GLORY to Womens. (GLORY 37 / Womens March DTLA) by Mark Fulinara

Last week, a couple of yuuuuge events took place in my neighborhood:  GLORY 37 and Womens March Los Angeles.  I rented my dream lens combo (Sony 24-70mm G-Master and Mitakon 50mm 0.95) for the fights and the march, and I also played around with a multiple exposure idea that once woke me up in the middle of the night.

 "You've been poisoned."  Rented my dream lens combo, fell in love with their pure optical sex, and now I don't want to live in a world where I don't own them.  Bruh.

"You've been poisoned."  Rented my dream lens combo, fell in love with their pure optical sex, and now I don't want to live in a world where I don't own them.  Bruh.

Before falling asleep one night, I saw a photo my friend posted on Instagram that she took with her iPhone that had a double exposure of the beach and the silhouette of a woman layered over it.  I fell asleep thinking, "hmm... I wonder how she got two exposures in one file?  Digital isn't like film, you can't double expose without some special app or photoshop... Also, hmmmm... these blankets are so warm... still, I wonder...zzzzz... fart (I assume)."  In the background, The Princess Bride was left streaming on Netflix.  The soft glow of a familiar movie on television serving both as night light and bedtime story.  The low rumble of our dryer.

MY EYES OPENED WIDE.  "Bulb mode.  Like pinhole cameras!  EUREKA-BOOM-BOOM-DOWN."

Whenever I've shot along side James Law in his studio shoots for GLORY, his strobes always end up giving him amazing results, where I'm in the same room standing next to him taking photos using the ambient light of a hotel meeting room like a jackass.  Needless to say, my shots have always been garbage.  So with my new idea, I thought I could open up my shutter set to bulb, listen for his camera to beep every time he got his focus, and opened my "shutter" to catch his flash.  After getting a few exposures with stolen light, I'd let go of the shutter button and voila-- in-camera, multiple exposures.  'Fuck you, photoshop.  Haters gon' say it's you.'

On the day of the fights, I busted out the lenses I rented from LensProToGo.  I had been lusting after them for quite some time, but being the anti-baller tightwad prone to buyers remorse that I am, I rented them instead.  Long story short, I want them.  I want them bad.  Real bad.  Like, I would do things.

I mounted the Sony 24-70mm F2.8 G-Master onto my A7rii and the Mitakon 50mm F0.95 Dark Knight onto my A7s.  When spun the lens onto their mounts, I'm preeeetty sure a choir of angels sang in the distance.  I showed up to the venue and found it to be quite a different setup than I've become accustomed to in my short career in fight photography.  The ring was setup on a stage, so effectively, one side of the ring couldn't be occupied by anyone, which of course meant that the ringside photographer's apron would be sacrificed.  I sometimes forget that even though I come off very happy-go-lucky in life, I'm actually pretty moody when it comes to my creative endeavors.  I felt let down that I'd rented these lenses thinking I could do what I always do, stand exactly where I always stand, and then be able to make a fairly scientific comparison to my usual lens combo; the Zeiss 24-70mm F4.0 and the Zeiss 55mm F1.8.  No dice.  I don't know if anybody saw, but I think I pouted at the news that I wouldn't be comfortably nestled ringside.  What a bitch.  Anyway, after a couple of beers and a lot of great advice from James Law, Ryan Loco, and Phil Lambert, I said 'fuck it,' and decided to do a lens comparison between apples and oranges.  It would be G-Master vs. Dark Knight.  All-purpose king of sharpness zoom vs. All-manual shallow DoF prime.  Results vs. Process!

Below are some side-by-side examples of comparable situations that I shot out and around the ring with the G-Master and the Dark Knight.  They aren't edited to match, this isn't scientific whatsoever, but it's a pretty good comparison of what each lens is all about.  The photos on the left are all G-Master and the photos on the right are all Dark Knight.

It pretty much goes without saying that the G-Master is the better performer in nearly all categories on a website like DxO Mark.  It's ridiculously sharp wide open and at all focal lengths.  Compared to my Zeiss 24-70mm F4, obviously the extra stop of light is the difference on paper, but the biggest improvement I saw is the color rendition.  The colors just look 'right.'  If in some crazy scenario where the fate of the world hinged on me to taking photos of an event in an undisclosed location with unknown variables; this would be the lens I'd take (this is another place my mind goes at night).

On the other hand, the Mitakon is very prone to flaring which makes the contrast lie somewhere between milky and a hazy shade of winter, the lens even at the same F-stops is probably less sharp than the GM even when closed down, and they weigh almost the same.  That being said, shooting sports with a manual lens and a razor-thin depth of field is waaaaaaay fun.  Even completely missing focus looks like a purposeful artistic choice.  The challenge of nailing the focus in the viewfinder without focus peaking made me go from feeling uninspired to feeling on fire and anxious to capture moments.  There is no way to passively use a lens like this.  To paraphrase ol' Jim Gordon, "The Dark Knight was the hero I deserved, but not the one I needed."

The next morning, our friends came over and we participated in the Women's March which basically took place at our doorstep in DTLA.  I had a camera on me, but was struck with a feeling that I wanted to be there as a participant and a supporter, not as a photojournalist.  I took maybe 15 photos, and this is the one that speaks for me and my feelings at the march:

Later, after we had gone back to our apartment, my friend asked me to show her how I got those multiple exposure shots of kickboxers that I'd shot just a couple of days before.  I realized that I'd never told her that I was actually inspired by her multiple exposure instagram post.  Apparently, it was a happy accident caused by an HDR app that takes multiple bracket exposures.  Someone quickly walked past as it happened and voila, a lost night of sleep for my ever-spinning brain.

Vanishing Objects and a New York Minute. (SWPA Sony Square) by Mark Fulinara

Last month I had the honor of being a part of "Behind the Lens: A Conversation with Photographers Rubén Saldago Escudar, Mark Fulinara, and Ira Block" at Sony Square in New York City.  'Pics or it didn't happen, you say?'  Well...

 I opted for the 'cool-guy-with-legs-crossed' pose.  Haters gon' say it's photoshop.

I opted for the 'cool-guy-with-legs-crossed' pose.  Haters gon' say it's photoshop.

In the latest edition of "Craziest year ever," I was flown to NYC to talk about photography and my experience as a winner of a Sony World Photography award.  So right after a trip to Austin to celebrate my 4th year anniversary with my wife, I hopped on a plane to the big apple to give a 'lecture' at Sony Square NYC.

I immediately wanted to case the joint.  The day before the big day, I walked over to Sony Square to get a visual of where it was all happening.  I mapped out imaginary escape routes that led to getaway cars in case my presentation didn't go well.  I thought about where best to point off into the distance, so the event photographers could snap a photo of me looking like a visionary in case it did go well.  I snapped a photo of my photo in their photo gallery... Photo.

Since I had the big thing going on the next day, I told myself to keep it low key for a day and then party after the presentation.  So no food challenge level pig outs, no getting wasted, no staying up late.  Instead, I had a few of special missions built in for myself between my multiple hour-long showers I like to take throughout a day whenever I have the luxury of doing so.  Just run a few errands and focus on the presentation.

I went to B&H to take a class on studio lighting, but while invite said it started at 1pm PST, it actually at 1pm EST.  I guess 3 hours late is a no-no in the industry.

I wanted to train.  There are a bunch of famous boxing and muay thai gyms in the area, but I wanted to train in the more esoteric, boxing-based, jailhouse born martial art style the "52 Blocks."  Despite a few texts back and forth with a local expert, we couldn't coordinate our schedules, so the mysterious art of the 52 Blocks eluded me.  Maybe next time I'll learn a little bit of that Jailhouse Rock.

My wife had been to NYC a couple of weeks before my trip, so she left a present hidden for me in the city.  She gave me the cross streets and clues to where it was.  When I got there, the present, a letter left behind a placard in a park, had vanished.  The placard stated that the park was maintained by the Union Square Business Improvement District.  So... good job Union Square Business Improvement District on your fine work at maintaining your parks and keeping them free of litter and loveletters?

The next day, I went on another mission for my wife.  She lost a leg warmer after a ballet class and wanted a replacement.  To be sure I bought the right replacement, I had the one leg warmer with me and took a trip down to Repetto in soho.  I'm sure I won the award for creepiest customer of the day, walking in with a single leg warmer for "my wife" because she "lost one" and I am certainly not a "pervert."

As I traveled around town I made a game of trying to memorize every subway line and walking route I needed ahead of time so I could pretend I was a local.  One lady approached me and asked for help getting to Broadway, which I confidently pointed her towards.  It was one of the two streets I knew at the time.  New Yorkers impress me.  They all seem to have somewhere to go and don't need to take the time to appreciate their surroundings.  They walk out of a subway stop and immediately hook their left or right without having to look up at street signs to get their bearing.  They navigate the city with a certain blind ease; like a person woken up in the middle of the night navigating their way to the bathroom in complete darkness to pee.

On subway platforms I could hear conversations overhead.  I just love the anonymity of being in a city that just does not give a shit about you.

The presentation approached.  Like a day before a gig with my band, I felt like I was in a haze leading up to it.  Not nervous.  Not excited.  Just in a general fog.

The event was super fun.  Got to meet lots of enthusiastic photographers and reconnected with a few people I met during the Sony Awards show in London.  I'm super comfortable with public speaking so that went well I think.  The only regret I have is that during the Q&A one guys asked me why I made my photo black and white, and I said, "I just felt like it."  When the actual answer if I had my wits about me would have been, "I'm a huge fan of classic boxing photography, in particular old photos of Muhammad Ali.  So, I was trying to go for that low-contrast black and white look."  I hope he reads this.

At the end of the presentation, I was ready to get TURNT-- but forgot that it was a Tuesday night and everyone had to go home.  Luckily, a very cool young man named Stanley introduced himself to me as an up and coming photographer.  I mentioned that I had been to New York a couple of times before but still had never been to Times Square.  He thought that was a travesty, so we hit the streets and did an impromptu photo walk where I packed in as much touristy New York shit as I could into one night.

Our first stop was a recommendation from the Editor In Chief of Popular Photography.  She said I HAD to check out Jimmy's Corner, owned by former pro boxer Jimmy Glenn.  I was pumped to check out all the memorabilia, and while I scooted around an old man to take a look at a photo of Jimmy Glenn I realized that the man I was hovering over was none other than the owner himself, Jimmy Glenn!  We chatted a little bit about what weight he used to fight at, and how I used to have boxing pipe dreams.

Later that night, while I was pontificating as I often do (this time about photography and girl advice), Jimmy Glenn was leaving the bar he walked past me and gave me a little tap on my chin with his fist.  KO.  We left and took some photos of Times Square where I hammed it up for the camera, then grabbed a couple of slices of crazy cheap pizza.  I'm really glad that I didn't let the night get away from me without doing something cool.

2016 International Photography Awards. by Mark Fulinara

Exciting news!  I just found out that I won 3rd place in the Winter Sports category (non-professional of course) for the International Photography Awards for my "Sled Dog Hotel" photo, and three honorable mentions for some of my kickboxing shots.

Ernest Hemingway once said that you can't call yourself an elephant hunter until after your 50th kill.  Winning a second photography award makes me feel a little bit less like the first award was a fluke, but still 48 awards away from Papa Hemingway's approval.

Did you see Vega taking pictures of the CXF MMA show? by Mark Fulinara

Haven't posted in a minute.  Sorry.  I've been busy being the last of the international playboys.  That's a lie.  I've been busy eating donuts, drinking beer, and traveling to non-exotic locales for work.

BUT I did very recently get to shoot the latest CXF MMA show where I got to perch above the cage for the very first time.  Scary stuff.  I forget that since I grew up not skateboarding or generally doing anything remotely rebellious, I never acquired that so very important skill of climbing fences.  It doesn't come up often, but like a person who never learned to dance, the embarrassment shows only on special occasions.  Luckily, I very slowly climbed my way up to my crow's nest and was able to nervously snap away.

This time around, I purposely tried to underexpose everything, trying to get a mood of some sort.  Not sure how successful I was at that, but comparing my pictures to ones taken by other photographers that were there that night mine are definitely... darker?

The night of fights were great though.  I'm always conflicted while shooting fights, the photographer side of my brain trying to be in the zone in anticipation of the movements, the fight fan in me just wanting to rip off my shirt to reveal "JUST BLEED" written on my chest in green ink.  I guess there was also the nervous kid in me, just trying not to fall off the cage like a dumbass.

 Chase Gibson hits a jumping spinning roundhouse to finish the fight.

Chase Gibson hits a jumping spinning roundhouse to finish the fight.

HOLLYWOOOOOD... (Flash Padawan) by Mark Fulinara

...BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM BUM-PA HOLLYWOOOD!

I finally bought a flash and have been trying to teach myself how to use it.  And by 'teach myself,' I mean use it at my friend's kid's bday party on the Dark Lord of the Sith (Hollywood Chapter):  HOLLYWOOD VADER.

 "Join me, and I will complete your training."

"Join me, and I will complete your training."

I've never liked the idea of using a flash, but I have to admit I like the look of some of the shots I got.

Muse. by Mark Fulinara

Finally developed our first roll of B&W film shot on our Leica M-A.  I think I must have missed the sprockets when I loaded the roll, because I ended up with a few multiple exposures at the head of the roll; which turned out pretty well.  Chalk it up to happy accidents.

 Accidental psychological portrait of my wife.  Her, a map of the world, her books, teacups, unicorn statues, a ballet bar, and other random things she collects.  Leica M-A, Summicron 50mm 2.0, Ilford Delta ISO400 35mm film, multiple exposures.

Accidental psychological portrait of my wife.  Her, a map of the world, her books, teacups, unicorn statues, a ballet bar, and other random things she collects.  Leica M-A, Summicron 50mm 2.0, Ilford Delta ISO400 35mm film, multiple exposures.

 The bottom of the multiple exposure portrait overlapping with my wife being sleepy in an elevator.  Leica M-A, Summicron 50mm 2.0, Ilford Delta ISO400 35mm film, improperly cut by the lab?  My fault again?  I wouldn't rule that out either.

The bottom of the multiple exposure portrait overlapping with my wife being sleepy in an elevator.  Leica M-A, Summicron 50mm 2.0, Ilford Delta ISO400 35mm film, improperly cut by the lab?  My fault again?  I wouldn't rule that out either.

 Digital vs. Film.  Shot on the same day.  A7Rii vs. Leica M-A.  Zeiss 35mm 2.8 vs Summicron 50mm 2.0.  I think the light and the pose are better in the digital shot (left), but the one on the right has a little more romance in its softness.  My wife doesn't like the film shot (right) because she's 'got her bitch face on.'

Digital vs. Film.  Shot on the same day.  A7Rii vs. Leica M-A.  Zeiss 35mm 2.8 vs Summicron 50mm 2.0.  I think the light and the pose are better in the digital shot (left), but the one on the right has a little more romance in its softness.  My wife doesn't like the film shot (right) because she's 'got her bitch face on.'

I swear, I really do take pictures of things besides my wife and kickboxers.  ("My wife and kickboxers" copywritten title for my autobiographical sitcom)

Firepower vs. Experience: GLORY 30 (MarcusVJacoby) by Mark Fulinara

I had the opportunity to photograph Simon Marcus defending his GLORY Middleweight Title against the very dangerous Dustin Jacoby at GLORY 30 (gallery is at the bottom if you want to skip my kickboxing nerd talk).

 Simon Marcus admires his handiwork after sweeping Dustin Jacoby.  GLORY 30 Los Angeles.

Simon Marcus admires his handiwork after sweeping Dustin Jacoby.  GLORY 30 Los Angeles.

I was pumped to get to shoot two fighters getting ready for a big title fight.  When I went backstage to get them warming up I was surprised to see that their locker rooms were right next to each other; both doors closed, for obvious reasons of comfort.  I could hear the loud smacking of pads through the doors.  Jacoby was listening to some 90's jock jams, while Marcus was listening to some 90's R&B.  I wondered if each man was trying to hit the pads harder and louder to intimidate their opponent on the other side of the wall, psychological warfare could begin their match hours before they met in the ring.  If I were one of them, I'd get my friends to hit pads after I was done warming up to create the illusion of a three hour continuous warm-up.  Maybe hire Tong Po to kick a post non-stop, and maybe my opponents younger brother could walk in and see the display of toughness while he was lost, looking for ice (ex. see 1989 film Kickboxer).  "HE WAS KICKING ONE OF DEES LIKE DEES-- HHHUUUAAAYYY, UNTIL PLASTER WAS FALLING DOWN!"

I usually would walk right into a fighters locker room to shoot their prep, but I decided to leave them to their own devices until they got the call to walk out.  For some reason, they got the call at the same time and had to walk with each other down the hall up to the ramp.  It made for a slightly awkward scenario, but luckily I got a shot of them emerging from their locker rooms and seeing each other for the first time that night.  It felt like one of those "First Look" photos you see people do for weddings.

Jacoby was on a 5 fight knockout win streak coming into this fight.  He has serious power in both hands and a deceptively long reach.  For Simon Marcus to employ a hands-down and head movement style of defense was ballsy, to say the least.  However, I will say that tactic plus Marcus' experience was what won him the fight.  Jacoby was throwing very calculated heavy leather throughout the fight, and Marcus would dodge a majority of it but everytime he ate the really heavy shots, he would continue to slip and duck and dodge even if he was rocked, making the sting of the punch look less effective to the judges.  At one point, he even did the Ramba M-16 shuffle after a particularly heated exchange.  Marcus would set the pace of the fight with switch kicks to the arm, right leg kicks, and closed the gap with some nasty knees.  Jacoby didn't appear to be any worse for the wear until the fifth round where a right kick from Simon Marcus snuck in under his elbow and found his liver.  Jacoby dropped to a knee, barely made it up before the 10-count, and showed real heart trying to come back with a knockout for the rest of the final round.  Simon Marcus was too experienced to have his belt taken away from him the last seconds and showed some beautiful techniques on his way to securing his first title defense.  Backstage, the great Malaipet Sasiprapa was complimenting Simon Marcus on his masterful performance and Simon replied, "That's 'Muay I.Q."

Half Life. by Mark Fulinara

Since I am not decaying nuclear waste, I don't think I'm using the term 'half-life' correctly.  But I had a crazy realization last night:  17 years ago, the first incarnation of Beta Lion played its first show.  I've been in this band for half of my life.  Crazy pants!

A friend recently asked me if I ever get down about the fact that we never hit it big, my reply, "How could I be sad?  I've had some of the best times of my life because of the band."

So here, all in one place for the first time ever, are links to all of our music available on teh internets.  I'm sure we're missing a lot of tracks, but this is the most complete representation of our body of work, starting from when we were young pop-punkers through to now that we're...old post-pop-punkers?

Part Of The Problem (P.O.P.) - era, 1999-2007:

Beta Lion - "I Believe In Beta Lion" Demo (songs written 2007-2012, released 2012):

Beta Lion - "Hey" B-Side to Tonight At Whisperz Single (2012):

Beta Lion - "Written In Sand EP" (Songs written 2005-2014, released 2014):

Beta Lion - "Dynasty" Single from unreleased album (2015-present, released 2016):

Fun times were had by all.  There was dancing.  Merriment!  Mark sat back and smiled.

Maui'd: Powered by the Internet and Hawaiian Dept of Health. by Mark Fulinara

This weekend I married my friends.  At first, I thought my dream of a much more progressive polygamist future was in store for me but alas, I was to be the officiant in their wedding.  They got married at a beautiful place in Maui and everything and everyone about it was idyllic.  I took a lot of photos, but have yet to post much because Hawaii is so beautiful, it's almost like shooting fish in a barrel while taking steroids; it's just unfair.

I have to admit, I showed up to be the officiant and was just way too cocky about it.  I rehearsed a bunch, and pride myself on my public speaking abilities.  But this wasn't a Beta Lion show, this was my friend's very special day, and I GOT NERVOUS.  I can count on one hand the amount of times I've felt nervous in that way.  I haven't felt like that since my own wedding.  It's interesting, what your body does with nerves.  I didn't break into a sweat, nor did I tremble.  My mouth was where my nerves expressed themselves.  My mouth dried up completely.  I felt like a mummy delivering his first words in a thousand years.  There was a mid point in the ceremony where I was conscious that I had hit a skid, and I got really mad at myself.  I thought, "Fuck that, this isn't about you, get it together!" and somehow my anger miraculously rehydrated my mouth and I was able to carry on as planned.  My wife said it was noticeable that I had a "Masato moment" where I just picked my shit up and moved forward.  I'm still dwelling on the fact that it didn't go as well as I'd rehearsed, but luckily the bride and groom are such a powerhouse couple that they charmed the audience into a weeping frenzy without my help.

 Pictured:  My dry mouth conch blowing failure, saved by the help of the groom.  Myyyyyyyy hero.

Pictured:  My dry mouth conch blowing failure, saved by the help of the groom.  Myyyyyyyy hero.