I recently read a great article by a well known SEO guru who explained that he hasn't blogged since 2012 and it has not changed his photography business. Eureka moment! I thought I was slowing down my site traffic by not relentlessly posting some new meaningful content loaded with SEO-friendly keywords once a week. :)
For me, blogging has never been an enjoyable activity, and as social media has changed over the last several years, my natural tendencies toward sharing content have shifted as well. Organically, I have moved probably 95% of my posting over to Instagram, cross-posted to my personal Facebook page. Due to the constraints of the way Facebook throttles business pages (read: wants to charge for reach, and limits what you can do with posts), my business page on Facebook is relatively static.
So the takeaway, for those reading this, is that I am going to leave this blog page up on my website but am embracing that my primary platform for day-to-day or week-to-week content is Instagram. Interested in seeing what I've been shooting? Head over there: http://www.instagram.com/daveblockphoto/
My new Nikon D5 arrived last night. I haven't had time yet to get outside and shoot with it, but here's some shots of the unboxing and some notes on the changes to the controls vs. the D4.
Nikon packaging is consistent - even for the flagship model.
Strap and manuals at the top...
Safely nestled inside, the D5 body. Cables and such in the compartment to the right.
Everything unwrapped - body, strap, USB cable, hotshoe cover, HDMI cable clip, USB cable clip, battery, and charger.
View of the back. I purchased the dual-XQD card version. There is a dual-CF version as well.
Now for the fun stuff. I sat my D4 next to the D5 and put red boxes around the new controls on the D5. Some changes are fit and finish (like the new textured rubber on the sub-selector), others are substantial, like moving the ISO button off the rear control panel up to the top of the body.
Back view, side by side. The button that replaces the ISO button on the rear control panel is quick-release mode selection - i.e., with this button you can set Continuous Low to be from 1 to 10 fps, and Continuous High to either 10, 11, 12, or 14 fps.
Top view; here you can see the new locations for the ISO, bracket, and mode buttons. Flash exposure compensation has been added as a secondary function to the zoom-out button on the back of the body.
Front view, showing the new 3-button layout (addition of a 2nd function button).
First thoughts: In size and weight, the two bodies are very similar. The refinements to the controls seem to all make a lot of sense. I love having the ISO button up at my right fingertip. Particularly given the ISO range of this sensor, it just makes sense to have this control be more predominant. I am really looking forward to getting out and doing some test shots.
This week I was honored to be awarded a Silver Honors of Excellence in the 2016 Wedding and Portrait Photographers International print, album, and filmmaking annual competition for a portrait that I shot last May during my travels in Vietnam. I thought it would be interesting to share a little bit about my subject and how I made the portrait.
I was staying in Hoi An, which is a historic and beautiful town on the coast of central Vietnam full of merchant houses, temples, and warehouses dating back centuries to when the town was an important port, but it also has become quite touristy. Wanting to get away and see more, I booked a Vespa tour of the surrounding countryside and during the tour we stopped in a small village that produces the colorful dyed straw mats that are so common in the country.
We'd been chatting for about 20 minutes (well, my guide chatted) with the women of the family while they worked the looms and I shot photos. As we were finishing up and getting ready to leave, their mother quietly appeared in the doorway. They explained that she was their mother, the matriarch of the family, but mostly blind and so did not do very much weaving any more. As this all was being explained to me, grandmother came forward and crouched in the doorway. I asked if it was okay to make a portrait of her and they said yes, so I quickly composed and shot 5 or 6 frames - just one of those moments when you know that what you are capturing is going to be really good, maybe one of the best I would shoot on my trip - which turned out to be true. Here's the award-winning image.
Brian and Kelsey got married in a lovely small chapel on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands north of Seattle, then over to the Outlook Inn for their reception. Here's a few from their beautiful day.
Last fall I decided that it was time to plan a trip somewhere interesting. I've traveled to Asia a number of times - Japan, China, and Korea - but never to Indochina. The region is vastly rich in history and culture and narrowing down the itinerary was a challenge, but in the end I decided to spend my time in just one country. I chose Vietnam, and put together a trip that spanned the country from south to north, starting in Ho Chi Minh City and going all the way up to the border with China and the Sapa region. I really wanted to focus on portraits, as you can see, though it is such a beautiful country that you can't help but shoot the incredible landscapes as well. Here are some of my best images from the trip. (26 images, click on any to see full size version)
Da Bac, VietnamScenic view overlooking Da Bac, Vietnam Grandmother, Hoi An, VietnamThe elderly matriarch of a family of straw mat weavers sits in a doorway, Hoi An, Vietnam Fisherman casting net, Hoi An, VietnamFisherman throwing a cast net at sunrise on Hoi An Bay, Vietnam Sketch artist at a market, Hanoi, VietnamArtist sketches two older men as the family looks on. Shrimp Fisherman, Hue, VietnamFisherman checks the nets on his shrimp farm at dawn, Hue, Vietnam Bird Lover's Club, Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamEvery morning these gentlemen bring their birds down to the park. Woman picking lettuce, Hoi An, VietnamWoman farmer picking lettuce, Hoi An, Vietnam Silk Laterns, Hoi An, VietnamSilk lanterns hanging in a shop front, Hoi An, Vietnam Ha Long Bay panoramaPanoramic view of the sea stacks of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam Red Dao grandmotherAn elderly grandmother from the Red Dao ethnic minority, Sapa, Vietnam Vietnamese children jumping rope Street food, Hanoi, VietnamTwo women selling grilled meats at a night market, Hanoi, Vietnam Lang Co village, VietnamWide angle view of Lang Co fishing village, central Vietnam Red Dao mother and childA woman of the Red Dao ethnic minority and her infant child, Sapa, Vietnam Fishermen pushing off from shore, Hue, VietnamFishermen silhouetted by the dawn sun pushing off from shore, Hue, Vietnam Sea Stacks, Ha Long BayOn a misty morning, sea stacks rising out of Ha Long Bay, Vietnam Terraced rice paddies, Sapa, VietnamTerraced rice paddies, Sapa, Vietnam Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, VietnamMotorbikes criss cross in front of the Notre Dame Cathedral, Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam Hoi An at duskSilk lanterns light up the street as night falls, Hoi An, Vietnam Farmer tending rice seedlingsRed Dao woman readying rice seedlings for transplant into the paddies, Sapa, Vietnam Fish Market, Hoi An, VietnamBuyers unload the morning's catch to be auctioned and transported to local markets, Hoi An, Vietnam Man with Water BuffaloVietnamese farmer walking his water buffalo Bamboo bridge, Hoi An, Vietnam300m long bridge constructed entirely from bamboo, Hoi An, Vietnam Boy at Ho Chi Minh's MausoleumYoung boy posing for a photo in front of Ho Chi Minh's mausoleum, Hanoi, Vietnam Black Hmong childA young girl of the Black Hmong ethnic minority playing on a hillside, Sapa, Vietnam Sunset on the Perfume River, Hue, VietnamSunset over the Perfume River, Hue, Vietnam
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