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  • Dec7

    Dereon - Help-Portrait 2013

    That picture says it all. Little Dereon was the first to come visit us in the atrium at MUSC Children’s Hospital on Friday for our annual Help-Portrait event that we organize there every December. She was also the last to get her photo taken! It took her a while to warm up to me, and she wanted to watch the other children with a curious eye to see what the deal was. The whole morning she was wearing a mask that covered her beautiful smile, and when she finally built up the courage to get her picture taken, she took off that mask and instantly transformed into an excited and confident little girl. I couldn’t think of a better story to explain what our Help-Portrait event at the children’s hospital means – It’s a way to make these kids and their families feel normal.

    Joe Help-Portrait 2013

    The holidays are an emotional time, and to add the struggle that these kids are going through is not easy to say the least. To give them any experience that lets them feel like regular kids is important in keeping them hopeful and strong. We’re just but one event of the hundreds of different kinds that are held every year for the hospital, but to see the happiness in Danielle’s face and the gratitude from her mom, you can see why we get so excited for this event every year:

    Danielle - Help-Portrait 2013

    How about little Kloeiann, who came out like a rock star? We had her and her mom design a sign for her to hold up for one of her pictures, and very awesome is quite appropriate for her 🙂

    Kloeiann - Help-Portrait 2013

    We also had a frame crafting station set up for the kids to design their own picture frame to put one of their photos in.

    Crystal - Help-Portrait 2013

    Thanks to Amy, Crystal, & Christina who volunteered to make this happen with me again this year. Also, thanks to the staff at MUSC Children’s hospital for letting us do this every year!

    The photos are up on my gallery here, and there’s also a set on Flickr.

  • Dec2


    I’m not one to get into the whole brand war when it comes to “stuff”. I really do make educated guesses about the equipment I use for the specific jobs they perform. That said, every DSLR I’ve owned has been a Nikon. The reason has nothing to do with the quality of the system or anything like that. They just feel best in my hand. It’s the one “stuff” decision that has nothing to do with specs or functionality. It’s based purely on ergonomics and the way I use the camera.

    Disney World Thanksgiving 2013

    I have been on the hunt for a “Family Camera” that suits my nerdier photography needs. I love my Nikon P7000, but when it comes to low-light conditions, its small sensor leaves a gaping whole in its functionality. The newer Nikon 1 system uses pretty much the same sensor. I’ve been lusting over the micro 4/3’s systems, but I’m weary that their small sensors will leave me wanting just a little more than they can deliver also. When Fuji came out with the x100 and put a APS-C sensor into it, I thought “That’s it”, but it’s just too expensive to justify as a family camera. Sony has a fantastic system with the NEX line as well, but unfortunately the interface on those is way too nutty for my liking. Being quite happy with my iPhone, I gave up on paying much attention to what’s been going on in the world of small mirror-less cameras. I didn’t even know that Canon tried and failed miserably with the EOS M earlier this year. Their failure = My gain!

    Disney World Thanksgiving 2013

    So, why would I buy into a failed camera system? Short Answer: I got one with a lens for well under $300. This camera has the same sensor as the Canon 650D, and it costs a fraction of the price of anything even near it in it’s class. Why is it so cheap? Because reviewers panned the camera into submission. The camera sucks at autofocusing in comparison to other cameras in its class, but Canon recently upgraded the firmware to greatly improve the M’s performance. Now I can even focus on a honey bee’s ass!

    Disney World Thanksgiving 2013

    I learned about the camera at this year’s BarCamp when fellow photog Phillip Guyton let me play around with his EOS M. As annoying as on-screen controls can be, the touch screen combined with some really smart layout of the controls make for a great compromise for those of us who’ve been using iPhones for many years. I was immediately obsessed. It’s almost everything I want from a walk-around family camera. Sure, the auto-focus issue can sometimes be a challenge, but I was able to hand the camera over to other people and got great results:

    Disney World Thanksgiving 2013

    Also, it has a hot shoe! Yay for off-camera lighting. One of the first things I did was grab a remote trigger and use on of my Nikon flashes in manual mode to see how it works (It gets a 1/200 sync speed btw). Here’s one of the images I made while I tested it:

    Dee Dee Ramone

    What other stuff can this camera do that my iPhone can’t? How about slow shutter speeds! I took this shot of a fountain inside the Polynesian resort in Disney World this past weekend:

    Disney World Thanksgiving 2013

    The M also has much better dynamic range than other compact cameras. While not nearly as good as a full-frame Nikon, this little guy is pretty damn good in a tough lighting situation (that’s not noise in the 2nd shot – it’s foam flying around as simulated snow at the Osborne Family Christmas Lights in Epcot Center):

    Disney World Thanksgiving 2013

    Disney World Thanksgiving 2013

    Disney World Thanksgiving 2013

    After spending the holiday weekend with the M, I’m happy to say that for the price of the camera, I definitely have found my “Walk-Around” system (and then some), and would happily recommend it to any photography enthusiast!

    Disney World Thanksgiving 2013