new line of products. There’s Pulitzer Prize winner photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice chatting with photographer Tim Mantoani while holding his new book Behind Photographs: Archiving Photographic Legends Book.

I soon meet Aussie accented Simon for the first time, Kurt Rogers, co-founder of Think Tank Photo and Jerry Dodrill, Dede Stanley and Chief Operating Officer Andrew Hutchins.

At PhotoPlus, Think Tank Photo pre-announced the release of the Modular Rotation System and Modular Rotation System Skin™ Components. Both systems have been completely redesigned, with many new cases and pouches added. They are live on my affiliate website,
and will be available for sale in early December.

These succeed the Modular and Skin set items that have been on sale. The Version 1 cases and pouches will still be available for sale on our site for as long as we have inventory.

Please  **click here** to fill in a simple form with your first name and email address and we will alert you when the new Modular Rotation gear is in stock.

In the meantime, Simon and Kurt run off to shoot video and to fill their Hubba Hubba Hiney bag with free swag!
Pulitzer Prize winner and Co-Founder Deanne Fitzmaurice with Damon Webster, President of At right is Jerry Dodrill showing off the rollers with Chicago Tribune phographer Alex Garcia and photographer Darcy Padilla
Next stop is Lensbaby where they bend the rules. Meet Kirsten Hunter, Director of Customer Happiness! “See in a new way” says Hunter as she displays the whole line of creative effects, lenses and interchangeable optics designed to help artists capture their unique vision. The company prefers to see themselves in the business of rule-bending.

This year Lensbaby introduced the addition of the Sweet 35 Optic to its Optic Swap System and the companies newest SLR creative effects camera lens, the Composer Pro.

“Changing the look of images from my Lensbaby lens with the Sweet 35 optic by quickly adjusting the aperture dial at the front of the optic has become habit-forming and allows me to create photographs I would never see through another lens,” said Craig Strong, Lensbaby Co-Founder and Chief Creative Officer.

Swinging away is BlackRapid where I meet Marc Gottula, Director of Sales. I express my concerns with the RS-4 that I use. The strap keeps extending to my knees after prolonged use. He suggests the RS-7 which I now have and love! Works great shooting football. One of my camera bodies has the RS-7 attached with a 70-200 2.8. It’s super fast to switch from the 400 2.8 on a monopod to the short lens on a fast break to the endzone. It’s a smooth transition and the strap never gets hung up on my neck or friction on my shirt caused by anti-slip rubber on traditional camera straps.
Svitlana Laptieva and Christian Vigilia spends time with the creator of the expandable studio photographer Brian Hedenberg.
Floating away I visit the incredibly inflatable Expandable Photo Studio by Massiera Industries and meeting up with creator Brian Hedenberg. From the size of a suitcase, the durable, compact, lightweight material expands in minutes into a photo studio. Their smallest selection measures 22ft x 15ft x 13 ft. Just slightly smaller than my detached garage, costing tens of thousands to build, the EPS is extremely affordable.

In a flash I spot the next evolution of lighting by Rogue photographic design.
At least that’s what I plan for my next workflow evolution by using Roque lighting tools for my speedlights. Roque Flash Benders, reflectors, bounce cards, diffusion panels, grids and filter kit give you lots of options for controlled lighting using small portable strobes.

Flying into orbit is Westcott’s new 43” Apollo Orb. The first octagonal softbox that doesn’t require an adaptor ring and the 16” x 30” Apollo Strip with it’s narrow profile, makes it an ideal hair, rim or accent light.

Back out of the cloud is Wiebetech, reengineering from the ground up, their RTX 220-QR Portable storage with RAID has never been more affordable and easier to use. WiebeTech is a brand of CRU-DataPort. The RTX220-QR provides a fast way to mirror, stripe or create a quick backup disk. Maybe I’ll finally get my digital life properly backed up and organized.

Camera Bits President and CEO Dennis Walker with Support Manager Bob Russell.
At right, photographing attendees at the Chimira lighting booth is Manager of Marketing Terry Monahan.

I ingest my way to the Camera Bits booth with President and CEO Dennis Walker and Support Manager Bob Russell featuring Photo Mechanic. The software is used daily by thousands of photographers worldwide as the hub of their digital workflow with convenience and speed. The image browser has some new features in their latest Version 5.0. 

New and improved professional look and feel with additional features in the main contact sheet view. Non-modal preview window can be kept open on a second monitor. Thumbnail strips can be either on top or on left. Crops can now be rotated to arbitrary angles to match the horizon, and the crop that is stored is compatible with several other popular applications. Previews can display blown/clipped highlights and underexposed/clipped shadows. Movies can be played internally and frames can be extracted with a crop applied. New and improved Export plug-ins. Ingest can now automatically begin upon flash card mount. Improved speed of browsing and operation by using internal database caches for user command and “sort/filtering” preferences. 
Sony Artisan Brian Smith, at left and Canon's Explorer of Light educator Ken Sklute give workshops on the PhotoPlus Expo trade show floor.
Secrets were told by celebrity portrait photographer Brian Smith as he shared the lessons he’s learned over the past 30 years capturing the faces of the famous, infamous and un-famous as a top magazine portrait photographer. Brian was speaking and doing shooting demos along with all of the Sony Artisans at the Sony booth on the PhotoPlus Expo trade show floor.

Just when you thought you’ve seen every variation of a business card two companies give you further options on what you can carry in your back pocket.

First I spotted Moo business cards using Moo
Printfinity printing technology that lets you print a different image on each Business Card, MiniCard, Postcard, Greeting Card or Sticker in a pack. Lay them out and you have a portfolio in your pocket. Nice to meet you, pick a card!

Next up is Pexagon Technology and their full color eBusiness cards. Plug in the slim USB device the size of a business card and your client will go directly to your website or launch a gallery of images. All your information can be imprinted on the outside of the device.

Exiting my way out I spot Fred Metzler, senior professional market representative for Canon, demonstrating the Canon Realis line of digital photo and video projectors.

The high-resolution projector uses liquid crystal on silicon technology to display all the detail and texture captured by your digital camera, projecting sharp seamless images with film like quality. Equipped with advanced color management settings, Realis projectors have everything needed to display digital photos and videos with exceptional color and accuracy in a compact unit.

Now I know what to do with my garage. Dump everything and convert into a home theater using a Realis projector.
The view from my room at the Marriott Marquis


Videos by Simon Pollock and Kurt Rogers of Think Tank Photo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Prepare to Enter the Workforce as Multimedia Journalists.

University of Miami students at front, left to right, are Jessica Daly, Danielle Peloquin, Cayla Nimmo, Katie Sikora, Jack Burrus and Sagette Van Embden with Matt Root and Natalie Edgar in the back row.

Last week I joined up with members of the American Society of Media Photographers for a presentation at the University of Miami School of Communication and moderated by Scherley Busch with panelists Jorge Parra, Matt Pace, Paul Morris, Chuck Fadely, Nancy Brown and myself.

It was a lively discussion on how to prepare to enter the workforce as a multimedia journalist.

As a staff photographer for a daily newspaper the discussion was an eye opener to hear from the perspective of photographers as business owners.

Topics included:
Branding your product: how to get noticed to find work. Professional business practices for visual imagers. Traditional and new emerging outlets for the photography market.

ASMP sponsored the panelists as Think Tank Photo provided free product with a random drawing for the students. A special thanks goes out to the fabulous Maggie Steber and Michelle Sellig for inviting us into the classroom.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Port of Miami tunnel-boring machine is fired up

Al Diaz Photo / The Miami Herald Staff
The mammoth earth-boring machine has been fired up, its systems tested and all is go to start drilling the $1 billion Port of Miami tunnel, project officials said Tuesday.
A day after receiving the final environmental permit from state regulators, Miami Access Tunnel, the project concessionaire, set the start of drilling for Thursday. Although they had initially set it for Wednesday upon receiving the state permit on Monday, MAT officials said they needed another day to ready the $45 million machine.
Read more:

Al Diaz Photo / The Miami Herald Staff
See More of the interactive graphic: The making of the port tunnel by Marcos A. Ruiz

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Project Bandaloop Perform Tonight During Sleepless Night Miami Beach

Photos by Al Diaz / Miami Herald Staff                                     For Photo Gallery Go To: Photo Gallery
Members of Project Bandaloop rehearse at SoundScape Park outside the New World Center, Washington Ave. and 17th St. for Sleepless Night, the overnight cultural extravaganza this weekend on Miami Beach. Project Bandaloop: a San Francisco-based aerial dance troupe shakes up how people perceive the environment and the art form.

This weekend, the determined and the caffeinated can catch an opera, check out pop art, gawk at giant floating fish, order up a poem, practice yoga and watch film clips about sleeplessness. 
All in one long night.
Sleepless Night, the all-night affair modeled on Nuit Blanche events in Paris, Montreal, Amsterdam and elsewhere, begins in Miami Beach at 6 p.m. Saturday and stretches until 6 a.m. with breakfast provided by Whole Foods the next morning. Read more: