It was raining when they arrived. This is a well-known phrase from the old Nat Geo coverages. The cold got in my soul, making me feel weak, numbing and making my eyes cross. The carousel at the Potomac’s edge was cramped and small. It wasn’t the country fair spinner, with its lush, hand-painted horses. The echoes of children’s laughter and the nostalgia of summer high school dates faintly wafting through it were not there. There is no field of dreams. It’s a simple plastic replica at the river’s edge. It was practical, reasonable, and possible. This makes many locations wonderful, despite their limitations.

As they do on many occasions when my photo-mad fever dreams have run aground in the harsh realities of a difficult location, my shoulders slumped. The crew was there and Matthew Pauli, a brilliant clown, was on his way. Permits were obtained and fees paid. Take the camera and take a picture.


There is nothing better than having a few flashes on hand in case you are faced with a bad situation. Any situation can be improved by good lighting. Even the below.

My first step was to change my camera to incandescent WB. You have to give the sky a chance to show color. ….backlight It must feel like the carousel is emitting light and color. The background was given life by two Profoto B1 units at full power, covered with half red and half double CTO gels. Matt, the star of the show, was illuminated by a Profoto 1×3 strip fitted with an egg cage. A B1 with the same, and an RFI 1×3 fitted with an egg cage, provided some pizzazz to the carousel critters up front. Two SB-5000 units slaved away with the larger strobes and pounded the nose of both the zebras and the carousel’s interior wall. Gotta bless Justin clamps. One of the SB-5000’s was attached to the horse’s tail. He seemed to not mind.

This was shot with a Nikon 24mm f1.4 lens and a D5 camera. It is possible to say that I had a great time despite all the negatives I mentioned above. I feel like a 2-year-old playing in the sandbox. I can happily use a shovel (D5 and lens), a bucket (some lights), or sand (even if it is wet). In my world, dismay is best when you get your eye in the camera. You have to, right? There have been millions of dollars paid. Many people have arrived at their expense, sometimes to their own inconvenience. They look at you as if you can make something of potentially nothing. That is what you should do in a friendly and convivial manner. The sub-basement corridors and dark thoughts about the unfair nature of it all remain in the photographic mind. You can let out your angst and howling at the hotel. Nice, huh?

Rich Harrington, ThinkTAP and RHED Pixel, has commissioned several shoots in DC. We will be sharing more details about the pix and the videos of their creation. It should be educational and fun. We are grateful to Matt, the clown, and the crew for making us laugh in the rain.