The Key to New Adventures

“Taking a risk, living life to the fullest, no plans, ‘don't think just do’. To be spontaneous is to be the most relaxed go with the flow and have fun person; you would never get mad if plans changed, you would get excited because then it would become spontaneous.” – Urban Dictionary

In my life I find it important to remain spontaneous. Which can be difficult sometimes because life can get a little repetitive and that’s when it can get boring. We’ve all been there! For me, it usually happens when things get too planned out or if I’ve remained in the same place for a long period of time. For example, I don’t travel much in the winter, and sometimes driving down the same street to work can really get boring. How do I spice it up?

Random Highway somewhere in Texas 2017 - Heidi Reinprecht

Random Highway somewhere in Texas 2017 - Heidi Reinprecht

I take a different road.
I don’t think too much on it, I just act and find another way.

And honestly, that can be a weird metaphor for life. When life gets a little boring, just take a different road. You can use this concept anywhere in your daily life.

When a job gets repetitive and dry, switch up your commute and look at your work through a different lens. This can help you branch out from the pack and make you think in a creative way. Act on those initial ideas and thoughts; don’t think too much into it! In writing, we call this concept “word vomit”. Scared it’s not a good idea? No first draft is perfect, but what happens after the first draft can be amazing. By acting on your ideas without fear, this can lead you to coming up with concepts that you may have overlooked before or make you discover something about yourself that you didn’t know existed. You may even conquer a hidden fear you may have had.

If you exercise often and that gets boring, switch up your workout routine. See what happens and push yourself. You may discover a new technique that benefits you or you may even overcome a fear you had and surprise yourself.  

Bored in the kitchen? Branch away from your comfort zone and just try different kinds of foods, recipes, and cultural styles. Don’t think too much into this, just do it and see what happens! This is honestly how I became such a fan of Indian and Lebanese cuisine, which I used to be afraid of trying because I was scared I wouldn’t like it.

Why did I choose these three examples?

Most people need to work to survive in this modern world; to provide for ourselves and our loved ones.
According to healthcare professionals, exercising is essential to a healthy way of life and diet.
And… we need some form of nutrition to survive, which in most cases come from eating food.

In all these examples, one common outcome from being spontaneous is overcoming fear. Being spontaneous is about not overthinking the situation, it’s just acting on natural impulse. Feeling bored? Just change it. Do it. Do not think too much into, just try a different route.  When you don’t live life to the “plan” amazing things can happen.

In my life, there are plans and then there are the actual outcomes. For me, I often just use plans as an outline. If everything happens according to the plan and nothing else but the plan happens… then that was a boring day for me. So, when I plan, I just make goals, and I leave room for the spontaneous adventure that I hope happens.

On one of my most recent trips, an amazing adventure happened. In my previous post, I talked about how Jesse and I went to New Mexico to train for our work trip to Africa. While in New Mexico, we did an insane amount of hiking and tried to see some natural wonders on the way. One of those natural wonders was the Chimney Rock at Ghost Ranch. We didn’t research the area beforehand, we just knew that this area had some amazing trails and some beautiful sites. To our amazement, just outside of Ghost Ranch was this beautiful lake, Abiquiu Lake.

Abiquiu Lake, New Mexico

Abiquiu Lake, New Mexico

We ended up spending a lot of time there and it was gorgeous. It was everything that we didn’t know we needed. It made us take time to relax, de-stress, and spend some time at the lake to go swimming and have lunch. When you truly be spontaneous, life gives you things that you didn’t know you needed, and you overcome some sort of fear.

What was our fear in that situation? Overworking ourselves and over stressing about being fit for our upcoming work trip. Abiquiu Lake was our opportunity to sit back and to reflect; to realize we were as prepared as we could be for our trip to Africa.

So, when life gets boring or when you plan every second… let yourself be spontaneous. You never know what fear you can overcome, what adventure you’ll find, or the people you could meet along the way.

A 7,000 Mile Journey Begins with One Step

H.E.L.P International Primary School in Masese Uganda

H.E.L.P International Primary School in Masese Uganda

This past summer, Jesse and I had the amazing opportunity to work a long side H.E.L.P. International to create a documentary about the primary school they established in Masese, Uganda. Not only is this documentary our first feature film as a production company, but we came across this opportunity the same year we began our business.

We were humbled and amazed. We were also a little nervous.

Why? Because after crowd funding and getting funds from producers we came to the realization that we would only be able to travel with two people.

Long story short: we had to produce this film with a two-person production team.

If you ever made a film before, then you’re sitting there reading that a two-person production team created a documentary feature, then I can only imagine your reaction is somewhere between amazement and “you guys are crazy”. And honestly, those were most of the reactions that we received from our peers.

Chris Martin (left) & Jesse Manning (right) collaborating in Masese, Uganda

Chris Martin (left) & Jesse Manning (right) collaborating in Masese, Uganda

Luckily, we had friends in the organization that were able to help with the interviews and give a helping hand. For instance, Chris Martin (not the lead singer of Coldplay) was able to take charge with most of the interview questions and became an important asset to our team. He helped with planning the narrative and connected us with amazing people within the organization.

The months before leaving for Uganda were spent creating shot-lists, researching, planning the narrative to the film, meeting with people in the organization, and training. Yes, you read that right. We trained for this.

Getting prepared for this documentary knowing that the numbers were against us, Jesse and I began a training schedule.

When we began the pre-production process, Jesse and I had a realization that there were other aspects that we needed to work on to ensure a successful production process. We put aside the technical aspects of the production for this film because we were confident in our abilities. We know the technical stuff; we’re an adaptable team and we didn’t want to overthink and over-stress about knowing our equipment. What we needed to do was get ourselves physically prepared to handle the demanding work schedule. This might be a trait that most people may overlook, and it’s easy to because we almost did ourselves.

This aspect was easy to overlook because Jesse and I met in college and we’ve worked together for years, so we understand how the other person works. For instance, when we’re getting “on the fly” b-roll and there’s a lot of spontaneous movement involved, I usually know when to move and what kind of frame he’s looking to capture. This is super important because there’s nothing worse than a boom pole or another camera accidentally in the shot to ruin a moment.

Sometimes when a team has been together for so long, it’s super easy to overlook the aspects that the team should be focusing on. Regardless of the field you’re in, knowing the weaknesses of the team is essential to creating an effective workflow and overall success. And in our case, we discovered our weakness was that we needed to get physically prepared for this adventure.

What did we do?

Well, we began our own work-out schedules and focused on weight training. We figured out the weight of each of our bags and discovered our backpacks would both be somewhere between 30 – 50 pounds. Thank goodness we didn’t overlook this, because can you imagine having 30-50 pounds of weight on your back for the majority of a day? The months prior we started to get into the best shape of our lives; we ran nearly every day, lifted our weights, and even put on our sweat bands and followed along to “Richard Simmons-esque” type workout videos.

Abiquiu, New Mexico

Abiquiu, New Mexico

Another thing we realized was the climate difference. The southern region of Uganda is much different than the northern part of Connecticut. How does one prepare themselves to work in such a contrasting environment than what they’re used to? We planned field test training and headed for New Mexico. Luckily, we had family in New Mexico that we were able to stay with, and we hiked our hearts out. We packed up our gear and hiked for hours in the desert and trained with our equipment.

So you might be wondering what the result of all of this training is?

Well, we went to Uganda. We met some of the nicest and kindest people in this world.

We interviewed over 25 Ugandans.

We worked for 8 days straight and assembled over 45 hours of footage.

We developed relationships that will last a lifetime.

Worked with an AMAZING organization H.E.L.P. International (seriously go check them out).

And now?

We have a documentary that we will be releasing in the Summer of 2019. Be on the look out for our second trailer coming April 1, 2019. We are so excited to share what we have and couldn’t be more grateful for everyone that has supported us throughout this journey.

The moral of this whole story is do not be afraid to acknowledge your faults.

You can strive to better than before and create something amazing.

To quote FDR, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

Richard Mugeni (left) & Heidi Reinprecht (right) in Masese, Uganda

Richard Mugeni (left) & Heidi Reinprecht (right) in Masese, Uganda

Until next time,

Heidi Reinprecht

Does Your Lens Matter?

Arguably one of the most important aspects in Photography (other than the camera) is the lens. To many new photographers or those wanting to learn more about photography this topic can be quite daunting.

Today I will share with you a budget guide and lens comparison test to help get you started on photography! Choosing the right lens comes down to the right situation, and the look that you want to go for. Each lens is unique with different characteristics.

To keep this budget friendly for all new photographers I will keep this under $1000 for one camera body and one lens. The links to buy the gear will be at the end of the blog post!

In 100% Fairness I will be keeping all photos 50mm f/5.6 Take a look below. You can also click and zoom on each picture.

Rokinon Cine DS 50mm f/5.6

Canon Stock 18-55mm f/5.6

Sigma 18-250mm f/5.6

Vintage 49mm f/5.6

Hard to tell huh? I thought so when I was starting out too, but if you click on each image you will begin to see each lens has a subtle difference.

Painting Photo Taken With Rokinon Cine DS

We’ll start with the Rokinon, the most expensive lens on this list. Keep in mind these lenses are designed with video on the mind and I will be doing a lens test for video next month! This lens has a very sharp characteristic to whatever you want in focus, but the more shallow your depth of field, you can see a nice soft flow to the background. You may also notice that the edges have a bit of a sharpness falloff, which can be good for creating a softer look on your subjects face. I use this lens a lot for video, but also for artwork photography because it is one of the sharpest lenses that I own and can really capture the detail the artist wants you to see.

Going down the line we take a look at the Sigma. This lens is our workhorse lens. It has been to Africa, and on so many hikes, and because of its 18-250mm range, it is in my mind, the perfect travel lens if you are looking to travel light. The bokeh characteristics as you can see in the background are wonderfully swirly and can give quite a dreamy image if that is what you are going after. It has pretty good sharpness around the edges although you can notice some of that sharpness falloff around really jagged edges.

Photo Taken In Colorado with the Sigma 18-250mm

Photo Taken With Canon Stock Lens

The next lens we’ll look at is what will probably come with your T5i (or any Canon Rebel) and that what I lovingly refer to as the Canon stock lens. Now this lens has a very fine focus, although it can be hard to control if you are shooting manual (unlike the Sigma and Rokinon before which has a very smooth and easy focus to control). I will say this lens keeps its subjects very sharp, however, nothing particularly stands out other than that. It is a great lens to start out using, but the purpose of this blog post is for you to see that you can find some great characteristics if you experiment with new lenses. I haven’t used this lens in a professional setting so there isn’t a recent photo other than the test photo to show.

Photo Taken With The Vintage 49mm Lens

 Last but not least is one of my favorite photography lenses. I do not know the official name of this lens, but it is a lens that I found off of a Vivitar v4000s that I found at Goodwill. Finding these old lenses are super easy and honestly a ton of fun to shoot with, however you will need to get a lens adapter if you want to use any of these older lenses on modern cameras. This lens has quite a unique look to it, with its hexagon shaped bokeh, but it also has a nice soft quality to it, giving it quite a dreamy vibe. If you also look at this other image I took with this lens you can see that it has some interesting swirls with it’s bokeh in certain lighting situations.

 Overall, your lens does matter, but if you are just starting out there is no need to buy that $2,000 lens. Practice with more budget friendly lens solutions and learn to appreciate the characteristics. Don’t be afraid to use something other than your stock lens, photography is an art form, one that you can play around with and create some really interesting visuals with. Experiment, have fun, and learn to love your lens and go outside of the box. When you start to feel comfortable with what you have then you can start upgrading your gear and really seeing what the world has to offer in the world of photography. (I can’t wait to get my hands on some Zeiss lenses to try those out). The next lens test will be strictly for video, and we will be using the Canon C300 with the lenses listed down below!

‘Till next time!

 - Jesse

 

The gear I used in this test are:

Canon T5i - ON SALE Amazon $485 : https://amzn.to/2IptUxf

Rokinon 50mm Cine DS - ON SALE Amazon $499 : https://amzn.to/2SYGh7z

Sigma 18-250mm - Amazon $269 : https://amzn.to/2twfwss

Canon Stock Lens 18-55mm - Amazon $199 : https://amzn.to/2GNHDvk

Vivitar v4000 Vintage Lens - Found At Goodwill

Winter Motivation

People often complain about winter because of the cold, dreary weather. They’ll stay inside their homes on the dark days and try to stay cozy while binge-watching a television series or having a movie marathon. The occasional snow-day is something that I look forward to, but that snow day cannot last the entire winter season.

IMG_5974.jpg

If I had a snowed-in season… then nothing in my life would get done. I spend most of the year traveling and being outside - why would I stop that trend just because of the snow and cold weather? If I halted my hobbies, then everything else in my life would halt too. Therefore, I force myself out of my comfort zone and go on a hike on the coldest day. If I can overcome the elements, then I can overcome any challenge that the new year can bring.

For some reason, I’ve always loved this time of year. Why? You see, winter time can be a season of reflection; a time to better yourself and plan for the upcoming year. Many others do this too, usually once the new year begins people do that whole “new year, new me” thing… but then everyone kind of falls off that bandwagon once February rolls around.

Why not just start the moment the winter months begin?

The moment it begins getting cold outside, I begin the process of preparing for the new year. I reflect on the previous months and begin working on a budget.
I have a mental checklist for things I want to figure out:

  •         Places to travel

  •         Creative outlines

  •         Hiking spots

  •         Personal goals

  •         Business goals

Once I’ve thought about it, then I put the goals and ideas onto paper. I often to refer to that paper throughout the year. One important thing to note is that even though almost anything can be planned out, sometimes life can throw a curve ball. This is often why I usually don’t create a time-frame when it comes to travel ideas or even hiking challenges. I love to be spontaneous and adventurous… and I love discovering new places that I stumble across on my travels. Those kinds of days can never be planned out, they can only be discovered.

That concept alone is how this video, “Looking For You” got created to begin with.

Jesse and I literally just pushed ourselves out of our comfort zones to film on the coldest, wet days to capture some amazing stock footage. Our friend, Paden Dickinson, tagged a long for the ride and we hiked the Litchfield Hills together.

It was random, spontaneous, and adventurous.

My three favorite words and two of my favorite people.

Click the image below and check out our adventure!  

LTFP Jesse & Heidi
LTFP Jesse&Paden

*This video was not planned and was filmed on different days; it’s literally just ironic that Paden and I were wearing the same jackets and hats.*

Stay tuned for my next blog post,

-Heidi Reinprecht