Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Nikon D750

After playing with the Nikon D750 this past week, let me just say this... the Nikon D750 could very well be one of the best full frame cameras for the money today.  At a retail price of just under $2300 (body only), the camera offers a lot for the price.

It's 24.3 MP full frame image sensor offers a native ISO range of 100 - 12,800 and extends to 51,200 although nobody would really want to do that since it's quite noisy at that high of an ISO.  The camera's continuous shooting ability goes to 6.5 frames per second which isn't the fastest on the market, but reasonable enough for many types of action events.

It's a relatively small camera body and while it is considered an "enthusiast" camera, I'd say a pro can easily use it for professional use.  Would I use it for a wedding?  Absolutely!  Many pros are now buying this camera as both their main camera and also as their backup camera.

You can read all about the camera through the various reviews on the internet, but let me just tell you my impressions:

1.  I like the smaller body and lighter weight.
2.  The high ISO ability in low light is adequate, but not as good as a Nikon Df or Nikon D4s.
3.  The shutter sound is quieter than a Nikon D4s, but not as quiet as a Nikon Df or Nikon D810.
4.  It's full frame!  You can get shallower depth of field with full frame image sensors and it handles low light better too!
5.  The video ability allows for full HD recording at 1920 x 1080 / 60 frames per second... great for slow motion.
6.  It is the first full frame camera with a tilting LCD screen.
7.  It has built-in WiFi which works great!  You can control the camera to take photos remotely with your smart phone or tablet.  You can even transfer images in JPG to your device too!  It will also take a RAW image amd convert it to a small JPG for upload to Facebook or emailing purposes!
8.  The new face detection matrix metering helps get proper exposure if it detects a person's face in the image!
9.  The shutter is rated to 150,000 actuations.

There are a lot of features on this camera, but most importantly, the images look great!

If you are looking for a full frame camera, this is one I would highly recommend.  While not as high of a resolution as the 36.3 MP on a Nikon D810, it has plenty of resolution for most applications.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Museum of Science and Industry


I spent the morning and afternoon with several Balanced Exposure students at the Museum of Science and Industry yesterday.  I hadn't been there in several years, but wanted to do something during the winter months.  I decided to offer a quick field trip since it was a museum "Free Day" which would save us all on entrance fees.  Of course, the parking was $20 still!

I found the museum rather crowded, but expected that since it was a "free day" after all.  Still, I believe we all had a good time taking in all the exhibits and seeing the holiday decorations there.

I especially like seeing all the kids having fun at the museum!  The Museum of Science and Industry was my favorite museum growing up here in the Chicago area and just seeing the kids running around and enjoying it brought back fond memories of when I did the same thing as a child.

No MSI trip would be complete without a visit to the hatchery of baby chicks!  We visited them and I was able to get a good shot of two of them together.

Go visit the museum if you get the chance.  Lots of interactive exhibits there, but we were just concentrated on taking photos of everything!  All images were taken with the Nikon Df full frame camera and a Sigma 24-105mm f4.0 DG Art Series lens.  Camera was set on Aperture Priority mode at f4.0 using Auto ISO to complete the exposures.  Images were shot in RAW format and converted in Adobe Lightroom 5 and cropped as needed with Adobe Photoshop Creative Cloud.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Des Plaines River Dam

I decided to check out the Des Plaines River today and found these two anglers wading in the river.  Image was taken with a Nikon D300 camera and Sigma 24-105mm f4.0 Art Series lens.  Image processed with Photomatix HDR software and enhanced in Photoshop CC.

Fall colors were seen as I walked back to my car...

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Possible Blacklock 8 Skillet - 1896-1910

Back in 1896, Joseph Lodge assisted his minister friend to open Blacklock Foundry.  While Lodge was not actively involved in the company in the beginning years of the company, he later helped out when the company was struggling.

In 1910, the Blacklock company burned to the ground, so Lodge later opened his own company just a few blocks away and called it Lodge Cast Iron Company.  Today, Lodge is the one of the only American companies still manufacturing cast iron skillets.  A new company called Finex has recently started making cast iron skillets as well, but Lodge is the oldest American company doing so.

This is the oldest skillet I currently own.  Based on the years of manufacturing, this makes the skillet anywhere from 104 to 118 years old as of the year 2014!

These are called "Possible Blacklock" skillets since very little is known about the company and its products since all their records burned up with the fire.  But based on similarities with Lodge skillets in its time period, we can assume that these cast iron skillets were from Blacklock.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Griswold #5

Griswold #5 - Large Logo - manufactured from 1920-1940.

Image taken with a Nikon D4s and Nikon 24-70mm f2.8.  1/320 sec, f9.0, ISO 100.  Three Alien Bees B400 studio flashes.

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Blood Moon - Oct 8, 2014 at 5:28 AM

Blood Moon - 10/08/14 at 5:28 AM

This image was taken with my Sigma 24-105mm f4.0 DG Art Series lens on a Nikon Df full frame camera. Not as sharp as it could have been, but better than getting nothing at all. My Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII lens was at the school, so I had to use what was available.

Image was shot on Manual mode, ISO 200, F4.0, 2 seconds. Camera was mounted on a tripod.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Diet Update: Down 40 lbs in 13.5 Weeks

My diet goal for 2014 was 50 lbs of loss by the end of the year.  I started my diet on July 5.

So in just 13.5 weeks, I've now lost 40 lbs.  I find that I'm losing about 2 lbs per weeks now.  Based on this, I estimate I should drop to my 50 lb goal by Thanksgiving.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Coho Salmon - Racine Wisconsin

Foggy day fishing today in Racine Wisconsin.

This 6 lb - female Coho Salmon was caught at 4:55 AM.  No other fish were caught from any other fishermen on the shore the rest of the morning.  Well, my friends and I left around 10 AM, so perhaps there could have been another caught after that time, but I doubt it.  Most often fish are usually caught before 8 AM.

Fishing was tough today.  While the temperature was decent and not freezing me out there and the water was really calm, it was extremely foggy.  The fog horns were driving me crazy since I was within perhaps 15 feet of it.

After getting home, I vacuum-packed the fish and froze it.  I'll head back out there soon.  This is Salmon season, so I hope to get out as often as I can.

Monday, September 22, 2014

What I Used To Bring To A Wedding

I have been asked a number of times what I brought in my camera bags to a wedding.  Well, before I got smart and decided to downsize, I used to use a Pelican 1610 case (see bottom image taken with a point and shoot camera) which weighed about 65 lbs when fully loaded!

Check out my gear at the time... 3 camera bodies, a bunch of lenses, a couple of flashes and battery packs and other accessories!  There were two tiers of equipment in the case.  The top held lenses and flashes and the bottom held the cameras, more lenses and batteries!

I eventually moved to the Pelican 1510 case system which is sized to fit in the overhead compartment of a plane and what didn't fit in there, I carried on my body all day with a belt / shoulder harness system (click here to see the post with the belt system)

Lots of gear!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Griswold #5 Skillet

This Griswold #5 cast iron skillet was manufactured somewhere between 1920 and 1940.  Yes, it's between 74 and 94 years old!

The old skillets are far better than skillets made today because of their smooth cooking surface and lighter weight.  Today's skillets tend to be more textured due to the new "pre-seasoning" techniques needing that texture to allow the oils to adhere properly.

Portable Butane Burner with No Notch Lodge #6 Skillet

I was reading about a discussion concerning getting a portable butane burner for outdoor use... so I got one!

Went to our local Asian stores and purchased the burner for $16.99. Four canisters of butane fuel were on sale for $3.99 for four! Great deal!

I have a side burner on my propane gas grill, but it's a hassle dragging the grill outside (we keep it in our garage for storage), so setting up this small burner will be much more convenient. Sometimes, we like to cook outdoors rather than inside our home to keep the smell of frying out of the home. This is a good solution.

The images were taken with a Nikon Df camera, Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens and a Nikon SB-800 flash.

The cast iron skillet is an no notch Lodge #6 manufactured between 1910 and 1920!  It is somewhere from 94 to 104 years old!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

No Notch Lodge #6

This is a "no notch" Lodge #6 cast iron skillet.  It dates back to 1910-1920 making it 94 to 104 years old!

Not as "clean" looking as the Griswold #8 previously blogged, but considering its age, not bad.

I have two more antique skillets still coming in... a Lodge "3 notch" #4 (1940-1960) and also a Griswold #5 (1920-1940).

I will clean each skillet and season them again before using them.  But I think I'll just wait until all skillets have arrived and do them all at the same time.  Fun!

Thursday, September 04, 2014

Griswold #8 Skillet

Breakfast... for lunch!

Three eggs, 2 pats of butter, chicken breast pieces and a slice of American Cheese (didn't have any shredded cheddar on hand). It was the BEST eggs I have ever had! And... totally non-stick too! That egg slid around that skillet like it was nothing!

Recently, I purchased a Griswold #8 cast iron skillet and I've been having fun with it! These eggs were the third meal I've cooked on the new skillet. Based on the trademark logo design of the skillet, this skillet is somewhere between 74 to 94 years old (1920 - 1940).  I purchased it on eBay (paid way too much for it, but I wanted a good one) and I cleaned it up using Easy-Off oven cleaner, 50% vinegar and 50% water to remove the rust, and a lot of elbow grease! The skillet was then seasoned with Crisco vegetable shortening.

The images were taken with a Nikon Df camera, Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 lens, Nikon SB-800 flash.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

11 lb - King Salmon caught at Racine Harbor - Racine, Wisconsin

My two fishing buddies and I went to Racine Harbor yesterday and I caught an 11 lb King Salmon (Chinook) at 5:30 AM!  I used a Moonshine glow K.O. Wobbler spoon lure.

My Boga grip weighed the fish at 11 lbs.  I didn't get a chance to measure it in length, but I'm 5'10" tall, so you can estimate its size from the photo taken by my friend Jim with my Lumix LX-5 camera.

I filleted the fish at the harbor's fish cleaning station, but later skinned them at home.  I used my dad's old "Food Saver" vacuum bag sealing system to package up the fillets.  Actually the vacuum sealer is new since he bought it before 1998 but never used it.  It works great!  Looks really professionally packaged!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Arlington Park - Horse Racing 8-17-14

We had another Balanced Exposure field trip to the Arlington Park race track today.  Students had the opportunity to photograph the races to freeze the action (see first photo) and also to try a technique called "Panning" where we follow the horse using a slow shutter speed to blur the background while keeping the horse and rider stationary.

It is not as easy as you might think to do this.  You are more likely to blur most of the images you take rather than get a good one that freezes the horse and rider while blurring the background.  We shot these images at 1/500 second, 1/30 second, 1/20 second and 1/40 second while keeping our ISO's at 100.  Shot in shutter speed priority mode, the camera chose our apertures.

My friend Rodrigo V and his wife Terry joined our group as well!  Rodrigo was my mentor at the Chula Vista Police Department over 25 years ago when I worked there at the crime lab!  He's been an evidence technician and latent fingerprint examiner for a long time!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Chula Vista Crime Lab Photos

I had lunch today with one of my mentors from the past... Rodrigo V from the Chula Vista Police Department and his wife Terry! I had not seen Rodrigo in at least 20 years.  He and his wife came to visit Chicago and so we all went out to lunch to catch up on all the years that have passed.

Rodrigo was the evidence technician at the Chula Vista Police Department when I was there interning at the PD while waiting for a full-time position to open up.  Ultimately, I left Chula Vista PD to work for the San Diego District Attorney's Office where I got my court qualifications in both Forensic Photography and Forensic Audio.  While I was at CVPD, Rodrigo was one of my mentors... teaching me the ropes at the crime lab.

I had worked at the San Diego Police Department prior to working at Chula Vista PD and initially was a little disappointed to go from a large police department to a smaller police department.  But after working at CVPD, I quickly learned that smaller departments can actually be just as rewarding.

I recall that the police department needed to have some photos taken to show the various jobs that the crime lab did on a daily basis and so my photo was taken for that purpose.  Look how young I looked back then!  And check out those glasses!!

According to Rodrigo, these photos remained at the crime lab for about 25 years!  Just before he retired from the department, he grabbed the photos and gave them to me as a gift today!  I was so surprised to see them because I had forgotten all about them!  Amazingly, the images were in great condition and still mounted to the original display boards!

It was great to see my old friend and mentor again after all these years.  I consider the friends I made while working in San Diego among my very best friends.  Some had already retired, moved on or passed away, but they are always on my mind and in my heart.  I need to get back there for a visit!  I have been away too long!

Monday, August 04, 2014

Brookfield Zoo Images

A couple of images from my recent Brookfield Zoo field trip with my students.  Images taken with a Nikon Df camera, Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII lens on aperture priority.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Another Butterfly from the Milwaukee Public Museum

The latest butterfly from my class' trip to the Milwaukee Public Museum on7-27-14.

The image was taken with a Nikon Df full-frame camera on Aperture Priority with a Sigma 24-105mm f4 DG lens.  Settings were 1/30 sec, f4.5, ISO 500.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Bad Weather

While I don't normally like pushing HDR to the extreme, I thought this image looked pretty interesting doing it.

After our field trip class to the Milwaukee Public Museum, I stopped by Racine Harbor to try a little fishing. I casted perhaps 8 times and then heard the thunder to my left. I took a look and noticed this view. It would have been nice to look left first before taking my gear out! I packed up my stuff and got back in the car before it started to rain.

Friday, July 18, 2014

George Foreman Grills

I love my George Foreman grills!  I have three "Lean Mean Fat Reducing Grilling Machines"!

Several years ago, I purchased the middle-sized grill in the upper left of the photos via a Groupon Goods deal but recently got two others from my mom.  She had been using the small one in the upper right, but after moving to California, she left her grill at her home in Florida.  My sister and I recently went to Florida to clean up the Florida home and found her grill, along with the largest one that was never used.

My sister purchased the large grill for her many years ago, but she never used it.  It was still in the original box.  Since she probably will not use it going forward, we shipped both grills to Illinois for me to use.

I recently went on a low calorie, low carb diet and am grilling all of my food on the small grill.  I love these grills because it is so fast to cook on!  I just put my food on the grill, close the lid and in about 5 to 8 minutes, the food is done!  No flipping is needed since the top and bottom both cook the food at the same time.  Clean up is a snap too.  I just wet a sponge, suspend the grill over the edge of the sink in the countertop and wipe.  In just about 30 seconds, the grill is clean and I'm ready to eat!

So far, I've lost 12 lbs in about a week and a half.  My goal is to lose 50 lbs by the end of 2014.  We'll see if I can do it, but 12 years ago when I did a low calorie, low carb diet, I lost 30 lbs in 3 months.  Being older now, it may be harder to do, but I'm giving it the ol' college try!  Wish me luck!

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Jake Arrieta - The Pickoff

Jake Arrieta goes for the pickoff...

Another Cubs vs Braves Image

Had to share another image...  While we were really close to the field in the Dugout section just two rows from the field, it just meant we just got to see the players backs!  Be sure to click on the image for a closer view.