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  • Jul13

    Gear Porn

    Posted in: Gear, News

    Nikon Coolpix P7000 w/ SB-400

    Photography is all about capturing moments, interpreting scenes, and showing images of the world with your own unique vision. Lets face it though, every once in a while you just like to drool over some technological smut.

    I’ve been talking so much about my new Nikon Coolpix P7000 lately that I thought I’d share some pics of it. Here it is all tricked out with a Nikon SB-400 Sppedlight and a Joby Gorillapod Tripod.

    Nikon Coolpix P7000 w/ SB-400

    The diffuser on the SB-400 is a Sto-Fen Omnibounce. That flash/diffuser combo works so well indoors that I use it more than my SB-600 for indoor on-camera flash!

    Nikon Coolpix P7000 Back

    I love the addition of the optical viewfinder. When it’s sunny outside that thing is a life saver! The level is pretty cool, and so is the built-in ND filter effect. You can see that I have a very busy LCD screen, but that’s no problem because all I have to do is press the shutter halfway and it goes away. Alternatively, I can press a button and it shows me just the scene I’m framing.

    The physical dials and buttons are what makes the camera truly attractive to me. I like being able to control the settings while I’m composing, not before. Every movement of the camera alters the exposure because the direction, volume, and quality of light changes, and I don’t want the camera to make all of the decisions for me all of the time. If I have to go into the software of the camera to change important settings, the moment will most likely be lost!

    Nikon Coolpix P7000 Top

    I also recently ordered the Nikon case for the camera. While I was shooting at the Archers of Loaf show a couple of weeks ago, I noticed the effect of dirt on the lens covers – they get stuck! This case lets you use the camera’s straps (I use the Domke Gripper strap) and is quite minimal – something I cherish with this camera.

    Nikon Coolpix P7000 Case

    I hope you enjoyed this edition of Gear Porn! No SD Cards were harmed in the making of this post.

  • Jul10

    Sundays With Hugo

    Since I started shooting with the Nikon Coolpix P7000, I’ve found that I really like converting a lot of the images to black & white in post. It’s not that the color images are lacking, but I think it’s more the style of shooting that the P7000 inspires me to take.

    Tunguska Event At Tivoli

    Much like when shooting with my iPhone, I find myself experimenting in more social situations. I don’t mean just hanging out with my friends, but being out amongst people. I’m sure it’s mostly in my head, but when I’m shooting with my DSLRs I feel like people are paying more attention to what I’m doing. When I pull out a point-and-shoot, I get the feeling that people write you off in comparison.

    Manhattan 2011

    When I shot the Archers of Loaf, I was able to walk in with a camera in my pocket, and not get questioned by a doorman on a power-trip (or one just doing his/her job). I could get up close and shoot the whole night, which was pretty cool.

    Archers of Loaf Williamsburg 6.25.11

    At the recent Tunguska Event art show held at Tivoli Studios in Charleston, SC, I could act like a fly on a wall and people just carried on without putting on pouty smiling faces.

    Tunguska Event At Tivoli

    And while hanging out at a friend’s house, I could focus on an interesting composition in between sips of beer and conversation without missing a beat.

    Gallagher's

    To me, monotone images don’t take away color, they take away distraction. A black & white image simplifies the act of conveying your photographic message. With a smaller camera, I feel like I’m more care-free in my photography because I feel like people are more care free about me taking photos with it. While I love well thought-out shots that are purposeful, I also love capturing moments in life using the creative reflexes I’ve developed by shooting with my DSLR for the last few years. Both my iPhone and now my P7000 allow me to bridge that small strange gap between casual photography and artistic shooting. Strip a shot down to its composition, depth, and meaning, and you make a statement that begs for further attention than a color snapshot might ask for.

  • Jul7

    Cruise-218

    I just sat down with my family and my visiting mother to do the old-fashioned post-vacation slide-show deal where we sat in front of the TV and went through our trip pictures shot by shot, reliving the adventures all over again. It brought me back to my childhood when my Grandfather would break out his slide projector and we’d shut the lights and close the curtains to watch them up on his portable movie screen. The technology has changed but the tradition remains, and I thought I would share some of the hi-lights of our recent trip with you.

    Olivander's Wand Shop

    Our trip started out at Universal Studios in Orlando, FL (I had a previous post with some of my shots of Hogwarts here). Our first stop was Olivander’s Wand Shop, where my daughter Mackenzie was chosen to be the wizard who gets to have a wand choose her.

    Kegan & The Elder Wand Honeydukes Family at Hogwarts

    Wizarding World of Harry Potter

    While we were there mainly for the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, we did take advantage of the rest of the park, including Jurassic Park.

    Jurassic Park

    Kegan posed nicely on this typical photo attraction:

    Surfer Kegan

    After a long day in Orlando, we drove over to Tampa to stay the night before embarking on our cruise. I shot this from our hotel room just after the sun went down:

    Tampa Sunset

    The next morning, we woke up early and got some last minute shopping for stuff we forgot to pack and then headed onto the boat. We ate a quick lunch and greased our vacation wheels a bit with some umbrella drinks, followed by a jump in one of the pools. Luckily I had my Pentax Optio W80 in my pocket all charged up and ready to shoot.

    Cruise-3

    Kegan stole some kisses from his mommy in the hot tub, while Mac took a spin on the slide:

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    As we departed from Tampa, I tried to get all artsy with the port scenes using my D90 with a 55-300mm lens.

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    As we left Tampa, we had to go under the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, which our cruise ship, the Carnival Legend, clears by only five feet.

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    The sunsets heading into the Caribbean are always a must-see show.

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    We spent a day at sea relaxing by the pool, drinking fruity cocktails, and eating soft-serve. Kegan shows us here how to walk on water:

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    Our first port call was in Mexico on the island of Cozumel. We woke up next to another huge cruise ship across the dock.

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    The plan for the day was to ride ATV’s through the jungle. Here I am with Mackenzie on our ATV adventure:

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    And here’s Kegan under a hole inside a cave followed by a shot of him holding a baby crocodile:

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    Here I am, all dusty and sweaty as we hike through some Mayan ruins wearing my Wild Tours helmet:

    Cruise-88

    That was a blast. I wish I had grabbed a shot of Amy holding a python, which is something to behold if you know how much she hates snakes, but they asked us not to take pictures of their snake. The next day we visited Belize where we went cave tubing courtesy of CaveTubing.BZ.

    Cruise-105

    We had to hike a mile through caves and the jungle with our tubes in hand.

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    After about 40 minutes of walking, eating fallen coconuts, and tasting termites, we arrived at the launching point.

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    We ventured into the dark caves, linked together, lazily meandering through the Nohoch Che’en Caves Branch Archaeological Reserve.

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    After the long journey, we were treated to lunch and all-you-can-drink Rum punch back at cavetubing.bz’s compound.

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    Before we got back on the ship, Mackenzie had to get some braids in her hair by the infamous Ruth Smith.

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    The next day brought us to the island of Roatán, where I awoke early to catch the sunrise as we pulled into the shipwreck ridden bay.

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    After a crazy taxi ride, we arrived at the Bananarama Beach Resort on West Bay Beach to hang out and do some snorkeling.

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    Amy & Mackenzie got to take a ride on the banana boat, where the whole island could hear Mackenzie yelling “BANANA!!!” at the top of her voice:

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    Since the West Bay Beach is a public beach, there was no shortage of locals trying to earn a buck from the tourists. These guys were at the least entertaining. Why not make a hat on the end of a dock or maybe catch a barracuda with your bare hands?

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    The kids had fun swimming out to the floating platform, and jumping off it as well.

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    The water was fantastically perfect. This was the one day I brought my D90 with me on the excursion and I couldn’t of picked a better place to make photos of paradise. I was able to do a little photo-walk on the beach alone for a little while and take in the sights.

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    At one point in the afternoon, my wife called me out of the water and told me to look up. I couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw a full rainbow encircling the sun! I wanted to find an element to place it and decided that having the sun peek out from the palm fronds would be the perfect Caribbean scene.

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    Phew… only one more shore excursion to go. Here’s a shot of Kegan in our cabin making plans for the evening:

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    The next day brought us to Grand Cayman.

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    We decided to take it easy and took a quick cab ride to Calico Jack’s where I bought a bucket of local beer and floated in the ocean for a few hours.

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    We had one last day at sea before we returned to Florida. Here’s Amy getting ready for dinner:

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    I couldn’t resist taking a photo of one of the photographers that lined the sides of the atrium on the way to the restaurant.

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    On the last night, I took my wife outside to do our own photo-shoot. Here’s my favorite of the batch:

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    After spending a week with your service staff and if you’re lucky to get good people helping you out, you can’t help but get attached to them. Here’s Fernando & George with Mackenzie & Amy:

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    And this concludes my vacation presentation. I remember enjoying those “boring vacation photos” as a kid. Our vacations would go by quickly, but the photos brought us right back whenever we would view them.

    Many of the pictures featured here were taken on my little Pentax point-and shoot, which, for a tiny little camera with a tiny little sensor, can be a convenient way to freeze your dirty, wet, and hot memories forever. That sounded dirty. Anyway, as usual, I have a slew of photos on my Flickr set.

  • Jul5

    Central Park 2011

    Last weekend I was in New York to catch the Archers of Loaf reunion shows, and on that Saturday, I had a few hours to kill before meeting up with my friends to go to the show. I had just received a new camera, the Nikon P7000, and really wanted to familiarize myself with the camera during this trip. Instead of doing a typical review of how the camera works (you can read those here and here), I figured I would just show you what I made with them and let you decide if you like the camera by what it’s possible of. If you’ve been reading my blog here, you know the kind of photography I make and you can see how well these photos stand up to my other work.

    I started out in Astoria (which is a neighborhood in Queens for those of you who aren’t familiar) and walked a couple of blocks over to the train station.

    Astoria 2011

    I love public transportation in New York. During the day you don’t need to wait long for a train – who needs schedules?

    NYC Subway 2011 NYC Subway 2011 NYC Subway 2011

    After about 10 minutes, I arrived at the Fifth Ave./ 59th St. station.

    NYC Subway 2011

    I emerged from the subway to the sights and sounds I lived in for so many years in a past life.

    Manhattan 2011

    My first stop was the cube Apple Store, which was completely covered with boards because it is under renovations – Not a problem, it makes for a more interesting atypical photo! Because it’s such a busy scene, the lines in the crosswalk come in handy as an element to draw your attention to the construction site in the center of this shot:

    Manhattan 2011

    Just outside of the Apple cube was a brass band which was drawing quite a crowd. I snuck in from the street side and got in close – you can see my bald-headed reflection in the horn!

    Manhattan 2011

    I was getting hungry and thirsty and I knew exactly what I wanted: A dirty-water dog. I didn’t have to walk far into Central Park to find a cart and a bench to sit on.

    Central Park 2011

    As I sat and enjoyed my mystery meat on a bun, I started to compose the scenes around me. Right across the way was a guitarist and girl eating her lunch. While the guitarist was interesting, I couldn’t get a good shot of the girl that was flattering because she was munching on her food the whole time. I figured I’d drag the shutter a little to get a pedestrian walking by and capture the motion. This was the result:

    Central Park 2011

    To the right was a pretty lady getting her portrait made:

    Central Park 2011

    I ventured further into the park, past the zoo, and through this tunnel to see what moments I could capture.

    Central Park 2011

    Isolating a person in a scene is a lot harder than you can imagine on a perfect Saturday afternoon in the park. I found this girl hanging out on the rocks – she wasn’t alone though. There were 8 other people on the same rock, but I found this angle to single her out:

    Central Park 2011

    As I walked further into the park, I started to hear live amplified music. I followed my ears until I came upon the Summer Stage. I walked in just in time to catch a set from Fitz & The Tantrums!

    Fitz & The Tantrums at Central Park 2011

    Fitz & The Tantrums at Central Park 2011 Fitz & The Tantrums at Central Park 2011 Fitz & The Tantrums at Central Park 2011

    Fitz & The Tantrums at Central Park 2011

    Boy, did that put me in a good mood! By the end of their set, there was nothing but smiles in the crowd. I had food in my belly, a song in my head, and a new camera to break in. You couldn’t ask for a better place in the world to be at that moment. I ventured back out into the park and stumbled upon some people doing the Tango in the middle of the path. I knew it was the Tango, because someone was kind enough to spell it out for me on the ground.

    Central Park 2011

    I decided to climb some rocks and came across this fantastic view – I fell to my stomach and quickly shot this as there was a clear people-less view!

    Central Park 2011

    I looked around and there were so many couples – it was quite romantic. I like this scene because there is a couple on the left, as well as a single guy looking over at a single woman. When coupled with the photo that follows it, there is a story of longing going on.

    Central Park 2011

    Central Park 2011

    I really started to focus on couples for a while. This couple seems pretty focused on something off camera:

    Central Park 2011

    Here’s another couple checking out some photos on the girl’s camera:

    Central Park 2011

    It was sunny out for most of the day, and I was very happy to have an optical viewfinder on this compact camera – it’s a lot easier to see in bright conditions than the LCD screen. Speaking of the screen – It’s the same size as my D90’s screen! It’s bright and defined, and Nikon was kind enough to let you clear all of the visible data so you can shoot and view your photos without any clutter.

    Central Park 2011

    This couple eventually asked me to take a photo of them with their camera as well:

    Central Park 2011

    As I said earlier, I try to isolate my subjects, but in this photo you can see just how close people really are to each other:

    Central Park 2011

    It was time to head downtown to meet up with my friends. I put on my tourist hat and started taking shots of the buildings.

    Manhattan 2011

    Manhattan 2011

    I absolutely love this action of this shot of a couple exiting F.A.O. Schwartz:

    Manhattan 2011

    All of the shots I took in this series were made using the camera’s finest jpeg setting. I could shoot in RAW, but for purpose of this camera, which for me is primarily street and casual photography, the jpegs look downright amazing right out of the camera. I like to know that if I find myself in a situation where I know I will decide to do some extreme photo editing when I get back to my computer, I can switch to RAW. I did do some light editing in Lightroom on these, such as black & white conversions, cropping, & straightening, and tweaking of brightness & contrast.

    Manhattan 2011

    I want to briefly touch on the features of the camera that stick out for me so far. If you’re a Nikon shooter, you should be pretty comfortable with the menu structure. However, I do find it strange how you can conveniently get to important settings using the camera’s quick menu dial, but you can’t get to all of those same settings using the menu button! The separation is a bit confusing. I also wish I could change the direction of the physical dials to mimic the way I have my D90 set up. I haven’t taken advantage of the User mode presets yet, but I think they’re a great idea. I really wish the exposure compensation dial was a dedicated ISO setting dial like the Canon G12 sports – it is a setting I find I’m constantly getting into. In fact, I had my quick menu set to the ISO function 90% of the time. I know it sounds silly, but I love that it has standard strap connectors so that I can use my favorite camera strap, the Domke Gripper. A good strap is something you shouldn’t overlook for your camera – if you you’re not comfortable carrying it, you’re less likely to do so!

    Manhattan 2011

    This shot of a man on his phone is one of my favorite shots of the day – I walked up and was immediately drawn to the geometry of it all. I love the lines of the steps leading to the man and the pots and the trees at the top that balance it all.

    Manhattan 2011

    I also love this simple street corner by the world famous Carnegie Deli. It’s not too busy and the tone made for a great black & white photo.

    Manhattan 2011

    In conclusion, I friggin’ love this camera. It’s capable of taking very high quality shots in a small package. During this trip, I didn’t miss lugging around my DSLR and a bag full of glass. I was able to get great shots and look inconspicuous while doing it, which for street photography is a huge plus.

    I took a lot of photos that day – you can see the full set on Flickr.

  • Jul4

    4th of July Fireworks at Folly Beach

    We had such a good time catching the professional fireworks display at Folly Beach last year that we decided to revisit the beach again this year. It did not disappoint! This year was a bit different as they did not launch the fireworks from the county park, opting for a more central location near the pier.  This made for a cool backdrop of the hotel and pier. Prior to the show, I made this long exposure of the Folly Beach pier:

    4th of July Fireworks at Folly Beach

    I was also photographing the direction of the state park and using a long exposure got a cool ghosting effect of the beach-goers and some fireworks set off by locals:

    4th of July Fireworks at Folly Beach

    Like last year, I set up my tripod in the shore to get the reflections of the fireworks in the water. Unfortunately, just like last year, the wind & waves made my tripod vibrate and the fireworks trails are all squiggly! Next time I shoot fireworks at the beach, I’m bringing a bigger/heavier tripod.

    4th of July Fireworks at Folly Beach

    4th of July Fireworks at Folly Beach 4th of July Fireworks at Folly Beach 4th of July Fireworks at Folly Beach

    4th of July Fireworks at Folly Beach

    Here’s the entire set of photos on Flickr.