Tag Archives: Photography

Looking for a new camera

While I absolutely love the amazing quality of photos my Lumia Windows Phone stake (Lumia 1020 and Lumia Icon) – I am looking to dive a little deeper into photography. I previously had been using a Sony NEX-5 and a Nikon D5000 camera. But I’m looking for something new. My intention is to get a new camera to take with me later this summer when my fiancée and I embark on our honeymoon to Europe after our wedding. Here are some of the cameras I am looking at right now:

Follow Brandon’s board Cameras on Pinterest.

I’m very interested in hearing what people recommend on the cameras I am looking at our any suggestions on cameras I’m not currently looking at. While some of the cameras I am looking at are quite pricey (like the Leica M) – I’m hoping to keep the price down a bit. Looking forward to hearing what people have to say!

I’m on 500px

Seattle by Brandon LeBlanc on 500px.com

I’m on the photo sharing services 500px. Come find me!

It has been a while since I was really “into” sharing my photography. It mostly came down finding myself not taking as much photos as I used to. However, I’ve decided to re-commit to photography. I recently have begun learning to try and take night shots with my Nikon D500 (any advice/pointers will be much appreciated!). And I’m using 500px to share the high-res photos I take with my Lumia 1020 Windows Phone – which has quickly become my camera of choice.

A question I am getting from folks is “why 500px?” and not just continue on using Flickr. especially with the biggest design in years shipping back in May. There is the part where I should be able to say “I’m on 500px because it’s better than Flickr” and give you a reason.

But I can’t really give a great answer.

The reason why I choose 500px was because I was fascinated by it and how it differed a bit from what I was used to with Flickr. 500px for example gives you a “pulse” on your photos – this is a measurement (out of 100) on the popularity of a photo. And the pulse of a photo can fluctuate over time. You also get this “story” concept as part of the service but I’ve not really played with this feature much yet.

And 500px is a small team focused strictly on making a service that is great for photographers. Sometimes I feel that Flickr has lost a bit of this as Yahoo! puts a bigger on priority of folding it into the rest of Yahoo!.

So far, I’ve been pleased with 500px. We’ll see how it goes here on out. If you’re on 500px – follow me.

I also blogged about the 500px app for Windows 8 on the Windows Experience Blog. If you’re not a photographer but like checking out neat photography I suggest downloading the app from the Windows Store. A lot of great photos from folks on 500px.

Highway 12 Adventure

At the end of June, I took a drive down Highway 12 through the Cowlitz River Valley to Yakima here in Washington State. I discovered it had many amazing and beautiful sights. However, I neglected to charge the battery in my camera – missing out on the opportunity to take some awesome photos. Today’s nice weather provided me with the opportunity to head out that way again – this time with the battery in my camera fully charged! Of all the shots I took on my little road trip, these are my favorites.

I had to get to Highway 12 first which took a bit of some driving though which is fine by me! I love road trips and have my Zune HD filled with all my music (I recently had to purchase a 64GB Zune HD as my music collection no longer fit on my 32GB Zune HD). I have a bunch of playlists and what not and on road trips I turn the volume up and just drive.

SONY DSC

My car has Ford Sync (it’s a Focus) which has awesome integration with the Zune and I can use the steering wheel controls to do everything I need with my music – or use my voice. Anyway, back to the pictures….

I took Interstate 90 out to Ellensburg, WA then Highway 97 south to Yakima where I’d then hit Highway 12 going west.

Ellensburg, WA from a view-point off of Highway 97.

The above shot is a series of photos I “stitched” together with Windows Live Photo Gallery. This was from a view-point off Highway 97 heading toward Yakima outside Ellensburg. The shot is a panoramic view overlooking Ellensburg.

Fred G. Redmon Bridge (or Selah Creek Bridge) spanning over Selah Creek.

I like bridges. In the above photo is the Fred G. Redmon Bridge (or Selah Creek Bridge) spanning Selah Creek outside Selah, WA.

Panoramic shot near Fred G. Redmon Bridge overlooking Selah Creek.

And here is a panoramic shot with the bridge and Selah Creek. I also like canyons. This was a small one though.

Rimrock Lake. Rock formations on side of hill near Rimrock Lake off Highway 12.

These two shots are from Rimrock Lake. The first photo is looking out over Rimrock Lake (I was at the east end of the lake at the time). The second photo is of a rock face on a cliff just above the lake. I like taking photos of rock formations but this particular view was interesting to with because of the clouds above.

Looking down toward Rimrock Lake from Clear Creek Falls.

This photo was taken up the road a bit at Clear Creek Falls. This shot is looking east and down at Clear Lake or Rimrock Lake (I’m not entirely sure which is in view in the background).

Clear Creek Falls.

And of course I had to get a photo of Clear Creek Falls! The Falls were a bit obscured unfortunately but the sound was amazing of all that water running off the rocks. There might have been a trail that leads down further but I was in flip flops. Hiking in flip flops doesn’t quite work – I know from first-hand experience but that’s a long story for another day.

And my favorite shot of the day…

Mt. Rainier from Highway 12 passed White Pass.

Just outside of White Pass off Highway 12 is a awesome view-point of Mt. Rainier. In my blog post previously about Highway 12 I took this same shot with my Windows Phone. I’m glad I was able to get the shot with a better camera and with a better zoom.

I had an incredible day and wonderful road trip. I did come to the realization that because I had a late start today heading out – by the time I hit all the sights on Highway 12 the sun was heading down and the lighting was a bit different than what I was expecting.

I uploaded the above photos (except the photo of the Zune HD) to Flickr via Windows Live Photo Gallery and also tweaked the color in Photo Gallery as well.

Always carry a backup battery with you for your camera…

Today was a wonderful day in Washington State with lots of sunshine. So far this year, we’ve been lacking in sun so it was nice to get some today. To take advantage of the nice weather, I took off for a bit of a road trip toward the eastern side of the state. I’ve been doing a lot of road trips lately blasting music from my Zune and exploring new places and taking photos. I am finding it a nice way to unwind from a busy week.

Today, I decided to hit Highway 12 starting from just south of Napavine and headed east toward Yakima.

hwy12

Let me tell you, the Cowlitz River Valley is incredible. And when you get over through White Pass it continues to offer up amazing sights of the Cascades.

While the road trip was amazing, unfortunately the battery to my camera was completely dead. To quote American Dad’s Steve Smith: “I guess I just picked a whole bouquet of oopsie-daisies.”

In short – always carry a backup battery for your camera that’s fully charged!

I did however take this shot of Mt. Rainier from my Windows Phone:

WP_000015 (3)

Not too shabby.

I fully intend to take the drive again – this time with my camera full charged and ready to go!

Am I a geek or a nerd?

UPDATED 7/13/11: Some of the below has changed so I thought I’d update it and then pass the question along to folks again and see what kind of responses I get!

Perhaps you can help me out and determining something: am I a geek or am I a nerd (or both). Quite often, I have people call me a geek. Equally as often, I have people calling me a nerd too. And it seems that both hold slightly different meanings in society today – although I’ve yet to really figure out exactly how.

Here are a few characteristics of mine to help answer this question:

  • I love to build my own PCs (desktop PCs not laptops of course!).
  • I love to blog (duh?).
  • I hate math.
  • I used to draw and paint a lot as a kid. As I grew older, I did less drawing and painting and got into writing stories and eventually movie screenplays/scripts that my friend and I were shoot (high school).
  • I am reverse engineering the theme on my blog from scratch – barrowing code from the default WordPress theme to make things work. As you can tell – it’s a work-in-progress.
  • I love doing things to make people laugh. Ask my co-workers. Sometimes I do so at inconvenient times.
  • I do have a blunt sense of humor.
  • I am a huge Star Trek fan – mostly Star Trek: The Next Generation and on (and 2009 Star Trek movie).
  • I own many Star Trek “technical manuals” and can tell you where Captain Picard’s quarters are on the Enterprise-D.
  • I randomly quote movie lines from such classics as the Back to the Future Trilogy, Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and *many* others.
  • I like listening to music soundtracks – e.g. The Dark Knight soundtrack is one of my favorites, so is Tron: Legacy.
  • I recently pulled up to a stop light next to a car with 2 nice looking women blasting the E.T. theme. Yes – I smiled and waved.
  • I recently discovered I could almost sing the entire song “Can you feel the love tonight” from The Lion King from memory. Why am I admitting this?
  • I dislike most Disney movies except for The Lion King and the Toy Story Trilogy. They better make a 4th Toy Story.
  • My music tastes are very eccentric – my favorite band is The Beatles, but have a huge 80’s music collection (remember the song “The Flame” by Cheap Trick?) and like a lot of the modern rock of today (Weezer, Foo Fighters, Jimmy Ear World, Linkin Park are some of my favorites to name a few.). Check out my Zune profile to see what I’ve listened to recently.
  • I enjoy going on long walks while listening to my music or long drives.
  • I love photography and taking photos. I like taking photos of landscapes and scenery. While I like taking photos I hate being in them and finding a good photo of me in it is, well, pretty rare.
  • I collect these “mini-figures” called Minimates from Diamond Select Toys. No they aren’t “LEGO people”. They are better!
  • Over the last 2 years, I’ve really gotten into Batman comics (Bruce Wayne returns!). Dick Grayson has grown on me as Batman and I’m disappointed he won’t remain as Batman when DC Comics re-launches all their comic titles this fall.
  • New software releases excite me.
  • My favorite animal is the Velociraptor. Oh sure, they are extinct now. But they were a real animal at one point!
  • Cats despise me.
  • I try to be a gamer. My Gamerscore on Xbox LIVE is 1020 1470 and it has taken me a while to get there. I tend to lean toward playing classic games like Sonic The Hedgehog 3, Mortal Kombat, Street Fighter, etc. available as an Arcade game title on the Xbox LIVE Game Marketplace. Yet I spent $149.99 on the Halo Reach Legendary Edition. UPDATE – Improvement in my Gamerscore is due to Kinect Sports and bowling. I rock at that.
  • I like reading “Making of…” books on movies that show production art and talk about the making of the movie. In a different life I would have loved to have been a director/producer/production designer for movies. I just love this stuff.
  • I love sushi. I eat too much of it.
  • I did not like Avatar. Effects were good but the storyline was boring and felt ripped off from Fern Gully: The Last Rain Forrest.
  • While I did not like Avatar, I HATED Transformers 3. Worst. Movie. Ever.
  • I’m not a fan of 3D. Love HD though!
  • I love Family Guy. I equally love American Dad.
  • I really enjoy Top Gear. Jeremy Clarkson is a hoot. Those guys get themselves into crazy situations doing messed up things with cars and its hilarious. They’ve had me laughing so hard I was crying (such as when Jeremy capsized his Toyboata).
  • Getting into I love Fringe. I jumped in at end of Season 2. Enjoying the “over there” storyline. UPDATE: I loved everything about Season 3 and can’t wait for Season 4 this fall.
  • I heavily support manned spaceflight and believe we should return to the moon and look at going to Mars (I hope to see us reach Mars in my lifetime however recent events have casted doubt this will be achievable).
  • I like to bowl. I am quite good at bowling on Kinect Sports and like to of course bowl outside my living room in a real bowling alley too.
  • I love movies about history or historical events or people (e.g. The Aviator, Tombstone, etc.).
  • I also find myself “socially backward” in that I’m not very good at “socializing”. I tend to be shy.
  • I don’t like large groups/crowds.

So am I a geek or a nerd? Would love to hear what people think! No – dork is not one of the options.

Testing Seadragon from Microsoft Live Labs

Thought I would give Seadragon a try. Seadragon is a technology from Microsoft Live Labs that lets you zoom in and pan around images from the Web. Images could have lots of text or just really big photos. This technology could be extremely useful in rendering large images with lots of text. Imagine a single image with the entire text of a book and using Seadragon to read that book.

In testing our Seadragon here, I uploaded a panoramic shot I took while visiting the U.S.S. Hornet in Oakland, CA this summer. This panoramic shot was created from a series of shots using Windows Live Photo Gallery.

Pretty damn cool.

A Trip to Snoqualmie Falls

I moved to the Seattle area this last December and am continuing to explore the area and “see the sights” so to speak. I’m familiar with what Seattle offers but its the surrounding areas and the non-City stuff that is of interest to me. A few weeks back my girlfriend and I visited Snoqualmie Falls.

I thought I’d share some photos. I took them with my Nikon D40. I think the settings on the camera is possibly a bit off as the images look a little grainy. It was suggested I perhaps turn down the contrast a bit.

By the way – I absolutely love the ability to embed Photo Albums from Windows Live into a blog post via Windows Live Writer.