yet another sunset photo

After the rain let up, the sun actually came out for while. When the sun went down, there was this.

I guess I ended up making it outside today after all.

i want this– led surfboard

My first few surf sessions that I ever had were at night. Night surfing is like a different world. I remember paddling out in Waikiki as a youngster, watching the reflection of the moon on the incoming sets. I would have killed to have a board like this. I’m not sure which idea I think is cooler. LED bike rims, or this surfboard. I guess I’ll take one of each, please. Check out the video below.

MUNDAKA 24H from on Vimeo.


Ode to the A train

As great as public transportation is, the MTA is seriously messed up. Sometimes the glaring deficiencies are maddening. Other times, their efforts to restore service, or prevent interruptions are something that the Army corps of engineers would be proud of. One example of this was on Monday. A broken water main on the UWS caused the ABC and D tunnels to become totally full of water in certain sections. The MTA spent all night pumping it out and replacing signals and switches ruined by the flooding. Even though afternoon commute that day was hellish, having those lines out of service, the MTA had everything back in working order in time for the morning commute. Way to go, guys. In honor of their hard work, I would like to debut a little poem that I wrote about the A train. Hahahaha.

I have actually now written several of these. I thought that it would be hilarious to start writing poems while either waiting for, or riding the train late at night. This particular poem was one of the first. I thought that in light of recent events, it was appropriate to publish it this week.

On the platform, probably staring at the texturized yellow line. Maybe sane, maybe paralyzed. On my retinas flash the reflection of incandescent light on the tracks. It’s that ghetto incandescent light of a city that hasn’t been updated in much too, too long.  The tracks have been worn smooth, shinier than mirrors. Two parallel mirrors in the sooty rat pen. Optics strain, pupils dial down. There is a disgustingly un-royal, royal blue circle with the English equivalent of Alpha marking the center. On my way home, at last. At last what? I don’t know. Nothing significant, because I’ll do it again tomorrow and again. I’m bad at poems.

So there you have it. Happy Wednesday.


and… composition

[above: Eli Schmidt composing some solid shots at NYFW]

Now that we have a solid understanding of the interaction between the settings affecting exposure, let’s move onto composition. We will start by learning about the rule of thirds, negative space, and framing. Then finish up chatting a bit more about how depth of field and focal length can be manipulated to create different effects.

Rule of thirds

The rule of thirds is just an articulation of something that most people tend to do naturally anyway. That is, to try to create balance through symmetry or asymmetry when framing up a shot. The rule of thirds says: “an image should be imagined as divided into nine equal parts by two equally-spaced horizontal lines and two equally-spaced vertical lines, and that important compositional elements should be placed along these lines or their intersections.”

To illustrate this concept, here is an animated GIF that I borrowed from Wikipedia  under cc license. Notice how the horizon tracks the bottom horizontal divider almost exactly. The tree trunk does the same with the right hand vertical dividing line.

Creating balance in composition is, in my opinion, the element that allows an image to convey purpose. Squaring up the subject directly in the center of a portrait is the most distilled example of this. There is no doubt that people will read loud and clear what is meant to be seen in the image. There are obviously more ways to do this than centering the subject. The rule of thirds is a guideline that can help retain aesthetics when we are getting creative with composition. All of this is not to say that centering the subject and using the rule of thirds are the only two options for making an interesting composition. They are just some tools that can help us, especially when we are trying to explore what our personal compositional style is.

Negative space

The example above was shot by my cousin Tif, on Antelope Island. It is a fantastic example of how negative space is used to draw attention to the subject. Plus, who isn’t a sucker for a gorgeous gradient blue sky? Negative space doesn’t always have to be empty.


In this case, we aren’t referring to the type of framing that is done after getting such an amazing shot, that we print it and stick it in a frame on the wall. Instead, we are referring to framing subjects within the composition, that draw attention to the subject. The example below is from the Quikpro surf competition a few weeks ago. Notice how the surfer is wedged nicely between the heads of the two bikini clad onlookers.

Depth of Field

Ok, lets wrap things up discussing depth of field and focal length. As usual, I had planned to shoot a set of images specifically to demonstrate this point, but haven’t found the time. I think that I will probably talk Sam into doing a tutorial with me on this point. Depth of field is another compositional tools that can be used to draw attention to the subject. The image below is a great example of this.

As you will recall, aperture and focal length, combined with distance to subject are the factors that play into determining our depth of field. In the image above, I used a large aperture and long focal length to create a shallow depth of field. Because of the shallow depth of field, all of the models that are ahead or behind the subject, are not in focus. By paying close attention, you probably noticed that I also used this effect in the negative space and framing examples above. As much fun as it is to play around with depth of field, it can be tricky. If you are very close to the subject, with a very shallow depth of field, some of your subject might be out of focus, etc..

To achieve this effect, shoot in either aperture priority mode (AV for Canon), or if we are feeling confident about being able to adjust shutter speed and ISO for correct exposure, use manual mode. Set the f-stop to a low number, like f/4 or lower (note that depending on what lens is being used, f/4 might be the lowest). Ideally it is nice to be using either a prime lens, or a zoom with a constant aperture. What do I mean by that? A lot of zoom lenses have a variable maximum aperture setting depending on focal length (how far the lens is zoomed in or out). So, to eliminate some frustration from experimenting with depth of field, using a prime lens is probably the safest way to go. If you don’t have a prime, I recommend for Canon users purchasing the 50mm f/1.8. It is under $150.

Ok, now that we are in aperture variable or manual mode, let’s change our AF screen so that we only have a single point in the center of view finder. For Canon users, this is done by using the button at the top right of the back of the camera with the icon that looks kind of like a checker board. Click through here for instructions with Nikon. That will allow us to focus on a specific point, and not allow the camera to decide for us. Finally, change the AF mode to “one shot” or the Nikon equiv. We are ready to go.

As a general rule of thumb, here are the basics to remember–

Larger aperture (smaller f-stop number)= shallower depth of field.

Greater focal length = shallower depth of field.

Less distance to subject = shallower depth of field.

Let’s play out a quick scenario: We are shooting some portraits using a 50mm lens, trying to play up the shallow depth of field, the aperture is wide open. But, the photos are crap because only the end of the subject’s nose is in focus. What are the options? Option 1— close down the aperture a bit (choose a higher f-stop number). But, we don’t want to choose a higher f-stop because it is low lighting and we can’t afford to use a slower shutter speed or boost the ISO because it will cause camera shake or unwanted noise. Ok, let’s try Option 2— back away from the subject until the depth of field increases enough to have the subject’s entire face in focus. But, we don’t want to back away too far, because it throws off the desired composition by having all of that distracting stuff in the periphery. No worries, we can go with Option 3— let’s get rid of the 50mm and use a 100mm instead. Now we can back away far enough to have the whole face in focus, but still have the composition tightly cropped on the subject. Hey, I think that I just scripted out the next tutorial. Hehe.

Homework– experiment with composition using the rule of thirds, negative space or framing.

Extra credit– Combine one of the homework techniques in the line above with a depth of field effect.

Now get out and shoot!

View all parts of this series here.

audio goodness– freestlyers

I’m normally not much of a fan of dubstep. But every once in a while I hear one of the less intense/busy interpretations of  the genre that I can dig on. That’s how I feel about this track by the Freestylers. For an outfit touting one of the least creative names around, they fortunately put a little bit more effort into coming up with beats. This song is called “Cracks.” It features the vocals of Belle Humble, and is remixed by Flux Pavillion. You may or may not like it.


powered by pizza

This morning was my first race, in what seems like ages. It was also the first time that I have run in about a week and a half. I was feeling pretty sloppy when I woke up this morning, and actually dreading getting over to the park. But, once I picked up my number and I started to relax a bit, and really get excited to run. I initially planned on taking it easy, since I had taken so much time off. However, I have learned about myself that it is almost impossible for me to take it easy on race day, even if the race is just to boost my 9+1 stats. I was definitely happy with my time. I finished 111 out of 1883. I could see the pace truck for the first mile (which I clocked a 6:02 by the course clock/6:11 by my watch). My pace was only a few seconds slower than my fastest recorded race at New York Road Runners (which I admit is really not that fast [but it feels fast for me, ok!?]). I’m going to chalk it up to my lucky number 44. Kind of cool, right? .. finishing a 4 mile race as number 44, in 111th place. I’m no numerologist, but I’m amused by the repeating digits.

One good thing that came from this race, is that I remembered how magical it is to run in the fall weather. I spent the whole summer sweating and slugging it out with the heat and humidity. I almost forgot what it feels like to breath that chilly fall air, and the way it makes my lungs tingle. This race definitely lifted me out of my mental running funk (for today, anyway) and got me really excited about my fall running.


…you need to just chill out, go up on the roof and get a shot of the only pink cloud in the sky.

happy fashion week (cont’d)

The image above is currently one of my favorites shots from this iteration of NYFW. It was back stage at a Native Son show. Normally all of the back stage stuff that you get is the same. It is generally a bunch of candid images of people getting hair and makeup done, PR people yelling at other PR people in their headsets, etc.. My favorite overheard back stage conversation so far was “OMG, Yuri got arrested! We need to do a model count right now!”

Anyway, the reason that I like the image above so much, is because this particular show was off site at Pier 59 in Chelsea. The windows from the hair/makeup area of back stage opened onto the roof. So a bunch of the more Rat Pack-like models ducked out to have a quick butt. Another shot of the smoke break, below-

..and one from the actual presentation–

Next, let’s talk about Betsey Johnson.

I really like the animation going on with these curls.

Finally, I was dying over this adorable little family sitting on the front row.

Moving along to J. Crew. It is amazing the way that their look can be so sterile, but still beautiful. Favorite two looks from the presentation–

I’m hoping to have more images from these sets up on my photo blog by this weekend.

Oh yeah, wait. One more. I really liked this one from Billy Reid.

I wish that it wouldn’t have been so dark in there. I had to have the ISO jammed all of the way at like 1200 or something. So, this image isn’t very sharp. But I still really like the moodiness.

10 Years Later

We capped off our Sunday night in Brooklyn gazing across the water at the memorial light show. There were some low clouds, but it was still a pretty spectacular sight. We love our city.

Shutterlog Remix

I will never cease to be amazed by the level of creativity that some people have. Check out this video of shutter noises mixed into a beat.


Happy Fashion Week!

New York Fashion Week officially started today. Although, there were a few primer shows yesterday. I have been super busy shooting, already. Here are a couple of images from yesterday and today. Above– Hyden Yoo. Below–Richard Chai.

Above and below– Nicholas K.

More to come.

More exposure fun– aperture

Hello again! Sorry that this installation of the series is a day late (and probably a buck short).  I’m also going to apologize that there is no tutorial video to accompany this post. Sam is currently holding things down in Finland for the next couple of weeks. Hopefully we will shoot some more videos when he returns stateside. Until then, I hope that text and images can tide us over.

As much fun (and important) as shutter speed is. The aesthetic and mood of most of our images will mostly likely be dictated by our aperture settings. Candidly, I will admit that having a good handle on aperture settings probably trumps fully understanding shutter speed. Why? Because there are so many factors tied into the aesthetic quality of the image, that depend on aperture, besides just exposure. The main one that I’m referring to, is of course depth of field, which is sometimes referred to as focal plane. Those are a couple of terms that you will probably want to remember, especially depth of field.


Ok, just to review the basics about aperture settings as they pertain to exposure– Remember example of filling the bucket. The aperture is akin to the size of the hose in the bucket example.

Large aperture (low f-stop number, i.e. f/1.4)= lets larger volumes of light in for faster exposure.

Small aperture (high f-stop number i.e. f/16)= lets smaller volumes of light in for slower exposure.

Good? Ok, good.

Depth of field

Ok, I really meant to set up some shots this weekend to demonstrate the different effects that can be achieved with different aperture settings. Alas, I was running around like a chicken with its head cut off, and I didn’t want to postpone this installment any longer. So, I’m going to use some images (still recent) from former shoots that demonstrate the differences. First of all, what is depth of field? Great question. There are scads of equations that you could memorize to explain it. But, here is the simplest explanation: depth of field is the distance between the closest object (to the lens)  that is in focus, and the furthest object that is in focus. I was going to scratch out another crappy diagram, but there was a pretty good one on Wikipedia under a cc license. So I used it instead.

In addition to aperture size, focal length and distance to subject play into depth of field. For the moment let’s just concentrate on aperture.

Large aperture (low f-stop number, i.e. f/1.4)= shallow depth of field (blurry foreground and background).

Small aperture (high f-stop number i.e. f/16)= deep depth of field (it’s possible to have the entire composition in focus).

Here are a couple of quick examples of different aperture settings. You may remember them from this shoot.

Again, sort of ignoring focal length and distance to subject for a minute. This image was shot at f/4. Notice how the subject is nice and sharp, but the background  is much softer and not in focus (and the same would be true for the foreground, had I included any in the composition).

This image was shot at f/13. Yes it is a much wider angle, as well. But, notice that the cars are in focus and even the far tower of the bridge is a lot more sharply defined.

Preview to focal length

And uhhhh, since I used such differently composed images for the examples, we might as well throw in some extra terms, touching on focal length. The sort of “standard” focal length is right around 50mm. So, back in the day if you were to buy a point and shoot that had no zoom (remember, on an SLR, we call this type of lens “prime”), it was probably around 50mm. With a 50mm focal length as a reference, here are two additional terms–

wide angle” a focal length less than 50mm (the second example image above was shot at 20mm). Super wide angle lenses will have some lens distortion. Fish-eye lenses are a good example of that.

telephoto” a focal length more than 50mm, also referred to as a “long lens.” The first example above was shot at 115mm. As a general rule, if the image appears closer when you hold the camera up to your eye than it does in real life, the focal length is probably considered telephoto.

This post was kind of quick and dirty. Next time I will talk about how focal length and distance to subject interplay with aperture to give us the desired depth of field. But for now, let’s recap:  we learned that larger aperture settings give us more light flow and shallow depth of field. Small aperture does the opposite. Now, lets do some homework.

Let’s experiment with aperture. If we want to let the camera do the work on exposure, set the camera to aperture priority mode, “AV” for Canon. If we are feeling adventurous, go ahead and use “M” for manual, keep in mind that you will also have to change the shutter speed on “M” to get the right exposure.

Shoot in a well lit situation, so that you don’t have to worry about under exposing on a small aperture setting. Then shoot one of each–

1. One image with shallow depth of field (with the aperture wide open).

2. One image with everything in focus (the aperture stopped way down).

Extra credit: see how zooming in and out/changing distance to subject affect the depth of field.

Good luck! Feel free to report back.

View all parts of this series here.


Quik pro, day 1

I almost didn’t even go out to the comp today, since it was so overcast when I finished my run in the morning. The sun came out soon afterwards, and I got an email from one of my photog friends who said that the conditions were ok. By the time that I arrived in LB, the weather was great, but it was almost high tide, and the waves were kind of crap. I hung out in the press pavilion the whole time and almost didn’t bother getting the camera out. But then I decided that I should probably get a couple of atmosphere shots, at least.

I’m headed out there early tomorrow, hopefully the conditions will be a bit better, since low tide is at like 8 AM or something. I have had worse Labor Day weekends. At least I was able to work on my tan a little bit. Part of me secretly wishes that I could just skip out on fashion week altogether and just shoot surfing all week.

weekly running evaluation– week 13

That stickman image that I drew of myself sort of looks like I’m running, no? Well, I should have drawn it of me eating or sitting instead. This was another terrible week. I should have known that it would be, as number 13. But whatev. Pressing onward. I give myself a C- for the week. I made the mistake of doing a very intense core workout after my 10 mile run yesterday. As a result, I was having a terrible run this morning. Instead of slugging it out for 20 miles, I called it quits after less than half of that.

goal 4 m run 10 m run 5 m run 7 x hill rest 10 m pace
Actual 4.57 m run 10.03 m run 5.19 m run skipped rest 10 m pace

Totals for the week:

Count: 5 Activities
Distance: 37.02 mi
Time: 04:26:16 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 1,504 ft
Avg Speed: 8.3 mph
Calories: 4,940 C


Next week’s schedule:

5 m run 6 m run 5 m run 45 tem rest 6 m run

Hawk Vert Jam

Well… this is kind of awkward. I was supposed to be spending the weekend in Southern California. But, as they often do these days, my plans changed at the last minute. Friday was the official kickoff of New York City’s first ever major surf competition. Since Quiksilver is sponsoring it, Tony Hawk put on a vert demo as the inaugural event. The ramp was set up at the end of Pier 59 on the Hudson (14th St.). It was pretty amazing to be able to shoot these guys skating. Like every other kid who grew up skating in the 80’s I was always a massive fan of Tony Hawk. One of the other old school guys at the demo was Kevin Staab. His pro model was the first “real” skateboard that I ever bought. Anyway, that top image of Tony is one of my fav’s of the day. Here are a few more.

Sandro Diaz–

Elliot Sloan–

Sandro Diaz going huge with FDNY watching from the river–

Here is the sequence of Tony’s front side mellon  from the top of the post–

Sunday and Monday, I’m hoping to be shooting surfing at Longbeach. Have a great weekend.

i want this– Stussy Cruiser

I want this Stussy Livin’ cruiser deck. I love the shape. It has lines that are reminiscent of boards that I skated in junior high. Not to mention it is made by a brand that was hot in the same era. I like long boards to have some versatility, like the kick nose + tail on this thing. It’s something that you can bomb hills with, as well as throw the occasional shuvit.


Hola, September

I sort of can’t believe that September is here. I’m so glad that Sept. 11 falls on a weekend this year. Because historically, getting to work on that day has been a joke. I suppose that it wouldn’t matter much this year anyway, since it is smack in the middle of fashion week. I’m getting pretty stoked about FW. My calendar is getting more and more packed by the day. During ’11 spring FW I turned over the 7D’s clicker. In those few days I snapped close to 4000 images, and loved every second of it. The in between shows is what stresses me out.

Anyway, the screen shot above is of part of my August image folder. Yes… I’m a windows nerd. I also still rock a blackberry. Now that Steve Jobs has stepped down, I may venture over to the Mac (dark) side. Only if Mac decides to open up their gigantic tight fist a bit, when it comes to creating/servicing your own builds and custom software/apps. Otherwise, I will most likely continue to be a stick in the microsoft mud.

Back to the matter at hand. Did anyone else* who reads this stuff (besides Bob, Zach and Tammy) shoot anything cool in August? Hit me with links please!

*I’m sure that I left some ppl out. Please forgive.

Get ready for aperture basics, as a part of the photog series, on Monday (probably).