• Archives
  • Sep28

    Dream Mural Mac

    Last weekend I took a trip with my daughter to see one of my favorite reunited bands, The Replacements, play at the Forest Hills Tennis Stadium. It was their first show in NY in 23 years, and it was the 3rd Replacements show I’ve been lucky enough to see since they reunited in Toronto last year. It was also the best one yet, but that might be influenced by all of the friends that were there to witness it with us.

    The Replacements 9/19/2014

    The Replacements Group Photo

    Traveling with my daughter, I didn’t want to impose ourselves on my friends’ couches and spare rooms, so we used airbnb to get a sweet apartment in Brooklyn. Just a block away from McCarrren Park & Pool, we were in a great location for wandering around and checking out the Brooklyn scene.

    Brooklyn, NY

    Brooklyn, NY

    We took full advantage of the great weather and spent a lot of time walking/shopping/eating in lower Manhattan as well.

    Marta on the High Line

    We also caught a nice Sunset over NJ from the High Line:

    High Line Sunset

    It’s hard not to miss my old stomping grounds when you’re sharing a bottle of wine with friends on a rooftop in Brooklyn while looking at the Manhattan skyline. Good food, good music, and good people. That’s a good life right there…

    Manhattan Skyline

    You can check out the rest of my photos from our weekend trip on this Flickr set.

    One last thing – I’ve joined Ello (thanks for the invite Patch Whisky), which is branding itself as the Anti-Facebook – an effort to cure all of the evils of the biggest social network. Check me out here.

  • Sep12

    Shelly Waters

    The road to the image above was long and hard-fought. The shoot was a total of 773 images, including test shots and all. Some days you have to work harder than others. There have been more than a few times that the first few images of a shoot are the strongest. Sometimes you have an immediate connection with your subject, the light is right, the mood is clicking, and the stars are aligned. Other times you have to build. You create a foundation, you lay the concrete and build up on top of it one piece of timber at a time. The end result is hopefully something you’re proud of. Those images seem to have a special place in my heart, mainly because I knew what it took to get there.

    It’s not the subject’s fault either – Obviously the image was/is in them all along. It’s just that some days are harder than others. The trick is in working your way though those days and going back to the basics of everything you know about relationships, art, and technical ability.

    Shelly Waters

    If a person starts off a shoot by telling you that they’re terrible in front of the lens, yet when you’re talking to them beforehand they’re full of energy and charisma, you know that they’re full of crap (I mean that in an endearing way). But, they don’t know that. It’s time to become a creative psychologist and figure out the problem and create a solution. You pull out your potato peeler and start peeling back that tough skin.

    Shelly Waters

    I loosen up the subject and ask them to do some awkward things that get them out of their head. I make sure the music is making them move when they think I’m not paying attention. I pull out some strange props or ideas to see how they handle it…

    Shelly Waters

    The hair/make-up artist is a valuable tool to break any tension. It’s a person who you can bounce ideas off of and he or she can be a real confidence booster when they start getting excited.

    Shelly Waters and Amanda Rose
    Amanda Rose assists Shelly Waters

    But, once the subject starts to open up, then I start to act like a personal trainer – It’s my job to keep pushing the subject to their limit. I’ve gained their trust and now I’m bending it as far as I can. I’m forcing them to react by shouting, laughing, dancing around the set… Whatever it takes to get their personality to appear vividly in a two dimensional photograph.

    Shelly Waters

    Shelly Waters

    Shelly Waters

    At the end of any job, I ask myself “How was the experience?”. A shoot like this one was long, but it went by quickly. We struggled but we ended up laughing. There’s a valid reason why I love shooting people, and it’s simply the human experience of it. My day is filled with little interactions, but when I can work so intimately with another person I barely know in such a unique way and come out with a memorable experience as well a piece of art, that’s a good day on the job.

    Here’s Shelly Waters’ new cover artwork for her latest record, “Drive” (click here to go grab a copy from her website):


  • Sep9

    Sunset Venice Beach
    Sunset Surfers | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    Venice Beach Sunrise
    Sunrise Declaration | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    Venice Beach Sunrise
    Early Morning | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    Venice Beach
    Late Day Skate Park | Venice Beach, CA 2014

    These four photographs I made in Venice Beach, CA are ones I keep going back to. I don’t think they need much context, they’re just images that speak to me personally and artistically and I thought I’d share them here with you.

  • Sep8

    I’m not a wildlife photographer…


    But I love to shoot the birds and bugs in my backyard.

    I’m not a landscape photographer…

    Hanging Rock State Park 2012-72

    But I love to capture the beauty around me.

    I’m not a sports photographer…


    But I love to witness mad skillz, yo.

    I’m not a street photographer…

    Manhattan 2011

    But I love to find art in the moment.

    I’m not a fashion photographer…


    But I love to collaborate with artists to make something interesting.

    I’m not an architectural photographer…

    Day 146 - United States Customs House

    But I love to witness man’s feats of greatness.

    I’m not a portrait photographer…


    But I love to see a part of a person’s personality conveyed in an image.

    I’m not a wedding photographer…

    Eileen Bridal-19

    But I love to see a bride looking her best.

    I’m not an abstract photographer…

    Bass Strings

    But I love to see the Devil in the details.

    I’m not a maternity photographer…


    But I love to see a woman becoming a new mother.

    I’m not a pet photographer…

    Day 144 - Goodbye Max

    But I love to capture an old man saying goodbye to his old best friend.

    I’m not a music photographer…


    But I love music and I think it’s what saved my life.

    I’m not a headshot photographer…

    Sue Campbell's Head Shot

    But I love to capture a person the way I see them.

    I’m not a fitness photographer…


    But I love to capture a person in the best physical shape they can be in.

    I’m not an editorial photographer…


    But I love to make a portrait that tells a story.

    I’m not an event photographer…

    Charleston Brewvival 2011

    But I love an opportunity to score a free beer (or seven).

    I’m not a fireworks photographer…

    4th of July 2012 U.S.S. Yorktown-2

    But I love to see things that go boom!

    I’m not a travel photographer…


    But I love to see new places and faces.

    I’m not a fine art photographer…


    But I love to stretch my imagination.

    I’m not a family photographer…

    Family 2013

    But I sure do love my family.

    I’m not any single kind of photographer.

    I’m all of them and none of them.

    I’m just a person who loves to capture life in a bottle so I can open it up and share it with everyone else every once in a while.

  • Sep6

    Grand Canyon National Park
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/25/2014 at 1:30PM

    Grand Canyon 2014
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/25/2014 at 6:55PM

    What we have here are some photos I stumbled upon from my recent west coast vacation that are very similar compositions of roughly the same area of the Grand Canyon taken with two different cameras. I didn’t do this on purpose, but I was pretty impressed with the similarities in the overall quality of the images that two very different cameras produced. If I had planned out this post while I was out there, I would have shot two identical shots on a tripod with both cameras back-to-back so the time was the same, but I didn’t and still found the quality of the images comparable. Artistically, these are pretty ordinary photos of an extraordinary place, but I could spend all day from sunrise to sunset shooting and at the end of the day, and if I’m lucky, I might have a photo or two that I would be proud of (I’ll show you those in a different post soon).

    Let’s talk about the non-technical differences of these first two photos caused by the time of day. The photo at the top was taken in mid-day sunlight. You can see a lot of hard contrast, you can see the shadows of the clouds on the canyon below, and everything is lit pretty evenly from the front to the back of the image. The second photo is at the tail-end of the day, the light is directional and lower in the sky to the left of the frame. Everything in the front and middle are in the shadows, while the back is hit with very warm sunlight. So when I’m comparing these two images, I’m not thinking about which image is more aesthetically pleasing, but how well the camera’s handled the situations at hand.

    Both of these images display what I would consider a fantastic demonstration of dynamic range. There are details in both the shadows and highlights, and the transition and color is very much like what I saw with my naked eyes. If you had a less-than-capable camera, the top image’s areas of contrast would be completely black, while the bottom image’s highlights would be blown out.

    One photo was made with my “Pro” camera, the Nikon D800 – The camera I use for commercial work, and the other was made with my “Fun” camera, the Fuji X-T1 – The camera I use for just about everything else these days. The Nikon is a full-frame 36 Megapixel beast of a camera, while the Fuji is a 16 Megapixel cropped sensor camera that is quite small because it’s also a mirror-less camera. Can you guess which one is which?

    Here are the settings for the top image: f/11, 1/210, 55mm ISO 200

    Here are the settings for the bottom image: f/8, 1/250, 70mm ISO 400

    The top image was made with the Fuji X-T1 using the 18-55mm f/2.8-4 “kit” lens, and the bottom was made with the Nikon D800 using the 24-70 f/2.8 lens. You could get the Fuji with the kit lens for less than the cost of just the Nikkor 24-70 lens itself!

    Now, let’s take a look at two images taken at wider angles closer to the same time of day with the two different cameras. These two images are very different compositions so it’s a little harder to compare them.

    Grand Canyon 2014
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/25/2014 at 6:00PM

    Grand Canyon 2014
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/25/2014 at 7:00PM

    Here are the settings for the top image: f/8, 1/160, 27.7mm ISO 200

    Here are the settings for the bottom image: f/8, 1/250, 28mm ISO 400

    Once again, the Fuji is on top and the Nikon on the bottom. It’s pretty crazy how well the Fuji stands up to the Nikon. Realistically, you can make similar exposures with an iPhone, although there wouldn’t be nearly as much detail when blown up or printed and the dynamic range wouldn’t be as defined. But, when looking at them at this size on your phone or computer, they would look pretty close.

    So that leads me to this last comparison that lesser cameras would crumble under – A sunrise.

    Grand Canyon Sunrise (Nikon D800)
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/26/2014 at 5:45AM

    Grand Canyon Sunrise (Fuji X-T1)
    Grand Canyon South Rim 7/26/2014 at 5:50AM

    Same two cameras and same two lenses. This time the exposures are only 5 minutes apart. Now, there is a huge difference in the focal distance as the image above is wider than the second sunrise image. Also, the image on top was sitting on a tripod using a smaller aperture and a long exposure so it’s definitely sharper. The handheld image was shot with a faster shutter speed, larger aperture and higher ISO to compensate. These differences certainly affect the look of the image, so the comparison isn’t technically ideal.

    Here are the settings for the top image: f/11, 0.4 seconds, 42mm ISO 100

    Here are the settings for the bottom image: f/5.6, 1/60, 55mm ISO 400

    As you may have figured out by the settings (the Fuji’s native ISO is 200), this time the Nikon is on top. The Fuji doesn’t compete with the clarity of the Nikon, but I believe that’s mostly because of the difference in the way the image was captured. Overall though, the Fuji made an image that if I told you that I used the same camera for both images, nobody would question it. Given the setup, I was able to compensate for my use of the Fuji handheld instead of on a tripod and make a very solid and richly colorful image. Therefore, I think the comparison works aesthetically.

    In conclusion, this very unscientific comparison interested me simply because I never set out to do it in the first place. All of the images were created with no bias for comparing them later – They were just made to capture the scenes with the tools at hand. The fact that I’m able to use a smaller, cheaper, and all-around more enjoyable camera and make images that stand up against a top-of-the-line DSLR makes me happy. The Nikon still technically out-performs the Fuji, but not by a whole heck-of-a lot in these situations.

    One last thing – All of these images were given very similar post processing RAW conversions using Lightroom/PS/Color Efex Pro. No elements were removed, and the only cropping was to straighten some of the images.

    Another last thing – Robert Donavan sent me this link to Tom Grill’s blog where he did a very similar comparison using a D810 and the X-T1. I think he was a bit more concise with his argument about the use of the final image and how they compare for what he does.