Thursday, December 11, 2014

Budget Camera Flash: Neweer Speedlite 750II Review

For the longest time (about 4 years), I never used any form of external flash equipment. It was either adjusting my settings to work with the natural lighting or using my internal flash, which in reality was never an option. I was always hesitant because of the cost of Nikon Flashes. However, I began researching cheaper options and decide that the Neewer Speedlite 750II i-TTL seemed like the best low cost flash ($55 at Amazon) for my Nikon. This flash should work on most DSLRs.

Even indoors, I would be shooting skateboarding with not much light which would result in me adjusting my settings trying to get the highest shutter speed possible without turning my iso to far up. The photo would turn out, but I would generally edit it to B/W because it helped hide the noise.

Tyler Blackert - FS Flip
No Flash, 24mm, f/4.0, 1/125, ISO 1600             "Photo of Tyler Blackert - FS flip"

There is a cheaper Neewer option for about $35 but I opted for the $55 one because it has i-TTL. i-TTl is basically Nikon's why of having the flash communicate with the camera. It allows the flash to adjust to the correct exposure and can sense the lens zoom. Its basically an auto mode for your flash. The flash will send a quick pulse of light, quickly get a measurement and then send the full flash. This happens so quickly your eyes can't catch it.

Flash Test with Isaiah Jones - BS Crook
Bounced Flash off of Wall, 18mm, f/5.0, 1/100, ISO 800       "Photo of Isaiah Jones - BS Crook"

Even with the high ceilings I was able to bounce the flash off of them for some other shots, though it didn't come out as well as when I had it bounce off a wall. The head of the flash does rotate into almost any angle you choose.



You can turn the Neewer Speedlite 750II into a slave. Slave is an off camera flash generally triggered by your on camera flash. This will give you the possibility of having a multiple light setup at a very low cost. Most you would need to spend is $160 to get three of these flashes. It does come with a component that will allow you to attach the flash to a tripod, just like you would your camera. In general though it is advised to use something more reliable like a Pocket Wizard to trigger your other flashes. However, if you are buying this flash you either don't have much money or will be able to buy Pocket Wizards with the money you just saved. (which should work with this flash because it has i-TTL)

Editing Process

First major difference I noticed when beginning the editing process of the photo that I used flash with was that I hardly had to increase the brightness to the photo. It seemed like the in-camera auto white balance was more accurate too.

The Shell

The body of the flash seems to be pretty solid. It is made out of plastic and has a good weight to it. You will definitely notice the weight when shooting in vertically. I've seen multiple SB flashes that had their hotshot broken, however I don't think this will easily happen on this flash. Although I'm not sure if you can easily find replacements for it.

The Flash head rotates to just about any angle that you would need it too. There is no button to squeeze to allow the head to rotate. Simply just move it without hesitation. 

The Neewer version seems to have all the same options as you would on a Nikon SB flash. I have had no problems with reading the display. Allowing you to easily change settings on the fly.

Comparison too the Nikon SB-800 by Thanks Review

Final Verdict

I would definitely recommend this flash to those of you on a budget. There might be some small downsides to it that in the future if you are making good money from photography would be worth the investment in a more expensive model. For $55 you won't have to worry about breaking it as much as a $300 flash. I will most likely buy two more of these in the near future to give me two off camera slaves.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Akron, OH Fire on Kenmore Blvd

Kenmore Blvd Fire

Monday, November 17, 2014

Winter Skateboarding - Alex Kuss 360 Shove

Winter Skateboarding - Alex Kuss

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Skate Perspective: First Glance Skatepark

Skateboarding to the outside world is viewed rebellious and destructive. However, skateboarding is an art form. We are creating and recreating what others have done. Our daily lives involves the act of exploring and thinking about what could be done that no one has done yet (also known as NBD). To create art we use our surroundings. A simple piece of metal is turned into a pipe that we dance across. This photo series is to display those pieces/surroundings that allow us to create what we view as beautiful.

Skate Perspective: Corner Bowl

Skate Perspective: Flat Bar

Skate Perspective: Grind Box

Sunday, September 28, 2014

5 Ways My iPhone Ruined My Life

1. Maps

This is actually one of my favorite features on the iPhone. It is extremely convenient. I can add locations to my calendar and simply click on it, showing me how long it will take to get there. It makes it so easy to keep up with my schedule and the places I have to be. I love it for road trips and going to places I've never been before.

However, it has destroyed me! I now am so depended on my smart phones map program that I don't know how to get to areas that are only 15-20mins away from where I live. This is sad. I can easily compare my two lives with and without a phone because I lived in Taiwan for two years without a smart phone then moved back to America for two years with one.

In Taiwan I could easily get across town, on a bus or scooter with no problems. I could take a train to a city that was two hours away and know how to get around in the city fairly well. Keep in mind this is in another country, making in 10x harder to know street names and to describe to people where you are going etc.

Now fastforward to living in America for the past 2 years. I know use my smart phone to get me to locations I've been 2-3 times already. I use it to get to other cities that are only 45 min away. I never needed this before. I use to just look at a google map print it off, within the first day of using it I was fine without a map the next time I went to that location.

2. Money

This is a pretty obvious one. When I used to be satisfied with my sad little flip phone. I paid about $10 a month and put more minutes on it when I needed it. I mostly only used it for emergencies. Made a call like once a week only. Now I can get into contact with people a lot easier and don't have to worry about my minutes running out, but I am paying $60 for unlimited voice and text then $10 for data. That $70 a month, $60 then my previous phone! Add those months over a year or two and I am short a ton money! I got my iPhone when I had a better paying job, but not being locked into a contract has me trapped. Even if I pay early termination fee's I will still come out with more money if I switch my plan...

3. Photos

Now this topic isn't so bad, but there is a point I would like to add. Having a mildly decent camera on my phone has been wonderful! I love it so much. Its one of the most used features I have. The only down side is, I bring out my professional Nikon camera a lot less because I know I have my phone with me. Then later I will look back and say man I wish I brought my camera with me today or I wish we got some higher quality photos of this.

4. Time

Phones are a great device to have with you all the time. They help me organize my life. However while they are helping me get more organized, I find myself wasting hours staring at their tiny little screens for no good reason. Rather if its killing time on a terribly made game from the app store or just scrolling through Facebook, Instagram, etc. I have found that I have to force myself to not just grab my phone whenever I feel slightly bored and unsure of what I want to do at the moment.

5. Distraction

My phone has become a huge distraction. I find myself staring at its screen while friends of my wife talks to me. It drives me crazy when I realize what I am doing. My wife and I have always made it our goal to never pick up our phones while we are out on dates or having dinner with people (this is one of my biggest pet peeves with some of my friends) but they still seem to claw there way into the pawn of our hands at other occasions. Its one thing if its for a photo, but to just scroll through Facebook or reply to an unimportant text.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

One Year Anniversary Pictures

On one of the days that we celebrated our one year anniversary, we decided to go to the park to take photos together. I guess you could call these photos selfies...

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Kickflip Tailslide

I've been trying to land a kickflip front tail on and off for five years now. Finally I started landing them on a normal height ledge about two weeks ago. Then I decided to take it down the hubba...

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Photo Re-edit from 2010

Left: Re-edit                                                       Right: First edit in 2010

I've recently been looking through old photos, for memories and as part of a project to put together a website. I decided to try to re-edit some old photos that I originally edited terribly. The problem with this is I only have a single jpg file and destroyed the original photo in the process of doing the first edit. One of the many mistakes I made when I was first learning photography. Not long after this photo I started shooting only in RAW and started saving the original files un-touched.

This photo was one of the easier ones to do a re-edit on because it was mostly color that was off. Which photoshop can make up new colors and put color in that didn't exist. However a lot of my other photos I did stupid fake blurs and such which can't be undone. I believe the original edit was done in iPhoto (on the right). I wish I could just go back and re-due the whole photo though the only thing I did do right with this was the way I composed it.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Hocking Hills Camping

My wife and I - photo by Larissa Ley

Anne Marie and I took a three day weekend camping trip to Hocking Hills with three other married couples. We were lucky enough to be able to borrow all our camping equipment. The first night we arrived we mostly just set up camp and sat around the fire. Putting up the tents wasn't as easy as it usually seems to be. The construction of my tent was different then the usual. After we got about 5 different people to help us we managed to put it together. That night we spent some time fishing and hanging out by the lake, then of course sitting around the camp fire talking.

Photo by Larissa Lay

The next day we headed out to go for a hike. We started at the visitors center and just followed the trail to Old Man's Cave. Old Man's Cave is apparently a location, that looks more like a natural rock over hang, where a man once lived by himself.

There was a designated path but we chose to stray off it a bit.

Many tourists here besides us.

This is part of Old Man's Cave. It was actually hard to get a good picture of it without standing on the other side of the valley. It is a really big natural structure of rock creating a roof for the man that lived here.

Trying to catch Craw Fish

It wasn't long into our hike that we arrive at this waterfall. First Josiah went for a swim and before we knew it most of us were in the water swimming in our clothes too.

Anne Marie and I on the far left - Photo by Josiah Ley

Myself crossing the log - photo by my wife

Eventually we made it all the way to this waterfall. In pictures it looks cool but I assume those pictures where taken in the spring when there is more water flowing. By this time most of us were ready to get home. I would have been fine with hiking more but my wife's knee was bothering her. We headed back to the camp sight then enjoyed the rest of the day at the camp sight and swimming the campground's pool till dinner.

After dinner we headed out to get ice cream and to just drive around. We ended up stopping by Angel Falls which was my favorite sight in Hocking Hills. It has a tiny 100ft water fall and was once  known to be occupied by Indians.

The next day we headed home and spent the day relaxing.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Go Skateboarding Day 2014 - Pittsburg

Go Skateboarding Day is the most important day for skateboarding. Yes, you can skate any day you want but thats not the only thing its about. Its about uniting together with other skaters, meeting new people, and just having fun skateboarding.

I originally planned to go to New York City with a childhood friend, who now lives up in Grand Rapids. However, because of a new internship that he just accepted the week before we had to change plans. We did decide where we were going until the night before we left after he arrived at my house. We decided the best option would be to go to Pittsburg, PA.

Our first stop was Bayne Skatepark in Bellevue. The weather wasn't looking to great. Upon arrival it was still raining. We decided that it was going to probably be like this all day, so we skated anyway.

David Tanner - bs 180 by Dale Nolan Jr. - iPhone 5

Everything was extremely slick, the worst fall I had all day was because I slipped out on the quarter pipe in the back of the photo.

After checking out Plank Eye Skateshop, we headed into the city. Today, there was a famous country singer in town, which explained all the people dress in cowboy/cowgirl outfits later on.

David Tanner warming up for some skateboarding

Myself - Kickflip by David Tanner

I normally make a skate spot map before going into a city but because of the short notice I didn't have time to do much research. We just started exploring. Not before long though, we ran into another group of skateboarders which guided us to some good spots.

 This is a DIY spot that hasn't been fixed up in a long time. This was an ok spot but could have been really awesome if some locals fixed it up.

We skated a lot more then shown in the photos. Sometimes its more fun to just put the camera down and enjoy skateboarding with your friends for what it is. Along this river is a giant fountain with a stair set that leads right into the river. It reminded me a little bit of the Sea Wall in Chicago, which I lost my board to and a friend of mine did too. However, the stairs were to perfect to not be skated, with some luck and skill I managed to kickflip them in a few tries without my board going into the river. (Photo: Brent Moore -
We skated up to Haines Stadium, where the concert was being held, with lots of ledges along the way. By this time, the group of skaters wanted to keep moving on while David and I wanted to just enjoy our time at different spots, so we split up. We ran into a few other groups of skaters after this but never hooked up with them to skate spot to spot.

David taking a break

myself - wallride by David Tanner

Doing a little bit of sight seeing.

Its been a while since I skated around a city like this. I love just skating around the city and exploring a new place.

Monday, June 16, 2014

First Glance Skatepark: Game of S.K.A.T.E. hosted by Sun Vally Sports

Sun Valley Sports called me asking if they could host a contest to get canned food donations. I was actually planning on doing a Game of S.K.A.T.E. contest anyway. It worked out perfect to have them come in and host the contest. I am always happy to work with other people in our industry. The First contest was on June 10th and the next one will be July 15th.

Skater: Alex Kuss

The game of S.K.A.T.E. went great. Our local favorite Alex Kuss placed second as Ryan ??? came in First. It was a close game with both skaters coming down to the last letter. 

Skater Ryan Photo taken by Tim Pryor and edited by myself

After the match we took a 10min break then had a best trick down the stairs. I normally don't compete because I am generally hosting/judging the contest but I decided to join in this time. I don't have that impressive of a list of tricks. I kickflipped the stairs, did a tailslide and then tried to do a kickflip to front tail down the hubba but never got it. Ryan and Alex Kuss skating amazingly. At one point we had 4 or 5 people land the tricks they've been trying each after one another. In the end, it was declared a tie for first between Alex and Ryan, with Ben placing 3rd. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Philly Skate Trip

Tuesday I received a text from Tyler B., asking if I wanted to Philly on Friday. He talked about going sometime in the summer before but this came up quick, we never even talked about the dates before. I quickly checked with my wife, and she was very supportive of me going on the trip. Luckily my job is pretty flexible, running a skatepark leaves lots of opportunities for things like this.

We left Friday around 5:30pm, not arriving to our Days Inn Hotel until about 11:30pm. As we drove into the hotel we knew this place was super sketchy. Signs in the parking lot read "We are not responsible for damages or things stolen from your car." As we walked inside, the front desk was shielded by glass separating the costumers from the employees. We stood there over hearing a conversation between the employee and the costumer next to us. The man complained and stated that the employee is lying to him as he complains about his room and how much they are charging him. When we arrive at our room, we open the door and see only one queen size bed, for all four of us to share. The brothers slept in the bed, as Dusty slept in the chair and I on the floor.

The first spot we hit the next day was the new street based skatepark, known as the Paine's Park. This is probably one of the best skateparks I've ever skated. It was mostly street based but had a really good flow with lots of tranny also. This park left many open options for lines and creativity.

Going to our next skate spot.

You can't go on a Philly skate trip without stopping in at Love park. Everyone has seen so many tricks go down here through skate videos. However, with the crowd and the wind blowing the fountain water everywhere we didn't stop to skate here, just to look at it.

The next spot we stopped at is one of the craziest things I've ever seen. It was the rail that Dane Burman fs 50-50 in the Zero "Cold War" video. This thing was enormous! Way bigger then it looked in the video. From the top of the rail it was a two story drop and coming off at the bottom of the rail is alone like jumping off a room of a building.

Dane Burman 50-50 on the Thrasher Cover

The plaza up at top of the rail, was flooded with skaters, I couldn't believe that these skaters weren't being kicked out be security by allowed to skate on all these objects. (Photo: Me - fs boardslide by Noah Blackert - edited by myself).
Tyler Blackert -bs board to fakie. Photo by Dale Nolan Jr. (Me)

There was plenty of homeless people asking us for money all day. However, after I refused to give this man cash, he asked me to take a picture of him, and to send it to him.

Being in Philly we had to stop at Kerry Getz's skateshop, Nocturnal. After we bought something to remember them buy, they directed us down the road to a pizza place to for lunch, known as Lorenzo & Son Pizza. For only $3.50, you get this giant slice of cheese pizza. I've never been so full I couldn't even finish the crust off a single slice.
Heading back to the car, we traveled through China town. It reminded me so much of Taiwan. I loved hearing the Chinese being spoken as we skated through the districts.
My phone had the gps location tagged to where we parked, however my phone died as we were getting close to Love Park. We skated for another five blocks trying to find were we parked but got a little lost and confused. Dusty was sure we parked near 20th st. No one was really sure though. Tyler B. insisted that it was on 9th and Arch. So we turned around and skated all the way back realizing that it was definitely not in this area. We skated all the way back to Love park again doing one big circle. Trying to retrace our steps, Tyler B. remembered that he had a ticket from the parking garage. He pulled it out revealing the street address of our car, on 21st St.

After we got back to our hotel, Tyler Blackert and I decided we wanted to ollie the rail across the street. It was getting pretty dark, which didn't make it easy nor did the rough cement that was our run up. However, we both managed to get an ollie over it.

The next morning, we hit up the Patrick Kerr Skatepark. It had some good objects, and some really bad ones. It was actually a really fun park for the horrible design, which kinda made it cool. 

While we skated, I got into contact with a friend from college, that lived 30min away. He and his wife managed to drive out to visit me, we got to chat for about 15min before we had to head back home. While we waited for them to arrive we explored the river.