Katy Kinard’s God of Fireflies project

8 03 2016

My friend Katy Kinard​ is requesting help on launching her fourth album, God of Fireflies. If you like the styles of Sarah McLachlan, Nicole Nordeman, and David Wilcox, then you’ll love Katy’s music.

I met Katy online a few years ago when she asked for permission to use a photo of my friend Tom’s Virginia farm for the interior of her Lullaby Hymns CD. She sent me several CDs of her music. She plays the piano and guitar and has a really beautiful voice, too!

One of my personal favorites is Spring, from her Headed Back CD. Listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9l0dgvyYseo

I’m lending a hand by contributing signed and matted prints for patrons who donate $150 or more to her project!

Check out her Kickstarter page to learn more: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/katykinard/new-god-of-fireflies-cd-release-the-light

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Revisited: Richard Reed, musician

1 08 2014

Originally posted 9.01.2010

Back in the summer of 2010, I traveled to Maine for vacation and stopped in Providence, RI en route on assignment to photograph musician Richard Reed for Cochlear Americas. I was really happy with the way the portraits turned out and got some nice shots using my ring light.

A full-time musician who wears a cochlear implant, Reed is the developer of HOPE Notes, a cochlear implant music appreciation program. You can read all about my photography assignment and meet Richard Reed in the blog re-post below:

https://cindydyer.wordpress.com/2010/09/01/photo-assignment-richard-reed-musician/

Richard Reed 3





Published on www.relix.com!

25 11 2013

My friend and freelance writer/editor, Nancy Dunham, wrote a great recap about the ZZ Ward concert we saw at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. on September 28. One of my photographs accompanied her article, which you can read on the Relix website here

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ZZ Ward at the 9:30 Club

29 09 2013

I photographed ZZ Ward at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. last night with my freelance writer friend/neighbor, Nancy Dunham. She was on assignment for Relix magazine and I’m providing the photos to accompany her concert recap. I was shooting with my Nikkor 80-200 f2.8 and was only about 10-12 feet away from her, so I’m happy with the shots. The color was all over the place due to the gels on the lights. Sometimes she was neutral colored (top photo), the rest of the time she was pink, purple or Oompa Loompa orange—but that’s concert photography for you!

Learn more about ZZ Ward and her music here: http://zzward.com/

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

ZZ Ward lorez





Same time, last year: Kathy Mattea at The Birchmere

27 09 2013

Originally posted September 27, 2012

Just got back from a really great Kathy Mattea concert at The Birchmere tonight! Thanks again to my friend, Nancy Dunham, we sat in a great spot for me to get shots. Thanks to the lighting crew for spilling a bit more light on stage than they did for the John Hiatt concert last Friday—I was able to shoot at 1600-2000 ISO instead of pushing it to 3200 (plus adding exposure compensation!). I shot with my Nikon D300 and my Nikkor 80-400mm VR lens. Mattea sang many familiar old songs as well as several songs from her newly-released CD, Calling Me Home, about her native Appalachia.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Design Studio: “Hear This!” CD project for AAMHL

17 06 2013

I just completed this CD package design for AAMHL (Association of Adult Musicians with Hearing Loss). They are publishing the project through Amazon’s CreateSpace, so the CD will be available for purchase shortly.

My friend, Charles Mokotoff, plays two pieces on “Hear This!” I photographed Charles for the feature he wrote for the January/February 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine. You can see that post here.

Design © Cindy Dyer/Dyer Design. All rights reserved.

HearThis! CD Artwork Blog

Also on the CD:

Celloist PAUL SILVERMAN has performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center Concert Hall and the Strathmore Music Center.

Pianist, soloist and chamber musician JENNIFER CASTELLANO was commissioned to write music for the North/South Chamber Orchestra and was named the 2012 Commissioned Composer for New Jersey Music Teachers Association.

Pianist KATHRYN BAKKE received her Masters degree in Piano Performance from the University of Minnesota. She is a speaker, writer and advocate for better hearing loss access.

Singer/songwriter and certified hearing aid dispenser ELISSA LALA has made a career singing vocals for TV documentaries; she was hired by Aaron Spelling to sing “All the Things You Are” for the ABC miniseries Crossings.

Prolific singer/songwriter BLUE O’CONNELL works as a music practitioner at the University of Virginia Medical Center, performs at Charlottesville, VA coffeehouses, and has published a CD called “Choose the Sky.”





Published: American Songwriter

19 04 2013

My friend, writer Nancy Dunham, wrote a recap of the Emmylou Harris/Rodney Crowell/Richard Thompson concert from last month for AmericanSongwriter.com. Five of my photos accompany the article below:

http://www.americansongwriter.com/2013/04/emmylou-harris-rodney-crowell-richard-thompson-review/

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Published: Country Weekly

3 04 2013

My friend, freelance writer Nancy Dunham, just wrote a piece for Country Weekly about Emmylou Harris’ plea to consider adopting shelter animals. She brought out these two dogs at the very end of the concert and I ran over to get a few quick shots before she disappeared behind the stage. (Wish I could have gotten both dogs facing front, but it was either this shot or one of the tan dog’s rear end!)

You can read Nancy’s article here: http://www.countryweekly.com/news/emmylou-harris-makes-plea-dog-rescue

Learn more about Bonaparte’s Retreat here: http://bonapartesretreat.org/

CW Emmylou Published





The London Souls at The Hamilton

22 03 2013

The London Souls opened for Dumpstaphunk at The Hamilton in Washington, D.C. this past Wednesday. The band consists of lead singer/guitarist Tash Neal, drummer/vocalist Chris St. Hilaire, and newcomer guitarist/vocalist Stu Mahan.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

TheLondonSoulsCollage





Ivan Neville’s Dumpstaphunk band

22 03 2013

On Wednesday night I accompanied my friend Nancy (a freelancer writer covering the event for Relix magazine) to The Hamilton in Washington, D.C. to see Ivan Neville’s band, Dumpstaphunk, perform. Ivan is the son of music legend Aaron Neville. I virtually had unlimited access in this relatively small venue and it was GREAT to be able to move around, get up close and get some great shots. It was quite dark in the venue (as are most concert halls), so I was shooting with ISOs of 4000 and 5000, wide open, with exposure compensation added! Most of these were shot with my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. While you do get some noise in your images at those higher ISOs, they do not compare with the grain from pushing film in the old days. I love digital!

On guitar is Tony Hall (photo #1), Ian Neville and Nick Daniels; on keyboard is Ivan Neville, and the drummer is Nikki Glaspie (formerly with Beyonce’s all-girl band).

The show opener was a band called The London Souls. I’ll have a few photos of this band in the next post.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Dumpstaphunk collage





Published on www.relix.com again!

8 03 2013

My friend and freelance writer/editor, Nancy Dunham, wrote a great recap about the Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale concert we saw at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on Feb. 21. One of my photographs accompanies her article, which you can read in its entirety on the Relix website here.

BuddyJimRelixPost





Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale with Max Gomez at The Birchmere

22 02 2013

Thanks to my friend Nancy Dunham, a freelance writer, I got to photograph this concert at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on Tuesday night. I also got to meet Buddy Miller, Jim Lauderdale and Max Gomez after the show.

I must confess that I hadn’t heard of any of them before, so I wasn’t familiar with their music. The Birchmere was the first stop on the “Buddy and Jim Tour 2013,” which showcases Americana/country duets by these two singer/songwriter/music directors. Their band member include Fats Kaplin on pedal steel guitar and fiddle, Jay Weaver on bass (Weaver is also part of the contemporary Christian band, Big Daddy Weave), and Marco Giovino on drums. It was a really great show!

Buddy Miller is a producer for singers including Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin and Robert Plant. He is currently working with T Bone Burnett to produce the music in NBC’s Nashville. Jim Lauderdale is a Grammy-award-winning songwriter who has written hits for George Strait, the Dixie Chicks, Patty Loveless and Shelby Lynne. He is the longtime host of the Americana Music Awards. Buddy and Jim are hosts of the Buddy & Jim Radio Show on Sirius XM Outlaw Channel 60.

The opening act was singer/songwriter Max Gomez, whose music was part folk/part rock and highly enjoyable. (I couldn’t get over how much he resembles Jimmy Fallon!) I told Nancy that I thought his voice was reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor and Harry Chapin all rolled into one, with bluesy raspy tones woven in to make it his entirely his own.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

MaxBuddyJimNancylorez






From Celebrate Home Magazine: Gladys Roldan-de-Moras, Impressionist painter

16 02 2013

Gladys Roldan-de-Moras is our cover feature for our second issue of Celebrate Home Magazine, which was just published on Monday. I met Gladys in January when I was visiting my family in Texas. My sister, Debbie, introduced me to her and she graciously agreed to be interviewed and photographed for our magazine. Debbie and Gladys were “band moms” when their eldest children (Landen and Rafael, respectively) were in high school together several years ago.

She is an incredibly talented artist and spending the entire afternoon with her was both an honor and a memorable experience! I absorbed everything she said and we found that we have a lot in common. I look forward to the opportunity to paint alongside her in a future visit to San Antonio!

Talent runs in the family, too. Her eldest son, Rafael Moras, a tenor, is a 2006 NFAA Young ARTS Winner in Classical Voice, United States Presidential Scholar in the Arts, and a Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions 2009-2010 National Semi-Finalist. Rafael is currently a second year graduate student at the Shepherd School of Music at Rice University studying under Dr. Stephen King, Rice’s Professor of Voice and Chair of Vocal Studies, under the generous gift of the “Renee Fleming Endowed Scholarship in Voice” and the “James and Rose Marie King Prize in Voice.” You can see Rafael Moras in HBO’s Master Class 2010 with Placido Domingo here and read more about his experience in his article here. His website can be found here.

Glady’s middle son, David Moras, is a ceramic artist working on his BFA. When her daughter Annie isn’t posing for many of her mother’s paintings, she is working on her degree in psychology and music. Her husband, Rafael Sr., is an engineering professor, poet and musician. He composes religious music and sets the music to religious plays that his mother has written.

Reader spreads version (my favorite!): Celebrate Home Winter 2013 Spreads

Single pages version: Celebrate Home Winter 2013

You can purchase just this feature in magazine format for just $4 plus shipping here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/515281

You can order a print copy of the magazine (at cost, plus shipping) here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/513977

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Gladys Layout





Hearing Loss Magazine: 2012 Recap

28 11 2012

The last issue in 2012 of the Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM), published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA), just arrived in member mailboxes last week. I design the bimonthly magazine and provide photography services to HLAA. Here is a recap of the issues published in 2012.

Tina and Tom Hamblin were the cover feature for the January/February 2012 issue. Tina contacted me in fall 2010 after seeing the wedding photos I shot for Todd and Abbie Hlavacek in September 2010. Todd and Abbie are also members of HLAA and Abbie wrote her cover story for the May/June 2008 issue (recapped here). Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

I first met Tina and Tom when they arrived for their engagement photo session at my favorite location to shoot, Green Spring Gardens, in Alexandria, VA in spring 2011. After we did our portraits around the garden, Tom started doing cartwheels (he’s a gymnastics coach) and I captured him in full motion—making it the first time I’ve ever photographed someone doing anything gymnastic. I captured him in his wedding finery doing some handstands and cartwheels on his wedding day as well! My colleague Ed and I photographed Tina and Tom’s wedding on October 8, 2011 in Kurtz Beach, Maryland.

I asked Tina and Tom if they would write a sort of “his and her” story for the magazine about their respective hearing loss, how they met, and how they support each other. The title of their article, “Taking the plunge,” refers to both the turning point in their friendship and their recent marriage. You can find Tina blog’s here and Tom’s all-things-gymnastic blog here. Their cover story is available in pdf format here: Tom&TinaHamblin Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao focused on the best practices for hearing assessment and hearing aid fitting in Getting it Right the First Time: Best Practices in Hearing Aid Fitting; Gael Hannon showed us a practical look at information that would be helpful to those who have hearing loss in What the Professionals Should Tell Us; Michael Ann Bower discussed what people with hearing loss can do to avoid the misdiagnosis of dementia when hearing loss is the issue in Hearing Loss and Dementia; and Barbara Kelley interviewed young jazz singer Mandy Harvey in Musically Inclined.

The March/April issue featured the host city for the upcoming Convention 2012—Providence, Rhode Island. HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, presented a comprehensive guide to the upcoming convention in this issue.

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao discussed cochlear implants in Plugged in for Sound: Cochlear Implants Today; Scott Bally outlined the Five Most Effective Speechreading Strategies; Renowned audiologist Mark Ross talked about hi HealthInnovations Hearing Aid Dispensing Program; Meredith Low, a pro at planning and making sure that the communication environment is arranged so she can enjoy the party as much as her guests, offered great tips in Welcome! Easy Entertaining for People with Hearing Loss; Pamela Selker Rak shared her experiences with hearing loss in Lost in Translation: How a “Lost and Found” Friendship Opened My Eyes to Hearing Loss; Lise Hamlin focused on HLAA’s efforts in Advocacy: A Few Hot Issues, and HLAA member Netegene Fitzpatrick crafted a special Word Search puzzle for her fellow members to solve.

Richard Einhorn, award-winning composer, was the cover feature for the May/June 2012 issue. In his article, Einhorn wrote about his sudden hearing loss and how, with his clever uses of existing technology, he continues to work and live well with hearing loss. You can read excerpts on my blog post here. For the full article, click on this link: Richard Einhorn

I had the honor and pleasure of photographing Richard in March 2012. Barbara Kelley (HLM’s editor-in-chief) and I met up with him at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After a great photo session, we dropped Richard off at his hotel and picked him up later to take him to the Meyerhoff, where his work, Voices of Light, was being performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with Marin Alsop conducting. Einhorn composed the piece in 1994, inspired by the 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Live performances accompany a screening of the film.

Voices of Light has been performed more than 200 times by major orchestras all over the world. It has been called “a great masterpiece of contemporary music” and “a work of meticulous genius.” The libretto is based on excerpts from a variety of ancient writings, most of it from Medieval female mystics, and scored for a small orchestra, chorus and soloists. For me, the performance was a haunting, incredibly moving and very profound visual and aural experience. You can learn more about Richard Einhorn on his website here. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Also in this issue: Barbara Kelley interviewed Richard Einhorn to learn more about his work and future projects; Therese Walden, president of the American Academy on Audiology, discussed the UnitedHealthcare® hi HealthInnovations hearing device benefit program in Self-Diagnosis, Self-Treatment: The Wave of the Future?; Brad Ingrao wrote about water-resistant hearing aids and cochlear implants in Jump Right In! Water-Resistant Hearing Technology; Lise Hamlin revisited the Americans with Disabilities Act 22 years later in Accessible Design for People with Hearing Loss; and Yoona Ha revealed the special bond with her grandmother in My Six-Million-Dollar Grandmother.

Laurie Pullins was the cover feature for the July/August 2012 issue. Back in February, right before my photography exhibit (Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio) opened at Green Spring Gardens, Laurie sent me a message that she would love to come see it in person (she’s been a big supporter and fan of my work for a few years now) and she was trying to coordinate a time when she could accompany her husband to the Washington, D.C. area on a business trip. It so happens that I had been catching up with her blog, Dance with Sound, and had just suggested to Barbara that we entice Laurie to write for the magazine. I pitched the idea to Laurie and said that if she could come up to see my show anytime in March or April, I could shoot the portraits of her for the feature then. We wanted to keep it a secret from even her closest friends so that she could surprise them; only her husband and children knew about it. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Laurie is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and I am thrilled that she has a spotlight in the magazine with beautiful photos and her honest and inspiring writing. See Laurie’s feature on my blog post here or download the pdf here: Laurie Pullins Feature

Also in this issue: Brad Ingrao helps you understand your hearing loss and what you need to hear better in Beyond the Beeps: Needs Assessments and Outcome Measures; Lisa and Des Brownlie shared their experiences of their babies born with hearing loss in Two Children, Two Hearing Losses; Sam Trychin discussed research that has uncovered information about another built-in, inherited type of pain that also has survival value—social pain—in Hearing Loss and Social Pain; Lisa Tseng of hi HealthInnovations shows the company’s model for how to reach those who need hearing help in Accessible and Affordable Hearing Health Care; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reveaks her personal experiences resulting from the fruits of HLAA’s labor in Newborn Hearing Screening: A Success Story; and Viola LaBounty expresses her improved hearing loss through her poem, Digital Technology: My World Alive.

Melissa Puleo Adams, a former San Diego Chargers cheerleader, was our cover feature for the September/October 2012 issue. I had the opportunity to meet and photograph Melissa when she was visiting her family here in Virginia in May. The title of her feature, Sixth Time’s a Charm, is in reference to her trying out six times to be a Charger Girl cheerleader. She persevered despite the rejections and made it on the sixth try. Her fellow Charger Girls were very supportive of her and her hearing loss. Melissa owns her own web and graphic design firm in California. You can see her web design work hereCover photo © Cindy Dyer  (Read Melissa’s full feature in my blog post here.)

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao provided an in-depth look at three alternative hearing systems in Middle Ear Implants and Bone Conduction Hearing Devices; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, revealed highlights in her Convention 2012 Wrap-up; Susan Clutterbuck wrote about the results of the EARtrak survey and if they reveal whether or not consumers’ opinions are being heard by their hearing health care providers in Improving Health Care—Make Your Voice Heard!; Ronnie Adler shared great stores about how Walk4Hearing Funds are put to good use in local communities in Rewarding Great Ideas—The Benefits of the Walk4Hearing; and Scott J. Bally showed how NVRC is changing lives in the community in NVRC: A Model Community Center Improving Communication.

Marisa Sarto was the cover feature for the November/December 2012 issue. I met Marisa in Providence, R.I. this past June during HLAA Convention 2012. I was going to profile her for our Seen & Heard column but after learning about her photo book project, we decided to make her autobiographical story a main feature for the magazine. I photographed her one afternoon in a park near the hotel. Cover photo © Cindy Dyer

Marisa’s inspiration for her book-in-progress, Hear Nor There: Images of an Invisible Disability, came from her experiences as a woman growing up with a hearing loss that made her feel self-conscious and set apart from others. The project will be a documentary monograph, showcasing photographs and stories of individuals of varying ages, ethnicities and genders and their challenges of living with a hearing loss. Learn more about the project on her website here and sample images and narratives here. Download and read her feature article here: Marisa Sarto Feature

Also in this issue: Audiologist Brad Ingrao’s article, Better Hearing, Better Health, explored the relationship between hearing loss and health-related quality of life; HLAA’s Director of Marketing and Events, Nancy Macklin, showed us why It’s Time to Head West! with her Convention 2013 Sneak Preview; Hayleigh Scott, owner of Hayleigh’s Cherished Charms, and Netegene Fitzpatrick proved there isn’t a generation gap among people with hearing loss in their feature, A Unlikely Friendship; HLAA’s Director of Public Policy, Lise Hamlin, reported good news in Shopping for Phones; long-time HLAA member Vern Thayer explained why he is Lucky that he discovered HLAA in 1983; and HLAA members George Kosovich and Marisa Sarto were both profiled in Seen & Heard.

 





Published on www.relix.com!

19 11 2012

My friend and freelance writer/editor, Nancy Dunham, wrote a great recap for http://www.relix.com about the John Hiatt concert we saw at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on September 21. One of my photographs accompanies her article, which you can read on the Relix website here.





At The Birchmere: Sam Bush and Del McCoury

19 11 2012

My friend Nancy and I had a great time at The Birchmere in Alexandria last night and I had a great vantage point to get these shots of legendary bluegrass musicians Del McCoury and Sam Bush. We’re usually seated mid-way back in the venue but this time we got spots to the right of the stage, not more than 20 feet away from the performers!

Nancy Dunham is a freelancer writer/editor and was covering the performance for a music publication. Thanks to Nancy’s generous invites, I’ve also had the pleasure of photographing and meeting Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap on August 15 (see photos here) as well as John Hiatt on Sept. 21 (see photos here) and Kathy Mattea on September 26 (see photos here), both performing at The Birchmere.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Lisa Hannigan’s “I Don’t Know” video

29 10 2012

A fellow blogger (quilt and sewing artist Wendi Gratz of Shiny Happy World) shared this very creative video on her latest posting and I love it as much as she does. Be sure to watch it to the end—the tune is catchy and the paper cutwork is amazing!





Published on www.relix.com!

19 10 2012

My friend and freelance writer, Nancy Dunham, wrote a great recap for http://www.relix.com about the Kathy Mattea concert we saw at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA on September 26. One of my photographs accompanies her recap! I photographed Kathy Mattea with Nancy after the concert (at right).

Check out Nancy’s recap of the concert here and see more of her work on her website here. Thanks for the exposure, Nancy!





Revisited: Shine on, shine on, harvest moon…

30 09 2012

Originally posted September 23, 2008

En route to visit Barb and Dean in Spokane on Saturday, September 13, we drove past miles and miles of wheat fields and as the land became more golden in the late afternoon light, we noticed the makings of a harvest moon.

Whenever I hear the words, “harvest moon,” I always remember a very old Ruth Etting album (heaven only knows where I found it) that I eventually gave to a friend’s husband to add to his large music collection. I just did a search and I actually found the recording! The only words I could remember were “shine on, shine on harvest moon…for me and my guy.” (I sing it true to her old-fashioned vibrato, of course).

Etting revived the song in Ziegfield Follies in 1931. Click here to find it on youtube.com. And if you’re a Liza Minnelli fan, click here for her rendition of the song.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

_____________

ADDENDUM: Thanks to fellow blogger, Deborah Rose Reeves, for her recent posting of this poem by Ted Hughes.

The flame-red moon, the harvest moon,
Rolls along the hills, gently bouncing,
A vast balloon,
Till it takes off, and sinks upward
To lie on the bottom of the sky, like a gold doubloon.
The harvest moon has come,
Booming softly through heaven, like a bassoon.
And the earth replies all night, like a deep drum.

So people can’t sleep,
So they go out where elms and oak trees keep
A kneeling vigil, in a religious hush.
The harvest moon has come!

And all the moonlit cows and all the sheep
Stare up at her petrified, while she swells
Filling heaven, as if red hot, and sailing
Closer and closer like the end of the world.

Till the gold fields of stiff wheat
Cry `We are ripe, reap us!’ and the rivers
Sweat from the melting hills.

by Ted Hughes.





Kathy Mattea at The Birchmere

27 09 2012

Just got back from a really great Kathy Mattea concert at The Birchmere tonight! Thanks again to my friend, Nancy Dunham, we sat in a great spot for me to get shots. Thanks to the lighting crew for spilling a bit more light on stage than they did for the John Hiatt concert last Friday—I was able to shoot at 1600-2000 ISO instead of pushing it to 3200 (plus adding exposure compensation!). I shot with my Nikon D300 and my Nikkor 80-400mm VR lens. Mattea sang many familiar old songs as well as several songs from her newly-released CD, Calling Me Home, about her native Appalachia.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Friday night at The Birchmere

22 09 2012

I had the opportunity to do some photography during the John Hiatt concert tonight at The Birchmere in Alexandria, VA. He has such energy (he just turned 60 last month) and is the epitome of cool. It was a great concert!

Shooting photos in low-level light is quite challenging, but I have really come to enjoy it. Most of these images were shot on at least 3200 ISO, Nikon D300 with my Nikkor 80-400 VR lens handheld, wide open aperture in most cases. The gel lights were especially tricky and auto white balance wasn’t always the way to go, so I kept switching my white balance options to compensate for various color hues. Thanks to my friend and freelance music and entertainment writer, Nancy Dunham, for offering me this great opportunity to shoot concert photos again! Below are some of my favorite images from the evening.

In the photos below are: legendary singer/songwriter John Hiatt (top two photos), guitarist and Nashville producer Doug Lancio, bassist and singer Nathan Gehri (two members of The Combo) and the last photo is of Joe Pug (the opening act)

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Lyle Lovett at Wolf Trap

16 08 2012

Last night I went to Wolf Trap to see Lyle Lovett and his Acoustic Group perform. Nancy Dunham, my neighbor/friend/freelance writer, interviewed him last week for a music publication and he invited her to the concert and she in turn invited me. We picked up our guest passes and my photo pass, which allowed me to photograph from a designated spot on the sidelines for the first three songs.

Obviously, flash was out due to the distance from the stage. This didn’t stop some people in the audience using their iPhones with flash from 100 feet or more away! I definitely knew I had to bring my longest zoom—my Nikon 80-400 VR lens f/4.5-5.6. Next time I’m able to do something like this, I’ll be bringing a monopod, too (another photographer was there and used a monopod, but he didn’t have a powerful zoom, so I imagine his shots weren’t nearly as close as mine were). I braced myself against a wall and held my breath for all of these shots. I was also shooting at my highest ISO—3200—and wide open at 4.5. Some images were shot with exposure compensation, too. All in all, not too bad for handheld—in low light and variable light and with distance restrictions.

After the concert we went backstage to meet him, and Nancy introduced me as “a fellow Texan,” so that definitely helped to break the ice. Mr. Lovett (may I call you Lyle?) is as gracious, humble and down-to-earth as he is talented! The last shot in series of photos below is Lyle with Nancy. I highly recommend that if you have a chance to see him in concert, do so. While his upbeat songs had me bobbing my head and tapping my feet, I loved the ballads—heartfelt and passionately delivered.

I’ve told Nancy that I’m available “anytime, anywhere” to accompany her as a guest to a music venue; she’ll have her own personal photographer! Nancy, thank you, thank you, thank you for this opportunity. I’m a new Lyle Lovett fan and had a blast photographing and meeting him.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Laurie Pullins: Dances with Sounds

17 07 2012

Laurie Pullins is the “cover girl” for the July/August 2012 issue of the Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA).

Here’s how Laurie came to be the latest HLAA member to grace the magazine’s cover. Back in February, right before my photography exhibit (Garden Muse: A Botanical Portfolio) opened at Green Spring Gardens, Laurie sent me a message that she would love to come see it in person (she’s been a big supporter and fan of my work for a few years now) and she was trying to coordinate a time when she could accompany her husband to the Washington, D.C. area on a business trip.

It so happens that I had been catching up with her blog, Dance with Sound, and had just suggested to Barbara Kelley that we entice Laurie to write a feature article for the magazine. Barbara is the editor of the magazine and HLAA’s deputy executive director (she is a Sneezeguard Heiress as well—check out her hospitality blog here). I pitched the idea to Laurie and said that if she could come up to see my show anytime in March or April, I could shoot the portraits of her for the feature then. We wanted to keep it a secret from even her closest friends so that she could surprise them; only her husband and children knew about it.

She was here about three days and in addition to getting some beautiful shots of her at a local park and in my studio, she was able to do the tourist thing, too. Michael and I took her to the Air Force Memorial and the Pentagon Memorial and we did quite a bit of drive-by sightseeing as well. Laurie is an avid photographer and a fellow Nikonian. We had such a great time during her visit and she was on pins and needles with excitement about keeping it a secret, especially to her friend Jennifer Thorpe, whom she sees every month when Jen comes to her city to work. Even Jen didn’t know about it until the issue was released!

Laurie is as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and I consider her a very dear friend now. I appreciate her support of my work and am thrilled that she has a spotlight in the magazine with beautiful photos and her honest and inspiring writing. Much love for and appreciation of you, Laurie!

Below is Laurie’s feature in its entirety or you can download the pdf here: Laurie Pullins Feature

Dances with Sounds by Laurie D. Pullins

We enter this world with nothing and leave it with nothing. In between there is a “dance” called life. What we do with that dance defines who we are and how we embrace the world around us.

It’s 11:34 a.m. and I see the rain falling on the pavement outside. I’m enamored by the glitter of each raindrop as it splatters in the puddles between the uneven blocks of sidewalk; I’m compelled to go outside and play. As I dance in the puddles, weaving through the trees lining the sidewalk, I catch a glimpse of a small cat pouncing through the grass and I am again compelled to follow after it.

It is springtime in 1959 and as a small child collecting rain and grass all over my tiny, wet feet, I couldn’t be happier. Living in a small town in upstate New York, there is not much to hear on a daily basis, with only a grocery store and a post office as the main businesses of the town. I am like a sponge soaking up the new information being presented to me and I don’t even realize that I am missing the noise of my surroundings, until I take an unexpected path and darted across the street, barely being missed by an oncoming car. My mother, Betty, calls out to me and I simply do not respond. Here begins my “Dance with Sound…”

EARLY YEARS
I was the first child for my parents and was full of mischief and was often disobedient. By the time I was 18 months old they became uneasy about my lack of speech but did not connect it with hearing loss. Even though I was not verbalizing like other children my age, I was highly observant and always seemed to notice things first before anyone else did.

My severe-to-profound hearing loss was diagnosed at the age of two, shortly after the “running across the street after the cat” incident. My parents were told that I was deaf—not completely so, but to a degree that I would probably never learn to speak normally or understand spoken language without a great deal of therapy and training. Their dreams were shattered and they were deeply distressed and discouraged when they heard the words “bilateral,” “congenital,” “sensorineural.” It was suggested that I could be sent to an institution for the deaf where I would learn sign language as a means of communication. This choice usually meant that children sent there never learned to talk and communicate normally.

Shortly after meeting with an audiologist and psychologist at Children’s Hospital in Buffalo, they were encouraged because I still had some residual hearing and had been responding to training and voice stimuli. With extensive effort and training I could possibly be mainstreamed into the hearing world. From that moment on, they were focused on guiding me through the long and difficult process of learning to communicate verbally.

They were naively optimistic and unaware about the challenges that were ahead but they persevered. They knew they did not want me to be trapped in a world of silence. It was unconventional in the late 1950s and early 60s to teach children who were hard of hearing or deaf to speak.

I began therapy three times a week after my hearing loss diagnosis. I was fitted with my first hearing aid, which was a bulky body aid that I wore on my chest. After the birth of my brother, we moved from New York to Ohio. I continued with speech therapy three days a week at the Speech & Hearing Center in Derby Hall at Ohio State University until I started public school. There was no organized program for deaf children but I was fortunate to have enthusiastic therapists.

My father credits my mother, a teacher, for ensuring my speech and hearing training and spending hours on end with me. She enrolled in the John Tracy Correspondence course at home and got a special packet each month. This program gave many practical suggestions and encouragement and answered many questions. We would sit at the kitchen table every day going through the scrapbook that she made with various words and matching pictures cut out of magazines and catalogs.

At the age of five, I entered the deaf program in the Columbus public school system for kindergarten. My first teacher was Mrs. Card, who was the wife of the director of Deaf Education. I vividly remember sitting on her lap in front of a mirror with my hand on her throat, trying to imitate and form the sounds and words that she was making. I was reading at the third grade level by the time I entered first grade because I had to learn to read in order to learn to speak. I was mainstreamed in the public school systems from first grade on and had speech therapy through the eighth grade.

FAMILY LIFE
I had the privilege to grow up in a loving home. My family included my parents, Ed and Betty Royer, my two brothers, Dan and Doug (who was later diagnosed with a hearing loss), my sister, Kathy, two sets of grandparents, numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins who did everything within their power, no matter what the sacrifice was, to include me in the hearing world that was so familiar to them. They were great “therapy” for me! (The Royer family, from left, back: Kathy, Doug and Laurie; left, front: Danny, mother Betty and father Ed)

Still, the challenge of growing up as a child with a hearing loss in a hearing world was overwhelming and frustrating for me at times. I didn’t fit in the hearing world. I didn’t fit in the deaf world either because I did not know any sign language. I was fortunate to have good, understanding teachers. I even had a science teacher who shaved his mustache so I could read his lips!

As a teenager in the 60s and 70s, life was hard. Peer pressure reared its ugly head and I felt isolated. I went to a large high school in Centerville, Ohio, with more than 550 students in my graduating class. I had very few friends because I “talked funny” and couldn’t hear very well. I contemplated suicide several times but worked through my issues with the help of my support system. I couldn’t use the phone and even if I wanted to communicate with someone, I had to do it by mail or in person.

I just wanted someone to listen to me and validate my feelings. I wanted to have a sense of belonging. Thankfully, I had a wonderful family. However, not every teenager has that in today’s world. It was a struggle to have a conversation in the dark or hang out with a group of friends when multiple people were speaking. I knew firsthand the frustration of trying to understand what people were saying when I could not read or see their lips.

I also knew what it was like to misunderstand others and be misunderstood. It was difficult to meet new people because they just did not understand or did not want to take the time to talk to me. I was often labeled as a snob because people did not understand that I did not hear them when they called out to me. I had a small circle of friends, but still felt lonely because I was not always included in their activities. I had a few boyfriends but was never invited to a high school dance or prom. I immersed myself in books and music. I took swimming lessons and joined a synchronized swimming team, took piano lessons, wrote poetry, took gymnastics, learned baton twirling, and was involved in my youth group at church and Girl Scouts. I also had several regular babysitting jobs in the neighborhood. Deep down in my heart I wanted to get married and have a family, but I did not think it was possible with a hearing loss. A part of my world was taken away from me because it was a common misconception of our society at that time that not being able to hear well would hinder me from having a normal life. I became good at bluffing and hiding my hearing loss.

COLLEGE AND MARRIED LIFE
After graduating from high school in 1975, I was determined to start a new life with new friends and new goals. As I entered college that fall with a full scholarship, my plan was to leave the past behind and focus on getting my college degree in accounting so that I could have a career, travel and be independent. There were no accommodations for students with hearing loss, so I had to work twice as hard to “get the message.”

The freshman classes had at least 150 students and were in large auditoriums, making it difficult to take notes and read lips at the same time. But, the best thing that happened to me that first year was meeting my husband, Steve Pullins, who was a senior at the time.

My hearing loss was never an issue for him and he was patient and kind (and still is!) dealing with it. My mother knew he was serious about our relationship when he built me a bookcase for my books as a Christmas present!

Steve and I were engaged the following spring and married in November 1976. Steve served as an officer in the U.S. Navy right out of college. We moved around quite a bit the first few years of our marriage. This made it difficult for me to continue with my college education. Every time we moved, I transferred my credits and enrolled in classes. After a professor told me that I needed psychological help because I could not understand her (another misconception), I dropped the class and put my college education on hold with a promise to my parents that I would return someday to finish my degree. (Left: Steve and Laurie on their wedding day, November 13, 1976)

IN THE WORKPLACE
In 1997, I decided to get a part-time job to help with our finances. It was a scary time for me because I had not worked with the public in a long time and knew that I faced many challenges. Among other things, I needed a position that did not require using the phone. I found a job working as a teller in a credit union. I had to ask customers to face me so I could read their lips. The staff and my co-workers were supportive and helped me when they could. This renewed my desire to return to school in my 40s. (Laurie with her siblings in 2006, from left—Doug, Kathy and Dan)

When I enrolled at the University of Tennessee the Office of Disability Services contacted me. They offered to provide sign language interpreters for my classes. When I told them that I was oral and did not sign, they told me that they had transcribers available. Two transcribers came to every single one of my classes with two computers. I had a computer in front of me and they had the other one. The transcribers used a special program and typed almost word for word everything that was said in class. I could read everything on the screen in front of me (and could sit anywhere in the classroom) and participate. After class, the transcript was saved in a file and e-mailed to me for my notes. I had the best notes. As an added bonus, at my graduation everything was transcribed for me (and others) on the Jumbotron in the stadium! I was glad I waited to return to college when I did because more than 25 years ago there were few resources available for people with hearing loss.

My mother lost her battle with pancreatic cancer in 1992, but I kept my promise and graduated from college in 2003. I wore her picture on my gown as I walked across the podium. Mom was always there for me. And she still is, in a way. I truly believe she is my guardian angel, watching over all of us.

A RICH FAMILY LIFE
Steve and I have been blessed with four beautiful children—Jason, Chris, Brad, and Marissa. My mother always commented that our children were good “therapy” for me because my days were filled with teaching them to talk and conversing with them. They learned to take their pacifiers out of their mouths so that I could read their lips. Our children learned to be my “ears” for me at a very young age. They were trained how to talk on the phone and had to learn telephone etiquette to relay messages for me. They learned some valuable coping skills since I did not always hear everything that was going on. (Left, Christmas 2011: (back) Steve, son Jason and grandson Jackson, sons Brad and Chris, daughter Marissa’s boyfriend Howy Moulton; (front) Laurie, daughter-in-laws Jessica and Caitlyn (holding Madelyn), daughter Marissa Pullins holding Wyatt Moulton. Photo © Sabrina Lafon Photography)

They are our greatest accomplishments and successful young adults who are sensitive to others who are “differently-abled.” Many other highlights of our marriage included moving nine times in twelve years with the Navy and living in six different states, career changes and raising our four children.

PAYING IT FORWARD
I believe we were fashioned for fellowship and formed for friendships. My definition of friendship can often be defined more lasting than a marriage and closer than a brother or sister. The most unlikely people can end up as friends and I feel that often has to do with where we are in life.

I’ve had some wonderful friendships over the years but since I came to terms with my hearing loss and started my cochlear implant journey, some of my closest friends are also on a hearing journey as well.

I joined HLAA in 2005 when I started losing what little bit of hearing I had and soon discovered that HLAA was a lifeline for others like I am who are affected by hearing loss. I would not be where I am in my life if it wasn’t for their encouragement, advocacy, information, and support. Not everyone has that type of support and that is where HLAA comes in at the national and local level. I have used the Internet as an opportunity to connect, meet and even mentor to others, including parents of deaf children. I am passionate about HLAA and it is no accident that I am in a position to “pay it forward” and help others with the challenges that they face every day. (Above: HLA of Knoxville Christmas party; Laurie is in the front row, far right.)

Someone asked me once that if I could name the one person who has made a difference in my life, who would it be and why. Although I’ve been blessed with many friends and supportive people, it would be my mother. She was a great advocate for me and my younger brother, Doug, and did everything in her power to help us be the successful people we are today. Because of her love and dedication, I can “pay it forward” and advocate for others with hearing loss. Mom is still very much a part of my life today.

WHY I DANCE
When I started my cochlear implant journey in 2005, I created a blog and named it “Laurie’s Dance with Sound.” Little did I know that I would embrace the world of dance in a brand new way six years later.

In January of 2011, Steve and I walked into the Let’s Dance Ballroom Dance Studio in our small town of Maryville, Tennessee, to explore ballroom dancing. We found a new passion that we could enjoy together as a couple in our new lives as empty nesters. Steve and I have been dancing the “dance of life,” so to speak, for the last 36 years and were looking forward to dancing together in a new and different way. After a few weeks of lessons, something stirred inside of me and I knew then that I needed more than just a few sessions a week. In addition to dancing with my husband, I started private lessons with our dance instructor to explore the world of ballroom dancing on a new and different level.

During one of my private dance lessons, Chris Rose, my dance instructor, asked me the question, “Why do you want to dance?” The question caught me off guard. I have pondered it ever since, searching for some better answers. As long as I can remember, music has always been a part of my life. Even though I could not hear well, it filled my heart with emotion and needed no words.

Victor Hugo describes it perfectly when he says, “Music expresses that which cannot be put into words and cannot remain silent.” When I wore my hearing aids, music was just “pretty noise.” I would play it as loud as I could so I could feel the beat and rhythm through the vibrations and sounds. Throughout the years, I have expressed music through many different forms, whether it was by playing the piano, ringing hand bells in church, dancing liturgically, signing to music, and even swimming on a synchronized swim team.

In August 2005, I underwent surgery for my first cochlear implant, and surgery for another cochlear implant followed in January 2007. These two surgeries changed my hearing and life dramatically. For the first time in my life, I was hearing sounds that I had never heard before, sounds others take for granted. I spent a year in auditory-verbal therapy relearning how to hear with my new “ears.” Now that I can hear almost perfectly with my cochlear implants—the sounds of music changed for me and became multi-dimensional with the variations of the different instruments and voices.

When I dance, I can leave the stressors of daily life outside the dance room door. I lose myself in the music and the dance. I cannot go more than a few days without music. And now I cannot go more than a few days without dance. I cannot find all the words to explain how I feel, but I do know that ballroom dancing has changed something deep inside me, and it is something that cannot be hidden or controlled.

When I dance, I feel a shift in my spirit and lose myself in the rhythm of the music on the dance floor. When I wear my dance “hat,” I only know that I am listening and responding to the music playing in my ear, and it makes me feel whole. Learning to ballroom dance has ignited a fervent passion and desire that I cannot deny. For when I dance, it is just the music and me.

Dancing lets me live a dream that I have always had. Ballroom dancing has allowed me to let my hair down and be free. It helps me release the tension and stress I encounter in my daily dance of life, keeping my body and brain active, and helping me with my mental health. I have Meniere’s disease, which is a disorder of the inner ear that affects hearing and balance, characterized by episodes of vertigo, dizziness, and occasional “drop attacks.” I am learning how to balance and control my body and have had fewer episodes since I started dancing! I am gaining more confidence and coordination in my body, which is resulting in a better posture and a more positive outlook on life.

My dance instructor and his colleagues at the dance studio know that they have given me a new lease on life. Their faith, belief and trust in me that I can dance in spite of my challenges speak volumes. Chris is so patient with me, yet firm with constructive criticism. Since I’ve started dancing, I’ve performed four different routines with my husband, Steve, or with Chris and have entered and placed in several local ballroom dance competitions. I am nervous right up to the time of each performance but as soon as the music starts, the butterflies in my stomach go away and I just dance.

What a wonderful feeling it is to show my joy, my emotions, and deep gratitude that I am able to do what I love as I move across the floor with my dance partner. I would not have done this without the miracle of sound through my cochlear implants, and especially without the support of my parents, family and friends.

My mother always encouraged me to use the gifts that I was given and NEVER gave up on me. She said in 1974, “From our standpoint it is worth it all. I feel that even with all the modern help now available, too many parents set their sights too low and give up too easily. As a result, many deaf children are not realizing their full potential.”

A CHANGED LIFE
It doesn’t take much for the tears to well up in my eyes and start flowing down my cheeks when I hear the joyous sounds of the birds, the wind in the trees, music, voices of my family, especially my grandchildren, to be able to hear and understand people around me without having to read lips, to be able to use the phone, and everything else with two “ears.”

I am a changed life. Changed because of the technology that allows me to dream again, to go back to college, speak, dance, mentor, and hear the world all around me. So many of us are afraid of the unknown and are afraid to leave our comfort zone to try new things. And we run away from it when the very thing we should do is to embrace the challenges before us. And when we do accept the gifts and talents that we are blessed with, we will come out on the other side, surprised and better than we were before.

So, my friends, dance the dance of life that you are given. You will never ever be the same again.

Laurie Pullins has been the president of the HLA Knoxville Chapter for five years. The Chapter recently participated in the Chattanooga Walk4Hearing and was the highest fundraising team. She can be reached at ldpullins@gmail.com. Her blog is http://lauriescidance.blogspot.com.





Mesmerizing WaterFire

2 07 2012

On June 23 attendees to the Hearing Loss Association of America Convention 2012 were treated to the WaterFire experience at WaterPlace Park in Providence, R.I. After dinner we walked along the river and I photographed the festivities.

It was a really unique event and the accompanying music piped through speakers all along the river was especially mesmerizing, encompassing Italian opera, classical, contemporary pop, oldies, acoustic guitar and other genres. The 2012 soundtrack to WaterFire included pieces such as Hallelujah (written by Leonard Cohen and performed by Jeff Buckley), Desperate Man Blues (composed by John Fahey), I Am You (composed by Sally Potter and Yo-Yo Ma), Bella Ciao (performed by Franco Morone), Amazing Grace/House of the Rising Sun (performed by The Blind Boys of Alabama), I Won’t Give Up (Jason Mraz from Love is a Four Letter Word), Ain’t No Sunshine (composed by Bill Withers and performed by Buddy Guy and Tracey Chapman) and Lovesong (performed by Adele).

Braziers, clad all in black and with an air of mystery and suspense, motored down the river in small boats full of wood, tending to the dying embers along the way. Gondoliers, clad in black and white striped shirts and straw hats, steered visitors down the river as well. Below are just some of the images I shot of WaterFire.

To give you some background on the origin of WaterFire, here is an excerpt from wikipedia:

WaterFire is the award-winning sculpture by Barnaby Evans presented on the rivers of downtown Providence, RI. First created by Evans in 1994 to celebrate the tenth anniversary of First Night Providence, WaterFire has grown to become an annual public art phenomenon.

WaterFire is simultaneously a free public art installation, a performance work, an urban festival, a civic ritual and a spiritual communal ceremony. Well known nationally and internationally as a community arts event, WaterFire’s symbolism and interpretation is both inclusive and expansive—reflecting the recognition that individuals must act together to strengthen and preserve their community.

On WaterFire evenings, downtown Providence is transformed by one hundred bonfires that burn just above the surface of the three rivers that pass through the middle of downtown Providence in Waterplace Park (the Woonasquatucket, Moshassuck and Providence rivers). The public is invited to come and walk the riverfront, and enjoy the beauty of the flickering firelight, the fragrant scent of aromatic wood smoke, the changing silhouettes of the volunteer firetenders, and the music from around the world—each of which engages the senses and emotions of all who stroll the paths of Waterplace Park.

Average attendance is 40,000 a night, ranging from 10,000 to 100,000. WaterFire is presented for free, with only ten percent of the funds needed to host WaterFire acquired through governmental means and the remainder coming from private and corporate donations.WaterFire Providence consists of about 15 staff members and relies heavily upon volunteers for the production of WaterFire. On a given night, up to 160 volunteers make the entire event possible.

Barnaby Evans created First Fire on New Year’s Eve 1994 for the tenth anniversary of First Night Providence. First Fire consisted of 11 braziers on steel tripods stretching from WaterPlace Basin to Steeple Street. In June 1996, Barnaby created Second Fire for the Convergence Art Festival and the International Sculpture Conference.

Through the support of dedicated volunteers, WaterFire returned as a seasonal event. WaterFire gained regional attention and a coordinated effort to fund the project began. In 1997, WaterFire expanded to 42 braziers, and had an estimated attendance of 350,000 people over the entire season. Barnaby Evans received The Renaissance Award for his effort to revitalize downtown Providence, and WaterFire became the symbol of the city’s renaissance.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





No Compromise: Richard Einhorn, Composer

14 05 2012

Richard Einhorn, award-winning composer, wrote the cover feature for the May/June 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. In his article, Einhorn writes about his sudden hearing loss and how, with his clever uses of existing technology, he continues to work and live well with hearing loss. For the full article, click on this link: Richard Einhorn

Learn more about Richard Einhorn on his website here and the fascinating details about how Voices of Light came to fruition here. To learn more about Joan of Arc, view his program notes here.

I found it especially moving that Einhorn recorded the church bells ringing in Joan’s birthplace and included them in the production. In his program notes, he writes: Just prior to writing Voices of Light, I traveled to France to visit some of the important Joan of Arc historical sites. I went to Orleans where she won her first battle and also to Rouen, where I was deeply moved by the ruins of the castles where Joan was held and the cross erected at the site of her martyrdom. I also traveled to the little village of Domremy, Joan’s birthplace in the southeast, where her house and church, much restored, still stand. I took along a portable DAT recorder and recorded the sound of the Domremy church bell and later incorporated it into my score. I felt that Joan, who so loved church bells, whose voices seemed to speak to her whenever they were ringing, would appreciate the effort.

Excerpted from his website: 

Einhorn has written opera, orchestral and chamber music, song cycles, film music, and dance scores. Among his many projects is the wildly popular Red Angels for New York City Ballet, set to Einhorn’s music with choreography by Ulysses Dove, which had its television premiere on Live From Lincoln Center (PBS) in May of 2002. His film credits include the Academy Award-winning documentary short, Educating Peter (HBO) and Arthur Penn’s thriller Dead of Winter (MGM), starring Mary Steenbugen; and Fire-Eater directed by Pirjo Honkasalo, for which Einhorn won the Jussi (Finnish Academy Award) for Best Musical Score.

Born in 1952, Richard Einhorn graduated summa cum laude in music from Columbia University. Before turning his attention exclusively to composition, Einhorn worked as a record producer for such artists as Meredith Monk and The New York Philharmonic. His production of the Bach Cello Suites with Yo-Yo Ma won a Grammy for Best Instrumental Performance.

Recent works include The Spires, The City, The Field, a 9/11 memorial premiered by the Albany Symphony. A Carnival of Miracles, a piece written for Anonymous 4, premiered to a sold-out crowd at New Sounds Live and broadcasted live over WNYC-FM. My Many Colored Days is an orchestral commission from the Minnesota Orchestra. He lives in New York City with his wife Amy Singer and their daughter Miranda.

________________________________________________________________________________

I had the honor and pleasure of photographing Richard for Hearing Loss Magazine (HLM) in March. Barbara Kelley (HLM’s editor-in-chief) and I met up with him at the Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore. After a great photo session, we dropped Richard off at his hotel and picked him up later to take him to the Meyerhoff, where his work, Voices of Light, was being performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with Marin Alsop conducting. Einhorn composed the piece in 1994, inspired by the 1928 silent film, The Passion of Joan of Arc, directed by Carl Theodor Dreyer. Live performances accompany a screening of the film. The libretto is based on excerpts from a variety of ancient writings, most of it from Medieval female mystics, and scored for a small orchestra, chorus and soloists. For me, the performance was a haunting, incredibly moving and very profound visual and aural experience. To get a feel for the combination of this powerful film and Einhorn’s remarkable composition, view the 10-minute video segment below. The film is captioned in both French and English.

Barbara interviewed Richard for a companion piece to his article. This interview is included in its entirety below.


BEHIND THE SCENES: Composer Richard Einhorn and Voices of Light

by Barbara Kelley

Richard Einhorn’s acclaimed Voices of Light has been called “a great masterpiece of contemporary music” and “a work of meticulous genius.” Voices of Light is an oratorio set to Carl Theodor Dreyer’s 1928 silent film The Passion of Joan of Arc. Voices of Light has been performed more than 200 times by major orchestras all over the world, including two recent performances with Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, Marin Alsop conducting.

Einhorn, who has composed many film scores and concert works, had been interested in writing a large work on a religious subject. In 1988, he finally discovered what he would do. As he wrote in the liner notes for the Sony Classical recording of Voices of Light, “Imagine walking down an ordinary street in an ordinary city on an ordinary day. You turn the corner and suddenly without warning, you find yourself staring at the Taj Mahal. It was with that same sense of utter amazement and wonder that I watched Carl Theodor Dreyer’s The Passion of Joan of Arc for the first time.

“That was back in January 1988. I was idly poking around the film archives of New York’s Museum of Modern Art, looking at short avant-garde films, when I happened across a still from Joan in the silent film catalog. …some 81 minutes later, I walked out of the screening room shattered, having unexpectedly seen one of the most extraordinary works of art that I know.”

The film is lauded as one of the top ten films of all time. Richard’s original score took six years to put together. He says about Voices, “[It] explores the patchwork of emotions and thoughts that get stitched together into the notion of a female hero.”

Marin Alsop, music director of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, said, “I don’t think anyone will be able to leave this performance unaffected.” Right: Richard Einhorn rehearses with soloists at the Peabody Conservatory of Music in Baltimore; from left: Stephen Campbell, Phoenix, AZ; Rachel Grider, Modesto, CA; and Nola Richardson, Sydney, Australia

Another oratorio by Einhorn, The Origin, recently received audience and critical acclaim for its European premiere in Bremen, Germany. Richard also devotes his time to advocacy for people with hearing loss and has been featured in The New York Times and elsewhere. Read The New York Times article about Richard, “A Hearing Aid That Cuts Out All the Clatter,” by John Tierney at http://bit.ly/EinhornNYTimes

A Hearing Loop Installed for Voices of Light Performance
On March 2 this year, Einhorn’s Voices of Light was performed at the Joseph Meyerhoff Symphony Hall by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. This was a special event because Richard was able to hear his own composition. Thanks to Ampetronic and their U.S. distributor, Fred Palm of AssistiveAudio, Inc., as well as the Meyerhoff, a hearing loop was installed in the concert hall for the weekend performances.

Audience members with hearing loss using cochlear implants or telecoil-equipped hearing aids were able to enjoy the performance by accessing sound transmitted electromagnetically by a hearing loop—a wire that circles the room and is connected to the sound system.

After the performance, Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine, interviewed Richard to learn more about his career.

You were 15 when you began composing. Did you play a musical instrument? I first learned to compose entirely on my own, by experimenting with tape recorders and improvising. I played drums in a rock band when I was a kid, but quickly became interested in writing my own music. I was involved with an avant-garde multimedia ensemble in high school and, as an experiment, wrote a piece for some friends of mine who were modern dancers. The moment I saw my friends dance to my music I knew there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life except compose.

Above: Barbara Kelley, Richard Einhorn and Brenda Battat (Executive Director of Hearing Loss Association of America) after the performance of Voices of Light at the Meyerhoff 

After a year or so, I realized I needed to study formally and I went to Columbia University where I majored in music, studying ultimately with electronic music pioneer Vladimir Ussachevsky and opera composer Jack Beeson. I graduated in 1975 summa cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa, then worked as a record producer for Columbia Masterworks for five years, before pursuing composition full time.

Do you come from a musical family? Nobody in my immediate family is musical. However, my great-aunt Hattie was a concert pianist in the early 20th century. My grandfather was an inventor and worked in East Orange, New Jersey when Thomas Edison was in West Orange. Somewhere in the family, there is correspondence between them! Probably, I got my interest in technology from my grandfather and my musicality from my great-great grandparents.

How did you know you had this aptitude at a young age? I don’t know if I have any aptitude. I have a lot of interest in composing music and I have a lot of ideas. I am also extremely persistent and won’t let go. I work very hard at composing but it’s enjoyable work and I love it. I am thrilled that other people often seem to enjoy it as much as I enjoy composing it.

What inspires you? Sound inspires me the most of all. I live for sound and my primary experience of the world, especially the world of emotions, is through sound, not sight or another sense. I am also inspired by great stories, such as Joan of Arc’s and Charles Darwin’s. I find them both amazing human beings in many different ways.

What projects are you working on now? I have a new piece for Brooklyn Academy of Music’s Next Wave Festival, a collaboration with the great filmmaker Bill Morrison. It will be an interactive piece called Shooting Gallery, with laser beams, six projectors and an hour of interactive music. I haven’t done anything like it since high school and I’m very excited!

I’m also writing a new piece for dance for two great musicians I’ve worked with quite a bit, violinist Mary Rowell and pianist Judith Gordon. The work will premiere in fall 2013. Further off is a large piece for orchestra and film, again with Bill Morrison. All I can say at the moment about it is that Bill, the conductor, the orchestra, and I are extremely excited about it.

Are there any projects you would like to work on? What is your dream project? I am a dramatic and lyrical composer. I’ve lived many of my dreams. I always wanted to work with Bill Morrison, and already have on the Darwin piece, The Origin. I have always wanted to work on an opera, and it looks like I will. I’ve composed scores for some truly wonderful movies and I’ve worked with some of my favorite musicians—and some of my favorite people.

I feel very lucky to have been able to do so and doubly lucky that my family has fully understood that this is an unusual life, but in many ways a rewarding one for all of us. I want to continue to compose the best music I can for the best musicians I can, for the most exciting projects I can find, and collaborate with artists from other disciplines whom I admire. I’ve met some amazing people along the way, and that has made the hard work and long hours it takes to compose all the more worthwhile!

Special thanks to the Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore for permitting us to take photographs of Richard Einhorn in the Peabody Conservatory of Music.

All photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Mandy Harvey: Musically Inclined

14 01 2012

Mandy Harvey, a jazz vocalist and songwriter from northern Colorado, was one of the feature articles in the January/February 2012 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published bimonthly by the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA). I met and photographed Mandy at the Harley-Davidson Museum in Milwaukee, WI, host to HLAA’s Convention 2010. Mandy was the guest entertainer at Friday night’s Rumble event at the Museum.

Barbara Kelley, editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine and deputy executive director of HLAA, interviewed Mandy for this issue of the magazine. Learn more about Mandy here and listen to her music and buy CDs here.

© Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.

Mandy showed an early talent for singing, but also had infrequent periods of hearing loss. At age ten, her family moved to Colorado. Her vocal talent blossomed and she won numerous school awards, notably Top Female Vocalist of 2006 as a high school senior.

After high school, Mandy went to Colorado State University. During her first semester, Mandy noticed she had to move closer to hear recordings. Hearing aids helped at first. Six months later, she had no hearing left. Discouraged, Mandy returned home to take American Sign Language classes and pursue Elementary Education at a local community college.

Once she returned home Mandy decided that she would take a year off from singing, but continued to play the guitar with her father. One day, while searching the Internet, Mandy and her father discovered a song titled Come Home by One Republic. Mandy’s father suggested that she learn the lyrics. Mandy thought this would be impossible but she gave it her best effort, and to her surprise she was able to learn the lyrics. She realized then that she didn’t have to give up singing.

I met Mandy in 2010 in Milwaukee at the HLAA Convention where she sang at one of our events at the Harley-Davidson Museum. HLAA photographer Cindy Dyer photographed her at the Museum before her performance. We were pleased to catch up with her recently to ask her a few questions.

Tell me about your hearing loss.
My hearing loss is due to neurological damage and the last it was tested showed it around 110 dB in both ears.

Do you use any type of assistive technology?
I had hearing aids when I was first losing my hearing, which was around winter 2006 and the beginning of 2007. Once my hearing loss progressed to a specific stage hearing aids didn’t help much. Because of the nerve damage, a cochlear implant was not an option for me. At this point I rely mostly on lip reading and American Sign Language.

Talk about your aspirations to become a music teacher.
I went to Colorado State University in the hopes of becoming a vocal jazz teacher. In all honesty I wouldn’t feel right about giving my professional opinion to students wanting to study voice. If I cannot hear them to give advice or to teach 100 percent, I would end up just getting frustrated and feeling as if I was wasting their money. Instead, I have turned my life to performing jazz as well as working in the medical field.

What about your personal life and family?
I currently live in Denver with my hearing service dog, Annie, and my love, Travis. My family is extremely supportive and they have learned some American Sign Language. My sister, Sammi, is fluent in the language now. It helps a lot to be able to communicate with your loved ones. Travis is currently learning the language for me.

Where is your singing career right now?
My singing career is in a beautiful place right now. As things stand I work a regular 8-5, Monday through Friday, job. The weekend is mine for performing. Having the regular job mixed with weekend work relieves the pressure of having to do a bunch of gigs just to be able to pay the bills. Instead I am able to do gigs that inspire me and that bring joy.

I have two albums, Smile and After You’ve Gone, which are both full of jazz standard, though the latter contains some original work by myself and Mark Sloniker. I am currently saving up to make a Christmas album this year.

Tell me something about yourself you would like people to know; something that would surprise people.
That’s a hard question. I used to be fascinated by insects and toads and non-girly things like that. When I was a child I wanted to travel the world and discover amazing finds on archeological digs.

You have a fascination with the 40s. How has this genre influenced you and your music?
I have been fascinated with the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s my entire life. I grew up listening to The Beatles, Doobie Brothers, and classic jazz. I love everything in those eras from the clothing to the inventions. It truly was a beautiful time in history…seems to have had lots of details that were not as obvious as things are today. Back then, there could be a song about someone’s smile and how it would capture the imagination. I feel music today has lost some of that mystery and has become far too blunt.

What are your favorite songs?
My Funny Valentine, Someone to Watch Over Me, Come Fly with Me, Over the Rainbow, and of course, Smile…this list is never ending. I find passion in the music and it makes you feel something different every time you sing them.

What music don’t you care for?
I love most everything but I am not a huge fan of most Rap or R&B. I will admit I do enjoy a few songs here and there but in general they all tend to feel the same.

Who is your favorite artist and why?
Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Blossom Dearie, Frank Sinatra, Nat King Cole, Thelonius Monk, Duke…oh my goodness, my list could go on and on. They are brilliant and the work they have done inspires me every time I think of them.

What one place in the world would you like to visit?
I have always had a dream to live in Scotland. The country has always called my name. My goal is in the next 10 years to have been there for at least three months continuously. If you are there for only a week you cannot understand the culture.

To find some of her recordings, go to YouTube.com and search for Mandy Harvey. You will find several videos, including her rendition of Smile.

Barbara Kelley is deputy executive director and editor-in-chief of Hearing Loss Magazine. She can be reached at bkelley@hearingloss.org.

Join the Hearing Loss Association of America!
Do you have a hearing loss or know someone who does? Consider membership in the Hearing Loss Association of America. Student annual dues are $20, individual annual dues are $35, and family/couple annual dues are $45. Fees outside the U.S. are slightly higher. All memberships include discounts on hearing-related products, convention and special event early bird discounts, AVIS and Alamo car rental, Costco membership, and the award-winning Hearing Loss Magazine. Sign up for membership here.





I’m published on the radio! (?)

29 07 2011

My friend and classical guitarist, Charles Mokotoff, shared this with me this morning. He is being interviewed, along with violaist Wendy Cheng, on WAMU 88.5 FM’s website, Metro Connection. Both are members of the Association of Adult Musicians With Hearing Loss (AAMHL). There will be a podcast of the interview and performances at 1:00 p.m. EST today. The podcast will available on the Metro Connection website at 2:00 p.m. EST.

From the small world department: I designed and produced a book a few months ago for AAMHL, working with Wendy Cheng and the book’s editor, pianist Cherisse Miller. (My Hearing Loss Magazine editor, Barbara Kelley, referred Wendy to me). The book, Making Music with a Hearing Loss: Strategies and Stories, is available on Amazon here.

You can see more of my photos of Charles, as well as listen to some of his other pieces and order his CD, Autumn Elegy, on his website here. Charles was the cover feature story for the January/February 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. Read more about his cover debut here. Charles played for us at our first-ever Tapas Party in November 2009, recapped here.

I shot the photograph below during a recital in November 2009 and blogged about that session here. Charles was interviewed last December by Japan’s Gendai Guitar magazine and a photo I shot of him was included here (so I can say I’m published internationally now!).





Lunch at Threadgill’s (Old #1) in Austin

29 03 2011

After Brian (my former boss/lifelong photography mentor) finished teaching a wildflower photography workshop on Saturday morning, we went to lunch at Threadgill’s, a local eatery in Austin. That’s Brian holding the menu in the collage below. He founded the Austin Shutterbug Club over a decade ago and teaches digital photography at the University of Texas a few times a week. He and his wife, Shirley, have published two books, Texas Cacti and Grasses of the Texas Hill Country. They are currently working on a coffee table book about Texas wildflowers. Check out his work here.

Excerpted from Threadgill’s website (http://threadgills.com/)

Perhaps country music lover and bootlegger Kenneth Threadgill had more in mind when he opened his Gulf filling station just north of the Austin city limits in 1933, for the day that Travis County decided to “go wet ” in December of the same year, Kenneth stood in line all night to be the first person to own a liquor license in the county. Soon, the filling station became a favorite spot for traveling musicians since it was open 24 hours for drinking, gambling and jamming. Kenneth would sing songs by his beloved Jimmie Rodgers nightly. Musicians who came to play were paid in beer. Such was the atmosphere at Threadgill’s, it was only when a curfew was enacted in 1942 that its owner had to get a key for the front door, before that it had yet to have been locked. The quintessential Austin beer joint continued to flourish into the sixties, and changed with the social climate of the era by inviting the folkies, hippies and beatniks to his Wednesday night singing sessions with open arms. Threadgill’s love for people and music smoothed out the conflicts that usually occurred when longhairs met with rednecks at the time, and because of this, a new culture tolerance emanated from the club, which had a profound effect upon its patrons and the music that came from it. It was here that Janis Joplin developed her country and blues hybrid-styled voice that would blur the lines between country and rock n’ roll.

In 1974, when Austinites and the nation were extolling the benefits of living in the heart of the Lone Star State, and the “Cosmic Cowboy” movement, which had its roots directly planted in the history of Threadgill’s and Armadillo World Headquarters, was at its peak, tragedy struck Kenneth Threadgill when his wife Mildred died, and he decided to close his club.

After nearly succumbing to the city of Austin’s desire to demolish the original Threadgill’s site which had become an eyesore, it was purchased by Eddie Wilson, owner of the Armadillo World Headquarters, a sister venue of a kindred spirit. Wilson’s idea, however, was to make Threadgill’s a Southern style restaurant, based on the success of the menu that he offered at his kitchen at the Armadillo. So, on New Year’s Eve 1980, the Armadillo closed, and on New Year’s Eve 1981, Threadgill’s opened as a restaurant. It was an instant success.

Photos © Cindy Dyer. All rights reserved.





Published in Japan!

6 12 2010

Thanks to my friend, Charles Mokotoff, for alerting me that I’ve been published in Japan’s Gendai Guitar magazine. Charles is a classical guitarist and was featured in the January 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, published by the Hearing Loss Association of America (see cover at right). You can download and read that article here: hlmArticle12_09.

I did several photo sessions with Charles and we became fast friends. He graciously performed a live concert during our first-ever Tapas Party in November 2009. Check out photos from that soiree here.

Check out his website and listen to him play here. Charles produced his CD, Autumn Elegy, in 2008 and it is available for purchase on CDBaby here and on Apple iTunes here. Read a glowing review of his CD by Acoustic Guitar magazine here.

In the video below, he plays Sevilla by Isaac Albeniz in a live concert at St. Albans Church in Washington, DC this past spring.





Photo assignment: Richard Reed, musician

1 09 2010

I recently returned from a photography assignment in Providence, Rhode Island. I was contracted by Cochlear Americas to photograph Richard Reed, a full-time musician who wears a cochlear implant and is the developer of HOPE Notes, a cochlear implant music appreciation program.

HOPE Notes (from the Cochlear Americas website)
“HOPE Notes is the first of its kind—a program uniquely developed for cochlear implant and hearing aid users designed to help improve music perception and appreciation using original songs, traditional Folk, Blues & Country styles and some familiar tunes played in unexpected ways. HOPE Notes includes a CD, DVD, and a detailed User Guide including lyrics designed to assist and enrich your use of the program. The DVD incorporates both visual and audio cues while the CD (designed for use on the go) focuses solely on the audio component of the program.”

To learn more about HOPE Notes or to order, contact Cochlear at 1-(800)-523-5798 or check out their website here.

A Life Without Sound
A late-deafened adult, Richard lost his hearing due to an ototoxic antiobiotic he was given to treat peritonitis in the early 1990s, when he was in his mid-30s. His hearing loss progressed from mild to profound over the next two years. Read more about his hearing loss in Rick Massimo‘s insightful article in The Providence Journal here. Carolyn Smaka from AudiologyOnline interviewed Richard in July. It’s an excellent introduction to Reed’s hearing loss as well as the development of HOPE Notes. Check out her interview here.

When I asked Richard what it was like as a full-time musician to not be able to continue in the field, he told me about playing one night after his hearing loss. “While deaf and using useless powerful digital hearing aids, I used to sit in with my brother Tom in various Blues bands or with old friends. I could feel the bass and drums—thought I could hear myself a little. One night in Newport, it became painfully obvious just how little music I could actually hear. During a piano solo, a cord to my amplifier came loose, but I kept right on playing—with no sound coming out!”

After he retired from performing, he worked in his sister Roberta‘s antique store “refinishing and painting warped and wild folk art furniture, which was therapeutic but unfulfilling.” He wore hearing aids during this time, but didn’t pursue the cochlear implant until 2002. Richard wrote, What It Feels Like…to Regain Your Hearing, in a 2007 issue of Esquire magazine here.

Return to Music
After receiving his Nucleus 24 Contour CI in 2002, Richard noticed a significant improvement in his ability to hear and understand speech, but found listening to music frustrating. With patience, practice and the help of his aural therapist, music became a source of joy again. Not long after his CI was activated, he stayed away from playing the piano because to him it sounded out of tune. He had to go back to the basics with scales and eventually made enough progress to start playing with bands again. Learn more about his journey back to the hearing world in the article, Hero Spotlight: Richard Reed, available on Cochlear Americas website here. In that article, he says, “As ironic as it was for a musician to go deaf, I realized, too, how many friends’ conversations revolved around music—what’s new, who’s good, who’s playing where. Losing music was horrible, but the loss of everyday conversation was worse.”

At Long Last—I’m a Band Groupie!
On my assignment for Cochlear Americas a few weekends ago, I was honored and excited to photograph Richard and a few of his fellow musicians at The Music Complex in Pawtucket, R.I.

His brother, Tom Reed, plays bass. At just 13, Tom taught Richard, then 12, his first songs on the organ. Tom plays freelance—backing up various bands from week to week—and teaches private lessons. He plays electric bass in R&B bands, and upright bass for Blues, Jazz and Rockabilly. He recorded some bass parts for Richard’s HOPE Notes project. (Photo, left to right: Mark Cutler, Jack Moore, Tom Reed and Richard Reed)

Drummer Jack Moore, a high school teacher by day, has played with Stevie Ray Vaughn, Roomful of Blues and many others. He currently plays with Robert Graves Leonard’s Slippery Sneakers, a Rhode Island-based Zydeco band.

Acclaimed guitarist and Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter Mark Cutler‘s latest CD is Red. He has been the lead singer and songwriter for such renown rock bands as The Schemers, The Raindogs, and The Dino Club, and has toured with Warren Zevon, Bob Dylan and many others. The Providence Phoenix recently profiled Mark here. Cutler works in the software business during the week and reserves his very busy weekends for gigs with various ensembles. You’ll find Mark Cutler videos on youtube here. Richard has played many gigs as one of Mark’s sidemen—before going deaf and again post-CI.

Today, Richard plays two to three times a week in New England nightclubs, concerts and recording sessions. When not performing, he travels the world to lecture about his hearing loss experience and “CI music.” He recently returned from Europe, and played squeezebox on two-time Grammy award-winning children’s singer/songwriter Bill Harley‘s newest CD, tentatively titled Songs We Sing. Future travel plans include CI Music Workshops in Salt Lake City in November, Toronto and Orlando in February, then back to the UK in March. Richard is playing with Mark Cutler in a reunion of their old band, The Schemers, in Newport at an autumn festival next month. He says, “this time I’ll hear my piano parts!” When I asked him what inspired him to create HOPE Notes, he said, “it was a way to give CI users simple exercises to learn or relearn some basic songs and tonalities.” He has already starting writing songs for Volume II.

Upcoming Feature in Hearing Loss Magazine
Reed has written an article about his hearing loss and the development of HOPE Notes that will be published in the upcoming November/December 2010 issue of Hearing Loss Magazine, which I design and produce bimonthly for the Hearing Loss Association of America. Donna Sorkin, Vice President of Consumer Affairs for Cochlear Americas, will contribute sidebars about strategies to appreciate music and another titled, “What the Research Says…and Why it Doesn’t Matter.” Some of the images from my photo session will appear in her feature article. Cochlear Americas manufactures Nucleus cochlear implants and the Baha programmable bone conduction system. My otolaryngologist, Dr. John Niparko of Johns Hopkins Medical Center, says that I am a candidate for the Baha system.

Behind-the-Scenes Photo Notes
For the jam session photos, I used the Nikon Creative Lighting System (CLS)—with three Nikon Speedlights (with color-correcting gels)—an SB-900 fitted with an Alzo Mini Softbox as my main light, an SB-800 on the Nikon D300 as the trigger and an SB-600 on the side with a snoot. For the portraits with the beige background (shot in Richard’s home), I used my Nikon SB-800 Speedlight fitted with a Ray Flash, which replicates the lighting effect produced by more expensive studio ring flash units. It produces a shadowless light on your subject and a soft even shadow around the edges. I was very happy with the results of the ring flash in this session. If you’d like to try this type of lighting, check out the Coco Ring Flash Adapter—at just $49.95 on Amazon, it’s well below the $199 I paid for my Ray Flash a few years ago. (Hmmm….which product came first?—The Coco Ring Flash is an almost exact replicate—but I do agree with many of the online reviewers that, for a non-electronic, purely plastic gadget, the Ray Flash is still overpriced at $199. Having said that, I did buy it and am happy with it. When it first came out, it was listed for $299.99. It’s plastic people, plastic—no electronic parts, no cords, nothing—as one reviewer commented, “they were probably shamed into dropping the price.”). At any rate, whether you splurge on the Ray Flash or spring for the “poor man’s” version (which I was unaware of at the time of my purchase)—the Coco Ring Flash—it’s a really fun gadget to add to your photographic arsenal.

Want to learn more about the Nikon Creative Lighting System? Check out the Nikon School Hands-on Guide to Creative Lighting DVD, featuring photographers Bob Krist and Joe McNally. Joe McNally’s book, The Hot Shoe Diaries: Big Light from Small Flashes, is an excellent resource as well. A lighting workshop with this master is definitely on my to-do checklist! Check out McNally’s excellent blog here and Bob Krist’s elegant website here. And for really comprehensive information on lighting, bookmark David Hobby’s blog, Strobist.

Whew! And finally, special thanks to my photo mentor, Brian Loflin, for his tips, troubleshooting and advice…and to Michael Schwehr for his service as my most excellent photo assistant.

All photos are by Cindy Dyer © 2010 Cochlear, Ltd.