24 Hours in NYC

Sony A7III and 16-35 G Master

It started out as a trip of lifetime and ended with a 24-hour stay In The Big Apple, but you won’t hear me complaining one bit because I’m telling this story from the comfort and safety of my home. The original goal was to get to a remote place in Russia along with two of my best friends, Felipe Silva and Will Thompson, as we had a dream job with an unnamed car company (this job will be rescheduled in the future, so we’re going to leave the name out).

The trip had been in the works for months and our excitement level had been through the roof up until the news of the Coronavirus spreading rapidly across the globe. We still boarded the plane at SFO hoping for the best and made it to New York City on an almost empty plane. Once there, the ticket agent discovered a minor issue with our Russian Visas and needing to reschedule our flight for the following day to enter the country on March 13th, which was date of entry on the Visa. It was no big deal as our Campaign Leader got our flights rescheduled in no time and put us up in a super nice suite in a hotel right near Grand Central Station.

This would be my very first time to New York City, so to me it was extremely exhilarating to be in The City that Never Sleeps where I had seen so many iconic photos from. I had texted another other good friend who is from the Bay Area and currently lives in NYC, Andy To, at the airport telling him the story and he told me swing by his apartment on the westside later that night.

We checked into the hotel and had a delicious dinner in the restaurant downstairs before heading back to the suite to see President Trump announcing the current international travel ban. This presented a problem of how we would get back into the US after spending a week in Russia, so we found out pretty quick that the rest of the trip was cancelled.

At that point to me, it was all about making the best of trip. I texted Andy and told him I’d grab an Uber and be right over as Felipe and Will were both understandably tired from the red eye flight. Joycelynn, Andy’s fiancé, greeted me at their door with Andy not far behind. We exchanged hugs and chatted some before Andy and I headed to his roof to chill out and shoot the breeze. (Check out the flashing sirens in the last two shots in the set below)

Sony A7III and 24-70 G Master

Sony A7III and 16-35 G Master

Sony A7III and 16-35 G Master

Sony A7III and 16-35 G Master

Will and I woke up the next morning for sunrise and made the short walk to the famous Tudor City walking overpass. We grabbed some shots and headed back to meet Felipe for breakfast at the hotel to then pack up. Our flight would be for 3:35 pm that same day and Uber was scheduled to pick us up at 1 pm.

Sony A7III and 24-70 G Master

Sony A7III and 16-35 G Master

Sony A7III and 24-70 G Master

Then we hit the streets to explore and I scoped a few subjects as we were hoofing it around. You could tell that foot traffic was lighter than normal for a Thursday morning, but there was still plenty to see visually with interesting architecture, people and street scenes only a photographer could appreciate.

Sony A7III and Zeiss Batis 85 mm

Sony A7III and Zeiss Batis 85 mm

Sony A7III and Zeiss Batis 85 mm

We thought St. Patrick’s Cathedral would be a good place to see during the day and it is truly beautiful both inside and out, with so much attention to detail. We snapped some photos of the Atlas Statue across the street and then made our way to Times Square only a handful of blocks away. 

Sony A7III and 12-24 G Series

Sony A7III and 12-24 G Series

Sony A7III and 12-24 G Series

Sony A7III and 12-24 G Series

It was time to make a move to somewhere else and naturally we took the subway, which was very light on passengers. The train cars were a lot cleaner than the BART trains here in the Bay Area, that’s for sure, even though their system has so many more lines. Luckily, Will knew his way around so I could focus on the photos.

Sony A7III and Zeiss Batis 85 mm

Sony A7III and 12-24 G Series

Sony A7III and Zeiss Batis 85 mm

Sony A7III and Zeiss Batis 85 mm

Time was of the premium and we knew it wasn’t worth the risk of missing our flight back to the West Coast. We hit The Oculus and the Fulton Center because of the amazing architecture that each exhibit.  Seeing places like that in person is even more inspiring because of seeing them on social media In the past - knowing I finally made it after all these years. Even with that said, New York City might be the most amazing place on earth for a photographer like myself and I can’t to go back, hopefully someday soon.

Sony A7III and 12-24 G Series

Sony A7III and 12-24 G Series

Sony A7III and 12-24 G Series

Sony A7III and 12-24 G Series


A day with the 2020 Mazda CX-30

I recently had the privilege of testing out the new Mazda CX-30 in beautiful Santa Barbara with an awesome group of creatives. We had a blast test driving and capturing content from sunrise to sunset in a beautiful piece of machinery. 

It worked out that I was paired with Can Ahtam, who is an awesome photographer originally from Turkey and currently resides in Los Angeles. We met the night before shooting the Amtrak train running through the pristine Rosewood Miramar Resort, which hosted the event. There was lovely sunset at the resort’s private beach followed by a welcome gathering with the other creatives and folks with Mazda.

After a 4 am wakeup call, we made it to the coffee shop before they opened… so naturally I started taking long exposures of the CX-30 in the middle of the street with Can (pronounced “John” as that is what it translates to in Turkish) behind the wheel. 

It was still dark outside and the city of Santa Barbara was engulfed in fog. With a team-first mentality, Karl Shakur, dropped us a pin to a spot in the mountains above, so we quickly headed there thinking it might be the best and only option to get ‘good light’. We pulled up to two other CX-30’s as we knew Karl was in one, but not yet knowing that Matthew Miller and Steven Onoja where in the other. We found that golden light and the group filled with excitement enjoying such great conditions as we eventually found a couple cool spots for photos.

Matthew and Steven both looked dapper as well, making for awesome subjects to compliment the style of the CX-30. Collaborating with the crew we had that morning was very inspiring and set the tone for more teamwork throughout the day.

After breakfast, Can, Steven, Matthew and I explored in and around Santa Barbara looking for cool locations to pose the two CX-30’s that were metallically painted ‘Machine Grey’ and ‘Soul Red Crystal’. The design and features of this SUV really standout, from the visually smooth lines and integration of Apple CarPlay, Can and I were jamming in style the whole day with plenty of room and comfort. When behind the wheel, the driver is indulged in a silky smooth feel while hugging turns like a champ - plus you can feel the boost with Sport Mode holding the RPM’s a bit longer.

We had a memorable day that ended back in the mountains above Santa Barbara and the fog that was creeping in again from the coast thanks to another pin drop from Karl. It was almost time to get back for dinner which included a Q&A with the legend, Jimmy Chin, when Karl  turned to me and said, “Hey Drew, hop in. Let’s see if there’s a better spot up the road.” I knew we still have a good drive ahead of us and possibly in commuter traffic, but I hopped in the car just trusting that Karl knows his stuff when getting “the shot” and let’s just say he “road tested” the CX-30 which handled like an absolute champ around those curvy mountain road. 

We made it back for dinner just a few minutes late and Mr. Chin had a great talk answering questions from the larger crew of creatives. He sat down and had dinner with us afterwards and shared some stories of his adventures. It was a great event hosted by a company that cares about making a vehicle the consumer will feel equally as good to be in, as they do to drive.


Zeiss Batis 18mm Lens Review

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 1/100 sec f/4 ISO 1000

The Zeiss Batis super wide-angle lens manages to fit everything into the frame without sacrificing any detail or depth. Weighing in at a meager 11.6 ounces, less than a pound, it is a premium choice for shooters looking for a compact and quality lens.

Design

It caught me off guard a bit seeing how short the lens is and how it dramatically narrows in towards the body of the camera. I find myself grabbing the camera by this lens more often than any other because of how it naturally fits your hand. It also looks very sleek with lens hood on, which fits perfectly and the firm click lets you know it is locked into place. The smooth metal that makes up the majority of the lens is offset by the smooth rubber focus ring that glides continuously.

Sharpness

My favorite part about this lens was the sharpness from corner to corner, especially for being so wide at 18mm. It doesn’t miss a thing and the clarity is tremendous if you zoom in to inspect - not to mention the lens flares are easy on the eyes. I joked with my wife about the photo below because if you zoom in on the SUV in the lower right corner, you will see her waiting for me to be finished taking long exposures on a walking overpass in downtown Los Angeles. Be right there, hunny!

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 30 sec f/14 ISO 50

Bokeh

For being so wide, the lens creates considerable depth and bokeh when objects or focus points are closeup at f/2.8. It certainly is a nice feature to have for wide portraits when you want to show people in the whole scene. Having the OLED display on top of the lens is very helpful because you can precisely set the focus distance or depth of field - this is great for manually focusing for astrophotography as well.

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 1/3200 sec f/2.8 ISO 2000

True Color

This lens does a great job of keeping the darkness in the shadows even in harsh light conditions. The color rendering is solid, not too punchy, and I didn’t have to adjust colors too often and/or very much in post-processing. Also, there wasn’t any noticeable banding in my low-light photos like has happened in other lenses I have tried.

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 10 sec f/10 ISO 200

Overall Performance

The Batis 18m is a great overall lens as the overall quality is surely up to the Zeiss standard both in the construction and photo quality. I would recommend getting this lens because you can take it anywhere as it basically fits in a large jacket pocket, yet can capture so much quality information in one photo.

A7ii w/ 18mm Zeiss Batis lens 20 sec f/11 ISO 320


To buy the Zeiss Batis 18mm lens you can use this link… https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1243591-REG/zeiss_2136_691_batis_18mm_f_2_8_lens.html/BI/20832/KBID/16655

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