Monday, November 30, 2015


With the corporate marketing machine in its highest gear of the season, and it being "Cyber Monday," now might be a good time for me to make a plea to all parents and pet owners out there...

Get yourself a good camera! Your kids and pets are adorable, but you're preserving their life-long images on grainy, out-of-focus mobile phone cameras. Sure, mobile phone cameras are convenient, instant, and compared to no photo at all, a good alternative, but they are no match for the picture quality even an entry-level DSLR or midrange point-and-shoot (though I highly recommend the former).

Nikon D3200's and Canon EOS Rebel T5's dominate the holiday market and are great entry-level DSLRs. Right now they can be had for the best prices of the season. One of the things I enjoy about being a photo gear enthusiast is NOT buying the latest technology. Digital photographers are fickle and sell last year's gear for deep discounts. I still enjoy shooting with Nikon's 2006 model D40. So much so that I've considered buying them up and storing them in the closet. When I break, lose, or one wears out, I'll just grab another. It's a simple camera that's easy to use, but with enough features that if I want to get a little creative, I can do that too. (They're selling with lenses for between $150 and $200 on ebay.)

I also own a Nikon Coolpix AW100 point-and-shoot. Cropped to 100%, one can see some digital aberrations, but for the most part, it takes remarkable photos in a waterproof and nearly indestructible body.

Here's a deal that's really got my attention: on Olympus's website, they're selling a OM-D E-M10 with two lenses for $499.98. That's a CRAZY deal. I've looked at this rig before and frequently seen it well over $600 with one lens. Plus it's got wi-fi, so you can snap with the E-M10 and move these pictures over to your mobile for instant sharing.  This sale ends tonight. There likely will be another good one to follow, but if you're interested, I'd suggest snapping up this deal.

I've got no skin in the game suggesting you spend your hard-earned cash with these big Japanese corporations, but it's something I've considered often... the  preservation of my friends' and family's precious moments to flat, lifeless mobile camera photographs. Going into the holiday season, there's no better time to invest in an advanced camera. By Christmas, with a little practice, you'll be ready to take great pictures of your loved ones and your in-laws. (I kid! I kid!)

Do it! You'll thank me later!!

(Inset picture: my great-nephew, Graeme, taken with my D40 and Nikkor's 35mm f/1.8G lens--a good lens for shooting in low-light conditions. I'll also admit it's not the best I could do, but with 2-year olds, they don't sit still and you gotta be quick!)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Misguided Expectations?

After reading the U.S.'s, Great Britain's and Australian's State Department advisories, I recently declined traveling to Beirut, Lebanon to attend a meeting at a potential business partner's. All reports, condensed, said something like "DON'T GO."

Now what would be your thoughts to flying to Beirut and then traveling by car for about an hour roughly towards Syrian border? You'd probably conclude with the State Department's advisory. ISIS, Hezbollah, and captured western journalists in orange jumpsuits kneeling before a scarfed savage wielding a large blade would come to mind.

Those are the visions that came to mine. I know Lebanon has been mostly at peace for the last 10 years, but it's not that big and ISIS has made some inroads into this small country.

But then I saw our business partner's New Year's video on YouTube. And wow. Just... wow. It's nothing like I could have imagined. This is Lebanon? I know the journey would still be fraught with hazard. After all, I'm an American, but I'm kind of bummed that I declined this trip. Looks like it might have been fun!

Not what you thought an hour out of Beirut, Lebanon would look like, is it?

This is why I love international travel. Getting out and seeing how people live firsthand and not through the lens of the media. That said, I do recognize that precautions must be exercised and there are some places where we are just not welcome, but I may have been misguided by reports on Lebanon.