Laurent Gallery – Melbourne, Australia

Two photos were recently selected to show in digital expositions at the Laurent Gallery in Melbourne, Australia on September 20th! The shot of Times Square will show in the Dramatic B&W Exposition and the other (the sailboat) from Coronado, CA will show in the Less is More Exposition. Love when this stuff happens!!  See more photos that have been exhibited at:

https://www.billchizekphotography.com/Exhibitions

 

Advertisement

Just another day…

Today I’m shooting the USS Ronald Reagan departing Yokosuka, Japan on a Tiger Cruise this morning. A Tiger Cruise is a one day trip where family and friends come along, very cool. ¬†Living on a naval base has its perks! ¬†Look for pics in the future, meanwhile check out my photos at BillChizekPhotography.com.

 

Waterfalls today

Well, today was spent mostly on buses with a tour, other than my wife not being able to go because of work, it was pretty awesome. First up was the Yudaki Waterfall (below) and second was the 320 foot Kegon Falls (above). Lastly, we ended up at the Toshogu Shrine dating back to the 17th century! While it was amazing, it was hot, we got rained on, and was humid the entire day but I think I got some good shots, we’ll see. It was the first test of my Mindshift Messenger Bag, I’ve had for about four months but this was the first time I lugged it around all day. It worked great! These photos were all taken with the iPhone 7 Plus.

Loving Japan, looking forward to blogging more when out shooting but for now I just need to get off the bus and in bed. Do I sound whiny? Yup! Oh, please check out BillChizekPhotography.com!

About this… Colonial Beach, VA

Photo: Headless

Location:  Colonial Beach, VA

Date:  October 8, 2018

Camera & Lens:  Canon 6D mkii and 24-70mm lens

 

About This Photo: ¬†I post my photos at many sites, you can find where from this blog or my main website, I’m not difficult to find. ¬†While I was living on Fort Belvoir, some folks about two hours down the road in Colonial Beach, Virginia reached out to me on Instagram asking if I’d come to Colonial Beach and take some shots of their town. ¬†My wife and I decided to drop in on our way back from visiting friends in Norfolk. ¬†This was October, not much happening, it reminded me of Italy the way everything shuts down for winter by the end of September. ¬†In the same way, you could sense that this little town on the Potomac River gets busy in the summer and I’d love to check it out during the summer if I’m ever back in the area. ¬†

Before leaving, I consulted my good friend Google Images to see what was already online and the plan was to shoot nothing I found there. ¬†I usually do this so my photos, fingers crossed, don’t blend in but stand out. ¬†Once we arrived, our girls just ran to the beach which was cool as I was free to shoot. ¬†I immediately noticed swans, and there was one in particular that was swimming the water’s edge. ¬†When he came out, I carefully approached as to not scare him/her (not sure what this bird identifies as…), and the swan started grooming and I just happened to get a shot with its head tucked on the other side of the body. ¬†The result was the photo at the top, Headless; it came out kind of cool as the shutter clicked just at the right time. ¬†It was a fun little stop on our way home, I took a couple of other photos that came out decent (below). ¬†Thanks to the people at Colonial Beach for asking me to come down! ¬† ¬†

BCP.net sig

My Girls in Bulgaria! Well, sort of…

This photo, Wet Walk, was¬†selected for digital exposition in the Street Photography Exhibit at the ¬†Photosynthesis Art Center in Sofia, Bulgaria on August 1, 2019. ¬†It was taken back in December of 2013 on a trip to Florence, Italy when we lived in Naples. ¬†We had some very good friends visiting from the states and were showing them around. ¬†It was raining and our daughters were walking on the cobblestone streets in the rain with an umbrella with my wife, in the red boots on the right. ¬†This is why I sometimes go back and look at old photos of mine, I found old ones that click with me that didn’t originally. ¬†I’ll take photos, really like some of them, and edit them while getting tunnel vision and blocking out the others. ¬†Later, sometimes many years as is the case with this one, I’ll go back and look at them and think, “why didn’t I see this before?” ¬†Also, I’ve taken photos but didn’t have the editing chops at the time to make them look right, so I’ll wait on them. ¬†Either way, it’s the reason I go back and relook at the old pics I’ve taken.

 

Wet Walk

It’s not about the gear…

I entered photos in a series¬†Gurushots competitions called “Your Best Shot” in the summer of 2019. ¬†The result was¬†Your Best Photo – The Second Challenge¬†and this photo, called Rover, was selected by Dodho Magazine for their Top 100¬†of¬†300,000 photospre-1245831580 submitted and more than 150 million votes cast in three challenges (see below). I’m absolutely thrilled that this photo placed, but it proves a serious point, it’s not about the¬†camera or the gear. ¬†It’s about almost everything else! ¬†Lighting, composition, and clear subject matter more than just about anything else. ¬†I have plenty of fancy gear and toys that are used daily. ¬†However, this photo which was taken with a Sony DSC-W7 “point & shoot” camera back in 2006, gets placed in their top 100. ¬†In many ways it makes me want to go back to basics, and in a way I will. ¬†I’ve recently been shooting more with just a fixed 50mm f/1.8 lens (the nifty fifty) and 40mm f/2.8 “pancake lens” in order to focus more on composition and get back to the nuts and bolts of photography. ¬†This photo placing where it did, right now while I’m shooting with fixed lenses, serves as a lesson to not give up on these lenses. ¬†I’m back to manual zoom with two feet for a while and it’s actually nice not carrying a camera bag.

 

Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 08.43.24Screen Shot 2019-07-18 at 07.29.14

 

 

 

About this…

Photo: Dirty Glass

Location: Norfolk, VA

Date: June 30, 2016

Camera & Lens: Canon 6D and 24-105mm lens

About This ¬†Photo: ¬†This is about Wisky, Wisky is not a typo, yes it’s without the H. ¬†Wisky, not the bourbon kind, this is Wisky, the Navy kind. ¬†Wisky was the nickname of the USS Wisconsin (BB-64), a WWII era battleship that, like her three mighty sister ships, America couldn’t seem to do without. ¬†She was originally¬†Wiskycommissioned in 1944 near the end of the Second World War but would be¬†recommissioned two more times and decommissioned a total of three times! ¬†This beautiful ship, and piece of history, now sits in Norfolk, VA. ¬†Back in 2016, I was going to one of my bestest bud’s retirement from the US Navy and decided to turn it in to a photo trip. ¬†Having lived in Norfolk a couple of times, it originally wasn’t my cup of tea but over the years it really grew on me. ¬†Going there just for a ceremony was cool, but turning it in to something much more could be even better. ¬†Besides Wisky, the plan was to get some shots at Williamsburg, Jamestown, and¬†some rural shots as well. ¬†Shooting well-documented sites and objects in a new way is¬†Centeredalways a challenge, sometimes I’ll research before leaving just to see what NOT to shoot. ¬†Upon arriving at BB-64 in Norfolk, I set up right in front of the battleship and tossing the rule of thirds out the window, shot straight down the middle of the bow to get this BW shot called Wisky. ¬†With the clouds behind BB64, no wind with calm waters to reflect, and no tourists at this given time, I took quite a few shots like this. ¬†While I tried adhering to the rule of thirds, it just didn’t speak to me on this occasion ¬†Shooting to the left would leave out the apartments and shooting to the right would miss out on the museum that houses the warship. ¬†It felt to me like both of those aspects needed to be included. ¬†Another photo, the similar color shot called Centered, came out decent and I really like both shots. ¬†Confident that I got what I wanted, I wanted to find other angles and include items located there as well such as statues and park benches. ¬†Checked all those off the list!

After shooting plenty in the immediate vicinity of the ship, I noticed a parking garage across the street and wanted to see if I could get up high and have a look. ¬†There was an elevator, why not take it? ¬†Well… ¬†it’s what I call the Chizek Luck. ¬†Here’s a summary of the Chizek Luck; almost any time that I’m fortunate, like being the guy who gets in the shortest line at the grocery store, it’s usually followed by having the “closed” sign go up with the person in front of me. ¬†Sure, the cashier is always sorry, tells me how bad they feel, but I understand the Chizek Luck well. ¬†Heck, even my 7 & 10 year old daughters picked up on my luck. ¬†If I were to take that elevator to the top, somebody, somewhere, would tell me about some missed opportunity or show me their award winning photo THEY got by taking the stairs in that building… ¬†Deciding to hoof it up five or six floors, I came around the corner on about the third floor and was looking at Wisky through a dirty window in the stairwell. ¬†I’m honestly not sure why, but something inside said, “shoot it” and up I went to the top. ¬†I reached the roof of the parking garage, forgetting about the window shot, and went to work with the intended shoot. ¬†Both of the below photos were taken from the garage, on the left is Norfolk (B&W) and on the right is Anchor Up. ¬†While I like both of these photos, it’s Dirty Glass, the photo taken in the stairwell that hangs in my little office. ¬†After returning from the Virginia trip and beginning to work on the photos, I noticed this window photo, it clicked with me. ¬†Maybe it’s because my usual luck didn’t hold true or because of the little voice inside that said “shoot it” had compelled me to listen. ¬†This was a spontaneous shot that just worked, the angle of the ship, the light and shadows, even the dirt on the window make it cool. ¬†Anyway, I love this shot and it gets looks when my Navy friends come over, and for me, that’s the best part.

 

Stock Photos!

Selling stock photos has been very good lately!  Lots of different publications, news, and food.  See what’s been selling:

https://www.billchizekphotography.com/Stock-PhotographyFolder/Stock-Photography

 

Tokyo Disneyland!

Upfront, I had a great time at Tokyo Disneyland, this paragraph might not start like that, but it was very cool. ¬†This week we had a family trip to our local TŇćkyŇć Dizunńęrando and as someone who has been to Disneyland or Disneyworld no less than a half-dozen times or so, I’d honestly love to go somewhere else sometimes. ¬†The first couple of visits were cool, but the ever-increasing ticket prices, paying top dollar for cafeteria food, and long lines, seemed to wear me down. ¬†Fortunately for me, my wife is like-minded in that if there’s a long line she’s not likely to stand in it either, there’s lot of other things you can do in that hour besides wear down your iPhone battery. ¬†Two years ago we did a three-day park hopper pass at Disneyland and it was about 2 days too much, she handled it better than me. ¬†This¬†photo at the right shows me on day three and after 72 hours of all things Disney and Mickey the Rat, I was done. ¬†This is the only photo from that fun fulled excursion, the others on this post are from Tokyo Disneyland. ¬†19756701_10155732733276494_7057349512680706714_n¬†I’d like to say that the heat, the crowds, and long lines weren’t so bad and that I wouldn’t mind doing it again, but that’s what I’d like to say… ¬†However, given all these complaints about theme parks, and Disney in general, I have to say Tokyo Disneyland was pretty darn cool! ¬†I don’t know if it was just because we caught a bus there, spent the day, and took the bus home or that it was just different enough to keep me engaged. ¬†I am an oddity when it comes to Disney parks, I actually prefer Disneyland over Disneyworld. ¬†Huh? ¬†Yup, because I love history; Disneyland was historic and the first of the mega theme parks. ¬†I really don’t care about Disney’s new tribute park to Star Wars and Luke SkyVader, it’s the old stuff that I love. ¬†America had nothing like this until Walt Disney came along, sure there was Coney Island and world fairs, but nothing on a scale like what Disney proposed. ¬†By the time Disneyland opened in 1955 the entire world was already in love with the famous Disney cartoon characters! ¬†I also love that Walt Disney actually lived over Disneyland’s firehouse and that they’ve preserved his apartment. ¬†While the park was being built, Disney would often stay above the firehouse with his wife, click [ HERE ] for a video and more info about the apartment. ¬†At Disneyland, I love sitting in the back of a boat on “It’s a Small World” with my young daughters. ¬†Yes, it’s corny but I love it.

IMG_2679 copy

Overall, Tokyo Disneyland feels very much like Disneyland in Anaheim, with a couple of exceptions. ¬†One of the most visible is that the main street is covered, which I actually liked because you can get out of the sun and if it rains, you’ve got somewhere to go. ¬†I’m IMG_2681sure it doesn’t hurt the Disney bank account when thousands of park visitors are trapped in their stores because of the weather. ¬†Also, Tokyo Disneyland is newer than its American counterparts, this means it lacks the tall trees like the older parks that provide much-needed shade. ¬†The place is somewhat deceiving in size, after driving by Tokyo Disneyland a few times it just didn’t look very big. ¬†My family also thought the same after seeing it from a distance, wondering if there was enough there to fill an entire day. ¬†However, Tokyo Disneyland is actuallyIMG_2690 about 30 acres larger than Disneyland in Anaheim! ¬†Is it done with Disney magic? ¬†Not sure, but once we were on foot in the park we realized it was huge. ¬†Many of the rides are very similar to Disneyland as well, outside of the Japanese language, you’d never think you were sitting in Tokyo. ¬†Disney goes very far to make language a non issue, we had no problem getting around, having fun, or felt like we were missing out on the experience because we don’t speak Japanese. ¬†Some places, like the Tiki Room, even provided electronic devices that translated, something we didn’t expect. ¬†There were no major cultural or linguistic stumbling blocks whatsoever, at one point a Disney employee actually came up to us wanting to help after seeing us stare at our unfolded map. ¬†The classic Disney parades that happen in the American parks were no different, my kids enjoyed them just as much. ¬†The parade featured the same familiar Disney characters and music, almost exactly like Disneyland. ¬†The food was very cool too, a mix between American and Asian could be found all over the park. ¬†Again, Disney is trying to please everyone, nobody starved on this trip, although I wasn’t a fan of the butter and soy sauce flavored pop corn… ¬†We did eat dinner at a buffet that was actually pretty decent. ¬†Yes, I just called Disney food “very cool” and “pretty decent” after complaining about their cafeteria food.

IMG_2679 copy

Anaheim, California is home to Disneyland and another park across the street called California Adventure. ¬†Tokyo Disney also has another park nearby called DisneySea which was the fourth most visited theme park in THE WORLD in 2018! ¬†We haven’t gone there yet but it’s on the list. ¬†I have to say that Tokyo Disney was a pretty cool experience and I’d do it again as a day trip. ¬†One last piece of advice, leave your big camera at home and just use your cellphone, you’ll have more fun. ¬†I used to be that guy carrying my camera to Disneyland, getting on rides, lugging my crap around. ¬†Cellphones do a great job for capturing family fun, the below shot, called Castle Garden, was taken with an iPhone 7 Plus as were all the others taken and shown on this post. ¬†All in all, I’m not a three-day park hoppin’ Star Wars lovin’ theme park guy, but I’d go back to Tokyo Disneyland again and definitely planning on visiting DisneySea. ¬†Regardless of what I think of theme parks, it’s not about me, my kids have fun and that’s the most important part.

 

Castle Garden
A flower in front of the castle at Tokyo Disney (iPhone 7 Plus).

 

About this…

Photo: Flags 7

Location: San Diego, CA

Date: April 28, 2017

Camera & Lens: Sony A7R ii & 24-240mm lens

About This Photo: ¬†This post might have been titled “About these” because the topic is not just about the above photo but about all the photos in this post. ¬†Shooting stock photography means anticipating trends, I try to shoot trends that are annual in nature and not just popular today but gone tomorrow. ¬†Why spend time shooting subjects that are only trendy and only generate money now? ¬†Why not shoot subjects that will generate recurring income. ¬†It might be a better plan to shoot subjects that will hopefully generate revenue for the long haul and holidays like Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas aren’t going away soon. ¬†Neither are Veterans, Memorial, Armed Forces and Independence Days, there’s plenty to shoot besides flags by themselves. ¬†However, one thing I try to do when possible is shoot the US flag with other subjects in hopes of crossing over in to another genre. ¬†The above photo, shot in a marina, could attract buyers who are sailing hobbyist, or enthusiasts, but also people who like the southern California or SoCal vibe. ¬†What I like about this photo is that it’s not overtly patriotic, the flag is such a small part of the overall photo. ¬†Aside from the boats and marina as subjects, the water and wind play a role as well.

Advertisers start gearing up for these patriotic holidays not long after we’ve put the Christmas trees away. ¬†The above photo, taken in April, started selling almost immediately as it was taken in time for the patriotic holidays. ¬†However, most photos taken during an actual holiday won’t likely sell until following year, like I said, advertisers gear up early and by April most ad campaigns for the holidays are likely winding down. ¬†All the photos in this post have been top sellers. ¬†The below photo, top left, with the tuba was taken at a Navy Band Southwest performance in San Diego, CA. ¬†Hopefully this photo would appeal not only toward those looking for patriotic photos, but also by military folks as there is a sailor in the reflection on the tuba. ¬†Also, musicians in general may like this, maybe music stores having a 4th July sales. ¬†It goes without saying that the below, top right photo, could summon emotions from September 11th but could attract buyers in the law enforcement community as well. ¬†The photo at the very bottom was taken at a car show in Haymarket, VA and is one of several flags with classic cars taken that day. ¬†Obviously, looking toward not only car enthusiasts but also people looking for something retro in nature.

What is the point of this post? ¬†Well, if you’re taking the time to go out and shoot, spend time editing photos, consider shooting cross genres if you can! ¬†That one day at the car show in Haymarket, VA yielded not only some great car shots but also decent patriotic themed photos as well. ¬†When I started shooting stock photography a few years ago, I would set out with a goal to shoot one subject only and had blinders on the to rest of what was around me. ¬†My whole approach is different now, keeping in mind that these flag photos may be the real money makers. ¬†Car shows, flower shows, air shows and other events can also be great locations for patriotic stock opportunities. ¬†The lesson here is that patriotic photos such as these sell, sometimes a lot, and can generate income year after year. ¬†If you’re already traveling somewhere to shoot stock at an event, why not take some photos of the US flags and their surroundings if you’re already there? ¬†You never know, they just might sell more than the photos you originally came to shoot.

 

 

About this…

Photo:  Rush at Night

Location:  Mount Rushmore, South Dakota

Date:  August 2, 2016

Camera & Lens:  Canon 6D & 24-105mm lens

About This Photo: ¬†My oldest daughter was studying Mount Rushmore in school and really wanted to visit. ¬†Since we were already planning a road trip to Wisconsin to watch the mosquitos migrate there for the summer, and see my parents, this was a just a little diversion and would be something my daughters would remember for years. ¬†Sometimes trying to shoot a subject differently doesn’t always go as planned. ¬†Because of an earlier photography lesson I usually search a new location online before leaving town. ¬†The goal is then to attempt shooting whatever isn’t at Google or at least get new ideas from the search results. ¬†In this case it was Mount Rushmore in the summer of 2016, knowing there would be the typical postcard type shot, I also wanted to try to capture something different.¬† FlagsWhat I didn’t realize was how tall of an order it really was to shoot a subject so famous, and so well documented, like Mount Rushmore in a new way. ¬†I came up with this bright idea to shoot it at night, which in theory seemed easy but the execution would prove problematic.¬† The floodlights on Rushmore wash out much of the details that are visible during daylight and hey, I’ll admit it here, my skills were not up to the task back then. ¬†It was tough… ¬†In this photo at right, Flags, which was taken before dark, you can see the details of the monument because there’s still enough natural sunlight, details aren’t washed out and it’s just a better photo. ¬†However, the goal was to shoot Rushmore in the evening while lit. ¬†Before leaving on the trip, I searched “Mount Rushmore at night” and saw a lot of images like mine eventually looked. ¬†Somehow, I thought mine would be different…

At night the Mount Rushmore crowds thin out a bit, so that’s kind of cool if you’re looking to get some people and motion in the shot. ¬†Plus, it’s just better with less people around as it’s such an incredible location. ¬†The shot at the top, Rush at Night, and the subject of this post, was about as good as I could do with regards to night shooting. ¬†Here’s what goes in the positive category; first, as mentioned, the people and motion add movement and a sense of scale giving you an idea of size and distance. ¬†Also, the lights at the feet of the people provides detail of the stone floor, in hindsight I would crop much of that out at the¬†bottom and maybe make it 16×9. ¬†Lastly, the floodlights seem to draw the viewers eyes to the presidents. ¬†So what’s not to like? ¬†Well… ¬†Mount Rushmore itself, as stated earlier, the details in the faces is lost from the lights, I could have gotten that better. ¬†What would I do differently? ¬†Maybe start by shooting it as an HDR shot for starters, that could have helped and given more control over the individual aspects of the subject. ¬†If it didn’t work, at least there’d be three separate shots of each attempt and maybe one of those would be a keeper. ¬†

This was a difficult shot for me three years ago, hopefully my skills are better and now George Washington wouldn’t look like Uncle Fester with hair. ¬†The one thing I would definitely do again is make it an overnighter. ¬†We arrived in the afternoon and stayed a few miles away in Keystone, South Dakota¬†which is kind of a cool little town in it’s own way. ¬†Going to the monument in the evening was incredible, my photos nor the photos at Google seem to do it justice, but it is breathtaking. ¬†Then in the morning, on our way out of town, I shot it again with the sun rising and a couple of those are below. ¬†Summing this up, planning this trip ahead of time didn’t go as planned once we were there. ¬†Although it may have been too tall of an order for my camera skills of 2016, it was still a very cool trip. ¬†No matter how the photos came out, our daughters had the trip of a lifetime, were able to see something they were learning in school, and just seeing how happy they were made everything worth it. ¬†As an admitted history nerd, you can imagine how I felt about it.

 

 

About this…

Photo:  Windsor in Coronado

Location:  Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, CA

Date:  January 6, 2016

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

About This Photo: ¬†As a history nut, I love when movies like The King’s Speach refresh memories regarding events like King Edward VIII abdicating the throne to marry a divorced American lady named Wallace Simpson. Rumor has it they met at a magical ball in Coronado, California but there’s a little more to that story. While some believe Wallace Simpson and Edward met at Coronado’s famous Hotel Del Coronado, it simply didn’t happen that way… ¬†Ouch. ¬†My apologies to Coronado and the Hotel Del, but it’s¬†been “documented that the Coronado socialite was, in fact, on a trip to San Francisco when the prince visited Coronado.” So Simpson wasn’t anywhere near the San Diego area when Edward visited Coronado. ¬†DOUBLE OUCH! ¬†The two actually met in the English countryside sometime in 1931 after which time she became his mistress.(1) ¬†Yes, the romantic notion of the twice divorced socialite meeting her prince at a fairy tale ball on the golden shores of Coronado has been reduced to simply meeting in the countryside when “she became his mistress.” Simplified, no ball, they hooked up. Yes, as stated, Simpson had been married before, and that was the sticky part for the Crown. Wallace’s first husband was Earl Winfield Spencer Jr., a Naval Aviator, who was sent with his wife in 1917 to Coronado, CA to report as the first Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station North Island until 1921.(2) ¬†That marriage didn’t last and Wallace would marry one more time before ‘hooking up’ with Edward. Earl Spencer Jr., not to be outdone, was married Not once, not twice, but five times and both possibly believed that old adage of, at first if you don’t succeed, try, try, try again. ¬†So that’s how Wallace Simpson ended up in Coronado, but what does that have to do with my photo at the top of this page? ¬†Hold on kt0s2030dm-FILEID-1.111.38sparky, I’m getting there… When Wallace and Earl arrived in San Diego, they¬†lived for a couple of months near Balboa Park but in January 1918, they moved to Coronado, first roughing it in a suite at the Hotel del Coronado but eventually renting three houses in Coronado.(3) ¬†It’s the house they rented at 1115 Flora Avenue that we’re talking about here, in the photo to the left. ¬†This house was moved from Flora Avenue to the Hotel Del Coronado in 1999 and is now “the social hub” of the “Club at The Del, an exclusive venue for members and Beach Village owners and guests.”(4) ¬†What does that even mean? Simply, it means you ain’t gettin’ in, ever.

The photo at the top of this page, Windsor in Coronado, is that house now standing at the Hotel Del. ¬†I was trying to capture this semi-historic house, or part of it, in a different way that could also show it’s place relative to the Hotel Del Coronado which by the way is the real gem. ¬†I’m not sure what the connection of this house to the Hotel Del Coronado could possibly be beyond perpetuating the myth that these two met at the Hotel Del. Maybe Coronado is just proud of one of their own who became famous? Nope, Wallace was from Baltimore. ¬†Anyway, the truth is that Wallace Simpson briefly lived in this house while married to someone also not from Coronado, who was not the King of England but has a place in US Naval history. ¬†Meanwhile, the City of Coronado can proudly claim that the first Commanding Officer of Naval Air Station North Island is buried nearby at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery with his fifth wife and Wallis Simpson, the Duchess of Windsor, is buried in a nearby continent at the Royal Burial Ground near Frogmore House in England. This is also where Meghan and Harry will soon live, which also has nothing to do with Coronado. ¬†TRIPLE OUCH and get a band aid for that cut!

 

 

Works Cited
1.  Zuniga, Janine. Memories of Windsor. San Diego: San Diego Union-Tribune, [ 2009 ]. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/sdut-memories-windsor-2009oct15-htmlstory.html (accessed April 13, 2019).

2.  King, Greg. The Duchess of Windsor: The Uncommon Life of Wallis Simpson. London: Aurum Press, 2000. 79-85.

3.  Larsen, Sharon. The woman who changed royal history. San Diego: San Diego Union-Tribune, 2012. https://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/entertainment/books/sdut-the-woman-who-changed-royal-history-2012feb25-htmlstory.html (accessed April 13, 2019).

4.  Club at the Del. Coronado: Hotel Del Coronado.  https://www.clubatthedel.com/windsor-cottage (accessed April 13, 2019).

 

Peak Design II (with video)

Back in 2012, I began looking for another way to connect my camera to camera straps, wrist straps, and tripods. ¬†The problem was this, if there was a strap to keep the camera safe from accidental dropping, it almost always interfered with the tripod plate. ¬†It pd3almost always involved having to unscrew something, connect something else, then redo it all over again when done. ¬†There was nothing that¬†seamlessly linked my wrist cuff, strap, and tripod plate, they all seemed to work against each other and not together. That‚Äôs when I discovered Peak Design gear, it appeared to solve all this. ¬†If it worked as advertised, it would mean no more fumbling around with equipment and no more straps that didn‚Äôt work with other products. ¬†I checked in to it and my love affair with them began. ¬†While I‚Äôve used many of Peak Design products over the years, mostly camera bags and rain covers; however, pd4it’s the products that I’ve used almost daily since 2012 that I’m writing about today. ¬†Peak Design does make some excellent bags but after back surgery, my frame is a little touchy about what is hung on it for long periods. ¬†I’ve found something that works better for my needs, but if my back could handle it I’d still be using their Everyday Messenger Bag¬†as it’s probably the best all around bag I’ve ever had and only camera bag I’ve ever missed.

Back to today’s topic, this is gear I’ve been using practically every day for the last seven years. ¬†I wrote about these products in a blog entry on June 27, 2016 called Peak Design. ¬†In that article I said, “I can‚Äôt see myself walking out of the house to shoot without a piece of¬†Peak Design gear on me,” that still holds true today! ¬†However, looking back at that article, it seemed that a video might do a better job explaining how these work. ¬†So here’s an attempt at better explaining these products, hopefully….

 

The attempted fun aside, in about a minute and a half the camera went from a shoulder carry strap, to a wrist cuff, then two separate tripod mounts, to a backpack carry using the Peak Design Capture, and ending up back on the tripod. ¬†Admittedly, there was help from my personal assistant and daughter, but that was only to avoid dead time between swaps. ¬†The goal wasn’t to show how fast it could be done but how versatile the gear integrates. ¬†As the video demonstrates, everything centers around Peak Design’s Anchors and the Dual Plate, which also allows the connection. ¬†The Anchors can be placed anywhere on camera that allows for carrying and also on the Dual Plate itself. ¬†Using a Dual Plate means there is never a thought about how to carry the camera and as shown in the video, it works on Manfrotto and Arca-type tripod heads. ¬†It simply doesn’t matter if the camera is carried on a wrist cuff, sling, backpack, and you decide to put the camera on a tripod because it’s all integrated. ¬†Back in 2012, Peak Design appeared to be the only company doing this. ¬†Their gear is so much a part of my photography life I can‚Äôt see myself without these. ¬†Using the Sling, Cuff, and Dual Plate with Capture means less time screwing around and more time shooting. Frankly, these items are as important to me as a camera bag. ¬†I say this because of how much time previously spent connecting a camera to various straps and tripods. ¬†You’ll find a Sling and Cuff in each of my bags and, although they haven’t gone bad, I keep an extra Anchor or two in there too (I replace them yearly). ¬†There are also Dual Plates on both cameras making everything easy peasy lemon squeezy.

It’s not unusual to get looks or be approached by other photographers when I’m seen wearing a camera on a backpack harness. ¬†Most seem skeptical till I tell them it’s worked for years and I’ve got 100% confidence in it. ¬†I’m not some uber rich guy who can afford to drop a camera or two… ¬†I’ve seen plenty of doubters online as well, then someone says “that looks like Peak Design” and explains it. ¬†So the word is getting out on this well built gear. ¬†My original Dual Plate and Capture were purchased in 2012 and still work perfectly. ¬†Yes, this gear isn’t cheap but buy it once and you won’t be spending money again for a long time! ¬†Currently, the Capture sells for $49.95 and the Dual Plate for $24.95. ¬†If you don’t use a tripod and have no need for the Dual Plate, you can buy the Capture with an Arca plate combination for $69.95. ¬†Click [HERE] to visit their various straps and cuffs. ¬†Below are some photos of the Dual Plate and Capture attached to backpacks and bags, it doesn’t get any better. ¬†Lastly, as stated in the video, there is no affiliation between myself and Peak Design, I get absolutely nothing if you purchase their products. ¬†However, if you do make the leap, I’m pretty sure you won’t regret it.

 

About this…

Photo:  Morning Blues

Location:  Naples, Italy

Date:  July 31, 2007

Camera & Lens: Sony DSC-W7

About This Photo: ¬†While serving in the US Navy as a musician, I was fortunate to spend a lot of time in Naples, Italy, first arriving in January of 1982. ¬†I had the good fortune of living about 15 miles from the crater of Mount Vesuvius¬†at Capodichino. ¬†Yes, this was the same Vesuvius that erupted and buried Pompeii in 79AD. ¬† Pompeii is about 15 miles from the crater in the opposite direction of where I was now living… ¬†In the 79AD eruption, Vesuvius shot one and a half million tons of rock per second up 21 miles in the sky at 100,000 times the force of both atomic bombs dropped at Hiroshima and Nagasaki combined. ¬†Wow, that was kind of dark, but you get the point, this mountain will erupt again and it ain’t gonna be pretty. ¬†People back in 1982 were saying, “it’s overdue, it’s going to blow again gal_fun_10soon.” ¬†At that time, Vesuvius had lights going up the eastern side from a chair lift that had been installed sometime in the early 1950’s allowing you to see the silhouette of the mountain at night. ¬†I left Naples after almost three years in December of 1984, sadly thinking I’d never come back and not knowing that the chair lift also closed. ¬†I did come back, a lot, in 1986, 1988, 1996, and 2005, and even after retiring in 2011. ¬†Frankly, returning to Naples became more of a hobby than a military reassignment, somebody thought it would be fun to keep sending me back, and I loved just about every minute it. ¬†I came to figure that if I actually asked for it, they wouldn’t send me. ¬†The chair lift lights were gone at night and the base had changed dramatically from a couple of softball fields, two airplane hangers, and a pool that didn’t hold water, to a modern military facility; but that silhouette of Vesuvius was still amazing, especially in the mornings. ¬†My final tour on active duty began in 2005, it was also about this time I again became interested in photography. ¬†For 20+ years, like a moron, I traveled all over Europe and Asia on the Navy’s dime but didn’t have a camera. ¬†Why? ¬†Mostly because I was younger and much smarter than I am today, apparently knowing it was much better to blow one’s money on beer rather than some trivial photography hobby. ¬†That’s basically sums it up, it’s also a major regret today and up there with not paying attention, ever, during high school… ¬†A SQUIRREL!!! ¬†Stay with me, in 2005, Ipre-1245831580 bought a Sony Cyber Shot (DSC-W7) not knowing if photography was something I’d continue. ¬†This digital photography thing kind was kind of scary. ¬†I had been used to mailing in rolls of film to get developed and waiting weeks to see how my skills did, or didn’t, improve. ¬†Taking pictures had changed and instead of paying a lot of money for multiple blurry shots of one subject, at multiple f stops and shutter speeds, there was now a touch screen where the undesirables could be deleted forever – and free of charge! ¬†How cool was that? ¬†We take things a little for granted these days, my kids find it unbelievable that there was a time without cell phones and Google. ¬†During those last years of active duty in Naples, I’d get in to work early and go to the top of the parking garage and get some shots with a little tripod. ¬†It was almost always incredible and in the years to come this was my spot for morning shots. ¬†I did this mostly out of not wanting to forget the huge part of my life that Naples had become. ¬†Even though the above photo was taken with a little pocket camera, it’s still an important memory for me because it’s the first photo I took that kind of wow’d me. ¬†Below are a few other photos taken from the same basic location where blue, orange, and purple skies can be found if you get there early. ¬†I’m not one for photography without clouds, but the above photo, Morning Blues, works perfectly for me with a clear sky. ¬†Every time I went to Naples from 1982 to 2011, people still said, “it’s overdue, it’s going to blow again soon” but fortunately it hasn’t…. ¬†yet.

 

Chureito Pagoda

A shoutout to Mrs. Reynoso’s class in El Paso, Texas at John Drugan! ¬†Yesterday we travelled to the Chureito Pagoda near Mount Fuji, Japan’s tallest mountain at over 12,000 feet. ¬†Just like El Paso schools, our girls are on Spring Break too. ¬†Hope you have a great time while you’re out of school!

 

Reynoso1

Hakone

Shouting out to Mrs. Madrids 3rd graders at Hurshel Antwing Elementary in El Paso, TX! ¬†Yesterday we travelled to the Chureito Pagoda, along the way we stopped to shoot this for Mrs. Madrid’s class near Hakone, Japan. ¬†That’s Mount Fuji in the background, the tallest peak in Japan at 12,389 feet hight. ¬†Our girls are on spring break just like Mrs. Madrids kids probably are now and we hope they have are having as much fun us!

 

A Great Day

Today was a great day, I drove about 30 minutes down the road to Hayama and the location of this selfie in Inamuragasaki, Japan to shoot photos of Mount Fuji.  Along the way I stopped at 7-11 for something eat, why 7-11?  Because it rocks in Japan!  I did my thing of grabbing something to eat that I’ve never had before, no idea what it was, but as usual it was awesome!  For practically my entire Navy career, I tried to get to Japan.  However, it wasn’t in the cards, I was fortunate to spend many years in Italy and I’m not complaining because that worked pretty well too.  Everything happens for a reason and I’m thrilled to be in Japan at this point in my life, retired with a camera, living here as a military dependent and all the time in the world to experience this incredible place.  Yup, today was definitely a great day!

My other camera

In the past, I’ve written here about the Canon 6D and 6D mkii, the disappointing year with the Sony A7R II, and even the iPhone’s I’ve owned. Last year, realizing it was just plain foolish not having a back-up camera, I began researching a second camera. ¬†I had also ruled out getting another Canon 6D mkii for this purpose. ¬†Why rule out another? ¬†Well, while the Canon has been a great camera, this camera needed to cost less and not only fulfill the role of faithful back-up but also be something smaller to use when out with family. ¬†Summing this up, it needed to be smaller, take decent quality photos, and not break the bank. Looking at just about anything smaller in size, all name brands, the search narrowed after a few days. ¬†While considering other Canon cameras, there was also Fuji, Sony, Minolta, Lumix, and a host of others to review. ¬†Then, one camera began appearing more and more; the Sony A6000. ¬†Reviews like this one at PhotographyLife became helpful. ¬†It quickly became evident that this wasn’t some old camera that had been cast to the wayside, this was 2019 and people were still actively shooting with the 2014 Sony A6000! ¬†Really? ¬†Yup! ¬†Just search for photos taken with this camera on Flickr! ¬†After reading further, the enhancements to Sony’s later models, the A6300 and A6500 were primarily to address the A6000’s shortcomings in its video capabilities. ¬†However, even though the A6000 was released in 2014 and followed in 2016 by both the A6300 and A6500, all have the same 23.5 x 15.6 mm CMOS sensor. ¬†So, if you’re not concerned about the video enhancements to the later models that arrived in 2016, the A6000 is pretty much the same camera and a steal because it’s five years old!

One serious benefit about researching the A6000 is that it’s been available for many years and so many people have reviewed it! ¬†Finally, when the A6000 arrived it came with the Sony 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Alpha kit lens, it wasn’t a bad lens, I just didn’t care for it. ¬†At the 16mm end it didn’t seem to be the best wide angle and at 50mm it lack clarity. This photo at left, called The Staircase, was¬†The Staircaseshot at ISO 800 on the El Paso Mission Trail at the San Elizario Presidio Chapel¬†near El Paso, Texas. ¬†This is the only photo here shot with that lens. ¬†Why didn’t I like it? ¬†First, I read that because the lens is retractable, it pops out when powered¬†up and retracts when powered down, that motor is the first thing to crap out. ¬†Second, there was some distortion in the corners especially at 50mm. ¬†Again, I consulted my good friend Google and was guided toward a Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 prime fixed lens. ¬†It costs about $50 more than the camera but was worth it. ¬†By relying on the 35mm and using the 16-50 sparingly for wide angle shots, I’ll hopefully extend the life span of that retractable lens. ¬†It’s not a bad lens, just not my cup of tea. Frankly, I found that I like SEL35F18’s 35mm focal point more than I like 50mm in my Canon lenses! This may be why I use the 40mm f/2.8 pancake lens more than the “nifty fifty.” ¬†Recently, the Canon 6D mkii went back to the states for cleaning, forcing me to rely on the A6000The Kids¬†for a month. ¬†Being completely honest, I didn’t shoot for a couple of days because I just didn’t feel like going out with the back-up camera. ¬†However, once I did, it was quickly evident how great the A6000 was, this was a powerful camera in a little package. The photo at right, The Kids, was taken of two Japanese girls wearing kimonos in Kamakura, Japan. ¬†The first thing that blew my mind and caught me off guard was the burst rate. ¬†The Canon 6D mkii fires a burst rate of 6.5 FPS, or Frames Per Second, meaning in one second it captures 6.5 photos. ¬†However, this little A6000 from 2014 shoots at 11 FPS, almost 5 shots PER SECOND more than my Canon!! ¬†What? ¬†I couldn’t believe how fast this thing was at capturing movement! ¬†Let’s put this in to perspective, Sony’s newest flagship camera, the Sony A7R III, only shoots at 10 FPS!

I hadn’t really known much of the Sony A6000 back in 2014 when I was having an extra marital affair with my original Canon 6D. ¬†However, this A6000 must have been a monstrous beast back then shooting photos at 24.3 MP and face detection included, sporting a tilting 3 inch LCD screen with 179 phase-detect focus points and the already discussed 11 fps continuous shooting! ¬†It’s also a capable landscape camera as well, I recently took the below photo, Rock Art, at Tomyodo Beach near Yokosuka, Japan and I think it’s a decent example of the A6000’s capabilities. ¬†Don’t take my word for it, this thing is such a beast that the travel website, Independent Travel Cats, recently published an article entitled, Travel Photography: Best Mirrorless Cameras for Travel 2019 and this Sony came in at number two! ¬†Yes, the five year old camera with technology from 2014, was still relevant at number two on that list! ¬†Sony is currently on the Sony A7RIII, while I don’t know of anyone using the original Sony A7R, that original A6000 is still actively used out there. ¬†While I wish the battery lasted longer, minimizing the LCD view time has helped battery life. ¬†I’ve also never been a fan of Sony’s menu system, it seems to have been designed by drunk guys at a bar… ¬†However, the bottom line here is that if you don’t give a flying you know what about shooting video, you may want to look in to the Sony A6000. ¬†It’s been a very pleasant surprise to shoot and I plan to devote more time to it! ¬†I’m much more likely to grab this camera on days I just don’t want to lug a bag around. ¬†Happy to say the A6000 is no longer just a back-up camera, it’s now the other camera.

Rock Art

JŇćgashima Lighthouse

Today I was shooting at the¬†JŇćgashima Lighthouse at the southern tip of the Miura Peninsula in Japan, pretty cool. ¬†It was built in 1925 and is a reconstruction of the earlier one built in 1870 and destroyed in a 1923 earthquake. ¬†Shoutout to Mrs. Madrid’s 3rd graders at Hurshel Antwine Elementary in El Paso, TX!