Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Tokyo Canvas Print

Canvas prints in my office.It’s been almost exactly a year since I’ve printed out my Empire State photograph on canvas to hang in my office. Today I picked up another print that I’ve been thinking of doing for quite some time — Tokyo.

Closer view.The first one I took from the Top of The Rock observation deck and the second one I took from the top of Roppongi Hills Tower. I think it came out really well and Costco1 did a really nice job again. I think these look really good hanging side by side. What city comes next?

A pair of canvas prints on the wall of my office.

  1. Paid $74.43 with tax included for 30×20 inch print. []
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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Arosha — 2 Years

Playing with iPad.Today our little Arosha has a birthday — he is turning 2 years old, or will do so at 10:10pm to be more exact. He typically is a very healthy boy, but it happened so that several days ago he caught some virus. He is not feeling very well and can’t really eat because of the rash inside his mouth caused by this virus. We saw a doctor and she said that time is the only thing that will help.

Obliging my request to look at me for a photo.I want to wish my little son to recover quickly and to always be healthy. We, as his parents, will do everything in our power to help him to grow up a happy child and to achieve all his dreams. It’s hard to put into words how much I love him. Our lives changed very much since his arrival. We can’t do a lot of things that we were able to do, we don’t have as much free time. But in turn he unlocked so many emotions inside of me that I didn’t know I have. I think only becoming a parent makes you really understand.

Tea.He is talking very well now. He started putting sentences together several month ago and by now he is pretty good at it. I thought that children are capable of dialog at age 3 or so, and I never expected him to be able to have a conversation before he even hits two. I love taking a day on a weekend and going with him to some place new to him, be it a zoo, a bridge, a farm or anything else. He has so much to experience and I can show him things and it makes him happy.

And when he is happy I’m happy squared. Every time when I think about this little human, my face melts into a smile. I love him so much. С днём рождения, сыночек! Happy birthday, my Aroshen’ka!

P.S. We wanted to take Arosha to Toys-R-Us and for ice-cream today, but now that will have to wait until he heals.
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Thursday, August 9, 2012

Grand Canyon

Grand CanyonTwice in my life I’ve been to Grand Canyon and both times I have been amazed. It is the wonder of nature that left the strongest impression in my mind. I think every person should do themselves a favor and see it with their own eyes at least once. Now there is a possibility that I will get a chance to see it yet again in a not so distant future. It’s not a certainty, it’s only a possibility, but it’s the one that I’m looking forward to becoming a reality.

Grand CanyonI decided to look through some old photographs we took during our Phoenix, Sedona, Grand Canyon, Las Vegas road trip that we went on with Alena back in October of 2005. Since our blog didn’t exist back then I picked out several raw photos that I liked the most and decided to post them here.

Grand CanyonIt is evident to me that my photo processing skills have clearly improved from 2005. Rather I should say that in 2005 they were pretty much at zero — non-existent. I’m thinking of maybe promoting one of these three photographs into my photo gallery section. Which one do you, dear reader, like the most?
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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Arosha’s Birthday

This year we had a very small celebration for Arosha’s birthday — actually several small celebrations. On Saturday evening we went for a dinner to an Indian restaurant in Bay Ridge — he loves going to “eestauans”. Before getting into the car we took a couple of photographs which came out well.

I probably left a lot of things out of my previous post about the new things Arosha does, so I’ll add a couple more here.

Arosha and mama.By now he knows some colors pretty well — red, blue, green, yellow, pink and orange. I’ve been trying to get him to remember some, but he didn’t seem to show any progress. And then one day he just started naming them all properly.

The breastfeeding has completely stopped. So if you give a child enough time they will self-wean without any stress for the child or the mother. For us it happened in phases. First he stopped asking for it before he goes to sleep (day and night) and two or so weeks ago he just stopped asking for it in the morning.

He likes to play games with imaginary things. For example he always tries to feed me all kinds of vegetables (like onions) when I bathe him by extending his hand with fingers closed like he is holding something, even though the hand is empty. He tells me what he is giving me. He does these kinds of things often.

Arosha and papa.He also likes to say something that he knows is not right and looks at us with a smile waiting for us to correct him.

He was really afraid of the shower for most of his life, but lately he is turning it on himself and tries to get under it against his fear. Washing his head was always a big deal that used to involve a lot of crying, but now he will turn the shower on, close his eyes and get under it. He knows to wait for me to tell him that it’s OK to open his eyes when the shampoo is gone.

He loves drawing a net on his chest with iodine solution (our parents used to do this for us when we would get sick as kids) before going to sleep. Usually it’s his reward for washing his head with shampoo. I love seeing the anticipation on his face and the giggling when I start drawing with a q-tip.

He always talks about something. When we got into the car to go to the restaurant he kept commenting on the whole thing: “Мы едeм на папиной машине. В истаан (рестаран)! Се вместе!” His pronunciation is not great, but Alena and I can make out pretty much everything he says.

Or with colors the other day:
– Ароша, какого цвета эта буква?
– Синяя.
– Правильно. А какого цвета эта черепаха?
– Си… Ой, пепутал (перепутал)! Зиёная!

He likes playing on iPad. We bought him several interactive books where he has to perform somewhat complicated actions and I’m amazed with how quickly he figured it all out. For example there is a page where he has to feed the kids. The kids imagine a cupcake that they would like to eat which consists of 3 parts — a cup, cupcake itself and a topping like a cherry or a grape. And he has a bunch on ingredients of different colors that needs to pick the right ones from and build this cupcake. He does it very well.

He also likes playing with a bunch of puzzle boards that he has. There are shape, animal or number cutouts that he has to fill with correct pieces.

He also loves making us use the stairs most of the time. So we have to go down from the 7th floor and back up to the 7th floor only via the staircase. At least we keep repeating the number of the floor to him, so by now he has learned some numbers as well.

Also we prefer to never tell him false things and try to shield him from everything. For example he hates going to the doctor. But we prefer to tell him right from the start where we are going instead of hiding it from him up until we get to the office. This way he is slightly upset, but he knows that if we tell him that it’s not going to hurt — then it’s not going to hurt.

I can go on and on, but these are probably the most memorable things that he does that we don’t want to forget. Kids are a lot of work, but they sure are great!
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Friday, August 24, 2012

Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G Lens

I’m a lucky new owner of a brand-new Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens. I want to share a couple of thoughts on how that came about, choice, acquisition and planned use.

Wide-Angle Decision


Nikon AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR lens.I mentioned earlier that there exists a possibility of us taking a trip to Grand Canyon in the near future. As I was looking through my old shots of the canyon taken with my old D70 camera — a lot of them were taken at 18mm (the widest I had — 27mm equivalent on full frame) and a lot of them feel kind of crammed — like there just wasn’t any more room left in the frame. Landscapes are the primary reason why I would want to own a good wide-angle lens.

There is always an alternative to using wide-angle lenses that could work in a lot of cases for landscapes. Just take several shots with a normal lens and then stitch them together in a panorama. However there are certain problems with that approach — taking an HDR shot for example would be much more complex. Using a long exposure filter such as Big Stopper would be it impossible.

And then there is a number of other types of photography that can be done with a wide-angle lens forcing a photographer to get much closer to the subject, thus changing the perspective — an interaction of the subject with the background.

Budget


Wide-angle Shublik.I had my eye set on a prime Nikon lens for portraiture — 85mm f/1.4G — for a long time now. The problem of course is the fact that this particular lens costs $1,700, however all the reviews confirm that the lens is worth it. Or at least that was the case until Nikon released a new 85mm f/1.8G lens.

I read a number of reviews on the new lens and a lot of them show that it performs as well as its big brother in a lot of cases. It doesn’t have nano-coating which reduces the flares and it loses 2/3 of a stop as far as aperture goes. But the kicker is that it costs $499. Now that’s is a huge difference. For a professional photographer that 2/3 of a stop might be worth it, but I as an amateur just cannot justify paying an extra $1,200 for something that would be simply a nice-to-have at my level. I just can’t.

By settling with a f/1.8 lens I was able to free up a large chunk of change from the budget that was allocated for 85mm purchase towards the New Year.

Wide-Angle Lens Options


Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G vs Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G.Choosing an actual lens from the available options was surprisingly easy. I was not considering any 3rd party choices as I am extremely happy with all my Nikkors. Out of available Nikon option there were really only two lenses that were in the final “competition” — 16-35mm f/4G and 14-24mm f/2.8G lenses. The older 17-35mm f/2.8D lens has been bested and at this point doesn’t make much sense.

To break it up I ended up picking out 16-35mm lens over 14-25mm lens for the following reasons:
  • It has filter thread, while the other one does not. Even thought 14-24mm can be outfitted with filter it becomes a huge expense on its own with the need of a special and expensive mounting bracket and much larger filters.
  • Cost — $1,139 vs $1,996.
  • Better flare control — the other one has a very spherical front element.
  • Not as wide, but bigger range — really nice thing to have for walking around, without constantly swapping lenses out.
  • Weight — 680g vs 969g for 14-24mm and 900g for 24-70mm.
  • VR II — Nikon’s lens stabilization system that promises 4 extra stops. Not really a factor for me, but I guess it’s nice to have.

Arosha playing on iPad.The lens doesn’t let in as much light at f/4 as the other one does at f/2.8, but as far as landscape photography goes this is a non-issue at all, since most of landscape shots will be taken at least at f/8 and on a tripod. Even though 14-24mm is a superb lens and 16-35mm has a lot of distortion at 16mm (easily fixed in post), 16-35mm was clearly the best choice for me that offers great sharp results with a lot of versatility.

Buying The Lens


These days it seems that after doing all the research and making a decision, actually buying a Nikon lens is the hardest task of it all. There was no stock at B&H, Adorama, Amazon or any other vendors that I’m familiar with. The price at Adroma was at $1,159, at B&H it went up to $1,179 and there was still no stock and Amazon kept getting them 1 item at a time (returns?) and was pricing them at $1,259.

Difference in perspective. Flash heads at 16mm.I saw a mention on one of the forums that Samy’s Camera has them in stock, but since I was unfamiliar with that store I decided not to risk it. Meanwhile I kept checking all the verified sources and ended up stumbling on a seller offering these up for sale through Amazon for $1,139. And what do you know? It was Samy’s Camera. They had 4.8 out of 5 stars rating with more than 2,800 votes in the past year.

Considering that it was the best price that I’ve seen and having the safety of ordering through Amazon I placed an order. The lens was shipped to me the same day and I received it soon after. I’ve done some minor testing within the confines of our apartment and I like how it handles and performs so far very much. Here is another good vote for Samy’s from this happy customer.

Difference in perspective. Flash heads at 70mm.Now I just need to get outside an do more shooting and start learning to work with a wide-angle lens — I didn’t have one in a long time and for some reason I never used the one I did have for my DX camera. We’ll see how I do with this one.
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