Gear Plans

I really do not know what to write about here.  Well at least not till I can come up with a story for my next personal project- environmental portraiture, name still forthcoming.  Though that will definitely be posted on my Exposure site.  It is a really difficult thing having writer’s block.  No.  That’s an excuse.  I think it is definitely more like not having the right motivation to write.  My last story that I wrote about was my journey to Vietnam for the month.  And that was in 2016.  There were some ideas of trying to continue In Search of Little Saigon in America.  But after Cafe Diem, I hit nothing but “yes!  Let’s do it.  But that never came to fruitition.  Maybe they were unsure of my presence?  Too busy?  So after so many roadblocks, I decided to put that on hiatus.  I mean I still will make photos of Vietnamese shops, but at this point I am not sure I am going to be able to make a story from them.  At least here in Philadelphia.  

I don’t know if there will be a story to tell with the environmental portrait series either.   

So I guess the topic that I can rely on getting back into writing is... about gear.  Hooray?  It is actually the least favorite, though I do have a running wishlist that I want to buy.  Sooooo...

I am strongly considering buying a new MacBook Pro.  I have the 2017 iMac, and recently purchased a iPad Pro that I am currently typing this on.  I do all my edits on the iMac, cause 27 inches of screen real estate is hard to pass as a photographer.  But my mobile edits, I use LR CC’s profiles where one of their profile edits is close to what I use as my baseline edit- dvlop’s profile presets.  The reason for my thoughts on the MacBook Pro is simply tethering.  I don’t want to lug my 27in iMac around to shoots.  And while I can tether to my iPad, it isn’t reliable.  Nor can I photograph with my camera, since everything is controlled via Bluetooth on the iPad.  So unless I lock down the camera in position, I’m pretty not going to be able to walk around the scene.  Choosing where the camera focuses is also kinda problematic. Plus there is a short and noticeable delay between camera and Bluetooth tethering.  Making it very hard to make it a real reliable tool to tether.  That is actually pretty much the only reason why I want to go the MacBook Pro route.  But those things are $2000 and up.  So I’ll work on this mobile solution for now.  Who knows, maybe the wireless tethering to the iPad will be better.  I like PCs, but I am already in the Apple ecosystem so that’s not a viable solution for me.  

Another Profoto B1.  After my portrait session during #PhillyOver9000, I saw the future  need of having a 2nd B1.  While I do think the A1 is a great compliment to my B1, it is hard to do a main light, with a kicker light, and rim light with two lights.  I thought the two light setup was fine for my food work.  But here is the thing.  I feel like I need to move more towards environmental portraiture so that I can make more money as a photographer.   So having a 2nd B1, would really be pretty beneficial if I were to be serious about that move as a photographer.  I’ll still be shooting food and drinks, but with a stronger skill set with environmental portraiture.  

Aside from assorted light modifiers, I think the last camera gear I will want is a wide angle lens.  I can get away with 35 - 50 - 85 -100 macro, for nearly everything.  That is till I have to shoot in a tight kitchens and spaces.  I’ll probably go for a zoom this time around.  


These are my gear plans.  After all of these items, I don't think I am going to need much else.  Well in terms of computing and camera gear.  Will always need new storage space, but HDDs are always needed.  I did at one point think about  switching camera brands, because the Sony A7R III is such a sweet camera.  But, not worth it just for a 1-2 stop difference in dynamic range.  I did think about the Fuji GFX series, the mirrorless kinda medium format set up.  Which may still happen in the future, but the grand total of that addition would be a cool $16,000.  So.  That's not likely going to happen any time soon.

Looking at what's being made at home and inspiration.

As I have been working on test shoots, to improve on my lighting manipulating and styling, I have forgone mentioning something else.  Lately I have been buying more heritage clothing and shoes.  My dad would be shocked if I told him how much each item costed.  The way I see it that I am spending a lot up front, but over time these clothing and shoes will be with me a good 20 years or my entire lifetime.  I am not a fan of fast fashion which majority clothing industry is at right now.  I know that some of my clothes, like my Levi jeans and dress shirts have come from overseas, but I am slowly moving my wardrobe to be Made in America.  If you want to see the human costs of fast fashion here are some youtube links to watch.


John Oliver

Give them a watch.

So these brands that I have been buying?  Wolverine bootsFilson and Allen Edmonds.  So while I do admit that the cost of each item is a little hair raising, e.g., just one pair of my allen edmonds costed me $395.  Thankfully I am done buying dress shoes, or shoes in general.  I previously owned some shoes that I bought from DSW a year and a half ago that broke.  I spent $120 on that one pair.  If I had to spend $120 every year and a half for shoes, that would be more costly if I bought them every year and a half at about the same cost compared to buying a pair of $395 allen edmonds that is recraftable.  What I am trying to say is just buy smart when buying clothing for your wardrobe.  

Because of these new wardrobe purchases my own personal style has evolved from the put whatever comes in my hands or college dressing to a more refined and heritage look.  The three businesses, Wolverine, Filson, and Allen Edmonds have been making their products for a very long time.  I think Filson is the longest lasting one of the three.  Having three of their items, a Mackinaw Cruiser, Tin Cloth Short Cruiser, and their Magnum camera bag, it is suffice to say that I have a great love of their products.  

I am pretty close to finishing my wardrobe now.  I might pick up a pair of Redwing boots...

At this point, how this fits with my food work.. is that I am drafting up story pitches that combines those pieces and brands with food work.  For example, since I am in the city often, one story is a couple guys wearing allen edmonds shoes going to get cocktails and tapas.  Another is of an outdoor shoot, with filson gear and wolverine/redwing boots cooking food over a campfire.  I am trying to iron out those ideas and finding people who would be up for that.  I don't mind if they have to use my items, provided they fit and don't be abusive to them.  

While I was mulling over story pitches and ideas, I did some test shooting.  Check them out.

Making test shoots: Ice Cream

Bringing back the test shoots.  Back in mid 2012, I started going out more to check out different shops to eat and photograph while my test shooting went to the back burner.  Eventually I just focused on location and restaurant food images that my test work stopped.  Gladly after going to Penny's workshop, I have started to do more test shoots.  Well even though my work space is small.  Using a flash softbox and white/black boards, I have just been testing food styling and product work.  

For this session, I used the Weckerly's ice cream as my test subjects.  I stocked up on the pints, after finished eating them, and bought two more to make this set.  I also bought their Koko ice cream sandwich, but realized that I need more than one sandwich to make an image work.  So that will come later as I need to go back to the store to buy them.  I wanted to make this a little moody, and allow the whites and colors stand out more so I used more darks in the background and base.  Well for most of them.  

I am a sucker for natural light, but as I came home late from work yesterday it was already cold and dark out.  Hence using the flash and softbox to try to emulate morning light as it was placed to the right of these photographs.  I will eventually pick up a Profoto B1, but the flash and softbox will suffice for now. 

What I am training myself on, is where to place the items for a stronger composition, color coordination, styling of the food, and the lighting.  What I learned last night, is that photographing ice cream is always difficult.  And will be so in the summer when it is hot out.  Not only is it trickier to get the right looking scoop, you have to work fast before the subject starts to melt.  Being one person, moving fast with changing the sets and shooting means I have to be extremely efficient with my movements and decisions.

This is my summary of this test.  Ice cream sandwiches should come next.

Story of what the Pope would Eat in Philly

Back in July I worked on a story for Edible Philly to get ready for the Pope's visit to Philadelphia.  I scanned and posted said story onto this blog knowing that it might be difficult for you to get a copy of Edible Philly, outside of the city, and if you do not subscribe to the publication.  It was a hard time for me to find it too.