travel

Travel

Checking Out The Sunflowers In My “Flyover State”

One of the nice things about having a Friday off is you get the opportunity to go to a place like Ginter Farms outside of Tonganoxie Kansas to test out some new camera gear.

One of the nice things about having a Friday off is you get the opportunity to go to a place like Grinter Farms outside of Tonganoxie Kansas to test out some new camera gear. 

As far as the eye can see. Well, almost.

Yesterday I took the Olympus Pen-F and the 14-42mm pancake Zoom to Ginter farms with my friend Tim to take some shots of the sunflowers that are open to the public. While the sunflowers were still spectacular, they weren’t nearly as tall as last year due to the weather this season. Late snow followed by an early heat spell and record-breaking rain almost did the crop in this year. 

Fortunately for us, we had 3 to 4-foot tall plants with plenty of blooms, And the crop was just as dense as always. It was the perfect backdrop to test the camera, the new lens, and a couple of trusted lenses I’ve been using for years. 

Each flower was covered with pollinators doing their thing. Shot with the 14-42 Pancake.

The verdict. The camera rocks, the lens is good but not great. I don’t mean the lens is bad, it’s just not as solid as my 12-40 Pro. It’s not as fast, or sharp which is expected since it costs about one-third of the pro lens. With that said though its diminutive size makes it perfect for travel which is why I picked it up in the first place. 

Shot with the 12-40 Pro.

As for the camera, I couldn’t be happier. This tiny body packs in powerhouse performance with the same sensor as the EM1 MKII and the same color engine as well. My only gripe is it’s not weather sealed. (neither is the 14-42mm lens so it really is a minor issue).

Shot with the 12-40 Pro wide open.

If you get a chance to go I highly recommend it. Ginter Farms is just one of the many reasons I tell people Kansas is not a flyover state. Like the Flint Hills, Tall Grass National Preserve, Monument Rocks, Little Jerusalem, Mushroom Rock State Park, Cheyenne Bottoms Wildlife Area, the Oxford Grist Mill, and so much more it’s a perfect drive-through state. I think the next photo adventure in this flyover state will be at Marais des Cygnes Wildlife Area in South East Kansas.

Monument Rocks from an earlier road trip.
Advertisements

I’m Taking a Pen to Spain and Not Writing a Thing with It

A PEN in the hand

In September of 2009, I had the privilege of traveling to South Africa for 14 days to document the making of a short film my friend Tim was working on. My role was to shoot the behind the scenes stills of the crew in action in and around the Motherwell Township near Port Elizabeth.

David making movies at Kwadick. Shot with my trusty Olympus EP-2 about a decade ago.

At the time I had the option of taking my Canon camera, but the idea of hauling a larger APSC camera and the lenses that went with it seemed like a pain in the ass. Actually more like a pain in the back. So I started looking for something smaller with enough features and image quality to take as a replacement. I ended up settling on the Olympus PEN E-P2, the second PEN camera Olympus produced for the new Micro 4/3 system they had jointly pioneered with Panasonic. In retrospect, I probably should have gone with the Panasonic GH1, but the little Pen did a fantastic job.

The E-P2 with the original 14-42mm kit lens

The kit that I took was small, light, and compact. It was great for not standing out and allowing me to disappear as much as possible into the background. (Not an easy feat for a 6-foot 4-inch 225-pound white guy in Motherwell Township)

Let’s fast forward 2 years to the point when my house was broken into. My Canon gear was stolen, but the thieves missed my Olympus PEN and the small arsenal of lenses I had acquired.

With the Canon gone, I decided to stick with Micro 4/3 systems and rather than replacing the Canon gear I picked up the newly released OMD EM-5 and made it my primary camera. I had never bought into the whole Full Frame or nothing attitude, or the idea that Micro 4/3 cameras didn’t take as good a photo, couldn’t produce a shallow depth of field shots, couldn’t produce decent bokeh or any of the other myths.

The EM5 with the outstanding 45mm portrait lens and no batter grip

Over the next few years, I replaced the EM5 with an EM1 adding the battery grip, additional lenses and accessories to build out a decent set of gear for my photo habits. I’m not a pro, I don’t shoot studio shots or weddings. Mostly I take landscape and nature shots around the state that I live in and on my annual trip to Colorado with friends. I also take the EM1 when I travel, but it feels large sometimes and it’s not something that I can stuff in a jacket pocket. That means having to bring my Ona Union Street messenger bag and frankly, I don’t want to carry that much stuff.

This got me to start looking at an additional camera I could use for a trip to France that we took back in April, and for an upcoming trip to Spain in November. Since I have several Olympus Zuiko lenses, I knew I was going to pick up a new Micro 4/3 body which narrowed my choices to just 2 brands – Pansonic, or Olympus. Both are solid choices, but my familiarity with the Olympus menu system and the in-body image stabilization had me leaning to Oly from the start.

The PEN F next to my EM1 with the battery grip attached

To get something that I would call a travel camera I started looking back at the PEN series. Olympus makes a number of Pen models but there was one that I have been smitten with since it came out in 2016. The Olympus PEN F. The camera is gorgeous, it has the same 20-megapixel sensor that the EM1 Mk II has, award-winning 5 axis image stabilization and so much more. It has one of my favorite features of any camera I have ever used – “Live Composite” mode. (I don’t get why no other camera maker hasn’t come up with something similar to this. Especially for mirrorless camera bodies.)

Having settled on a model I began looking for either an excellent+ used body or a reconditioned body from Olympus to keep the costs down. I was fortunate enough to find an Olympus Certified reconditioned body at a much-reduced price and went for it. I didn’t get it in time for France, but I will have it for Spain.

The PEN F sporting the 14-42 pancake zoom compared to the EM1 with the 12-40 Pro. I’d love to take the Pro lens with me, but I don’t want to haul that much glass or carry a camera bag.

I couldn’t be more pleased with this little guy. Diminutive in size but extremely capable and feature-packed. It has most of what the EM1 Mk II has in terms of features, and it has somethings I thought I would never use, but find myself playing with all the time. The Color Profile adjustment on the front Creative dial, the Monochrome setting on the same dial, and the Color Creator. All three of these give you the option to tweak and adjust color balance or create custom profiles that can be assigned to one of the 4 Custom Modes on the top dial of the camera. I have 3 of these set to a specific color or monochrome modes I can call up at any time.

Taken with the EM-1 and the 12-40mm Pro Lens

While it might sound like a gimic it’s not. These are not the same as the goofy “Art Filters” Olympus has on every camera they make. The Art Filters are like built-in retro modes for Instagrammy looks. The ones I mentioned earlier are true color or monochrome modes you build that allow for more creative approaches to the desired look you want. And while these modes shoot in JPEG, you can set the camera up to shoot JPEG + RAW allowing you to have an unaltered image you can edit in post at a later time.

Gem Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park taken with my EM5 and the Zuiko 17mm f/1.8

If you want to know more about the PEN F there are a ton of reviews on this camera. Just Google it and you’ll find plenty to read or watch. The verdict for many is going to be the same, great looking but there are newer and better cameras on the market. This is true but for me, I’d rather have this little guy. Stunning to look at, solid features, excellent output. And it even feels nice in my big hands without needing a grip or a case (although I am considering the Gariz leather half case for it)

For the trip to Spain, I’m taking the PEN F, the Zuiko 14-42mm pancake zoom, my all manual Samyang 12mm, 3 batteries, and a single 128-gigabyte memory card. All of this can fit in jacket pockets making travel lighter and freeing me up from having to carry any kind of bag around if I choose.

Kisses in Tokyo

OK if this tech works as shown in the video it’s pretty amazing. There is no word on pricing or a launch date, just summer of 2016. It’s a pretty interesting concept, although I’m not sure why they don’t have a smartphone app to launch at the same time as this. An app just makes so much sense since the dictionary could update in the background, and the translation algorithms  could be updated as well. Plus people always have their phone with them, and this is one more thing you have to carry. None the less, the translations shown in the video seem pretty remarkable, and apparently more accurate than any translation app I have on my iPhone. As for the marketing, the video is just bizarre and even though it has been seen by over a million people, ili has been forced to post an update that makes me question it. If everyone in the video is an actor and an actress it makes me think the whole thing was scripted and rehearsed, which sort of invalidates the results. Hmmmm I guess we will just have to wait and see.

Razorfish Emerging Experiences’ “Flight Deck” for SFO.

Last week I was traveling through San Francisco International airport so I had the privilege of seeing this first hand. It’s pretty amazing in person and the photos do not do it justice. Razorfish has created an immersive experience that tries to recapture the golden age of travel, before jetliners became the Greyhound busses of the skies.

There are three total components to the entire experience; an interactive and real time large scale projection, the multi-touch kiosks, and the mobile  component. “Flight Deck” Featuring massive digital displays customers can see real-time flight information and updates, and interact with 6 touchscreen kiosks that feature interactive content about the San Francisco bay area, and the destinations the airport serves world wide.The entire service is connected to a mobile service allowing travelers to be connected even on the go.

fd1

 

While the primary experience lives at Terminal 3, with the projected visualization functioning as a beacon calling on all SFO guests to contribute to the global SFO travel story, the total experience extends beyond SFO in the end. If you are traveling through San Francisco and have the time, I highly recommend stoping by to see this. For more info on Flight Deck, click here.

fd2 fd3 fd4 fd5

The Overview Effect

If you are in Kansas City today, you’re probably trapped inside do to the snowstorm. That means you probably have 20 minutes to spare. If you’re living some place where the climate is being a bit more hospitable take some time and watch this short documentary anyway.

The Overview Effect, first described by author Frank White in 1987, is an experience that transforms astronauts’ perspective of the planet and mankind’s place upon it. Common features of the experience are a feeling of awe for the planet, a profound understanding of the interconnection of all life, and a renewed sense of responsibility for taking care of the environment.

‘Overview’ is a short film that explores this phenomenon through interviews with five astronauts who have experienced the Overview Effect. The film also features insights from commentators and thinkers on the wider implications and importance of this understanding for society, and our relationship to the environment.

OVERVIEW from Planetary Collective on Vimeo.

The Art of Packing, by Louis Vuitton.

I pride myself on the ability to pack a suitcase for a trip in the most space efficient way. I also pride myself on the ability to pack the minimum amount of items needed for a trip. Case in point, when I went to South Africa for 14 days, I packed a small duffel bag for the trip. Seriously, I put 14 days worth of stuff into what was basically a gym bag.

This morning when I was going through RSS feeds, emails, and other sources of information, I came across a link to the Louis Vuitton micro site “The Art of Packing“. While I will probably never own a Louis Vuitton suitcase, the site was worth a visit.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This Flash based interactive site showcases 3 of Louis Vuitton’s luxury suitcases, Alzer, Pégase and Keepall. (please note that none of these bags are large. If you are the kind of person that packs your entire closet for a weekend trip, you can move on.) The micro site shows potential customers how to pack in the most efficient way allowing you to get the most out of the space, with a less wrinkly results. In addition to space saving tips, the site actually shows you how to pack your clothes in the best way. Yes there is an art to it.

 

A Little Bit of Mountain Magic.

Sometimes you get a little bit of unexpected magic. Today I went on a 6 mile round trip hike to Fern Falls in the Rocky Mountain National park. Most of the day mother nature spit on us with light rain and sleet. By the time we got to the falls it had stopped, but then the sky opened up with a dense snowfall that last for about 30 minutes. Images and video can’t capture just how beautiful it was, but I tried. As we started walking back down the mountain the snow lifted, the sun came out, and the weather in Colorado changed yet again.

20120513-192532.jpg

20120513-192603.jpg

20120513-192629.jpg

20120513-192706.jpg

20120513-192745.jpg

20120513-192820.jpg

20120513-192839.jpg

20120513-192911.jpg