Thursday, April 29, 2010

Apple vs. Flash -- Steve Jobs comments why users can't use FLASH on iPhones, iPODs and iPads

Many people have wondered why Flash is not included on certain Apple products and Steve Jobs now explains why. Click the title link above or here and you will be redirected to Apple's site.

Unexpecting, Fun Activities in Bryant Park - Petanque/Boules, Ping Pong, Chess, Fencing and more!

Bryant Park is always a great place to have your lunch on a sunny day, but did you know that Bryant Park has a number of organized games in the park? I didn't, but I do now - Petanque (some people may be more familiar with the game Bocce or Boules), Ping Pong and Chess. In addition to this, the Park's website boasts a variety of other activities, during the day and at night. Some of the more familiar activities include the HBO Bryant Park Summer Film Festival (which, btw begins June 21st), and not-so-familiar events include free Fencing, Tai-Chi, and Yoga classes. There are also birding tours and piano and poem reading performances. For more information on times and dates of these events, check out the park's calendar.

Petanque also known as Boules originated from Southern France and is very similar to Bocce (Italian). As seen in the photo to the right, the game is played while standing in a small circle, and the goal is to throw hollow metal balls as close as possible to a small wooden ball called a cochonnet (literally "piglet") or jack. The game is played by teams of one, two or three players and the team that reaches 13 points wins. When all the balls are thrown, the round is complete and the points are calculated as follows: One point for the team that is closest to the jack (winner of the round) and extra points are given for each ball nearer to the jack than the opponent's closest ball. Then another round begins until that magical number 13 is achieved. The game is normally played on hard dirt or gravel, never on grass or pavement.

There are also Petanque clubs in New York and I met Dana Jackson (person top left) at Bryant Park and he is part of the La Boule New Yorkaise Petanque club New York City. He mentioned there are a lot of different throwing styles in this game and as you will see in the photos -- some people stand straight up and throw the ball, some bend and throw the ball with a twist, while others look like they are bowling. :D Whatever they are doing, it works if the metal ball gets the closest to the jack! And for those serious competitors, there are international tournaments. In the photo below, the person wearing the yellow City Sights Ticket Agent Jacket has won an international competition (or so, the people there said!).

So if you're interested in Petanque/Bocce, you can join them anytime. There is always ONE teacher there who can teach you how the game is played. Or if this isn't your game, try Chess or Ping Pong during the day. Remember, there are a lot of activities at Bryant Park that are bound to grab your attention -- if all else fails, just bring a blanket and sprawl out on the lawn with your lunch!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Queen Rania of Jordan promoting her children's book "The Sandwich Swap" in New York City

Her Majesty, Queen Rania of Jordan was in New York City promoting her new book, "The Sandwich Swap" at Borders in the Time Warner Building. The Sandwich Swap was inspired by Queen Rania's childhood experience and as you read this children's book, it speaks about cross-cultural understanding and tolerance through something as simple as two children exchanging a peanut butter & jelly sandwich for a hummus sandwich. I was in Jordan (see travel blog) earlier this year and was fortunate to have had an opportunity to see the Queen of Jordan in New York City promoting her book.

Queen Rania, who has four children of her own, engages in many humanitarian efforts, and at the forefront of it all is her devotion to children and their education. Her vision is Education = Opportunity. With that vision, she partners with public, private, and non-profit sectors hoping to empower each group/person to promote and encourage educational growth -- in all facets including improvement in the classroom quality, teaching standards, computer access, family involvement, community investment, and health awareness. Unknown to me at the time, her voice and her image is recognized in her home country and throughout the world -- she has her own NGO, The Jordan River Foundation, which focuses on helping the disadvantaged in Jordan; she is also the Eminent Advocate for UNICEF and Honorary Chairperson for UNGEI, which focuses on education and children in need. Her personal goal of promoting education amongst children is illuminated in this children's book by a simple illustration of two children having an open mind to their cultural differences and accepting them.

Her Majesty's devotion to children and education is not unique to women of her stature however, what I find amazing about her (and also mentioned from people at the book signing is that) -- is that she is compassionate and she is true to herself and this is embodied in her statement on her website, Queen Rania once said, “I just wake up and feel like a regular person. At the end of the day you are living your life for the people that you represent. It’s an honour and a privilege to have that chance to make a difference – a qualitative difference in people’s lives – and it’s my responsibility to make the most out of that opportunity.”

For more about her, visit her website and you can see her on Good Morning America. Below are a few photos from her book reading and signing.

I love taking photos like this. You need the picture, but don't have access. So you be creative and become the MacGyver of photography.

According to her website, "As an Arab, Muslim woman, Queen Rania is committed to reconciling people of different faiths and cultures by encouraging cross-cultural dialogue, particularly amongst young people." And that seems to be working, especially when you look around at the people at her book signing... there were many young adults, (male and female), mothers, and most importantly, people of different cultures.

The Sandwich Shop is available at Borders and Barnes and Noble.
Authors: Rania Al Abdullah and Kelly DiPucchio
Illustrator: Tricia Tusa

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Georgi Vodka Advertisement on a NYC bus ? -- Photo of the Day

I was on my way home when I saw this Georgi Vodka advertisement on a MTA bus ... and was shocked at the product advertisement!

Many people say -- Sex(y) sells! But does it?

The advertisement is obvious -- a model wearing a bikini bottom with the words "Georgi" printed on it -- clearly -- sells the Vodka.

Really? Is that where creativity has gone?

Surrrre, it caught my eye, but what is this advertisement saying?

My initial thought was -- a$$ (well, that is what you see!)... so the vodka tastes like a$$? That's the association I have with the image and the words. Premium a$$. Premium vodka. Interesting. Well, its interesting enough that I'm blogging about it and interesting enough that there is a YouTube video about this particular advertisement (it was banned in 2008 and has made a comeback!).

I just don't get why a company would market their product in this way. Is this a good way to show that Georgi vodka is a premium brand to potential drinkers? Sure, it grabbed my attention, but it hasn't encouraged me to grab a bottle of Georgi Vodka over Absolut, SKYY, Grey Goose or Belvedere. Other recent advertisements have done the same thing -- Capital One Bank cards (yes, the one with the cave men). So, my question is -- does this type of advertising work? and what I mean by work is, does it encourage you to buy the product? or is it simply visual stimulation?

Friday, April 16, 2010

NYC Food Film Festival presents The World’s First Food Truck Drive-In Movie!

NYC Food Film Festival on June 26, 2010 from Noon to 10 pm... Never heard of this event? Well, you have now! So get signed up for some free tickets to the fourth annual event.

Excerpt from the NYC Food Film Festival site:

Many of the Festival events will take place outdoors, including a new take on the beloved American tradition…the drive-in movie. On Saturday, June 26, from Noon to 10pm, the NYC Food Film Festival presents The World’s First Food Truck Drive-In Movie, where the food trucks drive in and the crowd arrives on foot. A caravan of the region’s best food trucks will assemble in Brooklyn, under the Brooklyn Bridge, offering authentic artisan fare from Waffles and Ice Cream to Pupusas and Cheeseburgers. Attendees can sample from this vast array of treats, and watch food films that celebrate the food truck tradition. FREE tickets to The World’s First Food Truck Drive-In Movie will be available on the Festival website starting Friday, April 17th, at noon, on a first come, first served basis.

Get tickets here: NYC Food Film Festival ( four tickets are free; and you can also make a donation which goes to the NYC Food Bank)

Read more about it here on Grub Street.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Ken Shung's Lighting Class #8 - Back to Basics (final class)

April 13, 2010 - Today was one of those days, where by the end of the day, I just didn't have the mental or physical energy to do much more; but the day was not yet over. We've all been there, at least once or twice in our lives, and of course mine happened to be today. So what do you do in those situations? ... I'm sure we all want to say F* it and do it the next day! Sometimes we'd like to do that, but not today... So, what do you do? Get up and do what you have to do! That's what!

So, yes, I power through. In Cantonese, there is a saying - "Ga Yao" ... literally translated, "Add Gas/Oil"... and, well, that's exactly what I did to get through my 6:00 pm. Ken Shung lighting class tonight. I added gas and powered through. Wondering why I'm even mentioning this in this article? There is a point, and I'll get there in after a few more sentences.

There will be times when you are just exhausted and too tired to do much, or when you're in a situation where you are STUCK trying to figure something out and you're at a stand still. Well, that's where I was. In class, wondering what type of lighting set-up I wanted to prepare and how much energy I wanted to exert. I thought to myself - simple and easy. I don't need to make things complicated, I just want something simple. And of course, I still wanted them to look amazing. :D Conundrum. Simple, yet beautiful? So, as I was there thinking about what I wanted to do -- and similar to when you're stuck solving what seems like an unsolvable puzzle, you go back to the fundamentals and the basics. Back to basics. That's an interesting thought. Why not! So this is why the story is important... before there were kino flo lights, beauty dishes, soft banks, strip lights, ring flashes (and the drummer keeps drumming), there was light. A single light that allowed photographers to take photographs -- i.e. painting with light. Years, decades, centuries have come and gone where all anyone needed to take a photograph was ONE light. And that's what I mean about going back to basics. But is it achievable to take a photo with ONE light and make it an editorial piece for a magazine, or a photo to tell a story in an advertisement. Of course! So I used my exhaustion to my advantage and decided to go back to basics with one lighting set-up.

So, I asked Ken for some advice and he gave me his secret "lighting" weapon. I won't say what I used in today's class, or else I would have to kill you, or he may kill me. . . But, I will share with you some of my photos. :D

Today's theme (unknown to his students) was bikini wear. Interesting. :D What do I ask the model to do? Simple -- model the bikini. That's the least I can do.

Model: Megan Averbuch

The photo above was one of first three photos I took.. and that's only because my pocket wizard wasn't working with my camera... sigh, that was the last thing I needed today. Murphy's Law at work... So, after futzing around with the camera for a good 10 minutes -- it still didn't work. And again, I followed my photo shoot motto of "Back to Basics" ... and methodically went through my camera options and figured it out... and here I go again, painting with light. :D

The interesting thing about one light is that there is an unevenness of tonality/color in the background . In some photos the unevenness created a funnel look, that makes your eyes follow through to the main part of the model's body. Tunnel vision. Then there are harsh shadows in some. I wouldn't say its a perfectly lit lighting set-up because there are uneven tones in the background (and some people may not like that), but none-the-less, it made for some interesting looking photos that I really liked!

Tunnel Vision

Hard Shadows

After I had what I wanted with the bikini ... I decided to improvise and do some other things...

How about a hair commercial?

or, Shopping while wearing a bikini (it happens in Miami!), so why not?

I thought the photo was funny -- A beautiful model with poland springs water and an empty food basket. :D but also, the harsh shadows were cool!

and the ones below remind me of:

an apple iPOD commercial ; and a girl from The Hills shopping at a beach supermarket.

And, that's it folks.

What do you think? Pass or Fail with these photos?

One last departing thought. Ken mentioned something to me while I was taking these photos and I found it amusing. He said that using one light source, or this light set-up, can either make your photos look like bad lighting or just bad porno lighting. I couldn't help but laugh considering I was shooting a model in a bikini and I definitely could have asked her, if willing, to pose in some provocative ways (but, this is PG-13 kids!) -- so no, I wouldn't have posted those photos! Also, yes, I could have added another light, but again, people used to shoot with one light all the time, so, I was in the moment shooting with one light. :D

In my humble opinion, sometimes, all you need is one light. Sometimes, you don't need to have 2, 3, 5, or 10 lights on to make a great photo . . . one light CAN be all that you need. And sometimes, going back to basics can really ground you and help you focus your mind on achieving what you need to do. :D So, regardless if you're using 1, 2, 3, 5, or 10 lights -- one light can make a great photo!

one last departing picture... this photo is of Megan in her day wear. Cute. :D

and, my friends, this is our last class... and this is likely my last posting with photos from this class. I hope you enjoyed it!

Get Ur Taxes Done? Yes? Celebrate by grabbing some FREE STUFF in NYC on April 15, 2010!!!

Picture of a Tree Shadow. I took this as I was walking to the accountant's office
- Blackberry Pearl Phone Camera

Taxes. Ugh. But why the ugh?! Every year its no surprise that you have to submit your taxes by April 15th, but for some reason, every year its the same dreadful "ugh, I have to do my taxes" speech. And for those who wait until the very last minute (um, surprisingly, that was me this year), its always a hair pulling event with many more "ughs" and other noisy grunts. Lucky for me the angst of completing my taxes are over ... and with a day to spare! YEAH! So what did I do afterwards? I treated myself to a frozen yogurt with some amazing fruit toppings. :D yum. Too bad it wasn't free though. :(

But, now, we are all in luck... Tomorrow, April 15th, Tax Day -- everyone can celebrate by getting some freebies! It won't offset how much you paid Uncle Sam, but at least we can get something for free! and come on, who doesn't like freebies with no strings attached?

So what's free or cheap coming to you in NYC?
  • People's Pops is celebrating their opening day at Chelsea Market and will be offering free shaved ice... Well, at least until they run out of 150 pounds of ice. Each serving usually runs $2.50 and they normally serve organic lemon & mint or Rhubarb. If you want a popsicle they'll be selling that for $3.50.
  • If you say “market price” at Exchange Lounge and Bar (90 Fulton Street) you’ll receive a free glass of beer or wine with any entree over $9. [According to 89th & Broke Avenue.]
  • Purchase any beverage and receive a free meal at all Energy Kitchen locations from 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM on April 15. Customers will be able to choose from a Bison Cheesesteak Wrap, California Wrap or Buffalo Chicken Burger for their complimentary meal. Energy Kitchen's partners, glacĂ©au vitaminwater zero®, Pirate’s Booty® and GETfit by FITTERWITH will have brand ambassadors present at each Energy Kitchen location offering beverages, free samples, raffle prizes and free fitness advice. [According to NYC Foodie]
  • 50% off all cocktails, beer, and wine -- enough said! where? BLT restaurants around the country! The offer stands for lunch and dinner. [According to Wined & Dined]
  • McCormick and Schmick’s is offering $10.40 Dinner & Drink Specials. Every bar guest will get a certificate for $10.40 off of their next visit (while supplies last) [According to the Grub Street]
  • Starbucks is offering free coffee if you bring in a reusable container to promote helping the environment. Dunkin Donuts is offering a free donut with your coffee. [According to AssociatedContent]
Here are a few that may not work in NYC, but in other cities across the United States.
  • Cinnabon's is offering two free bite-sized cupcakes from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m at participating MALL locations. Maggie Moo's is offering one free slice of ice cream pizza from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at participating locations. P.F. Chang's 15% discount! Become a fan of Baja Fresh on Facebook and receive a printable coupon for a $2.00 burrito on Tax Day, April 15, 2010 at participating locations. Just make sure your name appears in the top right hand corner of the page when you print the coupon [not available in NYC locations] ... [some of these listed in FreeBirthdayTreatsblog]
Enjoy your freebies on April 15th!

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Ken Shung Lighting Class #7 -- Kino Flo Lights

In Tuesday's class, I decided to use Kino Flo lights for my photo shoot. Kino Flo lighting equipment is mainly used in motion pictures, television and photography. According to wikipedia, Kino Flo lights are best known for its fluorescent tube system that are optimized for the color temperature of film and digital video. These lights provide soft continuous lighting towards your subject. Its very easy to use and easy to move around.

Kino Flo lights are lower power lights and like any other lighting system it has its advantages and disadvantages. Advantage. It won't blow your circuits. Disadvantage, well, sort of, but not really, since its low power light, you will have to play with your manual settings. I was shooting indoors and I used the Kino Flo lights as my main light source. I originally combined it with a ring flash to fill in my model, but at the end of the day, I liked the Kino Flo lights by itself and it created some interesting shadows on the face.

Set 1. I had two small Kino Flo lights facing one another, with the model sandwiched in between. I shot at w/ f/7.1, 1 / 125th of a second at ISO 800

I didn't quite expect this, since I thought the two lights would be balanced, but interestingly enough, I got this wonderful shadow that was cast on her...

Model: Dana

Set 2 (the Red Background set). Two large Kino Flo lights, side by side, directed towards the model. I shot this set f/4, 1/100th of a second at ISO 400.

Very soft looking photo, almost reminds me of SNL snapshots
(the ones you see right before a commercial)

Model: Dana and Juliette

Can we say, "RAIN!"... yes, pretend its raining and you're trying to avoid getting your pretty black dress wet...

and that's all folks... another fun day in the studio!

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