With the weather finally getting nicer here in the North East I’m taking plenty of opportunities to get out and do some night photography. Living here in Philadelphia traditional landscape opportunities are limited but cityscapes are in full force.
I’ve been working with some creative long exposures including star trails and the Milky Way. I think it’s unique to see these types of things in a city atmosphere.
Here is a shot of the Ben Franklin Bridge in Philadelphia, PA from Race Street Pier.
Canon 16-35 2.8L
Here are 8 different exposures. Six of them make up the star trails and the other two represent the HDR of foreground and the bridge.
This photo is down on Penn’s Landing in Philadelphia, PA. The recently opened a roller rink with beer garden, mini golf, Ferris wheel, and more.
Canon 5D MKIII
Canon 24-70 2.8L II
This image is composed of four exposures. One main one and the 3 that make up the star trails.
This is not typically my style but as I’m learning new techniques of photography I’m willing to expand what are “typically” considered the ethical boundaries of traditional photography. What do you think??
Winter can be challenging for photographers in the Northeast. Especially if it’s not your full time job. As someone who works a 9-5 it’s very difficult to find inspiration to shoot. Many photographers also struggle with inspiration when they don’t leave their city/town enough.
The golden hour is frequently spent at the office and you can only go out and shoot so many long exposure night shots. And even when you do you’re freezing your ass off because it’s 15 degrees.
I shouldn’t complain too much. Here are some of my favorite shots from this year’s slow season. Many nights loosing the feeling in my fingers and toes but I’m happy with a few of them.
Ben Franklin Bridge
I know it’s only February but the sun is staying out later it’s warming up randomly thanks to decades of poisoning the ozone layer so it’s time to shoot. But time is still limited. I decided that I’ll start carrying my camera with me to work each day. Working and living in the city constantly provides new opportunities to improve my street photography.
First things first I needed a new bag. I prefer a messenger style bag to carry to work so I had Manfrotto send me out the Befree Messenger bag that would support both my work laptop/iPad and my camera and a few accessories.
Next I needed to make some efforts to get out of the city more. Any photographer, hobbyist or professional will tell you, you need to step outside your city/town often. It’s very easy to lack inspiration from your every day surroundings. I find that even in a city this happens to me often.
Last weekend I took a trip out to my alma matter Rider University to catch up some old friends and watch a basketball game. Of course I brought my camera with little or no expectations of obtaining any usable photo but for me it’s getting back in the hobbits of a hobbies photographer.
Next week I’m off to New York City for a week (work related) but I’ll be sure to have my camera with me in hopes of exploring some new opportunities to shoot a new city. One I’m not particularly familiar with and not particularly fond of.
By the end of next week I really hope to have some photos up here in another blog post to talk about the experience as well as update more frequently on Instagram.
Damien LeRoy, maybe a name you haven’t heard of. If you have you’re very lucky.
I’ve never done a profile piece on anyone before but I think this individual is worth talking about.
Damien LeRoy is a professional kiteboarder from Vail, Colorado, currently residing in Jupiter, Florida.
I discovered Damien in early 2013 as he, in partnership with his sponsor GoPro, released a video titled “Damien LeRoy: The Message”
Three minutes of reflection on how important it is to be happy. No matter how tough times get there’s always a silver lining. What I learned is, the hardest part of any tough time is not about getting over what happened but finding out what you learned from it and how you’re going to be better moving forward.
I’ve been following Damien’s videos and social media ever since. Each post a reflection of how amazing life can be when you surround yourself around the right people and environment. A daily reminder more people could use.
In the summer of 2016 Damien’s optimism was put to the test when he was power paragliding over the South Florida beaches. His engine failing and cords tangling he had no choice but to release himself from his harness some 150 feet above the ground. And like most of his actions sports, it was all caught on tape.
Suffering a broken back, femur, pelvis, 3 ribs, and a punctured lung. He survived this ridiculous crash. I remember hearing the news mid July of that year and being devastated. What was going to happen to someone who’s brought joy and positivity to so many people?
He quickly posted a thankful and hopeful message instagram shortly after saying,
“Dear friends & family,
First, I’d like to thank you all for your support. I have been in awe of all the support, messages, and prayers you’ve sent, and I can’t thank you enough. I would also like to send a huge thank you to Jupiter Police Department, Palm Beach County Fire Rescue, and St. Mary’s Hospital. I’ve felt so much love over the past few days that I’ve barely noticed the rod in my leg! I’m still not able to respond to your messages, but I promise I’ll get to them when I can. For now, I just need time and sincerely appreciate your patience.
As to my condition, I’m doing really well all things considered. My most significant injury seems to be my broken femur, which had a very successful surgery. My other injuries, including my punctured lung, fractured spine, broken tailbone, and a few other smaller injuries, will all heal on their own.
I know a lot of people want to know what happened:
I was powered paragliding, which I’ve been doing often for many years. After coming out of a maneuver, my steering lines became twisted, and I could no longer control my glider. Since it looked like I was going into the water, I decided to unfasten myself from the harness. Unfortunately, as soon I was out of the harness, the glider started turning towards the beach. I wasn’t sure if I would even hit the water if I jumped, but I knew there was a chance that my glider could hit someone if I let go. Instead, I opted to hang on until I was past the beach and over the road. Once clear of the road, my options were limited and the longer I waited, the more speed I gained. When I saw an opportunity, right or wrong, I jumped, putting myself in God’s hands. There is no question that angels helped bring me down. I couldn’t ask to be in better hands than at St. Mary’s Hospital with all my friends and family. The love is absolutely incredible. Again, thank you for all of your support and prayers. I will let you know when I’m ready to talk more. Until then, I just need to rest.
Love you all, -Damo
Damien was pretty vocal throughout his recovery and proved to us that even in his darkest time he’d come back as rad as ever. Showing appreciation and making friends all throughout his recovery.
After a completely successfully recovery Damien has gotten back into doing what he loves. He’s competing again and has even taken on motivational speaking. Not a surprise really.
“The world is a tough place.” Sure enough there are plenty of things in your personal life that weigh you down at times. You have to remember to surround yourself around the people, places, and things that make you happiest. Nothing else really matters.
You can follow Damien LeRoy on his multiple social media platforms below:
Jesus Christ people… I can’t open a single social media app without being inundated with people complaining about going back to work…
I get it. Some of these are probably just to get a laugh people but a lot aren’t. I’m not completely oblivious to think that everyone loves what they do but you’ve got to find comfort. If you’re spending 40+ hours a week doing something you hate, fucking do something about it. Throwing up countless memes isn’t getting your closer to finding comfort in your career.
I like (not love) what I do. But the most important thing about my job is I find it interesting and it’s provided me with other amazing opportunities to pursue other things I’m passionate about like grad school and photography.
What is important to you? What’s your dream job?
I ask not because I’ve got book of open opportunities for you to pursue your dream as a career but follow up and ask “When was the last time you did that?”. If you can’t answer in 10 seconds, that’s step one. GO DO IT!
The internet provides us all the resources we need to learn how to pursue our passions. Not enough time? Stop watching TV. Budget your time like you budget your paycheck and find the time you need.
One day a week instead of listening to Spotify or the Radio during your commute, listen to a podcast about your passion. Podcasts are maybe the most under-rated free form of education out there.
Use social media to find local groups of people that have similar interests. I promise you they’re out there. When you find your “news feed” stacked with more relevant posts of things your passionate about it makes it way more tolerable than realizing you’re the only one of your friends who’s still single and not a parent. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.
Don’t be afraid to step outside your comfort zone either. The multiple genres of photography allow me to do that frequently and it’s made me a much better photographer.
Although I’m not big on calendar dictated resolutions, there’s no better time than the present to make the changes you want in life, not wait for them to possibly come to you.
Realizing that I purchased my original domain and webspace one year ago today it felt appropriate to reflect on why.
Social media quickly became a place to share every thought, cup of coffee, and/or photo of your pets/kids. That is a fine way to get a quick fix of dopamine but that’s really it. When you reflect on your “On this day” featured on Facebook, does it tell an accurate story about who you were at that time? Probably not.
If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for nostalgia. Over the years I’ve curated videos compiled of the moments that helped make unforgettable years but even that to me wasn’t enough. Written word seems like the best way to record the specific details. Each word and phrase carefully premeditated. (For the most part when I’m not botching spelling and throwing grammatical errors like confetti)
That’s what brought me here. A place of my own where I can elaborate share thoughts, ideas, passions, phots, videos, and more. Regardless of how 9 to 5 your life might seem at times you are interesting. Social media has made it mandatory for us to keep up with “Friends”. Their news is blasted on what they call “news” and we addictively scroll through for the latest nonsense and memes. We rarely encounter original content let alone interesting stories about the people we associate with. Well if you want to hear my nonsense, I might share previews on those very social media platforms but I’ll make you take the extra step. If you’re truly interested you’ll know where to find me.
In the short year since I purchased the website, even shorter than that since my first post and 13,669 visitors later I’m still kicking. Over the next week or so I’m going to give the sight a major facelift, improve it’s mobile viewing, and the user interface.
I’m excited to get this baby revamped during the busiest time of my life with my 9-5, photography, grad school, etc. Wont be easy but I see value in the art of self reflection and what better way than to paint it all over the internet in permanent ink.
I hope that people will read this and start to tell more of their stories. I know a ton of interesting people, many of which I’ve called out in previous blogs.
If you think this might be something you’d be interested in I’d be happy to help you get it off the ground. I use WordPress for everything and it’s pretty simple one stop shop.
There are also millions of tutorials online to get a site started. Here is one I’d check out.
I met Tony a few month ago playing this upright piano that found it’s way to Head House Square in Philadelphia, PA. There were about a dozen of people listening to him play and he was kind enough to let me take this photo.
I’ve gotten to know Tony a little through brief conversations in my neighborhood and he seems determined to get “a steady job and a steady living situation”
I can only image how difficult it must be to be homeless and trying to overcome the obstacles to gain employment and housing. Since I can’t provide either of those I thought it would be nice for Tony to be reminded that people care.
As a part time Uber-Eats courier I will be donating all of my tips from Today to Christmas to show Tony exactly that.
With each Uber Eats delivery I perform the customer has the option to tip. For those who do and explicitly give me permission to, will have their named signed on the card for Tony as well.
What I’m doing is a very small gesture. My vision is that other couriers for Uber Eats, Caviar, Postmates, GrubHub, etc will consider doing the same. Sure it’s small but as the majority of society ignores the homeless it would be great to show someone that some of us still care.
Outside donations can be made here.
UPDATE: November 29, 2017. I’m completely overwhelmed by the generosity of my friends, family, and other members of my community. When I started this campaign I never would have imagined that just over two weeks we’d be at $266 raised. Even the smallest contributions are extremely appreciated. Part of this goal was to encourage other drivers to consider doing the same. I can only achieve that if you help me spread the word. So please take the time to share the YouTube video, this webpage, or anything that might help spread the word of paying it forward to those who need it the most.
UPDATE: December 9, 2017. In just a few short weeks we’ve raised $381 that is just incredible. I’m honored to be a small part of this and more importantly I’m feeling the love and compassion from the people I surround myself with as friends and part of my community. I’m going to continue raising money until the week of December 18th, 2017. Through the power of social media and this website, I was connected with a great man who sometimes hire Tony to help him with projects in our community. He has generously offered to make sure that Tony is available one day that week for me to deliver this amazing gift that you’re all apart of. Thank you so much for your help and I hope that I can continue to earn more tips making this holiday season extra special for someone who needs it.
UPDATE: December 18, 2017. Well today we hit a total of $500 raised. I’m done taking donations at this time so thank you to all the amazing people on this list below. You’re all incredible and generous.
Today purchased a MasterCard Gift Card, a few WaWa gift cards, and I’m picking a few more up tomorrow from CVS. I’ve also purchase a Christmas card and I’ll sign all of your names to it. I also used some of the funds to purchase a cheap wallet for Tony to keep all of his cards together. I’m hoping to get a photo with him after I deliver it to him this week. More to come!
UPDATE: December 21, 2017. With holiday card and gift cards in hand I made my way to the bus stop as I do most weekdays. Thanks to the newly renovated Wawa being back open I was back in the routine of running into Tony on a frequent basis. He was sitting inside warming up to a coffee and let me hang for a few minutes. I gave him the Christmas card and explained to him all the names signed to the left. I then proceeded to explain each of the gift cards one at at time and he was blown away. Thanks to the generosity of all the people you see listed below, Tony is going to have a much more manageable holiday season. Thank you. His first reactions after receiving your generous gifts was thankful to be able to purchase his sister a Christmas present (who’s been helping him all she can) and help give back to the church. All of the people below deserve my thanks for helping a member of my community. What I hope people take away from this the most is that facilitating something like this is very easy. It doesn’t take much effort and I believe it’s impact is profound. As we’re in the prime season of giving I hope that you’ll read this story and consider taking the time to help someone in your community who needs it one day. If you do, I’ll be the first to help.
I was lucky enough to get my hands on an iPhone X on Saturday although I had not reserved one. So I picked up the Space Gray 256gb iPhone X popped in my SIM card, restored from iCloud and I was ready to roll. (Apparently there was new fun way to move your old information but I didn’t see that option)
Now let me just say, these are my opinions. It’s a very capable device but I’m going to explain why in MY case the features didn’t justify the cost.
Lets stick with that idea for a moment cost. I choose the 256gb model which is $1149 which is yes more expensive than a MacBook Air. So after tax here in Philadelphia it comes to $1240. Now most people get cases for their phones. I’m not one of those people but I need to think about the longevity of the device and how I’m going to protect it. With the back of this phone being completely glass it very well could break under the right circumstances. Without AppleCare +, Apple’s protection plan, if that back where to crack or shatter the replacement cost int $599. Let that sink in.
So it’s either spend an extra $199 or risk $599 to replace the device. Ok Apple you got me. Bringing our grand total after tax to $1,455.84 for the 256gb iPhone X.
Ok I’m sure you’ve all got a calculator (on your iPhone) so lets moved beyond the math.
Features I really liked about iPhone X:
Notifications on the lock screen accessible via Face ID – Face ID allows you to preview all of your notifications without going into the device. This was a great when Face ID worked. By holding the phone up to my face it went from a simple notification to a great preview. Well done.
Animoji – I’m embarrassed how much how enjoyed playing with this feature but after about 6 hours after using the phone the novelty of this feature quickly wore off.
Display – I hesitate to even put this in my liked category but I did like the new OLED display. But most people won’t see the difference from an iPhone 7 or newer display. The notch on top did not bother me in the slightest that fades into the background almost immediately.
Features that fell short of expectations:
Face ID – This will be great one day but in my opinion it fell short and here is why. There are times I like to unlock my phone without having to pick it up and point it at my face. Face ID won’t allow you to do that. So when you’re in that staff meeting and try to check your phone without anyone noticing… good luck. The phone has to be pretty much pointed right at your face for it to unlock.
Dual Lens Rear Camera – As a photographer I could argue this camera is as important as my professional camera as I will ALWAYS have this camera on me. As it’s better than my iPhone 7 camera I don’t understand the appeal of this “telephoto lens”. 2x optical zoom is almost useless. The focal length feels like it’s going from 24 to 50mm. To me this is missed opportunity to put an extra camera with longer focal length but I’m sure it has much to do with the AR endeavors coming to iOS 11. I know this is not necessarily new to the iPhone X but I never owned the 7 Plus or 8 Plus so I thought it was important to include.
Portrait Lighting – This is the type of gimmick that should be left for Samsung. These cheesy effects are sure to please the narcissistic selfie capturists but I think most people will never use this. Creative professionals will most like cringe when they see it in action.
Battery Percentage – Why the actual fuck can’t I see the battery percentage instead of the useless battery icon. Truth is the only way to see the percentage is to pull down control center from the top right of the phone. Which I could not reach with one hand. I think this will be addressed in iOS 11.x.
Lack of Included Accessories – Fast charging is an option on this device yet it still comes with at 5w charger? This is a tragedy. Or perhaps they’re just preparing us for the slow wireless charge speed which also uses only 5w. No SIM card tool. This would have costed Apple virtually nothing to include yet they choose not to. I had to run around the city to a Verizon store (I use T-Mobile) to find a SIM card tool to properly eject the included SIM card and insert mine.
I know this seems like a total bashing from me but it’s not. I applaud Apple for change up the design for the first time since what feels like very first iPhone. At the end of the day it just wasn’t worth the close to $1500 price point. There are far too many other things I’d rather spend that money on and thankfully Apple’s 14 day return policy helped me realize that quickly.
There will be tons of people that this is a great buy for. Creative professionals with iPhone 6s or older especially. But don’t take my word for it. Get your hands on one and try it for yourself but if you do buy it. AppleCare is a must.
I really think we take the operating systems of these magical devices for granted. People get caught up in the new hardware even when it’s not all that new, so they can show it off at the bar that night.
Truth is the OS updates provide much more for the user experience than the hardware ever will. But it’s much harder to show that off.
So since I’ve been using iOS 11 for a few weeks now I thought I’d share some of my favorite and not so favorite features that you can expect as the OS releases publicly today.
Updated Control Center
This was a very welcomed update as now you can customize the items that fall within control center. This is really the first time Apple truly takes advance of 3D Touch in my opinion.
If you’re like me and are constantly showing people how to use their devices, you can now record the actions you perform on your phone alone with in the moment voice over. This will be huge for people that want to show off their apps functionality. Long overdue update.
You no longer need to save every single screen shot to your camera roll. You can edit them right after taking them send them off to a friend a number of different ways and just remove it as soon as you’re done. Android has had this function for years. About time Apple stole it.
Drag and Drop from App
This really only works with iPad using split screen but you can now drag a photo or text from safari and drop it right into iMessage.
The Dock (iPad)
Finally you can add more than 6 apps to the bottom of your iPad screen. Cleaning up your desktop. Because you know you have crap all over it.
Peer to Peer Apple Pay
This hasn’t released just yet and we expect it in a future release of iOS 11 but Apple is going up against apps like Venmo to dominate the Peer to Peer currency exchange. With Venmo being cross platform it’s going to be difficult to see how well this will work but one advantage is if you use Apple’s wallet and ApplePay technically you can use the money right away. Venmo is typically one business day to your checking account.
Not really… Apple’s attempt at a dark mode, buried in the accessibility features seems great for everything Apple related but any 3rd party apps like Facebook and Instagram just aren’t “Smart” enough. Yet.
File Management System
By far the most disruptive part of the Apple Ecosystem in years is their hybrid local/cloud based file management system. I have toyed around with this but not gone full boat yet. This means you’ll be able to sync many different types of files between macOS and iOS using iCloud. This is going to be a MAJOR change and rely heavily on how much iCloud storage you pay for each money. I’m just using 100Gb of my 200Gb per month plan but I know that would need a hefty upgrade once I start using this.
That sums it up. It’s been running pretty much bug free since the gold master version released so if you’ve got a newer device you should have a pretty seamless experience. Let me know what you love and hate about it.
Other then the fact that fully loaded it costs almost $1500 here in Philadelphia there are a few reasons I’m just not hoping on the fully loaded iPhone this year.
No 128GB Storage Option
Apple left us with just a 64GB option and a 256GB option. I’ve been very comfortable in the last year with my 128GB iPhone 7 and even as I load tons of full res images from my DSLR to the phone I still have a healthy amount of space left. It is easy to think “Oh well the price of the 256GB is what the 128GB option was” the reality is you’re paying for it in some way.
No Jet Black
Like many people I flocked to the Jet Black color. It was new and yes we knew it was going to scratch but I didn’t care. I had a case on it for most of the first year. Thinking that I may upgrade after the announcement I ditched the case and let the “micro-abrasions” take over. I fell in love with the look and feel of the phone all over again. Unfortunately in either of the iPhone 8 or X this color is long gone.
I’m Not Ready to Ditch Touch ID For FaceID
Most people are stoked about the FaceID feature of iPhone X. As if the narcissists of our generation needed another reason to stare at themselves on their phones now they’re going to make stupid faces in public for animojis. I simply cannot wait to capture photos of these people in the wild. Also there are many time I prefer to unlock my phone while it is sitting flat on my desk. A simple tap of my finger and I’m in. (That’s what she said) I find it more of a hassle to have to physically pick it up but maybe I’m splitting hairs.
Are The Cameras As Good As They Say?
If you’ve read any of my blogs you know that I almost always have a DSLR or my Mavic on me my for my photos and videos. Statistically the iPhone X has an extremely impressive camera but I don’t take selfies or portraits with it so these new lighting features (that could be done in Adobe’s free Lightroom Mobile app) don’t appeal to me at all. Artificial depth of field just annoys me. True bokeh cannot be digitally produced I’m sorry Apple.
Heavy Investments Into My iPhone 7
I went all in with my iPhone 7. I purchased the Apple Smart Charging Case $99, Apple Leather Case $49, and Apple Lightning Dock $49 (Can still be used with new models). I’m not ready for most of that to go to waste. Plus one of the big selling features of iPhone 8 and iPhone X is wireless charging. Of course that’s not included and that’s going to run about $50 plus a new case, and I haven’t even seen a charging case for the new iPhones. I use mine 3-4 days per week.
So Now What?
The iPhone X is undoubtably the future of phones and an amazing piece of software and hardware. I’m usually an early adopter of iPhones but I think I’m going to let this one pass. I’m too invested and comfortable with my current device and the costs are just too high at the moment. That won’t stop millions of people jumping online to preorder the iPhone X for sure but for me I’m just fine. Let me know in the comments below if you’ll be jumping online to get iPhone X and why.