August 17, 2008

Travel - Is it for you?

I am a lover of traveling. It does not matter if I'm going 100 miles or half way around the world. The idea of seeing something different and experiencing different cultures is exciting to me.

I've actually met people that say to me "I have no interest in traveling outside the USA" ... frankly I cannot understand this. The USA is my home, I love the USA, I've served my country in the US Military .... but I certainly realize that the USA is a very small part of this rotating blue/green sphere that we call earth and I want to explore more of it. And as a photographer it's even more exciting to discover new places and capture them through the camera.

If you are one of those people that think that traveling outside the USA (or whatever country you live in) does not interest you, have a look at this site or any of the thousands more like it and see if any of the photos cultivate a desire in you to travel and see new things.


May 10, 2008

Amazing Photo Essay

Are you having a bad day? Working too hard for too little in return? Life got you down? Wish you had more "things"?

Check out this photo essay

It's amazing, uplifting, depressing, inspiring, sad, eye-opening, moving, sobering, dark and light all at the same time.

I think it's a very sad story ... but at the same time it does demonstrate what humans are capable of accomplishing when confronted with few choices. I'm sure I'll think about this story the next time I hear someone in America say that they "cannot find work" or that the "government needs to do more" to help them out. This story is about people that have nothing and work in conditions that most Americans would not last a day in .... and yet somehow they (most of them) survive and are thankful for what they have.

Snapz Pro X006.jpg

September 26, 2007

Revisiting "Change Your Altitude"

One of my favorite sayings in photography is "change your altitude".

By this I mean get down low and shoot, get up high and shoot, take it a step further and move left and right ... try all the angles.

To demonstrate this idea I did what loads of people do, I grabbed my trusty point-and-shoot camera and went out into my yard and shot a photo of my dog (you might shoot your kid instead).

Here is the standard shot of my dog from a standing position.

(Click to enlarge)

Now, here's a shot of the same dog, in exactly the same place take about 2 seconds later with my camera all the way down at ground level.

(Click to enlarge)

Which image catches your eye more? Which one looks ordinary to you?

I'm betting most of you like the second photo more than the first one ... it's a viewpoint that your brain is not used to seeing so therefore it's a more interesting image. Again, remember these were both taken with the same camera, same lens, same location, same time (within seconds), same subject ... the only variable is the shooters altitude.


Photography = Terrorism ?????

Here is a recent article written by one of my flickr buddies "Mazda6"

War On People

WarOnPeople.jpg I was ending me shoot of the Verrazano bridge. Before heading back to the car I decided to take a final shot - a shot I'd been planning all along. Between the vantage point - the main area of the park - and the carpark you get a great view directly under the bridge. The idea was to shoot this view with the reflections of the bridge on the water. I'd also get the some water on both sides and the imposing span and pillars of the Verrazano-Narrows bridge.

It was not to be. I notice a car with its lights on close to where I set up my tripod. Being a car expert I see its a newish Chevy Impala, but its dark so I don't think cop. After setting up I start the shot when someone shouts: "You can't do that."

Fine, so I grab my tripod and walk towards the cop. The above shot is the 30sec exposure that results - the light is probably the squad cars headlights. My initial thought is: Shit, he will make me delete all my shots.

Fortunately, that did not happen, but other stuff did. So he explains that as part of the war on terror it is illegal to photograph bridges. Bridges? Well, you can't shoot close to the structure or the adjoining areas he explains. You can shoot the bridge from other places for a postcard type shot. Go to Brooklyn he says and shoot it from areas close to the expressway.

I tell him there were no signs. Sure he says and besides I know you didn't know since you started taking the shot right next to the squad car.

If that was the end of it, it would be annoying but ok. The guy was friendly and sympathetic. He didn't even check an ID or ask dumb questions (like the Chicago police did when I was shooting downtown from an overpass).

...but then he says, you know want we are supposed to do is detain you for questioning. These questionings often takes hours and there is no need for that. I know you didn't know.

Wow. I feel lucky as he drives off.

Think about it. He could have detained me for shooting a picture. How was I supposed to know? It was a public park. There are even binoculars for looking at the view! There are no signs whatsoever anywhere. Yet, if this guy felt like it he could have ruined my evening.

I can understand this if I did something suspicious. Lets say I climbed a fence or refused to cooperate or got caught multiple times. That would be fine, but this?

Think about the stupidity of this. Clearly they want to avoid people studying structures and finding weaknesses or places to blow explosives. But there are many reasons why this type of policing is likely to fail.

1. It would be extremely easy to take this picture. I could just come at day and snap 20-30 pics in 2 minutes. Or I could get a 600mm lense and shoot it from many other locations or from the sea.

2. Any skilled terrorist will know exactly what to say to the cops if they are detained. The only people that would struggle are normal ignorants like me. Also the terrorists - willing to blow the VNB - could probably get a hold of blueprints. In fact, driving a bunch of vans onto the bridge and having them breakdown would be a really easy way to cause massive damage. Any engineer can probably tell you where to blow to vans to inflict max damage.

So the policing achieves nothing and only is a hassle to normal folks.

...or maybe it is all PR. Maybe if people THINK they are monitoring for terror suspect they will feel safer or more importantly not blame anyone when the bridge does get blown.

Whatever it is it ruined my spirits for a while. Lets see how many times I manage to attract police attention. Four times so far and counting...

I think the random light streams in the shot capture perfectly the logic of this type of police work...

September 25, 2007

Testing the EOS 40D at ISO 1000

This evening I was checking out the Canon EOS 40D at high ISO. The shots were taken at dusk with a 70-200mm f/2.8L IS at 200mm and f/2.8.

You can see some noise in the black, but it's really not too bad at all.

The images are not very sharp but that's because I was hand holding at pretty low shutter speeds. I'll have a talk with the raccoons tomorrow and see if I can get them to come out earlier when the light is better :)

Continue reading "Testing the EOS 40D at ISO 1000" »

September 21, 2007

Canon or Nikon

A friend of mine wrote me an email today asking:

Do you have any general comments of why you chose Canon over Nikon?

Here's my reply:


I bought my first 35mm SLR in 1984, it was a Canon and I've just stuck with them ever since.

I love Canon and I'll never switch ... but if all my gear got stolen tomorrow and someone said "I'll replace it all with Nikon gear for free" I would not argue for a second ... both companies make great products.

It's kind of like comparing the top of the line BMW with the top of the line Mercedes ... both are great, it's a matter of personal taste. BTW, give me a 7 series BMW any day over a Benz :)

June 13, 2007

I love flickr ... but they are really pissing some people off

flickr sperrt uns aus! Und auch dich!
Seit gestern werden für deutsche Nutzer keine Bilder mehr angezeigt, die als 'moderate' oder 'restricted' markiert sind! Es gibt keine Moeglichkeit das umzustellen - das ist eine grobe Unverschämtheit und Frechheit von flickr!

We are the users - don't forget that flickr!

Deswegen treten wir gemeinsam in Aktion und zeigen allen, das uns das nicht gefällt was flickr mit uns macht! Füge das Bild zu deinen Favoriten hinzu und poste es!

In English:
If your Yahoo! ID is based in Singapore, Germany, Hong Kong or Korea, you will only be able to view safe content based on your local Terms of Service, and therefore won’t be able to turn off SafeSearch.
In other words, german users can't access photos on flickr that are not flaged "safe" ... only flowers and landscapes for the germans ...
We won't let this happen! Copy and upload this picture to your account - show flickr who we are.

No sé cuando, pero muy recientemente a las cuentas de Alemania, Hong Kong, Corea y Singapur les han prohibido ver las fotos que están en el Safe Search, las mismas en las que a nosotros nos dan la opcíón de ver o no ver. A ellos simplemente se lo prohiben. Chale no?

Si votre compte Yahoo! est basé à Singapour, à Hong Kong, en Corée ou en Allemagne, vous ne pourrez voir que les photos qui n'ont pas été marquées comme ayant un contenu qui peut choquer. Toutes les autres ne vous seront pas accessibles. Vous serez donc condamnés à ne voir que des paysages et des fleurs. Il ne faut pas laisser faire ça. Envoyez cette photo sur votre compte pour montrer à Flickr que nous savons nous mobiliser contre la censure !

Spread the image!

Lade dieses Bild runter und poste es in deinem Account! Lass uns das Bild überall auf flickr verteilen und es in 'Interestingness' heben!! So geht es nicht!
Original Version:
Link to the original Thread here:

Weitere Infos:

Wer einen Blog besitzt oder Kontakte zu den Medien hat: Weiterleiten!

Das Bild und der Text kann einfach kopiert werden, genutzt, veraendert - macht damit was ihr wollt - hauptsache es traegt zur Sache bei, das diese Unsinnigkeit aufhoert! :) Das Bild ist von atomtigerzoo für alle! :) Yay!

Continue reading "I love flickr ... but they are really pissing some people off" »

February 11, 2007

Is it the camera or the photographer .. or both?

I recently posted this to the Inside Aperture blog at O'Reilly Media's website and got quite a response so I thought I'd throw it up here as well.

"It's the photographer that takes the picture, not the camera"

This is a very popular saying, and a lot of people agree with it ..... but I'm going to play devil's advocate and take the opposite opinion tonight.

Some people take the saying one step further and say that you can hand a cheap camera to a good photographer and he or she will come back with beautiful shots ... but you cannot hand an amateur $10,000 of camera equipment and expect the same results. There is certainly some logic to that statement but I don't agree 100% with it.

Continue reading "Is it the camera or the photographer .. or both?" »

September 21, 2006

The War On Photographers

If you are a photographer and missed the article in the July 2006 Popular Photographer magazine titled “The War On Photographers” you really should read it. The article is available online HERE.

After you read that article you should check THIS out.

Educate yourself ... there are many people out there that would love to take your right to photograph away.