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Summer Portrait Tips: Magic Hour!


Beach Family Pictures-09

If you Google “magic hour,” you will see all-manner of imagery displaying this glorious lighting. Magic hour is the time of day soon after sunrise or right before sunset when the sun is lower in the sky creating warm, soft light. Instead of the sun being overhead as at noontime, the late afternoon light rakes across from low on the horizon making dramatic and long shadows that add striking elements to your photographs. These times of day are ideal for capturing your subjects in various landscapes and environments, especially when the light catches their hair just so…

Be sure to take advantage of these longer days, photographing your family and friends well into the evening. They’ll love how exceptionally flattering and enchanting the light is, earning you the title of exceptionally excellent photographer…Happy shooting!

Translator Gregory Rabassa

20160616_172035Gregory Rabassa was, probably, the foremost translator of books from Spanish and Portuguese to English. He died last week at age 94. I photographed Rabassa 31 years ago at his home for the magazine, Vista. He was an elegant, quiet man, who brought Latin American and Spanish books, some of the most important literary milestones of the 20th Century, to an English-speaking audience. His work was painstaking: how do you maintain the meaning, the cadence and the “music” of words written in Spanish, and change them into English, while still retaining all of the power, energy and importance of the original. It was an art, nearly as important as the author’s writing itself.

Photograph©Phil Cantor 1985

The obituary, written by Margalit Fox, in The New York Times is fantastic. Besides the usual who-what-where-when, it shares the difficulties and the decisions a translator must make:

With “One Hundred Years of Solitude,” for instance, the torment began with the first word of the title. In Spanish, the novel is called “Cien Años de Soledad,” with “cien” meaning “100.” But there’s the rub, for the translator into English confronts an instant quandary: whether to translate “cien” as “a hundred” or “one hundred.” Professor Rabassa was an ardent believer in the aurality of text. To him, “a” was an acoustic flyspeck, little more than a fleeting grunt. He chose the more durable “one.”

Read the Full Obituary here





Montbear, NJ

As President of the Montclair Business Improvement District, I’m a big booster of attracting out-of-town guests to shop, dine, and to visit our cultural institutions. Last week, Montclair was too inviting for one wayward visitor.

A 106 lb. male black bear (Ursus americanus), wandered onto South Park Street, a few steps away from Starbucks. I took these photographs in the grassy area between the last store and the first apartment building.  The Montclair Police Department had him boxed in and he was pacing back and forth. I joined the Deputy Police Chief as he awaited the arrival of New Jersey wildlife officers.

Bear Montclair 2_resizeMontbear, NJA 106 lb. male black bear (Ursus americanus), wandered onto South Park Street, a few steps away from Starbucks. ©Phil Cantor 2016

Bear Montclair_resize

He stood up for about a second and happily I got a great portrait of him. He looks like a giant here but the balcony is very low to the ground. He’s about 4 feet tall, in reality.

After nervously pacing back and forth, he made a run for it and was later cornered in a backyard a few blocks away where he was tranquilized, captured, and released in western New Jersey


Summer Portrait Tips: Shooting in the Shade

The summer is one of the best times for outdoor portraits. The days are longer, everyone is more relaxed, and families are coming together for vacations, reunions and get-togethers alike. If you were looking to hone your photography skills this season, begin by trying out this great tip for better portraits!


Avoid photographing subjects in direct sunlight! Sunlight is great for flowers, but creates harsh, often unflattering shadows on faces, known as ‘Raccoon Eyes’. Instead, seek out shade where your subjects are lit from behind or entirely in shade. Expose for your subjects skin tones by walking up close and taking a reading off of one of the faces. For the best results, use a white sheet of paper, or a board or even a newspaper as a reflector in front of the subjects….this bounces light on to the faces, and opens up the shadows a bit.

So there you have it – a useful tip to get you started on the right foot for photographing portraits this summer…happy shooting!

The Secret Of Downtown Montclair


Ah, downtown Montclair, NJ. A suburban oasis peppered with shops, eateries, and artwork all at your fingertips. While many residents bask in this pleasurable promenade, most have never considered how much work went into its planning. Allow me to let you in on a little secret known as streetscapes…

Have you ever considered the width of the sidewalk you walk on? The position of street garbage cans? The amount of windows along storefronts? Yep, all of that is part of the streetscape. Beautiful downtowns don’t just happen; they are pondered, planned, and produced.


As president of the Business Improvement District (BID) of Montclair, I am attuned to the ins and outs of streetscaping, as well as how these developments benefit our town. I became involved with the BID when I realized how important it is to the well-being of residents to have a vibrant downtown.  How a “livable” and “walkable” business area is such a great amenity. When people are considering buying a home in Montclair, the second-most mentioned item, after the schools, is the 6 wonderful business districts.


I have just returned from the National Main Street Conference in Milwaukee and I recognize even more how important it is to have equal parts enticing and enriching downtown. I personally love not only the stores and restaurants, but the different events Montclair offers. The Farmers Market, Art Walk, Jazz Festival, Film Festival are just a few of the goings-on around town every year. What’s your favorite thing about Montclair’s bustling downtown? Share in the comment section below!