Saturday, October 13, 2012

Keep on Food Truckn'




On a recent trip to Columbia, SC, I spent a good part of my week checking my Twitter feed. I wasn’t looking for people’s updates, thoughts or random observations. I was stalking the food trucks.


Twitter and Facebook are where they’re at. Or at least that’s how they let you know where they’ll be come lunchtime.


Over the past few years, food trucks have started popping up in the South. I know, we’re a little bit behind the times, but it was well worth the wait. And we’re not talking food trucks that hawk hotdogs and jumbo pretzels. These are restaurants on wheels.


You’ll find the trucks scattered around town for the lunch crowd. They even have a habit of popping up late at night for the bar crowd. Whether it’s mouth watering burgers, gourmet barbecue, shrimp poboys or stuffed chicken wings, you can make it a week bouncing from food truck to food truck. And if there’s a big event in town, you might have the problem of deciding between a parking lot full of trucks.


If Columbia had food trucks when I moved away back in 2005, it might have been hard for me to leave.












Thursday, October 4, 2012

Climbing Mount Fuji





Not too long ago, I made a decision that I have not regretted. It was a difficult one to make and one that wouldn’t be easy to reverse.


I sold almost every piece of Canon equipment that I own.


Now, I’m not getting out of photography. And no, I’m not desperate for cash. I’ve decided to change directions.


It seems that in today’s industry, you either have the latest and greatest Canon 1D_ or the newest Nikon D_. If you don’t, then you’re trying to find a way to get one. It’s a never ending cycle and the prices just seem to be going higher and higher with each new generation. 


True, the features keep getting better and better. But, when will it end? When you’re out of money and bankrupt?


Besides, I’ve gotten to the point where I want a camera that’s smaller and doesn’t attract attention like a 70-200 on a Canon 1D body. I want a Leica but can’t afford own a Leica without selling some organs on ebay. Plus, people are becoming more and more suspicious of photographers and I want to become the fly on the wall. Or at least, the tourist with his happy snap.


And I think I’m getting close.


Probably against my better judgement, I bought into a first generation camera before it was released.


From the moment I first saw the Fuji X-Pro1, I was in love. Small, sleek and discreet. Just what I wanted. There’s also the fast prime lenses which to me was a major factor. Most compact systems I’d seen had some relatively nice glass but the speed of lenses were disappointing.  


Of course, everybody and their kid brother wanted the X-Pro1. Which meant I had to go to Canada to get mine. Not physically, but I did order my kit from Henry’s in Toronto. At the time, they were the only camera store I could find in North America that had them in stock.


To say I was ecstatic when the box finally arrived is an understatement.


I've been able to shoot with the camera under a variety of conditions and have been very impressed with the results. Being able to simulate films like Velvia, ASTIA and PROVIA, along with its low light capabilities, has been well worth the price of admission.


But, the X-Pro1 hasn’t been without its problems. Probably the worst was the slow autofocus, which was almost impossible in low light situations. Also, Adobe didn’t support the camera’s raw files at its release. And when they finally did, it only came with Photoshop CS6 and Lightroom 4. Which created its own set of problems. But, I’ve stuck with it and I’m glad I did.


Fuji has done a great job in releasing firmware updates that have improved the camera’s performance. The autofocus speed has got to be most noticeable one. The difference is night and day, meaning you can now comfortably use the autofocus at night.


They’re definitely a company that is listening to its customers and not waiting to make the changes in the next generation camera. Something I hope they continue to do in the future.


And looking at what Fuji has coming down the road with their lenses and the new X-E1 body, I can’t wait.


But for now, I’ll just have to play the happy, but patient, tourist.






































Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Paging Doctor Watson


I had the privilege of photographing the annual Merlefest music festival in Wilkesboro, NC earlier this year. The festival was started by grammy award winning musician Doc Watson in 1988 and honors his son Merle, who died in a farm accident in 1985. Little did I know, this would be Doc’s last Merlefest.

The festival draws tens of thousands to the tiny campus of Wilkes Community College in the small town of Wilkesboro, NC.

But it’s not just the musicians on the stage that get all the attention.

It’s hard not to find someone with a guitar slung over their back that has spent the entire day under one of the picking tents. Never taking the chance to hear one of the many muscians that come from all over.

There’s a sense of love fills the air. It’s the love of music. And everywhere you look, there’s a stage. Whether it’s in front of several thousand people. Or sitting under a tree with a couple of friends. The music is the festival.























Monday, June 25, 2012

Yes, There's a Class for That


Walking into the NASCAR Technical Institute in Mooresville, NC, it’s hard not to notice the wall of fame; a checkered flag mural with signatures from racing legends like Rusty Wallace, Bobby Allison and Michael Waltrip. After all, Mooresville is in the heart of NASCAR country.

And what better place to find the NASCAR Technical Institute?

I’m here to photograph the school for the Charlotte USA Economic Development Guide and have a good feeling of what I’m going see there. 

Students learn about engines, fabrication and aerodynamics. But there’s one class that catches me by surprise. Pit Crew.

On a rather warm and sunny afternoon, students gather in teams along the wall, waiting for their turn. Tires stand by their sides, at the ready. The countdown begins. “Go!” And out they come, each with his own job. Up goes the car, off come the tires, on go the new tires, down goes the car. Now to the other side. 

Rinse and repeat. 

For over an hour the students practice, alternating between teams and the two race cars. There aren’t any cars screaming into the pits, jockeying for position. But the pressure is still on. Time is of the essence. And each team is racing to reach the checkered flag before the other.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Box of Chocolates




Photography is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re going to get.


One day you’re shooting pictures of kids working on experiments in their classroom. And the next, you’re taking pictures of Air Force Two, the Vice President’s plane, practicing touch and goes at an airport in Kinston, NC.


The former was planned, the latter is just a coincidence.


I just happened to be at the Global Trans Park in Kinston, NC, taking pictures for the North Carolina Eastern Region’s Economic Development Review when AF2 suddenly appears out of nowhere. 


According to my escort, it’s not usual for the crews to make unannounced visits to the airport. 


The plane made several passes and was still making them as I left. This was totally a once in a lifetime moment for me. But for those around me, it’s just another day at the office. Or should I say the airport.