Our local ski mountain closed their lifts for the season about two weeks ago. Between then and now, we experienced few days where the temps peaked in the 70s. It was definitely feeling like spring. Then last Monday night it started flurrying and we woke up the next morning to about a foot of snow. At first I was super annoyed. But looking back though IG history, I realized that this photo was taken on April 18, 2020. It was a nice reminder that anything can happen during the shoulder seasons in the Catskills, and I should have seen it coming. After all, can’t get too annoyed at something so pretty. After shoveling the deck, I walked around the yard with my knock-around rig and snapped a couple of shots (below). In the afternoon when the snow died down a bit, I launched the drone (obv) and got the above snap.
As great as iPhone cameras have become, there is still no real comparison (in my opinion) to images captured using a “real” camera. When I say “real” camera, I mean a camera with a sensor larger than a few microns coupled with a lens having a variable aperture and quality glass. In the early aughts, when camera phone images were much crappier quality than today, I had an original Canon 5D, with the old super-janky plastic version of the 50mm f/1.8mm (okay, not quality glass, but quality-er than camera phone glass). I picked up the body locally from a Craigslist seller for around $100. The lens was about the same price (here is a mirror selfie that I took with it 1000 years ago). I owned some newer professional grade bodies and expensive glass which I reserved for paying gigs. My motivation behind the old 5D was to have a relatively inexpensive camera that I could bring everywhere, even when I knew it would get knocked around and potentially broken. I called it my knock-around camera. The images that I was able to capture with that thing were almost as buttery as this setup, but cost a fraction of the price. As a result, I would bring that thing everywhere with me. I was caught in heavy rain on multiple occasions while carrying this rig, with no camera case to speak of (I never kept it in a case, it was always ready to shoot). One of those times a nice girl saw me trying to shelter it under my shirt as I ran to the subway, and offered me a plastic bag to wrap it in. Another time it became so water logged that when I pulled off the lens water actually came dribbling out of it. It survived all of these adventures! After many years of good use, I gave it to my sister for a photography course she was taking, and it promptly gave up the ghost.
In the past several months, I have had more than a few instances of wishing that I had a real camera on my person at the moment to capture something cool that I was witnessing, but had to resort to an iPhone shot instead. Cue knock-around camera 2.0! Upon conducting many minutes of research and due diligence (googling “used canon 5D for sale” on my phone), I stumbled across a beautiful 5D Mk II (see image above) on a website called mpb.com for a price that seemed too good to be true. The name of the website also had me second guessing. I mean, c’mon. Mpb.com? Yeah right. After a few more minutes of due diligence (went to an actual computer and read 15-20 reviews from mpb.com customers, most of them glowing), I pulled the trigger. My next stop was the B&H website to purchase a nifty 50 and UV filter (see image below). Note: the 50mm is roughly still the same price as it was in 2008 (about $100), and the latest iteration is actually constructed a lot better than the older versions I had experienced. The UV filter is mostly just to protect the front lens element while being knocked around.
Voila! For less than $400, I have a full frame pro-level body with a 50mm prime that I can bring everywhere!
Here is it freshly mounted up-
Here is the first test snap-
A note about MPB.com–And, this is not sponcon by any stretch: I had a great experience with these guys. The camera showed up in better condition than I expected, based on the website description. It came with a decent memory card installed (not sure if this was on purpose). I also had some brief dealings with MPB’s customer service. They were responsive and cordial. The packaging in which it arrived was superb. I will definitely be using these guys for all of my used gear going forward.
Growing up watching snowboarding videos (on VHS), one recurring theme I noticed was in the crash reel during the closing credits. Almost without fail, there would be a clip or two of someone going down like a mouse trap, face first in a glacial pond. I had never actually participated in a pond skim, but the idea certainly intrigued me. The first weekend of April I finally had my chance to be that guy from the crash reel. Belleayre, our local mountain in the Catskills was throwing a big end-of-season bash, including a pond skimming contest aptly dubbed ‘The Slush Cup’.
There was definitely a bit of trepidation on my part, since I had never attempted such a feat in all of my years of snowboarding. PS, that is a lot of years. When I arrived on the scene and discovered a very short/flat runway, I knew there was no way I was going to make it across. But I was committed to the skim, so I enjoyed the weather, threw back a few brews and resigned to the fact that I would be taking a bath in some yellow tinged water. The setting was slightly less pristine than those emerald colored lagoons at the base of giant glaciers I had seen in those snowboarding videos as a kid. But hey man, gotta start somewhere, right? Thank you to Belleayre for hosting the event. Thanks to Britt and to our friends who came to spectate (and contribute footage). Enjoy the cut below for a good laugh-
No April Fools here. Just April Jams. Enjoy-
Menton was our last stop in France, prior to returning to NYC (via Copenhagen). It is about a 30 minute train ride from Nice, and sits on the border of Italy. It could be described as a smaller, older version of Nice. We happened to be there during the Fête du Citron, which is the festival of Lemons. As a result, the whole town was replete with large scale sculptures made from lemons and oranges.Continue reading
During our stay in Nice last month, Britt and I took a couple of day trips to some nearby spots. One such spot was the small medieval village in Èze. From Nice it is a 15 minute bus ride along a picturesque coastal highway that winds along the coast. The fare is less the the price of a Metrocard swipe. The bus drops you right at the base of Le Jardin Exotique, which is set atop a very, very old little village. We wandered through the stone walled passages for a few hours including the garden itself. We packed some sammies from the boulanger in Nice and enjoyed them in the garden’s sunny main lookout.Continue reading
There comes a time in a pandemic era after getting all of the requisite shots, playing it safer than most, still getting sick twice, and watching everyone else carry on like nothing is the matter that one throws one’s hands in the air and books a trip to the south of France. I actually have to give Britt full credit for being the one to say eff it and book the flights. It was our first real vacation since the outset of all of this virus madness. We flew into Nice via Stockholm. Both airports were really clean and modern. There is a tram line in Nice that goes right to the airport, so we were able to just walk out of the terminal and hop on the tram to our hotel. Continue reading
Here’s to some longer days and warmer temps on the horizon–
One month down for 2022. Kinda wild, just like this playlist. It is a pretty random mix of some old stuff (some of it, stuff that I had on repeat in high school), with some newer stuff mixed in. I feel like it works though. Give a listen–