New Travel Camera Backpack - Atlas Pack Adventure backpack - Initial thoughts

One of the hardest parts of Photography is finding that perfect bag (Spoiler alert, there is no such thing).  The other part is that as photographers we tend to over pack what gear we think we will need because the what if scenario is always running through our head.  Over the years of shooting I have had numerous Think Tank, Lowepro, Peak Design, Mindshift gear, fstop and the list goes on and on but the one thing I realized having all of the bags is that there are different bags for different situations and there will never be just one bag.

This is where the research started as I have a week long trip coming up and from previous trips it is always splitting between two bags and figuring out what to put where or do I need this or that.  I knew what I was looking for so I started looking for a bag that would not be a replacement but a part of the arsenal for my camera bags.

After researching a few I reached out via Instagram DM to a company here in the states called Atlas Packs (https://atlaspacks.com/) as I had a few questions for international travel and their larger backpack the Atlas Adventure backpack.  Much to my surprise they were very quick to respond and answered all of my question and were extremely customer service focused.  I proceeded to buy the bag so I can test it out with some day adventures before our trip.

There are quite a few things that I really like about the bag. 

  • Very versatile (Can remove aluminum frame (for rigidity when hiking), Can remove waste belt, Can adjust where the straps sit on the back of the pack or completely remove them if you wanted to. 
  • Spacious - I will post a picture down below with all of the gear I test packed for the trip and it handles all of it and more.
  • Build quality is great, everything feels very well thought out and able withstand some wear and tear.
  • Lots of little pockets for fitting various items in, ipad/laptop space, space up top for clothes or other items that are not part of the camera kit. 
  • Comfortable carry - Shoulder straps carry the weight well even on a little chunky frame like mine and can adjust pretty easily.

Two little things for me that are not show stoppers but will give them some feedback on

  • Pack is built for more gear then you can carry but the top handle that you lift the bag by for storage, bus, etc. Needs a bit more padding and maybe just a little larger from side to side to make it pick more of the weight up
  • Second is in the top pocket it is 1 big pocket but would like to have had a few little pockets inside of there for things like battery pack and a few other odds and ends.  That is where they sit today but when you open the top the kinda flip around in the pocket.  Nit picky but just an observation
  • It can fit a ton of gear, keep an eye on the weight as you can load it up quick

Enough rambling, here are the pics.

 Out on the trail a general size comparison to standard railing

Out on the trail a general size comparison to standard railing

 Size on a 5'10" frame

Size on a 5'10" frame

 The removal metal frame for rigidity if hiking as well as the waist belt, I am not a fan of any waste belts as a larger person but they can help displace weight from your shoulders so it can help for long hauls.

The removal metal frame for rigidity if hiking as well as the waist belt, I am not a fan of any waste belts as a larger person but they can help displace weight from your shoulders so it can help for long hauls.

 Tons of little pockets like this under the flap

Tons of little pockets like this under the flap

 Front view, nice strapped front flap to cover the day-pack area, pocket for laptop, etc.  Does have a rain cover a as well.

Front view, nice strapped front flap to cover the day-pack area, pocket for laptop, etc.  Does have a rain cover a as well.

 Nice side pockets for water bottles or tripod for easy carry, 1 on each side and 3 straps running length of the bag.

Nice side pockets for water bottles or tripod for easy carry, 1 on each side and 3 straps running length of the bag.

 Quick pockets on the connectors for the waste belt which are nice for a quick change of lens or snacks while on the go without taking the pack off.

Quick pockets on the connectors for the waste belt which are nice for a quick change of lens or snacks while on the go without taking the pack off.

 Plenty of storage

Plenty of storage

 Test pack #1 - Sony A7R II (Top Middle), Sony 24-240 (Top Left), Sony 90mm (Top Right), Sony A7R III (Middle open slot), Mavic Air Remote and Charger (Middle Right), Mavic Air (Bottom Right), Sony 100-400 (Bottom Middle), Gopro Hero5 and Karma Grip (Bottom Left), 2 thinktank bags for charging cables, LumeCube lights, etc. Fit on top of the 100-400 and Gopro. 

Test pack #1 - Sony A7R II (Top Middle), Sony 24-240 (Top Left), Sony 90mm (Top Right), Sony A7R III (Middle open slot), Mavic Air Remote and Charger (Middle Right), Mavic Air (Bottom Right), Sony 100-400 (Bottom Middle), Gopro Hero5 and Karma Grip (Bottom Left), 2 thinktank bags for charging cables, LumeCube lights, etc. Fit on top of the 100-400 and Gopro. 

 Same gear as above but on the table.  With the addition of the Sony 16-35 (usually on the Sony A7R III), the Sony 55mm 1.8 and the 35mm 2.8 (taking this picture).  I usually have the 35/55 in the top compartment in separate protective bags when fully loaded (for now)

Same gear as above but on the table.  With the addition of the Sony 16-35 (usually on the Sony A7R III), the Sony 55mm 1.8 and the 35mm 2.8 (taking this picture).  I usually have the 35/55 in the top compartment in separate protective bags when fully loaded (for now)

As you can see, it's built well and can carry a ton.  We will be doing some backpacking on our next trip as well as some car travel.  For the longer hikes I may utilize a sling bag as I will only be using 1 body and 1-2 lenses but for majority of the trip this will be the bag on my back.  I am not 100% satisfied with how I have it laid out and may change out the Gopro for an Edelkrone little slider as I like it better for timelapse and the gopro is used only sporadically. 

If you have questions let me know or reach out directly to Atlas as their customer service is incredible. 

This is not a paid advertisement this is a fully purchased bag on my own dime (though love it enough may see about their ambassador program now, Lol)

Have a great week and get out their and shoot!

Peak Cherry Blossom season in DC

The difference in the blooms from Sunday to yesterday were really amazing.  Everything is starting to be fully bloomed and the Tidal Basin is just an amazing place to see the Cherry Blossoms in their true beauty. 

With that beauty and the festival comes the volumes of people that are out and about to try and capture the beauty that nature has to offer and there were a ton of people yesterday.  I need to do better of catching the environment but to be honest it really get's the anxiety up.  I am not in the category of Social Anxiety per say as I have 0 problem talking to anyone and find it fun but what really get's the nerves going for me is crowds and tons of people.  My anxiety is minor in comparison to so many with Social Anxiety that is paralyzing but just puts me in that uncomfortable state and I have a tendency to rush my shots because of it.  

For instance this shot below I had an idea for a little desaturated image with the Washington Monument and the early morning blue hour with the white/pinks of the flowers and I found the framing but I missed the focus on the flowers because I rushed.  Is it a bad image?  No it is the image I wanted to capture but in my head it's not technically perfect and I could have gotten it easily if I just slowed down and get the shot. 

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What I did get a chance to do is meet a few of the other DC area photographers that were also out shooting (I think the majority of them, lol) and just catch up which is always nice while the camera is doing it's long exposure things.  I did get a few images that I really liked and added in a few editing flares to make them closer to my minds eye vision for them.  I hope you enjoy!

 

 Sony A7R3 --- 5:12am -- Sony 24-240/26mm, 30sec exposure, F/6.3, ISO 100

Sony A7R3 --- 5:12am -- Sony 24-240/26mm, 30sec exposure, F/6.3, ISO 100

 Sony A7R3 --- 7:04am -- Sony 16-35/33mm, 1/10, F22, ISO 100

Sony A7R3 --- 7:04am -- Sony 16-35/33mm, 1/10, F22, ISO 100

 Sony A7R3 --- 6:57am -- Sony 16-35/33mm, 1/8, F22, ISO 100

Sony A7R3 --- 6:57am -- Sony 16-35/33mm, 1/8, F22, ISO 100

 Sony A7R3 --- 6:57am -- Sony 16-35/33mm, 1/6, F22, ISO 100

Sony A7R3 --- 6:57am -- Sony 16-35/33mm, 1/6, F22, ISO 100

Spring time in the DMV!

The masses of people have started to hit Washington DC for the highly anticipated Cherry Blossom season that welcome us into spring weather(ish).  Winter has not fully decided to make up it's mind and leave us just yet so the blossoms are being delayed a bit but after some fantastic weather over the weekend they are really starting to pop!  This week and next week should be some great photos coming out of the area for Cherry Blossoms!

Aside from the Cherry Blossoms being very exciting as I really do enjoy shooting them, the challenge is figuring out a unique way to capture them that captures how beautiful they are but isn't just another shot just like everyone else and I have not quite figured out that one yet but I will be working on some more detailed shots this year and trying to do some photo stacking to really get the details.

The other great thing is meeting up with other photographers in the area that you follow online and finally getting to put a face to a name.  Over the weekend I got to catch up with one of my favorite photographers Angel Pan as well as a few new faces, Li Zhujun (https://500px.com/18wwai - IG - @li.zhujun), David (IG - @edgardavisp) and another photog I have followed for a while who is incredible Jarrett Hendrix (https://www.jarretthendrix.com/ - IG - @jarrett.hendrix).  I have to do better of capturing peoples faces when we meetup, I usually get side profile or the back of them. 

 Angela Pan (http://www.abpan.com/ - IG - @abpanphoto)

Angela Pan (http://www.abpan.com/ - IG - @abpanphoto)

 Li Zhujun (https://500px.com/18wwai - IG - @li.zhujun)

Li Zhujun (https://500px.com/18wwai - IG - @li.zhujun)

 David (IG - @edgardavisp)

David (IG - @edgardavisp)

 Jarrett Hendrix (https://www.jarretthendrix.com/ - IG - @jarrett.hendrix)

Jarrett Hendrix (https://www.jarretthendrix.com/ - IG - @jarrett.hendrix)

Yes, I know what your saying, that's nice Larry please show us the Cherry Blossom captures from Easter Sunday you captured vs all these words, my bad, here ya go. 

 Early Blue Hour with cherry blossoms lit with a LumeCube ---- Sony A7R3 --- 6:17am -- Sony 24-240/38mm, 20sec exposure, F/8, ISO 100

Early Blue Hour with cherry blossoms lit with a LumeCube ---- Sony A7R3 --- 6:17am -- Sony 24-240/38mm, 20sec exposure, F/8, ISO 100

 Extreme blue hour with one of my favorite subjects, the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument in 1 frame.  Add in some cherry blossoms lit from the LumeCube and tada!  ----  Sony A7R3 --- 6:36am -- Sony 16-35/19mm, 10 second exposure, F/16, ISO 100

Extreme blue hour with one of my favorite subjects, the Jefferson Memorial and Washington Monument in 1 frame.  Add in some cherry blossoms lit from the LumeCube and tada!  ----  Sony A7R3 --- 6:36am -- Sony 16-35/19mm, 10 second exposure, F/16, ISO 100

 Just as blue hour was starting to get washed out from the clouds I was able to capture this shot which I really love.  ---- Sony A7R3 --- 6:47am -- Sony 16-35/35mm, 25 sec exposure, f/16, ISO 100.

Just as blue hour was starting to get washed out from the clouds I was able to capture this shot which I really love.  ---- Sony A7R3 --- 6:47am -- Sony 16-35/35mm, 25 sec exposure, f/16, ISO 100.

 These are some of the shots I am working on this year.  Stacking this photo so you have more in focus but still have that shallow dof Bokeh to really have the Cherry Blossoms pop.  ---- Sony A7R3 --- 7:43am -- Sony 90mm Macro, F.2.8, 1/125, ISO 250

These are some of the shots I am working on this year.  Stacking this photo so you have more in focus but still have that shallow dof Bokeh to really have the Cherry Blossoms pop.  ---- Sony A7R3 --- 7:43am -- Sony 90mm Macro, F.2.8, 1/125, ISO 250

If your ever out at the Tidal Basin or National Mall and you see a Husky guy with Texas Rangers or Texas Tech clothes on you have probably found me, so say HI!  Look forward to sharing some more of this beautiful city with you all as we are still setting in after being here for 2+ years.

Stepping outside of my comfort zone

One of the challenges I have personally is I do not do well in groups, unless it is a group of friends that I have known for a while and comfortable with.  So along with my goal of being intentional this year with some of my Photography outings I also have challenged myself to join a few meetups throughout the year (helps I had my wing woman with me, Angela Pan - http://www.abpan.com/) and today i joined the #igdc sunrise meetup and had a great time.  The sunrise was not epic but I did finally get out to shoot the Capitol which I have been meaning to do and blue hour came through as always!

A few images from the morning

 A little different perspective on the Washington Monument and Lincoln memorial along with some long exposure car trails because they are fun.  ---- 5:37am - Sony A7R III, Sony 24-240 / 240mm, F6.3, 30 sec exposure, ISO 100

A little different perspective on the Washington Monument and Lincoln memorial along with some long exposure car trails because they are fun.  ---- 5:37am - Sony A7R III, Sony 24-240 / 240mm, F6.3, 30 sec exposure, ISO 100

 This was the shot I had in mind when going out this morning but with some texture in the sky with some clouds so will have to make another outing to see if I can capture that!  ---- 6:41am - Sony A7R III, Sony 24-240 / 50mm, F/8, 10 sec exposure, ISO 100

This was the shot I had in mind when going out this morning but with some texture in the sky with some clouds so will have to make another outing to see if I can capture that!  ---- 6:41am - Sony A7R III, Sony 24-240 / 50mm, F/8, 10 sec exposure, ISO 100

 As blue hour was wrapping up there was a little whisp of a cloud in the sky so figured it deserved a little love.  ---- 6:53am - Sony A7R III, Sony 24-240 / 24mm, F/8, 15 second exposure, ISO 100

As blue hour was wrapping up there was a little whisp of a cloud in the sky so figured it deserved a little love.  ---- 6:53am - Sony A7R III, Sony 24-240 / 24mm, F/8, 15 second exposure, ISO 100

 This shot I was trying to get a little star effect and instead got all the light flare from everywhere but still thought it was cool.  ----  6:18am - Sony A7R III, Sony 16-35 / 16mm, F/9, 30 second exposure, ISO 100

This shot I was trying to get a little star effect and instead got all the light flare from everywhere but still thought it was cool.  ----  6:18am - Sony A7R III, Sony 16-35 / 16mm, F/9, 30 second exposure, ISO 100

Over the next few weeks I have a few more outings planned and will get a few more of these up.  I also am going to look at a write up for my thoughts on the new Sony Pixel Shift in the Sony A7 Series (Thanks Angela for the idea!). 

Planned photo number 1 - Stars above the monuments, going to keep an eye on the forecasts as we have a new moon starting on March 17th so will see if I can pull that off.

Planned photo number 2 - Cherry blossoms of all shapes sizes and angles, March 17-27th should have some blooms

Planned photo number 3 - Capitol with some clouds

---  All images are always available for Print or Licensing ---

2018 Kick off with a few Incredible sunrises!

One of my favorite times of the day to be out shooting is early morning before the sun comes up where everything is calm and the chill is still in the air.  The beginning to 2018 has not disappointed for those early morning adventures, though colder then I expected but that just adds some texture to the pictures.

First outing - 1/10/2018 - Sunrise circuit (Park at the Paddle boats, walk to the Washington Monument, World War II Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, towards the Korean War Veterans Memorial, past Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial and back to the jeep) at the monuments in Washington DC.

 This is a picture I have been thinking about for a while but with the moon almost full and a little too long of an exposure so the stars went a little elliptical vs crisp circles.  It's not technically perfect but I like the concept and will be watching the moon cycles to get this shot in 2018! 

This is a picture I have been thinking about for a while but with the moon almost full and a little too long of an exposure so the stars went a little elliptical vs crisp circles.  It's not technically perfect but I like the concept and will be watching the moon cycles to get this shot in 2018! 

 One of the unique situations early this year is the frozen reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial and I love these early morning shots with the glow of the city lights across the ice. 

One of the unique situations early this year is the frozen reflecting pool in front of the Lincoln Memorial and I love these early morning shots with the glow of the city lights across the ice. 

 The clouds this morning were moving at a nice pace and the first light colors were amazing.  Long exposure shot to get the movement in the clouds to really help add some depth to the picture. 

The clouds this morning were moving at a nice pace and the first light colors were amazing.  Long exposure shot to get the movement in the clouds to really help add some depth to the picture. 

 Another fun shot with the Tidal Basin fully frozen with the Jefferson Memorial at first light with those lovely morning colors. 

Another fun shot with the Tidal Basin fully frozen with the Jefferson Memorial at first light with those lovely morning colors. 

Second Outing - 1/22/2018  - Same circuit as I previously took

 This was a bit of a unique angle as I was able to step out into the reflecting pool as the water is starting to thaw and some fun textured water for reflections of the flags, State Capitol, World War II Memorial and Washington Monument.

This was a bit of a unique angle as I was able to step out into the reflecting pool as the water is starting to thaw and some fun textured water for reflections of the flags, State Capitol, World War II Memorial and Washington Monument.

 A little further down the reflecting pool where you can see where the ice is starting to break up.  Taken from in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the bottom of the steps right by the reflecting pool and a super low angle. 

A little further down the reflecting pool where you can see where the ice is starting to break up.  Taken from in front of the Lincoln Memorial at the bottom of the steps right by the reflecting pool and a super low angle. 

 As i was walking up to the Lincoln Memorial the clouds were moving and opening in a few spots to show the blue early morning sky so had to try and frame it the best I could and try and show some of that movement from the clouds.

As i was walking up to the Lincoln Memorial the clouds were moving and opening in a few spots to show the blue early morning sky so had to try and frame it the best I could and try and show some of that movement from the clouds.

 This was just as light was starting to come up behind the Jefferson Memorial, the colors and sky were just amazing for about 25 minutes till the sun peaked out. 

This was just as light was starting to come up behind the Jefferson Memorial, the colors and sky were just amazing for about 25 minutes till the sun peaked out. 

 This was almost a throw away image for me because of the railing in place in the monument but I did like the texture in the sky and how the WWII Memorial looks at night with the ring of lights from the fountain and after my 5 minute normal processing I liked it even more.

This was almost a throw away image for me because of the railing in place in the monument but I did like the texture in the sky and how the WWII Memorial looks at night with the ring of lights from the fountain and after my 5 minute normal processing I liked it even more.

 This was the last frame of a time-lapse I had running but unfortunatley had a battery run out on me so didn't quite get the sun coming up fully above the horizon. 

This was the last frame of a time-lapse I had running but unfortunatley had a battery run out on me so didn't quite get the sun coming up fully above the horizon. 

I will be working on venturing out to try a few other locations in the area over the next few months as well.  Get some better shots of the Capitol and a few other spots that some other photographers have mentioned. 

As always the images captured here are on my Smugmug account under Travel and Locations and then under Northern Virginia. 

The only way to get the shot is be out there shooting! 

2018 Photography Goals

I interrupt the Alaskan Cruise updates to say Happy New Year!

In 2017 I had challenged myself to get out and be behind the lens more and I think I accomplished that but the problem I saw as I started looking back through the year is not many of my outings had a specific image or goal behind them.  I think the challenge I have for myself is continue to spend time behind the lens but look to be more intentional about what I am going out to capture.  I do think most days last year my intention was to capture a sunrise shot but that is pretty generic.  What is the sunrise shot I want to capture?  Realistically it's like every other photographer that goes out which is to capture an image that has that "wow" factor that draws people into the photo and feeds the creative mind by showing appreciation for it via social media or other means. 

So 2018 I am still going to go out randomly and shoot sunrises with the intention of capturing that perfect sunrise but I also am going to spend some intentional time this year chasing an image vs creating an image from just random happenstance. 

Enjoy the new year, blessings to all of you and get out their and shoot!

2017 Carnival Legend Alaskan Cruise - Day 5 - Juneau

Day 5 brought us to the Capital city of Alaska, Juneau.  Fun fact is that Juneau is a bit unusual among U.S. capitals in that there are no roads connecting the city to the rest of Alaska or to the rest of North America. 

For this stop we had decided to book us a photo safari excursion with Gastineau Guiding that would take us out whale watching as well as a little hike to the Mendenhall Glacier.  I wasn't sure what to expect as it was a "photo" safari where the tour guide was also suppose to be able to give some photography tips and tricks along the way.  We ended up absolutely loving this excursion and our primary tour guide Zach Kelly was incredibly knowledgeable about the wildlife and nature but also an incredible photographer so was just a great day.  We saw whales, birds, sea lions, seals, eagles, fish, and an incredible Glacier all within a few hours.  So now on to the pictures. 

 Our first view as we walk off the ship

Our first view as we walk off the ship

 Our whale watching ship (cell phone picture that was overexposed so processing kinda bad)

Our whale watching ship (cell phone picture that was overexposed so processing kinda bad)

 So many humpback whales during our trip

So many humpback whales during our trip

 n some whale species, flukes are so distinctive that researchers use them like fingerprints to identify individuals.

n some whale species, flukes are so distinctive that researchers use them like fingerprints to identify individuals.

 The sound from this island was loud but incredible

The sound from this island was loud but incredible

 So much wildlife around

So much wildlife around

 From the boat to the land where beauty is just every where around you

From the boat to the land where beauty is just every where around you

 Mendenhall Glacier - Water was a bit high so had to take from a distance

Mendenhall Glacier - Water was a bit high so had to take from a distance

 Annita and I at the Glacier - A bit of harsh light but still beautiful

Annita and I at the Glacier - A bit of harsh light but still beautiful

 Can't leave without 1 tourist style photo.  =)

Can't leave without 1 tourist style photo.  =)

 So many cruises landing around the same time

So many cruises landing around the same time

2017 Carnival Legend Alaskan Cruise - Day 4 - Skagway

On day 4 of the cruise we pulled into port in Skagway Alaska with some incredible cloud cover and beautiful views from every side of the boat.  We were arriving at the same time as the Norwegian cruise line so was also fun to watch them dock the ship behind us. 

 Norwegian Sun docking in behind us

Norwegian Sun docking in behind us

 Another shot of the Norwegian sun with the low clouds in the background

Another shot of the Norwegian sun with the low clouds in the background

 View off the back of the boat from the channel we just came through

View off the back of the boat from the channel we just came through

 Front of the boat towards Skagway

Front of the boat towards Skagway

Once we were docked it was time to jump off on our excursion for the day which was to take a train (White Pass & Yukon Route) up the mountain and then bike down (it was on the bike that I realized, i need to get out of the house more, seriously out of shape, lol).  We didn't get a ton of pictures on the way down as well I was trying to make it without death. 

 View of the train from the boat (turns out not the train we were taking but ours looked exactly the same)

View of the train from the boat (turns out not the train we were taking but ours looked exactly the same)

 View from the train on our way up

View from the train on our way up

 View of the train as we head up the mountain

View of the train as we head up the mountain

Skagway was a lot of fun and there are a few different excursions here depending on your comfort and athletic levels.  The last picture below we noticed all the rocks painted when we pulled in and when we got a chance to ask one of the crew members it is a tradition at the end of the cruise season to pain the logo or some other tidbits on the rocks which we pretty interesting for some of these.

 Painted rocks - View from ship

Painted rocks - View from ship

Next Stop - Juneau - my favorite stop of the whole trip

2017 Carnival Legend Alaskan Cruise - Day 1-3

One of Annita and I's favorite vacations are cruises and this year I got to check off one of my bucket list cruises, Alaska.  Annita has been to Alaska for work before and she told me how beautiful it was but until you experience it for yourself you really just don't know.  We decided to take one of the last cruises out of Seattle with Carnival cruise lines on the Carnival Legend cruise ship with some good friends of ours Ryan and Sarah Rovnak. 

The cruise started off in Seattle where we essentially just went from the airport to the dock to jump on the boat.  We were soon on board and ready for our 7 days of Alaskan adventure!  The itinerary was Day 1 - Seattle, Day 2 - Fun Day at Sea, Day 3 - Cruise Tracy Arm Fjord, Day 4 - Skagway, Day 5 - Juneau, Day 6 - Ketchikan, Day 7 - Victoria BC, Day 8 - arrive back in Seattle.

 Leaving out of Seattle

Leaving out of Seattle

The First day was getting oriented on the ship and really getting ourselves settled for the next 7 days aboard the boat.  Day 3 brought us to our first destination which was a cruise of the Tracy Arm Fjord which would lead us to the Sawyer Glacier.  While it was a bit rainy and overcast the views were absolutly stunning.

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 Sawyer Glacier

Sawyer Glacier

 Ryan and Sarah Rovnak

Ryan and Sarah Rovnak

 Annita and I - Iphone Pic

Annita and I - Iphone Pic

Stay tuned for the next part of the trip where we stop in Skagway and continue on to one of our favorite stops of the trip, Juneau. 

2017 our year in Review

This year has really flown by it seems but I have had an incredible year behind the lens and while my little weekly photo challenge I started here was a failure on my behalf I did still shoot a ton this year. 

January 2017 we started off the year with some good friends wedding reception (they got married in Disney last year) and was able to setup a photo booth that we really had some fun with.  Just so happened to be on Annita and I's anniversary so Wedding cake bonus!

 Rovnak Reception

Rovnak Reception

February 2017, Annita and I were able to get out and do some adventuring around the area and joining a group doing some skiing up in Pennsylvania and checking out some brewery's (not at the same time mind you).

 Dirt Farm Brewing Company

Dirt Farm Brewing Company

 Annita on the slopes at Whitetail Resort

Annita on the slopes at Whitetail Resort

March 2017 led us into Cherry Blossom season down at the Tidal Basin in DC where I spent many a mornings throughout the month.  Annita and I also ventured out to check out a waterfall at Crabtree Falls in Tyro Virginia which was nice but we got a little surprise along the way, yes the snake is harmless but I almost jumped into the water when it popped out. 

 Foggy morning over the Tidal Basin

Foggy morning over the Tidal Basin

 Harmless maybe but will still make you jump

Harmless maybe but will still make you jump

April 2017 - We finally got a chance to visit the Murphy's in PA and Annita and Kris did a little running as well.  We also got to do a little more exploring and bought annual passes to Meadowlark gardens and checked out Luray Caverns. 

 Annita and Kris getting their run on

Annita and Kris getting their run on

 Meadowlark Gardens

Meadowlark Gardens

 Luray Caverns

Luray Caverns

May was a pretty slow adventure month but we still manged to head up into Maryland and checkout another botanical garden, Brookeside Gardens. 

 Brookside Gardens

Brookside Gardens

In June we ventured out to Burke Lake park which is close by the house to check out some sunrises and get some walking in.  I also made a few adventures down to the Tidal Basin for some sunrise fun.  June was also my first baseball game in DC and got to see the Texas Rangers play which was an incredible time with my wife and met some Texas fans at the game that made us think of Dallas. 

 Burke Lake Park

Burke Lake Park

 Tidal Basin Sunrise

Tidal Basin Sunrise

 Washington Monument sunrise

Washington Monument sunrise

 Texas Rangers vs Washington Nationals - Beltre and Harper chatting

Texas Rangers vs Washington Nationals - Beltre and Harper chatting

July we got to visit the Murphy's again in PA and Kathy, Alan and Kyle up in CT for a balloon festival that was a bit of a bust due to weather. 

 A little roadside garden with the CT Folks

A little roadside garden with the CT Folks

 Annita in the pool at the Murphy's showing the girls how to swim

Annita in the pool at the Murphy's showing the girls how to swim

August we had our wonderful friends the Thornberry's from Texas come in to visit and you can guess it, I did some sunrise shots at the Tidal Basin and Naitonal Mall area.  At the end of August we headed to Seattle to jump on a Carnival Cruise to Alaska which was INCREDIBLE (that will be a seperate blog all in it's own).

 The Thornberry's

The Thornberry's

 Sunrise over the Tidal Basin

Sunrise over the Tidal Basin

 Starting the cruise off right and our in room lush Groot already hitting the bottle

Starting the cruise off right and our in room lush Groot already hitting the bottle

September started off with us in Alaska on our Cruise and I will pop in a few images but will do another blog post with the highlights from Alaska another time.  We also did some local running around hitting Meadowlark gardens and stopping in to check out Cars and Coffee in South Riding for a little fun.

 Tracy Arm Fjord

Tracy Arm Fjord

 Skagway Alaska Train and Bike Ride Excursion

Skagway Alaska Train and Bike Ride Excursion

 Juneau

Juneau

 Ketchikan Alaska Bering Sea Excursion

Ketchikan Alaska Bering Sea Excursion

October we got to be a part of the amazing wedding for our good friends Kathleen and Jonathan and headed back to Dallas for a short trip for my annual company BBQ.  I also got the chance towards the end of the month to head out with my good friend Angela to catch some sunrises on Skyline drive.

 Jonathan and Kathleen Fox

Jonathan and Kathleen Fox

 Sunset leaving Texas

Sunset leaving Texas

 Skyline Drive

Skyline Drive

November and December pretty much blended together with work and everything but we did get our first Snow of the season a little earlier this year so Angela and I grabbed the cameras and headed out to Great Falls to see what we could capture (I need work capturing snow falling).  I know this will suprise everyone that made it this far but I also spent some time down at the Monuments shooting sunrise. 

 Long Exposure of the falls

Long Exposure of the falls

 Angela getting the shot!

Angela getting the shot!

 Early light with the World War II memorial and Washington monument

Early light with the World War II memorial and Washington monument

 World War II Memorial fountain

World War II Memorial fountain

That is a quick glance at what we did in 2017 and already have some fun plans for 2018 and looking forward to capturing as much of it as I can through images and video for our memories and to share with everyone.

Early mornings in Washington DC

Sunrises are quickly becoming one of my favorite things to shoot, maybe it's the sunflare or maybe it's just the peacefulness of being only one of the few people crazy enough to be up at that time of day.  This time of year it is even a little more difficult as sunrise is so early in the morning but that has not stopped me the last two days! 

One of the things I am setting out to do is try and shoot a time lapse twice a month because I really do like the content that they can add for videos or just standalone to show off a location.  Now I just have to find the formula that works best for the way I shoot and with the equipment that I use because I still want to keep my kit down to a minimum so not carrying extra wired triggers around for the camera and using the internal app on the Sony's that has some limitations.

Anyway, enough talk let me show you pretty things.

Great Sunrise over Burke Lake

One of my favorite times of day is to shoot is sunrise, not a fan of the time of day this time of year to get up in order to catch it but that is not the point.  Last Saturday we woke up in what I thought was plenty of time and got out to the lake around 5:30 and the Sun was already coming up so it became a mad scramble to get the camera setup and a time lapse running.  It was a great morning and Annita (My wife) got her morning yoga in on the pier while I took photos so a win/win for both of us!  Here are a few of the shots from that day.

Plan is to get out this Thursday, June 8th to try and catch sunrise downtown by the monuments. 

Catching Up - Week 14-21 2017

I have failed.  Simple, to the point and honest.  I was not able to complete more then 7 weeks of continuous updates for the 52 week challenge and now have fallen completely behind.  How often does this also happen in our every day lives not just with our hobbies.  We start with a drive to accomplish something and various factors creep in and next thing you know you are over your head trying to catch up.  I am not going to try and catch up at this point but I will continue to use the 52 week challenge ideas to capture them this year just may not be on the week as planned. 

So now I just adapt and find how I want to share my art and for that I will bring you along on our adventures as we explore the Northeast as recent transplants.

The last couple of trips are just me and my wife wanting to get out and explore the area and see some of the beauty that Northern Virginia has to offer.  We started off close to home by checking out Meadowlark Botanical Gardens in Vienna.

 Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

 Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

After walking around the gardens which are beautiful we were a bit hungry so decided to give Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken a try and it did not disappoint.  I know what your thinking, Fried chicken at a doughnut place but you would be surprised! 

 Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

Astro Doughnuts and Fried Chicken

Next we head out west towards the Shenandoah National park to check out the Luray Caverns which was discovered in 1878 by 5 locals.  When we arrived we noticed an abundance of tour buses and quickly realized the crowd we were in for.  Even though the crowd had numbers the employees moved everyone through quickly and the wait really was not that bad.  

 Wife at Luray Caverns

Wife at Luray Caverns

 Reflections in Luray Caverns

Reflections in Luray Caverns

Following that Memorial day was right around the corner so we decided to find another botanical garden to check out in the area, might as well get those steps in while you check out some beauty in nature!  This lead us to Brookside Gardens in Maryland and it was equally as impressive as Meadowlark and even had a butterfly exhibit!  We did not check it out this trip but will be planning a trip back soon and it will be on the agenda!  For Memorial day we headed out to Burke Lake park as the fog had rolled in pretty thick so wanted to see how the sunrise would pop off, it didn't, but we got in a good walk and some fun pictures!

 Brookside Gardens - Bee!

Brookside Gardens - Bee!

 Brookside Gardens - always hope for a better sky but the view was still great

Brookside Gardens - always hope for a better sky but the view was still great

 Brookside Gardens

Brookside Gardens

 Burke Lake Park, Fog and Yoga, why not?

Burke Lake Park, Fog and Yoga, why not?

 Burke Lake Park - Family day at the lake

Burke Lake Park - Family day at the lake

We have a few trips planned in the next couple of months but will do my best not to wait months before updating again. 

 

Week 8-13 Feb/March 2017 - The catch up blog and Cherry Blossoms!

I am a little bit behind but have been out shooting so the next updates may have a bit of a theme to them because I absolutely love the shots from the last few days out shooting the Cherry Blossoms here in Washington, DC.  This is a catch up blog to cover the last 6 weeks in an attempt to get me back on track! 

I was not sure what to expect when I went out to the Tidal Basin this year as we had a freeze right before and thought it may have killed off a majority of the blossoms for the season.  I was pleasantly surprised when I went out for 3 days last week in the early shadows of the morning to capture the sunrise and I am glad I did! Over those 3 days I was able to capture some incredible shots, meet up with a good friend for some fun and it inspires me to want to be out every morning with a camera in my hand. 

I Hope you enjoy!

Week 8 - Landscape: Wide Angle/Panorama

 A great sun flare shot of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial with a little cherry blossom kicker over the Tidal Basin.  #Sony A7RM2 , F/22, 1/40th, ISO 200

A great sun flare shot of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial with a little cherry blossom kicker over the Tidal Basin.  #Sony A7RM2 , F/22, 1/40th, ISO 200

Week 9 - Landscape: Nightowl

 Another shot of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial but during the very early morning (nightowlesque).  #Sony A7SM2 , F/4, 1/5th, ISO 1600

Another shot of the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial but during the very early morning (nightowlesque).  #Sony A7SM2 , F/4, 1/5th, ISO 1600

Week 10 - Portrait: Environmental

 Environmental portrait is typically of a subject in their natural environment so this is very fitting because this is where Angela loves to be, in the middle of the Cherry Blossoms.  #Sony A7SM2, F/4, 1/500th, ISO 640.

Environmental portrait is typically of a subject in their natural environment so this is very fitting because this is where Angela loves to be, in the middle of the Cherry Blossoms.  #Sony A7SM2, F/4, 1/500th, ISO 640.

Week 11 - Landscape: Reflection

 As you can tell from the shots above I have a theme and it is the Tidal Basin.  This was a very Foggy morning but thought the Jefferson Memorial reflection along with the Cherry Blossoms was a great shot.  #Sony A7RM2, F/4, 1/250th, ISO 400.

As you can tell from the shots above I have a theme and it is the Tidal Basin.  This was a very Foggy morning but thought the Jefferson Memorial reflection along with the Cherry Blossoms was a great shot.  #Sony A7RM2, F/4, 1/250th, ISO 400.

Week 12 - Artistic: Transportation

 This one was a shot I had in my head with the Cherry Blossoms and the City/Car lights in the distance providing the Bokeh.  #Sony A7RM2, F/2.8, 1/60th, ISO 1600

This one was a shot I had in my head with the Cherry Blossoms and the City/Car lights in the distance providing the Bokeh.  #Sony A7RM2, F/2.8, 1/60th, ISO 1600

Week 13 - Landscape: Zoomed in

 I really love this shot of the Cherry blossoms with the Jefferson Memorial compressed in the background and the only way to accomplish that was to step back and zoom in.  #Sony A7RM2, F/6.3, 1/100th, ISO 400.

I really love this shot of the Cherry blossoms with the Jefferson Memorial compressed in the background and the only way to accomplish that was to step back and zoom in.  #Sony A7RM2, F/6.3, 1/100th, ISO 400.

Week 7 - February 2017 Artistic: Bokeh

My wife and I headed out this afternoon to check out a brewery we had heard about from some friends out in Loudoun county.  Trekking up to the brewery we were not sure what to expect but it surpassed our expectations 10 fold for sure.  The views are great which you will see in the image below but most of all the beer was also very tasty.  We shared 2x 4 beer flights trying out their Red Merl Irish Red, Pants off DIPA, Scott Brown Ale, Stout of Control Irish Stout, Tart 31 Cherry Ale, and the Straw Golden IPA.   My favorite of course was the Stout and the wife really enjoyed the Tart 31 Cherry Ale.  Add on some tasty flat bread pizza and it was a great Saturday afternoon.

Anyway, enough about the great beer (but seriously if you are in the area go try the beer) and on to the weekly photo.  I added a few after the challenge photo that were also contenders.

http://dirtfarmbrewing.com/

Sony Rx100IV Photo

Sony Rx100IV Photo

Sony Rx100IV Photo

Iphone 7 Photo

Week 5 - February 2017 - Portrait: Movement

This weeks shot (a little late on the upload) was taken when we went on a little ski outing with our new church here in Virginia to Whitetail resort (https://www.skiwhitetail.com/) in southern Pennsylvania.  There has not been a ton of natural snow but the conditions have been good enough for them to continue to make man made snow and while I did not ski Annita did and she said it was not bad during the morning runs but got a bit slushy in the afternoon.

For this week the shot is a bit cropped as I was testing out the Sony 70-400 F/4-5.6 A mount lens w/LAEA3 adapter from Sony to use on the A6300 and A7RII. 

Original Shot

 Sony A6300 w/70-400 F/4-5.6 - F8 / 1/1250 of a second

Sony A6300 w/70-400 F/4-5.6 - F8 / 1/1250 of a second

100% Crop shot

 Sony A6300 w/70-400 F/4-5.6 - F8 / 1/1250 of a second

Sony A6300 w/70-400 F/4-5.6 - F8 / 1/1250 of a second

Week 4 - January 2017 - Portrait: Headshot

This week the challenge was to take a headshot portrait and it was a bit of a crazy week but that just made me have to think about the theme and try and get a little creative. 

I think shooting figures like this actually helps you to understand where light falls and such and well Superman is awesome. 

 Funko Superman headshot

Funko Superman headshot

 Funko Superman with a little Cartoon processing

Funko Superman with a little Cartoon processing

 Sony A7R II w/ Sigma 105mm Macro lens & Westcott Icelight

Sony A7R II w/ Sigma 105mm Macro lens & Westcott Icelight

Week 3 - January 2017 - Artistic: Red

I had multiple ideas this week and wanted to try and get outside and do something but couldn't get together a fully creative idea.  After talking with my wife Annita she said why don't you share the fun fact of what we learned in Ireland about Guinness, it's actually Red.  I loved the idea but not had the technical challenge of how do I show that Guinness is in fact Red vs a black.

Here is the Behind the Scenes setup and the final shot.

 BTS setup shot.  Sony A7R II w/35mm F/2.8, Lume Cube lights, Manfrotto mini tripod and faith that the Lume Cube lights were truly water proof. 

BTS setup shot.  Sony A7R II w/35mm F/2.8, Lume Cube lights, Manfrotto mini tripod and faith that the Lume Cube lights were truly water proof. 

 You can see the Red in the Beer which is pretty cool and of course Superman approves! 

You can see the Red in the Beer which is pretty cool and of course Superman approves! 

Week 2 - Jan 2017 - Landscape: Traditional Landscape

Already a bad start to this challenge when I am a few days late posting the image for the previous week.  I did get a chance to get out and go shoot for this image and found a new trail at Burke Lake Park to get out and get some sunrise shots over water. 

Superman did not make the cut this week mainly because I forgot him but instead I captured the source of his power front and center and why only have 1 Sunburst when you can have 2 with a reflection! 

 This is probably more HDR landscape then traditional but I liked the way it came out with the Reflections.  Sony A7RII w/16-35 f/4 Lens - 3 exposures -3,0,3 #SonyA7RII #BurkeLakePark

This is probably more HDR landscape then traditional but I liked the way it came out with the Reflections.  Sony A7RII w/16-35 f/4 Lens - 3 exposures -3,0,3 #SonyA7RII #BurkeLakePark