Peak Design Bags: 1 Year Later.

It’s been just about a year since I switched back to Peak Design (PD) camera bags, switched back? Yup, so you may ask, what tempted me to use other bags in the first place as a loyal PD user? A fair question deserves an honest answer. When PD first announced their Everyday Messenger Bag back in the summer of 2015, I immediately backed them on KickStarter because, after using PD product for 3-4 years at that point, I knew this was going to be good. Yes, it was, and I loved it, but about a year later we moved to Virginia (we’re a military family) and that’s when things changed. Wanting to check out some camera stores in the area, I found a couple in the northern Virginia area and one in particular specialized in camera bags, new and used. They would allow you to come in with your current bag and compare shop, to try them on, even pack some gear in and see how they felt! That’s when I found the ThinkTank Mindshift 15″ Messenger Bag, it felt great on the back. While it lacked many of PD’s features, it seemed to have more room inside, felt good, so I made the leap. Not bad mouthing ThinkTank in any way here, I still use many of their products and they are a terrific company making quality gear. However, in time I missed some little things in PD bags like their MagLatch system, there is no better way to get in and out of a messenger bag, period. With the ThinkTank’s Mindshift bag, I had to click open the fastener, take out the needed item and click it shut. It seems like a small thing but I found myself leaving the bag open most of the time while out shooting, out of convenience. With the PD bag, just push down on the MagLatch, open it and get the item out, then let the flap drop and it almost always catches on the MagLatch connection. Top zipper access in the 15″ PD bag, built in color coordinated battery holders (for charged/uncharged), luggage pass through on the back, and the flexi-fold style dividers to stack lenses were what I missed. Did these little things mean enough to go through the hassle of selling the current bags on eBay? Well, yes they did, because all those little things added up, and I missed them.

After years of searching for the perfect bag I’ve learned this, there is NO perfect bag. No matter what the latest bag innovation is, the new lighter than helium construction, magical pockets that hold everything beyond your wildest dreams, and most of all…. the famous photographer who endorses it will not matter when you head out shooting. What will matter is if the bag meets your needs. Know this, it will NOT be the perfect bag and some things will work for you and some won’t. For that reason I have a number of PD bags for different purposes, mostly defined by the lenses I’m walking out the door with. Unlike the one-time purchase of the supposed perfect bag mentioned above, acquiring bags has been a process. When going out with large, 100-400mm lens, the Everyday Backpack 20L Zip v2 (shown here) fits the bill. I’m not a fan of camera backpacks, but in this case they distribute weight better when carrying a heavy load than messengers or slings. The PD 20L Zip is just big enough to hold that big lens, plus the Canon EOS R with a 24-105mm attached, and a 15-35mm and 30mm stowed. It can be carry-on for air travel or tossed in the back of a car plus it’s weather proofed as well. Frankly, this bag doesn’t get used as often as the others because I don’t walk out every day carrying a 100-400mm lens. However, there’s no reason to think it won’t hold up well, it’s built like a tank. Does it offer everything I would like? Nope, again no bag will, but it does meet a majority of my needs/wants, like side access to the camera and not having a bunch straps flopping around. I do wish the 20L Zip had magnetic backpack strap holders like other PD bags, not sure why this model lacks them. Again, no perfect bag…

My main carry bags are PD messenger bags, they just work better for when out walking. I have the 15L and that I keep loaded out relatively similar to another 13L so I’m not hunting for stuff inside. This is the Everyday Messenger 15L (left) which carries either the 24-105mm or 15-35mm attached to the EOS R (stowing the unattached lens) and still has room for the 30mm lens. This bag may not be available anymore as I’ve not seen in on the PD site for a while, only the 13″ version is currently for sale there. You can still find it on eBay starting at about $60 used and $130 new and at Amazon as well. The Everyday Messenger 15L is like having a mini office in front of you, when you swing the bag in front of you it’s easy to switch lenses or safely dig through the bag. The other often used bag is the Everyday Messenger 13L (below) which is similar in design to the 15L but missing the top zipper which makes sense as it wouldn’t be practical to fit a DSLR with lens attached through the smaller opening. The Everyday Messenger 13L carries either the 24-105mm or 15-35mm attached to the EOS R and stowing the unattached lens. I’m happy to say that after carrying both of these messenger bags the majority of the time for the last year they both have minimal to no wear, which is kind of amazing. They’ve both held up well in the summer heat and cold rain of Yokosuka, Japan where I’ve lived for the past two years. Even the insides of both bags still look amazing!

When heading out and wanting to travel light, usually because I’m going with the family, I have two PD Sling bags. The larger of the two is the Everyday Sling 10L v1 (right) and this usually carries the EOS R with a 24-105mm attached and leaves room for a few smaller items. I didn’t purchase the Everyday Sling 10L v2 simply because I had the v1 a few years ago and really liked it. When deciding to go back to PD bags, I saw they still had this bag in their clearance page and jumped on it. While I’m sure the v2 is a great bag, I went with what I knew and missed. This bag is my go-to bag with the EOS R if I plan to be walking all day and going someplace new and want to travel light. The other Sling bag is the Everyday Sling 6L (below) which is when walking with just the EOS R and 30mm attached, generally places I’ve been before and might get a cool shot, going out to eat, or street shooting and don’t want to draw attention. In Japan, restaurants and food stands can make for great stock photography subjects, the small lens and small bag help to not draw attention. Both of these sling bags are light and give great protection from the elements. They have held up well, just like the Everyday Messenger bags, and look fantastic on the inside and exterior.

Since buying PD bags last year, I’ve been more than happy with how they’ve held up. I didn’t set out to own this many camera bags, but I’ve finally figured out something; while the latest and greatest camera bags may promise to be the last you’ll ever buy, they never fit that bill. In all honesty, PD also makes bags that don’t work for me… R-R-Really?? Yup! Their Everyday Backpack 20L and 30L which I had previously owned (the 30L) and, while it was a great bag, it just didn’t work out but happily the Everyday Backpack 20L Zip v2 worked much better. Also, their 45L Travel Backpack and Everyday Sling 3L didn’t seem like it good fit for what I do and that’s what I mean about “NO perfect bag” because, while these are award winning bags, they weren’t what I needed. That’s why I have so many bags, who wants to carry a 20L bag when a 6 or 10L sling will work? With the exception of a few companies (like PD) making bags, they’ve got to sell what appeals to a majority of photographers and that’s where the concessions come in. While they’ll get a big name pro to endorse the bag, not even two pro photographers will have the same packing needs and their desires in a bag will differ greatly as well. The chances of your needs and expectations lining up with their’s is probably very slim. Find bags that suite your needs because, when it comes to camera bags, the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. Finally, these highly customizable bags offer great protection and can handle just about anything you throw at them. These Peak Design bags have stood up well over the last year, just as the other PD products I’ve used since 2012 or so. I have no problem recommending them to photographers and non-photographers alike!

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The Covid Lockdown and NOT Shooting

Stock photography has been a very good business for a retired guy, I get to shoot pics when I want and not shoot if I don’t feel like it. Recently, with everyone trying to stay in or close to home here in Japan where I live, I was no different. Instead of heading out to shoot, I took a few months to go through the thousands of photos on my hard drive and see what I had. After sifting through thousands of photos, there were a couple hundred that left me wondering, “why have I never worked on these.” My wife can attest to the fact that when it comes to photography, I’m like a child in that I get tunnel vision and focus on the flavor of the moment. I dive in to photos and focus on my most recent shoots like a little boy playing with the new wagon and ignoring everything else in the toy box. That’s the reason I’ve never worked on so many of those photos, the little kid in my went for the shiny stuff and ignored everything else.

The way I keep track of what I’ve never worked on is fairly simple with Adobe Lightroom, I use a system of stars. Five stars and flagged means it’s currently on my website, five stars and no flag is for photos that are waiting to be posted, it’s “the pipeline.” Four stars and flagged means a photo was on my website in the current photos file but is now in the one of the archive folders (patriotic, Asia, boat, etc.) Three stars is reserved for photos I won’t sell because of the location they were taken, commercial sales are not allowed. Two stars are photos that I’ve keyworded and just need to be edited, they’ll get a 5 star once edited. One star means I’ve identified these for future editing. Might sound confusing but it works for me. On this post are just some of my photos that have sold during the Covid lockdown, so it’s been good time to revive some older pics, make a little cash, and most of all stay healthy in the process!

Peak Design BLACK FRIDAY SALE, Nov 16-30!!

¬°¬°Christmas Gift Alert!!  Peak Design gear is something I’ve been using since 2012, practically every day, and they’ve NEVER failed.  I wouldn’t have become a Peak Design affiliate if I didn’t believe in their products, I wouldn’t want to sell junk to people I know.  However, it goes deeper because I believe in this company!  Peak Design’s customer service is second to none, they set the standard for creating products that customers request through surveys, and their lifetime guarantee is hassle free.  Yes, it’s pricey but it’s also durable, buy once and done!  Check out their many bags which aren’t just for photography,  they’re highly customizable.  Use the link below for their Black Friday Sale from Nov 16-30th!  

https://www.peakdesign.com/?rfsn=3866800.26bbc

Previous Peak Design Blog Posts:

ŇĆfuna Kannon

It’s been a while since I posted anything about my shoots, while I have been out shooting, I just haven’t been very good at posting here at the blog. I’ll be doing better with that… Today I drove north to Kamakura to shoot the ŇĆfuna Kannon, an 82 foot tall statue of Bodhisattva Kannon that weighs in at 1,900 tons. While the statue is definitely impressive and worth seeing, it’s better to add it to other places you plan to visit in the area as it only takes a few minutes to visit this small site. On this day, a Friday, there were only 3 or 4 other people, so it definitely could be more packed on weekends. Getting there was fun because I use Apple Maps and generally, my iPhone works pretty well as a GPS, but today wasn’t one of those days… It started with Apple Maps telling me to turn right where there was a divider and ended when got me to the Ofuna Kannon by sending me down a road big enough for car and said, ‚Äúyou have reached your destination, please find a parking location.‚ÄĚ I had to carefully back out with help from locals, fortunately no cars followed me in. Anyway, lots of photos to edit.

There‚Äôs going to be lots to write about coming up. My stock photos are doing very well, that’s always a good thing, and there’s a post in itself. Additionally, I‚Äôve been shooting with a new camera for few months now and loving it. There’s still this crazy thing I’ve got for Peak Design gear and that hasn’t changed, still crazy about how well their products hold up! Back in March, when the covid virus hit here in Japan and we were locked down to our houses, I used it as an opportunity to take a break from shooting. During that time I sunk myself in to editing my huge backlog of photos. Now that it’s mostly done I‚Äôll be more engaged here in the future. Hope you’re all staying safe!

Covid-19 Lockdown…

Covid-19 Lockdown…

I can’t think of a five or six month period since 2012 where I’ve taken out my camera so little, but that’s not to say I haven’t been engaged with photography in some way. Since I didn’t really get out and shoot, I concentrated on the future by researching potential gear changes, checking out new bags, and trying out some new stock photography companies as well. However, an actual camera in my hands didn’t happen much beyond the occasional iPhone shot, which I still find fun. Since the corona virus had us locked down on the base where we live in Japan, I decided to take a little break from shooting. A lot of time was spent researching cameras, lenses, filters, bags, and even accessories which led to some purchases that I’m excited about. While I didn’t break out the camera much, I did manage to shoot a little, the shots on this post were all taken with the iPhone 7 Plus. The photo at the top was taken just before the lockdown in February 2020 at the harbor in Yokosuka, Japan and the others were taken at various times during lockdown.

My daredevil daughter jumping out of the seat of the playground swing.

While researching cameras, the Canon EOS R caught my eye and it looked like a great upgrade from the 6D Mark II that I had currently been using. I had been absolutely loving the 6D Mark II since 2017 and had even purchased a second backup body. My intention was to keep one 6D and use the Canon adaptor one EOS R for my current EF lenses. The EOS R arrived, I played with it for a while and was completely blown away. Mind you, at this point in time I was planning on keeping one 6D Mark II. I played with the EOS R’s new control ring on the adaptor, decided to use it for exposure compensation, again… blown away. Now I began comparing my current EF lenses with their new RF lens counterpart. Over the next few days I sold both Canon 6D’s and all but one EF lens, the EF 100-400. So much for my plan to keep my backup 6D. I’ve been very happy with the switch to the Canon EOS R and I’ll be sure to do a future review. While the new RF lenses cost a lot more they are noticeably better. The good news is that if you want the Canon mirrorless EOS R but don’t want to upgrade from EF lenses (or EF-S) to the new RF series, the adaptor for the old lenses is pretty incredible and you will see improvements using your EF lenses on the EOS R via the adaptor. My EF lenses looked sharper on the EOS R with the adaptor than they did on the 6D Mark II.

A Latte Florentine Milan Stetson summer straw fedora.

I can hear you already, “ok Mr. Bigshot, if the EF lenses worked so well with an adaptor, why did you switch?” Well, like I said, I spent a lot of time researching and a few things caught my attention. First, the RF lenses have been out since 2018 there is a ton of information online about them. It was this, an interview with Digital Camera World, where a Canon Europe Product Marketing Senior Manager stated that Canon had already launched ten new RF lenses and that, while they’re ready to create new EF lenses if the need arose, “for now, our focus is on RF.’ That told me exactly where Canon is heading, their compass points to the land of RF. Secondly, the last time I believe Canon ditched a series of lenses was around 1987, after more than 20 years of producing over 130+ models of their FD lens series, they made a similar announcement regarding their move to the EF series. As I see it, when Canon goes all in on something, they commit. Just as they committed to the EF series lens and over time dropped the FD series, I believe they are now at the same crossroads with their new RF series. The handwriting is again on the wall and I believe at some point they’ll stop supporting the EF series. However, the BIG difference this time over Canon’s 1987 move is that because of these new adaptors released by Canon, their loyal EF lens users won’t be left holding unsupported lenses as FD users probably were. While I could have stayed with the EF lenses, I took a chance on moving to the RF series because I believe Canon is all in and committed. I bought what RF lenses I could afford leaving me with one lens, the 100-400, that I use with the Canon adaptor and it works no differently than the RF lenses.

So in the end, while there wasn’t a lot of photography happening in my life, there were some meaningful photography changes that I’m hopeful will change the way I shoot. I had been using the Canon 6D Mark II since 2017 and it was still a love affair, but the EOS R unexpectedly rocked my little world more than expected. While “just researching,” the search took me to a new Canon camera which led to new lenses, then new filters, some new Peak Design bags which I’ll be reviewing, and other things that come with being locked down for months with nothing but “research” time. It turned out to be pretty productive and actually did some good. Oh, also during this Covid-19 lockdown in Japan, I somehow got in to the wonderful world of fedoras too, please don’t judge me…

What I Learned and Why 7+ Minutes Mattered…

Lately, I’ve thought a lot about my 30 years in the US Navy where I learned something very important; being a good or bad person had nothing to do with skin color, religion, gender, sexual preference, birthright, or financial background. That’s a lot, but it’s true. When you‚Äôre in the military, no matter your pay grade, you will have to depend on others. I’ve seen and worked with plenty of jerks of every category under the sun and likewise, also worked with so many incredibly good people of every skin color, gender, religion, and background. In the military you either play nice with others in the sand box or they won‚Äôt play with you, it’s that simple. At some point you will need them and they you. It’s built in to military life no matter the occupation.

Early on in my first 10 years of the military, beginning in the early 1980’s, I saw great leadership as well as some of the worst; neither had ANYTHING to do with skin color. One of the best leaders I ever worked for in my time was a US Air Force Master Sergeant who happened to be African American. This person was seriously the best of the best, took care of people, was an outstanding leader, and one of the best human beings in every way possible. Skin color simply didn‚Äôt matter, this person took care of us and we worked harder because of that. You could expect to be treated fairly in any situation, every day. Let me tell you, it doesn’t get any better than that. This is just one example of the many great people I‚Äôve worked for/with in the military. However, one of the worst leaders I worked for happened to be white. This person had the uncanny ability to consistently make the wrong decision in a sea of great alternatives, every time! If they made a good decision, which wasn’t often, it was accidental. You could actually count of this person to drop the ball and let you down, like clockwork. They didn’t try to be an awful leader, unfortunately it just seemed to come naturally. No amount of time, no leadership course or mentoring could have helped because making bad choices appeared to be this person’s forte. You know what? With this person and the Master Sergeant mentioned above, skin color had absolutely nothing to with either person’s abilities. Of these two people, only an idiot would have actually chosen to work for the latter leader described.

After many years, I became a Senior Enlisted Leader or SEL, and I saw the same examples but from a different perspective. Being trusted with the enlisted sailors of a command as a Master Chief was both humbling and the honor of a lifetime. When looking from my pay grade down the chain of command, I saw many incredibly talented sailors, excellent performers, and it had NOTHING to do with skin color, religion, gender, sexual preference, etc… These were hard working people of every possible background who were patriotic and honestly wanted to do a good job every single day. For those who didn’t fit that mold for whatever reason, or even those outright trouble makers, I can honestly say that most were in their situations for reasons of their own making. It had nothing to do with background, ethnicity, or gender. As I looked up the chain of command from myself, again the same was true. I worked for just about every type of person, good, bad, those in the middle, and race still didn’t matter. While the military was integrated back in 1948, it’s not perfect, but like America it‚Äôs hopefully moving in the right direction. Unfortunately, I’d be lying if I didn’t admit experiencing a few alleged racists over those 30 years. I say alleged because these fools knew they couldn’t spout their hateful beliefs openly where they‚Äôd likely be outed. They weren‚Äôt smart, they were spinelessly careful, and they looked for other like minded fools. Almost all of these people were very unhappy and had nothing but excuses for the reasons things didn‚Äôt go their way. It was shameful to see how they’d convince themselves that everyone, but them, was somehow responsible for their situations. They were the finger pointers who disregarded that old analogy of pointing a finger at someone means you‚Äôre really pointing three fingers back at yourself. There’s a good chance one of them will read this, my views won’t surprise them and I’m alright with that.

Regarding me, there’s one additional item, I‚Äôm a police officer‚Äôs son, I know what it feels like when Dad goes to work at midnight. I’ve known a lot of cops growing up and still meet many when I’m out shooting photos. I usually strike up a conversation just to make sure I won’t be in their way for some reason when shooting, I especially did this while photographing in Washington, DC. Honestly, watching ex-police officer Chauvin with his knee on Mr. Floyd‚Äôs neck for 7+ minutes, while Mr. Floyd and bystanders pleaded for Chauvin to stop, made me feel sick. Derek Chauvin’s actions shouldn’t define all police officers, it’s a tough job. They leave their families each day putting their lives on the line to protect us as a society. However, law enforcement is better off without the Dereck Chauvin’s on the force. Even if Mr. Floyd was up to no good, it surely didn’t need to result in his death. Ex-police officer Chauvin had 7+ minutes to find another way to restrain Mr. Floyd who didn’t look like he was trying to escape. He had 7+ minutes to do change tactics while cameras were filming. Chauvin had 7+ minutes to be what the public expected from a law enforcement officer when it honestly counted. For 7+ minutes the ex-officer chose not to listen to the citizens pleading for him to stop. I don’t know much about ex-officer Dereck Chauvin, but I do believe he had NO reason or right to be Mr. Floyd’s sole judge, jury, and executioner for 7+ minutes in time.

Now, at the top of this I said being a good or bad person had nothing to do with skin color, religion, gender, sexual preference, birthright, or financial background. In my experience, people are defined by moral compass, character, and how they treat others, that’s what is meant by playing “nice with others in the sand box” described above. When I look back at my time in the military, remembering all the great leaders, those co-workers who are now dear friends, and those shipmates no longer with us, the last feature about them that stands out is race. If all the people who helped me in some way on active duty, or since as a military dependent and retiree, were suddenly and individually plucked from my memories by skin color, there just wouldn’t be much left. If I had ever embraced racism, all those incredible people I’ve mentioned and most of all my own Mexican-American wife, would have never entered my life. I can’t begin to imagine that because my life would be so much different, and not for the better. Hopefully 7+ minutes can result positive change, a needed social awareness, and a clearly articulated way forward to eradicate racism. Hopefully, those tragic 7+ minutes of time mattered and will teach society the lessons needed to leave our country a better place where ALL our children are treated the same.

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PEAK DESIGN SALE!

 

 

SALE!       unnamed        SALE!

 

Peak Design is having a 20-40% sale on everything (except tripods) from¬†March 31 – April 6. ¬†Over the years I’ve come to like messenger bags more and more because all my camera gearScreen Shot 2020-03-31 at 13.02.28¬†is right in¬†front¬†me when I need it. ¬†Peak Design’s¬†Everyday Messenger¬†(at left) is¬†about the best ¬†messenger bag I’ve ever used, period! ¬†If you’re looking for a bag, for photography or anything else, check out PD’s¬†Sling, Tote, TotePack, Backpack, or new Backpack Zip¬†while they’re ON SALE! ¬†When it comes to any of these bags, the one thing I love is the ability to customize. ¬†While¬†there is no perfect bag, these come about as close as I’ve ever come. ¬†As a side note, these bags can be used for more than photography! ¬†PD’s new Travel Tripod launches on April 7th and all profits will be donated to coronavirus relief and climate change!

The other piece of Peak Design gear I’ve used religiously since 2013 is their¬†capture system. ¬†Nothing I’ve used has been with me as long as these. ¬†I’m never fumbling

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Capture & Clip

with tripod plates or any type of strap, ever! ¬†PD’s straps and cuffs are all¬†seamlessly interchangeable by using PD’s tab system to connect everything. ¬†It’s rare when I’m out that someone doesn’t me about my camera hanging off a backpack strap! ¬†Since I’m not very good at explaining, I made the short video below, in real time, to show just how effective these are and exactly how they work. ¬†I’m all for anything that makes photography easier and allows me more time shooting, and that’s exactly what PD equipment does.

 

 

Lastly, Peak Design makes quality gear, I’ve using the same Capture to hang my camera on bags since 2013 and it works like the day they arrived! ¬†Don’t miss a great chance to pick up some awesome gear, so please check out this upcoming sale!

 

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Verny Park Backup Plan

Today was a good day of shooting in Yokosuka, although it meant going with my back up plan of shooting in Verny Park. ¬†I’m very fortunate to live in Japan and especially love shooting the western coast of the Miura Peninsula. ¬†Why? because there are seascape shots, harbors, plus rock formations and on a clear day Mount Fuji is visible. ¬†It’s a good thing any time you can have this snow-capped, iconic, mountain in photos. ¬†The problem is that it’s not always visible, the solution? ¬†Well, about two blocks from my house is a place where, between buildings and hills, is an unobstructed view of Mount Fuji. ¬†On days when I can see Mt. Fuji, I drive to the other coast; however, when it isn’t visible it’s time to go with the backup plan and today that plan was to shoot at Verny Park right here in Yokosuka. ¬†Verny Park is located on Yokosuka’s harbor, across from both a US Navy base and a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force base where ships of both nations can be found. ¬†Not to mention the park itself with people, a fountain, some interesting Japanese architecture, and a host of things to shoot. ¬†These are all iPhone 7+ shots of today, so it was a good day!

 

 

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About this…

Photo: The Beast

Location:  Washington, DC

Date:  October 23, 2017

Camera & Lens:  Canon 6D Mkii and EF 70-300 DO Lens

 

¬† ¬† About This Photo: ¬†This photo is all about getting lucky. ¬†We had moved to Fort Belvoir, VA in August 2017 and, like I normally do when we move to a new area as a military family, I explore close to home first before venturing out. ¬†Why? ¬†Because there are many times sites near, that are easy to miss when you head out looking at all the popular places first. ¬†It’s a lesson learned after living in Italy where I drove by the Pozzuoli Amphitheater ruins for years on the way to and from work, never giving them a second thought. ¬†Then one day, after living there for about 10 years, I decided to check them out and they were mind blowing! ¬†This is a way to attempt not missing all that is close. ¬†In northern Virginia there was so much to see in the immediate vicinity of Fort Belvoir that it took a few months to make the short trip to Washington, DC. ¬†Less than 10 minutes from our house was George Washington’s Mount Vernon home and tomb, also his Gristmill and about 15 minutes away was the city of Alexandria which was founded in 1749, an incredible place in its own right. ¬†Yes, the Northern Virginia area is THAT cool.

¬† ¬† I made the approximately 25 minute drive along the Potomac River on the George Washington Parkway and parked at the Washington Monument on the National Mall. ¬†Taking the camera bag from the car and walking, I paid for the parking spot on an iPhone app and began to hear sirens. ¬†Hearing emergency vehicles in a big city is not much cause for alarm unless they are nearby. ¬†While paying, the sirens got closer and louder, now there were lots of police vehicle. ¬†As someone fortunate enough to have been in a presidential motorcade once in my life, I knew someone important was coming. ¬†Here I was, standing on a sidewalk by myself, no crowds, nor nobody near… ¬†In just a few seconds, I opened my camera bag, took out my camera and turned on the power, switched to shutter priority, then switched the drive to the continuous shooting mode, hoping a bunch of rapid fire shots might land one keeper. ¬†As I pulled the camera to my eye, I saw it was a presidential limo of some sort but not 100%, I squeezed the shutter and held it down. ¬†In less time than it took to set up the camera, they had passed. ¬†It was the presidential limousine with its Washington DC license plate of 800-002, also called “The Beast.” ¬†As you can see in the above photo, the Secret Service agent in the front passenger seat is looking directly at me, probably because I was standing alone pointing my camera at the presidential motorcade. ¬†A slight silhouette of the president can be seen above and to the right of the presidential seal on the door.

    Out of all the shots taken in those few of seconds, there was just one keeper, the shot at the top of this post.  However, there were also plenty of blurry shots as well, those are below.  Returning many times monthly and sometimes weekly, I never again saw the motorcade seen on this first visit.  Getting the shot was pure luck as there was no way to foresee the motorcade coming, nor my proximity to it.  Also, anything such as a dead battery or memory card malfunction, cluttered camera bag with too much stuff to dig around, or even being unfamiliar with my own bag, could have all prevented this shot.  The lesson learned, if I had not kept my gear in good working order or not immediately switched to the continuous shooting mode, this shot would never have happened.  Those were in my control, my coincidental location to a presidential motorcade was out of my hands.  Most of all, this was a lucky day!

 

 

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Tokyo SkyTree

Yesterday we visited the Tokyo SkyTree, the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure on Earth at 2,080 feet tall! ¬†It’s actually for sending radio and television signals but has observation decks for tourists. ¬†Shouting out to Mrs. Madrid’s third graders at Ituarte Elementary School in El Paso, Texas!

 

 

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Tokyo SkyTree Shout Out

Yesterday we visited the Tokyo SkyTree, the tallest tower in the world and the second tallest structure on Earth at 2,080 feet tall! ¬†It’s actually for sending radio and television signals but has observation decks for tourists. ¬†Shouting out to Mrs. Reynoso’s fourth graders at John Drugan School in El Paso, Texas!

 

 

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Hakone, Japan

This is a shoutout from my daughters to their aunt who teaches at¬†Sgt. Roberto Ituarte Elementary School¬†in El Paso, TX! ¬†This week we are also still on vacation here and went to the Hakone Shrine in Hakone, Japan and were able to see Mount Fuji from here as well. ¬†Mount Fuji is Japan’s tallest peak at 12,389 feet high and looks very cool when it’s covered in snow! ¬† ¬† ¬†

 

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Hakone, Japan

This is a shoutout from my daughters to their aunt who teaches at John Drugan School¬†in El Paso, TX! This week we are also still on vacation here and went to the Hakone Shrine in Hakone, Japan and were able to see Mount Fuji from here as well. ¬†Mount Fuji is Japan’s tallest peak at 12,389 feet high and looks very cool when it’s covered in snow! ¬† ¬† ¬†

 

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My first video

Here’s my first attempt at a video, it combines still and time-lapse images. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did making it!

https://www.billchizekphotography.com/Video/i-LcTDj7D/A

 

 

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Shout Out to Mrs. Reynoso!

It’s that time of the year where we start getting out checking out the sites here in Japan. ¬†Here’s a shoutout from our kids to Mrs. Reynoso’s fourth grade class at John Drugan School in El Paso, TX from Chinatown in Yokohama, Japan near Tokyo.

 

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Shout Out to Mrs. Madrid!

It’s that time of the year where we start getting out checking out the sites here in Japan. ¬†Here’s a shoutout from our kids to Mrs. Madrid’s third grade class at Ituarte Elementary School in El Paso, TX from Chinatown in Yokohama, Japan near Tokyo.

 

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So I put my camera in the oven…

Sounds like a joke right? ¬†Well, it’s not and it started on a rainy day, literally coming down sideways, a great day to get some shots here in Yokosuka, Japan or so it seemed… ¬†I had recently purchased a great waterproof hat, waterproof jacket, waterproof pants, and waterproof shoes, almost all of it on sale and in anticipation for a day just like this. was prepared, again… so it seemed. Within an hour of my rain day outing, water was running down the inside of my glasses and down my neck from the inside the hat, my body was soaked to the core and my feet were wet and freezing. ¬†All my clothing had failed and even my weather sealed Canon 6D Mkii’s buttons suddenly stopped working. ¬†Even though the camera was weather sealed and had a protective cover, the rain had somehow gotten inside. The first thing I did out there in the rain was to take out the battery. ¬†Who knows what could have happened when water inside the camera came in to contact with a power source. There I was, wet and cold, and to top it my camera didn’t work, so I went home.

It’s funny, but when I purchased my Canon 6D Mkii I’m pretty sure it said “weather sealed,” I was sure of it. Now, with my wet jacket in the dryer, I was drinking a cup of coffee after taking a hot shower to warm up, I was reading related articles, but now I saw things about the this camera, something to the effect, “weather sealed, but …” Now what to do? The camera would turn on but most of the buttons weren’t working and the ones that did weren’t doing what they were supposed to do. ¬†The next thing I search for online were suggestions and solutions to repair a wet camera. From what I read, these simple solutions could work, but if they didn’t, I’d likely be sending the camera to a Canon repair tech. ¬†This would either be a cheap fix or extremely expensive. ¬†Not to mention that I live in Japan so I’d be without this camera for a month, minimum. ¬†Yes, I do have a backup…

Many of the articles said to carefully place the camera in a ziplock bag with dry rice for a couple of days and some said to put that bag in a warm place. Since I love to bake sourdough bread, I also need keep my starter for the batter in a warm place. ¬†I keep it in the oven with the door cracked and the oven light on, this seems to create the perfect temperature for sourdough starter. So I placed the bag of rice with the camera in the oven next to the sourdough starter with my fingers crossed (see the above photo). The 6D was upside down with the card and battery covers open with a lens cap attached to the body. I left the card and battery covers open in hopes of giving the moisture multiple ways to evaporate from the camera. There it sat, next to my sourdough starter, for three days… Finally, I carefully opened the ziplock bag and took out the camera. As a precaution, I used can of air to blow out potential rice dust that may have settled in the card and battery slots. Then the moment had come, I put in a card and fresh battery, powered up my trustee 6D and to my surprise, everything worked! It was as if nothing had happened, everything was in good working order and life was once again good in my little spot in our universe.

¬†I fully realize that I was extremely fortunate, there was probably just enough water inside the camera to affect the buttons. Had there been just a little more water, this ziplock bag and dry rice solution may not have worked so well. Then again, if there were more water, could it just have taken more time in the bag? ¬†I highly recommend giving this a shot as a first step should your camera get wet and hopefully you’ll experience the same results. I would also recommend not buying rain gear on sale and just shell out money for the good stuff. ¬†Lastly, if you do get water inside the camera, it is not going to get better with the battery attached, get it powered down asap. ¬†An expensive trip to repair tech was avoided this time and I’ll definitely be more careful taking my camera out in the rain.

 

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Stock Pics & Exhibitions!

In January of 2016 I took a dip in the stock photography pond at the suggestion of a friend who thought I could do well. ¬†I honestly didn’t know much about stock before she mentioned it and now, almost three years later, business is booming. ¬†So much so that I can hardly keep track of where my photos are used! ¬†I usually track this by doing an annual reverse image search with Google, this shows me where many of my photos are being used. ¬†Yes, it’s a lot of work, many times there are similar images and a lot to sort through, but it has yielded some interesting results at times. ¬†This year the results were overwhelming, I’m shutting down the parts of my site where I used to post all the little back stories, camera info, locations, and who was using my photos. ¬†This isn’t a bad thing, it will help to streamline my main website at BillChizekPhotography.com, I’ll still do the fun stuff about my photos, it’ll just be here at this blog. ¬†My stock photography will have a different home located within the main website menu in Stock Photos.

I knew that my sales had increased this year as they had every year since I began shooting stock, but it was amazing to see, literally, hundreds of uses of my pics all overScreen Shot 2019-10-23 at 07.15.15 the web. ¬†Everything from restaurant menus, retail stores, daily news stories, to corporate websites; I couldn’t be more proud. ¬†Forbes used my pics at least 5 times this year alone! ¬†One photo, US Capitol 16, turned up in a trailer on Twitter for MSNBC’s American Swamp. ¬†The photo at lefttp.wheretraveler is in the opening three seconds, small part I know but still kind of cool (click HERE to see the full trailer). ¬†Also discovered a couple of magazine covers using my pics, one of them, Autumn in DC, is the cover of the¬†October 2019 Where Traveler Magazine which is¬†distributed in hotels throughout the United States. ¬†The photo is of the Washington Monument in the fall issue.com LEGACY MAG COVERof 2017 when we lived in northern Virginia. ¬†It is literally a toss up for me which I like more in DC, the cherry blossoms or fall as they’re both incredible. ¬†Of all the places I’ve lived, I wish we could have stayed here longer, as an unapologetic history geek, this was heaven. ¬†The other magazine cover, using a photo called Thanksgiving 1,¬†was for the November 2018 Legacy Senior Living Magazine¬†(left) ¬†This photo was also used during that same time for of the cover of Postcards Magazine. ¬†This photo was taken at one of my all time favorite stock photography locations, Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. ¬†Whether I wanted to shoot doors, historic themes, food, or just American flags, it could all be found here. ¬†I miss that place every single day.

Lastly, two of my photos were selected for exhibitions. ¬†The first was taken in San Diego The Shadowback in June of 2016 and is of a flamingo’s shadow, oddly enough entitled, The Shadow. ¬†It’s kind of cool photo and I was just trying out new things, for every one new thing that works I have 20 that didn’t and you’ll never see them… ¬†It will show in the ‘My Favorite Shot’ exhibit in the Ravnikar Gallery in Ljubljana, Slovenia from¬†January 9-11, 2020. ¬†The second photo, Skipping, Skippingwas taken on the beach at Imperial Beach, CA in May of 2016. ¬†I actually took a bunch of shots like this one afternoon while trying out a new Tamron 150-600mm lens. I came home with the lens in a box, our daughters wanted to run on the beach, that worked for me! ¬†The photo perfectly describes our daughters; on the left is the older and more cautious one and on the right is the younger with the ‘go for it’ mentality who operates at full on 24/7. ¬†Needless to say, I liked the lens, so much in fact that I bought the newer G2 version later! ¬†The photo will show digitally in the ‘At the Beach’ exhibit at¬†the Blank Wall Gallery¬†in Athens, Greece from December 13-15, 2019. ¬†Thanks again Gurushots!

That’s about it, below is just a small collection of some of the recently discovered stock photos. ¬†Lastly, I’d like to thank my wife, without her support I’d be just sitting at home watching tv instead of doing this in retirement. ¬†She never complains when up upgrading, changing gear, getting a new bag, you name it, I’ve done it… ¬†It’s great doing something you love!

 

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Two more pics for expositions!

I recently found out that two of my photos were selected to be shown digitally, this time they are both from special places for me. ¬†I am a lover of history and while I’ve had a few jobs in life, two were great. ¬†The first was as a US Navy Musician for 30 years and the second was as a US History adjunct professor after retiring from the Navy. ¬†In the latter I learned what you’ll hear several people say, it’s not work if you love what you do. ¬†I really miss that job, loved going to work, and loved discussing history. ¬†Both of these photos are at historic locations.

The first photo was taken at Arlington National Cemetery¬†(ANC) in Virginia. ¬†I remember visiting here as a child on a family vacation in the early 1970’s, even then the history amazed me. ¬†However,Snowfall¬†later in life, after having a few friends buried here, it has taken on a different meaning. ¬†Whenever I’d find myself shooting photos at ANC I’d pay my respects if I was in the area. While I loved shooting here, I never took photos of those grieving or burial services and if a procession was passing I put my camera away. ¬†Besides, there’s plenty of other photo opportunities inside this hallowed place given all of historic people buried here. ¬†This photo, Snowfall, of winter graves at Arlington National Cemetery¬†was selected for a digital exposition in Berlin Germany at the BBA Circle at the Mostly White Exposition. ¬†

The second photo today was taken at Colonial Williamsburg, also in Virginia. ¬†This is another place we visited on that seventies family trip and it’s as amazing today as it wasAfter Darkthen. ¬†Frankly, it’s amazing to walk with my wife and girls in the exact same places that I walked with my parents and brother on that trip. ¬†I only hope my girls will visit some day with their children. ¬†This photo of the Governor’s Palace was a night shot that my oldest daughter came along, it’s always more fun when my family is with me. ¬†I don’t think they can say the same… ¬†I’m a pain to be with when I’m shooting and it’s probably worse in a historic place. ¬†About two year prior to when this photo was taken, I visited by myself, and before I knew it an entire day had passed. ¬†Anyway, this night photo, called After Dark, is of the Governor’s Palace¬†and was selected¬†for a digital showing at the Valid World Hall Gallery in Barcelona, Spain in the Dramatic Lighting Exhibit on November 1, 2019.

Many thanks as always to all of you follow this blog and support this thing I do!

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Two pics @ digital expositions!

I found out today that two of my photos are to be shown digitally, it’s always cool when this happens! ¬†Both of these exbitions were possible through Gurushots.com. ¬†I like Gurushots not only for the exposure from these exhibitions but also to see what other photographer’s are doing creatively. ¬†Viewing photos at Gurushots, Flickr, and a few other places only helps me to get better.

This photo was taken recently near where I currently live in Yokosuka, Japan. ¬†I was walking near Verny Park in the morning and able to see the base where the US and Japanese ships are¬†Morning Subsdocked. ¬†The sun was obscured mostly because of the buildings but a little light was hitting these Japanese submarines making for a cool effect. ¬†Really hoping to get some shots of these heading to, or from, the sea. ¬†This shot, Morning Subs, was selected to be digitally shown at the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece in the Mostly Black Exhibit from December 13-15, 2019. ¬†Living in Japan has been a great experience so far, I’m trying to capture as many ‘daily life’ type shots and while a photo like this might seem to not fit that category, it does. ¬†Yokosuka is a HUGE Navy town, not just for the US but the Japanese as well, something I was unaware of prior to living here.

I lived in northern Virginia in 2017 and loved every minute of it. ¬†I didn’t really know much about Alexandria, VA prior to living at Fort Belvoir, but it quickly came to be one of¬†all-time favorite cities.Plum Crates¬† This was for a few reasons, first I’m a huge history nerd and¬†Alexandria is history nerd central! ¬†Second, for shooting stock photography it was a target rich environment. ¬†Whether I wanted/needed food shots, generic patriotic material, or flags (literally EVERYWHERE), it was all there in front of me! ¬†This shot, called Plum Crates, was taken at the Old Town Alexandria Farmer’s Market held on Saturday mornings next to City Hall. ¬†It the four corners of wooden plum crates, I shot a few others but this one stuck with me more. ¬†The photo was selected to show at the BBA Circle in the “Artistic Still Life” exhibit from January 31-February 2, 2020.

As always, thank you to all of you for the support I receive and hope you enjoy the blog.  I really am trying to keep it going this time around!

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5 Photos in digital expositions!

Yes, five, pretty happy about that! ¬†From time to time I enter various photo contests in hopes of being published, making the cut for expositions, or to simply get exposure. Many times it’s through Gurushots.com, a great place to find photo inspiration and check out the work of others! ¬†When I do make the cut, it’s usually for a digital exposition; however, it has resulted in being published in a books, twice! ¬†Recently, five of my photos were selected for digital displays at various locations.

Yakitori Stand¬†was selected for digital exhibit in the People in the City exhibition at the Valid World Hall Gallery in Barcelona, Spain on November 1-3, 2019. ¬†ItYakitori Stand¬†was taken at one of my little stops when I’m out shooting here where I currently live. ¬†It’s in an alley just off Blue Street in Yokosuka, Japan at a yakitori stand where they grill meat in front of you and you stand in line and eat. ¬†Each piece of meat is on a kebab stick, eat as much as you want, they count the sticks at the end. ¬†80 Yen per stick or about 75 cents in US Dollars, not bad. ¬†Love eating here! ¬†I chose to shoot this at night because I wanted to capture just a little motion, also it’s just more colorful in the evening with the lights and coffee machine.

Kegon Falls 6 will be digitally shown in the Our Amazing Planet Exhibit at the Annual Photography Conference¬†held by the Galitz Photography School in Tel Aviv, Isreal¬†Kegon Falls 6on November 26, 2019. ¬†This is the amazing Kegon Falls near Nikko, Japan. ¬†To say this place is breath taking is an understatement, it’s incredibly huge and has several smaller falls surrounding it. ¬†Kegon Falls is considered one of “Japan‚Äôs Top 100 Waterfalls“, according to a listing published by the Japanese Ministry of the Environment in 1990. ¬†I’m already planning return trips in autumn and winter!

This photo, Closing Time, was chosen for digital Exposition for Dramatic Lighting at the Valid World Hall Gallery in Barcelona, Spain on November 2-3, 2019. ¬†It was taken at¬†Closing Timethe Taiko Drum Festival in Narita, Japan. ¬†The festival was over and we were waiting to board our bus to return home when I spotted these guys cleaning and prepping the kitchen for the next day. ¬†I didn’t bring a tripod, so this was shot completely handheld at ISO 3200 while steading myself a telephone pole! ¬†I’ve read all the reviews about how the Canon 6d Markii is totally inadequate in low light situations, I don’t buy it. ¬†I like this camera so much that I purchased a second one as a back up!

Chureito Pagoda 5 was picked for digital display¬†in the Artistic Photography Exposition at the Thessaloniki Art Fair, November 21-24, 2019, Thessaloniki, Greece. ¬†It¬†was taken atChureito Pagoda 5¬†one of the most iconic Japanese shot locations you can get, the Churieto Pagoda near Fujiyoshida, Japan. ¬†First you have to climb the 400 stairs, but once you’re up there it’s pretty¬†incredible with an unobstructed view of Mount Fuji.¬† I was really to go for something different in the black and white genre here, I already had a bunch of shots showing how beautiful this place was. ¬†I was trying to give it a mysterious look without being gloomy, because that’s how the Churieto Pagoda feels, beautiful and mysterious. ¬†I’m hoping to get back this year when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom!

This photo, called Skipping, was chosen¬†to be digitally shown at the Blank Wall Gallery in Athens, Greece on December 13-15, 2019 with the At the Beach Exposition. ¬†I had justSkipping¬†received a new lens in the mail (Tamron 150-600 G1) and my girls wanted to go to the beach, so we went and I let them run while trying out the lens – win/win! ¬†This photo, taken at Imperial Beach, CA, kind of describes my daughters personalities. On the left is the older and more grounded one who doesn’t take chances, plays it safe, probably future Jeep owner who won’t leave second gear. ¬†On the right, in the air, is the younger who operates at full speed 24/7, throws caution to the wind, and totally opposite of her sister.

I truly appreciate the support I receive through my website and this blog, thank you all so much as well as Gurushots!

 

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