Less is More- Thoughts on the Yashica Y35 by Derek Neuland

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After a few weeks of teasing, today Yashica announced their new camera via Kickstarter, the Yashica Y35. At first glance, it looks a lot like the classic Yashica Electro 35. Leading up to the announcement, many people thought they were going to release a new and updated 35mm camera.  Even though the Y35 is a digital camera, they weren't totally wrong.

Unlike any other digital camera before, the Yashica Y35 uses "rolls of film" or digiFilm as the company is calling it. Photos are still stored on SD cards, but in order to change settings such as ISO or color to black and white, you have to insert a different digiFilm pack. 

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At first, I hated this. This takes the best parts of a digital camera and makes it more annoying. But after I thought about it (and the camera's lack of LCD screen) some more, I immediately pre-ordered the camera on Kickstarter. The reason being that the inconveniences would actually make me (and others) more conscious of making better images.

  1. No LCD= no chimping: As much as I try not to, it's habit to check my LCD screen after every couple shots to make sure it's coming out the way I want it to. While I think this is especially important if you're in a location or event where you may not be able to recreate the images again, I like the idea of making myself wait until I get home to check.
  2. Limiting options increases creativity: I have been shooting with only a prime lens for over 4 years and it's absolutely made me a better photographer. By limiting my options more, it will be a great exercise to help me grow as a photographer. 
  3. It's a casual camera: Yashica isn't trying to compete with high end cameras with the Y35. They are targeting it to casual photographers. This isn't the camera you'll use for a photo shoot, but it will be a great street photography camera. I could also see this as a great complementary camera to a Fujifilm Instax
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Is the digiFilm super gimmicky? Absolutely. Am I looking forward to the time when I inevitably lose one of the digiFilm packs? Definitely not. Will it be a fun camera to throw in my bag for casual shoots or while wandering around a city? I think so.

Programming: a new adventure by Derek Neuland

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Even though i've been thinking about it for a while, I am marking today, February 28th, 2017, as the first day of my computer programming/web developer/whatever you want to call it journey.  I have a pretty good grasp on HTML/CSS and Wordpress web design, but for several years now i've been wanting to move toward the backend. I want to learn how things work behind the scenes. As strange as it sounds, I want to be knee deep in code. I remember a time many years ago where I thought I didn't want to do this. I was a different person then. I was looking for an easy job that I could forget about after 5pm. And i've done that, I've carved out a decent career for myself in business development and lead generation. I'm really good at my job, but it's not challenging for me anymore.  I miss solving problems, I miss spending hours/days researching how to do or fix something.  That is why i'm looking to programming.

When I worked at Modulus (a node.js PaaS which is now called Xervo), I worked next to and became friends with a lot of great developers and engineers.  The one who I stayed closest in touch with is Taron Foxworth. I always looked up to Taron and he continues to be a great friend. When I decided to commit to this new career path, he was the first person I reached out to. He had a lot of great suggestions for me and answered all my questions.

eloquent javascript programming
eloquent javascript programming

Among the starting points he gave me, reading this book was up on the top of his list. I'm only a few pages in, but I already can tell it's going to be a great book to get me started. If you're at all interested in computer programming, I highly recommend it.

I'm going to try and document my process as best as I can here. Not only for myself, but for others who are in similar situations that I am. Yes I am 35 and am embarking on a career change, but I am inspired by my mother who went back to college in her 40's to get her bachelors and masters, and is now a college professor.

As my favorite band Lemuria sang in their song 'Paint The Youth', "It's never too late to be what you might have been".

Noveller live at Silo City in Buffalo, NY by Derek Neuland

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IRrzS9kgQRY A few weeks ago, a "room" full of people saw one of the greatest performances ever. I should clarify, it was an old grain elevator at Silo City, not a room. Though at times it felt like a small intimate room and not a 100 foot tall cement silo. That is what made Noveller's performance so amazing.

Silent | Sound was a free event on a Friday night that was presented by Squeaky Wheel at Silo City. The first of two performers of the night was arc (it's supposed to be lowercase), a visual artist from Oakland with a very impressive resume spanning the globe. They created a series of guttural sounds that sounded like a dying cello which echoed inside of the silo beautifully. Accompanying the music was a series of 16mm film of rapidly changing and distorted images of everything from waves to abstract art. arc gave an epilepsy warning before the set and it was much needed. Sadly the set was cut short due to continuing power issues with running three projectors.

Silo City Grain Elevator

As Noveller started to tune her guitar and check that all her pedals were working, I had a feeling I was about to witness something incredible. Noveller is the solo project of Brooklyn-based guitarist and filmmaker Sarah Lipstate. Using her electric guitar, pedals, and sometimes a bow, she creates amazing layered ambient soundscapes, in the vein of Eluvium and Explosions in the Sky. The layers of sounds filled the silo beautifully as if she had designed the space specifically to perform her music in. At times the notes would drone seemingly forever, but would never lose it's beautiful intensity.

Given Noveller's impressive resume, it was incredible to be able to see her perform in such a unique space. Noveller has toured with Iggy Pop, St. Vincent, Radiolab, Xiu Xiu, the Jesus Lizard, U.S. Girls, & Aidan Baker. Lipstate has collaborated with several renowned musicians, including JG Thirlwell (Foetus, Manorexia), Carla Bozulich (Evangelista, The Geraldine Fibbers), David Wm. Sims (the Jesus Lizard, Scratch Acid), Lee Ranaldo (Sonic Youth).

Noveller live Silo City

She has also previously performed as a member of Cold Cave, Parts & Labor, and One Umbrella. Lipstate has also participated in Rhys Chatham’s Guitar Army, Ben Frost’s “Music for 6 Guitars” Ensemble, and Glenn Branca’s 100 guitar ensemble.

Do yourself a favor and give her music a listen: https://noveller.bandcamp.com/. She has been performing under the name Noveller for over 10 years and has a wide range of different sounding albums to choose from. She got a very warm welcome from the crowd so we can only hope she comes back to Buffalo soon to play again.

Creating Music by Derek Neuland

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Music has been a huge part of most of my life. I have seen thousands of bands live, started a record label, wrote zines about music, interviewed many bands, and have toured the US and Canada with bands. Aside from a couple high school bedroom noise tapes and singing two cover songs for hardcore bands, I have never created or performed music. I could have been more vocal about my desire to sing in a hardcore band at some point between the ages of 18 and 34, but I think I was just waiting for someone to ask me. While that is still a dream of mine, another has always been to own a synthesizer.

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When you have as many musician friends as I do, you end up going to a lot of music stores. While they would fawn over the Orange amp reissues or the Les Paul they were saving up for, I would always gravitate to the keyboard section and play around with the synths. I loved the sounds they made, and they always felt much more comfortable to play than a guitar or drums.

Owning a synth was a dream in the back of my head that I always had. "Maybe if someday someone asks me to start a band with them, I will save up and buy one" I would say to myself. I know the logic in that is faulty, but I wasn't always as logical as I am now. I once borrowed my brother's Nord Lead 2 for a few months, but in the end decided I didn't have the time or money to buy it.

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Cut to a couple months ago (April 23rd, 2016 to be exact), I am at the Queen City Music Lottery showcase watching many people play in bands for the first time. Right then I got inspired and texted my brother how much he wanted for his synth. A couple days and a trip to the ATM later and I was the new owner of a Nord Lead 2.

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Admittedly it collected dust for most of May and June as I spent most of my free time exploring, photographing, and exercising around Buffalo. That changed in July and I finally started to experiment and record music.

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My first project I decided to call 'stains/thrones' after two songs by the old Buffalo band They Live. My first couple "EP's" have been experimental noise, but now i'm starting to make some droning dark ambient songs. I'm making all the sounds with my synth, and am recording and mixing them in Garage Band (because it's easy and gets the job done for now).

I am slowly learning and creating more elaborate and composed songs. I'll eventually branch out into other genres as well as I learn my synth better.

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The end goal is to start playing solo at noise/experimental shows.  I would also love to start bands with friends eventually.  There are so many different styles of music that I could play that I would love to start a band based on: Synth-pop, Screamers style synth punk band, The Anniversary influenced, Atari Teenage Riot esque digital hardcore band.  The list is endless.

New Beginnings in Old Surroundings by Derek Neuland

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I've been back in Buffalo for a month now after living in Kentucky for the past 2 years. While the circumstances that brought me back here weren't what I had planned (my partner of 2.5 years and I parted ways), i'm seeing the city in a new light and I like it.

Despite moving away from Buffalo three times (twice to Portland, OR, once to Kentucky), I love this city. My reasons for moving each time weren't to get away from Buffalo, they were to experience something outside of Buffalo because I always knew i'd end up back here in the end.

As i've gotten settled back in here, i've seen a lot of old and new faces. I've also seen a lot of old and new buildings and businesses.  It's been important to me to appreciate the old but also welcome the new. I have been finding myself enamored by all of Buffalo's old and historic buildings, but at the same time excited to try out all the new restaurants that have been popping up.

I'm not expecting things to remain the same as they were when I first moved to Buffalo in July of 2000. I'm thankful some of the same businesses (mostly Amy's Place) are still around, and many of my old friends are still able to get coffee/lunch with me from time to time.

A lot of people have asked me since I've been back why I moved downtown. It was honestly to embrace the change and to be able to see the city from a different perspective. I've lived in the University Heights/ North Buffalo, Allentown, and the West Side, so I wanted to try something and somewhere new.

I have lived in 37 different places and have moved 43 times in my life so far. For those counting, that means I have moved an average of 1.26 times per year I have been alive. Strangely enough, I had never lived alone.  I've always had between 1 and 12 housemates. This is why I also decided to change that up and get an apartment by myself. While initially it was weird, i'm growing to love living alone.

I can't say never because I don't like to think in absolutes and can't predict the future, but I don't see myself moving out of Buffalo any time soon. It feels really good to be back and the warm embrace from my family and friends (old and new) has been much appreciated.

What Started It All by Derek Neuland

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This game, this goal, this pandemonium.  This was the first Buffalo Sabres game I remember going to and it started my love of hockey.  How could you not fall in love with that game after watching that play?  It's overtime, Pat LaFontaine gets tripped up bringing the puck past center ice.  In a desperation move, he sweeps at the puck and knocks it to Brad May.  May then takes it into the offensive zone all alone, dekes past future hall of famer Ray Bourque, and then fakes out Andy Moog to score. This completed the sweep of the Boston Bruins in the first round of the 1993 playoffs.

I wish I could say I remember this play, but I don't.  That was 23 years ago.  What I do remember is the energy inside and outside of Buffalo Memorial Auditorium. It was unlike anything I have ever experienced since then.

On Tour With Lemuria - Part 7 by Derek Neuland

Lemuria screen printing
Lemuria screen printing

This is part 7 of my photo essay series about touring with Lemuria. The previous part can be found here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 6. Or you can start from the beginning here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 1.

One of the most important parts of tour is having merchandise to sell.  While it would be nice to have a new record for each tour, it's not always feasible.  The one thing that can be easily changed tour to tour is the shirts a band sells.

Lemuria Craig Horky screen print
Lemuria Craig Horky screen print

If you have ever seen Lemuria on tour (or visited their webstore), you know they have a constantly revolving line of shirts year round.  They are able to do this thanks to the screen printing company Alex Kerns co-owns called ArgyBargy Printing.

Lemuria sticker wall
Lemuria sticker wall

When I lived in Buffalo, I spent many days and nights hanging out with Biff (the screen pulling 50% owner of ArgyBargy) while he cranked out various screen print jobs.  As someone who sells many Lemuria shirts on tour, I thought the people who have bought them might be interested to see how and where they are made.

Lemuria screen printing
Lemuria screen printing

If you've ever tried screen printing, you will know that it's not easy to get good results.  It takes a lot of skill and practice to perfect, as well as a lot of upper body strength to get a good and even pull of ink over the screen every time.

Lemuria printing shirts
Lemuria printing shirts

The ArgyBargy screen printing shop reminds me of a dad's garage that punks moved into and took over.  Most surfaces are covered in stickers and the floor is accidentally decorated with paint and paper scraps. Blasting from the speakers in the shop, Biff is usually listening to everything from Ke$ha to Killed by Death.

Lemuria screenprinting shirts
Lemuria screenprinting shirts

There's something about being around other people creating things that sparks creativity. I could fill a notebook with all the ideas and projects i've thought of while watching Biff crank out hundreds of shirts at 2am.

Lemuria shirt printed
Lemuria shirt printed

It's a weird circle of life type of feeling when you sell someone a shirt and think to yourself "I saw that being printed". Even though I didn't personally print it, it was always rewarding when someone would be super excited about a shirt design.

Screen printing dryer
Screen printing dryer

When you've been on tour for weeks at a time and you load, unload, display, sell, and count 100's of shirts everyday, you gain a new appreciation for the time and effort that goes into creating and printing the design.

Lemuria shirts finished
Lemuria shirts finished

Next time you buy a shirt from a band, think about all the steps that it had to take to get to you. A lot of work goes into it, especially if it has a picture of a 'Log Lady' on it.

On Tour With Lemuria photo essay series:

Tower Bridge in Sacramento, California by Derek Neuland

Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge

After living in Portland, Oregon for three years, I have developed a deep appreciation and love for bridges. I spent a week in Sacramento, CA in 2013 (while on tour with Lemuria) and fell in love with Tower Bridge while I was there.Tower Bridge was opened on December 15, 1935. The 737 foot long vertical lift bridge spans the Sacramento River and was designed by Alfred Eichler.  At the time of it's construction, it was the first and only vertical lift bridge in the California Highway System.

Tower Bridge road
Tower Bridge road

The two 160 foot towers on the bridge help make it one of the most iconic landmarks in Sacramento.  It's hard to walk or drive past it and not admire it's beauty.

Tower Bridge California
Tower Bridge California

While the bridge is currently painted gold, it wasn't always this color.  Originally the bridge was silver, but after complaints of the glare it was repainted in June of 1976 to a yellow-ochre color. The color choice was an homage to the gold leafed cupola on the nearby State Capitol.

Tower Bridge Sacramento
Tower Bridge Sacramento
Tower Bridge over Sacramento River
Tower Bridge over Sacramento River

As most paint jobs do, the color started to fade and in 2001 all residents within 35 miles voted on a new color for the bridge. Gold was the winning color, beating out green, burgundy, and a silver and gold color scheme. The repainting of Tower Bridge was finished in 2002.In 1982, Tower Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places which it definitely deserves to be. Iconic and beautiful bridges such as this one should be cherished and preserved as long as possible.

Tower Bridge Sacramento, CA
Tower Bridge Sacramento, CA

Unfortunately while I was in town, I did not get to see the bridge lifted.  Hopefully someday I will be able to return to Sacramento and get the chance to see a boat pass underneath it.

As a huge fan of bridges, I'm always looking for more to explore and document.  What are some bridges you think I should photograph?

On Tour With Lemuria - Part 6 by Derek Neuland

This is part 6 of my photo essay series about touring with Lemuria. The previous part can be found here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 5. Or you can start from the beginning here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 1. On the Fall 2011 tour with Lemuria, we were in Los Angeles for Thanksgiving and found ourselves with a couple days of free time (which is sometimes rare on tour). My one dream going to Los Angeles was to visit Galco's Soda Pop Stop and I was ecstatic to learn that we'd have time to go there.

Galco's Soda Pop Stop
Galco's Soda Pop Stop

I love soda, and am constantly looking for new flavors to try.  This lead me to start Thirsty Dudes, a non-alcoholic drink review website back in 2009 with former Lemuria bassist Jason Draper and Mike Literman. I was still writing for the site during this tour so a trip to Galco's was my holy grail at the time.

Galco's shelves
Galco's shelves

Inside there were rows and rows filled with soda.  I had never seen anything like it before (and still haven't since). It was quite overwhelming to be honest, I didn't know where to start.

Photo by Sheena Ozzella
Photo by Sheena Ozzella

Root beer, ginger ale, cola, blackberry soda, cream soda, Jolt cola, Hot Lips soda, ginger beer, birch beer, orange soda, apple soda.  You name it, they had it.

Soda shelves
Soda shelves

After spending what seemed like an hour, I ended up with a box full of a dozen different sodas, totaling $31.46.  I didn't have a way to review them on the road so I kept them in the back of the van in the box.

Photo by Sheena Ozzella
Photo by Sheena Ozzella

I wish I could tell you how delicious each of them was, but I can't.  They were safely in the van for the next week, until we got to Canada, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to be exact. It was below 0°F in Saskatoon when we arrived and dropped even lower during the night.  I awoke the next morning to find that all the bottles had froze and broke during the night.  I thought about taking a photo of the aftermath, but I was too bummed out.

Lemuria in Galco's
Lemuria in Galco's

I learned a very important lesson that day, don't leave glass bottles of soda in a van in the dead of winter. I thought the van would keep them from getting too cold, but I was wrong.

On Tour With Lemuria photo essay series:

On Tour With Lemuria - Part 5 by Derek Neuland

This is part 5 of my photo essay series about touring with Lemuria. The previous part can be found here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 4. Or you can start from the beginning here: On Tour With Lemuria- Part 1. This brings us to our third and final member of Lemuria, drummer and singer Alex Kerns.

Alex Kerns Twin Peaks
Alex Kerns Twin Peaks

Of everyone in Lemuria, Alex and I are the closest.  I've also known him the longest (a couple hours longer than Sheena), and was also roommates with him for a year or so.  We lived above Amy's Place, hands down the best restaurant in Buffalo, NY.  It's rare that I make a trip to Buffalo without going to Amy's Place with Alex at least once.

Alex looking far away
Alex looking far away

I love Alex because we can talk about anything and hours will go by before we know it.  This lends very well for long drives or long winters stuck inside.

Alex staring in the van
Alex staring in the van

One of my favorite tour stories with Alex happened at the beginning of the Fall 2011 tour.  We just had dinner at Balloon's in Ellicottville, NY and were driving through the night to Washington DC to pick up Sheena on our way to The Fest in Gainesville, Florida.  An hour into Pennsylvania, we noticed some flashing lights in the distance ahead.

Alex sitting
Alex sitting

At first we thought there was an accident ahead, but the lights got brighter and we didn't approach any emergency vehicles. We slowly realized the lights were coming from the sky.  A quick Google search of local news sites informed me that we were witnessing northern lights, which obviously is very rare in the middle of Pennsylvania. It was amazing and the perfect way to kick off a six week tour.

Alex drumming
Alex drumming

Alex is a great friend and an awesome person to tour with.  We share a love for movies and taking jokes too far. He taught me everything I know about selling merch at shows, and is always willing to lend a hand when I need it.

Alex laughing
Alex laughing

One of the things I miss about living with Alex is his "down for whatever" attitude.  There were so many times where we'd go to a random show at the last minute or drive up to Toronto at 1am just to get veggie dogs and bubble tea. I love that about Alex, he's always open to new experiences and new ideas.

Alex and Sheena are goofy
Alex and Sheena are goofy

And he's goofy, very very goofy. Alex can always make me laugh, which is a rare and important quality in a friend on tour.

On Tour With Lemuria photo essay series: