Saturday, December 24, 2011

Berlin-Why is it so Great?

Berlin: Destination for Photographers and Cyclists

Taken at the Brandenburg Gates with my digital point and shoot camera.

Three years ago I had the opportunity to visit the city of Berlin on a trip to Germany I made. Being both a photographer and a cyclist I found the best of both worlds colliding inside this city. A reminder of the old and the new, Berlin has architecture hundreds of years old as well as remnants of the soviet era and modern day skyscrapers. It is a landscape photographer's dream as well as a model city for it's cleanliness and transit oriented infrastructure.  When my wife and I traveled Berlin we did not need a car. Instead, we took advantage of the advanced rail system that can take you anywhere in the city. Much like New York, Berliners walk, ride their bicycle, or take the U-Bahn or S-Bahn anywhere they need to go. 

Cyclist on bicycle dedicated lane.

Cyclist riding near "Checkpoint Charlie" in Friedrichstrasse, the border of east and west Berlin.

In Berlin you will find aspects typical of any big city- street performers, food stands, and foreign residents selling you trinkets at every corner. Bargain choices for food include Doner Kabops and Currywursts, as well as the beer. Beer in Germany will run you much cheaper than water; 30 cents for a half liter bottle of beer compared to almost $2.00 for a small bottle of water. The Euro is the currency currently being used in Germany. Make sure you exchange your money to Euros before shopping or dining anywhere in Berlin, as it is considered bad manners to pay in dollars. If you can avoid it, do not use traveler's checks either. There is only one place in the whole city that will take them. It is preffered you use your check card in most places. Talk to your bank about any foreign transaction fees associated with using your check card abroad.

Pretty good for his age, huh? Street performer in

An actor reenacts an east German check point guard.

My trip to Berlin was a great learning experience. I learned a few tips on traveling abroad as well as enjoyed the sites and culture of the Berliners I encountered. Berliners can teach those living in the US on how a transit system is supposed to work, as well as the positive impact it has on its users.  Even though there are cars in Berlin, few people own them and fewer people need them. They have managed a way to do without them. Still, I love to see those little Soviet cars they made. They are awesome!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Shooting with my Mamiya

My Mamiya C33 and the 120 Project

My 1960 Mamiya C33 series Professional Twin Reflex Camera

No matter how much technology advances, there are certain art forms that resist change. Just like photoshop cannot replace an artist's easel, Digital technology does not replace the old film practices in their entirety. One example that has yet to be matched in quality only by the most advanced digital cameras is the medium format camera, in this case, my Mamiya C33 twin reflex camera. This camera uses a 120mm roll of film you insert instead of the 35mm roll on most SLR cameras. The 2"x2" negative packs as much detail as a 40 mega pixel image sensor. Depending on lens quality, you might even get more detail. 

The drawbacks? No built in light meter. All light measurements need to be done by an external hand held meter and dialed into the camera manually. It is also very bulky. Weighing in close to 5 pounds, it can be like swinging a club if swung around in defense of a camera thief. It is also expensive to buy the hard to find rolls of film and a place that will still develop them. From time to time I would sneak in to my college dark room and develop the pictures that way. 

You might think that these drawbacks would stop the modern photographer from having anything to do with such a camera. On the contrary, most photographer's dreams are to build their digital portfolio's and reputation good enough so that they can go back to shooting film cameras like these. My goal as a photographer is to incorporate this camera into my wedding photography, once I have established consumer confidence in my work.

Here are some examples of photos I have taken with this camera

These pictures go back to the time I was penniless living in northside, Fort Worth. I would take walks into Downtown with my camera and shoot at anything that looked interesting. 

Self portrait at age 19. No digital effects were used. Taken on
the bulb setting on my camera.
My lovely wife, the day I proposed.

The 120 film project is an ongoing project that I hope to build on and one day exhibit in my own personal gallery exhibition. Stay tuned for more pictures with my 50 year old camera.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Jonathan and Taryn: Crusing into the Sunset

Jonathan proposed, Taryn said "yes!" Congratulations guys!

Who said a photographer's work is done in the winter? I was fortunate to get this last minute booking for this young couple. Due to the reduced amount of daylight in December, I had to be creative on some of the shots that I took. Here are some of the results.

The gondolier is elegantly dressed as he rows this couple through the calm waters of Lake Carolyn

Gondolier, decked out with top hat and tail coat.
You will notice that I also ventured towards the surrounding area around the canals for this photo-shoot. Las Colinas is full of great architectural buildings and sculptures and provides interesting photo opportunities.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A day with Johnny and Dorcas

Photography tips with Johnny and Dorcas

It's all about the details! Brides love the details that go into making their special day.
I found this shoe shot to be one of my more sucessful examples yet.
One of my colleagues recently invited me to do an assist for our mutual friend's wedding. It was a pleasure to take the time to photograph this young couple. Here are a few highlights of the day's activities.

Shooting in a dark reception room will require some creativity and some additional lighting other than your carry on flash. Be prepared to "take out the big guns" with your studio lighting and remote flashes. 2011 Jonathan Guzman

Brides love the details on their wedding dress. Be sure to at least have one picture like this in the album.
Every once in a while it's good to shoot a wedding for fun and let someone else do the worrying. Part of networking as a photographer is learning how to get along with the other kids on the block (fellow photographers) and sometimes doing a good deed is it's own reward. Either way each wedding will add 2 to 3 shots to your growing portfolio. These are the one's I think I will keep.