For the love of speed…

And sports. The San Diego Fair just wrapped up and I had the chance to go…TWICE. I usually go twice. Once with the family and once with my wife so we can see the stuff we want to. This years theme “The Fab Fair” (think British invasion). I was a bit underwhelmed with the fair theme exhibit. LOTS of Beatles images and other stuff. There was something very fun at the area though! Mystik Lubricants Terracross racing! They are small off-road four wheel drive vehicles. Think Buying The Bayou!

Apparently they don’t race on the west west coast (first time ever at the fair) so if they come back in town sometime it’s kinda fun.

are they worth it?

What? Third party flash units….or those things from China. Well in my opinion-yes and no. Yes and no? Really, no definitive answer? I think it depends on what the application is and where you are in your photography pursuits.

Working pro? No-why would you? The build quality is robust but the chance of getting a finicky copy and when you need it most it could fail. Besides you probably have committed to a particular system (Canon or Nikon). Even as a “backup” it is iffy.

If you are an enthusiast, stay at home parent or just a shutterbug then maybe. They are built fairly well and the newer models are using lithium batteries for extended use and fast recycle. (and at low power the recycle is almost instantaneous)

I have one…the Neewer TT850. I wanted it for the rechargeable lithium battery and high speed sync capabilities. And for about $100 it’s not a bad gamble. I have used it in my beauty dish and had fine results, however while using it outside on a warm day here in Southern California it over-heated. I also used it indoors at a college graduation party (see image below). Once the settings were dialed in I used it in the 90 degree setting for the head and the included bounce card. It performed perfectly for the entire night. It is a manual flash and there are Chinese flash units the are TTL.

So you need to ask yourself…what is my intention and how much will I use this unit. It works for me, if my lively-hood was dependent on its use on a regular basis I would go with a brand matching my system.

There’s this place….

And it sits right on the rim of The Grand Canyon. It’s called Kolb Studio, and it was owned and operated by two brothers Emery and Ellsworth (really!). They were photographers that worked at the Grand Canyon at the turn of the century.  I had the opportunity to take my family to the Grand Canyon at the beginning of the month,  if you haven’t been it’s pretty majestic even from the “touristy” south rim and village.  My three kids really liked it but my eight year old was the only one that really “got” it. :)

In the Kolb Studio there is a small museum in the lower level with vintage photographs and cameras the brothers used and captured.  Upstairs from the museum is a small gift shop with a small stacked stone balcony and upstairs is another small balcony with a beautiful view of the canyon and beginning of the Bright Angel trail.

This is the view from the upper balcony as you come up the stairs.

If you walk to the railing you get this view.

both are quite majestic…

Yes I do that…

What? Enter photo contests…occasionally. Well I have submitted to the San Diego Fair the last four years. I have been fortunate to have accepted images in each, but the judging and category choices still perplex me. This year I had three accepted images where as last year I had six…so I really don’t have a clue what is good or not. :-)

Family Moments Category.

Still Life Category.

At The Fair Category.

Is MicroStock for me?…

Ummmm…no. In a word. I do have a few (and I mean a FEW) on a couple of microstock sites but nothing that generates money. It is time consuming to say the least and right now time is not on my side. But like any endeavor if you put in the time and effort you can reap the rewards, so say some. But none the less I will on occasion submit an image to a site and maybe…just maybe I will build a catalog on one or more sites that generates some profit. :)

I do take the time to make sure I create a nice image before submitting. Taking the time to process and reduce noise (if any) and color correct…blah, blah.

my latest submission…


I bought a beauty dish!

Why? I wanted one. I was interested and curious about the use of a beauty dish. Besides don’t all kinds of pros use them? :) I have been asked on  occasion to take portraits so I thought it would be nice to have on around. I did not build my own…too much time and effort to save myself a few bucks. Kudos to those that take the time and get a finished product. I bought my from CowboyStudio on Amazon. I have to say the quality is OK. the first (yes first) arrived with broken rivets that hold the speedlight ring to the dish. Amazon immediately shipped a new dish that day and credited me when they received my return…no questions. The second arrived in good shape (in my opinion) and works well. It’s not a robust build but for my use it’s quite adequate.

I was very pleased with the light (with diffusion sock)

and here with a three light set up


It’s a lot of fun and for the price ($50 or so) something worth having when you want a certain look.

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