Happy Fourth of July weekend to you, and you, and you and you!

Our weekend started with a bang at our friends’ Miles and Jay’s backyard barbecue and firework fest in the West Town neighborhood of Chicago.

We had a blast over drinks, hot dogs and our own firework display. That neighborhood is a bit chaotic with the amount of fireworks, and our poor dog Talulah hated every second of it.

But we had fun memorializing our nation’s freedom.

Enjoy some of these photos I took throughout the night.







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Benjamin Morris says: Lionel Messi Is Impossible

You know I love the World Cup. I did my self portrait this month to exhibit that.

In honor of today’s Argentina game against Belgium, take a look at this article about Lionel Messi … It seems to have changed my views on him. Some snips below.

In their Group F World Cup match late last month, Argentina and Iran were still deadlocked after 90 minutes. With the game in stoppage time and the score tied at 0-0, Lionel Messi took the ball near the right corner of the penalty area, held it for a moment, then broke left, found his seam, took his strike and curled it in from 29 yards. What was going to be a draw was now a win, and Messi had put Argentina into the Round of 16.

It was the sort of play that inspired the phrase “Messi magic.” But for those who only watch soccer when the World Cup rolls around, this was probably only the second (or at most third) goal they’d seen from the little man they call La Pulga (“The Flea”). Despite having 407 career goals in club and international play (including a record 91 in 2012 alone) and a record four Ballon d’Or (World Player of the Year) awards, until this year’s tournament, Messi hadn’t scored in a World Cup match since 2006.

Later …

By now I’ve studied nearly every aspect of Messi’s game, down to a touch-by-touch level: his shooting and scoring productionwhere he shoots from;how often he sets up his own shotswhat kind of kicks he uses to make those shotshis ability to take on defendershow accurate his passes are;the kind of passes he makeshow often he creates scoring chanceshow often those chances lead to goalseven how his defensive playmaking compares to other high-volume shooters.

And that’s just the stuff that made it into this article. I arrived at a conclusion that I wasn’t really expecting or prepared for: Lionel Messi is impossible.

It’s not possible to shoot more efficiently from outside the penalty area than many players shoot inside it. It’s not possible to lead the world in weak-kick goals and long-range goals. It’s not possible to score on unassisted plays as well as the best players in the world score on assisted ones. It’s not possible to lead the world’s forwards both in taking on defenders and in dishing the ball to others. And it’s certainly not possible to do most of these things by insanely wide margins.

But Messi does all of this and more.

It’s like a dream come true! SIGMA dp2 QUATTRO TEST SHOOT #SigmaQuattro


The second I learned that I could borrow a Sigma dp2 Quattro for five days for a test drive, I thought, “I’m doing this!”

It’s always been a dream to be one of those photographers who receives loaner gear to test, review, generate buzz and attention. So I signed up almost immediately.

Here’s where you can sign up to do your test drive of this cool little camera. The catch is that you pay its price tag. If you don’t return it, Sigma gets your $1000.

And by little camera, I mean big. This is one of those cameras that packs a huge punch in a small body. Yes, it looks like a point and shoot. Yes, it has a fixed lens. But the features and pixel size are nothing short of astonishing.

My brain doesn’t exactly get around all the technicalities of how and why, but it shoots a 44.4 megapixel image. The dp2 Quattro appears to pack information into every cranny of the files in ways that only very adept clowns pile into cars.

I’ve looked at the previous iterations of this camera and definitely gear lusted after them. They feature large megapixel counts and fixed lenses. Three of them with their wide, mid and portrait-y focal lengths slide into your camera bag and take up far less room than one regular DSLR body and three lenses.

If it weren’t for this test drive, I would probably NEVER EVER hold one in my hands. I think this is one the best things Sigma has ever done, and if other companies did the same thing, so long as I have a credit card to hold the charge, I’d do a borrow/review of any gear I could get my hands on.

One of my favorite photographers Ming Thein does the best reviews of gear. He’s been reviewing the Sony RX100 Mark III and the new Pentax 645Z, and I love how not only shows examples, talks about the gear in length, but photographs the gear.

The Pentax was a camera I thought I really really wanted until I read that it only syncs with flashes at 1/125th of a second. I love studio lighting and sync’ing a bit fast, so I guess that camera is out of the running for me.

Although it still has a lot of features that tittles the tattles of my gear side.

I also think trying out different gear is like, say, traveling. It exposes you to different ways of thinking, and it changes the way we photographers view the world. Until I shot with a medium format camera, I tended to shoot in a particular way and attack a situation similarly. Now that I shoot MF, I slow down even with my DSLR work. If I’m shooting a band performing, I get my shots, then I stop and enjoy the music.

There’s nothing worse than having front row seats for some amazing talent and only experiencing it through your viewfinder and a flutter of actuations.

I recently read Joel Grimes sorta-kinda review of the Pentax 645Z, and agreeing whole heartedly with his assessment of using different cameras for different reasons. He wrote:

One of the things I have noticed every time I have stepped up in format is that my approach to the creative side of things changes.  Partly it is because with a larger camera you tend to slow down and think through the process a bit more.  Back when I shot portraits using a medium format camera, I went into a complete different mindset than I did using a 35mm type camera.  I feel that with a smaller camera, I tend to get a bit sloppier. When digital came along, I kicked and screamed the whole way because I hated giving up my medium format camera. It just fit my style of shooting.

I wonder if using a monster like this in a point and shoot body will cause me to slow down enough to capture the things I want.

One thing I’m looking forward to is the 45mm equivalent focal length. I’ve been shooting my DSLR with a 50mm lately about 50% of the time. And I almost exclusively shoot the 80mm — around 50mm equivalent — on my Hasselblad unless it’s an interior. So it’s a range that I’m growing to love more and more. It’s the focal lenth photographers tend to learn on. It features a walking zoom feature. That’s to say, walk closer to zoom and away to zoom out.

Standby. I’ll be reviewing the heck out of this little guy as soon as I get it.