Monday, January 31, 2011

Alert Diver, Winter 2011, on press at Quad Graphics

Last week I was in Sussex, Wisconsin for the press check of our first quarter, 2011 issue of Alert Diver. While I've been involved as a contributing photographer to dive publications for 30 years, it is only since I started as publisher of Alert Diver for the Divers Alert Network that I became involved with design, prepress, and ultimately the on-press process necessary to produce a magazine. To my surprise, I love the press runs, not because I'm a mascochist and like sleep deprivation in the frigid Midwest in the heart of winter. But to get the precise color fidelity the high quality photos that we run in Alert Diver deserve; it is necessary to be on press, as the magazine is printed, in a color-corrected viewing booth on the floor looking at pages with a talented printing professional who can translate subjective color tweaks to the physical realities high speed web press.

We now print Alert Diver at Quad Graphics, in a beautifully modern plant more than 1.7 million square feet under roof. The bindery is here as well, and then the magazines get shipped to another Quad facility for mailing. The infrastructure is quite impressive, but what pleases me the most is the expertise and eagerness to achieve printing perfection that we receive from the pressmen. This plant runs 24/7, so in the course of printing a 100-page magazine we'll meet people from every shift, and I can honestly say it didn't matter whether the magazine is running day or night, there was always a crew in place to listen to our concerns and make the correction to assure each page was the best it could be. Here's a quick backstage of the print experience.

We arrived at Quad Graphics on a gray and snowy day in January for this press run. Luckily, the -12 degree weather they had the week before missed us, and we had a balmy 20 degrees.

Brian Harper, our Medical Editor, was on hand to help out on this press run. As it was his first time on press the Quad staff showed him around the facility. That bottom shot is not any press we would use today, but memorabilia from the Quadracci family that founded Quad press and built an impressive printing empire. See for a bit of their history.

Maura Dunphy, our sales rep, joined us for a tour around the plant. It is all about ink and paper, and the big machines that put one on the other. In a plant like Quad there are many magazines being run simultaneously. Vogue was there when we were there, but even so, I didn't feel obliged to dress up for those 3:00 AM press calls!

Here are some miscellaneous shots of various pieces of the production process. The cover is by David Doubilet, an over/under of lemon sharks at Tiger Beach in the Bahamas. This issue of Alert Diver should begin arriving member mailboxes the first week of February.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Manatees at Three Sisters

I just spent a couple of days in Crystal River, Florida photographing manatees. Most of the photo opportunities were at Three Sisters Spring as the water clarity in other areas where the manatees congregate was marginal (or less). Yet, even though the water from the springs was clear inside Three Sisters, there were a LOT of manatees in residence, and it doesn't take much swimming by either manatees or snorkelers to degrade the visibility quickly. Obviously with creatures this large, and challenging water clarity, wide angle lenses were called for.

Paul Nicklen joined me for this adventure. He was scheduled to be in Tampa doing a lecture series for National Geographic and was able to take a few days for a combination recreational shoot/scouting mission. This was our first opportunity shooting together; and fun to share tips, passions, and war stories (although his war stories were better than mine).

Thanks to KC and Mary Beth for their outstanding hospitality and local knowledge!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Orange Bowl Swim Classic_2011

On January 4th our local pool hosted the 8th annual Orange Bowl Classic swim meet. This is the 8th time I've photographed the event, and the challenge is always how to get quality coverage that our PR guru, Andy Newman, can use to get the story out on the wire services yet do it differently than I've done in the past.

This year automatically presented some new opportunities because it ran in the afternoon, whereas I had always shot it in morning light previously. That changed which side of the pool I shot from and therefore the backgrounds were different.

From a technical challenge POV, our water clarity is normally stunning at the Jacobs Aquatic Center pool, but bring a couple hundred collegiate swimmers from the Midwest and the Northeast to the Keys in December and you can bet sunblock will be part of their pre-swim protocols. Of course, they slather it on just before jumping in, which is silly anyway, but the filters can't keep up and the water clarity suffers. Therefore, the shots that worked best are those with a very wide lens from very close. Doing so during a competition is difficult, but gratefully the coaches understand that I know enough to keep out of the way (barely).