Monday, August 31, 2015

Going For It - 20 Tb of Hard Drives

So, I decided to go for it and bought a Western Digital EX4100 four-bay Network Attached Storage (NAS) box from Amazon. I got five 4 Tb drives, four for the NAS, one to have an exact-match inside my computer.
I will have to be very careful in transferring files from my current disks to the new ones. Last time I did this, I attempted to move the files inside Lightroom, to preserve the connections with the Lightroom catalog. Somewhere in the middle of data transfer, a problem occurred, and I lost some data, and the catalog became corrupt. I finished by moving the files in Windows, then reconnecting the Lightroom catalog later on. That's what I'll do again this time.
I think that putting the source and destination drives into the new NAS box, giving them direct connection, will increase my chances of a successful data transfer, as well.
I'm looking forward to having a better storage system, that will be logically configured, instead of the one I have now, which grew up over the years. This system will also have plenty of room to grow from here, but in a rational way. The new NAS should arrive tomorrow, so that I can start my gradual upgrade of systems to support all the data I'm producing through my photography.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Film Photography Project and Picturing Wanteete

Image Source:
If you know me, you know that I'm a big fan of The Film Photography Project (FPP). (Click Here) to check them out.
Well, FPP supported a project called Picturing Wanteete, where Louise Rita Contino moved to a village in Uganda (Wanteete), and shared photography with seventeen of its residents. The cameras she used, all Pentax K1000s, were donated by FPP.
(Click Here) to go to the project web page. I would love to see an exhibit of the pictures. Apparently, there was one in NYC earlier this year; I'm not sure if it's still up. But really, I just love the concept.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Starting to Ruminate on a Major Computer / Software Upgrade

Oh, boy. Can't really believe I'm doing this. But, it's time to get my photo storage and processing more organized.
One of the reasons that I still enjoy film photography is that I like physical artifacts - in this case, negatives. I have nicely organized notebook binders for my negatives, and can find any image I want very quickly. To be fair, the digital (scanned) versions that I have in Adobe Lightroom allow me to browse very quickly to even decide which negatives I may be interested in finding again, but that's a different matter.
With my digital files, I also have a logical filing system, whereby when I upload from my camera (usually by sticking the memory card in the reader on the front of my computer), I make a folder that's named with a date code (for example, August 20, 2015 is "082015") followed by a brief description of what I shot. For example, if I shot birds on August 20, 2015, the folder would be called "082015_Birds." This naming system would allow me to find most things even without my Lightroom catalog.
So, what problem am I trying to solve? Well, first off, I shoot raw files most of the time, which means that I fill up hard disks pretty quickly. This will only get worse as I recently bought a Nikon D810, which produces enormous files.
Second, I want to have a real backup (second copy) of every image. I just can't get comfortable with keeping a single copy, even with RAID (redundant array of independent disk) setups. More on that later.
So, lots of large files and the need for 100% backup have led me to my current configuration. That is, I have a 2Tb internal drive in my PC, which serves as my primary storage for recently-shot images. This is what I upload to from my camera. It contains all of my images from 2014, and 2015 to date. Then, I have a larger (4 Tb) external drive (Western Digital), connected through USB3. That drive has two main functions - 1) it contains primary copies of all of my earlier images (before 2009 through 2013), and 2) my internal drive mentioned above is automatically backed up to this external drive. So, the external drive is sort of a mix of primary (older) files and backups (copies) of what's on my internal drive. The backups of my older files are on separate hard disks, stored in a drawer (not live).
All of this works, but is not very logically-configured. The configuration grew organically, and it shows.
So, I'm about to embark on a data storage system improvement. I know that I'll purchase a network attached storage (NAS) device, with at least four hard disk slots. My plan will be to continue to have my most recent images on a larger (4 Tb) internal drive, and have four matching 4 Tb drives in the NAS box. The NAS will not be set up in a RAID configuration, at least not officially. It will be what is called "Just a Bunch of Disks" (JBOD).
Here's how I'm planning to configure the NAS:
  • One drive will be dedicated to my older primary files. Backups of these files will continue to be stored on a separate drive, in a drawer (not live).
  • The second drive will be used to automatically back up the internal 4 Tb drive in my computer, which will remain my primary drive for recent files
  • The other two drives will be empty, for now.
So, why have two empty drives? Because that's my plan for the future. Namely, as my internal drive becomes full, I'll need to make a transfer. I'll take drive 2 (the backup of my internal drive) out of the NAS and put it in a drawer for long-term archive. I'll then remove the full internal drive from my computer and put it in the newly-open slot in the NAS. Next, I'll install a new internal drive, and set it up so that slot 3 in the NAS (with a new empty drive in it) is used to back up the new internal drive. I'll be able to continue this through two more iterations before my NAS becomes full. That should be quite a while.
I hope this makes sense. I have just decided on how I want it set up, and believe it's safer than any other RAID configuration I've come up with.
If one of the disks containing my older files were to fail, I'd just pull a backup drive out of the drawer. If my internal drive (with primary copy of my newest files) fails, I'll have a live backup in the NAS. The only way to lose recent data would be if my internal drive, and the NAS backup were to fail at the same time. That could happen, I suppose (e.g. a fire in my office), but it's pretty unlikely. I also like that the two copies of my recent files will be in two different boxes (one in my computer, one in the NAS). I've had a drive controller fail and ruin two copies at once in the past, and I lost data.
I would love to have a way to automatically upload jpeg copies of my images to a cloud storage system. I haven't figured that out yet. I have unlimited storage on flickr, but uploading is a manual and slow process. I'll work that out after setting up my local gear.
So, I'll work on cleaning up my data storage first.
Next, I'll work on improving my computer speed, as it's pretty darned slow running Lightroom. I'm strongly considering changing from my home copy of Lightroom to using Adobe's new Creative Cloud, which is a subscription model that will get me access to Lightroom and Photoshop for $10 per month. I will also likely need to upgrade my computer, internal memory, and graphics handling, but that all comes later, once my files are in order.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Wood - Shot With the Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

A series of photos of trees, close up, from my trip to The Desolation Wilderness in Northern California. All shot with the LX100.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Calm Maui Sunrise

Calm Maui Sunrise, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
This is exactly the type of calm seas I hoped for on the day of our scuba trip. The weather gods smiled upon us, and it was a wonderful trip.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Leaving Molokini

Leaving Molokini, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
Taken from our dive boat as we motored toward our second dive location.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Final Day at the Beach

And it already looks like this in my mind... Taken with the Lumix DMC-LX100 and built-in soft focus filter. I think the effect works well in this shot.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

That Faded, Old Film Print Look

Waikiki Beach, by Reed A. George
I have no idea why I occasionally find it fun to take a decent digital photo and do my best to make it look like it was taken with a toy camera with cheap plastic lens. But, I do.
I wonder how long this type of manipulation will remain in demand? It seems like as soon as no one (or very few people) know the true look of old faded film images, this will go away.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Some Aquatic Life

I shot these images with my Lumix DMC-TS5 underwater camera. This time, I did not bring an external light source, so had to rely on natural light, the tiny in-camera flash, and in the case of the eel, I benefited from our dive master's powerful flashlight. So, these aren't near professional quality, but do get the point across.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Our Annual Scuba Diving Trip

The Descent, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
I only get to go scuba diving about once per year. This time, I found myself anxious about the trip, kind of obsessing about how big the waves would be. You see, our last trip, in Belize, had us getting in and out of the boat in very rough seas. While the diving turned out to be spectacular, I did not enjoy the boat ride.
This time, I spent too much time reading the marine forecast for Maui. There is a hurricane approaching the islands, and the forecast called for 4-6 foot seas. Less than what we experienced in Belize, but still too much for comfort. I awoke this morning thinking that maybe I'm just too old for diving.
Well, when we showed up at the boat ramp this morning, the Maui coast looked more like a placid lake. I have to say the waves here were zero, non-existent. A quick, smooth ride out to Molokini, and we were diving! The little Lumix DMC-TS5 once again did a great job for me.
After thinking about this experience, a couple of things occurred to me. First, had I had the chance to cancel this dive based on the marine forecast, I would have taken it; that would have meant missing a wonderful experience. Second, I'm not too old for diving. I'm just not doing it often enough. I'm sure my anxiety level would be much lower if I dove more often.
A-OK, by Reed A. George

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Spider's Web, Waihe'e Ridge, Maui

Spider's Web, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Sigma 60mm f2.8 Art Lens
From my sunrise hike up Waihe'e Ridge in Maui. Sometimes jet lag can be a good thing. Today, it made it awfully easy to be up before dawn for the drive to the trailhead.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Long Shadows - Waikiki Beach

Long Morning Shadows, Waikiki, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Sigma 60mm f2.8 Art Lens
In this scene, I was struck by the extremely long shadow projecting from the person on the beach, and an even longer one from a palm tree not visible from this viewpoint. This highly directional strip of light was coming through between two large hotel towers. I took this from the 19th floor of the hotel.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Haleakala Crater

Haleakala Crater, by Reed A. George
Panasonic DMC-GX7, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
Graduated ND Filter
What an amazing, nearly-alien landscape this is...

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Sunrise on Haleakala

Sun Worship, Haleakala, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
Long drive up to 10,000 feet of elevation to witness sunrise at Haleakala, Maui this morning. Up at 3:30 AM, back at sea level six hours later.
Shooting directly into the sun with the LX100 produces unavoidable flare; I decided to go with it rather than fighting it.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Waikiki, Honolulu, Hawaii

Our single morning at Waikiki. Off to Maui this afternoon! All shot with the DMC-TS5.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sunrise on the Potomac

Sunrise Paddle on the Potomac, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
I'm on vacation for the next two weeks. I plan to keep blogging, but prepare for some brief posts! I'll be focused on relaxation, and will be back in earnest soon.

Photograph What You Love

I just read a BBC article with the typical ten tips to bring your photography to the next level. Really, it must says one thing: photograph what you love.
Fishing With My Daughter, by Reed A. George
(Click Here) to read the article.
As I write this, I am about to board a flight to Honolulu. Travel is one of the things I love most. I intend to photograph it!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Impossible Saves the Day

I went out to photograph my friends Danny and Melissa who are the band "Mink.". I shot mostly with my Nikon Df, and got some images worthy of the effort. But, guess which shot was most favored by Melissa - an instant shot on Impossible Project Color 2.0 film in my Polaroid 600 camera. Here it is:
Sometimes, many times, simple is best.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


Summer, by Reed A. George
Pentax MX, SMC Pentax 50mm f1.7 Lens
Kodak 400 Color Film
Processed by The Darkroom (
Not sharply focused, not the best "bokeh," this shot just says "summer" to me. That is good enough for me.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Andy Summers of The Police on the Leica Camera Blog

Image Source:
I didn't know that Andy Summers, guitarist of The Police, was also a photographer. The Leica Camera Blog interviewed Summers, regarding an upcoming exhibit of his work in Brazil.
(Click Here) to read the interview. I think some of his reponses are a little self-centered, but are probably also tongue-in-cheek. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt. Some of his photos do look quite good.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Another Corn Crib Shot - HDR

I added one more shot to the corn crib set, this one a high dynamic range (HDR) image from inside the corn crib.
Inside Looking Out, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7, Lumix 20mm f1.7 Lens
HDR from three separate exposures
I'm looking forward to getting refamiliarized with the GX7 on my upcoming vacation.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

The Old Corn Crib, Revisited

I was driving home this evening and noticed a lot of dramatic clouds in the sky, accentuated by the sunset. So, I stopped at the old corn crib that I've photographed in the past and made some images. (Click Here) to see one of my previous posts of this cool old building.
This time, I had my Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 and 20mm f1.7 lens with me. I'm trying to decide whether to bring this camera on vacation with me. I've drifted away from my Micro 4/3 gear recently, but this little shoot has me once again appreciating the GX7.
I actually sold some of my Micro 4/3 lenses recently, keeping only those that I hold most dear. Also, I kept the smallest lenses, as that's what shines about Micro 4/3 cameras, small size. So, I sold my 14-140mm zoom, 25mm f1.4 Summilux, and 75mm Olympus lenses. All excellent lenses, I felt that keeping my 20mm f1.7, Pana-Leica Micro-Elmarit 45mm f2.8, 14mm f2.5, Bower fisheye, and the amazing 100-300 f4-5.6 zoom was sufficient. Now I find that I'm missing the medium telephoto length of the Oly 75, especially in planning for travel. So, I'm going to try the new Sigma 60mm f2.8 Art lens, which is very cheap ($200 new), and getting great reviews. More on that to come.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Once Past the Bear...

The Girl and I got out for some fishing. She's very proud to have caught the biggest fish, a smallmouth bass. It's really cool to see her ably control her own kayak and fishing reel, to great success.
Both taken with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5, the waterproof, shockproof wonder. Perfect to have in my pocket for every kayaking trip.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

lions, tigers, and... BEARS! Oh, My.

Okay, no lions or tigers, but on the drive in to my local kayaking spot here in Northern Virginia this weekend, I did see foxes (4), deer (dozens), and a black bear!
Black Bear (Ursus americanus) in Suburbia, by Reed A. George
Nikon D810, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR Lens
iso 3200, f4, 1/125 sec.
Keep in mind, this is in Northern Virginia, where the townhouses and strip malls are rapidly gaining on the trees in number. It was a pleasant surprise to see this beautiful animal here. Also a little troubling. I'm concerned for his (her?) future.
It was just after 6:00 AM, and the light was low there in the early morning shade. I didn't have time to make adjustments, other than to crank the iso up as far as I felt comfortable with. Luckily, that got me to a shutter speed where one or two exposures came out sharp, even though I was handholding the big 200-400mm lens, zoomed to 400mm.
The approximate focus distance is 29.9'. That bear could cover that distance in less than one second. Thankfully, he didn't.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Send Your Vacation Image to L' Oeil de la Photographie

Fun Pics from Last Summer at Provincetown, Massachussetts, by Reed A. George
A daily online photography magazine, "L' Oeil de la Photographie," is accepting submissions of your holiday photos. (Click Here) to check out all of the submissions so far, or add your own.
I'm leaving for my own holiday very soon. Hopefully, I'll have some to add when I return!

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Nikon D810 and Df - The Best Combination Available Today?

Well, I've been thoroughly enjoying my Nikon Df for some time now. The low light capabilities of this camera are spectacular.
I've recently purchased a Nikon D810, specifically to take advantage of the increased resolution (36 megapixels) for nature photography. Mounted on my Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR G lens, the D810 should allow me more freedom in cropping, which is always useful in wildlife photography, especially with active species like birds.
I've only had my D810 out a couple of times so far. One was this morning, shooting birds on a kayak outing. Here's a tightly-cropped shot of a swallow hitting the water surface.
And here's a 100% blow-up (cropped even more).
What I've found so far is that while the D810 does allow significant cropping, it doesn't handle high iso noise nearly as well as the Df. Of course, that's well-known in the Nikon crowd, and makes perfect sense, given the much higher number of pixels crammed into the same sensor real estate as the Df. The shots above were made at iso 1600, and noise is quite visible on my screen, looking at the images in Lightroom.
Here's a snapshot of DxO Lab's comparison of the two cameras:
Image Source:
As you can see, the D810 wins in overall score, color depth, and dynamic range. But, it performs significantly worse in low light (high iso). Again, no new information here, but it's helping me to form my opinion of this pair of cameras and how best to use them.
Basically, the D810 will fill my need for high resolution and cropping ability when shooting wildlife in good light. Or anything else in good light, for that matter. The Df will remain my go-to camera for more challenging lighting situations, and when cropping is not as necessary.
So, I think that for me, yes, this is the best combination of Nikon bodies available today.
I have to get the D810 out in the field again, and shoot at lower iso settings. I'm sure that's going to really impress me.

Monday, August 3, 2015

More Parkour - Fisheye Shots

Here are some fisheye images I made with the Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX7 and Bower fisheye lens. These were taken at the same parkour workout that I wrote about yesterday.
I shot these at the end of the workout, choosing to use high iso and no flash. I really need to try some fisheye images with rear curtain, slow shutter flash. That will be cool.