• iPhonography
  • Nov3

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    Movember 2013 JoeL8X - Week 1

    It’s that time of year again folks. The air’s a little crisper, the trees are full of color, and I’ve shaved my mustache in an effort to raise awareness about men’s health issues as well as raise money for the organizations that are fighting the good fight.

    This year I’m flying solo as a “MoBro”. Can we lose the “bro” monicker though? Seriously, the term “bro” makes me think of beer coozies and fist bumps, and that’s just not me. Anyway, here’s the link to donate through my page: MoBro.co/joeL8X. I’m thinking of doing some fun stuff to raise money this year, so be sure to follow me here, on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter.

    If you don’t know about Movember yet, you can read all about the organizations vision, values, and goals here.

    Swingin' at the #coastalcarolinafair with @frostymac #fair #swing #ride #charleston #sc

    While I’ve got your attention, the Coastal Carolina Fair is in effect again. All the rides, attractions, and deep fried things that probably shouldn’t be allowed near a deep frier are available for your enjoyment at the Ladson Fairgrounds.

    More importantly, I’m proud to announce that my daughter Mackenzie has won 2nd place in this year’s photography contest for division 3 (Students)!!! She entered shots she made during last month’s World Wide Photo Walk, and her shot of a rusty old bicycle bell earned her a red ribbon.

    Mackenzie Wins 2nd Place at the Coastal Carolina Fair Photography Contest

    Next up in the information department is that Halloween was this week, and of course my family had to pose for pictures in our costumes:

    Halloween 2013

    Kegan’s buddies came over and were promptly stuck in front of my camera. Some kids are so cooperative in getting into character. These kids rule.

    Kids Halloween 2013

    My Satyr costume was inspired by this new Halloween themed tattoo I got from Rob Junod over at Holy City Tattooing Collective:

    I got my #Halloween #tattoo by @robjunod at #HolyCityTattooingCollective in #Charleston #SC Check out that #Satyr fiddling the night away! I admire his goatee...

    In sadder news, we lost a New York legend last week. Lou Reed passed away after losing a battle with liver disease. When the kids and I carved our pumpkins, I decided to make mine a tribute to one of rock n’ roll’s most influential people. From the left to right, it’s Mackenzie’s “Hedgehog-O-Lantern”, my “Lou-O-Lantern”, and my son Kegan’s “Boo-O-Lantern”:

    Pumpkins 2013-6

    The sadness didn’t last long in our family though, because the day after Lou passed away, Karlina Josephine joined the world:

    Brian & Mira's Baby Girl

    Welcome to the family, kiddo. Brian & Mira are going to be great parents to you, and you will have more professional photos of yourself than any other kid in your neighborhood, so just accept it and be prepared!

    Brian & Mira's Baby Girl

  • Feb25


    Brewvival Mud Fight!

    A couple of years ago, my buddies Chrys & Robert asked me to cover Charleston Brewvial. Last year I couldn’t make it, but this year I was determined to go as a participant so I could fully enjoy one of the greatest events in the greater Charleston area.

    Brewvival 2013

    I originally planned on taking my P&S P7000 with me, but when I woke up on Saturday morning I realized that the rain was not going to be forgiving and I would be happier using my free hand to hold an umbrella instead. The rain was such a presence, in fact, that it became one of the stars of the event.

    Brewvival Fuck Yeah!!!!

    Not one sit idly by without letting the photographic itch consume me, I did make proper use of my iPhone to capture my experiences. This shot just above was of the first of many who decided to not give any fucks and start playing in the mud. Put thousands of people on a muddy field and someone’s gonna get dirty. Add beer, and a whole lot of people will join in happily.

    Brewvival 2013
    Photo by Chrys Rynearson of me taking the shot above

    Lets not forget the true star of the event. Beer.

    Brewvival 120!

    This year, sour was all the rage. Most of the brewers had a signature sour beer and they were almost all fantastic. I only dumped one glass the whole day because I just didn’t like the taste at all. While that might sound sacrilegious to some, when you have a tasting event like this, if you don’t pace yourself you will most likely end up like the guys in the photos above. That means choosing wisely. The best part is when I found a beer I truly enjoyed, I couldn’t wait to share it with my friends (and even some strangers).

    Beer Geek #Brewvival

    There are countless articles written about the benefits of having a camera-phone like the iPhone because the best camera is indeed the one that you have with you. My piece of advice with iPhonography is the age old photographic wisdom of “If you think you’re too close, get in closer”. Be concise with your storytelling and know the limitations of the camera. For events like this, it’s all I need because the lighting was perfect (cloudy and outdoors), it fits in my pocket, and I can focus on the experience with friends because I’m “just another guy with a camera-phone”. Besides, it’s nice to let your photog friends do the heavy lifting while you tip a few back and act stupid:

    Brewvival 2013
    I could have sworn Robert took this photo, but I guess Chrys was standing next to him! I’ll give the credit to Robert Donovan anyway since I was exposing myself to him 😉

    Check out the rest of my photos in this Flickr set, also be sure to check out Chrys’ set, CHSBeer.org, and the official Brewvival Facebook Page.

  • Oct27

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    I was super excited to walk into the photography/art building at the Ladson Fair Grounds this week to find that my photo above, taken for Eco Fitness in Mount Pleasant, won 1st prize in the division 1 photo contest at this year’s Coastal Carolina Fair! Two of my other photos received honorable mentions as well.

    This is one of my favorite shots I made this year, which was at the Change For Change benefit art show:


    This third entry was from the photo shoot I did last month for Stella Nova Salon & Spa. I’ll share more about that shoot in a future post.


    While I was extremely flattered to receive these awards, the big win for my family was to see my daughter take 3rd place in the division 3 contest with this photo that she made during the recent Worldwide Photowalk:

    Mac Shem Creek-2
    Photo by Mackenzie Nienstedt

    And she also received an honorable mention for this photo:

    Mac Shem Creek-1>
    Photo by Mackenzie Nienstedt

    We had prepared my daughter as best we could for a loss since this was her first time entering an art competition like this. We did the same with my son Kegan, who had entered a 3-D art sculpture through his art class at school. So when she won, it was truly a fantastic moment as a parent to see her surprise. Not only that, but Kegan received a 1st place ribbon for his piece as well!

    Photo by Amy Nienstedt

    What a fantastic day for our family! We are so proud of our kids, and it made the rest of the night a blast as we were so happy about the contests. I left my DSLR at home for this trip, opting to hang with the family instead of hanging behind the lens. I did have my iPhone and couldn’t resist snapping some shots like this sunset using iOS 6’s new panoramic photo feature (be sure to click on it to open up a larger version):

    Sunset Pano at the Fair

    My wife, who had been having one of “Those” days, turned it around completely at the fair. I love how happy she looks here:

    Amy at the Fair

    Finally, I have never had a caricature done of myself before. I was walking by the caricature booth, and this pretty young artist was looking at me with puppy dog eyes. She enticed me! Well, not really, I walked over and asked her how much. I’m sure she was thrilled to have such an easy target subject. So without further ado, here I am as a cartoon:

    Caricature from the Coastal Carolina Fair

    I think everyone needs a little bit of kitsch in their life, it makes me smile. I’ve got a lot more to share with you all, so check back soon!

  • Apr11

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    Vacation Begins
    iPhone 4S

    I took the family to Orlando, FL for spring break, and I was armed only with my iPhone and my point & shoot Nikon P7000. We were traveling with our neighbors and we had a blast! We spent most of our time at Disney World, with a one day trip to Universal Studios for my son and I to get our inner Harry Potter out.

    Disney 2012 - 50
    Nikon P7000

    Disney 2012 - 41
    Nikon P7000

    Disney 2012 - 07
    Nikon P7000

    In the past when we went to the amusement parks for vacations, I’d lug around my DSLR and try to get cool shots. What I wasn’t doing was spending time having fun with my family! The shots we always looked at afterwards weren’t the artsy shots of some ride or topiary or whatever – The shots we went back to were of our loved ones having fun. So, I made lots of use of my iPhone’s crappy front-facing camera and got lots of shots like these:

    Joe & Kegan
    iPhone 4s (front facing camera)

    iPhone 4s (front facing camera)

    Joe & Mac
    iPhone 4s (front facing camera)

    Since I had my point and shoot P7000 with me, I didn’t hesitate to hand it over to strangers and loved ones to take shots with, such as these:

    Disney 2012 - 37
    Nikon P7000 – Photographer – My Wife Amy

    Tusker House-7
    Nikon P7000 – Photographer: Our Waiter

    Disney 2012 - 46
    Nikon P7000 – Photographer: Some Dude With A Monopod

    We also were treated to a marathon version of “The Twist” by the one and only Chubby Checker!

    Disney 2012 - 24
    Nikon P7000

    The moral of today’s post? Have fun and the good shots will follow! That and I’ve caught some awful bug while I was there. I swear, the contagion that will wipe out the world will start at Disney World. Oh yeah, and my MacBook Pro officially died while I was there. I’m awaiting it’s return from Apple land.

    iPhone 4S Front Facing Camera

    If you’re brave, you can sift through all of the gory photos here.

  • Feb11

    1 Comment

    My wife saw this idea on Pinterest the other day, and asked me if I could do something like it.

    Challenge accepted!

    Here’s Mackenzie’s:

    Mac's Valentine's Day Card

    And Kegan’s:

    Kegan's Valentine's Day Card

    The setup was pretty simple. I used this 5’x7′ collapsible background, a flash lighting the background right behind the kids, and an umbrella as the main light on the left. I used the window as the fill.

    Window Lighting

    The background light was set to manual 1/4 power, while the main light was using TTL and was bouncing off the umbrella with a +1 exposure compensation. I shot at f/4.5 and 1/60th of a second at ISO 200. By shooting with a slower shutter speed, it ensured a good mix of the window light with flash.

    Here are the final images for both:

    Mac Valentines Original

    Kegan Valentines Original

    I added the graphics and text in Photoshop, made 4×6″ prints of them, and used an X-Acto knife to cut the slits above and below the hand. Add a Blow Pop, and that’s it – Instant cool Valentine’s card!

    If you want to try it, I made a template in photoshop that you can download here. Just add your photo to the bottom of the layers and resize it to fit with free transform, then change the name to your kid’s name with the text tool.

    Hope you have a happy Valentine’s Day!

  • Jan9

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    2nd Sunday On King St-43

    Today was the 1st 2nd Sunday on King Street for 2012 in Charleston, SC. The weather was perfect for Charleston’s monthly block party. Last time I shot one of these, I decided that I needed to focus on shooting more dogs the next time I go, so today was that next time. Let’s start off with the most interesting dog I saw today, a Toy Australian Shepherd:

    2nd Sunday On King St-48

    Here are some other stand-outs that we saw:

    2nd Sunday On King St-41

    2nd Sunday On King St-25 2nd Sunday On King St-38 2nd Sunday On King St-13

    2nd Sunday On King St-36

    2nd Sunday On King St-21

    2nd Sunday On King St-15

    There was also plenty of music courtesy of Shrimp City Slim, Sollie “Puddin” Jenkins, Michael Lindsey, and accordionist Matt Lohan (pictured at the top of this post). Here’s some shots of the musicians on King Street:

    2nd Sunday On King St-18

    2nd Sunday On King St-29 2nd Sunday On King St-27 2nd Sunday On King St-49

    2nd Sunday On King St-28

    2nd Sunday On King St-44

    2nd Sunday On King St-30

    Some stores brought their wares out onto the streets…

    2nd Sunday On King St-26

    And restaurants their food…

    2nd Sunday On King St-33

    There were plenty of interesting people from all walks of life enjoying the unseasonably mild weather. It felt more like early fall than early winter.

    2nd Sunday On King St-51

    2nd Sunday On King St-50 2nd Sunday On King St-19 2nd Sunday On King St-39

    2nd Sunday On King St-53

    We had a great Mediterranean lunch at Taziki’s Restaurant, but had to cut our trip a little short with the news that Amy’s cousin gave birth to her daughter over at MUSC. Crystal was the subject of my very first wedding shoot a couple of years ago! Here’s a shot of her with Kegan in the hospital:

    Crystal & Kegan

    Congrats to the proud parents! After we left the hospital, we stopped by my brother-in-law’s house over in James Island to check out his girlfriend’s new chicken coup. While we were there, there was one of those phenomenal Charleston sunsets, and I used my iPhone to capture this shot of the colorful sky through the trees:

    James Island Sunset

  • Jan5

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    Lola Kisses

    My boy Kegan has decided to raise money for the American Heart Association by participating in this year’s Jump Rope For Heart.

    Make sure to visit his fundraising website and help him reach his $100 goal!

    We had a little scare in our family as we rang in the new year as our little Pomeranian Lola was having trouble breathing. Seriously, she started gagging at the stroke of midnight. After a trip to the vet we found out that she’s suffering from a collapsing trachea. Uggghhhhhh. Why make such a happy, loving, and cute dog only to make it suffer from a horrible genetic disorder? Life can be so unfair and it has no bias in who it chooses to pick on. I’m glad that my kids realize that and are motivated enough to participate in fund raisers throughout the year. We try to live our lives by the golden rule over here because that’s what makes life awesome.

    I Don't Feel So Good

    So far she’s almost back to normal with the medication she’s on. She had a few stoned days where she was not herself. That iPhone snap above was from the day after the vet visit, and she was just glassy eyed and lethargic. She can stand to loose a couple of pounds too, so she’ll be joining us with our healthy resolution to stick to a good diet this year 😉

  • Dec30

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    I was recently “forced” into an upgrade of my iPhone to the new 4S model (by forced, I mean I was eligible for upgrade pricing and the home button on my 4 wasn’t working, so I bought a new one). I have to say that I’m floored by the quality of the new iPhone camera. Combined with the amazing photo editing software available on iOS such as Snapseed, you can make truly stunning photos. I’m not saying anything new here, but the newer cell phone cameras have enough resolution where editing photos is far less destructive (at least it’s less noticeable). Photos such as the one above are now at a resolution suitable for printing at a decent size! The dynamic range seems more realistic, and the image stabilization helps combat Mr. Blurrycam (this is especially effective for taking video). I’m very excited about it.

    Business End

    TechCrunch brought this service to my attention. CameraTrace claims to be able to find your lost camera based on an embedded serial number in your EXIF data. The concept is very interesting, but it seems to me the type of person who is stealing photo equipment will not be uploading pictures to Flickr. It’s more likely that the camera will be sold on Craigslist or in a WalMart parking lot to an unassuming poor photographer who will be the one who gets caught with the stolen goods (I know, because I recovered my stolen camera in a WalMart parking lot from a guy who was reselling my D40 on Craigslist that he obtained in a WalMart parking lot). Still, you might get your camera back! The issue I have is that sites like Flickr and 500px are not nearly as popular as Facebook has become for the average person sharing their photos. If they can find a way to search against Facebook photos, then I’d fully support this service. $10 is a pretty small amount to register your camera though, and it will give you an edge in case you do ever fall victim to camera theft.

    Christmas 2011

    The last thing I wanted to talk about is the Nintendo 3DS and its 3D camera. As far as I know, this is the first widely distributed 3D camera in the world. It’s unfortunate that Nintendo was cheap in the actual camera quality, because the potential is far greater than the reality. Regardless, a 3D still camera is an amazing tool. As photographers, we’ve been forever battling to interpret 3D reality in only two dimensions on film, paper, and/or digital screens. We struggle to find compositional tools to define depth, but with an actual 3D camera, you can see the depth. The cool thing is that it challenges you to exploit that depth, which actually carries over into a 2D conversion of the same photos. By trying to make a better 3D photo, you are actually making a better 2D one as well. I know that sounds crazy, but it makes sense when you really think about it. By trying to isolate and draw the eye to your subject, you instinctively use the techniques that photographers have been practicing for years. From using the rule of thirds to moving closer to finding leading lines, those techniques become second nature when composing in 3D because you are seeing the actual depth! I think the Nintendo 3DS could be a great training tool for teaching composition.

  • Aug27

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    Hurricane Irene in North Charleston

    I woke up yesterday much like every other day. Late in the morning I got the phone call from my wife, “They’re closing the schools down” she said. It seemed like Irene was going to hit us and destroy life as we knew it (well, that is what they told us if you had read any news websites or looked at one of the many 24 hour news channels on the old fashioned TV).

    Low and behold, the rain came down pretty hard for about 5 minutes as I drove through the Charleston area. The wind was blowing enough to make some palm fronds and grass bow down (although they pretty much always do that at the coast – they’re very amiable to swift breezes).

    Hurricane Irene in North Charleston

    On the porch of one apartment complex in Mount Pleasant, a toad took refuge in a corner. You know it’s bad when the frogs are out.

    Bring on the Plagues

    The destruction was imminent. Just look at what this demolition site at the old Navy Base looked like during the heart of the storm. It was quite frightening, even though it has looked like this for months now – how long does it take to tear down a building anyway?

    North Charleston Demolition

    North Charleston Demolition

    Not knowing what to do, I hurried home (after I was done working) and evacuated my house. I left the dogs though because someone had to guard my stuff. My wife and I dropped the kids off at a friend’s house and we did what most upstanding citizens would do during a hurricane – we went out for drinks at Taps. We had to forage for food though, so I walked across the parking lot and got some Mexican food from Senor Tequila. While I was walking, I noticed that the sky was on fire, so I took out my iPhone and snapped this:

    See ya Irene

    After quite a few rounds of hoppy dark goodness, my wife dragged me home. The next thing I knew, I was waking up this morning with a slight headache. I quickly ran to the medicine cabinet and downed some Aleve. The dogs wanted to go outside because they tend to do that, and to my horror I saw the destruction Irene left in my yard.

    Hurricane Irene in My Backyard

    It’s gonna take me minutes to clean up these leaves. Oh, the humanity. The rain even filled my children’s wagon (well, it did earlier this week from one of those late summer storms – I just never got around to dumping it). A leaf even made it’s way in there as well – Mother nature is not one to be fucked with.

    Hurricane Irene in My Backyard

  • Jun27

    1 Comment

    It’s who you know. But that’s not just what I’m talking about. Good pictures don’t care about hardware, they care about the intention and execution of the person conceiving and/or capturing them. Sure a camera’s lack of abilities can hinder you from getting a shot you envision, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a good shot with a poor camera! Once you realize this, it’s a matter of exploiting what the camera can do, and not wasting your time griping about what it can’t do.

    The photo above was made at the Archers of Loaf concert in Brooklyn, NY this past Saturday. I made it on my iPhone using the app Camera+. I shot it, converted it to B&W, and immediately shared it on Facebook. The next day, a writer for L Magazine (who is an old friend) saw it and asked to use it for his review of the concert. So yes, it is mostly a case of who you know. I did offer up some technically better shots taken with a better camera, but he liked the iPhone one enough and it works in spite of the fact that it was made on a cell phone.

    I’ll be sure to share more shots of the shows I attended this weekend that I made on my newest camera when I review it. I also have all of my vacation shots sorted out – just need to title and tag them, so that will be up this week also.