Thursday, December 24, 2015

Willow Creek Community Church - Christmas Eve 2015

Willow Creek Church - Christmas Eve program at 5:30 PM.  Merry Christmas everyone!

Nikon D750 camera / Nikon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR lens

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Chicago Bulls vs Phoenix Suns - December 7, 2015

Photos from last night's disappointing Chicago Bulls game against the Phoenix Suns. We lost 103-101 at 0.3 seconds left in the game! We were ahead of the Phoenix Suns most of the game by as much as 13 points too!
I struggled all night trying to get a decent shot with the Nikon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR lens. While it's a good lens for "vacationing" covering most typical focal ranges from wide to telephoto in one lens, its limited aperture prevented enough light to enter the camera forcing a higher ISO to maintain enough shutter speed to freeze the action. This confirms what I have been telling students all along that you really do need an f2.8 lens for indoor sports.
This meant the images were noisier than preferred, even though the Nikon Df's great image sensor was there to help out. I also noticed that the sharpness was no way as good as the lens I usually use for indoor sporting events, the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII lens.
While the Nikon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 lens is not a "cheap" lens by any means at $946.95 (at B&H Photo), it cannot compare to the better 70-200mm f2.8 VRII at $2096.95 (current B&H pricing).
Here are some images taken with the Nikon Df and Nikon 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR lens. Images were usually taken with Shutter Speed Priority set at 1/320 second and f5.6 with Auto ISO. ISO's were ranging between ISO 3200 and ISO 6400 on average.

Many people will likely see nothing wrong with these images. But if you have seen how sharp and crisp the Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 VRII images are, you'd notice the difference! But for most people, these images are just fine.

I was located in section 113, row 12. Decent seats at the United Center!

You need AT LEAST a shutter speed of 1/320 second for indoor professional basketball games. 1/400 second would be even better, but with the limited light coming in due to the f5.6 lens, I didn't want my ISO to be any higher than it already was at ISO 6400! It would have pushed the camera's ISO to ISO 12,800 which would start looking too noisy. So, I decided to leave the camera set at 1/320 second and timed my shots to minimize blur from the players, shooting at the peak of their movement. Unfortunately, many of my shots were ruined by the "paid" house photographer who had set up strobe lighting throughout the United Center. Seemed every time I hit the shutter for the best shot, he was shooting too! This meant that many of my best shots had his flash going off whereas I had metered for my own shots that used the ambient light exposure, not his flash exposures. It just white washed my shots! If you think about it, the chances to get a perfectly timed shutter release of mine to coincide with his are very slim. But it just goes to show that "pros" often do hit the shutter at the exact same time given that we know when to push that shutter button to get the best shot!

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Apple iPhone 6s Plus - 64 GB

After having an old "texting" cellphone for around 7 years, I decided it was finally time to get a smart phone!  I chose the Apple iPhone 6s Plus with 64 GB of memory.  My wife got one as well.  My daughter who has had smart phones in the past went with a Samsung Galaxy 6 Edge with 64 GB.

It seems that every Black Friday, we have a goal of getting one major item and phones were it this year.  Our phone contracts have typically ended around Black Friday, so that's when we start thinking about phones for the coming year(s).

My wife and I decided that the iPhones made the most sense for us since we both have had iPads for the past couple of years.  Moving to an iPhone is like using the iPad, so the learning curve is relatively small.  My daughter has had Android phones in the past, so she stayed with that by getting the Samsung.

Overall, I like the phone, but it's really huge!  With the Otterbox Defender case on it, it's like holding a small brick!  But the case has a belt clip on it and that allows me to clip the phone onto my belt rather than sticking it in my pocket like many users do.  I like this better and it actually doesn't get in the way as much as my old small texting phone did since it was "thicker" in its case on my belt.

I downloaded a bunch of apps that I usually use on my iPad and now I'm wondering if my iPad (which has cellular data ability) will be used on the road as much.  It's really a duplicate of what the iPhone does, but being larger, it's easier for me to see and to type on.  I prefer to use the mini over the regular iPad since it's more portable and I like the larger size over the iPhone when viewing videos on it.

I've adapted to the new phone rather quickly.  I've only really played with it for about three days or so, but already, it feels like I've had it for a while.  It's easy to use!

I also decided that the larger "Plus" version of the phone was best for me since it will be easier to see, has a longer battery life and takes better photos and videos with its built-in image stabilizer over the smaller 6s version.  My wife also wanted a bigger screen, but I wonder if it will be harder for her overall since her hands are no way as large as mine.  Time will tell.

We spent literally the whole day on Black Friday dealing with phones.  Originally, we chose the Samsung Note 5 and purchased those at Best Buy.  But being Black Friday, getting the phones activated proved a challenge to the store.  Their computer system crashed as they tried to activate our phones and took forever on Verizon's part to get the phones activated.  After the long wait, we later found that my wife's phone didn't activate correctly.  It wasn't until after we left the store and got home that the activation problem was discovered.  This meant another trip back to the store to get that fixed, but after playing with the phones at home, we decided that the smartest thing to do was to pay a little more (a lot more, really) and get the iPhones instead since we both were familiar with the new iOS 9 operating system having had iPads already.  Plus because I already had an Apple MacBook Pro computer, transferring files and photos would be a lot easier.  So back to Best Buy we went to make the exchange and get my wife's activation set correctly.

After another long wait in line and then waiting for the activations to work properly this time on the new iPhones, we headed home for dinner.  But when I got home, my daughter found that the Samsung Galaxy 6 that she got had a problem with the front camera focusing.  She checked the internet and found that many other users of this model had the same problem!  So it was back to Best Buy again!  While there, we learned that the Edge version of the phone was the same price, so we swapped her phone for the Edge version.

We started out our journey on Black Friday going to Verizon to check out their phone deal, went to Target who had iPhones on sale, but didn't have any more in stock and then to Best Buy to get our phones.  In all, we started at 8 AM and didn't finish everything until perhaps around 7:30 PM... give or take.  It was literally an all day affair!

Were we done now?  Not yet!  Today (Monday), we found out that the iPhones had gone down $100 at Best Buy!  So back we went to the store to get a price adjustment on each of our iPhones which saved us $218 between the two phones!  Hopefully, we are done now!

The Best Buy cellphone sales staff were fun to work with though!  We went through several of the people there helping us through the ordeal but the one that stuck out the most was a guy named Jake who joked with us throughout the day as we went back and forth getting the phones right.  It was a long day, but fun because of the staff.  Kudos to them!

Oh... I got the phone in "Space Gray", my wife got hers in "Rose Gold" and my daughter got her phone in "White".  We ordered cases for them on  I got a Otterbox Defender case, my wife got a Spigen Ultra Hybrid Series Air Cushion clear case  to show off her Rose Gold phone's back and my daughter got an Otterbox Symmetry for her phone.

It was a long journey, but we all like what we have now.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Balanced Exposure Field Trip - Photo Contest At The Field Museum

Well, I tried to get a bunch of students today for the Field Museum / Photo Contest, but only 3 students showed up (that I know of...)
With the snow being a factor and also the Bears game happening (I didn't realize it was game day)... many students who said they would go, couldn't. Being game day too, parking was $49!! The lot I normally park at was hosting a tailgate party and I could not get in, so I was sent to Soldier Field's parking garage. The only reason they let me in was because I have a handicap placard! At lease one of our students was turned away altogether because he didn't have a pre-approved parking pass. What a nightmare.
Students Donna Sandfox, Nicole Schneider and I roamed the Field Museum together. It was REALLY empty today considering it was a "Free Day"! The Bears game really put a damper on things. After we were all done and ready to go, we ran into student Mohammed Hussain who brought his whole family. He had to park a long distance by DePaul and walk it! Luckily, he dropped his family off first. We missed him the entire day but because he did show up today, he qualifies to enter the contest.
The three students stand a very good chance of winning the contest prize simply because the odds of winning are really good! 1-in-3 chance... unless some other students showed up and I don't know about it. But the rules state you must shoot today at the Field Museum in order to enter the contest.
I have another professional photographer judging their entries and will announce the winner after he's made his decision.
Thanks to all who came out and I'm very sorry for those who tried to make it and were turned away due to the parking situation.
By the way, the photo of the group of people are not from our school. They were random people at the museum, but I thought it was funny how they all posed for their own selfie!  smile emoticon

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Police - Synchronicity - Album Cover 1983

Remember this album cover from the music group, "The Police"?  It's from their 1983 album, "Synchronicity".

My cousin Nadine is on this cover if you look at the lower left corner of the album, but she's in other areas of the cover too.  On some releases of the album, you can see her holding an umbrella next to guitarist Andy Summers.  Apparently there were 36 variations on this cover!

Not sure of the story of how she got on the album cover, but if memory serves me, I think she happened to be at a party where The Police were at and they just asked if she wanted to be on the album artwork.

Anyway, just thought about this after all these years, so I decided to post it on my blog.  I'll ask her one day!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Pelican 1510 Camera Case

I had a question as to what cameras and lenses I currently have and use. Good question!

As of today (and it changes all the time, it seems), after selling my Nikon D4s camera, here's what is in my Pelican 1510 case:

Nikon D750 camera with MB-D16 battery grip and two batteries

Nikon Df camera and two batteries
Nikon 16mm f2.8 fisheye lens
Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 ultrawide angle zoom lens
Nikon 24-70mm f2.8 standard zoom lens
Nikon 50mm f1.4 prime lens
Nikon 60mm f2.8 micro lens (Nikon calls macro lenses, micro)
Nikon 70-200mm f2.8 telephoto lens
Nikon TC-17EII - 1.7x teleconverter for the 70-200mm lens
Nikon SB800 flash (2)
Minolta Autometer Vf - incident light / flash meter
Kenko KFM-1100 - incident light / flash meter
Photovision 14" Pocket Digital Calibration Target
Alien Bees - Cyber Commander - flash transmitter
Hoya 77mm variable neutral density filter
B&W 77mm ND 0.9 neutral density filter
B&W 77mm Circular Polarizing filter
Various cables for flash
Hex drivers for adjusting flash bracket
Newton Flash Bracket (not in the case, but used with my flashes)

 Also, not in the case is a Canon EOS 70D with Canon 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 STM lens.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Cub Cadet Snow Blower Purchased in October

Bought a 2 stage, 4 cycle snowblower today at Costco. Can't believe I did that and there's no snow yet! But I figured if I didn't get it soon, they could run out. Sure enough, two days ago there were two new units in stock. When I went there today, there was only one! I bought the last one still in a box. I guess I'm not the only one thinking I'd better be ready for winter!

This is the first snowblower I ever purchased! My first one (still working) was my dad's old Toro snow thrower. Small and electric powered, it still works! My second was a 2 cycle snowblower given to me by my sister-in-law. It started having problems two years ago and finally died last year during the biggest snow storm of the year. My neighbor helped snowblow my driveway with a unit similar to this one. So I figured I'd better get a new snowblower this year!

Friday, October 09, 2015

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Cross Spider

I found this Cross Spider near my front door, hanging in the corner!  While it is non-venomous, it's still scary!

Image taken with a Lumix DMC-LX5 four-thirds image sensor camera with its built-in flash.

Monday, October 05, 2015

U-505 Submarine at The Museum of Science and Industry

I went to the Museum of Science and Industry today.  I've been there many times before.  I also knew that they remodeled the U-505 submarine exhibit many years ago, but I never went in there since the remodeling until today.  I was very surprise to see the submarine inside the building!  Since I was young, it was always outside the building and all we got to see was the inside of the sub.

Well, seeing it up close from the outside of the submarine was unbelievable!  It is a lot larger than I had first thought it would be!  Of course, inside is still cramped, but outside, it's huge!

I didn't go inside the sub because I've been in there many times in the past.  I didn't even bring my DSLR cameras with me!  All I brought was my small Lumix DMC-LX5 four-thirds sensor camera that I usually bring when fishing.  I couldn't get the whole sub in my shot with the built-in lens making me immediately wishing I had my Nikon 14-24mm f2.8 ultrawide angle lens and Nikon D750 instead.  Oh well, like they say, the best camera is the one you have with you!

Friday, October 02, 2015

12 lb Female King Salmon from Racine Harbor

My fishing partner Jim and I went to Racine Harbor in Racine, Wisconsin today.  Lots of fish jumping around the boat dock area, but only Jim was able to catch a fish.  It was a 12 lb female King Salmon with lots of roe!

I'm done for the season with absolutely no nibbles or bites the entire season!  Terrible!  It was tough for everyone it seemed this year, but Jim was able to get a big fish earlier this season only to lose it when we tried to net it near the rocks.  This time, we made sure the fish was nowhere near the rocks when we brought it in!

Balanced Exposure Classroom Updated with 65" Monitor as well as 108" Projection

The Balanced Exposure classroom has been updated!  While the monitor on the floor might not look like much, the addition of it makes it a lot easier to see the sample images compared to the projector when the lights are still on (see the last image above).  Also, the maximum number of students allowed during a class has now been reduced to 14 for more student/teacher interaction.