Tuesday, April 24, 2018

UCSF Hospital Prom: An amazing event for all kids who can't attend their own proms

This weekend was crazy with me shooting three different events. As great as they all were, one of those events really stood out. It was the annual UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Prom, which is created for all the kids who have been at the hospital and may not be able to attend their high school prom. It might be due to a compromised immune system, chemotherapy or even some who are attached to breathing machines.

This is the fourth year that I have volunteered to photograph this event, and it inspires me every time!


As always, the volunteers from the hospital did an amazing job converting this room in the hospital into a party location.


They receive donations from many different groups, and make sure to have outfits for the kids, and flowers for everyone.


As the kids entered this wing of the hospital, they signed in and were given their corsage or boutonnière.


The people from Sephora were there to help the kids with their makeup. And yeah, I moved the bag to this spot to give them a plug. :)


Like the last 3 years, many members of the San Francisco 49ers were gracious enough to donate their time to come and escort the kids into the prom.


It is always fun to see the kid's excitement when meeting these NFL athletes.

 

This kid came into the prom, and Zane Beatles (who has his own charity called Zanes Parade) complimented him on the hair style. I asked them to turn and face each other and took this shot. It cracks me up.

Once inside, the kids had all the food they wanted and a big dance floor.


Look at the smile on this girl's face. That says it all!


It is fun to watch the 49ers dancing with the kids.


They were all dancing to the "Just Dance" game, trying to mimic what they saw on the big screen.



Many of the nurses beg to volunteer at this event. This is Cheryl, who is one of my favorites. At past events, she has always been the crazy one on the dance floor. Last year she was not there and I really missed her. It was great to see her back this year, helping and dancing with the kids.


This is how this prom differs from a typical high school prom. There are kids dancing with the IV poles in tow...


... and dancing in their wheelchairs. Nothing stops these kids from having fun!


But much like any other prom, there are lots of kids who just like to hang out.


You can't have kids and 49ers without having lots of selfies!


 I tried to position myself to capture as many of these photos as I could get.


One of the nurses told me that this girl was a huge 49er fan, but too shy to ask the guys for a photo. So I rounded up as many of the guys as I could find and had them do a group shot with her.


In a different room, they had a quieter area for the kids. In this room they also had a photo booth and body painters.


This young lady was connected to a breathing machine and could not easily be moved. I also asked these athletes if they would take a photo with her. You can barely see what she wrote on the wall, but she said that it was "the best day ever".


They had this graffiti wall for everyone to sign. The kids, the nurses, the 49ers and even I signed it this year. :)



After shooting for a couple of hours, I decided to break out the Canon 8-15mm fish eye lens to have a little fun for myself.


I usually do not roll the lens to 8mm (since it gives this circle effect on full frame cameras), but decided to try it for something different.


This was my favorite moment of the night, when the DJ announced a "special appearance" of the young lady who was connected to power in the quiet room. They were able to move her out onto the main dance floor. All the kids were dancing in front of her and she was loving every second of it. I asked her to turn around for just one second so I could get this photo. She was capturing the moment on her phone as well.


These two young ladies have been to many of the proms and are always on the dance floor. The nurses are always close by in case any of the kids need their help.


It was the end of the prom and the DJ decided to get a selfie of his own. Since I still had the fish eye lens on my Canon 1D X MK II, I walked around him and got this shot. It is another favorite photo from the night.


As each of the prom attendees left, they were given a nice sweatshirt. On that sweatshirt was a note, with my web site and password for them to download free photos. I had 320 images edited and uploaded for them by Sunday afternoon.


The prom ended by 10pm, but as I do every year, I stayed until 10:45pm to get a group shot of all the volunteers. It takes a while to get everyone together since many of the nurses have to get the kids back upstairs and into their rooms before they can return downstairs. But it is well worth the wait. All of these people (and more) give so much of their time for the kids. I know this for a fact, since my daughter spent a lot of time at this hospital due to her Crohn's Disease. My hat is off to all of them!

I got home around midnight and then downloaded all the images. I didn't get to sleep until 1am and was a little tired as I started shooting my next event at 9am. But after seeing what these kids have to deal with on an ongoing basis, I was not going to complain about a little lack of sleep.

And yes, I am already looking forward to photographing this event in 2019.

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Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
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If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
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Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.
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Tuesday, April 17, 2018

It's Prom season - How to take great photos of your kids!

For all of you who are about to take prom photos of your child, I wanted to repost a blog that I wrote 4 years ago. All the information is still relevant and a lot of you have been asking for this advice.


Regardless of whether you are using a nice DSLR camera or just your smart phone, many of tips are the same.

* Find a good shady location
* Avoid distractions in the background
* Find a unique spot for the photos
* Recommendations for group shots

You can find the blog post HERE.

I hope that this helps all of you get better photos!

__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.
__________________________________________________________________________

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Experience all the world has to offer!

A couple of years ago, I read a great article on the Huffington Post site which really does a great job of explaining the benefits of travel, and how it is so enriching to our lives. I took that to heart and try to make it a priority in my life. I love seeing the world, experiencing different cultures, and capturing all that in photos. Most importantly, these are memories will stay with me forever!

Now that the Winter Olympics are over, I can get back to sharing my passion for photography with all of you as we travel around the world. There are so many incredible places that we will be visiting in the next 12 months and you are invited to come with me!

Everything from safaris in Africa...


...to the rain forest of Costa Rica...


...and more!

Here is the list of the upcoming photo tours:

* Namibia: June 2018 – Sold Out
* Botswana: July 2018 – 2 spots left
* Costa Rica: August 2018 – Sold Out (Waiting list)
* Croatia / Slovenia: September 2018 - 6 spots left
* Tanzania: January 2019 – Sold Out (Waiting list)
* Tanzania: February 2019 - 4 spots left
* Costa Rica: May 2019 - 7 spots left
* Costa Rica: July 2019 - New
* Tanzania (Migration): August 2019 - New
* India: January / February 2020 - New


If you are interested in joining me to photograph, learn, and have fun, there is more information here.

For those of you who have never been on a photo tour with me, here is what we do differently:

1. I love teaching photography and sharing my passion with others. If you have questions, I will answer them. I consistently hear from my workshop attendees that they have learned more on my trips than on any others they have attended. Everyone comes home with great images, but more importantly everyone has fun and makes new friends.

2. As part of my Canon sponsorship, they have offered free loaner cameras and lenses to any of my workshop attendees. Yep - that means that you can ask to borrow that new camera you wanted to try out or that lens that may be out of your price range, but would be ideal for our trip. All of this at no charge to you, other than sending the equipment back to Canon, which you may not want to do. :)

3. Almost all of my photo tours are all inclusive (INCLUDING airfare, food, drinks...) so you will not have to shell out additional money on the trip, other than tips for the lodging staff and guides.

4. We keep the groups small so that everyone can see and photograph the sites in a comfortable environment.

5. If you have a spouse or a friend who wants to go, and is not into photography, we encourage them to come along on the trip. We have discounts for non-photographers even though they will experience most of the same things you will see, maybe just with their eyes.

Come join us on a photographic experience of a lifetime!

__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.
__________________________________________________________________________

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Product announcement: I am now using ProGrade Digital memory cards and readers

Today is a big day for me. It is the day that I tell you all that I am now using ProGrade Digital memory cards and readers.

As many of your know, I spent almost 12 years as the Director of Marketing at Lexar. Not only was I involved in the day-to-day marketing activities, but I also worked closely with the product teams in the development of new products. For all those years, I was also the face to the company, doing most of the videos, presentations and outbound evangelism.

Then in June of 2016, I decided that my photo business was way more fun than the corporate world and had grown too big for me to do both jobs. I retired from Lexar to dedicate myself full-time to photography.  I was still close with everyone at the company and still an avid user of the products.

Then, with no warning, on June 26th of 2017, Micron (the parent company of Lexar) announced that they were going to close down the Lexar division. I was devastated for all of my friends at the company, but also worried about which memory products I would use in the future. Spending more than a decade in the memory business makes me really picky about the quality of cards that I put in my camera.

As Lexar was being disbanded, and then subsequently sold, I started looking at my options. And many of you have been emailing me asking which cards I would be using. It was about that time that a couple of the ex-Lexar execs told me that they were looking into starting their own company focusing exclusively on cards and readers for the professional user. They would not be focusing on USB drives or consumer-grade products, which could be a distraction for them. They wanted to focus solely on serving the professional photographer, cinematographer and videographer. That was sure intriguing!

A couple of months later, ProGrade Digital was born.

I still was not ready to make a decision on which products I would use. Why? Because at this point, neither ProGrade Digital or the new Lexar (under parent company LongSys) were making products. Even though I knew most of the people at both companies, I wanted to test their products and see their roadmaps to know which made more sense to me (and all of you).

I was talking to both companies (and others) and testing products. While I was shooting the Olympics in PyeongChang, I was using some of my previous Lexar cards and a stash of new ProGrade Digital cards too. That was the perfect testing ground for putting a lot of wear and tear on the cards.

Alas, after 6 months of evaluating numerous memory card companies, I have landed on ProGrade Digital as my standard cards and readers going forward.

Here is why I chose ProGrade Digital products:

Card Quality


The quality of the memory card is and always will be the most important factor to me. The memory cards need to be reliable and withstand a lot of abuse. The ProGrade Digital cards are tested more than any other card I have seen, helping me feel good that they will work from day one and protect me from data loss.

The first two cards being shipped from ProGrade Digital are really fast SDXC UHS-II cards and the even faster CFast 2.0 formats. They range in capacity from 64GB to 512GB, which definitely covers the need of professional and serious amateur photographers.

Reader Quality



Not only am I a fan of the ProGrade Digital cards, but I am super excited about their card reader. From my past experience at Lexar, I know that card readers are as important as the cards themselves. They have their own controllers and determine the quality and speed of the data transfer. This reader is well built and includes two card slots which I use every day (the SD card from my Canon 5D Mark IV and the CFast card from my Canon 1D X Mark II) in one device.

Both card slots use the latest in high-speed standards, the SD slot supports UHS-II and the CFast slot takes advantage of the fast data throughput of the super fast cards. The reader has a USB-C port on the back and uses USB 3.1 for very fast data transfers. The reader comes with both a USB-C to USB-C cable and a USB-A to USB-C cable so that it can be easily connected to older and newer devices.


Highly reactive company

In December, I was over at the new offices for ProGrade Digital and was talking to Wes Brewer (CEO and former head of Lexar). He was showing me a prototype of the reader and I gave him my feedback. Along with the technology input I had for him, I also told him that I would love it if there was an easy way to attach the reader to my laptop or other surface. I am downloading to my laptop in the field all the time and I hate having readers hanging from my computer. Many sports photographers will velcro their readers to the top of their laptops.

A month later I got a call from Wes asking me to stop by the office again. At that point, he showed me a new prototype of the reader which used a magnet on the bottom of the reader and a metal plate which could be placed anywhere. I played with it and loved it!


I would have killed for this at the Olympics, but they were not ready for prime time yet. But recently I received a finished reader and a couple of the metal plates. I put one of the plates on my Macbook Pro to give it a try.


It is a simple but elegant solution that really works. It also shows that the small team at ProGrade Digital is listening to my feedback and can implement ideas quickly!


I put a second metal plate under the shelf in my office and can stick the reader there too. (I just ordered a couple of longer USB cables so that I can mount a couple ProGrade readers in this location and run the cables along the wood to make it cleaner.)

Not only can the reader easily be stuck to different surfaces, they can stick to each other and stacked.

Might there be a hub for these readers as well? Nothing has been announced by the company, but the rumors are out there.  I would not be surprised if you saw a multi-port hub for these readers some time this year. I would love that!



Pricing

If I am going to recommend products to all of you, I need to feel good doing so. Even though I spent a lot of time evaluating the products and was really impressed, I had no idea how expensive these cards and readers would be. Being a small company with low overhead, I was hoping that this would translate to aggressively priced products. I asked them about this, but at the time the pricing was still unknown. Well...I am happy to say that these cards have high quality and low prices. I just did a scan of the cards on the B&H web site and here is what I found.

For 64GB SD UHS-II cards, here is what I found:

* SanDisk $119
* Lexar $119
* ProGrade Digital Two pack $99

For 256GB CFast cards, here is what I found:

* SanDisk $679
* Lexar $649
* ProGrade Digital $349

They are almost half the price of the other major name brand cards in the market. Sure, there are other brands and prices similar to or lower than these cards, but I am only comparing the brands that I really trust.

The Future

ProGrade Digital does not make CompactFlash cards, and since these cards are basically old technology, I doubt they ever will. For my CF needs, I will continue to use my older Lexar cards, The range of products is fairly limited today, but I know that ProGrade is working on a lot of very cool products moving forward. And most importantly to me, they are looking forward and developing products for future technology.

What is the next big card format for higher-end digital cameras? That is the big question. But it sure looks like CFexpress will win out. This new card format would be able to transfer data at crazy fast speeds that would make CFast cards look slow. My hope is that Canon, Nikon and others will adopt this technology and create a widely used standard for all of us once again.

Give them a try

If you want to give these new cards a try, I worked out a deal with the people at ProGrade Digital. If you are one of the first 50 people to purchase using this link you can get 10% off their cards and readers.

You can also click here to get the discount:

http://bit.ly/ProGradeCable

or when on their site, you can enter the code "ProGradeCable" for the discount.

Conclusion

After using Lexar products and being a part of that business for so long, it was not an easy decision to switch brands. But knowing the people behind this new company and the stringent demands that they are putting on the product manufacturing, I know that this is a great choice.

I know that many of you started using Lexar products based on my recommendation. Now, after me doing a lot of testing and real-world shooting on ProGrade Digital products, I think you will be happy to rely on these as well. And you will save some money.


__________________________________________________________________________
Subscribe to the Jeff Cable Photography Blog by clicking HERE!
__________________________________________________________________________
If you are interested in purchasing ANY equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. It does not change the cost to you in any way, but it helps me keep this blog up and running.
__________________________________________________________________________
Check out my upcoming photo tours to amazing places around the world. I have photo tours to Africa, Costa Rica, Europe, Asia, India and more. And Canon will loan you any gear you want for FREE for any of my tours.
__________________________________________________________________________