Category Archives: Animals

A Camera That Just Happens to Make Calls

Mom spoiled me beyond reason when I was home and got me a new iPhone 4S as a present. I was overjoyed because my 3GS was on its last legs, vibrating whenever it wanted (all the time) and taking forever to send a text. When it comes to my devices, I like to keep them looking clean, so I opted for the white 4S, as fingerprints are much harder to see on its body (the screen still needs to be wiped on occasion).

You have already read dozens of iPhone 4S reviews on dozens of blogs, so I am not here to tell you how fast it loads apps (FAST), how helpful Siri is (She is!), or how beautiful her Retina display is (Gorgeous). What I am here to tell you about though is the camera included on the 4S. It is so good, we shall hereto forward call it “the camera that just happens to make calls.”

Eight megapixels does not sound like a lot of resolution for a digital camera these days, especially when certain Finnish phone makers spew out cameraphones with 41 megapixels (Nokia, I am looking at you), however, the camera that just happens to make calls does not disappoint at all.

First, it loads several times faster than that on my 3GS, and rightly so. The A5 processor that powers the camera makes for a snappy experience that doesn’t get you caught out there missing special moments.

Second, its f/2.4 aperture and backside illuminated sensor allow you to shoot in all kinds of low-light environments that would otherwise be difficult. The flash is fast and bright, but as a die-hard Cartier-Bresson fan, I never use it. The HDR mode is surprisingly good, and it is a wonder the same thing isn’t on professional cameras. HDR processing is so tedious on a computer!

The ability to crop and make minor enhancements directly in the app preclude you from having to work on your photos in another app, however if you MUST use Instagram, the camera that just happens to make calls delivers well for 3rd-party apps as well.

I do not believe in iCloud yet, as I am a MobileMe subscriber, and have been for the past 3 years, so I can’t tell you anything about Photo Stream. I just want to tell you about the virtues of MobileMe Galleries and being able to host your website through iWeb, but alas, that deserves a post of its own.

However, what I will tell you is that the 4S is also a very capable video camera. 1080p video is something my trusty 50D can’t do (wishing for a 5D Mark III!!!), so I can’t even hate on the beautiful video it captures. Sound is bleh, but to be expected. You totally could get away with just taking video on the phone and synching it with audio recorded on another device though.

In sum, the camera that also happens to make calls delivers photos and video better than any other I can remember, and is on par with many prosumer camera on the market in terms of automated exposure. If it allowed for finer control and manual exposure somehow I would be even more thrilled, but for now, this little device is my trustiest camera that is always on my body.

There are samples here from the beach with my mom, our hotel by the beach that had deer for neighbors, the cemetery paying respects to my grandparents, and the plane ride back home. Let me know what you think!

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Jellies of Joy with the Girls and Boys

Sometimes during my crossings through Times Square I will encounter a person in a Spongebob Squarepants suit that poses and takes pictures with tourists. Sure, this is fun for the tourists, but it is quite garish to any New Yorker who happens to be caught in the chaos of the Square. In any case, I saw this Spongebob, and wondered about his undersea friends, Sandy the squirrel, Patrick the starfish, Squidward the squid, and of course, jellyfish!

Something inside me got all excited about jellyfish after that train of thought, because I had never photographed them before, and because they are magical, deadly creatures that are just beautiful to look at. From there, I formulated a plan to go see the jellies with friends at the New York Aquarium.

Carlos, his daughter, Marina, her son, her friend Michael, and I set off for the aquarium, despite the rain and the extensive travel to Coney Island. I had just watched a documentary about the heyday of Coney Island and was kind of upset at the loss of much of its grandeur. I feel that way about many parts of New York when I pass by elaborate townhouses, gilded buildings, and century old masonry. But I digress…back to the jellies!

The first thing that was great about the aquarium is that they had just opened a new exhibit the day before we went. It was called conservation hall, and it told all about what was being done to promote a healthy ocean and sea life. It also showed methods of breeding fish that are essential to the ecosystem.

The layout of the aquarium is such that the jellies are the absolute LAST thing you see, because they are the most AWESOME, but that is ok, because the other animals there were pretty amazing too.

Such as the sea turtles (who were in the same tank as the sharks!), sea lions, the mighty walrus, and stingrays.

There were lots of cool starfish just hanging around, and I even got to touch one, along with a sea urchin. They were cool, but certainly not what we were there to see.

When we finally made it to the jellies, Carlos and I were in awe. We had talked about seeing the jellies all week, and their home in the aquarium was beyond AMAZING! The tanks they were in were flooded with an eerie blue light that was the perfect contrast to their gelatinous red and yellow bodies.

There was something heavenly and yet devilish about these creatures. On one hand they float and fly through the cool blue water, and on the other they are brainless bodies capable of doing major damage to their prey. Photographing them under these strange lighting circumstances was a real challenge, because of the glass, low light, them moving around, pushy kids, and other people flashing and washing out shots. In the end, I got a few great shots of the jellies and had a magical trip to Coney Island on a rainy day with friends.

Oh the jellies!

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A Day With A Girl and Her Horse

Madeline invited me out to see her new horse, Valentino, and hang with her and Brian last weekend. We hadn’t been able to meet up for a while, so I jumped at the chance since we both were free. I hopped on the train from Grand Central around 1 on Saturday and set off for Yonkers.

I had just discovered Alexis Jordan’s song, ‘Happiness,’ the day before and pretty much had it on repeat the entire trip. Fitting travel track. I scored an express train was in Yonkers in a little over 20 minutes!

We hung out at hers and Brian’s place for a while and proceeded to nerd out until Brian came home. We then set off for the stable where Valentino lives. The ride there was actually very cool, as I am not used to seeing pine trees and things like that in The City. Everything is decidedly deciduous. There was still a good bit of snow, despite the balmy weather on Friday, so gloves were a must.

What a handsome young man-horse

At the stables, Madeline introduced me to Valentino. He is pretty young for a horse, but he is extremely friendly and well mannered. He has the colorway of a cow, and a design on his rear that resembles a heart. His nose is really fuzzy, and he farts a lot. He and Madeline are a perfect match in the arena. He will make an excellent polo pony!

While Maddy rode Valentino, I listened to banter from spooty and haughty moms doting on their daughters. Bleh. Much more entertaining was watching Madeline and Valentino run together.

Family Photo

I can’t wait to visit again when there is better weather to get them outside. Spring approaches, so says the groundhog.

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Apptastic Review: Cat Paint

Riding on the train is usually entertaining and stimulating in New York: roving mariachi bands and would be opera singers stimulate the ears, fashion both good and bad graces your eyes, and even the occasional smell wafts your way. I don’t recommend touching or tasting anything on the train, but hey.

For those times when NYC doesn’t provide you with free entertainment or a sensory experience on your travels, look no further than Cat Paint. What is Cat Paint, you ask? Besides being pure genius, Cat Paint is a hilarious app worthy of sucking up your travel time and a few brain cells in the process.

Upon entering the app, you are presented with a star field background as your blank canvas. You have the option to use any photo you’d like as your background, and I prefer taking images from the free NASA Space Images App to keep my cats cool in outer space. You may however feel your mom needs a cat in her next portrait.

Pressing the cat shaped button on the lower left side of the screen reveals your 16 “cat brushes.” These are more like movable, resizable, rotatable cat stamps that you can place anywhere over your background image. Placing a cat down results in a meow sound, and the effect is quite fun.

Once you have your cats in place, press and hold down on them with one finger to FIRE LASERS OUT OF YOUR CATS EYES! Yes. Freaking. Lasers!!! This is undoubtedly the best part of the entire app. You can change the direction of the lasers and they move in relation to the current position of your cat. You can then post your creation directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or email the photo right from within the app! Share the cats!

With this tool you can set up Cattles of Epic Proportions and defeat otherwise idle time! I highly recommend this app for not just cat enthusiasts, but also anyone who needs to spice up their otherwise ironic, played out, hipster imagery with a cute cats and cool lasers. Add this to your list of reasons to get an iPhone and stop listening to people talk about their serious Blackberries and Android bricks.

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Poopy Puppies and Other Plush Pets

Neener neener!

Shane wanted to shoot some photos for a client of his called Pet Resources uptown the other day, and I let him borrow my camera. He was excited and nervous about using my gear for the first time, but I had faith in him. I had explained which modes to put the camera in for the best shots under the lighting conditions he’d have, lent him a multipurpose lens, and told him the camera would take care of the hard parts.

I shall name him Tofu, and you will love him forever. No seriously.

He went and did his thing, and came back with beautiful, lively shots of the animals for sale at Pet Resources. I edited the photos a bit, and now they are ready for the company website. Yayyyy!

Birds this big are kind of scary, don't you think?

Now he has decided that he needs a DSLR for himself.

The love of photography can sneak up on you like a snake. Well, not an albino snake.

Yayyyy! The magic of cameras and photography spreads! Enjoy a few photos that Shane took!

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Once You Start, The Sun Don’t Stop

Broga=yoga for bros.

For some reason, we keep getting blessed with beautiful weather here in NYC. Collectively, we must have been very good boys and girls this year or something. Either way, I enjoyed basking in the sunshine by the river this afternoon. You know I have to tan as much as humanly possible before the winter sets in so I don’t look like someone out of Twilight.

This guy was cool and laughed with us at people baking in the sun.

My daily routine hardly ever sends me further south than 34th, or further north than 59th, so today was out of the ordinary when Chris (yes, another Chris) asked me to take some photos of him. We met up by my place, and then drove down to the Village to scope out a spot to take some headshots and all that good stuff.

Chris is a big ol can of ham. HAM I tell you!

It was more than gorgeous out by the time that we got there, and it was 84 degrees outside, so in between shots, bottled water was a must. Thank you Poland Springs! He took great photos and we even made some new friends out there by the water.

Nomnomnomnom.

Where they do that at?

Oh no he DIDN'T! But yes he DID.

In the middle of talking to one of our new friends that we met there at the Pier, we noticed an old guy showering outside right by us. We were  a little taken aback by the fact that there was a shower mere feet from us, and also by the fact that he had no shame in his game. I need to step it up like him.

Gushing with fun

I also got to see the fire boat in action on the river, which was awesome. I would love to ride on it someday and take photos of them putting out a fire. Odd, I know.

She KNEW she was too cool for school. So I put her in black and white.

From the Pier, we migrated to the Highline, where we saw tons of the cool kids. You know who I am talking about.

Don't hate on her shine children. Look at her glow!

I also saw this lovely lady with her photographer strutting about with her husband to be. She pretty much gave me life itself. Chris was impressed with the Highline, just as with my other friends that also happen to be named Chris.

You have to be kidding. NYPD please go find some rapists instead.

We also spied a cop giving a ticket to a UPS truck! I was just as outraged as the UPS driver was, so I had to record the ridiculousness.

I wanted to take both of them home so bad!

Afterwards, I went home and tried to take a brief nap like these two French bulldogs. Just look at them!!! Ahhhhhhhhh puppies!

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The Final Grade: 4.0!

Dead animals never looked so good.

ITP is weird in that we do not receive traditional letter grades at the end of a semester. Instead, we are given a pass or fail (assuming your grade is a B or above). This is supposed to foster creativity and diminish competition within the department (or something). However, in the rest of the universe, real letter grades are assigned.

Enter my photography course that I took this semester: this was the one and only class at NYU I received a traditional letter grade for since it was not in my department. Essentially, if I did not get an A, my inner perfectionist would implode.

Luckily, my Sugimoto inspired prints were a massive success! Everyone was blown away by some of the photos’ realism and pictorial nature. I felt like a National Geographic photographer, so I was geeked. I didn’t do my double negative compositions that I planned on doing, but the original shots turned out beautifully. Jaybird and I made perfect prints, and one outside observer asked, “Who took these safari photos, where were these taken?!” I smiled and said, “The Natural History Museum,” and grinned like the Cheshire Cat.

I got my A, and my 4.0