M5 Photography

Shooting on Vacation..Or taking a break..or both!

There are times when I take a break from being in “photo” mode…Sure I still shoot and have a camera with me, but it’s also nice to not feel any pressure to capture everything I see. Our family just returned from Colorado and it seemed like the trip had a good balance of shooting and taking time off to just enjoy the trip like the non-photogs do. Love the Colorado clouds that rolled in every afternoon…I could get used to shooting those.

I’ve put a few photos below from our trip. Click images for larger views.


Captured with the GoPro cam..chest mounted. Keystone Colorado


Side of old mining cart. Country Boy Gold Mine. Breckenridge Co.


Published on:
July 21, 2011 8:09 pm

Someone killed 1/250th

It seems a bit odd to me that when I read other photographers blogs and they continue to mention max sync speed and how it changes or limits their shot(s). Since I’ve been involved in photography all of us photogs have been in the 1/250th choke hold when using strobes. Sure there were a few people syncing a tad bit faster in a few different ways, but generally speaking the rest of us were at 1/250th.

Then it happened. Pocket Wizard killed 1/250th with their latest remotes…no need for CPR here since no one was/is complaining. No need to spend more tax dollars on a drawn out court case as the DA for photographers certainly knows this was justifiable homicide.

Yet how come there weren’t more people celebrating? Was I? YES! As an action photographer I was thrilled to read about it. With a bit of hesitation of course since there have been all sorts of magic bullets in the past with photography gear. So I waited, read reviews and after a few months and a few more action photo shoots stuck at 1/250th, I knew I needed (wanted) a new set of Pocket Wizards. Yes I already owned the Pocket Wizard Plus IIs, and yes they were and still are bullet proof….but again stuck at 1/250th.

So there I was wanting…reading…and not pulling the trigger on a set of new PWs. Why? If you’ve read any of my gear posts in the past you’ll already know that I’m not a gear head. I’m not one to run out and buy the latest and greatest new thing. And most of the reviews I read were written by guys using top of the line lighting equipment. The main question was would the new PWs work with my Chinese light kit (read very cheap kit…..but have worked great for 2 years now).

I did make the purchase and I was able to use the new PWs with my light kit…beyond thrilled….as a whole new world of sync speeds opened up for me. Now I can go out and shoot at whatever speeds I wish…I’ve tested pretty much every  speed with success. It’s now to the point of not thinking about it.

A big thanks to Pocket Wizard for killing 1/250th. I know there are other reasons that people out there can’t make the change ( price, compatibility etc) but I shouldn’t be reading any blogs by Canon or Nikon guys complaining about being in the sync choke hold any more.

My set up was a single Boling Strobe fired by Pocketwizard Mini TT1 and Flex TT5.

I’ve put a few examples and the sync speeds used below.

Sync Speed: 1/640th

Sync Speed: 1/2500th

Sync Speed: 1/3200th

Sync Speed: 1/1250th

Published on:
July 5, 2011 4:56 pm

Inspired by Ryan Gibb

I had the good fortune of visiting Red Bulls SoCal HQ last night. While the building and items in it were
impressive, I was not invited there to stare at cool things. Red Bull was putting on a special screening of the mountain bike movie Life Cycles. I’d seen the movie on the big screen before and even own a copy of it at home. So why go see again? It’s not often that action sports movies make it to movie theaters…maybe for a one day showing. Typically it’s straight to DVD. So I jumped at the chance to see this one again on a big screen.

I’ll admit I had my initial doubts on how big a screen the folks at Red Bull would have in their office building, but I was reminded that this is Red Bull ..they don’t do anything small. After waiting around a bit someone pushed a magic button and what I thought was a wall turned out to be a giant roll up door…behind it was Red Bulls own theater and yeah it had stadium seating. In we went and as promised we watched Life Cycles.

I won’t spend too much time talking about the movie since it has been reviewed and talked about for months now. I will say that it motivates me as both a rider and photographer. The best part of the night was listing to director Ryan Gibb talk about creating the film…and taking the time to answer questions. Ryan noted how many of the sponsors they approached for this project didn’t understand their vision for the film and said no to helping out with funding. Ryan and crew pressed on with their own funds, stuck to their original vision and created an amazing film.

I’m sure most creative people have run into a similar situation where your ideas don’t make sense to anyone else. This is another example of moving forward with your ideas and making them work.

Published on:
June 29, 2011 7:25 pm

Road trip to the Salton Sea

California is…well its big. From the beaches to the mountains there are so many different places for a photographer to shoot. Often overlooked by photogs for various reasons are the California deserts. I’ve been wanting to do a day trip to one specific location in one of our “low” desert areas. Specifically a trip to the Salton Sea. The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake that was formed when the Colorado river flooded the area in 1905.

Thanks to the internet the Salton Sea has been getting a bit of coverage over the last few years. This recent coverage is not something I would call positive. In fact after watching a few videos it looks like a down right depressing place to live or even visit. When I would tell others of my intentions of going there, the normal response was “Why!?”

This road trip wouldn’t be my first visit to the sea….I’d been to the there a number of times as a kid. Fishing trips with my Dad, Brother and Grandpa. My memories of this place as with many childhood ones are a bit foggy…..foggy but fond memories. Stories of this massive lake, unheard of heat, swimming, fishing and catching without bait, are stories I still tell to this day. The intentions of my current visit were not to fish or enjoy the extreme heat, but to capture some of the decaying landscape that makes up the areas surrounding the sea.

With my friend Jerry, who would be capturing the day in video, I set off to check out this mostly forgotten part of California. We were not disappointed with things to shoot. We left with more questions than answers…we left with a new appreciation for the area. Neither of us quite ready to buy property…but we understood why people did during its heyday.

Equipment details:
Camera-Canon 7D
Lens-Tokina 12-24 f/4

Click images for larger views

Bombay Dragster-Actually an old crane on its side

Published on:
June 13, 2011 9:21 pm

Interviewed @ outdoorinformer.com

For the most part I enjoy writing. Assuming there is a good amount of flow going to the brain I can express myself on “paper”…talking about big topics like photography or the sports I enjoy, no problem. It’s entirely different when I need to write about myself. It feels weird to write and when I read it back it reads weird too.

I recently had the chance to feel this way when Jason from the Outdoorinformer.com contacted me asking if’d like to be featured in the “Depth of Fields” section on their website. My first response is “yeah..why not”. Then I remember I have to answer questions about myself…uggh.

Jason made it easier with well thought out questions that covered more than just photo geek talk…allowing me the chance to share about things beyond photography.

Click the link below for Part 1 of my interview


Published on:
June 7, 2011 9:31 pm

Shooting action…from a distance.

With most of my work being viewed online these days it comes as no surprise to me that my “most popular” shots are tight action shots. I do love being right next to action and feeling like I am a part of what is going on…enjoying the movement around me. When me and my friends are out on a mountain bike ride and our pace is casual, I spend a great amount of time picturing spots that would make great backdrops for photos…Or wondering if anyone has ever taken a photo in a certain spot. I’ve been riding past a few spots for a couple years now that I felt would make great backdrops for photos…In both cases the action would be at a great distance from me and I was never confident of how those types of shots would play out with people seeing them on their laptops or cell phones.

I was confident these shots would look great poster sized hanging in a bike shop, but my doubts kept me from making the shots happen. That was until this weekend….I’d had enough of my day dreams clouded by doubt and set up a day to get these shots done. The goal was simple… to shoot and get these checked off my list…yes they may not end up being “popular”, but I was over that and wanted this shoot to happen.

I did my best to describe my “vision” to the two riders I had with me for this shoot…In reality I wasn’t 100% sure what I wanted as an end result. I knew the size of the ridge line they were going to ride would dwarf them in the photo. Sure I could zoom in closer, but at that point how does the audience know the size of the ridge line they are on? This is where I go against “normal” for me and shoot it wide and far. When the riders asked how the shots looked,  my answer was easy “I won’t know until I see them on my monitor at home”…Probably a bit of a letdown for two guys who just crossed a stream and hiked up/rode down a very steep line for me multiple times.

Once I did view them at home I was happy with what we had done…the shots lacked the impact of an in your face close up action shot, but as a rider they were the types of shots I wanted as posters on my own wall. Shots that remind me of how much I love to ride.

While a large number of people who view these might quickly glance via their phone…I hope to catch a few riders and photographers who know what went into the shots and are sitting home viewing on their 27” monitors.

Click images for the larger view of each.

Canon 7D with Tokina 12-24 f/4 lens


Canon 7D with Sigma 70-200 f/2.8 lens


Canon 7D with Sigma 70-200 f2.8 lens

Published on:
May 31, 2011 8:35 pm

Stepping out of my comfort zone…My first trip to an Apple store

I lasted a long time…a long time before going into an Apple store. Sure I’ve listened to the stories, seen the commercials and even been told that I HAD to visit one.
I should start off by saying that I’ve been a PC guy for a long time. It was a PC that I started off on and to be honest it worked just fine for me. I even held a job as a graphic designer where we worked on PCs.

And I’ll let you know that I’m still a PC guy…(I know the Mac users just stopped reading) but it seems Apple is making a run for my cash. They started their push in a small way with my first iPod and got me using iTunes too…then they had my friends buy Macs and whisper the great things about them into my ears. But I stood my ground! I wasn’t being sucked in…I was STRONG…I laughed at the iPad. Beyond the name being an easy target for jokes, I just didn’t see what the big deal was.

Then I made the massive mistake of using an iPad at a friends house. Boom! Some, just a little, of the Apple brainwash material started messing with my thinking. I was more than impressed. My friend, who must work for Apple in some capacity, went right in for the kill by showing me a slide show of my photos from Flickr. Did they look good? Oh yeah they looked good. Check your email he says…oh and turn down the stereo with it after that…change the channel on the TV….I couldn’t keep up with all it could do and I really didn’t need to. I got it. It clicked in my mind that this device would be ideal for travel, movies, games for the kids, great battery life, starts up in seconds, daily use around the house for web/email and its shiny.

Now you are saying…”well you didn’t have to go into an Apple store, you could order one on line”. So true, but the machine that is Apple had me cornered. The day after I decided that I wanted an iPad we were heading out on a mini vacation. How cool it would be to have the iPad on our trip? Very cool. So cool I’d go get one on foot…alone.

I fully expected all the workers to look like the sweater wearing kid from the Mac vs. PC commercials and there were a few of those there. I made B line for the first sales person there (I’m sure they don’t call them sales people. I’ll watch my email for a Mac friend to correct me) and I told him that I wanted an iPad. I’m guessing some alarm went off on their iPhones when I hit the door and whoever drew the short straw that day had to deal with me the PC guy. How’d they know I was a PC guy? Come on…there is an app for that. Anyway my sales guy was nice enough and I noticed he was wearing tennis shoes. I’m guessing his slippers were getting a retread at the hemp store that day and being barefoot breaks some sort of code in the mall.

While Benjamin (I don’t know his name for sure but it sounds like a Mac user name) ran my credit card through his iPhone, thoughts went through my head of running to help the people around me. I could tell them that PCs really do work and you can edit photos and video on one…but who was I….but one of them…ready to tackle the next level of Angry Birds.

Typed on a PC…For now anyway 😉

Published on:
May 24, 2011 8:37 pm

Buying my photo gear at Walmart…Sort of..

I’ve been using the Sequence photo back pack by Dakine for a few years now. Super happy with all the compartments, love how the camera is stored and it’s built to last. The one thing it didn’t come with was a rain cover. I was recently poking around Dakine’s website and noticed the new Sequence pack DOES come with a rain cover. Usually how things work..right? A quick email to Dakine to ask if they would sell me the rain cover by itself netted me a “no” answer. It doesn’t rain a whole lot in SoCal but I’m not always shooting in Socal and still would like a cover for my pack. There were a few photogs at the Redbull Rampage last year who got caught in a mini rain storm with out any way to cover their gear.

On a recent trip to my local Walmart store I discovered the generic backpack rain cover shown in the image above. While it’s not an exact fit for my pack it will certainly do the trick. Now if they only sold the 10-200 f 1.0 lens I’ve been looking for….

Published on:
May 16, 2011 9:34 pm


When non stick and ball sports get noticed it’s always exciting to me. Sports like mountain biking, motocross and surfing are still viewed as “extreme” or fringe sports by the general population. It came as great news when Apple recently went the direction of adding action/extreme sports images to their website. Even better that they reached out in my direction and wanted to use one of my mountain bike images. When I started doing photography I didn’t imagine working with a company like Apple…They were a joy to work with and I’m hoping they have a few other creative ways to use my image going forward.

A take away for other photographers who might be reading this….keep putting your best images out there…who knows who might come knocking.

Photo details:
Location: Bartletts Wash in Moab Utah
Shot with the Canon 40D and Tokina 12-24 f/4 lens


Here is a look at the un cropped version of the image below. Click image for a larger view.

Published on:
May 10, 2011 9:50 pm
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