Danny McDonald

Photography and more

My Quick Portfolio

For my Senior Seminar course that I am taking this semester. Our professor had us create a portfolio with works that we want to expose about ourselves that we have done throughout the last four years. I decided to focus mainly on my photography since it is one of my main passions. For the last two years that I have owned my Nikon D60 I have taken a total of 15,832 photos and had to pick about 70 pictures to feature myself.

This portfolio feature two main portions about myself. It shows a series of pictures that I took during my internship in Peru. My trip to Peru started out in the City of Lima, then to the Andes Mountain and Ruins of Machu Picchu and finished up in the plains of the North. It was truly a memorable experience that will stay with me for the rest of my life.

My other tab featuring mainly my photography shows pictures that I have taken from several different travels, family, friends, landscapes and much more. I have learned so much about using my camera and will continue to do so. Hopefully though I plan on getting a new camera soon so I can expand the possibilities for my future portfolio. The camera that I am currently looking at is the Nikon D5100 and hopefully with the 18 – 105 mm VR lens.

Any type of feedback I can get on my portfolio and quality of my images would be greatly appreciated! I personally don’t like wix that much and plan on changing it soon. For now, lets view this as a concept site of what is to come. Anything helps!



Amazon 5000

I got to meet the videographer of this amazing project that is going to happen, called The Amazon 5000. The project features Mickey, who is a melanoma cancer survivor who desires to push his body to new goals. The expedition will start from Ecuador and be a 5000 mile hike all the way across the Andes Mountains and the Amazon Jungle to the ends of Brazil.

This last Saturday there was an opportunity to meet Mickey at Frescos by the Pier and the whole crew along with fun festivities and giveaways! The event began at 11:00 a.m. and went until 7:00 p.m.

I got really motivated after meeting Matt Saxman, the lead videographer for the travels, to start really getting into film. I have been saving up money to get my new DSLR which will also have video capabilities. The one that I am currently looking at is the Nikon D5100 and hopefully I will get the 18 – 105 mm lens with it as well.

Nikon D5100

The idea of having a camera filming right up next to all of the action that is happening, especially in extreme situations, is the best way to grab the best footage and create amazing content. Although the quality of videos is very important, I feel that content will over ride the quality any day of the week. Going on an adventure like the Amazon 5000 is something that I would only dream of doing one day in my life and documenting all of it through a great quality video camera. It all had to start somewhere, and first I need to raise the needed funds to get there!

Be sure to like the Amazon 5000 on facebook here.

If you can’t make it to their fundraisers or just want to help the cause for the cure! You can donate right here!

Check out their website and be sure to watch the trailer as well!

Article by Danny McDonald

Mighty Mongo

For the last four years I have been a very big fan of local St. Petersburg band, Mighty Mongo. The band comprises of two University of South Florida St. Petersburg students that I have known since my freshman year. Throughout the years and going to their shows, I have met the other two members as well and have become friends with them.

Mighty Mongo comprises of Alex Card, Anthony Isoldi, Scotty Chmura and Lindsay Vitola. Each member is incredibly talented and together they make amazing music that ranges from rock, reggae and a very unique style of a combination of more genres.

Card plays the bass as well as vocals. Isoldi is an amazing lead guitarist. Vitola has an incredible voice and also plays the keytar. Chmura brings it all together with high energy drums that are flawless. Together they comprise of Mighty Mongo and have been working really hard to get where they are for the last four years.

The band have frequently played around the Tampa Bay Area and also playing at the campus a couple of times. One will find several Mighty Mongo gear around St. Petersburg that are worn very proudly. Recently Mighty Mongo found out that they are going to be on the Vans Warped Tour 2012. Through dedication and strong amount of effort, they are achieving closer to making a well recognized band throughout more levels.

I have add several pleasures of being able to watch Mighty Mongo perform. Whether it was back in the old Paddy Burkes or Sloppy Pelican days, watching their album release party at Vintage or just having them perform for a good cause on campus. Throughout the years I build up a database of Mongo Photos to share with everyone!

Please be sure to check out Mighty Mongo at the Warped Tour this year. They got a couple stops in Florida including Orlando and St. Petersburg so don’t miss out!

Alex Card of Mighty Mongo.

Lindsay Vitola and Anthony Isoldi.

Anthony Isoldi.

Scotty Chmura.

Brown Bag Lunches of Pinellas

Brown Bag Lunches of Pinellas is a non-profit organization that began in St. Petersburg by Maria Johanneson. The mission that Maria set out is to uplift the needy in poverty without judgment by giving them hope and confidence to succeed.

The values of Brown Bag Lunches of Pinellas revolves around that meals should be provided to everyone and done so through love, offering hope, mercy and compassion. They believe that everyone has the potential to go through a spiritual transformation that comes from strong faith in the love of a powerful community.

Homelessness is a temporary condition that can be overcome when desired through personal healing and support. So the organization is set to take care of their own community and help create lunches for all the homeless in Pinellas County.

The brown bag lunches include peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with applesauce, granola bars, baby food and bottled water. Brown Bag Lunches of Pinellas have seven local shelters that they deliver to and feed.

The organization has about 35 registered active volunteers and on March 24, 2012 Brown Bag Lunches of Pinellas partnered up with Student Government of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg to make 1,500 lunches to be distributed to different shelters and parks throughout the county.

The pictures that I took were not to challenging since there was good lighting going on and the colors were not too bright. I simple put the ISO pretty low and an f-stop at about 1/100 and the pictures came out pretty nice!

The event was a great success and we had a lot of volunteers come out and have a good time. The amount of people we had show up and help out made it a lot easier to make the sandwiches really quick and pack them up to have them ready to deliver. The relationship between USFSP and Brown Bag Lunches of Pinellas is just going to continue to grow and help feeding the needy, one brown bag at a time.

Swings Tampa Bay

Two of my friends started up an organization in St. Petersburg, Florida called Swings Tampa Bay. Reuben Pressman and Hunter Payne carried out the idea to a pitch contest hosted by Creative Tampa Bay and Creative Loafing called 10/100/1000. The idea originated from a interactive art project Hunter did for his class at The University of South Florida St. Petersburg. Winning the contest provided Reuben and Hunter $1,000 to make Swings an organization that can make an immediate impact on the community.

The concept of Swings is revolved around creating spontaneous community building by hanging up Swings anywhere in the Tampa Bay area. The power of the Swing becomes magnetic and can attract people to meet each other. The organization first started out by going out and buying pieces of wood and then cutting them up. Swings always tries to involve the community in any way possible. So the first couple of months Swings would go to community events and have free “Lets Paint Swings” events that will allow anyone in the community to go and paint whatever they want for a swing that will be hung up in the community. After each person painted up their swing, they got their picture taken and will be added on Swing’s facebook page.

After collecting a mass amount of painted swings, Reuben and Hunter will go out throughout the night and hang up the Swings in the community. So far Swings has collected over 1,000 painted swings and have hung up over 100. Some Swings will be taken down while others will up for a period of time. When one walks by one of these swings, it is the feeling of youth and connection to a community one will experience.

Swings has started to take interest out of state and even international. Swings Holland took off after contacting Reuben and Hunter and arranging everything to become an expansion. Swings Holland have been doing the same process of painting their swings and hanging them up in random places all over Holland and now throughout Europe. The magnetic power of Swings has expanded out and will continue to do so, one swing at a time.

I have a good database of different ‘Lets Paint Swings’ events since I would try to go out to as many of them as possible. It is pretty easy to get creative shots at these events because of the amount of art and colors that were used. I enjoyed taking all of these shots and plan to keep helping out Swings as much as possible.

'Lets Paint Swings' at the Saturday Morning Market in Downtown St. Petersburg.

Swings being painted by members of the community.


My Dog Desmond

Two years ago my mother and I purchased two English Springer Spaniel mix with Basset Hound puppies. We ended up calling them Desmond and Chispa. I picked the name Desmond in honor of my favorite character on the TV show Lost and my mother picked the name Chispa, which means Spark in Spanish, in honor of her old dog Sparky. The two puppies re-energized our life with happiness and love. These dogs were the happiest brothers and probably the cutest puppies ever. The two have helped us during difficult times and provided that sense of protection and comfort for us. Desmond became a fat dog that would only eat while sitting down, but he will definitely be the more loving dog to anyone from the two. Desmond will follow you around the house, sit down next to you and in your company at all times. The puppies ended up staying at my parents house along with my aunt and became close with everyone. Both puppies would sleep in my aunts room and they grew to be very close to her. Every single guest that we have ever had stay with us in my parents house grew close to the dogs and thought they were one of the prettiest breeds they have seen.

On March 5th, 2012 Desmond got hit by a car near his leg region. The start of the week started off rough for me after my birthday weekend. We took Desmond to the Emergency Room and we had his x-ray come in. The first news that came were shocking. Desmond only broke his tail and his hip, legs and spine was fine. At first the doctor said that the broken tail was holding back his nerves and that is why he wasn’t able to move his legs. A surgery of the removal of his tail could possibly lead to the nerves acting up and working again.

We took him to the Vet today and he said that the broken tail has nothing to do with Desmond’s ability to walk. He wouldn’t perform surgery on his tail and wants us to wait two days to see if he starts building a reaction in his leg and can hopefully urinate on his own. If Desmond can start having actions in his leg, then that is a really good sign for the nerves to start functioning again. The main concern as of now is if there is something wrong with one of his organs that could be stopping him from urinating on his own, there it is not something that we can fix.

When I first heard this, there were two feelings going through me. First of all I felt helpless. I want to do anything in this world to help out Desmond to make it better, but all I can truly do is wait and have faith. The second feeling I had was deceived. I felt like we were ready to fix Desmond. Lets go through the surgery and I rather play that waiting game. Anger starting flowing through me and I felt something in my body that I just couldn’t help. I did today something I haven’t done in six years since the death of my Godfather. I cried. I cried so much.

Desmond helped me realize that forcing myself not to cry all of these years has been an unnatural act by me and I wasn’t being true to nature. I cried at the vet, I cried at home and I cried in my bed. It helped me, it let me release my doubts and bring in my hope with faith.

I have been posting Desmond’s status on facebook and I could not believe the overwhelming amount of support and feedback we received. About 100 people replied to us letting us know that they are keeping us in their thoughts, prayers, hopes and minds. I showed my family and they immediately fell to tears. Before an era of facebook they could only rely on hopes and prayers from their closest ones and letting people know one by one. I stopped by campus today to hand in homework and my dear good friends Jami Compton, Shannon Kalahar and Hunter Payne stopped by to make sure I was alright. They made red velvet cupcakes for me and family. My mother dropped to tears and called them immediately to thank them. It is amazing in this era of easy access of mass communication, emotions can be affected in such a positive form, all thanks to innovation.

As of now we can just hope the best for Desmond and pray for him. If I could just fix one thing in him right now, it will be to make sure his organs are functioning correctly. If Desmond can never use his back two legs again, we have read about how amazing innovation has also played into the world of pets. A dog wheel chair has allowed pet owners to keep their animals with them when the more logical choice in the past was to put them to sleep.

All of your prayers are amazing. My family has appreciated it so much and we can only take it one day at a time. Keep having faith for the best, because I definitely am.

Desmond and Chispa first day together in the house.

Desmond and Chispa sleeping.

Always smiling.

Desmond won Puppy Photo of the Month with this image taken by Andrew Silverstein.

Desmond at the dog park.

Brothers. Best Friends.




College Daze Radio Show

I have been a part of a weekly online radio show that airs from Rhino Studios in St. Petersburg, Florida. It is hosted by Mark Lombardi-Nelson, Joey Catalano and Taylor Upchurch. I have been working on their social media and kind of the “unofficial” honorary fourth member and make guest appearances on the show. All of the hosts are current college students and the show is meant to talk about the best and worst parts of college. The show is very entertaining, a lot of fun and has a pretty good amount of listeners. It has been averaging at about over a 1,000 listeners per week from all around the world.

The live recording of the show happens at Rhino Studios on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg. In the back of the studios, Rhino has their own station called Rhino on Air which has shows that are hosted from people in the community. Joey met the one of the owners of Rhino Studios and pitched him the idea and after a very successful pilot, the show starting making its mark in the Rhino on Air.

The show begins with the word and phrase of the day that is taken from a website and discussed among the three. Joey is usually pretty blunt about what he has to say and usually has the unique extreme opinion that will ignite conversation. Mark seems to have more of a general opinion that will lighten the mood. Taylor represents a strong side but breaks down conversation very well.

Each week the show features a live musical guest or a panel to give their opinions. The musical guests range from acoustic guitar players who sing to rappers who perform over their own beats they made. Usually each guest is from the local area, but they have had one guest stop by from Colorado when she was in town.

The show will make you laugh, think, criticize and learn from the discussions about life during the time of college. Listeners who are currently in college will learn new stuff to do while graduates will reminisce about a period where their youth was ignited.

The lighting in the studio is pretty simple and I love how the walls are painted green. I can usually get some really nice shots without ever using flash and I post them on the facebook page for College Daze.

The tagline for Rhino on Air is “For the arts, by the arts” that is painted on a board and sat next to the studio so everyone who is on the air can see. The studio is also pretty intriguing with some creative designs such as guitars sticking out of the walls and will catch someone’s eye.

You can listen to College Daze every Thursday at 4:00 p.m. at http://www.rhinoonair.com and can visit their facebook page here.

Behind the studios.

The lovely Taylor Upchurch from College Daze.

Guitars sticking out.

The whole crew.

A Plant

I was going through my old pictures and found this little guy. Caught my attention, hopefully it will catch yours as well.

Fallen Officers Memorial

Last month on January 24 marked the year anniversary of the shooting of Officers Sgt. Tom Baitinger and Jeffrey Yaslowitz. The University of South Florida St. Petersburg held a memorial service for the community on campus. The service included talks from the Student Body President, Chancellor and representatives from the police department. Several members of the community were in attendance including family members of the fallen officers. The moment was special and has been a part of Students who were there part of something.

I remember the day when the shooting happened. My photojournalism course got cancelled since there were cops on campus. The topic became the discussion at almost every course I attended, especially our Media Law class. I still went to campus to check out the environment and there was just a general cold feeling throughout the day. I turned on the news and about 10 minutes into it, the headlines read the official report that the officers were dead and the names of them.

I felt sad, but it didn’t truly hit me until the memorial service. T-shirts were being sold and all the money went to the families. I observed the families cry and still see them around the community at several events. Mayor Foster has shown several times his sympathy. The city ended up dedicating a section of Fourth Street to the fallen officers and also Officer Crawford who died in a shooting on February 21st and was remembered for the anniversary of his passing yesterday.

I didn’t bring my tripod to the memorial service and I remember looking at it and decided to not bring it. It was a big challenge to get good shots at the event since the sun went down really quick. The shots that came out great were some of the speakers and the prayer circle. Since it was a memorial service, there were lit candles just about everywhere. So the lighting of the pictures was mainly from the bottom up and hit the face.

If I had a tripod, I would’ve had taken a lot of clearer shots that could have grabbed a better emotion. It is really interesting for me to see how far I have come in photography just a year ago. I start to see everything differently and notice when and how are the best shots achieved. I couldn’t use the longest shutter speed for these pictures because of the lack of stability. I tried to get as close as I could without interrupting the service to get pictures that can make an impact.

This blog of reflection is helping me tremendously understand what I have done wrong and what I need to do to make a better shoot in general. If I were to go out now and with the same lighting and equipment that I had, I feel that I will be much more efficient in the pictures that I can do now.

Wrong Way Skate

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