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

Friday, January 3, 2014

Back to Buford Highway (#15)

It's been exactly one month since I last posted, but I think most will forgive me if I plead "The Holidays". It's been a blur with all three of my kids and two of their significant others in Atlanta to spend Christmas with Andrea and me. Eating, drinking, and great good cheer were the order of the day(s).

But, I'm back with more pictures from Out on Buford Highway. I'm going to start with additional pictures from two of the restaurants I've already posted about and then add more new ones. Please check back here often or sign up to follow it via e-mail to stay current.

First, is a return to Ming's BBQ. They call themselves a "Peking Duck house". They serve a range of food, but duck is their specialty and it deserves to be. If you go for dinner, remember that they don't have a liquor license.
Wole Doherty, Nikon D600, 20-35mm, ISO 1600, 1/125 @ f/5.6

Juan Qin, Nikon D600, 20-35mm, ISO 1600, 1/125 @ f/4