Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Manfrotto Articles

I've recently been writing some articles for my friends at Manfrotto. They give some additional background on projects I've been working on lately. If you have time, head on over and take a look.

Ken Iron Horse is Apache and Algonquin Indian. He's an artist and makes crafts inspired by his heritage which he sells alongside his paintings at the Blue Ridge Flea Market in Blue Ridge, GA.


Thursday, September 4, 2014

Why social media matters and excerpts from an article about Day & Night

If you've been following this blog or watching my other social media outlets, you know that I've been getting a lot of press lately. I thought it might be useful to understand why that's happening.

Back in January, I was invited to join a web site called Lens Culture. I was only slightly aware of them, but after going to the site and realizing it wouldn't cost me anything, I joined and posted a couple of my projects there.

In June, I was lucky enough to spend two weeks at an artist residency in the north Georgia mountains. I wrote about it here. When I returned I posted a number of pictures from a new project called American Flea on my Lens Culture page. Then on August 6, Lens Culture posted American Flea in the Spotlight position on their home page as one of their Editors Picks.

Within a few days, apparently after seeing my work on Lens Culture, a number of widely read blogs ran pieces about another project of mine, Day & Night. These included Beautiful Decay, Dark Silence in Suburbia, Design Taxi, and USvsTH3M. These stories were re-posted dozens, possibly hundreds of time, all over the world, in a variety of languages.

Then came the two big ones. About August 22, Distractify and Huffington Post each ran stories. Distractify's was about American Flea and Huff Post's was about Day & Night. These sites get millions of hits a month. I immediately saw the hits on both my blog and my Lens Culture profile page skyrocket. This in turn has generated a number of inquiries from web publications asking permission to run various projects of mine.

The big question is (or should be), that's nice, but is there any income involved in all this? Well, I've just signed with a picture agency in the UK to syndicate Day & Night worldwide. They're confident that there will be print sales to magazines internationally. So that's a good thing.

Most of the pictures in Day & Night were taken in 2009 and 2010. I've had them exhibited in a number of shows in Atlanta, Alabama, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. Now I'm hoping, after all this publicity, some curators will take notice. I'd like to show this work again.

Another nice result was the posting this week of Day & Night on the web site, Feature Shoot. Their writer, Ellyn Ruddick-Sunstein did an e-mail interview with me and I'm especially pleased with her insightful comments at the beginning. Below is an excerpt, posted with her permission.

"For Day and Night, Atlanta-based photographer Forest McMullin explores sexual desire and its relationship to human identity, photographing individuals and couples once throughout their daytime routine and again in the privacy of their own bedrooms. On the left, we find a standard vision of middle-class American men and women, enjoying the conventional activities of daily life; in the righthand frame, we discover the same subjects adopting nighttime fantasy roles, morphing into dominatrixes, bondage players, cross-dressers, swingers, and furries.

"In arresting diptychs, we are presented with two sides of the same human coin, the easily accessible public self set against the vulnerable sexual self. In these stolen moments of intimacy, in which the protagonists radiate a palpable sense of confidence, the gap between what we consider to be ordinary and atypical is diminished, reduced to the space as narrow the thin white border that separates the images. Here, we are asked to abandon judgements for a deeper understanding of human erotic diversity. McMullin’s sitters are remarkable for their perceived eccentricity, but they ultimately become surrogates for us all, boldly bringing to light private yearnings that most keep in darkness."

I have no idea how long this will last. But it sure is fun for now.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Doing what's right vs doing what is your right

My project, Day & Night has suddenly been receiving a lot of attention. It's a little weird for a project I shot most of four years ago, but I'm not complaining. It started when the site, Lens Culture featured my project, American Flea, in the spotlight position on their home page. This drove people to my profile page where they found several of my projects, including Day & Night. Within days, excerpts from Day & Night appeared in dozens of widely viewed web sites and blogs like Beautiful Decay, Dark Silence in Suburbia, Design Taxi, and sites around the world in countries like France, Portugal, Greece, England, Spain, Russia, and South Africa.

After Huffington Post did a story on it last week, I got an urgent email from one of the people in the photographs. This person told me that they had radically changed their life since I had shot their portrait, they had found Jesus, and they were terrified that if the wrong eyes saw the picture they would lose their job and it would ruin their life. They asked if I could please get their portrait taken off the Huff Post site.

What was I to do? Whenever I shoot people for Day & Night, they must sign a model release before I take out the camera. Besides signing the release, I emphasize that my intention is for mainstream publication, not some shady little web site that hardly anyone will see. I could not have been clearer. I wanted everyone who participated to be completely comfortable with the process and results. They were, after all, opening up the most intimate details of their lives to me and to public scrutiny. And I'm grateful to them for the trust they show me. I want the pictures to be honest and direct, but respectful. I believe they are.

So- I have every right, legal and otherwise, to include this person's picture when the project is reproduced.

But. . .

What is my human responsibility? How can I, in good conscience allow the possibility of my photograph having a major negative impact on someone's life? How can I say, I'm sorry, but you're not allowed to change your mind, especially if it inconveniences me? And, would Huffington Post even care if I asked them to remove the picture in question?

As it turns out, Huff Post was willing to remove the picture. (Thank you, Katherine Brooks.) And I removed the picture from the Day & Night section of my Lens Culture profile that Huff Post linked to. I told the concerned individual that I would not include their picture in submissions to any mainstream web sites or publications based in the US in the future. I would not include their picture in any exhibitions in their home city. I also made it clear that the picture is already available in many many web sites and blogs around the world and I have no control over who sees them or re-blogs them. This person needs to be prepared and there's really nothing I can do about it at this point.

I suppose this is a bit of a compromise. I haven't promised to do everything in my power to remove all traces of this person's photograph from Day & Night and its circulation. But I'll try to keep it out of places where it could conceivably do damage. And I'll sleep well tonight.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

My Residency

Dan McInturff, Rabun Flea Market, Rabun Gap, Georgia

My two weeks at The Hambidge Center was the most intense period of creative energy I can remember having. It was the first artist residency I've ever had and I certainly hope it isn't the last.

I started on a new project called American Flea. I traveled to four different flea markets in rural North Carolina and Georgia shooting portraits of vendors and customers. I'm very excited about the results and plan to continue the project for the foreseeable future. I met unusual and interesting people and recording their faces and hearing their stories is a great experience.
Shannon Pyle, Uncle Bill's Flea Market, Whittier, North Carolina
 I read over six hundred pages. The new memoir from Tom Robbins, Tibetan Peach Pie, was a delight and I burned through that in three days. Then I dove into The Tin Drum by Gunter Grass. I last read this masterpiece forty years ago or so. It's massive and brilliant and I hope to finish it soon.

The biggest surprise to me is that, at the urging of my wife and daughter, I started writing again. Fifteen years ago I started writing a novel. I got fifty or sixty pages into it before life got in the way and I put it down. While at Hambidge, I went at it again and wrote over forty new pages. I figured out several important plot points and I hope to be able to continue on it in a more timely fashion now.

It's kind of amazing what you can accomplish when you have no cell service or television and the only internet connection is a quarter of a mile away. And it's great fun to be reminded that I still have something to say.

Oh, one more thing. Today is my birthday. I've realized that being in my sixties doesn't suck.
"Uncle" Bill Seay, Uncle Bill's Flea Market, Whittier, North Carolina

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Stags, Hens, and Bunnies- A Blackpool Story

A year ago, I spent three weeks traveling through England, Scotland, and Wales. I spent a Saturday night in Nottingham and was amazed at what I was told is a very common ritual. "Hen-dos" and "Stag-dos" take the experience of the pre-wedding party to an extreme that American brides and grooms would be surprised by. Besides the requisite heavy drinking and generally outrageous behavior, Brits like to dress in themes, carry sex dolls and sex toys, and make very public spectacles of themselves.

London based photographer Dougie Wallace has spent what I assume is considerable time documenting this tradition. His pictures are raw, vivid, and occasionally a little obscene. And really, really good.

They've been published as a book, available from the UK here. It should be avaialbe here in the States in a couple of months. Here's an excerpt from what's written on the web site:

"Blackpool,  a Northern English town once the granddaddy of the seaside resorts.  Enjoying renewed popularity as one of the UK’s major hen/stag destinations.

Blackpool… A dirty great whorl of debauchery, licentiousness, laughter, vomit, furry handcuffs, fancy dress and drunken oblivion. Turned every weekend into the heart of social darkness. Marauding packs of brides and grooms, close friends and family, on a mission to consume dangerous, liver-crushing levels of alcohol. This, their rite of passage acted out on the last night of freedom, before the conventions and responsibilities of marital life, mortgage, children.

Once a fun diversion from the industrial heartlands – a bit like Las Vegas with a Victorian twist – is a town that has a palpable and genuine energy of its own. The promenade offers up its gala of grotesque and carny seediness; a whole Golden Mile of pubs and bars for swollen bodies to crawl through flashing scary, carrot coloured midriff flesh. The unbridled hedonism is magnified by an inter-pack competitiveness that manifests itself in drinking games, fights or sex in the toilets! Its twisted and ghoulish, and it’s hard not to laugh."


Take a few minutes and check them out here.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Mena Ethopian Restaurant

I visited Mena, 3680 Clairmont Rd. near Buford Highway, on the spur of the moment. I had been shooting in a Cuban place and someone mentioned that there was an Ethiopian restaurant across the street. I went over to check it out and it took a little time to realize it was in the back of the Bethlehem Food Store through an unmarked door on the side. Not a terribly auspicious start, but once inside I was greeted with wonderful smells. There's a large dining room with a full bar in the center and the walls are a riot of bright colors.
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens, ISO 1600, 1/45 @ f/3.2

There's a dimly lit back room with a hookah bar.
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens, ISO 3200, 1/2 @ f/3.2
And off to one side, a woman was crouched on the floor roasting coffee beans.
Munu Wasse roasting coffee, Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens, ISO 2000, 1/17 @ f/2.8 
This, I learned, is a traditional Ethiopian ceremony and ritual. I sat and asked my waitress what she recommended. She liked the gored gored, she told me, so that's what I had. I was a little surprised when she brought a plate of cubed and spiced raw beef.
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm, ISO 200, 1/30 @ f/6.4
After getting over my initial hesitance, I was delighted. It was very tender and delicate. I used the slightly sour injera bread as a scoop and dipped it in mitmita  and other spices. I later learned it is very popular in both Ethiopia and Eritrea and is considered a national dish. I finished it completely satisfied. I plan to return and try other (cooked!) dishes, but I'm not sorry I tried the gored gored.
Miheret Bekele, Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, 1/25 @ f/3.2

Friday, May 9, 2014

New Elinchrom ELC Pro HD Review- A Lot of Technology in a Compact Package

I've been using the new Elinchrom ELC Pro HD strobes for a few weeks now. My friends at Manfrotto Distribution and Elinchrom were nice enough to send me both the 500 watt second unit and the 1000 watt second unit to test. I've been using their Style RX strobes for several years now and when they told me they were updating them, I remember saying to myself, well, that's nice, but the only thing I could think of that they needed was to build the Skyport receiver into the unit instead of having to plug in an adapter. Boy! Was I wrong! The ELCs are a serious overhaul and upgrade to the RXs.
At first glance, they look pretty much the same as the RX 600WS model. Although they're slightly larger (about an inch longer and little bit bigger around) they actually weigh less than the comparably powered RXs. The 1000WS unit is exactly the same size as the 500, too, which is especially nice when you look at the giant size of the older 1200WS RX.

The front of of the ELCs looks like what you'd expect. The only changes from the RX is that they've added a protective dome and the wattage of the modeling light has been increased from 150 watts to 300. The bright modeling light in the ELC generates a lot of heat, but it's no problem, partly because the cooling fan in the unit is extremely efficient. It's also very quiet- so quiet that you have to listen closely or you won't realize it's on.

The back is significantly different from the RX.
The biggest change is the OLED menu readout. If all you want to do is shoot with basic use, it's easy to do just that. Left and right arrows change the power up and down in full stops. The center dial, glowing green in the picture above, changes the power in tenths of a stop. Speaking of power, the strobes re-cycle VERY fast. The 1000WS recycles in under two seconds- 1.7 sec. by my measurements and 1.8 sec. stated in the Elinchrom specs. On lower power settings, of course it's much, much faster.

As I said above, these lights will perform admirably in the vast majority of "normal" uses. But the reason it has a menu system is that there are a couple of features built in that are very cool. The first one is that it is designed to have short- very short- flash durations. Many photographers don't realize that different strobes have different flash durations. For most brands and models, this may range from as slow as 1/300 of a second to much faster, say 1/2,000 of a second. And that duration changes depending on the power setting. For many kinds of shooting, the flash duration is relatively unimportant. The problem is when you're shooting something moving quickly and you want to freeze the motion- say a splash or a dancer leaping. If the duration isn't short enough, there will be some blur.

The ELCs not only have short durations, but the exact duration reads out on the menu. You can see what the duration is at every, single power setting. This allows you to adjust the power to find the balance between what f/stop you need and the duration that is fast enough to freeze whatever action you're capturing.

I'm just starting to play with this and I hope to have more pictures to post soon.

The other feature the ELCs have is a stroboscopic function. This allows you to set them from firing one time per second to as fast as 20 times per second. You can set the time of the burst from 1 second to 4 seconds. The following shot was my first effort. Joe was practicing his serve and I set the lights to fire 15 times per second for one second.

With the very talented Deborah Hughes in the studio, I thought I might try some motion studies with her, too. In the first, I just had her dance across the frame. The ELCs were set to fire 10 times per second for 2 seconds.

But then she showed me some fabric she had brought with her. Now the magic began. . .

I can't wait to get Deborah back so we can keep playing with this. I want to try it with different colors, with multiple dancers- there are tons of possibilities. They also have a sequencing function that allows the user to time up to twenty different strobes with a pre-programed  delay.

These effects aren't unique. There have been strobes that have done this for some time. The big difference is that, as far as I know, these are the first ones that can do it in completely customizable ways and at a very reasonable price. The ELCs will be available for about $1050 for the 500WS and $1450 for the 1000WS when they start shipping in the US in June. That's less than one fifth the price of other strobes that can do the same things. In fact, that would be a good price for monoblocs that don't have all these special features.

I really can't wait to continue working with the ELCs. They're excellent performers for regular shooting. And their special features are giving me lots of ideas on new ways to shoot. I really think these lights are winners.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

#19 from Out on Buford Highway

Way back in September, the third post I put up from this project was shot early in the morning at La Chiquita Cafe. A couple of weeks ago, I finally went back and shot inside. The owner, Jose Lopez was nice enough to let me shoot a portrait.
Jose Lopez, Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens, ISO 800, 1/140 @ f/3.2

Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm lens, ISO 800, 1/220 @ f/2.8

Sunday, March 16, 2014

#18 from Out on Buford Highway

Contigo Peru at 3567 Chamblee Dunwoody Road is a little off Buford Highway, but it was good enough that I thought I should include it here. It's a Peruvian seafood restaurant. The day I was there it was virtually empty when my friend and I arrived around 1:30 in the afternoon. We both had the pescado sudado, a fish stew common in northern Peru. It came as a decent sized piece of white fish swimming in a broth of tomato, onions, peppers, garlic, and a melange of herbs and spices. It was truly delicious! It came with a side of rice that I slowly added to the stew to soak up the broth. The price is reasonable at around $15.

By the way, make sure you look at all the pictures, because my favorite is the last one.

Pentax K-3, 16-50mm, ISO 200, 1/1000 @ f/8

Pentax K-3, 16-50mm, ISO 800, 1/125 @ f/5.6
Lis Ramires, Pentax K-3, 16-50mm, ISO 1600, 1/60 @ f/4.5
Hector Esquivel, Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, 1/100 @ f/4
Maria Ordonet, Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, 1/180 @ f/3.2
Maria Ordonet, Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, 1/100 @ f/3.2

Sunday, March 2, 2014

My New Toy

The other night, Andrea and I got home around 10:00PM after a long day and I discovered a box addressed to me that had been delivered earlier. Inside was a device called the Theta made by Ricoh. After poking around the limited instructions and looking at this little thing, I realized it was a small camera that had fish eye lenses on both sides and, when viewed with their software, made a 360 degree, spherical photograph. That's right, not a horizontally stitched, 360 panorama, but vertically, too. SPHERICAL! You can scroll up, down, sideways- every which way!

I've been playing with it for the last couple of days and I can't wait to spend more time experimenting. I plan to take it with me to Baltimore for the SPE National Conference and I can already imagine using it on the plane. at the hotel, on the street. I'll be posting them to my Tumblr. If you want to follow it, the title is Theta 360. Please check it out. In the meantime, here's a few of my early attempts:
At the High - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Baggage - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA
At BWI - Spherical Image - RICOH THETA

Sunday, February 23, 2014

New Line of Manfrotto Bags- Part 2

The new line of Manfrotto Professional bags I wrote about a while back includes five Shoulder Bags in sizes from the 10 to the 50. Like the Professional Backpacks, the Shoulder bags are well designed, well built and have a number of interesting, even unique, features.

The biggest difference between these bags and the older "Domke" style shoulder bags I used in the distant past is that the shell is made from the same semi-rigid material I described in my review of the backpacks. It gives structure to the bags and offers a high degree of protection. Many of the details are what we've come to expect on any high quality bag. A well padded shoulder strap and lots of pockets are there.
It has a couple of features that are unusual, if not unique. One is the way the internal sections are structured. They have a sort of hinge built in that allows a multitude of usable options, like having a camera at the ready with the lens pointing downward and stacking lenses with a padded section between them for protection.
The top lid has a weather sealed zippered slit, which let you get in and out quickly and easily if you find yourself changing lenses often. It's a nice touch and works faster than opening the lid to get things out.
The bags all have slots for laptops and/or tablets depending on the size of the bag. I tested the 10, 30 and 50. I particularly like the 10 since I'm using the Fuji X-E1 more and more. The 30 is a nice size, too, for when I'm using my Nikon or Pentax. The 50 is a behemoth! I can't imagine actually using it and trying to work off my shoulder. It's so big, that when it's loaded it's very heavy. I think it's probably more of a gear bag that has a shoulder strap to facilitate taking it short distances- not all day!

My only complaint about these bags- and it's a small one- is that there aren't any velcro tabs to make entry quicker that the zippers for situations when speed is important. Other than that, these are excellent additions to the marketplace. Well designed, well built, and very usable bags.

New Elinchrom Monoblocs

Elinchrom has just announced a new series of monoblocs, upgrading the top of the line Style RX. The new ELC Pro HD comes in 500ws and 1000ws maximum power. The major changes include much faster recycling (.6 seconds for the 500 and 1.2 seconds for the 1000) and very short flash durations. They're rated at 1/1430 at full power and as fast as 1/5260 at lower powers. That's fast! They have the wireless Skyport system built in. They also have several advanced features for the demanding pro shooter, including a stroboscopic setting that let's photographers do multiple exposure motion studies.

Shipping and prices haven't yet been announced. I'll post about them as soon as I hear. And I'll be giving them a thorough testing and writing about that as soon as I can get my hands on some.

Stay tuned!

Friday, February 14, 2014

Two Interesting Projects

My son sent me a link to a project on the CNN Photos blog today. "The Waiting Game" is a documentary piece about prostitutes in Spain who work along highways. The photographer, Txema Salvans worked primarily on the Mediterranean coast photographing women waiting for johns to stop and pay them for sex. The pictures are simultaneously provocative and banal. There is nothing particularly sexual about what is shown, but there is still an air of anticipation as we see these women, sometimes wearing fairly revealing clothing, attempting to entice passing motorists to make a (presumably) short detour as they travel. The pictures are landscapes with the prostitutes appearing relatively small in the frame. Everything is sun drenched, parched, and a little faded looking, running counter to other images of hookers we may have seen at night in "red light" districts. Their postures make many of the women looked bored and tired, even though we can never really see their faces. It's excellent work.

It made me think about another project about sex in public places called "Cruising" by Chad States. States' work is more explicit and shows men cruising for and sometimes having sex with each other in public parks and highway rest stops. Like Alvans, the pictures are always shot on sunny days and superficially appear to be landscapes. Only when we look closely do we see men, sometimes alone, sometimes in pairs, engaged in having or waiting for sex. Because of the heavy vegetation, the pictures aren't explicit. They suggest the activities rather than describe them. They are, however, more active than Slavans and, as a result, are kind of creepy, at least to me. They, too, are excellent work.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Number 17 from Out on Buford Highway

I met Dener Zacarias when I was photographing in a Peruvian restaurant. He was curious about what I was doing and we talked for a few minutes. He told me about the store he owns and he invited me to come visit.

La Bendicion Market is on the second level of a plaza at 5090 Buford Highway next door to El Taco Veloz. When you walk in you're immediately hit with an explosion of color. Brilliant oranges and greens are everywhere, on the walls, on the merchandise racks. There's tons of stuff that caters to Guatemalans- fresh and packaged foods, phone cards, clothing, even toys for kids. Dener is warm and friendly and very proud of his store and how he's managed to make it grow. Not long ago he added freshly prepared food to the mix. Magy Gomez works in the kitchen and when I was there, Dener fed me a dish that was kind of a Guatemalan beef stew. I don't remember what it was called (sorry Dener), but it was delicious! Rich with meat and potatoes and a savory sauce based in tomatoes and herbs.

Thank you Dener for welcoming me into your fine establishment! And to those of you reading this, take the time to stop in and try the food.
Dener Zacarias, Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, 1/180 @ f/4
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, 1/160 @ f/4
Pentax K-3, 16-50mm, ISO 1600, 1/250 @ f/3.2
Magy Gomez, Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm, ISO 1600, 1/320 @ f/4
Dener Zacarias, Pentax K-3, 16-50mm, ISO 1600, 1/200 @ f/3.2
unidentified boy, Pentax K-3, 16-50mm, ISO 1600, 1/160 @ f/3.2

Monday, January 20, 2014

New Line of Manfrotto Bags- Part 1

For the last few months I've had the opportunity to use and test a number of the new bags in the Manfrotto Professional Collection. I've been a very happy user of Kata bags for many years now and I was a bit skeptical about finding anything that made me want to switch. After using these new bags for a while, I can honestly say that, although they may not make me get rid of all my Kata bags, they are a worthy addition to my inventory.

Finding the right bag is a pretty personal choice. You need to find a balance between what is the perfect size for what you need to carry, what has the features you need, and what feels the best on your back or shoulder. I'm happy to report that these new bags come through on all these accounts.

First the backpacks.
Manfrotto Professional Backpack 20

These packs look a little different than a lot of similar packs- they have a more geometric outline. This is because the outer skin is reinforced with a semi-rigid material. It's not a hard bag like a Pelican, but it offers a ton of protection against the impact of any hard or sharp object.

In most ways, they're what one expects from a quality bag. They have well padded shoulder straps and backs and multiple padded inserts that attach with Velcro.
Manfrotto Professional Backpack 20

Manfrotto Professional Backpack 20
These packs are comfortable and have plenty of zippered compartments, inside and out. On a non-shooting trip recently, I pulled all the inserts out and found it to be an efficient briefcase/backpack. It held my 15 inch Macbook Pro in the slot in back easily.
Manfrotto Professional Backpack 20
Where these packs really excel for me is in a few details. First, they have quick release straps that serve as a back-up to the zippers. For those of us who routinely over stuff our packs this is a well considered and necessary feature to ensure the bag stays closed in case of a blown zipper.
Manfrotto Professional Backpack 20
Secondly, it has the tripod pocket built in. This may seem minor, but if you're like me, you don't carry a tripod all the time and when you do you have to find the pocket (sometimes a pain) and then put it on the pack to use it. Having it integral to the pack is a very nice touch. By the way, notice the little plastic feet on the bottom. These make the bag sit upright and not fall over.
Manfrotto Professional Backpack 20

Manfrotto Professional Backpack 20
The last detail I want to tell you about is so small you might miss it. Waist straps have to be long enough to accommodate a wide range of body types. Some people (me for instance) almost never use them at all except when carrying a large, heavy load. When you're not using them or if you're relatively slender, these straps are long and hang down, way down. Manfrotto has had the good judgement to include little Velcro straps that allow you to roll them up and keep them out of the way. I really like this.
Manfrotto Professional Backpack 20
These new packs come in three sizes- the 20, the 30, and the 50. I'll probably use the 20 most often since I've lately been shooting a lot with the Fuji X system. These cameras are smaller and lighter than my Nikons and the body, several lenses, and various accessories is held easily with the bag. The largest one, the 50 is big enough for me to use when I'm doing "Studio in a Backpack" shoots. The 50 is a bit smaller than the Kata backpacks I used to use for these shoots, but between smaller cameras and the smaller and lighter Elinchrom Quadra Hybrid strobes, the 50 is just fine. Its large, padded waist belt is very sturdy and helps enormously when I have to carry this heavy load.

My final verdict? If the size of one of these three backpacks is right for you, I really don't think there's any downside. They're well-built, have great features, and are priced right- not cheap, but competively. Now, they don't have twenty different sizes like some other brands, but if the size works for you, you should definitely take a look.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

#16 from Out on Buford Highway

Back in November, I posted about Pollo Norteno. I hadn't eaten there yet, but now I have. I'm happy to report that it's very good. I got a whole grilled chicken and beans and rice take out. I don't think the flavors of the chicken are earth-shatteringly original, but it was delicious, moist, and a lot of food for the money. For about $20, there was enough for Andrea and me to eat two dinners and a lunch- excellent value. The refried beans and rice were also very good. I recommend it.

One more addition- I ate lunch here recently and it was an incredible bargain. For $5.99 I got a drink, chips and salsa, two pieces of chicken, and refried beans and rice. That's a meal deal!
Pentax K-3, 16-50mm, ISO 400, 1/60 @ f/5.0
Fuji X-E1, 18-55mm, ISO 200, 1/20 @ f/4