Joe del Tufo, of Arden, can snap at any given place or time.

Joe del Tufo, of Arden, can snap at any given place or time.

He’s done it on several occasions, especially at work. And though you can’t always predict his next episode, the flipside of the coin is that the product of his actions usually translates into something worth smiling about.

Most recently this truth became apparent when the Delaware Tourism Office crowned del Tufo as the winner of their 2012 seasonal photo contest, in which he snapped a breathtaking photo of the Caesar Rodney statue in Wilmington. The photo, titled “Night Rider,” was taken in the fall and depicts a mighty Rodney underneath a gorgeous sunrise that’s merely minutes away from disappearing.

The photographer will be awarded $2,500 for winning the contest.   

del Tufo – whose one of the founding partners of the Wilmington-based creative firm Mobius New Media, as well as a photographer for several local organizations like the Arden Club and Delaware Theatre Company – discusses how he worked his magic to win the contest, and more.

Q Was “Night Rider” premeditated, or was it taken out of spontaneity?
A Spontaneity would be the answer. Fortunately I was on my way to a shoot, early one morning. That week in the fall there had been a number of really dramatic sunrises, and sunsets, and I saw that one coming and I thought this was going to be something ridiculous. So I wanted to try to frame it with something interesting and iconic. As I was entering the city, I started mentally going through, “Should I put the bridge behind it? Should I get up on the top of The Grand to get a shot from there?” And basically I didn’t think I had a lot of time. So I literally drove up to the Caesar Rodney statue. I had about two minutes of light before the sun was over top of the clouds, and I just shot for the entire two minutes.

Age 44
Residence Arden
Education University of Delaware, BS
Talent Photographer

Q Typically what equipment do you use?
A I have a number of different cameras. For “Night Rider” I used the Nikon D3S and a 14-millimeter lens. Using the 14-millimeter lens helped me to get both buildings on the left and right so I could have a frame for it. Typically I like to shoot with prime lenses and I like to walk around with a Nikon D700 because it’s light, and either a 50-millimeter lens or a 24-millimeter lens because they’re small and light. I find not using zoom lenses helps me be less lazy [laughs]. I’ll walk around and frame everything with my feet.  

Q Any thoughts on how you’re going to spend your prize money?
A I’m going to get rid of the D700 and get a D800.

Q What will the Nikon D800 allow you to do that the D700 won’t?
A The D800 is almost medium format resolution. It’s 36 megapixels and the D700 is only 12. So a shot like “Night Rider,” which is also a 12-megapixel shot, I’d be able to literally print that at billboard size. Right now I could probably get the half billboard size and still have it be reasonable. But the D800 gives me the ability to print quite large.         

Q What’s your next assignment?
A I’m shooting the rapper Beanie Sigel in our office on Monday and I’m very excited about that. He’s a very big-deal rapper. I’m doing his album cover for “The Classic.”

Q What ideas do you have in mind for Beanie?
A I think where I’m coming from with the concept on this one is people are used to gangster rap being a certain type of thing, and I think it’s kind of been done. I asked Beanie if he could come dressed to the nines in black, looking as sharp as possible. I would like him in black on black, and I’m going to backlight him, so all you’re going to see is a silhouette and enough information to know that, that man is Beanie Sigel. I’m going to make him look hip and high-end, and basically have this be a kind of coming out album.