For the longest time I resisted getting a real macro camera lens. These are the first sample images from a spiffy macro lens I acquired toward the end of April. The camera has a very shallow depth of field. Focus on the subject is critical. The right tool for the right job – I had resisted for so long. A few brief moments later, I am convinced. The last time I was enlightened like this, was, when I upgraded my diving equipment. It’s still too early. But, I suspect my images will change for the better. No longer am I tied to the concept: when you don’t have a hammer, a screw driver will do. It’s nice to eat with a knife and fork.
Digital cameras allow you to make a mistake that keeps on giving. Since August 3 of last year, for nearly eight months, I have had an erroneous setting for the ISO. Ordinarily, it is set to “Auto.” Somehow it was set to ISO 800. So, a lot of pics were taken with the wrong setting. The other parameters adjusted “automatically” and I never noticed the error till now. I only picked up my mistake because the camera used a very long shutter speed one day. Aha! Corrected! Fixed! All is right again. It only took eight months to notice. Gee!! The pizza? As long as we are talking mistakes, this shot was made after I fixed the ISO. The pizza is the error. We have a pizza chain. The pizza is nearly inedible. I kid you not. I was desperate for a “slice,” any slice. I actually went home and ate something more. To protect the name of the guilty I won’t mention the name Grotto.
My cats are very tolerant. (If) There are no other subjects at hand. Cat portraiture, it is. Spring is here. Soon, I will plant the flowers. And then, we can begin flower pictures again. Meanwhile, I do not have a grandchild in sight. So, cats it is. Tolerance is a plus. And yes, it is still hard to photograph a black cat. I got the eyes. There is not much detail in the black fur. The sister has dark patches. You do see detail in the whiskers. None of the grandkids have whiskers. I continue to work the eyes. Focus on the eyes and you have a picture. Have a camera at hand or you miss those fleeting moments.
Black cat?! It ain’t easy to get a pic. I got the eyes! Flash, it helps. I got the eyes; the fur? Now, to get the whole cat. It is, at best, a challenge. I suppose it’s good to show some failures. How else do you learn and improve? A lot of what I learn is by seeing a good pic and then copying the technique. It’s a lot like cooking. Taste it; like it; try to recreate it; make it your own. Much of what we do is to build on the knowledge of those who came before us. I’m ok with that.
Sunset is tricky to image. The camera automatically wants to meter the field and washes out the gorgeous colors. You have to fool it into doing what you envision/see. I’m lazy. No, not Photoshop. I use my wits to outwit the camera’s metering. Hey! It works. It’s otherwise too much to search out manual settings. The book cover photo is mine, not the book or title. Hey! They found the picture on the internet and used it! (with permission) Nice! It’s not a living, but I have sold a few pics. Not four, a few.
Panorama. It’s never too late to learn a new trick. Colleen suggested… inspired, a true muse. Right time, right place, right subject, a panorama is not for every image. You are looking for something that does not require height and is long (width). Great idea! The mantle Santas were perfect! The room was too busy. And the Santa’s on the table were not squared away. Close but no cigar. That reminds me of Three Kings of Orient are smoking a rubber cigar… till there were none…. Silent Night. Right subject… it makes a rather stunning panorama. Perfect. Apple iPhone has had this trick for a while; it’s easy. Photoshop? You can do it. It’s work. I have lured into how easy Apple is!
Alternately, the images don’t make themselves. There is some planning and thought involved. I got down closer and squared. So, it’s still a work in progress.
If you are not interested in fllm/slide scanning… ha ha, I don’t care. This drew a giggle from Colleen. Cheese curls will leave orange stain all over your fingers… and on your slides. So, I used chopsticks to eat them. Simple, the fingers never touch the product and the slides stay pristine. In a completely different thought you see a Nikon bulk slide loader SF 210 and SF 200. Subtly different, the cost of the 210 is hundreds $$ more. Of course, it’s better?? Actually, it’s easier to get a used SF200 from the eBay gods. You know the deal? You bid. It’s an auction that goes for a week. And in the last 30 seconds the real bidding starts and someone swoops in and steals the device from you. Did they need it or was it speculation and trade?? The bastards. I’m not into that cutthroat nonsense. I finally did win one and am/was now scanning with a double setup. That was sweet. Half the time for scanning… and, I’m currently still eating cheese curls with those chopsticks. I have spent a lot of time posting on scanning. It occupied my time for quite a long time this year. Who knew?
No, probably not…. Hey! It’s my blog. Ha ha! So, there was glitch in the Nikon scanner. Long story short, you wouldn’t likely care for the details, it needed a couple replacement motors. I just love it when they give me the parts they removed. It’s a nice touch. Now, I have something more – to never throw away.It works again. Dust! Cat hair! They are the bane of clean scanning. You don’t want it in your scanned image. Nope! Not! Ha ha! Try and avoid it. I have an overhead ceiling fan. Ray, the cat, stepped on the remote and turned it one. In a testament to my cleaning skill, the room looked like snow was falling, a blizzard!! It was cat hair and dust from the blades, The visual alone is worth a laugh. I was shocked; Colleen giggled.
Whether you’re interested or not, I have shot more than 596,000 digital images since June, 2004. That would be 4251 (days) entries in my database out of 6200 or so days in the past 17 years. It’s nice to be able to review my data. It has been quite a journey through digital. I have evolved so much. Parsimony held me back when I used film. The cost of digital has dropped while camera technology improved so much. I am thankful. Truly! There are gems among my early digital. I am happy to say I am better than I was and not as good as I’m gonna be. By way of comparison, I shot about 117,000 slides over 32 years from the 70’s to 2004. I make it a point to try to shoot something everyday.
I am unable to reliably compare my mania to others (who scan slides). But, I have an external hard drive with nearly 2 tb of scanned slides. I can tell you there are about 117k legitimate slides. This covers the 1970’s to 2004. In early June, 2004, I received my digital Nikon D70 and David’s graduation was the occasion of the last slides I took. Boom, just like that. I was digital. Jules hated digital for a long time. “They don’t look real.” And she could always tell the difference. Today, she tells me, “But dad, I always have my phone (iPhone 12) and it’s so handy when Noa does something cute.” My darkroom and all its equipment sits in the basement gathering dust. Digital is “free!” I just got 256gb SD cards for $20 a piece. A roll of film today would run around $9 a roll of 36 images. 256gb of memory card will give tens of thousands of images. It’s FREE! I am still poor from my film days and parsimony was ever with me. It’s why I bulk loaded my own Kodak slide film, developed it, and eventually printed a few. When I finally had money, it was a long time to shed those habits. Now, it’s off to CVS or Mpix for prints/enlargements with minimal turnaround time. Efficiency? It takes about a minute to scan one slide. You do the math. External hard drives started at around 40mb and now are up to 12tb. Memory keep dropping in price as my need keeps increasing. No need to be efficient or sparing, there’s always more memory you can get. Eventually, my kids asked, “Dad, why is the dog your screensaver on your phone?” “Because,” I replied, “I like the dog better.” I’ve come a long long way. i hope there is still a ways to go.
It was holiday ritual, the family group shot. In retrospect, any picture was precious no matter who had their eyes closed or was making a funny face. Duty. I’m glad i did it. I wish I had been more diligent. There were a lot of missed opportunities too.
If you would believe it, my kids liked raking leaves. Go figure. And then they would jump into the pile from ladders and trees. The compressed them for me to make bagging easier. It was an annual fall ritual. Fondly, I remember the time.
Some of the earliest slides come from my med school years. Yes, I lost a lot of early memory and experience before I started keeping track.
At long last 117k slides give or take….have been scanned. You may not even know what a slide is. It was a long and tedious task. I got unbearable sciatica sitting. It’s better (my sciatica)! The task was completed. I ended up with two scanners going full on. That certainly shortened my task. But it was long….!! I had scanned 28k in 2018… and about 89k this time around. Hey! It all adds up. Am I happy? It is a legacy task. Maybe someone will look through – my kids? – and scratch their heads over this motley collection one day. Oh, yes, there’s a database to track people, places, and dates. It’s a sketchy description that will leave folks wondering who some folks are. I had two sets of drawers full of slides – 32 in the first, and 14 in the second. You’re looking at one large drawer of near 4000 slides. Yeah, two of everything. Nuts. It just turned out that way. It’s all neat and put away. And, I am sitting up relaxing and staying off my sciatic nerve. We won’t be doing this again anytime soon. We? Yup! The cats and my dear wife missed me from August to December. I’m back!! … and the dishes are still in the sink waiting for me….
It’s the emulsion stupid. Polaroid made instant slide film for a short while. Thank goodness I only used it a few times. Scanning it on a film scanner is hell. The developer/author of Vuescan told me it was grain and “user error.” Nice. Indeed, no one seemed to remember the film nor how to scan it. ICE – it’s software to remove dust magically during the scan process. It uses an infrared scan simultaneously to “map” dust and mark it for removal. Aha! Turn off ICE. You can do it. And the result is remarkable. Second, reduce grain. Problem improved. It ain’t great. The Polaroid film itself was not a good film. Thankfully, I only shot a few rolls. Probably, it’s why the film never took hold. I solved the problem by letting the solution percolate slowly in the background of my mind as I did other tasks. Ha ha! Brilliant! I’ve solved other problems that way. It’s remarkable what the background processor in my head will come up with. The great and wonderful internet did not have an answer for my problem. So, as a public service to you few who care, here’s the solution. Ha! An original answer.
ICE – it was software developed by Nikon to get rid of dust on your slides. Magic! The dust just was removed. Gone! Amazing?! You bet! Do you care? No! You don’t use slide film and you aren’t scanning and dust is dust, but what do you care? I would have to blow away (dust) and clean each slide before scanning. I don’t understand how it works and the dust disappears. But, I can sure appreciate that a daunting task was made easier by software written to make magic happen. And, yes, this was a terribly overexposed image used for illustrative purposes. I don’t understand how it works. I consider myself an end user. It works. Thank you very much.
We’re beyond just another pretty flower. I have been striving to get detail – close-up of the inner anatomy of flowers. For some flowers it’s not an easy task. The angle and the light conspire to obscure the target. Bees have it easy. But it’s not so for me and my camera. And then, you get it! Serendipitous? No, skill. Ha ha! It’s more like 50% close your eyes and shoot, and, 50% skill. Eh? Let me tell you that it took all summer to get to the point where I got these shots.
I am a firm proponent for cameras. After all, right tool, right situation. Soup should not be eaten with an iPhone for a spoon. Alas, I am shoveling shit against the tide. Digital camera sales are 10% what they were in 2010. Aha! Everyone has one. The system is full! Nope! Not hardly, it’s more like everyone uses an iPhone as their prime camera. Can you really squeeze all that power down from my trusty digital camera into the little itty bitty iPhone? Uhhhh… no! But that doesn’t stop most of the world from using iPhone. My lament, a lone voice among so many iPhones. I suppose you can drive either a Hyundai or a Porsche. You choose. The camera fallout: fewer cameras to choose from. It’s not so bad. Hardline phones have evolved into mobile communicators. We see the world through two eyes. There’s no telephoto zoom on my eyeballs. Check the fine detail in the flowers. iPhone would have a hard time matching my camera. Easy or hard, it’s a choice. I shall not let a podiatrist do my brain surgery.
I pulled up a random pic in Lightroom. Boston, near the Old North Church, fall, 2016. How did I know? Colleen’s white winter jacket with liner. I got her those earrings. Nikon D200?? It was retired in 2014. Aha! I had dropped my Nikon D610 to the ground (October 2014) necessitating major repairs. Ha! I almost forgot that!
Jules has said it: “I don’t know what I remember because I’ve seen your pictures all my life.” True enough. Or: my own memory is linked to the cues from the pictures I have taken. … my external brain drive if you would so understand. Otherwise, I would have no direct recollection without the image posted here. But, now, I do recall much of that cold fall trip to Boston. Colleen? Her memory would not be so clear as mine on the events of that day. It seems that taking the picture “cues” my brain differently to recall events. Ha ha! (Photographic) – memory.
Hummingbird. In flight. Ho hum…. It’s a BIG freakin’ deal!! If you are the consumer, pics like these are a dime a dozen. Someone has come before and patients sat and waited and waited. Amazing! They got a shot and it’s commonplace enough that … yawn. It’s not an easy shot. No way! I got one. The circumstances were just perfect. It won’t happen again for me. That’s what makes this so special.
The upper right and left are examples (i.e. poor exposure, composition) of pics placed in a newsletter posted by “cat proud” weavers who can’t take proper pics of their beloved cat. I laughed at Colleen. She contends they are sound (cute) photos. I disagree, of course. There’s no excuse for accepting a bad photo.
iPhone or camera? Jules makes a cogent argument for using her iPhone nearly exclusively. It’s always at hand. She will concede a camera is better. But iPhone is right handy. Me? Obviously, I’m all about the camera. (She shot with my camera.) Ha!
Rembrandt light. Before I forget, this lighting scheme reminds me of that. I have created a studio set up by chance. We were merely cleaning up and straightening things out. (The spinning wheel has provenance back to the 1860’s.) Colleen thinks I’m a genius. I work along the theory that even a blind squirrel gets a nut once in a while. Whatever! The effect first worked on my cat. And now it’s wildly successful on another precious subject. Gee, sometimes I am very humbled to get worthy shots.
I have a good example of the zoom capability of the Sony RX100 VI. Three successive photos show the telephoto detail of the hydrangea in the distance. How far? … near ½ mile. You can’t see the petals. But, that dot of color indeed is a large hydrangea bush.
Of, course, if you saunter over, you just might get some nice blossoms.
No, not the genetic debate. (Shhh… there really isn’t any debate.) …It’s the change occurring in my photography as a result of change in my cameras. It has caused my technique to evolve. Evolution is slow and the change that results is subtle until it isn’t. I found the DSLR viewfinder of my Nikon D610 to be restricting. I got (am now) used to a movable LCD screen that allowed me to get down to eye level with my cats. This translated to: getting down to eye level with the flowers in my garden. There are a lot of moving variables to consider: shutter, composition, focus…. I get it that iPhone users just want to click and forget. All around me, family has little or no interest and they are quite content to have iPhone as their primary camera. That little tiny lens… Yes, a screw driver is a hammer in a pinch. But, the converse is untrue.
My (former) wife once told me my oldest (dearest, favorite) daughter was a funny looking baby, while she was still a baby. I ignored her and thought she was crazy. (Ha ha, you’re gonna go crazy wondering to whom the pronoun applies.) On those rare occasions when I offer photographic technical advice, it usually is thrown back in my face – sometimes vehemently. This was such a case. As is often the case we got a blast message accompanied by our little one in a green dress. I was immediately struck by the wide angle distortion – i.e. the iPhone was held high and above the child to create a large forehead tapering downward to a smaller disproportionate body. My gentle advice was promptly rejected and the purple shirt pic was sent to absolutely refute and state that, “She’s beautiful!” How does you deal with a second mistake compounding the first? Yeah, yeah, bad grammar; it hurts don’t it? The second is still wide angle distortion, the same just different. This time the forehead is still large because the camera is too close to the face and still slightly angled. I swear that the child is not hydrocephalic! And, I do indeed have pics of a normal head, face, and body on this very same child. She is no circus show attraction. It’s been quite a while since I offered photo advice because of past experience. I think I shall not be offering advice again. I will keep my thoughts: that this is a “funny looking kid” to myself. Even my own very beloved wife admonished me on this one, “you could have said it differently.” Ok! She’s a “looking, funny kid.” And, NO! I will not tell you how to correct this technical issue. I got issues of my own!
My wife (in this case “ex”) influenced me in subtle ways. I thought I was free and independent. No. She said I took too many pictures. I took the same thing over and over. She never liked how she looked in pictures. She was too fat or too… And, in looking retrospectively, she was right. She inhibited me in ways too subtle to realize until now. I get encouragement or, at worst, amusement from my current wife. She’s a positive influence in a way I never realized till I started looking back through the archive of my slides. Night and day? Nothing so drastic. It was much more insidious. Bitter? No. Sorry (I was so clueless). Today, she/we do things I would have never done before. Progress! – true love…
My kids make fun. They tell me I’m blind. Or, at the very least I don’t pay attention. Colleen says the same. I concentrate and am oblivious to an earthquake. It served me well when I was in a noisy operating room. I was testing and comparing three cameras and their ability to photograph flowers. I zoomed the lens and let fly. It’s amazing what the camera saw that I did not. It’s equally amazing to get good shots. What I learned is that a blind squirrel does get a nut, sometimes. As for seeing detail, I’m lazy. The camera does the work. Press (the shutter button) early and often. Then again, what they didn’t tell you is when to do it. That’s judgment and it’s something you have or not. But… I did not see the pistil nor the water droplets.