thewayne: (Default)
I could weep. Truly, I could weep. It includes a video of a guy destroying a Canon Digital Rebel XL by pointing it at the sun through a bigass Canon telephoto without a filter on the lens, purely as a demonstration. Burns right through the sensor, damages the mirror: you can see wisps of smoke when he removes the body from the lens.

One camera was protected by a drop-in filter. No damage to the camera. The lens, however, had to have the diaphragm replaced.

thewayne: (Default)
Yesterday I received an email from a camera store saying that August 19 was International Photography Day. That was interesting, thought I. Hadn't heard of that. Then again, every single day is Something Day. I meant to post about it but didn't get around to it, though I did shoot some interesting clouds around sunset that I'll do some stitching and we'll see what we get.

I decided to do a little searching and see what I could find about this International day, and I was surprised what Wikipedia said about August 19: in 1839, the French government announces that 'Louis Daguerre's photographic process is a gift "free to the world"'! Well, that's pretty spiffy! It's one of those cases where multiple people at the same time were discovering recording images on a sort of permanent basis, not unlike the light bulb and the telephone. Louis was the most successful of the early birds and got his name most prominently mentioned in the history books.

So Vive Louis!
thewayne: (Default)
So I'm at the observatory last night, it's the third night of my wife's four night shift, and for once, the weather looks really good: we've had a storm cell parked on top of the mountain for a couple of weeks. I set up my camera on the floor in front of the telescope, check all the settings, all looks well. Empty memory card, I'd topped-off the battery before I left home, camera settings were where I wanted them. My wife told me that the observer was watching just a single target, so I wouldn't get much in the way of star streaks, but that was OK - it was more of an experiment to see what it would look like. I started the external timer firing once a second, she turned off the lights, opened the dome, and we went downstairs to the control room for a few hours.

I knew the camera battery was good for about 4.5 hours in colder conditions, and I started it shooting at about 20:00, just before sundown, so I kind of expected it to still be firing when I went back up about three hours later. No visible red LED on the camera. Maybe it was between exposures. Get down to the floor of the telescope: nope, it was dead. So take it off the tripod, sling it over my shoulder, grab my tripod and head back downstairs.

I figured the battery was dead and I had a card full of images to look at. I did stop to look out the telescope slit: absolutely gorgeous night, couldn't have asked for a nicer sky. So down in the control room, just for kicks and giggles, I try to turn the camera on. And it turns on. And shows a battery just under completely full.

Hit the button to playback images. It took 240 images before stopping. A whopping five minutes of exposures. Didn't even get past sundown, which would have been nice to have the sky transition. Complete waste of time.

I don't know what happened. Camera battery was fine. Remote timer battery was fine: I replaced it with a new battery after I got it (I bought a used unit). 32 gig memory card was empty and freshly formatted when I started the night. The camera was set to turn itself off after two minutes, but the timer was tripping it once a second, so the auto power-off should never have triggered.


We did have a good time, chatting with people in the control room. Another astronomer from the other telescope had just returned from eight days in Japan, visiting her aunt and cousins. Had wonderful stories, especially about toilets, TV, and scarily-expensive coffee. Talking to their computer guy about a switch that had confused itself about its IP address and he couldn't find it on the network. I suggested trying to find its MAC address, but that didn't work. We talked about the summer shutdown when they do heavy maintenance on the telescopes: the 2.5 meter mirror is about to get crated up and trucked to Tucson for its annual re-aluminaization, and it's possible the 3.5 will get redone this year even though it was done only two years ago.

And, of course, playing with the poodles, talking about Gay of Thrones (Funny or Die recap of the HBO series) and Orphan Black.
thewayne: (Default)
I was doing OK on the photography side, my main problem was not assembling the pile of photos correctly in Photoshop. Now I know how! Now I also know that I REALLY need to get an intervalometer! I shot these using an infrared remote release to trip the camera to do 30 second exposures (Canon 6D, full-frame 20ish megapixel, 17-40 zoom at 17mm, f4.5 at 30 seconds, ISO 800), but was inconsistent with firing at precise 30 second intervals and that's what causes the little 'dot breaks' in the streaks. Theoretically I can use my laptop as an intervalometer, so that's something that I'll experiment with tomorrow and I'll (maybe) come back to the observatory tomorrow night and try again.

This is my wife's telescope, the 3.5 meter. The structure to the right is the 'arcade' that connects the operations/administrative building to the telescope.

The telescope on the left is the Sloan 2.5 meter, in front you again see the 3.5 meter, the two smaller domes are the NMSU 1 meter and the ARCSAT 0.5. The rightmost building is the dome/barn for the Sloan 2.5: it's on railroad ties and is moved away from the telescope when the telescope is opened.

Getting Polaris almost centered in that shot was sheerest luck.

Another view of the Sloan 2.5.

Unfortunately for the last set I only got 7 images for 3.5 minutes duration before they had to temporarily shut the telescope down for a cartridge swap. The slight blur was because they were slewing the telescope to point to where I was, prior to pointing the telescope straight up for the cartridge change. But all telescopes are always constantly moving, albeit ever so slowly, so getting a perfectly crisp shot of one probably means that it's not tracking and it's a totally staged shot.

Since this was just a test-run, I wanted to go inside and do the post-processing to see how things worked out.

And I was pleased.
thewayne: (Default)
I was discussing the VLA with a friend on LJ and realized that I shot it twice in '13 during the last government shutdown and never got around to posting photos. Well, I've remedied that and just finished uploading a dozen. I also reset my hit counter. The images are at

I'm honestly not too happy with the shoots, which is part of the reason why I never uploaded photos.  When I did the first shoot, I was at that time also shooting for the local newspaper as part of a class.  They wanted everything just shot as JPEG, no RAW.  I forgot to reset my camera when I arrived at the site, and EVERYTHING I SHOT WAS IN JPEG.  Well, you can suck JPEGs in to Photoshop and do some adjustments, but you've already lost a lot of info with the camera having already done image adjustments and compression, so it hardly seems worth it.  I was tremendously pissed off at myself over this, but I've lost a lot of that anger in the intervening four years, and did some work today, partly while I was at the dentist and not holding my wife's hand, partly while waiting for cookies to bake (I adjusted my oatmeal/chocolate chip/macadamia nut recipe by adding two tablespoons of molasses: very interesting result).  And I played a bit with a couple of HDR shots that are kind of cool.  When the government shut-down, I high-tailed it out to Socorro when I read that not only was the observatory shut-down, but all the telescopes had been parked pointing at zenith, straight up.  That was just too cool a photo opportunity to miss.

The second shoot was after the government shutdown had been resolved, but it was going to take at least a week to recall all of the workers who had dispersed hither and yon on an unpaid vacation, so the spouse and I loaded up the poodle and went.  She wasn't able to go on the first shoot as she was working.  I had my camera set correctly for the second shoot, but my telephoto wasn't doing a good job focusing, so again, I wasn't really satisfied with the output.

Well, it looks very probable that we're about to have yet another government shutdown.  Which means that it's very probable that NRAO will shut down again, I'll have to keep an eye on their web site.  I'm going to Phoenix this weekend -- my mom is having a yard sale and my dad has a broken bone in his foot -- so I won't be able to get up there this weekend, but I should be able to go next.  We shall see.  And now I have much better equipment: I've replaced the legs on my tripod, I have a full-frame camera, and a new (to me) 75-300 zoom.  I've pretty much retired my 28-300 that I shot with in '13.

The reason for resetting the hit counter is it seems like I am always getting the same 15 photos with the most hits.  I keep meaning to mine the logs and see where the hits for those photos are coming from, and seeing if there are web sites somewhere exploiting my pix for profit without my permission.  I could always do a bit of sabotage to them if I wanted to: replace those images with a sign that says 'If you want to use my photo for advertising, you need to contact me for licensing.'
thewayne: (Default)
[personal profile] lovelyangel made an interesting post yesterday about photography, asking whether or not your current camera is the last camera body that you'll ever buy. I highly recommend the post as she brings up some points that I'm not going to dwell on here.

Good food for thought. I've been shooting for about 40 years now, digital for 15+. I can't class Nikon bodies as to what is what in the Pro vs Consumer or Prosumer spectrum, when it comes to Canon, it's pretty clear: 1D series is Pro, 5D series is just under it, and 6D is the top of the line prosumer: full-frame, but not quite the full-metal body of the 1 and 5. Then you have the consumer Digital Rebel series. The Rebels are quite adequate and I spent a number of years shooting them, and I still own one. But now my main camera is a 6D.

Two decisions went in to me buying the 6D over a used 5D Mark II (Mk III wasn't out at that time and I couldn't afford new), the 1D was never in the race as the price point was just ridiculous for me. I knew I needed a full-frame DSLR to get rid of the 1.6 multiplier for lens focal length caused by the imaging chip crop. This prevents you from having true wide-angle lenses, and that's critical for me. I'd lived without it for a decade, and that was long enough. The first reason for buying the 6D was price. It's simply much less expensive than the 5D. The first generation 6D also had built-in GPS and WiFi. I don't normally use the GPS when shooting locally, but it was turned on constantly when I was shooting in Germany. The second was weight. Again, very nice when I was shooting in Europe, but nice overall. Electronics-wise, the 5D has some slightly better features than the 6D, but price won out.

Will it be the last body that I buy? Ignoring loss (theft or damage), it's a possibility. Like Amy, I'd like larger pixels for improved lower light sensitivity for shooting at night at the observatory (homey don't do weddings and ain't much of a people shooter). For me, I expect I'll be buying more glass as I don't have the exact mix of lenses that I want: though I'm happy with what I have, I need a long zoom and I'd like a wide fixed and perhaps a fast normal and fast 85mm, though not a priority on the last two. I'm very slow on acquiring gear: it's not just my unemployed state, it's my attitude of my gear fits my needs pretty well.

Which still dances around whether or not this is my last body. In short, probably. It takes a lot of shooting to wear out a body, and I haven't done that yet. I currently shoot three bodies, plus, occasionally, my iPhone. My cameras are: Canon 6D, Canon Rebel SL1, and my Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7 (I also have a Elan 7e film body, though I have no plans for that to ever be used again, you never know). I'll be keeping the two Canons, barring theft or the body failing, but I am planning on replacing the Lumix. There's another Lumix model that I covet: it's pretty much the same size, so it's easily kept in my pocket, about the same lens focal length, the difference for me is that it has a viewfinder. It has a fake place for your eye that detects your eye being there and turns on a tiny LCD screen, just like the big one on the back. The difference is that I can't use the big one on the back for composition without putting on my reading glasses, which means the rest of the world goes fuzzy. So either the composition is clear and the world is fuzzy, or the composition is fuzzy and approximate and the world is clear. Annoying. I think that would be worth spending less than $400 to remove an annoyance, if I ever get another job.

Thinking about it, my Lumix is currently my primary camera based on current usage, but that changes when I have a specific objective when shooting with friends. But that's all mainly because I can carry it in my pocket all the time.

The Rebel SL1 fills a specific niche. Actually, it fills two. First, it's a Digital Rebel, which means a smaller sensor, which means all focal lengths get multiplied by 1.6. Thus the 100mm lens becomes a 170mm lens. Fantastic for telephoto shooting, sucks for wide-angle. I have a 75-300mm for wildlife and other telephoto shooting, so this body will stay until it dies, and it's pretty inexpensive to replace if you don't mind used equipment, and 90% of my equipment over the years I've bought used. It's very lightweight and small, so nice to transport. Excellent backup and specialist camera.

I'm going to talk about one more thing: what are the reasons to buy new camera bodies? Ignoring buying a new body for sheer newfangledness, I see it for two reasons: pixel lust and feature lust. Pixel lust breaks down to more or bigger. More is sort of a false race at this point: while 20 is better than 10, for more people 30 is not markedly better than 20. The sheer number of pixels is not terribly meaningful, but the size of the pixels is. Let's do the time warp: five years ago, cell phones and DSLRs were beyond 5 megapixels and people were saying that cell phones were going to replace DSLRs. There's two problems with that line of thought. Yes, in terms of the raw number of pixels, that was true. But the cell phone pixels were crammed in to an area the size of your pinkie thumb nail while the DSLRs were the size of a postage stamp and thus were much larger. When the number is the same, size matters. Second, when the density is increased, in the case of cell phones, other problems emerge: cross-talk between pixels, increased noise, false colors, etc. So while cell phone pictures look great on a computer monitor, blow it up to a 16x20" print and it won't look nearly as good.

There's also generational improvements in digital technology. Last month I gave my mom one of those digital picture frames loaded up with photos from my wedding. My wife and I were married 12 years ago, and our wedding was shot by a friend using two Digital Rebels and two film bodies. And we really should have hired a professional. T is a very good photographer, but the equipment quality just wasn't that great. I was cleaning up those photos prior to loading them on to a memory card and was proverbially gritting my teeth, mentally comparing them to what my cameras produce today. That's viewing them on two computers: a late 2015 27" iMac with a 5K display and a 2011 1" MacBook Pro. The flaws in the camera electronics are quite obvious. I know the electronics in my current cameras are amazingly awesome: but what are they going to be like in another 10 years?

30 years ago, my mom asked me what computers would be like in another 20 years. My answer holds true today and for the future, and for photography: smaller, lighter, faster, less expensive, but I have no idea beyond that. Ask any serious photographer and they probably have more money in glass and other equipment than bodies, and next year's bodies work on last year's glass. My oldest Canon lens, a 35-105 (the first Eos lens that I ever bought), is from the late '80s and works just fine on my 6D from 2-3 years ago.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
This is a really cool event for anyone interested in photography. It doesn't matter how good your equipment is, I've seen lots of people with cell phone cameras and point and shoots, in addition to $3,000 Nikons and Canons. It's an opportunity to walk around an area that you may not have been to before with people also interested in photography, it gives you an opportunity to expand how you view the world.

It is truly world-wide. Enter your city name, or where you want to go, and everything is pinned via Google Maps. And it's free, though donations are appreciated and t-shirts are available that support the charity of the year.

This will be my third year doing it, and this year I'm going to Las Cruces instead of El Paso. I'm looking forward to it.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
It is a very cool place. I uploaded 43 images and did some initial descriptions, I need to apply tags.

Included: the Avro Vulcan bomber, SR-71, U-2, F-111, C-119, etc.

I'll post some photos later, I gotta get to bed.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
I was searching my email looking for one about a Nikon Coolpix that was dropped in a river and continued working in the most amazing way, when I came across this. The first paragraph is mine.

My 24mm lens died, I spoke with my repairman yesterday and he said "say some kind words and give it a nice burial." Well, a guy on my blog's friend's list had an encounter at a party with a drunk friend who tackled him, and in the process broke a Nikon flash and trashed a laptop. I sent him the following message when the photographer suggested that we could start a community for photography horror stories:

Oh, no doubt! The sad thing was that my 24mm died while I was doing parametric testing for class. At least it was remarkably consistent when it came to densitometer readings. :-)

It's inevitable, as long as you take photos, you're going to have equipment ruined. Absolutely inevitable. There was that time when Ansel Adams was attacked by a group of ninja and a shuriken tore through the bellows of his 8x10 view camera before he could subdue them all with his tripod, but as I heard it he was able to effect a field repair with some duct tape (don't leave home without it!) and shot a glorious image of the defeated ninjas at sunset in the Mojave Desert.

That image is only rarely seen and has not been published.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
Wow, it's that time of the year again! This is an international event with over 700 locations as of right now and over 10,000 people signed up to do it! It is also a fund raiser for the Springs of Hope Orphanage in Kenya, a small donation of $1 is asked but not required. Sometimes a fee is required if a walk is taking place in a zoo or a National park, and you can get a t-shirt for a small fee. There is a photo contest that you can participate in that has a lot of spiffy prizes, up to and including a Canon 5D Mark III! Sometimes local walks also have raffles for locally-donated items.

Each Photo Walk is limited to 50 people, but some larger cities have multiple walks going on, so frequently it's not a problem. So sign up soon! It's a tremendous amount of fun wandering around for a couple of hours with a gaggle of photographers, talking shop, discussing composition. Good way to give your eye a refresh by shooting in an area that you might not otherwise go to. And your skill level doesn't matter! I saw people there with $3,000 cameras, I also saw people with point and shoots.

Last year I participated in the walk in El Paso, Texas and had a great time, even if I had to get up at something like 4am to get down there. The organizer partnered with the Mexican Consulate for a showing, which was quite cool. I entered two prints in the show and get some very favorable comments, that show wasn't free but my prints were printed on a very nice metallic paper and framed and are now in my office at the school.

Sometimes you may need to look at your nearest major city, I found their search engine to be a bit... inconvenient.

Scott Kelby Photo Walk
thewayne: (Cyranose)
From our 2012 trip, 100 or so. My gallery software, Piwigo, did an update so the photos that you upload don't have to be under 10 meg, it'll size them down if they're bigger, so I can just pump up a big directory. I think I could spend six months doing Photoshop and nothing else working on pix.

How long until I retire?
thewayne: (Cyranose)
Since I shot some 1300 images while in Europe, I thought I'd make a book commemorating our trip. A friend of mine did this after he took his dad to the Reno air races and it came out quite spiffy, I was wondering if anyone else had and who they used and how satisfied they were. I'm only looking to print 2-3 of them.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
In two weeks I will be in Prague! And while I'm taking my Canon 6D with two zoom lenses, I wanted something small and light that would be better for video (light weight, easier to hold steady) and woud fit in my pocket.

Two weeks ago I went to Las Cruces and ended up at Best Buy seeing what they had on offer. They had a lot of intriguing cameras, the one that really caught my eye was a Nikon CoolPix 9900. I like Nikon glass (yes, a Canon guy saying there's something about Nikon that he likes) and this one had a remarkable feature -- a GPS! Now, my Canon 6D also has GPS (and WiFi), but I don't use it for normal shooting. It increases battery drain and I know where I'm shooting. But in Germany? In the Czech Republic? I can probably puzzle out general location based on date and itenerary, plus I can photograph any landmark signs when I arrive somewhere spiffy, but for Europe the GPS will be cool. And I have a spare battery or two for the 6D. And the boat that we'll be on has 110 VAC in every cabin, so I don't have to shlep around a bag full of adapters.

The problem with the Nikon is that it only shot JPEG. In fact, upon research, every single effing camera sold in the store by Best Buy only shot JPEG, no RAW. For most people this makes no difference, but serious photographers want RAW format. JPEG compresses the image, so you lose detail that can never be recovered. It also does some sharpening and tone adjustment, which, again, cannot be undone. With RAW, you're dealing with the pure pixel output from the camera's CCD: all the information, unadulterated. Which means you're going to have to do some Photoshop work to make good images.

Which is OK: serious photographers are a bit weird and enjoy doing things in Photoshop or other image editing software. And most serious photographers cheat: we shoot in a mode that gives us both RAW and JPEG, so we have both a photo that we can instantly post online and a photo that we can manipulate the heck out of.

So I started digging around on Adorama's and B&H Photo's web sites, and I learned that there is no such thing as a pocket camera that has both GPS and RAW. Olympus has one that will be released soon, but it's not out yet.

So back to digging through sites. Turns out that I couldn't find any Nikon pocket-sized cameras that shot RAW, so scratch them. I was probably going to end up with a Canon, when a friend recommended looking at Panasonic Lumix cameras.

This was Sunday. Last week Monday I ordered a Lumix LX-7 and it arrived Thursday.

It is not the latest and greatest in the series, which means it's only 10 megapixels. Perfectly adequate for what I need. The newest/best in the series has a lot of complaints, two of which stand out. First, the control dial on top that sets the mode that the camera is using has a problem with the lettering and typically in two weeks all of the lettering wears off. Unacceptable. Second, and this isn't camera-specific, Panasonic has a terrible reputation for customer service if you need a camera repaired. So I bought a two year warranty, hoping I could make the warranty company deal with Panasonic if mine needs service.

I've got to get to bed, so here's some highs and lows.

More 'special' exposure modes than I can count. I'll list them later. I don't know if I'll use them, we'll see. I am experimenting with them, just don't know if I'll use them for stuff on the trip.
Seems to be well-sealed. It has a proper lens cap that snaps on and off rather than those bladed lens covers that so many cameras have. It has a very good feel: solid body made of metal not plastic.
Best thing -- Leica/Zeiss optics! And they look like they perform quite well, I'll post some pix later (and during the trip).
Battery life: I received the camera Thursday and charged it. Shot 220 images Saturday through today and the battery warning was blinking red, but it was still shooting. The battery is on the charger now.
Camera size: fits quite nicely in my pants pocket. I always wear cargo pocket pants and keep my wallet in one of the sides, so there's lots of room for the camera. So I think it'll travel well.

I have some apprehension about Panasonic service. I used to sell Panasonic and Matsushita/Technics electronics and they were always a superior product. I don't know what happened to their service, hopefully it'll be a long time before I find out.
Elements of construction: I don't like their button design on the back, I'm concerned that the button will eventually catch on something and get pulled off, and then I'm at the mercy of Panasonic service.

My biggest complaint is crazy stupid: the latch on the battery cover door. The door is spring-loaded to stay open, as you might expect. And the battery compartment is also where the SD memory card is (I have a 16 gig and I'm not sure I could fill it on my forthcoming trip). But the latch does not reset when you open it -- you slide the latch open to remove the battery, and it stays in that position. You have to slide it closed to lock it when you want to close the compartment. VERY stupid design.

Conclusion in brief: looks like a good camera. Good images, versatile (the lens is the equivalent of a 24-105 zoom), good battery life (I think if I charge it nightly I'll be fine during the day).

I took it to Three Rivers Petroglyphs Saturday along with my Canon with its 24-105 zoom and did a lot of side by side shooting. I'll try and post some of those pix and more very soon. I will be posting JPEGs, but that'll be good enough to demonstrate capability.

Cost: $400 new. You can find used ones in varying conditions for $250-300.

And I have to get to bed, 5:15 is too damn early for my liking but that's the way it is.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
For less than $4,000 you can get an absolutely crazy amount of megapixels, and still have less dynamic range than a Nikon D800.

This doesn't make sense to me. I'd be perfectly happy with 20-30 MP and increased dynamic range. It'll be interesting to see how these work out in the field, and how it steers the market.
thewayne: (Cyranose)
"The global warming scientists are just Democrats, folks. They're all part of an agenda."
—Rush Limbaugh

Last night my wife and I went to a university screening of a new movie called Chasing Ice. A former National Geographic photographer, James Balog, engineered a long-term ice survey, AKA the Extreme Ice Survey. He set up 30 cameras in Greenland, Alaska, and Montana. They're powered by solar cells and programmed to take one exposure every hour when the sun is shining. Twice a year, basically just before and after winter, they go to each camera, collect the memory card, and make repairs.

Then they assemble the time-lapse photographs in to time-lapse animated sequences.

It is scary as hell. amazingly beautiful, but to see these amazing glaciers actually disappear is absolutely terrifying. There used to be a joke that the way you could tell Iceland and Greenland apart was that Iceland is green and Greenland is white with ice. Well, at the rate that the ice sheet on Greenland is retreating, that's not going to be true at some point in the future.

The problem with the loss of glaciers is two-fold. First, there's no problem if the glacier is already floating in water and starts to calve and melt: its mass is already accounted for in ocean levels. But if the glacier is on land and starts melting and breaking apart, THAT is what causes ocean levels to rise. The second problem is that the north end of the planet used to be pretty much white. White reflects ultraviolet radiation, which helps keep the planet from heating up. If all of that melts and becomes darker, we're going to start absorbing more UV and the planet will start heating more.

And considering that ships can now go across the North Pole during summer without too much difficulty, that's not a good thing.

SO. If you have an opportunity to see Chasing Ice, see it. Aside from the very scary science, the photography is absolutely amazing. I would love to have a chance to go to those camera sites and do some shooting there, but that's not going to happen. At least I can appreciate it remotely.

There were a couple of interesting counter-points made in the film, so Balog acknowledges skepticism but has little truck with it. The first, made right off the bat by James Balog, was that he himself is a trained geologist and was a climate change skeptic when he started this project. The other was a Canadian Yukon glacier scientist talk about some glaciers are actually growing. His group did a survey in the Yukon and there were somewhere around 400 glaciers that they tracked historically over (IIRC) 150 year period. Some actually grew. Four of them. Half of the remaining are gone entirely, the remaining half are shrinking.

The movie releases on DVD on September 10 and can be pre-ordered at Amazon right now.
thewayne: (Default)
I just threw away four rolls of film, including a roll of Fuji Sensia slide film, which is a gorgeous transparency film if you need to shoot slides. And probably half a 100 box of Kodak Supra Endura color printing paper.

All these were over five years old, and though they were kept in my fridge, there is a limit. The color paper definitely has a fixed life, it had already started to fog purple. I don't know if I'll ever work in a darkroom again, and I don't know if I even should if I could having an immunodeficiency. And I needed a place to put my Mountain Dew Throwback.

I always wanted a darkroom of my own, with a nice Besseler 4x5 enlarger with a cold light head. The 23C is a great enlarger, but I really like the motorized carriage and I always wanted to shoot 4x5. I turned 50 last year, it hasn't happened yet so it's probably not going to happen at all.

I still have my film cameras: three Canon Eos 35mm bodies, a 4x5 press camera, a Yashica 6x6cm, and some miscellaneous stuff. They're effectively worthless, or at least far less than I'd be willing to sell them for.

I love photography, and I shoot pretty regularly, but I imagine that everything for me will be digital and Photoshop from now on.
thewayne: (Default)
A video showing how each Leica lens is hand-assembled.

WOW. Makes me understand why they're so bloody expensive.
thewayne: (Default)
I took a Photoshop class this semester, I should say re-took. I've taken it previously, but I didn't use PS, and my skills rotted. Anyway, I'm kinda proud as to what I produced:

The original is a 5x7 cropped to a 4x6:

Original is 10x15, also cropped to 4x6:

Original is 16x21, cropped to 4x6. You can't see this, but there is a different filter effect on each photo. The White Sands is a palette knife, the trestle is glass block, the orchard is cut paper, and the church is mosaic.

With the exception of the moon and Hubble Deep Field photo in the Science shot, and the Zia symbol in the Land of Enchantment shot, I took all of the photos.
thewayne: (Default)
When I started taking photography classes after I'd moved to Alamogordo Fall of '05, I did it for two reasons. One was to get access to a darkroom again. The other was to fill in some gaps in my knowledge and skills. I've now been shooting for about 30 years and I've always had a good eye for composition. The instructor, Sarah, is extremely good. She has a Masters in Fine Arts and has been shooting for as long or longer as I have. And she's infinitely better, largely due to training and more consistent application of that knowledge. At heart I'm still more of a computer geek than photographer (and more lazy bum than either), but photography is something that I really enjoy.

Back in March I had to withdraw from the university when I took the job in Las Cruces, and it really vexed me. I was in Photo II, Advanced Black & White, and we were getting into some great technology: split-filter printing and large format photography. And I had to withdraw just after I'd completed calibrating my equipment and paper and had just begun split-filter printing. I was not happy, but I needed the job.

Tonight I just got off the phone with Bobby. He was in my first class, Photo I (I decided to start from the bottom up to re-hone my skills), and he also has a very good eye. It's been amazingly cool to watch his skill improve as the classes went by.

Well, the compliment that I received was that Sarah told him that she considered Bobby and me to be professional-quality photographers.

That's just so cool.

I was planning on continuing and going for a BFA in Photography, but the job came up and now I'm enrolled in the College of Engineering for a degree in Information and Communications Technology. The latter will help for future computer jobs, the former will not. Perhaps when we're settled somewhere and I have the ICT degree I'll resume the BFA and start shooting a lot more.

ANYWAY, in the course of the conversation we were discussing what the difference was between pro and amateur when it came to photography. The obvious one is that you make your living at shooting, it basically is your full-time job: if you're good, your work sells and you eat. But what if you don't have the competitive drive to be a professional photographer? It's an extremely tough field and you have to really push yourself to make a living at it, and as I said, I'm a lazy bum. Not for me.

So what is the narrow dividing line between professional and amateur?

I think a lot of it is satisfaction with your work. It's easy to be satisfied with your work when you don't know what you're doing wrong, with education comes an end of innocence and you begin understanding what is wrong with what you do. It's the old "you don't know what you don't know", then as you learn, "you know what you don't know", etc. The more you learn, the more you see the flaws in your own work. But you also know why they are flaws and you can begin self-correction and improvement.

Bobby recently shot an event and did a hundred frames or more, out of that he got ten or so that he was satisfied with. The rest he put into a "junk" pile for anyone who wanted them. His wife picked one print up and asked what was wrong with it, he replied that it was too blue. She couldn't see the color shift, but having spent a few months in the darkroom printing and re-printing negatives while adjusting color balance, you pick up subtleties of perception that most people don't have.

Back to the satisfaction thing, I remember one print that I was working on during lab. I took it out to show Sarah to get her opinion on an adjustment that I was going to make for it. I knew what I was going to do, I just wanted to bounce it off her to make sure that I was on the right track. She confirmed that I was doing the right thing, but then commented that what I was working on wouldn't fulfill the requirements of the current assignment. I told her that didn't matter because this print was for me, I had others for the assignment. It kind of stunned her momentarily.

And that's what I've always done: I shoot to please myself. If others like what I think is good, then that's just bonus.
thewayne: (Default) Infrared photography from Russia. Simply amazing. I really want to do this, but the best way is to convert a DSLR by having the IR bypass removed, turning it into an IR-only camera. That might be viable in a couple of years. You can shoot with an unmodified digital camera with a $50 filter and get good results, unfortunately my main lens is kinda old and doesn't have a good lens coating for IR work: I get a bright spot in the center of my lens.

One of these days.

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