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Playtime with your camera

Wednesday, August 31st, 2011

Tables on fire by Michael Mariano | Native Racket's Randy

Tables on fire by Michael Mariano | Native Racket’s Randy

Fall is just around the corner. But don’t let that fool you into thinking that you will be just photographing falling leaves and foliage. Creativity can strike anywhere. As long as you have a camera ready and with the proper know-how, you can capture any mundane situation and turn it into a visceral experience.

I have recently been to one of the gigs of my friend Ivan Monegro at the Hot Lava party. He and his partner Randy Delgado are DJs for their group – Native Racket. So they were spinning during the hot lava party inside this massive warehouse which was dimly lit despite having a nice big disco ball lit on all its sides by focused lights. The only camera i had my Panasonic LX3 with me which had an underpowered flash. So i thought of just playing with it knowing the range of my flash. I decided to set it to Shutter speed priority (S) and make the shutter slower than usual (around 1/8 to 1/15th of a second)

In the photo, i captured Randy spinning on the decks. There was few lights on the turntables. So with flash ready and the shutter speed dialed it, i decided to ‘paint’ the scene

by moving my camera in long strokes while making sure that i focused properly first and accounted for the shutter lag since i’m using a slow shutter speed. The flash worked just in the right range, illuminating Randy and the decks. While the slow shutter speed made sure that the lights streaked that conveyed a sense of motion throughout the scene. I took some more shots of the party. It was good practice for me since i haven’t been covering events lately and that situation made me think outside of the box.

So the next time you feel that you might be limited by your camera or the situation, think outside of the box and use whatever tools you have in hand. Keep on shooting,  and enjoy the coming fall season ahead!

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Sneak peek of Scratch DJ Academy NY

Thursday, July 28th, 2011

Scratch DJ Academy New York - Photograph by Michael Mariano

Scratch DJ Academy New York – Photograph by Michael Mariano

Scratch DJ Academy has finally settled into its new location at 32 Cooper Square! Scratch who? For those in the music industry, this title should be fairly familiar to you. If you are not familiar, shame on you! For those who are not acquainted, Scratch DJ Academy is a division of Scratch Music Group. In 2002, in the heydays of DJing where access to proper DJ education was not widespread, DJ Jam Master Jay and Rob Principe founded the academy to provide quality DJ education and access to the art form. Its legacy and legend extends forward to the future with the move of the academy to the historic Cooper Square where known institutions such as Cooper Square Union and New York University  are located.

I have had the privilege to be at the launch of Scratch NY’s new crib. The location was a definite game changer and the new spot had a cool vibe to it. Soon enough the Scratch Music Group will come out with a bang. The photo featured is of the Academy. Stay tuned for the launch of Scratch Music Group and its other business lines – Scratch Events and Scratch Weddings.

Keep on rockin’!

– Mike

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Summer getaways

Monday, June 27th, 2011

Pennsylvania Countryside by Michael Mariano

Pennsylvania Farm – Photograph by Michael Mariano

Summer is upon us. People here in the northeast coast has been waiting for this season since wintertime. Memorial day has come past and the signs of a warm summer ahead are abound in and around the city. People are preparing to travel on those long-distance trips and bring out their dusty traveling gear out of the  closet. So why get stuck in the 4 corners of your house when you can go out and travel without breaking the bank? The featured photo is from a farm in Pennsylvania, a good to 2 hours drive from NYC. They have attractions that are family friendly like visiting the Amish countryside, Hershey’s factory and of course a trip to Philadelphia is a definitely a must-see especially for those history buffs.

Most of those destinations would definitely entail some traveling either by a car or public transportation. For serious photographers, stopping at each ‘photo-op’ (photo opportunity) is a must. However, not everybody has the time to stop each time that they want to take decent shots. And that does not mean you cannot take good photos while on those times that you are mobile and unable to stop in the middle of the road. Fear not, for here are some tips for taking photos while being inside a moving vehicle:

1.) The featured photo – i set my shutter speed to a reasonable setting like 1/250 (or higher) to
be able to stop motion, but still get that effect of moving grass in the foreground. That way your
photo will have a bit of depth even while your shot seems something like that is as common as the postcards that you see in the souvenir shops.

2.) It helps to pre-visualize what you want to capture in conjunction with a bit of careful planning and research where you plan to pass-by. This will help you plan out which places of interest that you want to shoot from the road and the type of lens/camera combination that you will be bringing. As a rule of thumb, a combination of a normal zoom lens (28mm to 70mm) and a telephoto lens (70-200) is a good way to cover your range of photographic subjects.  The telephoto lens will definitely help you pick-out subjects of interest, but do be mindful of setting your shutter speed/ISO setting higher esp. if you are using a longer lens.

3.) Having a stable platform to shoot from while inside the vehicle helps. If you have a beanbag or a pillow case to act as a makeshift tripod, it will help stabilize your camera and lens. Bringing down the window helps avoid nasty reflections on your photograph. If you can’t bring down your windows, try pressing the lens of your camera as close to the window as possible to avoid any unwanted glare.

4.) Last but not the least – carry lots of memory cards and batteries as you might not be able to charge until you get to your hotel, resort or final destination. A laptop or portable media device is a good alternative to just bringing memory cards. At least by the end of the day you can view your photos and learn what other shots you need to take.

So this summertime whether you are out in the field for vacation or an assignment, do not leave your camera at home when you travel! Have a great summer ahead and a safe passage to all!

– Mike

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Portrait shoot @ The Lighthouse

Sunday, May 22nd, 2011

On-location: Scratch Weddings @ Lighthouse - Chelsea Piers

DJ Select for Scratch Weddings – Photograph by Michael Mariano

This month of May has been a busy one for the Scratch Weddings team as we just finished our photo and video shoot of our DJs at Gansevoort Hotel and The Lighthouse @ Chelsea Piers, NY. Featured in this photo is DJ Select, one of Scratch Weddings’ new DJs. I was assigned to photograph our DJ Talent and take their portrait shots on-location.

On the actual photo shoot day, the weather wasn’t cooperating. It was a good thing that The Lighthouse – an events hall is covered and had interesting interiors to shoot with. The video crew was equipped with their day-light balanced lights. It was more than enough for still photography. However, i still had to deal with shooting in the other parts of the complex. I usually just carry a simple setup since i need to be mobile enough to shoot around. I had with me a couple of portable dedicated camera flashes with a shoot-through umbrella and reflectors. There were spots where it was dark, and some had diffused window light. So i just had to adjust accordingly depdening on the lighting conditions in the complex.

The result – DJ Nire | DJ Furnace | DJ Merlin Things have been hectic in the office, but i will post a new gallery of the DJ profiles that i have documented during the past few weeks soon.

Keep posted for my next update!

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View from the top

Saturday, April 30th, 2011

View from the top | Gansevoort Hotel

View from the top | Gansevoort Hotel - Park Avenue by Michael Mariano

Spring has officially arrived! It’s been a busy month photography wise. Have been out of the office for a few days photographing our DJs in Philadelphia and here in Midtown Manhattan. Finally some photography action for me.  This shot is a view from the hotel suite @ Gansevoort Hotel Park Avenue and Lexington. The space was pretty decent to shoot at, but the best part was we had access to a veranda right outside the room. Awesome! The city does come alive at night time and i was fortunate enough to have this really great view. Will have spend some time to sort a ton of photos for my portfolio. But for the meantime you can check out our DJs @

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