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Four Days in New York

Sounds like the title of a Woody Allen movie, and despite the resemblance, this is simply a photo blog.

Tuesday - 5pm

Despite attempts to leave early, I packed my gear (7d, tripod, laptop, hard drives, lots of printouts) and hit the road for home. Stopped for some provisions for the missus and the meowers. Got to bed by 11.

Wednesday - 4:30am

Morning activities - out of the house by 5am for a 7am train.

It was a rainy morning, but the weather was clearing. Good thing because people were flying in today from 42 countries for our conference.

The New Haven Train Station is perhaps not as grand as Grand Central, but on a smaller scale it remains a classic train depot.

Arrived in NY at about 9:07 - the express train in the morning makes a difference - leave 20 minutes later, arrive 15 minutes sooner than the earlier train.

From Grand Central to Times Square is about a 15 minute walk, though during the morning pedestrian commute it can take longer.


Arrived at the Marriott Marquis for the pre-con meeting.

Yes that is a large poster of Thorin Oakenshield and his men plus a lone hobbit named Bilbo.

Into the hotel, said hello to our conference team and then down to the ballroom which was set for the meeting but still lacking AV.

Just then I saw some guys rolling in the AV gear. I introduced myself to the technical director and we made our way to the meeting room where we were introduced to everyone from the head chef to the plumber to ensure that our expectations were met.

Note to self, don't drink the mimosa.

Should have taken my name placard - would have looked great on my office door.

11:30am to 7:30pm

Checked in as the AV setup Added some gear not on the original plan and tweaked positions of monitors, projectors, screens and the like.

Also helped with some of the logistical setup, got our internet and phone lines working, confirmed installation of fiber from the street for the satellite crew's use and met our webcasting crew from France and assisted them with their setup. We also did some testing with the video conferencing bridge. It was a full day of technical preparation, even if my role was more supervisory than executionary.

With the final setup nearly complete, with the exception of the breakout rooms, I finally checked into my hotel room, and then met up with the rest of our team.

We went to see the Rockefeller Center tree, skating rink and holiday decoration - about half of our team had never been to NY before, or at least not around the holidays.

Got back to my room and crashed for a scant 6 hours of sleep.

Next 3 days have been documented to some degree in the previous blog post to this one.

Each night we hit the town for dinner and I enjoy just walking around New York day or night.

Finally with the meeting over and good reviews from lots of the attendees, it was time to pack up and head home. On a Saturday night there are trains back to New Haven about every hour. I had a quick bite with the meetings team at the hotel bar and hit the pavement back to Grand Central.

I picked up a couple of almond crescents at Grand Central and got on a 9:07 train. Always curious about the terminal, I found a fascinating photography website featuring a behind the scenes tour, to keep me occupied until sleepy time set in.

No worries about falling asleep on the train - New Haven is the final stop.

Got home, dumped my bags and hit the sack.

Sunday I headed down to Mohegan Sun see a concert with an old friend.

Next conference maybe we'll setup our screens like this:

Quadrophenia cover to cover followed by Who Are You, Pinball Wizard, Behind Blue Eyes, Bab O-Riley and Won't Get Fooled Again. Unbelievable.

Today back to work - everything listed above while technically work was great fun.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Dec 11, 2012 at 8:48:14 pm photography

Photographing Architecture

From an early age I have been fascinated with buildings of the early 20th century, particularly Art Moderne and Art Deco - styles found in many American cities, as well as the houses of Frank Lloyd Wright. In my travels I am always on the lookout for any or all of these styles of buildings to see and photograph.

Walking around a neighborhood or a city I'm always on the lookout for any interesting buildings to photograph. Often I find myself near very well known structures, but I will try to find a new way to see them through the viewfinder. On the occasions when I have a better camera with me, all the better indeed.

Two great places to shoot architecture are of course Chicago and New York. Given a free hour one can cover a lot of ground or at least a few blocks off of the main roads. Side streets or alternate angles on well known buildings can be very rewarding.

Tweaking color, exposure and cropping in Photoshop can turn snapshots into art.

Ok, no more talking...

On to Manhattan

And in LA I saw the part of the Hollyhock House that was not under constructions.

Plenty more where these came from - the challenge with digital photography is to choose your favorites out of the often hundreds of images taken in one location.

Thanks for viewing.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Oct 9, 2012 at 10:52:31 pmComments (1) photography

Takeoffs and Landings - a Travelogue

Getting to the West Coast often includes a stop in O'Hare - this tunnel is a favorite stopping point - I always look for something calm in the middle of the hustle.

San Diego for a convention...

When the exhibits ended a 5 minute walk to the hotel, change into walking shoes, and explore the city and nearby Coronado Island...

Home a few days later...

next stop - Grand Rapids...

This is why they call them Rapids!

They have a pristine Frank Lloyd Wright House in Grand Rapids:

Like Chicago, Detroit has a cool underground tunnel - this one is like a Disney attraction

Onto a plane heading home - for a few days at least...

A few days later off to Chicago for the day

Back home within 18 hours makes for a long day...

...home for 24 hours then back to the airport and off to LA...

One cool aspect of producing is the liberation of flying without camera gear, hiring local crews and getting to see the latest tools in action. Here in Tinseltown we used a new Canon EOS C300 full frame 35mm HD camera.

After the shoot, with no flights home before the next morning, I took a drive up to Burbank to visit ProMax, then worked my way back to Santa Monica for the night, hitting Mulholland Drive for some scenery...

I'm getting more familiar with the manual functions on the Canon 7d - long exposures, bracketing and RAW.

I also like taking behind the scenes pictures of different setups. Another benefit of hiring local folks is getting different nuances of doing the same setup. Where one guy uses a Kino Flo, another uses a Rifa Light or Chimera. One man's Arri 150 fresnel is another's Dedo Light.

I also have a running list of some gear to pick up when possible or necessary. I happened upon this place in Burbank and had a quick look inside. We don't have corner stores in Connecticut that sell 50 colors of gaffer tape and C-Stands!

And the adventure continues...

See you on the next installment...

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Mar 25, 2012 at 10:05:56 pm travel, photography

DSLR: A New Beginning

A fruitful career is filled with new opportunities for learning and improvement. Over the years I have taken still photos with a variety of point and shoot cameras, both film and digital.

A few of the book covers and many of the catalogs, brochures, videos and websites we have produced have included these images. This year we are releasing a book that is chock full of color photos. All of the images in the draft layout were video stills grabbed off a dvd we released previously. For this project we determined it was time to take our stills to the next level.

We chose the Canon EOS 7d as our DSLR camera. The stills and HD video capability appeared to be a good combination of features and benefits. The results so far have been great. The stills come out of the camera at 48" x 72" at 72ppi - plenty of resolution for printing in an 8x10" textbook. The auto focus includes a clever grid system for targeting the subject and honestly the auto exposure is a pleasure.

(note - click the images that follow for not quite the native size but pretty big)

I also spent a day shooting on auto, partial and full manual, in both bright lighting and darkened operating rooms. Once you find a setting that works in the situation, it is best to stick with it. In the dark, focus is not always what you think it is going to be so check your work often.

As for the 1080 HD video - a tripod or other stabilizing rig would be helpful. In the testing environment, which is a common setting for us, a tripod is unlikely, so a future Zacuto or other brand handgrip or shoulder mount may be in order.

The following is only a test. Please stand by for further instructions.

(please watch full screen - displaying it at small size to fit the page layout result in cropping)

For more on DSLR video, please visit the eponymous forum.

Thanks for reading.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jan 29, 2010 at 8:44:26 pmComments (1) dslr, photography, mark ii, eos 7d, canon mark ii, canon eos


It has been previously established that I travel a good deal for work. I find myself in some exotic location like Cleveland, but almost always after dark is the first free time I have. It breaks my heart to see folks taking flash pictures at night of beautiful architecture or scenery, knowing that they will get home and just have pictures of nothing, or blown out faces surrounded by shadow. In the case of architecture, you get highlights and uneven contrast.

However, sometimes without a flash and without support, or even with intentional movement, you can get a truly incredible result. This shot has not been altered aside from the image size (click images for a larger view):

This is why I have gotten into the practice of taking night shots with a tripod, no flash and a timer. But since I don't carry a tripod everywhere I go and quite honestly, I wouldn't do that, you need to find a tripod, or camera support, wherever you can. A flower pot, table, railing, pylon, traffic sign or even the side of a building can not only be the first step towards a decent night shot, but lend some interesting angles that you might not otherwise consider.

Once you have found a way to lock down your camera, and sometimes you need to hold it at a slight upward angle, just using the stability of the surface, you have to set your auto timer. You see, the very act of pressing the shutter button especially on a small point and shoot camera, is enough to cause a slight movement in the camera and thus a blurry shot. If you set the timer, you just hold your breath and hold the camera in position and let the timer run out, and take the shot with the least movement possible considering that you are a human being and your body has a slight movement to it.

And of course with a digital camera, you can immediately know if the shot is good. Sometimes the focus is not perfect, but certainly better than the alternative. And sometimes, when I see a young couple posing in front of a beautiful scene, and they take a cruddy flash picture, I offer to take another shot. Actually I demand it and tell them to trust me, I'm a professional. Since all digital cameras work the same way, I turn off the flash, set the timer, find a free traffic cone or planter and have at it. They are usually impressed and thankful. I'm not looking for thanks, just doing my job making the world a beautiful place.

A long exposure can make night into day - I think black and white with a contrast tweak makes this shot work even better:

And here are a few from our trip to Miami Beach:

With a flash, this shot of the Fontainebleau lobby would have lost all its allure:

Same goes for dark restaurants. If you like devil eyes and white skin, use a flash. The macro mode created an interesting effect, enhancing my wife's allure ;)

I thought this bench outside an old photo shop in Delray Beach, FL looked especially lonely, yearning for the days when we took pictures on film and didn't need technology to take pictures.

Thanks for viewing. Now go outside and get shooting.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Oct 14, 2009 at 5:02:42 pm digital, photography

Mind Meld

Back in the late 90's I was always the guy to take a stills camera on a shoot, or to various travel destinations. The result was usually a few snapshots, such as of our exhibit booth setup or a group shot after we wrapped.

As the 21st century took hold I continued the tradition with a range of semi-pocket sized digital still cameras. Our first one was a Kodak 1 megapixel unit - for video resolution it was actually pretty good. I got the camera suggested by a colleague who did a doc about the Shroud of Turin.

While the resolution and size of digital cameras has increased, the ease of taking snapshots in everyday situations has not.

Enter the camera phone. Now it is commonplace to grab your phone and take a pic of anything and everything. Since the phone is always with me, I find myself taking pictures of the mundane to the interesting to the merely useful. A phone that takes stills is certainly more useful than a DV camcorder that takes stills. Although a still camera that takes video is another story for another blog. Although the videos from the phone, while low res, are high on convenience and add to the magic of easy access image collection.

Thus, over the past few years, my phone cam has become an extension of my own short term memory. Indeed, I find myself snapping pictures of things that seem interesting at the time, but which I will A not remember and B not have time or inclination to take with a better more obvious camera. And sometimes C you get something just by happenstance that becomes an unexpected treasure.

So take my hand, walk with me, down the road of days gone by.
The places I know, the dates I don't, the phone it does not lie.
I barely knew 2006 the time it really flies.
2007 was the year we had to say goodbyes.
But through it all my trusty phone,
Recorded calls and friends I've known.
And always will I cherish what my brain has not remembered.

Chicago - 2006. Our big medical convention of the year. Love the architecture.

One last visit to Boca Raton - where we spent 20 years of school vacations.

Happy times spent with those we now miss.

Childhood memories embraced by adults!

I always send my wife an action pose before my next trip.

Who could possibly remember a parking garage location a week later?

Making good use of time away.


Unknown, but worthy of admiration...

Good meals (this is fondue before the fondue)

Not so good meals.

No explanation needed - but seriously folks, who wouldn't want a hot Kosher snack at any time of the day?

One of my old 2 megapixel images wound up on this book cover!


Circa 1997

Circa 2008


More Action Shots

Office Renovations

So long VPR-80 - I hardly knew ya!

The Unexpected

This would have been nice at higher quality, but I just don't carry a camera everywhere I go, such as to the Costco parking lot where this was taken!

And of course, everyone takes lots of pictures of their pets. Right? Anyone? Oh well.

Now with the memory clear (on the phone and in my cerebral cortex) I can head off into the sunset knowing that my future memories will be captured for safekeeping.

Thanks for sharing.

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Sep 1, 2009 at 4:33:08 pmComments (2) photography, travel

The Family Archivist

While growing up, my dad was always the guy with the SLR or the Super-8 camera. Actually he still takes the most pictures at present.

As a result, we have volumes of photo albums, boxes of 35mm slides and a couple hours of grainy color film footage, luckily transferred to VHS back in the 80's before it disintegrated.

Around 1994 I took the opportunity to follow in Pop's footsteps, and start archiving every major and minor family event. When I met my wife a year later, I was pleased to learn that my future father-in-law had also developed a lifetime collection of media.


Starting around December 1994, I had a video camera in one hand, and a stills camera in the other. These days you can shoot both with one unit, such as a D90 or D5 Mark 2 (in my dreams) or more likely a digicam and a camcorder. Lately I have been choosing one or the other. For example, in 2005 when the Christmas Pudding nearly burned the house down from too much rum and a backdraft situation, I got that on DV tape. Then I shot stills in '06 and then HDV in '07, and back to stills in '08.

Most of what I remember is based upon my view through the viewfinder. This is my general appearance at a family gathering.

I have to say, the Sony Hi8 camera I bought in 1998 was extremely durable. Old faithful!

They don't make 'em like that anymore.


From 1994 to about 2001, the best way to distribute new pictures or video was via US Mail. Certainly Grandma didn't have access to e-mail until 2005, but given slow internet speeds in the late 20th century, prints and videotapes fit the bill.

Around 2002 I secretly borrowed Dad's 35mm slides and scanned about 50% of them and gave him 3 CD-ROM discs complete with HTML photo galleries for Father's Day. Secrecy is an important part of these projects.

From about 2004 to 2008 I was making DVD compilations of the classic family films and the new events. In 2005, in honor of Grandma and Grandpa's 60th Wedding Anniversary the tour de force of family DVDs was released, featuring the best productions and film clips going all the way back to about 1974.

Back in the day, people liked being on film. These days I get a lot of shots of people covering their faces.

Now, as time rolls on and inevitable milestones that we do not look forward to have transpired, we luckily have these memories for posterity. However one must keep track of everything, and let me tell you, stuff is everywhere.

I have had numerous home computers since 1994. I make sure to back up data before retiring a PC, however there are still multiple hard drives and stacks of CD and DVD discs, not to mention boxes of photos and Hi8 tapes.

Social Networking

The evolution of social networking for family members has gone from telephone to letter writing to e-mail to limited website linking to today's best-so-far solution, Facebook.

Telephone was of course limited to voice. It was great telling someone about a trip or event, but without visuals.

Back in the early 80's when long distance was still expensive, we had a system. One ring, call Franny. Two rings, call Rita. Three or more rings, ok to pickup - could be grandma. I think we invented Caller ID!

Then of course was the signaling system. Used after a long car ride, such as from Massachusetts back to Iowa. Hit 0 for operator, and place a collect call to Buster, the dog. When Grandma said Buster wasn't available (in reality, Buster had died years ago), we would say "Operator, just tell them to tell Buster that we arrived safely" knowing that Grandma could hear us say this. This was a way to avoid paying for a 1 minute phone call. Sorry Ma Bell - you've been punk'd.

Letter writing was never much of an enjoyable activity, aside from post-cards and the odd thank you note.

Jump ahead to e-mail. With 28.8k modems, sending more than one photo at a time was out of the question, and files had better of been under 100k. This continued until AOL started allowing multiple attachments. Then came broadband, around the same time as free web photo galleries. So photo sharing became easier. However this still involved multiple websites to juggle. Still not great or easy.

Finally social networking sites were invented. I admit I hesitated before accepting my Dad's friend invite. But now that I have, along with cousins and relatives who I have never even met, it's truly one big happy family. Now one can post a picture or video, and without any effort or stamps, everyone can see it, and if they desire, comment or pass it along to their own group of friends. Brilliant.

What I am getting at, is there is now - finally after all this time - an easy way to share your memories with a large disparate group of people.

Looking Ahead

So this week I started compiling my treasures, 1994-present, not only into a more organized offline fashion, but also bit by bit into my online family network. While it gives me joy to watch my Grandpa Morris talk about working in the shipyards during WWII or how he was arrested for selling hot dogs on Coney Island, it gives me even greater joy to share that video with my uncle, who had never seen video of his father, and with my mom, dad, brother any extended family. It's not that I did not have the ability or inclination to send my uncle a copy of this video in the past, it is just so easy now that we are all connected and communicating on a daily basis.

Last week I did a Skype video chat with my mom and dad in Florida. Now that is something all of my grandparents would have loved to see. But, you are thankful for the memories you have, knowing that you are always creating new memories for the future.

Thanks for reading. Now go get those shoeboxes from the attic and get scanning!

Mike Cohen

Posted by: Mike Cohen on Jul 29, 2009 at 4:50:48 pm memories, photography

I have a passion for my job, which entails training for medical professionals such as surgeons, nurses and administrators, not to mention various industries.

Technology is great, but how you apply your skills is what pays the bills.

Years ago I canceled my Media 100 support contract upon discovering what a treasure trove of helpful advice can be found on the Creative COW website. I am proud to be a part of this fantastic community.

In my blog I talk a little about media production, a lot about travel and workflow, and occasionally about cooking, nature and my four-legged friends.

Follow me on Twitter: med_ed_mike

I'm also on LinkedIn if you can't get enough of me!


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