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Bring a Chainsaw

I was sent to the Southwest to photograph a Tyrannosaurus head for the cover of Discover.

Now this T. rex head turned out to be a realistic-looking, eight-foot hunk of polyurethane that was in the sculptor’s garage, gathering dust. This is a typical assignment for me. Go make a national magazine cover out of a grime-laden piece of plastic.

We cleaned it, loaded it into a pickup, and trucked it out into the desert area, which was actually part of a national park. I rented a heavy-duty crank lift and a chainsaw, and got some rope and lumber. I’m an overgrown adolescent who saw Jurassic Park too many times and I wanted this puppy coming out of the trees, just like on the big screen. We found a tree, made sure no park rangers were around, chainsawed the $#!& out of it, and stuffed the lift in there. Then we took some of the branches and A-clamped them to light stands, lit the whole thing up Hollywood-style (shot at dusk), and got outta Dodge.

  • “This is a typical assignment for me: Go make a national magazine cover out of a grime-laden piece of plastic.”

Tech Note: It was my first shoot with the Nikon D2X. Nikon had squirreled me away an early prototype. I’d been shooting with the D2H, and with my first few frames from the D2X, I saw the colors pop and knew, digitally speaking, we weren’t in Kansas anymore.

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