Zim Photography Blog

Adventures in Trains and Toilettes

Posted: 22 February 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Headed back to Yokohama on the bullet train today. I have to say that was a really incredible experience. It was so quiet in the cabins and it took off and came to a stop soooo smoothly. I had no idea we were in motion until the train was almost out of the station! Incredible. And in this ultra modern train was an ultra modern restroom. So here it is:

Now in Shikoku

Posted: 21 February 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

On Saturday I took the bullet train down to Shikoku and stayed in a town called Kagawa; apparently it’s known for it’s UDON noodles and true to form, everywhere I went there was an Udon shop, no ramen just udon. Below is a picture of Zim Air passengers enjoying their traditional lunch. (Also had Udon for dinner but there was not point in shooting that again!)

The best thing I’ve eaten in Japan.

Posted: 16 February 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

While here in Japan I am being hosted by a local. A local who is as much of a foodie as I am. He is dedicated to having me try something new everyday. This is my fourth trip here and unbelievably the best thing I’ve ever eaten in the country ain’t Japanese! Crazy. Yesterday I was taken to a “bread shop”, supposedly a famous and popular place. I was told that, there was some sort of special bread that you pulled apart. And though I was reluctant to go because we had just eaten a huge lunch, I agreed to do. Well there I ran into something kind of strange looking it looked like a baguette but it was very strange in color. Almost black. As a matter of fact it was darker than a black rye bread with what seemed like white chocolate chips melted on top. They had a little sample bowl and guess what? It was chocolate bread with white chocolate chips. It was nice and chewy like a really good artisan bread too! So hands down this is the best thing I’ve ever eaten in this country and it ain’t even Japanese.


Then at the local Circle K, and yes there are circle K’s here, I found some nice snacks. Melty Kiss, gonna have to try that one. Then there was the Fish jerky next to the beef jerky.

Touchdown Yokohama, Japan! (Zim Air update too)

Posted: 14 February 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Arrived last night into Tokyo and immediately on a bus to yokohama. Once again an uneventful unexciting fight. Just the way I like to fly. I must say though, there was a lot more leg room on this flight than the last time I flew Delta. I was actually comfortable and not missing the exit row!If it weren’t for the woman sitting behind me kneeing my chair for nearly the entire 12 hours! When I arrived I was “treated” to a rare snow fall here in Yokohama; my hosts were going on about how “lucky” I am.  Geeee, let me jump for joy, cause I’ve never seen these white things flowing from the sky before because I live in NYC. OMG… Luckily none of it will stick.


Then this morning watched some Japanese Morning show talking entertainment gossip, hmmm. So some beautiful little actress is divorcing her rat bastard cheating husband who’s dating some young Spanish tramp. It’s apparantly a big scandal here. I’m like that’s kindergarten stuff man! Ok, Here’s a picture of the current Zim Air passengers enjoying their time in the Zim Air Cubic  Zirconia Sky Lounge. Due to more seats being sold on this flight the Zim Airplane passengers are having a great time getting to know each other. The interesting factoid on this flight is that all but one passenger is from california! how that happened I don’t know. So who’s traveling this time? we have one married couple, one mixed couple traveling only as friends (this is what I’m told anyway, although no questions were asked, because we respect people’s privacy here at Zim Air), there is also a group of 4 pretty young women traveling together looking for a good time, and lastly one lonely male from NYC also looking for a good time (I wonder if they will take advantage of the intimate traveling conditions on   http://zimphotography.com/blog/?p=475&preview=truen this trip?).

Off to Japan today

Posted: 13 February 2011 . / Categories: Where's Zim?

Heading off to Japan for 10 days. I’m wondering why I’m going to be in a Northern country in the middle of the winter?

Photo Tip #18: More on lenses

Posted: 01 December 2010 . / Categories: Photo Tips

After re-reading Photo tip #15, understanding lenses. I realized there was a missing component in my post. When buying a point and shoot camera or a lens, you need to pay attention to the maximum aperture opening. The aperture is the opening inside the lens that allows light to pass through. You need one that has the largest opening you can possibly get (which means a smaller number). Apertures are referred to as F/stops. So the smaller the opening the better off you are, why? Because it means you are able to gather more light in low light settings, which means it’s easier for you to shoot in low light settings. So try to buy cameras or lenses with apertures with smaller numbers than f/2.8 if you can. But remember this also means the equipment is going to get larger as well (generally speaking).

Photo Tip #17: Buying a Compact Digital Camera.

Posted: 04 November 2010 . / Categories: Photo Tips

For me the reason for buying a small point and shoot camera is because it is small and  you can point and shoot it easily. I have come to discover (over the past 20 years) that when someone takes my advice and buys a small easy to use camera, they are eternally happy with it because they tend to take more pictures and they have more fun with their camera. Below are some of the things you should look for when you are buying one of these point and shoot cameras.

Many of the answers to these questions have been answered in my previous Photo Tip posts, so I will point you to them when appropriate.

1.  It should be small and compact. There are a variety of cameras on the market that are about the size of an Altoids can these days. I think this is a good measure because much bigger and you are less likely to take it with you everywhere you go, less likely to use it and less likely to be happy with it.

2. It should be easy to use. In order for camera manufacturers to fit their cameras into an Altoids can often times the buttons can get rather small. This IS the compromise you will have to make, but there are definitely some that are smaller than others. Before you make a final decision on a camera, go to the store and actually touch and feel the camera to make sure that A. the buttons are big enough for you, B. that you can read the labels on the camera and C. that it is actually not so small as to be difficult to stabilize.

3. What kind of optics should you go with it? In brief the shorter/wider the lens the better off you will be. Trust me on this. Please read this blog posts. “Understanding Lenses”

4. View finder or no view finder? Most manufacturers are slowly but surely moving towards eliminating the view finder on compact point and shoot cameras in favor of  the live view on the LCD screen. When I am shooting with my DSLR there are only select times when I will use the live view on the LCD screen to create an image. Why? because my camera is big and it’s difficult to stabilize the camera for the shot I want. I also like the tunnel vision I get when I’m looking through the viewfinder as well (this also helps me compose my image). On the other hand the viewfinders offered on a compact point and shoot is so small that they too are difficult to use. When I’m shooting with a small camera, I usually favor the LCD screen. I think the days of the view finder on these little cameras are numbered. The drawback of an LCD screen is that manufacturers have not been able to overcome the glare issue when it is used outside in bright daylight (but they have gotten better), so without a viewfinder you may find it difficult to see what you are doing under these conditions. Also, by having a viewfinder you can turn off the LCD screen saving your battery power and be more discrete about what  you are shooting. 

5. How big is the LCD screen? Obviously the size of the LCD screen is limited by the overall size of the camera. But I believe bigger is better. It is also useful to have the option to change the brightness of the screen as well as turning it off (even if you do not have a view finder). What about the new technology of touch screens? welllll, honestly I’m not enamored with the idea. I think it’s just a bit too slow to get to the menu items I really want to get to. Let’s face it, you are going to get your camera, set it up and once very blue moon you will need to change that setting; and when you want/need to do that you want to change it fast! IMHO, touch screens make you scroll and scroll and scroll to make simple changes. I’m just not a fan. You will have to use your own judgment on this.

Other features worthy of mention:

6. Weather/Waterproof: I love the idea of a waterproof camera! Who wouldn’t? But not all are created equal, many have high leakage rates. One way to figure out what the failure rate of any piece of electronics is to read the reviews of other buyers. For instance, last year I really wanted to buy a waterproof camcorder, but nearly 23% of all on-line reviewers seemed to report problems and leakage with that particular camera. (the manufacturer has since pulled the plug on this product). I believe the easiest way to tell the failure rate of a product s by simply looking at the percentage of reviewers rating a product with 2 stars or less. The success rate of a product is in the percentage of 4 & 5 stars. After many years of buying too much electronic equipment, I feel that an acceptable failure rate of a piece of equipment is less than 10%, rarely do I see less than 5%. Speaking of on-line reviews, the same product above, got about 4-5 star rating from “professional” reviewers. But to test the camera those guys put it in a bucket of water for a few minute and then gave it a thumbs up. Reviews from actual customers usually mean that the person jumped into a swimming pool for a while. Lastly, I know there are always those who are unhappy with everything, but I also look at bad reviews looking for this: What is the customer service attitude of the manufacturer? With the product above? Customers reported incredibly bad responses from the manufacturer over and over again. With over a 20% failure rate, very poor customer service, I decided against buying the camera.

7. Video: I love this this feature on a point and shoot. Get HD if you can. I think you’ll enjoy using it. It’s just fun to shoot a video sometimes. But you will need more memory to do this. Read this blog: “I like Chips”

8. Image Stabilization & Face Detection:  also known as IS. Many manufacturers are starting to make this a standard feature on their cameras. I think it’s worth the money. What is it? Image Stabilization is just that, it helps to stabilize your image. Whenever you are shooting in low light and you have a slow shutter speed with no flash you are more likely to move your camera around, IS will help counter this. As a matter of fact it helps counter all hand shake. Be careful though, it should be turned off when you are using a tripod. There is also a technology called Face Detection. Since most amateur photographers like to photograph people, they also want the people are in focus too! duh. Manufacturers have come up with a nifty system that automatically detects faces in your photo and attempts to focus on that! How cool is that? I like it, I think the technology works well.

9. File format : although most point and shoots produce jpg files, some are starting to produce RAW. Please read: “File Format”

10. Shutter Lag: Although this is a very difficult thing to determine, and manufacturers have clearly not agreed on a standard test so as to possibly publish a number we can all understand… it IS something you need to pay attention to. Please read:  “Shutter Lag”

Well, that’s the skinny, or not so skinny on how to buy a compact digital camera. I hope this posting helps as we enter the Christmas season. If you have any questions please feel free to write to me. If you want to learn how to use that camera check out this site: http://newyorkcityphotosafari.com/

Photo Tip #16: Camera Supports (aka tripods)

Posted: 05 October 2010 . / Categories: Photo Tips

I have been shooting for over 25 years, (i’m 30 ya know), and it was not until a couple of years ago did I bother to carry a tripod with me on a regular basis (and with that it’s only a mini table top model). I am a firm believer in hand holding my camera. I find that tripods and the alike just weigh down your bag with one more thing. That’s my 2 cents. But this post is about tripods so here it is.

When to use a tripod? There really is only 2 reasons to be using a tripod. 1. If you are shooting products in studio and need to do a lot of light adjustments. 2. You are shooting in low light alot (ie. night time photography or in side buildings)

How should you choose tripod legs? In the world of professional photography often tripods legs are sold separately from the head so let’s talk legs. They come in 2 flavors, the type with leg locks which twist or have flip levers. IMHO unless you are buying a Gitzo you should always buy legs with flip levers. With the exception of ones made by Gitzo, twist locks seem to go bad very quickly – and this is why Gitzo legs start at $350 new. With flip levers you can always readjust the nuts and bolts to ensure a tight lock. Aside from the levers, it just comes down to size. I think that the legs should be able to handle about twice as much weight as you anticipate having to put on them. It is preferable that it has the ability to extend taller than yourself; because let’s face it, often when you need a tripod it’s so that you can stabilize your camera into a position you can’t easily hand hold, and often that’s over your head. It is preferable that it is as light as possible especially if you plan on traveling with it. And if you are, make sure there is an easy way to attach a shoulder strap or to connect it to your bag.

What about the head? So what kind of tripod head should you buy? to go with your legs? Many many people like ball heads, because they seem so flexible and like it’s the right thing to do; you can twist it every which way and then just lock it in right? Wrong, if you are serious about using a tripod I would advise you get a “pan tilt” head; the reason for this is if you only need to make an adjustment in one direction, such as forward and back then you only release that mechanism. In the instance of a ball head, when you release the ball you are now moving in all directions, making small changes difficult. You actually get more control over your movements with a pan tilt head, albeit slower. Having said this, I do own a Manfrotto 484RC2 ballhead for my mini tripod; why? because it’s small and compact. I have regular pan tilt heads for my regular tripods. What about quick release?? I love quick release. It means that I can quickly dismount my camera from my tripod so that I can move the tripod easily without worrying about my camera. But if you are shooting in a studio, it really doesn’t matter as you will not be moving your equipment around all that much. Once you decide on the mechanics of the head which one to buy will again depend on how much weight you plan on putting on it.

What about a table top tripod or those new fangled Gorilla Pods? OK, this is an OPINION, and I am entitled to it. First the little Gorillapods by Joby are great! If all you are attaching is a point and shoot to these things work GREAT! I love them. So I bought the SLR version for my DSLR camera, and guess what? it sucks. It’s big and it would not hold, even the one they sent to replace it with did not work well; and my equipment was far lighter than it’s stated load capacity. My friend the engineer said, “Zim, this design never works well, under real world conditions. And if they did they don’t last very long. It’s a great idea that no one has been able to execute well.” If you need a small tripod I would suggest one of these:

Bogen Legs

Or I saw this on line recently but it’s $120, BUT it has a load capacity of 55 lbs!!! And the legs come out so it’s very transportable and small! It’s made by Novoflex.

Here is rule of thumb, if the tripod looks flimsy? IT IS! Good tripods don’t go bad and you can buy them on ebay used cheaper than retail and without worry. The cream of the crop tripods are made by Gitzo, which was bought by Bogen, which is now owned by Manfrotto – but a tripod sold under the Manfrotto name is still not a Gitzo; make sure it says gitzo if that’s what you want! And a 50 year old Gitzo? it’s still worth more than a new one.

Stamford Art Festival – this is it, last show of the year!

Posted: 24 September 2010 . / Categories: Next Event

This weekend will be the last show of the year and I get to sleep in my own bed! yeahhhh! After this I will be thinking about going to Syria in March!

Stop by and help me make this a great show!
Stamford Art Festival

This season is slowly winding down. Alexandria, VA this weekend.

Posted: 09 September 2010 . / Categories: Next Event

It’s been a long brutal summer and I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. This weekend I’ll be heading south to the Alexandria Festival of Art. In Alexandria, VA!

Here’s the link to the show: Alexandria Festival of Art

Visit me at the Oakbrook Mall, in Oakbrook, IL!

Posted: 01 September 2010 . / Categories: Next Event

Although it’s going to be a long weekend the show is only 2 days. Saturday and Sunday. Stop by and see me, while you’re at it, could ya bring me some ice cream too?

Oakbrook Fine Arts Invitational

I love Portland, ME

Posted: 30 August 2010 . / Categories: Next Event

Or is it ME! I love Portland? Thanks everyone for stopping by and for a great show in Portland. I had a great time! Look forward to returning next year!

Off to the Portland Sidewalk Arts Festival this weekend!

Posted: 26 August 2010 . / Categories: Next Event

Another weekend another trip north. I must say, I always look forward to going to Portland! Why? because the folks are always so nice to me! And this year, I’m gonna take some time to do some kayaking before hand! If you don’t see me at the show on Saturday please the Coast Guard to go looking for me in the bay!

Here’s the who info! LINK

Photo Tip #15: Understanding lenses (zoom and fixed)

Posted: 23 August 2010 . / Categories: Photo Tips

Remember Photo Tip #9? “Bigger is Not Better”? My advice here for the most part is the same… sort of. A lot of people ask me about buying these mongo zoom lenses like 18mm-300mm or something like that. The rule of thumb for YEARS has been, do not buy zoom lenses that are more than 2-2.5x. Why? because glass quality goes down. Below is an example.

Although the lens on the bottom has a much longer range it is literally 1/10 the price, about half the size, and 1/4 the weight . You have to wonder about this.  Why would they make such a behemoth of a lens for us pros to break our backs with? Here’s why, in order to get the lens quality that we demand along with great light gathering capabilities you have to put in a lot of glass and it has to be bigger to do it, and therefore the price goes through the roof.  So is bigger better? In this instance yes, but with qualifications. The physical size is bigger but the specifications are smaller (less zoom). This is often true with a fixed focal length (non zoom) lens too. * The bigger lens is also heavier and therefore more painful on your back.


Most of you are not buying DSLR’s so how does this relate to buying point and shoot cameras? Stay with me here, I’ll get to that.


The next question is what range is good for  you? Most people who take pictures on vacation or just day to day like to shoot landscapes, their personal environments and people at a very close range (like in the kitchen or living room), which means you really want a WIDE angle lens.  Speaking in 35mm equivalents**, IMHO I think if you can get something shorter than a 28mm lens you are doing well.  So what about the zoom? Again, IMHO I don’t think it matters. Just remember that the longer it is the bigger the camera. The point of a point and shoot is that it is compact and easy to carry; which means you’ll take it everywhere and actually take a few pictures! A point and shoot will pretty much never give you as much zoom as your imagination would like you to have so settle for less if it means that you will get a wider angle on the other end of the spectrum.


If you are buying a DSLR, you are likely doing it because you want to shoot some sporting events with your kids. Consider getting 2 lenses. A short zoom – like 24-70mm (35mm equivalent**), and a longer zoom 70-200mm (or even 300mm); these are the two that I carry, and they have served me well for 20 years! Just remember though, the longer the range the more likely the glass quality will go down.


*These days fixed focal length lenses are often referred to as “prime” lenses. I don’t know when that happened.


**35mm equivalent: this is what the result would look like if your camera has a full frame sensor or is a 35mm film camera. Most cameras are NOT full frame sensors and therefore have a “crop factor”; since it seems to vary from camera to camera to make sure that everyone is one the same page we talk in “35mm equivalent” so that we are comparing apples to apples. So when you are looking at two different cameras from two different manufacturers, you should ask what the 35mm equivalent is, because a 28-100mm on a Canon point and shoot may not the same as a 28-100mm on a Nikon and they would certainly not look the same if you mounted them on a full frame sensor camera. To do the conversion check out this website: http://www.digified.net/focallength/

Back from Minneapolis & now Mystic, CT 8/14-8/15

Posted: 12 August 2010 . / Categories: Next Event

What a great weekend in Minneapolis! But now I’m headed to Mystic, Ct this weekend. I hope the weather is nice. It was pretty warm last year, although not as bad as the previous year!

Visit me in Mystic! http://mysticchamber.org

Uptown Art Fair, Minneapolis, MN

Posted: 03 August 2010 . / Categories: Next Event

Tomorrow it’s off to the Uptown Art Fair. It starts this friday Friday at noon!


Ready for the long trip to Minneapolis.

Posted: 02 August 2010 . / Categories: Thoughts

After staying at home last weekend. I’m ready for the long ride to Minneapolis. Thank goodness for satellite radio! I wonder if I will make any headway on learning Japanese in the car?

Wesport, CT – and my own pillow.

Posted: 14 July 2010 . / Categories: Thoughts

Well, i’m certainly looking forward to sleeping in my own bed this weekend, cause I’m doing the Wesport Fine Arts Festival this weekend and it’s close enough to commute. There really is nothing like your own bed!

Here’s to hoping for good weather and lots of people.


Wickford this weekend!

Posted: 08 July 2010 . / Categories: Next Event

After a long weekend off, I’m really looking forward to heading to Wickford, RI tomorrow. Gotta get my Del’s lemonade!


Photo Tip #14: Color Space

Posted: 01 July 2010 . / Categories: Photo Tips

After all that talk about file format the next logical discussion is about color space. What is color space? Color space is how your camera decides to see the world. In other words, it’s color bias (yes everything is biased in the world, get over it). In the days of film, every manufacturer’s film biased differently; Kodak tended to bias towards the yellows and oranges while Fuji went towards the green.  To some extent color space works the same way… sort of. There are many different color spaces out there but typically it’s sRGB, RGB and ProRGB. RGB=red, green, blue; together you get all the colors in the spectrum. sRGB sees the smallest portion of the spectrum while ProRGB sees the largest.  You want to set your camera to shooting the largest, IMHO. Why? because you want to capture as much as possible for when you’ll be able to use it. HUH? what do I mean by that? Typically if you are taking your photo’s to a lab like, Walmart or CVS they are printing in sRGB. So even if you shoot in ProRGB, all of your colors will get truncated anyway. But hopefully, in the future this will change. In preparation for that eventual future I think you should be shooting in the biggest color space possible. You will also have a more lattitude to manipulate the image as well.


Having said this, most point and shoot cameras typically default to sRGB, you will want to look at your manual to change it.


This is a very very brief and simple explanation of color space but I think you get the idea

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