Travel

You never know

It's funny how things come up once you put them out there. I'm now back in Los Angeles and the first call I get upon landing is to produce a shoot that includes shooting time-lapse images. My client wanted to see examples of some I've done so I sent the most recent time-lapse movie I just completed a few days ago in Tokyo.

Build it and they will come.



Always Dream Big

The Perfect Camera Bag

Are you happy with your current camera cases or bags? This week my podcast (Master Your Lens) touched on one of the 10 tools that photographers need to take better pictures.  # 10 on the list is camera bags because you can't concentrate on getting great pictures when you are worried about your camera gear how you will carry it.

The last few weeks I've been traveling all over, from South Carolina to visit my family to Tokyo, Japan to speak and have an exhibit. I've used my Lowepro backpack on all of the recent travel and it has been great on these trips. In the past I've had a problem finding a backpack that allowed me to include my laptop and ipad when I travel, something that is always a must for me. My current backpack, the fastpack BP 250 gives me everything I need to be able to travel and carry my gear. 

The other day, I did a hike up to the top of Tokyo's Mt. Takao with all my gear.  I wanted to get a view of Mt. Fuji, but the sun was too bright and you couldn't see it.  I was hoping to get a decent view before it was too late because you don't want to hike down the mountain in the dark. I was about to give up when I saw a cloud start to move toward the sun and it gave me a brief window that allowed me to photograph Mt. Fuji in a beautiful way. 

Photographed with Nikon 810 and the 35mm 1.4 lens

Photographed with Nikon 810 and the 35mm 1.4 lens

Patience paid off this time and I got my shot. I was still hiking down in the dark, which is another story for another time, but it was worth it to get my first images of Mt. Fuji.

To get the list of 10 tools click here:

Always dream big.

 

 

You are going to love this game!

 In  5 days, we will do something that has never been done before. We would like to invite you to play a brand new game called,

The Future American Map Game.

 

The objective of the game: To inspire families and their children in an exciting new way. 

The Characters: Mr. Havens & Mrs. Havens, Raine Havens - 11 years old, Jayden Havens - 7 years old (main character)

How to play the game: The game can ONLY be played on Kickstarter.com/FutureAmericanDream starting on Saturday,  September 12th at  7:30 pm PST. The game only lasts for 30 days.

To play the game make a pledge of $10 or more and you'll receive the American Map Game, which includes the map and cut-out figures of the Havens family. Use the map to answer one question per day for 30 days. Questions will be posted once a day and viewable only to pledgers.  To play the game, go to the Future American Dream page on Kickstarter.com

The game is played through a story and told by the youngest child in the Havens family. Over the course of the game, the Havens family travels to every state in America and has a variety of interesting adventures. During their journey, they meet some of the real-life children featured in the book Future American President.

The Family Journey: The Havens family is going on their first family vacation across America. Little Jayden Havens, seven, tells the story as his family drives from state-to-state and at the end of each day asks a question. Help Jayden answer the questions each day as his family travels across America.

 

Seven-year-old Jayden Havens is about to leave on the adventure of a lifetime and he'd like you to join him. 

 

Future American Dream - Only on Kickstarter - Starting Saturday, September 12th, 7:30 PM PST

Hosted by Angela Bassett, Nicole Ari Parker, Felicia D. Henderson and Dr. Pearl E. Grimes

Introducing the Havens Family

On Monday, I'd like to introduce you to a very special family. A week from today I will introduce the family in person during my  launch of my event at 7:30 pm PST, and then we will leave the next morning on an incredible adventure for 30 days.

Many of you know that I  shoot with Nikon camera's now. This week  I  learned that Mr. and Mrs. Havens are also  fans of Nikon camera's and has exactly the same gear as me. This week, to prepare for the trip, I added three new Lowepro cases and I'll get to break them in on this journey. The Echelon Line of Lowepro bags and roller cases are really amazing and I'm looking forward to using them on this trip. The Lowepro Echelon roller is just what I've been looking for and in one roller. It's going to make my travel with camera gear much better.

I share my excitement for my new Lowepro bags with Mr. and Mrs. Havens and they were super excited as well to see the new line. Mr.Havens said he was in need of new camera bags and was curious to see the line.

Until Monday, have a great weekend and I look forward to sharing what I believe will be an incredible week with you all next week.

Always dream big!

Have you heard about the Havens Family?

What an amazing family! In 8 days, they are leaving on an incredible journey and they have invited everyone in America to come along with them.

I'm excited to say I have decided to go with them and document the journey. Yesterday I met the entire family, and the son, Jayden, who is seven years old, is very curious about life and is hooked on Minecraft. All he talked about was Minecraft and just wanted my attention so I could watch him play. I asked him was this his favorite game and he said, "Yes, but I also like this new game called Plants vs Zombies and Paceman championship edition deluxe. It has the most ghosts ever. Instead of just four, there can be any amount." I laughed and loved seeing the world through his eyes. It made me remember being his age where nothing else mattered but playing with my friends.

His sister, Raine, was more reserved but also excited about the journey their family is preparing to take. I hope you can join us as this is going to be something we will all remember forever.

Always dream big!

Take a trip with me!

So when was the last time you got away and did something fun and exciting? I've been planning something and I'm almost ready to share what it with you... but not just yet. I will give you a bit of a hint today. This is for the entire family.

We are getting ready to do something that has never been done before and that's always exciting, but it's also a bit scary as well. It involves camera's, mindcraft, explosions and travel, but that's all I can say for the moment.

This is going to be fun!

 

Always dream big,

Matthew


Massachusetts, Harvard and Future Presidents

The first two images below are outtakes from my shoot in Boston for Future American President. The day I photographed these images it was brutally hot, but my subject was cool and composed. I'd just come back from Beijing and after recovering from my jet lag, I set out to continue working on the book in the New England states.

Throughout the making of the book I wanted to find children who spoke in other languages, and thanks to the  Boys and Girls Clubs of America, I was able to find a subject who spoke Mandarin that was born in the United States.

Photographed at F 22.0 @ 1/125th

Photographed at F 22.0 @ 1/125th

 

To light the image, I  took a reading of the sunlight on my subject using a handheld light meter. The exposure read F16.0 at 1/125th. The lighting was harsh and not exactly the most flattering of conditions for a great photograph. To get the picture I wanted I needed to overpower the sun, so I set my strobe light to read F22.0 at 1/125th. One stop more than the sunlight reading. This allowed me to create an image with flattering light on my subject, and to have a better background. By shooting with strobe lights I was albe to drop my background exposure down to get richer colors in the image. If I were to increase my shutter speed from 1/125 to say 1/200th,  I would get more dramatic colors in my backgrounds.

An example of shooting at a faster shutter speed can be seen in the image below. Both images are shot in almost the same conditions. One image was shot in Utah and the other in Boston, Mass. but the conditions were the same. Both were photographed during the harsh sunlight hours and gave the same natural light exposure reading. In both images, I overpowered the sun by shooting at F22.0. The only difference is that the shutter speed in the image below was set to 1/200th vs 1/125. Notice how the sky appears to be a richer hue of blue. There are many advantages to shooting with strobe lights on location, and when working on a big project, like a book for example, you want to have a consistent feel throughout all of the images.

Photographed at F22.0 at 1/1200th of a second

Photographed at F22.0 at 1/1200th of a second

Good luck and have fun shooting this week.

Always Dream Big

Unexpected Trip To Egypt

Nothing expands your view and appreciation of the world like travel. With so many amazing places to see, it can be difficult to decide where you’d like to visit.

The UNESCO World Heritage Centre compiles a list of the most incredible places to visit each year. At the present time there are over 1000 sites consisting of cities, monuments, buildings, deserts, mountains, etc.

I have always wanted to travel to Egypt and see the pyramids, but I didn’t expect to see them anytime soon.  On the day I shot this image, I woke up at the Kawaji Onsen in Tochigi, Japan. Shortly after checking out,  I found myself standing in front of Egyptian pyramid’s at the Kinugawa World Square, (or Tobu World Square) an incredible park dedicated to world heritage sites.

Egypt

The miniature versions of these locations are so well put together that they really give you a sense of the beauty of the actual location.

Tobu World Square - Taj Mahal    

Tobu World Square - Taj Mahal 

 

Tobu World Square - Temple of Heaven

Tobu World Square - Temple of Heaven

Temple of Heaven - Beijing, China 2014

Temple of Heaven - Beijing, China 2014

I’ve been to quite a few of the world heritage locations, like the Taj, in Agra, India and Temple of Heaven in Beijing, China, but there are so many more I now want to see after experiencing this park. I now have a deeper curiosity for discovering amazing places around the world and know that I must photograph as many of these places as possible, especially after thinking about the earthquake this past weekend in Nepal.

Tobu Square - Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan   

Tobu Square - Golden Temple in Kyoto, Japan

 

Tobu Square - Greece   

Tobu Square - Greece

 

Leaning Tower of Piza

Leaning Tower of Piza

Tobu Square - Myanmer, Burma   

Tobu Square - Myanmer, Burma

 

One of the joys of photography is that it is a way to document your life. Every image you take is not only a way to remember the moment, or create a powerful image for a client, it is also a document of YOUR history. Today as you take pictures keep in mind that you are also recording your personal history with every photograph you take.



Always Dream Big

Egypt

Forbidden Japan

Last April I traveled to China for an exhibit at the Temple of Heaven. It was an incredible experience that climaxed with an award ceremony and receiving the Power of Image award. This April I am in Japan looking for representation in Asia and looking to show my fine art work as well. 

While in Japan I have taken time to see some incredible temples, shrines and sites. One place that truly blew me away gave me a glimpse of all the amazing places in the world and reminded me how important it is to travel. If you have ever been to China, it is a good chance you have been to Forbidden City, or maybe you have watched "The Last Emperor" which is filled in Forbidden City. 

Forbidden Japan

You could never guess by this image, but it was taken in Japan, not in China. This image is a miniature version of the real Forbidden City and it is done perfectly. To photograph this image I used a Nikon D4S and a 35mm 1.4 lens. This week I will share more from this incredible location along with stories from my trip to Japan.


We enhance our lives and grow in three ways: The people we meet, (you always meet people when traveling), the places you go, (like Japan in this case), and the books we read. Very soon I will share information on how you can make my newest book, Future American President special in enhance your families life for decades to come.

Always Dream Big

Day 1 By The North Pole

Photography has taken me all over the world, but I never thought I would ever shoot by the North Pole. My latest trip was to Svalbard, just 600 miles south of the North Pole. When I first mentioned to friends and family that I was headed to Svalbard, they all said "where?"

Svalbard is really no man's land. It is not part of any country, as no country owns the North Pole or the arctic ocean surrounding it, but Norway governs this area. To get to Svalbard, I flew from Los Angeles to London, London to Oslo, Oslo to Tromsa, Tromsa to Longyearbyen, and then finally onto an ice cutter ship to head north to Svalbard.

This expedition was extreme so it was critical that I had the best camera gear. I took three Sony camera's bodies along; A Sony A7R with a vertical grip, a Sony 7R body and a Sony A99 body.  I love using these camera's because they offer me the ability to capture amazing images without getting in the way or slowing me down. While other photographers are looking at the backs of their camera's to see if they have an image, I'm concentrating on getting great images every instant I can.

For example, on day one of our expedition, we saw a polar bear taking a nap. We were in a Zodiac raft when we spotted him and started photographing him. One moment he was napping and the next moment he was up on his feet. This image was taken as he got up and started to move.

I love my A7R because I get an instant preview as I shoot. This way I don't have to worry about looking on the back of the camera to see if I caught the moment. The polar bear is backlit by the sun, which can be hard to capture, but a fast adjustment with my eye still glued to the action was easy and simple to do. If I had to look at the back of my camera on a very bright day I would have missed this shot.

To create this image I use the Sony A7R camera with a 70-200mm zoom lens and a 2x converter. On my A7 body, I had a 55mm lens to capture a wider version of the image. Shooting wide shots, (the 55mm lens) and close shots with the zoom is something I always try to do in situations like this. Many photographers are concerned with only getting the close shots but you never know how you will tell your story until you are back at your computer and editing your images. Shoot wide and close as much as possible. If you think you have a powerful image, change you lens and rediscover a different way to tell your story.

Big vs Small

I've taken two big trips this year centered around photography. The first was to China to receive the Power of Image award in Beijing, and the second was to Svalbard, just 600 miles south of the North Pole. Today, I'll spend a little time talking about China.

For both trips I was around professional and amateur photographers from all over the world, each with their own unique tools of the trade. I took my favorite camera along, a Sony A7R body and A7 Body with several lenses. I like using a battery grip because I love shooting vertical images in my line of work, but even when I shoot horizontally, the grip feels great in my hand. The grip also holds two batteries vs one, and this is very important considering how I shoot.

During my trip to China several of the photographers who also received awards asked or commented on my Sony A7R. It seems everyone is hearing about how great this camera is. One photographer, who is sponsored by another company, told me he'd purchased the Sony A7R in secret because he likes it so much. It is one power house of a camera.

Shooting with the Sony A7R on a smoggy day in Beijing

Shooting with the Sony A7R on a smoggy day in Beijing

Temple of Heaven Exhibit in Beijing, China



During the exhibit in Beijing, which took place at the Temple of Heaven, one of the photographers asked me to take a picture of him using his camera. When I held his big DSLR I was shocked how heavy and bulky it was. It's been a long time since I've had a camera like that in my hand, so I told him to hold my camera. He couldn't believe the weight of my A7R and talked about it the entire trip. I teased the others who complained about their heavy gear as we traveled around various parts of China, and shared some of the features that I really love about this camera. One of the best features for me about using the A7 and A7R is that the camera lets me concentrate on being creative. It doesn't get in the way. Yes, I am sponsored by Sony, but it's not the reason why I shoot Sony. The reason why I love shooting with this new Sony camera is that it gives the the flexibility to do great work and make critical adjustments in the moment. The electronic view finder is something that professional photographers can really take advantage of. I've watched so many people miss great images because they are looking at the last image on the back of the camera. During these moment, life is passing by, but with my Sony A7R I never miss a moment, because I get an instant preview of the image in the viewfinder. This way I never have to take my eye away from the viewfinder. When you are shooting street action things happen fast and you can't miss a moment by looking at the back of the camera to see if you have the shot.

The Sony A7R is small and light in weight but offers a 36MP image that blows the doors off other camera's. On top of that the price is substantially better than its competition.