About Monico

I am a photographer located in Northern Virginia but my clients are across the USA. I specialize in on-location photography and utilize Adobe Photoshop to fully realize my artistic vision and the vision of my clients.

Getting Better Sound for your Videos


Lots of Microphones If you’re new to making videos and want to make a significant improvement in quality then the first thing you need to look at is audio. While today’s cameras capture incredible video they often fall short when it comes to good audio. The simple fact is this – bad audio is often the first thing people will notice about a video. Someone might watch a video if the picture is out of focus or a little shaky, but they’ll rarely accept audio that sounds terrible.

Poor audio might be the one reason, more than any other, that people will turn off a video. Microphones built in to most cameras are usually not very good and they can’t be properly adjusted to make much of a difference, so the way to capture better sound means using a a better microphone, an external audio recorder or any of a number of other solutions.

In this article I’ll talk about how I improved the quality of the audio in my videos and share some of the important principles I use to get the most from my audio gear. You’ll see some of the equipment I use and I even made a new a video to show how different microphones perform in various locations in my office/production studio. Continue reading

New LED Lights Announced by Aputure


New products from Aputure  |  Amaran AL MX and Amaran AL F7This year at the NAB show – an annual industry event for the nation’s radio and TV broadcast industry – I saw a number of extremely exciting announcements from a lot of great manufacturers. The NAB show has always been one of the shows where camera, lighting, microphone and audio recording companies will introduce upcoming technology, product updates and new gear. I have yet to attend a NAB show but I always watch the news reports to see what is happening.

One of the most exciting announcements came from Black Magic when they introduced a new version of their Pocket Cinema 4K camera. The new Pocket Cinema looks extremely impressive and will be the first video camera that can capture RAW video files for under $1,300. Talk about game changing!

Additionally I saw plenty of news from one of my favorite companies, Aputure. They had a cool looking prototype RGB light in their booth as well as an update to their awesome Lightstorm LS 120d. The Mark II version of their popular LED light will be 30 percent brighter, can be dimmed all the way down to 1 percent and it introduces an all new control box that integrates the power ballast (this means faster setup and tear down).

Before the NAB show, back on 30 March 2018, Aputure officially announced two new lights that look incredibly exciting. Both are in the super affordable “Amaran” line of lights and I expect them to both be super popular. The first new light is the Amaran AL-F7 and it looks positioned to bridge the gap between the popular AL-H198 and the bigger AL258 series. The second new light is the super tiny Amaran AL-MX.

In this article I’ll be sharing the specifications of both lights and my thoughts on these new additions to the Aputure LED light lineup.

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Aputure Amaran AL 528S LED Video Light Review


Aputure Amaran AL 528S LED light

I’m a huge fan of my Aputure Aamran AL-H198 LED lights and they’ve been performing great for me (I liked my first one so much I bought a second within a week). They’re so awesome, especially when you consider their low price, I wrote up a full review about them here on my blog.

Because I had such a positive experience with the little 198 LED lights, when it was time to add to my light kit I decided to try out a larger version of their awesome LED lights. My plan was to keep my AL H198 lights and use them for highlights, kick lights or background lights and get a bigger light to use as my main or “key” light. There were plenty of choices but I settled on the Aputure Amaran AL 528S because of it’s price (all of their 528 LED lights can be found for under $170.00 US) and massive amount of light output (the spot version I chose has a specification of 12,700 LUX at .5M).

The bigger front surface area of the 528 LED light should translate into a much softer output than the smaller 198 LED lights and that meant, with the addition of a little diffusion,  it could be a perfect main light in my small office/studio. Once again the team at Aputure hit a home run and, now that I’ve had mine for a while, I’m sharing my official full-length review.

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Senal MC-24ES Microphone Review


Senal MC-24ES microphone

In this article I’ll be reviewing the newest microphone in my collection – the Senal MC-24ES.

People primarily know me as a still photographer but over the years I’ve been creating a lot more videos for clients and that means I’ve been adding more and more gear to my bags for capturing spectacular video as well as great audio.

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New Product Announcements from Sony and Panasonic


a New Camera, a New Finish For a Very Popular Camera and a New Lens

– There are plenty of industry shows each year but the month of January is well known for the Consumer Electronics Show (or CES) in Las Vegas. CES is a massive show that I’ve attended numerous times and it’s always been a very fun time for me. At CES visitors can see lots of brand new products, but traditionally it’s a show that highlights home electronics (TV’s, stereo systems, appliances, etc.) and mobile electronics (car stereo, security and navigation systems).

Throughout the year camera manufacturers will take advantage of the gathered press at a big show to introduce new gear and this years CES was no exception. Three announcements caught my attention and with this article I’ll talk about them and what they mean to me as well as what it could be predicting for the future.

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Holiday Sale on Aputure Lights at B&H Photo


LED Video Lights From Aputure Marked Down For the Holidays

Aputure Amran AL-H198 front three quarter view

– My favorite reasonably priced video lights from Aputure are on sale for the holidays and, if you’re in the market to buy some new LED lights (or are looking for an awesome gift for someone special) then I can’t recommend these deals enough. In this article I’ll talk about why I’ve fallen in love with Aputure products – and I’ll share the current deals I’ve found at B&H.

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Black Friday Gift Ideas from Amazon


Some of my Favorite Amazon Gift Ideas for Photographers and Videographers

Amazon Home Page

– It’s the holiday shopping season and I wanted to take a few minutes to share some gift ideas for the photographer or videographer in your life. There’s a lot of great gear these days and I have some favorites that range from extremely inexpensive to super pricy (but still a bargain). My camera bags are filled with lots of gear that gets used regularly and in this article I’ll share some quick favorites, most of which are on sale for the holidays.I know there are several places to find every gift suggestion I give but so many people use Amazon.com these days I’m including direct links right in the article.

Everything in this gift suggestion article is something I personally own or have tested so I feel extremely confident in making every recommendation I make.

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Aputure Amaran AL-H198 LED Video Light Review


The Aputure AL-H198 (Real World) Gear Review

The Aputure AL-H198

Today marks the beginning of real product reviews on my blog. Since the beginning of my blog I’ve tried to be super inclusive of all visitors by not concentrating on the gear I use. Instead I’ve talked about the results I achieve and the techniques I used to get them. I’ve been a Sony shooter since well before it was OK to shoot Sony cameras so gear reviews just were not something I was interested in doing. But things change and, while the tips and techniques are great, there are real gear choices that need to be made. So with this review of the Aputure Amaran AL-H198 I’m going to start sharing real world reviews of some of the gear I use on a regular basis. If you are making videos then light is super important and in this review I’ll be looking at a superb 198 LED video light that is extremely affordable. Continue reading

the Monorail in Epcot | Featured Image of the Week


the Monorail photographed in an empty Epcot

the Monorail in Epcot

– For this week’s featured image of the week I want to revisit an older shot of mine that’s still one of my favorites from my many visits to Walt Disney World Resort. I call this shot the Monorail in Epcot and it has a lot of elements in it including the famous Disney World Monorail and the Epcot icon, Spaceship Earth. But the thing that makes it special is the fact that I was able to capture the shot with absolutely nobody in the final shot from a place that would normally be impossible to get a shot like this. In this article I’ll talk about how I was able to get the shot, the settings I used and even share a shot of what it normally looks like when you take a picture from this exact same place.

You can see a larger version of this image on 500px here

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