Seeing The Light

Lightroom 5.7 & Aperture Import

A long time ago I bought into the Apple ecosystem with the primary driver being no conflict of interest with my company’s software library. Along with that came the early years of Aperture and as a techy I like the mechanics behind the scene. Aperture had a slick way of managing projects import / export from its main library. This worked well for field work via laptop and consolidation into the main system later with easy backup across multiple volumes including external. Continue reading

When Laptops Go Thump In The Night

The Death of A Drive & Dawning of New Era

This weekend I returned from a business trip to find my Macbook Pro dying, whimpering on the desk. It suffered from two real issues:

  1. Dead battery
  2. Failing drive

The dead battery was due to treating my laptop like a desktop and rarely cycling the battery – I get this. After almost four years of intense use this is to be expected. The drive is a different story.

Continue reading

Nikon V1 B&W Conversions

As I continue toying with my new Nikon V1 it is really growing on me.  If any visitors hoped over to my Flickr site you’ll notice I do a lot of black and white work.  Some of this is due to my continued use of film and yet I do convert a lot of digital to monochrome as well.  My wife, a painter, chides me because I have no real concept of a color wheel.  Because of my long history with film, I just see in shades of grey – and no, not 50 shades!

Back on point – the V1.  Even at ISO 100 luminance noise is present but as I mentioned in my first post with this camera I am not much for pixel peeping and clinically sharp images for the majority of my work.  With mono conversion the luminance pattern of the V1 translates nicely to a bit of texture and character within the images.  For now I am doing conversions in both, Adobe CS6 and Aperture and comparing outputs.  Thus far it appears I can pull a bit more micro contrast out of the images with CS6 but the differences are so subtle.

Next week I kick off a round of travel so I’m looking forward to night shots while out and about on the town.

Stay tuned!

SRV

First Thoughts – Nikon 1 V1

First things first – I don’t exactly do gear reviews.  There are obviously much better sources for reviews out there than this tiny, little blog.  Additionally, the cameras that generally interest me are rarely the high-end systems with serious drool factor that will pull in lots of page hits.  I don’t care to pixel peep, more often than not I do not want clinically sharp images corner to corner, and I do not shoot video with my SLR – that’s just me.

With that being said, bit on my camera philosophy is in order.  I prefer the right tool for the right job so consequentially I have a lot of tools, everything from compacts to geared view cameras.  A few years back a typical photo outing would require a serious Tenba backpack with all the goodies for very specific needs.  It wasn’t too long ago I abandoned the more gear philosophy – which is part of another article I’m writing on Gear Acquisition Syndrome – but in terms what works better for me, my kit is now ridiculously simple. When traveling I now carry a very compact kit comprised of a Leica M2 and a flexible compact digital.  For everyday use I have a small messenger bag which holds a compact camera and a few other day-to-day items.  My current compact, a G12, has grown a little old so I began looking for a replacement.

In a prior post I provided my thoughts on the Canon EOS-M announcement and expanded upon a few of my requirements.  I have been a loyal Canon guy for a number of years.  My previous compact was a G12 which traveled the world with me and took some amazing photos.  Amazing? Impossible is what many say.  Yet, the images did win judged awards and displayed in exhibitions for whatever that might be worth.  Around Thanksgiving Steve Huff enlightened me on a B&H Photo year-end sale on the Nikon 1 V1.  A kit that originally sold for ~ $900 USD could be picked up for ~$400 USD, even less depending on the kit selection.  The G15 replacement for my G12 would cost a bit more so I thought I would give it a shot knowing I could return the V1 and opt for the known & “safe bet” of the G15 if things did not work out.

I like things to have some heft.  My M2 is not light, nor is my 503CW.  Heck, I cannot stand ultra-light hockey sticks.  The Nikon 1 V1 is a chunk, roughly 1/2 a pound more than the G12 – which does not sound like much but you can tell the difference.  The kit I ordered came with the 10-30mm VR zoom and 10mm pancake lenses (2.7 crop factor).  Whereas the Sony RX100 only allows you to charge with through the camera, the Nikon came with (what should be in my mind) a standard external charger.  Added bonus is ability to swap out the AC adapter plug for a longer charging cable OR country-specific plugs.  This last part is a very nice to have for travellers.

A few points about camera operation before I wrap this up.  The Autofocus is fast, very fast.  Because I prefer small cameras that I can take anywhere, I had the Nikon 1 at a minor league hockey game.  The AF tracked players perfectly and the high FPS allowed for indoor action shoots I did not expect.  Not a fan of menu-based exposure compensation but the metering so far has been very accurate resulting in little need for compensation.  For concert venues the bag checking anti-camera security folk have, so far, just waved me right in.  This is my first camera with an electronic viewfinder, and was honestly my main concern (see EOS-M Opinion below).  I will say the operation is acceptable, in low light the refresh does not drop to a motion-sickness inducing crawl.  However, I have prescription polarized sunglasses and the viewfinder does not work well in that situation.  Depending on camera orientation the EVF is either blotchy or dark.  My M2’s viewfinder is rimmed with metal, and I’m used to kicking up my sunglasses to avoid scratches but this could be a problem for a lot of people.  Your mileage may vary.  Finally, the aspect ratio is 3:2 vs 4:3 typically seen on compacts.  Some people think this is a big deal (it is not) and a 4:3 image is automatically discounted as not a “serious image” regardless of compositional structure and subject merit.  So if you found yourself forcing 3:2 images out of a 4:3 native body at either a resolution or workflow penalty, rejoice.

I know this camera received some very harsh reviews from the experts, and that’s fine, but so far the Nikon 1 V1 is meeting my specific needs very, very well.  When compared to the blow-out price, which I think is still going, it’s an amazing deal.  After I wrap up my Gear Acquisition article I will post a bit more about image quality of this camera.

v1

OoF Structure (10mm pancake)

v1 dRangeBasic DR Test

Photo Piracy – Theft of My Food

Something has been bothering me for a while – it’s something that happened to me over the course of a few years – and I finally sat down to write about: Photo Theft.  Whenever Facebook, or Instagram, or [social media site] changes its online agreements the wrath of users are quick to follow.

However, most people who are quick to respond to changes do not seem to either a) know or b) care that, chances are, their photographs are being stolen and used by others for their own promotion.  I guess you can chalk this up to the “openness” of the Internet.  Ok, I’ll buy that with the random mom-turn-blogger discussing food and grabbing any number of food (aka “Look What I’m Eating”) pictures from social sites.

Having said that, creative people – the ones doing the stealing – KNOW right from wrong.  Photographers should not have to plaster fuggly Watermarks on our work, in locations that make it difficult to remove / crop and generally destroy the emotion, subject, or message of the image.  I sat down to pen a lengthy dissertation on how photographers can take steps to protect themselves when I discovered Peter Zack over at Enticing The Light already did a wonderful job of this.

Take notice – wedding photographers appear to be the hardest hit, probably because that’s where the money mostly resides.  Luckily I do not do weddings, do not need the hassle.  Yet, people will be surprised at what mundane or average work will be heisted for other purposes such as banners, advertising, etc.

My short story – I found a number of my images used by travel sites, restaurant promotions, and blogs.  Thankfully, I was informed of this common approach – An honest company was referred to my Flickr page for “source material”, and this company asked if they could use my work.  Now, I’m not saying my work is fantastic, that’s not the point – and actually the request was something I shot while just playing around with a new strobe – from my perspective the image had no commercial value and not something *I* would have thought sellable (I’ll save that thought for another entry).  After that correspondence, I began scouring the Internet and requesting removal of my images.  Starting with the company who informed others of my “source material”.

Subsequently, I pulled most of my work – for a while – and now only adding a few images back to social sites.  For clients I simply hosted the images on my own domain and removed once reviewed and approved.  But lets face it, that is no bueno.  I like for my work to be seen and critiqued if only by my circle of friends.

For an easily scrollable idea of how bad this is, please check out this Wall of Shame over at Tumblr.