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Photographer of the Week: Jack J. DiMaio

Posted by Teresa Hanafin  June 14, 2010 10:39 AM

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Mamma MariaMamma Maria
1/250 sec. at f/5.0, ISO 125, focal length 24mm
This view of Mamma Maria's has been taken by hundreds upon hundreds of cameras.
I looked and said, what more does this photo need? I knew it needed more of a punch.
I like to take many of my photos into the digital darkroom and reinvent the original.

By Jack J. DiMaio

I first became aware of photography and picture-taking as a child. I'd see my Dad with his Kodak Brownie (120 film format) lining us up for family photos to mark all the special occasions. We would also sit around the kitchen table and Mom would open the big box of pictures. She would pass them around for all of us to look at and talk about. We had so many photos, especially of our family. Both of my parents came from families with eight siblings, so there was never a shortage of pictures. I should mention that we were one big Italian family!

I couldn't wait until the day I was allowed to use Dad's Kodak Brownie. When I turned 10, Dad passed the torch to me. I thought that having his camera was the best thing since Bosco. He showed me how to load the film, attach the flash, and put the flash bulb in its socket. There was no focusing. I simply looked down on the top of the camera, saw a little image in the 1-inch square, and pushed the button. It was more like pin-hole photography. I progressed from there, but never with any photography classes. I just taught myself.

As I got older and attended college, I studied electro-mechanical engineering and accepted jobs in that field. My high point was co-designing the first ground-to-air communications for the F-14 fighter jet. I still kept my camera nearby for the perfect shot.

In the early 1970s, I graduated to my first professional cameras: Mamiya press cameras. I joined a wedding studio and learned poses, exposures, and flash techniques. Following a year as an assistant, I was allowed to go out on my own. During that time, I bought a Mamiya RB67 and an RB 645 - both medium-format cameras using 120 Kodak film of various speeds.

Until the upsurge of digital photography, I was using only film. In those days, I set up my own black-and-white lab in my basement. Standing in my darkroom was the most creative and satisfying feeling I had ever had - second only to good photographs.

It took awhile to switch over to digital cameras. I finally gave in to the magical, wonderful world of digital photography and the digital darkroom. Today my film cameras, my 110 Instamatic, and my Polaroid gather dust along with Dad's Kodak Brownie.

Camera collection

I am crazy about today's digital technology. It's given me the autonomy to go beyond the creativity I didn't have with film or the liquid darkroom. Today all my cameras are digital. In fact, I just bought the new Canon G11 that I carry around in my travels, which I do a lot in my career. I am a trainer and special events coordinator for Pirelli Tire NA (North America). I am also responsible for the logistics behind Grand-Am racing, DUB concerts, and World Class Driving.


I travel nearly 75% of the time, taking advantage of many photographic opportunities. When I'm not on the road, I use my Canon EOS 1D Mark III or my 5D Mark II, with Canon glass and flash units. But it's not always about equipment: 50% is seeing, 25% is composition, 20% is how you use the equipment, and 5% is the kind of equipment you use.

Lisbon Stairway
Stairway, Lisbon, Portugal
1/50 sec. at f/4.5, ISO 100, focal length 18mm
Portugal is beautiful; there were many opportunities for great photographs.
EOS Canon XTi, before EOS 1ds Mark II, Mark III, and 5d Mark II.

A Walk in the Garden
A Walk in the Garden
1/8 sec. at f/22.0, ISO 125, focal length 50mm
The Boston Public Garden, a beautiful place to spend a morning or late afternoon
any time of the year.
I use a tripod most of the time with an electronic cable release. If you want sharp photographs, a tripod on hand is always a good piece of equipment to have. Otherwise, you can always push your ISO up quite a bit and still get a great sharp photo without the tripod.

Inside Lily
Inside Lily
1/5 sec. at f/8, ISO 100, focal length 100mm macro
One of my other favorite subjects is shooting flowers of all types. A favorite lens of mine is my 100mm macro and twin macro flash units. It's a whole new world at the extreme close up, and I don't just mean flowers.

Christian Science Center Walkway
First Church of Christ Scientist, The Walkway
1/125 sec. at f/4.0, ISO 125, focal length 66mm
I think this is a good example of perspective and texture. This is an HDR (High Dynamic Range) photograph; the numbers above are an average of the 5-layer exposure to get all shadows, highlights, and midtones. Try it, but don't forget your tripod; it doesn't work well without it.

1955 Ferrari 857 S
Pebble Beach Country Club, Concourseo d'Elegance
1/200 sec. at f/10, ISO 200, focal length 48mm
On this day I fell I love with some of the most beautiful cars on the planet, this Ferrari in particular. I always wanted to be an artist and paint beautiful works of art, but I didn't get much further than stick people. So I brought this on into my digital darkroom and created the look of a painting.

I have an eclectic style and technique that I apply in my photography. Basically, I have no set style; I'll shoot just about anything as long it appeals to my senses. The challenge of photography, at least in my case, was and still is to create images with emotion and impact.

My philosophy is rather simple as a photographer. I'm always ready to capture the moment, so I always have a camera with me. Sometimes the photograph comes to me, but most of the time, I go to the photograph.

See more of Jack's photos in this full-screen gallery.


Jack DiMaio
About Jack
Although Jack DiMaio and his wife recently moved to Quincy after 10 years of living in Boston on the harbor, he still goes into town whenever he can to walk around and photograph whatever tickles his fancy. But his favorite subjects are his five children and all the grandkids. Some of his photos are on display at an art gallery in the North End, Artmosphere International.

Jack has a lot of camera equipment, all Canon, but when he goes out, he says he takes only what he thinks he's going to need.

21 mp EOS 1DS Mark III back: Usually used when not traveling, almost always used with a tripod because of the weight.
21 mp EOS 5D Mark II back: Used most often; not as heavy or bulky as the Mark III
10 mp Canon G11: Easy to carry around; small, but has all the whistles and bells.

100-400mm zoom EF 4.5-5.6 L IS USM
24-70mm zoom EF 2.8 USM: Mostly used with my 5D Mark II
Extender EF 1.4 x 11: Used with 100-400 zoom lens, mainly at sporting events
100mm macro lens EF 2.8 USM: I like this lens for shooting extreme close-ups. It allows me to be far enough away without interfering with the picture
50mm 1.2 L USM: I use this lens when shooting in low light
85mm EF 1.2 L II USM: This is my portrait lens. 85mm gives me the correct perspective of the individual I'm shooting i.e. distance from nose to ears or the distance between the eyes

580 EX Flash Unit: On-camera attachable flash for general indoor/outdoor shooting (fills in the shadows)
Macro Twin flash unit: Use when shooting extreme close-ups
4-light indoor flash system for studio portraits

Filters: UV, polarizer for each lens

Electronic Cable release for long exposures when on a tripod i.e. night shots of the city

Two monopods, one carbon fiber tripod

Printer: Epson 3800, which will print up to 17 inches wide and 36 inches long. I use mostly fine art rag and Epson water-resistant canvas. I do mostly all my own canvas stretching, matting, framing, and mounting.

For most of my shooting, I use my EOS 5D Mark II with my 24-70mm lens and a tripod or monopod (or neither). When I go into town (any town) to do some people pictures, I take the 5D and the zoom lens and crank up the ISO to around 1000-1500 so I can get a clear photo. Grain or noise is not a problem with today's digital cameras.

Post processing
There is so much latitude with the right digital darkroom equipment and software. About 9 months ago I went to a seminar on HDR and I was blown away. I couldn't wait to get out there and do some shooting. It's not the easiest process to master, but once you get the hang of it you might go from purist to HDR. Depending on the camera I use, I take a minimum of 3 to 7 bracketed shots. The camera must be on a tripod; handheld doesn't always work out too well. I use a software program called Photomatix to merge the images.

I also use Photoshop CS5 and all the previous Adobe Photoshops, Adobe Lightroom, On One Suite for fine-tuning and batch processing, Corel Painter IX and a bunch of plug-ins for Photoshop.

See all Photographers of the Week

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