Finding Old Nick

Old Nick, Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ1000.

I recently visited Cologne, Germany, for the biennial Photokina trade show, a huge convention with all of the latest cameras and every sort of photo accessory you could imagine on display. I was wall-to-wall busy for most of the trip, but had some free time on my arrival day. I had mapped out some spots to shoot around the city, but the one that I really wanted to visit was the Melaten cemetery.

I had done some googling to research cemeteries in Cologne before my trip, and Melaten seemed like the one to visit. It was established as a cemetery in the 19th century, but the history of the area dates back to the 12th; it served as a leper colony starting in 1180, and was a site of many an execution starting in the 16th century.

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The Dirty South and the Big Easy: Memphis and New Orleans

Sigma DP2 Merrill

If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’re aware of the fun cell phone testing road trips that I get to go on as part of my job. If not, the basic drill is that I drive from around a city, stopping at 12 spots, with a bunch of cell phones in the back seat of a car, tweeting out an image at each test spot. The data that the phones are collecting is compiled into a comprehensive report at the end of the project.

This year the trip took me (and my navigator/wife, Elisa) to St. Louis, Kansas City, Memphis, and New Orleans. We only had a half-day in St. Louis, and Kansas City was a great spot for BBQ, but the latter cities were the ones that grabbed me from a visual standpoint.

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In Depth: Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton)

Fort Calgary. Leica M (Typ 240), Leica Elmarit 28mm f/2.8 ASPH.

I’ve written about my PCMag Fastest Mobile Networks cell phone testing road trips before, documenting journeys from Baltimore to Atlanta and LA to Seattle. Last summer the project expanded outside US borders for the first time. I was tasked with testing in Alberta, spending two days each in Calgary and Edmonton. My lovely assistant (aka my wife, Elisa) accompanied me on the trip, which also had us making a detour to visit Drumheller and Torrington on the drive between the two metropolises.

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In Depth: The New Jersey State Fair (2013)

Kodak Portra 800, Canon EOS ELAN 7NE, Sigma 50mm F1.4 EX DG HSM

Another year, another New Jersey State Fair. I’ve been remiss in getting this post done—I was quick in 2011 and 2012 to post some words and photos from the fair. This year was the first that I came armed with a press pass, which made it possible to get some close access to livestock judging and the Queen of the Fair pageant. I concentrated on these events for this trip, skipping over the carnival side of things—mainly because my feet were worn out by the time enough darkness fell to make the rides really visually striking.

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In Depth: LA to Seattle

Randy’s Donuts. Nikon D800, Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 AI-s.

Every year PCMag drives across the US with a bunch of cell phones, running speed tests in cities to determine who has the Fastest Mobile Network. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done to earn a paycheck. In 2012 I took a drive from Baltimore down to Atlanta (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4), but in 2013 I ended up with a route that took me (and my wife/lovely assistant) up the west coast, starting in LA and terminating in Seattle. Part of the project is taking photos and tweeting them from the road. This requires the use of a digital camera, and some way to get photos from it to an iPhone. During my first trip I took a Leica M9-P as my digital, along with my M3 and Rolleiflex film bodies. I didn’t have a digital Leica available this year, and I thought that a telephoto lens would be a good thing to have for the scenery along the Pacific Coast Highway. Continue reading

In Depth: Touring the South with the Leica M9-P, Part 4

A somewhat racist painting of an Eskimo adorns the roof of this Charlotte Dairy Queen. Fuji Velvia 50, Leica M3, Leica Summicron DR 50mm f/2.

Last May I drove down the East Coast from Baltimore to Atlanta to test the speeds of cell phone networks for PCMag. I took a few German cameras with me—the Leica M9-P, my M3, and my Rolleiflex. I covered Baltimore, the Enchanted Forest, and Bull Run in the first installment, Washington, D.C. in the second, and Raleigh in the third.

Day 7: This was a day about Charlotte, N.C., stopping in ten spots to test. It was a rainy day, which limited my shooting. I found Charlotte to be not as visually interesting as Raleigh; I was often on highways rather than local streets, which are lacking on charm in comparison. I did stop in the morning at an old Dairy Queen, with a vaguely racist Eskimo mascot on its roof. Continue reading

In Depth: Touring the South with the Leica M9-P, Part 3

Chopped pork, hush puppies, and slaw at Allen & Son. Leica M9-P, Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 ASPH v1

This past spring I had the pleasure of taking a drive down the eastern seaboard, from Baltimore to Atlanta and points in between, on PCMag’s dime—testing cell phone speeds and taking some photos with some German cameras (the Leica M9-P, M3, and my trusty Rolleiflex.) I covered Baltimore, the Enchanted Forest, and Bull Run in the first installment, and Washington, D.C. in the second.

Day 4: If I had to pick my favorite city of the road trip, it would have to be Raleigh. I had nice weather during my day touring the city, got some fantastic shots, and had awesome food—the best of which was at Allen & Son BBQ, a bit outside the city in Chapel Hill. It’s off the beaten path, on a back road next to some railroad tracks, but it was packed on the Friday evening that I stopped in.

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In Depth: Touring the South with the Leica M9-P, Part 2

Jefferson Memorial, Leica M9-P, Leica Elmar 90mm f/4.

This past spring I had the pleasure of taking a drive down the eastern seaboard, from Baltimore to Atlanta and points in between, on PCMag’s dime—testing cell phone speeds and taking some photos with some German cameras (the Leica M9-P, M3, and my trusty Rolleiflex.) I covered Baltimore, the Enchanted Forest, and Bull Run in the first installment.

Which puts me in Washington, D.C. for the start of part two, as you can probably guess from the scenic view of the Jefferson Memorial above. It was the first stop in my testing in the morning, and I took several photos with the M9-P and M3, settling on this black-and-white conversion from a digital file as my favorite of the bunch. The M system isn’t known for telephoto shooting—135mm is the longest lens made for it—but shooting from across the reflecting pond required a longer lens than my usual 50mm.

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In Depth: Touring the South with the Leica M9-P, Part 1

Edgar Allan Poe’s original burial site, he was later moved to another plot in the cemetery. Leica M9-P, Leica Summilux 35mm f/1.4 ASPH v1

I love my job. I get to shoot with a ton of different cameras, and earlier this year I got to drive a leg of PCMag’s Fastest Mobile Networks project through the American south—from Baltimore to Atlanta, stopping in Washington DC, Raleigh, and Charlotte along the way. My main activity was testing cellular data speeds, but I was also tasked with taking photos at every testing stop—ten a day—and tweeting them.

The quick snaps were done with a cellphone, but I also took a digital with me. I had the Leica M9-P on loan for the trip, and used a microSD card so I could take photos from it and load them onto the Android cell phone I was using for tweets. I also took a couple of film bodies with me—my M3 and Rolleiflex—and ended up with a nice mix of digital and analog shots from my travels.

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In Depth: The New Jersey State Fair (2012)

My favorite chicken photo from the fair this year. Carl Zeiss Distagon T* 2/28, Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III.

If it’s August it means one thing—it’s time for the NJ State Fair. Despite being in the middle of wedding planning, Elisa and I managed to block out a day to take it in. Honestly, she kept saying that we didn’t have time and my only response was “But we need to see the chickens. The chickens!” Needless to say, the chickens won out.

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