A Winter Weekend of Street Photography in New York

New York is a truly astonishing city[1][2][3]. It currently houses 8.4 million people distributed over a land area of 305 square miles. The city has the largest Polish population after Warsaw. The same goes for Jewish people (outside Israel), and it also has the largest Chinese population outside Asia. New York City is the most linguistically diverse city in the world, with its residents speaking over 800 different languages.

architecture blackandwhite bnw city cityscape d800 newyork newyorkcity Nikon nikonphotography nyc people street streetphoto timessquare urban

Times Square is named after the New York Times. It was originally called Longacre Square until 1904 when the NYT moved there. The city is associated with the British Empire but the first settlers were Dutch. They established a fur trading post in Governor’s Island. Later, the Dutch established the colony of New Amsterdam in Lower Manhattan. They purchased the island from the locals for the modern equivalent of $1000. Many have called the transaction “the best real estate deal in history” (which probably is an exaggeration if you consider the Louisiana Purchase).

architecture blackandwhite bnw city cityscape d800 newyork newyorkcity Nikon nikonphotography nyc street streetphoto urban

In 1664, the English took the territory of New Amsterdam from the Dutch settlers living there. King Charles II named the territory New York after his brother the Duke of York and gave it to him as a gift. Manhattan comes from a Lenape word meaning “island of many hills” (mostly flattened by now to provide room for urban development). New York is known as the “Empire State” due to its growth and prosperity early in its history. George Washington is said to have seen New York as “the seat of the empire”. It was the first capital of the United States. The designation lasted only a year.

architecture blackandwhite bnw builing city d800 empire empirestatebuilding newyork newyorkcity Nikon nikonphotography nyc shadow street streetphoto urban

There are more than 380,000 millionaires in the city and that’s why there are so many expensive stores and establishments in Fifth Avenue. One out of every 21 New Yorkers is a millionaire.

blackandwhite bnw city d800 man newyork newyorkcity Nikon nikonphotography nyc street streetlife streetphoto urban

The price to operate a hot dog cart in Manhattan (for a year) ranges between $150,000 and $300,000 (in the most expensive pars of town, like Central Park).

The city has been struggling with the problem of homelessness for years, and since 2007 it pays families to leave the city, as a way of keeping them out of the expensive shelter system which costs $36,000 a year per family. All it takes is for a relative in any other part of the world to agree to take the family in, and the city of New York sponsors the ticket.

blackandwhite bnw city d800 homeless newyork newyorkcity Nikon nikonphotography nyc poverty street streetphoto urban woman

blackandwhite bnw city d800 homeless man newyork newyorkcity Nikon nikonphotography nyc poverty street streetphoto urbanblackandwhite bnw city d800 homeless man newyork newyorkcity Nikon nikonphotography nyc poverty street streetphoto urbanblackandwhite bnw city d800 homeless newyork newyorkcity Nikon nikonphotography nyc poverty street streetphoto urban

From a photographer’s point of view, New York is an infinite source of inspiration. The people, the architecture, the never-ceasing movement and flow of faces, cars, bikes and events in the “city that never sleeps” is something that leaves a lasting impression. I had the time and opportunity to walk the streets of NYC taking pictures for two days with my trusty Nikon D800. Continue reading “A Winter Weekend of Street Photography in New York”

Rare Camera: 18 karat Gold Mamiya RB67 ProSD

This camera is so heavy, had Indiana Jones been a photographer, the gold Mamiya RB67 would have been what he used instead of a bag of sand to weigh down the trap of the golden idol. According to Thorley, when the venerable RB67 is mentioned in on-line forums people start coughing up all sorts of stories about how heavy and unwieldy they are, how the mirror slap alone can cause a shock wave big enough to damage all the digital sensors in a five kilometre radius and that if dropped on your foot you’ll know the pain of so many cartoon characters who’ve had mishaps with an anvil. And guess what? It’s still worth it!

anniversary camera gold mamiya mamiyarb67 mediumformat photography vintagecamera

Jokes aside, while the camera will seem hefty compared to modern DSLR’s, it is not unwieldy, because of its good ergonomics. Through the seventies and nineties medium format cameras were the top-tier professional tools, just as big, horizontal and vertical grip DSLR’s are today. Today the digital sensor technology is only just catching up, making cameras like the Pentax 645D/Z feasible for mass production. It is quite possible that in ten years time the old and elegant tools such as the Mamiya RB67 will no longer seem so big and heavy by comparison.

Made primarily for landscape and studio work, the RB67 (RB stands for “Rotating Back” – a very convenient feature that allows the photographer to twist the back instead of changing the orientation of the camera itself) was designed and built like the proverbial tank.120 Studio The moment you pick up one of these cameras, you know it was not intended for street photography or quick snapshots. Now, of course some of us are deliberately going to use it for that anyway, but one look at the RB67 and it’s clear that this is primarily a tripod camera.

anniversary camera gold logo mamiya mamiyarb67 mediumformat photography

This very special gold RB67 ProSD was released 1990 in a limited edition of only 300 units worldwide to commemorate Mamiya’s 50th anniversary. It comes in a beautiful lacquered box with a custom anniversary logo. The box is opened by a special key and the first thing that one finds inside is a pair of white cotton gloves.

When released this camera cost roughly 15000 German Marks, or $9000 in 2017 money. It doesn’t surface very often, but it seems that its price as a collector’s item is dropping. One was sold by Bonhams in 2013 for as little as $1400. Think about it – for a fraction of a price of a new Leica you could get a camera with vastly superior imaging qualities, just as well made, and even more ostentatious.

anniversary camera gold mamiya mamiyarb67 mediumformat photography vintagecamera

On the side of the camera there is a golden plate which reads “Mamiya 1940-1990 50 years in Photography”. According to Camera-Wiki Mamiya was founded in May 1940 by Mamiya Seiichi (間宮精一) and Sugawara Tsunejirō (菅原恒二郎) as Mamiya Kōki Seisakusho (マミヤ光機製作所, Mamiya Optical Works). It was based in Tokyo, Hongo, and its first camera was the Mamiya Six, a 6×6 folder with coupled rangefinder that was focused by moving the film plane. The original owner of a gold RB67 ProSD got a golden nameplate with their own name engraved.

anniversary camera gold mamiya mamiyarb67 mediumformat photography vintagecamera

If you are interested in owning one of these rare cameras, here is the Mamiya RB67 ProSD Manual, and some good articles about the camera.

  1. Classic Cameras: 6 Photos and 7 Anecdotes from the Mamiya RB67 (by B&H Photo and Video)
  2. Mamiya RB67 Camera Guide (by Helluin.org)
  3. Mamiya RB67 Pro (by PhotoEthnography)
  4. Mamiya RB67 (by Thorley Photographics)

anniversary camera gold mamiya mamiyarb67 mediumformat photography vintagecameraanniversary camera gold mamiya mamiyarb67 mediumformat photography vintagecamera anniversary camera gold mamiya mamiyarb67 mediumformat photography vintagecameraanniversary camera gold mamiya mamiyarb67 mediumformat photography vintagecamera

The piercing beauty of rocky moors of the Peak District National Park

The Peak District is an upland area in England at the southern end of the Pennine Chain – a range of mountains and hills in separating North West England from Yorkshire and North East England.[Wikipedia] It is a wonderful place to discover. There are mountains to hike, caverns to explore, skies to glide, charming little towns and villages with teashops to visit and real taverns where the locals serve you free beer. You heard right – after you prove to have come down from the mountains (for example by showing the pictures you had taken) you are served a proper pint of the local lager. Or perhaps it’s just the case at the charming Old Nags Head in Edale.

The hike that my friends and I did started in Edale, and took us all the way up to the Kinder Scout – the highest peak of the Park at 636m (or 2.087 feet). If you’ve ever been to the UK you will probably agree that the weather there is somewhat unpredictable. “Fierce Mild” as Dylan Moran once coined it (you have to say it out load with a strong Scottish accent or it won’t work). As a photographer be prepared for mostly overcast days, with occasional glimpses of sunlight. Even without the sun the landscape is astonishing in all its barren, rocky and windy beauty.

Almost all of the photos in this gallery have been shot with the first version of Nikon’s 70-200mm f/2.8 IF ED VR lens. It is heavy but its medium telephoto focal length range is perfect and versatile for landscape shots while hiking. The vibration reduction elliminates the need to use the tripod even with a high resolution, small pixel size body like the D800. The only reason to bring a tripod would be shooting at close apertures like f/8 and the day was very cloudy. On the other hand, the wide aperture of this lens makes it possible to achieve separation even in case of relatively remote objects (like trees) against far away background. Amazing!

70200mm britain hiking landscape nationalpark Nikon path peakdistrict road travel uk

70200mm britain hiking landscape mountains nationalpark Nikon peakdistrict travel uk

70200mm britain hiking landscape nationalpark Nikon peakdistrict rocky travel uk

70200mm architecturebritain bridge hiking landscape nationalpark Nikon peakdistrict stone travel uk

70200mm animal goat hiking landscape nationalpark naturebritain Nikon peakdistrict travel uk

70200mm britain hiking landscape nationalpark Nikon peakdistrict travel uk

70200mm britain hiking landscape nationalpark Nikon path peakdistrict road travel uk

70200mm hiking landscape mountainsbritain nationalpark nature Nikon peakdistrict stream travel uk

70200mm britain hiking landscape nationalpark nature Nikon peakdistrict travel uk

70200mm britain hiking landscape mountains nationalpark Nikon peakdistrict travel uk

70200mm britain hiking landscape nationalpark Nikon peakdistrict rocky travel uk

70200mm britain hiking landscape nationalpark Nikon peakdistrict rocky travel uk

70200mm britain hiking landscape nationalpark Nikon peakdistrict travel uk village

Street Photography – Our walks of life are different, but are we?

I’m starting to publish a street photography series entitled “Our walks of life are different, but are we?”. The more people I “catch” on a photo, the more looking at them makes me aware of the importance of where we come from and where we are going. Does it matter?


art life b&w blackandwhite photography street streetphoto

art life b&w blackandwhite photography street streetphoto

art life b&w blackandwhite photography street streetphoto

art life b&w blackandwhite photography street streetphoto

Essential Wordpres Tips: Add tags to images and attachments and include them in HTML for SEO purposes

Whether you are a beginning blogger or an Instagram influencer, it is very important for your content to be “up there” in the search results. This not only applies to your posts and articles, but also to your meticulously crafted images. The world’s most famous and popular blogging platform, WordPress, is not prepared “out of the box” to make your images Google-friendly, but can be easily extended to tackle this problem.

Your images are not only pretty pictures for humans to look at and like. Underneath they need to be titled and categorized, so that Google and social networks can snatch them and catalogue and display in a relevant manner. By default, the HTML attributes “title”, and “alt” (alternative text, where to put your own custom tags) are not filled-in by WordPress. This means that although your images appear nicely on your blog or website, they may not easily get to the top of Google’s image searches.

To improve the way WordPress handles your images, just include the four snippets described below in the functions.php of your theme (or better, child theme). You can also download the snippet as text file to paste it easily.

  1. Add tags to your images and attachments in WordPress editor

    This function, first found here, will add a new text box, “Tags” to all of your images and attachments in the WordPress admin panel.
    function add_tags_to_attachments() {
    register_taxonomy_for_object_type( 'post_tag', 'attachment' );
    }
    add_action( 'init' , 'add_tags_to_attachments' );

  2. (Optional) Include the images in the archive/summary pages of your WordPress blog.

    function category_and_tag_archives( $wp_query ) {
    $my_post_array = array('post','page','attachment');
    if( $wp_query->get( 'category_name' ) || $wp_query->get( 'cat' ) )
    $wp_query->set( 'post_type', $my_post_array );
    if( $wp_query->get( 'tag' ) )
    $wp_query->set( 'post_type', $my_post_array );
    }

  3. Include the titles and image tags in the HTML of your posts and pages

    This function, first found here, will make WordPress include your titles and tags in the HTML code used to display your images within posts, pages and articles. It will only work from now on. It will not add the title nor the tags to your existing posts, pages or articles. You would have to modify your database in order to achieve this (or go through all of your past images manually).
    function inserted_image_titles( $html, $id ) {
    $attachment = get_post($id);
    $thetitle = $attachment->post_title;
    //
    $tags_str = '';
    $tags_array = wp_get_post_tags($id);
    foreach ($tags_array as $tag) {
    $tags_str .= $tag->name.' ';
    }
    if($tags_str != '') {
    $tags_str = substr($tags_str, 0, strlen($tags_str)-1);
    }
    $output = str_replace('<img', '
    //
    if(strpos($output, 'alt=""')===false) {
    $output = str_replace('" width', ' '.$tags_str.'" width', $output);
    } else {
    $output = str_replace('alt=""', 'alt="'.$tags_str.'"', $output);
    }
    return $output;
    }
    add_filter( 'media_send_to_editor', 'inserted_image_titles', 15, 2 );

  4. Include the titles and image tags in the HTML of your posts’ featured images

    This function, first found here, will make WordPress include your titles and tags in the HTML code used to display your featured images. It will make them present site-wide, including your past posts, pages and articles.
    function featured_image_titles($attr, $attachment = null){
    $attr['title'] = get_post($attachment->ID)->post_title;
    //
    $tags_str = '';
    $tags_array = wp_get_post_tags($attachment->ID);
    foreach ($tags_array as $tag) {
    $tags_str .= $tag->name.' ';
    }
    if($tags_str != '') {
    $tags_str = substr($tags_str, 0, strlen($tags_str)-1);
    }
    $attr['alt'] = (($attr['alt']=='')?'':$attr['alt'].' ').$tags_str;
    return $attr;
    }
    add_filter('wp_get_attachment_image_attributes', 'featured_image_titles', 10, 2);

I hope this helped you to improve your blog and reach more traffic! If you have any comments, please drop them below.

Street Photo: Man making a living by playing saxophone on the street in Murcia

I met this street saxophone player while waiting at the Cathedral Square in Murcia. In exchange for a few coins he agreed to pose for the photo. It was tricky because I had to go all the way down to the ground to take it, and also because of the very high dynamic range present in the scene. The cathedral was blazing in the sunlight while the artist was in the shadow. For the D800 this wasn’t a problem at all, and in fact I feel that it could still handle 1 or 2 more stops of light level difference, which is remarkable. The 20mm f/1.8 Nikkor is very good at separating the subject from the background, despite being a very wideangle lens. My lesson from today… never hesitate to ask strangers to pose!

Nikon D2x 14 years later. Is it still relevant? A top pro camera for under $200.

Nikon D2x first hit the stores in february 2005 after a very long delay. People were waiting for a high-resolution camera ever since the lower-resolution, high-speed model, the D2h had come out almost a year earlier. It received rave reviews and was praised for image quality (the new APS-C CMOS imager was advertised to be able to resolve detail several times better than the human eye – 90 cycles per millimeter), improved handling and outstanding battery life (over 2000 shots without and 800 with VR), and at the time the best  LCD screen in the world with 2.5 inches and 235k pixels. Click here to see the original brochure.

camera d2x dslr gear Nikon nikoncamera photography professional

And then there was the price – it cost over $5000. NASA took it into space many times and it was also extremely popular with news agencies, which appreciated the optional wireless capability. It was made kind of obsolete specifications-wise when the Nikon D200 hit the market in december of the same year, but as far as the build quality went, the D2x was far superior. By the end of its flagship DSLR lifespan, Nikon released the D2xs which carried numerous firmware tweaks and improvements, a gimmick in the viewfinder and an improved LCD. All of these (except the LCD and viewfinder of course) were later made available to the “regular” D2x users through firmware, and so for all intents and purposes both cameras have the same nice features – yay!

camera d2x dslr gear Nikon nikoncamera parts photography professional repairIf you have ever updated the firmware of a Nikon DSLR you probably noticed that it was comprised of two parts – Part A and B. This is a curious relic of the development of the digital SLR. If you look at how the cameras evolved, you’ll see that Kodak, the American company that invented and patented the digital camera, had always had a hard time catching up with the state-of-the art Japanese SLRs. They partnered-up with Nikon (and later Canon) to slap CCD imagers and electronics onto film SLR bodies and make use of their metering and auto-focus systems to build big, expensive news cameras like the Kodak DCS760 (which also got into space). Back when the Nikon D2x was being developed, and even today, this two-part heritage exists and so the firmware for the digital image processing is separate from the one controlling “traditional” photographic systems such as metering or focusing.

camera d2x dslr gear Nikon nikoncamera photography professionalThis brings me to the point where I tell you how I got my own Nikon D2x. I bought it off eBay broken, for only a little over $150. The body arrived in mint condition except for a significant impact mark on the side. A fall must’ve hit the camera very hard, as small fragment of the alloy under the prism got chipped, leaving a hole. Scary stuff. After I disassembled the camera it became obvious that the dent had torn the electronics underneath and so they had to be replaced. Luckily I found the necessary part on eBay. It was a long PCB-and-flex (PCB stands for printed circuit board) piece of electronics that starts at the top of the prism, goes under the top LCD, and ends under the main grip. It is none other but Part A – the true SLR heart of the camera! Here is a handy D2x Service Manual for those of you who need to repair their own camera.

camera d2x dslr gear Nikon nikoncamera parts photography professional repairAfter the replacement, the camera came back to life and as I started playing with it and taking test photos I noticed that the shutter release counter was off the charts with over 600 000 clicks! This couldn’t possibly be right with such a mint condition body so I must conclude that the internal shutter release counter is located within the Part A of the camera. If you look at the photo of the parts you will see another curious detail. To the right there is a tiny “improvised” PCB with red and blue wires coming out and connected further away. This is different from the part that I had replaced it with, which indicates that Nikon kept making small tweaks and improvements even after the D2x was launched.

camera d2x dslr gear Nikon nikoncamera olympus olympusom photography professional zuiko

Today the D2x looks very outdated on paper. The imager is only 12 Mpix and it’s an APS-C sensor, which means that it is a little smaller than what is called “full frame”, or FX. The autofocus system has only 11 points, and can’t be fine-tuned. There is no live view and no video. How could it possibly compare or compete with even the cheapest entry-level DSLRs? Well… the Nikon D2x represents, to me, the purest “back to basics” way of taking photos. I admit – the camera feels sluggish by todays standards while reviewing exposures on the LCD screen or navigating through menus, and the 11 autofocus points could’ve been spread wider throughout the viewfinder.

camera d2x dslr gear Nikon nikoncamera olympus olympusom photography professional zuikoHowever, at the time of taking pictures, the camera is extremely responsive. The viewfinder is large,  beautiful and shows 100% of the scene. In your hand the camera feels rock solid. The control layout and handling are perfect – it doesn’t get any better than this. The D2x offers 5 FPS of burst speed (it does have an optional 8 FPS mode, but then it makes use of only 6.5 Mpix which limits its usability). Using the modern RAW processing software you can easily get away with shooting ISO3200. The sensation that you have using the D2x is one of reliability and freedom. If you ever miss a photo opportunity with a D2x in your hand, it will not be the camera’s fault for sure.

Should you get it? This, of course, depends. Today you can find them for under $400, or even for as little as I paid for mine – if you feel adventurous. 12 Mpix (think 4000 x 3000 pixels) will both fill a 2-page spread in a journal with crisp detail and look great on social networks or blogs. The D2x, in addition to being a piece of history,  will keep you mindful of correct exposure and framing while offering no distractions. It will probably not sync with your phone to send a picture via Snapchat but if you were looking for that, you wouldn’t have reached the end of this article. The Nikon D2x is an elegant tool for more… civilized times.

At the end of this page there are four full-size straight out of the camera samples of Nikon D2x photos.

camera d2x dslr gear Nikon nikoncamera photography professionaltesting the alt car d2x mercedes Nikon vehicle vintageart braga d2x Nikon portugal sandstone sculpturearchitecture braga d2x Nikon portugal sanctuary sandstoned2x murcia Nikon spain tree