VIP Tour: Results

As I wrote earlier, I was home grabbing gear for a quick tour today. We had a few NFL players come down to the boat for about an hour to experience the extravagant life of a Navy submariner and all our lush surroundings. Thick, fluffy mattresses, saunas, music lounge....right. The first thing we did was warn them about all the sneaky scar-making metal in the overheads.

I ended up bringing along more gear than I needed, but that usually happens. I'd rather haul too much than find myself needing something i haven't brought. My first idea was to stage a couple of flashes along the supposed tour route with Pocket Wizards on different channels, but that was squelched due to the fact that I had to use my 580 EX II on-camera. (I don't have a bracket that will accommodate an onboard flash and a PW. Yet.) The reason I chose not to use Canon's wireless system was that I wouldn't always be facing the slave flash and it would have been highly unreliable.

The guys were really cool. They were also really huge, and the thing they were most surprised about was the size of our racks. I tried to get DeMarcus Ware to attempt crawling into a rack, but he didn't want the 'coffin' experience.

I don't blame him. Somehow I don't think he would have fit anyway.

One thing I did notice was that a 1/4 CTO gel on my flash blended better with the lights than the fluorescent gel did, probably because we have warm "daywhite" lamps.

We took them through the entire forward compartment. The engine room is off-limits for security reasons for people who aren't cleared. Even for the forward compartment, there are plenty of things we have to do prior to bringing tour groups onboard.

Today I scored some new shots of NFL players. Cool. If there's one good thing my boat has done for me, it's given me an opportunity to be exposed to people like that. Last year it was the city council of Los Angeles, CA. I've gotten experience shooting people on the fly, managing my camera settings quickly, and working quickly in limited space. Tomorrow we're getting a couple more players and hopefully they'll be as photogenic as the guys today.

VIP Tour

Well, it started out as a normal workday. All the chiefs and officers have their morning pow-wow, and then they scatter to their respective divisions like ants whose hill has just been kicked over. In the midst of that, the captain told us that three NFL players are coming down this afternoon to tour the boat.

I didn't catch the names, because morning quarters is nigh indistinguishable from a fast-paced livestock auction, including the smell. But I am home to grab my camera gear. I'm the ship's photographer and even so, it's rare that I hear about events like this more than six hours in advance. Ugh. Hopefully I'll have some good shots to post later.

The hardest part about finding room to set up lights on a submarine is that there is none.

Passageways are barely wide enough for two people to slide by one other, so using a light stand is out of the question unless it's in the crew's mess. And fat chance using an umbrella. Most of the time, a diffused on-camera flash is the only option. (sorry, Strobist readers!) I have to say, though, that my Gorillapod has become invaluable in this kind of situation, where the bulkheads and overheads are lined with plenty of pipes, valves, and structural supports for me to wrap it up on.

Time to head back to work...more to come later.


Don't fall for scams. Do your homework, keep your private information private, and most of all, don't do anything without signed agreements.

The following is a scam e-mail that you should watch out for:


I am Rev. Pastor Edwin Donko, District pastor of International Central Gospel Church, Greater Accra Region. I got your details from the USA tourism directory, we will be coming over to Hawaii, our silver jubilee wedding anniversary with family coming up on the 14th of February but we will be arriving on the 13th of February 2008. I will need the services of a professional photographer that will cover our entire vacation from the 14th through to 20th of February.

Could you please send me more details about your work and what the cost of your services for the 7 days coverage will be? ICGC GHANA will be paying you in advance of our visit as they will be covering the total expenses for our wedding anniversary so that we will be assured of a photographer during our stay. An early reply will be appreciated.

Please acknowledge if you can offer us your services and give me a call on my direct line (+###-###-###-###) as soon as you receive this email, so we can conclude on all other arrangements ASAP, as time is not really on our side.

God bless you,
Rev. Pastor Edwin Donko, ICGC GHANA.
Direct Line: +###-#########
E-mail :

I received this e-mail yesterday from a guy who is in the employ of a church in Ghana. (first flag--most scammers will hail from somewhere outside the U.S.)

He's coming to Hawai'i just shy of two weeks from now and wants to hire me for a week-long event. (second flag--a rush to plan this event, and he's in a hurry to pay me in advance.)

He wants me to call him ASAP on his 'direct line' in Ghana to make other arrangements. (third flag--a direct call to Ghana is about $6/minute, and by other arrangements he intends to extract as much of my personal information as he can. In order to pay me, of course.)

Don't fall for these guys. They are pros and they can back up every bit of their scam story until the moment they get enough of your personal info to steal your identity. The church, ICGC, is real and with a real website you'd be tempted to trust him, right?

These types of scams almost always work the same way. You deposit the phony money. Then, what do you know? Oops, we have to cancel our event. Please refund our money we sent you! So you cut them a check for the same amount as theirs. No harm done, you'll break even when their check clears, right? Only it doesn't. The bank calls you and says no dice. Now the scammers are paid, and you owe the bank five large.

So what can you do to stop these guys? Not much. But you can slow them down. I came across a website dedicated to attacking scammers by wasting their If these guys are involved in a conversation with you (a dead end since you won't give them anything), they can't spend that time fooling someone else. The idea is to get them chasing dead ends to keep them from focusing on other unsuspecting people.

Keep a weather eye on your inbox for these kinds of deals that sound too good to be true. They usually are. And above all else, never give out any personal information, especially through e-mail!

Have you experienced something like this? Do you have a story to tell? Let's hear it!