17 September 2014

My Photography

I love photography

When I was a rock climber it took me years before I would title myself as such to others. Even long after I had climbed El Capitan and some other very difficult climbs; I found it hard to proclaim "I am a rock climber." But I have noticed lately that I have no problem telling people "I am a photographer." I think it may be because being a photographer is not bragging or over-stating accomplishments. Being a photographer is a way of looking at the world.

I have looked at the world with an artist's eye for as long as I can remember.

To see the world in frame, sensitive to light and composition seems to be the way my brain organizes stimuli. It's not just that I want to hold time as I experienced it, I need to see beauty. I am so sensitive to ugliness that I intentionally tunnel my vision when I am in particularly ugly places, like freeway interchanges. It is true. The only real pain I experience when riding a bike is when I have to pedal through ugliness.

I started taking pictures at a young age, filling photo albums and boxes, always happy if I had a camera in hand, just in case something caught me eye. My shots are not about look at me, but more about me looking at. Did you know I do not have any of my own photography in print around my house (in a house very full of artwork)? Most of my photography resides in a great big file cabinet inside my head. I can remember almost every photo I have taken, the place and year.

After friends (thanks Anthony!) asked if I collect my photos into albums for viewing, I decided to scratch off an item that has been on my to-do list for, oh, about three years - create a photography website. So I am doing it, as in, in the process of doing it. I figure if I spend six hours a week, I may have it complete in a year and a half. That's a lot of photos.

Ironically, just as I began this big project, I fearfully dragged myself into the ophthalmologist's office for an eye exam. I had been experiencing blurred vision in my right eye. Sure enough I have some vision loss in both, but more so in the right eye, which needs further testing by a specialist. Bummer. Strange, and sad, to be an individual so sensitive to beauty and be experiencing difficulty seeing beauty.

I look through my camera with my right eye. Photography treats me to capturing the world as I see it. In a way, it records my uniqueness. I now have new solid motivation to share my photography and get this website organized. Perhaps others will enjoy the beauty as I have.

The inside scoop on my photography

Sharing tips on how and what I am using these days for my travel and sports photography.


I am a mac user, but rely heavily on external hard drives for photo storage. I use a specific one for travel, not wanting to risk loosing or damaging the other portable hard drives. I also use cloud storage, but photos can overwhelm that type of storage very quickly. A photo card reader rapidly uploads pictures directly onto the external hard drive from my photo card.


I like Lightroom for photo editing and file management. It allows me to advance through and edit photos very quickly. There is so much to this software that I could take a year learning all its possibilities (but then that is what tutorials or Youtube are for). With some simple keystrokes I can select and edit. Lightroom also offers good file labeling, with very fast uploads of fully edited versions back to my hard drive or directly into Zenfolio.

Zenfolio displays my photographs in a style that appeals to me, it is not only the look, but the layout and file management behind the scenes that I like so much. Uploads are very rapid, instructions helpful. I tried to use smugmug but I could not achieve the layers of slideshows, group, galleries, and unique pages that Zenfolio offers, plus I didn't want to look like everyone else. On Zenfolio the set up was quick, with many more features yet to be discovered.

I don't do Instagram, I sometimes do Twitter. One can only spend so much time on social media, and with pressure to have hundreds/thousands of followers on all sites, it is just too much for me personally. I'd rather be out living it. I remain a blogger. 

Photo Equipment:

I use Sony and Pentax products (although I am a believer in Canon as well). The end product is not all about the size of the camera, it is about buying the right camera for your purpose. My purpose is travel and action sport. I need portability, zoomability, ease of use, beauty in results, moderate cost. My Sony and Pentax cameras offer high resolution and beautiful images.

My choice of small camera for travel and cycling jersey pocket: Sony Cyber-shot Digital Camera (there are various models in the series depending on your price point and desired features.) or Sony Nex series of product.  My camera has a good zoom and wi-fi connectivity. Don't dismiss these small cameras, they take fabulous travel pictures and are so convenient to carry, you wont go without, fearing the excess weight. Interchangeable Lens Cameras (ILC) are also an excellent option for achieving crystal clear images in a small package.

My choice of large DSLR camera for races and travel: Pentax K5. I have been a Pentax user for years because I love the soft pretty quality for travel and landscape. If you want good quality, less cost and a larger selection of lenses, I might go for a Canon camera set-up. My friends who use Canons achieve great results. Nikons - you better be pro to get beauty. I use a variety of lenses and filters on my Pentax for travel and sport, the lenses are: Pentax SMC-DA 50-135mm f/2.8 ED SDM LENS, Pentax 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DA ED AL (IF) ZM LN, Pentax SMCP-FA 43MM F/1.9 LIMITED SERIES AUTO (my favorite), Pentax Wide Angle 35mm f/2.0 SMCP-FA AL Autofocus Lens. I steer away from finish line photos, I would need this and $3400.

iphone: hey you can't deny the ease of an iphone for in the moment shots. But the way I snap photos, it barks at me far too often for "not enough storage". Still my brother only travels with his T-mobile camera phone, and sends home amazing photos from afar. For me, the iphone remains the easiest way to get photos up on Twitter fast, resulting in fun behind the scenes photos at races or photos from the road.

I prefer the PNY Technologies 32GB Elite Performance SDHC Class 10 Memory Card. Always format a memory card on your camera, and always have two or more camera batteries (charged!).

Pedal Dancer Photography

This is my new photography website - in the works - pedaldancerphotography.com

I don't have a lot of photos added yet, but you can see some of the initial images in my Best Of gallery here http://www.pedaldancerphotography.com/homepagegallery.

Here is a recent photo where I utilized all of the above hardware, software and equipment together with my Pentax K5. Capturing the call up at a pro bike race with my Pentax and Lightroom:

please click on any image to enlarge

When I want to capture totally natural color, zoom in action in sports and get the photos out fast, I want a fast zoom lens with little (to no) editing necessary after snapping the shot. This photo was taken from a distance with my Pentax K5 and the SMC-DA 50-135mm f/2.8 lens.

When I use the fixed 43mm lens I never have to do any cropping or adjusting. This lens takes fast up-close photos. It captures the feeling of how a fan watches a race. I like the Pentax SMCP-FA 43MM F/1.9 LIMITED SERIES AUTO lens for stage starts, sign-ins and cyclocross races.

When I am traveling as a tourist and want freedom to compose the frame how I best see it, I use my standard lens with flexibility - Pentax 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 DA ED AL (IF) ZM LN.

Here is a shot with the small Sony point and shoot. See how it compares to the larger Pentax K5 photo above. There is no reason not to bring a good (but small) camera with you on your next bike ride.

Cycling in France, and stopping to capture the scenery I rode through with my Sony camera. I can stand on the road and see what I am capturing with an adjustable zoom far better than a camera phone for exactness.

Would you believe this amount of detail was captured using the Sony Cyber-Shot point in shoot. There is no real need to carry a big camera bag around Florence, Italy.

iphone cameras can create interesting effects and still provide good memories of your travels.

Manhattan by night in a boat with a camera phone. The memories are just as bright, even without high resolution.