11 July 2018

Five Older Cameras that are Still Worth a Look

Art Model, Trixie ©2017 Terrell Neasley
I've been saying I was going to write about this for months. There are a few good cameras out there that have been UP-dated, but not quite OUT-dated. Know what I mean? Wanna find a good used camera but not sure on where to start? Or maybe you already have ONE good camera but need a good deal on a second body. Then again, you could be like me and already have TWO good bodies, but you keep running into situations where you need a good camera that you don't mind so much if it gets beat up or wet.

Canon 7D

The Canon 7D came out in the fall of 2009 and remained in production for 5 years. I can't recall exactly when I bought mine,  but I'll speculate sometime around 2010, which sounds about right. This camera was built like a tank and like a tank, it was hard to kill, short of dropping it in the pool or actually running it over...both of which I've seen done.

The main reason you'll still enjoy this thing is that it takes a great picture with its 18mp APS-C sensor and could shoot at 8 frames per second. Even in 2018, this camera will still be more than most people will ever need in a camera. The shutter on this thing is rated at 150,000 actuations. You can do a shutter count on a perspective camera and you'll likely see you still have a long shutter life remaining.

Art Model, Trixie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Canon 60D

This camera has gotten a lot of use, so make sure you get it checked out or ensure it comes with some sort of certification/warranty with your purchase. Just about every 60D I have ever seen looks worn and used and that's why if you can find one and its working...get it. This camera hold up to a beating. This is an especially good camera if you're looking to video. It can do 1080p at 30fps or 720 at 60. The LCD rotates out to help you get your shot at low or high angles.

Sony a6000

Now this is the first mirrorless camera on this list and it came out mid-2014, so its 4 years old. Get this, though. Its STILL in production! Yes. Sony has upgraded this model twice and the 3rd model release is expected any month now. I'd say its the best bet on this entire list. Incredibly light-weight, with a 24mp cropped sensor and blasting at 11 frames per second. And the price is around $600 new. Find a used one for half that.

Art Model, Trixie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Nikon D7000

A close 2nd to the Canon 7D, the Nikon D7000 is a very capable system to work with. I love the dual memory card slots and the battery lasts forever, seems like. At 16mp, you can get some great astrophotography with an ISO as high as 6400. I don't recommend the expanded ISO modes so much though. It also has a built in Intervelometer which Nikon started adding in to several camera bodies at this point. It takes a picture just as good as the Canon 7D.

Nikon D3400

Now, the above recommended cameras are all what you might call, prosumer-level positioned for photo-enthusiasts. The D3400 was made inexpensively for photo beginners and is a consumer-level product. What sets this camera apart is the sensor. At this point in 2016, Nikon came out like mad with a well-made 24mp sensor. No one had ever delivered something with that kind or resolution on a consumer level product. New, this camera was about $600 with up to a $100 off around the holidays. You can find them for $200 used and the camera is only 2 years old.

Art Model, Trixie ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Bonus: Fujifilm X-E2

The X-E2 is another mirrorless camera that made its debut late 2013. Its uses more dials than buttons and switches. There's a dial for shutter speed and the aperture dial is usually on the lens, depending on the lens. It is my most favorite camera on this entire list. Mine was submerged in the Pacific. THE PACIFIC!! And it still came back to life. You can't do that with a Canon 7D. Fuji uses a totally different sensor technology that most other manufacturers, so the overall look is different. It actually has more of a film personality and feel.

Its built like a Rangefinder style camera and the silver edition is terribly beautiful with a retro Leica kind of style. For a cropped 16mp sensor, I was stunned when I did a fashion shoot with it and compared some of my images to my 36mp Nikon D800E. Amazingly, I would have had zero added benefit had I done that shoot with the Nikon instead of the X-E2. I know. It makes no sense, but the results proved the worth of that Fuji to me.

12 June 2018

Why You Don't Need to Take a Picture of EVERYTHING!!

"Art is the elimination of the unnecessary."
 –Pablo Picasso
Absolutely nothing fast about 12 shots per roll, Hasselblad 501c film camera with prism viewfinder
There is this one scene in "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" between actors Sean Penn and Ben Stiller that epitomizes a concept that I think is often forgotten among photographers as well as people just taking pics. Not every memory needs to be captured by a camera. Not every moment needs to be immortalized on a "memory" stick. There are some instances when the camera does more harm than good. To paraphrase Sean Penn's character in the embedded video, "The camera can be a distraction." And that's what I want to talk about a little bit here.

I've had a few moments like this when I chose not to bring my camera on a trip. I actually got vilified mainly because, "I was wasting opportunities..." and "I may never get to return to this place..." and so forth. That's not the way I looked at it. There have been more than one occasion of these instances, but in this particular situation, I wanted to enjoy my time with a friend who wasn't a photographer and I didn't want to spend all my time "needing to get the shot". Otherwise, I would have ended up neglecting the companionship for which I traveled there for in the first place.

Simplicity, Copyright 2010 Terrell Neasley

Here's another reason you don't need to take a picture of everything. Petapixel.com recently posted on their popular blog an article by the British Psychological Society that they titled, "Simply Snapping a Photo Harms Your Memories of Things, Study Finds". Now their study requires a bit more research, I'm sure. They use a base their finding, per the article, based on a sample size of 50 undergraduate students. 5000 students would have been more convincing, but the findings are nonetheless comparable to my own experiences, albeit not as measurable scientifically.

Put the damn camera down! I've talked about this before. Look around yourself and just enjoy the moment for what it is. At the very least, slow down. Get a few shots and stop. Blasting on rapid fire mode trying to capture everything tends to make you lose the gift of the memory and here are two reasons why this makes sense:

1. Repetitively speaking, your mind won't feel the need to remember something you know is already recorded when you establish this as a habit. It takes the work away from the brain. No need to commit a visual to long term memory when you think you've captured every aspect of it with 312 shots of one friggin' scene.

2. Odds are, you're never gonna go back and look at those pics. They'll stay on your SD card or computer hard drive. And there's a stronger propensity that nobody else is going to want to look at those pics even if you did pull them out. Think about it. NOBODY CARES! Who wants to sit and mull through all 1,538 of your vacation photos. After a while, even you'll get tired of the 11th image of the same scene and start fast forwarding through to find the good ones. And if you look like you're bored, why should anybody else sit through them.

Copyright 2012 Terrell Neasley

"It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential."
 –Bruce Lee

Here is one more reason why you won't remember so well and why the camera can be a distraction. When the camera comes between you and a memory, think about why you actually see versus what the camera sees. When you take in a moment without the camera, you have almost a 180 hemisphere of sight in front of you. Not only that, but ALL of your senses can become engaged in that moment. You remember the aroma of the honeysuckle that has completely engulfed the fence that your kids are playing in a mud puddle by. You can hear the low hum of all the bees and wonder if you should have the kids play elsewhere, but rationalize that you are being over-protective until the youngest one grabs a bee and is stung.

Copyright 2012 Terrell Neasley

All that makes for a story and engraves that memory in your brain forever. You are totally engrossed in that moment and are capturing information using all your senses. Now try to think of that same scene but now, close off all your senses except for your sight, because that's the only one you are paying attention to. Then take an empty paper towel roll and cut it in half. Now use each half to see through. Can you visualize that? How much information is actually being recorded to your brain? Not much! You've limited yourself to tunnel vision and sounds and smells have no relevancy any more.

And show some respect, like my friend Marci in a museum. Do you really need to take pics of someone else's art? Put the camera down. Use your eyes. Record it to your brain. Its not your responsibility to have something to show the next guy. Let them come to the museum on their own and experience it in person. Your job isn't to record and share with the world for sake of posterity. If anything, come back with a story! Tell that! Motivate others to visit that museum!

Shoot less. Otherwise you cheat yourself.

04 June 2018

Kicked Off Instagram AND The Gigabyte Aero 15X

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley
So, Instagram didn't like my last post. My profile on there does not exist anymore. Can't access my account. Nothing. Just gone. Well, that's their game and as a private entity, they have the right to do just that. And I have every right to say Fuck'em. They have 100% lost my respect, because respect would have been, "Hey we're sorry you feel this way. What can we do to help make your Instagram experience better?" At that point, we can still talk and I get to feel like a citizen consumer of their product. And if we don't reach a conclusive mutual agreement, then OK. Part and go separate ways. No harm. No foul.

But that's not what they did. I was dictated to without the ability to question a thing or even get clarification to better understand. Shadow Banning my images isn't in their Community Guidelines either. I can't work with anybody like that and simply won't. For the future, I'll move on without Instagram in my life and I'm absolutely cool with that. I still have my goals and I will achieve them in a different manner. I'm just getting off that platform earlier than expected. This will give me time to research my options more thoroughly, so I'm good with having that bridge burned.

Moving on...

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley

Yeah, so I ordered my laptop yesterday. Going with the $2300, 15.6" Gigabyte Aero 15X, with the 6-core i7-8750 processor, 16GB of RAM, half a TB of NVMe SSD, Nvidia GTX 1070 GPU, and a 1080p display. I wanted to wait another week or two for it, but inventory everywhere is low. Other versions/variations of this laptop model suddenly were not available any longer so when I saw this one with a much sooner date of arrival, I jumped. The 15X is the middle version of this model. There's a 15W for $2000 which is the one I wanted. Its the exact specs of the 15X only with a GTX 1060 graphics card. No date on when it gets in...only "soon". Then there's the 15X, but with a 4k display for $2500...mid-July expected delivery for that one. Nope...had to jump on what was available. If the 4k version was what was available, I'd have pulled the trigger on that one.

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley

The MS Surface Book 2 was less power but still more money. It was a whole grand more money for a lesser processor AND lessor GPU. I didn't need the removable screen. I hated the fulcrum hinge and I just couldn't see that it was a better deal. Its hard to believe the Surface is charging a thousand dollars more...and for what? If it was worth it, I could see it. Maybe it is for you, you should check it out. I need a laptop to edit photos and videos on and I think the Gigabyte Aero 15X best suited my needs.

Now we'll see after I get my hands on it as to whether it was a good decision or not, but I feel good about it. But that won't be for a while yet. I'll definitely be doing a review on it, but I won't have it til sometime late June. Then I'll load it up with my much needed software and get to work. Adobe for sure will get loaded, but what else? I used a ton of plug-ins on my desktop and I'm not looking for the same 'ol, same ol'. Its been years and I'd love to change it up a bit. Capture One, maybe...? I love the fact that its easily upgradeble, but I'll wait til around Christmas to add another 16GB of RAM (2 slots for max 32GB) and another 2TB SSD for a total of 2.5TBs, since there's one more slot for another SSD.

And with that, Papa's gotta get a brand new bag. My current Thinktank Retrospective 30 won't hold a 15.6" laptop. So I'm going with the biggest messenger shoulder bag that gets the job done. I don't need anything that looks like I got a boat load of cameras in it, so I'm sticking with Thinktank again and getting the Urban Disguise 60 v3.0. I'll be doing a review on it as well when I pick it up at B&C Camera in Las Vegas. This along with the Sennheiser AVX and the Osmo Plus will be my main purchases for now. Waiting til the end of the year will be the Mavik Air. Gotta pace myself! The only thing that is also still questionable is the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 E-Mount for Sony lens. There is still no word yet on if it will be available and in stores during my visit back stateside.

Art Model, Panda ©2017 Terrell Neasley

30 May 2018

Instagram and the Art Nude

Art Model, Susan ©2013 Terrell Neasley
"Do what you love and you'll never work a day in your life." Well, that's what they say. Is it true? Hell, naw. When you love something you'd better work your ass of at it or you won't be loving it for long. So the work continues. You get better or you stagnate and if you stagnate you die. So what is it that I love. I love the art nude and I love travel. Its pretty much all I ever want to shoot. Making a living at just that can be challenging. How do you make a living with nudes outside of porn? And there is no shortage of travel photogs out there. In fact, I'd say there is a stark surplus of shooters traveling all over the world and returning with highly interesting imagery.

When I first turned professional after losing my job at the Nevada State Treasurer's Office, I did so after a long deliberation. For the first month I was unemployed, I did absolutely nothing related to job hunting or planning for my future. I enjoyed myself and relaxed. On day 32, I decided I'd turn pro in photo. I had all the gear I needed already and I was definitely good enough. One thing I knew for sure was that I did not want to be like every other photog swinging a lens. So I spent Month 2, five days a week, bending my brain on all the possibilities of what niche I'd carve for myself. By the end of that month, I only needed to begin my work and  execute my plan.

Anonymous Art Model, ©2014 Terrell Neasley 

And so this is where I find myself once again. Travel and Art Nude photography is the WHAT. And that's why I sit here in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala in my "penthouse" apartment that I've been renting for the last 3 months figuring out the HOW. My plan is to use this as a staging point til September and at that time,  I'll be ready to continue my adventure as I fly to Colombia. I should have the rest of the gear I need by then with a plan on execution. One of my considerations deals with platforms and that's where Instagram comes in.

I am so pissed with IG. I can't stand the censorship. Actually, there are a lot of things with which I take issue with them, but for now, lets stick to the censoring of my work. I don't know how some pages get away with it, but my profile is constantly getting censored images taken down and I have no clue as to what Community Guidelines were violated. No clue even which pics were deleted at times. No recourse to understand anything. They don't let you contact them so you can't ask questions. No clue if an algorithm is incorrectly targeting my already censored edits. OR, if an anonymous person is reporting my images and they get deleted without due scrutiny. And apparently, after a quick check, I discovered that some of my images have been SHADOW BANNED! They still appear on my profile page where I can see them, but YOU can not see them. You can check to see your's on INSTAGRAM SHADOW BAN TESTER. So I'm not sure if this is the right platform for me anymore.

Art Model, Samantha ©2010 Terrell Neasley

I can't stand being beholden to someone else's sensibilities on what is obscene or offensive to other viewers. I do my work and my art and believe you, me...I plan to misbehave. Some of my artwork leans towards the explicit and I don't know what to tell you... you can simply not look at it if you don;t like it. I won't be offended. Ergo, I need a new platform to display and exhibit my work. VERO, is a possibility but I still have time to search this out. Maybe I'll keep IG solely for the Travel work. I won't make this call until later this fall.

Instagram is only part of my challenge. I've still got to find favorable venues and platforms that won't limit or censor my work. And that means I have to tap into a demographic that appreciates and purchases my art which leaves me with with the task of finding my real audience. Plenty of people are interested in travel photography, visiting places around the world, and living vicariously through those that do in the form of instant access social media. That demographic is easy. A smaller portion of that demographic is interested in seeing a nipple exposed anywhere near a waterfall. And even less want a full frontal nude body "desecrating", what would have otherwise been appropriate imagery to hang on a family wall. I can be a bit obstinate, I know. Because the easy solution is to just stick to the travel landscape and make everybody happy. And that would be great, but it would come at the cost of my own happiness. I can not do that.

Multiple Art Models, ©2013 Terrell Neasley

So for the time being, I keep shooting. Get my gear. (I'll be ordering my laptop soon!) And keep researching, learning, and planning. I'll make my call this fall.

16 May 2018

Why Traveling (Internationally) Seems So Hard - REPOST

**** Originally published July 17, 2015 ****
I thought this was definitely worth a REPOST! Enjoy!!
Couple traveling in Guatemala
"For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."
~ Robert Louis Stevenson

I get asked often about why I travel, what its like, and how I do it more times than I'd care to count. I'm amazed at how mysterious so many people think it is. But then again, I'm reminded of the fact that I used to be the exact same way. It's not easy when you can't speak the language. Its too expensive. I have kids or a job that won't let me take the time off. Trust me. I had the exact same thoughts and had a few events and people in my life not helped me change that mentality, I'd still be in the same mindset.

German Art Model traveling through out Central and South America
For me, the military set the ball in motion. My first duty assignment was in Germany. I hail from Texas where being 200 miles or more from home was a rarity and most of those times I exceeded 200 miles, I was still in Texas. I turned 20 in Germany if memory serves. It was a wake-up call and was the first thing or event in my life that let me know people did things differently. During time off, I got to travel around Europe. Eventually other assignments took me to more places and I learned to be in the habit of moving a lot.

German Art Model traveling through out Central and South America
Towards the end of my military career, I stabilized in the city of my last duty station in Tennessee which is where my kids call home. I got to travel from there to Lake Tahoe with a former friend of mine who travels domestically often. I got to see that its not as expensive as I had been lead to believe to arrange flights, hotels, and car rentals if you do it wisely. The advent of the internet and online booking options really aided me in those efforts. And yet, I gradually lost the calling to seek out new life and civilizations. I got bogged down in work and making money.

Through some hiking associations, I met fellow traveler, @Heather Rae Murphy  (www.heatherraemurphy.com/) who took off on her own to Southeast Asia for two months one summer. I couldn't wait til she got back to talk to her about her trip. It was at this point that I realized a few things. Excuses were just that...excuses. I had already been through enough life events to realize I wasn't going out of this life with thoughts of making more money for my employer. I was on the road WITH Heather that next following Summer in Guatemala and Belize. There was one thing in particular that I had to change in my life in order to make these things happen.

Art Model Covenant on Little Corn Island traveling throughout Central America 

Yes. Prioritizing travel was all it took really. Just making the decision to go. Go anywhere! But don't be deluded. You ain't going anywhere til you get that ticket. All the plans you make. All the good intentions and mean-wells do you absolutely no good until you GET THAT TICKET AND PASSPORT! So booking the flight is first. Well at some point before you go, you're gonna have to get a passport if you don't already have one. Plan a trip that is several months away to give yourself some time to make the arrangements. Central America has been the perfect proving grounds. One, its close. Two, its cheap. Three, it eliminates any and every excuse you might have to not travel. As many times as you've flown across the US for the holidays or other family events, you'll pay less in many cases flying internationally to the Central America. So what you can't speak the language. I'm still alive after several trips of being down there. My Spanish is getting better. But I didn't remember much of anything outside of counting to twenty-nine in Español. Don't be scared of that. I'd wager that 80% of all the travelers I meet do not speak the native language and yet you don't hear of news reports of people dying because of it. But chances are your priorities are probably getting those new J's on your feet. Or maybe trying to find a way to keep those $500 a month car payments up. Or its probably more important to have your Starbucks in the morning. You spend your money on what you are about most. If you cared about traveling, odds are you would be or will soon be traveling.

Art Model Covenant on Little Corn Island
traveling throughout Central America 
"There are no seven wonders of the world in the eyes of a child. There are seven million."
~ Walt Streightiff

So you got kids

Children playing in Belize ©2012 Terrell Neasley
Yeah, my kids are grown. Is that an advantage? I won't lie. Yes it is. However... So what?? Bring the kids!! Why not raise 'em on a good wholesome diet of culture variety? You can't tell me how this would be a bad thing unless you are planning a trip to Syria. More likely than not, your kids will also become travelers. Why? Because they'll be used to it and will ALREADY have passports. Many people stay put because they have never applied for a passport. I see kids on the road with their families all the time. Many get raised on sailboats with parents who circumnavigate the world. You know who I meet on the road from other countries traveling by themselves? 18 to 23 year old kids doing extended travel for a few months before they get locked down in jobs and careers. Do you think your 18 year old is ready to cross the Pacific on their own? Well they would be if you took them there before they leave home.

Is it the job?

This is probably a tough one. But then I gotta ask. How important is traveling to you? If your job doesn't understand your need to be off more than a week a year, then...damn. I don't want to tell you you need to find a new job. YOU need to tell you that you need to find a new job. America is one of the few countries that still don't understand the value of time off and burn-out prevention. Traveling or not, a well-rounded lifestyle is more beneficial to your health and longevity. Expense reports are not. But honestly, who can tell you to change careers. I follow travel blogs all the time and often hear about husbands/wives, or single people quitting their jobs to follow their hearts.

All I'm saying is this: There are options out there if you look. Plenty of them. But none of them will do you a bit of good until you make the call to prioritize travel with your money and your time. Get the ticket!

Locals in Antigua, Guatemala ©2014 Terrell Neasley

27 April 2018

My Travel Tech Gear... Mainly Sony

Anonymous Art Model, Copyright 2014 Terrell Neasley
I've often been asked lots of questions about my travels and I've run into several amateur and 2 professional photographers in these four months so far. Three or four questions just about always come up and the most persistent ones have to do with my travel photo and tech gear. So I'll take a blog post to detail what I carry and why.


I shoot Sony and I rock with two camera bodies and currently 3 lenses. The body that is pretty much my workhorse is the Sony a6500. It does everything I need. I like the smaller body-style, yet the thing is a powerful beast of a camera. Here...click the hyperlink to check ==> THE SPECS <==. I've got images stabilization and 11 frames per second when I need it. Its weather sealed with a great 24mp sensor. I actually turn off the touch screen functions. Paired with the 16-35mm f/4, it gives me a crop sensored normal perspective zoom.

Art Model Mary, Copyright 2007 Terrell Neasley

My second body is the Sony a7R2. ( ==> THE SPECS <==) Why is this body not my primary, you ask? Its because the majority of the work I'm doing doesn't require the 42 megapixels this camera uses. I save this for the work that will capture my fine art images while the a6500 will take care of my documentary work, which is about 70% of all the shots I take. I almost upgraded this body to the a7R3, but I'm glad that I didn't. At least not yet. Tempting, for sure! But here's the deal. I don't want to upgrade until I also get two new bodies. I don't want to upgrade this camera and then have to carry another battery size. Right now, both my cameras use the same battery so I can interchange them. Upgrading to the a7R3 would mean another set of 6 batteries, minimum, plus two more chargers. Can't say that's a good fit for me at the moment.

Now if I also upgraded my a6500, (which I'm not sure I'd do), the a7III uses the same battery as the a7R3. That's plausible. But even so, I'm STILL not sold on  selling my a6500. That's how much I love this camera. So basically, I'd likely carry THREE bodies, even though that's not a goal. But here's the deal. I'm not entirely sure I'd want the a7III. Its selling like hotcakes, but I think I'd rather hold off to see what Sony does with the a7S3 which is likely due soon. That would suit me better than the a7III. So I wait and practice my patience lessons. At that point, I'll decide what to do with the a6500, especially if the a7s3 is pushing 10fps at a minimum.

Anonymous Art Model, Copyright 2010 Terrell Neasley

As for glass, I'm primarily a prime guy. I mentioned having one zoom, the 16-35mm f/4 already. I'm not upgrading to the 2.8 version because I already get killer shots with this lens. For my purposes, the G-Master version gives me no added benefit. With that, the Sony 55mm f/1.8 is super bad for my portraiture work. The smaller size is more conducive to my travel work. I did not find the 85mm G-Master to be a better lens. The 55 is the best portrait lens I have ever owned even over my Canon 85mm 1.2.

Finally, I have Sony's 90mm f/2.8 Macro lens. There is not a better one on the market, in my opinion. Its one of the sharpest lenses made for DSLR or Mirrorless. And yes, I say that knowing that I've been quoted as saying Sharpness is over-rated. Here's the deal. I needed a macro lens and Sony made one. Its not my fault that it happens to be one of the sharpest optical instruments to ever don a camera mount. I will likely also add the Sigma 20mm f/1.4 if I can make that happen when make another trip stateside. This will be my primary astro-photography, night time, and landscape lens. So I'll have 4 lenses that I travel with. Notice, there's nothing on the super telephoto front. That means that the longest lens I'll have is the 90 on my a6500 which will make it effectively a 135mm 2.8. This is purposeful. My primary perspective is wide to normal. I don't really work in the super-tele range as much.

Art Model Katherine, Copyright 2008 Terrell Neasley

Along with those, I pack two Sony HDR-AS100V Action Cams. I use these also for documentary purposes as well as time-lapse. These are older systems, but again...no need to upgrade. These things work great for what I need them for. I use them on a table top tripod, a clamp-style grip, and a regular-size travel tripod. Its the only other battery/charger system I have and I carry six batteries for them. My iPhone 7 Plus gets a lot of work as well, both handheld and with a cellphone holder that I can mount onto a tripod. I'm still doing snap shots and video for social media with it. I have one speedlight with me. Its a Canon 430EX II that I mount with Phottix Ares wireless transmitters.

Art Model Jacinda, Copyright 2007 Terrell Neasley
I currently have no laptop I can edit on. I have never edited on one...ever. Since this is an extended travel, I don't have the choice of waiting until I return. So...I'm wracking my brain on what to get later when I come back stateside this summer (just for a few weeks). The lead candidate is the MS Surface Book 2, (maxed out 15" version) but DAMN! I do not want to pay $3500 for that thing (and accessories). Runner up is the Gigabyte Aero 15x. A bit more reasonable, but still over the $2K I'd much rather spend. Hell, maybe even that's too much. So I'll have all that sorted out by the time I return. Maybe something else will come out that meets the spec sheet and features I'm interested in. The main thing...speed. I don't want to have to wait forever rendering videos, images, or anything. Speed, but versatility, future-proof, and battery longevity.

That's it for camera tech in my bag. Looking forward to the additional gear this summer. I'll post on the new additions and eventually post on their performance.

Art Model Covenant, Copyright 2015 Terrell Neasley

21 April 2018

Top 3 Things I Miss about Las Vegas

Art Model Susan, © 2013 Terrell Neasley
So its been 4 months to the day since I've been in Las Vegas. As much as I like traveling and exploring strange new worlds and new civilizations, I actually have a heart for home. I used to be able to take home for granted...that it will always be there. Not this time. Las Vegas yes...but I don't currently have a place I can call home there right now. When I get done with this road trip, chances are I'll be settling back in Vegas. Its not my hometown. That's Terrell, Texas. I count Vegas as my home city.

What do I miss about being back in my home city? Lets see. Here are some of the spots I frequented most. So its my habit to be in these places. Naturally, I miss not being able to hit these spots.

Art Model Covenant, © 2015 Terrell Neasley
1. B&C Camera
If you put a tracker on my car, it would show that I spent a chunk of time at 4511 West Sahara. And I only work there sparingly. Most of the rest of the time, I'm there picking up some camera accessory, renting some gear, or coming in to check out the latest and greatest piece of glass. And THEN while I'm shooting the breeze, I inevitably end up helping a customer find something, narrow down a selection, product comparison, or how-to photo techniques.

Because everybody comes to Las Vegas. Sooner or later, you're gonna make that vaca happen and you'll hit the strip. Then you're gonna realize you left your charger at home, drop your camera off the Hoover Dam bridge, or back over it with your SUV. Yes...I have seen this happen. If you are a Vegas local, then mosey on over there and check it out. You're on Sahara Ave, by "Egg and I" at some point, anyway. You may as well see what a real camera store looks like. This is a newly remodeled joint that will make you wonder why you hadn't visited before. Go holla at Rob or Ron and tell'em Terrell sent ya and I promise you'll get the VIP treatment. Just drop my name like you know me.

Art Model Covenant, © 2015 Terrell Neasley
2. Waffles Cafe
December 2013, I moved to the North west side of Vegas. The first thing I did was Google "breakfast near me". Waffle Cafe was the first choice that was a few miles away. Been going there on the regular every since. Now the owners Jeffery and Isaac are good friends of mine.

I've been taking friends, models, and business prospects there since I started going there. Everybody loves it. My mom came to visit and she's not even a waffle fan. Its the best she's ever tasted. Their waffles are very light. Nothing heavy and they are gluten free. That didn't matter to me so much til I brought a model there who only ate gluten-free and she loved them as well. You can even get them with ice cream on them or a waffle pizza. I personally think you're a deranged individual, but I respect your choice. Maple syrup and butter are the only things that belongs on a waffle. Or bacon! I recommend the Terrell Special. You gotta ask for it. Its not on the wall menu. I promise you'll love it.

Art Model Liz, © 2015 Terrell Neasley

3. Hiking Trails
The very first thing I did when I got to Vegas was to genuinely explore the place. NO, NOT THE STRIP! When you get that out of your system, you'll come to realize, there's a desert out there! And likely different from what you're imagining. I joined the Vegas Hikers Meetup group when there were only 200 some odd people. Now there are almost 20,000 people. The group is run by my good friends, Alan Gegax and Paul Dicianno. These hikes have been my serenity and sanctuary to some extent. At times, it helped me to go out on one of Alan's or Paul's treks. Camping with them is the best, though. The group sites at Valley of Fire are prob my fave spots, but I've gone back to Spring Valley a time or two as well, it was so glorious.

And then there are other times when I just want to be alone. Most times, I'm scouting new locations for a client shoot or for one of my own model shoots. I've gone out at times and have fallen asleep on a high rock only to wake up and its dark enough to believe your eyes are sealed shut. That's when you know you've needed the rest! But sometimes, you can't wait on someone to go with you. People have their own lives and priorities. You'll eventually begin to have other like-minded people join your orbit or you'll join theirs and get plugged into that network.

Art Model Alethea, © 2013 Terrell Neasley

Damn. Where do I start? Valley of Fire. Red Rock. Lake Mead. Goldstrike or Arizona Hot Springs. Those are the more popular ones. But you likely don't know as much about Wetland Park. Or Lone Mountain, Black Mountain Trail, Nelson Ghost town, or the Desert National Wildlife Refuge. These are all spots that will blow you away and exceed all your expectations. And that's prob about 1% of the possible spots you can choose to visit. Snap! Mt Charleston! Yeah...too many. You don't haven't visited Las Vegas if you don't get off the Strip. And that doesn't even get into the other day trips you can make. Cathedral Gorge, Zion National Park. Death Valley! I can't do it...its too much! I could make a blog post just on hiking spots alone! No way I'm taking on that responsibility though. I've given you a good start. Get to researching what works best for you and your family. I believe in you. You can do this. Did you even know there's a 35 mile paved bike trial? Yep...River Mountain Loop Trail.

So yeah... Off the top of my head, those are my top 3 things that come to mind. Its gonna take me forever to link all these spots!


Art Model Susan, © 2013 Terrell Neasley
Happy Birthday tomorrow, Jerry...

08 April 2018

2016 Interview with Art Model Franki Dame

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

I guess I have developed a knack for working with non-traditional models who have their own standards when it comes to size, age, shape, or whatever. These are the women who defy conventions and societal norms to blaze their own trails. I had the opportunity to work with this lovely model, known for her cosplay a few years ago who shows you don't have to be a size-two to be an art model and I absolutely loved it. The original interview was heavily edited and posted on a different blog I used to be a guest editor for. I've chosen to show you the full interview all in her words.

I feel like I still have unexplored ideas, concepts, and imaginations that I need to bring to fruition. I encourage more photogs to venture out and find some of these gems that otherwise don't make it out to the masses. I'd personally like to see more variety in our art model pool. Belly rolls... so what? Challenge your mind's eye a little and let more models challenge themselves. Win/Win. Interview with art model, Franki Dame.

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

1. Okay, first, Introduce yourself! And please include your cosplay interests!

Hi all *waving* Franki here....  I'm 37 years old,  And for the most part, I love being in front of a camera.  Now, this wasn't always so.  I liked being in front of the camera until I was about 9.  Then,  like most overly lanky-limbed, gaukish, giraffe necked, tower of a teenager, I  hated my body.  I hated my overly large chicken lips, and my gaunt overly wide, deep set eyes, which were given even more of an owl like expression with the large glasses I wore.  Imagine if you will 2 chopsticks coming together making an upside down V, then place a toothpick sticking out each side of the triangle top and a round circle on the very top.  To this day, this is how I remember thinking of myself up until I was over 20. 

My family belief had always been that if you didn't look absolutely pristine and perfect, you didn't have your picture taken, and really when would a girl like me ever see herself as perfect enough for a picture? I shake my head and smile a bit sadly thinking back.   Had you met me then, you would never have guessed I'd be a nude model. LOL   

However, being a girl that wasn't comfortable in her own skin, it was always very fun to dress up as someone else.  I enjoyed trying on different people; wearing clothing I wouldn't be comfortable wearing when I was just  "me"; wearing  more makeup or go the extreme opposite direction by painting even  MORE frown lines and etching them even deeper on my face.  I continued dressing up long after most of my friends declared themselves too big for it.

When I met my boyfriend a few years ago, I did my first AnimeCon.  I had discovered Anime cartoons in my 20's, so when my boyfriend was taking his daughter on their annual trek to AnimeCon it was just natural that I joined them and of course dressed up. It was so much fun, that we did it again this year, and I am already looking forward to next year!

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley
2. What were your current views on nudity and how did you come to first model nude for someone?

My views on nudity have certainly shifted as I've gotten older, that's for sure. Having a rather fundamental upbringing, I didn't discover nude photography until college.   As I mentioned above, I had an atypical body type. However, when I signed up for the required Senior pictures in high school, the photographer was intrigued with shooting me. It was the first time I had heard a stranger call me, "pretty," and, I didn't feel like that girl who wasn't picture perfect. He saw my height as a gift, something to relish and explore as we did the pictures. It was an experience, I never forgot, and to this day, I have those pictures.

They say college is all about "finding yourself," and I guess I was no different. I was trying to become comfortable in my own skin and I really wanted to like myself from the outside in for a change. However, as we all know. professional photographers are not cheap, and so when I was up at college, I started to look into ways that I could have pictures taken without it costing me an arm and a leg. I found the phrase "Prints for Time." and looked up local photographers who used this method. I volunteered myself for a shoot, and as the session progressed, when he suggested I take off my top, I thought "why not'? I've been told, experience itself is what helps foster growth, and that was the case here. Though I wasn't entirely comfortable the first time or the second, or even the third, I was intrigued with their vision, their thoughts, the reasons for why they wanted me topless. Now I may have just been naive, but most of them had a story in their mind. For example, the first time, I was over these cement cylinders. The photographer liked the idea of the white and smoothness of my skin against the dark roughness of the cement. It was interesting. I found that many photographers liked the artistic aspect of my tall willowy form. I even returned to the "senior picture photographer" and did other more adult shoots with him.

When I think back, I notice I usually did nude modeling whenever I need a body boost.  Then after I met my boyfriend... well, that brings us to here.

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley
3. I shot a model who was also into cos and role play. She told me that modeling nude was a different experience altogether. She felt more vulnerable being nude. Would you share her sentiments or how is it different for you?

I agree about the vulnerability, but I like to push myself; like the challenge.  For me,  cos and role play is about NOT being yourself, but rather trying someone else on or even hiding yourself.  When I model nude, I can't hide.... well, anything.  *HAH* It's about the challenge.

4.  What have you learned about yourself from these experiences? What do you get out of modeling?

I have learned that I am beautiful.  I have learned that I am as unique and special as everyone else.  That we are all imperfect, and that is a GOOD thing.  That underneath our clothes we are all naked.  That vulnerability is that thing that makes us beautiful, though good lighting helps.  I have also learned to take a compliment.

From modeling, I get reminded that I'm beautiful.  We all have days where we only see the negatives of ourselves, it's nice to remind myself that just last week, I looked amazing, and I couldn't have gained that much weight or gotten that many more wrinkles, in just one week.    I showed a few of the pictures you had taken to one of my friends, that one highlighting all the lumps and bumps, and she tells me, "Wow! you have great breasts!"  "Thank you." I replied.   

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley
5. Excluding being comfortable in one's own skin/bodies, what do you believe would be some other essential elements or qualities that art nude models should possess? And then also, what helped you acquire these assets?

It would seem to me that the ability to see past the awkwardness of the moment; to be willing to go on a journey with the photographer - understanding the outcome completely eclipses the present. Even if someone wasn't "comfortable in their skin" probably having a carefree nature helps you get past that hick-u.p. As for myself, I never questioned the why.

6. Here's a big one. Tell me what your opinion is as to the difference between artistic nudity and pornography.

Probably just depends on the eye of the beholder.  Depending on your upbringing and personal beliefs, I think some people will call any nude photography pornographic,  For me, I think if there's 70's stripper music or a fluffer in the background, it's probably pornography.     

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley
7. Is there anything hard or difficult about art nude modeling and posing? Do you have to deal with any scrutiny from people around you at all?

It's cold.  I really hate being cold.  And the poses get tiresome sometimes.  It takes energy and some days that's hard too.  I admit, doing nude photography for me is an adrenaline rush, but still, sometimes, that lack of sleep the night before still wants to come out.  Also, with many poses, it's about getting that perfect line or having the light hit you in a certain spot, so you hang out in one position unmoving for quite a while.

So.... most people around here don't know about my nude modeling.  With my profession, let's just say it wouldn't sit well with most people.  I hope some day to be able to bare it all, but for now, most only know me with my clothes on. 

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley
8.  Tell us about other art models who's work you enjoy. How do they influence your own work and style?

When you find something on Pinterest, or Tumblr that piques your interest, I tend to find things that I want to create in my own way.  Most of the pictures though are anonymous, so you tend to follow blogs or boards more than artists. I've kind of fallen out of following anyone recently, spending my free time doing more personal modeling. 

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley
9. Same question, but this time with reference to photographers.

My main photographer is my boyfriend.  The only other people who I've allowed to shoot me recently are people he has a close personal relationship with.  This has included most recently, you and Miss Julian Grey. 

10. What's next? What projects are coming up and how do we follow you?

In 4 years, I have plans to move to Vegas.  I should be easier to find then. Maybe I'll talk to my guy about setting up a Pinterest board or Tumblr blog sometime next year. 

Art Model, Franki Dame from an 2016 interview, © 2016 Terrell Neasley

29 March 2018

Planning for the Amazon Later this Year

Art Model Viki-Vegas back in 2011
The rainy season is about to get under way here in Central America. Just had some of our first rains that I've experienced this past night. This will present challenges and opportunities for the next few months. I've never done much photography during rainy season in the mountains and I'd like to see what can be accomplished here. Challenges are that way the hell up in the mountains it can still get really cold at night. Trying to be outdoors doing night time photography can be challenging as I'll have to secure some camping and cold weather gear as well as wet weather gear. I'm not interested in buying all that. I won't need it after Xela and I am doing what I can to REDUCE the weight on my back. (As it stands, I have to redo the back procedure I had done this past October!)

Art Model Viki-Vegas back in 2011
Most days have been slow. Especially the last two days where I've had to stay off my feet a bit. I'm pretty sure the change in the weather is having a big affect on my knee. I've experienced abnormal pain that hasn't been attributed to anything physically taxing. So I can only blame the weather. I've used this time write and look at some of my planning for later this summer. I'm pretty sure that when I leave Xela, I'm heading to Colombia. So I've been looking at opportunities there. Primarily, I'm looking at spend considerable time in Cartagena and Medellin.

Art Model Viki-Vegas back in 2011
And then I'll keep pushing south along the South American west coast. But the PRIMARY research gig that's got me occupied so much is how to travel down the Amazon River. My only options to reach the Amazon are from Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and of course Brazil. So what's the best place to do this from? My best research so far says Peru. But I can't miss Bolivia. I got stuff I want to do there! So, yeah...I gotta work those details out. I'll be getting down there during the low river part of the season so its a great time to do it. And I want to do the full length. Practical? Who knows. I'm telling you I want to do it. I was reading a post on it that you can boat it in 5 days. I'm think of doing it much slower to stop off at different places and get some shots. Wanna know what'll be really good to shoot...A MODEL! I'm definitely going to see about making that happen. In fact, I'm pretty certain I can not do that excursion without shooting somebody.

Art Model Viki-Vegas back in 2016...five years after out first shoot
After that part of the Amazon, I guess I'll have to make my way down to Rio de Janiero,  São Paulo, and on to Paraguay, Uruguay, Argentina, and Chile. So those are all doable destinations. I just have to figure out how to best go about it and when. Where it gets interesting for me is the next big excursion. So yeah...from Chile, this is what I'd like to do... Find a sailing crew heading out to Easter Island and then onto cruising the South Pacific islands like Tonga, Bora Bora, Tahiti, etc. I think getting dropped off in Tonga would be another ideal place to stay for the full length allowable for a visa, which is 30 days unless you get approved or an extension. Afterwards, I'd just island hop all the way to New Zealand and Australia, then head North.

Art Model Viki-Vegas back in 2016...five years after out first shoot

I don't know anything about sailing. I don't know anything about getting on board a sailing vessel or anybody who's going that way willing to let me ride along for some great pics. All I know is that I have to figure it out or go to Plan B which is to fly to Vietnam and pick things up there. I'd rather do Southeast Asia AFTER I have conquered the South Seas! It all sounds like a beautiful adventure and I want to make it all happen. I'm GOING to make it all happen. Oh! Thanks for those tips, John Kompare!