Life, Learning and the Photos taken in between.

Photography Tips

Self Timer Photos at Monroe Ledges.

I was going through my skate photos via FaceBook and I came to the realization that since I started taking photos my collection of personal skate photos have basically stopped. I’m not sure why but maybe other photographers don’t like to shoot someone who also shoots or maybe i just don’t skate when the camera is out but whatever the case  may be, I WANT SKATE PICS DAMNIT! Although I take photos I am still first and foremost a “Rollerblader” and would like to have shots to look back on if that unfortunate day comes where I am unable to skate anymore. I have been shooting mostly portraits lately and I feel like in some cases I have been going with what I know and not testing unfamiliar waters with my Photography. I decided to start a series of self skate photos where I would only use my Nikon D90, Tripod and 1 speed light and see what I could capture. I have seen many people just pose when it comes to skate photos and not actually do the trick and that’s not what i’m about so I called on Navin Hardyal of Skeptic Media to come out and film the the behind the scenes of this project.

I arrived to a empty Monroe Ledge which gave me enough space to set up my equipment and after framing my shot I set up the Tripod accordingly. Using the 50mm 1.8 lens, I had to distance the tripod pretty far away from the  ledge. Doing this would allow me to capture the entire length of the ledge from beginning to end. Once that was done I adjusted my focal point and set my exposure for the ambient light.  I decided to test out different setting to see what worked out best for me since I was shooting with a off camera flash. My 1st shots I dialed in f/8, 1/200th ant ISO 400.  The most difficult part of this shoot was he 20 second timer which only allowed me 20 seconds to press the shutter skate away from the camera and make it to the point of focus. I strapped on my Valo Skates did a quick stretch and got in some warm up tricks. I planned on keeping my tricks simple today since I didn’t have much time to shoot. Let’s just say I had more misses than hits but with each shot I learned what to do for the next. This shoot was probably one of my most difficult to date. I feel I take fairly decent skate photos of others but the art of shooting yourself is a whole different ball game.  Check out some of the shots with the 0mm 1.8.

(Back Farv, Monroe Ledges. Bronx NY)

(Back Unity, Monroe Ledges, Bronx NY)

Next up I wanted to get more of a unique look so I replaced the 50mm with the 10.5mm fish eye. To get the full detail of the subject which was myself, I would have to position the tripod directly in front of the ledge that I was skating. This gave me absolutely no space for error or I would land right on my camera. Still with only a 20 second window to get all of this done I was pretty exhausted from the repetitive back and forth. We spent about 30 minutes at Monroe before they close the gates for the night so that basically  ended the shoot. I plan on doing about 5-6 more locations to complete this series which hopefully will improve with each shoot. If you think this is easy I welcome you to give it a try and give me feedback.  Here are the final shots before we had to leave with the 10.5mm fisheye.

(Royale to Fakie, Monroe Ledge. Bronx NY)

(Makio to Fakie, Monroe Ledges, Bronx NY)

I have a few projects that i’m working on, I have been riding bikes a lot and have met some cool people that I would like to shoot while riding. I have been traveling light lately. No camera bag with multiple lenses and flashes, just a fanny pack, camera, one lens, no flash or filters and more imagination. Its like when I 1st started shooting and didn’t have as much equipment. Less weight on my back makes for a better shooting experience.

Until next  time…….


Concert Photography with Ninja F**kin Sonik!!!

When they say “Ninja F**kin Sonik” The crowd yells “Sonik F**kin Ninjas. Some may know him as Rev McFly, Ben Robey, or Jah Jah Brown, but I know him as Jah Starr. My brother from back in the mullaly skate park days and the 1st dude in the hood riding USD skates. Much has changed about Jah Jah  since those days from  putting down the rollerblades and picking up a skateboard, to now with fellow members Telly and Teen Wolf forming the world known group called Ninja Sonik. Fame has not changed Jah at all, he is the same dude that he’s always been with slightly more facial hair. I have never had the opportunity to shoot a concert for many reason but the most important one being that I dont got to concerts.  I received a last minute (3 hours prior) phone call yesterday from a fellow Flip The Script member about attending a Ninja Sonik Performance feat Johnny Nelson in Williamsburg BK to grab some photos. I rarely pass up the opportunity to shoot and since I never shot a Performance I figured F**k it, why not. The information that I gathered via numerous internet sources all stated that flash photography should not be used during any concert environment because it is frowned upon. Either way I still brought my SB-600 just in case since I had no idea what I was in for. So the venue for the performance was called  the Williamsburg Music Hall (66 N 6th st, BK) a concert hall that was not so big but gave enough space to capture some good shots. I loaded up my Nikon D90 with the 70-200mm V.R. 2.8 aka The Big Doofy Lens and began to take some test shots. testing for the proper settings that I would be shooting with throughout the night. Like I have stated in my previous blogs, I am not an expert in any form of photography that I speak on, I simply write about what worked for me at that moment with the resources that I have at my disposal.  So the Settings I had dialed in was ISO 1600, F/3.5 at 1/50th of a second. Now shooting at a High ISO with most DSLR cameras produce high noise within your photo especially under low light conditions.  High noise will give you more grain which in some cases can work for the photo but in others it just gives you more work to do in post. Since I wasn’t using flash I had to make sure the shots that I had captured was under the available incandescent  lighting. I always prefer quality over quantity so I never fire off shot after shot, rather I wait for the best available shot and take it. It works for me and at the end of the day you have to do what works best for you. I chose a shutter of 1/50th of a sec because that was the setting which allowed the most light in with the least amount of motion blur.  Flashes freeze the subject which always allows for a sharper picture but  for shooting without a flash I think the pics came out pretty damn good.  I captured a few shots of Jah Jah and fellow Ninja Sonik member Telly AKA Bathroom Sex. I think I did pretty good for my 1st performance shoot and I had a great time. It’s a good thing I dont drink while shooting because they know how to put on a performance which makes you want to party. Shout out to Ninja Sonik for showing love to not only me but the Flip The Script crew also. After his performance Jah Jah made his way to Sutra in the City and proceeded to DJ the rest of the night away. He is Definitely one of the hardest working acts in the industry. Respect! Check out their website

Jah Jah aka Ben Robey

Telly aka Bathroom Sex

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Taking Friggin Sweet Photos

Since I started blogging about my photography, I have received emails asking all sorts of questions and “how too’s”. While I’m always ready to give my input of any knowledge that I have, I always like to stress that I am not a professional and these are methods that work for me at that given moment. This blog is a time line for my progression so at any point my views may change. With that being said I want to talk about a few tips that you should consider when taking Friggin Sweet photos. A misconception that many of us have is that you must have a super expensive up to date camera with all the gidgets gadgets. I have seen amazing work shot with a Nikon d40 with 5omm 1.8.  If you have a knowledge of photography and what is more visually appealing then you are one step closer to Taking Friggin Sweet Photos.  Now that you have a SLR/DSLR learn your damn camera.

  1. Get out of auto mode and start shooting in M mode (Manual). You wouldn’t buy a sports car and only drive 30 mph. You want to learn each setting and once that’s done you will look at photos differently. When you shoot in auto mode the camera basically determines how your image will come out. I prefer to control how my image is captured therefore it is def my own work.
  2. Understand lighting and how it will affect the outcome of your photo, just because your eye can see it doesn’t mean the camera will.  Poor lighting will cast shadows over or around your subject which makes your Photo not that Friggin Sweet.
  3. Frame your shot before you take it. Anyone can fire off 50 shots and choose at least 1 good Image. I personally don’t consider that to be quality shooting. Pre-visualize the photo before you shoot it and when you capture that image it makes it that much more satisfying.  You can take 100’s of shots or patiently wait for that one good shot. I prefer quality over quantity but that’s just me.
  4. Learn the Rule of Thirds and apply it to framing your subject. Believe it or not, the placement of your subject within the frame will change a Blah photo into a Friggin Sweet Photo.  I really dont feel like covering the rule of thirds now but maybe I will try and blog about it before the week is over. You can also google it.
  5. Last but not least, GO SHOOT! Some things can’t be taught, you have to just go out and do it. You can study and know all the written specs of photography but unless you go out and take chances while shooting, your pics will be very generic.

Open yourself up to constructive criticism from other photographers. to the untrained eye any image that is not the norm will be amazing work. Although its great source of nutrition to ones ego, I always prefer a challenge and seasoned photographers usually have an eye out for the things we may have missed, tips on obtaining the correct exposure, composition etc. Sign up for Flickr, Smug mug, Photobucket or find a message board that pertains to Photography and submit your work. If you have a problem with taking criticism and you would rather not submit your work then you should be prepared to spend even more time perfecting your craft.  Remember “A closed mind can never feed” and we need to feed to survive.

If you don’t agree with these steps that’s fine, I found these to be very useful and helpful over the past year.

Side Bar, 2011 has started off with a bang for my photography. My physical portfolio is almost complete, My website is finished and ready to be presented to the masses and this blog has been receiving heavy traffic on a weekly basis. Thanks for supporting me with my Blog project everyone. Once the weather gets nice I will be adding Video tutorials also (Filmed in 1080p).  Hopefully these tips will help you Take Friggin Sweet Photos.

Until next Time.


Understanding Aperture.

Learning and understanding your DSLR and its settings is one if not the most important steps that will distinguish a photographer from someone with a fancy camera. Aperture is more than just a program for Mac systems. Aperture in photography is the control of the opening in your lens called the IRIS, which allows light to travel to the sensor, also called f stop. Changing your aperture will control the dept of field (What is in focus) as well as the amount of light that reaches the sensor. Now learning aperture will not define your image however it is a major contributing factor. ISO and shutter speed and not to mention compisition are the contributing ingredients to your image. Today im just going to focus on aperture.

What is the difference in aperture settings you ask, keep reading. Below is a photo of the Aperture scale which will some what help you understand a little further. Aperture settings vary with different lenses and can range from f/1.4 to f/22.  The lowest number is the widest setting to the highest being the smallest.

Below are a series of shots taken in A Mode (aperture select). In aperture select mode you control your aperture while the camera controls the shutter speed. I almost never shoot in A Mode but it serves its purpose for this project. I borrowed a couple of my nephews lego toys for my Subject in this project. I shot these using my Nikon d90, 50mm 1.8 lens, and tripod. The purpose of using the tripod was to reduce any motion and get the same picture with each shot.  So here we go…..











My subject was the lego man with the green Lego Dinosaur placed in the background to help show the affects of the changing aperture. The Dinosaur goes from being completely blown out to fully in focus by gradually bringing the aperture a stop down.  Of course the shutter speed has also changed in each shot or else the end result would have been a complete black image.

So when should you change your aperture you ask? That all depends on how you want your image to look. We all have our own perception of what we like and photographers are no different. I always pre-visualize they way I want my image to look before I shoot so I know what settings and angles to set up with.  For portraits and low light situations I will use a smaller f stop which for portraits, will blow out whatever is in the background (shallow depth of field) and focus in only on your subject.  A larger f stop is better for scenic and action shots depending on your lighting, the shutter speed will be decreased with a larger f stop. So hopefully I was able to explain Aperture enough that you can now understand the term. Google, Wikepedia and youtube all have great videos and articles that go deeper into Aperture. I will be out shooting some holiday content for the next installment of this blog so if you have something that you think would be a great holiday photo, please feel free to drop me an email.  Until next time Holiday suckas….