My Favorite Photograph by DM Heebner

I love taking photographs. I carry a camera with me almost everywhere I go. Photography is something I've always had a quiet fascination with. The art of capturing a moment, making time stand still, and evoking emotion from a memory has always seemed like the highest form of art.  

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A Quiet Day by DM Heebner

To kick off the start of a very busy month and even busier season of school, work and travel, I took myself on a personal retreat. I drove to Mission San Luis Rey in Oceanside, California for a day of retreat, meditation, reading, writing, silence, and solitude. As an artist, spiritual individual, Enneagram 4(w5), INFJ, and whatever other indicators that I'm an extreme introvert, I felt taking a vow of silence for a day at a monastery would be a great way to recharge. 

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What Kind of Camera Should I Buy? Pt II by DM Heebner

So, you've figured out what kind of photography you're interested in, did a little research about possible places to shop, now it's time to figure out what kind of camera system to invest in. This is the point where you'll hit a split in the road: full frame vs. crop sensor.

image courtesy of SLRLouge

What is a full frame camera?

A full-frame camera is the tool of choice for most professionals and serious amateurs. So, what is a full frame camera? Do you remember film cameras? Remember those old 35mm rolls of film? A full frame camera is a camera with a sensor that is the same size as a traditional 35mm format film, measuring 36x24mm. (As a side note, there are larger formats - medium and large - which will produce bigger results, but for the sake of this series, full frame sensor is the larger of the two.) These sensors have up to 2.5x the surface coverage as a traditional APS-C crop sensor camera.

What are the benefits of a full-frame camera?

Low Light Situations. Having a camera that can handle multiple situations is key, especially when it comes to low light. No one wants a grainy, blurred, or discolored photo but you don't want to miss capturing moments just because the lighting wasn't perfect. Indoor situations and dark nights call for sensors that can handle wherever you happen to be. The solution to this is a larger sensor. The larger the sensor, the more light it will take in and the easier it will be to work in those tricky situations.

Better Dynamic Range. Having the ability to gather better detail and more information in the darkest shadows all the way up thru the brightest highlights will provide you with a much better photograph to work with. 

Sharper, Higher Resolution Images. Even if you're shooting with a full frame, guaranteed sharper images isn't always the case. You have to know how to operate a camera and as technology advances, image quality on crop sensor cameras is getting better and better. But, the one thing a full frame sensor offers is a larger sensor and a larger megapixel count. You'll end up with a larger image file which means the potential for larger, more detailed prints. 

Depth of Field. It is much, much easier to achieve shallow depth of field effects with a full frame sensor. Think of those photographs you've seen with beautifully blown out backgrounds, this is called bokeh and it provides a wonderful visual element to any photograph. Being able to easily achieve and control this with a headshot, travel, or product photograph makes it a dream. 

Features. Pro bodies often offer more features. This might not sound like something you need, but ease of use for a professional makes a huge difference. A full frame camera will often offer features like light up display screens on top of the camera, an array of fully customizable buttons, a great degree of manual controls, and a greater number of AF points.  


What is a crop sensor camera?

A crop sensor camera is simply a camera whose sensor cuts out the edges of the frame. This allows for a direct increase in focal length. The difference is measured by a multiplier or crop factor. For example, a 50mm lens on a full frame camera will have a 50mm field of view. That same lens on a crop sensor camera with a crop factor of 1.5 (for example) will have a field of view of 75mm. 

What are the benefits of a crop sensor camera?

Frame Fill. One of the most important lessons in photography is to fill the frame. When you are composing a photograph you want to be aware of what and how much of your frame is filled. You don't want to rely on cropping out later, that is a bad habit to get into. It is much easier to fill the frame of a crop sensor camera due to its crop factor. That extended focal length gives you ample opportunity to pack much more into the photography.

Price. Full frame cameras are expensive, they can often start at a couple thousand dollars and up for the body alone, putting it out of reach for many new photographers. The beauty of a crop sensor camera is price, typically under $1000, mixed with a selection of options that allow the photographer to get high-quality results. 

Weight and Size. Full frame cameras are heavy! They can be large in size and weight, paired with a lens this can be very cumbersome for a day trip, travel, or a simple event. Crop sensor cameras pack a lot into a small, lightweight frame and are much easier to throw into a bag and take with you. Depending on what you need, a smaller, light weight camera may be the better option. Any camera is better than no camera!

Less Vignetting. Vignetting is the dark, almost shadow like effect you will find around the edge of a photograph. A crop sensor camera not only allows you ease of use when filling the frame, it also provides less vignetting because you are cropped in toward the center of the image. Vignetting is easily fixed with a good lens or click of a button in post processing for any camera but it's always nice to have one less step to worry about in the editing process. 

Other Options

Full Frame and Crop Sensor are two DSLR options in a very crowded market. If a camera with interchangeable lenses isn't in your budget or of interest to you could consider a point and shoot or small mirrorless camera (there are interchangeable and non-interchangeable options in this category) which run a wide range of price and features. I would recommend checking into cameras made from Canon, Fuji, Sony, Leica, or Olympus. 

Interested in learning more about photography or need help picking out the right camera for you?

I offer mentoring sessions in person, via video, or on the phone.
Contact me to find out more info and book your session. 

All Content: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used, copied, or reproduced without permission.

What Kind of Camera Should I Buy? by DM Heebner

What Kind of Camera Should I Buy? is one of the most common questions I get asked when people find out I'm a professional photographer. I love talking about cameras, the history of cameras, technological advances, and where the market is headed. But, most people aren't looking for me to geek out, they simply want to know what kind of camera they should buy. It's a fair and valid question considering the market is saturated with options: Nikon...Canon...Fuji...Leica...Hasselblad...Sony...the list is endless. The investment into a system can be quite expensive so I understand why people ask before they buy. A little research will take you a long way, help you find the right camera, and save you a lot of wasted time and money down the road. 

So, what kind of camera should someone buy? I know a lot of folks are looking for me to give a straightforward Camera A, Lens B, Strap C answer but it's a little more complicated than that. My response to that question is always a half smile/smirk and a few follow up questions. 


What do you want to photograph?

People? Landscapes? Street Photography? Food? Weddings? Vacations? Nature? Wildlife? Sports? A little of everything? 

The reason why this is the most important and the first question I ask is because it helps set the foundation. A good, foundational understanding of what kind of photography a person is looking to pursue will help direct what manufacturers and camera systems they should take a look at. Technically, you can use almost any camera to shoot any subject. However, the more advanced you get, the more ease of use and technical capabilities are going to matter. If you start building the wrong foundation it could cost you a lot of money to start over. Someone who is passionate about shooting professional sports is going to need quite a different lens lineup than someone who is interested in shooting a wedding. Both avenues involve photographing people, but things like how close you can get to your subject, speed, lighting, and how dynamic your work environment is changes what you need to have ready. 

So, take a minute and think thru what kind of photography you want to pursue. It's ok to have multiple answers (I do). 

What are your long term photography goals?

Personally, I want to be Peter Lik.

Until that happens...

When I started out in photography I knew that being a pro was my long term goal. The reason why figuring this out was so important is because it affected the lenses I purchased. The first "real" camera I ever purchased was a Nikon D3200. Yep, that tiny little thing was what I honed my skills on. It was a great starter setup (at the time) that pushed me and taught me a lot. However, it was a crop sensor camera and I knew eventually, as a pro, I'd need to upgrade to a full frame body to get the most versatile options for the kind of photography I was interested in pursuing. Since I had a long term goal in mind, I purposefully bought lenses that would fit a full frame camera. I knew that putting a full frame lens on a crop sensor camera would be limiting it, but, when I purchased a full frame camera I wouldn't have to buy a whole new lens lineup (big time $$$ saver).  

As important as a camera is, your lenses are even more important. I still have my original 24-70mm Nikon lens and use it on almost every shoot I do. It has outlived 4 cameras and I wouldn't trade it for the world. "Good Glass" (a good lens) as you'll hear photographers say, is 1000% worth it. I'll be answering "which lenses you should use" in a future post. For now, just take some time and think about where you might want to go with your photography. It's always ok to change your mind, but the more prepared you are before you invest, the better. 

What is your budget?

Photography can be really expensive, if you let it. If it was up to me, I would exclusively shoot Leica. I am fortunate, for now, to have one Leica camera, it's a lone ranger in my otherwise Nikon filled squad. Don't let the perceived cost of photography scare you away. There are ways around paying full-retail for camera equipment. Also, taking the time to understand what your needs are and what camera/lens combo might fit the best helps avoid a lot of excess, unused equipment. There's nothing worse (in the photo world) than a piece of equipment sitting on a shelf, gathering dust. Take sometime to figure out what you can afford now and remember, photographers with huge arsenals of equipment got there over many years. 

Borrow or Rent Lenses
There are a number of lens rental sites and even local camera stores that offer lens rental programs. This is a great way to test out a lens before you invest. A quick internet search should provide you with a lot of options. 

Buy Used
I have a personal rule when it comes to technology: don't be the first person to buy it. Typically, the first generation of any tech will have some kinks and quirks to work thru. A lot of times the actual item doesn't live up to the marketing hype either. So, I sit back and let others buy, experience, write, and review. I follow a few channels on YouTube and read photography and tech blogs from neutral sources that give honest reviews. Usually the second production run, a software patch, or the next version of something will work out the bugs. You've probably experienced this in the world of computers and mobile phones, it holds true with cameras as well.

Waiting a little bit to buy a new piece of equipment means you benefit from other people's gas, and this is a good thing. GAS, or gear acquisition syndrome, plagues many in the photography industry. As we live in a consumer driven society people can't wait to get the latest and greatest, even when they don't need it. Photographers are often no exception. The flip side is that the used gear market is excellent. There are a number of ways I have and would recommend buying used gear. 

Your Local Camera Store: If you have a local camera store in your area, chances are they have a used gear section. Go in, check it out, ask questions, and visit often. Buying local is always the best and your local camera shop can be a huge advocate on your photography journey.

Friends: If you have friends that shoot similar systems (Nikon, Canon, etc) ask if they are getting rid of any of their gear. It's always nice to know where your gear came from. 

Major Retailers: B & H, Adorama, KEH are all major retailers that I have purchased used gear from. My experiences have been excellent across the board. Each of these retailers has a used gear rating system which gives you an indication of what you can expect. Knowing they inspect and rate each item gives me peace of mind. 

Craigslist: Always remember, be cautious and inquisitive when buying from Craigslist. Ask a lot of questions, see the item, test the item, ask the history of the item. If you know what you're looking for you can often find great deals (I have!). 


However you answer these questions it all comes back to one important thing, what camera do you WANT to pick up? What camera do you want to take with you? What camera feels the best in your hand and makes you enjoy shooting? You can have all the fanciest equipment money can buy, but if you don't enjoy picking up the camera, exploring the camera, and ultimately creating beautiful photographs with it, you're using the wrong one. 

Stay tuned for next week's post where I'll dig deeper into who the major players are and cover things like Full -Frame vs. Crop Sensor, Mirrorless, Fuji, Point and Shoot, and more. 

Interested in learning more about photography or need help picking out the right camera for you?

I offer mentoring sessions in person, via video, or on the phone.
Contact me to find out more info and book your session. 

All Content: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used, copied, or reproduced without permission.

Up The Coast by DM Heebner

Traveling is one of my favorite things to do. The people, the food, the sights, the journey itself, you just never know what you're going to run into. While I love a good, long adventurous road trip, some of my favorites have been small day trips within a few hours of where I live. If I have a free weekend chances are I'm in my car, camera ready, exploring some neighborhood or small town. Since moving back to California, I've been taking the time to reintroduce myself to the familiar and unfamiliar. One recent trip had me up to the Oceanside Pier, a place I had never been. Vacation season was in full swing, surfers were out, fishermen were busy casting their lines, and the weather was as awesome as always. I never would have guessed that Oceanside would have provided some postcard worthy scenes. My two biggest road trippin' tips are: always bring a camera and never underestimate a small town. 

All Photographs: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used without permission.

Tabu Sushi by DM Heebner

When most people think of California cuisine one of the first things that come to mind is seafood! Living in southern California I am fortunate to have an abundance of fresh seafood and seafood restaurants to dine at. From the Baja to the farms of the central valley, the west coast is the best coast when it comes to food (IMHO). Thanks to the abundance of fresh fish, you can find one of my favorite foods everywhere you go, Sushi! I've got a running theory that you can't go more than 2 miles in southern California without stumbling across a sushi restaurant and I'm determined to try as many as I can. I recently had the chance to work with a sushi spot in Del Mar to photograph a dinner service and a few of their signature rolls. The super friendly staff made this session a great experience! 

All Photographs: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used without permission.

Kimball Prints by DM Heebner

Last week I was back in the studio with one of my favorite Austin artists, Carolyn Kimball Gee of Kimball Prints. She is an incredibly talented fine artist who creates and sells a line of custom designed screen printed tea towels. If you've visited any of the specialty boutique shops around Austin you've probably seen her work. During our latest session, we spent time at her east Austin studio photographing new designs from her latest line. Below are a few photos from that session. I love how unique each of her designs are but particularly love the work she's doing with neon inks! 

If you happen to find yourself at this year's National Stationery Show in NYC, make sure to stop by the Kimball Prints booth and see all of her amazing work in person. Her work can also be found at stockists nationwide (including ModCloth and NPR)

All Photographs: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used without permission.

I Tried Going On Vacation by DM Heebner

This last week I tried going on a vacation. I'm talking a real deal, leave work behind, relax and take in the sights kind of vacation. When you work as a professional photographer this is almost impossible, you never feel "off". Everywhere you go you're always looking around, noticing angles and light. You're afraid of missing one of those great moments. It only takes one missed moment to haunt you to the point that you can never go anywhere without a camera. (I vividly remember my missed moment...!) If you've traveled with me, or any photographer, you know that a good majority of our luggage includes cameras, lenses, batteries, etc. This time around I tried really hard. I packed one camera and tried to live in the moments rather than capture them. I'd say I did alright but still couldn't help myself from capturing a few magical memories. 

All Photographs: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used without permission.

That Perfect House by DM Heebner

Every once in awhile I'll get the opportunity to photograph one of those perfect houses. You know, the ones where the moment you walk in you're overwhelmed by how masterfully the architecture and decor compliment each other, and how, if they'd let you, you'd move right in. The perfect house is different for everyone. For me, it's something ultra contemporary/industrial and/or mid-century modern. Living in central Texas these homes exist but are quite rare. Recently I was on assignment in the Shoal Creek area of Austin and came across one of those perfect homes. From the layout to the decor, to the outdoor living spaces, I loved everything about this home. To top it off the homeowner was one of the nicest people I've ever met. Enjoy this tour of one of my favorite Austin neighborhoods. 

All Photographs: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used without permission.

For real estate photography, book thru Virtuance

Smokey Mo's by DM Heebner

If I've learned anything over the last 4 years in Austin it's that Texans love two things: Texas and BBQ. Growing up in New York a BBQ meant hamburgers, hot dogs, and spiedies. It didn't really matter if the grill was charcoal or gas, whatever you had was good enough. It took almost no time to learn that BBQ in Texas is a far cry from what I'm used to and is, in fact, a sacred, time-honored, regionally specific craft. The first morning, after buying my home in Austin, I woke up to the smell of one of my new neighbors smoking a brisket at six in the morning. I've since learned that another neighbor is on a competitive barbecue team. As a former vegetarian I could tell I had a lot to learn.

I recently took a new step in my BBQ education by doing a photo shoot for Smokey Mo's. Opening their first location in Cedar Park, Texas in 2000, the Melchor family has since launched a number restaurants across central Texas. If you're ever in the area, stop by and get a glance at how a family that's been in the BBQ business since 1962 is sharing the love and flavors of their craft. 

All Photographs: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used without permission.

Collective Reminders by DM Heebner

Collective Reminders, Series 1-3 is my latest art + design release. Each piece focuses on a universal reminder that, collectively, unifies and is illustrated with abstract textures from organic elements. Enjoy!

Designs © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used without permission.

Citizen Eatery by DM Heebner

I recently had the pleasure of photographing a dinner service at Austin's newest vegan/vegetarian restaurant, Citizen Eatery. As a former vegetarian I prefer this style of cuisine and living in Texas it can be almost impossible to find. From the minute I walked in I knew this was not just going to be a fun shoot, but a place that I'd return to again and again. The modern, fresh decor, friendly staff, and inventive, organic menu are like nothing I've seen in town. Citizen's bar boasts local brews, Texas wines, homemade mixers, and some of the most unique (and beautiful) organic cocktails around. Located on Burnet Road in The North Loop, one of the hottest growing areas in Austin, this restaurant is a standout and staple in the making. If you find yourself in Austin looking for a fresh, healthy meal, stop in and say hi to Aimee and the amazing folks at Citizen Eatery. 

All Photographs: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used without permission.

Reflections: Balboa At Night by DM Heebner

 Balboa At Night | Oxford Haus  ©

Balboa At Night | Oxford Haus ©

Balboa At Night is one of my early photographs. It's not my first, but one of my very early ones. It wasn't overly planned or strategically scouted. I was on a walk with B, looked over and loved the reflection in the pool. When I look at it now I instantly cringe and eventually, smile. Honestly, I'd be concerned if I didn't. Photography, much like public speaking, writing or athletics is a skill, an art that gets better with time and practice. I remember being really proud of this photo when I first took it but also excited for the day when I'd look back and cringe. I was fortunate to learn early on that one of the goals in photography should be to cringe at your early work. If you don't, you're not growing and you're not getting better. The professional in me looks and immediately wants to critique things like composition and lighting. But, there's a flip side to looking back at your early work. There are the memories of the journey from there to here. There are lessons learned, relationships forged, victories and plenty of mistakes.

One of the reasons why I still look back at this particular piece is because it was taken in my favorite city in the country, San Diego. I've lived in a number of metropolitan areas across the country, but none of those cities have ever captured me like San Diego. It's the only place I've ever lived that felt like home. The people, the weather, the food, the incredible beauty, the culture, did I mention how ridiculously beautiful it is there? I'll never forget flying back to California with a friend, her first time, and listening to her remark about how beautiful it was (we hadn't even left the airport...). I began my photography journey, and now career, in San Diego. I learned to take chances and risks and love the unique aspects of myself in San Diego. This photo is much more than a reminder of an immense, diverse and eclectic park. It's a reminder of a major shift in my life.

Photographs are an opportunity to capture a memory, to tell a story, archive a moment in history, and make time stand still. Whether you find yourself in a place you call home or a new and unfamiliar spot, take a photograph. If life is humming along or times are odd and chaotic, take a photograph. No matter where you find yourself, make time to take a photograph. It may seem insignificant now but someday you'll look back and be amazed at where your journey has taken you. 


The Boxing Club by DM Heebner

I had never stepped into a boxing club before this week. I can't tell you the rules of boxing or how you win (besides the obvious KO). All I know is that when the chance to photograph a club in central Texas arose, I jumped at it. As a photographer, I love when an opportunity to photograph something new comes up. When I walked in on Monday evening I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. What I found was a really friendly community of folks (they had an amazing DJ spinning) who are passionate about their sport and their training. I watched a mix of emotion and intensity cross their faces as each training round passed. I walked away not only with some great photographs, but a new appreciation for the sport. Please scroll thru and enjoy!

All Photographs: © 2017 Oxford Haus
Cannot be used without permission.

Welcome to the Haus by DM Heebner

For many people, 2017 ushered in the opportunity to start over, start new, and start fresh. That sentiment was shared here at Oxford Haus and it seemed like the perfect time to rebrand and relaunch. Welcome to 2017 and welcome to Oxford Haus!

Let's begin our tour...

Oxford Haus began as a side project in 2013 in San Diego, California. You can read all about me (DM) and Oxford Haus here.

OH focuses on 3 things:

1. Photography
2. Graphic Design
3. Marketing/Consulting/Brand Identity

Check out the Services page to find out all of the ways Oxford Haus can assist you.

To keep up to date with the latest projects, travels, and info, visit the News section.  

If you'd like to contact and work with Oxford Haus, all of the info is available on the Contact page along with a way to follow us on social media and sign up for the Haus Updates newsletter.

Finally, to check out what's been going on at the Haus visit the Photography and Design portfolios. New projects and photos will be added regularly, so make sure to stop by often!

There are some exciting things in the works for 2017 and I can't wait to share them with you. Thanks for taking the tour and enjoy exploring the new site!