"If love is not unconditional, then what the hell makes someone believe that kindness should be?" - RS
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So one day at work people found out that I happen to enjoy photography as a passion of mine and were impressed with the kind of work I have done. I was asked if I could partake in taking photographs for the company and well... HOW COULD I DECLINE!? It was an honor in itself to be recognized my art and literature lovers such as myself. I was presented with a camera, a Sony Mirrorless A7s camera.
"Woah is that one of those new mirrorless cameras I keep reading about!?"
"Umm, I don't know, but it's a high end one."
I take a look at it.
"It is! It is!"
Long story short, I was offered the opportunity to use this camera and take it with me to be comfortable with it so I could know how to use it to its capacity. Not only that, but I was also asked if I needed anything for the camera set up. They would like high-quality photographs and in locations that have a low amount of light. That means... fast lenses are in order!
They ordered me a new set of ridiculously crazy good lens, a Manfrotto Tripod, the external microphone to conduct interviews, and a flash kit. All of which are of the high-end spectrum.
"Take it with you. Shoot whatever you want. Enjoy!"
So the thing about this camera is that... it's ISO handling is RIDICULOUS but here are some of the things I wanted to explore since I currently use a 5DMarkIII.
Granted, the 5DMarkIII is still the superior camera, but the idea of playing with a mirrorless high-end camera sounds exciting!
I am asked if I can take photographs of a few dishes for the restaurant. I was also told that I could it all once done if I wanted to. WHAT!? Free food!? I'm in! I take the photos of the three meals. I was surprised by how versatile the Sony A7s is. Confusing at first, with so many options on its menu, but keeping it simple I just took some shots.
Once done, I sit down and begin to try the CubanMullettes (English muffin, black beans, swiss cheese, ham, fried eggs, pickled mojo sauce, mashed sweet plantain). I take one bite, and I swear... I don't think I've ever tasted anything this delicious before! Let's be a bit over dramatic here and say that I looked outside, watching people walk past, as I envisioned a tear rolling down my cheek! It should be a crime to have food taste this good!
So impressed I was with his original recipe, that I simply HAD to take a selfie with him! Carlos Torres is definitely going to be world famous one day!
The other two meals I shared with others, as I was 100% perfectly satisfied with the Cuban Mulletes. Visit LT Styeak and Seafood restaurant at The Betsy and try the Cuban Mulletes! Tell them Ricardo Sevilla sent you :). http://www.thebetsyhotel.com/dining
Please note, that I try not to be biased, but I am a foodie and I enjoy exploring new places to eat and by far, I have never eaten better than at LT! Pictured here is the NY Strip Steak, medium rare. Yes, I make meat exceptions, and this one was well worth it!
P.S - LT has been voted best new restaurant in Miami a few days ago :). https://www.thrillist.com/eat/miami/best-new-restaurants-in-miami-florida-summer-2016
I have the honor of meeting prestigious journalists, writers, musicians, authors, and more by just taking their portraits. Just yesterday I photographed Cristina Garcia. A beautiful person who's charm is not only welcoming but contagious! Cristina inspired me really! I am committed to reading one book of every author I photograph moving forward :). In her case, I picked up King of Cuba on my Kindle.
Meet "Lisris", my new high-end Olympic Style Recurve bow. I took him out yesterday for the second time to shoot and tune. My intentions are to compete with this bow. His opposite twin (!?), "Sirsil" (Lisris spelled backward) is a custom traditional wooden longbow that will be arriving soon from Austria.
When I saw the Rio Olympic archery competition, I knew I wanted to try this version of archery! There is also far more competition with this style than traditional archery. The competitor in me could not help but move towards this route. When going into this, one thing I said to myself was "I do not want equipment to hold me back. I want any mistakes I make to be fully my fault, not due to standard equipment."
"You're such a Type A Archer! Christ! Be a class B Archer!"
"What do you mean?"
"Worry about shooting and less about equipment!"
Dana eventually gave in, and I pursued high-end equipment. Typically he refuses to allow anyone he teaches archery to go after very expensive gear, but he made an exception and helped me pick out the gear. The riser (or central part of the bow), is a Win&Win WiaWis riser. This is pro level gear and... ok... fine ... yes! I love my bows, haha and I haven't felt this excited since I got the 5D Mark III for photography :).
Tuning this bow has been nothing short of a frustrating experience, but one I know will be very rewarding. Last week I tried on a new set of limbs. These limbs are of #26 pounds. At first, I thought "26!? I pull 45 with my traditional bow!".
The reasoning? Learning proper form, specifically back tension. What is back tension? Back tension is the technique of drawing the bow's string back with your back muscles properly as opposed to using arm strength. I have to admit, using proper form (or at least trying to) makes this all the more difficult. Suddenly, this #26-pound bow felt just as hard to draw than my #45-pound bow.
This week Dana and I added a few new things to the mix. We cut new arrows for my draw length, added a clicker, and added a plunger to the bow. Slowly but surely this bow is getting tuned. Dana also brought his Olympic Recurve to spar with me a bit. Out of 5 rounds or so, I beat him in each round by 1 point barring the very last round! I got to see his competitive side!
I was fortunate, though, he was using the wrong arrows for his bow, and he was not using a clicker. Still, it was fun to spar with my coach and do decently.
Short lived, however. If my guess is correct, Dana will tune that bow and get the right arrows to avoid that from happening again! HAHA
Dana and I will be entering in a 20-yard archery competition in March.
So when scouring over the news today, I come across an article.
"Indian man carries wife's body for miles."
I click on the article, and I begin to read. Dana Manjhi's wife died of tuberculosis in an Indian hospital and was unable to afford transportation back home. He said that the hospital refused to help him, so he began his 31-mile walk back home while carrying his wife's body on his shoulder... with their 12-year-old daughter by his side.
My eyes began to water. I needed to step away from my computer and drink a cup of tea... I couldn't help but grieve, hard, for this man and his daughter. In a world where the family is everything, how can others allow this perversion of human morality and dignity to go unhindered?
I begin to think about my finances and what I have been spending on. Recently I have spent thousands of dollars on two archery bows. Why? I wanted the best bows on the market. I want to compete. Here I am spending so much money on bows and other things... when across the world a man is carrying his dead wife on his shoulder for 31 miles because he cannot afford a ride back home while grieving. I felt like such a shitty person.
I finish my tea and go back online. I need to do something.
So in a previous blog post, I mentioned someone being fascinated by archery and being impressed by her ability to shoot. My coach was also impressed by her. After several sessions of training, I am excited to see how she will perform with arrows that are tuned for her bow :).
I haven't taken a portrait of her in years when she asks me. "Do you want to do a shoot?"
"Ricardo! You don't want to do the shoot do you :("
And I look at her, with curlers in her hair and, makeup was just completed, outfit worn.... I suppose I slightly hesitated.
"Yes! YES! of course I do!"
I did, and I did not, and my head was killing me. I haven't had a need to take someone's portrait in a very long time. I suppose it's because I am already satisfied with the level of work I achieved in photography, and I have new goals I want to reach. But how can you say no to someone who's enthusiastic, excited, appreciative, and just plain happy and cheery? On top of that, she has been a great archery partner. She has always spoken so highly of my work.
Great. Talk about pressure! She is an incredible photographer, and now I am to take her portrait?
We walk across her condo complex and into a small little park of sorts. The sun and humidity are out in full force. My headache slowly getting worse with the sunlight (I was hungover).
And then, for the first time in a VERY long time, I begin having a photographic conversation with someone. I found myself talking about ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, overblown light, contrast, etc, etc. I smile to myself and couldn't help myself from enjoying the conversation. "Has it been that long?" I go to myself.
"Here. Use my camera," she tells me.
"I have never loaned my camera to anyone, ever. No one has held my camera before so understand that it's a big deal for me to trust you with it," she continued.
"OH, it's just a Nikon. I wouldn't worry about it," I joked.
To the response of a sarcastic but ridiculously cute facial expression haha.
I take the ridiculously expensive Nikon, and I wrap the strap around my wrist.
"I like how you hold the camera like that."
I take photographs of her using her Nikon, and I also take several photos using my Canon film camera.
"Can you show me your private galleries?"
"What do you mean?" I respond.
"Well, I want to see your unedited work, more photos of some of your photo shoots. Show me!"
"Haha. Umm, ok. Just so you know, no one has ever seen my behind the scenes or unedited work, but sure. Hand me your laptop. I'll log in."
I log into my website, and she begins browsing through all of my work. We start talking about just how much my style has changed over the years.
"Someone once told me that I was a better editor than a photographer. My photographs were only that good because I could edit well. I felt that was messed up and to prove a point I began editing photographs less," I tell her.
"What? You're an incredible photographer!"
"It's like saying that someone is a good photographer because they have an expensive camera!"
She continues browsing through my work.
"Ricardo! These are beautiful! Why have you not published these?!"
"Well, I'm not sure honestly."
"Publish these Ricardo! They are amazing!"
"You think so? Hmm, maybe I'll review and publish some haha.
"Who is she?"
"That's Blu's mother."
"Yes haha, she is isn't she. I taught her photography and everything she knows about it."
"Oh did you??"
"Yeah... but she doesn't give me credit. Apparently, when someone asks her how she got into photography, she tells people that a friend taught her." *****
"Wow... can I see her work somewhere?"
**** Side Discussion: In all honesty... I am the type of man who takes with him whatever good someone brings into his world... and appreciates the good. For instance, I am a marathon runner, but whenever someone asks me how I got into the sport, I always credit Blu's mother for everything she showed me and taught me. It would be a disservice to Blu, and her mother, to simply say "a friend got me into running." I dated a wonderful girl who introduced me to archery, and to this day whenever someone asks me how I got into archery, I mention the time I dated a girl who is a girl scout lead who taught archery to kids that began my interest in the sport ( I blogged about it here: Nahko Bear and Archery Lessons with a Disney Smile). Be genuine. Always.