Did the Giant Fall?

Did the Giant Fall?

B&H Photo has been my “go to” place for my camera gear for… well, for as long as I can remember. Officially known as B&H Photo & Electronics and located in New York City, B&H in my opinion was the gold standard in online camera gear purchasing. I have to admit I have never actually visited the mecca of “all things camera” however when I needed to purchase anything to do with photography or video B&H is where I would start. Be it something as small as a battery for 1964 Pentax camera or a major purchase of the newly released Blackmagic 6K cinema camera B&H was there for me.

Their website is the gold standard in finding information on almost any product. Like me, many people will use B&H’s website for looking up the specs on a product. Even outdated products will many times still be listed on the website. The product will be marked “discontinued” but the specs and Info are there for anyone to reference from.

Then came the Covid-19 virus crisis and like all things around the world life was severely dampened as we all headed in to a lockdown. With NYC being the epicenter of the virus crisis in the USA it was understandable that B&H would have to close its doors and it did. However, customers could still order online and pick up orders at the side door.

For me it did not take long to see the ripple in service to come racing across the surface.

First let’s go back to how it used to be to order from B&H. Now I will be writing about my own personal experience in shopping and ordering online but I know the experience was very much the same for many people. I live in Hunterdon County New Jersey, I’m located on the westside of NJ about 4 miles from the Delaware River, I can drive to B&H in 1 hour and 10 minutes (with moderate traffic). But, why would I want to ever drive there when I can place an order online and it would sometimes arrive the very next day with standard shipping. Yes, back in the day if I placed an online order in the morning before noontime often (not always) it would ship the same day by UPS and I would see the box at my door the next day by 3:00pm. And yes, I did say that was standard shipping. Obviously, logistics played a lot into this and I always reveled in the fact that while many things in life suck the one thing, I could always count on was getting my purchase from B&H lightning fast. I would always joke that “it was as if the B&H guy had ESP and was waiting outside my house with what it was, I was going to order.”

Well those days ended when B&H started to use FedEx Ground and it was a sad day for me. Where I live, I am about a 15-minute drive from the UPS terminal in Hamilton, NJ however, the FedEx Ground terminal for my area is located in Bethlehem, PA about 1 hour away. Needless to say, now shipping can take at least three days.

So now, here we are after several months of the virus crisis and the B&H shopping experience is far from a pleasure it once was and seems to be getting worse not better. Recently I placed and order for an office chair. It was listed as “In stock ready to ship.” Everything seems good, I get the confirmation email and then nothing. It just say’s “order processing” and a week goes by. Yup, 7 days. Then I email customer service and low and behold the order ships about 2 hours later. Then the next day I get an email saying “your order shipped yesterday.” This is pretty much how it is now when I place an order with B&H and yes, I have to admit I have started placing orders for gear with Amazon that I could buy at B&H. However, Amazon is not the best place to source certain kinds of camera gear from. Amazon has a sketchy reputation when it comes to things like memory cards and other photo & video related items. With B&H I have never ever felt that the product I was buying was not authentic and that it was the actual product it was labeled or packaged to be. I can say for 100% sure I received Sandisk SD cards from Amazon that were not the same as the ones I received from B&H. I could go on & on about this subject to the days end but, let’s just say B&H sells authentic products.

B&H has a great reputation with photographers of all levels. Yes, I was an armature when I found B&H many years ago and one of the things that really steered me to them was that fact that well-known famous photographers shopped there and spoke highly of the service and ability to get good gear quick. I have heard a story of a studio assistant running across town on her bike to get a much need piece of gear that broke in the middle of a shoot. Thanks to B&H she grabbed the flash head and returned to save the day. Actually, heard that story from a photographer giving a talk at the B&H event space. So, this was another great aspect of B&H and that is that they have produced so much online content that I have always taken advantage of.

How about meeting some of the people that work at B&H? While I stated earlier that I have never actually visited the store, I have always made it a point to at least say “hi” to the people working the tables at events outside of seminars at the Javits Center or the Philly Convention center. Again, always nice and pleasant conversation.

Today however, there are no seminars everything has given way to the online virtual seminars and B&H’s website has many mainstream products that say “back ordered.” Currently I have been waiting to purchase a camera slider from B&H. It is a well-known brand and other online dealers have it but the B&H website says “more expected soon” and it has been over a month. The New York Post released an article on May 1, 2020 describing the well-known camera shop as taking a very hard hit due to the virus crisis.

I want to see my favorite camera shop come back to the life it once had. I want to see our country come back to the life we lost before the China virus swept the world. I hope it is soon.

The Covid Blur (so many sleepless nights…)

The Covid-19 lockdown was certainly a challenge for most. So many people out of work and told to just stay home. Almost sounds like a good thing… “don’t come to work.” Fact is; we couldn’t really go anywhere other than the essential like the store for food and even that involved standing in long lines and dealing with other frustrations.

During my time in this forced social lock-down I struggled to keep my creative projects afloat. Often, times I had to let a project just sink because other participants were not available of not willing to defy the lock-down. Like many people I spent countless night awake. Some of those nights I spent worrying about everything from how I was going to pay certain bill, what will happen to my business and also worried about sick family and friends.

As I look back to just a few months ago and even still now, some nights are just a blur. Some nights I spent playing guitar, going back to long hours of practicing the modal system and scales. I hadn’t don’t that kind of practice in many years. I wrote a song, just the music and I’m working on the lyrics. I read books, I finished books that I had started to read and for whatever reason I stopped halfway through. So, I dug those books out and finished them. I did the same with some images and video projects. Things that had fell along the wayside in the hustle & bustle of always moving on to the next project. Now, of course the sounds like I was busy all the time during the lock-down… sadly the answer is no. As I stated already, some days & nights were like a blur and they still are. I have found that if I don’t use enough energy during the day, I find myself wide awake at night and the I fall asleep about 3:00 am only to wake at 6:00am to drive my wife to work. She moved here from Thailand and still doesn’t have a valid driver’s license. In a way this is actually a good thing because it would get me up and out of the house. We both enjoy the 20-minute ride and taking with each other. When I return home, I will sometimes take a short nap but its daylight out and my body just doesn’t want to sleep in daylight. After returning her back home I am dead tired about 5:00 pm and I fall asleep for a few hours and back up at 7:00pm and ready to spend another night wide awake till 3:00am. What a horrible cycle. Even though I hit the exercise bike almost every day and a light dumbbell work for my arms I still would find it hard to sleep.

During some of these late “night blurs” as I call them, I would go on Vimeo and look for inspiration, something to give me a sense of “at least I’m not just vegging in front of Netflix. So, here is a creator or creative team I guess is the proper term that I came across and I fell in love with their work. Before the lock-down I had started to dive into the world of cinema cameras and looking at more and more music and short film creators. These guys are great and here are two of my favorite videos of theirs. I just love their shooting style and editing.

Prepare For The Luck Shot (part 1) …The easiest way to blow your chance is to not be prepared

Nature photography is not my specialty however, I do love to get out and shoot wildlife when the opportunity arises. Like all genres of photography nature & wildlife pose obstacles and it can certainly be a challenge. For those who do not do this kind of shooting they often think nature & wildlife is pretty easy. That is, until they try it. Sure, we have all seen those extreme close ups of squirrels eating a nut or the white-tailed deer with her fawn close by and while these kinds of photos appear on many photographer’s social media there is always the backstory of what is really going on.

Let’s take a quick look at some wildlife backstories. The squirrel eating the nut and as we look closer it is actually a peanut and because it was shot at a very shallow depth of field, we are not seeing that it is actually a pile of peanuts that was placed in the middle of a city park. So simple of a shot anyone can do it. As the urban sprawl encroaches and deer have no natural habitat left, we always find whitetail deer literally living in people’s backyards. Capturing a shot of the mother and her fawn can often be accomplished while sitting on your back deck or porch while drinking your morning coffee.

The stories become even more pathetic when we see so called “Wildlife Photographer’s” who have portfolios of fox, wolves, bears, tigers and much more that were all shot at a zoo, reserve, preserve or whatever. There are many places that will let you pay a fee to stick your lens through a chain link fence and capture images of a so called wild whatever. And just like that “you’re a wildlife photographer. Just the same way photographers can pay to shoot a model on a set where the lighting is all preset and there are people to assist and guide you to get an awesome shot of a model and call it “their own,” you can pay for just about any genre of photograph you can think of.

Myself, I may not be the best photographer however, I have made it to 55 years old without paying to photograph wildlife. I have paid models and that was in the context of a commercial gig where photographs are being used for business purposes. There is just some kind of satisfaction that comes from capturing an image/s that came from effort that was put in or it could be just pure, flat out luck.


So, let’s talk about the ‘effort put in” and then we’ll talk about the “luck shot.” Be it a bird house or a photograph, if I put my hard work and effort into it, I know I will love it more and it will bring me much satisfaction. I think back to a time where I had these scrap pieces of wood leftover from a small repair, I was making on a storage building. While cleaning up the wood scraps I thought why not make a birdhouse. Actually, I ended up making 4 Blue bird houses.  I placed them across the fields that surrounded my home at the time and when taking my daily walk, I could see them. They lasted about 8 years, nobody ever knew I made them (until now) and it just gave a warm feeling to walk those fields and see the birds in houses I made. I think everyone at some point in their life has made something with their own two hands that has brought them comfort and satisfaction.

Walking through the brush in the predawn hours to get to a point on a ridge overlooking a meadow in hopes… yes in hopes that there will be whitetail deer there when the sun comes up is putting in effort. There is no guarantee the deer will show. Sure, they are there most mornings but, what if something spooks them this morning? I end up doing macro photos of dandelions and field birds lol.

So, how about that luck shot? Everybody at some point in their life will have the chance at a luck shot. I say “have a chance” because many a person has blown their chance at the luck shot. The easiest way to blow your chance is to not be prepared and the biggest prep you can do in photography is “know your camera inside & out and know your settings and how to change them quickly.” Let’s say you had a chance to get a beautiful shot of a red fox running across the field and you have on a 24-70mm because you are shooting a model in the field. You would have to switch lenses and maybe you don’t even own a 70-200mm. In this scenario you didn’t blow your chance, you just never really had the chance. However, if you were shooting the whitetail deer I Aperture Priority and you see the fox and you need to switch it up to Shutter Priority or go in to Manual Mode with a fast shutter speed you should do it just as fast and instinctively as you would put your hands out to break a fall when you trip over something. If you missed getting a shot of the fox because you fumbled your camera settings, you may want to chalk that up the “blowing your chance at a luck shot.”

I have wanted to get a decent shot of a blue heron for many years now. I have put effort into getting a chance at a shot and it never worked out. My longest lens is a 70-200 and really it would be much easier if I had something longer like a 400mm. But still I try. I was at the local wildlife preserve up the street from my house, rain was forecasted and I wanted to shoot a YouTube video of a LensCoat camera rain cover. There is a small lake with some geese and occasionally some wild ducks. Blue heron frequents the lake but, on this day, I know there will be people fishing and the blue heron will most likely not be seen.

I arrive at the lake and I get set up with my camera on a tripod and I just have to wait for the rain to roll in. I figure I will shoot the YT video under the premise that I am there to photograph Canada geese. Actually, I am sick of photographing geese because I can do that any time on any given day. Soon a few fishermen arrive and not long after that there comes a blue heron. Wow! He flew in from the opposite side of the lake and perched high in a dead tree overlooking the whole scene. At this point he is too far away for any kind of a decent shot, he is just sitting and watching and he is not going away so that is a very good sign he will stay. Now I’m getting a little excited and I start to go over camera settings and making sure the batteries are good. After all I did none of the normal pre-shoot checking because I figured I would just be there long enough for the rain to start, I could record the video of the rain cover being put onto the camera, talk a little about the rain cover while the cover got nice and wet and it would be a wrap and I’d head back home to a nice cup of coffee.

The coffee will have to wait… and the rain is running late. According to the satellite images on my phone the rain should have arrived already. I’ve got the camera racked out to 200mm and I’m in Tv (shutter Priority) set to 1/1600 sec and if is forcing the aperture to f/3.2, ISO is set to Auto and it is coming in at ISO 250. The Blue Heron perched in the tree at 10:50am and I’m waiting, he has been in the tree for over 10 minutes. What if the rain comes and I start to shoot my video of the rai cover and the bird makes a move? I need a plan. Mentally I start to run through everything. (The camera settings are good; camera is in my hand and not on the tripod. If he moves, he will most like move to the furthest place from any humans. Double check: AI Servo is set. I’m good). I shoot a few photos of geese and I’m thinking the whole time; this bird is about 600 feet or more away, he can see color, he can see my blink… hell he can count my individual eyelash hairs. I can’t really control what the fishermen are doing however I can control what I’m doing. Don’t look at him, look at the lake, fiddle with the camera… do anything just don’t look at him. If he sees your eyes he will fly away. I say this because this is what always seems to happen. When the heron sees my eyes and or my camera lens, this is when they seem most apt to fly away. As I stated earlier, I have been trying to get decent shots of a Blue Heron for several years and not having a 400mm (or more) lens makes it a bit difficult, but I still try. How many times have I had a good clear shot and as soon as the camera comes out the bird flies away.

It is 11:15am he has been in the tree not moving a muscle. 11:18am he drops from the tree and flies over the water along the shore of the backside of the lake. There is a small island in the center of the lake, as he emerges from behind the island, he is only about 24 inches above the surface and I lock focus and start shooting. I keep shooting until he lands and would you look at that? He lands only 200 feet from me but quickly walks behind a wall of cattails. After only a few minutes he came walking out of the cattails and there he/she was. Just standing there letting me take as many photos as I’d like. Even when two people walking in the park were returning to their car and came close to the shoreline the blue heron just stayed there looking very cautious. I captured a photo of the heron looking at the lady returning to her car, while at the same time a huge fish (most likely a bass) is going after minnows and creating a raucous in the water near the heron. Still he never flinched and stood strong.

After picking at minnows for several minutes the heron moves back behind the wall of cattails and just hangs out. And wait what’s this… another Blue Heron arrives at the lake and perches in the same tree as the first one did. Soon he drops from the tree to the water in front of the tree and not long after flies the same route along the backside of the lake and lands at the same spot as the first one did. Now there are two of these gorgeous birds with in 2 yards of each other. The second one I can see and the other is hiding in the cattails. Sadly, I was not blessed with getting a shot of both in the same frame but, that is ok, this day has been generous enough and I’m very happy. Now all I need is for the rain to roll in and I can shoot my YouTube video and all will be good with the world.

Is that an eagle? What the…

To be continued in part 2.








Luck Shot (part 2) I knew he was close to the ground and… there he went right into the water like a rocket.


Continued from part 1.

So, after basking in the glory of capturing some decent images of a Blue Heron at the local lake just literally two minutes from my driveway, I was taken by surprise to see yet another bird come over the lake at breakneck speed. So, in part 1 of the blog post I was telling how I set off to go to the local lake to create a product video for my YouTube channel. I wanted to shoot a camera rain cover in use, the rain was do in at any moment and I was surprised by the arrival of a Blue Heron and a while later a second Blue Heron arrived.

However, now I see something over head about 200 feet up. It circled over and went out of sight; I had caught a glimpse at the last moment and looking at the silhouette against the bright sky I thought it to be an eagle because as it flew away the wingspan lay very flat from tip to tip. I am by no means an avian expert however; I do know how to identify a few birds of prey by their silhouette. I started rubbernecking trying to see where he went. All of the sudden he was coming back on a rather sharp downward angle and he was not an eagle. My camera was set to Tv (shutter priority) 1/4000 sec at f/2.8 ISO 100 200mm, I instantly locked focus but, this guy was coming in hot & heavy. I just stayed on him the best I could as he seemed to just drop from the sky like a rock. As I tracked, I just kept shooting and then I see a red post move in front of my lens and I lose focus lock for maybe two or three shots. As I seen the red post move in front of the camera, I knew he was close to the ground and… there he went right into the water like a rocket.

Of course, all of this is playing out in mere seconds and the moment he went into the water I prayed “please let him come up with the biggest fish ever.” When he first hit the water, my focus was unlocked and on the second frame after hitting the water it locked and he emerged with empty talons. I stayed on tracking him as he lifted, circled and departed up and out of sight. As he was departing, I realized it was an Osprey or Seahawk as they’re sometimes called. What a display of nature to see this bird make a dive at a fish. Of course, I kept watching and hoping he would return for another attempt.

Now it was starting to mist and I prepared to make the YouTube video. I get the rain cover in place and of course the sun comes out lol. The mist stops and low and behold the Osprey appears again, he does a majestic low flyover the lake and swoops up into a tree. He looks out at the lake for a few minutes and then hides himself into the leaves of the tree. I keep watching and I never see him anymore that day. Not long after the sky gets extremely dark in the distance and the storm is eminent at this point. I get reset with the rain cover and I complete the video as planned.

Looking back, who would have thought a plan to make a simple YouTube video would have led me to getting some decent images of a Blue Heron and to also see an Osprey make an amazing dive at a fish. It truly was and amazing site and of course it would have been much nicer to see the bird emerge from the lake with a beautiful Rainbow Trout in his talons still all in all I am happy just to see the event as it was. Now that I know the Osprey is present at the lake I will certainly keep an eye out for him an get that luck shot.

Thank you so much for reading and have a great day.

Why I do not leave feedback for Amazon purchases. (…look at the ass raping that took place when I tried to purchase a product on Amazon)

Why I do not leave feedback for Amazon purchases.

Who hasn’t purchased something from Amazon.com? Kind of a dumb question at this point in the year 2020. I have been buying from Amazon all the way back when Amazon was just selling one thing and one thing only… books. In fact, when you tell a millennial “Amazon used to be just a book dealer”, they’re in the same shock and disbelief as when they hear that “cool ZZ Top” song and then find out that they’re great grandparents seen ZZ Top live.

As we moved into the era of online shopping there needed to be a way of knowing a website or merchant was reputable, honest and had merchandise that lived up to the description. It wasn’t long before the “feedback” system appeared with star ratings or positive vs negative feedback to put customers at ease and feel confident about making an online purchase. At least with a brick & mortar store you have the ability to return your unsatisfactory product and confront someone in person.

However, the day the feedback system was created it was most likely the very next day merchants like Amazon started creating a system to fuck customers over with fake feedback, fake reviews, false or misleading reviews and of course fake star ratings. If you follow this post through to its entirety, I will describe to you how people create fake feedback on eBay and other sites as well.

But, first let us look at the ass raping that took place when I tried to purchase a product on Amazon and was totally mislead. Then when I tried to leave a 1-star review of the product because Amazon refused to change the wording of the product, Amazon would not post my review. Amazon claimed that my review did not follow their guidelines. All I did was submit a review that stated I received the wrong product, I showed a photo of the product and the wording of my review was rather mild, coherent and to the point.

That was the day I stopped reviewing products on Amazon.

I am a photographer/videographer and PolarPro Filters sells higher end gear for cameras & drones. I fully believe they are a good honest company. The dealer on Amazon was listed as “Polar Pro Filters” and not PolarPro Filters. I did not catch this detail in the misleading spelling and this would account for the reason the dealer was a fake.

The product I purchased was a counterweight for a DJI phone gimbal. I wanted a counterweight for a DJI Osmo Mobile 1 and I received a counterweight for an Osmo Mobile 2, despite the description clearly stating the product was for the Mobile 1 and not for the Mobile 2.  Not to mention the fact that when I received the product you could tell the box had been opened multiple times and re-taped shut. I mean this whole ordeal was as preposterous as any thing could ever be. It was almost as if it was a prank, sadly it was not. So, after going back & forth with Amazon I decided to just give up, keep the product, which I gave to a friend who had an Osmo Mobile 2 and just put the whole thing behind me. I truly believe the product I received was not a fake (just the wrong one) and I don’t really hold anything against the maker of the product (PolarPro Filters). However, to this day I have never submitted another review for any product I have purchased from www.amazon.com . Prior to this I almost always left some sort of a review on just about every purchase, I believed in the feedback & star rating system. Sure, I could usually tell which reviews were the fake reviews that were created by the dealer of a product but this time I was done with it all. Now I know some people reading this post will say “hey what about all the honest dealers” that sell on Amazon. And to that I say “screw’em all.” Harsh, brash, rude… call it what you will, I really don’t care. If I get a product I don’t like I return it and as for my camera gear; if I am making a high dollar purchase I will head on over to www.bhphotovideo.com/ . For low quality camera gear, I use Amazon for what it actually is; A place to buy cheap junk made in China.

So, what about the fake positive feedback on eBay? Ok, so I have been on eBay since August of 2000. I have purchased on eBay and I have sold on eBay. I realized from the get-go that maintaining a 100% feedback rating was paramount. I have listed my own sales for eBay and more so I have helped several friends sell on eBay. I have sold items as small as a vintage postage stamp and as large as a Caterpillar Bulldozer and everything in between. I have sold items that seemed worthless however, somebody in Argentina or Italy or Germany or where ever thought it was a value and purchased it. I made a fair amount of money selling gas masks during the Anthrax scare in 2001. I never over charged sole. I merely listed a gas mask at $1 and let the bidders fight it out. Was I proud to sell gas masks to people on eBay? Not really but, the Anthrax scare appeared right after the 9/11 terrorist attacks and my catering business died because nobody wanted to have a party. Ironically, I had been surfing eBay weeks before the terrorist attacks and seen industrial lots (pallets) of gas masks listed for a very low price. When the Anthrax scare hit, I jumped and took what few dollars I had and bought gas masks. I cleaned them (they were new but filthy) and packaged them, listed them and received positive feedback for every transaction.

The reason I tell you all this is I want you to know I have put my time in on eBay and I would be on there every day, all day looking for the next big thing to sell. After that winter had past my catering business resumed to normal and I rarely went back to eBay.

While I was putting in my long days on eBay looking at trends, I was always perplexed at how some dealers had these huge positive feedback ratings and then all of the sudden their feedback ratings took a huge dive into the negative and then the dealer kind of disappeared or became inactive. What was going on to cause this? Was I the only one to see this? So, here is what I uncovered.

A dealer registers with eBay as a new user. The dealer then starts making purchases of stupid little things like stamps or hex nuts, bolts or even string. Like, just a piece of string. The purchases would be for a very small amount of money, most times a few cents. The seller would be new to eBay and likewise the purchaser was new to eBay. Both were leaving positive feedback for each another. The transactions would number in the hundreds per week and in no time at all they would both have huge positive feedback ratings. Then the dealer and the customers would go dormant for a while with no transactions being made. After not making transactions for so long the product links in their feedback ratings would be unavailable. So, if you (the unsuspecting) buyer went to look at their feedback all you would see is that they had a high number of transactions (over 1000) as a seller and their rating was 100% leading you to believe they were a reputable dealer.

So, by this point I think you have figured out the dealer and the seller are the same person using two different eBay accounts. Nobody is actually buying anything; they are just conducting transactions to create feedback. Of course, eBay is making money on the transactions and essentially the dealer is buying a feedback rating.

Then the assault took place. The dealer would list a bunch of items all within about a week and sell products that were much more than the pieces of string or hex nuts they had been selling several months ago.  Sadly, the items they were now selling were receiving a lot of not so good feedback. Essentially, they were ripping people off with fake or misleading products. Many times, the descriptions would have the item listed as “location Brooklyn, NY” when in fact it was being shipped to the USA from various places like Hong Kong, Singapore and other places in Asia.

Now, you do have to know this was many years ago and it was long before PayPal had their “Buyer Protection” as they now have today. Nonetheless, I had seen what I have just described played out time and time again during the winter of 2001-2002. I had contacted eBay multiple times about what was going on and not one time did I notice the usernames involved stop their actions. Most times eBay never responded and if they did it was a BS email from low level peon. Therefore, it led me to believe eBay knew what was happening and just did not care at all. Since then this same scenario and others that are similar have played out on many online selling/shopping platforms.

To conclude; in my opinion I take the whole feedback/star rating thing with a grain of salt. This blog post has only scratched the tip of the iceberg, not to mention the vast concept that you have dip-shit people who leave negative feedback on good products. People who buy something and have no idea how to read and understand directions (if they read them at all) and then claim the product to be defective or not as described. Sadly, it is not a crime to be stupid.

Thank you for reading and have a great day.

Best of luck shopping online.


Covid-19 Daze Part 2 (…it never felt so good to be out in the rain with my cameras.)

After the parks & open space closure I decided I had just had enough and I am not going to let a governor decide my rights as they are given to me under the Constitution of the United States. I contacted a model who is of the same minded thoughts and we headed out. Who needs parks to shoot in? We can still go out in public and long as we follow the rules of social distancing and wear a mask. Let’s make it even more interesting and shoot in the rain, let’s even shoot in a graveyard at an old church.

The meet up would be New Brunswick, New Jersey right in the heart of the town. As crazy as it sounds it never felt so good to be out in the rain with my cameras. We shot for an hour, talked for a few minutes and departed. We never disrupted a single sole; pardon the pun and we captured some nice images and video too.

As I am writing this post the parks are due to reopen and that is a good thing. A good thing that has been brought on by vast protesting in other states. This is a free country and when that is taken away (virus or no virus) people are only going to take so much. At this time there are cases being heard or about to be heard by the courts and I think Governor “Free Stuff” Murphy knew it is only a matter of time before a court order steam rolls him into the dirt.

The virus crisis has changed the world no doubt but, people can change too. People can change to deal with many things and this virus crisis will not define us into being shut-ins and giving away our rights to freedom.

Covid-19 Daze (Loss of an unchanged world.) Part 1

Recently so much has changed in our world. When I say this I truly mean “our whole world” as in our planet Earth as a whole. Never before in our lifetime has an event had so much impact on the whole planet. Often, we make or hear statements about “our whole world changing” and it never really means the whole planet. The Covid-19 crisis has changed so much so fast. Like any critical and tragic event, it takes time for the full impact to set it and be fully realized.

Just the other night I was laying down to sleep and like most people I had various thoughts going through my head as I prepare to end my day for a good night’s sleep. Ha… “a good night’s sleep” is hard to come about these days. As I’m laying in bed waiting for sleep to come my mind is racing through many things. I latch onto the thought of “the planet has changed as a whole” and was truly thinking about it. Sure, we had the 9/11 terror attacks and there was the big tsunami but, this virus crisis is beyond that. And as sleep is coming, I just don’t feel safe and sound in my bed. Sure, my doors are locked and I live in a safe neighborhood but, I still worry about my wife who goes to work each and every day out in the public, I think of other family and friends who are working with the public during this time of virus crisis. I do not personally know anyone who has died from the Corona virus however, I have several friends who know someone who has died, my wife lost a co-worker just yesterday and I just feel it is only a matter of time before someone I personally know will be taken. … I hope I’m wrong.

I pick up on this same bedtime thought after I wake the next morning and I’m dissecting it. Asking myself the question; will things ever be the same? The reality is “no” things will never go back to the way they were before and this is not the first time in history that an event has changed the world as a whole. I was also wrong to think that this was the first time a huge impactful event changed the world in my lifetime. We have cell phones or as they are called today “smart phones” and what about the internet. Both of these have changed the world and there is no going back to the way it used to be. Even if you threw away your smart phone and stopped using the internet you would only be changing your personal world, the little micro chasm that is you as a person.

I think back to my feeling the night before and how I didn’t feel safe, it is actually hard to describe. I guess the best way to describe it is to say that it is just another thing to not feel safe about. We all now have to live with this thought that an unseen force known as the Corona virus is out there lurking. Much as I feel safe with my doors locked and I live in a low crime area… who knows an intruder could break in to my house in the middle of the night and rob and or kill me and my family. Highly unlikely but it does happen, even in a safe neighborhood. So, Covid-19 is just another “not likely” situation but, none the less it is always there.

Then I start to ponder… ok, so if this is not the first global change in my lifetime what is different about Covid-19 compared to other events. I mean after all this virus is killing people. Sure, in the news we see the reporters contrast Covid-19 to the yearly flu cycle (global) and others will put it up against the opioid crisis (specific to certain countries).

In my example I used non-lethal examples such as mobile phone and the internet… and now that I think about the mobile phone did bring about the “texting and driving” epidemic that kills several thousand people each year and maims hundreds of thousands. As for the internet… who knows. Although there are more teen suicides due to cyber bulling. However, any example that is put up against Covid-19, be it more or less in death, nothing has taken the world as rapidly.

As a photographer I have been documenting the changes the virus crisis has made in daily life in my local and surrounding communities. Part of the changes include safe practices like covering our faces and social distancing however; other changes are for the most part pure idiocy and downright unreal. Things such as not being able to take a small boat on the river to enjoy a day of fishing or to not be able to buy a pack of seeds to plant flowers or vegetables for a garden. For me the biggest thing is to not be able to go for a walk or a hike in the forest. The governor of New Jersey closed all parks and while I understand some of the thinking behind the decision it was painted with too broad a brush. Yes, there are large parks in populated areas where people gather in masses even before the virus crisis, there are still other open spaces and preserves that never see masses of people. Trails that run deep into the forests such as the ones I like to frequent fell under this decision and my fun was taken away. If you complain about this closure you are deemed “selfish and inconsiderate” to others. The idea that you may bring unwanted harm in the way of giving someone Covid-19. But I can still go to a liquor store, buy alcohol, get drunk and kill someone by way of driving drunk. Yes, the liquor store is open but, the churches are closed. You can’t fish from a boat on the river and you are not allowed to walk through a forest.

To stay somewhat sane through this whole mess I have still continued to venture out for photography and also now capturing video as well. I can honestly say that I’m doing this in the name of “work” and I of course am practicing social distancing and wearing a mask and shooting with a long lens while doing so.

In this time of virus crisis, the photography business in pretty much nil as in nothing. So, I have turned to looking for editing work online. There used to be a time when photographers had agents to help find them work. Now that is a rather old and antiquated way of finding work. Today there are online agencies where work can be found from literally all over the globe. So, there I sit at the PC searching through the postings and constantly refreshing the page in hopes of catching the latest posting before someone else does. Then once landing a job I am off and running into photoshop to cut a model out of a background for a clothing dealer in India who is selling garments on Amazon and at the same time watching the posting feed to catch another job of fixing a pimple on a headshot for someone to post to their Linkedin profile. I can’t complain because it is work but just in a way I’m not used to.

My mind drifts back to just two weeks ago when I was out hiking with my cameras and thinking how I had found an escape. Even if just a for a few hours, being able to go hiking through a forest where I was the only person there, I was in “the unchanged world.” In fact that is what I titled the video I shot that day “Unchanged World.” Then the parks and open space closures came and changed that world too.

Then after a week or so of that I had had enough and I decided that I would find a way to get out and shoot.

To be continued…

Our New World (A small look at the world outside amid the Covid-19 crisis.)

I created this video for a few reasons. One I wanted to just give glimpse into what it looks like in the town where my wife works. No different than any other town at this time.
I will continue to make short videos similar to this just to document our new world.
However, the message in this video is to show that whille some are obsessed with the shopping for food and supplies there are those who not only don’t have the time for it… the shopping and standing in lines, they just look past it. They are the ones who continue to work in the stores and the supply chain to bring the products and serve the people.
The truckers, delivery workers and medical staff.
My wife has been working 8 to 10 days straight with only 1 day off and then right back at it. Dealing with her job that she actually loves and spending time alone to decompress.

Munn Smith I love more than words could ever express.

Technical Notes: Due to the current Covid-19 crisis as a photographer I have to change tactics and approach shooting documentary photos and videos in a new way. This video was created with a “long lens” a 70-200mm and most all of the time it was at 200mm.

Normally when shooting “Street Style” photography photographers will chose a fixed lens with no zoom because you want to be up close with your subject. However, now with “Social Distancing” being the buzz word of the year being close to your subject is not a good idea.

Yesteryear. (I’m just waiting for the app that delivers your food and pours it down your throat and three hours later sticks a tube up your…)

Old Polaroid Photographs & Memories.

Those scratched and blurry old polaroid’s take us back to yesteryear… to a time when life was much simpler however, we never knew it was simpler at the time. Of course, some things seem simpler today, after all just the act of creating a photo is so much easier than in the days of our youth. So, it begs the question; was life really simpler?

In my opinion; no, life was not simpler in a technical sense. So, is our sense of yesteryear jaded?

But, like me, many people would love to travel back in time if even just for one day.

We all have memories that take us back to happier times in our lives. We also have memories that were not so good. But, for most it is those good memories that we cherish and how we would love to go back and live that day or week or even that one special year all over again.

When we talk about the “yesteryear” in conversation often times the term “things were so much simpler back then.” Now please forgive me for saying this and I am not trying to crush anyone’s wonderful memories “but, no things were a lot harder.” So why do we perceive them a simpler?

Let’s just take a little trip down memory lane and look at just a few things in our daily life that were a lot harder. Now before we get started please know this list could be a long as we want to make it. Why we could write a book that would rival an edition of “War & Peace.” So, here we go…

I already mentioned that it is easier to create a photo today, every phone has a camera. Ah, “every phone” why yes phones are all together different, they are not tied to a wall in our house. Now a phone is attached to your hand or at least that is the way it seems. And the phone is not just a phone it is a gadget that is a computer and connects us to a plethora of information. Certainly, the mobile phone/device has made modern life a lot easier. But enough about phones and cameras.

How about cars and vehicles in general. Practically everything about the car is easier. Now I will admit at first a new car can seem as if it is harder to understand as opposed to the cars of yesteryear. But, after feeling those heated seats on a cold winter morning we’ll overlook the leaning curve the key that is not a key anymore. The feel of the air conditioning on a hot day helps us wash away all the other things we have to sit and take the time to learn about a new vehicle. Then there are all those other wonderful things like airbags, GPS navigation, On-Star, incredible stereo sound, lane guidance and the list of easiness just keeps going.

What about shopping? You don’t even have to stop eating your microwavable mac & cheese, you can just tell Alexa to send you more. Restaurant food delivered to your door… I’m just waiting for the app that delivers your food and pours it down your throat and three hours later sticks a tube up your ass to remove the waste. It will happen and when it does people will flock to use it.

As I said we could go on & on about easy vs hard between today and yesteryear. So why if it is easier today do, we yearn for the days of our memories. Aside from the fact that we were younger what was so nice about yesteryear?

First let me say while life was harder, we did not see at as harder or difficult at all. We did not know the life of today and how easy things are now. We didn’t know things like the ease of creating false restaurant reviews and destroying a person’s livelihood or cyber bulling. Or pausing a movie while we leave the house and resume watching two days later. But yet we yearn for the days of those memories we see when we pick up that old scratched and faded photo.

Now let’s shift gears and look at the reality of the past and the future. Most people think of the past as something pleasurable because they are thinking of loved one’s family and friends who are not with us anymore. Those memories bring us comfort and it washes away the everyday things like, how crappy cars were or that our phone was tied to the wall of the house. The same could be said for when we dream to the future. Dreaming of something about the future is often not what would really happen if the dream were to come true. Examples… of course I’ll give you my take on a few of my dreams that came true. Like that beautiful girl that I longed to be with… how I would see us together walking hand in hand, kissing and having sex and all the stuff that… well it was a dream and yes it came true. Yes, we kissed, we had sex and we really enjoyed being together… until I found out how stupid she was. Stupid is like beauty it is a relative term. However, at 22 she did not know how to cook anything other than a fried egg. If it didn’t have microwave instructions, she didn’t buy it. Her only hobby was drinking beer and I spent most of my free time fixing her car. So yeah… dreams do come true lol.

How about those lottery winners that squander their fortune? Was that part of their dream when they were dreaming of winning the lottery? Yes, I think it safe to say we kind of “whitewash” future dreams the same as we do when we think of the past… at least to a certain degree.

Is it always this way?

In my opinion; no, not at all. As for dreams; dreams with goals attached to them seem to be more realistic. At least in my experience when I had a dream with goals attached, if and when that dream came to fruition it was very much what I expected it to be. But, for looking back at a memory it is all together different, what is done is done and the pleasure of the memory is only on the surface. So, while the mundane of everyday life was certainly harder, we don’t see the mundane in our memories unless we were to sit and actually think about it. Maybe I am different than most because I will often fixate on the mundane of a memory. Take for example the memories I have of my early 20s, I was living with my grandmother and the memories of her are very heartwarming and special. When I hear the theme music to the TV show “Taxi” it automatically takes me right back to Grammy’s kitchen at around 5-6:00pm on a winter’s evening. We would both have arrived home from work and she’d be cooking dinner while I was showering after a day’s work. I can see the gaudy pink & black tile of her bathroom and yes, it is a good memory. But if I dive into it and start walking through that memory my life at the time was not that great. Other than the fact I lived with my grandmother who I really loved, most other things in my life were not that great. I worked at a crappy job for very little pay, I drove a crappy vehicle, and my life was going nowhere. So, while I do cherish the memory of Grammy everything else about the memory is not that great at all. Again, I reiterate that I don’t think everyone digs as deep as I do. I have a good memory and it is also reinforced due to keeping journals and diaries. If it were for those writings, I don’t think my memories would be as vivid lol.

Now I have covered a decent amount of ground in the blog post and I have curtailed myself from using a certain word and that is “nostalgia.” I often cringe a little when I hear this word “nostalgia” because it is usually connected to somebody wanting to capitalize on my memories or on the days of yesteryear. In fact, “nostalgia & classic” are the two buzz words that are used in somehow making money from the days of yesteryear. Usually they (the business world) are aiming to capitalize on a period of time that their customers never actually lived in. Let’s look at the younger generations that were born in the 90s or later. Being born in 1990 would put you at 30 years old and marketing anything “nostalgic or classic” could be a very profitable venture.

I myself have seen teenagers now (born in the 2000s) wearing Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd shirts. One boy I talked to didn’t even know Led Zeppelin was a band, he just thought the shirt was cool (true story). Look at how many people wear the Harley Davidson logo and don’t even own any motorcycle, they just like the logo because it implies the “Biker” lifestyle. And speaking of “biker” lifestyle I can remember a time when that so called “bike” lifestyle mean something a whole lot different. Let me just say it like this… “I remember seeing the State Police escorting biker gangs as they would pass through our area.” “And I remember the fear it created knowing those guys were in town.” I was young so I didn’t really know what it was all about therefore I had not too much fear and I thought they looked cool on their “Harley Davidson” motorcycles. Funny thing is… none them and I mean zero were riding Hondas, Yamaha’s or Suzuki’s. Cut to today you see anybody wearing a Harley logo because they think it is cool. Talk about “whitewashed nostalgia” lol.

At 55 years old I have seen variations of the “bell bottoms” resurface a few times. Auto makers have brought back the names of their muscle cars from the late 60s, while rock bands resurrect themselves (almost literally) and head back out on tour. To be honest I’m not really a big fan of the resurrected rock band thing, because the concerts are most times (but not all) disappointing. Old rockers hiding their “turkey gobbler necks” with the silk scarf while they rasp out an old “classic” hit song that the whole audience is encouraged to sing along with so you can’t really hear the actual performance. I fell in love with the song “Proud Mary” and John Fogerty is one of my all-time favorites. But if you’re going to a Fogerty concert in hopes of hearing a good rendition of Proud Mary… it isn’t happening. Disclaimer: Fogerty actually defies the laws of the aging rocker and he does not wear a neck scarf.

So, in regards to Nostalgia as a market; it is basically the idea that the old times were better than they actually were or in some cases the old time were something they never actually were. And best of all the people buying into it never really lived it so they haven’t a clue lol. I say just let them have their fun and buy into the nostalgia thing because it makes somebody somewhere a lot of money.


In conclusion; Are the days of old better? Were the days of our memories a simpler way of life? Or do we just want to believe they were simpler and better? Either way for me it still feels good to pick up that scratched and faded polaroid photo and drift back through the years.

The Day Our World Went Crazy (Somehow we all arrived here at this point in time in the year of 2020)

Everything is going to be ok; you are going to be ok. We are going through a troubling time with the current spread of the Corona Virus (Covid-19). There is a lot of misinformation and a lot people making misleading statements that is causing a lot of anxiety, both personal & public. I do not have all the answers but, I do have common sense. A lot of people have common sense however, anxiety and stress will blind and deaden your common sense. We all know common sense will take you a lot further in life than any highly educated scholar. I’m not knocking education but look at history’s evidence of “common sense.”

As we go back through the pages of man’s existence, we can attribute a lot of our accomplishments to common sense. Somehow we all arrived here at this point in time in the year of 2020 and it was not all due to high education.

When I was in my high school years I lived in a very rural part of the southern part of Virginia. I guess most would call it the “backwoods.” While living there I seen a lot of very uneducated people that my friends back in the Northeast would call “hillbillies.” Call them what you’d like but, what I found were people with a lot of common sense. Sure, they were by definition “uneducated” however they were far from stupid. “Uneducated” is just a label same as the term “hillbilly” is a label. Labels mean nothing about what a person can do or not do.

In times of a real predicament, I will often turn my mind back to where I have come across common sense people in my life. My mother, grandmother and other old sages I have met in my life.

So, in this troubling time just stop and relax, sit and think about where you are and who you are. If you have taken the time to read this far most likely you have a little (hopefully a lot) of common sense.

Look at facts.

If you are a healthy person you will be just fine. Sure, you may get sick but, you will self-resolve as you have many other times in your life that you were sick. This is a fact not an opinion.

Social distancing; certainly not a hard thing to do.

Might I add a little of my own advice; “Social Media” distancing.

I came home today and yeah, I did the “Facebook” thing. Looked at some funny memes, antagonized a few people. Then… I shut it off and I turned on some good music. I have spent the whole evening listening to music and doing little things I like to do in my private time. I like editing video and photos but, for you, you have something that you like to do, everybody has something they like to do. Something that is easy and takes your mind off of the rest of the world.

After editing a video to send to my mother, I then contacted a friend on the other side of the world via email just to say “hi” and tell them I am thinking about them.

Then I though about finishing this blog post. Not really know what I was going to write… I though about how relaxed I feel after such a hectic day. I thought about how relaxing it was to just shut off the rhetoric of the news media, social media and all other forms of BS.

Now as I finish this blog post I am already thinking about my plan for tomorrow. News & weather in the morning for about 15 minutes and again in the evening just to stay current. Social media?… Maybe the same about 20 minutes twice a day and I have had my fill.

Thank you for taking the time to read and most of all be safe, stay healthy and use your power to help the vulnerable stay healthy. Look after your elders.


Everything will be fine.