Friday, September 19, 2008
Tuesday, July 1, 2008
That is to say, I'm pretty much done with this blog for the time being. I thought I would wrap it up with a quick synopsis of why...
The main reason is that it takes too much time.
Right now photography is a hobby for me. I'm really into it but don't have much time to do much except take photos and look at them, evaluate, delete, send to people to whom they will mean something to etc.
As I became more into photography I started subscribing to people's blogs and reading a lot online. At this point I am noticing three factors are coming into play. 1) All this online reading takes a lot of time - more, if you want to add photos or text to what is going on. 2) I am pretty saturated with knowledge at this point and need to go out and do some of it. 3) I finally have my new lens, a Tamron 18-250mm DI II (which is a great lens if you are only going to own one for right now...) and am really enjoying using it (see point 2. ).
I'm changing my M.O. a bit also. Previously I was very self-conscious about my photos and wanted them to be the best they could be. Better, in fact. It is partly to do with this that I was shooting in RAW - though partly to learn about it. Ever photo had to be processed then. Well, if some of my kids grow up or I start this as a business then this will definitely be the way to go. Till then : jpg and sRGB here I come! Now my mistakes are pretty much irreversible - but I will learn more that way I suppose.
So... I have steadily been unsubscribing from all my blogs and trying to keep to minimal editing and tagging in Picasa which I have time for - just! So far I am liking the new program. If I do another wedding I will probably go back to RAW just for the occasion... Here's another thing though - RAW requires something like Lighroom with the (inestimable clarity slider) and that is another $300. Then there is photoshop... Well, using 8 bit images I can use something lesser than photoshop (photofiltre or GIMP) and for organisation of course Picasa rules.
Till next time - Jon Bailey.
Tuesday, June 3, 2008
The first two photos are from 2-3 weeks ago. The last one, from this morning. A week ago the birch trees were finally in leaf - but the weather had still not made up its mind. These photos are all taken a bluff near my house.
First "Alaskan Crocus":
The Delta River in Spring: (I'll post a summer update for comparison; see archives for some shots during winter.)
And finally, summer is here! (When I first came to Alaska in Feb 2007, and watched the endless white turn to mud and grey brown grass, I was convinced that I would never see real green again...)
The lens saga continues. Sigma offered to charge me $160 to repair - I said no, thanks. They shipped it back and I will have to sell as-is on ebay. Meanwhile, here are a couple more pinhole photos - this time I used the black rosco cinefoil instead of silver so the quality is that much better.
It is amazing that with so little effort it works so well.
I have been super-busy recently, what with family visiting and a new job starting. Hence the lack of posts. This situation may not improve... But here are some photos from the new job site:
It is a WW2 era hangar, all wood construction. I find the roof to be fascinating! It is an awesome building.
And finally for today, one of my favorite photos from the family trip I just took. Crossing over the tracks this image caught my eye, and since I was alone in the car (blessed moment!) I pulled over and ran back for it. I am trying to get better at stopping for photos when I see them.
All photos today (less the pinhole ones, shot with a 20D) are courtesy of my trusty fujifilm F30.
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Yes, I did buy a Canon 20D recently. It had a few issues... Firstly, I noticed the viewfinder did not register focus no matter how I dialed the diopter adjustment. During a conversation with the seller (who was great to deal with despite the issues!) he mentioned swapping out a custom split-prism focusing screen for the standard Canon one in order to sell the camera - he had scratched the custom screen back when he installed it originally. Hmmm, I thought. What if it had not been re-installed correctly? Well, I dug up an install guide and in the process found out all about split prism focusing screens. Then I checked - sure enough the screen was clearly not seated properly. I took it out, and found that the little copper shim that spaces it out for good focus was pretty mangled. I did a bit of back and forth with the seller, who did offer to pay for a replacement part. In the end though what we agreed to is that he would send me the split prism screen ($75 to buy) which did not need the shim. I flattened the shim enough for use in the meantime with the help of some wondeful Knipex parallel jaw pliers. Then, to finish this part of the story, the split prism screen came in the mail and I installed it. Yes, it has a scratch - but I still prefer it to the standard screen. It is invaluable for manual focusing - which itself is invaluable sometimes.
The second "issue" was all the bad, out of focus photos I was taking. Thought it was something wrong with the actual camera at first but by looking over all my photos I found a pattern: images were extremely soft at anything below F6.3, and only pretty sharp by F8. This was especially marked at 35mm, the maximum zoom. The lens in question is a Sigma EX HSM DG 17-38mm - a pretty decent lens according to reviews. I never wanted it in the first place - it is a bit limited in zoom plus I wanted a lens designed for APS-C cameras to take advantage of the smaller size and lighter weight. The Tamron 18-50 F2.8 is really what I want, and later the Sigma 50-150mm F2.8 - but also some other things - I may be leaning towards a Sigma 18-200mm OS since one lens is all I will be able to afford for quite some time...
But this is really all an aside.
Back to the Sigma. I borrowed a friend's Rebel with kit lens and performed a series of tests swapping lenses to be totally sure that the problem was my Sigma 17-35. - Yes it was, most definitively.
I tried to open the lens and find an adjustment - but did not want to get into it very far because a) I didn't want to damage something I needed to sell in order to buy something else :) and b) the further you get into a lens for adjustments the more you have to replace each time you take a test shot. This gets very tiring....!
There was nowhere online where anyone had adjusted this lens - that I could find, anyway. I found what looked like a good screw to turn but it did not appear to do anything.
Finally, on looking it up, I saw the Sigma repair service center did offer free estimates so I have mailed it off to them to at least assess the damage!
And this is why you have the following images. Taken with a Canon pinhole camera! I was interested to read in one of CaptureOne's ads about someone who used one of their digital backs to make a (very expensive) pinhole camera. They went to quite some trouble to do it also - buying a special camera body etc. Well, I went to no trouble at all for these. I took a scrap of aluminum foil and blacked one side with magic marker. This did not work very well - and you can see the reflections quite clearly! I will next try some Roscoe cinefoil that I have - it is just the right stuff for this app. I taped the scrap of foil over the lens hole, taking care to keep the edges down to stop any light from entering - and pricked a hole in the center with a common pin.
As for the results - here they are! Most of these are taken using flash and at high iso because I was capturing a moving subject:) Maybe later I will try some more serious composing when I setup using the cinefoil.
Tuesday, April 29, 2008
This is an initial shot taken by my 20D at F8.0 (the lowest my lens will focus at right now :) ) - in manual mode with the shutter speed at 1/100s. The flash is held at point-blank range so any E-TTL mishaps should be disastrous. Seems like it worked, though! - This is of course my trusty fujifilm F30 camera that most of the photos are from on this blog...
Here is one taken at 1/1000 sec - I am using the high sync speed feature of this flash to achieve this. Aperture still at F8.0. This would certainly not work without E-TTL functioning!
I was lucky to have the network jack fit so nicely. I had to cut the metal "frame" that used to clamp the cord (see previous post photos) in order to fit the jack, but after that and careful cutting out of the pen marked area the jack fit nicely and its inbuilt clips hold it in place when the cover is closed - no glue involved, though I had it ready :)
Other installation notes: I used a small jeweller's saw to make the cuts, but a coping saw or fretsaw or even a saw blade attachment on a dremel would work. Also notice in a previous post how I re-wound the wires (flash shoe end) around the little metal "choke" before punching them down on the network jack - this is important because it stops any spikes of HV electricity from travelling the wires.
You can see the wiring inside the camera module. I used a piece of network cord for the wires since the jack is made for that kind of wire anyway. I did use a "real" punchdown tool but you can buy a package of these jacks that has a little plastic punchdown tool in with them. I have also used a small screwdriver in the past but it is hard to do properly.
I tested the setup with a multimeter the first time - I plugged in a network cord and tested for continuity between the pins of the camera module to the flash shoe and also to see if there were shorts between any pins... had a bit of a heart palpitation as the blue wire (trigger) had no continuity... I checked my connections and found nothing wrong, then disassembled the flash shoe end to find a small component inline (see pic). I thought perhaps a diode to stop backfeed? At any rate then I felt secure enough to test on camera. Results follow in the next post...
I sent the ground shield down two wires. 1stly the w/blue to be a pair with the blue (see previous post) and secondly just another free wire since there were two spare and the shield was too fat to fit in one punchdown space...
The plastic shield (bottom right) kept the wires out of the locking assembly (silver bit). It is no longer needed and also in the way.
I found a couple of jacks and quickly saw that the project would work, given some careful hacking. See photos for more details.
The cord before (much) hacking took place
A network jack taken apart. (Note from afterwards - I didn';t have to take it aprt in order for it to fit. So I glued it back together...)
Tuesday, April 15, 2008
It is supposed to be springtime here but continues cold with occasional snow. I've just finished processing the last of my wedding photos and so hopefully will have a bit more spare time! This does not necessarily follow though since I have started a new exercise regime that effectively knows about an hour off each day. Nice. Thought I should post a photo after so long though... In other news I have sold enough stuff to buy a camera - though my lens remains unobtained so far. It is not here yet but is in the mail. A 20D - part of me wished for a 40D but I would only have been able to afford the body - and you can't do much with that now, can you? :)
I am trying out Picasa's "blog this" button for this post. I like it except it is really slow and blanks out Picasa while the blogging is happening. Not good. But maybe better than the web page approach anyway.
I will hopefully post some wedding pics - want to get permission from the "models" first - showing the final results from my softbox quest.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
This is the newly finished back of my softbox, wires covered, painted black. As you can see, I have velcro all around the circumference so the reflector can detach easily.
And following, some more experimenting with the softbox:
Well, it has been a long time since I posted anything. So there were some of the more interesting images I've taken since then.
I am selling a few things on ebay, saving up for a DSLR, but this next wedding I am renting one from BorrowLenses.com - a very nice site that I have used before and recommend.
I have been following the Strobist blog which is highly educational, and you will see some influence from there in the following!
I already blew my initial savings on a "starving student light kit" from bhphotovideo - notably light stand, umbrella mount, umbrella, sunpak 383 flash. This I am working on being able to use with my Fuji F30, which does not have a flash sync output.
The main issue with using an optical slave is the preflash which you cannot disable. I toyed seriously with the idea of adding a sync connector to the camera myself, and opened the case to attempt a circuit trace. I thought at first I had something but I had looked too hastily... The circuit board is actually a three layer one and everything is not only tiny but hard to trace because the center layer cannot be seen. I gave up - a combination of laziness and good sense taking over - and decided to use a circuit my dad (who does electronics for a living) forwarded to me, which basically counts flashes (phototransistor) and ignores the first. I had been going to use it in modified form to accept the sync signal from the camera since after all I wasn't going to be able to get rid of the preflash trigger.
I will post how this all works out. So far I have parts on the way to me in the mail...
As far as the wedding and renting goes... I went with a Rebel Xti so I could afford two decent lenses. These would be the Canon 17-55mm F2.8 and the Sigma 50-150mm F2.8. This is close to what I would like to purchase initially for lenses - I would substitute the Tamron 17-50 F2.8 for the Canon because it costs less than half as much and has great reviews. As the Sigma is cheaper than its Canon equiv. - borrowlenses just didn't have the Tamron or I would have gotten it to try it out. The 50-150 becomes close to a 70-200 on a 1.6 crop factor SLR and is a good bit less hefty being designed for the EF-S cameras (as is the other lens).
The sunpak 383 will work on the rebel - but not E-TTL. The flash itself has some sort of auto mode but I really got it to use in manual anyway. I will have a few days to experiment before the wedding as the rental is for a week.