Happy New Year And My Plans For 2017

Hey everybody! Wow, where did 2016 go? It's hard to believe 2017 is here but let me be among the first to wish all of you a Happy and prosperous New Year!

After a long break from actively updating this blog (auto posts from my Instagram have been the only real activity on this blog since March) I should be able to get back into the swing of things and actually start posting original content again. Let me bring Y'all up to speed on what's been taking up my time and let you in on my plans for this blog in 2017.

What I've Been Up To

Since March of 2016 I've been focused on a new path in my career which is finally coming together and should allow me to spend some more time indulging my many non-work pursuits, including this blog. Here's some more details:

Some of you may know what it is that I do for "work" but my guess is most of you have no idea. That is by design since I have always figured it's not very beneficial to mix "work and play". I'm still mostly of that belief but I think it's now fine to share some of the details, especially since the changes will allow me to offer my services to those of you that might be interested.

Since 2002 I have worked in the Financial Services field as a Financial Advisor/Planner. My desire was to offer true financial planning, not just sales of financial products. To that end I earned the CFP® Certification in 2006. For the last ten years I worked with an independent wealth management firm whose clients were typically "high net worth". This means that they had in the neighborhood of $1,000,000 of net worth (or more). While I enjoyed the people I worked with I originally got into the profession to help as many people as possible plan and secure their financial futures, not just millionaires.

So, last year I decided that it was time to make some changes and I began working with a start-up company dedicated to making quality financial planning available to anyone who wanted it. We are just about done creating the platform we will use and expect to roll it out early in 2017.

Once we go live, I will be able to offer low-cost, comprehensive financial planning and investment management services to just about anyone, anywhere. Our platform will be "virtual" meaning we'll use technology to deliver our services. We won't be tied to a specific office location or company. If you want to work with us you can, no matter where you are located. As I said, I'll let all of you know when things are ready to roll so stay tuned....

What does this mean for this blog? Well, the big benefit is that I will be in much more control of my time since I won't be tied to an office from 7AM to 6PM five days a week. The whole point of me making the changes I did is to help people "live their ideal life" and I want that to apply to me as well. I will be able to spend more time enjoying my out-of-work hobbies and as a result adding content to this blog. I'm a firm believer that life is much more than work and I want this blog to reflect that. Here's what I have planned, area by area that hopefully can help you "live your ideal life", whatever that may be.

Music

I've been a lover of music for a long time. Music is a powerful art form and I have been influenced by it my entire adult life. I have a lot of CD's and in 2015 I purchased a turntable and began collecting vinyl. Along those lines, I started my "Studio One Project" back in December 2015. The idea was to purchase and review each of the recordings (on vinyl, of course) that were done at Studio One, a now defunct studio here in Atlanta that produced some of the most iconic music of the 1970's and early 80's. Click the link above for more info. I made it through 3 of the 51 or so albums recorded there before I got derailed.

My plan is to pick the project back up here in the next week or so with a review of the 4th album, Elf, so stay tuned for that review. In addition to that project I will also review other music-related items (software, audio equipment, etc.). Hopefully my adventures in music will inspire you to experience some new music in your life.

Personal Finance

Now that I have more freedom in my professional pursuits I plan on sharing some useful information on the whole area of personal finance, financial planning and investments. I will probably use my firm's website/blog for most of this but expect to see some content as well. I'll update everyone on this as things come together.

Photography

I have been a enthusiastic amateur photographer since 2011 and really enjoy the challenge of interpreting the world around me through a lens. I haven't done nearly as much photography over the last year as I would have liked so I hope to be using my camera much more in 2017 and beyond. I'll try to post a few photography-related things here as I get time.

Technology

I'm not embarrassed to say that I've always been a geek. I enjoy gadgets and technology and I want to share that with the readers of this blog. My plan is to post reviews of gadgets, share tips and generally revel in world of technology

Health and Fitness

I've been a fitness lover since high school and have spent the last 40 years or so pursuing a balanced lifestyle that includes keeping myself physically fit and vital. The way I've pursued that has changed over the years but I think I can provide some useful tips, tools and resources to help people get the most out of life through diet and exercise.

Wrapping It Up

As you can see I am looking forward to re-engaging with the blog and everyone who reads it. Hopefully you enjoy what I produce and I am looking forward to engaging with all of you via the comments.

Stay tuned for all the fun! I expect that the first few posts will be focused on continuing the Studio One Project as well as talking about some dietary changes we most likely will be pursuing in the new year.

Our Mirrorless Conversion Is Nearly Complete

Our move to the micro 4/3 mirrorless world is nearly complete with the acquisition of this very lightly used Olympus OM-D E-M10 and accompanying 14-42mm lens:

This camera complements the OM-D E-M5 and Olympus 17mm f/1.8 lens I bought back in December and will allow Pam and I to be able to share bodies and lenses in the micro 4/3 format. My thinking is that I'll shoot with the E-M10 most of the time and Pam will use the E-M5 but we'll see once both of us get a chance to use each camera. I still have a couple lenses to get, probably a "superzoom" 14-140 which will live on Pam's camera most of the time along with a couple more prime lenses for me and maybe the sweet 60mm Olympus macro lens.

Why we're switching from traditional dslr's

When I got back into photography in 2011 I purchased a Canon T3i DSLR and later a Rebel Xsi for Pam. At the time if you wanted a "serious" camera a traditional DSLR was just about the only choice. Micro 4/3 cameras were around but hadn't yet reached the level where people were considering them for enthusiast level photography. My, how things have changed in just 4 short years! The mirrorless cameras of today are so much better than the ones from just a couple of years ago and the image quality is perfectly fine. In addition, the tremendous advantage in size and weight reduction that these cameras afford the photographer cannot be overlooked. In the 5 months or so that I've been shooting with my "test" E-M5 I have seen no reduction in image quality compared to my Canon T3i. And, for my style of photography (no sports photography for the most part) the relatively slow (although getting better by leaps and bounds) speed of the mirrorless focusing system is perfectly fine. DSLR's still hold an appreciable advantage in auto-focus speed and ultimate image quality but the gap is narrowing very quickly. I've become a huge fan of the reduced form factor and weight that the mirrorless cameras offer. We should be able to fit both boddies and a few lenses in the same space as just one of our current DSLR bodies and kit lens.

Don't get me wrong, DSLR based cameras are still a great choice for many photographers and offer great image quality along with usually super-fast auto-focus. There is also the fact that there are a huge number of lens options for DSLR's and that has to be considered in the decision process. But, at this point for us, the micro 4/3 based format seems like the way to go. I'll report back as we spend some more time with the cameras and give you my impressions and experiences, so stay tuned.......

In the meantime, anyone want to purchase some lightly used DSLR cameras (let me know)?

Black And White Pittsburgh: Warhol Bridge, Skyline, Goose

Time to start another ongoing series of images. I've done a few posts in my "Chicago In Black and White" where I feature images captured with my film cameras loaded with black & white film. I'm starting another series, this time focusing on my hometown of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is a town full of interesting subjects to put a camera to. With three rivers, more bridges than just about any city on the planet (except for perhaps Venice, Italy), varied topography and lots of great architecture., Pittsburgh is a bit of a photographer's dream. Growing up I wasn't into photography so I will try and make up for lost time/opportunities whenever I get back there.

A few weeks ago Pam and I went back to "the 'burgh" for a visit. I took my Rolleicord as well as my DSLR with the hopes of getting out to make some photos. I managed to get out for a few hours with a friend on a rainy, cloudy morning. We started our photo walk near PNC park, which is on the North shore of the Allegheny River. I set up the Rolleicord on the tripod near the Andy Warhol Bridge and framed this shot:

A view of Pittsburgh and the Warhol Bridge from across the Allegheny River

 Inspiration and Information

We started around 8AM in mostly overcast but calm weather. The Allegheny River was pretty calm and there were some nice reflections of the buildings on the water. I wanted to capture as much of that as possible, along with the Warhol Bridge. I had the Rolleicord loaded with a roll of Neopan Acros 100, which is becoming a favorite film of mine, and as I set the camera on the tripod I noticed a lone Canada Goose swimming down the river. I thought that would be a nice element in the image so I composed the image in the viewfinder, double checked the exposure and waited until the Goose got a little more than halfway through the frame before firing the shutter.

When I got the negative scanned and opened it up in Lightroom I had to clean up a fair amount of "dust bunnies" from the image as well as reduce the highlights a bit to get some detail back in the sky. That's the nice thing about film, there's a lot of room for adjustment.

Stay tuned for a few more images of Pittsburgh on film. This will definitely be a longer term project as we don't get up there as much as I'd like but when we do I plan on making as many black & white film images as I can.

 

 

Camera Equipment Review: Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Lens

I review the Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens, which is a great upgrade from the standard Canon kit lens that offers a fairly wide focal length range, crisp optics and good build quality. I’ve used this lens for nearly a year and have shot over 2500 photographs with it so I wanted to share my experiences with this lens and give you an idea of how this lens works in everyday shooting situations. I also show you some images that I’ve shot with the lens to give you an idea of the image quality:

Here are the lens specifications (from Canon USA): Focal Length & Maximum Aperture: 15 - 85mm 1:3.5-5.6 Lens Construction: 17 elements in 12 groups Diagonal Angle of View: 84° 30' - 18° 25' Focus Adjustment: Inner focusing system with USM Closest Focusing Distance: 1.15 ft./0.35m Filter Size: 72mm Max. Diameter x Length, Weight: 3.2 x 3.4 in./81.6 x 87.5mm, 20.3 oz./575g

The Canon USA page on the lens: http://www.usa.canon.com/cusa/consumer/products/cameras/ef_lens_lineup/ef_s_15_85mm_f_3_5_5_6_is_usm#Overview If you like what you see here, Please Subscribe to the channel! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=marksphotographyspot

As far as price goes, the lens is somewhere between $600 and $750 purchased new. If you are looking to purchase used, expect to pay $550 to $600 for a good quality version. As I said in the video, I purchased my lens used for $550.

Here's the lens On Amazon

Here's the lens On Adorama

Don’t forget to join the Mark’s Photography Spot group on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/groups/marksphotographyspot/

In addition to this channel, you can also follow me here:

Mark's Photography Spot.com: http://www.marksphotographyspot.com My Google+ Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101061915862182396523/posts My Flickr Site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marksinderson/

Thanks for watching and Happy Shooting!

Snapshots To Photographs-The Components Of Proper Exposure

This episode of Mark’s Photography Spot is the first in a series of videos I’ll be doing to help you get your camera out of “Auto” mode. I call the series “Snapshots to Photographs” This episode is about the components of proper exposure-ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed. These three things work together to create the image on your camera’s sensor or film. Here’s a brief description of each:

ISO-This determines your camera’s sensitivity to light. The lower the ISO, the less sensitive. ISO is expressed in numbers, usually something like 100,200,400,800,1600,3200. Each larger number indicates a doubling in sensitivity. So, going from an ISO of 100 to 400 means that the camera is going to be four times as sensitive to light at ISO 400 then ISO 100. Higher ISO can help you get an image you might not be able to get, especially in lower light but it comes at the price of increased noise in the image.

Aperture- This is the size of the opening in the lens/camera that light passes through when the image is taken. Apertures can vary from as big as f/1.4 to as small as f/32. The smaller the f/number the larger the opening. Aperture allows you to manipulate the depth of field in an image. Using a small aperture like f/16 will give you image a large depth of field with everything in focus while using a large aperture like f/2.0 will give you a shallow depth of field allowing the background to be blurred.

Shutter Speed- If you want to control how long light hits your film or digital sensor, you do it by changing the shutter speed. Shutter speed is often expressed as fractions of a second (1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30...) A shutter speed of 1/500 is faster than 1/250, which is faster than 1/60, etc. Varying the shutter speed gives you the ability to emphasise motion or stop action. A fast shutter speed will stop a race car in your image while a slower shutter speed will introduce interesting motion effects.

The important thing to remember is that every single image you take with any camera is the result of manipulating ISO, Aperture and Shutter speed. They are all interrelated and changing one component forces you to change the others. This gives you a lot of creative freedom but also forces you to pay attention to what you are doing to get the image that you want.

A great resource for understanding exposure is the book “Understanding Exposure”, written by Bryan Peterson. It is well worth reading and explains how ISO, Aperture and Shutter interact to create a final image. Here is a link to the book on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0817439390?ie=UTF8&tag=photographyblog-20&linkCode=xm2&camp=1789&creativeASIN=0817439390

Stay tuned for the next videos in this series as I dig a little deeper into ISO, Aperture and Shutter Speed.

You’ll be able to find all the videos in this series in the playlist “Snapshots to Photographs”.

If you like what you see here, Please Subscribe to the channel! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=marksphotographyspot

Don’t forget to join the Mark’s Photography Spot group on flickr: http://www.flickr.com/groups/marksphotographyspot/

In addition to this channel, you can also follow me here:

Mark's Photography Spot.com: http://www.marksphotographyspot.com My Google+ Page: https://plus.google.com/u/0/101061915862182396523/posts My Flickr Site: http://www.flickr.com/photos/marksinderson/

Thanks for watching and Happy Shooting!

Greensboro Presbyterian Church

Back in mid-May we visited some of the small tows along Interstate 20 East of the Atlanta area with other members of the Decatur Digital Photo Meetup. One of those tows was Greensboro, which is the county seat of Greene County.  Pam and I wandered through the center of town and came across the Presbyterian Church. The front door was mostly in the shadows but there was some sun mixing in with the shadows. I took 3 bracketed shots and combined them in HDR Efex Pro 2 to get this image:

Raison D'Etre

What's you raison d'etre? For day 42 of my project 365 I thought I'd post one of my reasons/justifications for existence, otherwise known as Raison D'Etre: One of the things that I really enjoy (in moderation of course) is good beer. You could say it's one of my reasons for existing :-) I've been a fan of great beer since 1986 or so, when I had my 1st true craft beer, a Sierra Nevada Porter, at a place called Old Chicago which is in Fort Collins, Colorado. I was attending Colorado State University at the time and after a year or two of drinking mostly cheap, watered down 3.2% beer (which used to be available/legal to 18-21 yr olds at that time) I turned a corner when I reached the age of 21 and never looked back. I've tried close to 1000 different beers over the years and I'm looking forward to sampling a bunch more! There's nothing quite like a tasty well-brewed craft beer to add some fun to life.

This particular beer in the photograph is brewed by Dogfish Head Brewing, out of Delaware. The motto is "Off-Centered beers for Off-Centered People". They brew some of the more innovative and unique beers out there. This beer is their "Raison D'Etre" and is a Belgian Style Ale brewed with beet sugar and green raisins. It is a rich, copper colored ale with a fruity/bready flavor and a nice lingering roasty malt aftertaste.

If you look closely at the background of the photo, I'm editing some photographs as I enjoy my beer. I think that good beer and good photography can go together just fine. Just be sure to enjoy the beer AFTER you've taken the photographs!

Cheers!

Friday Photo Share December 2, 2011

Happy Friday! This week's photo share is an image from our recent trip out to Zion National Park. I've finally pretty much got through all the images and so I should be able to post some from time to time from now on. This particular image is going to be my entry in our photography club's December photo competition, which is tonight. I'm pretty sure I won't win a prize for this but I really like the image. I'll be interested to see what the comments are from the other members.

img_3549_virginriver1_lowres 

This image was taken as we were walking along the paved path that leads to the "world famous" narrows in Zion National Park. This was taken mid-morning, just before the sun made it above the canyon walls. As a result everything was still a little dark but the colors in the rocks were very vibrant. I set up my camera on a rock near the middle of the river and took this image. I used a longer shutter speed to give the water a very flowing and "pillowy" appearance.

After I took this photograph we wandered up to where the paved trail ends and I waded up the river about 1/2 mile or so with my camera to see what I could see. Pam wasn't interested in wading in the cold water so she sat down and enjoyed the view. I manged to get a few decent images which I'll post at some point in the near future.

Do any of you have images from Zion National Park that you'd like to share? If so, send them to me at fridayphoto@marksphotographyspot.com and I'll post them. Be sure to keep the file size under 1/2 meg and please resize the images to no more than 600 pixels wide.

Happy shooting!