donald barnat

Nikon at the Playboy Mansion

To mark the passing of Hugh Hefner I’m reposting this from years gone by. RIP Hef. Lord knows you’d need some rest by now. 😉

So let me tell you the story.

I get a call from a BET producer on a Friday night asking if I can go shoot an event for her at the Playboy Mansion the next night. It might come as a surprise to most people but the Playboy Mansion is the site of innumerable charity functions. I’d been up there before. Swam in the grotto pool. Blah blah blah.

But never, slow my rapidly beating heart, had I ever been there with a camera and a press credential.

So of course, I say yes! The problem, however, is that at that time in my life my health was absolutely miserable. So when the next day dawned blisteringly hot, I was both sick and apprehensive.

To get to these things at the Playboy Mansion you have to shuttle over. Actually they’re full-sized buses and you usually depart from a giant multi-level parking garage somewhere else on the Westside of Los Angeles. That was the case when I had my significant and dubious girlfriend of over three decades drop me off at the parking garage.

And I was still feeling very bad. And it was hot as Hades. I gave her strict instructions to be ‘on call’ cell phone on because I knew there’d be a long wait in a smothering parking garage and that I’d probably bail even before the first bus departed.

That was at 5:00 pm west coast time. Girlfriend didn’t hear from me again until near 1:00 am, when she found me lying on the sidewalk where she left me, drenched in sweat, with an absolutely stupid semi-permanent smile plastered on my half-crocked visage.

Yes. I was there a LONG time. I went through three or four different types of event photography all in one night. Red carpet. Long lens daylight candids. Available lowlight shooting. Standard event flash photography with the SB-800 and the 24-70 f2.8 Nikkor.

Lot of great stories. Met a lot of great people, believe it or not.

A pair of young female reporters for an online publication that covers charity events hooked up with me on the bus over. I guess this is when you know you’re getting old and harmless as a guy and maybe just a little pathetic. One of the girls was LOVELY. For a lot of the evening she carried my heavy camera back pack around for me. Are you kidding me? Nice girl, definitely not from L.A.

At one point in the dusky part of the early evening, after sundown but when there’s still some light in the air, and of course there’s plenty of lighting at the event, a heavily geared up Canon shooter came up to me while I was shooting with the 70-200 f2.8 Nikkor. This is in the early days of the D3. He was very irritated with me for some reason and he says, “You know you’re not getting anything with that lens in this light?”

That was right around the time the picture at the top of this post was taken. And this one.

I’m linking to a Flickr slideshow of the images that ended up being used not by BET but another publication. They might appear a little soft in the slideshow as they are only 800x on the long end. It’s the entire gallery of ‘safe’ images.

But I’m also including below a definitevly NSFW slideshow of images that have never been seen by anyone but myself. These are of body-painted girls and when I say NSFW I really mean it! These are not your father’s body-painted naked girls here.

It’s the Playboy Mansion. What’d you expect?

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“Tell Jackie to walk faster… ” – Repost

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Former press secretary in the Kennedy administration Pierre Salinger told a story that shows the late president’s wit when the press secretary came to the Oval Office with a problem. “Mr. President. We’re getting into trouble with women’s groups over the fact that the First Lady is always seen walking three steps behind you.” (paraphrasing there.) The president thought for a moment, then said… well, I guess you can figure it out from here. 😉

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Black and white night shots with the Leica M-E

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The issues shooting the Leica M9/M-E sensor at higher ISOs are well documented. But it should also be well documented that, when shooting black and white, you can forget those noise concerns almost entirely.  I very often will shoot JPEG FINE mode on the b&w setting when I make that decision to shoot b&w. I like the way they look and I always have since my first M9. I’ll tell the story of how I came to love shooting b&w JPEGs straight out of the camera some other time. But I love them. And at 18 megapixels in b&w, how much image data do you need? That was my attitude three years ago and it’s still my attitude today. Much more on that sometime soon.

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Man stalks the urban jungle… (repost)

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I always feel like somebody’s watching me

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