Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Looking back...looking forward...

My first "real" semester at the paper is complete. I've seen many new places, learned many new things, and made friends with many new people. Not to mention, I've taken more photos in the past three months than I ever have in my life. Some were ok and some weren't, some assignments were sweet and some were boring, but I'd say they were all fun in one way or another. Unfortunately (yet fortunately), I'm off to New Zealand again soon, this time for a longer visit...six months!

I plan on starting another blog to chronicle my adventures below the equator and across the globe. I can't wait to have some substantial time to shoot things that are so unnatural to me and to take some time to try and develop my "eye" a bit more. Oftentimes the best photos come from very unfamiliar surroundings. Now I just need a witty name for the blog, so I'm open to suggestions.

Some downsides of this trip are that I am missing the graduations of tons of friends this spring and the ability to shoot a lot of cool things. A bit of a bummer, but c'est la vie. So without getting too sappy, thanks to all of the graduating seniors for all of their help, guidance, and fun times!

P.S. Anyone is welcome to visit! I'm only a plane ride away!

A note on the photo: This was taken at the Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland in Rotoroua, NZ. A pretty sweet place and somewhere I would love to visit again.

Keep shooting.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A Snowy Campus...

A Snowy Campus..., originally uploaded by Daniel Bott.

So we received our first snowfall of the year yesterday in State College. I snapped this photo on Pollock Road outside of the HUB. We are actually getting so much snow that the university has closed all of the grass parking lots around the stadium for our game against Minnesota. Crazy to think there will be no tailgating!

On a side note, once again the D700 never ceases to amaze me with its image quality!

Have a great weekend! Go Lions!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Taken inches from the mirror...

I haven't really been keeping up with the blogging lately, but I did recently get a new lens, so I figured I'll keep my readers (basically my Dad) updated.

I picked up a Sigma 12-24 f4.5-5.6 for my D700. This is currently the widest lens you can use on an FX sized sensor without going for a fisheye. I have taken a handful of shots with it so far and its holding up really nicely. It seems to be sharp and gives a great wide perspective.

I plan on going out to shoot a bit with it this afternoon, so maybe I will update after that goes down.

This shot was taken in front of a mirror. The lens is actually about 2-3" away from the mirror if that gives you any idea of how wide this thing actually goes.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Day 8 - My First Self Portrait

So I have officially completed my first week of Project 365. I almost slipped up a few times, but I am glad that I was able to push myself to go out and shoot.

My MB-D10 and EN-EL4a battery came yesterday so naturally I made the obligatory portrait. I really like the grip so far, it feels very solid on the D700 and gives the body a bit of extra balance (although mass as well). The EN-EL4a is the Nikon rechargable battery that allows me to use the camera at 8fps, which is SUPER FAST by the way! I can't wait to take sports shots with this beast.

One thing that I have noticed with my project is that I need to resist the urge to take the easy way out. It has been eight days and I already have two photos of the kittens. Although they are great subjects and have constantly changing poses, I want to make sure I don't end up with 1/3 of the project being photos of the cats. I guess the desire to shoot will come and go in waves?

Anyways, its Wednesday, the week is almost over and I am ready for another adventure-filled weekend!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Day 1 - Franklin the Cat

Day 1 - Franklin the Cat, originally uploaded by Daniel Bott.

I have always been interesed in the "Project 365" movement. For those unfamiliar with the project, it is an attempt by a photographer to take a photo everyday for 365 days....and I am going to try and do just that.

I should have some very unique experiences within the next 365 days and hope to capture the memories through photos. This is going to be a pretty had undertaking for me, and I will have to really keep it as one of my top priorities (right along with brushing my teeth).

The reason I decided to start this project came with the arrival of my D700. I have been waiting a few years to finally upgrade from my D50 and decided to "go big, or go home." Having a camera like this is going to take a lot of getting used to, but I think the Project 365 should really help with that.

You can track my progress by checking out my Project 365 album here. Rather than clutter the blog with daily posts, I will do my best to blog about some of the more interesting shots that I take throughout the project. If you want more information about the shots, I am going to do my best to add a short description or story with each photo that I upload on Flickr.

Here's to me not forgetting to shoot!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

New Gear!

Dan and I just ordered some new gear. Sweet! Recently my Nikkor 85mm f/1.8 somehow became severely damaged while sitting in the bag and now the aperture blades are completely loose and just flopping around. I really loved the images from the lens, but obviously, I'm a bit concerned about build quality since it was never dropped and I just bought it in May. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be selling my Nikon 17-35 f/2.8, so for a nice fast prime, I bought the Nikkor 105mm f/2 DC lens. This thing is built like a tank so I'm hoping it lasts longer than 2 months and I'm excited to play with the defocus control feature. Another option is of course the Nikkor 135mm f/2 DC, but no one has them in stock and they rarely show up used. I was able to get the 105mm at Adorama, so I can return it if I don't like it and if I do, it has the Nikon USA 5 year warranty.

Dan just picked up a used Tamron 28-75mm f/2.8 lens for a really great deal. The sample pictures we found online (Flickr, dpreview, Fred Miranda, etc.) were unbelievable. The image quality seems to be very, very close to at least the Nikkor 28-70mm and probably even the newer 24-70mm. He is thinking about moving from DX to FX (I'm pushing him toward FX) and this lens is a great way to get into the game without breaking the bank.

We will be sure to post reviews of both lenses in the near future.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Montreal, Quebec 2009

I just returned from a great trip to Montreal, Quebec for the 30th annual JazzFest. Montreal is a beautiful, clean city that reminded me a lot of Boston, where I lived for four years. It was a great place to photograph in as it has historic sections, a lot of avant-garde 1970s architecture for the 1976 Olympic games, and some incredible parks. Perhaps best of all, you can walk around at any time of day or night and not feel the least bit threatened. Anyway, on to some shots from the trip.

This is the border crossing on I-87, which becomes Autoroute 15 in Quebec. Nikon D700, 1/640s, f/5, ISO 200, 28mm.

The incredible Basilique de Notre Dame in Vieux Montreal. Nikon D700, 1/15s, f/4, ISO2500, 22mm.

Offerings inside Notre Dame. Nikon D700, 1/30s, f/3.2, ISO800, 56mm.

Sunset at the Mont-Royal park overlook. Nikon D700, 1/60s, f/8, ISO2200, 24mm, Formatt 1.2 Grad ND.

View of downtown Montreal from the Belvedere overlook in Mont-Royal. Nikon D700, 2.5s, f/8, ISO200, 58mm.

The Biosphere. Nikon D700, 1/640s, f/4, ISO200, 24mm, Formatt 1.2 Grad ND.

Olympic Stadium. The world's tallest leaning tower, it actually wasn't completed until 12 years after the games ended. The Montreal Expos played here from 1977 - 2004 before relocating to Washington DC. The track and field complex was actually converted into a Biodome. Nikon D700, 1/320s, f/8, ISO200, 32mm.

Street in Vieux Montreal. French is the official language by law in Quebec and you'll find very few signs in French and English (although it seems 99% of people in Montreal speak flawless English). Nikon D700, 1/160s, f/6.3, ISO1400, 195mm.

This is the main square for the Montreal Jazz Fest. There are a ton of street vendors and a number of open-air venues with free shows that basically go on all day and all night. Nikon D700, 1/80s, f/4, ISO2500, 36mm.

This is the main indoor concert hall. I saw Jeff Beck perform here. The show was incredible and the venue was the best large concert hall I've ever been to. Nikon D700, 1/80s, f/3.2, ISO3200, 24mm.

That's it for now. If you're looking for a great place to go on vacation that's both unique and affordable, head to Montreal. I would also highly recommend the Embassy Suites on Saint-Antoine. It's essentially brand new, immaculately maintained, the suites are huge, you get a kitchen with stainless steel appliances, and there's an enormous bathroom, all for $135 a night.

For all the shots, CLICK HERE.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Rumors from the Nikon Camp...

So I've been waiting like a child on Christmas Eve for a new release from Nikon. I am still shooting with my trusty d50, and don't get me wrong, it can produce...but I feel as though I am in need of change. After shooting with Mak's d300 and later d700 I knew that it was time.

I have had my eyes on the d300 for a while, but now with the impending rumors of a d300s and a d700x, I have decided that I can hold out a while longer.

Herein lies my problem...the d300s is a DX body and will use all of my glass. It should also include HD video which would be a cool feature to have (but not imperative). The d700/d700x are FX cameras which would require me to buy new lenses....PLUS! apparently Nikon's release schedule has been leaked as well!

If I put any trust in that, a d400 will be released in Q2 2010...I would hate to get a d300s and have a d400 released shortly after....

I guess I will get a used d300 for the time being and flip it for an upgrade when I feel it is appropriate....

Whatever happens, I will still enjoy shooting...that's for sure!


Friday, June 19, 2009

Locked and loaded...

I'm headed down to Charleston, SC for the second time in one
year...the reason? My uncle's wedding. I'll be shooting from the
audience for this one but it should give me a good idea of what the
Pros shoot. I'm rocking the Crumpler bag since my Burton Zoom Pack
would have been way to big to haul to the ceremony. Plus the Crumpler
has Velcro silencers :)


Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Concerts...

David Sanborn, originally uploaded by Daniel Bott.

One thing that I love about summer is that it gives many bands the opportunity to tour the country to play for their adoring fans. Now, you may think, "But Dan, bands can tour all year round..." While this is true, bands take advantage of the warmth and great weather of the summer months to display their artwork in an outdoor setting. There is nothing like this atmosphere.

Last summer I had the opportunity to shoot the DuPont Clifford Brown Jazz Festival in Wilmington, DE. I had rented a Nikon 70-200VR and ended up with some pretty good shots. It was the first time that I had ever shot a true "concert" so it was a great learning experience. The other photographers there really helped me out!

This shot is of Jazz musician David Sanborn, although his set was more smooth jazz focused, it was entertaining nonetheless!

Here's to the summer, and the concerts it brings!

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Jaco Sunset

DSC_0309, originally uploaded by Daniel Bott.

So I finally got some more of my photos edited from the trip to Costa Rica. I was satisfied with how they came out for the most part, but I have finally realized the limitations of my tamron 70-300 lens. It isn't the best piece of glass for low-light, especially when it loses sharpness at the long end. Oh well, time to think about upgrading....

Anyways, this is my favorite shot from the trip. There were some minor corrections (color, contrast) that were necessary but overall I really like this shot. Possibly one of my best.

The rest of my set can be seen here:

Mak's shots can be seen here:

Have a great day!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Pura Vida en Costa Rica!

As you can see, the blog has taken on a new language for a bit. Mak and I (the 2 photogs...dur) are in Costa Rica until Saturday shooting away. Our time here has been in Jacó, a surf town along the Pacific Coast. The scenery is great and the wildlife is very unique! Click the photo below to view the (few) pictures that I have uploaded so far...

DSC_0023 (1), originally uploaded by Daniel Bott.

Hotel Canciones del Mar, Jaco, Costa Rica

We are having a great time in CR. Check back soon for the photos.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Woahhhhhh brah.....

DSC_0157, originally uploaded by Daniel Bott.

I got a chance to spend all day last Sunday on the lake at Bald Eagle State Park. I was able to get some pretty sweet shots of my roommate and a couple buddies wakeboarding and wakesurfing. I even tried my hand at wakesurfing as I was still sore from an attempted wakeboarding effort from Friday. Overall it was a really fun day, and i was able to get some kick-ass photos!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nikon D5000: Spec Review

Nikon released the D5000 today and it's worth taking a look at what's offered in their new entry level camera:

12.3mp CMOS Sensor:  Likely the same one as in the D90 and D300, both of which produce fantastic images.

720p Video:  Not something I'm necessarily interested in, but a nice touch nonetheless.  

Vari-angle color LCD:  This may seem like a dumb feature, but the ability to view the screen in live mode from almost any angle is great.  Plus, you can flip it around and store it so only the plastic back is exposed.  That will help cut down on scratches while transporting it.

One Button Live View:  Easier access to Live View than my D700 has, which requires pressing a button down and rotating a wheel.

4 FPS:  Nice upgrade here.  Faster than the Rebel T1i's 3.4 FPS.  

Built-in Image Sensor Cleaning:  I have this on the D700 and it's genius.

11-point AF System with 3D Tracking:  HUGE upgrade here.  Nikon has really been dedicated to improving their AF systems recently and this system is probably the main reason to upgrade from a D40/D50/D60.  The D40 and D60 only had 3 AF points and the D50 had 5.  The addition of 3D tracking is huge for any amateur who wants to shoot action.  The Rebel T1i only has 9 AF points and no 3D tracking.  

100,000 Cycle Shutter:  Very few amateurs will come anywhere near this, but the fact that it's this robust makes the camera even more maintenance-free.

GPS Geotagging:  Unfortunately, you have to get Nikon's GP-1 for $210 to use this feature (I have a Geomet'r unit for my D700 that was $150 and works incredibly), but I like the feature.  It's fun to track exactly where you took certain shots in case you ever blow the shot and want to return.  

Overall, this is an impressive entry level camera.  Aside from the metering system and weather-sealing, it's easily exceeded the D200, which was $1800 when it was released in 2006 and it comes very close to the D300 for most users.  The main difference is that the D300 has a 51-point AF system with 3D tracking.  To be honest, I usually shoot in 11 or 21 point AF on my D700 and I find that to be plenty of points. 

Compared to the Canon Rebel T1i, you get slightly less resolution in stills and video, but a vastly superior AF system and a very user-friendly design.  While the camera isn't quite designed to stand up to the demands of an abusive pro shooter, it will certainly take professional-quality images.  Most importantly from Nikon's point of view, it gives people a pro-quality camera for $729 and dedicates them to the brand.     

Monday, April 13, 2009

Harry the K moves on...

Today, a Philadelphia sports cornerstone has left this world. Harry Kalas passed away at 1:20pm in Washington, D.C.

With a voice that brings back memories of childhood, summer nights, and America's past-time, Harry will be missed by millions. It is exciting to know that he was able to call the Phillies' World Series victory shortly before his death.

Because of this win, I had the privilege of snapping a few photos of him at the 2008 World Series Parade in Philadelphia...a moment that I will never forget.

Harry K.

Rest in Peace.

Friday, April 3, 2009

My First Front Page!

Today (April 3, 2009), I got my first front page shot on The Daily Collegian! Pretty exciting stuff!

This was taken at a rally for Take Back the Night, an awareness event for sexual violence against women.

Here is the front page of the paper:

First Front Page

Did you miss it?? Bottom left photo...

...here is the shot:
first front page shot

The shot was taken at:
ISO 200
WB: Sunny
exp -0.7
with my Sigma 10-20mm

The whole article can be found here, and as usual, click for larger versions.

Have a great Friday!

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Most Important Filter?

If you had asked me a few months ago what the most important filter I own is, I would have probably said my circular polarizer.  I love the way they make skies blue and they're great for cutting down reflections.  I was so obsessed with them that I've easily spent over $1,000 on them.  It sounds extreme, but multicoated 72mm and 77mm filters from Heliopan or B+W are easily $160-200+ each.  

More recently however, I've discovered the genius of the graduated neutral density (Grad ND).  The advantage of the grad ND is the ability to get more dynamic range out of your photos.  For someone who hates processing photos digitally like I do, they save an incredible amount of time.  There's no need to try to recover highlights in RAW, use artificial "fill light" to recover shadow data, or worst of all, use some gimmicky HDR software.  I'd rather take one good shot than bracket 5 different exposures so I can sit in front of my computer and construct an unnatural scene.  

Grad NDs come in a variety of shapes and sizes and also differ by how much light the dark part of the filter allows to pass through.  Generally, you will see them marked 0.3 through 1.2.  A 0.3 grad ND reduces the amount of light by 1-stop, a 0.6 by 2-stops, a 0.9 by 3-stops, and a 1.2 by 4-stops.  A lot of companies make 0.3 and 0.6 grad NDs but the only one I've found with 0.9s and 1.2s is a British company called Formatt (available at B&H).  I own one of their 1.2 grad NDs and it is excellent.  However, it will vignette at the widest focal lengths on something like a 17-35 or a 24-70.  Grad NDs also come with soft and hard edges, referring to how gradual the transition is between the tinted and clear parts of the filter.  A hard edge is simply that; it appears to have a sharp cutoff.  Generally, I prefer soft-edges as the change is less noticeable in the final photo.  

Using a grad ND is fairly simple.  Ideally, you'd have one 0.3, one 0.6, one 0.9, and one 1.2, but the 0.9 and the 1.2 are really only for extreme cases.  To properly meter, fill the frame with the darkest part of the photo and meter, then fill the frame with the brightest spot and meter.  The difference between the two will allow you to determine what strength of grad ND you need.  Then, just put the camera in manual, put the filter on (I like the screw on ones for their ease of use), and set the exposure to the value you obtained for the dark part of the photo.  If you're shooting in rapidly changing light conditions, it is possible to meter with the filter on and it will give you more dynamic range, just not as much as it would if you have more time to compose.            

In the end, you'll have photos that appear the way you saw them with your eye, properly exposed everywhere.  And when everyone wonders how many hours it took you to manually blend the shot in Photoshop or use some cheap HDR program, you can think back to the extra 20 seconds you spent screwing on a piece of glass.  

Monday, March 30, 2009

Maybe someone is still checking this...?

Just in case someone is actually still reading this blog, I figured that I should throw up an update.

I've been shooting as a staff candidate for the school paper as of late, which is really sweet! I'm getting opportunities to shoot much more than usual and learning a bunch of stuff in the process!

My first photo that has been run is above, and the full story can be found here.

I know, I know, pretty exciting stuff. I really captured the mood of the auditorium well!

No big deal, gotta start somewhere.

And for fun...here's a shot of a sweet guitar painted by Peter Max from the William Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AR:

Later Days,

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Photos are up!

Hello Everyone,

The photos that Mak and I took have been edited and posted on our flickr pages. Here is the link to each album:



Feel free to explore the rest of our flickr sites aswell!

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Finally Home!

3901 miles later and we've made it home.  We'll be processing the good pics and uploading them soon.  The roadtrip is an American essential and if you haven't done it yet, get rolling!  Our total cost for gas was $258 (all 93-octane too) and our total cost for the trip including gas, tolls, meals, hotels (Holiday Inn Express, Hilton, or a boutique French Quarter Hotel), and front row Phillies tickets was around $1,200 or $600 per person.  For a 6-day vacation, that number will be hard to beat.  

We burned 124.627 gallons of 93-octane for a trip average of 31.3 MPG.  That's with two people, a trunk full of luggage, AC running throughout the South, and the cruise control set around 74-78MPH depending on whether the speed limit was 65 or 70MPH. 

We crossed through a total of 14 states, including: PA, MD, WV, VA, TN, AR, LA, MS, AL, FL, GA, SC, NC, and DE.  I personally had never been to TN, AR, LA, MS, AL, or GA before.  I've now been to 36/50 states.        

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Friday, March 13, 2009

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Fwd: Hello

Begin forwarded message:

From: Aslor Lanuzo <aslor.lanuzo@alpharheintalbank.ch>
Date: March 11, 2009 11:34:58 AM CDT
To: makary.hofmann@mac.com
Subject: Hello
Reply-To: lanuzo.aslor@yahoo.com.hk


I apologize for this intrusion; I decided to contact you through email due to the urgency involved in this matter. My name is Aslor Lanuzo, I work as a portfolio management officer with Alpha Rheintal Bank here in Switzerland. I need your co-operation in receiving and investing USD10.5M. It is very important that the claim is made, as the bank will report to the Swiss banking ombudsman anytime from now if it remains unclaimed. What bother me most is that we have some unscrupulous government official who will embezzle this fund instead of using it for good course. It is because of this I have sought for your assistance for us to both pull this through. I will provide you with detailed information on the modalities of this operation once I have your interest. If I don't hear from you within a certain period I will assume you are not interested and will solicit for a new partner.Accept this by responding to this email with your personal telephone number and contact address.
I wait to hear from you ASAP.

Thank you.

Aslor Lanuzo

Dumas, AR

Approx. Mile 1739. We just passed through Dumas, AR. Reminded us of
that root beer commercials a couple of years ago..

Dude getting interviewed: "I feel like I would be a great asset to
this company, Mr. Dumbass"

Big Wig Boss: "It's Dumas."

Also note, apparently it's ok to have one road count for four in

Ok, Dee's Diner just came on the radio...time to rock!

Our 2nd Presidential Library

Clinton Presidential Library in Little Rock, AR.

The end?

Mile 1609.9.

OTC Allergy Relief

Went and saw the JnJ office in Rogers, AR.

Walmart Home Office!

Mile 1421.0. $54,064,061,834 saved for families this year (3 months).

Cross Water Park?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Welcome to Arkansas

Mile 1155.0. Grabbing some fuel in lovely Arkansas

Graceland - What a ripoff.

$10 to park in a lot with no views of the mansion. Then $28 to take a
shuttle there? Weak.

Gibson Factory Tour in Memphis!

Lunch at BB King's Blues Club

Memphis, TN. Mile 1043.3.

A few thoughts on satilite radio...

I have to say, satalite radio is most definitly the road tripper's
best friend. No iPods to mess with, no changing stations from one city
to the next. You can listen to one station nonstop for the whole trip
if so desired. I think the best part is that there is always music on
that you don't have on your iPod. For example, when was the last time
I listened to Two Princes by the Spin Doctors? Well, most likely on
some vh1 show about 90's music, but before that, I wouldn't hesitate
to guess over two years ago.

I could go on, but I think you get the point. For road trips stailite
radio > any other source of music (besides having Wolfmother playing
in the back seat)

Anyways, we are about 50 miles from Memphis. See you there!

Sent from my iPhone

Nashville Dinner

Mile 825.0. Nashville, TN

Monday, March 9, 2009

We Are!

Additionally, Mak and I encountered a guy with a Penn State hat at
Sunoco. After I complimented him on his attire, I noticed his plate
read "PSU 2011" as he drove away. Oh those med school students...

Sent from my iPhone

Closer to home than you may think

Taken about 90mi outside of Nashville