One more image before I quit for the day.....

Dusk.  We were eating outside at fabulous restaurant called The Refugium when I noticed magic hour had arrived. I excused myself from the table to take a few snaps.

Samsung Galaxy NX with the smallish 30mm f2.

Abusing the equipment. It's a learning process....

I was walking up a street with the sun blasting right into my eyes like a wild beam from a rogue 18,000 watt HMI light gone wild and mean. But the scene ahead looked kind of cool and fraught with a chaotic potential so I thought,"what the hell?" And started banging away, shooting into the glare, through the dust and the traffic. I was using the Galaxy NX camera from Samsung and the18-55mm kit lens - stopped down for more diffraction. Oh, and I was playing with the vignette flirt, just to add insult to injury.

In the end I must say that I really like this one and it's the perfect argument in favor OG an EVF ....
I could more easily see all of the good badness I was hoping for.  The camera abused me back a few times by being too slow to AF but after tossing a few threats back and forth we called a truce and went on shooting....

I went to Samsung's trade show venue today.

Can you believe they had a 112 inch flat screen TV? That's for the Texan that has a Rolls Royce pick-up truck...

I also saw the groovy new watch,hundreds of new cell phones and a gaggle of tablets. They had the equivalent of two football fields of pristine, clean space and when we sauntered in at three in the afternoon it was jammed packed with lots of bright young people playing with the toys....

I think that's good for everyone...

Anyway, I shoot this cute trade show representative with the 60mm macro on the Samsung Galaxt NX camera. I've started using auto  ISO and find that it works well in most situation. When it doesn't work you go old school and switch to manual or you learn to ride that exposure comp dial......

Tomorrow is a full day of me shooting for all alone. Just the way the photo gods intended.



My Korean photographer friends and host introduce me To their cuisine... And to rice wine and beer.

I spent the day shooting around Dresden and Leipzig and I'm coming home with many technically good files. The jpeg files out of the Galaxy NX are color neutral, saturated and sharp. We can argue the artistic merits next week when I've had time to edit down and do some post processing to some of my files...

When I got back here to the hotel I turned on the camera, opened the microSD card folder right on the camera and starting reviewing the files on the giant rear screen. No computer needed. I selected seven and sent them directly to Google+ DURING The review process. They uploaded directly using the hotel's wi-fi network. 

As soon as I hit send on the camera I turned my attention to pecking out these two blogs on my second generation iPad. Once the camera completed my requested upload to Google+ the camera went back to it's automatic task of sending all of my big image files to Drop Box for back-up and sharing. With a hundred or so hipsters slamming the hotel's network well into the night my upload of 450 nine megabyte files might take all night. But I don't need to care, I'll stick the camera on a USB charger and not only will my flies be transferred but when that nasty alarm clock goes off tomorrow early the battery will have a fresh charge. Seems like pretty cool multitasking to me.

Which in some vague way brings up our dinner Korean technology workers at tables on sides of us. We fried stuff at our table and washed down each helping with rice wine mixed with beer. That may be why my typing looks all crooked.

Tomorrow we'll head over to the IFA show and see what's happening...if the rice wine doesn't get me first.

Day three with the new Samsung Galaxy in Germany.

Today I went to Dresden and Leipzig with my new friends from Samsung. Dresden was never on my radar but I'm so glad I got to go there. The city is gorgeous and I spent way too much time photographing sculpture. And architecture. 

I did a total reset on the camera last night and in many ways it was a totally different machine. Much quicker and more certain in auto focusing and quicker coming back to life.

I spent most of the day shooting with the kit lens because it's good and the range lends itself to  the kinds of subjects I was shooting. A more exhaustive report when I get back home, get some of the Korean rice wine out of my system and stop trying (futilely) that I can type a blog on an iPad....


In Berlin with Samsung, a handful of photgraphers and a brand new camera.

And so, I've made it to Berlin after a long, tiring and frustrating flight that should have taken about eleven hours but stretched into the better part of 20.  I was greeted at the airport in Berlin and whisked to what is now my all time favorite hotel, Motel One on Urania Strasse. The rooms are small, clean and functional but the public part is hip, modern, collegial and comfortable. Breakfast this morning felt like my times in big college dorms: cool young people intermixed with more experienced but equally cool people. The lobby bar is opened 24 hours and nothing feels pretentious or overpriced.

Today my sponsor for the trip, Samsung, arranged for about eight of us to take a tour through the historics parts of the city (more on that in my next post) and we were given ample time to cruise around on our own and snap away to our heart's desires.


If you are a frequent reader you probably know that Samsung sent me a copy of their newest, and ostensibly coolest,,camera: THE SAMSUNG GALAXY NX. I am writing this in the commodious lobby at 1am and my camera is upstairs in my room, on my pillow uploading 325 new files to Dropbox. You can set up the camera to auto share or automatically upload everything you shoot to Dropbox. The camera comes with a 50 gigabyte account on that sharing service free for a year.

How is the camera performing? it's a mixed bag to be honest. The sensor part and the imaging processing add up to beautiful images. Easily on par with images from any of the Sony, Canon or Olympus cameras I've owned or tested. I'm having a few teething problems that are slowing own my spontaneous street shooting. I hesitate to mention them as I am sure a round or two of firmware revs will fix them( and Samsung is hardly the first camera maker whose product had a glitch or two at launch) but I've always shot straight with my readers and you should know what I'm experiencing.

The camera is slow to start up as it's actually launching a software OS. My solution is to turn the power management down so the system is always live. Bring extra batteries. It's currently too slow when switching between rear screen to EVF. Also, there is no way to choose only to use the EVF so you'll have situations where you know you want to be in EVF mode but have to go through the process of bringing the camera up to you eye and then waiting for the view to switch.

All in all it's a beautiful file generator and the perfect kind of camera for people who work slowly, methodically and one frame at a time. In it's current iteration it's a great studio shooter's camera but I wouldn't want to shoot fast action with it. 

I do love that it's doing some drudgery for me and getting my images up into the cloud.

Don't take my comments on the operational aspects of the camera as a scathing critique or the last word. I've only had the camera in my"shooting Hans" for a few days and it generally takes me a lot of time to get up to speed with new gear.

I'll try to unlock more of the camera's secrets tomorrow but it's late and I'm tired...

One another note, Berlin is incredibly. I love this city!!!!  And Samsung is a great host. They seem to understand that photographers work best with a good supply of tasty food, excellent coffee and satisfying red wine. Yeah, I know there's good beer here I'm abstaining from that. You can have too many hobbies...


Spending Sunday doing last minute billing and obsessive packing...

My wife nailed it. I have too much anxiety traveling because I spent so much time traveling for big, nail biting jobs back in the 1980's, 1990's and the early part of this century. Nearly every trip was a production nightmare that required me to hit the ground running, work to a tight schedule and then be off to the next location without a hitch. Our peak travel experience was about 23 weeks of travel in 2000 and a almost that much in 1999. Part of the routine was to hit the airport with a pocket full of $20's for the Skycaps. We traveled with enough gear to light just about anything and enough medium format film cameras to make sure we could get the shot even if the first three cameras failed.

Things have calmed down quite a bit as the digital age has matured. Clients are less willing than before to fly photographers hither and yon, and when we do fly we can make due with lots less gear. Think more along the lines of two much smaller cameras, a small assortment of zooms and a bucket of radio triggered speed lights.

The biggest difference is probably losing the hassle of carting a hundred rolls of film around at a time and begging to keep them out of the x-ray machines. When you add in the lead lined bags we used to protect the film the weight and bulk really added up.

The last few times I flew for jobs I carried just a bare bones digital camera system with lenses and some extra batteries. Everything else was shipped ahead. And for the Craftsy.com course in Denver I brought one large Domke bag onto the plane with me and sent three cases of stuff with UPS. Nearly 200 pounds worth...

But flying has just gotten crappier and crappier. I'm flying out on Labor Day so I'm arriving at the airport two and a half hours before my flight. The Austin airport gets crazy.  I'm flying out of the country so I can't do a complete  online check in 24 hours in advance. A machine or a person has to look at my passport before I get my boarding stuff. You get to buy your meal in the air. Oh boy.

I'm supposed to consider this trip a fun and carefree jaunt but something in my brain won't let go. I've got a gear packing list in front of me. I've got multiple sets of batteries on the chargers so I can hit the ground running. I'm adding apps to my iPad to increase the flexibility of my communications and file manipulation options. I've tested my test camera with over 500 exposures. I have Google Maps for destinations in and around Berlin.

I have a travel folder with all the travel details and contact names. I have a camera bag toothbrush and a suitcase toothbrush.

It's all just too much. Once you've traveled as an obsessive/compulsive professional perfectionist with teutonic time intensity perspective I think it may be impossible to go back to a sleepier and more relaxed method of traveling.

How did the gear list pan out? One Samsung Galaxy NX camera body. One Samsung NX300 camera body. 16mm, 30mm, 60mm 2.8 Macro, 18-55mm kit lens. That's it. I'm leaving the 85mm 1.4 behind. It's too long for most of what I want to shoot and it's too heavy. It's also the one lens that, in this situation, could use OIS but doesn't offer it. I'm happy shooting the 60. If I need to get closer I do know how to crop.  I'm also leaving the 18-200 behind. Also too big. And the long end really can make a photographer both lazy and removed. As it is I've got a pared down shoulder bag I don't mind carrying through a few airports.

My next blog should be from the road. Or the sky. Or whatever...

Studio Portrait Lighting


Getting up to speed. Practice makes less awkward. New cameras need to be taken out for test drives.

I got a new camera to play with. I'm taking it to Berlin on Monday. I'm very excited about the whole process. But at the core I am a very anxious person who likes to leave little, if any, to chance. So there's no way I'll go anywhere with brand new gear unless I've had time to take it our for a spin and figure out how things work and how to work around the things I don't like...

It was a lovely, clear day in Austin. The temperature was scheduled to do a long peak at 104 degrees for three or four hours this afternoon. What does a photographer with a new camera do? Well, I went to swim practice and knocked through about 4500 yards and then I went out to lunch, got a prescription filled, bought some batteries at Costco and then, when the temperature had climbed into the triple digits I headed down town with a camera and one lens and got started breaking in the newbie.

I decided to take a counter-intuitive lens. I grabbed the Samsung 18-200mm lens. It's got built in optical image stabilization and a monster zoom range. It's a fatty but it seems really sound. Maybe not quite as sharp as the primes but a good performer one stop down from wide open. 

I'm on a new diet. I'm trying my best to cut out all sugars, sweetners and refined foods from my regular repertoire but that doesn't mean I don't want them. I settled by stopping by the Whole Foods bakery to photograph my abandoned friends before hitting the scorching sidewalks in search of scintillating scenes and vignettes. The camera and lens handled the cupcakes and truffles well. They hit the white balance nearly perfectly even though the Whole Foods HQ is a Jackson Pollack hodge-podge of mixed lighting.

Out of caloric imaging guilt I decided I should also represent some healthier foods to subconsciously persuade my readers to indulge in fresh, whole food choices....

I personally think the combination of the 18-200mm lens and the 20+ megapixel sensor of the Samsung Galaxy NX did an incredibly nice job on the little cherry tomatoes...

And the melons....

Can you hear the soles of my sandals hissing in the pavement?

Give a photographer a long zoom and he'll shoot long every time. 
Wide angles. Those are for people who can't back up.
Or for people who can't make up their minds about what they want in a scene... (kidding, don't write the nasty rebuttal...).

I walked through downtown from three until six p.m. Though my iPhone told me it was consistently 104 degrees (f) it sure didn't feel that hot. Must have been lower humidity than we've gotten used to. I spent an afternoon with the new camera (Samsung Galaxy NX Android) and I came away with a bunch of images that I'm  happy with, technically. The camera is set up a lot like the NX300 and that's a good thing. There's stuff I'll have to get used to but most of it is on the Android side and not on the shooting/camera side.

The files are crisp and clean and full of neutral colors. 

Tomorrow I'll spend a lot of time packing for my trip. I'm trying to be a minimalist in every sense. A couple shirts, a couple pairs of jeans.  Only one tuxedo (black, as it will be after Labor Day). I'm going light on electronics. I'm taking an iPad, a phone and the Samsung Galaxy NX camera. No laptop this time.

I'm still trying to decide on lenses but right now I'm thinking 16mm, 30mm, the 18-55mm kit lens, and the 60mm macro. The juggling part is between the 60mm macro and the 85mm 1.4. The 85 is the sexy choice but the 60 is the practical choice. We'll see which part of my brain wins out tomorrow.

I'm taking the new camera and I'm backing it up with the NX 300. Same mount, same mentality.

My goal is to hit the ground in Berlin on Tues. morning and to have the maximum amount of fun possible shooting and exploring the city with a bunch of like-minded photographers from around the world. It's good to have goals, especially when they are all about having fun.

I'll keep writing missives for the blog during the week but you'll have to forgive me if they are long on photos and short on type. I'll be using the virtual keyboard on the camera or the (interesting) keyboard on the iPad and neither is conducive to writing novel length blogs quickly.....

If you are a client with a thick wad of big cash to drop on me please be patient and we'll meet on Monday the 9th. 

That's all for today.....

Studio Portrait Lighting

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