Gaff Tape - A Street Photographer's Tool

One of the biggest things I get asked when shooting street photography is if people are ok with me shoving a camera in their face. Many people don't understand the concept of candid yet non creepy photography. Once I try to explain that I'm not always trying to get my subjects attention but am more interested in the activity of their lives, many people find it funny to paint a word picture making me look like a total creep in a trench coat taking photos of people looking some private eye or worse depending on how crude they decide to describe the act. Though I usually laugh it off, I most always have to explain that street photography (at least to me) is more about daily life and capturing life that has nothing to do with celebrities or a major current event. 

In fact many people don't even realize there are street photographers around when they are capturing images the way I do, I find it best to blend in and not disrupt the routines or activities that you are trying to tell a story of. That's why I usually dress very simple and camouflage my cameras in a specific way. 

Gaff tape is used in the photo, film and stage industries because it has the holding power of duct tape: but it provides very little to no adhesive residue when removed. Another added bonus is that gaff tape is known for its not reflective surface so it attracts very little attention. 

I use gaff tape to cover my cameras for a few reasons, here's why:

#1 It makes my camera less noticeable 

By covering up all the logos and shiny bits of the camera, it makes the camera stand out much less. Not saying that it becomes invisible but it does cut down on the high contrast Nikon, Canon, or whatever else logo right near your forehead. 


#2 It protects the camera body

When shooting street, I don't like to carry much equipment, many times I don't even carry a bag; that means that that if I decide to rest for a moment my camera is now exposed to the elements it was set down on. Many of my vintage cameras are brass or some other type of metal covered either in enamel or in anodized coating, that are likely to be scratched or damaged when placed on a rough surface such as brick concrete or even wood tables. Gaff tape allows me to maintain as little damage to the camera body as possible while also protecting it from other elements such as sand water or any number of other things. 


#3 The tape protects me

No I have never been a thief, but I know that being a thief really counts on finding valuable things that can then be sold especially when pickpocketing. If I was going to steal from someone it would be from the person that I perceived had more valuable goods for me to steal. Covering up an expensive camera with Kate really makes the value of the camera visibly go down. Can always be removed it's important to not look too flashy when photographing on the street because you don't want to be targeted as someone with an item of value that is begging to be taken. Because of the small size that comes with my Fujifilm mirrorless  camera, taping up all the important real estate that is visible from the outside world, makes it look like nothing more than a very inexpensive point and shoot or beat up film camera. I'm much more likely to walk freely then to get beat up for something hanging around my neck if it looks like junk. 


If you like this video please subscribe to my YouTube channel where I will be posting more and more content about the gear that I use in the work that I make with it. 

Charleston - Street Photography

Traveling is something that I feel I was made to do. I have had many opportunities to see different parts of the world, but still one of the easiest ways to feed my addiction is picking a place fairly close to me that allows me to get a couple hours away from home and immerse myself in a culture that is different than my own. Charleston is a beautiful old city and is very well known for it's historical significance here in the south.

Home to numerous colleges including the Citadel and the College of Charleston, a day in there is filled with just as many slouchy beanies and fixed gear bikes as there are seersucker suits and mint juleps. Make sure to watch the video and enjoy the photos!

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My New Project - Abandoned Myrtle Beach

The Grand Strand has been my home for 25 years. I grew up in Conway just 15 miles inland for the beach. After graduation I went to the beach for work and college. Since I was 17 years old I have had a job in Myrtle Beach and have made quite a life for myself here. I can remember as a kid going to The Pavilion and seeing the buzzing of the boulevard; seeing Peach's Corner and the rest of the downtown area lit up like a Christmas tree. There is no better childhood memory than laughing and playing with my family down at the beach. I am sure that my memory is not a very unique one. See, Myrtle Beach is place that many people call their home away from home. Every single year, Myrtle Beach says hello and goodbye to 14 million people and after labor day, we are left by ourselves to clean up the messes and hold things together until summer comes around again. With only 27,000 in our population, the city is very empty in the winter. After all the glitz and glamour is frozen over, we are left holding down the fort waiting for the loneliness of it all to fade away. Jobs are hard to hold on to and even harder to find when the tourists leave. The stores close. The water parks dry up and the roller coasters start to rust.

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Photo Of The Day: Surprise Engagement

So, this is the first blog post of it's kind. I just recently had the wonderful opportunity to share one of the largest moments in a couple's life: their engagement. After a few brief coded phone calls, I was enlisted to help Justin surprise his girlfriend on the beach with a special not in a bottle on the beach and a beautiful proposal. They were such a treat to work with and I am very excited to present their photos to them. Hope you enjoy the photos and the video! [youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kP5lfu4DeP4&w=640&h=360] Engagement-24

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Learning how to Learn: 3 Steps to Educating Yourself

I am not ashamed to say that I am nowhere near as good as I wish I was. I fail constantly and maybe that's not such a bad thing. I learn new things every day and some times those things that I discover may be something that everyone else with a camera already knows, or something I learned in college but didn't appreciate until the moment I stumbled across it myself. Messing up is part of the artistic process. Many wonderful things we hold (or have held) in high esteem were invented on accident such as: Silly Putty, Play Dough, The Slinky, Potato Chips and even Fireworks. What all these things have in common is they bring joy to those who enjoy or have enjoyed them and that's what you have to bring to the table with your photography. I am not saying that I stumble upon the newest trends in photography or that I have found the perfect formula because I know that I haven't. But what I have found is a way to create images that my clients are fond of. It's a real joy to see posts from them on Facebook using one of my images as their profile photo.

I am not a professor; I am not the Strobist, nor do I have a fro; But if there is anything I can pass along to other photographers, it is to create a product your client is fond of. Know how to use your camera, and how to manipulate your images to create what you want but make sure what you are creating is of value. Anyone can pick up a camera and take a picture, never forget that. Photographers do more than battle other professionals for jobs, they have to fight back excitable parents and the high school kid with ambition who will do it for free. This happens all the time. Know your market and make them happy with your work. Doing this requires research, public relations, advertising but most of all, you have to educate yourself in your craft. I am a musician who spent a long time learning my instruments but I learned them my own way. When I started learning photography, I adapted the same process:

Here are my 3 Steps for educating yourself in photography:

1: Read and Watch A LOT:

Reading is fueling your brain with information. If you are reading credible sources on almost any topic you are expanding your horizons and therefor allowing yourself to grow. I love reading the DSLR magazines from the UK. Also, I enjoy thumbing through old film instructional books that go in to depth with traditional composition and lighting. As far as online sources, I enjoy watching videos online from FroKnowsPhoto, DigitalRev, Dombowerphoto, and FilmRiot on YouTube. I also enjoy reading The Strobist and the Improve Photography blogs. Do I put all of what they do in to practice? No, of course not but just as I would take one trick from one guitarist and make it my own, we also have to do that with our photography by choosing which styles work for us and make it our own.

2: Be An Assistant

Being an assistant, really made me learn how to become a photographer. Working under someone who has being doing this longer than you have is a good experience builder. Also, the beautiful part about being a second shooter, it opening yourself up to more creative shots, where the main photographer gets all the shots that he or she has envisioned themselves needing.

3:  Be social!

Use your Facebook for something other than Farmville and chain photos. Find other photographers around the world that you admire and like their pages. Keep up with them and send them messages. Start with someone that doesn't have a million followers and gets hounded every day. Find a photographer who you like and send them a message with a link to some of your photos and ask them what they think. Many are honored by the opportunity and love to share their opinion. This will help you understand what you could have done better and what you are already doing well.

D7100 - Worth The upgrade?

Though I have not had my hands on the wonderful piece of gear, what I have seen and read an immense amount over, I figured I would give my thoughts on this new camera.

The D7100 is the replacement for what now seems the slightly dated D7000. The D7100 now boasts a 24 megapixel ASP-C sensor and the legendary Expeed 3 image processor from the flagship Nikon D4. It boasts a 51 point AF system that is more spread out than it's predecessor with some new bells and whistles including 6 frames per second burst, a spot white balance mode, and a new 1.3x crop mode which will allow for smaller files(using only 15.4 megapixels), and faster burst(up to 7 frames per second in crop mode). At first I was completely convinced that this was only a ploy to market to nature and amateur sports photographer but the more I think about it, the more sense it makes. I think my favorite thing about this crop feature is that it crops to where the focus points group, which means that there will accessible focus points on the very out skirts of your image that will deliver tack sharp images.

Another interesting thing about this camera is that it does not have a low pass filter. Similar to the D800E, this feature will allow for sharper images but could possibly cause moiré when shooting fabrics, feathers or other items with fine details. But overall I think the positive of not having the low pass filter outweighs the negatives for sure. On the back of the D7100 is the sharpest screen Nikon as used yet and on top is an OLED screen giving you your camera's vital information. The camera will have a max shutter speed of 1/8000 of a second and a flash sync speed of 1/250th of a second. Finally, one of the features so widely praised on the D600, the D7100 has dual SD card slots with the ability to share between them in numerous variations.

My thoughts:

It would be a wonderful workhorse of a camera. I like that it has a larger megapixel ratio and a faster burst of 6 frames per second which would be great for weddings, capturing certain moments, but I'm not sure it's enough.  I would really need to see some test shots showing off the ISO capability. Many weddings and concerts have dim lighting situations so I would need to see if the 24 megapixel sensor can handle to added stress of higher ISO's. I do not feel comfortable shoot my D5100 higher than 1600 ISO in any situation so if this camera could give my images less noise in a higher register, I would be on board.

I love the focus points and the ability to configure them according to your needs. Though I would love to go full frame, I'm not sure if it is worth the extra 5-600 dollars to reach for the D600. The price of the D7100 should land somewhere around 1200 body only. With D7100 I will have complete handle on all my lenses I currently own, plus open myself to d-series lenses because of the built in autofocus motor. For me, even waiting on test shots, I think I know what camera I am saving up for.

 

Videography rig for the Non-Videographer

Just a short little post today showing how I do video for the real estate packages I do here in the Grand Strand. Video is not my strong point but I certainly do enjoy it, I dont normally include video but was asked to by a client and after explaining I do not have the experience in it, I was willing to give it a try. This company in particular had purchased a camera for me to use for both video and stills. Luckily they took my advice on the type of camera to purchase and I was able to work with a Nikon 3200. Maybe this was a bit selfish because of my desire to work with this camera which is known for spectacular video on a budget. The kit lens is not the most amazing thing in the world but it was great for what they needed and because of the VR, I could almost handhold. I attached the camera to my tripod which is pretty heavy duty, then I hold out in front of me two of the legs to act as a steady cam. To further stabilize the video, I put the camera strap around my neck to hold everything together. With this setup I was able to walk around freely with smooth transitioning video.

Stay tuned for more!

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