7 Magic Mountains

Inspiration

If you haven’t heard of 7 Magic Mountains, it’s a colorful art installation by artist Ugo Rondinone about 10 miles outside of Vegas. It’s a line of seven huge boulders stacked on top of each other, all painted different vibrant colors. The art piece is literally in the middle of the desert, on an off road straight from the highway.

When we were about 30 minutes outside of Vegas, my boyfriend surprised me by driving us to 7 Magic Mountains. He hates pictures, but knows that this kind of thing is exactly what I love to explore. Luckily, there were only a few other people there, so we wandered and took lots of photos as the sun was setting, which was the perfect lighting!

I had seen pictures of it before on Instagram but I didn’t know if it would live up to the hype. It was actually SO COOL and I couldn’t believe how massive and precariously stacked the rocks are. They are ginormous and incredibly vibrant in color. Walking around them just makes you happy and excited.

For editing these pictures, I increased the saturation so the shots would appear even more colorful, and darkened the black point for more contrast. Since the rocks themselves were so vibrant, I didn’t have to edit the photos a whole lot. There were a couple people in the background of a few of the shots, so I Photoshopped them out 😛

If you’re heading to Vegas, I’d definitely recommend stopping here for some photos. It’s just a few mile detour off the highway and it’s such a fun pit stop before arriving in Vegas! It does get busier in the middle of the day, but morning or evening are both perfect times when it’s less busy.

If you liked these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

7 Best Ice Cream Shops in NYC

Inspiration

I’ve lived in NYC for a few years now, and I’ve made my rounds on all the best ice cream shops in the city. So I thought it was time to round up my list of my favorite ice cream places and share them with you guys! Here you go: my professional opinion on the very best scoops in New York City.

Oddfellows

Oddfellows is a cute shop downtown with a handful of flavors–all extremely unique and interesting. I stopped by last weekend to see what they’ve been mixing up lately. John helped me out and scooped up a bunch of different flavors for me to try–including corn bread and mushroom flavors (too adventurous for me). I ended up picking Matcha Rocky Road, which had bits of chocolate and marshmallow in the green ice cream. It was incredible and I highly recommend this spot if you’re ready to risk trying a really unique flavor!

Soft Swerve

This fun little ice cream shop on the Lower East Side is known for its bright colors and candies. They put Fruity Pebbles, Lucky Charm marshmellows and sprinkles on their pink, purple, and green hued ice cream. I was very excited to try this vibrant dessert, and the flavors did not disappoint. The soft serve makes it incredibly creamy, and with flavors like coconut, sesame butter, and Hong Kong milk tea, there’s always something new to try. It’s definitely worth going to, as long as you’re willing to wait in line to snag one of their iconic ice cream cones.

UES.

The fun of this ice cream shop is the secret of it: there’s a hidden speakeasy behind the pint-filled walls of the shop. They make ice cream flavored drinks and desserts, but don’t let the bar distract you from the fact that they make darn good ice cream, too. The shop is tiny but the perfect place to go if you’re looking for a great background for an Instagram photo with your ice cream. I chose salted caramel in a pretzel cone with sprinkles, and it was the biggest sugar rush I’ve probably ever had. The flavors are rich, but the ice cream is delicious. If you’re looking for a top secret, ultra cool environment for a boozy shake or ice cream, UES is the place to be.

Van Leeuwen

Van Leeuwen started out as an ice cream truck in 2008 and has now expanded to over a dozen brick and mortar shops in NYC and LA. The artisan ice cream is the perfect spot for my vegan, nut-free and gluten free friends, with flavors like Rocky Road, Cookie Crumble Strawberry Jam, Cookies & Cream Caramel Swirl, and their most popular, Honeycomb. I took my friend Elysha and we each tried a different flavor, with a waffle cone of course. I liked the Cookies & Cream and Peanut Butter Marshmallow Crunch, but you really can’t go wrong with any flavor!

Milk Bar

Christina Tosi is basically a household name in New York City, but if you haven’t heard of her yet, she created Milk Bar, which is the fun-loving dessert cousin of Momofuku Noodle Bar. She took favorite desserts she had as a child and gave them a twist, and her ice cream is no exception. The soft serve at Milk Bar has one flavor–cereal milk. She soaks the milk in cereal to get that iconic after-breakfast cereal taste in her ice cream, and tops with corn flakes or sprinkles. This is a very unique flavor, but worth checking out, along with her other array of delicious desserts like Birthday Cake Truffles, cookies and pies.

Morgenstern’s

Morgenstern’s is a dream of an ice cream parlor on the Lower East Side. They also have about 88 flavors, and even more toppings and add-ins, so the options are nearly endless. I went with traditional American Classics, Butter Pecan and Cookies and Cream, which had amazing carmelized pecans and a perfect topping to texture ratio. They also have Parlor Classics like Burnt Sage, Green Tea Pistachio, and Salt & Pepper Pine Nut, and seven varieties of Vanilla seven of chocolate, and five different caramels! It’s insane how many flavor profiles they have. Go in and sample a few first before you decide which ice cream to choose!

Bonus: Ice Cream Trucks

There are dozens of gourmet ice cream shops in NYC, and they’re all amazing in their own way. But I thought I’d mention one that place that’s often overlooked: the ice cream trucks around the city! Central Park is one of my favorite spots to get ice cream in the city, and the ice cream truck that sits on the corner does the job perfectly. You wouldn’t think so, but it’s really tasty and a perfect on-the-go ice cream to satisfy your sweet tooth. So the next time you see an ice cream truck in NYC, give it a try (and get sprinkles on top–because duh!).

If you liked these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and ice cream locations 🙂

Victoria’s Boston Photoshoot

Inspiration, photography tips

I hadn’t seen my friend Victoria since we studied in London together a few years ago, so when I traveled to Boston this weekend to shoot a wedding, I knew we had to get together and do a shoot in Boston! We did a super fun photoshoot in London at Regents Park, so round 2 was in order!

We started at the gorgeous bridge in Boston Common and wandered from there. I was obsessed with the willow trees around the park, so I’m glad I captured them in the background of the shot. This is the lake where they do the iconic swan boating in Boston! The lighting was a little overcast, but it made for really nice even lighting for her portraits, so I shot everything natural light.

Then we stumbled onto the new carousel, and I thought it would be a great spot for some colorful shots. I tried a technique at the carousel that ended up looking really cool. I slowed down the shutter speed (also called dragging) so as it moved around, it created the blurry effect on the background. I had Victoria stand really still while I dragged the shutter so she would still be really sharp in focus. I also had a little fun with the editing, using Color Selection to make the shadows blue (one of my favorite techniques–I think it adds a really editorial effect).

Then she got out her fun rainbow umbrella and we did some colorful shots around the garden. I love any excuse to add lots of vibrant color, and I think the close up portrait of Victoria looks great with the rainbow in the background.

We ended by these old cobblestone streets and tried some movement and walking shots. I edited the first one by adding a pink gradient over the image and fading it. Something simple like a gradient can totally change the vibe of the image and make it look really unique! I hope this shoot illustrates that you don’t have to shoot for a long time or with a lot of different outfits to create images that are vibrant and different from each other. Here’s one more example of a gradient I used over a black and white shot:

Send me your street style shoots in different cities, I would love to see them! If you like these photos, make sure to have a look at my website and follow me on Instagram! Feel free to drop me an email at gdeimz@gmail.com for any shoot requests, questions, or just to chat! If you’re in the NYC area, let’s grab coffee and talk lenses and shoot locations 🙂

Top 10 Photography Questions I Get Asked

photography tips

What kind of camera should I buy? I can’t tell you what to buy, but I can tell you what I use. I’ve used Nikon and Canon gear and I prefer Canon. I love the image quality, the crispness of the images, the colors, the low light compensation. I shoot with a 5D Mark iii and Mark iv, but I honestly think any DSLR body can get you started. It’s a lot more about the experience level of the person holding the camera than the camera itself. That being said, lenses can help a lot, too. I love the 50mm and the 24-70. Start playing around and see what you like!

Why is hiring a photographer so expensive? I’m glad you asked! It’s expensive because we’re a business and we incur other costs besides just paying for the camera. Here are just a few annual costs photographers have: the Adobe Suite, computer updates, external hard drives, cloud storage, memory cards, seamless backdrops, lighting equipment, props, insurance, lenses, flashes, website yearly hosting and domain costs, accounting services, legal fees for photography contracts, workshops and classes. Not to mention the time and expertise you are paying for when you hire a photographer. A lot more goes into it than people think.

What’s the difference between an iPhone and a DSLR? Don’t get me wrong, you can take awesome pictures on your iPhone. But not quality ones. I use my phone every day to capture the city and document the world around me. But to really get quality images, I use my DSLR. There are so many more pixels and the file is so much bigger on a professional camera, so you can do more with the image. Higher quality and more options for lenses and depth of field creates more room to explore and experiment. But at the same time, start exploring with photography on your phone if you don’t want to buy a camera just yet. It’s supposed to be fun and creative!

How can I get the blurry background on my photos? That’s called Bokeh. You can learn all about it and how to get it on my article right here.

Do I need to learn manual mode on my camera? Yes! I think that Manual mode is key to understanding your camera and photography. You have a lot more room for creative expression if you are aware of the technical side of photography and can adjust it on-the-go. I learned by playing around with my camera, but a good place to start is with YouTube tutorials (or Linda.com if you have a library card!). When you know how to change the lighting, white balance, ISO, aperture and shutter speed on your own, you can be really sure you’re creating the types of images that you want. In my experience, learning more about my camera has only helped make my images more fun and creative!

Is editing photos important? I think it’s the crucial second step after shooting the image itself. To me, capturing the shot is a special art that takes practice and intuition, but editing that photo to your final vision is like sculpting the final details of an art piece. I use it to remove unnecessary elements from the shot, be it distracting spots in the background, wrinkles on a shirt, or cropping out space that doesn’t add to the focal point of the shot. Then I fix the white balance and adjust the color, usually making the shot more vibrant and punchy. The last thing I do is smooth out skin, whiten teeth, remove stray hair, and any other soft adjustments to enhance the subject. That might sound pretty simple, but it’s taken me years and years to perfect my editing style and find a balance of enhancing without overdoing.

How do you get paid to do photography? It’s a long process that won’t happen overnight. First you need to build a portfolio in the area that you want to produce work in. That might mean doing free or trade shoots with other vendors. For example, when I first moved to NYC, I produced styled shoots for wedding photography to build my portfolio. I got makeup artists, florists, and dress designers to lend me their products or skills in exchange for the photos to add to their portfolio as well. Other times I did free shoots for people to build my portfolio and gain experience. Once you feel you’re at a point where you have the knowledge and skillset to charge people, start doing it! Talk to other photographers and learn their pricing structure so you have something to base your rates off of. Increase as you become more skilled. It might take a few years, but your client base will grow as you do!

Is being a photographer hard? Yes and no. But mostly yes. It’s a career that you have to be really passionate about, and it will take a lot of work to be successful. I put in work almost every evening and weekend because I want my photography business to succeed. I reach out to potential clients and collaborators every week because I want to progress my brand. I shoot day in and day out and edit every free chance I get because I want to get better. So I guess no, on the surface being a photographer isn’t hard. But wanting to be a great photographer is. You have to put in the work to see results.

What do you use to edit photos and do you make your own presets? I do a base cull and edit in Lightroom and then I do all my final retouching in Photoshop. I generally make my own presets, but I also have some from photographers I like that I play around with on occasion. Presets are really nice when you have a lot of photos to edit at once–like a wedding for instance, but I like to mix things up for beauty and styled shoots. I find that I usually have a bit of a vision when I bring the raw photos into Lightroom, and I explore from there. Once I find a color and balance that I like, I’ll apply the preset to the batch and then go in and do adjustments per image.

How do you get the perfect shot? There’s really no perfect shot, just the right movements at the right time. I think being patient helps. For example, when I shoot concerts, I usually have an idea of the type of shot I’m looking for, and then I just wait ready to shoot when the artists is moving around stage. Framing is key for good shots, as well as being able to change the exposure in camera quickly. Being skilled at Manual mode really helps with this. Also, practice helps. As many times as I’ve gotten a really cool shot, I’ve also missed the shot because it was out of focus or overexposed (this happens with concerts a lot) or I just framed it wrong. The good news is that the more photos you take, the bigger chance you have of getting “the shot.”