School of Visual Empathy

Camera Gear & Editing Tools

                 CAMERAS : Sony a6300, a5000   |  Olympus PM-1        |  GoPro Hero3+           |  Various Smartphones   
                  LENSES : Zeiss 1.8/32mm      |  Sigma 2.8/19mm      |  Sony 4.5-6.3/55-210mm  |  
                SOFTWARE : Adobe Lightroom CC  |  Adobe Photoshop CC  |  Fotor for Android      |  Google Nik Collection

Starting with Sony

When I realized I was heading into the wilds of Mongolia, and that I didn’t have so much as a decent point-and-click camera to my name, I called my skydiving buddy Zach Lewis for advice. Zach’s encouragement and assistance made this entire journey of mine possible, so it’s an understatement to say “buddy.” He also happens to be an accomplished, celebrated photographer with years of experience who loves to share his knowledge. You know the kind of person I’m talking about.

I needed something lightweight since I would be carrying it with me for 3500km, but I wanted a “real” camera. Entry level was fine, but I wanted something that would produce great images and that I could grow into.

Zach is first and foremost a freefall videographer and photographer, and he recommended the mirrorless Sony a5000 considering my limited budget and weight requirements. It was a fantastic camera for me right up until the point when it gave up the ghost in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. Friends and patrons helped me upgrade to an a6300, but I’m sticking with Sony.

A Word on My Photography

Photography is for me a relatively recent tool. It is yet another means to my favorite end: capturing the stories of people I meet, and documenting what it took me to get there and back again. It’s a beautiful, fun, endlessly surprising and rewarding tool, and humbling, too. There’s nothing quite like the feeling I get when I sit in front of my computer, hours or days later, and realize just how utterly I’ve cocked up something I was trying to achieve. It’s a good thing humble pie is such a tasty dessert.

Though the quality of my equipment was generally terrible, even the earliest adventures show me trying to capture people and feelings–at whatever resolution. Once GoPro hit the market (I’m a skydiver) I became obsessed with video editing, which meant I needed new angles. Moving or still, I was always interested in evocative or expressive images. Travel just made that interest more palpable, and so I managed to get my hands on an advanced-for-me camera in Fall 2014.

Browsing chronologically through my travelogues, you will see a sharp improvement in image quality around the time of Turkey and Morocco, when the Olympus came into play. It was a used PM-1, with a kit lens and a decent prime–neither of which lasted long, thanks to the hard Moroccan pavement and my neophyte’s carelessness. But the difference was startling in context. At least it was for me; I had my a-ha! moment, and there was no going back.

So out of my increased interest and expanding travels has come this set of travelogues, intended to be the heart, the nervous system, and the connective tissue of (The blog–when I can pry open the window sufficiently–is its soul.)

They are straightforward collections of the written and photographic material produced during (or regarding) a given journey. In the case of the Africa travelogue, it’s a place to notify you of plans and successful events, as well as to solicit your advice, opinion, direct involvement, and continued support.

If you want more info on the travelogue concept, my introduction to the new site spells it out in detail.

How I present each gallery, behind-the-scenes, is still evolving. Most galleries will redirect to stand-alone pages, some will load from Facebook albums into a lightbox and allow you to click through one-by-one. Very few of them are captioned, titled, or annotated–that documentation happened while I was working on this site, and so is tied to their initial presentation at Links to those annotated images are available in the relevant blog posts, located in (you guessed it), the travelogues.

There is of course no right way to use this site. However it makes sense to you, I’m just glad you are here. Make yourself at home, dig around, and find something that speaks to you. I wish you many happy journeys, and many happy returns.

October 24, 2016