DIARY FROM JANUARY 1, 2000 UP UNTIL JULY 1st, 2012 HAS BEEN ARCHIVED.
This online diary is intended to be open honest and quite revealingly candid.
JULY 16th, 2017
It finally stopped raining it had gone on for days it seemed, happily the sun came out and the wind let up. This being the case, I went out into our garden and took some images with the Arca Swiss RM3di body and a Leaf Aptus II 33mp digital back. Then I took the same image with the Sigma Quattro H body and the 50mm F1.4 Art lens. This lens is the closest I could come to matching the 72 mm lens I have on the Arca Swiss RM3di. I set both lenses to F11 and let the Sigma Quattro H pick the shutter speed, as for the Arca Swiss I read the exposure using a Pentax spot meter, reading off a gray card and setting that speed onto the already F11 set lens, manually.
These are 100% crops all sized to fit on my 30 inch Apple monitor. The Sigma exposures were not as on the money as I would have liked, very good but not perfect. I have processed the images to taste, basically I used the Leaf Aptus II image as my guide. I turned off the sharpening in the digital back and for Sigma in the SPP 6.5.2, I took the sharpening off of all images and used Photoshop's sharpening, this so all images would have the same amount of sharpening applied. I reduced the Sigma S-Hi image to fit into the four image pack. Perhaps over kill but I used all seven images to make up the SFD/X3I image. I was extremely disappointed with the S-Hi 51 MP image in this particular lighting situation, as the S-Hi setting is what I have been working with to photograph some of my large 56X84 inch images. It works reasonably well if the lighting is flat or evenly lit, but not so much in high contrast lighting, like it was at the time. It shows up better in the cactus test because the lighting more suits it.
This is the first set of images I took. From left to right its the Arca Swiss 33mp Leaf Aptus II back, then the Sigma SFD/X3I image and then the Sigma X3F image and finally the Sigma 51 MP Jpg image. IMAGE
The Sigma 51 MP Jpg did not do well, it's much too contrasty and consequently very hard and impossible to lift the shadows properly. I let it show how badly it faired when I tried lighting the shadows. The Sigma X3F image was a match to the 33 mp Leaf Aptus digital back, but only at their native sizes. Working with the Sigma Quattro H camera is so much easier and faster than working with the Arca Swiss RM3di. Having worked with a large 8X10 inch sheet film wooden Deardorff on a tripod for many years, I enjoy working with the Arca Swiss RM3di never the less. It is very slow and time consuming but when you work with it, you feel like you have accomplished something, because you have to do everything manually. That's how I worked most of my life, using sheet film cameras.
This is the second set of images that I took, a close up of one of my wife's cactuses. The image order is the same. And yes I dialed in F11 on the Sigma body and set that on the Arca Swiss Digitar lens as well. You will see how the Sigma S-HI 51 MP did much better because the strong lighting was at my back, excellent lighting for the S-Hi Jpg image. IMAGE
One more thing you should know, you do not truly appreciate the power of the Leaf Aptus II image, until you resize an image quite large. It comes to life once resized, in my case it resized perfectly to 42X56 inches and 300 DPI. That's half of the size of my main images which are 56X84 inches and 300 DPI. The sharpness in the image is simply amazing because it has been hand focused extremely accurately. The image "opens up" and breathes beautifully as well. Sigma images come in at 180 DPI in their native size, however the Arca Swiss images come in at 300 DPI in its native form. A big difference in the resized images outcome.
JULY 12th, 2017
Well I must say that I am very pleasantly surprised, it seems that the point of focus on the Arca Swiss RM3di is exactly the same with or without out the Rotaslide unit mounted on the camera. That pleases me because it means that I can use my old focus chart. Possibly the viewfinder chart that I made will work out just as well. So here's hoping. I am off to see if does.
JULY 11th, 2017
I was comparing some random images yesterday, those taken using an Arca Swiss RM3di body plus a Leaf Aptus II digital back, with those taken using the Sigma Quattro H body. The large format Leaf Aptus II images appeared to look so much better, cleaner and more, I would like to say "open" looking, and smoother to my eyes. So that prompted me to get out my RM3di camera body as well as the Leaf Aptus II 33mp digital back that I have for it. Both which I acquired new about three years ago or is it four years ago, nor exactly sure, time, I am never really positive about past timings, if truth be known. Things tend to become murky with time passing.
I intend to do some proper comparison testing, where I use the exact same image taken on both camera systems, to arrive at a fairer more accurate sense on the differences between them. This just out of curiosity, more than it is anything else. However I do have some focus testing to do first with the Arca Swiss system. When I first purchased the system I also purchased the Rotaslide back, which worked wonderfully well for doing multiple exposures of the same scene. Six images taken around a lenses image circle, then photo merged together in Photoshop. However I am removing the Rotaslide back and am going to attach the Leaf Aptus digital back directly to the RM3di body. So in essence it becomes a much smaller lighter package to carry about, it all fits quite nicely into a small Billingham bag.
The problem with setting the Rotaslide back aside for the moment, is this, the focusing is fully manual on this camera system, and I took a month to carefully test every distance, from 2.5 ft all the way out to five hundred feet, including doing infinity at two kilometers, which was a radio tower exactly two kilometers away as measured by car. I tested the focus every six inches. The six inch test proved to be more important the closer in you go to the subject. I took images and selected at 100% just the right focus distance mark for each distance. Very time consuming as I took six images with slightly different focus positions for each distance and then on my computer monitor selected the sharpest setting for that distance. I slowly gathered the distance information and made up a chart for all the various distances and the corresponding camera's actual focus setting. Very time consuming but so extremely accurate when focusing.
I hope that I just have to do a few focus tests, then see how far removed the new settings is from the old one, and then possibly I will just move every focus setting by that same amount of change. Thus making up a new focus chart for the RM3di without the Rotaslide back in place. Let's see how things progress.
One other test that I have to do is also concerning the Arca Swiss moveable viewfinder, It has a removable front mask with many little holes drilled into it, of course outside of the image frame. You move the mask around on the front of the viewfinder to essentially line up the viewfinder with the digital back. You use the rows of little holes which you see through the viewfinder as either one, two, three, four or five rows of holes to adjust the viewfinder to match the image captured by the digital back. I fart around quite a bit, this takes some time for each distance setting, and confirming the position of the viewfinder mask by seeing four, one for each corner. black tape "L" marks revealed on the digital back once you have taken an image. This particular digital back does not have live view, something that would make things so much easier. I have made up a chart already but it was for a custom made mask meant for taking six images around the image circle using the Rotaslide back.. I now have to make one up for the view finder mask that came with my 72 mm Schneider Digitar lens. Its a mask meant for an 80mm lens but its doable with some finagling and farting around. It is something that I simply love doing, a feeling of accomplishment once it is completed.
JUNE 4th, 2017
Time seems to be the biggest enemy we face, it's passing goes almost unnoticed, that is, until you take the time to look at the date on a calendar. I spend a day printing out an image, it takes 1 hour and 45 minutes to do one 56X84 inch print, using single pass printing only. Then several weeks of frequently interrupted labor, getting the large canvas print ready for eventual gallery presentation. Then I wrap the image up and place it in my temperature controlled storage area. At which point I begin working on another large image. This weekly repetition is interspersed with occasional days out photographing and then days spent processing and filing all of those images from the day outing. However the truth is, very few of the images that I photograph and assemble in the computer, ever get to the final printing stage.
Time is spent in sorting through each of the images, then a joint decision is made by my wife and I, to place certain digitally finished images into a "Print" holding file. Then those images that are in the holding file get re-edited yet again and one of them is eventually selected to be printed during the next printing session. Assembled into a presentable image worthy of hanging on a galley's wall. This particular image for example, which I personally like, unfortunately did not make it to the final "Print" folder.....IMAGE
By the way, the print folder already contains 96 56x84 x 300 DPI and lately Sigma Quattro-H 288 DPI images, that are sitting there ready for printing out. They have already been edited down a number of times from over four hundred digitally prepared large images that were in the "Potential Print" file, all images, by the way, that I would be happy to put out there as mine. I do not think that I will get to print all of them, in the time I have left on this earth. Especially so if I keep on adding to the "Print" pile during every photographic outing that I make. Perhaps I should just stop photographing..... what? And take away the only joy in my life, apart from my wife of course. Printing and getting the large canvas prints ready for showing, amounts too little more than time wasting drudgery, in my opinion. I would much rather be out photographing all the time, if truth be known.
MAY 3rd, 2017
Here it is, the first of May already, where the heck does the time go? I have been out photographing with the Sigma Quattro H body and mostly I used the 85 mm F1.4 ART series lens which is always set to F11. It is an incredibly sharp combination, the results I am obtaining are exceedingly pleasing to my eyes. I am actually saving up at the moment to purchase the Sigma 135 mm lens, hopefully by the end of July I will be able to obtain one. Truth is, I am no longer allowed to use my credit cards or credit line anymore for "on a whim" photo equipment purchases. It is an agreement I have made with my admittedly much better half, the actual bed rock of our relationship, if truth be known. I was a "bad boy" in the past regarding uncontrolled spending on photo equipment and supplies, so I guess this is my end of times punishment.
So every month I simply add the sum of $500.00 to my lens acquisition fund. Fortunately Sigma's "ART" series lenses are reasonably priced. In fact that was one of the deciding factors in my decision to move over to using the Sigma's lineup in the first place. Of course along with the Foveon style sensor and Sigma's "ART" series lenses. When Nikon came out with their latest 105 mm lens set at $3800 CDN, and then there is the 13% value added tax, that's on top of Nikon's price. Well that was it for me, in my mind I could no longer afford to use or purchase the latest digitally attuned Nikon lenses.. They are just too expensive.
It seemed every lens I wanted to acquire was in the four to six or seven thousand dollar price range, plus the 13% government tax on top of that. It was just too rich for my blood as it turned out. So after being a Nikon user since the very early 1960s, it seems that I have now switched over to using the Sigma Foveon sensor and their lens line up. I do like the straight forward simplicity of their camera bodies. Nikon's menu system was incredibly over loaded to the hilt with so many adjustments, to be honest with you, I did not know what most were used for.
The results I am getting using Sigma's equipment are rather excellent. I am pleased so far, let's say that. The images appear very clean looking and tack sharp. Of course in the S-Hi Jpg mode, I only use ISO 100 to 125, you set the ISO range you want to use, I chose 100 to 125. The camera decides which of those ISO's it wants to use.
The 50mm ART series Nikon mount lens has just been returned to me, from the Canadian distributor Gentec. It is now in the Sigma SA mount. So the 50mm mount conversion took them three months to do and a number of phone calls from me, I guess to jog their memories and focus their attention on my lens conversion. This 50mm will be like having a 65mm on a full frame camera body, because of the Quattro-H body having a 1.3 conversion factor.
Here is one of the images from my last outing, it's 56X84 inches in scale and 288 DPi, destined for printing on my 64 inch wide carriage Epson 11880 printer. The lens I used was the 85 mm Sigma "ART" series, set to F11. I discovered the face of "Mother Nature" or of the real "God" staring me down, both are one and the same in my mind, in a grove of white birch trees......IMAGE
I have been out photographing once again with the Sigma Quattro H body and a number of Sigma's "ART" series lenses. The 85mm and the 24mm both F1.4 lenses and they are sharp, I also had the 35mm F1.4 ART along with me as well. I have discovered that there seems to be an inconsistency at times in the Quattro H exposures, nothing however that I couldn't rectify in post processing. Some exposures were too light and some were too dark, the exposures just missed the boat so to speak. The exposures in question were in my mind easy ones, because the sun was directly at my back. I was using A priority in S-Hi Jpg mode, so the camera picked the shutter speed. I always check very carefully on each exposure set that I do, to make sure everything is set properly, including the aperture set to F11 and I also check to see that the exposure compensation setting is set to 00 in the viewfinder.
I have been a very long time Nikon user (50 years) and such a thing as inconsistent exposures during easy lighting conditions never happened using their cameras, ok, ok, almost never. I still like the Sigma Quattro H body for it's simplicity but now I also find myself worrying about possible blown exposures from time to time. We will see how things progress. By the way I went out with a fully charged battery and only was able to take 203 images using the S-Hi Jpg mode before the camera closed down due to battery exhaustion.
Truth is that was enough for me as well as, I was bushed and hurting in a number of areas. Here is one of my images, it's 56x84 inches and 288 DPI. Of course I have warmed the image up a little because personally I really dislike the "coldness" of the straight forward daylight setting. I always set my Nikons to the Cloudy WB all the time which worked well for me. I tried that with the Sigma Quattro H but thought it seemed a tad too much warmth in the image. So I have the Sigma Quattro H set to Auto WB and so far it is doing a great job on that selection, even if the daylight setting is visually "cold". I used the 24mm F1.4 set to F11 sitting on a Gitzo tripod with a cable release, the shutter speed was 1/100 of a second..........IMAGE
I was out photographing a few days ago with the Sigma Quattro H body and mostly using the 85mm F1.4 ART lens set to F11. I had to stop when the battery quit on me, I had taken 175 images in the S Hi Jpg mode. The battery might not have been fully charged up at the outset, because the last time I shot with it was the week before and after that shooting, I fully charged the battery. So it had sat for a week between the outings. Now I must confess that I always take three images per shot, a habit stemming from my many years of shooting with many types of film I suppose. So in reality there were only 58 images and I usually try a number of slightly different angles per shot as well, so it's not as much photographing as one might imagine.
I have been processing the results and taking them to print ready 56x84 inch x 288 DPI images. I am extremely happy with the results of the S Hi Jpg mode, that being said, I always use either ISO 100 or 125, the camera decides this, as you have to set the range of ISO the camera can use. The sun is always located somewhere at my back as well. In such a case the camera does very well indeed. If you use Sigma cameras like this, they excel. I owned a Sigma SD1 Merrill for a short time and it was the same. They remind me of using view cameras, in that I always tripod the camera and use a cable release and look to have the sun somewhere behind me. That works really well for me. Here is one of my 56X84 inch images, it had snowed the night before ....IMAGE
MARCH 30ith, 2017
I Have been running some further tests with the Sigma Quattro H body. I have been doing comparison tests of the various types of file output that the H body is able to provide. Of course there is the standard Sigma X3F file, then there is a straight forward 72 resolution Photoshop friendly Jpg file, in three sizes, as well as a Photoshop friendly DNG file and of course there is multi exposure SFD file (Super Fine Detail).
What I have found is that the 51 MP Jpg file appears to beat every other file when viewed at my intended size of a vertical file that's 42WX63H inches and 288 DPI. Of course the Jpg file starts out at 72 resolution and is 81.111 x 121.778 inches in scale. What I do to it is this, I bring the image size down mathematically from the original size to 20.2775 x 30.444 and that allows me to up the resolution equally from 72 to a 288 DPI Tiff image, so there is no loss in resolution there. However in practice I go directly from 72 resolution and 81 x 121.7 inches to 42X63 inches and 288 DPI. This is what I work with to build my 56X84 inch imagery. Now that's an 207% increase over the native Jpg file size of 20.2775 x 30.444 inches at 288 DPI, which is more than doable.
I could not make out much difference between the SFX file and the Photoshop friendly DNG file. In the end I thought the DNG file edged out the SFX file, but that's just my opinion on it. At my preferred size of 42 x 63 inches and 288 DPI, and 8 bit, the SFX and DNG and multi image SFD file all ended up being 812 MB in size, the Jpg file ended up at 681 MB in size, of course that is changed and saved as a Tiff.
The multi exposure SFD file provides a richer more well rounded image I found, however the 51 MP Jpg file has the sharpest file, if thinner in appearance. You can actually see the 51 MP at work in the Jpg file. Too bad it is just a 72 resolution Jpg image to begin with.
Here are the 51 MP Jpg S-Hi image and the SFD multi image file compared, in the SFD multi image mode I only used three of the seven available images to create the final file. They were taken outside in soft sun light with a tiny bit of wind blowing at the time. I used the 85 mm F1.4 ART lens set to F11, the shutter speed was at 160, the ISO was 100. The system was sitting on a Gitzo tripod and an electronic cable release was used. These are screen grabs taken from 42x63 inch x 288 DPI images, that were at 33%, that's the size they would appear on my 30 inch monitor at full printing size. The Jpg crop is on the left hand side of the monitor and the SFD crop is on the right hand side.....IMAGE
MARCH 19th, 2017
I have spent this morning working with some imagery that I took during the last few days using Sigma's Quattro H body and either their 24mm F1.4 or 85mm F1.4 ART lenses. It was sunny and around 0 degrees Celsius out with little wind blowing, that being the case I couldn't resist the urge to photograph, so I ventured out.
I can report that everything works extremely well with Sigma's Quattro H body and my image results are quite excellent. Sigma's SPP 6.5.1 program works very well indeed if a tad slowly, about two minutes to combine the seven images making up one final image. I also combine that with Photoshop for further tweaking to end up creating 56X84 inch 300 dpi images. The SPP program works well at combining those seven images taken, every time I took an image using the SFD (Super Fine Detail) seven image mode, which was all the time. Only once did it yield a combined image that wasn't usable due to the wind blowing moving branches around during the seven image capture, and that left the final image unusable because of ghosting and scattered double imagery. So you need a perfectly still day to use the SFD feature outdoors, meaning you have to carefully pick your day to use the seven image SFD combination function outdoors. You could always select to photograph just one SFX image, or select to use just one of the seven image SFD combination in the SPP 6.5.1 program by de clicking the images you do not want to use.
To make my 56X84 inch images I capture all of the images in the vertical format, then in the Sigma SPP 6.5.1 program, once the seven images have been combined and carefully "tweaked", I save them as a double size, 8 bit tiff image. In Photoshop they open up as 45.867 x 68.8 inches but only 180 DPI. I make them 300 DPI by interpolating them up in Photoshop, most times lowering the size down to 42x63 at the same time. So I end up loosing seven inches, down from 63 to 56 inches, either from the top or bottom of the image, but that's as the 56X84 inch image dictates when I play with it deciding the composition.
Then I open a new window that's 56X84 and 300 DPI with a white background. I import the image into the newly opened window using the move tool in Photoshop, once there I go back to the original image and use "Image Rotation" and I flip it horizontally, then bring that flipped image into the same 56X84 inch window. Then I play with them side by side to see if I can create a suitable image, most times I can, because I have paid mind when photographing, knowing what I want the end image to be.
Here is one of the images I created, it was taken using Sigma's 85 mm F 1.4 ART lens which is like having a 110 mm on a full frame camera. This image is 56X84 inches x 300 DPi and intended for printing on 60X90 inch Epson's Signature canvas. This however is the 51 MP S-Hi Jpg version that I took just as a point of comparison, as it happens, I think it turned out better, much sharper, than the SFD (Super Fine Detail) version ......IMAGE...
I also used the 24 mm F1.4 ART lens quite a bit during the outing, it is sharp and like having a 32 mm on a full frame body. I can't wait to get the 135mm telephoto lens some time in June or July, my budget will dictate the timing. It will be like having a 175 mm on a full frame body.
One more thing the 35 mm F1.4 Sigma ART lens in a Nikon Mount has been returned to me after three weeks, it's now in the Sigma SA mount and is like having a 45.5mm on a full frame camera. The 50 mm F 1.4 ART lens I sent in first at the end of February, to have the conversion process done to it, has been delayed, apparently it is waiting for a lens conversion kit to arrive from Japan. However on the Sigma web site it says all lenses intended for mount conversion are sent back to the Aizu factory in Japan, where they have the equipment and expertise to do it correctly. However here in Canada, Gentec which distributes Sigma, has their own service center do the conversion process and says the turn around time is two weeks, I guess that's only if the mount parts are in stock..
MARCH 14th, 2017
I have been slowly reading the booklet that came with the Sigma SD Quattro H camera body. My initial "oh shit" panic attack has settled down as I begin to understand how things work with this new camera body. I have been able to set up several custom modes, C1, C2, C3 that are easily tapped into and contain the various settings that I like to work with. They appear to hold in place even if the camera is turned off. I would normally be out testing the camera outside at this point, except for one thing, it is brutally cold out with a strong biting wind. So I will wait it out, just until it warms up a bit.
I think what happened once I received the camera was this, the camera and lenses arrived in an ice cold state from being in the very cold delivery truck most of the day. I quickly charged the battery and started to test the camera when it was still very cold and consequently it might have acted up. Like the rear screen continually flickering and none of the settings holding in place once I turned the camera off. Because today and this is when the body and lenses have warmed up to my studio room temperature of 70F, everything appears to be working much better. Plus admittedly the fact that I also understand things better after carefully and squinty, eyes running with stinging tears, perusing the booklet that came with the camera. When ever I try to read very fine print these days, my eyes run with tears that sting badly, for some reason.
Reading is extremely difficult when the type face is small,because of wet macular degeneration occurring in my right eye, and dry macular degeneration occurring in my left eye. I am having a needle poked in my right eyeball every other month, and that's for the rest of my life the doctor tells me. So just reading is extremely difficult as my right eye sees things in a quite distorted way, looking through a camera's viewfinder is down right impossible with my right eye, I am forced to use my slightly better left eye for that, which is not natural to me and somewhat awkward I will admit. Such are the failures that happen with aging.
MARCH 12th, 2017
Ten days ago now, give or take, I rather impulsively sold my Nikon D810 outfit, it sold in a few hours on Kijiji. Somebody drove the four hours up from Toronto and purchased the outfit, lock stock and barrel, as the saying goes. They got a fantastic, indeed an incredible deal, as the Nikon only had a 1300 shutter count on it. I then had some cash on hand, so I decided again quite impulsively to purchase a Sigma SD Quattro H body, a 24 mm ART lens and the 85mm ART lens as well. I also sent my two other Sigma lenses, a 35mm and the 50mm both Nikon mount ART lenses to the Canadian distributor, to have them sent back to Japan to have the conversion process done, changing them from a Nikon F mount to a Sigma SA mount, $200 CDN per lens taxes included. Theysaid it only took two weeks but it's now entering the third week and no sign of the lenses.
The Sigma Quattro H and the two new Sigma SA lenses arrived on Friday afternoon. Tthe battery took 3.5 hours to fully charge and so I played with late on Friday afternoon and then Saturday morning and now this morning Sunday.
Here are my initial impressions so far, that's after doing some preliminary testing. And admittedly I have not read the manual that came with it, as of yet. It appears to be an incredibly frustrating camera to work with, by that I mean you can not just set the ISO to 100 for example and leave it there, it's always in auto ISO, but you can set the range of ISO, for example from 100 to 125. (Reading the manual Monday morning I see that when it is set in the seven exposure super fine SFD mode the ISO is fixed at 100.) Hurray! The way things are set up with the Quattro H however, is if you turn the camera off, for example if you pause in shooting as I do after each image is taken and I move on looking for another one to photograph, when you turn the camera back on, everything then reverts back to their default positions of Jpg, SRGB and auto ISO ranging from 100 to 800, and the SFD seven image mode is also unset as well, and several other default settings are reverted back from what I can see.
So every time you turn the camera on, the settings have to be reset all over again, even if you have used the camera's lock setting, because it asks you to unlock the camera which then reverts everything to their default settings. So you say, just leave the camera turned during the day while you are out photographing, as was my initial thought, well the problem is this, the Quattro H body heats up rather quickly and gets quite warm almost hot to the touch. At least my body does. And then a small reddish thermometer starts to blink on the right hand side of the viewfinder indicating the camera should be turned off.
What else I found was this, the 51 MP that Sigma talks about so proudly to sell the camera, is actually only available in the Jpg S-HI mode. And its true it appears better than shooting with the single X3F file format which is only 26 MP, but the SFD seven exposure super fine X3I mode appears to be much better yet again, as far as smoothness of image quality goes. Here is the problem I have found with using the Jpg S-Hi setting, there is very little movement possible as far as shadow recovery when you use the camera in the 51 MP mode, in my test, which was a white door frame that was in deep shadow, when lightened the shadows became colour blotchy and vague as in no definition, and consequently the Jpg image was totally unusable. Happily there is no shadow recovery needed in the SFD seven exposure mode when they are all combined in Sigma's SPP, because the shadows and highlights are just about perfectly exposed.
However when all seven images are combined the results can amd do look look quite flat, as in lacking contrast. It is possible to remove some of the very overexposed images from the X3I seven image file, but I haven't learned how to do that at this moment, as I am still learning about the SPP program. (Turned out to be really quite simple, just de click a box beneath the image) I saved the combined seven image X3I file as a tiff and open it in Photoshop and was then able to fix the flatness problem quickly. I was struggling to do it sufficiently to my liking in Sigma's SPP 6.5.1. More a case of me not being that familiar with the SPP 6.5.1 program I suspect. Although it seems straight forward enough at first glance.
I will of course learn how to work with the outfit, but my first impressions of it was this, "SH*T" what have I done, truth is I really wanted to use the F word instead of the S one at times. Probably just my utter frustration of not knowing how everything works. Which of course will take time and some patience to fully sort out. As it would with any new digital camera equipment.
Here are two test images made using Sigma's 24mm F1.4 lens set to F 8. They are admittedly drastically small sized screen grabs, taken from an on screen image at 33%, of a 56x84 inch 300 DPI image. This is how it looks on my 30 inch Apple monitor at full printing size. On the left side is the S- H i Jpg image at 51 mega pixels and on the right is the seven image SFD mode image, which is a fully rounded 26 MP once all combined. The seven SFD image blend was made in Sigma's SPP 6.5.1 and it looks much better to me, because it was better able to deal with the very strong sun highlights coming in the windows as well as the shadow areas in which it did amazingly well. The S Hi Jpg had to be worked on quite a bit to try and rescue the window highlights as much as possible and the shadow area as well in the full overall image. The seven image SFD version just looked so much better right off the bat.
On the left hand side is the S-HI Jpg image and on the right is the SFD seven image SPP 6.5.1 blend............IMAGE........ Please bare in mind that these have been taken out of the middle of a 56X84 inch image. The long and short of it is this, I will always be using the SFD seven image blend. As it appears to be the best for doing 56x84 inch 300 dpi imagery that's intended for printing on 60X90 inch canvas.
FEBARUARY 14th, 2017
Happy Valentines day everybody, I read this morning that Nikon have shelved it's compact DL line of small cameras. Citing development costs verses eventual profitability as the main contributing factor. I thought that's why they have been slow to introduce a new higher pixel full frame DSLR model. Things appear to be somewhat constricted in the Japanese camera market. To counteract this trend they recently raised priced by 20%. Raising prices by that much, especially in one go, will only add to the problems Nikon is facing in my opinion.
I imagine that sales have slowed recently as many people just use their cell phones to take images whenever its required. Who among the general public wants to carry both a cell phone as well as a compact camera? Photographers aside of course. And I bet that most people don't even print their image files, they sore them in the online cloud or on their cell phones for easy browsing.
Bravo again to Sigma for forging ahead with their Foveon sensor cameras and more importantly, keeping their prices reasonable. I would like to own one of Nikon's new 105 mm F 1.4 lens, but not at the price they have introduced it to the market. It's out of my league at that price. Whenever lenses get above $2.5 to 3K I find that have to think long and hard if I really need such a lens or if I could live without it. Perhaps moving in a little bit closer with their 85mm lens, might suffice.
Ideally just having one lens to work with is what I would like. So you don't have to lug back and shoulder breaking heavy lenses around with you everywhere when photographing. But exactly which prime lens would I like to work with exclusively, well the truth is, that's easy, a 35mm lens on my full frame camera seems to be the most practical lens from my perspective. It's wide but not too wide and definitely not lensie in it's look, like an 20 or 24 mm lens would produce in their images. I also tend to like an 85 mm lens as well, mostly because it's just longer than the 50 mm normal lens, yet its not too long. But of those two lenses the 35 mm lens seems to be the most useful one to have on your camera.
With Sigma's new 29MP APS-H camera that's equivalent to a 51MP Bayer sensor, a 24mm lens would end up being like a 35mm is on a full frame camera, taking the crop factor into account. That's the system I will probably opt for. Unless Nikon surprises us in the next few months. I suppose one can always hold out hope for that. That being said, with their new 20% increase in pricing, a higher mega pixel body also might be out of my affordability range.
FEBARUARY 7th, 2017
(Revised Feb 13th)
I see that Sigma's new 85mm F 1.4 ART lens is getting mighty high praise online, so here is my "bravo for Sigma". I am also aware that they are, or I should say, have come out with an new APS H Quattro interchangeable lens body, that's supposedly equivalent to a 50 Mega Pixel Bayer sensor, of course that's according to Sigma. Once again "bravo Sigma", it seem's that somebody in your company is finally playing by some admittedly internet forced rules. So the digital age had the effect of coercing your company to play a much better game. People do talk equipment online, rather incessantly, and the old ways of doing business, carelessly, does not hold up well in the atmosphere of ubiquitous instant online communication. So a "bravo" for the internet in that regard.
I do have several Sigma "ART" lenses in my camera bag, of course they are in the Nikon F mount for my D810. A 35mm F1.4 and a 50mm F1.4 both admittedly rather excellent lenses. I wonder just how much it would cost me to have Sigma's service convert them to the Sigma SA lens mount, I would be curious to know just how much. They would then become equivalent to a 50mm and a 75mm if attached to that Quattro APS-H body. That's just something that I am currently thinking about possibly doing. Or, on the other hand, I could purchase Sigma's 24mm "ART" lens in the Sigma SA mount, which would be like having a 35mm or there abouts, lens attached to the APS-H Quattro body. So I would just have one lens to start off with.
So why would I want to spend money not to mention the time it takes in gathering things together, to work with Sigma's APS-H camera. Especially when I already have Nikon's 36MP D810 and a number of lenses for it. That's a fair question. Well the truth is this, I have always been motivated through the act of acquiring new equipment, it's like adding grease to my phonographic wheels, or if you are single, just like meeting somebody new that you really like, and that gets you going wanting to do things and be with them.
Besides I still like trying out new things. I have been patiently waiting for Nikon to come out with a 50 or 60 MP body, when what do you know, along comes Sigma with a 29 MP Foveon body that's equivalent to a 50 MP Bayer body. I once owned a 15 MP Sigma SD 1 Merrill body for about six weeks, a number of years ago. It was like having a 30 MP Bayer sensor. I really liked it's straight forward functional simplicity. I honestly thought at that time, that's how digital cameras should be made, clean and simple, extremely easy to operate and understand the menus. I was able to make beautiful 27X40 inch prints with it. However I agreed to do an equipment trade with a good friend in California and he now has the SD1 Merrill.
I will eventually figure it out, or not, these are some of the time passing mental games that I think about, especially as I spend time printing and building frames and backing for large 60X90 inch images.
JANUARY 16th, 2017
Here it is mid January already, Donald Trump is to be officially made the American President this coming Friday, the thought of "RUN for the hills" comes to mind. The next four years are going to be rather tumultuous in nature, I suspect. Wouldn't surprise me if he finds himself impeached at some point during his presidential tenure. By saying or doing something absolutely stupid, as has been his history of doing so with his petty "twitter" out bursts. It appears that he has a bad case of the raging twitter thumb disease, combined with an enormous ego that requires constant stroking and messaging. The Republican party is supporting him for now, but even they will have their limits, which he will no doubt exceed quickly.
My loving wife has stated that she is, in effect, cutting him off, by refusing to watch or hear anything on radio or television referring to him or his conduct. That's how she is dealing with it, as for me, well I am waiting for him to put his foot in it. Which he will do, through his blind and obnoxious haute arrogance. However I do admit that I could be quite wrong about that, just like I was about the election results.
I keep on printing and assembling fully framed large images. I finish roughly one per week. I am not in a hurry anymore, having spent all of my life doing just that, on a daily basis, weekends included. Of course I still keep dreaming and saving my pennies to acquire new lenses, or higher than 36 mp mega pixel cameras, now if I win the lottery possibly an new 60 MP medium format back that I would like to own and of course use. That's only if my circumstances should permit, like a surprise lottery win. Although it most certainly will never materialize as I never purchase lottery tickets. So I simply plod along, like everybody else I suppose, happy to just be alive each morning that I wake up. Imagining what the weather will be like in the afternoon or tomorrow, and even more importantly, wondering what will we be having for dinner tonight, "oh no, surely not that again, what's that, you made it especially for me, then I am sure that I'll love it" ;>)
DECEMBER 26th, 2016
Here it is December 26th already, truth is, I woke up feeling just a little groggy and slightly under the weather this morning. Looking out of my large front windows, instantly I knew why I felt so out of it. It was a winter storm related "hang over". I have a tendency to feel groggy whenever the barometer plummets quickly. Across the street looked quite "magical" because of the storm occurring overnight. Even before having breakfast, I quickly put on some winter clothing, went outside and took a few images. Didn't have to go far at all, it was right in front of our house. I used my Nikon D810 camera with the Sigma 35 mm F1.4 Art lens sitting on top of a Gitzo carbon fiber tripod with an Arca Swiss head and camera on top. It was heavily overcast as you can see. Here is one of those images.....
If I don't find the time to post again before the 2017 New Year arrives, which is very likely. I would like to wish everybody in this crazy old world of ours, a "happy and most prosperous New Year." SL
DECEMBER 4th, 2016
I have been busy as of late, mainly printing and assembling large images. Occasionally if the weather was decent, I would venture out for a walk and take my camera with me to photograph anything that I found of interest. Back in the studio I worked on the images and store them on an SSD for possible printing in the future, or not. This past week I captured an image of lake water clashing with the shore line, the image I thought was quite interesting, I couldn't believe the "face" showing in it, here it is, exactly as captured using my Nikon D810 at 1/80 of a second and F 5.6, I used a Sigma 35mm ART lens..... IMAGE
I guess I should say something about the Trump election win. Personally I find the democratic yo yo system incredibly wasteful. President Trump will spend his time in office dismantling everything that President Obama worked on for the past eight years, and after President Trump is ousted from office the democratic representative in power will do the same to him. It seems like a continual rollacoaster ride of two step forward and two steps backwards and so on and so on. There has be a better more progressive more enlightened way to run countries. It appears to me, as if the "dark ages" of eternal mediocrity keeps on repeating itself.
This morning I saw scrolling across the bottom of the CBC news, here in Canada, that a fake, of all things, American Embassy located in Ghana has been issuing false visas for the past two decades. I am amazed that they could get away with it for so long. All those billions being spent on American homeland security and something like this happens. Seems like leaving the back door, or is it the front door that was left wide open.
OCTOBER 16th, 2016 (Edited NOVEMBER 2nd)
The days just roll by, I have been printing up large images on my 64 Inch wide Epson 11880, they take an hour and forty five minutes each to print out, the printers highest quality setting and only using the single pass speed setting. Almost all printed on Epson's Signature worthy canvas, using their Satin finish. Then I frame those prints with custom frames and backings that I make up. It takes me a week to print up and then properly frame a large print. Of course I am not in a rush to do it and I do many other things in between attending to the prints. Like live a life with all that entails.
The one thing that has amazed me is this, just for learning about it, more than anything else. I resized some 36 MP Nikon D 810 images, all the way up to 56X84 inches and 300 DPI. I even printed out a few just to see how they looked and I am amazed at how excellent they appear when printed out that size, truly amazing. This would be especially so if you use a top of the line lens. In my case I used Nikon's 85 mm 1.8 G lens which is admittedly super sharp, but it's not one of Nikon's top of the line, their 85 mm F1.4 lens is.
I find the F1.8 G to be "flat" in rendering imagery, that's my experience with it. In that I have to pump up the saturation considerably, and adjust the curves too add some contrast to the image even though I set the camera to the already pumped up "landscape" setting. My Nikon 14 to 24 zoom lens has loads of luscious saturation in it's image rendering, which is what I am comparing the 85 mm 1.8 G lens too. However the 14 to 24 mm is three time more expensive than the 85mm F1.8 G is. I am now wondering if Nikon's 85 mm F1.4 which is a more expensive lens, would have a more rounded image rendering. Because the 14 to 24 mm lens which was expensive has a fully rounded image appearance. By that I mean the images are rich in appearance as opposed to the "thin and hollow" looking, 85 mm F 1.8 G image renderings.
The 85mm F1.8 G lens is extremely light and blazingly sharp and cost me, if I am remembering correctly, around $800 CDN. That's with taxes included, or somewhere there about's. I guess as the old adage goes "you get what you pay for".
Now for something different, as an outside observer and with no "stake in the game", so to speak, not being an American. That said, I have been watching the American Presidential election fiasco, what else can you call it? And what a complete mess they have on their hands. Neither candidate appears to be worthy of that position, both for various reasons. It seems the Democratic choice Hillary Clinton has been unable to run a proper campaign or so the on air CNN pundits claim. So she is being propped up by out going President Obama and his incredibly able and beautiful wife Michelle. As well as her husband Bill Clinton a former President himself, and of course Vice President Joe Biden is seen on the hustings supporting her as well.
Kind of makes you wonder if they will also have to help her out with actually doing the job, once she is elected President, if she's elected, which she most probably will be, considering the GOP's rather ugly situation. On the bright side, Hillary just might be someone that can't get the job but is more than qualified to do the job. As opposed to someone that can easily get the job but ultimately can't do the job.
I wonder that nobody on the GOP side is bringing up the fact that the Clinton's are being out and out selfish and greedy with their personal aspersions. They have already had eight years in the White House and should really have let someone else have a crack at it. I suppose it must be Hillary's over the top ambition that's driving her to do this. Just Imagine Bill Clinton wandering the hallways and rooms of the White House with absolutely nothing to do. One can only vividly imagine what he might get up too. Considering the dreadful things he got up too, the last time he inhabited the office.
As for the Republican representative, this is the type of immature candidate you end up with, when you allow the commercial world of talk radio show hosts to exert sway over the election process. Every talk radio show host in America has a strong "right wing" bent, in both mind and spirit. They are the ones that daily, without fail, blow and carefully fan the flames of the right wing's unrest, that half the country it appears, must listen to them ranting and raving.
Truth is, the right wing "talking heads" just want to make money for their respective stations, or nation wide networks. And a candidate like the the GOP now has with his overt lying and jumped up bombast, is just perfect for keeping the listeners engaged and fully stoked. Because he is just like those radio personalities are, extremely commercially minded and lacking in any decent ethics or morals, that's unless his beautiful daughter is anywhere around, she on the other hand is a breath of fresh air. Basically he is a bold faced lying snake oil hustler of the first order.
You can only feel sorry for America the country, how could they have allowed it to come to this? As a country they are completely bound up in knots of a purely commercially minded making. The GOP has placed all it's values in corrupted, manipulated moneyed commercial baskets, which has allowed somebody like they now have running who will eventually loose, (was I ever wrong about this) to end up being their standard barer. This is what you get when you allow big money which owns and manipulates talk radio, to completely control a by no means truly Democratic America. It should really be called a Monocracy because it is certainly is, in no way shape or form, a true genuine Democracy. It has been far too greased and corrupted by the influence interfering money has, so it is the mere pretence of one. "American Monocracy, a great example for the world to watch and then, of course, imitate." And when the world does imitate it, American political observers will be the first to voice complaint, that their Democracy is tainted and corrupt.
SEPTEMBER 16th and 18th, 2016
Tonight is the full moon so if there are no clouds blocking it I will go out and photograph under the brightly shining moon once again. Last night was clear so I ventured out to photograph in the darkness illuminated solely by 98% bright moon shine. Tonight it is almost 100% bright. In the afternoon yesterday I went out and found an interesting tree that I wanted to photograph under moon light. At 7:30 P.M. we left the studio and drove half an hour to where this particular tree was located. It is in the middle of no where down a long and winding dirt road that turns eventually into a weed covered track, that I assume leads down to the shore line.
I set up the camera just as I had done in the afternoon daylight testing. Once done I decided to wait for darkness by sitting on a log that was not far from the camera set up. I soon heard some loud buzzing and thought those pesky mosquitoes had already found me. Suddenly I felt quite strong stings on both hands and quickly realized I was under attack by either wasps or hornets. Apparently under the log I had chosen to sit on was their active hive. I was stung a dozen times on my face and hands and some had even managed to get inside my coat and long sleeve shirt and stung me on my arms just above the elbow. They still sting even now some twelve hours later. My wife who accompanied me for safety in numbers in the darkness, and also to do the stop watch timing for me, said that maybe it was a sign that I should not carry on with the moon light photographing. Especially after my bad fall while photographing under the August moon light last month. She might just have a point there, but I would admit to nothing.
Now about the actual photographing, I discovered something quite interesting. I set the camera, a Nikon D810 to only 64 ISO, the aperture was set to F 5.6, the time was one minute carefully timed with a stop watch. I used the Bulb setting on the camera, I first pushed the button and raised the mirror then after a few seconds I pushed and held the button down for the minute. I ended up doing one, two, three, four and five minutes exposures. But here is the crazy thing, when I processed the images I found that only the one minute exposure was required for a decent looking image. The image itself was completely black to look at in ACR, but with some post processing, using the exposure and shadow sliders in ACR and then using the curves for tweaking in photoshop, it turned out incredibly well.
Here is a link to that image, you wont believe that it was completely dark, 11 PM, at the time the photograph was taken, illuminated by moon light only. As mentioned, I used 64 ISO with an aperture of F 5.6 and a one minute carefully timed exposure, the lens was Nikon's 14-24 lens set to the 24 mm setting......IMAGE
It is quite possible that my wife has a point about photographing by moon light alone. It is far more difficult to frame and focus the subject it's also very time consuming because you have to select a subject in the daylight and return in the late evening to do the photographing. I honestly thought that I would get ghostly appearing images using moonlight, but it seems that is not the case as evidenced by this image. So I will have to do some rethinking about the direction that I want to head out on next.
Because I did go out again during the evening of September 17th, that's when the moon was at it's brightest in September. This time I made use of my Nikon 85 mm F1.8 G lens, again set to F 5.6, the camera's ISO again was set to 64 and I also used a one minute exposure. There was a blustery wind blowing at the time, thus there is quite a bit movement in the tree's branches, of course I used the exposure and shadow sliders in ACR as well as curves in Photoshop for tweaking to once again bring the image out of the digital darkness.......IMAGE......... Here is the same image taken in afternoon daylight, I kept the aperture to F 5.6 the shutter was 1/200 of a second .......IMAGE
AUGUST 21st, 2016
A few nights ago there was the full August moon. I had gone out during the day and selected a suitable grove of trees to photograph that evening, illuminated solely by full moon light. Around 9:45 PM I returned to that same location in the middle of farming country. It was as dark as all get out, there were no street lights or other illumination anywhere in sight. But there was a big beautiful yellow orange moon hovering just above the horizon. I set up the camera just as I had done in the day light, luckily I had left the tripod head with all the settings intact from earlier in the day, so the set up was more or less easy.
Then I went back to the car and waited for it to become even darker than it already was. After about fifteen perhaps twenty minutes I went back to the set up camera and squeezed off several images using 30 seconds as my shutter speed. My Nikon D 810 had the 14-24mm zoom lens on it, which set to approximately 20 mm, I used an aperture of F5 in the daylight as well as for the moon shot. I had the camera set to only ISO 100. I wanted to see if it was possible to pull the image out from the digital darkness during the post processing stage.
So I started with a 30 second exposure and every thing went well and that's when I unfortunately tripped in the darkness on some tangled grass at the side of the road. I fell heavily onto the stoney ground at the side of the road, boy did it hurt. I wrenched my right shoulder, which took the brunt of my weight as I fell, I also banged up my artificial right knee as well. It must have affected it in some way as I now can feel the artificial joint move as I walk, and I never did feel anything like that before the fall. That in a nut shell was my first brief encounter photographing in moon light. In pain I just couldn't go on with the planned longer time exposures. Unfortunately the next few nights were rainy and heavily overcast. And the moon is now no longer as full as it was a few days ago. So I will have to wait until the next full moon in September to try photographing using moon light once again.
Here is a link to what the 30 second exposure gave me, it is a tightly cropped section of the trees, on the left is the daylight image, in the middle is the dark moon lit image just as it was taken, and on the right is the moon lit image after some post processing to bring it out of the digital darkness. IMAGES
AUGUST 8th, 2016
It has been relatively decent for photographing at night the last few days, not much of the moon appearing last week. That being the case, I went out photographing at night several times, still testing and thinking about how I wish to proceed. The one thing I have wondered about is this, everybody's advice is to photograph the night sky using 3200 ISO. Buy doing so the images become very "reticulated" looking in the dark landscape areas, and even in the sky areas when viewed at 100%, and especially so when they are being resized to my particular scale of working, which is 56X84 inches 300 DPI Tiffs. Of course I am printing the images on Epson's 60 inch "Signature Worthy" exhibition canvas, natural satin. So I decided to begin testing the responses of various ISO settings, just to see what effect the difference in ISO speed makes. I found that there is a major difference in image quality as you move up the ISO scale, which is to be expected of course.
From my personal perspective, and after viewing test images at different ISO's, 800 ISO seems to be the max that I want to use for photographing the night sky. But when doing so you must be able to pull the image out of the digital darkness as it were, using Photoshop's curves tool or in my case I first use use Camera Raw's Exposure and Shadow sliders then do further tweaks using Photoshop's Curves and the Vignetting tool to lighten the corners as well as doing Saturation tweaks to accomplish the job. It works wonderfully well and gives an image that's perfectly acceptable. See below, this image was taken in just about total darkness, there was still some barely residual light left in the sky half an hour after sunset, I was facing East and the sun set in the West. I could not see anything in front of me, it was totally black from my perspective with the incessant buzzing of pesky mosquitoes flitting about everywhere. I used a Nikon D810 with a Nikon 14 - 24 mm lens set to 14mm, F2.8 and ISO 800 with a 30 second shutter speed.
In doing this testing I have come up with an idea of just how I would like to proceed. I am going to photograph the landscape in my area under moon light. In other words I will photograph imagery in the dark solely illuminated by the moon and see how that turns out. My main emphasis will not be photographing the stars or the milky way but more I am interested in the landscape photographed under the moon's reflected light. And I will try to do it using 100 and possibly up to 400 ISO and of course using rather longish time exposures. Well that's the plan at present, however as we all know too well, in practice things usually change as results are viewed.
JULY 17th, 2016
I went out scouting the other day for a promising location to do my next starry night testing. I finally managed to locate an area that's about ten kilometers from home base. So on the next moon less night I will head there. I finally managed to get my large tables that are 64X120 inches, completed. They look quite beautiful, so nice in fact that I will be afraid to mess them up with work related scuffing and cuts etc. I intend to do a large canvas test print tomorrow morning. Doing so just to see if everything is performing properly, so that my image creation process can get back normal. Below is an image that I captured several days ago, I used my Nikon D810 with the 14-24 mm lens. The shutter speed was 20 seconds with an aperture of F2.8, the ISO was set to 3200. Believe it or not those trees were completely black to my eyes, it's amazing what the cameras can do these days. I am constantly being blown away at how amazing the dynamic range is, and how good modern digital cameras are at resolving darkened shadow detail.
JULY 1st, 2016
I have been promised by my contractor that the large work tables should be completed sometime next week. If that's the case, it will be some good news for me. I need these tables, especially when I am printing and working with large 60X96 inch prints on canvas. I have been chomping at the bit to get back to work. Also this weekend will be a great time to do some astro photography. The moon won't be visible that much from Saturday, right through until Thursday. All I need is no nightly cloud cover on those days and star gazing as well as astro photography can take place. So here hoping for clear nights.
Well as luck would have it, last night was perfectly clear, so I decided to go out and take some images of the stars around my area. As I tried to photograph the sky at night, several things became clear to me. I require an L bracket, as I was using my D810 in the vertical position all the time as I intended to merge a number of images together. An L bracket would make things so much easier for me. The other thing I found was even though my town is very small, and it's a "dark sky's" community, the light pollution coming from it is still quite unbelievable. So I ventured further away from it to avoid the light pollution, as I did so the landscape became totally black as there was no moon out to light the way. So it was hard for me to see anything and pick a suitable location to set up, I quickly learned that must scout out locations before hand in the daylight and return there in the twilight.
Here are images I took in a farmers field, it's a merging of four images, the right side has been cropped off in an effort to try and center the milky way. One other thing I discovered is this, I must always wear my hiking boots and not my favorite Finn Comfort sandals. Because you never know where you are stepping in the pitch black of night. I used a Nikon D810 with a Nikon 14-24mm lens set at 14mm with the aperture set to F2.8. The ISO was set to 3200 and I used a 20 second shutter speed with long exposure processing set to the ON position.
The orange glow I assume comes from a small town of 3500 souls that's a 30 minute drive away from where I was photographing. The biggest problem, even in a very sparsely populated area of Ontario, located in Canada, that's also designated as a "dark sky" area, is still light pollution and amazingly numerous high flying jets and satellites passing over head.
JUNE 21st, 2016 (Summer Solstice)
Our long lost building contractor finally showed up this past Monday, he and his crew are busy at this moment erecting our privacy fence. It is mainly to allow our many rescue cats access to the outdoors, without them being able to roam farther than the fenced in area. It will also allow them to go outside at will, through a cat door and thus relieve the pressure on them of being hold up inside for such a long time. It might help to alleviate some of their urinating problems, something upsetting that we have been putting up with. Frankly out of all our cats, only four or five are the urinating or "spritzing" culprits, usually against our walls and floors, including on the new fridge and against the range, even on the range proper.
Bloody little buggers. I feel it is being caused by inside territorial spats. And a few of them just do not comprehend the idea behind the many litter boxes we have, having been completely feral when we rescued them. Consequently accustomed to going anywhere they pleased. Our rescues generally occurred in the bleak mid winter season, especially when starvation and the bone chilling cold took hold.
One other thing of note, I finally managed to purchase a 14-24mm F 2.8 Nikon lens last week. I obtained it to do some night imagery of stars in our "dark sky's" area of Canada. It's just a fun project for me, also there is a chance that I might be in a position too attach my Nikon D 810 to a 14 inch telescope, that's the current hope. I have some ideas in that regard which hopefully might come to fruition as new imagery. Only time will tell if anything actually comes of it.
My two large studio work tables (64X120 inches) still have yet to be completed, Hopefully in the next few weeks as the contractor wraps up the fence build and finishes the outside necessities. He also has to hook up our "whole house" generator as well. It arrived and has been sitting on it's cement pad for about six weeks now. Hopefully it will be hooked up this week, not that we have needed it as of yet, it's just backup, for when power fails. And it does tend to in these extremely rural parts.
It is so incredibly beautiful where we are now located, it has a United Nations "World Biosphere" designation. There is so much to take in, so much to think about, so much to be incredibly thankful for.
Well our house contractor hasn't shown up to finish our landscaping as he promised us would happen by mid May. We have been promised this every two weeks since the beginning of April, but somehow something always seem to come up to delay his finishing our house/studio. I suppose no real surprise there, contractors are magicians at juggling issues and putting people off, after all, I guess trying to keep everybody satisfied. What really ticks me off is this, my studio remains unfinished at this time and thus it is preventing me from working on large 64 inch wide canvas prints.
On the good side, our missing fridge and clothes dryer have finally arrived. One more thing in our big house/studio move finally sees some resolution. But just not what I would like to see resolved. Aside from that, the one nice thing about living in a beautiful paradise like setting, is going for our daily walk, usually we do this in the evenings. We both keep marveling that we have actually done it, and of course we joke about pinching ourselves to see if we are dreaming or not. Won't pinch too hard as we don't want to wake up, especially if it is only a dream.
In the meantime as we wait for the contractor to return and wrap things up, we have finished settling the house part of the equation. Even the lower level art storage area is now finally settled. It's just the studio area that's not finished as well as the outside landscaping. It's not really landscaping per say, it's more land fill with essential contouring and then loads of top soil then added for our large English garden area. I was born in the north of England after all;~)
April was a rough and totally exhausting month for us. We undertook a major move out of the beautiful studio we lived in for 26 years. Into a custom built geo thermally heated house/studio, at the beginning of the month. It was April 4 th to be exact. We actually thought that the weather would be cooperating by then, how wrong we were. It was quite cold, in fact snowed on and off all day. What a gigantic a mess the movers made on the terra cotta coloured concrete floors, but it was not really their fault.
The house part of our moving saga, is mostly settled now, except for our missing Kitchen Aid fridge and the LG propane powered dryer. We ordered them this past January 2016 and fully paid for them in mid March, in the city where we had lived in the studio, but they were delayed and have not been delivered as of yet. Apparently the fridge is sitting there now in their warehouse, but the dryer is still missing in action and thus listed as "backordered".
We are a four hour drive north of that particular city now, so it is understandable that the appliance dealer would like to deliver both of them at the same time, luckily for us the delivery charge is free. So our contractor has supplied us with an older gently used fridge that's in excellent condition, the people were letting it go when in the process of a house renovation, which our contractor is currently doing for them. The studio part of the big move is not yet settled either and neither is the large lower level, that's where the art storage is, as well as where we dumped things that did not have a specific home. We are going to begin talking that aspect of the move tomorrow morning.
Setting up the internet connectivity had my wife in tears and totally exasperated at times. In fact her blood pressure shot up sky high. We had to move the Livick web site to a new online provider and that proved to be quite a challenge for us. Mostly I suppose, because we do not know what we were doing in this regard. Amazingly a lot of the professional advice offered by the new online provider, whom we called on the phone for help, was inaccurate or misleading or just plain wrong. After 18 days of working on the problem for a few hours each day, we finally got it to work properly as well as getting our email up and running.
All in all April was the month from "hell", so to speak, every bone in my poor body aches mercilessly. Now we are waiting for the "back fill" followed by landscaping to happen, which should begin around mid May, or so the contractor assures me, let's see if he is accurate in his prediction. As well he has to come back and fix a number of things that we would like addressed, like a bedroom window that won't close properly and a colder than expected master bathroom floor, and there are a number of other things on our short list as well. Building a new house from scratch there days is very expensive. Much more than we had bargained for.
MARCH 6th, 2016
We are now four weeks until our big move occurs, April 7th is when the large moving truck shows up at the studio. But before that happens, we are going to do a number of smaller moves using rented vans. We are hand shifting our more delicate things this way, many house plants and a custom made cherry wood door we had made here in town. It has been designed to hold a beautiful stain glass piece that we purchased a good number of years ago. It will be located in our foyer as the inner door that leads into the large atrium area. We will also move the numerous delicate house plants and ceramic pots this way as well.
We are both quite "hyper" at this point, if that's a suitable word, perhaps "anxious" might be another word that describes it better. My wife especially so as she is in charge of the overall organization of everything. She is up at 5:30 AM every morning going over her reams of notes, making sure that nothing is missed. It will all play out over the coming four weeks. I am going to regret leaving this beautiful studio space, but the truth is, it's become time to go. We did our final big grocery shopping several days ago, there is only small weekly pick ups to do until we move.
Let's hope the weather holds for us and that Spring arrives early. Word is, it's supposed to be quite warm next week, and that's what we like to hear.
My contractor is in the process of building me two large work tables 66x120 inches in size, the top of each is going to be one large piece with no breaks in it. I can hardly wait to see how they turn out. They will sit close to my 64 inch printer and will be where I finish each large photographic work after printing it. Truth is, I can barely wait to get back to working on some challenging photographic pieces. It's been a quite year for me regarding photography as we concentrated first on the land purchase, then on the house design and finally on the build. So many decisions and lengthy day trips to the location had to be made during the past year, as it was a custom build. We had to stand our ground, regarding a double the price, geo thermal powered in floor heating system. Truth is, it would have been so much easier just to go with a run of the mill fossil fuel powered heating system.
This is an image I took as they were in the process of setting up the geo thermal in floor heating system, there is still more too it of course.
FEBRUARY 4th, 2016
Two months today and we begin the move into our newly constructed house/studio. Things are, to say the least, a bit hectic here in the studio. We are constantly running around trying to pick up items that we know will be much harder to obtain in the boon docks, because that's where we are headed. Yesterday my wife purchased herself six bottles of coconut oil/cream for her hair, enough to last her for a number of years.
The professional movers have been booked and all sorts of plans are taking shape in regards to moving susceptible house hold items and house plants using a rented van. It's going to be a costly endeavor as the van rental, on top of the daily rate and the gas, is also 69 cents per kilometer. We are going to require two such trips by rented van.
On top of everything else, a movie crew has decided to shoot some scenes in the large walk in safe, which contains a another safe that I imagine held company cash. So all of my carefully wrapped photographic art work in the safe, will have to be moved temporarily out of the safe. Trouble is, there is a lot of it. The question is, just where are we going to put everything as every room and hallway is chock full of wrapped items that are ready for the move. It's such a pain in the butt at this time. They told us not to worry as they will move everything. I am not sure what I think of that idea. At least everything is already wrapped in heavy weight plastic.
JANUARY 20ith, 2016
So here we are in a new year, woo pie, said with seeming sarcasm. It's going to be the year of our move out of the beautiful studio that we have inhabited for so long, close to 26 years. Most things are now packed, we only have two plates and two cups etc. in our kitchen cupboard, you get the picture. All of the the new appliances are scheduled to be delivered March 22. Of course I will be there to greet them, just incase none of the work crew are on site at that time. As for me, I am officially moving in on the fourth of April with all of the cats in tow, it amazingly will require two vehicles just to manage all of the cat carry cases. My very organized wife is handling the main move out of the studio which is going to happen on the seventh of April, of course using a professional moving company, with delivery scheduled for the eighth of April.
Can hardly wait, yet at the same time I am absolutely terrified, I don't like change, it is very disruptive. We have also found out that the four doctors serving the area are not accepting any new patients. We will have to go on a very long waiting list, some people have been on it for years, or so we have been told. We will have to keep our doctor who is a four hour car ride away, eight hours round trip. The dentist appears to be no problem, that's assuming we like him or her. A veterinary clinic is a half hour away by car, I sure hope that we like them. Because the next vet is an hour away or a two hour round trip..
This past Friday, January 15th, I had a quickly arranged appointment with an eye surgeon. My right eye is giving me trouble. All the vertical lines it sees are in an S shape, in other words every straight edge that I look at with just my right eye are wavy in a repeating S shape. Looking at my large screen television with just my right eye, the sides all curve in quite dramatically. The good news is looking at things with both eyes, everything appears to be normal.
The fix with just a 40% success rate according to the eye surgeon, is to have a very expensive liquid medicine ($1700 per injection) injected into my right eyeball. I had the first of three such injections, that are to occur one month apart, on Friday. The next injection is set to take place on February 12. The third some time in mid March. After the three injections have been completed, the surgeon will recheck to see if it has repaired or helped too ameliorate the problem at the back of my right eye. (My photo shooting eye no less) I might possibly require such injections spread out over the rest of my life, or not, especially if things don't work out well in that regard. It makes reading small type very difficult on the monitor and reading magazines or the newspaper seem close to impossible for me. It's indeed a struggle to read, to say the least.
I imagine that you can sense my trepidation, as we are moving away from my family doctor and now the eye surgeon. There are some turbulent times ahead for us I fear! Myself in particular.
DECEMBER 11th, 2015
I see that it's been four months since my last posting here. Truth is, as of late, I have been quite busy with the house/studio build and all of the decisions that require a resolution. Including making a good number of trips up to the house site, which is a four hour drive from where we are presently located. However luckily we seem to be coming to the end of the decision making process. Having selected all of our appliances and both bathroom vanities and finally signing off on the kitchen design, picking the right kind of Silestone Quartz, and a beautiful backsplash, sink and type of finish for the kitchen cupboards.
The hardest aspect for me was with choosing the bathroom tile. Our contractor only allowed us three dollars per sq foot on the tile. I just could not find anything in the three dollar per square foot price range that I could live with, and also have my wife agree upon as well. If she liked a certain tile, I did not, and vice versa. Indeed searching through the stock of a good number of tile dealers in our area and looking online as well. So after ten months of on and off searching, taking samples home and living with the tiles, we decided to up the tile budget by a dollar to four dollars just to see if that would help, but alas still no luck. Then one of the sales persons suggested the we also look at their end of lines, and that's when I found a beautiful seven dollar per sq foot tile for just four dollars, that did it for me. The tile is being ordered today by our tiler.
We also spent some time dealing with a door in our foyer, this is to be an inner door that opens up into our living space. I wanted to have a beautiful stained glass, which we have had for years, installed in the door. Our contractor confidently allowed us $550 to have this door made, maintaining that costing should suffice for a door like this. As always it turns out that the real cost of the pre hung 90/80 cherry wood door that's good on both sides, with an opening specially cut out to take the stained glass. Including the cherry wood surround and satin nick le hardware comes in at $1850. Isn't it always the way of it with contractors?
So it's been like this most of the Fall, the house now topping in at close to half a million dollars to build, taxes included, when all is said and done. It's funny but my wife who really wanted to build the house in the first place, has since commented that if she knew what was in store, she would have opted to purchase something in the area and fix it up according to our tastes. As for me, truth is, I didn't want to build in the first place, mostly because I knew the trouble and pain it was going to be.
However I am happy that we did because we will eventually have, in about three more months, hopefully by the first of April, an extremely well insulated passive solar designed house with geo thermal heating, made to our specifications. Including a beautiful print studio and workshop area as well as a very large heated storage area in the lower level. We both can hardly wait to move in. But moving is going to be very challenging, so we have decided to break it up into three moves in total, an art and supply move, a house plant and delicate objects move and then the overall house move. There will also be a large cat move as well, and that's because we have so many of the little creatures, all loved like family.
The geo thermal drilling company sent this smaller rig to drill the three wells required for the geo thermal heating system, because their larger rig was busy drilling elsewhere. However in the end it was not able to drill through the upper shale and rock layer. So next week, December 14th to the 18th, they are sending a larger drilling rig to our site and hopefully that will complete the job. Luckily our weather is still holding on the mild side, for now.
AUGUST 4th, 2015
The months just seem to tumble by, I have been totally focused on our house/studio build. So many things to sort out with a new build that's from our own design plans. This is where it sits at this time, August 4 th, 2015. The below ground foundation walls of my art and supply storage, as well as the frame assembly work area are finished. I am expecting to see the frame of the upstairs living area being erected in the next ten days to two weeks or so. Of course that's after the foundation for the garage has been completed. You can see the door and of course there will be stairs leading down from the back of the garage to the lower level area. It's to allow art work and supplies to move in and out of the storage area through the garage.
The garage is actually facing towards the road, because the passive solar house is on a slant on the property, the front with large windows is being positioned towards the south west. This is to benefit from the warming afternoon sun especially in winter. If the garage was attached directly to the side of the house, we would have to endure a rather sharp turn into i, when coming in off the road, and also a sharp turn to get back out onto the road when backing out. We wanted to back straight out, especially as we are senior citizens and turning around to see where we are going is becoming more difficult and challenging. So we slanted the garage towards the road like it shows in this image. Thus allowing us to drive straight in and back up straight out to the short cul de sac road.
That uninhabited building you see behind our build, is the town's water treatment facility as well as the pump house. Of course it's not as close as it appears to be in the picture. I guess we will always have great water pressure being situated close to it. This image and many others were sent to me by my contractor Gord, from his Blackberry.
JUNE 21st, 2015
Our house/studio build has finally commenced. We drove four hours north of where we are now and delivered the first of many large certified checks to our contractor Gord.
Here is a picture of the build site. It is going to be 4000 sq ft in total, with a 2000 sq ft lower level for art storage and my work supplies and a 2000 sq ft upper level living space/studio. Geothermal heating in the cold weather with in floor radiant heating. We will not be burning fossil fuels, except of course when the large propane powered generator that we are also having installed starts supplying us with electrical power. That's for when the power quits on us during bad stormy weather. Or during bad wind storms which are occurring with much more frequency these days, due to global warming and the resulting climate change.
This is the scene which is just a three minute walk from our new house/studio, it's so beautiful, we both just love being there.
MAY 31st, 2015
We have been "swamped" this last month with decision after decision regarding the house/studio build, which is roughly fours hours north of our present location here in Ontario, Canada. Work has now commenced and things should be heating up for us, even more in the months ahead. That being said, I have actually been considering doing some night time astrophotography, and the truth is, where we are building will be perfect for doing that. There is no light pollution in the area because there's hardly anybody living there, just a hand full of souls that stay out of tourist season. So September through May will be very quiet indeed. The stars will easily be seen and of course more easily photographed. I can hardly wait for that.
Packing for the move is in full swing right now, so much to do, the studio is looking very bare indeed. It is going to be a humongous move all told, perhaps being done in three stages. One move for all of the art work in the walk in safe and of course my work things including equipment. Another move for all of the household things we possess and the last move, of course the most nerve wracking move of all, is that of our family. This last departing is going to require two vehicles, both of them full of meowing and wailing family members. I can hardly wait.
APRIL 28th, 2015
We were finally able to purchase our property, it sure took a while and that was after five months of trying to purchase the first property. We reluctantly made a decision to change the property to make the purchase happen. Once we did that, it only took three weeks to complete the purchase of the new property. The problem with the first property was in having to severe it, and because it was owned by a numbered company, it was deemed by law to be attached to adjoining properties that were owned by the same numbered company.
And because of the severing process that meant it was going to fall under the latest rules as a newly established property. Thus requiring a soil acid test costing $4800 and a costly archeological survey of the property. Because it was within 1000 ft of the shore line, then a special "level three" septic tank was going to be required, costing close to $25,000 CDN. So reluctantly, and mostly just to wake up from the "awake nightmare" that we found ourselves caught up in, we decided to pull the plug on purchasing the first property we chose. And as crazy as it seems, we went directly across the street to a property of the same size, 17,200 sq ft, selling for the exact same price, by the same numbered company no less, but more importantly this one not requiring severing, thus being grand fathered in and therefore falling under the older less stringent government rules.
We have also been looking at various metal roofing options and of course the numerous cladding options, and investigating the many other things that are required when doing a full house build. So we have been quite busy to say the least.
MARCH 17th, 2015
Haven't felt much like photographing as of late, between having to put one of our cats, "Sanchie" down last week, because of a virulent form of cancer he developed, all of it seemingly suddenly. Also dealing with nagging problems regarding the land purchase for our house/studio build, as well as the very cold weather outside, all of it seeming to rob me of my creative energy as of late.
I can't seem to get interested in going out to photograph, perhaps because of too much mental clutter in the way. Hopefully with the better weather arriving in a few more weeks or so, my faltering spirits usually turn around, encouraged by glorious weather. A nice sunny Spring day should act like a fortifying tonic, and boost my joy of life, that bright light at the end of the gray tunnel, so to speak.
FEBRUARY 13th, 2015
I finally picked up the Sigma 50 mm F1.4 "ART" lens late yesterday afternoon, here is a first test of it using one of my wife's window cactus. The distance from the cactus to the front of the lens, without the lens hood on, was measured at 14 inches. This is a 100% crop. The Nikon D 810 body had the "Picture Control" set to "Neutral" like I discovered the 35 mm Sigma F 1.4 "ART" lens required. The camera was sitting on a tripod, I used a cable release with one push upping the mirror and the second push tripping the front curtain shutter. The lens was set to F11 and the shutter speed was 1/25. The ISO was set to 64. No sharpening was set in the camera body and none was added in ACR or Photoshop. However the image was lowered to 150 dpi in Photoshop and japegd to level 12, it looks pretty amazing to me......IMAGE
FEBRUARY 7th, 2015
Although there have been some quite nice sunny days recently where I reside, I have not ventured out to photograph. It's been very cold and that among other things on my plate, have stood in the way of me venturing out to photograph. We are in the process of building a studio/home in a beautiful part of our province and that has been chewing up my time, mostly with worry, also we have been out and about shopping for new items, kitchen counter tops and back splashes etc. for the house/studio. It's worry like you do whenever you build a none cookie cutter style of dwelling, in a place that's far removed from where you currently live.
Ten days ago we traveled to the location, mainly to stamp the layout of the new space in the snow along with the designer/builder. We are going to build a passive solar house/studio and were there mainly to situate the building on the large lot. It's a good thing we made the effort as it has changed the floor plans somewhat. So we are waiting for the revised floor plans to be sent to us via email. The designer sends them to us in a PDF attachment using four separate emails, we then print them out and piece them together.
There is also a problem with the land that was unexpected, something that's been playing havoc with my mind. The land is owned by a numbered Ontario company, they own four pieces of land in question and because they are all adjoined to one another, they are deemed to be merged together by law. Our lawyer would like the land either to be severed, or possibly find a way to somehow change the ownership of our piece of land to one person's name, so they could sell it to us. So we have been waiting for word from our lawyers to see if that's even possible. The new closing date is February 12th and so far, as of February 7th, there has been no word from our lawyers. Of course I will send them an email on Monday.
So you can imagine my nagging angst over this situation and that's why photographing has been just about impossible for me during this time, I just can't seem to concentrate.
JANUARY 20h, 2015
The cold has let up just a little, today it's around 0 C or 32 F but it's incredibly overcast and gloomy outside, typical winter overcast. I have been thinking it over about getting myself the Sigma DP2 Quattro camera, instead of the Sigma 50 mm "ART" lens to use with my Nikon D 810. The one thought I have had is this, will the DP2 Quattro get used most times instead of the Nikon D 810. I do not think that I would want to carry both cameras with me on an given outing.
With that in mind I will probably opt for the 50 mm "ART" lens for the D 810. That really makes the most sense, even though I would still like to work with the Sigma DP 2 Quattro and Foveon sensor image captures. The D 810 is my love of photography camera, I purchased it for the sheer joy of taking images on my walks through the woods or while walking on public park lands. It was meant more to get me out photographing and even more importantly outside breathing in the fresh air.
I have been looking through lens listings and reading a number of online reviews, trying too see if any Nikon 50 mm lens might take the place of the Sigma 50 mm "ART" lens, but no Nikon 50 mm lens seem to be quite as good as the Sigma "ART" lens is, especially as far as sharpness is concerned. In comparing the results between the Nikon 85mm F 1.8 G lens and the Sigma 35 mm F 1.4 "ART" lens, I do prefer the Nikon 85 mm lens as far as the lack of intense contrast that it shows in the images. In that it requires much less post capture work in Photoshop. The Sigma 35 mm "ART" image captures require work to neutralize the contrast and at times the colour cast in the image, of course that's only in certain images, but by no means in all of the images.
JANUARY 12h, 2015
I had a seemingly "crazy" thought yesterday and it went like this. Instead of purchasing the Sigma F1.4 50 mm "ART" lens for my Nikon D 810, why not purchase Sigma's DP2 Quattro camera with a 45 mm equivalent lens on 35 mm camera, so a lens just slightly wider than normal. Of course it's just a thought at the moment. I am sure that I might eventually "grow out" of it. When I owned the Sigma SD 1 Merrill camera for a short period of time several years ago, I took some August foliage images with it and they turned out extremely well, and it was one of Sigma's short zoom lens that I used at the time.
I was able to print out a number of 26.6 X 40 inch images, using my Epson 9800 printer, and I was delighted by those results. I have now seen comparison images between the Sigma SD 1 Merrill and the new Sigma DP2 Quattro and the Quattro images appear to be even better than the exact same images taken by the SD 1, at least to my eyes they were. Now I thought the SD 1 images that I printed out were very good indeed. So the truth is, I can't decide what to do, but no matter what I do, it seems that Sigma will be the benefactor of my money.
It is very cold here, in fact we are both wearing our down insulated booties around the studio, because the floors are so darn cold. I am waiting for it to warm up a little, before heading out to take more photographs. Of course I also require a decent day out side, and that means no biting wind blowing as well, of course with nice lighting, not the easiest order to fill, especially in the bleak mid winter season. But it can and does happen, I remember any number of very nice winter days in the past, when I spent time out photographing with a 4X5 Linhof fold up Technica camera and film holders with 4x5 Ektachrome Daylight film loaded. I think that was back in the later part of the 1970s. I can also remember other times in the early 1980s as well, when I used an 8 X10 Deardorff sheet film camera to capture my landscape images.
JANUARY 5th, 2015
It's bitter cold outside, cold enough that it is stopping me from going out to photograph. I know that my equipment would freeze up on me in short order. So I have opted to do more testing that can be done inside the warmth of the studio. I want to see if I should be tweaking the micro focusing on either of my new lenses, the 35 mm Sigma "ART" lens and the Nikon 85 mm 1.8 G lens.
With that in mind I sought out one of my wife's window cactus, I looked for one that had decent afternoon light and of course with something sharp to focus on. I first tried the 85 mm Nikon G lens, setting the camera body "Picture Control" to record in the "Landscape" setting, that's too add saturation and warmth to the image, because I find this lens records things on the "flat" side. I set the lens to F 11 and had the camera sitting on a tripod. I used a cable release with a double push, once to raise the Nikon D 810 mirror and the second push to trip the front curtain shutter. The ISO was set to 64, I also made sure that no sharpening was applied in the camera and I have not added any sharpening in Photoshop.The images are as they came out of the camera.
As for the Sigma 35 mm F 1.4 "ART" lens, I adjusted the D 810 camera body's "Picture Control" to the "Neutral" setting, and that's because this Sigma "ART" lens has a very punchy image rendition. I also moved the camera closer to the cactus to try and capture approximately what the 85 mm image looked like in the viewfinder. Everything else was absolutely the same as the 85 mm Nikon F 1.8 G lens settings. The front of Sigma lens was only about fifteen inches away from the cactus and the front of Nikon 85 mm lens was about four and a half feet away.
I find the Sigma 35 mm image has more contrast than the much flatter producing Nikon 85 mm G image. I will have to work with the curves tool in Photoshop to flatten out the Sigma image, whenever I use this lens. It also appears that the Nikon 85 mm lens has slightly better resolution, however by just a smidgen. The Sigma 35 mm lens also adds more yellow to the image, even with the Nikon D 810 body "Picture Control" set to "Neutral" setting the image still has more yellow in it than the Nikon 85 mm G lens, when it's set to the more saturation added "Landscape" setting. I have also set the D 810 body to the "Adobe" setting.
Here are the two unsharpened images crops, which are at 100% resolution, the Nikon 85 mm F1.8 G lens is on the left hand side and the Sigma F1.4 "ART" lens is on the right hand side of the monitor......IMAGE
JANUARY 4th, 2015
I have been thinking about getting myself a normal 50 mm lens for the Nikon D 810. You are kidding me, I can here myself echoing from the back of my memory banks, no, it's for real. With that in mind, I have been reading about the various 50mm lens that are available these days for the 35 mm Nikon system.
It appears that the Zeiss Otus 50mm lens is the best of the lot, that's according to what I have been reading and seeing posted online. However it has four "flaws" too it, that's as far as I can make out. First off, it's quite large in scale and imposing for a 50 mm lens, it's also quite heavy, and it's a manual focus lens, so harder to focus with the focusing screens in these modern digital cameras. The fourth and most important thing is, it's incredibly expensive. It would come to roughly $5000 CDN with the Canadian 13% taxes included, for me to purchase it. To be honest with you, I can't justify that high a price even to myself for a 50 mm lens, let alone to my lovely wife. Whom has had to put up with a lot of my photographic wants and needs over our many years of marriage.
So with that in mind, I will have to settle for the perceived second best of the lot, which turns to be the Sigma 50 mm F 1.4 "ART" lens. In fact it is smaller than the Zeiss Otus lens and it's also an auto focusing lens and not quite as heavy as the Zeiss Otus 50 mm lens. From what I have seen online, it is just a tad not quite as blisteringly sharp when viewed at 100%, as the Zeiss Otus 50 mm is. But here it the real kicker, I can get a Sigma 50 mm "ART" lens for $948 CDN, add the 13% taxes and it comes to $1071 CDN.. So to me it turns out to be a "no brainer", as the proverbial saying goes.
I have always avoided the 50 mm lens in favour of the 35 mm lens as my normal lens, but lately I have come to the reasoning that I would like a lens that will provide me the same view as I see with my eyes. Not too wide and lensie and not foreshortened like the 85 mm Nikkor F 1.8 G lens provides, which I own as well.
I would like to approach the landscape "straight on" as it were. Not sure what has occurred to make me begin thinking like this, perhaps it has been working with the Arca Swiss RM3di system that's done it. I am sure that must be it, I have enjoyed working with my RM3di immensely and I have felt at one with the landscape, whenever I work with it. The sheer joy of feeling one to one with the landscape. So the truth is, I would like that exact same "intimate" feeling when I am photographing with the Nikon D 810. Un-encumbered by carrying around a glut of 35 mm lenses, I intend to go out photographing with just one lens on the camera, like I have been doing with the Arca Swiss RM3di during this past year.
Here is one of those intimate images take with the Arca Swiss RM3di and a 72 mm Schneider Digitar lens with a Leaf Aptus II 33 mp digital back....IMAGE .........a 100% partial crop of the same image......IMAGE
DECEMBER 21st, 2014
Well this afternoon we took the time to deliver all of the "charitable" gifts, that we drove all over town purchasing yesterday. Frankly we were both just glad to have that done. It was still an incredibly beautiful day out, the sun was shining brightly. So when we arrived back at the studio, I decided to test out my theory of having to set the Sigma 35 mm F 1.4 'ART" lens on the "Neutral" setting in the Nikon D 810 body, and having to set the 85 mm F 1.8 G Nikon lens on the "Landscape" setting to have both of the images match each other.
Too that end, I quietly borrowed one of my wife's plant stands and one of her nice spider plants. It wasn't that cold outside, especially with the sun shining, about 35 F or just about 2 C. But with the sun shining brightly it felt so much warmer on the roof top. In fact I was out there in just a shirt with no coat. Incredibly amazing for this time of the year, and the shortest day as well.
So to do this test with the the 35 mm Sigma F1.4 "ART" lens, I set the Nikon D 810 body to the "Neutral" setting, with no sharpening being applied either in the camera or in ACR. As for the the Nikon 85 mm F 1.8 lens, I set the D 810 body set to "Landscape" setting, also making sure that no sharpening was applied either in the D 810 camera body or in ACR.
The Nikon 85 mm F 1.8 image is sitting on the left side of your monitor while the Sigma 35 mm F 1.4 image is sitting on the right hand side of your monitor.
So the fact is, I did guess right during my morning shower, that's where the idea simply popped into my thought process. See it for yourself, the images just about match each other. Although the Sigma image on the right side looks like it might be a tad redder than the Nikon image................. IMAGE
DECEMBER 20ith, 2014
The Nikon 85 mm F1.8 G series lens that I ordered last week, arrived a few days ago. I did not have to wait that long before there was a sunny day. However I did have to fit the photographing in between running around town doing "charitable" shopping for a battered mother and her four children. It came about like this, a few weeks ago we gave away a nice wooden futon base and a very decent double mattress as well as a few other items on Kijiji, our local online selling, trading, swapping site. And that's when I was contacted by a lady who helped battered women and their children get away from their violently abusive husbands.
So we started an online dialogue, and there were some phone calls thrown in as well, and the long and short of it is this. Both my wife and myself decided to throw our personal gifting budget into one pot and help the battered woman and her children. So with a list of their needs and wishes, provided by the lady we met on Kijiji, yesterday we ran around town trying to fill their requests. We did well, but it took a long time to find things on our list. We even set out a 6:30 am yesterday morning. Firstly heading to our two local Mall Wart stores, then to a store with a big red Target on it. However everything has now been gift wrapped and ready for delivery in the next few days. These are total strangers to us and a family that we will never meet in person. That being said, it sure feels good to help out in such dire circumstances.
I did have a few hours available over the lunch break period. We had begun our shopping very early and by noon, by no means being shoppers, we were both looking for a break from all of the rushing around. As it was bright and sunny out I took the Nikon D 810 body and the Sigma 35 mm F1.4 "ART" lens and the newly arrived Nikon 85 mm F 1.8 G lens out to run some quick tests. Of course I headed out of town to do the testing, about a half hour drive out to a vacant farmers field. Where I knew there was a line of Birch trees that would be perfect for lens testing.
I made sure to set the D 810 body to record the image in "Neutral" and made sure there was no sharpening set either on the camera body, nor have I sharpened the images in ACR either. The Nikon 85 mm lens is on the left hand side of your monitor and the Sigma 35 mm lens is located on the right hand side. I also set the White Balance to 6000K on both images. It was bright and sunny out with no clouds showing in the sky.The test shows me that the Nikon 85 mm lens is much flatter reproducing than the Sigma lens is, which appears to add some nice rounded contrast to the image, that explains to me why it scores high in the DXO and Photozone lens resolution testing. I also see that the Sigma lens adds a little more yellow to the image than the Nikon lens does, it's image seems almost lifeless to me.
This is now DECEMBER 21st, and to be honest with you, I am really disappointed with the reproduction of the 85 mm F1.8 G Nikon lens. It seems very flat to me, lacking three dimensional depth in comparison to the Sigma 35 mm "ART" lens. Yesterday when I did this testing I was of course very rushed for time, and that's because there was even more "charitable" gift shopping to do in the afternoon. So in my haste I originally thought it was the Sigma 35 mm lens that had this "flat" problem, and I judged it very badly indeed, jumping to misjudged conclusions, which was a huge mistake, and something that ate away at me all day and all evening yesterday. So, unable to sleep well last night, I got up very early this morning and made sure to check the EXIF data for each image and that's when I found the mistake I made yesterday . It's the Nikon 85 mm F 1.8 G lens that is "flat" reproducing and definitely not the Sigma 35 mm F 1.4 "ART" series lens. I am sure glad that I caught the mistake. I had even considered selling the Sigma 35 mm lens on ebay, can you believe that?
Now I have been thinking things over during my morning shower and hair wash, like my father before me, I still have a full head of now nicely graying hair, when he died, his hair was still jet black. It seem to me that the Nikon 85 mm F1.8 G lens is showing the image to be "Neutral", which is the setting that was actually set on the D 810 camera body. So this means if I were to set the "Landscape" setting with this lens, instead of having it set to "Neutral" when I use the 85 mm F 1.8 G lens, I am sure that it would definitely pump up the image's saturation to have it end up looking more like the Sigma's 35 mm image does, when it's set in "Neutral" setting.
Bare in mind that the rational would then dictate that whenever I use the Sigma 35 mm "ART" lens, I should always be sure to set the D 810 to record the image in "Neutral". Because when it's set in the "Landscape" setting, the Sigma 35 mm F1.4 "ART" lens yields an image that's overly saturated, over done so to speak. That's my take on it. Of course this means that yet another test is required, which I intend to do when there is another nice sunny day outside, and of course it's not windy biting and well below zero out. Ahhh, the joys of learning about things. Please read the post above this one, December 21st, because that's this test that I am talking about.
Here are two of the images, they are 100% crops taken out of the center part of each image, I did make an effort to photograph the images, so that the 100% crops matched as close as possible......IMAGE
DECEMBER 8 th, 2014
Yesterday was a nice looking sunny day, with that being the case I decided to venture out to photograph a test of the two systems I have. However truth is, I wasn't really prepared for just how cold it was, about 28 F but with a strong nasty biting wind. The wind made it seem so much colder than it actually was.
I took both my Arca Swiss RM3di with a 33 mp Leaf Aptus II digital back and my Nikon D 810, 36 mp camera. The Arca Swiss RM3di quickly became difficult to operate in the cold, it's really not designed to work out in Celsius below zero cold, and cretainly not in below zero Fahrenheit cold. I even had to remove the battery from the Leaf Aptus II digital back after finishing every photograph and put it in my shirt pocket, just to keep it warm inside my winter coat, between taking photographs. The Nikon D 810 worked well without any problems through the cold snap.
I managed to take a number of images with both the RM3di and the D 810, photographing the exact same subject, doing so to see how they compared to each other. I took single shot images, as well, I also did six image stitches of all of the same subject matter with the RM3di. It was the Arca Swiss Rotaslide back that gave me the most problems in the cold weather. It became increasingly difficult to slide it back and forth. And the knobs that are used to move the digital back either up and down or sideways, also became increasingly harder to turn in the cold.
Here is one of the images I found that suited my purpose, it's a lonely tree sitting in a farmers field, I thought that it would show up the differences between the two systems. I remembered to set the Nikon D 810 to record "Neutral" images. Because in my December 4th testing with the Nikon, it had been set to the "Landscape" setting, but I changed that for this particular outing. In ACR I made sure the White Balance of both images were set to 6000 Kelvin. I did not sharpen either image so the 100% crops are as they came out of their respective camera.
As before in the testing the Nikon image appears to be somewhat yellowish in tone, even though in the menu system it was set to record "neutral" images. Not sure if it's the Sigma 35 mm lens that's causing the yellow, or if the camera's sensor is causing it, or if it's something else. With that in mind, I have ordered a Nikon 85 mm lens and as soon as it arrives, and there is a decent day outside, I intend to run more tests. Comparing the results from those two lenses, one a Sigma lens and the other a Nikon dedicated lens. The Leaf Aptus II image looks more like it appeared in person. You will just have to take my 002 cent worth of opinion on it. It seems to me that the resolutions are virtually the same, just about one for one, 33 MP for the Leaf Aptus and 36 MP for the Nikon D 810.
On the RM3di I had a Schneider Digitar 72 mm and on the Nikon D 810 there was the Sigma F1.4 35 mm "ART" series lens. Both of the lenses were set to F 11 and both cameras were resting on their respective carbon fiber tripods, and on both a cable release method was used to help prevent any camera shake.
The Nikon image is on the right hand side of the monitor and the Arca Swiss RM3di with the Leaf Aptus II is on the left hand side...... COMPARISON IMAGES
Here is an 11.1 X 16.5 x 100 DPI image for use online, my full image is really 60X90 inches x 300 DPI in scale. After the stitching was complete I created this fractal image.....RM3di SIX IMAGE STITCH..
DECEMBER 4th, 2014
We finally, after seemingly a long period, had a decent day with some sunshine. That being the case, I thought why not run a test that would be interesting and informative to see the results. I have been wanting to see a side by comparison run between the Arca Swiss RM3di with a 72 mm Schneider Digitar lens with a Leaf Aptus 33 MP digital back. Verses a Nikon D 810, 36 mp body with a Sigma 35 mm F 1.4 higher quality "ART" lens. So here are those results, two 100% crop images that are sitting side by side, and both of which have had absolutely no sharpening applied neither in camera nor post image capture. I made sure that each image was set too 5600 Kelvin by setting that White Balance specifically in ACR.
The Arca Swiss RM3di image is located on the left hand side of your monitor and the Nikon D 810 image is sitting on the right side of the monitor. I was exactly three feet away from my wife's hairy looking cactus. I chose it because of the very fine hard to resolve detail that it has. I allowed the Nikon D 810 to set the focus, however the focusing square located in my viewfinder was situated right on the cactus, I made sure of that. The aperture was set at F 8 and the camera was set on the Aperture mode, so it ended up choosing the shutter speed for me. The ISO of the D 810 was set at 64, that's my preferred ISO with this camera.
As for the Arca Swiss RM3di image, I took a distance reading with my Leica laser range finder, and the red laser beam projected a red dot onto the cactus which read exactly 3 feet from the focal plane of digital back. Then I checked my focus readings on a self made focusing chart and found the setting for three feet read BLUE 2 for the 72 mm Schneider Digitar lens. So I rotated the large focus ring on the RM3di body until it just about entered into the BLUE section and I made sure that it was set to the number 2 of that Blue coloured rotation. The aperture on the Schneider Digitar was set to F 11, I did that because I thought the 72 mm digitar lens is twice as long as the Nikon's 35 mm Sigma lens, so it would benefit from the extra F stop setting for depth of field.
The Leaf Aptus II was set too 50 ISO, which I always use, that's just to insure maximum quality in my images. Needless to say, both cameras were sitting on their respective carbon fiber tripods and tripod heads. A cable release was employed on both cameras as well. With the Nikon it was an electronic cable release with double push, once for the mirror to raise up and then the second push for the front curtain shutter to trip. The Arca Swiss cable release is more of the old fashion kind, except it is connected to the lens by the use of magnets, a set up which I find works quite well.
Keep in mind that these are tiny 100% crops taken out of much larger images. I haven't sharpen these images. The Leaf Aptus II image looks more like it appeared in person, anyway's that's just my 002 cents on it. The Nikon image appears to be a more yellow in tone and a little more contrasty than the cooler more neutral Leaf Aptus II image.
But here is the real kicker regarding this test, the Arca Swiss RM3di outfit cost North of $30,000 CDN, when I purchased it back in February of 2014, that's when our Canadian dollar was running at par with the American one. These days our Canadian dollar is sitting at 13 cents below the American dollar and it's projected to go to 16 cents below, sometime in the fast approaching New Year. I purchased the RM3di body with their Rotaslide back and one lens the Schneider Digitar 72 mm and of course the 13% Canadian taxes have been included. And let me not forget a new Leaf Aptus II 33 mp digital back, that I managed to get bundled with the Arca Swiss RM3di for half the going retail price at the time. Simply a great deal.
The truth is this, I could not have afforded the Arca Swiss outfit these days, the way things are with our dollar falling so much, like it has. The Nikon D 810 cost me about $5,200 CDN also with just one lens the 35 mm Sigma "ART" series, including the 13 % taxes as well. I did have fun doing this test and I imagine that I will be doing more of these tests in the future, again doing them just for fun........... IMAGE
NOVEMBER 24th, 2014
I have a cautionary tale to relay to you. About a month ago I had a new computer custom built for me, it was a monster of a unit with a one TB SSD drive and 20 TB striping raid 5 unit, it also had 32 Gigs of RAM and all of the latest Microsoft bells and whistles it was possible to include. I thought this was the way to go, so I started to load my working files onto it, which took a day and then some to do. I then opened the files in Windows Explorer and waited for all of the thumbnails to be created. It was rather time consuming, especially waiting for all of the thumbnails from all of my 60x90 inch 300 DPI files to be created. I finally went out photographing with my Nikon D 810 and stored all of those images on the Raid 5 thinking they were perfectly safe. What a mistake!
I was still having problems with the system, two new DVD units were not being recognized by Windows. So the tech that built the unit came to the studio and sorted that out for me. But something must have happened when he put the cover back on the Cooler Master case. All of the wiring harnesses connecting the five 4 TB hard drives are there and quite exposed. He figures, and this is just the speculation on it, that he must have bent one of those wiring harnesses, even if just slightly, putting pressure on one of the harnesses and consequently one of the wires must have broken loose from it's mooring. Well that's what we speculated could have happened. It might have also been a defective wiring harness from the start. Or perhaps a reused harness in order to keep their build costs down. Who knows?
Because the next day when I turned the unit on nothing showed up, not even my 1 TB SSD. So the tech came over again and that's when he made the discovery. Two of the 4 TB hard drives had become corrupted and consequently all of the work that was sitting on the 20 TB Raid 5 was lost. All of my first photographic outing with the Nikon D 810 was also lost as well.
Of course I went into a kind of reflex panic mode at the thought of this happening, and especially so soon after I took possession of the unit. I had a talk with the tech and we decided that another way might be safer to proceed, rather than the striping Raid 5 set up he created. After all, what would it have been like if after several years had passed by, then such a thing happened.
So we mutually decided to go down another route. I purchased yet two more 4 TB Western Digital internal hard drives, thus making it 24 TB of Western Digital spinning drives in the computer. The tech had originally re-purposed one of my Seagate hard drives out of one of my older external units, but he thought the Western Digital 4 TB units were a safer bet to be using. But this time he set things up differently. The 1 TB SSD shows up on it's own but also three 4 TB spinning disc storage hard drives show up as well. But when I save to one of those 4 TB hard drives the Raid controller automatically saves it to two 4 TB hard drives at the same time.
So while there are 6- 4 TB hard drives in the computer, twelve of those TB are simply back up drives. So now I only have 12 TB to actually save onto. It is a much safer system because if one hard drive fails me in the future, I can replace it and the partner drive that's still functioning will automatically re save everything onto the newly replaced unit.
The other thing I did was take the opportunity and return back to Windows 7, 64 Bit Professional. I just did not like the opening page of Windows 8, it might be good for smaller tablets and such, but I thought that extra layer I had to click through just to get to my main desk top screen, bugged me too no end. And at my very high screen resolution on the 30 inch Apple cinema display, all of the little coloured Windows were quite tiny and located on the far left side of the large monitor. So while we were reconfiguring the computer I gave the tech my copy of Windows 7 and I asked him to load it onto the system.
Not sure if I have made the right move by going backwards like that, but it's been done now and consequently I have to live with it. I say this because of a nagging problem I am still having with with Photoshop program stopping to work for me, right in the middle of 60X90 inch image creation, it's so annoying and truthfully something that never occurred while using Windows 8. Windows 7 says that it will look for a solution to the problem online, but the reality is, it never solves this nagging problem for me.
NOVEMBER 19th, 2014
Yesterday was a rather sad day for me, about four or maybe five months ago I turned my audiophile sound system on to listen to some music while I was working on images. Usually I listen to Kate Rusby full time, she is an English foke singer hailing from Yorkshire, like myself. I just love her voice and sound and I can not seem to get enough of her. She is none commercial, by that I mean she is more intimate, her voice carries the song's message beautifully. Not a stage full of fireworks and razzle dazzle like so many of the performers use these days to mask weak singing abilities. Her foke music is light years away from the normal music scene, which as you can imagine, is not to my taste, and the truth is hasn't been for many decades. Unfortunately I was distracted by computer problems and cats in the way and consequently it slipped my mind that it had to be turned on in a very specific sequencing. I leaned over and turned the CD player on first, then several other components and then the large power supply.
Well to my surprise there was a loud crack and white smoke started to come out of my two component $15,000 Naim CD player. I received word yesterday that the laser part of the two part system is "toast" and simply not repairable as parts are no longer available for it. OUCH that certainly hurts. Not sure what I am going to do at this time, I will go to the audiophile store today and talk to them about the various options to potentially rectify the problem.
Then I returnrd to the studio and spent a lot of the day on the phone with my newly acquired law office and of course with various land surveyors that I called to do a survey for me. We are purchasing land but are not going through real estate agents. However I thought it only prudent to contact a lawyer located in that area regarding the land transfer. Just to make sure that everything is, as it should be.
This past Sunday we drove three and a half hours North of our present location, the weather was fine when we set off but just a half an hour into the drive, we began driving through a lake effect snow storm. All this driving was done to place an official paper offer on a very nice piece of land, it has 160 ft frontage by 101 ft depth. We are going to build a permanent studio/home there and live out the remaining days of our lives in the biosphere's AKA "Gods" beauty. Here is an image of the land, which if things proceed as planned, will be ours in the very early part of the new year. It was incredibly over cast that day due to the snow that fell in the very early morning.
We are having to wait on a proper survey being completed, turns out the earliest anyone could do it was December 17th. Then we quickly run into the Christmas holidays and of course there is New Year occurring. I tried calling three surveyors in the area and this was the earliest date any of them could do it. I do hope it's not snowing heavily on that day. Here is an image I took of land....... LAND
Our designer/contractor is coming to visit us here in the studio this coming Monday, just to get a sense of our functional requirements. Like the large space that I require when printing out 64x96 inch canvas prints. And of course, I imagine talking about what we would like in the design of the house etc. It's going to be an eco friendly house with ground source geo thermal in radiant floor heating. I would also like to have cement walls that are insulated well on both sides. Or budget for the build, which I believe is sufficient, will no doubt dictate what we can afford to have and of course not include in the build. As in everything in life there will be some compromise involved, we all know, that's a given.
NOVEMBER 7th, 2014
For the past three weeks I have been having someone build me a new computer system. Of course it has the latest in PC hardware in it, with 32 Gigs of RAM, it also has 20TB of striping raid, a raid 5, that's five 4 TB units joined together to show up as one hard drive, it also has a 1 TB SSD in which to do my work. Yes it is super fast, but like all things there were problems, silly one to be sure, but never the less time consuming. Where I had to take it back to them three times and wait for it to be tweaked. They also consolidated all of my 1 TB external drives, all eight of them into two professional "PROBOX" enclosures. They sit patiently waiting beside the main unit and if I require something from them, I turn either of the units on, and in a few seconds four or eight hard dives, that's if I turn both on, show up as independent drives containing all my past files.
They gave me a count of my past files, there were 66,000 files in total, who knew? It's the kind of raid set up where if one hard drive should fail in the future, once you identify which 4 TB hard drive has failed, and you replace it, the four other units will rebuild the files on that replaced hard drive, of course that's if you leave the unit to do it's thing for a period of time.
So the long and short of it is, I am back in business once more. My five year old unit has been re- purposed into becoming my wife's personal system, it was a great system five years ago and according to the tech who build my new system, it's still a kick ass unit even today. I am in the process of buying her an Apple monitor, not 30 inch one like I have, but a nice one never the less. So we will both have our separate systems. I offered to buy her a very nice laptop but she refused, after trying several out, she maintained that she preferred the older style tower and keyboard.
NOVEMBER 4th, 2014
After having my Nikon D 810 for three weeks now, I finally managed to get out photographing with it. I had to wait for the right conditions to occur and at the same time have the free time in which to do it. It's a very beautifully made camera, no doubt among the six or seven Nikon camera that I have worked with over the years, I would say that it's the best Nikon that I have ever owned. The image results are just breathtaking when seen on my Apple 30 inch cinema display. I managed to take over 60 images during the four hour outing.
I had too, incredibly slowly, push my way though very dense past Summer growth that was in many instances well over my head. Consequently tripping and falling hard on a number of occasions, as my legs became entangled and snared by the under growth. The truth is, in the cold four hour frosty morning outing with the camera, there came a time when I began to have doubts that I could make it back to the car, because I was hurting so much from several bad falls which only aggravated my age related issues, arthritic joint pain and strong lower back pain.
So when I finally broke out into a clear area, I limped my way very slowly back to the waiting car. The D 810 which was on the tripod and over my shoulder unfortunately slamming into mud and water during the falls, quickly becoming mud caked. A "christening" of sorts I suppose. I did eventually make it back to the studio where the first thing I did was take some strong pain killers. Then after a quick peak at the imagery, I was quite happy, even if hurting, with my early morning capture of 36 MP images.
All of these images were captured using a very nice Sirui carbon fiber tripod with a Sirui ball head. I also used an MC-30A cable release, pushing down first to raise the camera's mirror then on the second push down I tripped the front curtain shutter. On the D 810 was a Sigma 35 mm F 1.4 "ART" lens. A very sharp lens according to DXO mark testing labs.
OCTOBER 27th, 2014
It is another very sad day here in the studio, I just couldn't sleep at all last night, then one of our cats, Tullie, started to prostrate himself on me, starting at 4 am. Another one of our cats Ladybug insisted on butting her head against me, doing it over and over while purring, a sure sign of feline love and friendship. So I turned on the light in my tiffany bedside lamp and got out of bed at 4.30 am no less.
I made my way upstairs to the main studio and instead of feeding the "boys" as they are affectionately called, yes females among them, I went online. I checked my email and there was one waiting from my friend and senior mentor Bill in California, telling me that his beloved wife Judy had passed away that afternoon. I knew she was ill with cancer, I had no real grasp that it was going too occur so soon. I felt incredibly sad at Bill's loss. He was married to Judy (Jude) for fifty three years and they have two grown daughters. I have known Bill for quite awhile now, he is a great internet friend, the truth is, we have never met in person, except for face to face talking on Skype.
Not long after I got up my wife woke up as well and came upstairs, and that's when I told her that Bill's Judy had passed away, she broke down and started to sob. I guess with the emotional grief at the loss of her father just a month ago, she simply couldn't contain herself. She had to leave today on a week long business trip, no doubt one of her last trips away because she finally retires the end of December this year. Something she is desperately looking forward too.
--------------------------------------------------------------------- The next morning, October 28th.
We spent last Saturday mostly in the car driving four hours North of where we presently live, to meet with a designer/contractor who is going to build our studio/retirement home. It is to be located in a very small town on the shores of beautiful Georgian Bay. Which is a magnificent part of our Canadian province and quite close to a first rate National Park.
We also spent time looking for any possible lots of land on which to build our first house. As you might imagine there are not that many lots available, and that's because of the very small size of the town. The lot that I liked the most was as usual rather expensive, my wife said they were gouging and would not even consider it. But if nothing else pans out during our search for land, and that's a possibility with so few lost available, we might have to approach the seller and see if they are willing to reduce the price slightly. It had been listed with a real estate agent but the fact is, nobody purchased it during the listing period. It is perfectly positioned to allow for good passive solar heating in the Winter, we are going to combine that heat source with ground source geo thermal in floor radiant heating.
Truth is we would like to get things moving as quickly as possible, with a move in date slated for the end of October 2015, so in a year from now. Even though we are mostly packed and the studio has been "cleaned out". I have let a lot of things go during the massive clean out. No sense in moving things if there is a good chance that I will never use them again. I just listed them on Kijiji for free and people came out of the wood work as far as two hours drive away and drove away with what I was giving away.
One more thing I will mention here, two weeks ago now I purchased a Nikon D 810 with a Sigma 35 mm f 1.4 "ART" lens and a quite nice Sirui carbon fibre tripod and ball head. It has sat unused for the past two weeks because I have been too busy with one thing or another to find the time to go out photographing with it. However I did take the 500+ page manual out of the Nikon box and the truth is, every morning that I sit on the "you know what", I try reading a section of the manual. This morning it was all about using "Live View".
The other thing that I am still waiting on is a dedicated cable release, the MC 30A. I found out yesterday that my wait has been in vain because they are back ordered. So I went hunting around online and found one available all the way out in Vancouver, some 2500 miles away. Luckily there was money left in my Paypal account, I should have it to tomorrow sometime, that's if Canada Post is to be believed. I want to use ISO 32 and ISO 64 and in doing so require a tripod and a cable release.
OCTOBER 12th, 2014
A few days ago my long time friend in California, Bill, informed me that I hadn't posted anything on line in about a month. That's because it was a busy and upsetting month for us. My wife's father died horribly September 18th after a five month long struggle with death and eternity. He was 103 years old and basically died from old age related causes, mostly internal organ failure. It was the worst death of the seven deaths that my wife personally was a part of. Her father suffered badly for the last five months of his life, his right side was covered in a massive shingles outbreak, so he spent a lot of time screaming out, "HELP ME, HELP ME" at the top of his 103 year old lungs.
When the truth is no real help could be offered by anyone, other than sympathetically administering a liquid dose of death, however in the end simply trying their best to keep him as comfortable as possible. With his body breaking down he also suffered from massive internal itching which had him scratching himself until he bled quite profusely from the frequently scratched wounds. With age he had gone blind from age related macular degeneration and was deaf from a war wound. He told me that shell exploded just outside his aircraft, in the process bursting the ear drums of most of the crew onboard. At the end of his life he was in an indescribable amount of pain. The doctor at the nursing facility where he ended up after a long stay in hospital, was afraid to give him any sort of serious pain medication because it would harm his already age weakened kidneys.
Because of main stream religion's ridiculous stance on dying, which has it's effect on our society. That of not ending a fatally ill persons life, even if they are going to die within a few weeks or a few months at best. The result is he was simply left to suffer the painful side effects from an incredibly horrible gut wrenching death. As he did not wish to die alone, my wife was there with him, holding his hand when it simply let go and he entered the world of eternal sleep. As he told me many years ago as we sat in his sprawling garden backyard, in his mind he would simply return back to the place where he came from.
Of course this is the highly edited version, it was much more grueling and agonizing for those in the facility that took care of him, and his closest family members, his two daughters. My beautiful caring wife being one of them.
SEPTEMBER 11th, 2014
For those who lived through the tragedy, September eleventh 2001 will always be a day of remembrance. Every year when that date rolls around, we think back to that time and the horrific site of those twin towers crumbling to the ground. Back then, just thirteen years ago nobody talked out loud about killing Westerners, yet today we have to put up with a fanatical muslim derived group known as ISIS or ISIL, which is currently gathering steam in the Middle East and determined to "smite" any and all using it's out dated archaic ways. I am reminded of a Indian Hindu based prophesy, it goes like this, you kill one enemy and suddenly two appear, you kill two enemies and then four appear, you kill four enemies and then eight appear, and so on and so on until eventually millions appear before you.
I for one fear this is how it is going to be from now on, there will be no end to this radical Muslim threat. You simply can not wipe out deeply ingrained religious ideology, for our leaders to confidently talk about doing so is sheer folly. I think the plan that President Obama has proposed yesterday has virtually no chance of succeeding. The strategy might degrade current ISIS members, only to find another radical Muslim group forming elsewhere. The President's bold political rhetoric might work as a calming salve for the public, but that's about all. You can not go to war and defeat the ISIS rag tag "army" without actually going to war, and that means, in my mind, having too put boots on the ground.
I wonder why not make use of paid mercenaries, I am sure there are plenty of people in Western based countries, especially those with military training, that would heed the call to arms. Especially if they were being well paid to do so. Of course provide them with all the equipment and air support they require, give nice bonuses for every certified kill made, that way you will have money hungry boots on the ground but not those from the professional military. You could even ask for volunteers in the over crowded jail system and accept criminals that are currently being held for one offence or another, offering them a conditional pardon and of course reward money if they agree to go to the front line, to do battle with ISIS. It would be the "rag tag" Westerners battling it out with "rag tag" ISIS members. I suppose it's the age old battle of money verses belief.
This should have all been dealt with at least several years ago in my opinion. I can never figure out why Democratic Presidents appear to be reticent and out and out wimps, and why all Republican Presidents seem to be always hungry for war. Isn't it possible to have somebody that's in the middle? Somebody who does the right thing at the right time? Perhaps that's too hard to ask of politicians who only seem to think about public perceptions and getting re-elected every four years.
Thinking back to president Obama saying that he would deal with the rising oceans, when he alluded to climate change or global warming in his inaugural speech. But what has he really done, absolutely nothing substantive? Politicians of every stripe say what ever it takes to get elected, but in the end do nothing important when in power, except of course to line their supporters pockets, through one conniving scheme or another. Like for example the billion plus dollars our crafty Prime Minister spent on holding a three day G8 summit in down town Toronto a few years ago. Many loyal conservative followers made sizeable fortunes on providing the various necessities for that three day summit. What amazes me is how Canadians remain quiet and accept being shafted in the bum like they do, time after time.
AUGUST 24nd, 2014
For the last number of mornings I have been pushing myself to get up a 5:15 AM, essentially to peer out of my East facing windows. Of course I look to see if the sunrise is going to be a cloudless one. If so, I intend to head out at 6 AM and drive forty minutes to a fabulous tree trunk that I believe will be very nicely illuminated in the very early morning sunshine. The sun rises at about 6:48 these days, it rises a little bit later each day that passes by. Of course I intend to do the same thing tomorrow morning, until the morning arrives when the sun will rise to a cloudless morning sky.
This August has been quite a strange one, it's been clouded over and it's quite cool for this time of year. Not at all like the warn sunny August of past years. Not that I mind the coolness, frankly it beats 100 F degrees with very high humidity, which is the kind of August that I expect to occur especially this time of year.
Here is another image from my "Godscape" portfolio....IMAGE
AUGUST 22nd, 2014
I am still consumed with working on my "Godscape" imagery. This morning I was up at 5:30 AM intently peering out of my East facing windows looking at the sky trying to decipher if there was going to be a clean clear sunrise. But no, not this morning, in the end it was clouded over. I am sure that I will be up again looking out of the studio windows once again tomorrow morning, hoping for a clear sunrise. And that's because there is a great tree trunk that I wish to photograph using the light of the early morning sunrise.
Its about a 40 minute drive away, so to get the early morning 6:45 AM warm sunrise glow hitting the tree trunk just right, I calculate that I have to be ready to leave the studio at 6 AM at the latest. The other evening as the sun was slowly setting in the western sky, I drove out to an overgrown seemingly abandoned field, such a magical place for my kind of imagery. But these days there is a fear that enters my mind, something which never really bothered me before now.
There were a lot of buzzing mosquitoes, normally I would just bat them away but these days with the West Nile Virus prevalent in our area, I was honestly fearful of being bitten by an infected mosquito, and even though it was quite warm out, I still wore a long sleeve shirt and sweated it out.
We have had a very rainy Summer this year in particular and it's that reality which has contributed to the numbers of mosquitoes this year. Last year I went to the very same place in the middle of August, to photograph with my then Hasselblad H1 outfit, and there weren't any mosquitoes to be seen or heard. It is altogether different this year. And strangely if you can believe it, it's now a days a tad frightening for me to go there to capture images.
Here is the kind of image that I find in my "magical" place....IMAGE
JULY 26th, 2014
I am working almost every day on my "Godscape" imagery. I will admit that some days images turn out quite well, but the reality is, some days the images are only an eight and a half out of ten. But here is the thing, the more you do, the more images considered to be in the ten category that you finally end up with. I usually work on a theme like "Godscape" for up to half a year and sometimes longer, until something else calls out to me.
Here is one of the "Godscape" images that I made this week. Now my wife did not like it but I do, the long and short of it is, I removed it from "Godscape". So see lets what you think of this... Image
Personally I still think it's a good image, however tastes do differ I suppose. So far I have made up forty 60X90 inch 300 DPI images in this series, with just twelve of them being posted online. I usually do about two hundred images in any series like "Godscape", that's before something else calls out, or a notion simply enters my mind. Then I mull it over, some times for months before deciding if I want to go with it or not.
JULY 13th, 2014
The Apple 30 inch monitor that came all the way from California, was delivered on the date that was stated by UPS. It's an incredibly beautiful monitor, which Apple has fully refurbished. Including replacing all of the cables and the required power module. It works beautifully, even though I am using a custom made four hard drive, four terabyte PC outfit. When I had the outfit made for me I asked the builder to install the proper dual connections that required to operate a 30 inch monitor. If truth be told, this refurbished Apple 30 inch monitor puts the Samsung Syncmaster 305t monitor that I worked with for a month shy of five, to shame.
I continue to quietly work away on imagery that I already have in the bag, so to speak. Here ia a link to some of my latest imagery. I have titled it..... Godscape
JUNE 28th, 2014
The new 30 inch monitor is currently wending it's way to me and is expected to arrive July 3rd. However the July 1st National holiday here in Canada might slow it up. Then the July 4th National holiday being held in America, just might slow it's progress as well. Especially so if the UPS Canadian branch takes the July 4th American holiday instead of the Canadian July 1st holiday. I am hoping that it arrives on July 3rd, but I suppose it will arrive when it arrives.
I am also waiting for a Pentax digital spot meter to arrive which was also purchased on Ebay, again through my friend Bill who is based in California. It's in mint condition by the looks of it. Bill has already received it, because he had to bid on it, as the bidding was for Americans only. He said it looks and feels like it's in mint condition. It comes with the original box, the meter and the instruction booklet put out by Pentax.
I used to work extensively with the Pentax spot meter back in the mid and late 1970s and into the early 1980s, and found that I could rely on the exposures that were read off a gray card, when photographing Ektachrome Daylight 64 and 50 ASA, using my 4X5 Linhof and 8X10 inch Deardorff sheet film cameras. However when I started working with my 8X10 Deardorff sheet film camera exclusively, I began using a Sinar Booster Probe inserted into the back of the camera using a special Sinar slide in wooden film sleeve, that allowed the long probe to be moved around, so when viewing through the back of the camera, you could position the cross hair exactly over a gray card, that had been placed in the image area that I was photographing.
The booster probe had a long cord on the end of it, you attached that cord to a Minolta Flash Meter III or was it a IV, sorry I can't remember. Which gave me very accurate exposures reading through the lens, it also read through several filters that were correcting the Tungsten film for daylight exposure. Many exposures ended up being 6 and 7 even 8 minutes long, some of them even longer, because I used Kodak Tungsten film with an ASA rating of 32, it was meant for doing long exposures, so I had to filter the Tungsten film for use in daylight, using a Minolta colour meter to decide on which 100 mm Wratten filters that I had to install in the Kodak filter holder that was screwed onto the rear element of the Copal shutter lens, that I was using at the time.
Digital photography seems somewhat like a "cake walk" by comparison, however that being said. I find mastering the computer programs incredibly taxing, and hit and miss, especially when you don't know what you're really doing. And my Leaf Aptus II digital back is chock full of mysterious setting that I haven't the faintest clue what they are or even do. Or how they affect the vast mix of settings that you can set on the back. The Leaf instruction book doesn't tell you what they do to an image, and just matter of fact mentions what they are. It's like the manufacturer's manual producing team has said too itself, surely everybody out there knows just as much as we do, regarding our digital backs. How could they not? I suppose they feel if you can afford to use such an expensive digital back, that you will no doubt know everything about it, and of course know how to set and use it's many and varied settings.
So now, and this is in immediate reflection, I think the sheet film days were really a "piece of cake", and that's because I fully understood the workings of film inside out. The digital era has become an ongoing never ending lucid "nightmare" for me, because the truth is, I really don't understand any of it, or how it all works. I just fumble along and somehow I get things done, without fully understanding or really intentionally controlling much of it. Hopefully one day I will wake up and find out that I have been dreaming all about it. And sitting on the edge of the bed, I'll say to my wife, "phew, you know I had a horrible dream last night". Of course she will respond, naturally using her pet name for me, "Pet name, I would like to take some pictures of my cats today, can you program the Nikon digital camera for me?". And my eyes will suddenly widen, "NOOoooo". Now I wont reveal to you what her pet name for me is, because that would be a bit to embarrassing, to say the least.
JUNE 23rd, 2014
The news I received about my 30 inch Samsung Sync Master monitor on Friday, was truly not welcome at all. The Samsung service depot indicated that they were able to fix the monitor, unfortunately it would be the outrageous price of $1300. That's a high enough price so even the repair depot based in Montreal, suggested that I try and find myself a new monitor. So I ended up asking them to dispose of the monitor for me, instead of them sending it back and leaving me having to dispose of it. It only lasted for 59 months, of course that's a month short of five years. That really doesn't seem so long to me, especially for something that new cost me $1500. And it wasn't left on all the time like most people tend to do with their monitors. It was strictly my image working monitor.
I did a rough calculation and I figure that I used it for about 6000 hours of image making, before it suddenly died on me. Now bare in mind that it's just a guess as to my actual usage, and the truth is, it's probably less usage time than that. But it might be more, one never knows the exact figure. But I'll bet that somebody at Samsung know the expected time of failure on such monitors.
Quickly my best friend and mentor in this world, who is based in California, started looking around on ebay. He found one that I couldn't view myself on ebay, until he emailed me the ebay item number for it. And that's because it was for Americans only to bid on, and not for sale to the rest of the ebay world. I was online with him on Skype as he bid on it for me. We waited until four minutes before the end of the bidding was to close. And we bid high enough so that we won the bidding out of twenty two bids that were placed on it.
The refurbished monitor is currently being sent to him in California by FedEx, he will receive it sometime later this week. At which point he will re label it with my name and address and send it to me here in South Western Ontario. Most probably using the UPS courier service, and that's because of the large box size that it's in. And the fact that UPS is known for not crusihing or mangling parcels while in their care. It's a 30 inch Apple Cinema display, one that's been fully refurbished by the service center at Apple. They have replaced the screen and the logic board and all of the cables including the power supply. So essentially it's like a brand new monitor, but at 1/4 of the original Apple pricing that a new one would have cost me, were I to purchase it new. That's if they were still available today from an Apple store. Unfortunately they are not, only used and of course Apple refurbished ones are available for sale these days.
Now on Saturday somebody came and finally purchased my 44 inch, wide carriage Epson printer. It was quite the job to move it out of my studio. Because there are quite steep stairs and no lift or elevator. I was rather sad to see it leave my work place, but the truth is, we are in the moving mode here in the studio, packing and getting ready for the big move. Once we are finally settled in the small Georgian bay town of only 500 souls, I intend to purchase an Epson 11880 which is Epson's 64 inch printer.
Our big move, away from comfortable city life, to a very small "tourist" town, is now in full swing. Our walls and the studio in general are definitely looking bare these days. We will be moving to a town that swells with human population in the Summer months, but shrinks to just 500 souls during the rest of the year. The actual move is still about 9 months away, give or take on the actual timing.
But after twenty five years spent living and working here in this wonderful studio. It's taking a little time to sell off and let go of the stuff of our lives, things that we have collected over the twenty five years that we have resided and worked here. Luckily my wife is an avid thrower outer, and always has been, the truth is this, no moss grows on any of her possessions, mostly plants and her "saved" stray cats.
I on the other hand seem too like keeping things, you never know, I think to myself, I might need them some day. So I have more of the pack rat mentality in me. But she always wins, so the truth is, I have given up trying to keep every thing that I have ever owned. If I need to use the item again, the great thing is, I get the opportunity to purchase it new again, can't beat that, so I just love that aspect of my wife's compulsion to throw out the material things in our life.
I joke that one day I will find myself sitting at the curb side, waiting for the garbage truck to arrive and take me away. She just remains silent, whenever I mention that, in jest of course. Perhaps that's because it's too true, I am sure if she could she probably would.
JUNE 17th, 2014
Yesterday afternoon June 16, I sent off my 30 inch monitor to see if it can be repaired. Luckily I had kept the original box with all the styrofoam packing still inside. The monitor unfortunately turned out to be the source of all that flickering that I was enduring. I do hope they can repair it, I would hate to be put in the position of having to replace it, just at this time. According to United Parcel Service, they will receive it by noon today, and then the anxious wait begins for their informing phone call. It's a call that will tell me if it's even fixable, or just becomes a major financial write off. Well it will be major to me personally, especially if it's been deemed to be "toast".
JUNE 14th, 2014
I was happily working away Saturday morning, sitting in front of my monitor since 8 am, processing some of the imagery from my last photographing outing. When at 10:30 am, my large 30 inch monitor began to flash very rapidly. Two identical versions of what was on the monitor at the time, suddenly began being displayed, with the top one flashing rapidly and violently. So come Monday it looks like I will have to take my computer to my tech savvy expert, to see if he can diagnose what the problem might be. Possibly a defective hard drive would be my admittedly unknowledgeable guess on the situation. It's such a darn pain to have to deal with.
Here is one of the images that I was working on, just prior to the flashing happening...... IMAGE..... as per usual, it's a 1.35 Gig, 60X90 inch 300 DPI image.
JUNE 5th, 2014
I continue to process imagery as the days pass by, I am still working on images from the latest outing with the RM3di camera, this is today's image.......IMAGE
It's actual scale is 60X90 inches, with a 300 DPI printing resolution, file size is 1.35 Gigs.
JUNE 1st, 2014
I am processing imagery from the last outing, the images were taken with an Arca Swiss RM3di body and a Leaf Aptus II, 33 mp digital back. I always do six image stitches with the digital back in the vertical position, like is shown in this first image. The stainless steel insert that's been taped, using easy to remove electrical tape, over the ground glass, actually only shows the digital back's sensor size, and it shows the horizontal area on the groundglass of a single image capture. I also have Acra's Rotaslide unit on the camera as well, a devise which I really like, because you can quickly slide the digital back out of the way, to view the image properly through the viewfinder, and the best thing is, the sensor remains covered all the time as I work in the field. There are also detents in the sliding back to assist you in framing the various images that will eventually be stitched together in Photoshop.
In the image that's directly below, the digital back has been slid over to the right side, which as mentioned, permits easier viewing through the viewfinder. I use the viewfinder exclusively for sighting sightched imagery, once I've found something that I want to photograph. To do six image stitches the ground glass will not cover the entire scene in one viewing. So I find that the viewfinder is best suited for this use.
It's an incredibly versatile viewfinder from Arca, allowing me to adjust it too precisely frame the coverage that a six image stitch will cover. I can even get precise framing, right down to 24.5 inches. That's the closest my 72mm Schneider Digitar lens will focus too. I carry a custom made chart with me on my outings, that I made up using four black electrical tape L corners that were taped onto white cardboard. Once positioned they helped to guide me in adjusting the viewfinder's mask for precise framing.
I moved the L corners on my studio wall, just a bit at a time, until they came into view on the digital back, at the furthest four corners of a six image stitch. I did that for every six inches from 24.5 inches out to twelve feet. Carefully moving the electrical tape L corners to show up in the furthest four corners of a six image stitch. The chart I made up tells me the various settings that I should make on the viewfinder, to give me precise framing, for a chosen distance from 24.5 inches out to twelve feet. After twelve feet the viewfinder is always in the central position. This is not what the vario viewfinder was actually designed for, to be truthful, it was more designed to inform photographers of the amount of rise and fall they adjust the lens. But I thought of this other use for it, and it works very well for my use of it. I am very pleased with it, because I have nicely dealt with those annoying parralex problems, which are always inherent in such a viewfinder over lens system.
Here below, the camera is seen from the front. The cable release is actually supposed to slide through a hole that's in the bottom of the camera body and then attach to the lens' cable release socket magnetically. And not come up and over the viewfinder, like is been shown. But the truth is, I found I did not like the fact of the lens being mounted upside down, so I asked the American distributor if he would turn the lens the right side up for me, and frankly I like it much better. Because I worked for many decades with all kinds of view camera lenses and all of them facing the right side up, so I suppose old habits are hard to break.
I have also made myself a new lens hood mounting system. The Arca Swiss way, is to have a small rod that slides into a hole that's located just under the viewfinder and it also slides through a hole that's sitting on top of the lens hood. In the image below the lens hood is actually turned upside down. I found the Arca Swiss knob used to tighten the lens hood to the rod, actually gets in the way of the viewfinder viewing experience. And the screw to tighten the rod to the camera is not long enough to prevent the rod, and thus the lens hood, from swinging too the left or right, when you transport the camera any distance. By turning the lens hood upside down and attaching it directly to the lens' filter ring, using a 40.5 to 46 mm step up ring, that I mated using quick drying epoxy to a piece of painted black aluminum with an appropriate hole cut in it. Which conveniently slides into the filter slot that's on the lens hood, and does the trick, quite nicely.
It stops the lens hood from flopping first too the left and then the right, or vice versa, as you pick up and move the camera. Which is always sitting on a very nice Gitzo carbon fiber tripod. To move the rig, I rest it on my left shoulder as I make any move in the field. I leave it assembled on the tripod when looking for new images. The other thing mounting the lens hood like this does, it stop bright sunshine that's usually but not always shining over my shoulder on to the subject, from entering through the back of the open lens hood, and illuminating the inside of the lens hood, potentially causing flaring onto the lens. Of course I would generally hold my hand over the top of the lens hood to prevent this from occurring, but truthfully at times I forget to do so. This method of mounting the lens hood onto the front of the lens, is just like the Hasselblad way of doing things, and virtually eliminates any sun over the shoulder, striking the inside of the lens hood flare problems.
However, and there is a however, there are usually unintended consequences when one fiddles with the manufacture's original set up. And in my case it is this, it is now rather difficult to set the F stop and especially to adjust the shutter speed. Sure it looks quite doable in the image below, but that's because I am holding the small digital camera high over the camera to get this shot.
In action it's just about impossible to do, unless I slide the lens hood off the aluminum plate, then unscrew the step up ring from the lens, which is epoxyed to the black piece of aluminum with the hole in the middle of it. But the good news is, the lens hood does not flop around anymore, so I must be thankful for small gifts, I suppose. In this image you can also see the magnetic attaching cable release, which I really like because of the incredible ease of operation. But sadly on my last outing the cable release fell off and became lost in the thick Spring underbrush. I hunted for half an hour but sadly I just couldn't find it, even though I had only moved the outfit roughly 12 to 15 yards. It cost me $46.50 USD to replace it, this price included the mailing cost as well. From now on, I will remove it and put it in my shirt pocket for safety, whenever I am moving the camera about.
MAY 20th, 2014
On Saturday the 17th of May, at exactly 10:50 PM, Eastern Standard Time, after a long day of being out photographing with my Arca Swiss RM3di outfit. And physically hurting from all of the days activity. No longer able to just go and go, and still keep going, like I once did through the 60s, the 70s, and the 80s and even the 90s and into the early and even through the mid 2000s. Things have changed however, especially during 2009, that's the year of my full right knee replacement, and the very painful effects that I suffered, from an aggravated prostate that was aggravated by the surgery. They shove a tube up one's Penis for three days after surgery, and that it seems annoyed my prostrate, and caused it to balloon.
It was a knee that was sports injured from kicking a football and soccer ball, just a little too much in my sports filled youth. And it was also injured in several car accidents, one in particular where the force of my right knee slamming into the dashboard of my red Datsun (Nissan) 510, a car that I loved, by the way. And which bent the dashboard almost in two. I was hit hard from behind when I stopped a little too suddenly for a Toronto traffic light, that was in the process of turning red.
So back in the studio I tried to relax by watching a French based program on television. It was a program that was completely made in France, and so it contained a better grade of French. And so it was more easy for me to understand what they were saying. Not like Canada's French Province of Quebec, which has a heavily accented slang style of French, and consequently is much harder to understand, or so I personally find. Its kind of like somebody's Southern drawl who is from the deep South in the USA.
And that's when something caught my attention out of the corner of my eye, so to speak. At the time I was facing two large 4x6 foot double paned windows with the large screen television situated in a custom made cabinet in the middle, between those windows.
So I hurtingly struggled out of my rather comfortable chair, of course to have a clearer look, by going behind my wife's beautiful framed hanging stained glass. And that's when I couldn't believe my eyes. "No way" I said to my self. There was a largish orange globe gradually making its way over my city, but as I watched it moving directly East I suddenly noticed yet a second one following along right behind it.
As the objects crossed the city, the first one appeared to wink out, then the second one slowly went out as well, as if on cue. I couldn't see any obvious signs of airplanes, no flashing night time running lights, but only darkness where these mystifying orange objects had been. I wondered what they could have been, most probably man made I thought to myself, you know possibly large Chinese lanterns that somebody sent aloft, its got to be case. But to be honest with you I was still left wondering about them.
I also wondered what sort of off world spacecraft or UFO, as we tend to know them, and if that's what they were, would brazing reveal themselves so conspicuously over any night time, well lit city North American city, because surly somebody would spot them, just like I did. It looks like it will remain a mystery for me.
Now I intend to spend today processing imagery, digitally of course on my CPU, images that I photographed and stored on my CF card this past Saturday, it was such a beautiful day, again just like yesterday, Monday was.
MAY 15th, 2014
The Canadian post office has pleasantly surprised me, I received a package from the lower American States in under a week. Now the fact that it did not have to wait for customs clearance certainly helped in it's speedy delivery.
I have finally received the last part of my Arca Swiss RM3di outfit, two custom cut viewfinder masks for the Arca Swiss Vario viewfinder. Which the American sales representative for Arca Swiss very kindly had made for me, and he did it without the slightest bit of arm twisting. They look just like the original Arca viewfinder single shot mask number 8, that I first received with the 72 mm Schneider Digitar lens.
Only these masks will show me what the Leaf Aptus digital back records when I do a six image stitch, and there is also a mask for a horizontal three image stitch. Both types of stitches are done with the Leaf Aptus digital back turned the vertical position. Which is very easy to do with the Rotaslide unit. I really enjoy the act of doing such photographic work, it makes me feel more like a real photographer, rather than merely being a 35 mm "shooter", that's the best word to describe just what I mean.
Now all I need is for the gloomy weather to cooperate, it has been very overcast and rainy for weeks on end, I keep telling myself that it's got to break sometime.
MAY 8th, 2014
I have just heard from the American Arca Swiss representative, he said that the two viewfinder masks I ordered with the special openings in them, are now ready, and being sent to me via express post. So I should be receiving them in about ten to fifteen days, I say this knowing just how slow our postal system seems to operate. It was really good of him to do this for me. But in my mind it's something that Arca Swiss should be providing to it's customers.
Here is an Arca Swiss RM3di six stitch, 117 mp image that I was able to capture just a few evenings ago, the print size is 60X90 inches and 300 DPI......... Image
Yesterday I was running an exposure test, I was trying to get my Sekonic Digi Pro X 1 light meter with the 5 degree spot attachment on it, to provide me with the exact same reading as a perfectly exposed Leaf Aptus digital back's histogram read out. I was doing this so when I take a light reading while working in the field, of course I would be spotting off of a hand held gray card. So when I set the shutter and aperture reading on the lens, the exposure the digital back records would be as good as I could possibly get. Without having to do several exposures with the back, trying to tweak the histogram to be just about perfect. ( I have just used it in the field and after tweaking the Sekonic meter to match the histogram's perfect reading, I found it works exceedingly well.)
To do this testing, I made a very small scale set up on my second floor flat gravel roof top. It was done against a South facing brick wall, of course using several of my wife's beloved plants. Here is an image that I took as part of the exposure testing, it was was done at 50 ISO, the aperture was set to F11 and 1/60 of a second was the time of exposure. This image was taken from exactly four feet away. That distance was read by holding a Leica Disto E7500i laser unit right at the sensor plane of the Leaf digital back, then taking the distance reading. Then I had to refer to my custom made RM3di distance chart, to find the number that I had to set for four feet. I set that focus number on the helical focusing ring of the Arca Swiss Rm3di camera. This shows just how sharp the 72 mm Schneider Digitar lens is. This is a crop at 100% of just a small portion of the native image that came out of my Leaf Aptus II 7 digital back. Sorry but in the end I decided that I had to Jpeg this image, I did so to keep the file size more manageable for posting online........Image
APRIL 29th, 2014
I am currently processing six stitch imagery that I photographed a few days ago with the Arca Swiss RM3di camera and my Leaf Aptus II digital back. I am really amazed at the twelve stop latitude that this digital back provides. And the images from the 117 MP original file when seen at the full size of 60X90 inches and 300 DPI are really quite stunning. Here is one that I took a few days ago during a period of bright intense Spring sunshine. The original six images were accidentally overexposed just slightly and consequently had to be "rescued" in Photoshop.
Of course this image is from a large series of images, it's one of my self appointed photographer of "God" portraits, of course that's "God" the Biosphere. Now I do realize that the reality of "God" is strictly a human thought creation. Because the truth of the matter is this, without we humans, there would no "God" to speak of. So the reality is, we humans had to invent the concept of "God" for ourselves. And what I am on about is this, the real "God" if such a thing actually exists, I believe is still residing here on this planet, in the Biosphere.
The same Biosphere that through natural evolution created we humans, and of course created everything else that's organic and living on this planet as well. Thinking of a "God" as being anything other than as a part of our grander Biosphere. And by extension, continually residing within the foundation of said Biosphere, is in my mind, not really conceptualizing the human notion of divinity, in a sane nor in a rational manner.
This is from a series of images taken with the Arca Swiss RM3di Camera, it's a 60X90 inch 300 DPI image 1.35 Gig .....IMAGE
APRIL 26th, 2014
At last I have finished this particular lenses focus testing, and as a result I have a large list of focus numbers to be set for specific laser measured distances. This morning I finally found out just how close I could possibly focus with the 72mm Schneider Digitar lens. With the focusing ring turned to the last coloured zone, which is yellow on this lens, and at the very last number that's possible, which is 34 on the Arca Swiss helical focusing ring, I was able to get a very sharp image of my test chart at 24.5 inches away from it.
Now I possibly could have obtained sharpness at 2 feet or 24 inches, but I would have had to venture into the last possible turn of the helical focusing mount in order to do so. Which, after my experience, would be a very risky move. When I first received this camera I tried to find out how close I could focus with it. And that's when I accidentally ceased the helical focusing quite innocently, I did it by turning the focusing ring right to the end of that last possible turn. So once burned twice shy is my motto, when dealing with the RM3di helical focusing ring.
Now all I need is for the Spring weather to warm up, it's been rather erratic to say the least, with an occasional nice day, but many more miserable colder wet overcast days. It's been one of the coldest Springs that I can remember since beginning to reside in these parts.
I also continue to wait for a couple of "third party" vario finder masks to be completed. My very helpful American Arca Swiss representative is in the process of having a couple of viewfinder masks specially cut out for me. Masks that will show me what area I am photographing when I do a six image stitch, and also there is a mask being cut that's for a three image across stitch, both stitching methods with the digital back rotated to the vertical position.
Amazingly Arca Swiss the European maker of this expensive photographic equipment, doesn't have, nor does it even offer such viewfinder masks as accessories to complement their $1500 USD vario viewfinder. The actual mask that I did receive with this finder, supposedly shows the area that the Leaf Aptus II 33 MP digital sensor records. But the truth is, I found it shows about 20% more image than is actually being recorded by the digital back.
Here is an image that I captured last week during a beautifully sunny day, this image is full of the most incredible detail which shows up wonderfully well when it's being viewed at print size, which is 60X90 inches at 300 DPI.... IMAGE
APRIL 14th, 2014
I have returned to doing the RM3di focus testing, successfully managing to test the most accurate focus numbers to use, working "step by step" all the way out to 50 ft from the test target. I am trying to determine which Arca Swiss RM3di helical focus number gives me the most precise pixel level sharpness for a given distance with my 72 mm Schneider Digitar lens.
However the truth is, it's often not easy to do, because in many cases several helical focus numbers will provide the test image with acceptable sharpness. So determining which is the absolute sharpest focus number to use for a certain distance, does become rather challenging.
So much so, that I often find myself looking at test images which have been resized up to 300% and even 500% all in a effort to determine which focus number yields the absolute sharpest image. What's that you say, it's none other than pixel peeping. Possibly so, but it's not intentional, it's being done in the quest to find out the sharpest yielding focus number, for a specific distance from the subject.
I was going to carry on doing more testing this morning, I was hoping to gather the focus readings all the way out too 165 feet. That's the furthest distance that I can back away from a yellow brick wall on the flat top roof, I have an access door leading out onto this roof, directly from my studio. But very strong winds, scattered rain and very heavily overcast conditions have stopped me. So I had no choice but to returned to processing six stitch images that were taken several weeks ago. Here is one of the images that I processed this morning...IMAGE it's 60X90 inches with a 300 DPI printing resolution.
APRIL 11th, 2014
My Arca Swiss RM3di camera body has just returned to the studio after being sent out for repair. When it arrived, I was busily working on this six stitch image that it had helped to record just a couple of weeks ago ......IMAGE
The scale of the image is 60x90 inches with a 300 DPI printing resolution.
APRIL 9th, 2014
I received an email on Monday April the 7th, telling me that my Arca Swiss RM3di camera body is being returned to me by US priority post. Currently the tracking which they provide, shows that it's being "held" by the US customs. Not sure just why they are holding it, so I am not exactly sure when I will be getting it back. I always thought that Priority Post was super fast shipping.
As I wait I have been processing the imagery captured from my first two outings with the camera. As I worked I had a thought, I wondered just how many mega pixels there were in a six image stitch. My calculations show that a six stitch native image is 117 mega pixels.
How I came to that conclusion was like this, I took the size of the native image that I end up with, which is 31.7 X 41.3 inches, (this size does vary slightly from image to image) it all depends on how much I end up cropping the sides of my native image, once it has been assembled and flattened.
Then I converted all of those inches into 300 pixels per inch, and ended up with 9510 X 12390, which equals 117,828,900. So that tells me that a stitched image is 117 mega pixels.
Here is a 60X90 inch, 300 DPI image from my first outing with the Arca Swiss RM3di camera........IMAGE
APRIL 2th, 2014
I have been out twice now photographing with the Arca Swiss RM3di technical camera, and I really like it. It reminds me of working with an older style sheet film camera. By that I mean in how you have to cock the lenses copal shutter before tripping it to make an exposure. And of course one must take a light reading to set the shuter speed and the lenses aperture, and use a tripod which is absolutely necessary as well. Yes you do have the ability to hand hold this camera, but I would guess that most photographers using this type of camera would be inclined to tripod it.
The main problem with the camera, and I stress this is strictly from my own fearful point of view, is in knowing that you have actually achieved the correct focus. Because it's impossible to use the ground glass and fresnel screen to focus on, because the ring you move to focus the lens onto the digital sensor, has many turns to go through. So it is extremely difficult to tell when you have achieved perfect focus and to know you when are not in focus. I guess you could use the LCD image that's displayed on the digital back, and tap to view it at 100% to see if it is sharp. But I have found through testing the digital back method, that it's not as accurate as seeing the image displayed at 100% on my 30 inch monitor, which shows that it's often not focused as accurately as it could be using the digital back method. So if you depend upon this method to confirm your focus, you might be close but not close enough to have "pin point accuracy", so to speak. It may look sharp on the digital backs LCD, but the question is, just how sharp is it really? Just generally sharp, close enough, or is it precisely sharp, "tack sharp".
Arca Swiss does make several rather expensive devices that will help you in achieving the proper focus. I had planned on getting their E cloud Module, but instead I opted for the Rotaslide back, doing so at the very last minute of the sale. What I chose to use to establish focusing was this. I purchased a Leica Disto D5 hand held laser measuring unit to measure the correct focus, from the sensor plane to my subject. But soon after receiving it, the Leica Disto D5 began by draining two sets of my expensive Lithium batteries over night, then one morning after I had installed a set of fresh batteries, the unit simply stopped working. So I contacted Leica Geosystems by email and they told me to return it to them, and they would replace it for me, apparently they do not repair them. When I received the replacement, much to my surprise, it was the latest model, the E7500i, as the Disto D5 units are older units and no longer available from the distributor. The E7500i Disto works so much better, they made improvements on several features.
What I did not know about when I chose to go this particular route to achieve focus with the RM3di, was this. It is virtually impossible to see the red laser beam dot in the bright sunshine, even when wearing Leica's red laser glasses. To solve this problem there is a view finder with a magnification of up to 4X built right into the unit, with cross hairs which shows you a rough looking picture of the subject. But I find it quite hard to use for my particular situation, that of photographing trees and landscape detail and the like. On a building it would work much better I am sure, which is what it was designed to do. Also I find my hand tends to jump around and is not that perfectly steady any more, at least mine isn't, so the image one sees in the viewfinder jumps around quite a bit. However I try and steady it by leaning it against the tripod, which does work better than plain hand holding. Using this method I am able to get a proper distance to set on the camera's focusing ring. And every now and then, depending on the conditions, the red leser beam does become visable for use.
I have been doing focus testing in the studio, where I photograph a lens chart that's stuck on my studio wall using masking tape, to see exactly where the focus is the sharpest on the focus ring for a specific distance. Here is one of the charts that I made up using the Microsoft Excel program. The chart on the left is what is supplied by Arca Swiss with the lens. With the Arca Swiss chart I still have to add three to each number, this added on number differs depending what the infinity setting is for a specific lens, and for my 72 mm Digital lens the number three. If you turn the Arca supplied chart over, the focus numbers do continue on the other side.
In my Excel chart, the numbers do not require anything be added to them, personally I think it would be easy to forget that you must add three to the Arca Swiss numbers. The numbers you see with an asterisk in my chart have been verified as being the best focus number to use for that particular distance. By best I mean that I compared a spread of six to eight numbers from the focusing ring, and the number that I ended up settling on for a specific distance, yielded the sharpest lens chart of the lot. The colour's listed on the chart are colour's that are on the lens barrel, and they indicate the various turns of the focusing ring. I have made up several sizes of these charts, this is one of the larger sizes, the one I use in the field is folded in half and carried in my shirt pocket, once everything has been verified on my chart, I intend to have several smaller charts laminated at Staples....CHART
Now at the moment my RM3di has been sent to an authorized Arca Swiss repair center, which is located in Niles, Illinois USA. The knob that one uses to facilitate the vertical rise and fall, became quite stiff to turn on my second outing, so I thought that it was best if I had somebody look at it.
However in the two days of photographing that I did have so far with the camera, I managed to capture twenty nine images that I am now slowly processing in Photoshop. I actually took six exposures for each image that are destined for Photoshop's Layers and stitching together, to make up each image. I slowly worked my way around the lenses image circle, in doing those six separate exposures. I am also using the Rotaslide unit, which I do like, because you can move the Leaf Aptus II digital back over to the right hand side and out of the way. When you want to look through the Vario zoom viewfinder, which makes it so much easier to use. Then when I am ready to photograph, I just slide the digital back over behind the lens and into the six positions that I use to cover the lenses image circle.
Then back in the studio, I open the images using Capture One 7, actually the program to open the images that came from Leaf Aptus II only works on a Mac computer. So I use the also supplied Capture One 7 program, which also works with either a Mac or PC, to gain access to the images. But the truth is, I instantly move them over to Photoshop, where I am most comfortable, and then after processing them I proceed to carefully seamlessly blended the six images together that make up each full image, the image dimensions end up providing me with a native 31.8 X42.3 inch 300 DPI image.
I then resized that native image up to 70 by 90 inches, and I proceed to cropped out ten inches from either the top or bottom, or just a little from both, to give me a 60x90 inch 300 DPI image.
But that's when the fun really starts for me, as I try and coax each image to try and see if it is possible to bring out, what can best be called a biosphere visage of "God", who's essence I believe still resides in the biosphere, our planetary landscape. The various images I have made so far look quite incredible, that's from a quality point of view, especially when they are being viewed by scrolling around the 60X90 inch full scale image, as I take them all in, on my large 30 inch monitor.
Here is one of the images from the first time that I used the Arca Swiss RM3di, just to give you an idea of what I have been up too......IMAGE
The scale of this particular image is 60X90 inches and 300 DPI, the file size is 1.37 Gigs.
MARCH 28th, 2014
Things are falling into place with the Arca Swiss RM3di testing. I continue to focus test the outfit, but I am now finding that there is much more latitude in the number that can yield me very sharp images. The further I am away from the test chart that's on my studio wall. It's only under ten feet that it is critical to get the focus numbers right on the money, so to speak. Because the closer you are to the test chart, the shallower the depth of field becomes. Thus necessitating extremely accurate focusing, and that's only accomplished with exacting focus numbers.
The Leica Disto D5 laser measuring unit I received was defective from the beginning, so I contact Leica Geosystems here in Canada, and even though I purchase a new unit in the US, from a dealer listing them on ebay. Leica honored it's warrantee and turned the unit around in just three days. I sent the defective unit to them on Monday morning and on Wednesday morning, just 48 hours later, I had the replacement unit in hand. And even more incredible they sent me the latest Leica Disto as the D 5 unit has been replaced by a newer unit. So my hat is off to Leica Geosystems.
The little Asus laptop I purchased on ebay, that has a 10.1 inch screen, arrived a few days ago. With a bit of ingenuity I was able to get Microsoft's office program including Excel, loaded onto it. I also have installed my friend Bill's Excel application which can instantly calculate the focus number for a given distance with a small amount of input from me. It's a pretty amazing Excel application in my mind.
Now the only thing that I am really missing are two Arca Swiss Variofinder masks, one that's been specially cut to match the area captured by a six image stitch, with the digital back turned to the vertical position. And the other is a three image stitch straight across with the digital back also turned to the vertical position.
Once I have those in hand, nothing will stand in the way of me using this Arca Swiss RM 3di outfit to create my imagery. Spring is on it's way, or so I hope. This winter has been one of the most brutally cold and snowy that I can remember. Nevertheless soon the nice days of late April and into May are going to beckon me outside.
MARCH 25th, 2014
I continue to test the focus numbers on the Arca Swiss RM3di camera. But I am now much more familiar with this camera. However there is still a nagging doubt in my mind about focusing it properly in the field. Which of course I am trying to get on top of by doing this testing. The numbers provided by Arca Swiss on their little laminated chart that comes with the lens are indeed acceptable, that is once you add in the number for the lens that I am using, which is 3 in my case. So an Arca Swiss number of 20 and I add 3 = 23 for my focus number for a specific footage in a specific coloured zone that's on the lens barrel. Sounds a tad complicated doesn't it? But it's not really once you understand it.
But the truth is, the Arca swiss derived numbers are not the most accurate numbers one could use. I have also noticed that there is a much greater latitude in focus factor numbers where the image looks sharp, as you move ten feet away and further from the test chart. After ten feet it becomes much more difficult to tell which number would be the best one to use for a specific footage away from the test chart, for example, is it 25, 26, 27 or 28. Only by resizing the image up to 300% and at times 500% is it possible to tell which number would provide the sharpest image overall in that group of numbers. So there is some latitude in the numbers as the depth of field increases. But it's not that way as you get closer to the test chart and the depth of field rapidly diminishes.
Probably it's nit picking to be sure, but with such a camera that's capable of focusing right down to pixel level, why not have that degree of sharpness to work with, if the camera can easily do that, and it can, with a bit of focus testing on the photographer's behalf.
I also tried to establish the size of the opening that I would require in the Vario finder moveable steel mask, mainly for doing six image stitching with the digital back in the vertical position. And a mask opening required for a three image stitch across, again with the digital back in the vertical position. I even cut out mask opening in thin black cardboard and using corners of black tape that matched what I was seeing on my digital back, I was able to establish the right size of openings that matched the black electrical tape corners on my studio walls.
The problem is finding Variofinder steel masks that fit the size of the openings that I require. Amazingly such masks are not a standard thing that Arca Swiss offers their photographers. So I will have to see if one of their existing masks, and there are quite a few of them to pick from, will come close enough to my dimensions. Or possibly Arca Swiss might cut custom masks, I am not sure about that though. It all depends just how flexible they are. It would be nice to look through the Vario viewfinder and see what a six image stitched scene looks like, or what three images across when stitched together would look like. I really don't think that asking too much from a high priced professional camera, do you?
MARCH 20ith, 2014
I did receive my RM3di camera body back yesterday, the American distributor very kindly sent me a brand new body, even though it was clearly my fault that the first body had seized on me. I also received some Red Leica Disto Laser glasses. I naively though that you point the red laser beam outside and you could measure distances away from the camera. But the truth is, outside nobody mentioned that it is just about impossible to see the red laser beam in sunshine or on bright days. So the need for these red glasses to try and see that red beam. I haven't had a chance to test out if they are any good as of yet, because it has been quite heavily overcast both yesterday when they arrived and in fact it is much worse overcast today.
I am in the process of doing focus testing with the RM3di camera. Determining what number and in which colour zone I should be, in order to achieve the most accurate focusing that's possible with this camera. So that even at 100% pixel level magnification the image is sharp and does not require and additional sharpening in Photoshop. I am following the Arca Swiss provided small laminated chart to do this. Essentially I am in the process of carefully "tweaking" those numbers.
I will mention here that I really do not, with a capital "DO NOT" like Phase One's Capture 7, which came with the Leaf Aptus digital body and with which I have to open these Leaf Aptus images. I much prefer my older version of Photoshop. Leaf provides a program to open their own images but it only works on MAC system, and I work on a custom built PC outfit.
So the truth is, I merely open the images in Capture 7 and then get out of it as fast as I possibly can do. I really do not like how Capture operates and it's strong emphases on back up and keeping one's images in order. I can do all of that for myself thank you, I prefer the uncluttered screen and Photoshop's philosophy any day, to overly cluttered screen of Phase One's Capture 7. As that old saying goes, each to their own.
MARCH 19th, 2014
I expect my Arca Swiss RM3di camera might be back from the American distributor some time today. Yesterday USPS tracking told me that it was at the delivery post office. Now a few days ago I purchased a used Asus laptop with a small 10.1 inch screen on ebay, just a tiny thing. I looked at the Microsoft Surface Tablet and I almost went that route. But as I looked at the Surface Tablet in Best Buy and Staples, I happened to come across this little beautifully made Asus laptop, and that was it for me, I was sold on going that route instead of purchasing a Microsoft Surface.
So I went onto ebay and found several small Asus laptop's available and I bid on one and just happened to win it. Well the truth is, my friend Bill showed me a neat trick to always guarantee winning an ebay bid, that's if you really want something, and of course it worked just like he said it would. It's something that I'll keep in mind when ever I bid again on ebay.
I purchased the tiny Asus laptop for one specific reason. Bill who spent some of his working career working with Microsoft's Excel spread sheet program. Has come up with an ingenious Excel program that calculates the focusing numbers that are required to focus the Arca Swiss RM3di Camera very precisely. Of course I will do the base testing that's necessary to verify those precise focusing numbers for the footage from 2.5 feet all the way out to 40 feet here in the studio, checking the focus numbers one foot at a time. And outside on my flat roof top I can do the readings ranging from 41 feet out to 80 feet, at which point I simply fall off the roof. So where does the Asus laptop come in, you might ask? Well Bill's Excel program is capable of providing the numbers for those in between settings, like 9.56 feet or 14.46 feet for example.
Here is how it works, if 9.56 feet is the distance that I have set the camera up on a tripod away from the specific subject. On the Asus laptop, in the Excel program, I enter the next furthest distance, where I have tested and verified the exact focus number. So that will be 10 feet and I also enter the focus number to set on the helical focusing ring for 10 feet as well. Then I enter the lesser distance which will be 9 feet and the verified focus number for 9 feet. Then I enter the chosen distance of 9.56 feet, and presto the Excel program provides me with the exact focus number to use for 9.56 feet.
But where the Excel program in the Asus laptop will shine even more, is when I am at 129 feet away from a subject and the focus chart that Arca Swiss provided me for my particular lens goes from 100 feet, then the next focus number is for 150 Feet. So the Excel program will provide me with the right focus number to set on the helical focusing dial for 129 feet. Of course knowing myself as I do, I will eventually verify the focus numbers from 81 feet all the way out to 500 feet. I won't verify the focus number for every foot along the way, but will do so in measured jumps of possibly five feet, which I am sure Bill and I will figure out as time progresses.
By doing so, when I take an image the focus will be so precise at 100% Pixel level, or so I hope it will be. Things will be fantastically sharp in the image, so much so, that no further sharpening is going to be required in Photoshop.
March 14th, 2014
It seems that I made an error with the RM3di camera. I innocently turned the Helical focusing mount too far out, all in an effort to discover how close it could focus, thus causing it to derail and then jam tight. I wanted everybody to know that I am receiving great customer support from the Arca Swiss American representative. To me that's incredible customer care, the tone of his email was absolutely excellent, even though I had made a mistake with the camera, there was no blame at all from him, just great customer support. He is replacing the camera body and sending it back today. Hopefully I will be back in business by this coming Tuesday or Wednesday.
March 13th, 2014
I received my Arca Swiss RM3di outfit on Saturday March 1st, and I have been consumed with trying to understand it. When on Saturday March 8th the helical focusing simply jammed tight on me. It would not budge in either direction. The american distributor said it's never happened before, during his eight years of handling Arca Swiss in America. So on Monday March 9th I packaged it up and sent it back to the distributor for repairing. I had been happily focusing on a lens chart that's taped to my studio wall, I was using a Leica Disto D5 to very accurately measure the distance between the digital backs sensor plane and the lens chart on my studio wall.
The focusing on this camera is completely different to any other camera on the market. The RM3di has helical focusing that's numbered from one to thirty four, then it has colour's on the lens barrel to tell you which rotation of the helical you are using, I believe there are five full rotations in all. So for example, if you are, let's say, ten feet away, to focus properly you rotate the focusing helical to the white coloured stripe on the lens barrel, and you set the focusing to 30.1, a number that's on the focusing helical.
This gets you incredibly sharp images, but I found that you can tweak those factory derived numbers which are provided by Arca Swiss. Especially if you are wiling to do some work to get incredibly sharp images right down to pixel level. You do not require any sharpening applied at all in Photoshop, because the image is so fantastically sharp right at 100% pixel level. My friend Bill has created wonderful Excel charts for me, of the various distances and the number and colour required, charts which I am slowly filling in, working one measurement at a time. Checking everything very carefully on my 30 inch monitor.
To get this sort of focusing accuracy on a digital sensor, one must spend time and do a careful laser reading for every foot on the chart, out to 50 or 100 feet or more. Once I establish the number for say, ten feet, that's required for my particular lens 72 mm, I enter it onto an Excel chart that Bill has made up, which will be my guide in the field. I will take a laser reading from the sensor plane to the subject in the field, and if it says 9 feet, I'll refer to the chart that I have made up and know what the number and more importantly what the colour should be on the lens barrel, and set that number on the helical focusing to be tack sharp at nine feet.
I should mention here that it is quite impossible to focus using the ground glass, as the Helical turnes five full rotations, so you can not tell when you are perfectly sharp or not. I have tried on a number of occasions, but I just can't do it, and get it any where near as sharp as using the tested out number system the camera was designed for.
It is incredibly accurate focusing, but very time consuming to get the most accurate numbers to use. And it jumps in feet like this, 8 to 9 to10 to 11 feet, so once you set the camera up and take a laser reading, you have to move the camera which is on a tripod, either forward or backwards to one of the closest footage marks. Eventually I will fill in the numbers like 6.5 or 8.5 or 11.5, so the forward or backward movement of the camera to arrive at precisely calibrated focus number, is limited to just 6 inches of movement going either forward or backward. Which will provide fantastically sharp images at the pixel level. I might even do .25 and .75 readings for my most often used footage numbers.
Arca Swiss provides a small laminated chart which is perfectly acceptable, but if you want the sharpest focusing that's available with your lens, so that every pixel is incredibly sharp, you have to run your own tests. And use the Arca Swiss provided numbers as merely the jumping off point, to even more fantastic image sharpness. Hopefully I will get my Arca Swiss RM3di back next week and I will continue doing the distance focus testing.
I should mention, that there are some things that I don't like about the lens in particular, the lens is mounted upside down. So it means all those years of using copal shutters the right side up, is now turned up side down, just like the lens is. The camera came with no real manual or even an explanation of how to use it, particularly the RotaSlide back. The American distributor is now in the process of writing a paper on it, which I saw today in an email, but you would have thought that Arca Swiss would have something in writing to explain exactly how their RotaSlide works. As Arca Swiss is based in France, perhaps they do have something on it but in French. If I were able to get my hands on it, I could get it translated into proper English by professional translators.
FEBRUARY 20ith, 2014
There have been a last minute flurry of changes regarding the Arca Swiss RM3di camera, I have been waiting for. In the end, I have ended up dropping the Arca Swiss e module cloud focusing unit. I will use a Leica Disto D 5 laser measuring unit to measure the distances, and then transfer those readings to the camera's helical focusing mount.
I am also now going to have a Rotaslide unit, that's a device that allows you to mount the digital back on one side, and mount the ground glass on the other side, and you simply slide back and forth between the two. It means that I do not have to remove the Leaf Aptus digital back, taking it on and off the camera, the same with the ground glass for viewing images. It will speed thing up and hopefully prevent any accidental dropping of things while working in the field.
The American distributor who is based in Tempe Arizona will ship it to me, either today or tomorrow. I should have it by the end of next week, or sometime the following week. It is impossible to tell exactly when especially when Canadian customs are involved in processing the shipment.
It is going to be a large learning curve, but that's half the fun of getting new equipment I suppose. I hope I am just as optimistic a few weeks after getting the camera in hand. Of course I am saying that with a grin on my face.
FEBRUARY 17th, 2014
I was told in an email which arrived last Thursday, that the Schneider 72 mm XL lens that I have been waiting for, has finally arrived at the American distributor in Tempe Arizona. I was also informed that the Arca Swiss outfit would be sent out to me on Friday, or possibly the first of this week. Hopefully by the end of the week, assuming no Canadian customs delay takes place, it will finally be here in the studio.
There will be somewhat of a learning curve to overcome, no doubt, including learning about the Capture program, and all about how the Leaf digital back works and just how the e module cloud works as well. I am sure that I wont be out photographing for several more months, as I try learning about the ins and outs of the system here in the comfortable and relatively warm studio. Hopefully in a few months, perhaps in April of 2014, when the weather warms up a little, I will be ready to venture out to begin photographing with the new Arca Swiss RM3di system.
It has been a longish wait, but believe me, nothing that I haven't had to do before, waiting for equipment or specially cut film stock to finally arrive from Kodak. I can remember ordering a thousand sheets of 5X7 Ektachrome daylight film back in 1987, fully four months before I required it from Kodak. Then sweating it out as my departure date for India grew closer. I ended up getting the film delivered to me the day before I left for India, no kidding. It was a friendly Kodak Rep that got on the case of finding out where my 5X7 film was in Kodak's mega industrial system, and in the end he hand delivered the film right to me.
So waiting for things to arrive, is all part of the "job", so to speak.
FEBRUARY 2nd, 2014
I have sold quite a few items so far, but I still have a number of items yet to sell. My Arca Swiss RM3di outfit was ordered and paid for back before Christmas, but I am still waiting for it to arrive. Apparently the hold up, according to the Arca Swiss American supplier, who is based in Tempe Arizona, is with the Schneider Digitar 72mm XL lens.
He has most other things in stock except that particular 72 mm Digital XL lens. I could have opted for a 120 mm Schneider Aspheric lens which he did have in stock, but in the end I chose to wait for the 72mm Schneider lens, which will be like having a 35 to 40 mm lens on a 35mm system. The 120mm would be like having a 60 mm lens on a 35 mm camera. Fore sure that's going to be my next lens for this particular camera.
I intend on doing four image stitching with the Arca RM3di camera, that's where you take four separate images and by moving Leaf Aptus II digital back around the camera's back, but you leave the lens always located in the exact same position. Then in Photoshop's layers those four Aptus II images are carefully aligned together and then flattened to become one complete larger mega pixel image.
I also ordered a new kind, well at least it is to me, of Gitzo "Explorer" carbon fiber tripod. It's the kind with the center column is located on the side of the tripod, which conveniently allows it to pivot until the center column is sitting completely horizontal. This allows you to photograph a landscape detail which is situated on the ground in front of you. It should arrive sometime this coming week I would expect.
I also ordered a Leica Disto D5 laser measuring device yesterday Feb. 1st, and it will probably be here by the end of this month, if not sooner. The RM3di Arca Swiss camera is coming with an e-modual cloud focusing system, however the American supplier Rod Klukas has told me for doing landscape close up details, a Leica Disto D5 laser measuring devise would be better suited, to measure quite close distances and then transferring those Leica Disto D5 measurements to the camera's helical focusing mount.
Living in Canada, as I do, it usually takes eighteen to twenty one days for me to receive the items I purchased from the lower forty eight States. Even when they have been mailed using International Xpresspost. The delay is caused by our grossly over burdened postal custom agents, who have too look at each package's value and assign the 13% Canadian taxes to those items, that are passing through the Canadian American border via mail. Yes I do know that it is much quicker using FedX or the UPS courier system, but I found you pay so much more in border broker fees for that admitted, much speedier service. With FedX being the most expensive courier in my mind, but also the fastest service available to deliver items.
One last thing, I finally signed up on Skype and am having fun chatting with a good friend in California. I was bowled over to discover several other Stephen Livick names that are also using Skype. Who knew, it seems that there are even more of me out there.
DECEMBER 23th, 2013
I am in the process of selling some of my photo equipment, of course I will be listing some of it on e-bay and some on Toronto's Kijiji, and that's because I am just a two hour drive away from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. I can accept Pay pal or bank money orders and will ship the equipment by Xpresspost here in North America. Of course if you happen to be based overseas in the U. K. or perhaps Europe perhaps we would have to calculate the potential shipping costs for you.
I am in the process of changing from a Hasselblad H outfit to an Arca Swiss RM3di camera body, my first lens will be a Schneider Digitar 72 mm XL lens, I am also acquiring a Leaf Aptus II 33 MP digital back. The RM3di is a "technical" camera which makes it easier to stitch four 33 MP images together, in the end giving you what amounts to a 130 MP image. It's just the ticket for doing images that are 60x90 inches or 152.5 x 229 cm.
If you are interested in anything that's been listed below, please send an e-mail to Charlie at email@example.com, as he is dealing with this sale of equipment for me. Please feel invited to make us an offer on any of these items, and Charlie will bring it to me and if both he and I think it is a reasonable and acceptable offer, then you will have yourself a deal. Charlie will be responsible for calculating the shipping costs from our studio to your location, then he will respond to you.
DECEMBER 13th, 2013 (Revised)
The year is quickly winding down, soon 2014 will commence, time as the old saying goes "Marches On". I feel though that humanities soul does not march on, it's essence seems to have stagnated or perhaps it is atheistically out of touch with our reality. No I am not talking about the grander commercial world, we all know that it is quite relentless in it's ceaseless ambition. And of course will be so until the end of our civilization.
I am talking more about humanities grander spiritual awareness, which appears to be childlike and blinkered mind set, to my mind at least. Our belief in a "God" that's supposedly residing in an off world heaven, and that most of us, if we have led a good life, will join him there, once we expire, that is. A belief like this seems childish even infantile to me, yet it's willingly swallowed by many. It is like baby's "pabulum" for those minds of the human masses, I suppose. Those that don't believe in any "God" what so ever, have their lack of belief to rely upon, which provides them with a kind of atheistic "spiritual nourishment" that they require to survive this life.
Don't get me wrong, because I do seem to like "hitch hiking" along on the tide of the holiday fever that occurs at this time of year. It is certainly infectious to say the least. I only wish that this yearly infection brought on symptoms that reminded we humans too care more for the biosphere instead of holiday splurging on meaninglessness and fairytale religious imaginings. By simply reinforcing humanities widely held belief that an off world "God" and indeed heaven does exist out there in human fantasy land. Because believing in such none core intuitive ideas, rather sadly will only lead onto the biosphere's fatal ruination in the end. The truth is, no "God" is ever going to come and save us, because the truth is this, we will have to do that for ourselves! That's if ever we wake up in time.
NOVEMBER 28th, 2013
I am almost fully back in business once again, I even printed out several 26.6 x 40 inch prints this afternoon, doing so just to make sure everything is working like it should. I can report rather happily, that it is, of course that's only after some tweaking adjustments were made. I lost everything that was contained in the hard drive. It pays to constantly back up one's files, something that I actually do, three times in fact. There is the main file and then I save it on two seperate external hard drives. Doing it diligently as I work on images, in fact by doing so has "saved" me on a number of "accidents", those oh sh*t... no, NO occasions.
Unfortunately I had stored all of my personal family photos on that particular hard drive, and sadly I did not think too back them up.
NOVEMBER 27th, 2013
On Monday I took my brute of a computer back to the place that built it for me. They soon diagnosed a problem occurring in the 12,000 RPM drive, a smaller hard drive that only contains my various programs. I thought that it would be a relatively simple process of moving all of my various programs over a new drive. But not so, apparently that same problem in the drive would be copied over onto the new drive, at least that's what they tell me.
This news means that after five years of working with this computer, that I am having to start over from scratch, which is not something I am looking forward too. In the past when this has happened too me, it did happen once before, I found that it changed everything. I suppose that because you never really get back to the exact same precise spot that you were in to begin with. So all the work that I did to get my images looking just so, is more or less out the window. And all the images will require further re working to make them just so once again.
No big deal you say, but the thing is, I have over seven terabytes of finished polished images. It is so bloody depressing. And what's worse, in this computer are four hard drives, yesterday when I was with the tech, and after we had reinstalled Windows 7, 64 Bit Professional, and the driver for my 44 inch Epson, and the driver for the video card. I thought good, now I can get back to work, and that's when another problem arose. We test booted the system, but it failed too recognize two of my one terabyte drives, these drives are full up with finished work. The tech worked on it for an hour, trying everything he knew to get Windows to recognize these two drives, but alas no luck. And at five thirty P.M., he said "enough for today".
I just couldn't believe it, as I went out into a cold snow flurry night, and then had to deal with my car, that I quickly imagined as I approached it, would get stuck in the two feet of snow that had fallen over the weekend. The roads in my completely unprepared smaller city, were still not plowed and so I had to park in deep snow, that went well up my calfs. Those areas that had been cleared were all taken by the mid afternoon when I arrive on the scene, to supposedly pick up my computer. Apparently this is the most snow that has fallen in November, that ever been recorded in city limits. So my city was caught flat footed in regards to snow clearing, so to speak.
Luckily last week I had my Bridgestone "Blizzack" winter tires installed, and so they were able to pull me through all of that deep tire rutted snow. This morning I am waiting for a call from the tech, hopefully he will have solved the problem of those two unrecognized hard drives. It would be incredibly regretful if I were too lose those two terabyte hard drives full of images.
NOVEMBER 24th, 2013
I am having trouble working with my "work" computer, it can still do small things for me, like finish the image you are about to see, of course that's only if you want too. If I try and "save" or "flatten" one of my larger 60X90 inch X 300 DPI works, it just can't seem too do it any more. It just stops and freezes about a third of the way through the process of trying to save or flatten the work, and that's it. Eventually I usually bail out by using the Shift-Alt-Control measure, which as you know then looses everything that I have done. So until I can take it to somebody who knows more than I do about the inner workings of computers and their programs, which is not much on my end, I can tell you. I am out of action as far as creating the larger works.
Now the other morning I was out photographing my favorite grove of trees, taking images just before, and then as the sun rose. There were many jet vapor trails in the early morning sky. That's the "mark of man" I thought to myself, it was relatively easy to photograph them from my roof top vantage point. In fact they often interfere with my early morning photographing, and yes even pissing me off many times, that's only if the truth be known. Lots of snow has fallen overnight, and it's still falling this morning as well, easily several foots worth. In fact it looks like a winter wonderland outside.
I tell myself that if I had a smaller lighter camera in my hand, that I would go out photographing, just to enjoy the outside bitter cold winds. I am not really sure if I would actually bother going, but that's what I keep telling myself. I can't seem to go out unless I have some purpose in mind, and it's a camera that seems to give me the purpose that I need, essentially it's my enabling muse.
NOVEMBER 22nd, 2013
I did successfully reinstall my older version of Photoshop yesterday and things seemed to be working much better for me this morning. But after working for several hours on imagery things once again became somewhat problematic for me. One of my image creations would not flatten and so after a good amount of time waiting for it too flatten, it finally had to be aborted using the control- alt- delete procedure.
The truth is I think my working hard drive, that's the main one that I always use to create my imagery, is in the process of failing, and probably should be replaced, the sooner the better. Here is what I worked on this morning, it is a six image composite of the late day sunset as it illuminates that grove of trees I love so much.
Very late day sunset illumination on the grove of trees, six image composite, used a Gitzo tripod, mirror up, with a Hasselblad and the 210 mm lens.....IMAGE
NOVEMBER 21st, 2013
I have begun having problems occurring with my work computer, it's a custom built "brute" of model that's now amazingly approaching five years old. I am not exactly sure just what the deal is, and as I am not "worldly", by any means of the imagination, regarding the innermost workings of computers, it has the tendency to be very frustrating for me. It's the not knowing that's the hardest thing to deal with.
I think that I will try reloading Photoshop to see if that does anything to remedy the situation. Most of my problems appear to relate to the fact of Photoshop doesn't appear to be responding to commands. For example this morning I made a 60X90 inch, six combined image composite piece, but when it came to flattening the work, Photoshop simply could or possibly would not do that action for me. "Photoshop not responding" is the sign that keeps being displayed when a failure to flatten or even save an image occurs.
So I lost this mornings work, could be much worse I suppose. Let's see, I could have lost my wallet or my house and car keys, or one of our cats could have gone missing, which would be very shocking indeed, because they are all indoor "squeaky clean" highly pampered pets.
NOVEMBER 19th, 2013
We had some snow fall yesterday, not a lot, yet enough so that it looks like winter is making itself known where I live. This morning I looked out of my East facing studio window and I wasn't sure if I would be able to photograph the sunrise or possibly not. I soon decided that it was going to be a no go, but ten minutes later when I looked out I decided hummm....possibly. Then another ten minutes passed and after that I decided to try and see if could capture it.
Well the clouds more or less parted for me, doing so at the last moment, I was able to capture a number of exposures, six exposures for each image that would come together in Photoshop's layers to make up each final composite image. I did have to deal with a fair amount of flaring occurring on some of these images.
I used my Hasselblad H1 on a very sturdy Gitzo tripod and the 210 mm Hasselblad lens, of course with the professional lens shade attached to the front of the lens as well. I also use a three second delay, that's where I press the shutter and the mirror clatters up, then three seconds of beeping passes by after which the shutter in the lens trips to capture the exposure. My much used cable release broke recently right where the cord attaches to the body of the unit. I will eventually replace it, however this particular method works quite well for the time being.
I started to take this series of six images without the sun, and that's when it suddenly appeared, so I decided to chance aborting and started over...........IMAGE
In this series of six combined images the sun is up, and there are lens flare problems occurring, I really don't think it ruins the image, does it?...........IMAGE
NOVEMBER 12th, 2013
Some how I grew tired of watching the "VOICE" on NBC's television broadcast last night. I think it had something to do with the songs that the four "stars" picked for the twelve hopefuls to sing. I just couldn't relate the songs at all, right from the very first song of the night. Perhaps I was just tired as I usually am by nine PM most evenings. So I actually surprised myself by doing something almost unthinkable, I flipped around the "channelverse" and settled on the Piers Morgan's show that was airing on CNN. He had two guests on discussing global warming or climate change and it's possible implication in the Haiyan Typhoon disaster that just obliterated the central parts of Philippines.
One of the guests on Pier's CNN show was a university professor, who not surprisingly turned out to be one of those curmudgeonly global warming deniers. The other was a writer from a well respected magazine. The writer actually went after the professor and Piers saying that Piers Morgan should not invite such a disingenuous guest to be on his show. Piers quickly shot back with that snobby Britishesque arrogance of his, that he could choose his own guests, thank you very much.
What the discussion told me, was that the "commercial world", essentially those people that have created the human world that we all now live in, are basically in the denial phase regarding this global warming reality that we are all now facing. Essentially the "commercial" half of humanity, usually conservatively biased in their mind set, do not want too admit that the fossil fuel powered world that they have "cobbled" together for everybody, is in the fateful process of "strangling" the biosphere. A few more decades of carrying on like we are currently doing, and the biosphere that daily supports each of us, will be completely destroyed. In my mind, how I view it, is that we will have killed, murdered the real "God" of this planetary creation, the biosphere.
As for that "dimwit" professor, the world of humanity is sadly chock full of idiots and as*holes. Not surprisingly the commercial world of radio and television broadcasting, likes having them on the airwaves, mainly to refute the obvious reality of global warming. I suppose it assuages the commercial world's "back of the mind" guilt, over the killing of our planet's life supporting biosphere. Perhaps that's why such programs like the "The Piers Morgan Show" airing on CNN still have such global warming deniers on their programming. This denial phase will last until it can no longer be supported by any reasonably sane person that's alive. Sadly it will not be in enough time to save the planet's biosphere, the mass murder of "God" our biosphere, appears no longer to be in doubt, at least it's not in my mind. As I see it, humanity is going to become the deranged child, the one that wilfully and brutally murders it's "mother", or it's evolutionary "creator", and in the end "God".
NOVEMBER 9th, 2013
It seemed rather cold out this morning when looked out of my studio's East facing window. I could see however the distinct possibility of the sunrise being visible for photographing. After making the decision to go for it, I went about maneuvering my tall wooden ladder into roof top position. Of course trying very carefully not to slip and fall on the heavily frost covered roof. I managed to get my Hasselblad H with the 210 mm lens attached, set up on the tripod about twenty minutes before the actual sunrise. So I did several practice exposures, mapping out what I wanted to try, which means carefully taking six images each time, that will eventually be layered together into one image, using Photoshop.
This image was a bit trickier to achieve than it looks, although I always hand focus the lens and I photograph using the Manual mode, thus setting the exposure myself, so that all of the six exposures are the same, which helps when layering them together. Unfortunately some of the images suffered from flare caused of course by photographing directly into the sun. Even though I had Hasselblad's professional lens hood attached too the lens, and it was fully extended, even so I still had flair occurring on several of the images.
The flaring somehow must have threw off the white balance setting which was set on "Daylight". Essentially the only setting available in this digital back that might work on a scene like this. So some of the images tended to look a tad "off colour". And some images even looked darkish in parts, even though the settings were made in the manual mode However after several hours of working on the composite image, I was able to save this image. I managed to hide the flare by moving images around, pushing certain images to the very back, or just plain backwards in layers. In essence doing a juggling act of sorts with the images, just to make things work out for the best.
Here is that 60X90 inch, 300 DPI image...............Sunrise
NOVEMBER 7th, 2013
Yesterday I looked out of my studio window and was delighted to see some intense back lighting that was occurring and which I couldn't resist photographing. It appears that images seem to be making their way right to my doorstep, rather than me having to go out and hunt for them, well that's how it appears to me. I had to quickly maneuver my ten foot high wooden ladder outside and of course I took my Hasselblad along with the 210 mm lens on it as well.
Then I started making my way to the building's roof top vantage point, that's where I could best capture the image. I only had enough time to take three images that were taken in a combination of six exposures for each image. That's before the amazing lighting had quickly moved to the East and consequently out of my image area. I later on yesterday made up those three composite images using Photoshop's layers, which resulted in three 60X90 inch 300 DPI images.
This is the best of those three composite images that I photographed, I really couldn't decide if I should do away with those bird nests.....IMAGE
And if you are interested here is what I created from that amazing original back lit image........IMAGE
NOVEMBER 6th, 2013
I have been reading about the newest Nikon family member, the just announced retro styled 16 mp "Df" body. I think my definition of a "stripped" down camera body and Nikon's interpretation of "stripped down" must somehow be different. Nikon went after the visual effect of retro styling the Df body, and by leaving out the video mode, Nikon presumably felt that constituted the camera body qualifying as being a "stripped down" model.
Unfortunately from what I read about and of course see online, this Nikon "Df" body is most probably not the camera for me. Firstly the pixel count is much too low, in my estimation, being just 16 MP. That's really not good enough for me, I would like a 36 or possibly a 48 mp body, but I would accept a high end 24 mp body like the Leica M 240 has for example. Or possibly the 36 mp new small sized Sony A7 R, but that's only if careful testing proves it suitable and durable enough for my needs. I really do not like the look of Nikons Df retro styling, I saw nothing wrong with the Nikon D700, other than it's "largish" size, it was such a great camera to work with.
What I would like to see in my version of a "stripped down" body is this; no LCD screen on the back of the camera, or if Nikon must have one because of marketing concerns, how about a dedicated black cover to hide the LCD screen from seasoned guys like me, that have absolutely no real need for them. All main camera functions like setting the ISO, and White Balance, and the Aperture, and of course the Shutter Speed, should all be set using a number of dedicated push buttons, with a scrolling wheel. There would be two small screens to view and confirm the settings being used, one on top of the camera and one at the bottom of the back of the body, both places where you also push a small second button that's beside the small LCD to lock in your chosen settings. The Hasselblad system works somewhat like this, you push a button, scroll to the setting you want, then push a button to set it, it has been that way for a dozen years. The one thing Hasselblad lacks is a monitor for setting body parameters directly on the back of the camera. No doubt later Hasselblad models than mine is might have dealt with that issue.
Modern styling like the Nikon D700 only smaller as an example, is just fine with me. I would like at least a 36 to 48 MP sensor, and if possible let's design it to have a pull out, then plug in interchangeable sensor. You send your body into a Nikon repair depot, and for a determined price, you can get yourself the next generation of sensor installed along with the latest upgraded programming. That way we have time to get use to the camera, so we can use it blind folded. As it is today, just about every eighteen months or there about's, something new arrives on the scene and we have to start the learning curve all over, trying to remember everything that's new about the camera. To me that's certainly not forward thinking, it's just business minded thinking, forcing people to continually purchase new equipment. Why not have them flock as they will do, in droves, to purchase the newest sensor and programming instead. It is also much more of an ecologically sound stance to adopt as well. Besides if you want to keep photographers loyal too your brand, then this might be the way to go about it.
Now is that too much to ask?
NOVEMBER 5th, 2013
Yesterday was an incredibly beautiful bright sunshine day where I am located. So I spent the day photographing a beautiful grove of trees that have quite a lot of yellow autumn leaves still hanging on. I took groupings of six images each time I photographed, that will eventually be combined together to make one large image. And of course doing this during several times of the day, watching carefully as the sunlight moved through the sky, seeing how different this grove of trees looked at various times of the day. It was amazing to see it, the lighting was so clear and incredibly intense.
If you are interested here is one of those finished 60X90 inch 300 DPI six images combined, of the grove of trees that I mentioned.......GROVE
As I photographed yesterday a thought came to me, and so I got out of my warm bed early this morning, and went about following up on that thought from yesterday. Amazingly and this is hard for me to believe but all of the leaves that were on the grove of trees came down overnight, it was minus 4 degrees Celcius and the trees reacted swiftly to the cold giving up their leaves overnight. About that thought that had me getting out of my bed so early, well the following images are the result of it.
This is before the sunrise and was taken the next morning looking through that same grove of trees that I photographed yesterday......... IMAGE
Finally here is the sunrise, again taken through that same grove of trees that I photographed yesterday, and which now have so few leaves left..........IMAGE
Here is a third image which was selected out of the eighty nine images that I photographed this morning, I used my Hasselblad H1 & 210mm lens............. IMAGE
NOVEMBER 4th, 2013
Yesterday was an incredibly beautiful bright sunshine day where I am located. So I spent the day photographing a beautiful grove of trees that has yellow autumn leaves still hanging on. I took a grouping of six images that will eventually be combined together, each time. And doing this during several times of the day, watching carefully as the sunlight moved through the sky, seeing how different this grove of trees looked at various times of the day. It was amazing to see it, the lighting was so clear and incredibly intense.
I am still in the processing stage of working on those images from yesterday, but as I photographed a thought came to me, and so I got out of my warm bed early this morning, and went about following up on that thought from yesterday.
Here is the sunrise image from this morning, it's been taken from another roof top vantage point, a place that I also have good access too.........IMAGE
If you are interested here is that finished 60X90 inch 300 DPI grove of trees that I talked about.......GROVE
NOVEMBER 3rd, 2013
We were out doing our grocery shopping yesterday, I drove and found myself a parking space at the grocery store. My wife quickly got out of the car and then she let out an incredible holler. What the f*** I said to myself, and when I got out of the car she was standing there with her mouth open, pointing to the front of the grocery store. Here it was just November second no less, and yet they had the front of the store full of green christmas wreaths. We went inside to shop and that's when we heard that ubiquitous Christmas music playing. Give us a break I thought to myself, but then I thought it's better than that arabic music that they have started playing.
Somehow I couldn't help thinking that we are all being "trapped", and then a mental picture flooded my mind. It was a video of African hunters using "blinds" made from pieces of their local landscape, to corral frightened scattering deer, that surfaced in my mind's eye. I believe that we humans are being treated just like "wild animals", and we are being corralled, as it were, to the benefit of large commercial concerns. Especially at times like Thanks Giving, Halloween, Christmas, Valentines day, Easter, and various other holidays during the year.
The Christmas "atmosphere" is especially being very carefully orchestrated by "big business", and that's because billions are being spent by the mentally "trapped" public, and all of it in just a six or seven week period, each and every year.
I believe that it is no different than those African hunters who corral deer each Fall, doing so as the deer attempt too migrate too their Winter feeding grounds. Only with we human's it is more of a "mental corralling" that occurs, of course it is, but it is still "corralling" never the less, that's being purported on mankind by the Western based commercial world at large. I am sure that big businesses in other societies on this planet, most probably do the same thing.
NOVEMBER 1 st, 2013
I frequent the Digital Photography Review web site, or DPReview as it's more likely known. What I noticed is how they are targeting their visitors. What I mean by that is this, I go there quite often basically just to read the latest photography news, consequently I am very familiar with their most recent news. However today when I go there the latest news has all changed on me. Now I have noticed it at other times but have always thought it was me not really remembering the news items correctly. But today I have been price comparing on a number of web sites, like the "Leica Store" in Berlin, Germany for example, and Tamarkin in America, a camera store that specializes in Leica equipment. I was there looking up the prices and availability of various Leica M and used R lenses.
Tonight however when I check into the DPR web site, the latest "news" has all changed on me and there are now several news reports about Leica's latest M 240 Camera. These items were not there earlier, I am very sure of that. And there was also a video from Nikon about their latest retro style stripped down camera, saying "good things take time", so take the time too wait.
Gone were any of the recent news announcements about video or cell phone photography. The news I was presented was more about serious 35 mm cameras and their lenses. Which honestly is the way I like it, because I really can't stand reading news about 40 mp cell phones. Or photo applications for those computer/phones.
What I am sensing, and perhaps I am just clueing in a little "late" to that large commercially orchestrated shell game. Is that we are all being "tracked" just about everywhere that we go on the web, and as a consequence we are being skilfully targeted by web sites like DPR.
Now perhaps it's Goggle that's actually doing the targeting, I don't know. But what I am seeing on my monitor might not be what everybody else out there is seeing, when we visit sites like the Digital Photography Review. And what you are seeing is not necessarily what I am seeing, because it work's both ways.
So in the end we are not a band of like minded photographers, congregating online at our favorite meeting place The truth is we are just another commodity to be commercially targeted by big business, and no doubt tracked by our governments, well the American government is tracking each of us, for sure.
OCTOBER 30ith, 2013
I looked out of my window at six thirty this morning, just like I usually do, and I could tell that it was going to be a good sunrise to photograph. But the sunrise wasn't going to happen until eight in the morning. So there was plenty of time to get myself ready for it. And that meant hauling out a ten high foot step ladder and eventually making my way on top of the third floor roof, the one directly above my studio space. Simple enough one would think, but the roof was very slippery from a heavy frost that hit us overnight, and that meant the ladder might possibly slip under my weight when climbing it. So I got some salt from the kitchen, salt I should add that we never ever use on our food, not sure why it is even in the kitchen supplies cupboard, yet I knew it was.
I put that under the ladder's wooden feet and felt the hour of waiting would allow the ice to melt, the thin slippery ice that had formed over night, which it did. As salt does melt ice as we all know from winter road salting when conditions becomes slippery on the roads. The ladder held my weight just fine, it allowed me to get up on top of the flat commercial building's roof.
The sunrise was quite beautiful when it finally did arrive. Here is one of the series of images that I took, I have made it 30X40 inches instead of the usual 26.6 X40 inches which I do actually prefer. I did this so that I could show you more of the type of landscape that surrounds my studio, this is as I look East facing, of course.
Here is the image......IMAGE
OCTOBER 28th, 2013
I was looking at a number of images online of the new diminutive 36 MP Sony A7R camera. It has the appearance of being somewhat "rough hewn" in my eyes, or perhaps "rough cut" might be a better analogy. I found it to be "clunky" and square looking and not something that inspires that much confidence in me personally. I think they are targeting a certain none professional market, not sure just why but that's the take away that I got from looking at images of it.
I hope the sensor output that come out of it is a little more refined, than the exterior of the body actually appears. My worry is this, just incase you are wondering, the images that come from the sensor might possibly be a tad "crude" like the body itself looks. In that Sony might not have spent the time or expenditure on refining the camera's sensor output, somewhat like they didn't spent any time refining the actual look of the body, if you get my drift. Now I could be all wet behind the ears about it, only time will tell if my intuition about it is way off base. Could possibly be a crude exterior but a refined interior.
I do have more confidence that Nikon's sensor output will end up being better on their not yet announced, latest retro style stripped down camera offering. But then again I am biased towards Nikon from my long years of admiration of their cameras after spending time working in difficult conditions with their equipment. The D 700 that I worked with a few years ago now, was a beautiful camera. Nikon camera bodies honestly, have never let me down, not once. I am looking forward to the release of this newest member of the Nikon brand. I do hope that I am not disappointed by the notion of a "stripped down" promise of a Nikon body. With my version of "stripped down" probably not being the same as Nikon's version of it. Just how far apart we will be in our thinking of "stripped down", is more the question.
OCTOBER 27th, 2013
Every morning I get out of bed with an eagerness to check out the sunrise, often there is just an overcast sky that greets me, "should have stayed in my warm Tempurpedic bed" I think too myself. At times though the sky is clear or almost clear, like it was this morning, and I know the sunrise is going to happen for me.
This last month I have been waiting for the sun to rise in a "clean" area of the horizon. It has been rising lately behind an apartment building that's located in my field of view, and which is obstructing me from taking an image. Of course it would tend spoil any image that I might take. However this morning the rain clouds had disappeared and the apartment building is a thing of the past, because of the suns constant movement in the sky, for the time being. It of course will get in my way once again, possibly in February or March as it passes behind that same apartment building yet again, on it's way to the Summer solstice. Could always try and clone it out, but a move like that tends to rub against my grain.
I have entertained thoughts of asking the city where I live, if they would consider demolishing that particular building for me. In the end I decided that nobody at city hall was going to take me seriously. Now I am thinking about chopping some trees down, and if I did so at night, perhaps nobody would know it was me that did it, would they? Of course I am just joking about doing it...but you already knew that, didn't you?
So here is this mornings sunrise......... IMAGE
I am presently surprised to read that Nikon is about to bring out a "stripped" down 35 mm body. Hopefully it will come with full frame as well as a 24 mp or even better yet a 36 mp sensor. And that it arrives without all of the silly "crap" that they have been putting into their cameras these days. I would also like a stripped down simple menu system, something like the Sigma SD 1 camera has. That's how camera's should be set up, kudos to Sigma for making their flagship camera the SD 1 in that particular way.
OCTOBER 24th, 2013
If anybody is interested, I believe that I know the the reason the "Obamacare" web site is crashing like it has been. My wife writes procedural manuals for an arm of the Canadian government. These manuals tell the government employees how to act, respond too and treat the public. They are also guidelines for how the interaction process should be handled and act as rule for how the files should be processed.
Last night she worked well into the night re proofing one of her manuals that is too be launched shortly, early November. She has done the proofing many times and always there are endless pages of repairs that have to be done. She has worked with an older senior web designer and things have always gone reasonably smoothly for her. But on this most recent manual, a "learning path", she was assigned somebody that in the end, she just couldn't work with, such things do happen. She was then assigned somebody rather young, somebody that's in their mid twenties. Sure they can do the work, but here's the thing, they never ever proof their work, as in, trying it online to see if it actually works. My wife has had to do that process for herself, effectively doing their job, as well as her own. She complains quite a bit to me, regarding the young designers work ethics.
So here is what I think happened with the "Obamacare" web site, and why it is having the problems it is. The American government contracted the building of the web site out to one or several web site builder, that probably had to bid to get the job. In order to maximize profits, because they probably bid low, to secure the job, the web design house went about hiring young web designers to do the actual work. And that's because they could pay them much less than a senior web designer would have too be paid, but who would proof their work. The young hot shots do the work but they never proof their work, to see if it works properly online. In their minds, their job is to build the site and not spend any time actually proofing it.
As a result the web site crashes or has many glitches whenever it is being used. I think you will find that's what happened. Young web designers who in their arrogance think that what ever they do is perfectly alright, and really doesn't require any online proofing. But that's just my guess regarding the problems that the "Obamacare" web site is having.
Fortunately we have universal health coverage here in Canada, which works reasonably well, as far as I am concerned. One thing that I have learned is everybody is responsible for their own care. The system isn't responsible, you have too tell it what you want through your doctor. Once the doctor orders it, they generally do it, but the truth is, not always, as I have experienced. They do have a "pre consult" or pre surgeon's visit, and try to talk you out of having a particular procedure, especially if it is not life threatening. I could go on, but the truth is, I am glad of the free health care, so I don't want to complain too much.
OCTOBER 12th, 2013
Well I had one more kick at that sunrise can this morning, I just couldn't resist the temptation that was right in front of me, here is that ...... IMAGE
Before you read this posting I think I need to disclose too you that, I am not a liberal or a conservative or even a socialist by inclination, in fact I am far from it. I usually vote for the green party when I go to the voting booth. However too be perfectly truthful, I am not a fan in any way of the democratic "party system" as it currently stands. I believe it to be a very destructively prone and incredibly wasteful political system. Just about the worst kind of insular democracy that's possible in my opinion. As two or three opposing forces that act just like "street gangs" of one persuasion or another, undergo a clash for the power of any democratic nation. I believe that both the liberals, the (Democrats) and the conservatives, the (Republicans) are basically two sides of more or less same cloth. Under the societal stewardship of both of these not really democratic parties, the inevitable "killing" off of this planet's life supporting biosphere, is completely assured. To keep carrying on like we are currently doing, is like committing mass annihilation of our societal futures. This is just so you are clear where I stand.
I would also like too clarify exactly what I mean when I use the word "rot". Other words I could have used might be, decay, deterioration, as well as corruption. Still another word might be disintegration, as in the ripping apart and failing of the national fabric, the internal cohesion that holds the country together. Which appears from an outsider's perspective, to be in jeopardy in America at this time and going forward. Now my own country of Canada has very little internal cohesion to speak of, we are a country of many separate and disparate parts, that appears bonded together mostly by our extremely close proximity to America, which is our largest trading, information and especially our entertainment provider. Although admittedly Canada is earnestly seeking other major trading partners to deal with at the moment, the European Union which we have just signed a major deal with, for example, of course America is also doing the same. Or maybe not with the listening in too European leaders cell phone communications coming to light, in which case those particular leaders might decide to delay or stall their trade deal with America.
With that being said, I have been watching with great interest as the American House Of Congress battles over "Obamacare". With the Republicans in Congress trying to tie that Congressional and Senate approved law, to extending the countries debit ceiling limit. Sadly it is this continual borrowing of incredible amounts of debt, about fifteen trillion U.S. dollars of borrowed funds at this time, funding that's actually required to keep the American government functioning. As you know from the above paragraph, I am not conservatively minded by nature, or as the Americans know it, a "Republican" by any means of anyone's fanciful overreaching imagination. Still though I find myself in an almost reluctant way, siding with the Republican mind set, in this particular debt ceiling matter. However I really do not like how they are going about it, by trying to completely gut and consequently destroy President Obama's Signature health care reform. I also believe however, that it is rather foolish to keep raising the debt ceiling to make those interest payments on that large trillion dollar debt that's coming due, at the end of every month, one would assume. And it is incredibly hard to believe that the American government actually requires, like a "money junky", this kind of trillion dollar borrowing habit, just to keep functioning. That signals to me that the country is "technically" bankrupt, as it will certainly be, if it does not obtain the funding that's necessary to keep it alive and from defaulting. Only by borrowing even more money can it stave off the inevitable bankruptcy.
It would be like any one of us asking their bank to extend one's credit line limit, in order for us to pay off the interest that's due on one's Visa or Mastercard, and to give us a cushion of funding that we require to function during the next six months of the year. I ask you, what bank would go for such a proposal? Correct me if I am wrong about this, but it seems like Americans, or more specifically their elected Government, is in a way, guiding or perhaps leading the nation to live way beyond it's actual means. Now in order to stay within the spending limits of the various taxes that are being assessed, something that's being collected by the American government, each and every month. Which is somewhere around 330 billion dollars a month income, as I understand it. Of course there is always an "ebb and flow" effect that's continually occurring with this 330 billion dollar a month number. It's sometimes a tad more and sometimes it is much less monthly income for the government. Of course it all depends on how well the economy is doing in general.
To live within the current taxed monthly funding, it is obvious that something has to be cut, or some government program has to be abandoned, which is essentially what the Republicans want to do with "Obamacare". Basically they would like to trash it, that's if we are being perfectly honest here. So in a disgraceful display of "gangster" style tactics, which the American people think of as their politics, the Republicans are trying to hold President Obama's feet into, as well as push "Obamacare" into the raging flames, so to speak. However the Republicans do not appear to realize that the true worth of any nation on this earth, can be measured by how well they take care of the less fortunate in the population.
If this action is considered to be "socialism" by those twisted minds out there, then I am all for it. I am not sure where the Americans would rank in caring for their population base, when compared with the other G 8 countries, really not that high one imagines, possibly even at the bottom of such a ranking. We all know that the American military might appears to be unparalleled among those G 8 country's, and of course around the world, except possibly in Vietnam, one might surmise. Now the other option to the funding short fall situation is this, the Government could raise taxes on everybody, and commercial business should be forced to start paying their fair share of due taxes. Some may do, of course, but the truth is, many don't pay anything at all, as they are continually able too defer the taxes that are due. It is also the case that the very wealthy also work at avoiding paying their fair share of taxes as well.
To keep raising the fifteen trillion debt up to a seventeen trillion dollar debt ceiling, and doing it endlessly, seems like the same kind of internal madness, that lead the world into the 2008 market turmoil. It amounts to those that are in power, not really admitting to themselves, or any one else, that the country can't really afford to keep living, exactly like it is currently doing. One can easily envision a much greater world wide calamity occurring, than that 2008 greed fueled crash was, in coming years. When the money lenders, mainly based in China, become fearful of America's greatly ballooning debt and consequently refuse to lend anymore funding. At which point America goes into default and goes the exact same way as Greece just did.
Now my incredibly beautiful wife said something to me the other day, and what she said stopped me dead in my tracks, so to speak. She said that Americans are spending so much money and man power hours to defend their homeland. Searching for every possible terrorist that's in existence around the planet, in order to quash them before they become any kind of serious threat to their nation. Isn't it kind of like closing the barn door after the horses have already run away, especially if we remember what happened on September 11 of 2001. I know full well that we all want to prevent anything else like that ever happening again.
But getting back to what my wife told me, she said Americans haven't been thinking about this particular aspect, and it is this reality that's more likely to do real severe damage to the country in the long run. It is the internal mental "rot" that's being allowed to bubble up wildly within their nation. Basically it's that same kind of rot setting in, as well as having a grossly over extended military might. Something like America's military might is right now, which brought the long lasting Roman Empire crumbling to the ground, around seventeen to eighteen centuries ago. The question I fear is this, is the world witnessing history repeating itself?
Now remember that terrible "Sandy Hook" school shooting rampage last year, one would think that this tragedy alone should have brought the country closer together, so that it really did something about instituting strict gun control measures. But as we all know, nothing much happened, and the gun legislation that had been proposed was defeated in the Republican led House of Congress. Now that's what I mean about the internal rot being clearly at work. From what I see the rot has a number of different avenues that it courses throughout the nation. Of course there is the obvious political "Tea Party" political rot, which we all see being played out daily in Washington. Unfortunately the American political system is a money corrupted system, where raising or having a lot of money at your disposal, might possibly exert the particular influence that you desire. Especially so if you are sneaky and very crafty with it's use. The Tea Party gained it's foothold in the American Congress by using devious and crafty last minute campaign practices, that were being fueled by "right wing" political rot inducing funding.
And then there is the rampant commercial rot, a fact which continually undermines the nation in any number of ways. There is for example, big Pharma, a large and deemed to be perfectly legal, pharmaceutical "cartel" that's operating in the way that full fledged gangsters do, which again is internal "rot" again in action. With powerful drug companies being allowed to circuitously use the population, more or less, as their Beta drug testers. With many thousands of unethical doctors accepting bribes, by being on every drug manufactures "pay roll". There is also, that overly powerful gun lobby, known as the "NRA", the national rifle association which represents immensurable political clout, that's being funded mostly by the self interested gun industry. The government basically runs away in fear of the "NRA's" political backlash, this is obvious commercial "rot" that's at work.
More to the point, there are hundreds of ultra "right wing" based radio talk shows, those "talking heads" all with half baked "right wing" self centered truths, and misleading political innuendoes that are being broadcast to an eager public daily. They basically appeal to roughly one third even up to one half of the American population, and perhaps even more when they are being broadcast across the entire country like they currently are. They exert an incredible influence of "rot" on the population at large, and they do it strictly to rake in the money from carefully targeted advertising. This is commercial "rot" at it's incredible worst. Yes I do know there is freedom of speech, but those "right wing" radio stations go much too far, in my opinion. And the public is being steeped in it on a daily basis.
I have listened to "Rush Bimbo" (intentional) a few times and I couldn't believe what I was hearing. It is radio broadcasting commercial verbal trash, it is no different than those raunchy tabloids that are available at the grocery checkout stand. It's radio that's being used too promote the worst in America and not it's best, like the public broadcast network does. Because these kinds of commercial radio stations literally flaunt the freedom of free speech, and they rub "right wing" garbage directly in the "left"' leaning government's face. It was incredibly frustrating for me to listen too. Because I heard things being said that I knew were untruthful or things that were being twisted and/or distorted to suit a "right wing" agenda. It is essentially verbal "sh*t" that's being broadcast over the air waves. And they are perfectly free to do it, it is such internal acts like this or rot that will eventually lead to the countries ultimate downfall. It is the freedom of speech that's progressed past the point of common decency or indeed honesty, and gone much too far. Yet much of the American population lapps it up and believes in it's manufactured sincere insincerity, much in the same way that they believe "God' resides off world in heaven, or is living in paradise.
There is also the vast entertainment industry that's continually affecting the minds of the young, filling them with graphic horror, incredible violence, bad moral and ethical grounding that's on view in most of their multi million dollar movies. It is nothing less than an epidemic of intellectually based rot that's seeping into the youthful minds of the nation. From what I can see, the television industry and it's especially the violence filled computer gaming industry that also shares their gigantic portion of the blame, for the mental seduction and infection of rot that's being spread about the nation's young. Not to forget about the music industry and the young's insidious seduction by the "hard rock" or "metal rock" ideology or possibly "gangster rap" or the "hip hop" frame of mind. Which I feel mainly appeals to many of those that have a less than a "fully rounded" core, in the general population. It is music, if it can even be called that, that's being made by individuals lacking a complete core, a rounded soul, and which distorts the truth of common human decency. But it is just music you say, right...Right.
The truth is, it isn't just music, it is really degrading "propaganda" for a shallow insincere way of thinking, and for a disreputable disrespectful way of life. America tries as it might, to ban most illicit drugs from the population at large, yet it freely allows the "rot" of enticement that's contained in infecting music, too bath the nation's young daily. The same as it's young being constantly bathed in visual depictions of graphic horror and violence and degradation by the motion picture and gaming sector. It is funny to hear people pleading "why" after any mass shooting, amazingly they still, just don't get it.
Let us not forget about the profound spiritual rot that's also extremely endemic in the American nation. With those that believe in their particular religion, praying to a humanly fantasized son, "Jesus", of a humanly created mythological "God", that's supposedly is living off of this world, in either heaven or possibly paradise. When in fact the real "God", but just not exactly how we humans think of "God" actually being, the Biosphere, keeps being slowly "suffocated" too death each and every day. And it's landscape is continually being commercially "developed" for the good of humanity, but certainly not for the good of the biosphere. It is a human process that will keep occurring right up to the point of the Biosphere's eventual complete demise, everybody living in the society shares their part in this primal killing. There are also the nation's hidden legion of closeted atheists, which tend to focus all of their attention on disbelieving that human created mythical off world "God" mythology, unfortunately they too ignore the potential of the real "God", existing in, or simply as the biosphere. They are all individuals that are unable to see the obvious naked "truth" that's in planetary life.
Combine all of the above with an incredibly profound greed that also flourishes in the American "Wall Street" culture, and it is a mixture that's ripe for the induced anarchy of internal rot. Now to wrap it up, as I feel that I must, the truth is this, I am left in a kind of quandary. And that's because I can actually see the dreaded Republican's point of view, and amazingly I agree with it in general, especially about the the country's debt being more than it can really afford. It seems to be a nation that can't seem too function at all, unless it borrows money too do so. Ironically a lot of the borrowing is coming from lenders that are based in China, interestingly America's next real nemesis. Which is also currently purchasing huge chunks of California landscape, by the way. Now we should also keep in mind that there are many ways to profligate "war". I feel that the next serious human war, will end up being be fought without the use of guns, missiles bombs or planes. It is probably being fought right now through the use of skillful monitory lending practices, that prays on the self manufactured weakness of an opponent.
However, in the end, I sense that one should really take the measure of the American Republican party, it seems to be a party that want's absolutely no health care net for it's people, and yet the party would spring for a much larger even more powerful military might. This is the mental rot that comes from insular blindness and a lack of common decency clearly at work. The art of politics is in the art of negotiation, it seems that the Republicans want everything to basically go their way, even if they lost the election and the Supreme court challenge to President Obama's Signature health care reform. So to me they have become nothing more than political gangsters, holding the country up to ransom. America is the only country in the world's leading G8 countries, that does not have free health care for all of it's citizens, that is, until user pay "Obamacare" arrived on the scene. So what does that tell us about the Republican party wanting to desperately get rid of it , hum mm.... you don't really want to know what I think. Why not instead of getting rid of Obamacare, which is the Republicans main mantra, supposedly because they feel it would cost too much. So to find the money to fund it, simply reduce America's military bloat, which requires trillions of dollars to function.
I can see the incredibly severe problems that are going too arise if the debt ceiling is not raised at this time. In my opinion somebody needs to start seriously trimming the nation's bloated budget, so that the country start's living within it's monthly tax revenues. I believe that it really should be the American military that requires the sharpest funding "hair cut" first and the foremost. After all, one could ask, why is it necessary to have hundreds of military bases, seven hundred plus as I understand it, scattered right around the world. That alone must cost a major fortune, just too keep them all funded properly. One could ask this question, why should America consider itself too be the only policeman on call and available to patrol the world at large?
In fact, America spends more money propping up their vast military industrial complex than the next seven G8 countries combined. Think about it, they spend more than the next seven leading Western countries put together, how can that possibly be? Now that tells me something that's all too true, the American military industrial complex is much too costly for the country to keep operating, and it is this aspect in particular, which is forcing the nation to continually borrow the funding that's required, just to keep the government and it's overly bloated military complex functioning, like it currently does. If the American military was balanced and more in line with what other countries are doing with their militaries, then the country could concentrate on paying off that fifteen trillion dollar debt that it currently it owes, and as a consequence they would not keep entering into the debt ceiling conundrum. Because they would start living more within their monthly tax revenue income means. Yet I heard not one word even mentioned about reducing the militaries budget, amazingly not even one. That's just my, admittedly a little naive, two cents on it, for what it's worth. However that being said, I am usually quite correct with my intuitive beliefs.
SEPTEMBER 28th, 2013
This is my proverbial "last kick" at the sunrise can for now, that is, until the end of December. That's when the sun will be rising behind a beautiful grove of Winter "bare naked" trees. I am looking forward to then, and to hopefully photographing the sun around the time of the Winter solstice.
Sunrise image for September 28th, 2013.....IMAGE
SEPTEMBER 26th, 2013
There was another beautiful sunset this morning but I decided not to photograph it. I really did not want to be seen as just repeating myself (OK just so you know, quiet chuckling to yourself is permitted).
Over the twelve weeks of this past Summer I have been working almost daily on my Emergence series. Currently there are 90 60X90 inch images that belong to this series, with twelve of them that I have posted online. My various hard drives are just about full to the brim with recent imagery.
Now I have also been mulling over the possibility of using the Leica M 240 system to do my future photographing. However one thing that I noticed when researching the range of Leica M lenses that are available, were some people complaining about accurately focusing their 135 mm M line lens. Of course I am not sure if it's just them that are having difficulty, or if there actually is some degree of difficulty involved in properly focusing the camera with a 135 mm lens attached. I believe these people were working with the Leica M 9 digital camera body. However the Leica M 240 digital body now has a "live view" feature, surely that alone would be very helpful in assisting the 135 mm lens framing and focusing problem. That's just my 002 cents on it.
The other thing I picked up on was this, Michael Reichmann of the Luminous Landscape web site saying that rangefinder cameras, like the Leica M system, were notoriously difficult especially when one is focusing on foliage. These days almost all of my work involves photographing foliage of one kind or another. But that might change you never know, I just might decide to photograph large boulders for example. Of course as you may have guessed, I am being a little facetious with my last comment.
I was also surprised that he, Michael, chose not to upgrade to the new M 240 body at this particular time. Instead preferring to stick with the Fuji X Pro 1 body at this time. Which I understand can focus automatically, with the properly matching Fuji lenses attached of course. If it could also focus with Leica M lenses attached, that would really be a miracle, wouldn't it?
My only problem with the Fuji X Pro 1, besides it being a "Fuji" product, is it's diminutive 16 mp sensor, as good as it might be, I really would like a 36 mp 35 mm sensor to work with, at a minimum. So I hear you asking, well why not go with the Nikon D800E then, good question, why not go ahead and do just that? I was showing interest in the Leica M system because I thought the next generation of Leica body would certainly be a 36 MP one. But honestly that's just my guess. A Leica body with a three lens outfit is also incredibly light, in fact the lightest of the four systems that I am currently considering.
To be honest with you, I tend to bounce back and forth between enriching the Hasselblad H system that I already own, by adding the H5D 40 MP body, and two or three more lenses. Thus giving me a six lens Hasselblad outfit. Or getting rid of the Hasselblad system all together, and going with a Mamiya medium format system with a Phase One IQ140 back, with four or five lenses. But I feel that this move would end up being a pricey option to embark upon. Because with Hasselblad I already have three good lenses to begin with.
Or possibly I thought of going with a 35mm Leica M 240 outfit, mostly because it is so incredibly light weight and that's a very big issue for me, especially these days as I struggle against aging related issues. Or the Nikon D800E body with four or five lenses. Or both, the Leica M 240 with 35mm, 75mm, 90mm lenses, and the Nikon D800E with a 135 mm Zeiss lens and Nikon's 200mm and the 300mm telephoto lenses.
Honestly, one day I can see the point of working with this particular outfit, and the next day I can see the advantage of working with that particular outfit. Every day that I wake up I think to myself, which outfit will I imagine working with today, then I explore the various options and permutations of working with that particular outfit, including the pricing involved.
All have their distinct advantages and of course their weaknesses. I explore every foible and of course look for those strong points, and make a mental note of them. Not that I will remember everything or indeed anything about this particular camera gestation. In the end I will most probably go on my intuitive, proverbial gut feeling at the time of purchase.
I suppose that I should really be quite grateful that I can "dream" away about such incredibly trivial things.
SEPTEMBER 25th, 2013
It was another beautiful sunrise this morning...............IMAGE
SEPTEMBER 24th, 2013
It was a beautiful cloudless sunrise this morning. I got ready and set the camera and tripod up about twenty minutes before the actual sunrise, then I just waited for it to arrive. The sky was perfectly clear but it was quite chilly outside, and that's because of the frost which had occurred over night. Some of the standing water from the past few days of rainfall was still on the flat roof, but it was all frozen over, so the roof was quite slippery to walk across.
SEPTEMBER 15th, 2013
I am finding that the sky appears to be even more beautiful before the sun rises, than after it rises.
Here are two image that I took this morning, the first one was taken around ten to seven a.m., the second one was taken just before the sun was about to make it's appearence.
SEPTEMBER 13th, 2013
Here is the sun "awakening" this morning. I debated doing it for a number of minutes, but as the time drew near I couldn't help myself, and I raced to set up with just a minute to spare before it finally decided to show up...........IMAGE
SEPTEMBER 11th, 2013
The sunrise image that I captured this morning at around 7 A.M. ......IMAGE
SEPTEMBER 9th, 2013
The sky looked quite deep red and pleasantly hopeful at 6:15 A.M. this morning. That's when I quickly decided to climb on top of my buildings flat graveled roof, and set up my tripod and the Hasselblad H 1, in order to photograph the soon expected glorious sunrise. I luckily did remember to set the digital back for long exposure processing, and that's because the exposures were several seconds at this point. This particular image was taken thirty minutes before the actual sunrise, and yes it looked just like this, believe it or not. But in the end the sun never showed up, the red gradually faded to gray clouds and it was that grayness that in the end obscured the sunrise. Such hope for a spectacular sunrise then such dissapointment when the sun never showed, such is life, one supposes.
Red Sky In The Morning........IMAGE
AUGUST 30ith, 2013
Due to the distance involved, I did not see this bird crossing above the morning sun...BIRD CROSSING
AUGUST 29th, 2013
This is the sunrise image that I managed to capture first thing this morning using the Hasselblad.
As you can see it was a nice morning, the time was 6:46 A.M............ SUNRISE IMAGE
AUGUST 23rd, 2013
This is the sunrise image that I photographed this morning...... SUNRISE
I have been doing some more thinking about various camera systems. I love using Hasselblad's medium format system with out much question. However it does have one small nagging problem and that's it's weight factor. Which if I were in my forties or even my fifties, wouldn't be any problem for me at all. But issues with aging such as arthritis, a knee replacement and constantly paining spinal stenosis, an aging related condition that I also unfortunately suffer from.
All of these aging related ailments tends to make dealing with heavier equipment, just a little more difficult in the field. Especially if it's in relationship to those modern mirror less imaging marvels, like a rangefinder Leica camera would be, just as an example.
Fortunately I am still able to function reasonably adequately right now, but admittedly always with some degree of aching back involved. It is annoying when one has to take pain killers every time one goes out photographing. I can also foresee my present nagging health difficulties getting worse in five years, and much worse in the following five years after that. And that's if I am lucky enough to live that long. So although I do love Hasselblad's medium format system, and would like to keep it and even add to the very nice outfit that I already own, thanks to a friend of mine. But unfortunately it is in a precarious position right now and has an uncertain future.
The question I still have to ask myself is, if I can adequately deal with the weight issues involved while working with a medium format outfit, in the always approaching nebulous future. I am just not sure about that aspect, if I am being perfectly honest with you, and of course with myself. It does bother me, because just getting myself without a camera or a tripod, out to a woodland location, is still manageable right now. But if I am having to lug twelve to fifteen pounds of equipment along with me, it's not really that doable anymore. And the reality is, this is something that I have to face up too. I suppose that I could just restrict myself to only working on the side of the road, directly out of my car's trunk. But that might be a little too limiting, I am just not sure.
Admittedly even a 35 mm D 800E Nikon outfit would be on the heavier side, once it is fully outfitted with four lenses and maybe a dedicated flash. So that's why I am currently turning over the idea of possibly using a Leica M 240 outfit. Or a Leica M 360, if that 36 mega pixel camera body should ever materialize. Mainly because it would be much smaller and so much lighter. But sadly it is lens limited. Unless one were too use an adapter and some of Leica's R line lenses and make good use of the live view feature. But in the end that would just defeat the light weight aspect of the overall system, something that I am now striving to move towards, in my camera equipment.
I was also mulling over, if it was possible to live with Leica's 135 mm M line lens, being my longest lens? If I was able too, then a four lens Leica M system, might just do it for me. When I photographed with the Nikon D700 camera, of course doing murals, I always thought that a 135 mm lens would be the best lens to use. The 24 to 120 zoom lens, that I used mostly at the 120mm length, was just a little too short, and the 180 mm which I also owned and used, was just a little too long when doing mural work.
I would still use the Leica M 240 or hopefully a Leica M 360 to do murals, by photographing a number of images of any given subject, and then combining them together using Photoshop's layers. Just like I did with the Nikon D700 imagery, it was a two lens system that I had for a year and a half when doing my IMPULSE series of images.
AUGUST 20ith, 2013
This morning at six a.m. While I was still in the mode of waking up and I was also looking out of my East facing studio window, like I generally do every morning. I also knew that it was about forty minutes before the sun would be rising. But what I didn't know was if I wanted to bother photographing the sun rise.
The truth is, I stood there debating to myself if I wanted to bother swapping out the 80 mm lens that was currently mounted on the Hasselblad body. Then get the 1x7 extender out of its very tight fitting leather pouch, and the 210 mm lens out of it's leather pouch as well. Including swapping the 67 mm adapter ring with the 77 mm adapter ring, so that the professional lens shade would fit onto the 210 mm lens properly. And of course checking the batteries, on both the digital back and those in the camera body. Installing everything onto the Hasselblad body.
It isn't over just yet, then struggle to get my ten foot high, wooden ladder taken outside, essentially to lower myself and the camera and tripod down to the only roof vantage point there is that's facing Eastward. So that I would have a clear and unobstructed view from which to photograph the early morning rising Sun. Of course it is also a given that I had to lug my heavy Gitzo tripod with me, because almost all of the work that I do with the Hasselblad, requires a steadying tripod. So that's why I kept asking myself if I wanted to do all of this work, for just a few minutes of photographing the sun as it "awoke from it's nightly slumber".
I was going to do it, and then I wasn't going to bother with it, I was going back and forth for about fifteen minutes. Then suddenly, I went into a kind of panic mode of sorts, and that's because I had decided to take the plunge and go for it. Why not, because it just might just be an incredibly beautiful sun rise, after which I would be kicking myself hard in the rear, that I had not attempted it.
I have been photographing sunsets from my buildings roof top, just for the fun of it, this Summer. But the sun has been shifting it's position in the sky, heading towards the low in the sky December 21st winter solstice, just like it always does. And now from where I view it, it is setting behind some apartment buildings that would show up in any imagery and ruin them in my opinion. Such a pity, because August is the best time for large "reddish orange globe" in the sky, sunsets.
That has ended my roof top sunset imagery for this year 2013. However I have been noticing that the sun now rises in a kind of clear space. That is located between a tall antiquated red brick smoke stack and another whitish looking apartment building, that will eventually intrude and spoil any decent sun rise image for me, in about a month give or take.
Now if you are interested in some details, I used the 210 mm Hasselblad lens with their 1x7 extender. I resize these "single" images up 40X40 inches, then I crop the top and sometimes bottom, reducing it down to 26.6 x 40 inches, and I usually will print a proof of each image, but only the very best images get printed onto 32x44 inch, exhibition grade watercolour paper. Thus leaving two inches of white paper all around the image.
The paper is from Epson, and comes in a flat pack of ten sheets, which is 36X44 inches in size. The first thing I do when printing, is too slice four inches off the paper's 36 inch height. In effect reducing the paper from 36 inches high down to 32 inches high by 44 inches wide. So the actual image sits in the middle of the paper, and of course has those necessary two inches of white paper all round, for good image looks.
Side Note: It was quite hazy appearing with dense fog patches occurring along the Thames river, in my local area this morning! This river meanders westward and in fact passes right beside my studio's building. From the flat roof top I could easily see the fog lifting off the river, and I could also see it nestling the river side tree tops, as I was photographing. These images were taken directly adjacent to the river.
I was out photographing the sun setting last night for the pure enjoyment of doing it, and that's when I noticed the fractal potential of God "faces" appearing in the clouds. Of course I have seen them before, in fact many times, but I was never really in a position to do anything about it. And I suppose that's because I always had the wrong lens on the camera, and the truth is, by the time I changed the lens, the cloud formation would have altered or just vanished.
The truth is, it is a minute to minute search for cloud faces. While waiting for the sun to finally set, which at times sees me setting up the camera on the tripod almost a full hour before the sun sets. And it's during this waiting time, especially if the sky is full of clouds and fast changing, that I often see such faces momentarily appearing in the sky.
I think that I might just work away slowly at compiling a portfolio of fractal cloud faces. Here is the one that intrigued me last night, this image is 60X90 inches, or 152.5 X 229 cm and it's resolution is 300 dpi.......CLOUD
I have mulled over if it was even worth the effort of saying anything about this issue. But I feel that I wanted to mention something about it never the less. A few weeks ago in the province of Alberta, here in Canada, they suffered from a week of torrential rain falling, as a consequence they ended up with terrible flooding in the Southern parts of the province. Including flooding the city of Calgary.
In fact the city of Toronto which is not that far from my studio, just suffered from heavy rains and nasty flooding as well, this occurring just a few days ago. Indeed it was gripping to watch the television news reports about both floods. Because the truth is torrential rains could happen anywhere these days.
I listened intently as I worked at processing "Emergence" images on my monitor, to all of the radio news reports and the talk radio programs which did segments about this massive flooding event. But not one of the news reports or the talk radio hosts or those callers to the programs ever mentioned the fact that the very product, oil, which Alberta is greedily digging out of the ground, dirtily processing and then selling off. Some of it is sold to Canadians but mostly it's being flogged to the American oil market, is the very product, that once burned by consumers, ends up causing such devastating flooding to occur in the first place.
Now I heard everybody saying that it was the flood of the century, but there was terrible flooding in 2005, and it was also called the flood of the century as well. I feel there is a societal disconnect occurring, there are going to be many more floods happening in the future, and they will be much larger than these current floods were.
I do not think that the population in general, at least here in my country, is relating these two things together. The fact is, if you burn fossil fuel as gasoline or as heating oil or simply to drive human industry, it all accumulates in the atmosphere, and consequently there are going to be changes occurring to the planet's climate system. And in fact flooding is just one of those devastating changes that will occur. There will also be wide spread drouts and many wildfires occurring caused by the bone dry conditions in some places as well, in fact there are many things that will be occurring world wide.
I can only think back to the tobacco companies, and the human destructive product they skillfully marketed to the world, during past decades. It seems to me that Alberta's oil that is being wrenched out of those infamous tar sands, in many ways is much akin to tobacco, that led to lung and other cancers that killed so many human lives. Only the Alberta tar sands oil is a product that's much more devastating to the entire planetary biosphere, which must be kept free of pollutants, if it is too function properly.
I am not sure if the human population of this planet as a whole, is in a denial phase about the problem we all face. That burning oil in the atmosphere is much akin to somebody filling one's lungs with tobacco smoke. I for one think humanity is either not informed or is in complete denial about this problem.
It seems that nobody really wants to face up too the ugly truth regarding our incredibly destructive human ways. And because of this, the biosphere's climate is going to twist and turn, as it enters it's seemingly long (but that's only to us) drawn out death throws, and that's why the climate system is now distorting before our very eyes, well at least it is too my eyes and sensibilities.
In planetary terms the rise of humans and their subsequent destruction of the biosphere, that ironically allowed humanity too thrive in the first place. Represents just a very tiny blip, (not even the blink of an eye) in the planet's overall multi billion year life time.
JULY 3rd, 2013
I continue to photograph the Western sky at sunset, more or less just for the excitement of doing it.
Here are three more images that I managed to capture last night, using a Hasselblad H 1 and the 210
mm lens with the 1x7 Extender being used as well. This image progression took about twenty minutes.
JUNE 8th, 2013
So where does all the time go? That seems to be the central question, and it's one that I have to keep on asking myself. I do keep rather busy on a daily basis, either photographing, printing images or doing some complicated framing. This being the case, the days just fly by, with an ever increasing rapidity. Because of my work preoccupation, and of course the daily struggles that we all have in life, in general that is. The truth is, I barely notice as the months pass by. Summer that's about to begin in a few days, will soon be over, and before I even take note of it, or so it seems. At least that's how it's working out these days.
When the day is done, later on every evening, when the weather is decent outside. I venture out onto the roof of the building where my studio/living quarters are located. It is a rather large second story gravel roof that I have full unhindered access too. I go out just to look at the sky, and of course I let our cats have some fresh air time as well when I am out there. My beautiful wife is usually on the phone with either family members, or some of her close friends every evening. So I end up with some free time to myself, the cats unfortunately not with standing.
However the cats must always be monitored if they are on the roof. As several of them have fallen off while leaping from the surrounding ledge, as they go after some of the birds that I feed quite diligently all winter long, mid October until mid April. They come to spend the night, bedding down in the vines that are now out in full leaf, concealing the building's brick work. All of the cat leapers were eventually retrieved, none the worse for wear, after a twenty foot fall onto grass. It took us up to six weeks of searching in one case. But they do seem greatful once they are reintroduced back into studio life, with it's interior warmth, ample plush cushions to lay on, plenty of ear rubs and back scratches, not to mention those decent meals being served up like clock work.
I always carefully check out the skyline. In fact I have started to photograph the clouds and the sunsets. No real reason for this, other than I just like taking pictures, what can I say, I do still enjoy it. I set my smaller sized Gitzo tripod up with a large Manfrotto leveling head on it. I use the Hasselblad H1 and a 210 mm lens, often with the excellent 1.7 extender sitting between the lens and the camera body. Essentially turning the 210 mm Hasselblad lens into a 357 mm lens.
But here is the fun part for me, with the camera's 1.5 crop factor included, because of the digital sensor size in relation to the medium format size, the 210 mm lens with the 1x7 extender morphs into a 535 mm lens. Just the perfect lens to photograph clouds and the sun setting in my mind. Well just so you know, I am having great fun watching the Western sun set in the sky each evening.
Here are just three of one hundred and eighty seven images that I have done so far, (the date has advanced), it's now June 23rd. All images were taken from my roof top, during those "good sky" evenings. They were done simply for the joy of photographing, this passion for image making has never abandoned me during fifty four years that I have actually been interested in photpography.
If I should ever print any of these images, they would be printed out as 26.6x40 inch images, on an appropriately coated watercolour paper. Most of course, will just end up in a place known as digital limbo land, and truthfully will never really go any where. The joy of doing them must suffice as their real worth.
Image One... The sun went behind clouds just before it was due to set.
Image Two ..... This was taken about fifteen minutes after image one was.
Image Three.... And in this one, the image was taken just as the sun was setting.
In all cases the square image that comes from my digital back's aging sensor has been cropped.
I rescale the native size to 40X40 inches, then I carefully crop 6.75 inches from the top and bottom.
This leaves me with an image that's 26.6 inches vertically, and 40 inch horizontally.
Which is the same scaling as that of a 35 mm image, it's an image size that I prefer.
APRIL 28th, 2013
I have just posted a new section on the "Gallery" side of my web site, that I have titled "Emergence". If you are interested in seeing my latest images, here is a direct link to it.... Emergence.
APRIL 14th, 2013
I have been thinking about what type of camera equipment I would like to work with, in the coming years ahead. Perhaps it might just be my last ten or fifteen years of photographing and making large prints. I have considered photographing images using an Arca Swiss RM3di three lens outfit with Phase One P45+ digital back, that I would put together. I chose the P45+ mainly for it's long exposure capability. The new IQ 260 being just a tad too expensive for my current pocket book. Now I must confess that I also think about the RM3d Factum camera, the tiny Arca Swiss camera body, that's actually intended for travel. But the more I researched it, the less I seemed to want it.
I have also thought about the possibility of photographing with an Alpa STC outfit and a P45+ back, which is another system that I would possibly put together. I first considered working with the architectural purposed Sinar AR TEC, or possibly with their landscape purposed LAN TEC camera. I have even considered the possibility of working with a Hartlebi body, but something says to me you shouldn't trust it. Perhaps it happened when I read that it's reflex viewer was a Zenit of Russia design. I considered as well the P45 Horseman SWD, it was another camera that has also vaguely flitted across my scatological thought processes in the wide ranging hunt for my next and probably last camera system.
But as I imagined working with these various outfits, some of them eccentric imaging beasts, to say the least. It slowly came to me, that either they had been designed for an older more traditional style of photography. Or they were designed for the commercially minded architectural photographer, like the Sinar AR TEC was, by an actual architectural photographer, who worked closely with Sinar. But I slowly realized these cameras were not necessarily designed for a "fine art" photographer like myself, that has a tendency to layer or "stack" dozens of images together, in order to make a many imaged mural. These cameras were designed for single images or possibly triple stitched photographic works.
I actually left the single image way of working back in 1989, and I honestly do not think that I could go back to it. That's because it does not challenge me at all anymore, as a life long photographic image maker. I believe that my photographic demands are for more thought provoking images, especially those that come from myself these days. With that in mind it appears impossible for me to do the typical "calendar" image. The kind which most "landscape" photographers fall into the trap of doing.
So what exactly do I mean by an conventional, mode of working. I mean that some of these cameras were designed for the more obvious "calendar" style of photographing. Or possibly a "technically minded" style of working, like architectural photography or studio work is for example. Or they have been made for photographers where the actual location of the photograph itself, becomes the most important feature of an image. That sees photographers expending no end of money and a lot of their time, getting to the planet's more desolate and perhaps highly picturesque locations. Just to photograph a beautiful but ultimately already seen pedestrian image, one that many photographers could and do easily take.
The kind of images that you see on the ubiquitous yearly calendars. Those kind, in a calendar form, which many companies hand out over Christmas and New Years. And which have company names, phone numbers and web addresses printed and displayed on the bottom flap. I know that you have seen them, and consequently you will know exactly what I mean. I get several handed to me at the end of every year, by my pharmacist and my insurance broker.
The Arca Swiss Rm3di and the Alpa TC or their Alpa STC models in particular, actually remind me more of film cameras that have undergone updating, and have been "refreshed" and in a way, they have been re tasked to be able to work with modern digital backs. There is no light metering at all, and no auto focusing on any of these expensive plain Jane cameras. The photographer has to do everything, and in some ways that's the appeal of these cameras, to the many photographers out there that are willing to using them.
In fact I bet one even feels like a serious "Photographer" when using such cameras. I felt that way when I spent twenty years working with a Deardorff 8x10 sheet film camera. The Alpa STC and Arca Swiss Rm3di and the travel Rm3d Factum have lens tilts, lateral shifts including lens rise and fall. Which I will admit is nice to have, especially on a technical camera body, the horizontal side to side movement for image stitching and lens tilting forward to increase an images depth of field, are definitely welcome features. These cameras certainly appeal to that more serious minded, perhaps indeed more "professional" type of photographer. Certainly no amateur photographer would spend the money on them. In a way they are just like a Ferrari racing car might appeal to a professional race car driver, I suppose. Just to pointlessly drive around and around on a racing track. Go figure, as the saying goes, of course my apologies for that little dig. Each to their own!
As for me, I am currently working with a Hasselblad H 1 camera body and a three lens outfit, that has an older Kodak back with it. I do like this camera, immensely I must hasten to add, the only problem is, I find that it is quite heavy to lug abound with me, especially so in the field. That's if I carry a second lens their 210 mm perhaps, is the one that's often being lugged along with me. I find that the Hasselblad outfit works best, and gives me the best quality if I always use it on a tripod. And that's because I am limited to 100 ISO, if I want the absolute best image quality that the Kodak 645 back can deliver. Which is really quite beautiful, amazingly so, it provides such "mellow" digital images.
I have taken to photographing one main image and then turning the tripoded camera just a little to the left and photographing again, then a little bit to the right and then photographing yet again. Then I combine the three images by hand, using the Layers application in Photoshop, which is commonly known by the more vulgar terminology of "stacking". Because I am photographing strictly landscape images, and this type of imagery has no truly straight lines, I can get away with doing fake or "faux" horizontal camera "stitch" moves. Here is a "faux" or false horizontal shift test image, of course this just to show you what I mean.... Stitch Test 001 Basically the older Kodak 645H back which I own, which a 16 Mega Pixel Professional back, then becomes equivalent to about a 24 Mega Pixel back. Remember this Kodak 645H back is a Square format, so I am adding what you might call "wings" onto each side of a square image. Here is one more faux stitched image for you to see Stitch Test 002.
The quality of image my Kodak 645H back produces seem, as I mentioned, incredibly "mellow" to me, but that comes with a caveat, that's only when it is used at 100 ISO. I have thought about it for the longest time, about getting myself a few more Hasselblad bobbles and bangles, including Hasselblad's $5500 tilt and shift adapter, several more lenses, including a used or demo Phase One P45+ back, the one that will allow me to do quite long night exposures. But the cost of putting together such an expensive outfit, it seems, would be cost prohibitive, especially for a none commercial "fine art" photographer like myself. It would mean that I wouldn't be able to afford a 60 inch printer that I would like. Because I would have to spend $30K just to get myself two more Hasselblad lenses, the 35 mm and possibly the 100 mm, and the tilt shift adapter along with a Phase one P45+ back, of course only a used or possibly a demo unit, that's if any are left to be found that. Phase One's P 45+ is now six years old at this moment, because that's when it was first introduced. Five years is a very long time in the fast paced digital world.
And that expensive Hasselblad tilt shift adapter I have discovered, magnifies the image by 1,5 x, that's to enlarge the lenses image circle to allow for tilting and shifting, I honestly believe that must degrade the image quality just a little, or so one would imagine. I could always wait and continually searched around on e-bay to find the equipment that I would like to gather together. I could start bidding on equipment and possibly win some of those bids, and slowly complete my Hasselblad outfit, and eventually I will acquire a Phase One P45+ digital back. On e-bay it would be much more reasonably priced, than it is to purchase any thing new or as a little used demo unit.
But with Hasselblad equipment there will always be the nagging question regarding in the sheer "lug around" weight, especially so when in the field. And for myself personally, the even more challenging problem of photographing larger layered or "stacked" murals, ones that might be composed of 20, 30 or even up to 40 images. Yes they are certainly doable with the Hasselblad, I know this because I have done some with the camera and the 210 mm lens. But with the camera having to be mounted on a tripod, it tends to make things a little more time consuming and even more difficult to manage. And with the Phase One P45 + back, even the increase in ISO speed up to 400 ISO, just might not be enough to basically do without using a tripod for photographing mural work. Yes I do know that the P 45 + back has an even higher ISO, but from 100 up to 400 ISO is where the best image quality can be found.
So..... where does this all leave me. To be honest with you, I have been thinking about the possibility of returning to a 35 mm digital camera system to do my future work. Possibly the Nikon D800e, but as I say that, I really do not like the yellowness of the D800e images that I see. Sure just add a bit of blue to the images and the problem is solve, of course I know that, but I shouldn't have to do that, at least not in my mind. So since I do not have any 35 mm equipment to speak of at this time, and if Canon should come out with a new 42 MP camera body in the future, I just might consider testing it out.
Just as long as it's images are not yellow looking like the Nikon D800 images seem to appear, at least they do to my admittedly aging eyes. Canon, (shivers of terror) run through me at the thought of it, just might be in the running. You should know that I have been a life long Nikon user as well as a fan. Now if Canon should come up with something that I think might be better than Nikon has at the moment, I am willing to "hold my nose" so to speak, and switch brands. "Oh the horror". Again I apologize and I am sorry for this little dig at Canon as well.
I would of course purchase a few of the expensive Schneider perspective control lenses, to do the horizontal "shift" movements, to the left and right, with the idea in these instances, of turning the camera sideways and photograph with it in the vertical position. Then do one main image and two side shifted images, one left and one right, then layer them together in Photoshop. Which would create what amounts to roughly a 70 MP, 35 mm image.
Now admittedly it's an image coming from a full frame 35 mm sensor. But by using the sharpest lenses available at this time, the results I would imagine, might be quite decent indeed. I would also consider purchasing some manual focusing, incredibly sharp, Zeiss glass as well. No doubt I would look at their Distagon T* 1.4/35 mm lens and their Makro-Planar T* 1.4/50 mm and the Planar T* 1.4/85 mm as well as the Makro-Planar T* 2/100 mm lens and possibly even streaching to the Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 mm lens. My final budget will of course dictate what I can and can not aspire to own, of course I am in the saving up process right now.
Now for sure I would require a Nikon F 2, 200 mm, which would be intended to do layered (stacked) mural work. I know the 200 mm F 2, must be one of those heavier lens, because of all the glass that's involved in obtaining the F 2 aspect of it. But I believe that I could manage it in the field, hopefully even using it handheld at times. Working hand held would not be a problem with such cameras, because these 35 mm cameras work quite well at 1600, 3200, and when pushed even up to 6400 ISO with reasonably decent results. I know this from my eighteen month Nikon D700 adventure.
I would of course have to work closely within my set out budget, and there might be a little wiggle room in that department. However the absolute truth is this, I am still turning things over in my mind at this time, and who knows, it might possibly change, yet again. I will have to carefully add up the weight factors of carrying various equipment, because that as well will help me to decide on future equipment purchases. No sense in having a great fully kitted out 35 mm outfit, if with all the lenses included, it weighs in just as much as a medium format outfit does.
One of the beauties of the Arca Swiss RM3di camera is, it's incredibly light weight. The weight factor alone might ultimately end up being that final deciding factor. I am not getting any younger and carrying equipment has become a critical factor at this time for me. So although I might wish to have everything I have just mentioned in a fully rounded 35 mm outfit, equipment weight I am afraid, will probably be the final decider.
But at this time, and with my weight factor faculties seemingly hiding out, no doubt lost at the moment somewhere in the darker recesses, perhaps even the attic rafters of my mind. I think that I am leaning towards returning to using a 35 mm digital camera to work with. I will go back to layering (stacking) many images together to create mural work. I just loved doing it, when I was working with the Nikon D700, I found it more taxing and indeed even challenging to do, and to be honest with you, I really like the end results when printed out on 44 inch wide satin canvas. The quality of these large images that are composed of many images, looks just breathtaking when displayed on our studio wall. But the truth is, time will tell.
MARCH 24th, 2013
I have been rather busy working away, mostly doing tree bark imagery. Over this time I have managed to make up many 40X64 inch bark fractal images. Photographing the tree trunks works best in the winter months, especially with snow covering the ground, because it helps to reflect light back up into the usually dark brown trunks.
Last night we did remember to turn our lights off at 8:30 P.M. until 9:30 P.M. to help mark "Earth Hour". I heard a young radio announcer on a commercial station, here in my home town, saying that he was not going to turn his lights off. Mostly because it was just a very stupid idea. How blissfully young and stupidly arrogant he sounded to me, and how seemingly vapid in thought as well, I also thought to myself. With that in mind, I had the last say as I quickly changed the station, why listen to such on air idiots.
Here is a 40X64 inch, 300 DPI fractal bark image, it's just one of about a hundred that I have processed and are now sitting in my proverbial image "bag", ...Bark 01 .... This is a second bark image.....Bark 02
I have also been working on another "pet" project as well, during the last few months. It is tree bark imagery that I photograph in eight separate sections, then assemble these sections together using Photoshop's layers application. I am currently using an older Hasselblad H 1, these images were taken with with an 80 mm lens, which is incredibly sharp, one of the sharpest Hasselblad lenses in my personal three lens kit. It also focuses quite close, but nowhere as close as the 120 mm Macro does. The 120 mm macro lens seems somewhat "soft" looking, in comparison to the 80 mm.
This image is 56x90 inches, and that's sitting in the middle of 60x94 inch satin canvas.... Tree Bark
The quality of these large images at a 300 DPI printing resolution, is quite stunning, especially when it's being seen at full resolution on my 30 inch monitor. I intend to keep on the look out for even more interesting tree trunks to photograph in multiple sections, it should make for an interesting project to spend some time working on through the Spring season of 2013.
FEBRUARY 17th, 2013
It was a very cold day here today, a Sunday. Even so I went out photographing rather early this morning, in fact too darn early. To be frank, I froze almost to a "solid" out there, especially in the cold morning shade, and that's where I photographed the tree trunk. Yes I'll even admit it, this cold actually got to me today, even so I am more a fan of it, than I am humid 100 F tropical heat.
I have long known about a certain amazing tree trunk, something that I wanted to photograph. The truth is I have been aware of this incredible tree trunk for many years now. And that's why on good sunny days, especially in the winter, I have always threatened to travel the 45 minute by car, to where this tree is located, in another counties beautifully treed conservation area.
It is a nicely "groomed" woodland area, one that is just chock full of tall arboreal forest trees. And in my mind, they are trees that are just going begging to have some of their trunks photographed. All to bring out the "spirit life" that's hiding within.
So with today arriving bright and sunny, it was slated to be the day that I finally photographed this particular tree. Yes today I thought, is "THE" day, and that was in spite of how bitterly cold it was, minus 14 C or about 8 F. With a prevailing wind chill that seemed very much colder to me, perhaps coming in at around minus 5 F or there about's, my guess. In fact the interior of my car never seemed to warm up much on the run out to this intriguing tree. But the bright sunshine of the day beckoned me onwards, I never really noticed just how bitterly cold it was, such was my passion to get out and photograph something.
It ended up taking me about 45 minutes to photograph this amazing tree trunk image, carefully moving and resetting up, then aligning the tripoded camera each time, for all eight exposures. Of course the process was all being done mirror up using Hasselblad's cable release. In the end I only took eight exposures, with no spares taken, like I usually do. I always do back up, always!
I then had to take a break, and that's because I was more or less forced too do so, by my age creaky aching back. Besides I was so darn cold, frozen through and through, by the time I was finished photographing this tree trunk. I sat there in my car, quietly drinking some hot distilled water from a thermos for internal warmth, and I ate a few squares of 72% dark chocolate, "it's good" I thought to myself, "but is it going to end up constipating me"? Which it did, and always does, it's something that I just discovered about my inner workings.
The camera sat in my very cold Billingham camera bag that rested on the car's all black leather, but dead cold back seat. Sadly no warmth to be had there for the camera and especially the batteries.
After ten to fifteen minutes I got out, and proceeded to set up and photograph another tree trunk. Setting the Hasselblad up on my smallish in size Gitzo tripod. But on the very first exposure of this second tree trunk, the camera failed to fire correctly, I actually heard it "moan" failing to complete it's exposure, then a red warning triangle showed in the viewfinder. All of which told me that the three CR123A batteries that are located in the camera's hand grip, had probably become too cold to work properly, well at least that was my educated guess on the situation. Which proved to be correct, especially when the batteries had warmed up back in the studio.
In such cold the batteries were only providing reduced power at best, not enough power to operate the camera properly. The battery warning indicator that's in the viewfinder showed only a half battery indication. All of which lead me to this cold battery conclusion.
So that kind of ended my day, besides I was now shaking like a leaf from the bitter cold myself. I usually carry some spare CR123A batteries along with me, but unfortunately not today. I only had a body warmed spare battery with me for the digital back, but not warm batteries for the camera body itself. It was an unusual oversight on my behalf, I'll freely admit. You see I literally rushed out of the studio to this tree, all because of the bright sunny day outside, it never really occurred to me, that it might be a tad too cold to properly work outside.
I took eight images of this amazing tree trunk and headed back to my home/studio. Once back at the studio, I could hardly wait to work at combining the images into a large composite image. In the end it turned out to be 56X90.5 inches at 300 DPI printing resolution. Basically I made the image to fit nicely on a 60 inch wide carriage inkjet printer, leaving two inches of clean white canvas all around. It came in at 1.27 Gigs when it was completed.
Well, without any further stalling, here is that tree trunk image, it has 8 blended pieces to it, each image is 22.5 X 28 inches and 300 DPI...MAIN IMAGE The medium format quality is just stunning, especially when seen full scale on my 30 inch monitor, and that's to say the least.
After I considered the main tree trunk image finished, I then played with it, just to see if any "fractal" "spirit within" face images, were buried in side of it. And yes there were several, here are two of them. They are slightly different from each other, and yet somehow similar, coming from the same trunk.
Fractal Image 56X80 inches, 300 DPI... 1.13 Gigs ....FRACTAL
Fractal Image 56X90 inches, 300 DPI... 1.27 Gigs ....FRACTAL