Oh No! Time for a Camera Repair!
Keeping our gear in tip-top shape is essential, expensive, and never seems to fit in to our schedule. Just before the spring season one of my cameras stopped focusing properly. I struggled with it for a couple of games, then knew I had to send it in to Nikon for repair. While my camera was in the shop I took advantage of being an NPS member and the 'free' loaner. It seems that the camera bodies that I'm using (two Nikon D4's) are no longer stocked as loaners, so they sent me a newer, D4s. I think the biggest difference I will see in my 14-day test period is the increased ISO, which will help me cover varsity lacrosse games. It also has a faster processor and frames per second, but I rarely spray and shoot, too many photos - too many images to look through in editing later on.
The volleyball image on the left was shot at 12800 ISO, 1/1000 at f/2.8. Ordinarily in this gym I shoot ISO 6400 1/800 at f/2.8, see the image on the right. So a big difference.
Sports Photography Exhibit
I never expected to be in an art exhibit, but due to the efforts of my friend and fellow photographer Phil Fabrizio, I am! From January 18-March 10 at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park in Gaithersburg, eleven of my sports photos are on exhibit! Phil, David Wolfe and George Smith and I have been friends and sideline photographers for many years, and got together some of our favorite photos for the show. Check out the Facebook page and the video that Montgomery County Council put together!
Our Moments in Time
Last night was the Super Blood Moon Wolf Moon Lunar Eclipse. I've never heard of so many different names for an eclipse, but it was pretty spectacular. Astrophotography is not really my thing, but I wanted to give it a shot. I don't have the right equipment, but using my Nikon D4 and 70-200 f2.8 lens with a 2x teleconverter on a tripod, I braved the below zero degree wind chill temperatures and managed to get the moon in the view finder. First I read Nikon's instructions from this article, "How to Photograph a Lunar Eclipse", and then proceeded to mess it all up!
When I get cold all normal thinking and sound reasoning goes straight out of my mind. The wind was whipping around, knocking my eyeglasses off my chair, my hair was in my face, my eyes watering. It was impossible for me to see if the camera was even focusing properly, even with the viewfinder loupe. Here was the routine:
Take the photo, put on eye glasses, turn on flash light to locate preview button on camera, press enlarge button so that the moon would expand in LCD screen, take off eyeglasses, grab loupe to see if moon was in focus.
By this time my fingers were frozen solid and the LCD screen would turn off and I would have to start all over again. At any point in this process I would drop the eyeglasses, the flash light, or both. It would have been funny had I not been so darn cold!
Just past the Prime Time for the Blood Moon (around 12:15 am), I grabbed the whole set up and came inside. It's a good thing I did because I realized I was shooting all the photos with the lens set at only 70 mm! So I quickly ran out and took a couple more images at 200 mm.
None of my photos are very sharp. All of my photos have a bit of grain even shooting at 400 ISO, but that's because I had to crop out so much of the image due to the short lens. But I am glad I gave this a try. It was a beautiful sight to see the moon almost disappear, to see the shadow change to a reddish color, and to get a few images to remember it. Below is a composite of the lunar eclipse beginning around 9:33 pm January 20 through 12:46 am January 21, 2019.
Follow-up to Mirrorless Pocket Camera?
For now I'm sticking to my cell phone, this time it's a Samsung Galaxy S9. Still trying to figure out all the fancy camera settings. The Hperlapse looks like it will be fun to try as will the Super Slo-Mo. One thing that needs to be improved is the Selfie Emoji maker. This one looks nothing like me!
Mirrorless Pocket Camera?
Is it worth it to buy a pocket mirrorless camera or upgrade to a new phone (Galaxy S9+). I've done a bit or research, and found that a good camera option is the Sony Cyber-Shot Rx100. There are multiple versions available, but the one about the same price as the S9+ is the version IV. Over the long Thanksgiving weekend I rented one from Borrow Lenses, a great place to rent gear to try before you buy! And no, I don't get paid or receive any kind of kick back from them. I just like the quick delivery and great customer service they provide.
One of the things I really want to achieve is to travel w/out hauling 50+ pounds of camera gear and get high quality images. Another thing I'd like to do is to print images at least up to 8x10 if not larger, and both of these can produce files that size. The Sony has 20.1 megapixels and the S9+ has a 12 megapixels camera in it.
In my first couple of days I tried using the Sony as a point and shoot as I do my current phone (Samsung Galaxy S7), and the images were very disappointing. I had the camera set on program, so the camera controlled the exposure settings (ISO, aperture and shutter). I took pictures inside and outside, and the subjects were blurry and grainy in both.
Then I switched the camera to manual exposure settings and tried moving the focus area on the view finder, again I was disappointed with the results. Images were still grainy and out of focus. It's possible the newest version of this camera has been, but at about $1,200 it's at a higher price point than I want to spend.
It would be nice if I could rent a Galaxy s9+ to test the image quality. I will have to look into it! But for now, I'll keep looking.
High School Football
October 3, 2017 - Last Thursday night's football game between Springbrook and Paint Branch was a fun game to cover. For one thing, the weather was amazing. Not too long from now it will be cold, windy, raining, snowing, but not at this game. It was beautiful weather. It was also enjoyable to watch my alma mater, Springbrook, play against an old rival. Plus in the past few years covering high school football, I've gotten to know some of the coaches in the county, and both of these teams are led by some amazing coaches. Mike Neubeiser (PBHS) and Jason Lomax (SHS) are strong and caring head coaches. They have great supporting coaches as well. Rob Wendel (SHS) and Donyell Blackwell (PBHS) are also stong leaders, role models, and dads.
At one time in the first half I was on the PB sideline, and I saw Coach Lomax standing a little away from the other coaches and the team. On either side of him were Rob Wendel's sons, tossing the football to each other, completely in their own world. It was a peaceful moment in an otherwise loud, crazy game.
Maybe it was the weather, maybe it was my fondness for both teams, but I took way too many photos that night. Here are a few of my favorites, and the rest can be seen in the gallery.
Sunflowers at McKee-Beshers
July 7, 2017 - took a quick ride to McKee-Beshers in Poolesville, MD to see the sunflower fields. We were a little too early so only found a few blooming. Will try again in a week or so. Maybe even with a model or two?
Road to Retirement II
June 23, 2017 - Second bit of images taken as we look around for places down south to retire. This time South Carolina. We were in Murrells Inlet and Georgetown, others were out the window!
In the Garden...
Did you say house cleaning? Yuck! Drinking coffee this morning I saw way more interesting things. We had a visitor in the pond, a box turtle. Then I followed a rabbit, robin, squirrel, dragonfly and back to the pond with the koi. Those koi are challenging to photograph. I'll be back another day to get a good image of those fish!
Magruder Boys Lacrosse Posters
June 1, 2017
Custom posters created for Magruder boys lacrosse team. Posters were presented to the players at the banquet.
Magruder Boys Lacrosse - Senior Posters
The Montgomery Sentinel - June 1, 2017
MDDC Press Editorial Contest
May 12, 2017 - The 2016 MDDC Press Editorial Contest winners were announced at the Editorial Awards Luncheon. Unfortunately I was unable to attend, but I did win three 1st place awards: Feature Photo, Sports Photo (Sports Action) and Sports Photo (Feature).
Mulan Jr. - Shady Grove Middle School Drama
Shady Grove Middle School has the most amazing drama club. This year's production of Mulan Jr. once again surpassed my expectations. The set, costumes and performances were top-notch, besting most high schools. A few photos from the May 6th show are below, and all images are available to view on my site.
April 4, 2016
So glad to get the chance to take Michael's senior portraits. Always a kid with few words, I've known Michael since he was in kindergarten. I coached him a number of years in rec basketball, and have enjoyed watching him grow and mature into a funny, smart and handsome young man. All the best to him as he begins the next phase in New Mexico!
April 12, 2016
The Magruder HS boys basketball banquet was tonight and I think the players and parents really enjoyed the posters I created for the seniors. In past years, Coach Harwood would ask for a 5x7 photo of each senior that he would include in a trophy with a frame. The photos were action photos taken during the season. A couple of weeks ago he asked if I could create a poster that included a few images. Of course! Love to!
It was difficult choosing the images to include, and even more difficult coming up with a design. Often I am giving a little direction, say a theme for a season, or a specific background to use. But this was a free-for-all, and here are the final posters. Each was 16x20 and framed in black.
Coaches, players and families loved them!
April 1, 2016
Baylor offensive lineman played high school football in Gaithersburg at Quince Orchard. Brandy Simms @bls1969 and I caught up with him in the Cougar Dome to discuss his chances in the 2016 NFL Draft.
March 24, 2016
This week's feature is about 3 talented sisters, Abby, Emily and Olivia. They played on the Maryland 4A state championship basketball team for Whitman high school. I had a great time meeting with them at their school, getting photos for the story. Emily is a senior, and is thinking about attending college in California. She's the quiet, determined sister. Olivia, the younger of the twins, is a junior and in addition to the basketball championship she also won the tennis championship in the fall. Olivia is the tallest of the three and has no problem standing up for herself! Abby, the older twin, is the talkative one. She didn't hesitate to take over the photo shoot and tell everyone where they should stand.
Whitman Coach Kenah is lucky to have Abby and Olivia returning next year. I look forward to watching them play another season! The photo gallery is posted at this link: http://www.instantimagegallery.com/iig/a/890/360625, and here's the page from this week's edition of the Sentinel.
March 8, 2016
Sometimes a story comes along that I have strong feelings about and deep connections to. (I know, don't end a sentence with a preposition, well I just ended with two!) Yesterday I spent a little time with Walter Ray in his cramped, over-crowded office in Takoma Park. He runs EGOS - Education, Goals, Opportunities and Sports, an organization he founded to help young athletes. He volunteers his time to help athletically gifted kids find their way. Often this leads to college opportunities and successful careers.
Walter and I grew up in the same area, attending the same middle school, White Oak Jr. High in Silver Spring, MD. He and I both had the privilege of knowing and being influenced by Clayton Powell, a man who spent his life helping kids. He helped me and Walter, and thousands of others who attended White Oak, or who played basketball in the gym on weekends.
Clayton was the school janitor, I know we say custodian now, but in the 60's and 70's, it was called a janitor. Clayton utilized his job to keep tabs on students, checking in with us, making sure we were staying out of trouble, and for many, he opened the gym to then playing ball instead of allowing free time to lead to mischief. He coached and mentored, but most of all he cared. He looked you in the eye and spoke to you, whoever you were, like a friend. And you were his friend. And he remembered you always, with a smile and a memory of your name, your sibling's names, your parent's names, and so on. As was said at his funeral, he was Facebook before it was invented. If you wanted to know how someone was doing, just stop by White Oak and have a chat with Clayton.
Back to Walter... he realized that there is a huge need to continue Clayton's way of giving in the community. Walter has helped tons of kids, who have in turn, helped tons more. It's a Pay if Forward, the Clayton Powell Effect. I look forward to reading Brandy Simm's article in tomorrow's paper.
Ride to Retirement
February 20, 2016
Although I still feel like a little kid at times, my husband is planning our retirement (and has been for years). We are looking for a warmer climate on or near the water. He wants lake front, I want river front near the Atlantic Ocean. We took the first steps recently and looked at a small town in North Carolina on the Neuse River, New Bern. We drove the 6 hour ride from Easton, MD and to keep occupied I took photos out the passenger window. Some of the photos show a bit of my reflection. I especially liked the older buildings along the way. Getting the subjects centered and level was a bit of a challenge, but that's where Lightroom comes in. I also added some grain and a vignette after changing saturation levels. And I finished them off with a border from On1 Effects Free 10.
I think I may keep a photo journal of all our retirement trips!
Nikon D700 | Tamron 24-70