Tag Archives: Nikon

Project 365 status: Complete!

Reflections (P365-31)What a year!  As you have probably read in my New Years post, this year has been quite the roller coaster.  So many ups and downs that I probably would not have even remembered them all if I hadn’t been doing this project.  On of Dec 31st 2013, I took my last Project 365 picture.  It was one that we had planned, probably from the beginning of the project.  My buddy Louis and I both started P365 on Jan 01 2013 and have had lots of conversations through the year about “What should I take a picture of?” and “I am out of ideas!!” also “Why did we agree to this!!”.  In the end I am glad we stuck with it though.  I look back on some of my earlier shots and can actually see a lot of progression in technique and style. (Quick Edit: Louis wrote up his post about P365 over on his site: http://www.gamutofgeek.com/i-need-to-figure-out-my-picture/ )

There are a number of types of shots that I don’t know that I would have done had I not been forcing myself to take something every day.  By the end I really started to see myself shooting in 4 different categories:

  • Life event – Something significant happened that day and I wanted to document it.  Usually this was something like a concert, or event we went to see, but occasionally was something like “we went to see a movie”.
  • Outdoor Artistic - This was when I wanted to capture something outside in good lighting, and usually had to travel to get, or at least spend some time getting the right shot.
  • Indoor Artistic – If weather was a limiting factor, or I just couldn’t get out, I typically went for a new style or technique. These shots often involved a lot of set up and there is a certain style to them.
  • Lazy – Let’s face it, getting a shot every day is tiring.  Some days there just isn’t much to shoot and life has beat you up.  So I would just grab the camera and take a picture of something/anything.

We had some pretty lenient rules set in place before we started:

  • Using the DSLR was primary, but falling back on a Cell phone was ok (Sometimes you just don’t have your good camera on you)
  • Midnight was not the cut off, before you went to bed was.  (When we started, Louis was working a late shift and would often be up till 2-3am)
  • Try and do something different each day

One of the big issues I had in the project was the time change when I was going to and from Kuwait earlier in the year.  There was actually a huge scare involving day 35.  You see, I apparently suck at numbering.  I was constantly getting my day number mixed up (until I found this website to help me with it) so I would usually use the picture from the day before as a reference.  Well, with dateline crossing and time shifts, also being up after midnight, my numbers were always getting messed up.

Emergency Breakfast! (P365-35)Some time in August, I went into the Flickr set and did a manual count, only to find that my pictures were off by 1 day.  Not just the numbering, but the actual total count was missing one.  I was crushed.  I traced the issue all the way back to Feb 5th.  This was the day I traveled back to the states from Kuwait and apparently lost almost an entire day in the process.  I freaked out and started looking everywhere for any pictures I may have taken.  Thankfully I found that I had taken a picture of my breakfast that Sarah made me.  The time frame matches up and I was saved.

After that I was much more diligent about numbering.

So now that I am done, I am planning on taking a small break from carrying my camera around everywhere I go. (Even though Sarah bought me an amazing new camera backpack). Now it’s on to projects that I can focus the theme.

Some advice to anyone willing to try P365?  Do it, but go out and explore!  Work on something new each day, be it a location, a technique, a style, etc..  Explore Flickr and find some types of shots that you want to try and then do them.  Most importantly….. document your life with it.  Lots of stuff happens around you, grab a picture of it, but don’t forget to experience it too.  When you have the picture, put the camera down and enjoy the show with your own eyes too.

Enjoy the pictures!

 

Coffee Shop Portraits – Manassas Parade

This weekend was the first real test of my project idea, “Coffee Shop Portraits”.  The idea is simple, set up in a local shop and take photos of patrons.  They end up with a nice photo, and I get some experience shooting portraits.  I was pretty nervous going into it, but the reception was pretty good and I think it went pretty well.  It wasn’t the huge influx of people wanting their photo taken that I had feared, since most folks just wanted to come in from the cold, get their drink, and get back out to the parade.  While there was a good sized line though, there were enough people interested that I had a good time.

The setup was very simple.  I shot using my D600 connected to my SB600 speedlight for external flash.  Inside the camera was an Eye-Fi Pro 8GB card that was set to transfer the RAW file to the computer. I had my Surface Pro 2 connected to a large LCD monitor so that people could watch the processing and provide input.  I processed in Lightroom 5 which was set to watch the import folder and automagicly bring up the last imported files.  So within a few seconds, I could take a shot and then start editing it.

People seemed to love the process just as much as the photo.  Watching the editing and providing a little extra input was great, and at the end of the day, I didn’t have to go home and work on a bunch of photos, they were all done!

I think for future versions of this project, I may have some templates set up so that I can just upload the files to my site and e-mail out a link to it.  Overall I was very happy with the results and the owner of the Coffee Shop (Grounds Central Station) was very pleased with the extra attention and uniqueness of the project.

You can see all the photos here: http://www.wizzersworld.com/gallery/index.php/Gig-s/Coffee-Shop-Portraits

Camel Racing in Kuwait!

Yesterday, Sarah and I spirited off for a small adventure in western Kuwait.  We visited the Kuwait Camel Racing Club.  So let me explain how we came to this point.

When I was slated to come to Kuwait the first time, (back in January) I did some searching around on Google Maps and Google Earth to find some things that would be interesting to go do while I am in country.  One of the things I noticed was, what looked like, a racetrack out in the middle of the desert.

Click to embiggen

I did some more digging and found that there is a huge camel population out in that region.  Putting 1 and camel together I figured out that it was a Camel racing track!  When I arrived in country, I made a point to head out there and see what it was all about.  Some of the websites I found on the subject (there aren’t many) mentioned that Saturday is the day to go.  Unfortunately, I didn’t have a free Saturday, but I thought, “What the hell, Camels!” and went anyways on a Sunday.

The area around the racetrack is mostly desert with a small village in the middle of it.  Many of the villagers have pens where they keep camels.  These camels were VERY friendly and wanted to know what this weird white guy with a camera was doing.  This resulted in my first batch of pictures from the area.

A few months later, Sarah and I arrive and I tell her about the camels.  Saturday comes around and we have some free time so, TO THE CAMEL RACES!!!  ONe of the important lessons we learned is, the place I had found that had the sign out front and was, what I thought, the location of the races…..wasn’t.  If you follow the road to it’s end you find a large building with lots of flags, which is the RIGHT building.  We entered the building and headed to the grandstand area where there were many plush seats and screens showing where the camels were.  The track was HUGE and you could just make out the trucks that were following the camels in the distance.

The great part was that I could venture right out to the track (and in some cases on it) and take pictures.  There were many different varieties of camels at the track.  Some were outfit for riding (my guess was that these were ridden in as we would drive a car in) and some were obviously the racers.  Interestingly, you will notice that the racing camels don’t have anyone riding them.  Instead there is a small robot on the back that spurs the camel on.  It’s equipped with a small whip that is remote controlled, probably by someone in one of the many trucks and cars that follow the camels around the track.

Taking the camels to the races.

Just rode in from the desert

The start of a race!

Here they come!

Close up!

Couldn’t let the post go without a little Camel Toe.

Making tracks.

I am sure we will venture back out again for more camel racing fun!

Moving right along

Heading Home (P365-35)Sarah and I are packing up and getting ready to go!!!

That’s right, end of February marks my return to Kuwait and this time I am taking Sarah with me! (that sounds much more ominous than it is.)  For the next 10 months (roughly) She and I will be working out of the Fintas region of Kuwait. (you know, should you want to stop by if you are in the neighborhood.)

 

So what does that mean for things around here?  NOTHING!  I’ll still have internet out there (as proven from the last trip) and it should be even better than before since I am looking at upgrading our apartment with a MADA Wi-Max connection.  Pictures will still happen and fun will still be had.

And now, few words on JoCoCruiseCrazy3:JCCC3 Day 7 Concert
If you go to Thesaurus.com and type in the word “Awesome” you get the following result:

Awesome
Main Entry: awesome  [aw-suhm]
Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: amazing
Synonyms: alarming, astonishing, awe-inspiring, awful, beautiful, breathtaking, daunting, dreadful, exalted, fearful, fearsome, formidable, frantic, frightening, grand, hairy*, horrible, horrifying, imposing, impressive, intimidating, magnificent, majestic, mean, mind-blowing*, moving, nervous, overwhelming, real gone, shocking, something else, striking, stunning, stupefying, terrible, terrifying, wonderful, wondrous, zero cool

These Synonyms do not even begin to describe the cruise Sarah and I went on.  We had heard of JCCC for the past few years and thought about attending, but either time or money didn’t match up and we just couldn’t do it.  Then we would see all the pictures and video from the folks who went and instantly regretted not going.  This time, we pulled the trigger and were not disappointed.

Hey it's us!I am not even kidding that each and every Synonym in that list is represented.  There were 700 other geeks and nerds to meet and a lot of times that process of reaching out and doing something that you don’t normally do is terrifying, but also wonderous! (see what I did there?)  The group we were with was so embracing and understanding, it really was like an extended family.

Each night of the cruise we sat at a different table and talked with different folks.  That alone was one of the best experiences.  Each table we approached, if they had room, welcomed us in.  I don’t want to drone about it too much (too late) but I will say that I would choose this cruise and the people on it over every DragonCon and every other convention, any day.  Don’t believe me?  Come on the next one and test that theory.

Anyways, expect more travels!  Sarah and I are planning on visiting some remote locations over the year so keep an eye out for that.  In the meantime enjoy some pictures!

The full JCCC3 Slideshow:

Get caught up on my Project 365:

Check out those wacky Trooper Adventures!

I’m On A Boat!

OK, I am not on the boat yet, but I will be shortly.  Sarah and I are attending JoCoCruiseCrazy 3 this year and it’s going to be awesome!  This will pose some interesting #FirstWorldProblems.  The internet on the boat, while available, is very expensive.  Many folks are going without as a challenge.  I may or may not be up for this challenge.  Of course that means that uploading my P365 pictures is going to be difficult (or non-existent).  Take heart people, I will be taking and processing my photo every day, when I get back to the Internets (or possibly at a hotspot in one of the ports of call) I will upload and label them for the days they were taken.

In the meantime, enjoy this slideshow of my P365 shots to today.

Also, check out the Trooper Adventures, who will also be going with us on the cruise.

Kuwait Adventures continued!

Crane on the beachRapidly closing in on finishing up my full month in country, I have to say I have certainly learned and seen a lot so far.  With my Project 365 task, I have tried to keep the pictures themed to what I have been doing here and some of my experiences.  I can look back at these pictures and probably tell you all about what happened that day.

 

Recently I had a great adventure when I met up with a local, Mohamed, who got in contact with me via Reddit.  I know it’s not the safest or wisest thing to do, meeting random strangers on the internet and having them take me through a foreign country, but hey, I like to live dangerously.  (Also a fan of not getting raped or stabbed, thankfully that didn’t happen)

This meetup was to show me what gaming culture was like in Kuwait.  Boy did I learn all about it too.  I don’t want to put too much into this post because the whole reason for researching this was to have some great knowledge for the next RetroNick Radio podcast.  All my findings will be there!

In the meantime, you get to catch up on my P365 photos.  Also, don’t forget to check out the Trooper Adventures!  These Lego guys are out on a tour of whatever they can find.

Blue Ring (P365-27)

Blue Ring (P365-27)
When I got here to Kuwait, it was VERY dry. Back at home I am used to higher humidity levels so I went out and bought a humidifier. I found one in a place downtown, it cost me about 18KD (close to $60) but it really is amazing. And it looks cool too.

Fighting at the White Tower (P365-26)

Fighting at the White Tower (P365-26)
This one is more of a snap shot of something I went to do today. I was guided by a great Local guy to one of Kuwaits main gaming communities. The White Tower (Facebook.com/whitetowerq8)
Here you will find the elite of the Kuwait fighting game league. It was a great glimpse into Kuwaiti gaming life. Much more about this trip will be covered on the RetroNickRadio pod cast. Www.retronick.com.

Keyboard Conundrum (P365-25)

Keyboard Conundrum (P365-25)
Spent a lot of the day working, which meant typing away on a keyboard. This one is not my regular laptop but one from a small netbook sized laptop I bought while here. I have been using it as a media PC running XBMC.
You can see from the keys that it has both english letters and arabic letters. Just in case I need to write out some letters to the locals.

Pop Pop relief. (P365-24)

Pop Pop relief. (P365-24)
I mentioned on my blog that I had a minor crisis when I left for Kuwait. I left my battery charger at home. Yeah I know! My battery normally lasts around a week, two if I conserve. You would also think I could just buy one here, but alas, no. I tried 12 places and no one had any DSLR chargers. (not even Canon ones!)
Thankfully, my lovely wife slipped my charger (and fully charged spare battery) into the mail and about a week later, it arrived. She loaded it so full of bubble wrap it was comical.
This bubble wrap may show up again. Just warning you now.

Play time is over (P365-23)

Play time is over (P365-23)
Another walkabout brought me upon this old abandoned playground. I have to imagine that there were many days of kids swinging and laughing here. On the plus side, across the street from here is a large park with a new playground that looks much safer.

Night Transit (P365-22)

Night Transit (P365-22)
Wanted to try for a long exposure night shot of the road in front of my building here. There are always cars zipping by till pretty late, and the cross road is sually pretty busy as well. My angle for the view isn’t the greatest but it gave me a chance to play around with it.

Fishing boats in the Mists (P365-21)

Fishing boats in the Mists (P365-21)
Went to the local open air market and found some of the fishing boats that supply it. The fog rolled in today so I took advantage of it.

Smug Camel is Smug (P365-20)

Smug Camel is Smug (P365-20)
We went to visit the camel breeding and trading post today. While we did not actually find the trading post, there were plenty of camels around and all of them were very friendly.

A taste of home, abroad. (P365-19)

A taste of home, abroad. (P365-19)
I love ginger beer. Back home I would find all sorts of brands to test. Here in Kuwait is almost impossible to find. Thankfully one of the stores imports Barr brand from England.
This was a backup picture I took as a “just in case”. I have started the habit of shooting a few things through out the day just to have something for later.

Chillin like a goat (P365-18)

Chillin like a goat (P365-18)
Came across this guy while I was out on a little expidition. I love the way he is staring longly at his watering hole conteplating his life……… as a goat.

Machine City during the day (P365-17)

Machine City during the day (P365-17)
The nearest large refinery looks amazing both during daytime and night time. It really does look like a giant machine city. I’ll work on getting a shot at night with all the lights.

Pocket Stuff (P365-16)

Pocket Stuff (P365-16)
At any given time I almost always have 4 things in my pocket, and my fitbit clipped to the side. Two are very basic, some lip balm (which is more for Sarah than for me), and a USB stick with some basic documents on it. The more interesting items are the 20 sided dice and the brass acorn.
Most gamers know that your dice are sacred, they have a connection to you. This one has been in my pocket for years and is very connected. Also, you never know when you may have to make a roll to resist temptation.
I always get asked about the acorn. When we started dating, Sarah and I were out for a walk and she randomly picked up an acorn and handed it to me. Not thinking much about it, I put it in my pocket. At the end of each night, I take the stuff in my pocket out and put it on the dresser, then the next morning it all goes back in my pocket. At my bachelors party, the real acorn disappeared and I was devastated. Sarah found the brass one online and gave it to me just after the wedding. It’s been in my pocket ever since.

FishEye view of the coast (P365-15)

FishEye view of the coast (P365-15)
Decided to give the DSLR a rest today and broke out my GoPro camera for a nice super wide angle view from my balcony here in Kuwait. Even in a foreign country, I still end up on the East Coast!

Old habit with new things. (P365-14)

Old habit with new things. (P365-14)
I am a big tea drinker. I had thought that coming to the Middle East would open up the types of tea I could try. Turns out that’s not the case. They are a big fan of Lipton here. I found this Red Label tea that’s not too bad, but kind of strong.
The mugs in my apartment are tiny, so I picked up this one on the base.

Trooper Adventures!

A strange idea came upon me while I was getting ready for this trip.  I had planned out all of the photos I was using for the 365 project, but I ran across an idea for a photo that I couldn’t pass up.  I have a few Lego mini-figs and a few of the Doctor Who building block kits.  They use the same scale and interlocking system, so I thought, Why not combine them!  I thought it would be cute to have two of the Stormtroopers take off in the Tardis.

A Long Time Ago? let's test that! (P365-6-2)

With my travels, it was a great chance to take them along and take some shots of them in the Tardis in different locations and situations.  Thus, the Trooper Adventures was born.  When I get the chance to pull these guys out and let them have fun, I do.  They even brought along a friend!  Keep an eye out on the Flickr Set for more adventures.
Trooper Adventures - It looks so tall!
Trooper Adventures - Repairs to make
Trooper Adventure - Beach Landing
Trooper Adventures - The Chase

6000 Miles from home

Trooper Adventures - It looks so tall!Howdy folks!  Live from Kuwait City It’s Satu…wait, no it’s Monday for me.  Well, I have landed and been on site for almost a week.  There is certainly a level of adjustment to living in a Middle East nation.  Things are a LOT more conservative here than back home, but for the most part, it’s not that different.  I am staying in a simple 2 Br apartment in the Fintas region.  We have Cable TV and the internet is not terrible.  Only now and then do I run across the “This Web Page is Blocked.”  The work here is good, it’s keeping me busy and most of what we are working on is done from our Apartments with the occasional trip into the Datacenter.

 

 

There are a few things I wanted to try and see/do during this trip.  Of course, one of them is to keep up with my Project 365, which I have done pretty well so far.  As an added challenge to my photography project, I managed to leave the charger for my DSLR battery at home!  Sarah mailed it to me but it can take up to a week to get anything.  I have been very sparing due to this.  You would think I could just buy a new charger out here, but I have hit, and I am not kidding, 12 different places and NONE of them carry the charger.  I did manage to buy a backup battery (because you can never have too many) so I should last until the charger arrives.  I still kept up on the pictures and I’ll add them at the end of the post.  Another is to scope out some cool places to see when Sarah comes out in March.  And the latest addition to the agenda is finding a Gaming culture.

In the Americas we have a rich gaming culture.  Be it video games, board games, card games, or dice games.  There is usually something for everyone.  Out here, it’s a little harder to find, but I think I just need to dig a little deeper.  (Not speaking arabic is a hurdle as well, but I have google translate to help me with that.)  One of the saddest things I have found here was in a park near the beach close to where I am staying.  It would appear that there is a “Fun Times” park that has an arcade, go-karts, and family fun area just across the street.  In a fenced off area near by I found this:
Arcade CabinetsYes, that is a bunch of arcade cabinets just sitting out in the elements.  I don’t know what games they are, but I can see the PCB’s and CRT’s still intact.  I cried a little.

Another thing I am working on is a project that I will detail in another post later this week, but it involves those little guys at the top of the page.

Now, for the catch up on Project 365.

Kuwait Towers (P365-13)

Kuwait Towers (P365-13)
I had been waiting for the chance to get out to the Kuwait towers, today was the day. Beautiful clear sky’s and a nice wide angle shot from below the towers.

Kuwaiti Sunrise (P365-12)

Kuwaiti Sunrise (P365-12)
The first time I have ever woke up early enough to get a sunrise picture. Normally I hate waking up early but I took advantage of the time change effect on my system.
Lesson learned from this shot, I really need to work on my landscape pictures.

Rough Ride (P365-11)

Rough Ride (P365-11)
While driving through the desert we came across this car that had been in an accident and abandoned. This is commonplace around here. You can see a bit of a dust storm off in the distance.

Reflection on conversions (P365-10)

Reflection on conversions (P365-10)
The weather today was incredibly bad. Lots of win and sand everywhere. This made any sort of outside shot despicable. So I fell back on some of my travel accessories.

Traveling Man (P365-9)

Traveling Man (P365-9)
We arrived a bit late for me to get out and see some of the local scenery so today’s picture is about the transition.

Ready for take off? (P365-8-2)

Ready for take off? (P365-8-2)
Bonus Pic! Quick shot on the plane. See you in 12 hours

Late Night Flight (P365-8)

Late Night Flight (P365-8)
in the airport looking for a good shot for today, saw the reflection in the window and thought I would play a little.

P365 Progress and Getting ready for travel.

I told you I probably wouldn’t be posting the P365 pics here as I take them, but to catch everyone up I wanted to post what I have so far.

BUT FIRST.

A few notes about my trip.  I leave on Tuesday the 8th….yeah, tomorrow.  Flight leaves at 9:50pm and is a 12 hour jog over the Atlantic to land in Kuwait City at 5:50pm.  Kuwait is 8 hours ahead of EST so no one call me in the middle of my night!  Actually, you can’t call me since my phone number will be voice mail only.  You can call and leave me a voice mail, it will get sent to my e-mail and I will get it.  I will be available on IM, Skype, and through e-mail.  I should still have access to Facebook and Twitter, so for most folks it will appear as if I never left!

The Project 365 is going pretty well.  I haven’t hit any sort of wall about what to shoot.  I am approaching it with the idea of shooting what I am doing/working on for the day, that way it documents my year as well as practices the art.  Here is the catch up:

A Long Time Ago? let's test that! (P365-6-2)

A Long Time Ago? let’s test that! (P365-6-2)
Bonus Pic!
Since I caved and used Auto on the group shot earlier, I felt I should do another one. This may lead into a series of pics with these two guys as they take the Tardis to different locations. I wanted to grab this shot as a bonus pic since I am leaving the country soon and wasn’t sure if I would have the chance, and I already have the next two shots planned out.

 

RetroNick Radio (P365-6)

RetroNick Radio (P365-6)
Just a fun picture of the RetroNick Radio crew. I cheaped out and went auto for this shot because I just wanted a quick shot of the guys.

 

Days gone by (P365-5)

Days gone by (P365-5)
Today we went to a convention called Magfest. It’s mostly about games and gaming, kind of a “Pax-lite”. Still fun and they had a lot to see and do there. I wanted something that represented the time we spent there. Classic consoles are always a favorite.
No flash this time, all natural (well, indoor con based) light.

 

It was a Dark and Stormy Adventure (P365-4)

It was a Dark and Stormy Adventure (P365-4)
Friday is our game night. This was our first run together playing D&D, normally we stick to card/Board games.
The drink is called a Dark and Stormy, rum and ginger ale.
Simple shot, with an on camera speed light.

 

That time of year (P365-3)

That time of year (P365-3)
Yup, it’s time to toss the tree and tear down Christmas!
For this shot, since it was late in the evening, I used both of my strobe lights. One positioned down and to my left, the other I held at arms length above and to the right of my POV. Both were remotely triggered.
This was also post processed on the iPad using Snapseed. I like the iPad for some quick touch ups and adjustments.

 

Light Orb (P365-2)

Light Orb (P365-2)
Always wanted to try this trick with long exposure. A friend gave me a small blue LED light so I tied it to a string and went out for a twirl.
Nikon D5100, 35mm, f/5.6, ISO 200, 103 second exposure.

 

Project 365, Day 1

I actually took this shot last night shortly after midnight.  Sarah and I were up for NYE and she was making Marshmallows from scratch.

Tower Of Marshmallows (P365-1)

 

Shot with my Nikon D5100, 35mm f/1.8, ISO 200, SB600 Speed light pointed at the ceiling to bounce the flash.  Minor touch ups in Lightroom.

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