Wednesday, October 24, 2012


I had a great time shooting this event a few weeks ago. It's a cool, small-town tradition that makes for a great homecoming event.Very rarely do I have the opportunity to go into an event knowing what to expect. I'm new in Davis, so everything is new to me.

One of the more overlooked skills I feel a storyteller needs, is the ability to think on your feet. I didn't know what the video would look like till I was at the Davis Amtrak Station. When I got there and got an idea of the event, I knew I wanted it to be fun, quick and have music. The band playing was the perfect option for that, and was about as authentic as you could get. I shot with the D800 and 24-70mm and 80-200mm. I used the juicedlink pre-amp for the audio with a shotgun mic. I did use a wireless lav for the interview. I think in the future I want to go out with even less gear. Maybe just one lens, like a 50mm.

Unfortunately, I was not in my pajamas. Next year.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Excellent video about microphones

The video bellow talks about microphones and how to use them properly. I know that I learned a few things.

Via Photography Bay

Friday, October 5, 2012

Another video shot with the Fostex Ar-4i

What do you think of the Fostex, which I explained a bit more about in the post below?

Friday, September 28, 2012

iPhone video

Using the iPhone to shoot video is nothing new. It offers convenience and quality that is good enough for the web. It's quick to edit and outputs small files, which make uploading quick as well. But a concern has always been audio. I recently had a chance to try out the Fostex AR-4i, which has two mics, gain control, cold shoe, headphone jack, headphone volume control, DC in jack, tripod thread and compatible with the iPhone 4 and 4s. It runs on two AAA batteries and plugs into the port on the bottom of your phone.

Here are some photos from the Fostex website:

You can use the native video app on your iPhone or download. I actually tested it with a wireless lav mic system and it worked, though it only recorded to one channel. There is also an app from Fostex to control some settings such as mono or stereo. I found out about the AR-4i from the Mobile Reporting Field Guide created by students at UC Berkley. It is a tremendous resource that is full of good information on apps, microphones, accessories and anything else reporting related for the iPhone. A must read for any reporter looking to use their iPhone for work, whether that be shooting video or recording interviews. 

The best part about it, is the price. I found it on B&H for $99. Read the reviews, which say a lot of good things. I don't agree about the weight comment though, it's much lighter than any DSLR I've used for video. It is a bit bulky as far as the shape, as in it won't fit into most pockets, but will fit into a reasonable-sized purse or side bag.  

I recently shot a video with the AR-4i using the handgrip provided. I was about three to four feet away from the girls in the video and it sounded great. I really don't have another product to compare it to, but overall I would say it's a great upgrade over not have a mic on the iPhone. I also like that I can put it on a tripod. The case itself offers stability as well. I was happy with the results of it. Be sure to click on the HD for best quality. 

Friday, September 2, 2011

Grandma Carmen

It's been a little over a year since my grandmother passed away, and a lot has happened that I wish she would have been around for. I graduated from Columbia. I got engaged. And a couple weeks ago I was married in my hometown. It was a good sized wedding, somewhere around 100 people, but in all honesty she is one of the people I wanted there the most. Maybe that's because she couldn't be there, but she's been on my mind a lot lately since the wedding. A lot of who I am and what I've done thus far in my life, I owe to her. A strong woman, who was one hell-of-a storyteller, I spent a lot of my childhood with her and my grandfather. Fortunately he was there to see me get married, and even danced with my bride.

I found these pictures recently while going through an old hard drive coincidentally. I had forgotten about them actually, as I took them a few years ago. It was Christmas time, and like always, our family gathered at Grandma's. As she and I got older, I wanted to document her and my grandfather. I remember even trying to record some of our conversations, but I might have to dig through some more hard drives for those audio files.

But these photos say a lot about my grandmother. This is what she did, what she lived for. Her familia. And though it was a lot of work to make fresh tortillas and cook enough food for her large family, she wouldn't have it any other way.

I hope you enjoy the photos as much as I do.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Tips for driving cross country

So I'm halfway through my second trip across the country in about as many months. And I felt that there needed to be another guide out there, because I didn't really find one suitable. I'm making/made the drive from East to West Coast and vice versa. Specifically from California to New York. I will add to this as I think of things. Currently I'm in Kearney, Nebraska.

1. You're always going to be behind what you planned. Plan for that.

2. Pick up plenty of snacks before hitting the road. Little things, like trail mix, granola bars, gum and especially sunflower seeds. Seeds are a savior, cause they keep you occupied and busy. Flavored seeds seem to be a little easier on the tongue.

3. It's important to keep your mind busy as well. I do this with talk radio, specifically podcasts like This American Life, Fresh Air, Planet Money, ESPN Fantasy Football. Also baseball games on the radio have been awesome, though with the radio you're changing stations pretty constantly.

4. Apply ample amounts of sunscreen on your left arm if you're the driver. Right now my left arm is literally five shades darker than my right. It's kind of creepy actually watching my hands type and they're two different colors.

5. When choosing to stop for the night, find a set of hotels in a town or really close. They're always cheaper than a group that are just off the highway with a town far away. Also, don't be afraid to shop around. I just go in and ask the price, and then if it's high, I'll leave. Tonight that got me $30 off, as the "corporate discount" kicked in as I was walking out the door. Some people just want to sleep in their car, and that is a valid thing to do, but I like to get out of my car and shower and use the toilet. Plus I have a car full of stuff. Camping is an option, but pay attention to the weather. Also, truck stops fill up really fast, so it might be tough to get a spot there.

6. Back to eating. Eat small snacks as you drive. Large meals make you sleepy and takes time.

7. Iowa has the best rest stops in the country. Free wifi.

8. Keep your gas tank above half a tank. I usually stop and fill up between half and 3/4 tank. That's usually stopping time for me anyways. Plus there might be long stretches where there is no station. But for the most part, there's gas every 50 miles or so at least.

9. Coffee sucks from Nevada to Indiana. Stick to like McDonalds coffee or if you're lucky a Dunkin Donuts. Starbucks is an option, as well. But coffee in the middle of the country is a lot weaker than in Cali or NY/NJ.

That's it for now, check back often for more tips and such.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Front page

Woke up today and saw that my photo of a kid who took mowing lawns to a more professional level, mentioned in the post below, made the front page today. A nice little surprise. I had made it on the front once before, but it was only for the first edition. Robbie was a great kid, and you should check out the story, which also has the video I shot for it.