Otto von Chriek - A Mentor For Our Time
Passing on from this, I wish to introduce Otto von Chreik to you. Followers of Mr. Terry Pratchett are ahead of me here, but for the rest, Otto is the staff photographer for the Anhk-Morpork Times. He is frequently asked to take pictures for the paper in the dim and flaring lamps of this bustling metropolis and as the imps inside his camera have limited eyesight, he has ben forced to use instantaneous light.
The method of this production is simple - he uses the open shutter method and has attached a small luxating salamander to a handle with a gun-lock mechanism that swings a hammer down on the unfortunate reptile. When this happens the salamander naturally emits a blast of light. The imp sees the subject clearly and paints it inside the camera. Simple.
Simple except for the fact that Otto von Chreik is a vampire and the intense blast of the salamander causes him to disintegrate into dust. Nothing left but a photographer's vest, a set of dark clothes and an abandoned camera. A severe career setback in anyone's terms - even the worst of the local newspapers hardly expect their staffers to vanish into fragments when taking social column pictures. Okay, they sometimes vanish into the pub or the toilet after taking a shot, but that isn't quite the same...
Back to Otto - as we all know from the literature vampires need a drop of blood to rise from the ashes. Contrary to some reports, it need not be virgin's blood - just as well, these days it is hard to find them. Oh you can find fake ones, but these are just the cover virgins...
So, Otto needs blood. To supply it, he wears a glass phial on a chain around his neck with 5 ml of fresh blood plus anticoagulant. When he disintegrates and falls to the floor, the glass phial breaks and he is reconstituted. A disturbing sight to see, but no more so than the average gallery opening party or promotional night for a new product. The Anhk-Morpork Times provides Otto with a box of phials so that he can cover several events per night.
Otto is a master of timing, as he only has one shot per picture. Science has yet to provide a reliable quick-action system of salamander-imp-phial so the concept of high speed motor drive is not really possible. And there is only so much reconstituting that Otto can take before he gets a headache.
Budding professionals would do well to emulate Otto. If there is one decisive photo for any particular occasion, it would be well to take...that one. Watch for the indicators of action and learn to recognise when you should release the hammer onto the salamander. Every camera has a time lag - even if you have turned off the autofocus and set the exposure manually. If the subject is moving fire off just before you see the peak of action and allow some time after this for the blood to seep into your ashes and you can get up and go away.
Funerary photographers have a little more leeway in this respect. And they generally need not use a camera that is fitted with live view.