Dylan’s 1st Birthday


Photos from a recent birthday party I shot at…

After my last trip to NYC, my friend Patty asked if I was interested in a photo gig.  She told me about her friend who was throwing a big birthday party for her 1 year old son (well, more for friends and family, I’m sure), and she wanted to hire a photographer.  The gig wouldn’t completely cover my flight out to NYC, so I was basically working for a discounted trip back to the City.

I thought about it for a couple of days, and decided I would do it.  Partly to say I had a paid gig in NYC, partly to get some more experience, but mostly to hang out with Patty.  I told Patty I was in, and booked my flight.  The gig was on sunday, so I had a couple days to hang out before the gig (I’ll post some of those personal photos in a separate post).

The party was going to be held at 230 Fifth; an awesome rooftop bar that Patty works at.  They had booked one of the rooms with huge windows, offering a great view of the city.  Given that the venue’s primarily known as a nighttime hotspot, they also have an amazing brunch.  But with that said, the lighting conditions weren’t ideal for the type of shooting I was hoping to do.



I was really hoping to do mainly natural light, candid shots.  For whatever reason, I was in the mindset that I could shun flash, and get by with natural light only.  Had the ceilings/walls not been painted red, I might have considered bouncing the flash.  However, I, being the stubborn “artist” I am, did not want to use direct/unbounced on-camera flash (the walls were dark, and the ceiling was a glossy red).  I ended up going the hi-iso (iso 800 – 1600) route.

The gear I used was my newly acquired D700 with 20mm f/2.8D and 85mm f/1.4D, as well as my Olympus E620 with 35-100mm f/2.0.  I didn’t realize how tight the quarters would be, and if I had to do it over again, I would have used the 12-60mm on the Olympus with the on camera flash.  I was supposed to be getting a 50mm f/1.4D for my nikon, but I didn’t end up getting it in time before I left for the weekend.  The other thing was the 35-100mm is such a big lens, I opted to leave the lens hood off as to not to be as intrusive with a camera with a huge lens.  I think I would have kept it on as it would have reduced the lens flare in some of the backlit photos.  All in all, I think the photos turned out pretty good.  My only regret was not getting a better understanding of what the client wanted.  I was vaguely told to “just capture everything,” but I think for next time, I would have asked for a more descriptive objective.  I blame my inexperience, but I think I may have provided less than what the client was expecting.  For the future, to do event photos, I’d have to ask for a general schedule/agenda, just so I would know when and where I should be throughout the event, and what was important.  Additionally, what specific shots the client is looking for, group photos, etc, and I could have set something up so I could be ready to do it, and do it quickly.  To be honest, it was fun, but it was pretty stressful.   The whole time, I couldn’t help but think about what other gear I could have used.  In any case, it was a good experience, and I definitely liked the moments I was able to capture.

Greta’s Family


A month or so back, a friend of mine had asked me to take some photos of her family… I’ve done family photos before, but usually it’s with parents who have young kids (I’m at that age where my friends are starting to have kids).  So this was a nice departure, where it’s easy to get the subjects to actually look towards the camera… (then again, you don’t get the cute candid moments where the kid is definitely doing something he’s not supposed to be doing :))

The photos were done early evening, slightly before the golden hour, so the light still wasn’t great, and so I decided to use off camera flash.  Sometimes I get a little too tunnel vision on doing things a certain way, I miss some other shots.  I think I could have balanced the flash with the ambient a little better, or gone with some shots with just available light for a more natural look.  Luckily, Greta and her brother and mom were great sports about it, and we had a great time.  And they liked the pics too.  So that’s good.  Also, thanks to my buddy Rob for hucking my gear around and being my Voice Activated Lightstand.  I treated him to a delicious vietnamese meal for his hard work.



Allen & Julie’s wedding / NYC

So, I originally started this blog to talk about photography, and stuff I’ve learned, but then I started writing about my trip to South Africa (which I never finished writing about), and then I kind of dropped the ball on what I’ve been up to lately… So, I’m going to get back to the heart of the blog, and talk photography…

So, I recently went out to NYC for my friend Allen & Julie’s wedding.  They had a really sweet photographer already, so it was awesome to watch him in action.  The dude had an assistant holding a light stick, with a continuous LED light, as well as a couple of strobes which looked like they were being triggered by radio poppers.  In addition to those, he had a couple of strobes on light stands in the corners of the room.  I did my best to stay out of the way of the professional photographer, and only took photos for myself.  I took advantage of the continuous light the assistant was carrying around and grabbed a couple of shots without flash, from where I was sitting…


So, I took a bunch less than what I have taken in the past, but at the same time, I got a few that I really liked.  I used my 35mm f/1.4 to get these shots in low light (at iso 800, with the shutter speed around 1/60th of a second, which was enough to reduce motion blur and camera shake, but still get enough light without having to go past iso 800, which can get a little noisy on the Olympus E620).  And since I took less, I didn’t have to process as many, and that’s nice.  The wedding was super nice, and really fun… Open bar, tons of dancing, and the best wedding date ever.  There was a time when I spent too much time taking pictures, and not enough partying… this time, I think I struck a good balance.

They had their wedding in Long Island City at the Water’s Edge, which offered an awesome view of the city… I took this handheld with my wide-angle zoom at 12mm (24mm EFL), iso 800, and 1/3s.  It was a really sweet view, which was made even more awesome with the misty fogginess which followed the rain earlier that evening.


And here are a few more photos from throughout the night… 🙂


Cape of Good Friends!

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

With Redstone in town, Rob and I commandeered a rental vehicle, and we made our trip down to the Cape of Good Hope.  Along the way, we were able to stop at Boulder Beach and check out some hot penguin on beach action, and even hiked up Cape Point.  We made our best effort to make it back to Cape Town to catch the game with Bafana Bafana vs. France, but ended up listening to the first half on the radio (although it was a little confusing, as they were alternating commentary on both games that were going on simultaneously).

It’s Game Day!

Monday, June 21st…

Basically, I’m way behind on this blogging, so I’ll keep things concise, for my sake.

Today was Alex’s last day of her short stay in Cape Town.  She managed to wrangle a couple of tickets to the match in Cape Town that day, so she was able to get the full experience (even if it was the abridged, cliff’s notes version).  This would also be my first World Cup game as well, and only my second ever actual football match (look at me, calling it by what the rest of the world calls it, I’m quite the sophisticated one).  The first being, England vs USA back in 2005 over memorial day in Chicago.  But, that’s not important.  Today’s match was the oh-so impressive Portugal vs. the not quite as impressive North Korea.

We met near the Green Market Square where Alex wanted to check out the wares to pick up some gifts.  It was raining, so we shopped around for some ponchos (and paid a premium for the security of little sheets of plastic with a hole for our faces).  We walked the fanwalk, which was pretty awesome; reminiscent of the march from campus down to the Big House for football games, but obviously, not as busy… The big house’s capacity is still at least 200% of the Cape Town stadium, but nevertheless, it was awesome.

We arrived about 20 minutes early, which definitely wasn’t enough time to get through security.  Unfortunately, security at the stadium wasn’t quite up to snuff, and we ended up getting through security just as the game was starting.  We only missed the first few minutes of the game as we made our way to our seats.  Along the way, we saw mostly Portugal fans, along with some girls holding signs requesting that people give them a ticket and “take them in with them”.  These were young girls, probably no more than 19-20 years old.  I was in disbelief that there were girls this bold to expect people to give them a ticket to a game and expect nothing in return.  A Portugal fan, (obviously drunk), badgered the girl, and kept taking pictures with her as would put his arm around her.  She pushed him away, and renewed her efforts to find somebody to bring her into the game.  As she pushed him away, it seems that he noticed Alex and I watching him.  And, in a case of mistaken nationality, he began a chant for Korea.  It was hilarious, obnoxious, and awkward, and I do what I typically do in those situations, and pretended I didn’t notice.  Alex, on the other hand, piped up.  She was all, “WTF Mate?” and he was all “What?”  She basically called him out for assuming I was Korean, and he pretended his chants were coincidental with him staring at me.  Basically, the main thing I recall from this confrontation was Alex saying, “He’s American, you idiot!”  We continued on our way, and made it to our seats only missing the first few minutes of the game, and none of the excitement.

The reason this game was a notable game was that Portugal defeated North Korea 7-0.  It was an extremely exciting match, even though it was quite lopsided, you couldn’t help but feel bad for the N. Koreans.  There were rumors circulating that the North Koreans had hired Chinese actors to dress up as N. Korean fans/supporters.  What they didn’t realize, was they only had to encourage any people who looked Asian to attend a game, because people will assume they are Korean.

At around the 83 minute mark, with Portugal up 5-0, Alex had to leave the game to catch a flight, and didn’t want to be caught in the mad rush to leave the stadium and not be able to catch a cab, and make her flight.  As we were leaving, we hear cheering from inside the stadium, and we knew Portugal had scored.  We didn’t walk another 100 feet when we heard the crowd erupt in cheers again, and I assumed it was for a replay or something.  Who would have thought they would have scored 2 more goals in the last 7 minutes of the game?  Turns out we missed the last goal, which was scored by Ronaldo on a sweet play which had the ball bounce off of his back, go over his head, and basically land on his foot as he put it in the net.  So yeah, I was at that game.

Alex ended up making it to her flight on time, and the sun had come out after a day of drizzling rain.  As Alex was leaving to make her flight, my buddy Adam was making it down from Jo’burg to visit for a few days. I booked him a bed at the hostel I was staying at, which was the Cape Town Backpackers, and that was awesome.  We grabbed a beer at the hostel’s bar before we headed out for dinner.

We took him to the best burger place in town, Royale, and then headed back to Arnolds to unwind after the long day and catch up.