Frank Petronio photographer


First Real Underwater

Alyssa at Olcott Beach, Lake Ontario

After waiting around all Winter, I finally got to take the Aquatech Base water housing out (with a beater Nikon D800 and 35/1.8G) but the water was 41˚F, 5˚C ~ pretty intolerable and we could barely function for only a couple of minutes. I have the simplest base model that only allows autofocusing and shutter release but I think if I wasn’t panicking from the cold I could probably concentrate enough to look through the viewfinder and check image review sharp enough to make effective casual shots. But now I see why you’d really want the full control back plate for serious work. I think a wider lens and closer working distance would help a lot too, and the above/below photos were pretty distorted with the flat front plate. While I can blame it on the cold, I generally didn’t feel in control so it became a spray and pray kind of situation. That can work, you can make serendipitous art when you’re lucky, but I prefer to have control and then loosen my grip rather than the reverse. 

Also, even though Lake Ontario was as clear as it could ever be, the silt and debris is impressive… enough so that it can fool the camera’s autofocus for a percentage of the shots. Guess this is why most of the hero shots you see are in beautiful tropical waters but it was impressive just how nasty our primary drinking water supply is ;-p (We have a reverse osmosis system thankfully.)  

So mixed results, I suspect I will use this casually over the Summer and then evaluate whether I want to dive deeper (pun) or chalk it off to novelty. So now in addition to my Nikons I also have a drone (Mavic Pro, works great but you always want a bigger camera) and a GoPro (a cheap III clone but it works pretty well for a camera that will ultimately get destroyed). They’re all kind of toys but I see how you can do some nice work with them. 

Water so toxic her hair turned green


Memorial Day

Irondequoit, NY

I made this photo in 1986 when I had a Rittereck 5x7 camera. Whoever hung their flag every Memorial Day stopped the following year, I assume they died. 

To properly celebrate Memorial Day we Americans should bring our troops home and stop policing the world.






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Tammy x 2, a wonderful model, highly recommended, based in Northern New Jersey. 

When the weather is this gloomy and cold the goose bumps are ridiculous to retouch. Also I don’t like the idea of distorting the Hell out of the color temperature but otherwise the reality is people look worse than pale. True I haven’t been shooting much but finding a pleasing and believable flesh tone without green shadows in it is proving hard, I think the phones tend to emphasize green more than most good monitors. At a certain point I just need to step away and move on, maybe return after I grow detached. Or be a putz and convert everything to B&W and call it “art” like most togs. 

What I do like is the hiking boots photo (far more than the latex swimsuit). I like that she’s dirty with forest debris and looks healthy and natural. This is something I should run with and do more of ~ hikers and outdoorsy people, even less attractive types, you simply don’t see many photos of people actually in the woods (and the photos you do see are of crazies doing hyper X-games shit which isn’t the norm). Same with firearms shooters (they tend to run paranoid because of the jackels in the media), I just have to find people who are willing and not be so shy about asking. 

We were shooting in a quarry, trespassing to be honest. But some other trespassers came by and reported us for photographing a potential minor (not the case, she’s an adult mother of two). Twenty minutes later eight cops pulled me over and investigated, no issue and I understand why they want to be careful but still it was annoying and a bit of overkill. I guess it was a slow morning and they wanted to check out the pretty girl?

Probably the safe bet.


Nola and Nettie Harris

I arrived at 10pm but had to kill a few hours because she was nodded off.

Spring 2015 I traveled to New Orleans and met up with Nettie Harris at 2am for an all-night stroll and photoshoot. We visited the levee where she grew up, then wound up at one of the old cemeteries (think Easy Rider). Her boyfriend tagged along, he was the brother of Nettie’s true love who was the father of her first child, the one who suffered birth defects and died. That guy is doing a 25-year prison term so Nettie eventually hooked up with his brother once he left law school because he was accused of rape by his crazy former girlfriend (supposedly). Both Nettie and Dave were using heroin, she was stripping in the Quarter (this was after she acted in HBO’s Treme and True Detective). Dave overdosed and died but not before impregnating Nettie. I took the only photos of them together. I haven’t heard from Nettie for a couple of years now, she’s dyslexic so it’s hard to communicate but she still has some social media activity. 

French Quarter

Waffle House 4:30am

Dawn on the Levee behind her childhood home

It’s her thing, making the most offensive photo possible, I think it’s funny.

Dave drops his needle

Now I suppose you could tell me about your struggles and problems but it’s more than likely I won’t consider them all that bad. 

(I’m also in a documentary that was done about Nettie but it’s been in production for years and I don’t know if it will ever be released.)

Nettie in HBO’s True Detective


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