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Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Sparrow Mart at the Standard Hotel DTLA

     When I was in middle school, one of the elective classes I took was a sewing class.  Yes, kids, there used to be classes like sewing in school!  This is where I learned to stitch, and use a sewing machine.  One of the projects we made were these pillows.  I still remember mine - it was a brown guitar with felt embellishments.  I'm pretty sure I embroidered my name onto it, and til this day, I still wonder what in the world happened to that pillow!  So when one of my friends told me there was this place called Sparrow Mart showcasing an entire grocery store filled with products made of felt, I was all in!

     Here's my first tip for anyone interested in visiting this exhibit at The Standard Hotel in downtown LA.  You do not need to all get in the line together.  So if you're going in a group, you can just have one person line up.  I had some friends that were running late, and when I made it to the check-in area in the lobby, she just asked me how many were in my party.  As long as you know how many people you want admitted with you, you can basically tell them any number.  Then you are assigned a time to enter the store.  I don't think you can even pick the time.  I had asked if we could have a later time to accommodate our lunch plans, and was told that it's first come, first serve.  After changing our lunch reservations, we were good to go with just about an hour wait.  

     The decor at The Standard is interesting.  You will either love it or hate it.  My favorite part was the old school photo booth by the bathrooms - definitely check that out!

     When your entry time is up, you will be allowed to go up this escalator to Sparrow Mart.

     From far away, you will barely notice that things are made of felt!

     Pretty impressive.  From what I had read, there were about 31,000 items in this store.  The crazy part?  Everything is for SALE!  That's right, you can buy yourself a $60 felt bottle of Jager LOL!

     There was even an ATM machine!  The detail was pretty amazing.

     The artist is from the UK, so I was not surprised to find a lot of English products.  You know I love my Digestives! 😋

     In one of the articles I read, these Campbell's soup cans were one of the popular items.  They were close to selling out.  Someone even came over the intercom in a British accent to announce that they had been restocked.  Nice touch.

     Not gonna lie - I wanted one of these!

     One of my friends pointed out the artist to me, and luckily, I was able to snap this photo of her restocking the shelves.  Her name is Lucy Sparrow - ah, makes sense now.

     I pretty much squealed when I saw this Dirty Dancing DVD.  This lady nearby heard me, and she grabbed two of them.  She shared with us that this was her third visit to Sparrow Mart, and that she'd already spent about $4,000 on products.  She was banking on these items being worth more once they sold out.  After all, these are not just felt products, they are art!

     This is about $180 worth of felt alcohol right here, folks. 

     Did I mention the attention to detail is just amazing?!  This really put my middle school guitar pillow to shame!

     I will never complain about the cost of meat again.

     I'm not sure how many of the people with baskets were actually buying stuff.  Many people were just letting their kids have some fun with the products, and some were there just to pose with the products for their Instagram photos.  No matter what your motive is, Sparrow Mart is definitely worth a visit if you're in the downtown LA area!  This exhibit is open until August 31, 2018 from 11am to 9pm Tuesdays to Sundays.  

     I have some felt and embroidery floss in my office.  I might be inspired to stitch up something for myself!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Canon 6d Mark II Review and San Francisco Photo Walk

     When I first got into photography, even the most mundane things seemed exciting, and it all had to be captured.  It was not uncommon for me to carry around my Canon 5d to the grocery store, or to run errands - y'know, just so I don't miss those moments. 😂  I've stopped carrying around a DSLR in my purse, and have since replaced it with my Canon G7xII.  Mostly, it was just too much weight to have in a bag, and I still recall one particular purse that actually ripped from the weight of the camera.  I even considered getting a Canon T series camera, just to have a DSLR that was compact and lightweight. While I loved using the G7xII, I found myself looking at photos I took with it, and wishing I had used my DSLR instead.  Often, I would put my 5d Mark III away (or not bring it at all), in favor of using my G7xII because of its lighter weight, and - if I'm being totally honest - the flip screen! 

     Enter, the Canon 6d Mark II.  I never looked into this camera when the first version came out a few years ago.  All I knew about it was that at a lower price point, you could have a full frame DSLR.  When my need for a lighter weight camera with an articulating screen surfaced, the 6d Mark II had been on the market for about a year.  I read/watched several reviews on it and decided that it fit the bill for what I wanted the camera for.  When I did my research, the biggest gripe people had about the camera was that it didn't have 4k video, and that the price point was high compared to other brands for the same camera specs.  I don't shoot video, so that criticism didn't affect my decision, and I was not about to jump ship to another camera manufacturer, so the price point was okay to me (especially when I was used to paying $3k+ for the 5d cameras - this seemed like a steal)!

     I really wanted to put the camera through a full day of shooting the way that I like to shoot, so it was perfect timing that I was taking another day trip to San Francisco.  Every photo below (except for the first photo and last two) were taken with the 6d Mark II.  We hit up a couple of areas in San Francisco that were missed on our last visit.

     This was a Tuesday, and it does feel a little odd to be among people rushing to get to work.

     We finally found the way to get to the second floor of the Ferry building!

     Heading towards the Sentinel building from the Embarcadero.

     Heading to City Hall.   Believe it or not, I've never been inside City Hall after all these years of visiting San Francisco!  I really wanted to get a shot of it empty, and clearly that was not going to happen.  This place was crowded!  Get here early if you want that shot!

     I can totally see why people get married here.  It's cheap, and it looks beautiful inside!  I wish I had a couple to shoot inside.

     Next stop was the Mission District.  We wanted to try a place called Craftsman and Wolves for lunch.

     Here's what we came for.  It's basically a soft boiled egg inside a savory muffin.  It was definitely good, but pricey.  It's the size of a normal muffin for about $7.50.

     No shortage of cool murals in the Mission District.

     We took an Uber to what we thought was Crissy Field, but turns out it was a bit further away from Golden Gate Bridge than we anticipated.  It was still cool to see another stretch of this area though. 

     Alcatraz in the distance.

     The articulating screen came in really handing when I wanted to use my ND filter to get some misty water shots.  

     We decided to walk out onto this little peninsula that had a wave organ.  I guess there's this organ that makes musical sounds when the waves come in?  I didn't hear anything, but it was cool to see.

     Here it is - the wave organ!

     Not gonna lie, I was pretty tired of walking by this time.  Next time, I'm getting one of these! 😂

     I was soooo happy to be back in an Uber and on to get some ice cream!

     I had never sat inside of Ghirardelli before.  There are some amazing views from the upper floors - definitely recommend having your ice cream up there!

     More walking towards the Wharf and Pier 39.

     One man band.

     Our last Uber ride was to Chinatown.  There apparently is this place that has some of the best egg tarts ever.  Here it is below.  Oh, and it does have some pretty amazing egg tarts.  They were so good, I didn't even take a picture of them.  You know it's good when I don't take a picture. 😏

     I also bought one of these steamed sticky rice things that had Chinese sausage and mung bean inside.  It was tough to eat it while we were sitting there because of the way it's wrapped.  However, when I got home and it was 1am, this thing was freakin' delicious! 😂😂😂

     It wasn't before long that our time was up.  See, by this time, I had put away the 6d Mark II, and only used my G7x II.  

     Hey, you're still here!  Thanks!  Now, you get to hear my mini review on the 6d Mark II.  I'll leave the real techy, pixel-peeping reviews to people that like doing those kinds of reviews.  My thoughts are just on how the camera's features work (or don't work) for me as a photographer.  I've split my thoughts into pros and cons:


1)  The articulating screen - Duh, this is why I wanted this camera so badly!  I know it sounds silly, but once you have an articulating screen, you'll wonder how you lived without it.  

2)  Touch screen - Having the touch screen is amazing.  Being able to select your focus point using the touch screen is pretty cool and convenient at times.  You can also set it to release the shutter as well.  It reminded me of how I loved the buttons on my Blackberry phone and everyone was telling me how awesome touch screen phones were.  See?  I've learned the errors of my ways. 😏

3)  The weight - This camera is only slightly lighter than my 5d, but for some reason, it just made all the difference.  It's also slightly smaller than the 5d, so taking it in and out of my camera bag was that much easier.  This small difference would mean that I'd be willing to put this inside my purse again!  Finally, full frame in a smaller package.

4)  The intervalometer - I haven't had the opportunity to use this yet, but I'm hoping to get out and shoot the Milky Way somewhere this summer.  I can't wait to shoot a little timelapse video with it!

5)  The wi-fi -  I enjoyed this feature on my G7xII and now I'm glad to have it on a DSLR.

6)  Shutter - I love the silent shutter on this thing.  It. Is. Awesome.


1)  Button placement - The downside of having the articulating screen is that the buttons normally on the left side of the screen are now on the right side of the screen.  However, I didn't think it was tough to get used to this.  Within a short amount of time, maneuvering the buttons became second nature just like it was with the 5d. 

2)  1/4000th max shutter speed - Okay, so while I was shooting, I discovered that the 6d has a max shutter speed of 1/4000th.  It kinda sucked to realize this as you're shooting, but I was able to adjust my aperture to get the shots I wanted.  However, I will say though, that the max shutter speed is a bit limiting in situations where you want a certain look using a wide aperture, but you're forced to up your aperture to compensate for the max shutter speed.  This annoyed me a bit, but for my style of shooting, I think it would only really affect me if I was shooting portraits in bright daylight.  I still have my 5d for that, so I was still accepting of the 6d Mark II since I primarily bought it to be my "fun" camera.  

3)  One card slot - I wasn't completely surprised by this, especially at this price point.  I will say, though, that Canon would've sold a LOT more of these cameras had they found a way to incorporate dual card slots.

     For anyone considering this camera, or just buying a DSLR in general, I highly recommend it.  It is ergonomically better than the Canon T series entry level cameras, and those of you that have done it, you know that once you go full frame, you'll never go back to a crop sensor camera.  I'm just as happy with my images on the 6d Mark II as I was with my 5d Mark III.  All of my pros individually may seem like small things, but coupled together they add up to a much better experience for me as a photographer.  I just felt like it made taking photos easier and more fun - well, if that doesn't sell it to ya, I don't know what will! 

     Either way, I still subscribe to the old adage that the best camera is the one you actually have with you - whether that be in your purse, pocket, or camera bag.  Thanks for reading, and happy shooting! 😃