Using a Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 on a Canon

I absolutely love the Nikkor 50mm f/1.8; it is probably one of the best sub-$300 lens I have ever used. When I made the jump to Canon, I was sad that I couldn’t use it anymore, until I found an adapter to use it on the new camera.

I just wanted to play around a bit with it today, so I made this quick video. I think it looks great!

My Jump From Nikon to Canon

Holy crap have I been living in the stone age! I recently bought a Canon 60D and what a difference it is! The cameras that I have are a Nikon D70, Nikon D80, and now the Canon 60D; given that my Nikon’s don’t shoot video, I will be talking about still photography.

I have always been an advocate for learning on worse things, that way when you get the good stuff you are 100 times better. For instance, I play guitar and started learning on a $10 acoustic instead of an easier, more expensive electric; this proved to pay off because I learned very fast, and had much stronger hands. I kept this mantra even with my cameras; while my friends were purchasing $4,000 Canon 5D Mark III’s, I was still chugging away on my 12 year old Nikon.

Yesterday, I went out for a night shoot, and my first shot I was completely blown away! I couldn’t believe how clear the pictures were, the sensor in the 60D absolutely blows away my Nikon! Taking pictures at night with the Nikon would mean that I would spend hours in post color correcting, fixing saturation, dodging and burning like crazy. The pictures that I took with the Canon last night I did zero post on, it looked perfect straight off the camera.

Here are a few sample pictures. These are taken with the Nikon D70, with about an hour in photoshop:

San Diego Downtown – Nikon D70

San Diego Birdrock – Nikon D70

The next two where what I took last night with the Canon 60D – look at the colors on the pictures, these were both taken with the crappy lens that comes with the camera (I haven’t purchased any new ones yet), and zero photoshop.

San Diego Bob Hope Memorial – Canon 60D

San Diego Seaport Village – Canon 60D

Granted, I like the composition of the Nikon pictures better because I was actually out on a shoot that day, but you cannot beat the look of the Canon!

Here’s to many more pictures and fun events – let’s go take some pictures!

DIY Glide Track

I am a big advocate of doing things myself; when it get a chance to make things, I jump all over it. Today, I saw a YouTube video on how to make a DIY glide track for under $10 and immediately ran out the door to Home Depot.

Let me start this off by saying this is absolutely no Philip Bloom Pocket Dolly, and as soon as you think it is you will be sorely disappointed – this is a cheap alternative for shooting video at home, I would never use this on a professional shoot. That being said, photographers use whatever works at the time, but I would never lug this to a shoot with me.

Here it is in the beginning phase (keep in mind, I still had to add all the screws and paint it):

I got so excited to test it out, here is what I came up with:

Now go out there and do some DIY projects!

The Apple Ecosystem

I often get told that I am a “product of the system,” that I buy electronics that I don’t need. I prefer to look at myself as an early adopter of sorts; I invest heavily in gadgets and buy quite a bit of them. With that being said, I do not buy things that I don’t need, i.e. gadgets that wouldn’t have any usefulness in my life.

What I have been invested in lately are Apple products, not because I am an Apple “fanboy,” but because I believe they are currently the best on the market. Between the UI and design, they are beautifully crafted and meet all my needs while looking great.

  1. iPhone 4S: this phone is the best phone currently on the market. Between the camera, UI, design, and compatibility, it is unbeatable. As a professional photographer, I have an appreciation for cameras and quality; the iPhone 4S simply has the best camera in the best package. It is often said that the best camera is the one that you have on you, and what is more convenient than your smart phone?
    • What I use it for: quick internet, calls, text, music, light gaming, video editor – I literally can use my phone for everything.
  2. iPad 3: it is most often the device that people see as unnecessary; it is not a laptop and not a smart phone, so what is it used for? A while ago I was in a bar that had a $200 shot of tequila, seeing this I asked the bartender if I would piss gold afterward, that is when he said that if you view it like that then I am missing the point of good tequila. This is the same way that I view the iPad; you have to look at it as a completely separate device, as a bridge between a laptop and a smart phone. I survived college with this thing, mostly because my laptop was too bulky to carry around in my backpack along with my 30lbs. of books; I have written several five page papers on it, and it works perfectly as a word-processor and PowerPoint creator.
    • What I use it for: heavy internet browsing, light texting with iMessage, PDF viewer, newspaper, light gaming – it is a supplement for not being able to carry around a bulky laptop.
  3. Apple TV: the bread and butter of my home entertainment system. I made the decision to ditch cable a few years ago, and couldn’t be happier. With the recent addition of Hulu Plus to the line-up, the Apple TV is stronger than ever; the only thing I pay for these days is $50 for my monthly cable bill, $8 for Netflix and $8 for Hulu Plus. This has also made me more productive because I can watch TV on my schedule; gone are the days of channel surfing for 30 minutes only to start a show mid-episode. Once you are caught in that trap, you watch the next show, then the next, and the next, and so on. When I watch TV now, I put it on my 22 minute show and I’m finished; off to other things. AirPlay is also great because you can mirror your MacBook or iOS devices on screen; it is a very convenient alternative to having to store things on a set-top box.
    • What I use it for: Netflix, Hulu Plus, Vimeo, YouTube, Trailers, AirPlay – gone are the days of the $150 a month cable bills!
  4. Retina MacBook Pro: my newest and happiest purchase, with an amazing screen, smaller form-factor and amazing speed, it is completely unmatched. There has been a lot of question about the screen, if it is worth the extra $400; if you are involved in any sort of graphic design, photography, or video production, it is a complete no-brainer. Upon purchasing, I saw it next to a regular MacBook and was blown away – if you cannot tell the difference between these screens, you seriously need to get your eyes checked.
    • What I use it for: Final Cut Pro, Adobe Photoshop, heavy typing, texting with iMessage – I bought this for video, but it has literally become my main computer.

So there you go, the justification for all my devices and what I use them for. Keep in mind, these aren’t just about the individual devices themselves, but the entire Apple ecosystem. If Android can become less fragmented and Windows have an ecosystem this user-friendly, I might switch, but until then, Apple it is.

Remembering a Friend

How do you measure someones life? Is it by self improvement, or is it by the change you make in others’ lives? For most, just having positive self improvement is a milestone, but making a change in others lives is an accomplishment that can resonate farther than anything else. Chuck Cook was not only one to make a drastic improvement in his life, but reached into others’ lives and helped improve theirs as well.

I first met Chuck during our orientation days at the University of San Diego. Being that USD is a “traditional” school, students ages range mostly 18-22 years old; it is very rare to see anyone past their mid 20’s. Myself, being 28 at the time when I transferred to USD, and Chuck being 31, we met because we had the “hey, you don’t look like you just graduated high school” look from across the room. We immediately became friends and stuck together throughout the rest of our time at USD.

Being non-traditional students, transfers, and living off-campus gave us a huge disadvantage for meeting and relating to students, so we both wanted to be as involved as possible. Chuck was the only person that I knew that that was involved in more clubs and organizations than I was, and had this uncanny ability to balance all of it. Granted, anyone that knew him knows that he would run around as this big stress ball, but that was his way of balancing all of it, and damn was he good at it.

While at USD, Chuck served as a mentor for a lot of the younger students and helped them in more ways imaginable. We were both in unique situations being undergraduates later in our lives, being able to work with and become friends with people 10-15 years younger than us. He would serve as a mentor, teacher, counselor, and most importantly, friend, to everyone he knew and worked with. He improved lives, and for that will forever be remembered.

Chuck was not only an inspiration because of the change that he made to others while at USD, but also because of the change in his personal life. I am not going to go into great detail about his amazing transition, but just know that he made a complete 180 for the absolute best. Not everyone follows the traditional path of college right out of high school, but for him to come back to college in his 30’s was a major success. He not only went back to school and graduated with a B.S. in Accounting, but got a job at KPMG, one of the best accounting firms in the nation. I can not even begin to explain the major success story that Chuck is, but just know that it is hands down one of the most motivating stories that I have ever witnessed.

Another way that Chuck influenced me personally was the introduction to the LGBT community. While serving in the military, I had friends that were gay, but never knew anyone that could openly talk about it. I can say that Chuck opened my eyes to the community and shared with me, not only the lifestyle, but the struggles of everyday life. I was honored to have such a close friend that was able to openly talk about it, and help me understand the LGBT community.

I know that if Chuck could have lived longer, he could have made an impact on so many other lives, as he has mine, but I also know that his story and memory will forever live on and help others in their lives as well. Rest in peace, Chuck: you were an amazing individual.

The Craft Beer Movement

There are certain things that I hold near and dear to my heart, one of which being breathing, the other being craft beer. I don’t want to get started on the differences of craft brewing and mass produced beers, because if you clicked on this post in the first place, you probably won’t set down your “nectar of the gods” (i.e. Coors Light) long enough to appreciate the difference between well made beer and whatever it is you’re drinking.

Skull Splitter

Last week I had the pleasure of drinking with a New Zealander, that was also 6’6 and a former rugby player. We sat and introduced each other to a few beers across the world; he introduced me to some Scottish beers that I had no idea existed, as well as giving me a lot of background on the country. I had no idea that Scotland was the only country that the Romans couldn’t conquer – the fun facts you learn just by having a few beers with someone. I introduced him to my favorite brewery, Allagash. This is a brewery that can do no wrong in my eyes, every beer they create is the best beer that I have ever had. One of the beers that he introduced me to was Skull Splitter, a Scottish beer that was really good; it had a malty finish with a deceptively strong 8.5% ABV. Let me tell you, a few of these could be very dangerous.

Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale

Another flavor of beer that I have been obsessing over since I first tried it is pumpkin; I had the Pumpkin Porter – yes, you read that correctly – from Alcatraz brewing out of Orange, CA back in 2003 and have been hooked ever since. Every year around Summer/Fall ever since, I have been running to the stores to find the best pumpkin beer around. Sadly, there was a pumpkin beer festival in Washington that I wasn’t able to make it to, but I had friends that went and returned with rave reviews. A few years ago, Oggies Pizza here in San Diego had an amazing pumpkin on draft, but I haven’t seen if they have had it the last couple years. I am generally limited to the local beer stores in the area, so the best that I find are within a 30 mile radius. A few days ago I was in a local beer shop to pick up some drinks and found the Shipyard Pumpkin – I couldn’t believe it was pumpkin season already! Anyway, I ended up picking up some and I have to say it’s the best that I’ve had this season – BlueMoon always disappoints, so don’t even waste your time with theirs, it doesn’t even have a hint of pumpkin…

Another amazing beer that I had yesterday – actually three amazing beers – were from Ballast Point:

Victory at Sea

Victory at Sea, Barmey, and Thai Chili Ginger Lemon Wahoo Wheat (that is a LOT of ingredients). Let me just start with saying that Ballast Point in San Diego is quickly moving up to the top of my list for favorite breweries, and that’s not just because my girlfriend is the accountant there, but because they are literally always on point with all their beers.

Funny story involving this – one time the girlfriend and I were out at Neighborhood, a local craft beer bar, and this guy randomly comes up and starts talking to us. The girlfriend went to the bathroom and the guy continues to talk to me; he orders a beer and goes, “you know what brewery always nails every single beer? Ballast Point.” It seems that I’m not the only one that agrees.

Victory at Sea is a very full-bodied beer that has the hint of vanilla and chocolate. Let me just start by saying that I hate vanilla and I especially hate chocolate – the fact that Ballast Point can pull this off is amazing. My only wish is that they would have this beer on nitro, I could only imagine how great a creamy version of this would taste.

Another style that I have been introduced to recently are the spicy beers – I have no idea how I have gone this long without ever trying one (this shows

Thai Chili Wahoo (back) and Barmey (front)

the elasticity of Ballast Point, that they are willing to try different things that other places don’t). The Thai Chili Ginger Lime Wahoo Wheat is very original – first drink you get a mixture of the orange and coriander with a little spice. The big finale’ comes at the end when you are blasted with the mixture of the chili and ginger, and what a unique blend it is! I can’t tell exactly where the kick is coming from, I’m assuming the chili, but you can tell the ginger is adding to it a bit. For the Barmey, I only had a sampler of it because it is a very dangerous 12% ABV, and I had to drive. This taste is almost that of a Fruit Roll-up; it is a very unique taste as well, but a definite recommend.

The Power of Public Relations for Small Business

How many times have you relayed on something you heard someone else say in a previous conversation, later only to hear that same person pass on what you just said? This is called the third-party effect, and is one of the largest tools of influence people can use.

Welcome to the world of public relations.

Using public relations benefits two-fold for small businesses: it is a cheaper means of promotion than advertising, and it has more justification for the end-user because of the third-party effect. I worked on a consulting job recently for a local small business owner with a small budget; he didn’t have money for a graphic designer and ad placement, so I recommended doing a bit of PR to get his name out. After only a few sent emails, he had a placement in a local newspaper.  This was about one quarter of the cost to him than if he would have bought ad space in that same paper.

Small businesses need to use public relations as a primary means of promotion when on a budget. Think of how often we are bombarded with advertisements daily; It takes a very well made advertisement to catch our attention anymore, and small businesses do not have the budget to compete with the larger competitors. Take Facebook for instance: you can buy ad space and get 100,000 impressions, but how many people actually pay attention to Facebook ads? I know I don’t, and neither do any of my friends – one of the most sought after age target markets.

I have worked in public relations for almost two years, and can surely say that it is the most cost effective means for getting out your message. PR is cheaper, more effective, and easier to catch the attention and make a lasting impression of your end-users. One of the largest differences for me as well is it is generally more fun; it sometimes involves events that can benefit a variety of things, including community or charity organizations. I once hosted an event that gave back to the American Lung Association, promoting clean air around San Diego. This event was great because not only did we get to do something fun and worthwhile for the community, but it also served as a promotion tool by landing media coverage, boosting our public image while getting free recognition.

PR is a great tool and a wonderful asset to any company; hire someone to do PR for your business for just 30 days, you will be surprised at how much publicity you will get for a fraction of the cost. Don’t even get me started guerrilla marketing, you might be here for days…