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