Hello Once Again
I finally chased the mice out of here and cleaned up the dust from my lack of posting. Yup, it has been awhile since I last wrote anything here and a crazy amount of things have transpired since my last entry. My wife and I made our yearly trip to Arizona for Christmas. We decided to make this a road trip, and that turned out to be a bad idea. While I enjoyed the drive, the truck (Serenity) finally blew the EGR cooler as well as letting us know that she had two bad heads. This led to me sitting in Arizona for a month while my wife came home and held down the fort. It was rather nice to have the doors open and that 70+ degree warmth wafting through the house at Christmas. Serenity is fixed and I am back home.
I have some ambitious goals for 2014, but the biggest time sink this year will be working on our 100+ year old home. This means I’m slowing down on the photography and stepping up my electrical, plumbing, woodworking, and plaster repair skills. I am bummed to step back from making photo magic, but I’ll be glad once this house is repaired and updated.
The housework does not mean I am totally walking away from photography. No, I am actually going to spend my time behind a camera growing and learning. This year I plan to work on my automotive and 4x4 photo skills. I also plan to improve my landscape work and I am starting a project that I have not quite found a good title for, but it is pretty much me driving around and taking photos of things that people have left to time. You know old homes, barns, buildings, stuff like that. It’s not really urbex, but rather traces of history that people have left behind and time and nature are reclaiming.
That about summarizes my absence. I’m currently evaluating my camera gear, making changes, and bringing the fun into all that I do. Being busy, it’s good for the mind, body, and creativity!
“A life lived for art is never a life wasted” -Macklemore
Taking Care of Business
Time to tie up a few loose ends that I have dangling off my to-do list. The first being I have a winner for the limited edition canvas print from the Extra Life for Kids fundraiser. The winner is Jim Denham. When I contacted Jim to let him know he was the lucky person, he did not miss a beat and asked if I could donate his print to a sick child as well. The same thing happened last year when Brian Arsenault and his daughter asked for the same thing. It is amazing at just how big of hearts you people have. I will be working on a special photo for this donation and will share it once it gets the Jimmy stamp of approval.
The second item is that the Toy Wars between Jon Stolarski and myself is ending as of December 1. We chose to do this so we could put the Toy Wars images into a book and offer it up to all those people who never grew up. We are still working on pricing and such, but we hope to have it available in time for Christmas.
Next up is an announcement on the Colorado Fall Color Tour. Rick Louie was kind enough to ask me to be a part of this for next year, and I have accepted. I will drive a second vehicle so that we might bring even more people into the great Telluride and experience the greatness that are the Rockies in the fall. I had a wonderful time with this tour this year, and I cannot recommend it enough. If you’d like to sign up, head over to the Fall Color Tour website to find out more info. I hope to see ya there!
Lastly, 2014 is shaping up to be one crazy busy year. A good amount of trips is already in the works, and I’m still looking for a convention or two to try and sell my photos. This is on top of a house remodel, landscape work, downsizing and moving into a travel trailer, and preparing to move to Nebraska in 2015. Life, she is never dull!
Be excellent to one another!
Countdown to the Extra Life Marathon
I am now just a few short days away from participating in the Extra Life video gaming marathon. Come Saturday, I’ll be joining Ross and Blake in 25hours of boss slaying, leveling, side questing fun. I am almost positive that coffee will become a primary food group during this event. I am looking forward to this weekend!
As of right now, the plan is to stream this event to Twitch. I am also working on my list of games and have come up with the following: Awesomenauts, Beyond 2 Souls, Civilization 5, FEZ, Hearthstone, Muramasa Rebirth, Pokémon X, Rogue Legacy, SolForge, and Soundodger+. If you have a game you would like me to play, donate $25 and put in the title with your donation. We can make a difference!
I did hit my goal, but I would love to raise more money for sick children. Here is how you can help: http://chrisnitz.tumblr.com/post/60747475862/2013-extra-life-for-kids
Be excellent to one another!
Into the Grey
I’ve been struggling to find the words to share on the blog as of late. I have no shortage of images to post, but finding something meaningful to say along with them is starting to prove difficult. I want to offer something more than what I have, but I just do not know what that extra bit is. I could offer advice or tips but there are plenty of sites on the Internet that do that already, and they do it far better than I could ever hope to. I now turn to you. Why do you swing by here? Is it for the image, the story, both, or something else?
Now that I have that outta the way, I’ll share some fun stuff on this image. This comes from the Fall Color Tour out in Telluride, Colorado. I woke up early to shower and start trying to become functional for a sunrise photo shoot. However, Ma Nature had other plans. As I finish my shower routine, Rick tells me that it is raining and it looks like we will need to call off venturing out that morning. I check outside, see it raining, and then I crawl back into my bed and take an hour nap thanks to the newly found extra time.
After a fine breakfast and some much-needed coffee, we decided to head up to the top of Bridal Veil Falls. The closer we got to the top of the falls, the more the snow fell. It was spectacularly pretty as the snow and low-lying clouds added a lot of drama to the landscape. In fact, if you zoom in on my photo today, you will see flakes scattered about. This combination forced me to learn on the fly. It also taught me the greatness of lint-free cleaning clothes.
The processing for this was a bit of a challenge for me. There is some nice contrast thanks to the snow, but the valley was still pretty devoid of fall color. Sure a few trees were a nice golden color, but for the most part, a sea of green spread out before me. I decided I wanted to focus on the mountains themselves, and so a good amount of dodging and burning happened here. I also wanted to emphasize the mystic feeling that the cloudy valley had. Overall, I’m happy with the result.
Just a reminder: I am still trying to raise money for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. I am also giving away a limited edition print to one random donor. You can find out more, and hopefully be able to drop a few bucks to help sick children, right here: http://chrisnitz.tumblr.com/post/60747475862/2013-extra-life-for-kids
Be excellent to one another!
Camera: Nikon D700
Exposure: 1/320sec at f/8
Lens: Zeiss 21mm f/2
Lighting: Sun, clouds, and snow
The Fuji X20 Review
For those that might remember, I wrote a review about the Fuji X10 some time ago. I’ll save you all some time and just say that I fell in love with that camera, and that led to my lust for owning it. However, like all things technology, I figured we would see an X20 release at some point and so I held out on pulling the trigger on another camera.
Well, the Fuji X20 is now out in the wild and I have acquired one. I decided that I would take this with me on my trip out to Montana and try to use it as my one and only camera. While I still ended up using the D700 for a few images, the little retro inspired light trap worked marvelously. In fact, it brought on a feeling of fun and freedom.
Let me explain. With the “real camera”, or the D700, there is a different mindset. I pick a lens, I frame my shot, I determine lighting, and then I execute my vision. It feels more like studying for a final exam than partying during spring break. Don’t get me wrong, I love doing what I do, but a big camera tends to come with bigger decisions.
The Fuji X20 on the other hand was a freeing experience. I have one lens that ranges from 28mm – 112mm. It fits into a computer bag, backpack, or shoulder bag with ease. It doesn’t weigh you down thanks to its lack of fat. This is not to say the camera struggles in the power of producing some lovely images, in fact that is just the opposite.
It does take a bit of time to get used to the menu system, which I hoped Fuji would have fixed from the prior version. The low light capabilities improve slightly from the X10, but still don’t compare to a bigger workhorse. Finally, this is more a consumer grade camera versus a prosumer camera, such as the X100s.
However, this does not mean the little X20 is something to disregard. The macro feature is still as crazy good as it was prior. I found focusing to be fast and accurate. The image quality is solid. The extra features, such as a panoramic mode and faux tilt-shift, provide more ways to play when manual mode becomes a bore.
I should also mention the construction of this camera is a work of art. Retro styling only adds to the solid build feel. The ability to bludgeon a zombie when the need arises is not diminished on this camera. The lens cap still has the felt lining that wore out on the X10, so why it is here again baffles me. The dials are solid and provide some great tactile feedback. The whole kit feels great in the hands and comes with a sense of quality that one might find in a camera that is double the cost.
Yes, the Fuji X20 is a small camera that many photographers will overlook. However, it is immensely fun to use, is built like a small tank, provides some great image quality, and let’s not forget it just might save you during the rule of our zombie overlords. This camera comes with me everywhere I go and I cannot speak highly of it enough. While it has its limitation, this is one fine piece of kit!
Be excellent to one another!
Exposure: 1/420sec at f/7.1
Lens: Fuji X20
Lighting: The sun dancing around the clouds
2013 Extra Life for Kids
I am participating in the Extra Life for Kids event on November 2, 2013. I did this last year and had a blast while raising $580 for sick children. This year I am working with two friends and we hope to bring in a combined amount of $1,000. Our team is still working out this will work, but the plan at the moment is to stream the entire event so that people may watch us belittle one another, suck down copious amounts of coffee, and just have fun. Working together should help keep us all awake while providing some good laughs for all involved!
Now this is where you come in. I am trying to raise $500 for the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. A small amount I know, but anything is better than nothing. I aim to play games for a full 25 hours, which once was a simple task, but now I’m in bed by 10PM on most nights and so this will be a fun experiment in returning to my 20s. So I play games, you donate money, and children benefit from us working together. It’s a sweet deal!
However, that is not all I am going to do. I am once again turning this into a limited edition print giveaway. To be specific, I am going to give away a three-run limited edition print. Print number one (1 of 3) goes to a random child at University of Iowa Children’s Hospital. Print number two (2 of 3) goes to a random donator who contributes $25, or more. Print number three (3 of 3) goes to the University of Iowa Children’s Hospital itself. The back of print three (3 of 3) will include the names of all the donators who contributed to this cause.
When I did this last year, I shot a series of images and let the winner pick the one that would become the limited edition print. I am doing the same this year, but with a twist. I want to work with the random winner to come up with a photo idea instead of me just doing my thing. For me, this makes the final result a bit more personal for the both of us. So, contribute $25 or more and you could be the person who gets to help create a work for sick children to enjoy.
Now what I need from you, besides a donation, is to share this post. The only way I can raise money is with awareness of what I’m doing, and the only way that happens is by word of mouth. Any shares on Facebook, retweets on Twitter, and link passing of this post help me out a lot.
I thank you for helping me help children who could use some happiness as they battle for health!
Farewell to Moab
This is technically my last shot from Moab. I still have a few photos to post, but this is the last image I captured from this wickedly fun nXnw trip. This also happens to be the setup that Dave Wilson and Bob Lussier would try their hands at some toy photography as well! After this, we would head back to the rental house, race through showers, get our things packed up, and begin that depressing travel back to our respective homes. The seven of us (Justin Balog, Rick Louie, Dave Wilson, Mike Criswell, Bob Lussier, Mark Garbowski, and myself) made it through two early as all hell mornings, two pots of Folgers, very little sleep, lots of gut busting jokes, and even more all-around good conversations. To say these were good times is to sell the experience short.
Today I start my eight weeks of crazy travel, and I have started it before either of my alarms went off. I wish I could say that I’ll be blogging regularly, but that would be telling a little lie. I have weeks where I am home just long enough to clean my clothes, swap gear around, tell my wife I love her, and then hit the road again. I’m totally looking forward to the adventures ahead, but I am also looking forward to the sudden stop of travel in September.
With that, I’ll do my best to blog once a week, but want to wish everyone a great, fun, safe, and enjoyable summer season. Those of you going to CONvergence, Gen Con, or DragonCon, I’ll see ya there! Otherwise, I’ll see you on the dark side of the LEGO Death Star!
Be excellent to one another!
Exposure: 1/800sec at f/11
Lens: Nikon 105mm
Lighting: The morning sun
Looking at You Kid
I know this is going to sound weird, but I am taking the week off. I have given myself permission to do those things that I enjoy without feeling guilty about not handling this chore or that honey do item. I am doing this in part because it is Thanksgiving week and partly because I just need some time to re-center my thoughts and embrace some new creativity. As such, I am limiting my time on social media and spending more time with my camera, toys, and brain rotting video games.
I do hope everyone has a great week and I will see you next week, refreshed and relaxed! Also, Squirrels RULE!