Archive for 'Personal'
Reilly is in fourth grade which means she is studying the California missions this year. One of her assignments is to visit one of them, and we chose the Mission Santa Barbara. Before that, we decided to make a 3-day detour to my favorite place on earth…Disneyland!
The first two days were remarkably crowd free and we all had our fill of rides and attractions. The third day was leap day and the park was open for 24 hours. We did not know this when we booked, but it was a huge event with thousands waiting at 5am for a chance to enter the park early. I left Stef & the girls in bed and made my way into the two block line. I have been to Disneyland many times but have never seen the sunrise there, it was quite special. I walked the park for an hour and just explored, something I used to do when I went with my parents, but this time of course I took photographs.
I’m proud to say the girls went on every ride we asked them to this time and never chickened out. Their highlights were the Aladdin stage show, World of Color (an amazing night time show in California Adventure), and the chain swings. It was a fantastic time.
NERD ALERT Non techies can stop reading now: My Fuji X-100 review starts here. I know this camera has been reviewed ad nauseum but I thought I would give a perspective from real world use. Ever since I sold my last Leica M7 years ago I have been searching for an “every day use” camera that I take with me wherever I go(Stef gets quite annoyed when I bring the 5d and a few lenses to dinner). Most small digital cameras just don’t have the quality or features I like but when Fuji announced the X-100 last year they got my attention. I won’t go into the features of the camera as that info is widely available and much better described than I could do here. I carried the X-100 every day of our trip and enjoyed using it. So here is what I liked:
The camera is SMALL. Having this little thing around my neck was quite liberating compared to my big Canon and a zoom lens. I saw hundreds of people in Disneyland with a big DSLR/lens around their neck and couldn’t help but smirk a little as they all eyed mine. I hardly noticed it and it never got in the way on any of the rides. I knew lighting situations were going to be all over the place so I shot exclusively in aperture priority mode with auto iso. With a few clicks of the exposure dial, this method worked wonderfully most of the time. I also almost exclusively used the viewfinder to frame and shoot. I prefer shooting that way (instead of the lcd) and it just makes me feel more connected to the scene.
Now, this is not a camera for quick grab shots or rapid fire shooting…and I like that. The design and operation makes you think about your shot and, slow down. I took easily half as many pictures with this camera as I would have with my Canon, which made things much more enjoyable to go through when we got back.
In use: My main goal with this camera was to document our vacation. While it did that very well, it was also very fun to use! Hard to explain really, but I haven’t had that much fun with a little camera since my Leica days. The act of framing, getting exposure, and waiting for the decisive moment was a great experience for me. The lcd screen seemed just “ok” and got the job done for reference, but it’s certainly not the brilliant 5d lcd. I found the camera very easy and intuitive to compose and focus, again not lightning fast but fast enough for my needs that week. The manual aperture ring is right up my alley and in no time I found myself constantly fingering it preparing for the next shot. While I’m not a flash user, there were a couple of occasions where I just couldn’t take a risk (the girls getting Goofy’s autograph in dappled light). The little Fuji does a pretty nice job balancing the flash with the ambient, I was quite surprised.
Focus: Apparently this has been quite a polarizing topic regarding this camera but I can honestly say that in the over 700 frames I shot that week, I think about 4 shots missed focus. Sorry Mr. Kelby, sounds like you got a bum unit. My method was pretty simple: If I was shooting at f2 and needed critical focus, I used the EVF. Shots f4 and smaller I switched to the beautiful OVF. This really worked well for me. Of course this is a smaller sensor and only an f2 lens and granted most of my shots were at f4 outside in bright light, but I just did not experience any of the reported focus gremlins.
And of course there is the image quality. I am consistently impressed with the incredible quality this little camera puts out. So much that I have used it on several professional sessions. The colors are great and I’m more than comfortable shooting at up to 1600 iso.
So who is this camera for? Certainly not someone looking for a good point-and-shoot, there are much better offerings for that. The X-100 is designed for people who value the experience of making pictures. Using it requires some effort, and yes there are a few quirks, but overall it makes me feel a little bit more analogue in this digital world…something I need every now and then.
The girls were in rare form and decided they wanted to have a “serious” photo shoot. Stef and I had to drop everything to accommodate, but were glad we did. We splashed on a little makeup, got some new clothing options, and voila! They decided to be little models. It had been a while since we have had them both in the studio and just reminded me how fast they are growing up
Whenever the kids are on a break from school we try to take advantage of it, even if only for a couple of days. One of our favorite nearby getaways is Carmel/Monterey. I’ve grown somewhat addicted to online travel deals, and when I got the email about this cute Carmel bed & breakfast, I knew just where we were going during Spring Break! This was the first time we stayed in the heart of Carmel, which is definitely cool since we could walk everywhere. The kids were especially fond of the breakfast portion of the B & B, as well as the free VHS movie checkout (no, that’s not a typo…probably the last time we’ll see VHS tapes anywhere! Another one of my new online addictions is to find the best places to eat wherever we’re at. Well, the review sites did not disappoint, as we had a fantastic dinner at Flying Fish Grill (Japanese) and amazing lunch at Dametra Cafe (Greek). Of course we had to visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium (the kids weren’t letting us off the hook on that one), but I honestly think we had the most fun just hanging out in Carmel and exploring. You will see from the images that the kids did an excellent job of that! Can’t wait to find out where our next unexpected travel deal will take us!
Yesterday our baby girl turned six. While we tend to go somewhere besides home for the birthday parties (much less work and kids always have fun!), this year we decided to get a little crazy and have Teagan’s birthday at home for a change. We kept it small and had Kidzart come and do an art project with the kids. Teagan chose to create ice cream sundaes out of clay (I think the number of fingers she’s holding up below is how many scoops she wanted to make, not how old she is! . The girls had a great time building their creations, followed by a little pizza, cake, & coloring. Teagan had a blast with her friends and said the art project was the favorite part of her party. We ended her special day with dinner out at Mikuni Kaizen (mom & dad deserved some fun, too!. To our sweet, fun, crazy little girl, we hope you had the best birthday and we are so blessed to be your parents! Love you!
Thought we would share a few photographs from our trip to Orlando. First stop was the World of Harry Potter. This small area of Universal Studios gives the best parts of Disneyland a run for the money. Every attention to detail was just incredible. There were lots of things to do, but highest on the list for the girls was a trip to Ollivander’s (for a magic wand), and a tall glass of Butterbeer (Reilly managed two glasses). Low on the list was the food….Hogwarts tavern was without question the worst food I have ever eaten served at a restaurant. Check out Miss T’s face at the table below…that sums it up. We of course went lots of other places at Universal, but this area just caught my eye. Here are some favorites from the day.
Contrary to popular belief, I still photograph our girls. However, as time goes by, it becomes increasingly on their terms. This time it took some fancy dresses that we asked them to “model” for us, and they were in…especially Miss T. I wish I had filmed the whole process, they just were floating about on the logs and in the grass. Here are a few favorites.
We decided to sneak out for a quick vacation to the snow with the girls a couple of weeks back. And when I say quick, I mean quick. Stef had pre-purchased a night at the Squaw valley resort some time ago that had to be used before the year was out. Nothing like waiting till the last minute..
In that 24hr period we did the following: Lunch in Truckee, sledding, ice skating, drinks by the fire, more sledding, swimming, eating, shopping, more shopping, more shopping, and lunch on the way back down the hill. Whew!!! Of course I had the job of documenting the adventure. Here are a few shots from the trip.
A few weeks ago we held our 2nd annual Santa Portrait Charity Event at the Silver Spoon children’s boutique in an effort to collect Toys 4 Tots. We had an amazing response and collected over 200 toys! We are so appreciative of everyone who participated in this event, as well as the Silver Spoon for providing the perfect location and the most amazing Santa. There are far too many portraits to include in a blog post, so this is really just a teaser (and if case you weren’t aware, the first darling little girls are ours…:-). To see all 188 portraits visit our Facebook page here. Enjoy and Merry Christmas–Ho! Ho! Ho!