Be a better photographer...

...take a photography class or workshop from a well established and credible photographer. This year for Christmas, besides the material gifts that I am very happy with, my girlfriend decided to give me what many call an 'experience gift'. I was given the opportunity to take a class with New York City photographer Dave Beckerman Site. This was my first formal learning session and even though the weather did not allow any outdoor photography, the time spent talking and shooting in the hallway was very useful. I am not the most outgoing person in the world, but I did feel very comfortable in this situation. The lesson felt like it was centered around me and not at all centered about the 'teacher'.

One thing is certain, I will be shooting a LOT more this coming year and continue to improve my skill sets in this craft.

This is one of the shots I made during the lesson.
cat-black-and white

Thank you all for your support this year.



Gift Ideas

It is once again time to buy gifts for friends, coworkers, and loved ones. As you may know by now I recently published a small photo book that is for sale. In addition to my book (Link to book) don't forget to check out my Cafepress store: Link to store. The store has products for sale featuring my own images. If you have that one person that you just can't figure out, take a look at my products for ideas of what to buy them.

Any feedback is welcome and appreciated...

Stay warm and enjoy... it is getting very cold as winter approaches.


A walk in the park

Fall is not officially over yet. We have a few more days before winter kicks in and the real cold weather keeps us all indoors. Luckily my girlfriend and I were recently able to take some time off and take an afternoon to walk through Central Park. The leaves seemed to change and fall off the trees rather quickly this year, and without a car readily available for our annual fall foliage drive, a walk through the park was the next best thing. Fresh air and a little exercise is always welcome. The image below depicts what a fall afternoon in Central Park is all about. During our walk, we ran into a street performer/mime that would hold a pose for a few seconds and then change pose. I imagine that can be very tiring, but it was relaxing to observe for a few minutes. If you click on the image below you will be taken to the rest of the image gallery for that day.




Do you like apples?

Recently I uploaded a series of apple images to my smugmug account LINK. These were taken at the local Jackson Heights Farmer's Market. The newest addition to this gallery seen below was taken recently at the 2009 Eastern States Exposition. This is the first image in my collection to be processed using Adobe's Lightroom, as opposed to my usual Nikon Capture NX. The copyright watermark was added in photoshop.

No pixels were harmed in the making of this image.



Writing on the wall

Writing on the wall
Originally uploaded by fantasma4

You never know what you can find in NYC. The image I have captured here is an example of what I call real life photoshop. When I first saw this wall the first thing that came to mind was that the lettering looked like a layer of text on top of the background layer of an old brick building. In reality this a wall exactly as it appears to the naked eye. No pixels were harmed in the making of this image.



New Razor, Clean Shave

So sometime within the last couple of weeks I went to check the mail. I was hoping to open up my mailbox and have a check waiting for me. As usual the box was filled with junk mail with one exception. There was a small cardboard box with the Gillette Fusion logo on the front. I had not shaved for a few days, so this was a perfect opportunity to try out the new blades. My usual razor of choice for years has been the Gillette sensor Excel, but it never hurts to try something new. This new Gillette fusion makes a great first impression, it has chrome and a lot of blue and orange (Probably the best color combination in the world - LETS GO METS 2010!). This razor has a good weight and felt sturdy. When you shave, there is no doubt that you are shaving, unlike cheap disposable plastic razors. My old razor had two blades, this new one has five. At first I was a little intimidated, but I am a brave soul and determined to try out my new toy. This razor, like many others has a lubricating strip to provide a smoother shave. Apparently the blue strip fades to white to let you know that it is time to get a replacement blade. Unless you are brand new to shaving, you do not need a color indicating strip to let you know your face is being gouged out by dull blades. That is just my opinion, I could be wrong.

Now it is time to stop looking at this razor and start using it. I rarely use shaving cream to shave, but I do use hot water on my face to help open up the pores to make things go a little smoother. I think that I need to stop using the word smooth soon. I looked into the mirror and said to myself, "It's gonna be ok", and got started with the shaving. I must say that I was impressed with this new razor, did not get a single cut on my face. The end result was great, I honestly had not had such a good shave in a long time. Even the following day my face still felt soft and smooth.

It was then that I wanted to write this review, but I held off. Any brand new razor is going to be great and provide a decent shaving experience after one use. The real test comes over time. A week and a half later, I am happy to report that this razor is still holding up and providing as good a shave as the first day. When the current blades start to dull, I will be going out to buy replacements for it and trash my old one.



Eastern States Exposition '09

It is once again that time of year. I will be making my yearly trip to Springfield, MA. to attend the Eastern States Exposition, also known as The Big E. I will be taking a ton of pictures for my next edition of my photo book "The Big E".




My Day @ CitiField

If you have been following my tweets, you will know that I was gifted with tickets to see the NY Mets play at CitiField against the Florida Marlins. This was my second trip of the season to CitiField, the first one was spent mostly walking around the entire stadium. This time around we arrived early to avoid the lines at both Shake Shack and Blue Smoke. The food was great and then it was off to our seats, these were great seats, just past first base and only six rows away from the field. As always, I had my camera with me and was prepared to capture some great baseball.

Redding takes the mound.

Beltran returns from the DL.

The throw to second was a bit too high. Runner is safe.



Hope you have enjoyed what you have seen and read here. For the complete set of my CitiField images please view them here: http://enzoem.smugmug.com/Sports/Citi-Field...



Images from Maine

maine-boothbay-harbor As promised, the images I made in Maine are online for your viewing pleasure. The image shown here is the view we had from our hotel room. Boothbay Harbor was a perfect town to have my first Maine experience. When I close my eyes and imagine a seaside town, the image in my mind's eye is exactly what Maine is. The weather there was great, warm and sunny. Once we ventured to explore a few of the many lighthouses that Maine is home to, it was a different story. Awaiting us close to every other lighthouse was wind, fog, misty rain, and clouds. The lighthouses were perfect for photographing, and the less than perfect weather made the images even more dramatic. The second benefit that the weather provided was the absence of harsh unfavorable lighting. Although I am not a huge fan of traveling to places more than once, I have decided to scratch out that notion from my thinking. Next time I find my way up to Maine, I plan on taking a whale watching excursion.

Now here is the link to my images: http://enzoem.smugmug.com/Cities/Boothbay-Harbor-Maine/



Cape Cod Vacation

Earlier this year we took a week-long vacation to Cape Cod (the Cape) and Maine with a pit stop in Boston. Although this took place at the end of June, the weather in New England was quite a bit cooler than we had expected. Even without being able to go for a swim, we made the best of our vacation time. We explored the many towns, roads and hidden beaches that the Cape had to offer. The above image was taken in Provincetown. For a complete gallery of images I created use the following link -> http://enzoem.smugmug.com/Cities/Cape-Cod-MA


Always Give

The current national and worldwide economy has seen better days. Unemployment and debt are on the rise, and everyone is doing their best to get through these tough times. I will not talk about savings advice or how to make the most of your dollar. There are plenty of books and websites that offer excellent advice. I have actually read and re-read a few of them recently.

One common idea amongst many sources that gets very little attention is the idea of giving back. The basic thought is that to receive, one must also give. Philanthropy can be done in a multitude of ways and through many reputable organizations. Not very long ago, as a gift, an account was opened in my name on a micro-lending website that makes loans to entrepreneurs around the world. The organization is called Kiva. Feel free to click and read more detailed information. I have made a total of three loans using Kiva, and one has already been repaid in full, allowing me to lend again. The level of transparency in this site is excellent and you can trust that your money is going to where it is supposed to go. In general, the loans go to entrepreneurs in developing nations: a fisherman might want to raise money for a new reel and bait, a small grocer might need to buy extra produce to sell, a photographer might need to buy a new lens... I think you get the idea.

I am sure there are other similar sites that allow you to make a difference in another person's life in a positive way. Whether it is Kiva.org or another organization... get out there and give.



LUL - BnG Classic 2009

Here is a quick update post for those reading this blog. The much-awaited images from this past weekend's basketball tournament are finally ready to be seen and enjoyed.

One of the main challenges of shooting a live sporting event of this magnitude is location. At any given moment during this tournament, there were three full-court games being played. Due to my inability to clone myself, I could only shoot at one of the three courts at a time. That is the first challenge to consider. The second challenge that needs to be considered is physical location on the court. I dealt with the second location challenge by just picking one spot and shooting from there. After a few minutes, I was able to better gauge where the action would happen on the next play, and accordingly place myself where I would best be able to capture the moment. This process is very dynamic and one must be flexible in order to get the most out of every action in the game. Of course, one must move over to the next court and repeat the second location process. One little trick that helped me to decide which court to shoot first, second or third was to take a mental count of how many people were watching the game from the sidelines, the bigger and louder the crowd meant a more exciting game... possibly.

I hope you enjoy the images I have made and that this post into the photographer's mind has been insightful.




Brown and Gold Classic

This past Saturday, I was privileged with the opportunity to photograph an all day long basketball tournament. The 2009 annual Brown and Gold Classic was hosted by La Unidad Latina, Lambda Upsilon Lambda Fraternity. Allow me to introduce you to the competing teams in the following slideshow:

Congratulations Upsilon Chapter on your victory!

... Stay tuned for the money shots



The other small button.


I have been away from this blog for a few weeks. If you have visited this site, you have at least been able to read my twitter feed, which is updated a bit more regularly. Today I would like to offer a photography taking (or making) tip when shooting with an (digital) SLR. Most, if any at all, point-and-shoot cameras will not have the necessary feature for the following tip, but it will give you something to consider next time you are about to release the shutter.

Most people are familiar and comfortable with the focus and recompose technique that is often used when your camera's auto-focus is not quite focusing on the subject you would like. That is when you hold the shutter release button halfway down to focus and then recompose your shot, then press the shutter release all the way down. For most, this is an automatic and instinctual way to shoot.

Now that we have focus out of the way, we need to consider exposure. In particular, if you listen to the experts, they all say to either expose for or protect the highlights. For an image to be more appealing, we do not want areas of an image that have blown-out white areas that have zero detail. I actually believe it might even hurt your eyes if you stare too long at an image that is poorly exposed. I am slightly exaggerating here... but you get the idea.

The way I found to give the best results is as follows:
1 - Set shooting mode to Aperture priority (for control of depth of field).
2 - Set exposure metering mode to spot or center-weighted.
3 - Point camera to the brightest point of your desired composition.
4 - Hold down the Exposure Lock button.
5 - Recompose, focus, and release the shutter (while holding down the Exposure Lock button).
This should create a more pleasing image for everyone's enjoyment. If there is a foreground object that might be a little underexposed, a little fill light should do the trick using either a fill flash or some type of reflector or bounce card.

Hope this has been useful.

*(I shoot with a Nikon D200; other makes and models might or might not have this function. Refer to your camera's manual if in doubt of its location or the existence of this button.)


ebay *UPDATE* [7/28/09]

If you are still interested in these salad plates, please feel free to contact me. They are all still available at an even better savings to you.

Now starting at only $14 on ebay
LINK ---> http://cgi.ebay.com/....


It is always nice to have nice things, but sometimes it can be a little too much, especially when you have space limitations. Just the other day I had to turn down a FREE George Foreman grill for that very reason, nowhere to put it. That brings me to the above image of a salad plate. I have six of them and nowhere to store them either. Not once have they been used and I even had to remove one plate from its protective plastic casing to make this image.

Making the image was step one. Step two... sell it on ebay.com
LINK ---- > http://cgi.ebay.com/....
This is a Lenox Murray Hill Salad Plate
- Crafted of Lenox bone china accented with precious platinum
- Geometric pattern of repeating rectangles
- Dishwasher-safe
- Diameter: 8"
- Introduced 2004
- Imported

These plates retail for about $27. I am willing to part with them for as low as $15 each.

*If you have any items you might want to post for the internet, feel free to contact me for making your images jump off the screen.



Brooklyn Botanic Gardens


Having unusually warm, actually hot, weather this time of year is not a bad thing. Being in Brooklyn with a camera is even better when you have something worth shooting. This adventure took me to the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. Strange, I always thought it was called botanical... but as we walked towards an entrance, there it was in giant letters, Botanic... not botanical. I might have to do some research on the terminology. Some cherry trees were in bloom.... but the large majority were probably a few days away from being at peak bloom. Hanami will have to wait for another day. I managed to capture a few good images that day, have a look for yourselves here.



Columbus Circle

This image was taken after a walk in NYC's Columbus Circle. There was not too much of interest to shoot at that location, although I am sure a tourist would object to that statement. That particular day I was on a shoot for other people, but I wanted to get a shot for myself. There were a few elements present that I wanted to capture, and was somehow able to combine them to make an image I was happy with. The obvious elements were: blue sky, green trees, flowers, and a water fountain. On a more subtle note, I wanted to juxtapose the fluidity of the foreground water against the static monument in the background.



Modern day ghost town

Coming from New York City, I have grown accustomed to the fast pace of city life and the constant hustle and bustle. Any day of the week, including weekends, the streets are alive and crawling with people needing to go here or go there, some are just wandering around aimlessly. Even if one were to eliminate all tourist traffic, there would still be a considerable amount of people filling up the streets. Try to take a photograph in the Big Apple and not have any people in it during the middle of the day. Ok. Now try to do it without photoshop, a nearly impossible task.

Now. Take yourself 500 miles NW (approx.) and you will find yourself in a much different little town of Western New York. This modern day ghost town is Buffalo, home of the Buffalo Wing and also... hmmm... coldness and snow. Taking a picture in the middle of the day without any people getting in your way or bumping and pushing you is not a problem. There are almost no people walking around in the middle of the day. Where do they go? Do they only come out at night? Now I am not talking about a day in the middle of winter, because if you have any sense you will hibernate like a bear in a cave, what I am referring to is an average spring day.

If my goal were to shoot people and city life, this would not be the place I would go to make my images. Luckily that was not the case. So in the end, things worked out just as I wanted them to. Here are the images: http://enzoem.smugmug.com/


Photography Sites

As you may know by now, I mainly use flickr.com to host some of my images online. For many years I have used their services and have been satisfied with the product. On flickr the social networking aspect of the site is one of the main attractions, and the basic price point is great, FREE. Recently I have started to explore other hosting options. First I needed a way to change the background color that is used to view my images. To see the colors in an image accurately, it is best to view them against a neutral background (gray for example). Having an all-white or all-black background tricks the human eye and you will not see what the photographer intended. Having the ability to password protect certain images or galleries was also something I am interested in, mainly for the privacy of my clients. Keeping all these things in mind, I decided to give smugmug.com a whirl. To get my feet wet, I created a few galleries. Have a look and feel free to leave me some feedback. http://enzoem.smugmug.com/


Quick photo tip

Always check your gear before heading out to shoot. Make sure to have enough room on your memory cards for what you will be shooting. Most important of all... have either a fully charged battery or a back up battery. There is nothing worse than having a dead battery after only taking a few shots.
- Enzo E. Martinez

*Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry*


Easter Parade 2009

This past Sunday many of us celebrated Easter. It is always a day of celebration. For the first time ever, I decided to attend the annual Easter Day Parade in New York City, mostly due to the fact that I just recently discovered that it even existed. This was a great day to put my new lens to the test. Some images have been uploaded to my flickr.com site here.



Christmas Cactus


At home we have a Christmas cactus, and I thought it was just a regular cactus, except this one is not loaded with a gazillion thorns. To my amazement, it recently began to flower. At first it was just a little pink, but it continued to grow for the next few days, leading to the image captured above.

The following are the settings I used to make this image:
Camera: Nikon D200
Exposure: 0.5
Aperture: f/5.6
Focal Length: 135 mm
ISO Speed: 200

I used a simple black background to give better contrast to the pink flower. Lighting was available light pouring in thru my west-facing windows.



One shot one chili dog


This image was taken during a recent trip to Washington D.C. After returning home, this was the only image that was worth keeping. In my opinion, it was well worth the drive. If you are ever in the D.C. area this is one place you must eat at. Their chili dog happens to be Bill Cosby's favorite. You cannot go wrong, trust me. The night before this image was taken the place was closed and I had to drive to NY in the morning. I did what any other person would do, have a chili dog as my breakfast. Back to the image at hand... I was lucky that at about 7am there was not a lot of traffic or parked cars, allowing me to have a clean view of the establishment. What also struck me was how bright the building was in comparison to its surrounding neighbors.

Stay tuned for more images and interesting stories.

As a bonus to all you photographers or future photographers out there, here are two podcasts that are worth a download:
tfttf (tips from the top floor) and twip (this week in photography).


Wings, wings and wings in NYC

As you may know by now, I like to eat. Sometimes more than I should and is probably part of the reason I am not losing weight as fast as I should be. Last year after a stop to have lunch at Duff's in Buffalo,NY my girlfriend has been addicted to buffalo wings as much as me. Things were soon set in motion for our hunt for the best buffalo wings in NYC. To all my male readers, sorry to say but Hooters does not have real buffalo wings, unless you ask for them naked. A real buffalo wing is never to be breaded. If you spot a breaded wing, stand up and leave the place as fast as possible. So you sat down, ordered wings, they were breaded, you left the place... now what? A few months ago I would say, go to Atomic Wings. For a while, Atomic Wings were the best in the city. Currently, not so much. seems quality control is not high on their priority list, as a recent batch of wings were not very hot and very dried out. By dried out, I do not mean the sauce, the actual meat was dry, probably overcooked, or re-fried, or some other unknown factor. A safe back up is also Croxley's, they serve very good wings. If you head over to Blondie's you will experience great authentic wings. the only downside is how packed the place can get during a sporting event that getting a table might be a bit difficult or near an impossibility. Rising to the top of my favorite NYC wing location is Wogies. They have been consistent and are great tasting, and always taste made to order. If you have not tried Wogies and you love buffalo wings, give them a try and feel free to leave me your comments.

Here are a few links to my friends' three part video talking all about Buffalo's buffalo wings.




Testing out the ability to post a blog via email.
- Enzo E. Martinez

*Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry*


Slumdog Millionaire - Mini Review - UPDATE


This past week I finally saw "Slumdog Millionaire". Great movie! The movie was visually and conceptually moving. No spoilers here, so feel free to read on. Make sure to hang around to watch the end credits, and not storm out of the place as soon as the movie ends. This was definitely the type of movie that keeps you thinking about it even after the popcorn is all gone and you are home relaxing. If you are emotional you might cry. If you have a sense of humor you will laugh. If you are alive you will enjoy this one. If this film is not playing locally, wait for the home version to be released and do not support the bootleggers.


8 Oscars. Nuff Said


Super Bowl Sunday

Almost game time. Kick-off is in just a few minutes. Keeping it low key this year, we are after all in a recession. Today was a pre-spring cleaning day, so now it is time to relax and watch the NFL Championship game, aka the SUPER BOWL. Who will win? The Arizona Cardinals or the Pittsburgh Steelers? My money (not literally) is on the Cardinals. I have no choice. My younger brother lives in Phoenix, and my cousin keeps this country safe also in Arizona, in addition to where numerous family members migrated to after leaving the great state of New York. I have nothing against the city of Pittsburgh, but at the same time have no attachments to it either. Of course, this is after all the Super Bowl, and what matters is the action on the field. One team will win, and the other will quietly retreat back to the locker rooms with nothing to cheer about. I cannot miss the kick off, so til' next time... enjoy the game!


Change is Here

In a few short hours president-elect Obama will become the next President of the United States of America. Jay-Z recently did a live remix to the song "My President" and here are the lyrics:

My President is Black my Maybach too
And I'll be Goddamn if my diamonds ain't ain't blue
My money is dark green and my Porsche is light grey
And I'm headed for D.C. anybody feel me
My President is Black in fact he's half white
So even in a racist mind he's half right
Even in these racist times we alright
My President is Black but his house is all white
Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther can walk
Martin Luther walked so Barack Obama can run
Barack Obama ran so all the children can fly
So I'm a spread my wings you can meet me in the sky
I already got my own clothes already got my own shoes
I was hot before Barack imagine what I'm gonna do
Hello Miss America, hey pretty lady
Red white & blue flag wave me for me baby
Never thought I'd say this shit, baby I'm good
You can keep your puss I don't no more Bush
No more wars nor more Iraq
No more white lies my President is Black." - Hov

Jay-Z My President is black Remix LIVE 1-18-09 from pleasedontstare on Vimeo.


I'm making a list

The stock market is down. Companies are breaking up. Businesses are falling apart. Consumer confidence is down. Job security is non-existent. Does any of this concern me? Of course it does, everyone should be re-thinking their strategy for the next few years. I recently began reading "Eat That Frog" and I have become inspired to be more proactive. The first thing I did was to create a top 10 list of goals to accomplish for the year. I went about it the old fashioned way, pen and paper. It could have been on my phone or computer or laptop, but the important thing was to get it from random ideas floating in my head onto a physical form that I can see and read everyday to remind me of what needs to be done. Besides having broad yearly goals, I have started to write down shorter term more specific goals that will lead up to me accomplishing my broader goals. Tonight I also decided it was time to use the Tasks application on my Blackberry device to keep track of things I need to do. I truly feel that these few simple steps will be a big part of ending my days of procrastination. The old saying holds true, "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail".


Castillo in the News

Here is a link to a blog I follow, which deals with all things Mets. Brooklyn Met Fan recently wrote up a piece about Luis Castillo. The image attached to the article was taken by yours truly. Go take a look and I would recommend adding it your your favorite rss feed reader.



Terraza 7 Train Café

(written on 1/7/09)
Being new to the neighborhood, we decided that it was time to branch out and try new things. Terraza 7 Train Café is an artsy kind of bar just a few blocks from the apartment. It was on the list of things to do, but had not gotten to it. Last night was also open mic night at Terraza hosted by JHPF (Jackson Heights Poetry Festival). My gf knows the JHPF founder and we decided to attend the event and show support. Having been a fan of Jam On It Poetry, I figured this would be an interesting event to attend. The open mic poetry night happens the first Tuesday of the month. A week before patch Tuesday, but that is a different topic. The place was very comfortable. Plenty of seating, chairs and couches all over the place. Colorful paint job in the place made it feel warm and inviting. The action all happens on the second level of the bar. The poets do their thing on a scary looking platform. Unfortunately we walked in a little late, but enjoyed what we were able to listen to. There was also a 'musical' performance that was interesting.

After the dust settled from the event, we found ourselves on the second level with drinks and conversation. As time passed it was just three of us talking. Being that we were all rather new to the area there was no shortage of food conversation to be had. We might just have made our first new friend in the neighborhood.


Exclusive Release Update


The above little bird is not the NBC logo. It is a real life peacock. The image was taken last summer in the Bronx Zoo. In a previous post (dig into those archives), I stated how I felt about warm thoughts in cold weather, hence the image taken in the summer. Unfortunately not being a Marine, I have yet to perfect 'one shot one kill'. I am human, so sometimes I falter, and it takes several shots for me to get the right one. But the reward is well worth the effort.

Typically I just shoot for myself. I want to make ME happy with my images. And this I do not plan on changing. I do hope other people enjoy my work and can walk away with something positive from the interaction. I would like for you to also be able to spread my imagery and positive energy.

How you ask? To kick off the new year I am selling a few products online featuring select images from my collection. The above image is featured as a postcard. The holidays just ended and this would make a great postcard to send to your loved ones as a 'Thank You' note. Send one to a bird lover. Send one to someone who is far far away. You get the idea. Click here to take a look.



2009 - A new year


I hope last night was safe and fun for all. Today is mostly a day of recovery from too much eating, drinking and celebrating. The image above was taken in May of last year in the Bahamas. This image of a new day is appropriate for today being the first day of a new year. I overslept a little and missed the moment the sun rose over the horizon, but the resulting image is just as powerful. I have always been drawn to the rays of the sun breaking through clouds. The combination always makes me feel relaxed and at peace.

* If you like what you read last year, and are looking forward to more of my images and words in the new year, please subscribe to my blog to ensure you do not miss a beat.