What’s In My Bag

What's In My Bag

This post answers the question “What camera do you use?“, plus much more. It’s been a long time coming because, frankly, I don’t use that much equipment, and equipment I currently use is not that high end.
This is good news for you if you’re just starting out cause it means you don’t have to break the bank on equipment and still get results like mine and better.

As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. This means you’ll find links throughout this article that ease you finding products I’m talking about. If you buy things through these links, I might make a small percentage of that without costing you anything extra. I hope this is fine with you, these are here to help you ease your search.

Camera

I started with my dad’s compact Sony DSC something and experimenting with manual mode and long exposure. That lasted one summer but dad was hesitant to let me use his camera. So, long story short, getting my own camera.

After a long and tedious search and comparison, based on my desired photography genre and budget I had, I decided on Nikon D5100.

So far, D5100 has proved to be an excellent camera with sensor size of 23.6 x 15.6 mm, 16.2 effective megapixels, 14 bit raw image, ISO 100 to 6400 (up to 25600 equivalent) and a lot of other goodies. There are some deficiencies I’m overcoming with accessories and tricks. Like triggering a remote speedlight.

Lens

The Perfect Ending
Apero Food

I bought the camera with the kit lens, Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 AF-S. It’s a great general purpose lens for the money. I like using 18mm side at f11 to f22 on tripod for landscapes and 55mm side at f5.6 for food and people photos. There are many exceptions to these rules of thumb but this describes the possible uses quite well.  

Lens wish-list

Nikkor 18-300mm would be another awesome (better) general purpose lens, though more expensive. I’ve also missed a wide-angle lens often when shooting interesting places, so Nikkor 10-24mm would be awesome to help as well. I do a lot of food photography and sometimes people photos so 50mm prime lens you can open wide to get a shallow depth of field is also a nice thing to have.

Accessories

I’ve put everything that isn’t camera or lens in this section.

Speedlight

Nikon SB700 is a great addition to the arsenal for food photography and people photography. I even used it to light-paint some landscapes and when I was shooting club scenes (night-life). It’s possible to remote trigger it with on-board flash on D5100, even though the camera itself doesn’t have those remote triggering features. I’ll explain how to in some later post and link it here. Remind me if I don’t ๐Ÿ˜‰

Gadgets

OnePlus 5 is currently my main phone and a secondary camera. I use it often when I don’t have my Nikon with me. It has pretty good camera on it, but the low light performance could be a lot better. I’ve also used it to remote control D5100 instead of a remote shutter controller. I’ll explain that too.

Nexus 7 is a tablet I keep handy when going for a shoot, or often when I’m making videos with the Nikon. It’s possible to pair it wirelessly with OnePlus 5 which is connected to camera using USB OTG cable and then have live preview and camera controls on it.
To be fair, 2012 version gets super slow and frustrating sometimes since the Android 5.0 update. 2013 is said to have that resolved. If I wait it out, it starts working snappier again. Also, reboot works as a fix for a while. Advice from the community is get something with more RAM.

Rechargeable AA batteries for the speedlight is a must, 2 packs of 4 preferably, if not more. Chargers for the AA batteries and camera battery.

Tripod

I have a $9 tripod I borrowed from my dad and never returned it. He doesn’t use it anyway. Hopefully not because he can’t get to it ๐Ÿ™‚

I should get a sturdy tripod with a ball head and carbon legs. That would help a lot with positioning the camera.

I also have a small Manfrotto tripod I got as a present and use it for those cool, low angle shots, and a lot of other times for placing it on furniture, walls and similar when shooting video or food photos.

Laptop

HP ProBook 4540s with Intel i7 CPU and 8 GiB of RAM and 750 GB HDD. Also an external, 1TB ADATA USB 3.0 HDD for backup. I use it not only for editing but also for software development, web development and mobile apps development. It’s my main tool for work when I’m not shooting. Running Linux Manjaro and it’s super snappy.

Bag

All this stuff has to fit somewhere so it can be carried around on shoots and trips. I was lucky enough to get Vanguard Up-Rise 43 sling bag as a gift. Sling is good because the camera is easily accessible and it takes only a few seconds to get it out and shoot if you pre-set the camera settings. It’s got a lot of handy pockets and compartments, including a rain cover, who’s usefulness caught me by surprise when I needed it most.

With all this in it, it can get a little heavy on the side on long walks because of uneven weight distribution. That’s something I haven’t anticipated, but I do walk a lot. For walks like hour or two should be fine. For anything longer, I’d go for a normal backpack with camera out and on the strap if you are sight-seeing. That’s probably what I’ll go for next.

Conclusion

Now you know.

My bag is still not full and there are some things on my wish-list. If you are starting out, did this encourage you to get out and start shooting even with your smartphone?

What’s in your bag? What’s the basic you cannot go without?

Holding The Earth

Holding The Earth

Sometimes I take on bigger projects than anyone thinks I can handle.

Sometimes I take on projects I think are bigger than I can handle but everyone else thinks it’s a perfect fit for me. The main difference between those seems to be the amount of information people have. Or they are just cheering me up ๐Ÿ™‚
To which I say “Thank you, you are awesome!

Most of the times I can just take in extra amount of elbow grease and do all the work myself, but lately I’m thinking about a project that makes me feel like in the photo above.

It’s a matter of perception, really. From Earth’s and observer’s perspective, it’s just a kid (even if a very capable one) doing a handstand on a beach. But from another perspective, I’m holding the Earth.

The older wiser I get, I realise that any quest big enough, will require a team effort.

When you’re starting out (some 10 or so years ago for me), it’s easy to fool yourself that you’ll accomplish anything by just putting more time into a project. And projects grow, from a couple hours long to couple months long. Some you don’t even finish before outgrowing them. Progress.

Natural, exponential, growth takes you to estimates of years or decades from start to finish.

That’s where I found myself a couple of years ago. With multiple project ideas to take on, not knowing which one would succeed. So I tried a couple of things, even being in a startup incubator, without going all in, to test and learn. Also a couple I went all in, which turned out to be great lessons. And also great pains. All while helping other people with their projects in different stages, effectively proving what I learnt was working. That’s something I hope to continue doing.

Last couple of years I have been hanging with Jasmina, doing a lot of food related stuff, while photographing and programming on the side. Last few months to almost a year, this culminated.
Not the way you’d expect, she doesn’t have (my) ring on her finger.
I’ve been practising what James Altucher would call “idea sex” (again, not what you’d expect). That ended up with a lovely baby in a form of Food + Tech + A-Problem-We-Need-Solved project.

I’ve been testing and refining the idea for months. Going from what needs to be done, through what next, to how to make money with it, and back. I’ve talked to people I trust and gathered their ideas. Filled in the gaps and gained different perspectives and wants.

That resulted in lists and sketches, pseudocodes and table designs. I was ready to start working on the minimum viable product. I didn’t take me too long to realize how different this is from any other project I’ve taken on so far. How much bigger it is.

I need a team.

 

Photo: Jasmina Brozoviฤ‡, Edit: Zvonimir Fras

RBuggy – Remote Presence Device

Things I do when I’m not around…

RBuggy

I was supposed to make a wireless underwater camera for my dad when he goes fishing. Things went south and he most likely won’t be going fishing any time soon. Instead, it would be nice if he could just look around, see what’s going on without needing to move much (that’s what you do when you’re bed-ridden).

So I hacked my brother’s old fork lift toy. Pulled everything out of it. De-soldered wires from the controller. Added a Raspberry Pi, some transistors, relays and other electronics.

What it does

Basically, you turn it on, connect to it with your phone, tablet, computer, laptop or smart TV and then control it with your keyboard, while seeing a live feed from the camera in front of you.

Keyboards are for computers, so I made an Android app that gives you even more freedom. Now you can just touch the screen where you want it to go and it goes there while you hold down. All while displaying the video feed.

As if that wasn’t enough, your mobile device’s sensors are put to good use, so if activated, you can just tilt the device in which ever direction you want buggy to go.

Like a remote presence thingy. I might throw audio in as well.

I know it’s hackish and ugly for now (though it’s kinda beautiful :)) but I’ll fool-proof it next time I get to play with it.

French Riviera Adventure – France Sweet France

You’d imagine we had a good night sleep after a great dinner and an all in all awesome day in France and now were eager to see what else France has to offer, but…

No buts really, you’d be right. ๐Ÿ˜€

Today, Cannes. Movie stars and yachts… and fancy cars… and two awesome people you already know ๐Ÿ™‚Drinking Water In Cannes

Super hot days continued, but luckily, you can drink from the fountains and buy a selfie-stick. Really, you can buy a selfie-stick anywhere. There’s an army of people, constantly on the run from the police, covertly selling selfie-sticks from giant bags aka portable selling booths. Gotta admire their dedication. Thinks about making a movie about it.

We met Pinocchio, did some shopping, looked around quite a bit, didn’t get any selfie sticks. Cannes is nice, but (maybe we didn’t see theย real Cannes) it’s not Nice, Nice is nicer. See what I did there? I might park my yacht for a few days here, though ๐Ÿ˜‰

Hot as it was, leaving Cannes for a swim in the pool seemed like a good idea.

Pool Jump 2

Refreshingly Icy Peach Prosecco Spritzer

We still had Valbonnes to visit, Cheese Guys to meet, and cheeses to taste. Only one Valbonne and one Cheese Guy, though, but many cheeses!

Cheeses called for drinks called for snacks called for friends called for food… and you got yourself an aperรณ (gotta love French people) ๐Ÿ˜€
Add in a photo session, music, dancing and you get a super fun evening.

This glass here is the drink of the evening, and of the summer 2015.ย  Get yourself one over at Lisa’s where she tells you how to make one ๐Ÿ˜‰

Cherry Tomatos And Mozarella With Fresh Basil

Apero Food

Now that we’ve got that off the table, it’s night already, time to get some sleep, long drive awaits tomorrow…

Fast forward 8 hours and it’s another beautiful French morning. Last of the trip. Quick swim and packing. Took us way longer than planned cause we didn’t feel like leaving, and Lisa didn’t seem to let us leave (“Just this one more thing”).

We’re still stopping in Italy in Lago di Garda, so the trip is not really over yet.

Motor roaring, wheels turning, lake Garda, here we come!

Lago Di Garda

Turns out, lake Garda is so huge it feels like a sea, with cities in Italian style and lots of boats around, I had to taste the water to convince myself it’s not salty! It fit right in between pizza and ice-cream ๐Ÿ˜€
It was hot and damp like a huge lake on a really hot day (duh). We still had a lot to tumble so we finished our dessert and hit the road.Traffic Jam

The rest of the drive was pretty uneventful if we don’t count beautiful evening sky with great clouds, and traffic jam across the whole Slovenia.

Home sweet home?

French Riviera Adventure – France Finally

Early start. Big(ger) breakfast. The road.

Lots of tunnels and hills. Sign said we entered France. Yaaay! I could feel our “getting lost powers” wearing off. We were shortly in Nice. Slowing down from the highway onto the coastal road and city traffic with rolled down windows, listening to music from some local radio, taking in the atmosphere and laid back approach this warm pre-summer weather demanded was just like you’d imagine it ๐Ÿ™‚

Sightseeing, posing, monkeying around, then food! ๐Ÿ˜€

Nice Sightseeing

Monkeying in Nice

Posing in Nice

 

 

 

 

 

Aioli-s

With photos worth thousand words each, this might be my longest post ever but why describe it when I can show it to you? ๐Ÿ™‚

Nice is super nice (so it’s exactly how it sounds) and I’d like to get back here and spend at least a few days to explore a bit more and experience more of what Nice has to offer, preferably with someone who knows the place.

Time wanted us to leave for Valbonne, so we carefully entered hot sauna, also known as our car and hit the road again. Travelling in our mobile sauna, following Lisa’s pirate-map-like instructions, at the end, 60 steps to the left of the big tree, we found paradise on Earth in form of a pool.

Pool Jump

Sorry, yes, we first met Lisa, who was even more awesome in person. She showed us where we’ll be staying while we’re here, and then seated us by the pool and brought chips and cocktails…

She was super easy going, simple and easy to talk to. So we did a lot of that. Discussing life and some projects, current and future. Like cocktail we’ll be designing and shooting tomorrow and her upcoming “Name That Cheese” book. Time went by fast and we ate the pizza she made for us, before I got to pick up my camera. Some fast eaters… Looks at Jasmina.

Tomorrow Cannes. And other stuff…

French Riviera Adventure – Lost In Italy

Continuing where D-day left of. ๐Ÿ™‚

So what do you do when you’re in Verona and it’s super hot? You eat gelato and touch Giulietta’s boobs. Summer came early ๐Ÿ˜€

Guided by smell of pizza and a friendly American, we found Casa di Giulietta, with Giulietta herself standing in the garden! Lucky us!jasmina giulietta

When you’re in a foreign country, you try to act like local people do, and with Italians being all very sexual and easy going, people formed a line, waiting their turn to hold Giulietta’s breast while their friends take pictures.

It’s all good fun and we’re told it sometimes gives you magic powers, woohoo ๐Ÿ™‚

Ice-cream fuelled and with a sense of magic at the tip of our fingers, we steered our car towards our next destination: Valbonne, France!

Discovering the magic power

Italian weather was like Italian women, hot. And it got hotter!

There was something intoxicating about Italy that made us take the wrong turn. But not all is lost! We still have plenty of time to get to Valbonne by evening.
Another wrong turn. Doesn’t matter, let’s explore Italy a bit, take some local roads… They have trees, and shade!
smerk* Another couple of wrong turns.

* Dead GPS.

* 2-3 hours of driving in circles.

* Empty gas tank.

 

That’s what it took for us to realize our newly found magic power: Getting lost in Italy!

What do you do when you find out you have a magic power? You use it! We’ll spend the day in Italy!

Went directly to the closest city on the coast, which happened to be Savone. First place we could find to spare a bed, which happened to be a hotel with a nice view, yay! ๐Ÿ™‚
We settled in, went for a short walk, and the lights went out for the day. Tomorrow, France!

Savone Beach Bridge

French Riviera Adventure – D-day

4 AM. Orangey hue appears on the horizon above the buildings in Zagreb. Two zombie-like creatures stroll around the apartment crossing stuff off the check list.

It’s D-day. Beginning of the great adventure. Next four days road will be our home.

People have done it before, sure. But we didn’t. And what’s better time to start something than now? ๐Ÿ™‚

Here’s some background you might be lacking.

With everything tightly packed and bearing gifts for our Italian Kiwi living in France, Sun greeted us while we were filling the tank with gas for the trip (Tesla, model whichever, is still on the wish-list).

Sunrise Greeting

With new energy and alertness this gave us, we marked the road trip started. Nothing’s gonna stop us now!

First stop: Verona! Road To France-w

Sceneries changed.
Clouds came in.
We got lost.
We got found.
Got stuck in traffic.
Got unstuck from traffic.
Found Verona!

I haven’t noticed when the clouds first cleared but it seemed like we picked the sunniest and the hottest days of the year. Temperatures in shade went from 30 to 40ยฐC. Needless to say, when you drive in a car you’re not in the shade and dark asphalt is your best friend. “Air conditioning”, you say? What kind of adventure would that be, might as well watch a movie about it ๐Ÿ˜›

So what do you do in Verona when it’s super hot? Here’s what we did! ๐Ÿ˜€

French Riviera Adventure Announcement

Trip Map

In a week’s time, Jasmina and I are leaving for French Riviera! Cรดte d’Azur, here we come!

I’m super-excited about this. It’s gonna be the first real trip I’m doing outside of Croatia. Usually when I venture outside of Croatia, it’s either for dance competitions or some other dance related business.

But let me start from beginning.

I’ve been hanging out with some awesome people with all the cooking and Dancing With The Z series. Azlin,ย being one of them, introduced us to Lisa, who was all like “I’ve made some tasty pizza, look, here are photos. Why don’t you and Jasmina pop in, it’s only a ten hour drive”. That repeated over and over with lots of great food, and she knows how to cook.

Finally, with Jasmina’s B-day approaching, I caved in and shot Lisa a private message. Basically, she replied something like “Awesome, here are cool stuff you can do while you’re here. And yeah, bring some swim suits and make some leisure time, there’s a pool too.” ๐Ÿ˜€ So, the logical thing happened… I’m planning trip details.

We’re going through Slovenia and Italy to get to France. We won’t be stopping in Slovenia because it’s going to be dark, but we may or may not stop in Italy ๐Ÿ˜‰

I heard Cannes, Antibes and Nice are great places to visit, what else would you recommend?

We’re planning some cool stuff on the trip. See what happens ๐Ÿ˜‰

Mornings On Top

… lead to days on top.

Mornings On Top

I’ve already written about the magic of mornings before. That’s because there is something magical about starting first and being there first. But that’s not all.

There are two obvious ways you can wake up before the Sun. First is obvious, intentional. Basically, you look up the time Sun is getting up tomorrow, subtract some and put it into your alarm clock.
Second is winning the lottery. Get out and party ’till your body gives up. That lands you in bed in a (hopefully) dark room until you regenerate. I estimate, based on experience, 1 out of 10 times, you’ll wake up not too much before the Sun. That gives you 10 to 15 magical mornings a year tops. (That was a crazy year!)

What’s different between those except amount you can get per year?

Winning a lottery is what most people go for. It feels pretty darn good and you only had to “enjoy life” to get there. (I put this in quotes because driving your body to shutdown can get pretty intense if you repeat it enough, but you can’t win if you don’t play, right?).
After you eventually win the lottery, what you do? Well, party, repeat! Life’s good!

Soon it goes to waste again, magic’s gone, gotta play again! ‘Till your body shuts down enough times to win!

What about that obvious first way to get on top?

You have to put in work to find the right time, put it in alarm clock. Than you have to make a plan to do something that motivates you to actually get up when the clock calls your name. Otherwise it’s pretty easy to shoot that nagging sound down, smash the clock, make mental note to buy a new one, and show it your behind.

What then happens is going to blow you away.

Let’s pause a bit and compare the effort and time you put in for both scenarios. Starting with most common way people do it, lottery. You basically have to drive your body to a shutdown 10 times. Remember that last hangover that made you swear to give up drinking? Times ten.
Obvious way is a decision and 15 minutes away from being in motion. Pick the activity you wish to start, pick the time, set the clock.

Unpause.

You’re up and fresh. Plan set before you. Nobody to stop you, all the naggers are turning pillows to the cold side. By the time they are up and clueless, you’re done. Soon they’ll talk how you got lucky. Let them. They don’t understand.

It’s not about sunrises and mornings, it’s about mindset and what you do with them.
Now you know.

The Walls We Build

… and the road they lead us to.

The Walls We Build

We build walls to keep others out. It started with bears (before Teddy Roosevelt made them cute), dragons, mammoths, witches, and magical creatures. Also weather, cold, burglars, ninjas, and other real threats. From there it continues to every other aspect of life.

We want to feel safe and not get hurt. We want to protect those we love and sometimes things we own.

So we lock ourselves from the world and create our own micro-cosmos between our walls, where we can choose who lives and dies, who’s allowed in and who’s left in the cold. We diligently look for holes in it and plug them with the best material we can find so nothing could slip through. And they get the job done!

Our walls protect our status quo. Well, they try really hard to, after all that’s the reason we nurture them so thoughtfully.

Investing all that energy in them, and time we spend between them, it’s really easy to miss everything that’s wrong with the concept.

They also keep you in.

Even though that’s kinda the point, they represent your comfort-zone. The box you’re thinking in. That place you retreat to when you want to feel safe.

If you don’t have something in it, meh, you’ll get by just fine without it. You managed so far.

That said, world is a wonderful place and even if your walls do have windows, you can only explore so far from within their safety (also, those metal bars are kinda blocking the view). And world is a wonderful (maybe little terrifying) place, that constantly changes. So even if you think you saw everything, there is always that new thing out there that will positively surprise you when you stumble upon it, once you dare to step out of your walls.

They are fragile.

Giving their life for your protection from the outside, they take all the heavy hits from the environment. They break little by little and some rain pushes through from time to time. So you need to mend them all the time from the inside. That makes your personal space smaller.

It all works well until something too big lands on them, tears them apart, and leaves you open and vulnerable.

You’re looking for holes and you’re fixing them your whole life, and you always find more just when you thought you’re done. They’ll always be unfinished. There will always be some hole someone can use to dig an opening and slip through. And then, they are in for good.

Once you let someone in, they aren’t getting out.

Take a look at 5 to 10 people you spent most time with, ones you confide in, ones you’re there for when they need you. Those few made it through your wall. Maybe they sneaked in when your wall was weaker and easier to penetrate, and then you built a fortress around them. Maybe you let them in through the front door and now they keep you company and make your days more bearable.

You wanna care for them and won’t let them go to the open where scary stuff happens. Did you know there was a dragon two blocks away that spits fire, eats people alive, and only a strong wall can stop him? Yeah, you better not leave here. He eats babies too, that’s for desert. And he’s always hungry!

You’re also within their walls too. And those are not the same walls as yours!

What happens once either of you wants to get out and be more?
You guessed it! You can’t go out, they’ll tell you it’s scary outside and bring you down with all they have to stop you from penetrating their wall back out. You can’t blame them, you’d do the same for them.

Then what?

Make a tiny hole and sneak out when they aren’t looking, find other explorers like you. Suddenly you’re stronger! You have assistance on breaking out of other people’s walls. Some will come with you, some won’t. These are the wrong people for you, and you are wrong people for them. No hard feelings. Maybe it just wasn’t the right time.

Without knowing it, you start rebuilding your walls slowly. In a better place, why wouldn’t you. The thing is, if it’s a perfect place you wouldn’t need them. But things change. When you repeat this process enough, you realize that happy place is outside those walls, between those builds. Break often.

Yes, you can get hurt outside, you can even die. You can die from a backstabber inside, too, and you won’t see it coming either. And those walls of yours will break at some point from the outside pressure, and you will be left in the open.

Now what?

Venture out of your walls often, get used to the open space, get more nimble, dodge a few, fight a few, get stronger, faster, happier. Maybe you decide you don’t need your walls anymore, maybe you don’t. At least you’ll be ready when someone or something blows them to dust.

In the mean time, look around, get in touch!