Categories
Photography

Got a camera for YouTube vlogging

Lately I’ve been hooked on watching YouTube daily vloggers and got inspired to try out vlogging myself. Daily vlogging is the real “reality TV”: mostly unscripted, casual and voyeuristic. Video is definitely something new for me but very appealing as a better way to preserve moments in life.

I remember when I was very young I watched The Wonder Years and the opening sequence was like a super 8 video capture of happy moments of that family. In my family video cameras never existed when I grew up so I have no videos of me as a young kid. I don’t know why that was the case, maybe it was too expensive back then, or maybe my parents were not attracted to technology as I am.

I don’t know if it came out of boredom or lack of good content on the TV or Netflix. Plus the inexpensive Google Chromecast makes it much easier to watch YouTube on the TV instead of on a computer or mobile device.

Somehow browsing YouTube I ended up stumbling with vloggers like Casey Neistat, Erick Conover, Ben Brown and Louis Cole. Their videos are inspiring to get off the couch and start having a life! Specially appealing for someone somewhat isolated working from home like me.

So being inspired and motivated, I wanted to try it out myself. I was definitely not going to walk around with my Nikon D750 all day and my current phone, the Nexus 6P, has a good camera but sucks at video stabilization. So I evaluated two options: the Sony RX100 Mark III and the Canon G7x.

These two models are the most popular for vlogging this year. They are not as expensive as a DSLR and have a very good image quality and features. They are both lightweight and robust for daily handling.

The Sony RX100 Mark III is a great camera: 20.1 megapixels, 1080/60p video, an electronic view finder and a tilting screen so you can see yourself while filming. This is a good option for taking videos and photos. It is a little bit more expensive than my second option.

The Canon G7X was the most recommended camera by many vloggers. It has 20.2 megapixels, 1080/60p video, a tilting screen, no view finder. For $100 USD less than the Sony and what I considered better video image quality, I decided to go with the G7x.

So if you want to compare both, here’s a video that helped me decide on which camera to get:

So here are some of the experiments with vlogging I’ve done. The hardest part for me is deciding if I should do videos in Spanish or English. I joined a community of people trying out vlogging for the first time and ran an experiment in English:

Then after a few days, I ran an experiment in Spanish. It would be easier to vlog in Spanish since everyone around me speaks it and interactions can be more natural:

Leave a comment below to let me know what you think about my vlogs. If you like them, subscribe to my channel for video updates. If you’re vlogging too, share your channel in the comments or recommend me good YouTube channels to checkout.

Categories
Photography

How I photographed the Pope in Mexico city

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I’m not religious, but when a celebrity like the Pope visits your city, it is a historical event. Even more so when it passes a block away from my house every day during his visit. So I took the lifetime opportunity of being nearby the big event for the mostly catholic country of Mexico, and went out to take some shots.

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The key of taking photos in these types of situations is scouting your location beforehand. The Pope’s main routes were being published days before his arrival, so people would know which roads will be closed. Right there I knew he’ll be passing near my house every day. I went for a walk to checkout where would be the best spots to get the shot.

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At events like this, you have to get there with lots of time. You never know how crowded the place will get, specially in Mexico city where everything is crowded all the time. Luckily since I was very close, I didn’t had to stand there for 3-4 hours beforehand. One and a half hours were good enough for me to get a good spot. I also brought a stool so I can stand above the crowd and get as much heads or hands out of the frame.

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Another thing you’ll have to anticipate is the lighting. The Pope was going to pass at night, but the popemobile has lighting, so preparing my camera settings for night will over expose the photos. You only get one or two seconds to get your shot, so everything must be set up before the moment. I used the lights of some cops passing by before the main caravan to set my exposure.

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I took the 70-200mm f2.8 with my Nikon D750. Set the focusing system to continuous focus, single point and set the aperture to 3.2 to get more focus range instead of using the 2.8 where I could miss my focus very easily, specially with a subject in a vehicle. I set the ISO to 6400 because of the lack of any light around. The street had very poor lighting so I would be depending entirely in the popemobile‘s lighting. I’m usually not comfortable shooting at that high ISO setting because my previous camera, the Nikon D7000 performed very bad at that setting, but the D750 handles it much better.

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The next day he would pass very early in the morning and I got confident. I assumed that since it was a weekend and early morning, not many people would be there. I was wrong. I didn’t take my stool and I was late to get a good spot.

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My other mistake was not taking into consideration the Pope’s white clothes. If you see the image, the other guys in black are exposed correctly, but the Pope is over exposed.

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Not everything will be perfect, but I tried to rescue the images in post.

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Categories
Photography

A Saturday ballet class

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These are some images I took a long time ago, but I had forgotten to edit and release them.

I can’t believe how many times this happens: I go out on a photoshoot (unpaid), come back home, save and backup all RAW files, and forgetting about editing them to release the JPEG versions. I was doing some cleanup the other day and I stumbled upon several folders of RAW images waiting to be edited and see the light of day.

Sometimes shooting in RAW and all the extra work that involves is tiresome. But I can’t get myself to shoot straight JPEGs because of the opportunities I miss from editing and getting more from those images.

This set is about a special Saturday morning ballet class at the Mexican Dance Academy (Academia de la Danza Mexicana) the oldest dance school in Mexico’s history. The ballerina students were preparing for a national showcase of schools and they asked their teacher Ada to give them a special training class prior to the event. I admire dance students. They are so different from “normal” students who would never ask a teacher to give a class on a weekend.

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I remember this photoshoot to be a challenging one. That day my wider zoom lens was in the shop (I had dropped it and some parts broke) so all I had was my 50mm 1.8F lens. Considering that the D7000 is a half-frame camera, that 50mm is really about a 75 or 80mm lens. Using that indoors, even in a dance room, is difficult enough. Add to that the fact that there’s mirrors everywhere and I didn’t want to show up in the background of every photo. Anyways, challenges are good and I learned a lot about positioning to frame the shot with mirrors and very active subjects.

Categories
Photography

Mexico Independence day in Coyoacan

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There photos were not taken this year. I’ve wanted to share these images I took last year but by the time I got to edit the RAW files, it was around November, so it would feel weird to post September’s Mexico Independence day photos very close to Christmas celebrations.

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This time, since I didn’t go out this year to celebrate (I had an early work meeting at 8:30am the next day), I can now post timely the Independence day pictures that are timeless, since there are no dates showing anywhere. They work as well for any year.

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We went to Coyoacan for the celebrations, on my first september in Mexico city. Although I wanted to go to the Zocalo, the main place where the president does the main ceremony that is televised internationally, we opted for a smaller town. Zocalo gets too crowded, with very intimidating security and police and snipers and worse than TSA personal searches.

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Instead, Coyoacan feels more like a little old mexican town, no excessive police, friendly walks, a small fair with rides, traditional food and games. I was told you can enjoy this a lot more, and so we did.

Huge buñuelos

Mexican traditional bread

Mexican chorizo

Grilling buffalo chicken wings

Mexican corn stew

Balloon dart shooting range

Fair air gun shooting range

Cotton candy maker

Cotton candy sombrero figure

Little girl with huge cotton candy flower

The cotton candy man was a true artist. He made several huge figures, but I could only capture two of them. It was very entertaining watching him work.

We’re planning to go to Zocalo next year, but we’re looking for the safest way to do it. Nearby hotels have a view to the Zocalo from the top and offer dinners. We’ll try to make a reservation in one of them.

Categories
Photography

Ballet Class

A few months ago I attended the open ballet class of cuban teacher Chery, a legend in the cuban school of ballet. It was interesting to watch her way of teaching and correcting students.

Also I admire her passion and energy of still touring the world to give lectures and workshops at her age. I don’t know exactly her age, but if sometimes I get tired of travelling I can imagine her passion to keep doing it. She later told me she was going to other places in Mexico, then south america before going back home. I guess doing what you love, following your dreams and passion will take you to far places and keep you going even at an old age… and let’s not forget the government regulations regarding travel. She’s an example that your passion and hard work can overcome any obstacles.

Maestra Chery

Ballerinas on instructions

Men dancers jump

Ballet teacher corrections

Ballerina concentration

Stage lights

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Maestra Chery dando instrucciones

Ballerina jump

Ballerinas in mid air

Ballerinas final salute

Maestras Angelica y Chery

Curtain down

Clase abierta con Maestra Chery, Mayo 2014

Backstage talks

She’s also writing a book about ballet, a mixture of historic references about the cuban school and teaching tool. She told me she hasn’t had the time to publish it but she’s done with the writing part. I hope she finds that time and publishes that material soon.

Categories
Photography

Teotihuacan pyramids in Mexico

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I’ve lived in Mexico almost all of my life (except for one year) and I had never seen any of the pyramids we have. I felt like I was a “bad” mexican or “incomplete” mexican by not knowing these amazing historical landscapes that everyone around the world talk about when visiting Mexico, besides the tequila, the beaches and the food.

So I finally planned a trip to Teotihuacan and take a few photos there.

The entrance was free, but I was not allowed to take my tripod with me. A security guard stopped me and told me that I needed a special permit to be allowed to use a tripod inside. I’ve heard about this rule for some churches in certain places but it’s the first time I get stopped for it myself. And of course as most security guards behave, I didn’t get informed on how or where I should ask for that special permission.

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Since it was a weekend, the place was crowded with people. Ada and my uncle, who grew up in Mexico city and had visited the place several times told me that it usually is not as crowded. But when they visited, most of the times were school trips during the weekdays and they say those days the place is almost desert. So if you plan to visit to take some photos (with your tripod special permit), plan your trip for a week day if you want photos without people.

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Ada and I met with my uncle, who’s a year younger than me and whom I hadn’t seen in several years. Little did I know, my uncle had just partied the night before and got home 1 hour before I picked him up. But he was a fighter and got up to the top of the pyramid of the Sun while hangover.

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When we got to the top of the pyramid of the sun, there was a large crowd looking at something at the very center of the area. I asked what was going on, they told me that people were “recharging energy” by touching a little hole in the center of the pyramid. I got close enough to try to see this hole, and it was a little dent between rocks that was like a stone had been removed because it didn’t go deep at all, and people were putting their index fingers in it. It is always hilarious to me when people believe these kind of things.

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So it was a very nice experience, lots of sun, we had to carry our water because it is a long walk between pyramids and in general we just had a nice time.

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