Continual Shopping

Hi all,

Been racking my brain since the first of the year about what to blog about. So I figure I will ramble on about feeling like I’m purchasing or need to purchase something every month to make my photography life easier and the insights or not of purchasing those small things that make a difference…or lack thereof.

So, last year, I had a terrific bubble level for the camera that I had purchased. And, of course, I lost it during one of my shoots. I purchased another one at a local camera store, which I’m not too thrilled with. It’s not as precise as the other one but it was all I have until I figured out what other brand to purchase. Last month, bought three online thinking they would be better. It was hard to imagine that they could level even worse. Every one of them. Apparently, not every level levels the same. Who would have thunk? I assumed with quality control and these bubble levels needed to be precise, that each one would level exactly the same. I really need to stop assuming things! I, unfortunately, am still on the hunt for a good bubble level. How does the building industry do it? Strapping one of those levels to my camera may be a bit much.

I just purchased some transparent door stops and waiting for them to come in for pick up. It was something simple and useful to get for my gear, but I had waited. Lately, I’ve been finding doors that just won’t stay open so I thought, “Hmm, I wonder if they sell transparent ones?”. Lo and behold, they do.

Besides getting some more lenses (which isn’t happening yet), I think I need to replace a tripod I just bought in August but didn’t start using on a daily basis until October. So, math time… that’s 3 months of continual use and abuse. That is really sad. When I bought the tripod, I knew it wasn’t what I really wanted but it was what the job (at the time) had called for. Not exactly buyer’s remorse since I knew what I was getting, but I thought it would have held up a bit better.

So, what am I looking for in a tripod? Well, the tripod is made up of the head, which is the top part where you secure your camera to, and the legs. For architectural photography, I need a three-way head, where I can straighten the angle on three axes. A quick release plate is always a good idea. I think I prefer the Arca Swiss type head though. This involves sliding the quick release plate into the head and clamping it down by turning a knob versus snapping the camera down in place with a click. Though the second may be more efficient, I’m always afraid that I’ll accidentally hit the lever that releases the plate and my camera will fall off.

Arca Swiss Head

Arca Swiss Head

Three-way head

Three-way head


Quick release plate for three-way head








Although it would be convenient to remove the handles on the head if placing it in a stand/tripod bag, I would rather that they not be removable. I’ve already thought I’d lost one handle because it was loose and slipped off (thankfully into the rain cover I had over my bag). Shooting interiors with one handle is not recommended. Besides these considerations, I also have to think about how much weight will be on the tripod and will have to choose my head accordingly. When I first bought the current tripod, I was only expecting to have my camera body and a 14mm lens on it. But I’ve occasionally had to put a 24-70mm on it. When the camera is shooting vertical, all you will see is a drooping camera because the weight is too heavy.

As for the legs, I prefer to have a tripod that is taller than my height. Of course, this get a little more costly, the higher you go. There were three different ways to extend the legs: twist and lock, the flip lock, and the knob.

Twist lock

Twist lock

Flip lock

Flip lock








When I was looking into tripods last year, I couldn’t really find any new tripods that had the knob. Someone had told me to get the flip lock, which I knew I wasn’t going to like tremendously. And that’s true, I’ve had to had one particular flip lock constantly tightened. Otherwise, you have one sagging tripod leg as you’re trying to take multiple exposures. Quite annoying. When I was at Hallmark Institute of Photography, we had tripods that used the twist and lock. I like these a lot better, though sometimes I couldn’t untighten the lock or I would turn the lock the wrong way so that I would be trying to tighten one section of the leg for five minutes. There’s currently a new tripod out where you don’t have to deal with all the knobs, flops, and twists. You just extend the legs out and it locks itself. It sounds really good in theory. I don’t worry too much about having spikes on the ends of the tripod legs since I’m not shooting on any steep, soft incline. I do have to consider whether having the legs fold up in three or four sections is better. Four is more compact, could get the tripod taller, but more unstable because the diameter of the leg sections is smaller than that of the three sectioned legs. For me, I would want to have a center column. Though it’s less stable to have it up, shooting exteriors when I can’t get far enough away from the building to include all of it, even with the legs fully extended, it helps extend the camera up a little bit to where I still can get the top of the building without having to tilt the camera up. If I was doing macro photography on the ground, a center column hinders more since I won’t be able to get closer to the ground. Another consideration I didn’t think I’d have problems with, but I’m now conscious of, is the hinges I pull out to further extend the legs than normal. I don’t necessarily use this for my architectural shots, but having those hinges pull out more readily when I don’t intend them to is a bit frustrating when I’m trying to set up the tripod.

Leg sections & center column

Leg sections & center column









And one last consideration, (“Geez! Isn’t that enough?! What else could there be???”, you ask.) is what the tripod is made out of. Currently, mine is made out of aluminum. Not exactly ideal. It’s light but not as durable. But running around the city with it on my back, it’s quite heavy enough, though not for the right purpose. There’s steel, but that’s heavy. Then there’s carbon fiber, which is the best of both, light but sturdy…and pricey. I have a wooden tripod, but that’s for use with my medium format camera.

I hope this had led to some insights! Thanks for reading!

Happy Early Christmas/Season’s Greetings!!!!

Hi all,

It seems kind of weird it’s almost Christmas already. No snow except for that one storm a couple of weeks ago. Still trying to figure out my shopping list and where to go. Off and on, I’ve been seeing magazine covers with Holiday cookies, desserts, and projects. It’s making me itch to bake and photograph food again.

I don’t think I’ve ever really made Holiday cookies except for maybe the Pillsbury ones with the Christmas tree in the middle. Always wanted to make a gingerbread house too. Maybe I’ll figure out plans on constructing a Victorian one for next year. Hmmm…stained glass windows. I’d need to learn to play with sugar for that! I saw giant gingerbread men at one of the booths they have set up at Union Square for Christmas. It’s quite a sight if you’re in the area but oh so very crowded. My personal bubble had to be shrunk down to almost (okay, was) non-existent. Found some tempting handmade chocolate snowmen at Whole Foods.

Edible cuteness

Edible cuteness













Decorative street lights were being hung up around Thanksgiving time. So, the snowflake was taken in Brooklyn.

Brooklyn Snowflake

Brooklyn Snowflake

Here’s hoping for a white Christmas! =D   (Just saw the snow on my blog. Forgot about that. That makes me happy!)

Safe travels and holidays everyone! See you next year!

In threes (pt. trois)

Oh my!!!! It all posted! Yay! I can go eat now. Breakfast or lunch? Too bad I can’t make scones. My brother’s kitchen doesn’t quite have all that I have back home to bake and cook with. =) 

But wow, those pics look bright on site. Enjoy!

In threes (pt.deux)

In threes

Sigh, third time’s a charm hopefully. This is the third time writing this post this morning. It seems there is not a save draft button anymore. The entry is getting shorter with each try.  =/

Let’s see…

Currently home from work because NYC transit has shut down. Winds are picking up. It’s rained but not terribly hard. I’ve moved my car to the Wednesday street cleaning side but wondering if the street cleaning sign is going to fall on top of the car at some point with the hurricane. Oh, the irony! 😉

Went to PhotoPlus Expo and shoot nyc last week. Got to learn new things, found new products, met new folks, and found some old friends. Been planning on getting new business cards with moo again. I’ve been trying to decide on which photos to feature on the cards. I will use a few of the popular ones from my current batch, one of which is on my website in the Fine Arts portfolio.

I need to start photographing food again. Not exactly a good topic to talk about since I’ve been hungry all morning and just haven’t gotten up to feed myself. Any suggestions? (for photographing, not breakfast soon-to-be lunch!) Keep in mind I’m vegetarian. Been thinking maybe I should do holiday themes since the holiday season is here. There have been some pretty awesome concepts on the covers of the food magazines at the checkout counters. The other day, I saw a bandaged head in the window of a bakery. Now if only I was in my kitchen!

Okay, I think I am going to post this entry first and then the pictures. Hopefully something gets up today!


Hello everyone! Hope those in the US are having a great Labor Day weekend. I, myself, got to see two classmates from Hallmark. I forgot how pretty the Susquehanna River is the further north in PA you travel. My website is officially online. Yay! For those of you who found it beforehand, it’s updated with my newest pictures. I’ll be adding prices to the images in my Fine Art portfolio soon. I still have plenty of images to sort through so I’ll be adding to the Fine Art section periodically.

A friend of mine is doing a Gratitude a Day post on her website. It’s a pretty cool idea and it will get more positive energy into the world. Check it out!

Let’s see, what other useless information can I give you because I have no good stories to write about at the moment? I’m itching to make a chocolate silk pie. I found a dream tripod head and almost perfect tripod (on paper). The tripod is almost perfect because fully extended, it’s shorter than me. Now if I had a bank account that could afford that…=) I’ve started watching XIII on the Reelz channel. Am happy that Doctor Who has started up and hoping that BBC America is not turning into one of the many other cable channels in showing primarily reality shows. I want to see comedies or dramas in the spirit of Coupling or Monarch of the Glen.

Since I’m not at the beach and many of you probably are, here’s a pic to leave off with. Enjoy!

Almost done!

Hi again! Wow, two posts in less than a week. That’s definitely a record for me. No, really, it is. Just check it out! =P

Anyways, I had my portfolio review yesterday, second person to go. I passed (yay!). Now two and a half??? more weeks until graduation. Then off to spend time in Cape Cod with my “twin” (my best friend who is so much like me that it’s scary). Cape Cod will never be the same again! =D

Final portfolio turned in!

Hello world!

My final portfolio for photography school is turned in. Now I will sit and wait on Monday and Tuesday to have my pictures critiqued by three great photographers from the photo industry: Simon Alexander, Lois Greenfield, and Grant Peterson.

Not much to write about just yet (because my brain still isn’t functioning quite yet) besides that all the craziness of the last few months has ended. I think I still have yet to process that my portfolio is turned in. But this upcoming month, I will still have lots of photos to edit and retouch to give to all my wonderful models. Exactly 20 days until graduation! 

I haven’t been taking any personal pictures lately but that will soon change. Here’s one that I did manage to take…


Oh dear! How time flies!

Hello world!

I’ve been wanting to post for many weeks now but haven’t found the time, unfortunately. How will I find the time to keep up with this and a Facebook page? It seems like a ton has happened since I last posted. Phase III is long gone and I am on the tail end of Phase IV. My portfolio is up for review at the beginning of June. I’m busily looking for and photographing models, still life, and architecture. Where is there time to edit and retouch????

I wanted to post some pictures of my trip to (the further western part of) the Berkshires. But, alas, my hard drives (3 to be exact) have run out of space and the files are currently waiting to be imported into Lightroom. I believe my computer is annoyed with me copying and deleting files all day today. But in other news, I assisted an architectural photographer over spring break in NYC and learned lots. I recently observed photo shoots from two different food photographers.  I’m just about finished with my website. Just need some tweaks and my logo. I’m beginning my search for freelance and not so freelance jobs.

This week I will make creme brulee (for the first time) for one of my commercial portfolio requirements. I’ll let you know how it turns out. =)

Until next time…

Japanese New Year is celebrated on January 1st unlike the Chinese or Indian New Year which follows the lunar calendar. The kind people of the Asian Cultural Center of Vermont (ACCVT) allowed me to join them and photograph their celebration. I met many wonderful people and learned more about the Japanese culture. They were very welcoming. The following gallery contains some of the pictures I took. The pictures are a bit grainy because even though I had my tripod, it was inconvenient to use in the gallery given the number of people and activities there. Oh, and yes, there are a number of food pictures! Cai paints the most wonderful paintings. I wish I could take all of them home with me!