Sunday, February 28, 2010

It IS the camera

As photographers we talk about gear A LOT. We throw out combinations of letters and numbers that sound like gibberish to the untrained ear. “I just picked up a 28-300 3.5-5.6L,” or “Is that an EF or EF-S?” and “Are you getting the D3x or the 1Ds Mark III?”

Inevitably someone always says, “It’s not about the camera, it’s about the photographer.” Every time I hear that, I cringe (and I occasionally want to whack that person upside the head). It’s just not that simple.

My nephew, a rather successful photojournalist, said the dreaded, “It’s not about the camera, it’s about the photographer,” line to me once after hearing me rant about wanting a better camera. Okay, sure, he could out-shoot me any day of the week no matter what camera we each had, but I still think gear plays a very important role in image making. It’s not like you see all the pros on the sidelines at a Super Bowl with a pink Sony ultra-slim Cyber-Shot or a Nikon Coolpix.

I’ve seen beautiful pictures shot with a cell phone camera and I’ve seen horrible images taken with expensive SLRs, even with all the nice lenses. Sure the photographer’s eye plays a huge roll in picture making, but having the right gear in the right hands offers a large degree of control over the outcome of the photograph. There are some photos that would be downright difficult to shoot without the option to choose your focal length, your f-stop and shutter speed. Even the glass inside the lens gives a noticeable difference in image quality.

Okay, even I think that 45 autofocus points are overkill, but I could use camera that had an ISO range of 50 – 25600. I may never fully utilize the 63-zone TTL full aperture metering, but I’d be pleased as punch to have up to 5 custom white balance settings. So please, please, don’t tell me it’s not about the camera anymore, because sometimes it is.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

JP's visit

This weekend my friend JP came to visit from New York. He wanted to get away from the cold weather for a while.

We already did the touristy thing the last time he came to visit. This time I wanted to do something a little bit more ‘local.’ I struggled for a few weeks to figure out where I could take him. What did SoCal have to offer that New York didn’t? In the end I decided to take him to one of my favorite spots, Ports O’ Call in San Pedro.

My parents used to take the family to Ports O’ Call when I was little. We would buy some seafood and head up the coast to White Point Beach for lunch. The Port of Los Angeles is the largest working port in the United States. Often, cargo ships would go in and out of the harbor as I ate my lunch. Sometimes I would even wave to passengers on the cruise liners as they went by (usually when Randy wasn’t around because he gets embarrassed when I do that).

Dungeness Crab

My first order of business was to choose a live Dungeness crab for lunch. Vendors around the market place will cook up any of the seafood you buy there. The next stop was for, what I like to call, “tray o’ shrimp”. I can never resist getting it! The shrimp fajitas come with corn tortillas, several lemons, and salsa, but I usually get a side of garlic bread too. To top off the meal JP and I got some Coronas while Randy had a strawberry smoothie served in a pineapple.

Shrimp Fajitas at Ports O' Call

After lunch I mentioned that I normally have a frozen banana for dessert. To my horror JP said he never heard of it before. I had to remedy that situation right away! For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s a frozen banana on a stick, hand dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped peanuts. Yup, he seemed to enjoy it.

Frozen Banana

After San Pedro we went up to LA for some Thai desserts at Baan Kanom Thai. They have all types of sweets like “kanom buang” and “sai mai”, stuff you normally have a hard time finding outside of Thailand.

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Grauman's Chinese Theater

Since we were so close, we decided to go to Grauman’s Chinese Theater. I’ve only been there twice, even though I grew up here; the last time was when my friend Kat was visiting. We looked at the footprints in the cement and walked down the Hollywood Walk of Fame to see the Kodak Theater where the Academy Awards are now held. Shortly after that it was time to say goodbye.

Hollywood Walk of Fame

Randy and JP in Hollywood

I can’t believe we’ve known each other for almost 20 years now.

I already miss JP.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Glue Gun Fun

Glue Gun

I bought my first glue gun last week. It’s not the first time I’ve wielded one, it’s merely the first one I’ve ever owned.

I’ve been wanting to “bling” out my camera strap and camera bag for sometime. My friend Craig calls it my "need to bedazzle." My friends know I'm a sucker anything shiny. Heck, I'd hot glue rhinestones to my car if I had enough money to do it. If it's good enough for Liberace, it's good enough for me. Sure it's gaudy, but luckily I stopped caring what people thought about this part of my personality a while ago. I like a little flare in my life.

I’m not done yet, but I wanted to show you what I’ve done so far. So excited!

Pinlux Camera Bag

Pinlux Camera Strap

I am a photographer by default

I am a photographer. The problem with telling people that is that they seem to think that I take pictures for a living. I don’t.

Sure, photography is what I’m trained to do. Every job I’ve had and the past 12 years of my education has revolved around photography. I honestly don’t know how to do anything else. I doubt I have the skills to get a clerical job and I think they would even fire me for being incompetent at McDonalds. Photography is my life – by default.

I never intended to enter this field. I just liked to take pictures – with no intent to make money from it. It was only after being immersed in it for a while that it occurred to me that I could make money from it.

Seriously, the thought of taking pictures for a living makes me nauseous. Don’t take this to mean that I think of myself as an artist – far from it. Calling myself an artist feels just as wrong as calling myself a brain surgeon or a nuclear physicist.

I don’t know what I am. I just know that I’m not that easily labeled. I like to write, but I don’t want to be a writer; I like to create. Then, of course, it occurs to me that I don’t need to be labeled as anything at all. I’ll just do the things I like to do and that’s enough.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Cypress College Bookstore Food

OK, OK. I get it, you’re tired of looking at that blog post of Randy’s finger. I’ve heard from 4 people already that I need to update my blog. Frankly, I’m surprised that there are even four people reading my blog!

Let’s talk about food then – it’s always one of my favorite topics.

Lately, I’ve been buying my food from the Cypress College Bookstore (they’ve been making a small fortune from me) rather than the food service place in the Student Center or places off campus. Yes, it’s pre-packaged food, but I’m telling you that the food from the bookstore tastes better than the stuff they prepare at the food service place, it’s less expensive, and the people in the bookstore are way nicer! My peeps in the bookstore take very good care of me.

I’d like to give a shout out to my homies, The Bookstore Crew! Holla! (I know, I know, I’m not supposed say “Holla!” ever again, but I couldn’t resist.)

Breakfast: Lisa’s Natural Gourmet blueberry and peach yogurt parfait with crunchy granola toppings.

blueberry and peach parfait

Lunch: Cajun Chicken Sandwich on Pita Bread with aioli sauce, a bag of sour cream and onion Lay’s, and a cherry Dr. Pepper. Oh Yum!

Cajun Chicken Pita Sandwich

Afternoon Snack: Kosher Couscous Salad with green onions, parsley, bell peppers, tomatoes, olive oil, marinara sauce, and some spices (that is if I can beat a certain buddy of mine to it first).


***An honorable mention goes out to the chicken salad sandwich. It’s also very good.