Monday, March 29, 2010

PhilFest 2010

My daughter joined the PhilFest de Flores Parade along with many other "Munting Reyna's" in the 15th Annual PhilFest 2010. Fifteen years is a long time for the Bayanihan Arts and Events Center to host the festival like atmosphere of Filipino culture and traditions.

I remember at least thirty years ago, the small booth representing the Philippines in the St. Petersburg Bayfront Center. My parents were active members of the Filipino American Club of Pinellas County and participated in SPIFFS every year. It was not long before the Filipinos of the Tampa Bay area had their own place to gather and celebrate ethnic traditions.

First it was my niece, then my sister in laws and now it is my daughter parading around in her gown with her hair all done fancy. I am really not sure what my daughter thinks of all this fanfare. The "little peaceful queens" took turns displaying themselves to the crowd with their escorts by their side. I was positioning myself in an unobstructed vantage point to get the shots of the miniature royalty walking down the stage.

The "stage" portion of the event was followed by a parade around the festival grounds. With mobile arches in hand, proud parents and family members escorted their "queens" around the perimeter of the cultural center and eventually back to the stage.

Now to the real issue at hand during the event was when do we eat? Lechon,pancit,lumpia shanghai,halo-halo and the ultimate carioca dessert only began the list of Filipino delicacies at the event.

Besides the carioca, my daughter had her eyes set on the kid's arcade and gift shop. You know, the gift shop full of junk prizes you get in a Cracker Jack Box. It maybe worthless to me, but it is a treasure box of gold to my kids. To each his own.

Hopefully by next year's PhilFest, my daughter will soon outgrow the "princess" phase of her life and move on to bigger things like American Idol!

You can check out the rest of the pictures in the PhilFest 2010 Gallery.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Her First Soccer Game Goal!

Yes, this is my daughter kicking her first soccer game goal in her young life. Not only was I a proud father, I could not believe I captured the moment she kicked the ball past the goalie. As I mentioned in a previous post, The Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Autofocus Test, I have renewed respect for sports photographers. I find it a challenge to compose,focus and keep the player and ball in the same shot.

Another crowning moment of the day was when she was chosen as the MVP of the game. You should have seen the smile on her face when she kicked the goal in for the first time and you should have seen the mouth agape when she was given the MVP medal. The other kids were looking in awe of the round coin with a protruding fake soccer ball embedded in it's glory.

I do not want to forget my son during this celebration. He was very busy entertaining all of his girlfriends in the trunk of our car. He lured the girls with the latest Apps from my wife's iPhone. Like father like son, it works every time! I managed to sneak in this shot before his antics were revealed to the world (his parents).

Unfortunately, my daughter's soccer goal did not win the game of the day. She and her teammates did the celebratory endgame handshake with the knowledge there is always the next game to be won. My daughter need not worry, she already won my heart when I first saw her when she was born into this world.

All this mushy talk is making me hungry. We celebrated my daughter's success with a trip to their favorite restaurant, Yummy House! Just look at the glow of my daughter outside the restaurant. Adorable!

Check out my daughter's soccer gallery shot with the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Field Trip Fun!

Elementary school would not be complete without a field trip to a local ranch farm. Just thoughts of horses, barns, haystacks,chickens, rabbits and goats make my kids go absolute bonkers. The wonderful and gracious people of R&R Ranch hosted my son's school field trip.

My son has not even attempted to ride a pony solo since his cousin's birthday party at the same ranch a couple of weeks ago. I guess he gave in too the peer pressure of his classmates. My son donned the helmet and off he went into the midday sun. The middle of the afternoon is not the best time to photograph people. Harsh shadows,blown out skies and squinting eyeballs are just a few things that deter me from the spotlight effect of the sun. You know, mornings and twilight are the golden hours for beautiful light.

The classic hay ride topped of the trip and to the kid's delight they got to feed the grown up horses. Standing next to one is intimidating. I do not know what the horse is thinking about the black object in my hand snapping away his picture. All I know he did not think it was food because I still have my hands to speak of.

All day as I was photographing the kids and horses, my son kept warning me not to step on the horse poop. Learning my lesson from my nephew's ranch birthday party, I put on my horse pie kickers to deter any smelly altercations.

My school field trip indicator hit the threshold for a complete joy. My son also went to see how real pizza is made at a restaurant (photographed with the Canon EOS 7D) and experienced professional ice hockey players with The Tampa Bay Lightning at the St. Pete Times Forum (photographed with the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV). This topped off a great year, as field trips go, for my mini clone.

This post would not be complete without a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV video and picture gallery. Check out the brief video below and click on the above link to check out more pictures of my son's fabulous field trip to R&R Ranch in Lithia,FL.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Canon EOS 5D Mark II Video Audio Test

Canon EOS 5D Mark II owners rejoice! The much acclaimed and anticipated firmware has arrived. First and foremost the best feature is the manual control of the audio input to defeat the almighty AGC. Secondly, the addition of lower resolutions at the correct frame rates and the proper audio frequency of 44khz. Thirdly, the feature of aperture and shutter priority in the Live View video mode.

You probably noticed that I used a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV to shoot a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with the new firmware shooting a video I shot with the Canon EOS Rebel T2i. This audio test video has more layers than my favorite Hummingbird Cake at Wright's Bakery in Tampa,FL.
Enough of the food references!

Are the new features of the 2.0.3 firmware worth the wait? Yes and No. Yes, the manual audio control is a must to fight the evil AGC, but the whole execution of the interface seems like an engineering after thought. Wait a minute! It is in fact an after thought. The camera was released in the U.S. in November 2008 with no intention of having this many video features. I really cannot complain considering how much technology they have packed in this fabulous dslr. My only gripe is at the manual audio control setting in the menu. Once you select manual audio control and scroll below to set the audio level, you have to remind yourself to press set when you are done. Other wise, your settings will not take effect and the default is zero audio level. Absolute silence and you will not be able to tell because you cannot monitor audio through headphones or visually with meters. Very frustrating.

The aperture and shutter priority video modes has much potential. I can finally shoot wide open with the rest of the settings on full auto instead of using my Nikon AF-D lenses with Fotodiox adapter. The extra frame rate and proper audio frequency is a plus, also.

To watch the original video that is on the Apple Cinema Display can be found at my Canon EOS Rebel T2i Video Test #3 post. More pictures of the 5D setup are here in my Canon 1D Mark IV gallery.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

A Day in the Park

We cannot get enough of the Tampa Museum of Art. Ever since the grand opening in February, my family and I went back to the Tampa Riverwalk to enjoy the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park and the playground by the museum. As you noticed in the video above, the lure of water features became irresistible for the kids as well as another opportunity for a Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Video Test.

The water relieved the kids because we were at my daughter's Youth Soccer Game all morning and I wanted to take a nap on the luscious grassy field by the waterfront. We could have not asked for better weather to play ball in the park and for me to take a sleepy bear nap.

Do not mind my son's flip flops and the pink soccer ball. I guess he watches his sister play soccer too much and wants to try it out for himself. He might be the next Filipino Beckham! Believe me, harmony grew short when the "this is my ball" argument began with his sister. My tolerance for whining grew thin and resorted to the water features of the Riverfront. Problem solved!

If you have not seen already my The Tampa Museum of Art Experience, you should check it out because I put another Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Video Test together about the museum. It is a sight to see, especially at sunset.

Here is my Day in the Park Gallery to check out the pictures and video.

Friday, March 12, 2010

The James Hoyer Media Team

I would like to introduce our Emmy Award winning Media Team at the James Hoyer Law Firm. If you ever wondered what I actually do for a living, I am an Investigative Photographer. I shoot pictures and video for investigative productions for use by our attorneys for specific high profile cases and a variety of social media. I am only one part of the Media team. We have a former investigative journalist, Angie Moreschi. She magically weaves all the different literary and visual elements in an effective tool to convey the message. Not only she writes superb content, she demonstrates a commanding presence on camera. The third and most creative part of the Media team is Larry Wiezycki. He artistically directs all visual,audio and web content in a way that shines above the rest. This is evident in the soon to be print advertisement about our wonderful Media Team. He is the Photoshop Master!

Another important aspect of our law firm that I personally find fascinating is The Consumer Warning Network. It is a non-profit consumer advocacy website that educates and warns consumers of all the fraud in our greed infested society. Our subjects range from the foreclosure crisis, to Chinese drywall, airline safety, subprime student loans and even an ordering online flower comparison.

The one person who made this "dream team" happen is Chris Hoyer. He had the vision three and a half years ago that social media would be a potent communicating tool in today's changing society. Chris and I share the same passion for photography. You can see it here in his ArtBlog.

I have never experienced, seen or heard of a law firm like this one in my life. Whenever somebody asks me what I do for a living, they give me a confused yet curious look on their face when I respond. Maybe I should just email them my PhotoBlog link! LOL!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Canon EOS Rebel T2i Video Test #3

Maybe it is the lure of fireworks like at Disney's EPCOT or something about glowing embers of a campfire. The drive to work involves a 5 minute trip up 6 floors of a concrete parking garage unless Divine Intervention allows a closer parking space to the elevator.

It only took a brief spark to whip out my Canon EOS Rebel T2i and start capturing glorious HD footage. This is my third video installment of the Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR.

Salamat Po!, I said to the welding crew in the parking garage. It is fortunate for me that my Filipino brothers embraced me with their open arms. They loved that I was photographing and videotaping them. They must be just as passionate in welding as I am in photography. I knew there was a magical connection between the crew and I because our mutual desire for Jollibee!

All this talk of Fried Chicken is making me hungry. Can we talk about the Video? I shot the video in full manual movie mode. Used Full HD settings at 29.97 fps. I opened up the Canon EF 35mm 1.4L lens wide open to get that dreamy bokeh. The panning and tilting is from my trusty Bogen 501 fluid head with 3221wn legs. I did not use the shotgun mic you see in the above picture but I used the mono on board mic. The ambient noise in the garage was filled with car alarms, jack hammers and traffic. Clean audio was not practical at the time anyway.

To minimize flicker, I manipulated the shutter speed,ISO and aperture. It was not the most ideal lighting situation with daylight,florescent and incandescent all mixed in. I ended up with a shutter speed of 1/125,f1.4 and ISO 1600. As for editing the clips, I used iMovie'09. It is a wonderful thing just to drag the H264 files into the project bin and start editing right out of the gate.Thank you, Steve Jobs for iMovie'09 and less of a thank you for the upcoming and overpriced Apple iPad.

If you have not seen already, my initial Canon EOS Rebel T2i Review and my Video and Image T2i Gallery has ISO,Image and Video Quality comparisons.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Autofocus Test

I have a renewed respect for sports photographers. It has been a while since I shot a sporting event, especially a soccer game, and realized there is a high level of skill and difficulty. Enter my daughter's first soccer game with one day of practice. Adorable yet a hair pulling affair for my photographic acquisition.

First and foremost the most difficult task of sports photography is keeping the focus point tracking the player's face in AI Servo mode. It was almost like an elementary game of keep the red dot on your opponent to win the prize.

Anticipating the player's movement is the second most difficult thing to predict. My directive was to get the player and the ball coming towards the camera's direction. Virtually impossible with soccer because the ball is going in every direction. One second the ball is headed your direction and then a quick turn to the left and right.
I felt a headache approaching from my frustration to get the perfect shots.

The third most difficult task is to compose your shot with the player and ball in the same frame while in motion and making sure the red focus point is on their face.
You could say this step is a combination of the first two hard things to accomplish when shooting sports. I have many more of my daughter's games to practice this task. I forgot to mention the added obstacle of obstacles. If you did not have anything more to worry about shooting soccer, the blurry object walks into your shot. Lo and behold, it is one of the many coaches following the game on the field. This could very well be the fourth step in my list, but I will proceed with my Auto Focus evaluation.

Life would be simple if everything moved laterally, but that is not the case. The instant the red focus point tracks off the face while composing the player,the ball and the surroundings everything goes blurry and I miss the shot. It is a constant battle with all of these elements fighting each other.

My feeble attempt at sports photography is overwhelmed by the AF system of the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV. I am no Rob Galbraith. Nor do I have the plethora of Big White Lenses at my disposal. All I used on the shoot were my Canon EF 70-200 f2.8 IS and EF 300mm f4 IS lenses. I enabled the surrounding focus points(C.Fn III-8-2)to maintain the broadest reach of the main focus point and have a higher keeper rate of in focus pictures. Call this a realistic and practical evaulation of the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV auto focus.

You can compare my AF results in my daughter's soccer gallery.

My daughter's youth soccer game is not the World Cup or the Summer Olympics, by no means. My sports photography will get only better with practice and determination. My daughter out in the soccer field having fun kicking the ball outweighs any "hair pulling" frustration I have with sports photography.
There will be a second round of AF tests during my daughter's second game next weekend and by then,I will have more practice. This AF evaluation will continue in my next post with even more AI Servo examples.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Video Test in the Wild West!

The blog title fails the Iambic Pentameter test. It succeeds in the "mildly cheesy" category, by far. I have been neglecting my Canon EOS 1D Mark IV audience long enough. Since the camera hit the U.S. market on January 4, 2010, I have been testing the video and still image quality of the camera in between all the new Canon products (T2i) and studying the firmware announcements.(5D Mark II)

The 1D SLR series is the flagship model of the Canon camera lineup. The "1" designation boasts a sturdy and robust weather resistant design compared to the other Canon models. The Mark IV has a lot to live up to considering the demise of its predecessor, the Mark III. In my opinion, the Mark III got a bad rap in the big picture of the camera world. I personally own a Mark III and I love the unique image quality. Yes, I did send it in for the sub-mirror fix and the camera was returned butchered by the Newport News Canon Repair Facility. Butchered meaning they stripped the top and bottom screws that hold the body together. You could literally compress the body like an accordion and dance the polka! Many calls and letters later, the wonderful Irvine, California Repair Facility repaired the repair. The camera is fine now and taking astounding images.

The Canon EOS 1D Mark IV has a 16mp 1.3 crop sensor and now has the dynamic capabilities of HD video capture in all frame rates and resolutions. Enough of the technical talk. I am all about image quality and ISO performance in stills and video, just like my last review of the Rebel T2i. I was worried 16mp would make the image quality mush without all the important skin detail, but I was pleasantly surprised and very impressed by the results. (It better be impressive for the retail price of $5000) As you can see by the images in the Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Gallery, you can view for yourself the detail in the pictures.

Run and get this camera if you desire a rugged tank like body with great weather sealing. Walk and get another Canon camera if you do not want to spend $5000. The hefty premium is worth for only the die hard professionals and dedicated novices. How else can one justify the three zeroes in 5000? That is two 5D Mark II's, two and a half 7D's and six Rebel T2i's. Hmmm...Sport photographers love this camera.That is evident from the Vancouver Winter Olympics. It is just about overkill for everything non sports related or events not requiring 10 frames per second. Canon has a camera for every situation at every price range.

ISO evaluation is the next important factor in this review. To make a long story short,ISO 3200 is a dream. ISO 6400 can be used without hesitation. ISO 12800 can be used sparingly but still usable without cringing. ISO 25,500 is for desperate times and ISO 102,000 is absolutely horrible. Check out the photo info in my Mark IV Test Gallery and see for yourself the ISO levels in each image. Enlarge the photo by zooming in and you can compare the ISO noise.

The Canon EOS 1D Mark IV has HD video capture in all frame rates and resolutions like the other Canon HD dslr's.(5DMarkII very soon) Is this feature noteworthy in a camera of this caliber? Yes and no. Yes, the video is outstanding in terms of quality and noise. No, the record button is in a terrible location on the camera. The video capture button (fel) cannot be pressed to record with your thumb. This "thumb" activation of either the set button (5dMarkII) or a dedicated button by the viewfinder (7D and T2i) enables easy access while shooting both still pictures and video of an event. Using my pointing finger to press a tiny button is very awkward. There is more than enough surface area on the back of the Mark IV to put some type of dedicated button but Canon decided on the "fel" button.

Iwill conclude my Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Review with a western goodbye. Canon's flagship is definitely stellar as a technical endeavor but the price is astronomical for the weekend warrior. The Mark IV has every professional's needs when it comes to speed and focus ability. My daughter has a youth soccer game this weekend, so I will post my AI Servo tracking review soon.
The Canon EOS 1D Mark IV Video and Picture Test Gallery

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Happy Wedding Anniversary !

My beautiful wife achieved "Sainthood" for putting up with me for 9 years of marriage, giving birth to our children and especially sharing the same passion for photography. I am a lucky husband. Too bad she did not share the same passion for motorcycles (Rode a Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic for 10 years), but I will not dig up past wounds. I will look toward the future of mini-van cruising.(Honestly, I like my family truckster.Shhh! Don't tell anyone.)

This is my wife's clone, our first born daughter. She is in 2nd grade and loves anything pink. She currently a fan of Miley Cyrus and saving her Piggy Bank pennies for the 4th generation iPhone.

My clone needs no introduction. He looks like me, acts like me and most importantly he eats like me. Enough said.

This is our latest family Holiday photograph taken last Christmas at the University of Tampa campus. Why am I not smiling, you ask? I literally had a minor stroke getting the picture taken before the "Magic Hour" faded away in the horizon. My son was not cooperating, it was a rather cold twilight evening and I was racing against time setting up my strobes with a light meter before the sun went away. It was a perfect recipe for disaster, but disaster was averted because the picture you see above came through successfully.

I would like to end my post with a peaceful Canon EOS 5D Mark II Video of Hawaii. We celebrated my wife's 40th birthday by heading to Kauai and Honolulu for a family vacation. You can see pictures in my Hawaii 2009 Gallery.

Mahal Kita Kasey!

Monday, March 1, 2010

Happy Birthday Auntie !

My daughter's favorite Auntie had her Birthday party today at The Wine Exchange in Hyde Park Village. Not my usual fare (No Fried Chicken), but I got my fill of Steak and Fries. I was actually looking forward to my family's Chinese Mecca, Yummy House, but my sister in law's boyfriend made secret plans to skirt my Yummy House appetite.

Yes, this is my mini-clone. My son rarely strikes a pose unless there is some type of bribe in the form of soda, ice cream or his iPhone App privileges suspended for more than a minute. So you ask what prompted this handsome gesture? I asked him to smile for the camera or the iPhone disappears. This is a sad comment on Apple's strangle hold on today's preschoolers. What happened to Nintendo DSi?

My PhotoBlog Post would not be complete if I did not include a Canon EOS Rebel T2i Video Test #2 of our Birthday adventures. After lunch, the whole family went to a paint it yourself ceramic studio called ColorMeMine. I did not understand the concept of buying items to paint yourself, but my wife and kids enjoyed it. I just smiled and shot pictures and video for my next test gallery.

I will not hold back any longer. The Canon Rebel T2i outperformed my expectations again and again. See for yourself in the updated T2i Gallery and in the new video below.