Monthly Archives: December 2008

My favorite holiday photos for 2008

Lately my favorite type of photography is nature photography.  But not animals as much as earth made structures, etc…

However, this holiday season was busy for me as far as family photos go.  I had some photo gigs in locations that aren’t very photo friendly.  A company holiday party in a really nice resturaunt’s party room which has 3 foot mirros every 2 feet around the room, photos in small & tight spaces and more.  Here are some of my favorites from this year

Happy Holidays Everyone & A Great New Year to All


I Heart JPG Magazine Subscriber since May 2008
2 Hot Photos
1 Published Photo

Ever since my photo was published in JPG Magazine my popularity has jumped beyond the level I thought it would. I’m a very humble person. I know I have an eye for photography and am good at what I do but I don’t go around praising myself every step of the way. I am not one for saying I am better than you, or I did this, I did that, I would have done this better, etc… To me that is very shady and gross.

I am very honored that people like my work as much as they do and I’m glad I have the ability to share my work with the world.

As I type this my “If I only had a” photo is getting great comments and has been added favorite by 13 users. Thank you to everyone for your kind words and I hope to keep bringing you photos to check out in the future

Nikon D1x [527,200 actuations]

The proof is in the pudding. Today at work my head Digital SLR technician came to me and dragged me over to his bench to see this. A customer of Mack Camera has sent in their Nikon D1x for repair saying the shutter stopping opening. We hooked the camera up to the diagnostic software and there was 527,200 shutter actuations (shutter releases). The craziest part is that the shutter was good, it was a gear that broke. They don’t make shutters like they used to!

Nikon D1x holy unbelievable on TwitPic

Why I heart Dreamhost

For about three hours my servers went down at Dreamhost. They are very good about getting things back up and running quick but of course like any concerned customer I contact the support department to hopefully get it up sooner than later. This was my hilarious response I received after my servers went back up. I do appreciate having a host company that can joke. It is so nice!

Dreamhost plus’s

  • Green
  • Fast Service
  • Many Options
  • One Click Installs
  • Unlimited Storage & Bandwidth
  • Unlimited e-mails
  • Unlimited Domains
  • You get the idea

Green Web Hosting! This site hosted by DreamHost.

Im so sorry about that! There was a user offering a particularly large media file for download. With all the simultaneous users it was saturating your servers bandwidth and really messing up everyones MySQL connections. I disabled the offending file and laid down some smack on the user.

I was able to access your database without any problems now. If you have any further questions, please let me know.

Thanks! Mike M

can you smelllllllll what the server guys are cooookin?

Strobe Slave: Infrared vs True Radio TTL

There are so many brands and models of radio transmitters out on the market today. PocketWizards, RadioPoppers, CyberSyncs, FreeXwire, Skyport and more… All share one thing with each other. They transmit their signal through the radio waves. Each also has an advantage or disadvantage with one another. RadioPoppers pack a range of 1500 feet even when the average photographer may only need a distance of 100 feet. Why not, right? PocketWizards have proven themselves over and over again since the birth of sliced bread and they ‘only’ reach 300 feet.

Now many photographers who purchase these triggers are using them to avoid using their branded TTL slaves that Nikon & Canon built in to their systems. TTL is great for a quick snapshot but not when a professional photographer really wants to control the lighting from the bottom up. Most photographers who use these trigger put their strobes on manual and adjust in such small increments and even huge steps to achieve the most accurate light to their desire.

However, there are still a large number of photographers that really do love to utilize the TTL system of their cameras. In fact, there are even well known professionals like Joe McNally who really promote the use of the branded TTL system. Joe utilizes Nikon TTL system and pushes it to the limits. Joe manages to create light that makes you really think how he did it. Fortunately, Joe McNally is also the type of person who loves sharing what he did, how he did it and will even teach you to do it the same. We should all be thankful for people like Joe McNally, David Hobby & David Tejada for sharing their thoughts and teaching us all through their blogs and workshops.

Nikon SU-800

Nikon SU-800

Keeping in mind that RadioPopper’s ‘thing’ is to give you radio signal and leaving the TTL available for the photographer. They released their first product a while ago which utilized a fiber optic cable which must be placed over the infrared port of your strobes. This would allow the RadioPopper to read the TTL signal and transmit the data. The problem with this is that you must rely on your infrared yet again and a fiber optic cable. People were running into problems with the cable moving or too much ambient light getting in the mix causing the signal to get misread or not read at all. People would make their own mods with tape, velcro, cloth materials and more in order for the insurance of accuracy.

Moving right along… The main reason for this blog post is that yesterday RadioPopper announced their new system. A system which was talked about for a long time and rumors were popping up, and exclusive reviews were popping up. All we were hearing was that it would blow everything out of the water. You would never need for mods or extra cables again. Well, RadioPopper announced their new X system with a huge flaw in my eyes. It still relies on the infrared signal but instead of a fiber optic cable it mounts flush to the strobe. However, they did add some extra sweet features like compatibility with non-TTL strobes and Alienbees. So I’m not saying the RadioPoppers are bad because all the reviews have been amazing since the beginning. I’m just saying I don’t like relying on infrared signals. So please don’t take this as a RadioPopper hate post. This is just my view on things.

The solution. Let’s start with the camera body. A Nikon for instance. The camera body sends its TTL signal to the hot shoe which passes it through to the TTL transmitter (Nikon SU-800) which then would typically flash its IR (infrared) signal into the world. For those who say that the IR must go through the infrared and not the hot shoe. I already proved you wrong. How does the signal GET to the infrared transmitter? Through the hot shoe!

PocketWizard MultiMax TTL

PocketWizard MultiMax TTL

Step One: Design a transmitter (brand specific) that is hot shoe mounted with an LCD for control just like the PocketWizard MultiMax. This will give you the full TTL control over the lighting.

I know, you’re asking what about the Strobe side of things? How can the TTL signal go through the PC port of the strobe. It can’t, which is why we go back to the trusty hot shoe that I’ve been stressing. Strobists all over the world have been buying up the light stand / umbrella mount to use their strobes with. Most current shoe mount strobes come with a light stand adapters which would screw onto their light stand / umbrella mounts. What if you didn’t use that? What if what you used was the receiver portion of this TTL radio kit that screws onto your light stand mount and your Strobe slides right onto the receiver? Sort of like Nikon SU-4 but fancier and more technical.

Nikon SU-4

Nikon SU-4

Step Two: Design a receiver (brand specific) that is light stand adaptable with its own TTL hot shoe. This will give you the full TTL transmission both direction to and from the receiver.

Wait… did I just invent something? Unfortunately no I did not. This is something that has been in the works for quite some time now from a few companies. And the best part is that it will be affordable for most. The new RadioPopper X system costs $250 for the transmitter and another $250 for each receiver. The ever so popular PocketWizard Plus II’s sell for $185 and one unit acts as either a transmitter or a receiver.

Imagine buying a PocketWizard TTL transmitter for $200 and then as many TTL receivers for $200. You then have the reliability of a PocketWizard for an easier price than the RadioPoppers.

But this is just my rant. Don’t listen to me.


Funny Email I received 12-13-2008

Melissa forwarded this email to me this morning.  This is funny.  We both felt dumb while going to check it’s legitimacy.

Don’t you all even try and act like you have always known this !!

I had to go into the kitchen and check this out for myself. Whoever looks at the end of your aluminum foil box? You know when you try to pull some foil out and the roll comes out of the box. Then you have to put the roll back in the box and start over. The darn roll always comes out at the wrong time.

Well, I would like to share this with you. Yesterday I went to throw out an empty Reynolds foil box and for some reason I turned it and looked at the end of the box. And written on the end it said, Press here to lock end. Right there on the end of the box is a tab to lock the roll in place. How long has this little locking tab been there? I then looked at a generic brand of aluminum foil and it had one, too. I then looked at a box of Saran wrap and it had one too! I can’t count the number of20times the Saran wrap roll has jumped out when I was trying to cover something up.

I’m sharing this with my friends. I hope I’m not the only person that didn’t know about this.

My Five for Fighting Experience

Date: November 6th, 2000

Here is my story. It is my first semester of College and I’m attending Berklee College of Music in Boston, Ma. I had two roommates which I had the great fortune of sharing musical tastes with. For weeks we planned to attend a small Five for Fighting show at a venue in Cambridge, Ma called Kendall Cafe. We gathered all of our friends who also wanted to go and since it was snowing we hopped on the subway as far as we could then walk the rest of the way to the venue.

We arrive at the venue and walk inside the small, but really nice warm room to be immediately stopped by the bouncer. He asked for ID’s and since none of us were yet 21 we could not go in. Now mind you, this show was not advertised as 21 and up so we were not expecting this. We decided that since we took the trek out there we might as well stay and listen even from the freezing cold outdoors. So it’s 30 degrees Fahrenheit, snowing and getting very dark out in a neighborhood we don’t know so what do my roommates and friends do? They climb a tree so they can see inside. John Ondrasik, singer songwriter of Five for Fighting, sees my friends jumping and climbing and in the microphone asks the bouncer what happened. The bouncer explains and John got sad.

After his hour and change length set he packed up his gear and disappeared.

Five minutes later John comes outside with Gregg Wattenberg, another member of Five for Fighting, and his guitar. They walk over to us and John says “I heard you guys couldn’t get in, what song you want to hear?” We all looked at each other and said “Superman!” John’s eyes opened wide and he said “Only if you guys sing with us.”

Now, little did he know but I had a voice recorder in my pocket and silently hit record. This was the most amazing experience ever. Singing in the freezing cold with friends, to a song that is absolutely incredible WITH the person who wrote the song…and I get it on tape.

John was very nice and even after playing he hung around and spoke with us for a while before heading back inside. The only word to describe that experience is ‘amazing’. Interestingly enough the tour that John and Gregg were doing was called ‘The Gloves off Tour’ and they both left their gloves on for this one.

With the happy story of course must come a sad one. It is now eight years later and I have no clue where that tape went. But fortunately I still have the memory in my head.

Small Strobes BIG Results

I just registered for Small Strobes BIG Results in Philadelphia, PA – Friday March 20, 2009

This is a workshop by David Tejada who is an amazing Nikon photographer who utilizes his Strobes to the best of their abilities.  Like David Hobby, David Tejada gives a lot of tips, DIY ideas, and techniques on his blog.

With the workshop so far away I will have more time to continue practicing my lighting, and learn on my own.  Although I am extremely excited for this workshop.  I know that I will learn so much and just from my short phone conversation with David Tejada, he is such a nice person that I will enjoy hearing what he has to say.

Oh, forgot to mention the best part.  The workshop is at Eastern State Penitentiary

It doesn’t get any better then that!


Orbis / Ray Flash Comparison & Review

I got my hands on an Orbis Ring Flash and a Ray Flash.  Did some basic tests and came to a conclusion.  They are both amazing and even though each has it’s pro’s and con’s they can both be used and owed by one photographer.  Forgetting prices, here’s my opinion:

Orbis – Pro’s

  • Wide ring output
  • Very soft light
  • One size fits all.  It even fits the new Nikon SB-900’s
  • Inconspicuous yellow pouch for storage and a neck strap

Orbis – Con’s

  • Does not lock onto Strobe (fall’s off easily)
  • Must be light stand mounted over Strobe  or handle held in addition to the camera

Ray Flash – Pro’s

  • Mounted to camera so you are only holding a camera, not two items
  • Gives a soft light keeping sharp detail with Macro lenses

Ray Flash – Con’s

  • So many sizes to choose from because it’s specific for each camera
  • Blocks the TTL light so auto focus in dark and IR transmitting could cause issues

I can’t think of anything else.  But you get the idea.  They are both wonderful and I will see myself using both in the future.  Take a look at the pictures on my Flickr page.  All were taken on Aperture priority with varying apertures to match on both so you can see the differences.  TTL flash.

Update 12-17-08 The Orbis yellow pouch fits BOTH the Orbis and the Ray Flash at the same time.  EXTRA BONUS

My Comparison Photos on Flickr

You can also read David Hobby’s comparison on his page (with video)

Operation NICE

Don’t you love it when people go out of their way to be nice? Like when someone waits to hold the door for you. Or when a stranger waves you into a line a traffic. Or even when a coworker shoots you a friendly smile along with a “have a nice day.” If everyone was a little bit nicer to the folks they encountered each day, perhaps the world would be a more pleasant place. Operation NICE was initiated to remind you that a little NICE goes a long way.