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Posts Tagged ‘Buffalo’

But I really enjoy  wildlife photography. You’re at the whim of nature. If a possum wants to walk up to you and act like you’re not there, it’s going to. If Vultures want you to fear for your life and circle above, they’re sure going to do so.

I spent Easter alone with my camera, so I went to Iroquois Wildlife Refuge. The refuge sits about 40 miles east of Buffalo on Rt. 77. The refuge is good stomping grounds for a few dozen species of birds and who knows what else. Here’s a few shots from the voyage:

I’m especially proud of the last shot, the Swallow (I’m pretty sure it’s a Swallow). They fly in unpredictable patterns and can change direction in a split second. Even with my 7d shooting in burst mode it’s very difficult to stay with them. I’m was quite ecstatic when I got back to the office and found that I shot a pretty focused shot of one.

I’m happy with the shots, but they’re nothing compared to a true master of wildlife photography. Moose Peterson is someone I’ve been following online for quite sometime and he is the guy you think of when you think of wildlife photography in the US. I’m sorry to those Norwegian wildlife photographers I may have offended with that statement, I just don’t know your work yet. Check out Moose’s site, it’s an invaluable resource for wildlife photographers.

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I’m obsessed with the  the Buffalo Central Terminal. If you’re unfamiliar with the Central Terminal, check out its history. The building is only eighty-one years old, but looking at it you’d think the building had been through a major war or ruins from the middle ages. The Central Terminal is a true testament on how we our society simply gives up on things we don’t like anymore. All this talk about high-speed rail in New York has brought a surge in discussion about restoring the central terminal to its old glory. Hypothetically, that would be great. It saddens me to see such a, once, prodominent structure simply rotting into the ground. Realistically though, the Central Terminal will not become a hub for hi-speed rail. That isn’t meant to be a dig at the great people and organizations trying to restore the structure, but its the sad truth.

Our neighborhoods, especially around the Central Terminal area, have been so neglected that there is no infrastructure in place to support it. Central Terminal now sits in the middle of a depressed residential neighborhood with one gas station and the occasional bodega. The streets are littered with pot-holes, homes are boarded up and the American dream abandoned. It’s easy for us to say that we can simply, with unlimited government funding, restore the Central Terminal and the surrounding area. Is it an achievable dream or just an idea that we’re floating around. The Central Terminal was being dismantled in the late 1960’s to save on cost, and in the 1980’s the terminal was placed on the State and National Historic Places registry, thus disallowing it to be torn down. So with all that, the Central Terminal sit.

While it seems unforeseeable that the terminal will see active rail transportation again, I think we should allow nature to continue to overtake the grounds. The Central Terminal now is a nesting place for several species of migrating birds and other small animals. Because humans have built and neglected magnificence, nature has found a way and embraced our poor decisions.

Here’s an example of what has become of the Central Terminal:

I feel that we had our chance to enjoy what we built. Our leaders in the past made a choice to allow this magnificent structure enter an era of decay. We allowed them to let it rot, much like other aspects of our society that we hand over to our leaders to ruin. While we can try to restore what we neglected, nature stepped in for us and is embracing our urban ruins. I think because nature found a way, we should allow it to thrive and perhaps that can be a model for tourism. The Central Terminal Urban Forest could be a future tourist attraction that the terminals governing body could capitalize on. I think because we live in a neglect, teardown and rebuild society, we over look opportunities to use what we have.

I, of course, hope for brighter days for the Central Terminal. Would it be glorious to see the terminal once again used for its original intention? Yes. But, unfortunately politics and hope for change and high-speed rail will plague the Central Terminal area as long as it’s being printed in the papers. Thus, we should embrace the terminal as is as a monument for our society, and perhaps a reminder to not let our treasures suffer the same fate.

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No, it wasn’t me who danced. Are you kidding? I haven’t danced since I was three, and even then it was just to win a beauty pagent. The past is the past.

Over the weekend, the dance company I work for had their home season premiere in Buffalo. They performed a stellar show that recieved a great review in the Buffalo news and performed in front of two sell out audiences. But what is really important here? The photo’s, here’s a few samples then I’ll ramble

Okay, first things first: There’s no photoshopping. You’ll likely think I’m full of it, especially with the image of Marideth jumping in front of the red cyc. They are merely imported into Lightroom and minor exposure and recovery adjustments and thats it, export out. That’s one of the beautiful things about stage lighting, and why I prefer it to a studio, the possibilities are unfathomable. You’re able to create moods on the fly that would take you hours in a studio or even more hours in photoshop.

These are also live run-through shots. By that I mean, I didn’t pose them, the choreographer and I didn’t say “Manny get on Matt’s back and fly like a bat.” While they were performing the run through I was on stage in the orchestra pit firing shots off while they were running as if it were a performance. It takes a lot of patience to shoot this way. One of the biggest issues is that because they are performing and a lighting cue may be dark, you’re shooting a slower shutter speed and will likely get a blurry shot, which is unusable in the dance photography world. Fortunately, and this is another reason to shoot in raw, even though your meter reading for stage will generally read 1/20-1/40, you’ll need to shoot in the upper 1/80-1/120 range to get a crisp shot. While it will be under exposed if you’re shooting raw you’ll be able to adjust the exposure without any artifacts popping up in your image.

For shooting on stages you’re going to need more light than what is likely cued for the show. By that I mean I was working with cues from the actually show that they were running through. You’ll need to speak with the Lighting or production to to have them bump the lights up a tad so you’re not in the dark. For the above photo’s I didn’t have to because I was right up on stage with them and a mere 8 feet from them. If you have the ability to be on the stage while there dancing I suggest using a wider lens. For the above shots I switched between a 17-55m and a 28-135mm (yes the new one). The bottom shot of Manny on Matt’s back is one of those lucky shots that I was just fortunate to get, erm…I mean, I totally planned it and knew what I was doing. I was in the lighting booth during the actual performance and was firing shots during that piece (and running the video camera at the same time). I was shooting with my 75-300mm and I knew it was a very white lit piece so I would be able to be that far away and shoot at a decent speed to get what I needed. However not all the pieces are like that so I the rest of the show I just focused on video.

One last tip for shooting dance in general, spend time with the company you’re working for/with. You’d imagine I was just firing my camera in burst mode but actually most of those were done with one shot, sometimes two. I’ve spent a year working with this company and have gotten very aware of their pieces and the timing of everything. I’ve learned that shooting in burst mode for dance (unless you have a high end d-slr that shoots 30 frame bursts) it’s best to just get a feel for the piece and fire once to try and get your shot.

That’s all for now, I need to get inspired to go out and shoot…still working on it

-Nb

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The following is part of a longterm photo-essay/installation I’m working on:

“For hours I wandered around this graveyard of, what seemed, modern civilization. Amoung the weeds were remains of children’s toys, kitchen sinks, matresses; as if civilized life just ended.”

“The air was quite, except for the crunch of dead weeds beneth my shoes. You couldn’t hear traffic, see planes overhead, or hear fire engines rushing to a scene. It was quiet, a type of quiet I hadn’t experience before. So quiet, in fact, you would have never guessed I was two miles from downtown Buffalo.”

The above was an excerpt from a photo-essay I’m working on about urban decay in the once prominent “City of Light, Buffalo New York.” It may appear that I’m bashing the city, but I truely love this town. But it can’t be denied that a city that was one the queen city of the east is now a grim shadow of itself. The purpose of the essay is to compare the urban decay of an “industrialized” city to a city like Chernobyl (the site of the infamous nuclear reactor meltdown in the mid 1980’s). The goal of the project is to make aware that instead of letting buildings decay in the community because rich people want to do something else with it, they could be used for other projects (such as housing for the homeless).

-Nb

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I would imagine this would be an unspoken rule for photographers, but you’rd be surprised. Many who I talk to give me excuses like “oh, it get’s int he way, and I dont want to lug it around, and when I bring it I never use it, yada yada yada.” To that I simply shake my head and wag my finger and say “naughty photographer” as if I were talking to my puppy after he relieved himself on my rug (that rug really ties the room together).

I’m not suggesting you bring every lens, and every camera body, and every camera gadget you own, but you should always have some sort of camera with you. This is why:

Because you never know when you’re going to come across one of the biggest fires of the year in your city. Here’s the background story: I’m driving on the I190 westbound heading home from the north towns. For those who read this who aren’t familiar with Buffalo. The I190 runs along the Niagara River and eventually connects to the NYS Thruway, thus if you ride along the I190 you wrap around the entire city of Buffalo, passing completely by it without having to stop and enjoy the sites (great planning by the way NYS…). I’m driving back into the Downtown area of Buffalo, about 4 miles from the actual downtown when I see a massive plume of smoke fill the air. Naturally I do the smartest thing I can think of; speed up to 70mph, drive with one hand on the wheel, reach in the back and pull my camera back up to the front seat and begin to assemble my gear. Luckily there was very heavy traffic and I swerved in and out of it as if I was playing Nascar on an Xbox. Now all of us who to photojournalism have done what I just described, so don’t judge me, however I don’t reccomend do it; it’s not safe at all.

I followed the smoke trail and determined where to get off the highway and get close. Luckily I know the area it was in because I had a gallery show in an old abandoned engine building factory this past may and the fire was about a block from it (that’s one of the nice things about Buffalo is they convert the most interesting buildings into galleries). The fire occured earlier in the day and the Buffalo Fire Department thought it was under controll, but then it re-ignited and became a full scall four alarm incident, lucky for my I got there before the rest of the departments could, so I got a GREAT parking space about a block away.

I started walking towards the scene, and a Buffalo Police officer kindly and gently yelled at me: “What the *expletive* are you doing” And naturally, without a thought or a care, I apparently was: “With the Syracuse Times, seems like your little fire is making state attention, mind if I go shoot over there.” He then said I missed the good stuff and he felt bad that I drove from Syracuse to shoot a fire that was pretty much out so he obliged. Keep in mind, there is no Syracuse Times, Theres a Syracuse Post, but no Times. Luckily he didn’t ask for press credentials otherwise I’d prolly still be serving time.

I snapped away and what looked like an army of firemen preparing to battle this thing. The smoke was thick, and as I would find out that night, quite toxic. I was somewhat overly uppity because no other press was there, which I’ll get to that reason later.  As I said I knew the area fairly well and I knew the building on fire was by the railroad tracks that ran along the I-190, and I knew there was a little gravel path by where I parked that could get me down there. I started to head back in the direction of the path, and I’m noticing a heavier police presesnce and they don’t look happy about alot of things. I tried to sneak down the path and they yelled towards me, I stopped and turned and as they started to approach the three Buffalo news vans all arrived at the same time trying to get as close as possible. Naturally the police were distracted and turned back to the street where the vans were, so naturally I did the next best thing, I bolted down the path to the rail tracks.

Low and behold, like I assumed the fire was just a little ways up the tracks that were flooded with water coming from the scene. I don’t think I will ever get as close to a news event as I did the Niagara Street fire, which is why I will always treasure these photos. I was maybe, at most, 50 feet from the building standing next to firemen as they rotated in and out of the blaze.

For about two hours I stood there with the firemen by the tracks. I was speaking to one of them, as I asked if they didn’t mind me being there and they said if I went through the trouble of getting that close I deserved to get the shots, so I hung around until i used up the 3, 2gb cf cards I had on me (shooting raw naturally) and then headed back to my car. As I go back to my car I had to walk past all the TV media that was there and they were quite vocal about how “that photographer got to go down that, what the hell officer.” They just had to blow my spot didn’t they?

I only had one 1gb cf card in my car, so I grabbed it and tried to go back in the front of the building like I had orginally started. Now this is where my ignorance kicked in. I thought I could just waltz right by the police and they wouldn’t mind at all. Well, as it turns out, they REALLY hate it when people do that. So they let me get to just about 20 feet from where I wanted to shoot and sent a police car down the block after me. The officer pulled up on the curb and got out screaming his head off at me about how I should be arrested and told me to put my gear down and all that jazz we’ve all been through. In the end, he let me take one frame and leave.

I didn’t feel like pressing my luck anymore so I left the scene of the fire and went home to develop my shots in Lightroom.  So what’s the moral of our little story? I would have been kicking myself to this day if I didn’t have my gear with me, and what I had wasn’t even that much; two lenses 4 CF cards and a body. So before that day I usually always carried my camer, and every day after this event I’ve carried it; and since this fire I haven’t had to use it for any newsworthy stories. Which in many ways is a good thing, but you know photographers, they always want something to happen so they can get ‘the shot’.

That’s all she wrote for now, working on a little photo-essay to share later this weekend. Until then,

-Nb

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It was like Christmas in the Benson apartment yesterday. I eagerly awaited for the fine people at UPS to drop off my package consisting of my new Canon EF 28-135 and Phoenix 2x teleconverter for Canon. I will get to the teleconverter another day after I have more time to use it.

So, like a kid in the toy aisle of Target, I ripped open the packaging to inspect the lens. Now a little backstory about where I purchased it. Normally I either buy from B&H or Amazon; both sites had the lens listing at around $415. This time around I decided to look at eBay. I’ve heard quite a few horror stories from ordering form eBay but I found a price I couldn’t pass up. I picked up the lens from the Cameta Camera eBay story for the buy it now price of $319.00, and being that my funding isn’t unlimited I gave it a try. Everything worked out, and I got the lens in a timely manner and thus far  seems AOK.

So down to the part that matters, the glass. Here’s the dirt,

The lens has a focal length of 28-135, aperture f3.5/5.6 – f36, close focus distance of 1.64ft and weight of 540g. It’s not an incredibly heavy lens, but after a night of shooting I did feel the strain in my forearm (although I haven’t been to the gym in a couple weeks so that could be why).

Right out of the box and attached to the camera I was quite impressed with how quietly the lens focuses. Compared to my other glass, the 28-135mm is the quietest, to the extent you can’t hear it unless you’re really trying. From what I’ve read elsewhere, this is atributed because of Canon’s ultrasonic system in their mid-range, high-end lenses. This lens also features an image stabilizer, which does quite a good job. I snapped a shot in my kitchen at iso 400, 1/8sec, f5.6 and the image came out clear. I won’t post it because I didn’t do the dishes and it would be embarrasing for all of you to see my kitchen in disarray. Now on to the field test:

This is from my back yard, I’m not really sure whose bikes they are because they’ve been in that exact spot for 10 months. At any rate, this one is 1/400sec at f5.6, iso 400.  It was around 5:30pm so I likely didn’t need the higher iso. While its not the best picture in the world, it does have an interesting array of colors and the lens distinguishes them quite nicely. There is no photoshopping in this, just imported into Lightroom to load onto the web. The image is quite sharp as well, especially around the rim of the bik on the left. If I were to take the same picture with another of my lenses, I would likely have to do a little sharpening in Lightroom.

Now on the opposite side of the ice caps, this is a 65sec exposure @ f22, iso 100. Again, no photoshopping, just an import and export into lightroom with no corrections. Again, I’m impressed with how sharp it looks without any corrections, at first glance you would assume it went through the rounds in Photoshop.

This shot shows the macro ability of the lens, without any macro add-ons or resampling in photoshop. I was standing about 3 feet back, and was racked out to 135mm for this shot of a spider in my  yard having dinner. 1/40 sec @ f5.6, iso 200. This is a handheld shot, so again this is where the image stabilizer comes into play. Generally at 1/40sec you can get a clear shot if you’re still enough. I wasn’t in the best position for this, in fact I was quite lazy; I was hunched over bent in an awkward angle. I know for a fact I was a little shakey, so I was impressed that the image came out sharp, especially along the webbing.

Another example of the macro abilities of the lens. I was sitting at our plastic patio furniture and just got off the phone and noticed the reflection of the trees on the back of my iPhone. I leaned back a bit and racked the lens to 135mm. What’s really interesting (to me at least) is I shot this at 1/15sec @ 5.6, iso 100 and handheld, thus alot of room for error. And yet the image stabilizer kicked right in and produced a rather crisp.

More of my test shots can be found her. Luckily the week is winding down so over the weekend I can shoot a more extensive test. But overall I would highly reccomend this lens for anyone shooting Canon. It offers a good focal length, its virtually silent when focusing and produces a very crisp image under several conditions. I wish it were a bit faster, some where in the aperture value of f2. I’m pretty sure Canon offers that, just at a higher cost. All in all this is a must buy.

That’s all I have for now, to see the rest of my test shots from the Canon EF 28-135mm visit here

Take care, happy shooting.

-Nb

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Labor Day

Just a quickie, the Mrs. and I spent Labor Day weekend floating around the Buffalo Area. Actually we did the tourism thing. On Sunday we headed to the Southtowns to a small piece of land called East Otto, home of the Griffis Sculpture park. It’s basically a 400 acre hiking trail with sculptures from various artists distributed throughout the park. It’s kinda surreal and weird at the same time. At first you think this is a great thing, to just have art in the middle of nowhere-town NY. But then you walk through it and you can’t help but think you’re on the set of a 70’s low-budget horror film; especially when you get to the point on the trail where a bunch of sculpted heads are mounted on bronze sticks.

Monday we needed something a little more chill, so we did the tourist thing and headed to the American side of the Falls. I’ve been to the Canadian side a dozen or more times but never explored the American side. I must say I enjoy the American side better, its calmer, less conjested, and more organic.

Here’s is just a few shots. The rest can be found here

P.S. I got some new glass in the mail yesterday, I will be reviewing it and giving my feeling on it. So far so good, till’ tomorrow.

-NB

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