Ming Thein declares the demise of the DSLR

I have so little experience shooting with anything other than DSLR and digital medium format that I can’t weigh in on the topic that mirrorless is rivaling DSLR in a lot of ways, but I’m on board.

I would love to shoot a wedding or corporate event using gear that doesn’t break my bank or my arms.

Read here for Ming Thein’s take on the death of the DSLR.

I particularly like the idea of carrying two compact cameras instead of one DSLR body and two chunky lenses.


Cash … continued



Last night, I posted a couple photos from a shoot with 9-month old Cash.

I finished going through my film and delivered the photos I wanted to send this morning.

It wasn’t a paid job. In fact, I barged in on the shoot. Bill agreed to shoot a friend’s new puppy, and I asked if I could pick up a few shots using the Hasselblad.

I didn’t spend much time on editing, but here are a few more photos for you to enjoy.

I ended up shooting several shots with the Hassie and then a few more with my Canon 5D Mark II. The Hasselblad that I own isn’t made for shooting moving objects. It’s a precision camera, and shooting kids or dogs, especially puppies isn’t recommended.

That said, I was able to grab a decent ratio of good images. I set the camera on ISO 200 and closed up my aperture to around f18 to give me some focus leeway. The 80mm f2.8 isn’t very forgiving when the focus is off by a bit. But I felt like these shots were successful.

There’s an incredible color difference between the Canon and the Hasselblad. The redder images are from the Canon. And while most Golden Retrievers are the color coming from the Canon, Cash’s color is almost spot on out of the Hasselblad.






Lazy bones: I’ll let Ming Thein recommend a camera for you

When I’m out and about with my cameras or on any given day sitting around my house, I get the following question about once a week:

“What kind of camera should I buy?” 

It is one of the most difficult questions, because lots of people — more people than you might understand — think that having an expensive camera equals great photos.

I’ve been shooting with manual SLR cameras since I was a teen, and I can fuck up a photo, an easy photo, as good as any novice.

A nice camera can get a great shot. A nice camera can also get a putrid shot.

A cheap camera can get a beautiful photo, too.

Well, Malaysian photographer has tackled this question with amazing precision. And I’m going to point you toward his blog to read for yourselves what camera to buy.

Here are his thoughts on camera systems Part 1, Part 2 and also his recommendations for a compact camera.

If I were to respond to his recommendations, Nikon would be the first choice in terms of professional cameras that are stealing attention away from medium format.

Second, Canon. He’s not a fan of Canon, which is my everyday camera of choice.

Full frame is highly recommended.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised with his recommendations for the Olympus OM-D. And when it comes to compact, he’s a big fan of the Sony RX100

If I were to get the “What kind of camera” question today, I would tell someone to google Ming Thein’s blog and read up on his site.

Unfortunately, there’s just not “right” answer. And even when I’m confident about one camera, it’s because I am somewhat more confident with my ability to shoot. The average user needs to know that photography is an art. It’s not easy.

It’s not as easy as you might think anyway. So after you buy that recommended camera, prepare yourself for some hours of practice.

Take a class.

And practice some more.

Pee per dee

I have this friend. Let’s call her Sunny. Shoot, let’s call her Sunny Lee.

Sunny started a Photo a Day project with her friend, and her friend bailed. She cried and cried about it, and finally I said, “Sunny … Sunny Lee? What the fuck is wrong with you?”

With a big ol’ pouty lip she said, “My friend doesn’t want to do a Photo a Day with me any mo.”

“And that hurts you?” I asked.


“Do you want me to do it with you?” I asked. Knowing full well, I do it anyway.

And she said, “Yes.”

So I’m going to do a Photo a day. With Sunny Lee.

It’s not a hard thing. You can do it with your phone.

Or you can do it with your pinhole camera. If you have a digital pinhole camera, you’ll get results faster.

I wanted to see about opening it up to you. I thought that I could do a Photo a Day submission. You guys submit photos, and either we run a thread of them per day (which probably won’t work). Or we run a weekly submission and all the photos go into a post.

Really, I want to do it for my pro site to help generate traffic.

So I’m curious how to get it started. I mean, if I put on the photo of the day and add everyone’s to it, what’s the harm in having it once a day?

Regardless, I’m going to do it. If you want to contribute, contact me here.

I’m also looking for a name. Maybe we’ll call it, “Pee Per Dee.”

Because Peeper has both a visual connotation and a sexual one. And you know how we are around here with our fart jokes and all.

By the way, Sunny Lee is my friend’s name. No kidding.

Or maybe I’ll call it Pee Per Dee with Sunny Lee.

Officially, today is day 93 (I think). Regardless, it rhymes with Lee and Dee. And Pee Pee.

The above photo was taken beneath the train tracks about a mile north of our condo.


Sweet! I got my 7D back.

Some of you may have read that my backup camera body, a Canon 7D, died in transit on our way to Bali.

When I pulled the camera out to use one day, it wouldn’t turn on. I was pretty upset.

For one, I was considering only bringing that camera body, and not both. The 7D not as good of a camera as my Canon 5D Mark II, but it’s pretty great. It has a built in flash (the 5D does not), which makes it a little more versatile in some situations. And if all my equipment got lost or stolen, I wouldn’t have to replace everything.

But I’m glad I brought both. Even though the 7D became two pounds of dead weight.

I take it back, I brought lenses for it that I wouldn’t have brought for my 5D, so it became about ten pounds of dead weight.

After getting home and checking the warranty, the camera was exactly a year old. I was worried that Canon wouldn’t honor the warranty.

But they did. They fixed it pretty quickly, and now I have my backup camera in full working order … just in time for Luis V.’s wedding in March.

In related news, here’s some test footage between the new Canon C300 and the Canon 5D Mark II. The C300 is supposedly positioning itself to revolutionize digital filmmaking.


I’m personally hoping my ship will come in before the Canon EOS-1D X is released.

If I get my hands on that one, I’m inviting all of you over for a big photoshoot. Nudes are optional. And I promise to give you at least one sweet shot of yourself. 🙂

Hold on to your socks … because I’m about to knock ’em off

Just in case the world doesn’t end today as predicted, you should look at this new camera called Lytro.

It looks like a big lipstick dispenser.

But it shoots photos with multiple points of focus.

And when you share you photos with friends, they can choose what part of the image they want to focus on.

Go gawk at the photo gallery here.

There’s something on the site that says it may not yet be ready for PCs. So you’ll just have to believe me when I say it’s really cool.

I’ve got a feeling, though, that it’s just another gadget, and unless the porn industry picks it up, it’s going to fail.

But that’s just me. I’d still like to play with one.

Hey, Lytro, send me a review camera. I’m a pro. I’ll give it a review or two.


And we’re back!

WordPress put a damper on the blog this morning. I sent them a note, and they finally said, “We’re sorry for the inconvenience. We didn’t intend to shut you down.”

So that was why it was quiet this morning.

Hey! The universe must know my birthday is coming up. We landed a couple of jobs next week (right on my birthday). It’s not a big deal. I’ll take the business.

September is going to be a good month for us.

I got an email from my buddy Bill (hey, Bill!) that said, “Thanks for letting me borrow your GoPro to go hang gliding in pristine weather conditions, rafting in a death river and to jump off a 30 foot drop into a body of water … by the way … I lost the GoPro!”

But that means he owes me, like, a MILLION GAZILLION dollars … Happy Birthday to me!

Go pro, friends, go pro. 

On top of that, regular-reader, blogger, and musician Taylor Muse sent me an advanced, super secret copy of his forthcoming album … and it’s so badass that I want to share it illegally with all of you so you can know the brilliance that is Taylor. His band is called Quiet Company, and you should add them to your playlist as soon as you get a chance.

Unfortunately I can’t send you my copy, but I might buy some of you regular readers copies as thank you gifts once it’s released. The subject matter is apropos to this blog, and for a minute I questioned why he sent me the tracks … then I listened to it, and I said, “Holy awesome lyrics about belief and non! That’s why!”

I’ve listened to the album all the way through once, and relistened to a couple tracks. I’ll write a better review in its own post soon, but the music is rich, thick and layered with great nuanced ideas, changes that make me happy as a cat-nipped cat, and vocals that make you want to pick up a microphone and sing along.

There are these emotional moments during some of the songs that grab at my heart strings, and they are accentuated with these moments of excited vocal punches that is nothing short of perfect at the perfect time.

The lyrics are so painfully honest and real that it feels like Taylor dipped into my head and ripped out my thoughts … which is what poetry and music should do, right?

Street Photography

Yesterday, I was inspired to shoot street photography … my version of street photography anyway.

My challenge is to talk to the people I’m going to shoot once in a while. I asked a couple people for permission. The other challenge is to not ask for permission, and get their portrait. I want people looking at me, so that you can know what it’s like to have eye contact with a stranger. Chicagoans don’t give eye contact to strangers, so it’s especially hard.

There was this one girl who I desperately wanted to ask permission, but she was so beautiful that my mouth went mushy. I must get past that.

The show stopper was the shot above. I gave the guy some  money, and asked if I could shoot his portrait. He agreed, and I took a few frames.

Other shots are of people jumping into Lake Michigan. The first one was from a group of guys throwing a wiffle ball and catching it before hitting the water. The other is a group of Irish kids (I think they’re Irish). Their names were impossible to understand as a dumb American. I mean, his name was Ruairi, pronounced Rori.

When the rest of them told me their names, I just cried and walked away.

Click on the images to enlarge. I’ll share more photos soon. I don’t want to overwhelm you, but I have a LOT of really fun ones.

You, me, a GoPro and disappointment

Just before leaving for Maui, I bought a GoPro. It’s waterproof and its promise of professional delivery appealed to me.

I’m a pro-videographer, and this little thing is lacking a lot of pro qualities.

I’m going to sell the over-priced, piece of crap as soon as possible. But I wanted to post a video I threw together just before I left. I’m not standing behind the video as pro. It’s stock music and crappy editing. But I thought you might get a kick out of it.

More video to come from Maui as soon as I can get it edited.

Crazy-ass lighting shot

I saw this via Stumble Upon recently and I thought you would like it. Yes, you. It’s a composition of several shots spliced together, but it’s still pretty friggin’ cool.

From the photographer:

This is a photo sequence of 42 stacked shots, caught in Olympic Stadium, Athens during a severe thunderstorm. It only took me aproximatelly 30 minutes to capture 51 lightnings.
Nine shots were destroyed because of the excess brightness. See also the waterdrops from the drain pipe. They seem ‘still’ as they instlantly illuminated from the lightnings.

The answer to the crucial question: No… The big one didn’t hit me on the head! It stroke a few hundred feet in front of me..
Canon EOS 550D, 28/6/2010 1:16 – 1:48, Shutter Speed 3.2 sec x 42 shots, Aperture Value 4.0, ISO 100, Lens Canon EF 15mm f/2.8, Focal Length 15.0 mm


I’m a light-metering fool

Recently, I invested in some equipment that I’ve been holding off on buying for my company for a couple years. The economy hit our household just as it’s hit so many homes around the country.

When Tina decided she’d go into business with me, I said, “Sweet cherry pie. I’m investing into the business.” With her and I together, at least we can succeed or fail together.

My main new investments were a wireless system for my existing flashes and strobe, a light meter and a collapsible backdrop. I had a wireless system before, but it sucked. It was infrared, and it didn’t always work.

Regular-reader Xina might remember that when I shot her wedding, I would say, “Tina, did the flash fire?” And she’d say nope or yep. I wasn’t using the flash to light the shot. I was using the flash to fill out the faces. Before the end of the day, Xina’s dad was saying, “It fired” or “It didn’t fire.”

With my old setup, half the time the flashes never fired, because they couldn’t see the wireless unit sitting on my camera or they didn’t fire because the equipment was defective.

But now I’m souped up with a radio signal system from PocketWizard that works really well.


I’ve never owned a light meter before, but I’ve used one on occasion. Now that I’m light metering, shoots go much quicker, because I’m not guessing anymore or trying to use my camera’s internal light meter. Now I know how much light I’m getting and how much more or less I need to increase/decrease my depth of field. It’s fantastic, and it’s really pushing my shots up the quality ladder.

And I bought a collapsible backdrop, which can work as a backdrop or a large reflector.

I want to talk more about lighting. I have some friends, including regular readers, who have recently bought new cameras. I learn a lot from new camera enthusiasts, because I can learn a lot about framing and angles from folks who are balls out shooting for the hell of it.

One of my biggest, “Oh, shit don’t!” moments are when new camera junkies say, “I want to shoot all natural lighting.” I can’t tell you how many people tell me that, and I’m afraid that people will be telling me that for years to come.

Using all available light is a purest way of thought, but it’s not always functional. For your friends’ sakes, don’t always take shots without a flash or a decent amount of light. Color balance can help a low-light shot better than you think, but that takes time too.

The flash is a “fill” light. So if you have to use it, dumb it down. Pull a napkin over the flash or buy one of these. Learn to use a flash to help, not hinder the shot. It’s a tool, not a pestering idiot who will do anything to ruin your day.

I’ll work on a lighting post for another day. Is anyone even remotely interested in this?

In the meantime, here are a few of my recent shots.