Photojournalism

Imprisoned Innocents

Photo Story: Imprisoned Innocents

Each of the 51 women imprisoned in Central Ibarra Penitentiary is also a mother. The Ecuadorian courts allow the women to choose to bring their children to live with them as they serve hard time. The opposite of prisoners, the children are free to come and go as they please. But the youngest spend all their time with their mothers, never setting foot outside. Neglected and broken toys are often ignored. One meal a day is served per prisoner and the families receive no extra food. Likewise, the women are forced to share tiny bunks with their children. Fights often break out among the children as they mimic the aggression they see daily. Despite rough conditions, the mother/child bond provides solace in a hostile environment. Forty-foot walls and a watchtower serve as haunting reminders that misplaced children live in jail. Even in the darkness of imprisonment the mothers hope for a future for their children brighter than their own. This story was produced as part of UF’s Florida Fly-Ins program in 2006.

Why I'm a Fujifilm fangirl

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Disclaimer: This is a post that is at least a year overdue.

The last camera to have the privilege of me hauling it around everywhere I went was my Canon 5DmkII, with my 50mm attached when I wasn't on assignment. This all changed almost two years ago. My co-worker and staff photojournalist at the Albuquerque Journal Roberto Rosales had purchased the Fuji X-Pro1, I borrowed it and then couldn't get it out of my mind.

It was like the first time I held my medium format Yashica 635 and knew that camera was going to be attached to me for a long time. However, with that love affair I was dealing with film. Which I love. But didn't have the time and energy to keep up with the developing and scanning. I still have undeveloped rolls from it in my desk, more on that another time. But that camera went with me everywhere at the time. I hauled it around on many of my assignments for the paper and snapped one frame every once in a while. It was magical. It made me stop, plan, and focus.

This Fuji was in that playing field. The realm of "magical" cameras. I don't believe a camera can make you a better photographer, oh no, but sometimes when you hold a camera you realize it has the potential to be a bigger part of your life than just a small piece of (often expensive) equipment. I jumped in and bought the Fuji X-E1 with a 35mm lens, right before hitting the road for the summer in 2013. I also packed my Canon 5DmkII, not yet convinced I would be completely devoted to using the Fuji. I used my Canon twice on that road trip. Once for long night exposures and once because I needed a wide angle lens. Other than that, the Canon was buried way in the back of the car under camp equipment and my new Fuji was glued to my hand.

Maybe it was just the thrill of a new camera you say? Almost two years later I've since upgraded to the Fuji X-E2 and added two other Fujifilm x-mount lenses to my bag. It's still glued to my hand. Sure there are some small limitations and I do occasionally still drag out my Canon 5DmkII, but my Fuji is always with me. The color profiles, the size, the un-intruding nature of it, the built-in wifi, and the quality of the images SOOC are all amazing. I could gush more, but there are more technical reviews for that. When I shoot an assignment or an event with both my Fuji X-E2 and my Canon 5DmkII, the Fuji wins every time in my book. The Canon has been retired to the huge camera backpack I leave at home. I only use my Canon for shooting dance events, and even in that case I'm starting to use it less and less and trying to rely solely on the Fuji. The Fuji's auto-focus system has improved leaps and bounds in the past two years, but for fast action it's still not quite perfect. I hear word the Fuji X-T1 can keep up in fast action situations, so I have high hopes for future software and camera upgrades.

Updated 4/15/15 : I realize I completely forgot to mention one of my other top reasons for loving Fujifilm. The amount of firmware updates for the cameras and lens are astonishing. Unlike Canon and Nikon, both which I've shot with extensively, Fuji releases updates more often with great new features and bug fixes. So even if you've had your camera for over a year and they are releasing a new camera with new features, often (not always) those features will be available to your older camera as well through a firmware update!

For last summer's travels I only used my Fuji X-E2 and I couldn't have been happier. I drove out to California with my fiancé and then had many short weekend trips to California to visit him throughout the summer. When traveling so much, the Fuji didn't weigh me down. And I didn't feel limited. By then I had added the 18mm to my bag and could get the wide angle shots that I had wanted my Canon for the year before. Not that I really needed the 18mm by the way, one can always walk backwards to get a wider shot, unless there's a cliff behind you.

The camera doesn't make or break photography for me, as I'm sure another camera will come along and makes me just as happy. Practically speaking, it has also helped me eliminate the back pain I was having from carrying my DSLRs everywhere, so there's that too. In the end, a camera is a tool and this tool is a great match for me.

Photos from summer 2014 travels.

Zion National Park
Zion National Park
Grand Canyon
Grand Canyon
Zion National Park Yosemite National Park
Zion National Park Yosemite National Park
Las Vegas
Las Vegas
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Montano de Oro State Park
Montano de Oro State Park

Southwest Snow - Albuquerque

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During Feb. 26-28, 2015 Albuquerque received the most significant amount of snow since 2006. My main concern throughout the two nights of snow was to make sure our photo staff at the Albuquerque Journal did a great job covering the storm in photos. So my days were filled with planning and anticipating what was going to happen across the city that needed to be documented. The only times I got a chance to take some photos myself were at night right before crawling into bed. Both Thursday night and Friday night, my fiancé and myself ventured out into the cold falling snow. We hiked from our house down to Central Avenue. Both times were really just excursions for myself to snap some photos. I grew up in Florida, so to some degree snow still excites me even though I've experienced it many times by now. And I love night time landscape or cityscape photography. Things just look different at night and I love that. Anyway, here are some photos from our excursions on both nights as the snow was still falling. I shot them with my Fuji X-E2 that I really wish was weather sealed. I may have to grab the X-T1 next, as my Fuji has become my camera of choice and I obviously don't fear shooting in extreme weather conditions...

For more snow photos, check out: Southwest Snow. It's my most recently edited Exposure piece for the Albuquerque Journal, featuring the collective hard work of Journal staff photographers.

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