Winning a Leica M9 Monochrom & $20K!

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I did a crazy thing today and spent a measely $20 dollars on an incredible black and white photo contest in the hopes of winning an $8,000 dollar Leica M9 Monochrome and $20,000 in cash. This was a good deal. Mind you, this is the first time I have ever entered a photo contest of any sort, The fact that I love Leica so much is what pushed me over the edge. If there’s a snowballs chance in hell that I win, I would put some of that money towards a Leica Noctilux-m 50mm f/.95 lens. My brother tends to disagree on how good Leica is. He says they are a bunch of hype and I should know better but Leica isn’t just a Red Dot brand for rich yuppies, it is one of the oldest and most respected companies in the history of photography. I’ve done the research, frequented enough technical forums, and have always been impressed with the quality images that come from Leica users . So I plan on getting one someday. Until then, I’m stuck shooting the poor-man’s Leicas: My trusty Olympus E-P2 and OM-D E-M5.

The dead cow photo above is what I chose to submit, not in hopes of winning, but because it represents my vision. As an artist making an honest assessment, It’s my worldview when shooting Landscape Photography that not everything in nature is pristine. I’m chuckling as I write this because it’s a statement against some of the nature photographers in general that like everything untouched and undisturbed before they can compose a picture. It’s ludicrous when in reality, nothing is unscathed even in the national parks. What’s wrong with airplane trails and power-lines being apart of the intended wilderness? Embrace them. In my humble opinion human-kind is apart of the wild and cannot be removed from it. I wonder how this dead cow would have been rendered using Leica glass? Trust me, German glass is superior!

Of course, you don’t have to believe me. Everyone swears by certain brands but some are simply more endearing that others to use. Leica is my favorite company of choice because their whole system is dedicated to the advanced art of manual focusing and the red dot is simply amazing! I won’t go so far as to claim that only real photographers shoot Leica, but I will say some of the most serious street photographers and world famous photojournalists have used Leica since the early days. It’s a serious tradition. Life is short and you may as well go the whole nine yards! So cheers to my favorite brand.

 

Converting to Manual Focus & Learning Lens Repair

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This is one way to gain an edge on the competition amongst professionals in the photography business… Learning to repair one’s own equipment in case of a stuck shutter, or a lens with sticking aperture blades, as was the case with this Minolta 58mm 1.4 lens. I disassembled it and put it back together again after re-lubing the aperture with rubbing alcohol and cleaning the excess dust from between the elements making it look brand new. I paid $10 bucks for it at the local thrift store!

Many of the lenses that are being made these days are auto-focus and highly calibrated and much harder to fix. Learning to fix these old lenses allows me to collect broken ones from eBay, or elsewhere at a much cheaper price. The demand for manual focus lenses is going up though, because people like me have discovered the joy in having complete control over every aspect of their photography. The art of manual focusing has a learning curve and could be considered by some to be a sub-field within the trade of photography. Learning to repair these old lenses though gives me an opportunity to really enjoy my equipment, building a bond between me and the tools.

I’m surprised how popular these old manual lenses are getting. The demand for vintage lenses is skyrocketing because of the new mirror-less technology that many camera manufacturers are implementing in their latest digital cameras. My personal equipment consists of mirror-less cameras made by Olympus in the Micro Four Thirds format. I highly recommend these cameras and those made by Sony under the label; NEX. All these cameras can utilize these old manual focus lenses with special adapters that can be purchased relatively cheap. Anyone who is half serious about photography should learn the art of manual focusing because it develops a skill set that can set you apart from the soccer-ball mom crowds who use Canon as their brand and refuse to move beyond the zoom-lens.

I have no problems with soccer-ball mommies if they are willing to learn the process of photography before calling themselves pro. I also advise people to avoid the zoom lenses, because they stifle the creative process. Fixed focal-length lenses are the best for mastering photography, because they force your feet to become the zoom and you begin thinking more about composition. I also prefer shooting with medium telephoto primes because of the tighter crop factor with allows the photographer to really isolate the subject matter.

These are just a few thoughts on my mind for tonight. So stay tuned for more tips! :)

 

The Tale of Two Social Networks: Instagram & Flickr

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For the passed six months I’ve poured my interest into Instagram when I got my first iPhone last Septempter. I quickly upgraded from the 4s to the 64 GB iPhone 5. It became my go to resource for everything photography when I fell in love with the art of mobile photography. The iPhone changed the way I did photography forever. The diverse variety of photography apps readily and cheaply available for the IOS platform caused me to quickly abandon Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom. I have become a photographer with an outlook similar to a mobile photojournalist and began pouring all my efforts into Intagram community, and began building my own hub starting in September of 2012. Right now, my community is over 50,000 people strong and I’ve decided that this trend in social networking has replaced the old realm of photoblogging!

This domain was once an established photo-blog, and I still reminiscence on those old days but I have a much bigger vision; I want to build a community on a blog that provides a resource. If it works on Instagram, it can work here. Not too long ago, I started putting similar efforts into a Tumblr blog and that community is growing as well! Then Yahoo acquired Tumblr and then I started rethinking Flickr. Like the photoblogging community, Flickr sounds archaic or something that has gone extinct, yet it survives. Yahoo is now trying to breath life back into that good ol’ social network. I’m interested in these moves by Yahoo and I’m going to bank on these two social networks because they can really enable an emerging artist!

Is Flickr better than Instagram? In some ways, yes. I see it more as a strong photography resource for professionals and advanced amateurs. Despite Flickr being seen by many as dead horse, there is actually a very strong and vibrant photography community that lives in the photo groups on Flickr… and I think it’s a social network that is more than worthy of a serious come-back. I support Yahoo’s efforts to really take initiative with Flickr and revamp it. So, I’m going to put my marketing experience and time into Flickr and find a new way to light up this old flame!

Will I give up on Instagram…? No I will not, I love IG more than ever. I think both Flickr and Instagram are worthy of your love. Invest in both if you have a passion for photography and ignore all the Talking Heads!

Welcome To My Old Photoblog! :)

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Okay after what seems like a long hiatus for me and this site, I’ve finally jumpstarted it back up with a new hosting service at Media Temple. It’s heartbreak to say goodbye to the old photoblog, but I’m going to breath new life into the future of this site. I evolved as a photographer and started using Instagram (Click Here! – to see my feed…). Since September 2012, my IG community has grown to 16,000 followers and counting. So I want to breath new life into this site and incorporate it into my social networks. As a photographer, I will be represented by a gallery in Santa Fe as well, which I will cover in a future post. Right now, I just want to give you a heads up.

This site will be dedicated to the art of photography and all the geekery that photographers like to talk about. So I’ll be posting all kinds of stuff! Stay tuned!

iPhoneography: Landscape Photography with Iphone 4s

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Telling a story is simple… Who says you can’t do landscape photography with a mobile phone. Are photographers going to throw their prejudices around!? Don’t misunderstand me but understand my intentions. Most people taking photographs right now are doing so using a cell phone. Why not experiment. Recently, I sold my Micro Four Thirds equipment and will eventually update my camera gear but for now, I’m enjoying shooting images with an iPhone!

Iphoneography: Hotel Swimming Pool

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More exciting and seedy imagery from the grungy Desert Southwest. In late fall this hotel still has its swimming pool filled to the brim on a cold day. To protect the innocent and guilty, I will not say which hotel this is. The rust on the fence is what I was aiming for but the pool was the overall composition. I really like the fence shadow as well. This shot was taken with an iPhone 4s and was pretty reminiscent of the Coen Brother’s Film, No Country For Old Men. So whip out your trusty iPhone and start taking pics!

A Hopi Sunset at Work – For the Ultimate Desert Rat

Captured at work tonight on the iPhone 4S. I’m loving this portability in the camera. Learning the art of having a camera on me on the time since my phone is my camera that is with me all the time. This is what I call a Hopi Sunset when they are this intense. It reminds me of a Hopi story about a young man that always strayed to the edge of the mesa outside his village, wondering about the afterlife and what happened after this life.

Hipstamatic: Leafy Textures

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Okay, I saw this on the ground and picked it up because of the textures which were fascinating. I was at work and I had this deep thought. Oh, and the iPhone is a fun camera to shoot and yes, it’s going to dominate this blog for a while because it forces me to think outside the box and get to the very edge of technology and imagery that is enjoyed by the masses. I’m not going to be the elitist carrying around the ten grand Leica. I’m just want to enjoy what I do: take pictures!