Fotograph Fridays!

How I get the shots…

Hey! I actually held to my previous promises! I’ve recently been diving back into my photography, and I know a while back I promised a look at my Photographers Kit, so that’s what we are doing this week! Keep your eyes open as well! I’ll be starting to sell my prints online in the near future! Still working out the logistics of that though. So, if you’ve been reading for a while, you’ve seen my photos before. Photos like this…

Or this…

Either way, you’ve likely seen my work before. Well now you get to know the secret behind all of it. The first piece of any good photographers kit is well obviously a camera, you can’t do much without it. There are two cameras I use regularly, and one of them you’ll probably be surprised by.

The first camera at my disposal should be one that you’re pretty familiar with, it’s one that sits in our pockets daily. In this case my particular brand of phone is the new Google Pixel 4 XL. It takes some truly incredible photographs.

The second camera at my disposal is probably a little more what you were expecting out of my kit. I’m running a Sony A7 II, Full Frame Mirror-less Camera. The great thing about mirror-less is what you see is what you get in most cases. This particular camera boasts a pretty wide range of settings as well, with wi-fi capabilities that allow for remote control via Cell Phone. Attached is the standard Sony FE 28 – 70mm f3.5 – 5.6 OSS lens.

Now that cameras have been established. Lets talk lenses. You’ve already seen one of them, in the previous photograph. The Sony FE 28 – 70mm f3.5 – 5.6 OSS lens allows for a wide variety of control, and offers the most robust functionality as it is designed for use with the Sony Alpha Series cameras. It’s the one I find myself most often using because of its versatility, and the added zoom functionality. My biggest complaint is generally the size of the lens, as it does tend to add a fair amount of weight to the system in use.

The next lens in my kit is the Rokinon T 3.1 14mm ED AS IF UMC De-clicked Cinema Lens. This lens serves a dual purpose, I opted for the de-clicked cinema lens on the chance I ever use the A7 for videography (Though I have no plans to in the near future). This lens however does boast an insane field of view, and is borderline fish eye. Some of my best photographs have been as a result of this lens. The downside, it’s massive, and adds a significant amount of weight to the camera, it also does not allow for any autofocus as a result of it being de-clicked.

The final lens in my kit (for now) is the Samyang AF 35mm/f2.8 Prime Lens. This lens is short, light and versatile allowing for a plethora of uses, from portrait photography, to quick point and shoot auto-focus shots. So far, I haven’t found any downsides to this lens, and will often times use this lens when i’m using my Peak Design Capture Clip (You’ll see that a little later).

Another important aspect of a photographer’s kit, Lighting. Proper lighting is key, key, KEY to getting a great shot. Without adequate lighting a Photographer is often left with flat photographs, or photos with harsh shadows when dealing in portrait photography. I have two tools in my kit to help alleviate these problems.

The first of these two tools, is a collapsible reflector. One of the greatest assets to a photographer is natural light, and on a sunny or even overcast day, there’s a plethora of light at your disposal, the reflector allows the photographer with help from another person to augment light subtly and fill in shadows as needed.

The second of my tools, does not rely on the sun, to help alleviate shadows. Pictured above is the Genaray LED-6200T, 144 LED Variable Color On Camera Light. This battery operated light is Hot Shoe compatible and is versatile enough to match most lighting conditions. Most of the pictures seen above at least of the camera and lenses were filled in using this light. The kit comes with battery, charger, and a standard US power adapter, as well as car adapter, should you need more power than the battery provides.

Last in the kit are miscellaneous tools, that just help me when i’m out and about. I’ll go into those few items now.

One of my newest, and favorite additions to my kit is the Peak Design Capture Clip. Using the two wheels it loosens up and clips in place on any standard leather belt. The plate itself pops off, and screws into place using a standard allen key screw that locks it tightly to the camera, the quick release ability allows me to capture on the fly, and without the use of a bulky strap. The Peak Design plate also allows you to swap between any of their products without changing plates, it’s a truly unique and fantastic platform.

Another important tool, one that is oft overlooked is a decent tripod. At the moment i’m locked into a small tabletop tripod, as I can’t afford a larger one yet (They get prohibitively expensive, quickly). But, a tripod is key to taking stable photographs, especially when dealing with long exposures, and night photography.

This particular item is less of a tool, and more of a photography augment. This is a portable Lensball, with the suction cup tripod mount. It allows for unique photos and is produced with lens grade crystal. I hope to use this more going forward.

The last tool, in any photographers kit is software. As with most I stick to the adobe products, leveraging Lightroom, Lightroom Classic, and Photoshop for all of my photography editing needs. My biggest suggestion for those starting out with the editing process. Make sure you’ve got a large memory card, or multiples at your disposal. You are going to want to shoot in RAW, as it offers you the most versatility when it comes to editing your photographs.

So, that’s my kit. That’s how I get the photographs you see either here, or on Facebook/Instagram. My last suggestion to all, who are learning. Experiment, Experiment, Experiment! we are never perfect, and as a photographer the day you think you’ve mastered your craft, is the day you stop growing. There is always something to be learned! If you are interested in purchasing any of the gear seen above I’ve left links at the bottom for you to check out. Next post will likely be in two weeks after my trips to Philly and Boston.

Until next time…

Dave

Links:

1. Sony A7 II with Sony FE 28 – 70mm f3.5 – 5.6 OSS lens
2. Rokinon T 3.1 14mm ED AS IF UMC De-clicked Cinema Lens
3. Samyang AF 35mm/f2.8 Prime Lens
4. Impact 7-in-1 Collapsible Reflector Disk 42″
5. Genaray LED-6200T, 144 LED Variable Color On-Camera Light
6. Peak Design Capture Camera Clip v3 (Black)
7. Pedco Ultrapod II Tabletop Tripod with Mini Ball Head
8. Lensball Pocket 60mm
9. AmazonBasics SLR Camera Sling Backpack Bag – 8 x 6 x 16.5 Inches, Black
10. Google Pixel 4 XL

Fotograph Friday Returns!

The skyline on a crisp november night – Hunter’s Point Park

Finally back with a Fotograph Friday! it’s been a while, but i’ve slowly been getting out more with the camera. So hopefully there will be more of these moving forward.

The water looks truly incredible in this shot. This was taken at ISO 50, 30 Second Exposure, at an f/stop around 7. Was using the standard 28 – 70 mm Sony Lens that came with the camera. Also did a few with my 14 mm Lens, and 35 mm Prime Lens.

Blog post coming up with pictures and information on all of my photography kit. Got some cool gadgets to show off.

Have a happy friday all! See you soon!

Dave

So much for Schedules

Normally, today would be Fotograph Friday, but life has been a little too chaotic lately for me to get into a routine again. I’m going to work towards it once I settle in for sure. Overall, I can’t complain, i’m living in the city I wanted to live in since I was a child, and my roommates are pretty fantastic so far. For today’s posting, we are going to talk a little bit about schedules, and I use the term schedules loosely, as I truly mean life goal timelines more so than schedules.

The world is a fantastically busy place, we are constantly running, constantly moving, constantly evolving. The world and society tells us that we have a timetable we have to adhere to in order to succeed. It goes something like this… Successful Job you love right out of College, Living on your own by 24/25, in a serious committed relationship by 27, Married by 30, Own a home by 32, Kids by 35, 35 years of successful anniversaries, retirement at 65, and then sometime after that the inevitable end. Honestly, it’s the biggest load of bullshit I’ve ever read, and further, ever had to type up.

THERE IS NO TIMELINE FOR A SUCCESSFUL LIFE! I’ll say it again for those in the back, NO TIMELINE… FOR… A… SUCCESSFUL… LIFE! The notion that you need to hit these milestones, at completely arbitrary age selections is absurd. Lets look at my life, Dropped out of SUNY Oswego at 18, after a semester of schooling, Went to SUNY Dutchess for Two and Half years, Transferred to Marist College for another Two years. Graduated with my Bachelors at 23. Had a job I hated, and that was abusive for 8 months right out of college. Quit that, Worked in a Deli, and at a Golf Course for a year and half. Finally, 6 months from my 25th birthday I wound up in a Job I didn’t hate, and one that I was relatively good at. Did that job for the next five years, while I worked on finishing up my Masters, and at 29, I finished up my Masters, got a Job in Manhattan, and moved out of my parents house for the first time. A full five years, after you are expected to quote on quote move out and live on your own.

Everyone has a path, and your path is no less or more successful than my path. Whether you actually hit the milestones when society tells you that you are supposed to, or you hit them later in life, the point is, you still hit them. You still made it, and you still succeeded in getting there. My advice today, is stop holding yourself to unrealistic standards, stop trying to race to the finish line, the finish line isn’t that great anyway, it’s the one thing that all of share in life, other than birth. Why be in a rush to get it over with. Enjoy every minute you have, take a breath, and realize that no matter what happens, no matter how long it takes, you are still going to get there, and in the end, that’s all that matters.

That’s it for this week, as I said i’ll try to be more conscientious of keeping to a schedule.

Until next time…

Dave

Sunset in Sunnyside

This is the view I get to see every day when I hop on the subway

One of the most arduous tasks I have undertaken to date, has been the task of finding my new home in the City that Never Sleeps. It’s a process that has taken me well over eight weeks to successfully complete that task, and even still I haven’t signed the contract yet to officially state my intentions to move in. If you are looking to move to the area, and are wondering what to expect then keep reading. I’ll be sharing my experiences in the process, from what was successful to what wasn’t.

My first word of advice to the city newcomer, whatever time table you think you have, expect it to take at least twice the amount of time you’ve allocated. Honestly, I think the Red Wedding from Game of Thrones was less cut throat then trying to find an apartment in Manhattan. If you think that you’ve got time to make a decision after you view an apartment, you’re damned wrong. Unless you leave a deposit that day, there’s a real good chance that sucker is going to be gone in twenty-four hours. Be ready to write a check the day of if you really like a place, but be careful, being ready to write a check, and jumping on the first place you look at are two very different things. You’re going to have to live in it for at least 6 months, if not a year in most cases. Make sure you really like the area.

Second, and this comes from a someone I know. Don’t schedule appointments for apartments right away. If you have the opportunity to do so, go visit the locations, visit the areas in and around the boroughs. There’s a lot of different neighborhoods to chose from, each with their own pros and cons. I did not heed this persons advice, and I thoroughly regretted it, as I wasted countless hours looking at apartments I would never ever consider living in based on its location. All of this said, there will come a time when you are ready to look at apartments, and with this piece of advice comes my next piece. Schedule as many viewings as possible in a single day. One of my biggest problems, and failures in this process was the fact that often times I was seeing one apartment, after work each day. This adds unnecessary turn over time to finding a place. Do your best to work with the people whose apartments you are viewing to find a common time that works for multiple. You’ll thank yourself later.

Third, if you have a group of people you are going in on a place with, or you are making well over six figures in your fancy new job; fantastic, you can actually skip over this one as it doesn’t apply to you. For those of you like myself, whom all of their existing friends either live in the city already and are stuck in leases, or have friends that weren’t looking to move and make less than six figures; be ready to live with random roommates. Websites like Spareroom.com and Roomi will be your best friend in this endeavor. I will also say in the case of Spareroom, the paid account is worth it. All of the listings are front ended with a turn over time, before it’s open season. On spareroom they will display Early Bird on the bottom right corner of these listings. You will not be able to message them for Seven days unless you have a paid account. For this alone it’s worth it, as the apartment I placed a deposit on was actually an early bird listing. Now before I move on to my final suggestion, there is the statement I made earlier about the fact that you will be living with random people. I was lucky, when I went to look one of the new tenants was actually just leaving so I had the opportunity to meet him. One of the major benefits to Spareroom is often times it’s the existing roommates trying to find someone to fill the empty space, this means you’ll have the opportunity to “try them out” and see if they’d mesh with you. You don’t have to be best friends, but remember you will be living with them for the next six months to a year.

Now, for the final suggestion, AVOID! AVOID! AVOID! Brokers and real estate companies unless you are truly desperate. Real estate companies are a pain in the a$$ if i’m being honest. One thing if you are using Spareroom that you will have to look for is companies that are listing their spaces. Now if you’re ready for a lot of garbage treatment, and are prepared to deal with that feel free to contact these companies. I will tell you my experiences with them were less than appealing though. First, they only deal in text messaging, not once did any of them ever call me to speak to me about the places I was inquiring on. Further, twice I’d made the trip to the city to see spaces on Metro North Railroad, only to have the companies cancel on me within an hour of the scheduled viewing time. Be ready to waste your time if dealing with these groups. Now in the case of brokers, these people at least show up, but the fees are astronomical, and in my experience they often showed places with absurd requirements in order to move in, one particularly ridiculous one being a required two months ago’s rent, last months rent, this month, and a deposit in order to move in. For reference, I would have cleaned out my savings on that one in its entirety. Unless you are truly desperate I do recommend avoiding both of these situations.

However, all of these things said have fun with it, and try to have patience. Don’t jump on the first place that comes up necessarily. It’s a mistake I nearly made 8 weeks ago, when I jumped on the possibility of living in a place that I honestly don’t think I would have been happy in. Remember that you’re looking for your home for the foreseeable future, you want to not only be comfortable in your home, but in the neighborhood you live in too. You’ll know when the time is right, just don’t let yourself rush it if you don’t have to.

That’s it for this week, Until next time…

Dave