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Showing posts from September, 2011

End of the Month

Now is the end of the month of September. The end of the quarter. Tomorrow is the start of the last quarter of 2011. I saw this new moon early evening, after the sun had gone down, but with plenty of twilight left in the sky. Taken with the E-3, the EC-14, and 50-200mm at maximum zoom (283mm). It was hand-held, or more precisely, hand-propped on the top of my old Sorento. I was surprised at the reasonable sharpness of the image, considering it was taken under less than ideal conditions.

The primary black and white treatment was done in Silver Efex Pro 2 to pick out the lunar detail, then the black was tweaked a tiny bit more to get rid of noise artifacts in the black of the sky. Tweaking that black also enhanced the lunar detail a bit more as well.

I still have dreams of walking on the moon. I think I always will.

It Needed to be Done

You're observing the presentation of a well-deserved ticket to a very bad driver. What did he do? On the south-bound side of Wallace Road, at the intersection of Wallace and Dr. Phillips Blvd, he pulled out of the right lane and into the left side into on-coming traffic so he could drive down a few yards into the left turn lane from Wallace to east-bound Dr. Phillips. I know this because I was several cars behind him when he pulled that stunt.

What makes this really bad is the driver did this during the morning rush when parents were dropping their children off at Dr. Phillips Elementary, which is right there at that intersection. Along with heavy automobile traffic, there were kids in the crosswalks along with the adult cross walk monitors. Now you've got a really bad situation where an extremely selfish driver in his expensive car feels he's entitled to get somewhere in a hurry regardless of the rules, and so puts a lot of very precious lives at risk. Because the throug…

Treatments

This time of year Orlando is usually blessed with afternoon and evening thundershowers. In between running in and out of the house I managed to notice this afternoons collection of thunderheads around the horizon.

The original is the bottom photo, and shows what it looked like in color. What's disturbing about the image is the tinting due to air pollution. These clouds were on the eastern horizon, with the setting sun's light slanting through a large section of the atmosphere.

The upper photo was developed in Silver Efex Pro 2 with a copper tint added. I worked with the Full Contrast and Structure preset, then dropped the brightness -20, pushed the contrast to +20, and structure to +50. I wanted the wild energetic energy I was seeing the the cloud (the lightning) to come through the photo.

Technical

Taken with an Olympus E-3 with ZD 50-200mm zoom, base ISO, post processed in Lightroom 3 and Silver Efex Pro 2.

A Day in my So-called Life

People keep saying that the best photos should tell a story. OK. Here's a collection you can follow from top to bottom, that shows little vignettes as I was heading home from the office. I won't add words. You can imagine what it might all mean. Or not.

P.S. Yes, that is Milla Jovovich looking up at you, the way she looked up at me while she was shilling for some beauty product in a bottle.

Everything taken with my Android-based smartphone. Five tiny megapixels. Everything post-processed on the smarphone.

I found this via TOP, and for some odd reason it fits into my attitude towards overly expensive camera gear. From anybody. And you thought the Nikon 1 was a joke. At least it doesn't cost $8,000.


I need to call Ken Rockwell. I think he's on to something...

Dazed and Confused

Do you know what I find fascinating about my cellphone's built-in camera? The ability to push any image, still or video, immediately up to the web for all to consume. In my case it's pushing them up to my Flickr account. There's no other way to easily do that unless I cross over to my laptop and plug the phone into one of the laptop's USB ports with a micro-USB cable. Then I can bring up Windows explorer (or Linux Nautilus) and navigate the phone's filesystem looking for the image, then go through the rigamarole of using Flickr's browser interface to select and upload the photo.

It's a whole lot easier pushing it directly from the phone to the 'cloud'.

You can accomplish the same task with cameras that use SDHC memory cards by using Eye-Fi's online sharing feature. What makes the cellphone easier than even Eye-Fi is the ability to select, with a simple single touch, a given network out of a fairly extensive list to upload to.

Yes, as an old man…

Nikon, Sony, et alia redux

After reading Matthew's incisive response to my original post about the future of digital photography and his judgement of Sony, I have to admit that he is right. Mostly. His key thesis, that "Sony chronically shows exciting technological promise but hasn't demonstrated much commitment to photography" is unfortunately dead on target. Looking at the history of the Sony α brand since it's inception nearly six years ago, it bears all the unfortunate marks of a product line designed by committee with no real single photographic visionary in charge. A problem that seems to afflict just about everything Sony makes these days, and is 180° opposite from Apple. But I digress...

The reason I keep hoping that Sony will actually accomplish something with the Sony α brand is because it is derived from my beloved Minolta system, which I used for a decade from the 1970s to the early 1980s. During that time I owned a Minolta SRT-SC, XE-7, and XD-11, as well as a collection of Ro…

Nikon, Sony, et alia.

Just a few days ago Bill wrote down his thoughts on the future of photography, and in one of those quirks of timing, we now know more about what the market will look like in a few years. What changed is the "Nikon 1".

Nikon calls their new mirrorless camera system revolutionary, and while they may be right it's far too soon to believe them. Steve Jobs, who's certainly no dummy, called both the iPad and the Segway revolutionary, and he was only right about one of them.

The biggest noise about the new Nikon format is the smaller sensor. I'm reserving judgement about what the image quality will be, because photosite size really isn't everything – the Olympus E-1 has bigger pixels than the Canon 5DmkII. While the magnification factor and deep depth of field of the 1.16 cm2 sensor won't disappoint the hypothetical purchaser who's looking to upgrade from a compact camera, it's something that enthusiast photographers are going to need to come to terms wi…

1 Is The Loneliest Number

The last 48 hours have been remarkable to watch in the MILF world. I had a ring-side seat as one of the behemoths of the the contemporary camera market released a new camera to near universal scorn.

Or at least that's what many pontificating internet paperback intellectuals would have you believe.

I'm speaking, of course, of Nikon and its Nikon 1 Camera System, "built from the ground up." The Nikon 1 Camera System, "built from the ground up," consists of two bodies (the V1 and the J1) and four lenses and is delivered in a variety of colors, one of which, a nausea-inducing eye-blinding Pepto-Bismol Pink, you can see even with your eyes closed to your immediate right.

As an owner of perennial whipping boy 4/3rds and µ4/3rds, I stood in silent solidarity with Nikon over what Nikon has wrought, and at the same time in utter disbelief at the howls of rage and indignation rising up from the roaming internet forum monsters and former Nikon fanboys over Nikon's…

E-1 Experiment #4

This experiment involved the use of the KT E-1 with an Olympus OM 28mm 1:2.8 lens mounted via an Olympus MF-1 adapter. I had them lying in the drawer, the OM 28mm because I had no use for it at the moment, the E-1 because it had taken on something of an "aura" due to its genesis and was thus a bit afraid to "tarnish" it. I pulled the two out, put them together, and started playing around with the combination. They're going to stay together indefinitely until I change my mind.

The combination gives me a decently fast 56mm equivalent picture taking machine. I can open it up and close focus or stop it down and set it to the selected aperture's hyperfocal distance and photograph with impunity. Without having to focus the E-1's shutter trips almost instantly. I'm also using full manual settings. I can't believe how tiny the whole thing looks and feels.

I took the photograph because I was charmed by the weave and texture of the teddy's "fur&q…

Pack Small. Shoot Big.

There was a disturbance in the force today. Olympus disturbed it in a big way by managing to produce a solid, if not outright high-quality advertising campaign and supporting website called The Pen Ready Project, with the slogan "Pack Small. Shoot Big."

The site is there to promote Olympus' latest µ4/3rds camera, the E-PM1. As I wrote about in an earlier blot post this particular model is another example of refining the camera down to its essential essence, an image capturing device small and light enough to carry discretely yet with a large high-quality sensor (very much larger than the overwhelming majority of fixed-lens point-and-shoots over which it sits) and the critical ability to change its lens.

What makes this remarkable is the price of the camera plus kit zoom lens, an M.Zuiko 14-42mm 1:3.5-56 Mk 3: $500 ($499.99 if you insist). Price-wise this slots neatly right on top of the classic digital point-and-shoots. For $500 you can get a very well appointed point-a…

Pinching #1500 Matthew

This is, so far, my most favorite bestest photograph of Matthew's that Matthew Robertson has created for his five thousand photos. If you sit back the proper distance from the photograph the art patron on the right becomes an almost abstract far eastern-style dry brush painting at the edge.

Who said black and white is dead?

Cool beans.

Mundane Scenes of the Day

The word 'mundane' has come to mean boring and dull, and it really shouldn't. It should mean the opposite because it comes from the latin 'mundus', meaning the world, and the world is anything but dull; the world is wonderful. There's real poetry in the real world. Science is the poetry of reality.
Richard Dawkins, "The Enemies of Reason"

The Future of Photography

The future is bifurcated, with what is currently referred to as mirrorless interchangeable cameras from the low to enthusiast tier, and SLR-based designs turning into an expensive high-end niche product. The reason is manufacturing costs and margins and a saturated DSLR camera market dominated by Canon and Nikon.

Where Did We Come From?

The seeds for digital mirrorless' rise and eventual dominance were first planted by the point-and-shoot cameras from the film era. Many like to point to range-finder cameras, such as the Leica, but the real genesis occurred when manufacturers started to strip out every non-vital camera part they possible could and ruthlessly simplify what was left. The end result were drugstore and big-box-store cameras that came preloaded with film and wrapped for single use. Buy the camera, take your pictures, drop the camera off to develop the film, pay for the prints. Rinse and repeat.

You can still buy those cameras today at places such as your local Walmart, m…

Get Over It Already

On occasion I tend to get really peeved when a blog reader shows up on a blog post trolling for reactions. For example, this trollish post from Kirk Tuck's second E-P3 usage posting:
Not to be argumentative, but even a small sensor phone camera can create a blurry background when the subject is up close. Most people who make the "m4/3 can't do blurry backgrounds" argument are referring to portraiture when the subject is one to two meters away (emphasis mine).OK, I'll bite. The teddy bear you see above you was taken with my E-P2 and the regular 4/3rds ZD 50mm macro lens. The distance from the camera to the teddy bear was between three and four feet (the minimum one meter lower limit). I used the 50mm as a stand-in for the newly announced M.Zuiko 45m 1:1.8 portrait lens for the µ4/3rds system.

I don't normally use that lens that wide open. I normally like to stop down to f/4, which gives me enough depth of field and the kind of acutance I look for in a lens. If…

The Olympus E-P3 — Reassessing

Ever since the E-P3 was officially announced in late June I have been quite critical of the model in particular and Olympus in general.

That critical attitude has also spread to all the other camera manufacturers. I will not run from Olympus, but to a manufacturer and model that makes sense.

I've been quite busy this year, especially recently. This past week I drove up to Columbus Georgia and Ft Benning to attend the the 2011 Maneuver Conference. Since I drove from Orlando to Columbus Georgia I took nearly every camera body and lens I had in my collection; an E-1, an E-3, and an E-P2 along with the ZD 12-60mm, ZD 50-200mm, ZD 50mm macro, Sigma 30mm, ZD 9-18mm, M.Zuiko 14-42mm, and M.Zuiko 17mm. You can carry a lot when it's locked in bags in the trunk.

The majority of the time in the field I carried the E-1 and E-3 with the 12-60mm and 50-200mm (respectively). When I was at the conference center itself I use the more discrete and lighter E-P2 with the 14-42mm kit lens. The one…

The Bad Habits of So-called Pros

I don't normally criticize other professional photographers. I'm generally not in their league. But there are times, when I'm around a so-called pro at work, that their choice of equipment and how the operate it annoys the pure living bejesus out of me and many sitting around me.

This past week I was up in Columbus Georgia attending the 2011 Maneuver Conference held at the Columbus Georgia Georgia Convention and Trade Center, hosted by the Maneuver Center of Excellence at near-by Ft. Benning.

The majority of the activity was held in the Iron Works combined Ballrooms A, B, and C (see above). By the time all three rooms were combined, you had enough room to hold thousands, and it was indeed packed. All the chairs were filled and there were people standing across the back three walls, at many places three deep. Colonels and Generals from the Army were giving talks about training, and all aspects of training. And right in the middle if it were a group of professional photograp…

Home Again via Tallahassee

It's been a crazy week, what with me traveling up to Columbus Georgia and Ft. Benning, then traveling back again. The way up I took I-75 most of the way, turning west at Cordele on I-75. On the way back I went south towards Albany and then took 300 the rest of the way to Thomasville, then south down 319 into Tallahassee. I wanted to drop by and say hello to #2 daughter before turning down I-10 and south down I-75. As it turned out, I could have shaved about a half hour off the trip if I'd taken the non-intuitive route from I-75 to I-10 and then turned immediately north on 300 through Thomasville and Albany to Columbus. I'll do this in the future. Or maybe Tifton. But never, ever again Cordele.


The Mary Brogan Museum of Art and Science is located on the Kleman Plaza in downtown Tallahassee. My daughter just got a job there and I wanted to pop in real fast and at least say hello. It appears the wife and I were able to do this without embarrassing her too much. If we had had…

E-1 Experiment #3

Another cat picture. Oh well, it's Lucy and it's my cat.

Taken with the E-1 and the Sigma 30mm 1:1.4 at f/1.8, then post processed in Silver Efex Pro 2.

I chose black and white via Silver Efex to soften some of the harsh contrasts on Lucy. By the time I had lowered the harshness a bit to show more of the detail in her fur, her eye had disappeared into a deep shadow. I used a tight control point to bring the eye's exposure back up and thus the detail.

Even under rather unusual conditions, the E-1 and the Sigma 30mm consistently locked on the correct focus point, her eye.

E-1 Experiment #2

Continuing with my E-1 experiments. In this experiment I deliberately cropped a 5PM image into a square format to better draw attention to the orchid blossoms. This photo was taken with Kirk Tuck's donated E-1 at the same time as I photographed the other orchids. This is a different part of the bloom spray.

The photo was originally taken in landscape mode. The 1:1 crop retains the original vertical pixel count. Only the right end of the original photo was cropped (well, a bit on the left, but mostly on the right).

The same type of treatment was used for this image as the other in the prior post; blacks increased to cover the detail in the background, and a little post processing magic to increase the color saturation a bit to my tastes, as well as enhance the grain and the detail of the blossoms.

I also did something I seldom do in post processing. I used the adjustment brush, set to black, to a part of a petal in the very upper right corner. It made no sense to leave it there aft…

A Random Act of Kindess

Today was a most interesting day. It all started late last week when Kirk Tuck posted on the Flickr Olympus E System Community forum that he'd boxed up his last E-1 body and "sent it off to some lucky soul on this forum." He went on to further write that he want it sent "to someone who would appreciate other than it's market value." And of course, someone who he already had their address.

It all sort of added up to me, and I wondered if that was the case when I first read the posting and some of the replies. I sent Kirk a teasing email asking if he'd autographed it, and he sent back a cryptic "Wait and see...."

I basically forgot all about it until today, when my wife called me late morning at the office to tell me that a FedEx package had arrived from Austin, TX. I felt a small electric shock on hearing that and immediately remembered the forum posting from last week. I thought the rest of the day would drag but work conspired to fill ever mi…

This I Believe

I got another one of those "forward if you believe in this" far-right spam emails. It started off with the pledge of allegiance, and then asked the following question:
"If Muslims can pray on Madison Avenue, why are Christians banned from praying in public and erecting religious displays on their holy days?"Well, let me answer that question in a series of simple steps that even the questioner can hopefully understand.

But first, a few words about my modest religious upbringing. Born and raised a Southern Baptist in Atlanta, Ga, I switched to Methodism in my mid-20's, and I've been a United Methodist ever since. Yes, believe it or not, I'm a Christian.

As I was born in Atlanta, I'm the product of the Fulton and DeKalb county public school systems of the 1960s and early 1970s. I actually managed to learn something during those years, such as American history, civics, and critical reasoning skills. Which gives me an increasingly rare ability to see thro…

Dead Perkins by the side of the road

It's happened again. Another restaurant on University Blvd next to the University of Central Florida has kicked the bucket. By my informal estimate this makes about half the restaurants along the stretch of road between the entrance to UCF and Rouse Road that have died since I started keeping track around January 2009.


It isn't as if this is the only Perkins in the area. There's a sign posted on the main entrance directing former patrons to their closest location.


The referenced location is due west on University Blvd at the intersection of University and Forsyth near Full Sail University, right before University dead-ends into Semoran Blvd (SR 436). That's a bit of a haul if you're in need of a Perkins fix.


This particular Perkins had been around for a while. The photo above was taken a year ago when the new IHOP opened up across the street. At that point Perkins started pushing their breakfast menu, with various specials every week for several months. Perkins alw…

E-1 Experiment #1

It was a long day this Labor Day holiday. I got up early, packed the Prius, ate a bit of breakfast at the nearby Cracker Barrel, and then hit the road.

The remnants of Lee continued to wash over Florida from the Gulf, so that I had the pleasure of driving through periods of heavy rain on the way back to Orlando. I made the conscious decision to take 27 Alternate instead of the regular I-10 to I-75 route. Because this was a major holiday I wanted to avoid the traffic and the possible of sitting for hours on I-75 around Gainesville or Ocala due to some crazy accident. I took my chances on Alt 27 and it paid off.

Sitting at home, putting away my gear, I picked up the E-1 with the 12-60mm. Such a potent combination. The 12-60mm was originally developed to be used with the E-3, but it fits quite well on the E-1.

So while I'm lounging about on the Max's love seat in the living room I cranked up the E-1's ISO to 3200 (I love to watch the ISO value blink on the top LCD display whe…