Tuesday, September 29, 2015

That's Old Time

Banjo Player with Pokey LaFarge, by Reed A. George
Nikon Df, Nikkor 180mm f2.8 AF Lens
iso 1100, f2.8, 1/250 sec.
This guy has a very classic look. Easy to photograph.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Watching the Lanterns Lift Off

At the Watermelon Park Festival this last weekend, I got to spend some time with friends I haven't seen in a while. In this scene, as we sat around the campfire, my friend Rudy B and his lovely girlfriend Sarah watched as a group of people constructed, lit, and set free some Chinese Lanterns. They flew up and up, finally disappearing into the clouds of the night sky.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Frequency Shift

"If you want to find the secrets of the universe, think in terms of energy, frequency, and vibration."
- Nikola Tesla
After more than three and a half years of writing every day, I'm going to take a step back.
I started this blog as a tool, to help me to explore my creative pursuit. Like any tool, its usefulness has changed over time. I've used it to explore being "The Lumix Guy," "The Film Guy," and to some extent a Leica, Nikon, Pentax, etc. guy. I've also used it to explore real photography, art, and thought. It has been a very good tool for me.
I'm not killing the blog, at least not at this moment. But, it won't be my daily breakfast companion for a while.
I will probably try to explore writing with lower frequency, but more depth. That's not how most blogs work, but this one is my own.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Learning the Nikon D810 - My Menu Settings

D810's "My Menu"
I've been using my new Nikon D810 almost exclusively for shooting birds with my 200-400mm f4 lens so far. Clearly, it's good for so much more in addition.
So, I've decided to figure out how to use all of the functions, and how to remember which are important to think of regularly as I change shooting conditions.
Among the features are Shooting and Custom Setting "Banks." These allow you to save settings for different applications and quickly switch between them. The big problem (unbelievable, really), is that if you're in a bank and change a setting, it remains changed, even after you turn off the camera. Basically they really only represent whatever your settings were last in that bank! Yes, you can get around this, if you can remember to reload settings each and every time you shoot. This requires not only a good memory, but also that you use the same memory card (where the settings are stored) every time, and don't format it. Not so useful.
A better option is to use "My Menu." This feature allows you to identify up to 20 settings from the menu system, which you want quick access to at any time. I went through every menu and selected which features I think I'll need regularly. Here they are:
  1. ISO sensitivity settings
  2. e3 Flash contrl for built-in flash
  3. e4 Exposure comp. for flash
  4. Image quality
  5. Battery info
  6. NEF (RAW) recording
  7. Manage Picture Control
  8. d13 Battery order
  9. d5 Electronic front-curtain shutter
  10. d4 Exposure delay mode
  11. c4 Monitor off delay
  12. c3 Self-timer
  13. c2 Standby timer
  14. b6 Center-weighted area
  15. a8 Number of focus points
  16. a4 AF activation
  17. a1 AF-C priority selection
  18. Long exposure NR
That still leaves two more features, should I decide to add them.
These are by and far the features that I'll use most. By having them in My Menu, I will only have to find them in a list of 18, rather than searching through the entire menu system when I need them. Win.
So, while I may not use the settings banks, My Menu will be key for my use of the D810.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Choosing Tools for Digital Black and White Conversion

Belle of the Plantation, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summicron 35mm f2 v.3 Lens
iso 400, f2, 1/60 sec.
I like to shoot in black and white. I quite often convert my color digital images to monochrome, to get the look I want.
I do have Nik's Silver Efex, which I use as a plug-in for Adobe Lightroom. It has a lot of flexibility, and works very well. More often than not, though, I do the conversion directly in Lightroom.
(Click Here) to read a post on Digital Photography School, where they present and compare five different plug-ins: Silver Efex Pro 2, Exposure, Perfect Black and White, B&W Effects 2, and DxO FilmPack. Lots of information to help you decide which plug-in may be best for you, if any.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

So, How Is the Nikon D810?

I'm still getting my feet wet with this camera, but check this out:
Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodius, by Reed A. George
Nikon D810, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR G Lens
iso 1600, f5, 1/2000 sec.
The detail in the print I made of this shot is just stupendous. iso 1600? Not a problem at all.
At 6400, I do see image quality start to drop off, but still quite impressive. At 1600, it's lovely.

Friday, September 18, 2015

Kind of Blue - Heron, That Is

Kind of Blue, by Reed A. George
Nikon D810, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR G Lens
iso 160, f5, 1/2000 sec.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Exciting New Lenses from Zeiss - Milvus Line for DSLRs

Zeiss makes absolutely wonderful lenses. For Nikon camera bodies, the ZF lenses are all manual focus, and are unquestionably at the top of optical performance.
Not too long ago, they came out with the Otus 55mm f1.4 and 85mm f1.4 lenses for Nikon and Canon DSLRs. The Otus lenses are advertised as providing medium format image quality on the 35mm sensor size. They also cost at least $4,000. I'd love to try one.
Now, Zeiss has come out with the Milvus line. Announcing the full lineup all at once, there are Milvus models in the following focal lengths and maximum apertures: 21mm f2.8, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.4, 85mm f1.4, 50mm f2 Macro, and 100mm f2.8 Macro. Again in manual focus, the Milvus lenses are more reasonably priced, listing for less than $2,000 each on preorder at Adorama. They should be shipping in October.
So, what's special about the Milvus lenses? They're designed specifically for the new high pixel count sensors, with low light scattering, precision manual focus across the full focus range, and weather resistance.
(Click Here) to read more about the Milvus lenses on Zeiss' website.
It's great that Zeiss keeps bringing us high quality optics for various camera systems. I love the variety they're offering.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Who Would've Thought Autofocus Would Be Important? Apparently Not Leica

Image Source: http://www.cultofmac.com/383779/leica-invented-autofocus-then-abandoned-it/
The blog Cult of Mac has run a piece on how Leica invented autofocus, only to abandon it. Apparently, they were not able to perfect it to the level that they thought their exacting customers would be satisfied with it. I never knew this before reading this article.
(Click Here) to read more about how Leica invented then abandoned autofocus, and how it was made a commercial reality by other companies, chiefly Minolta.
Thanks to my friend Bill for hooking me up with this interesting article.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Yearning for a Trip to the City - the Real City - NYC

City Dweller, by Reed A. George
Leica M9, Summicron 35mm f2 v.3
iso 320, f6.7, 1/125 sec.
It's time. I will start planning my next visit to NYC.
It's such a vibrant place, literally full of stories and photographs waiting to be made.

Monday, September 14, 2015

A Blast From the Past

Dwayne of The Woodshedders, by Reed A. George
It's been a while since Dwayne had his hair short like this - 2009 as far as I know.
Just going through some old pictures, getting in the mood for my favorite music festival - Watermelon Park Fest.
I am pretty sure I shot this with a Pentax Spotmatic and Vivitar 200mm f3.5 lens. I like the look.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Today's Eagle Shot - Nikon D810, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR Lens

I got out kayaking on the Potomac River again this morning. I saw quite a lot of wildlife, including a muskrat that swam to within a few feet of my kayak, and a giant snapping turtle that nearly touched it. Both were too close for me to focus with the big lens. I also watched a herd of deer grab their morning drink at the river's edge.
Here's the best shot I got today, of an immature bald eagle.
Immature Bald Eagle, by Reed A. George
Nikon D810, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR Lens
iso 220, f5.6, 1/1250 sec.
You can click on this image to see it larger on flickr.
Man, am I lucky to have access to such a beautiful place to paddle on weekend mornings at sunrise.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

I Want to be a Better Printer, Too!

Alpine Lake and Shadows, by Reed A. George
I just read a post by Pascal on the blog Dear Susan, about how he really wants to become a better printer. Importantly, Pascal interviews Ctein, a master printer, to get some advice. Ctein's best advice is to go ahead and print your image once you think you have it close on the monitor. It won't print the same, but don't worry about that. Live with the print a while, making notes on it where and how you want to improve it. Don't focus on how it looks on the monitor any more; make the changes that will improve the print. Over time, you'll learn how to do this more automatically.
Okay. I can give that a try. Simple - no big focus on calibration, paper types, lighting, etc. Just print, live with it, adjust it for the paper instead of the monitor.
(Click Here) to read the full post on Dear Susan.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Day Sleepers - Cool Project

My Day Sleepers (NYC), by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX7
iso 800, f1.8, 1/125 sec.
I captured these guys sleeping on the subway in NYC. It's interesting to see people sleeping in public places, especially when they're not unfortunate homeless people.
I read an interesting piece on the Leica Camera Blog about Eric Leleu, a Frenchman who did an extensive project, photographing "day sleepers" in China. Interestingly, Eric used a Leica M6 for many years, and more recently a digital Leica M240, but in both cases with just one lens - a 35mm f1.4 Summilux.
(Click Here) to read the story on the Leica Camera Blog. Knowing he shot all of these with a 35mm wide angle impresses me. He had to get pretty close in many cases.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Contemplative Geology

Contemplative Geology, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
iso200, f5.6, 1/800 sec.
Just part of the geology at the Desolation Wilderness in Northern California. This place is pretty zen.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Computer Upgrade Brings Up Some Old Images

Hands of Time, by Reed A. George
Graflex Speed Graphic 4x5
I'm about half-way through migrating all of my images to my new computer. As expected, the process has been difficult, mainly because I'm not much of a computer tech person. But, I've now successfully moved Windows to a fast SSD drive, installed a new hard drive, installed Lightroom and moved over my existing catalog, etc. So, much progress has been made.
As I move images over, I'm seeing a lot from about 8-10 years ago, when I started storing them on my computer in earnest. This one is from 2006, I believe. The watch is one of the only things I have to remember my grandfather, who died when I was a child. The hands belong to my daughter, who's just started high school.

Monday, September 7, 2015

A Glass Menagerie - Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5

I carry a camera with me every day. Today, it happened to be my little waterproof Lumix TS5, which I was bringing in to work to loan to a friend. The camera has accompanied her to Central America, and is now on its way to Tibet.
Anyway, the building where I work represents one of the world's largest installations of structural glass. Walking to my office, I noticed these apparently random tracks on the condensed water droplets on the outside surface. Obviously not guided by gravity, these tracks twist and turn, intersecting themselves and wandering both up and down. After looking at a few of them closely, I determined the source.
Slug, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
At about 1 1/2" in length, these guys cover some territory.
Further down the hall, I found this predator:
Praying Mantis, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS5
I'm not sure if a mantis will eat slugs, but I have a suspicion they will. Quite an interesting little world in operation just on the other side of the glass...
The TS5's macro capability came in handy here. The wifi did as well, allowing me to quickly transfer the images to my iPad so I could include them in this morning's post.
Then, I look up from the table where I'm writing and see this:
I grabbed this shot with the iPad's onboard camera. Okay, digital imaging can be pretty cool.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

16:9 Format - Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100

Landscape in 16:9, by Reed A. George
Panasonic Lumix DMC-LX100
iso 400, f5.6, 1/100 sec.
I've just uploaded a set of images from my recent trip to the Desolation Wilderness in Northern California to my flickr page. (Click Here) to view them all (or if you want to see this image larger). Every single one of the images in this set was captured with the LX100. What a wonderfully compact and capable camera this is, perfect for a long hiking trip like the one I was on (3 days, two nights camping).
I love the native 16:9 format in the LX100, though I did crop a larger image to get it in this case.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar - Kid at Train Festival

Intense Focus, by Reed A. George
Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar, Kodak TMax 400 Film
A while back, I posted a series of images from a local train festival, mostly of kids enjoying the displays. (Click Here) to see those pictures, taken with my Leica IIIG.
Well, I just developed the roll of film that was in my Rolleiflex that day, and found this image. I really like how the boy's face contrasts well with the dark shirt of the lady behind him. I also seem to have gotten the focus just about right.
Every time I use the Rolleiflex, I get something that I enjoy out of it.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Annoying Some Kids With My Rolleiflex

Get it Over With, Mister. By Reed A. George
Rolleiflex 2.8F Planar, Kodak TMax 400 Film
Every single time I use it, I am reminded why the Rolleiflex is such an important piece of photographic history, and my photographic present. I just love the expression on this little girl's face, as well as her posture. I also like that her shirt says "SMILE" on it...

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Happy Accidents

So, here's the scenario. I decide to grab my Rolleiflex T, one of my long-term favorite cameras, and take it out for a drive into Washington, DC. It's loaded with film, a few exposures into the roll, but I can't remember which film. If I was thinking as I loaded it, and adjusted the indicator on the knob, it's Portra 160. But, the question is, was I thinking?
What to do? Well, I decided to take it into a dark room, open the back, take out both spools, wind it by hand back onto the supply spool, and see what I have. Yup, I was thinking; it's Portra 160. No problem. Now, I simply reloaded the spools as normal and went about my business. Except one thing - I needed to advance past the shots I'd already made. Didn't do it.
While the Rolleiflex T is designed to protect against multiple exposures, my little diversion very effectively caused them. I didn't even think of it until I saw the processed negatives.
In this case, I think it turned four rather pedestrian shots into maybe something a little more interesting. Keep in mind, I had no idea that I was creating double exposures.
Happy Accidents, by Reed A. George
Rolleiflex T, Kodak Porta 160
What's amazing and cool to me is the fact that in both of these examples, the little girl superimposed to the upper left seems to be pointing at the person rowing on the river. I think that's really cool. Wish I could have planned it that way!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Great Egret - Nikon D810 and Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S G VR Lens

And here's my best bird-in-flight shot from Sunday's paddle trip.
Great Egret (Ardea alba), by Reed A. George
Nikon D810, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S G VR Lens
iso 200, f5, 1/1250 sec.
I watched this beauty, and his/her nearly-identical partner, approach me from far way, flying downriver toward my kayak. I was lucky enough to get the focus just right on this shot, and capture the wings spread wide. This camera / lens combination is just astounding. It's what I've been working toward for years in gear for nature photography.
I find myself tempted to try the new Nikkor 200-500mm f5.6 (Click Here), a much lower cost and lower weight solution, but it's not going to provide image quality like this. And, that extra stop of light gathering (f4) in my lens really matters.

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Back Home, on the River

My long vacation over, I'm back out on the river in my kayak, with my Nikon D810 and 200-400mm f4 AF-S VR lens. Here's a shot from last Sunday on the Potomac.
Great Blue Heron, Ardea herodias, by Reed A. George
Nikon D810, Nikkor 200-400mm f4 AF-S G VR Lens
iso 1800, f5.6, 1/1250 sec.
On this particular outing, I focused on wildlife photography, leaving my fishing rod untouched. Rather than "running and gunning" down the river as I fished, I pulled the kayak quietly to shore in a few places, and was rewarded with more time to observe each creature that I came across, including several bird species, as well as a red fox.