Archive for 2014

52 Project (Week 51) - Zach

While at my mom's house for the holidays I was lucky enough to see my younger brother Zach.  I was able to grab a portrait of him while we were chatting.

One of the best features about the X100T and the other X100 cameras is the ability to take images without making any noise.  I took many photos and finally my little sister caught on.  She said, "I thought you were just focusing or something."  Well it was something, it was taking very candid memories since everyone pays not attention to me and my "toy" camera.

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52 Project (Week 50) - Holiday Gatherings

It is that time of year when we all get together with friends old and new to reflect on the year, laugh, and cry in some cases.  Happy Holidays!

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52 Project (Week 49) - Santa

I am not sure exactly what Santa said, but the reaction was immediate and I am happy to have been able to capture it.  Both kids snapped their heads from my direction to his as quickly as possible.  Merry Christmas everyone.  Only 3 weeks remaining in this years project.

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52 Project (Week 48) - The Bus Stop

I travel pass this bus stop all the time and never give it a second thought.  I happened to park behind it one day and realized that it would make a good subject for a black and white image.  Armed with my X100T that is almost always with me, I snapped several images, with and without traffic.  This is my favorite by far.

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52 Project (Week 47) - Pittsburgh's Dirty Dozen

Several years ago, probably about five, my dad successfully completed the Dirty Dozen.  By successfully I mean he made it to the end and completed every hill except for Canton Ave.  The following year I joined the fun and completed 9 out of the 13 hills, and at that point I knew I would much rather photograph the event than suffer as a participant.

Since then I have taken Jonah and my camera to witness and document the suffering of the men and women that attempt to conquer some of Pittsburgh's steepest paved / cobbled hills, and in the case of Canton Ave., the steepest in North America and debatably the world.  Normally I take very little to document the action since I want to be mobile, getting in and out of the car, and staying out of the way of falling cyclist.  The typical kit is my Canon 5D MkII and my 70-200 f/2.8, and this kit is made for events like this with quick moving objects.  I also bring a monopod, batteries, and CF Cards.  Along for the ride this year was also my Fujifilm X-E2 and I had the 14mm and 35mm with me.  I brought the extra body just to get a few wide angle shots of the action or the scene before the action.

The day was fabulous, Jonah had a great time taking his own photos and watching the riders, and I was able to get enough images from the hills we visited to have a nice batch for resale.  This year we visited hill #4 (High), hill #5 (Logan), hill #7 (Suffolk), and hill #9 (Canton).  The link to my images is located below.

The event is insane and has spawned some imitations in Philadelphia, PA and Wheeling, WV that I know of.  People come from all over to ride or should I say attempt the route, which is approximately 50 miles in length.  Some of the images I have sold are being shipped as far away as Idaho, Boston, Baltimore, Cleveland, Columbus, and of course locally here in Pittsburgh.

To stay true to my 52 Week Project the image below was taken with a Fujifilm camera.  This is Canton Ave., which is located in the Dormont neighborhood of Pittsburgh.  The grade of this particular hill is 37% and has to be cobbled because the asphalt would slide off during application.  Every year there is carnage on this hill.  If your momentum stalls or stops the rider either collapses to the side or in some rare cases fall over backwards.  It is difficult to walk down the hill, forget riding up it!

If you live in or around Pittsburgh this is a must see event and is one of the things that make our city great!  So plan on spending the Saturday after Thanksgiving on your bicycle or watching the Dirty Dozen, not shopping.

Dirty Dozen Official Website: http://www.dannychew.com/dd

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52 Project (Week 46) - Five!

I did a similar post when Jonah turned eight...I think.  Anyway, when I took this shot it was Harper's 5th birthday.  Time does absolutely fly when kids are keeping you busy, and while I recently posted a photo of Harper I thought it necessary for a couple reasons.  First, it is obviously her birthday and warrants a post.  Secondly, I did just receive my X100T and need to test her out, specifically the Classic Chrome film simulation that you see below.  I think this particular film simulation will be my go to for now and probably a while.

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52 Project (Week 45) - Goodbye

I began my X-Series journey in April of 2013.  I had done months of research trying to find a camera to meet my evolving needs.  I had recently completed a 365 Project and wanted to continue making images, without having to lug my Canon 5D MkII around everywhere.  I was settling in on my style and genre of photography that made me happy, which are primarily the street and documentary genre. At the top of the short list of possible options was the Fujifilm X100s.  I was also considering options from Sony and Olympus.

To be honest it was a mental struggle.  I loved the styling, the size, and overall capabilities of the X100s.  My primary concern was the fixed lens and being committed to a 35mm focal length.  Don't get me wrong, I love prime lenses and have several, but on my DSLR I have the luxury to change them around whenever I wish.  Day after day I would play different scenarios over and over in my head and how the X100s would fall short because of the fixed focal length.  I read every review, every blog, every piece of internet content I could find, and after close to a month of internal struggle I made the purchase and my very own X100s arrived on my doorstep sometime in late April.

Since that day in April my X100s goes almost every where with me, constantly by my side, in my pocket, or in my bag.  It has been the perfect companion, slowing me down and forcing me to think about composition and lighting, making me a better photographer.  We traveled to places like Canada, New York, and Kiawah Island.  Countless bicycle rides and hiking trips.

Never once did the fixed focal length become an issue, and truth be told it liberated me to some extent.  It allowed me ot just leave the house with nothing but a camera, a spare battery, and some memory cards.  Before that I would spends hours contemplating what lenses to take on a trip.  This new setup allowed me to focus on the shot not the gear.  It allowed me to be super stealth working in "silent mode" or on occassion strike up a conversation with a stranger about the cool film camera I was using.  The camera and I blended in to the background....it has been awesome.

When I read about the announcement about the new version of the X100s, which would be the X100t, I knew I would be getting one.  I pre-ordered and it finally arrived.  The main issues I had with the X100s have been resolved on the X100t, through software and some hardware enhancements.  Things like more customizable menus, higher shutter speeds, better rear buttons, wireless functions, and consistency amoung the X-Series line.

So now I say goodbye to my X100s and a big HELLO to the X100t.  I am sure my X100s will find itself a nice new home, and it should be listed on eBay in the next several days.




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52 Project (Week 44) - Time for a Haircut

Sue often reminds me to schedule a haircut for Jonah and I often forget.  I snapped this photo on the deck and instantly realized an appointment needed scheduled.  The mop on his head has been trimmed to an acceptable level.

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52 Project (Week 43) - Pittsburgh Photographer | Green Family Portrait Session

I had the opportunity to shoot the Green's recently at their home.  They also happen to be great friends and it was a joy to watch them interact.

It was also I did an entire shoot without my Canon gear, and I am extremely please with the results.  I did the entire session with the Fujifilm X-E2 and the 56mm f/1.2.  With the exception of sports photography the Canon 5D Mk II sits on the shelf these days.

The images below are a few of my favorites from the session and the top image is my weekly submission.

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52 Project (Week 42) - Pumpkin Patching

A few weekends back the family made its annual pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch.  The weather was absolutely perfect and everyone enjoyed the day.  The rule for selecting a pumpkin is you have to be able to carry it by yourself back to the wagon.  As you can see below the kids make the most of their muscle.

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52 Project (Week 41) - Birthday Bracelets

After Jonah's birthday party he was running around handing out some bracelets to his guests before they left.  I think Dylan liked his based on his reaction.

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52 Project (Week 40) - Wedding Wishes

I had the opportunity to photography a small intimate wedding on Churchview Farm a week ago.  As the evening was coming to a close and the guests were saying their goodbyes, I was able to grab my favorite shot of the evening.  The groom's daughter, Sophie, making a wedding wish or possibly wishing for a new pony.  You can never tell with a 5 year old.

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52 Project (Week 39) - Waiting Around

A couple of weekends ago we went to Oglebay Fest to check out the crafts and food.  Just like last year we walked through all the booths until we get to the booth that has all the wooden toys.  I hang out with the kids while they play, and I sit on a bench and take random "street" style shots.  This was my favorite from the day.

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52 Project (Week 38) - Kids

I have had my eye on the 56mm f/1.2 since it came out some time ago. When the new version was announced last month, I decided to take advantage of deals that were to be had on the internet. The lens is amazing and I now understand why so many people rave about its capabilities.

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52 Project (Week 37) - Alice and Gusto

I have been pushing for a family dog for over a year now, and the stumbling block is our daughter Harper. She is extremely afraid of animals of all shapes and sizes, mainly because she is not exposed to them on a regular basis. Now your saying to yourself, but you have a cat. We do have a cat and that cat is afraid of kids, so she never sees the cat.

Well, this weekend we were at a friends house and they just added a puppy to the family. This is significant because their daughter Alice was also afraid of dogs. I stress the word "was" since Alice and her new puppy are the best of friends now. It took about a week of exposure to get over the fear and it has been smooth sailing since.

I think we are getting a dog, I just don't know when.

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A Bike Ride with My X100S

During this summer I had a day off during the week, and I was able to escape the normal day to day. With me I had my bicycle and my Fujifilm X100S. I headed to the the start of the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP Trail) in downtown Pittsburgh and started my journey. In this case my journey was a short 50 mile round trip. After taking this short trip and stopping from time to time to make an image or two, I realized that I need to plan a trip for the entire trail from Pittsburgh to Washington D.C.

The X100S is truly the perfect camera for many situations and this is definitely true for bicycle trips. Below are a few of my favorite images from my day trip in July, and I am already mentally planning my trip for the entire trail. I am sure the X100S will make the trip or possibly the X100T.

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52 Project (Week 36) - Big Pour

There are a few events that make me feel like a kid at Christmas these days, Apple announcing a new iPhone, starting a new job, and Construction Junction's Big Pour would be at the top of the list. This year was my third Big Pour and I would have to say it was my most enjoyable experience to date. If you don't know what the CJ Big Pour is and you enjoy good beer and food, then you have been losing at life. The CJ Big Pour now in its 8th year, in my opinion, is the premier Craft Beer Festival in Pittsburgh. It occurs the Saturday after Labor Day, with two sessions, a 12:00pm - 3:00pm and 5:00pm - 8:00pm. Tickets typically sell out in 15-20 minutes and cost $75 each. I attended the afternoon session.

Let me start with my chief complaint from the previous years. When you spend a premium on a ticket to taste beers and delicious bites (there is food too), you don't want to spend 20 minutes of your three hour tasting window in line for the porta-potty. I think there were two forces at work this year that drastically improved this situation. First, it felt like it was less crowded, yet was still a sellout. This leads me to believe the smart folks in charge made this a more exclusive event, thus making porta-potty lines shorter, almost non-existent. Secondly, I think there were more porta-potties available. In the end it doesn't matter if my theories or perceptions are correct or not, since my experience was pleasant and more importantly FAST! Back to the beer.

As in years past the quality of the beer and the breweries represented was second to none. I would also have to say that each year the food gets better and better. Over the last several years the food scene in Pittsburgh has exploded, and these chefs bring their talents to CJ's Big Pour. To top it all off, this year as an added bonus we got to see and actually meet the mayor of Pittsburgh.

As you would expect I had a camera with me and this time it was my Fujifilm X100s. Here are a few of my favorites images from the event, waiting in line, tasting beers and food, hanging out with some friends, the Mayor, and the walk to my next beer at BRGR.

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52 Project (Week 35) - Labor Camp

I have wanted to experiment with photographing the Milky Way for a few months now, and our trip to Sheldon Calvary Camp over Labor Day weekend is probably my last opportunity for the year.  When I was there in early August the moon was full, which polluted the night sky with light.

The first image is my weekly entry, and the remaining images are some of my favorites from the weekend.

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52 Project (Week 34) - Back to School

It is that time of year.  The parents have smiles and the kids have frowns.  Jonah's first day of 2nd grade, a bitter sweet day for him.  He wants to see his friends, but isn't looking forward to learning.

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52 Project (Week 33) - Kinzua Trip

This is my second year participating in the annual "man-camp" camping trip.  Like last year the group camped in the Allegheny National Forest in the Kinzua Dam area, which happens to be the headwaters of the Allegheny River.  The weather was great this year, with just a little rain as we slept in our tents that last night.  The activities of the days and nights include eating, drinking, boating, wake-boarding, fishing, hacky sack, and drinking.

Last year I took my Canon DSLR and several lenses.  This year I traveled light taking only my Fujifilm X-E2, a 35mm, and 14mm lenses.  I was able to enjoy myself without worrying about lugging heavy hear everywhere, and my entire kit fit in my backpack that traveled with me everywhere we went.

The first image below is my weekly entry and the remaining are a few of my favorites, including a bonus image of me thanks to Jim when he was checking out my camera.  Overall the trip was excellent, went way to fast, and produced many great stories that I am sure will be retold over and over again.

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