2015 “Mill As Muse” Award Winner

One of my photographs won a second place award in the Historic Yates Mill County Park 2015 “Mill As Muse” Photography Contest. Yates Mill is a fully restored grist mill located in Raleigh, NC. The mill and park have been open to the public since May 2006, and are picturesque throughout the year. My winning photograph, entered in “Photography – Historic Yates Mill – Adult” category, was taken in July 2014, using a Sony a7R camera that had been converted to infrared. The contest culminated with a reception and photography exhibit on February 15. All of the winning entries are currently on display in the Visitors Center at the mill.



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Photographing the North Carolina Outer Banks with the Pentax 645Z

In early May, before the mosquitoes, heat, crowds and tropical storms descended on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, I packed my gear and headed to the coast. My longtime friend and colleague from Illinois, Ron Basinger, joined me for the week. Ron’s an excellent photographer and has an outstanding gallery of lighthouse images on PBase. The North Carolina Outer Banks is one of my favorite travel destinations. It’s a photographer’s paradise, with wildlife, eye-popping sunrises and sunsets, lighthouses, beach scenes, and harbors to fill several days of shooting. The seafood ain’t bad either!

For this trip, instead of packing my Sony α7RII, I decided to go medium format and took a recently acquired Pentax 645Z. The 645Z is a digital medium format camera based on the Pentax 645D body and incorporating a 50MP Sony sensor. The camera body form factor is basically a “D”, chunky and relatively heavy. There are a few modern Pentax 645 lenses designed specifically for digital and for the higher resolution sensor. However, I’ve found that some of the legacy Pentax lenses perform quite well. My go-to lens for this trip was the Pentax FA 645 45-85mm f/4.5 zoom, an autofocus zoom covering approximately the 35mm-70mm range in 35mm film terms. A good copy of that lens, when stopped down, produces sharp images corner to corner. And with a 50MP camera, there’s considerable latitude for cropping if the corners or edges are soft.
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Crazy Use of a Nikon D800E

Forget drones. Try driving a remote controlled 4×4 car equipped with a Nikon D800E into a pride of lions in Botswana.

The “Car L” project was hatched by Chris McLennan and engineered by Carl Hansen to capture unique images of lions with a Nikon D800E, fired remotely by Chris McLennan using a trigger system built into the remote control unit.

 

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Sony Ups the Ante with the a7 and a7R

Sony’s new a7 (24MP) and a7R (36MP) 35mm full-frame, mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras are now available in the US. I just bought the a7R (no anti-aliasing filter) and can barely contain my excitement! Prior to this camera, the Leica M-system was the only game in town for a full-frame 35mm, interchangeable lens, mirrorless compact camera. Now I can use my Leica M lenses on the Sony (with an adapter), which at $2,300 is about one third the price of an M Type 240. The Sony has great high ISO performance and a large, bright EVF (Electronic Viewfinder) with focus peaking. The 36MP sensor with no anti-aliasing filter (similar to the Nikon D800E) is capable of delivering very sharp high-resolution images. And I deliberately said “capable of” because any 36MP (or above) camera requires impeccable shooting technique.

Make no mistake, these new mirrorless cameras by Sony are not Leicas. They don’t have the hand-made precision build quality of a Leica. They don’t have a family of native lenses, with only one Sony/Zeiss lens – a 35mm f/2.8 – available as of December 4. The Sony a7R 36MP sensor is prone to vignetting and color casts when used with lenses wider than 35mm, both of which can typically be fixed in post-processing. The shutter is loud. But even so, the Sony a7 and a7R cameras are quite capable and potentially revolutionary products.

In this video The Camera Store TV’s Chris Niccolls checks out the new Sony a7 and a7R. Enjoy.

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FrameShop Script v0.9.5 for Photoshop CS5 & CS6

Update (May 7, 2016): A newer version of the FrameShop script is now available for Photoshop CC 2015 and CS6. I highly recommend using the newer version if you are running either CC 2015 or CS6.

FrameShop is a script for Adobe Photoshop designed to give the photographer/artist a variety of mat and frame styles for displaying digital images on the Web. The initial version of the FrameShop script (v0.9) was described in detail in an earlier post on this blog. This new version (v0.9.5) runs on Photoshop CS5 and CS6, and has several new features:

  • Colors are selected using the Adobe Color Picker rather than color presets
  • Text positions are set by default to EXIF left, Title center and Signature right, all on the mat under the image
  • GPS latitude, longitude and elevation have been added to the selectable EXIF text items
  • Result can be saved as JPEG, TIFF, PSD, PNG or GIF
  • Result can be saved with the same ICC profile as the original file or another profile
  • Script runs on a duplicate of the original image and leaves the original image open after running

I have not tested the script with the Adobe Creative Cloud version of Photoshop (yet).
Update (September 9, 2013): The FrameShop script (v0.9.5) has been successfully tested with Adobe Photoshop CC.
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Happy Birthday Golden Gate Bridge!

Today marks the 75th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge. Since it’s one of my favorite photo subjects, I thought I’d post a few of my favorite images of the bridge. Happy birthday!


 

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Nikon D800 Sets the Bar High

Today’s announcement of the Nikon D800 has upped the ante in the world of DSLR photography. With a 36.3 megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor and full HD 1080p video with stereo sound, the D800 is a game changer. And Nikon has set the bar even higher by announcing the D800E, which according to Nikon “incorporates an optical low pass filter (OLPF) without anti-aliasing properties to facilitate the sharpest images possible and is a great option for RAW shooters who are in a position to control light, distance and their subject to the degree where they can mitigate the risk of moiré and any false color.” 

Some of the D800′s specifications (see the Nikon website for a complete table of specs):

  • 36.3-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor
  • 35.9mm x 24mm sensor size
  • 1/8000 to 30 sec. shutter speed
  • Up to 4 frames per second in FX-format
  • TTL exposure metering using 91,000-pixel RGB sensor
  • ISO 100-6400
  • 51-point dynamic-area AF
  • Built-in flash
  • Live View

Already, with very few who have even touched the new camera, there are reviews, articles and digests appearing on the Web, including:

Nikon USA now has the 20 pages Nikon D800 | D800E Technical Guide available for download. The guide is particularly useful in describing and illustrating techniques for getting sharp images with a 36-megapixal camera.

Stay tuned. This is exciting!

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Lightroom 4 Public Beta Available

Having used Lightroom since its initial release 6 years ago, I’m excited about the announcement and availability of each new version. Today Adobe announced the availability of Lightroom 4 Public Beta. This version introduces two new modules – Book and Map – and adds major new functionality to the existing modules.

New Features in Lightroom 4 Beta (from the Adobe Labs site):

  • Highlight and shadow recovery brings out all the detail that your camera captures in dark shadows and bright highlights.
  • Photo book creation with easy-to-use elegant templates.
  • Location-based organization lets you find and group images by location, assign locations to images, and display data from GPS-enabled cameras.
  • White balance brush to refine and adjust white balance in specific areas of your images.
  • Additional local editing controls let you adjust noise reduction and remove moiré in targeted areas of your images.
  • Extended video support for organizing, viewing, and making adjustments and edits to video clips.
  • Easy video publishing lets you edit and share video clips on Facebook and Flickr®.
  • Soft proofing to preview how an image will look when printed with color-managed printers.
  • Email directly from Lightroom using the email account of your choice.

Lightroom 4 Public Beta can be downloaded from the Adobe Labs website.
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Nikon D4, the new Prince of Darkness

Specifications:

  • 16.2 effective megapixel, full-frame sensor
  • 10fps shooting with AF and AE, 11fps with focus and exposure locked, 24fps 2.5MP grabs
  • 91,000 pixel sensor for metering, white balance, flash exposure, face detection and active d-lighting
  • ISO Range 100-12,800 (extendable from 50 – 204,800)
  • MultiCAM 3500FX Autofocus sensor works in lower light and with smaller apertures
  • Two sub-selector joystick/buttons for shooting orientation
  • 1080p30 HD video at up to 24Mbps with uncompressed video output
  • New EN-EL18 battery (21.6Wh capacity, CIPA-rated at 2600 shots)
  • Twin card slots – one Compact Flash and one XQD

See Shooting the D4! on Joe McNally’s blog and Thom Hogan’s article on the D4 introduction.

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Steve Jobs – He changed our lives. We will miss him.

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