Bob Krist Lecture

On Wednesday night, instead of watching the Presidential Debate at Hofstra University, I went to a lecture by renowned travel photographer Bob Krist. If you have ever read Outdoor Photographer, you are likely familiar with his informative and well written articles. Although he regularly shoots for National Geographic and other major clients, I found Bob to be very down to earth, and friendly.

His choice of gear may surprise you. He shoots with two D300’s and a handful of Nikon lenses basically ranging from 12mm to 200mm. In fact, to keep his kit light for an upcoming trip, he’s opting for two Nikon D90’s. This is refreshing to hear, as the D90 is a $1000 dollar camera which was not necessarily designed for “professionals”. However, as digital technology has improved at such an incredible rate over the past few years, even “prosumer” bodies are capable of producing output that is acceptable for national publications such as National Geographic. Yet, Bob made it clear; it’s not what camera you use, it’s all about being there. He joked that “if you want to take better pictures, stand in front of something more interesting.” I appreciated his humor and honesty.

Mr. Krist then gave a slideshow of his beautiful images from all over the world. He pointed out several important travel tips for photographers, and told stories of various adventures he’s experienced, both good, and bad. These days, travelling photographers are facing stricter guidelines, and carry on limitations. As a result, stolen gear from checked baggage is a major concern. Bob explained how he packs his gear for airline travel in a way that is sensible, and safe.

The next part of the lecture detailed his technical methods of taking photos. First, he made it clear that he would much rather “get it right in the camera”, instead of “pushing pixels in the digital darkroom”. For this reason, he still uses graduated Neutral Density filters to balance bright skies with dark foregrounds. He also uses a polarizing filter at high noon for aerial photography. I found this to be a very interesting technique, and a great way to take advantage of the bad light of mid day. If you only have a few days to photograph an area, you need to take advantage of every opportunity. Mr. Krist’s unique idea certainly allows you to do that. I also noticed that he uses color correction gels on his flash, the SB800. From the contents of his bag it appeared that he uses a standard CTO, and Window green gel to balance tungsten, and fluorescent lighting. He shoots in RAW 100% of the time, and uses a sturdy, but lightweight carbon fiber Gitzo tripod.

To conclude, Bob fielded questions from the audience. After this went on for a while, I had the opportunity to ask him a question. It wasn’t related to what his favorite lens was, or if he liked Mac or PC. It was about the recent additions of video capability to both the D90, and the new Canon 5D, along with a greater demand for web content. Today, many photographers are wondering if shooting video is going to become part of their job. I asked Mr. Krist, “Are any of your editors asking for video?” He answered that while video isn’t a specific request, multimedia packages are. He then went on to explain how he’s been working on “gathering sound” with a digital voice recorder for the past several years to add to slideshows. He added that it is a very effective medium which can help to tell a story, and get more of your work seen. He went on to show us two of his slideshows, one with recorded narration, and the other with sounds from the area he was shooting in. It was great to see these “extras” and get an inside look at how Mr. Krist is responding to changes in technology, and the industry. Bob then went on to explain how the future of editorial photography, especially for young people, is in the ability to present some sort of multimedia package. He advised that it is vital to learn Final Cut Pro software, and how to gather sound effectively. In fact, he just wrote an article about this subject for Outdoor Photographer. Check it out here.

After spending the evening listening to Bob Krist, I can honestly say that I’m glad I skipped the last Presidential debate. The media will dissect it in great detail over the next few days anyway. However, the chance to learn from a successful pro photographer with over 30 years of experience does not happen very often. For those people who couldn’t be there, he has a book for sale which features all of his travel photography tips. Check it out on his website here. I’d also like to take a second to thank Berger Bros. for setting up yet another great photography lecture here on Long Island, and making it free for camera club members.