Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Gallery at 18th Street: Photographer Milton Shinberg

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Gallery Opening for Photographer Milton Shinberg
Penn Camera 18th Street
Friday, November 5th
4:00pm - 6:00pm
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Milton Shinberg is a life-long Washingtonian and proud DCPS graduate. He is has been a registered architect since 1975, and founded Shinberg.Levinas Architects with Salo Levinas in 1997. Their practice centers on institutional design, primarily schools and religious buildings, as well as high-end residential work.

He has been involved with both black and white and color photography since the 1970’s. His photographs of the firm’s architectural projects have been featured in local and national publications. He is a graduate of Carnegie-Mellon University, afterwards interning with Arthur Cotton Moore before starting his independent practice in 1975. Shinberg has continued in the academic world as adjunct professor at Catholic University, currently teaching the cognitive and evolutionary basis of aesthetics to architects as a framework for design.

He has traveled extensively in the US, and to over a dozen countries, taking advantage of wonderful opportunities to harvest images of people and places along the way, as well as drawings in pencil and ink. Recent trips to Egypt and India were very fruitful personally and photographically, with images from the latter providing the material for this show.

Shinberg shoots with a Nikon D90, equipped with a Tamron 18mm-270mm lens (purchased from Penn Camera, of course). The lens has been indispensable for shifting back and forth between architectural scenes as well as faces without changing the lens. Images were imported into Adobe Photoshop Lightroom2 in preparation for this exhibit.

He is married to Judith Ross, and has two beautiful daughters, Kate and Samantha.

Gallery at Tysons: Photographer Duncan Whitaker

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Gallery Opening for Photographer Duncan Whitaker
Penn Camera Tysons Corner
Wednesday, November 10th
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Duncan Whitaker is a fine art photographer working primarily with intimate landscapes and cityscapes, as well as close-up images. Working in a world which is complex and often chaotic, he seeks to discern the essence of a scene or subject and, through simplification and composition, create a visually interesting and perhaps at times compelling image.

Most often, Whitaker photographs out-of-doors with natural light, using a 35mm camera and color transparency film. The resulting slide film is scanned to create a digital file from which a print is made using archival quality inks and fine art papers and without digital alteration.

Whitaker has had numerous solo exhibits and his works are in private collections throughout the United States. He is a member of the Waverly Street Gallery in Bethesda, Maryland, where his work is regularly exhibited. His photographs are also on display at the Whitehall Gallery in Annapolis, Maryland.

To view a sampling of his work, please visit his website at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Get Creative and You Could Be a Winner! The Monthly Photo Contest

By Brendan Keenan, Penn Camera Tysons Corner
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Did you know that Penn Camera and Olympus sponsor a monthly photo contest that is open to everyone? Every month we provide photographers with a different theme and every month three winners are selected. First place wins an Olympus E-PL1 digital camera! Second place receives an Olympus Stylus Tough 3000 digital point and shoot camera, and third place receives a $25 Penn gift card. The contest is open to everyone, and you may submit up to three entries per day.

This month’s theme is pet portraits, so it's time to get out your camera, get fluffy ready, and get creative. When you have submitted your own photos, the next step is to help us narrow down the contenders. This is done by voting on Click on the monthly photo contest link at the top of the page to get started or just go to You will be able to see all the photos submitted, as well as the current front runners based on voting up to that point. To vote you simply choose between one of the two images displayed. The photos that win the most of these random "battles" are the top contenders to win the contest. Once the submission deadline has passed, and the votes have all been tallied, the top three photos are selected by our Penn Camera photographic experts and the first, second, and third place winners are decided. Then of course, the prizes are awarded. For more information on the specifics of voting and how the winning images are chosen, visit the photo contest section of the website and click on "guidelines". The important thing to remember is that this contest is open to everyone. You don't have to be a "professional" photographer to win the contest. If you don't have a cute pet, wait until next month, and we'll announce the new theme.

There are only a couple of days left to submit your photos (10/22 is the deadline), but you can still vote on others until 10/29. At Penn Camera we want to encourage people to take more pictures, get creative, and just advance their photography to the next level, wherever that may be. What better way than offering the aspiring photographer free cameras! The top prize E-PL1 is an interchangeable lens camera that will allow you to get more and more out of every photo, all in a surprisingly small package. The Stylus 3000 is a shockproof, waterproof, freezeproof point and shoot camera that boasts high image quality in addition to its super rugged design. It's a perfect camera for anyone who can be a little rough on their equipment, or just want to try out things like underwater photography. And of course, the $25 gift card will get you that much closer to whatever camera, lens, or accessory you have your eye on.

So now that you know the basics, it's time to get out and start shooting! Submit your best photos to us (remember, limit 3 images per day), start voting, and most importantly, have fun. It's a great feeling the first time you see your work up on a website, and knowing that lots of people are viewing it and voting on it makes it that much more exciting. So join us! Each month brings a new challenge and another chance to win! So what are you waiting for? Sign up for our e-mail newsletter if you haven't already, and Like us on Facebook to keep up on all the special deals we'll be offering throughout the upcoming holiday season. Good luck, and keep shooting!

Great functionality in a sweet little package: The Nikon Coolpix S80

By Brendan Keenan, Penn Camera Tysons Corner
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When it comes time to buy a good point and shoot camera, most people look for something that is easy to use, but still produces good images; and hopefully manages to be a good-looking and nice to handle in the process. If you want ease of use, coupled with unparalleled style and functionality in a sweet little package, look no further than the new offering from Nikon, the Coolpix S80.

The S80 is considered a sub-compact, or ultra-compact camera, meaning it can be easily carried in a pocket or purse. About the size of a thin cell phone, the S80 offers an impressive set of features for such a slim little camera. One of the great standout features on this camera is its large, 3.5" OLED screen. This touch screen not only offers full control over all camera function (menus, zoom, you can even take a picture simply by pressing the screen!), but also offers one of the most high resolution screens available on a point and shoot camera. The OLED technology offers incredible detail, a wide viewing angle, as well as vivid colors that just can't be reproduced on a standard LCD screen. You can even use the camera's editing features to get really creative with your images after you have taken them, without ever having to connect to a computer.

As nice as the screen is, it is just the start of the features on this powerful little point and shoot. It is a 14 megapixel camera, for high image quality and detail, even when cropping and enlarging. It manages to pack a 5X optical zoom into it's tiny frame (35-175mm equivalent). It has the standard set of Nikon features to help you get the most out of every picture, like Nikon's scene mode technology, and Nikon's VR image stabilization system. The VR allows for shooting at much slower shutter speeds, and will drastically improve pictures taken in low light, something that many point and shoot cameras struggle with. It also offers HD video recording with stereo sound, so when it comes time to capture a video in high quality, you know that you will be prepared, and playback is made easy by directly connecting the camera to an HDTV. Given the feature set, this camera is really something.

Of course, this camera is not for everyone. Some people like to be able to adjust shutter speed and aperture on the fly, or use manual focus when the need arises. This camera is not for those people. This is the perfect camera for someone who loves to own the most cutting edge technology available, and wants a device that will not only be simple to use, but will take great quality photos and video. Luckily with the Coolpix S80 that is exactly what Nikon has provided. A truly stylish point and shoot that will make all your friends ooh and aah (and possibly get a little jealous), but will come through when you need it to get the most important pictures.

If you are looking for great quality, fun features, and ease of use all in a stylish little package that can go wherever you go, The Coolpix S80 may be just the camera for you. It is certain to be a big seller this holiday season as touch screen point and shoots that perform well continue to become more and more popular. Stop by your local Penn camera today to try out the Nikon Coolpix S80 for yourself. You won't be disappointed.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Nikon D90...

By Penn Camera Customer Bob Blanken

The Nikon D90 w/18-105 VRII DX Lens
The Nikon D90 was introduced in 2008 as the replacement for the D80 and the camera for which a D5000 or a Rebel owner might wish to upgrade. With a full feature set, the camera offers the passionate photographer wanting to upgrade from a point & shoot to a D/SLR the versatility for complete control and access to all Nikon lenses accessories. The camera offers some elements of a camera a professional might use, including a fast shutter and heavier duty body plus the Expeed sensor, but without requiring the expense and weight of a true pro camera.  While it will shortly be superseded by the D7000, already announced, this camera offers a great deal for the serious pro-sumer or as a backup for a pro, at a very attractive price point relative to its replacement. But first, let me delve into the camera. The D90 body is available with or without a 18-105mm Nikkor AF-S VR II zoom lens. The Nikon EXPEED image processor produces a superb rendition of the sensor’s data.

The main features are:

• Newly designed Nikon DX-format CMOS image sensor with 12.3 effective mega pixels and Integrated Dust Reduction System.

• Incredibly low-noise performance throughout a wide sensitivity range of ISO 200 to 3200; can be set to ISO 6400 equivalent.

• Incorporates Nikon's comprehensive digital image-processing EXPEED concept

• Revolutionary at the time, The world's first D-SLR movie function: D-Movie, selectable from 320x216 pixels, 640 x 424 pixels or 1,280 x 720 pixels in AVI format.

•Scene Recognition System, utilizing 420-pixel RGB sensor, improves auto focus, auto exposure and auto white balance performance; which is also integrated with the new Face Detection System.

•Live View enables face priority AF with the 3-in., approx. 920k-dot, high-density color LCD featuring 170° ultra-wide viewing angle.

•Picture Control System offers new Portrait and Landscape options for more vibrant customized colors.

•Active D-Lighting for smooth tone reproduction in high-contrast lighting.

•Multi-CAM 1000 auto focus sensor module featuring 11 AF points offers fast and precise auto focus coverage across the frame.

•Viewfinder with approx. 96% frame coverage and an easy-to-view 19.5 mm eyepoint (at -1.0 m-1).

•Advanced Scene Modes that automatically adjust exposure, image processing, Active D-Lighting and Picture Control settings for superior image quality.

•Extensive palette of in-camera Retouch Menus including several new retouch options such as Distortion Control, Straighten and Fish-eye.

•4.5 fps continuous shooting and quick response of 0.15-second start-up and 65-ms shutter release time lag.

•Built-in flash with 18mm lens coverage and Nikon's original i-TTL flash control that commands Advanced Wireless Lighting.

•Highly efficient energy-saving design that allows approx. 850 images on a single charge of the Rechargeable Li-ion Battery EN-EL3e (CIPA standard, with AF-S DX NIKKOR 18-105mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, with 50% of pictures taken with flash).

•Versatile Pict motion menu that creates sideshows combining five choices of both background music and image effects.

•Compatible with HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output.

•Optional Multi-Power Battery Pack MB-D80 extends shooting capability and enables use of 6 x AA-size batteries.

•Included Nikon ViewNX software makes browsing and organizing your images easy.

•Optional photo-editing software, Capture NX 2 allows users quick and easy photo editing.

•Lightweight compact body weighing 1 lb 6 oz with battery.

•Numerous Custom Functions.

In the field the camera performed very well. Foremost, the camera, ergonomically, feels good is your hands. The controls are easily manipulated and adjusted. The menus rely more on type than icons so it is a simple to master, especially if you read the manual…sadly, often the least used accessory. While the view finder provides 96% coverage of the actual image, the 3” TFT-LCD with 920,000 pixels offer a 100% image. The screen is critical for aiding composition and sharpness review.

The D90 offers 720p HD-Movie at various capture settings. The camera, though should be tripod bound to get the best video for smooth pans and tilts. Hardware to support the camera hand-held is now readily available, and can be rented to test before you purchase. All that being said, the camera produces vivid videos that you will be pleased to show.

While I am used to shooting at ISO 100-800 and rarely higher, the D90 produces smooth images at ISO 1600 and 3200, so hand held photos in subdued light can be easily accomplished without sacrificing image quality.

Excessive noise that results at extended ISO settings can be tamed with software.

As in all cameras the built-in flash is most inefficient for the task at hand. I always recommend the first accessory to buy is the best flash you can afford. The good news is the on camera the flash can control off camera flashes such as the Nikon SB400, SB600, SB900  or even the Nikon  R1 Wireless Close-Up Speedlight System.

The major features that I consider essential:

•Bracketing for exposure and white balance.

•White balance control.

•Focus options.

•Picture control for jpgs.

•Image Quality.

•Metering choices.

•Flash Exposure lock.

•Scene Modes (for those still mastering the craft).

As an instructor, I would suggest renting it for a weekend, using it in all the ways you are likely to encounter and see for yourself the results it can produce. If you’re thinking about upgrading your D5000 or Rebel, or finally giving up your old film SLR, this would be an excellent choice. For current D/SLR users it is a significant upgrade over the entry level models, adding the HD video and giving you access to the full range of the lenses that Nikon offers.

Now, if you’re really serious and want a more substantial body with a faster response time, better auto focus, auto focus calibration, moisture sealed buttons, and more control. Then the D300s or the D700 would be the direction to take. A lot of pros favor the lighter weight of the D300s and the D700, over their big brother the D3x, which is also a heavier hit on your wallet.

The only other camera to compare to the D90 is the newly introduced Canon 60D, which offers several upgrades over the D90 but also comes at a substantially higher cost, or the Nikon D7000 which has been announced, and should be available in October/November of 2010. The D5000, or Canon Rebels are excellent cameras, but do not match the capabilities or durability of the D90, a hugely successful model which should still give any purchaser years of great service.

About the author:
Bob Blanken has been a professional photographer for over 40 years. Corporate clients have included Anheuser-Busch, L’Oreal, Toyota, AT&T, Disney, USPS, ALTA, AGA, Royal Ahold, and many others. He has photographed hundreds of weddings since 1967.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Gallery at Laurel - Photographers Joseph Mancino and Marlene Leffson

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Gallery Opening for Photographers Joseph Mancino and Marlene Leffson
Penn Camera Laurel
Friday, October 15th
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Joseph "Joe" Mancino was born in New York City July 16, 1954. While growing up on Long Island, Joe became an avid Yankees and Giants,collecting baseball and football cards of all his heroes. This is where Joe developed his love for sports photography. Joe's interest is not limited to sports, as he has always loved wildlife. This love of animals led Joe to pursue a career in veterinary medicine. Joe received a B.S in biology at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, then attended veterinary school at the University of Parma in Parma,Italy. Upon his return from Italy, Joe completed is training at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine.

In 1999, Joe became the sideline photographer for the publication "Inside Football for the Informed Giants Fan", covering the New York Giants. This continued through the 2004 season. In 2005, he began working for "Inside Action Sports" located in New Jersey, covering the New York Jets. Along the way, Joe has done some free lance work for Wire Image and Prolook which lead to some of his images being used in Sports Illustrated and for Upper Deck football cards. He also did some free lance work for the now defunct Baltimore Examiner.

Wherever he goes, Joe always makes sure his cameras are by his side.

Marlene Leffson became interested in photography in the early 1970’s as a hobby but put it aside for many years to raise five daughters and pursue a career as a Labor & Delivery nurse. Her own children’s interest in photography helped rekindle her passion for the art form, sparking a pursuit on a serious level. Her subject matter spans a wide range including wildlife, nature, sporting events, weddings, maternity and newborn photography. She has said, “My experience as a mother and as a Labor & Delivery and Neonatal Intensive Care nurse has been invaluable working with expectant couples, newborns and children.” She and her daughter work as a team to create maternity and newborn portraits. As for her love of wildlife, “I was raised on a farm and animals have always been a big part of my life. My favorite wildlife subjects are the Big Cats. I am in such awe of their immense power and grace.” Being a Washington Redskins and Baltimore Orioles fan, she carries her camera with her to every game she attends. Her photography appears on the Schmap Las Vegas, 6th Edition, Flamingo Hilton Hotel Wildlife Habitat website, and the Smithsonian National Zoo’s FONZ website. She has had her photography featured in the monthly magazine, "All Animals," Assateague Island Wild Ponies in Maryland (July 2009), published by the Humane Society of the United States, and photographs of the Washington Redskins (November 2008) and the Baltimore Orioles (January 2009) were published on NowPublic. She uses a Canon 7D, a Canon XTi and multiple Canon lenses to create her photographs. You can see more of her work on Facebook: Leffson Photography, and online at or