Springtime In Washington, D.C.

Living in Toronto I have had the opportunity to travel to a myriad of the northeastern US states. One of the only places I have never had the opportunity to visit was Washington, D.C. Growing up I recall people expressing how quite dangerous DC could be. Also, I never had the desire to explore a city that was highly influenced by politics. DC always created the impression of a place one would go on a middle school field trip. Someplace I thought may bore me. Don’t get me wrong, I was interested in planting my feet in front of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue (The White House), seeing Capitol Hill and the Washington Monument to name a few.

The White House
The White House | Shot with Sony A7 |

As a photographer my interests have changed and many of the places I never had the desire to visit are places I now have a fascination to see. After visiting Miami & Tampa, Florida and making a brief stopover in Savannah, Georgia, Washington, D.C., was the next place I wanted to visit before returning to Canada. I didn’t do any research on where to go or what to see besides the obvious things. Places that are frequently shown on the news and on television. Surprisingly finding a hotel was challenging due to the National Cherry Blossom Festival. As a matter of fact, the pricing of hotels is astronomical. More than double the rates I paid in New York City a few days later.

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Cherry Blossoms Surrounding the Tidal Basin | Shot with Sony A7 |

I was so poorly schooled about DC that when someone asked me if I was going to visit The National Mall, my response was, I did enough shopping while I was in Miami. Doh! With a laugh at my expense, I immediately learned that The Mall was the area between the Lincoln Memorial and The Capital. Shameful! I will blame my lack of US knowledge on the Canadian schooling system. Along The Mall there are 10 museums including the Smithsonian and the National Building of Natural History, both of which I visited.

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How to Shoot Swimwear like Victoria’s Secret’s Russell James – (Part 1: The Look)

What do supermodels Candice Swanepoel, Miranda Kerr, Lily Aldridge, Tyra BanksKarlie Kloss, Adriana Lima, Alessandra Ambrosio all have in common, besides sculpted bodies and having won the genetic lottery?

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Left to right: Alessandra Ambrosio, Candice Swanepoel, Behati Prinsloo, and Lily Aldridge.

They all are, and/or were, Victoria’s Secret Angels. What was once a failing lingerie retailer created by a man too embarrassed to shop for his wife, is now a multi-billion dollar market leader in the underwear and swimwear industry. But more than that, Victoria’s Secret brought glamour, fashion, and supermodels to the masses with their glossy catalogues and high-profile runway shows.

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The photo of Tyra Banks that launched Russell James’ career.

Behind VS’s stratospheric success is a less well known but arguably the most productive portrait photographer today. Kind mannered and well spoken, Russell James has worked with the super-est of the supermodels from the last 15 years and yet somehow stayed away from the limelight. It’s hard to separate where Victoria’s Secret end and Russell James begin, but his images has single handedly defined the brand in recent memory.

In this three part series, we dive into the look of his images, his setup and equipment, then we wrap up with our own photo shoots and interpretation.

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World’s First OLED Display Lenses – Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar and Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Sonnar

Here is our sneak preview at two exciting Sony lenses. Zeiss announced two exciting new lenses for the Sony FE mount today: (1) the Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 Sonnar and (2) the Zeiss Batis 25mm f/2 Sonnar. While the 25mm focal length will be one of the widest primes available for the Sony after the newly released Sony FE 28mm f/2, the 85mm f/1.8 is what really interests us. Here is a teaser video from Zeiss.

OLED Display Distance Scale

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Following the shape and ultra-modern designs of the Otus series and the Sony/Zeiss lenses, Zeiss does something original here by incorporating the world’s first OLED display for the distance scale in place of a traditional plastic window. I’ve previously complained that the perhaps the only drawback of the beautifully designed Sony/Zeiss 55mm f/1.8 is its complete lack of distance or depth-of-field scales on the lens. This OLED screen is an elegant solution to the design issue.

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Savannah, Georgia On My Mind

Savannah, Georgia has been on my “must see” list of places to visit in the US for many years now. I have driven the lengthy 24 hours from Toronto to Miami countless times. However, throughout the years I have never driven through the more picturesque eastern side of Georgia, I have always gone through Atlanta because its been said it’s safer when the weather conditions are unpredictable during the winter months. This time, I made sure to stop in Savannah on the drive back from Tampa, Florida.

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One of the Many Squares in Savannah | Shot on Sony A7 | 1.6 sec at f/10, ISO 50 |

The majority of my time away, this trip, I chose to use my Sony A7 for several reasons. I adore the quality and sharpness of the images. Especially when the shooting conditions are ideal as far as lighting and there is no moisture in the air. The light weightiness of the camera makes it quite painless to lug around than a DSLR and not break my back. And lastly I really want to get familiar with my Sony like I am with the Canon 70D in different scenarios.

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The $15 Holga 25mm f/8 Plastic Fantastic Lens

Its images feel like old movies, childhood toys, or fond ex girlfriends. It is riddled with optical flaws and its image circle can’t even cover a cropped sensor, but it takes us back to the roots of photography and camera obscura. It is $15, utterly uncomplicated, and, without a doubt, the funnest lens I’ve used in a very very long time.

Processed in Lightroom with the “Holga Cool Sides Warm Center” preset, available below.
Processed in Lightroom with the “Holga Cool Sides Warm Center” preset, available below.

The lens is the Holga 25mm f/8. The Holga brand name is synonymous with the plastic fantastic 120 medium format film camera you can purchase in every Urban Outfitters across America. At the core of Lomography’s lo-fidelity philosophy is the idea that photography is meant to be impulsive, spontaneous, and fun. And now, for the first time, it is digital.

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Processed in Lightroom with the “Holga Cool Sides Warm Center” preset, available below.

We explore the Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in downtown LA and then take a short road trip to Pasadena, California. We mount the Holga on our Sony A7 and Sony A5000. No more expensive 120 film and waiting for the it to develop. No more fiddling with plastic cameras without any preview.

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