Monday, October 29, 2007

Videotape Recorders? What's That?

Many years ago, when I still resided in the San Diego area, I purchased an S-VHS video editing system to use for my work in video. Not many know that I actually have a court-qualification not only in Forensic Photography and Forensic Audio, but also in Forensic Videography as well. I created many videos for court applications while working both for the DA's Office in San Diego and also privately.

Anyway, back then I had a Newtek Video Toaster computer system which allowed anyone with a decent video editing system to create near broadcast quality effects and transitions. It was revolutionary at the time. Of course by today's standards, it doesn't compare. But to run it properly I purchased two Panasonic Industrial SVHS AG-7500 recorder/players and an AG-750 remote controller. It worked out great!

But today, I don't work in video at all. Virtually all of my work is photography related. So, I had put these machines up for sale to see if anyone might want them. When new, the retail price of this system was something like $15,000. Yikes! Luckily, I didn't buy them for that price because I got them used. I paid around $2500 for the system. So to help sell these, I priced the entire system for $250. One machine works just fine... the other needs to be repaired by resoldering one cable (I know exactly which one because if you jiggle it, it works.)

Well, nobody was interested. I figured even at $250 with one recorder working just fine, this might be a good system for someone to get started in working out their skills in video production. Wrong! Nobody wants it.

Today, video is digital based. And editing is done almost fully on computers. Nobody wants an old video machine even if it was state of the art years ago. It's similar to the demise of film for photography. Most people want a digital camera today... not a film camera.

My family currently uses the good recorder to play back our old VHS and SVHS tapes. It just seems like overkill to have such a huge industrial strength recorder to do that function. But it works and does an extremely good job playing back videotapes.

Anyone want a dinosauer? Make me an offer! Local pickup only because these things weigh a ton!

Friday, October 26, 2007

Goodall RCJ Images

How Many Guitars Do I Own?

If you read my blog regularly, you might be wondering, "How many guitars does this guy own?!" Afterall, I do post a lot about the new guitars I've acquired. Seems to be one every couple of months, right?

Well, I may buy a lot of guitars, but I don't keep them all! Often, I'll buy a guitar and then sell it again. Like many guitar fanatics, I am constantly searching for THE guitar... you know, the one that many might call the "Holy Grail" of guitars.

We all know that guitar doesn't exist, but we keep trying to find it.

Currently, I still own the following guitars:

Goodall RCJ - Rosewood / Sitka Spruce - Concert Jumbo
Taylor GS - Mahogany / Cedar - Grand Symphony
Ovation Legend - Nylon-string
Gibson Les Paul 25th Anniversary Electric Guitar
Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar (my daughter's actually)
Fender Jazz Bass (5 string)

That's it! All the other guitars you have seen listed on the blog have either been traded or sold.

So really, I don't own a lot of guitars at one time. But here's a list of the guitars that I used to own and have since sold:

“No Name” Hollow Body copy of a Gibson 335
Fender Telecaster Thinline
1972 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe
Gibson Les Paul ‘57 Goldtop – Custom Shop
1976 Takamine F340
Takamine NP45C
Takamine EC132SC- Cedar / Rosewood
Takamine EAN60C
Ovation Legend – Steel String (Solid Spruce Top)
Yamaha FG Series - 12 String
2003 Taylor 414rce – Sitka Spruce / East Indian Rosewood
2006 Taylor 614ce – Big Leaf Maple / Sitka Spruce
2006 Taylor GSMSe – Big Leaf Maple / Sitka Spruce with ES pickup
2003 Taylor 314ce-L4 – Sapele / Sitka Spruce
2006 Taylor DDSM – Big Leaf Maple / Sitka Spruce
2006 Taylor 110 with K&K Pure Western Mini Pickup - Solid Sitka Spruce top / Laminated Sapele back and sides
2007 Taylor DN3 – Sitka Spruce / Sapele - with K&K Pure Western Mini Pickup
2007 Taylor GS8e Custom (with Cutaway) – Sitka Spruce / East Indian Rosewood
2006 R. Taylor - Style 1 - Rosewood / Engelmann Spruce - with K&K Pure Western Mini Pickup
Fender Precision Bass

Yes, I've gone through a lot of guitars... but I only own a handful. Have I lost a lot of money doing this? Not really! I often buy my guitars used or at very good prices and then when I sell them again, I often get my money back. OK, I do lose a little... but considering how many guitars I have gotten to play over the years, it's not much.

Some people are drug addicts, others are alcoholics, others are gamblers. I'm just a guitar nut!

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Lowepro Belt System

Last Saturday, I lost the sternum strap on my Lowepro belt system when I took off it off to put it in the car. Without it, the shoulder harness tends to slip off easily.

I contacted Lowepro about it and they are shipping me a replacement strap free of charge! Now that's great Customer Service!

The belt system I use has a lot more attached bags on it than the one from Lowepro's website. My belt system looks more like the one shown below but when I took this photo, it did not have the shoulder harness attached. Plus, the current configuration has two more bags attached that are not depicted here as well!

Monday, October 22, 2007

National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame

Saturday's wedding was held at the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame located in the "Little Italy" area of Chicago. This museum has been open for the past five years and holds some very interesting memorabilia pertaining to Italian Americans who have made their mark in sports.

But beyond the museum, they have an incredible view of downtown Chicago from their rooftop! Not only was it spectacular during the day, but wait until night! The glow of the lights on the street and the buildings in the horizon really is breathtaking.

The wedding was held outside in the fountain area across the street. But after the wedding, we all headed up to the roof of the NIASHF to take in the view and to enjoy cocktails before the reception. As usual, I had great clients who were a real pleasure to work with. We all had a great time!

Friday, October 19, 2007

Goodall RCJ

Goodall Concert Jumbo
Photo by K. Proctor

This guitar just came in this evening... a Goodall RCJ (Rosewood/Sitka Spruce Concert Jumbo.)

I've been waiting for it so that I could post something about it. Yes, I know, I didn't post on Thursday again, but this is the reason I didn't do it!

The Goodall guitars are hand-built guitars in Hawaii from James Goodall and his small but capable staff. He produces about 500 guitars a year.

James Goodall was originally from San Diego and hung out at the American Dream guitar shop in the early 1970's... a small guitar manufacturing shop where Bob Taylor (Taylor Guitars) worked and eventually bought. Goodall was a seascape artist at the time and actually traded a painting in 1972 to afford some tonewood to build his first guitar! Although Goodall never worked for Taylor, they did know of each other. As many guitarists know, Bob Taylor along with partner Kurt Listug went on to form a huge company called Taylor Guitars that currently produces over 70,000 guitars per year. It's one of the most successful guitar companies in the world.

Goodall's yearly production of around 500 guitars is nowhere close to what Taylor builds. But each guitar is almost entirely made by hand. Considering that approximately 15 people work at the Goodall factory (from what I'm told), 500 guitars is an amazing amount of product. The attention to detail and the quality of the instruments are top notch. In comparison, The R. Taylor factory (Taylor's hand-built division) makes about 400 instruments per year, but they have about five people working in that division. R. Taylor shares a lot of its technology with the standard Taylor guitars and so they can produce more guitars with less people.

Goodall's guitars are very highly regarded by guitar enthusiasts. These guitars are often cited for their bell-like overtones and incredible clarity and sustain. From just the short time I've played the guitar, I can tell you that these claims are true. The Concert Jumbo is one amazing acoustic guitar!

This Goodall RCJ is outfitted with an LR Baggs Element undersaddle pickup. This pickup is considered one of the best of its type. I've yet to plug in the guitar to an amp, but will do that very soon.

More photos and a detailed description of the guitar and its sound will be coming in the near future after I've had a chance to live with it for a while. But in the meantime, the photo you see above was taken by its previous owner, Kyle Proctor. It's a wonderful photo and I asked his permission to show it to all of you.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

The Luvabulls

On Friday, I had a chance to see the Chicago Bulls play the Dallas Mavericks in an exhibition pre-season game. We won 100-92!

This was the first Chicago Bulls game I have ever been to in person and I had a great time! But surprisingly, as much as I liked watching the Bulls play, I had an even better time watching the Luvabulls!

The Luvabulls is the team's cheerleaders! They really helped make the game a lot more fun. Totally professional and tightly rehearsed (each member even put their pom pons in the same spot behind them when they weren't cheering); I was really impressed by them! It figures that a wedding photographer would photograph the girls rather than the game, right?

My daughter was in cheerleading several years ago and was also on the pom pon team as well. Today, she's on her school's Orchesis dance team. So to watch these girls on the Luvabulls was a natural thing for me. I kept telling my wife that the high school teams should attend these games just to pick up some pointers from these girls! (10-15-07 Note: My daughter reminded me that one of her former teachers, who was also at one time the High School Pom Pon coach, was formerly a Luvabull too!)

So even though I photographed the Bulls while they played, I shot probably just as many images of the Luvabulls too! Go see them if you can! And if you want to watch the ball game, you can do that too...

Friday, October 12, 2007

No Thursday Post!

Hmmm... Thursday came and went and I didn't post anything!

I think I'll hold off another day and try to post some photos from a Chicago Bulls exhibition game I am going to be attending on Friday. This will be the first Chicago Bulls game I've ever been to!

The United Center's website claims it's ok to bring cameras, so I will do my best to take some shots. I'm not sure if our seats will be good or not, but we'll see.

Look for my next post for some shots of the Bulls!

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Homecoming Weekend

This weekend was homecoming for many high schools including my daughter's. We spent Friday watching our team lose the football game at the high school. Of course, having the game ball delivered by helicopter was kind of fun!

Oh, there were a lot more people at the game than you see here. That's the opposing team's fans on the other side of the stadium. Our side was packed with people!

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Taylor Guitars Road Show - Tobias Music

Ballydoyle Irish Pub Restaurant

Dave Hager takes apart a Taylor GS

Wayne Johnson Performs on a Taylor 910e

Wayne "Taps" On A Taylor T5

Wayne plays the new Taylor Custom Solid Body

Tonight, I attended another Taylor Road Show... this one sponsored by Tobias Music in Downers Grove, IL. I bought my first Taylor guitar from Tobias Music, so it was great attending this event.

Wow... this was standing room only! It was held at the Ballydoyle Irish Pub Restaurant in Downers Grove. There was a line running outside of the room that was set for the event!

Essentially, this was the same presentation that was given at Gand Music & Sound, but in a different venue. I decided to keep the nice feel of the room by allowing the white balance of the photos to have that nice amber glow so well associated with incandescent lighting.

Another fun evening for guitar fans!

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Taylor Guitars Road Show - Gand Music & Sound

Wayne Johnson inspects an x14ce guitar
with a florentine cutaway, ES electronics,
Sinker Redwood top and Macassar Ebony back & sides

Wayne tries out one of the new Solid Body Taylors

Dave Hager shows off a cutaway version
of a GS body with ES electronics inside

Dana Behl works on a neck reset

Dana shows the proper technique
for restringing a guitar

Last night, I attended the Taylor Guitars Road Show which was held at Gand Music & Sound in Northfield, IL.

Wayne Johnson who had played with The Manhattan Transfer for many years was on hand to help demonstrate various Taylor guitars and also to help unveil the new solid body electric guitars that Taylor Guitars will be offering very soon.

Taylor's regional sales manager, Dave Hager and Taylor Guitars repair technician Dana Behl were there as well to help explain the various technologies offered by Taylor.

The new solid body electric guitars look very promising. This is a new venture for Taylor and they have high hopes for it. A couple of years ago, Taylor started making electric guitars with the introduction of the now legendary T5 model which is a hollow body guitar. The new solid bodies have a lot of competition but I think these models will do just fine in the marketplace. To see more photos from the Road Show, click here.

Photo notes: These images were taken with just the ambient light at the store. The Fuji S5 pro was set for both aperture priority and manual modes depending on what was being shot. A strong floodlight was directly over Wayne Johnson which confused the camera's aperture priority mode. Switching to manual mode saved the day. (Exposures: ISO 1600, f2.8 and various shutter speeds which hovered around 1/80 second to 1/125 second.) Lenses used: Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VR and Tamron 17-50mm f2.8 XR DII SP.

Monday, October 01, 2007

The Hallway

I love taking photos of the bride as she walks down the hallway. This one has been cropped to give a pseudo - panorama look.

Something about the converging lines of the ceiling and wall moldings and the darkening of the lighting in the background always looks interesting to me. Add a little camera tilt and it completes the effect.

I'll bet the brides are always a little anxious too whenever they leave their hotel room. After all, in just a short time, they'll be married! That's got to be a little scary! LOL