It's hard not to be enthusiastic.


Wear and Tear

Taken with my little Nikon V1 and its 18.5mm f/1.8 lens – 50mm-equivalent – which is so new on the market that I had to correct its distortion manually. How did I get to the point where a lens isn't useful until it has a profile for Adobe Camera Raw, or better yet, DxO Optics?

While using this little tiny camera and its fast fifty I also had the Nikon F5 and its 50/1.4D across my shoulder. I should have its photos back by the end of January.



Playing with shapes and colours. It's amazing what can be found in the garbage.


No Parking, Please (one)

Three photos from a back alley in Chinatown.

These were taken with my V1 and the longest (effective) focal length lens I own, the 30-110. I'm not usually comfortable with cameras around people, and was taking advantage of the flexible telephoto zoom and innocuous little camera to explore. But the V1 doesn't have a lot of resolution to spare, so these are only lightly cropped to allow an 18x12" print, and I framed very tightly since every pixel matters.

No Parking, Please (two)

Three photos from a back alley in Chinatown.

These were taken with my D800 and the biggest lens I own, the 105/2.8VR. This is another case of liking something enough to redo it differently – I had previously photographed these with my little V1, and revisited them with the idea of being able to print larger images if I chose to. That's why these are cropped to fit a 16x20 print, and I framed much more loosely than I would have if every pixel mattered.


Two Point Six

As often happens when I have something I like, I wanted to see if there would be something else I like better.

The earlier photo was taken with a longer zoom lens, while this one used a shorter prime lens. The framing is different because there was a truck parked where I needed to be – sometimes zooms are handy.

One advantage of the 36Mpx D800 over the 10Mpx V1 is the size I can print. The V1 can stretch to 18x12", while this photo has been heavily cropped and can still create a 16x20" print at a higher resolution.


Eight Foot Six

I don't imagine that I'm the best judge of my own work, but I really like this photo.

Titanium Blue

Just a few quick snaps of the blue titanium exterior of the Art Gallery of Ontario. I don't really add much to the subject, but it's fun to play with a long telephoto lens again after not using one for so long.



Detail from a building in Kensington Market.

A big advantage of the V1's little 2.7x-multiplier sensor is that its telephoto lens is also very small. I wouldn't feel comfortable walking around Toronto with a 70-300 on my D800, but the V1 and 30-110 gives me the same range and can still fit in a jacket pocket. With the hood extended.

All of these photos from the V1, and all of the photos that I've posted from my recent New York trip, have started out by bring processed with DxO Optics before being finished in Lightroom. In this case the corrections made possible by that extra step is the only reason why any lines in the photo are parallel – and that's not entirely the photographer's fault.

Yellow and Red

Overcast days with scattered light rain are some of the best for photography. I was hunting for interesting colours, and dreary weather brings them out.

Photos like this are why I really appreciate having a little grey card. These colours, and the yellows in my 'Graphic Images' post, really were this bold, but I never would have believed it if I didn't have the reference shot to go back to. Auto White Balance does have its limitations.


Graphic Images

Big cameras are awesome, but little cameras are awesome too. My D800 has superb image quality, but I never would have been in the mood to take photos with it after carrying it for hours while doing unrelated errands. Having a little camera that frames with the LCD, and with image quality that I can trust even if it's not exemplary, makes experimentation and play much more rewarding. I've walked past where these photos were taken for years and never seen its possibilities.

Twenty-Five Cents

Not New York.

I didn't actually check, but I find it hard to believe that there are still payphones that will make a call for just a single quarter. Not that may people use them these days: it's clear their time is past. My spell-checker wants me to write "pay phones" or "pay-phones", but I won't let it.

This photo would have been hard to catch without my shiny new Nikon V1. Rather than anticipating a moment, I was just holding down the shutter button trying to catch the street without any traffic going past. The camera has a silent shutter and a 40-shot raw buffer, making this easy.

This wasn't the photo that I had in mind to take, but I like it better than the one that I wanted.


Keep Right

"Keepright" is the alias that I use on most of the internet forums that I visit. I don't hide my real name – otherwise this post would be somewhat foolish – but sometimes going by something a little less personal fits in better with the community. As a result I'm always looking for signs that I can use for an avatar icon.

I've found a friend for my D800: this photo was taken with a Nikon V1. This is the 'advanced' camera from Nikon's first attempt at a mirrorless system, and its price recently crashed. I've bought the camera and three lenses for less than what the basic zoom kit originally sold for, and at that it's a pretty good deal.

I had been thinking about a better little camera for quite a while, at least by my standards. My trip to Buffalo in September proved just how useful a small camera – smaller than my Panasonic GH1 – can be. My trip to New York in October, where my S100 failed, started me shopping. And then the Santa Claus Parade, in mid-November, reminded me of why I so rarely bring out my GH1 and 14-140mm lens any more, but how useful that combination is.

What sold me on the V1, price aside, is that it uses the same battery and charger as my D800 and my brothers' D7000. That's going to be a huge advantage for me in 2013.


Top Dollar Paid

My final photo from my NYC5 trip – for a while, at least.

This was one of those rare instances when I though "I'll have to come back and photograph that" and it actually worked out. In addition to the great character that this truck has acquired through its hard life, it reminds me of my "Coney Island Furniture" photograph from NYC2 in early 2011.

I didn't visit Coney Island on the weekend before Sandy, which I have mixed feelings about. But that neighbourhood will be the destination for my next trip to New York, whether it happens in June or in February.

Post No Bills / No Trespassing

The top photo is almost certainly my favourite from NYC5. It was a construction hoarding that Penny and I walked past several times, and the sidewalk was so wide that it had this central row of pillars and braces to support its span. The photo was taken very early on Sunday morning on Seventh Avenue.

The second photo is from the construction site that will eventually be home to the Whitney museum. It's at the southern end of the High Line park, way down in the Meatpacking District, and it can't have done well in the storm. It was taken early Sunday afternoon.


Auto Rack

Another photo from the High Line.

I suspect that this might be my best photo from my NYC.V trip, but it's not my favourite.

Roads from Above

I walked the entire length of the High Line park – in two halves, starting from both ends – and these are the photos I end up with. At least, these are what I picked out of my early edit, there may be more to come out of the archives in the future.

The left-hand edge of the second photo is the top of a construction walkway, not the sidewalk.


Eighth and Forty-Second

Saturday afternoon in New York City.

Type on Black

I really, really like letters.

I also really like the Nikon D800. One of these photos was taken at iso 220, and another was at 2000 – there's no functional difference between their image quality. I've had a recent reminder that that isn't always the case, and somewhat perversely, it turns out that my biggest camera is much easier to ignore when taking pictures than my little ones are.

And yes, I take this kind of photo even when I'm in New York.


New York Telephone Conversation

One more image from the Sunday before Sandy hit New York.

The phones were like that when I found them.


Elephant, Toronto

At the end of a busy day of football and mayoral-judicial politics, city council voted to endorse moving Toronto's elephants from the Zoo to the Performing Animal Welfare Society's sanctuary in California.

I went to the Zoo two days ago – my first visit in years. I've always liked seeing the elephants, but their enclosure is shameful and their condition is worsening. I have no particular opinion about where specifically they should go, but Toka, Iringa, and Thika (pictured) deserve better, and I hope that this was my last time photographing them.



Another photo taken as New York prepared for Sandy. The street vendor carts were being brought in, leaving the doors open for random photographers who just happen to be passing by.

One side effect of using the D800 is that it generates very boring EXIF data. My 60mm 2.8G macro was the only lens I brought for NYC5, and the camera will choose a 1/125 shutter speed for it whenever possible. F/5.6 is its optimal aperture, so I stay there unless I have a good reason to do otherwise. That leaves iso sensitivity as the only other variable. For this photo the camera chose iso6400, which is really only remarkable for how unremarkable it is on the D800.



I was doing my New York Sunday Afternoon, shopping at B&H, when I was told that the Port Authority Bus Terminal had been closed an hour earlier. Fortunately, you can't always trust what camera store salespeople say, and this turned out to be bad information.

But it did give me the biggest scare that I've ever had when travelling.

Penny and I had been planning on leaving that night on an overnight Greyhound to Toronto, so I had left our luggage at the hotel and spent the day walking around while she was in a seminar. So I was on my own as I scrambled to the station to see what was happening, leaving the bags safely checked in case I needed to try to regain a room at our hotel, all the while dreading what I would find and the chaos of having our plans collapse. Since the station was still open – thanks, BH guy with the idiotic grin – I hustled back to the New Yorker, grabbed our bags, and practically ran back to join the Toronto-bound line.

There must have been over two hundred of people in front of me.

They loaded a couple of buses shortly after I got there, and then pulled more people out of the line as they sought people for specific destinations. That still only brought me half-way up the line, which was starting to double over on itself. The airports had been closed four hours before, so the bus was the last way to get out of the city before the storm would hit the next day.

Penny's seminar was all the way down in Greenwich Village, thirty blocks south of the Port Authority terminal. Public transit was shutting down, and I had no reception for my cell phone where I was waiting so far underground. Everyone else was looking to the front of the line for news and hope, but I spent an hour and a half looking back at the stairs she would have to come down. I didn't relax until I spotted her, but after that everything was going to be okay.

Greyhound did a stellar job trying to put on extra buses and drivers to meet the demand. At 8:30PM they had three buses load for runs to Syracuse, Buffalo, and Toronto. We were among the last to board our bus, and the line for our gate – serving only those three cities – probably held another four or five hundred people when we left. One bus seats only a little over fifty, and the terminal shut down its operations less than an hour and a half after we got out.


This photo was taken at the Chelsea Piers, on the Hudson river around 18th street. I haven't been able to find out how this area fared in the storm, but I can't imagine that it escaped unscathed.


Space Available

I didn't have much of a plan or pattern for photography in my fifth visit to New York City, and my editing and post-processing is proceeding the same way. I have many photos that I like, but few of them tie together, so they'll be posted here in no particular order.

This happens to be one of my last photos from the trip, as it was taken around 4pm on Sunday, October 28. This was when I still didn't think that catching my bus home that evening would be all that big of a deal. Fortunately, I found out otherwise early enough to make a difference.

After a flurry of panic and setting a couple of speed records for Manhattan sidewalks – in both the 'unencumbered' and 'with luggage' categories – I was in the line for the Greyhound to Toronto shortly after 5:30. Penny joined me around 7pm, and we boarded at 8:30. I didn't really relax until we were out of Manhattan, and it was a narrow escape at that. The Port Authority closed the bus station at 9:45pm, and it didn't reopen until noon on the following Friday.


Shiny Shiny

This title gets "Venus In Furs" stuck in my head without fail. I'm going to claim that it's because these photos were taken in New York City.


The Point

People in my critique group are starting to recognize my photos. Apparently one of my characteristics is using selective focus on inanimate objects, which is a little surprising, since very little of what I've shown them uses that approach.

Or perhaps they're just working with the process of elimination. The fact that a photo isn't of a landscape, waterfall, lone tree, or rocks – especially ones in the surf or in a river – does narrow down the list of suspects considerably.


Four Images

Four photographs from an early morning. They're not a logically related set, but I like the way they move from one to the next.



It's exceedingly rare that I see the city in darkness and to have it get brighter as time goes on.

I have broken the links to hundreds and hundreds of photos, which will take a long time to repair. The workaround is to replace "photo.matthewpiers" in the link URL with "matthewpiers.smugmug". Awkward, but only temporary.

This is happening because I have revamped matthewpiers dot com. More of what I write and photograph will be going there, so check it out as well.

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