January Phone Shots

I wanted to keep up with my blog a bit more this year, so here is yet another post already in 2016. I have been shooting with my phone a lot lately, so that’s all today is. Enjoy the shots, and feel free to check out these shots and more at my flickr page.

I love the Hipstamatic app, and I have sung its praises in the past. It’s what I shoot with at least 90% of the time on my phone.

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Wrapping up 2015, Part Deux

I posted yesterday and said that I was splitting my end-of-2015 blog into two separate posts, one for shots I took with a “proper” camera, and one of shots taken with my cell phone. This is part two–and if you like what you see, by all means go back and check out part one–of that promised post. Feel free to leave a comment down below or pass the link along to your friends/followers if you think they would enjoy some of the images.

Without further ado, here are the images:


Wrapping Up 2015

This has been a down year for my blog. WordPress informed me that I only blogged five times during 2015, and still amassed more than 20,000 visits somehow. Even though that number is down considerably from my peak two years ago, I’m happy people still managed to enjoy my blog.

I have been taking fewer photographs this year; I’m not sure why. Sometimes I think it’s because I started a new job, or because I’ve been too busy with life. Ultimately, I think it’s because I’ve chosen to invest the spare time I have into other things increasingly. Do I enjoy taking photographs less than I used to? Is this temporary, or is it a shift in my interests going forward? That I don’t know. I find myself carrying my dedicated cameras less–I never used to leave the house without one–and find myself reaching for one I’ve brought along even less. I end up taking a larger percentage of pictures with my phone, but fewer overall. Ultimately, I love photography and I love taking pictures. My number one subject for the past ten years–my son, who is almost 11 years old now–is less interested in being photographed anymore. Or is it me who is less interested in chasing down pictures of him? I’m largely thinking as I type here; I don’t have the answers to these questions.

And so, I’ve decided to divide my now-traditional end of year blog post into two distinct categories: one of mobile phone shots, and one of shots taken with my “proper” cameras.

(On the subject of cameras: I have bought and sold almost no camera gear this year. I have said in the past I have less and less interest in equipment, and that has never rung more true for me than this year.)

So today’s post will be the shots that I took with my cameras, and the final one for the year will be my favorite shots that I took with my mobile phone. I hope you enjoy, and comments are always welcome!

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Orlando in July


As you might have guessed from the title of this post, I recently spent a week in Orlando with my family. A family vacation was a long time coming, and we wanted to visit my grandparents (who relocated to Orlando several years ago to escape the winters), and take advantage of being there to visit the Universal Studios Harry Potter world–both my wife and my son are big, big Harry Potter fans.

I have spent summers in Florida previously, so I was not unaware of the heat. However, my previous trips brought me to the Gulf Coast, which is considerably cooler than the interior of the state. This is a lesson I would learn in the days I spent in Orlando.

I did write a previous entry about this trip to Orlando, which I titled a “Travel Journal”…you can see the post here, and the flickr set here.


The heat is oppressive. In the days we were there, the daily heat index fluctuated between 110-118 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s really hot. We went to Universal Studios the first two days of our trip, and it was enjoyable, despite the heat; the park is really well done, with a lot of attention to detail ensuring that every nook and cranny holds something that Potter-ites will point out and enjoy. The HP section of Universal studios is divided into two sections: Hogshead and Diagon Alley, and you can read more about it here. I would say that if you’re into HP at all, you should go. It is hot and crowded and expensive, but you only live once, right?

Welcome to Universal Studios

HP World



At this point, you’re probably wondering if there was anyone at the park. Yes, in fact, there were plenty of people. It was incredibly crowded, but as my wife always tells me, I have a way of photographing loneliness–even where it doesn’t necessarily seem to exist. But as you can see by the cars in the parking lot, it was full of people. As a matter of fact, in the photography below there are two people.


During our time in Orlando, we also managed to see other things. We went hiking, which despite our efforts to get out early in the morning, left us pretty drained. Still, we wanted to enjoy some of the state parks that the area has to offer. And enjoy them we did, until it got too hot; then we went back inside where it’s cool. We also enjoyed some of the coast, the Kennedy Space Center, and time with family. All in all it was a great trip!

Sweaty Kid

On the camera-geek side of things, this was the final trip for my Olympus EM1. After using it as the main camera all week, I found it lacking a few times, and sold it with all my lenses upon return. I kept the Ricoh GR, which also made the trip; that camera proves time and time again how good it is at what it aims to do. I’ll be continuing with the Sony A7ii that I bought earlier this summer. Ultimately, I didn’t find a place for the EM1 next to my A7ii, GR, and X100T.

Here are some other photographs from the trip. I hope you enjoy. Feedback is always appreciated. The full set of images from the trip can be seen here.



Atlantic Coast, Canaveral National Seashore

San Antonio

Big Hops

I recently spent a weekend visiting a friend in San Antonio, Texas. It was a short trip, designed primarily to catch up with an old friend who I hadn’t seen in almost two years; it was scheduled around a soccer game.

I am a season ticket holder for the local soccer team, Minnesota United FC, and my friend is a fan of his local side, the San Antonio Scorpions. We attended the game, and I was excited as it was my first away game I’d ever been to. On both my initial and my return flight, the team was on my plane. It was pretty exciting to get to meet the players, chat with them as we flew, and take some pictures. It really made me feel like a part of the trip.

The game was a success–MN United FC won the game–and the trip as a whole was a blast. I am excited to go back again! Having lived in San Antonio for a few years myself, seeing places I hadn’t seen in almost a decade was interesting; some things have changed, much has not.



It was also the first time I had a chance to use the brand new Fuji X100T that I upgraded to from the X100S, and I enjoyed using it by and large. It’s not a huge step up from the older models (both of which I’ve owned–I’m a big fan of the X100 series). It handles largely like the older models do, and unless you’ve used the others extensively, you would not immediately notice the changes.


Smoke Break

Don’t Stop

Toyota Field




Travel Journal: Florida 2015

Having just returned from a week in Orlando, Florida, I have a lot of photographs to go through from my various cameras. However, on a few of my trips over the years I have done what I consider a travel journal. I take pictures on my phone each day and upload them to Flickr for friends and family to follow along as I navigate my trip each day.

Here is my journal from Portugal in 2012 (the first time I did the travel journal concept), which you can go through if you’re so inclined.

Generally, when taking photos with my phone, I have a strong preference for the Hipstamatic app, which I have mentioned before. I find the combination of films and lenses to be a lot of fun to use, and I have always been drawn to the square format since I got my first medium format camera (an old Mamiya C220).

Below are a few more shots from the album, and the full set is here if you want to check that out.


I went from not having reviewed a camera in ages to having done two in a row.

In my last post, I waxed romantically about how I no longer care about gear so much. I talked about the real limitations we face–creative limitations, not those imposed by what camera we use–and how familiarity with a camera can yield great results. I also said I don’t take pictures of cameras anymore; I just don’t see the point. There is no longer a steady stream of cameras and lenses in and out of my life, and the U.S. Postal Service is surely feeling the ramifications.

However, I have to say that there have been a few pieces of gear that I have enjoyed more than others. The Fuji X100 and X100s have been a revelation for me; the original X100 unlocked so much that I had not yet discovered about photography. The Leica M rangefinder was something that I enjoyed using probably more than any other camera; it’s not quite the spiritual experience that some people make it out to be, but it is the most enjoyable shooting experience for me personally. There is one other camera in this group that I have enjoyed using and has challenged me and made photography fun.

The Ricoh GR.

The first thing you notice when you hold the GR is that it’s small–I mean really small–yet manages to pack a large sensor under the hood. It’s a fixed-lens camera, with a 28mm-equivalent, f/2.8 maximum-aperture lens. The camera has a matte black finish that has a functional attractiveness to it, and the grip has a rubbery feel to it that makes it easy to hold in one hand. The back has a large screen, and the buttons are laid out well so that the camera can be operated with only one hand.

The menu system can initially be difficult, but it is incredibly customizable; once you spend some time with the camera it really feels like it’s yours. The camera can easily become an extension of your photographic vision. The camera is virtually silent–a nearly inaudible *snick* is all you hear as the shutter goes–and so can easily be used in close quarters. It comes with a wrist strap for carrying, and has a small pop-up flash that can be programmed.

The GR slides easily into a pocket and starts up almost instantly, making it an ideal street camera. The wide 28mm focal length can work well for close quarters, but the GR includes a crop-mode that makes it a 35mm effective field of view (I have this programmed to one button so I can easily switch if needed). Finally, the GR has a unique “snap focus” mode; this allows the user to program a pre-set focal distance and thereby eliminate any lag when releasing the shutter. When the shutter button is pressed, the camera responds instantly when in snap focus mode. Normally, the camera waits for the auto-focus to lock on. The AF is by no means quick, but it’s usable–think the X100s as a fair comparison. It can occasionally hunt in low light or low-contrast scenes, but this is not too big of an issue in my experience.

One issue I have had with the GR is dust on the sensor. A little bit of research online has shown that this is a common problem, and can cause the camera to need to be sent to Ricoh/Pentax to have it addressed. My first GR had a real dust issue, and so far my second copy has not developed this. I have taken steps to try to avoid this issue going forward, but it’s not an exact science.

The biggest thing about the Ricoh is that with the small size it can go anywhere, and with the near-silent shutter can be used anywhere. This allows me to have an APS-C sized sensor with DSLR image quality in my pocket anywhere I go. Having the buttons customized to my preferences means that I can quickly change settings on the fly and operate the camera with one hand.

The GR simply gets out of the way. When I’m taking photographs with the GR, I can not worry about anything but the image. The camera is not overly complex. It makes things fun, simple, and enjoyable. Nobody is intimidated by the sight of the GR, as it looks like a cheap point-and-shoot, not like an expensive, “professional” (whatever that means) camera.

Anyone considering the GR should go for it. One of the blogs that pushed me off the fence was the fantastic blog by Wouter Brandsma, who shoots with the GR almost exclusively. He has some great shots.