About zamdezign9

Portrait and Travel Photographer in Syracuse, NY


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This is the second state high point we have hit on our Easter road trip.  Again I will have my dad write the commentary on our trip today:

We spent the night in Tupelo, Mississippi, and even saw Elvis Presley’s birthplace, home church, and the Hardware store where he bought his first guitar.  Then, it was back onto the Natchez Trace into the extreme northeast corner of the state to Woodall Mountain.  By the time we got there, it was raining.  Thinking back, this is the first time in our 30 state highpoint trips that we had rain (though I do remember some sleet on Mt. Washington in New Hampshire on a July day).  It did not bother us too much, however, as Woodall is essentially a drive-up mountain.  There were a number of communications towers at the summit, pine trees, and a large rock that unfortunately had the sign removed.  We signed the register, and for the second consecutive day we were the second “expedition” of the day to reach the summit.  At 806 feet above sea level, it was certainly higher than Driskill Mountain, but might not qualify as a “mountain” by some standards.  As usual, Mokey tried to get into as many pictures as possible.  For this trip, we hope to bag two more highpoints!



These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm f/2.8 lens.







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Another we stop we made along the Natchez Trace Parkway was the Cypress Swamp.  We were hoping to see some gators, but all we saw were a bunch of floating logs, and no nostrils sticking out to distinguish a gator. It was still a really neat stop. We took a boardwalk across the swamp where we were able to walk amidst these huge, wide cypress trees that sprouted right out of the water.  The water was incredibly still and gave it a very glassy look that you could see direct reflections of the tree off of.  There were also places of very thick scum that floated on parts of the swamp. In some of the pictures you can see this scum and protruding from the scum were these nubby little trees that barely stuck a foot out of the swamp.  They are called bald cypress trees and may have been stunted in growth because of the lack of oxygen they receive.  Although we didn’t see any gators, we saw a little lizard scurrying through the leaves and under the bark and we also saw a little frog hiding away deep in a little hole in the ground. This stop was very different from our stop at the blacksmiths but equally cool and effective in breaking up our long drive.


These were shot with my Nikon D600 and 24-75mm f/2.8.


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Yesterday after our Louisianna hike, we drove our way East to Mississippi.  As soon as we got there, we hopped onto the Natchez Trace Trail, which is a scenic drive that will take you from Natchez, Mississippi all the way up to Nashville, Tennesee.  Along the trail, there were many little towns and attractions to visit. One stop we made was the Mississippi Craft Center. Outside the craft center there was a booth where some blacksmiths were doing metal work. They were really friendly guys and offered to show us some of the work they were doing and the process used to create some of their intricate designs. While we were there, they were in the process of building and forming some big screws. They had a few furnaces as you see in the photos which would be turned up to about 2900 degrees.  They would bury the metal in some of the coals there to make sure that it would heat up to a malleable state.  They would then use some tools to grab the bolt and bring it over to a work horse where they would take a 25-30 lb. hammer to slam it into its final form.  They only had a few seconds to do this before the metal would cool off to a state where it was no longer formable.  Using this process along with some different tools and molds is how they would create some of the pieces you see below. The rest of the craft center was a very modern looking building that housed some very beautiful artwork. It was really neat to look around and a great stop to break up our 5 hour drive up to Tupelo, Mississippi.

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These were shot with my Nikon D600 and 24-75mm f/2.8.


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Since I’m going on this trip with my dad, I thought it would be cool to have him tell you about some of our adventures since he’s such a great writer and has a great sense of humour and just to give you a different perspective.  Here are his thoughts on the first stop of our trip:

Today was a day, and a long weekend, that Zach and I had been looking forward to for a long time.  We got to resume one of our favorite activities- “high-pointing,” this time in the state of Louisiana.  After our night in Ruston (home to Louisiana Tech, Terry Bradshaw’s alma mater), we drove through a sparsely populated region in north-central Louisiana.  We parked next to the Mount Zion Presbyterian Church and cemetery off route 507, to begin the trail to the top of Driskill Mountain.  At 535 feet above sea level, it is the third lowest high point in the US.  (Trivia question- can you name the two shorter high points?)  It was a beautiful and peaceful Good Friday morning.  We hiked through a pine and hardwood forest, with some scattered wildflowers, to the sound of birds chirping.  It was certainly not a long or difficult hike.  The land is privately owned, but high-pointers are welcome, and the trail was well-marked.  At the summit, a new sign has been recently installed, along with a couple of new benches.  Signing the guest register, we were surprised to learn that we were NOT the first to the summit today…two guys from Reno, Nevada has been to the summit shortly after midnight!  For me, this marked my 30th state highpoint, while it was the 29th for Zach.  Our faithful companion “Mokey” has been with us for most of them.  Back at the church, we noted that some of the Driskill family, for which the mountain was named, were buried there in the cemetery.  The weather was perfect, and we moved on toward our next adventure.  (Trivia answer…Florida has the lowest high point, followed by Delaware.)

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These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm f/2.8.


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I love airports! I think part of it is just the association it has with travel and discovery, and part of it is also just the cleanliness and modern features of an airport. It is like a mini city in there with restraints and shops and clothing stores.  They often have really modern architecture and art and also those moving sidewalks for you to lazily traverse your terminal. I know it might sound crazy but I love longer layovers, because I just love that opportunity to sit down at a little coffee shop or work station in the airport and do some work. I find so much inspiration watching all the different kinds of people walk by.  It;d be so interesting to know each one of their stories, such as where they came from and where they are going and who they are visiting and what they saw.  I love travelling with groups but i also love the opportunity to travel by myself just because I can just pop in some tunes on my iPod and just travel wherever I want as I wait for my flight and check out a bunch of little shops and just watch the people go by.  Some people sprint as they try to catch a connecting flight and others try to pass the hours away by reading a book or curling up in the corner trying to take a nap.  Anyways, today I hd the opportunity to go through an airport and do some traveling. I started in Columbus, flew to DC and then came back west to fly to Little Rock Arkansas.  It makes no sense when you look at the route on the map, but I didn’t care because it gave me more time to fly 10,000 feet above the earth. You get such a cool perspective up there and suddenly the earth looks so small.  It is incredible.  And then when you pop above the clouds, you see them in a whole new way! It appears as if you are flying above a huge cotton ball.  Sometimes I just imagine myself jumping out of the plain and just bouncing around on those big, soft, fluffy clouds. All of my traveling went smoothly though and am looking to some traveling during the next week with my dad.

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These were shot with my Nikon D600 with the 24-75 mm f/2.8.




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As you may have seen in yesterday post, I was on a photo mission to capture the people and activities at Chicks, our university dining hall. Last night I focused mostly on the behind the scenes action and what takes place in the kitchen to provide food for thousands of kids and also what is involved in clean up. Today I want to focus more on the use and look of our dining hall. The place went under event renovations thus past summer and has maintained a really fresh and modern atmosphere for the students dining in. From the second floor of the dining hall, appropriately called “up-chucks,” you get a very interesting perspective looking down on the busy bustle of hungry college students. I focused some time up there grabbing unique angles of some of the drink stations and ice cream bar. Then I spent some time on the bottom floor following some student around documenting their process in obtaining food and sometimes cooking and mixing different ingredients to create their own unique dishes. At our dining hall there are so many base ingredients and nice big grills that can be combined to create some delicious meals. You just have to get a little creative!

Screen Shot 2013-03-28 at 1.46.19 PMThese were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75 mm f/2.8.




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For a recent photojournalism project, our assignment was to go capture the essence of a place.  One that came to mind that I thought would be interesting to document and share photos for would be Chucks, our dining hall at Cedarville University, named after Chuck McKinney who retired this year. One reason I wanted to document this place was because it is a place that every student is very familiar with, yet probably has hardly any idea what goes on beyond the scenes.  This is how it was for me before I started working there. The extent of my chucks knowledge didn’t go any further than what was behind the counter.  Beyond that wall behind that counter was a complete and utter mystery to me that just produced a mass of food feeding over 9000 meals daily to hungry college students.  My attempt for this assignment was to kind of break down those walls and reveal the inner workings, as well as capturing the ding aspects that are familiar to the students. It is an incredible operation they put on everyday.  Over the past few years I have had the opportunity to work with a lot of these great pioneer staffers and other chucks student workers and been tasked with many different operations ranging from kitchen prep to washing dishes.  I love the opportunities of going behind the scenes and seeing how things work and so I hope you enjoy this little look of what goes on in the kitchen.


These were shot with my Nikon D600 with my 24-75 mm 2.8 at ISO 800 with f/2.8 and 1/160s.




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Two nights ago hardly anyone from our house was able to make it up our driveway because of the crazy amount of snowfall last night and how steep our driveway was. So we all parked a quarter mile away from our house at the Indian Mound lot so our driveway could get plowed in the morning. Because of that extra long, slow walk down the driveway in the morning however, I was able to appreciate and recognize all of the intricate beauty of the fresh fallen snow strung about in the trees.  If I hadn’t already been late to work then, i would have dropped everything and taken my time photographing the fresh snow.  I hadn’t had the opportunity to photograph snow yet with my new D600 so I was really hoping I would get a chance.  It was also then that I got very inspired for my photo shoot I would hopefully have time to do later that day.  With all of the fresh fallen snow and dull tones of all of the trees it covered, it felt like I was living in a black and white world.  It was then that I knew I was going to find any free time I could yesterday and capture this black and white world feel with all of the crazy texture I was experiencing as I looked through the thicket of trees laid in snow. So as soon as I was done working and done taking care of a few tasks I filled up my tank and just drove around looking for some great scenes for this black and white world I was envisioning.  I drove around and shot for about and hour and a half.  It was nice because of the very overcast, bleak day, it gave me very even lighting so I could just keep my exposure at the same settings through most of the day and make my main focus the composition and the contrast of the snow versus dull trees.  After taking the shots I uploaded them and during post processing I immediately turned the saturation all the way down on them so that as I was sorting them my focus was primarily on the white and black contrast and not distracted by any muted colors. Then I would bring up the clarity and contrast quite a bit to increase the bold transitions from white to black in my photo.

ImageThese were shot on my Nikon D600 with my 24-75mm 2.8 at 1/1000s f/7.1 ISO 200 with the exception of the waterfall shot which was a 1/2 second exposure.


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Just about once every 3 months I need to try some coffee to remind myself just how much I hate it! I love the smell, the look, the feel, the idea, and the culture surrounding coffee. I just hate the flavor! I honestly don’t see how anyone can drink it.  My dad always said it tastes like dirt and I wholly agree with him. However, as I said, I do love the culture.  And one thing I love about the culture is latte art. I have been looking into it recently and for a school project  had to photograph a drink, so I thought capturing the art of the latte would be sweet.  I worked with some people at Rinnova coffee shop to try to get me some cool shapes in the coffee.  I thought this one came out pretty sweet with a kind of smokey look to it.  I then set up a little studio in the back of our SGA office. I loved the rich color and grain of the table in our office, so brought that to the back kitchen where it was dark so I could better control the light.  I then brought back a lamp that I could use as a pretty harsh light source bringing out some of the detail in the latte foam. After I shot a few of just the drink, I got a little cliche and brought in the bible to get some classic ‘coffee and bible’ shots.  After all the photographing I tried the coffee again just to remind myself how much I hated it.  Disgusting!!


These were shot with my nikon D600 with my 50 mm at 1/80s f/6.3 and ISO 400.

Latte art thanks to Sara Kochanowski.






One of my jobs here at Cedarville is Yearbook Photographer. Its a great job because it often times gives me a good excuse to take a break from homework and go out to some of the great events Cedarville has going on and in some instances, such as chapel, gives me a different perspective on the event than being the typical student.  Similar to my last post about the Michael W. Smith concert, it gives me an excuse to get out of my seat and move around a bit during the service.  It is a little awkward at first and pushes me beyond my comfort zone because at some points, you know a lot of people might be distracted by you walking up and down the aisles.  Therefore it is essential to were clothing that doesn’t stick out and to plan your routes very well.  For instance, in our chapel, moving right along the wall on the lower seating keeps you from getting in the way of peoples view of the service.  Also, when you do need to cut through in front of someone i find it helpful if you crouch a bit and try to just keep your head down.  If you look up, you will maybe see some people you know and that can distract you and others from the service and your goal of being discrete. Also, as part of planning your route and walking around the least amount I try to stake out in the same spot for a while and get a variety of narrow and wide shots there so that I won’t have to walk up and down the aisles as much. In order to stay out of the way as much as possible, it is also pretty important to have a long zoom lens to get in close to the action.  Therefore I mainly walk around with my 70-200mm f/2.8 and in my shoulder bag carry around the 24-75 mm f/2.8 for any wide shots.

ImageThese were shot with my Nikon D600 at 1/160s f/2.8 and ISO 800.