Photography / Stuff / Travel

Just getting started…

I’ve been thinking about doing it for a while, but I finally started a photography website. It wasn’t easy and the end result is far from ideal. But it’s a start, and I’m relatively happy with it for now.

I’ve always liked taking pictures, especially when it’s something different or someplace new. But my interest in photography really began on my first trip to the Caribbean in March of 2009. My ex-girlfriend and I had decided to spend a few days on the southwestern tip of the Dominican Republic.

I had an older Canon point-and-shoot at the time (one I’d taken with me a year earlier to Argentina). Even though we were only staying at an all-inclusive resort, I found myself taking hundreds of photos. Most of them were worthless, but a few were quite nice – a couple of them even made it onto my website.

wading out with the camera

Looking at the pictures, I remember what it was like. I can hear the waves and smell the ocean. After that trip to the Dominican Republic, whenever I travelled, I made it a point to document my travel through photography. I also decided to return to the Caribbean at least once a year.

My next destination was Istanbul. I was finally going to visit my uncle (my parents were also there and facilitated the trip). I only spent a few days there, but I must have taken thousands of pictures! When I visited Hagia Sophia and Topkapi with with my father, I was completely overwhelmed… but mainly because I was taking pictures AND video.

Yes – I had also bought a Sony camcorder a few months prior, and I found myself getting into shooting video for the same reasons I was initially drawn to photography.

In February of 2010, I was deployed to coordinate Al Jazeera’s news coverage in Haiti, one month after a powerful earthquake had leveled much of the city and killed hundreds of thousands. I was there to work, and didn’t have very much time to shoot anything. Nevertheless, I did what I could when I could.

I had only brought my point-and-shoot with me though, and every time I used it I felt like a tourist. That prevented me from capturing many of the images that surrounded me, and I decided that I would spend the money I earned on the trip to buy a ‘proper’ camera.

As soon as I got back, I bought my first dSLR – a Canon T2i. I  knew I wanted something cheap, but good enough to produce solid images while I familiarized myself with the techniques. I started off with 18-55mm kit lens, and a cheap (but nice) 50mm prime.

I’d never used a camera with interchangeable lenses before and had little experience ever focusing one. My father used to take photos with a Pentax, and my sister is a trained photographer with quite an eye. Maybe a passion for photography is something that runs in the family.

It was early April, so my first shoot was around the Tidal Basin with the cherry blossoms in full bloom. Over the course of the next few weeks, I went to various tourist attractions across the DMV and got used to using my dSLR.

After a few months, I bought two more lenses for my Canon: a 50-250mm and a 10-22mm. In October of 2010, a friend and I went on an epic trip to Utah. We drove around from Salt Lake City, to Moab, to Monument Valley, to Capitol Reef, to the Bonneville Salt Flats. It was a great trip, and I took lots of ‘road pix’ – something I had started several years ago in Morocco.

What that trip made me realize was that there was a big difference between my T2i and my friend’s 5D Mark ii (it didn’t help that he was a better, more experienced shooter than me). Like my time in the DR, it also made me determined to take similar trips at least once a year.

Monument Valley

I took my T2i to a few other places before going to Yellowstone next year with my friend. By now I had invested in a nice tripod and I’d gotten much better with my kit. I came back with some really great pictures (not difficult considering where we were). I wanted more power at my disposal… but I decided I’d wait until the 5D Mark iii came out, and until I had enough money to buy it!

That happened the following year, right before a big assignment at work. I christened my Mark iii at Joshua Tree National Park in the spring of 2012. It was just what I was looking for. I’d bought it with the 24-105mm kit lens and a 17-40mm. Nice glass, but not exactly top of the line. Still, I was very pleased with the images I was getting.

I took it with me to Libya, Mexico, Florida, and NYC. It didn’t take long for me to find myself looking forward to my next trip… especially the next National Park.

In the meantime, I’ve tried to keep myself busy with new techniques and approaches. My next investment was in a couple Speedlites and a 100mm macro lens. I haven’t used it too much, and I feel like I need to buy a few more things to complete that part of my kit, but I’ve still taken some shots that I really like.


As long as it works, I will love my 5D. With the exception of the highly coveted 70-200mm, I’m only looking to buy primes for it from here on out. But variety is a good thing.

Since the dawn of mirrorless digital camera systems, I’ve been wanting to get a new toy.   While I was working in Florida, one of my colleagues showed me some of the pictures he’d taken on his Fuji X-Pro1. A few weeks later, I was close to buying one of the Sony models before deciding to go for what I wanted – top notch image quality.

I absolutely love my Fuji baby. All I have is the 35mm lens for it, but I hope to add a wider one soon. It’s completely different from my Canon. I recently took the two of them for a Lincoln Memorial sunrise shoot and was equally pleased with the results I got from both. I look forward to my next shoot like that and writing about it.

Moving forward, there are times when I will want my Canon kit with all its bells and whistles, but I don’t always feel like carrying all of that. My new walkaround camera is my X-Pro1… even though I’m limited to one focal length. My first trip with it was to Los Angeles. It surely won’t be my last.

Pacific Sunset

3 thoughts on “Just getting started…

  1. Pingback: My baby: Fuji X-Pro1 (and the 35mm) | Karim Haddad

  2. Pingback: Good enough for the Smithsonian…. | Karim Haddad

  3. Pingback: Thoughts on my Canon 100mm | Karim Haddad

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