23 July, 2017

Visited Sydney

Girl and the Central Station Clock Tower - Sydney
Zeiss Loxia 50mm

We visited Sydney over the weekend. I am always impressed by the number of buildings with a bit of history. Too many cities have turned into giant shopping malls.


19 July, 2017

The Sony A9 is great, but it's not for me

Alisha D - Sigma 135mm, f/1.8 Art w/MC-11 Mount Converter

Of course I've been watching the A9 reports and I'm impressed, but it's not the camera for me. It doesn't seem to me that the feature set would work better for me than the A7Rii. If there's an A9R in the future, then ask me again.

I have done the latest firmware update for the MC-11 (skipping an incarnation). Everything seems to be working well.

If you're not shameless by the time you're 45,
then you haven't been paying attention.
 —Yllib Ybnad (b. 1948–)

06 July, 2017

Sigma 135mm with the MC-11

Alisha D - Sigma 135mm, f/1.8 Art

The Sigma 135mm is the low-price, dark-horse. It's quite a lens, but it's slow and steady with the MC-11. I've avoided the latest firmware update, because of warnings from Canon lens users who ignored Sigma's warnings that the MC-11 was not designed for them. When I get a little time I'll do it.

I had to be close for eye autofocus. I'm not sure a firmware update will remedy that.

05 July, 2017

Aspirations



This photo was taken on one of the rare occasions when my mother's side of the family were (almost – my aunt Mary couldn't be there) all together. They had gathered in October of 1954 in northern Wisconsin for the funeral of my uncle Pete (the youngest of the siblings) who had died in a car crash earlier that month.

My grandparents are, of course, front and center. My grandmother, Hermina, emigrated to the US from Slovakia in 1907 when she was 15 years old; and my grandfather, Steve, in 1905, when he was 20. Neither spoke English when they arrived. Slovak was spoken in the family house all through their lives. My grandmother became quite proficient in English, but my grandfather was never comfortable with it.

All the kids started out bi-lingual — Slovak and fluent English. My mother, Margaret (front row, far right), for example, became a court stenographer for the Illinois Appellate Court. My aunt Agnes (Sister Benedict) taught school as a Dominican Sister. There were sons in all the services during the Second World War. 

My grandparents didn't come to America to see the Grand Canyon, enjoy the Florida sun, or sample Cajun cooking in New Orleans. They came for work and for opportunities to make new lives, for themselves, their children and grandchildren.

My family's story is just like those of immigrant Poles, Irish, Chinese, Italians, Swedes, Greeks, Germans (you get the idea). What astounds me is that so many Americans can think that the aspirations of immigrant Mexican, Iraqi, or Syrian families are any different.

I emigrated to Australia 27 years ago. (I can't speak Australian, but I understand most of what I hear.)
______
Top row (l to r) Steve, Frank, John, Philip, Rudolph, Tony, Carl, and Joe
Front row (l to r) Helen, Agnes, Hermina, Steve, Ann, and Margaret
(Only Helen and Frank are still alive today.)

27 June, 2017

Mt Coot-tha Lookout

Mt Coot-tha - Sigma 24-105mm Art

On Friday I was up at the Mt Coot-tha lookout. Most people go there to look out over Brisbane. I go to look a the people looking out at the city. It's near to where I live.

It was, however, quite busy as there was wedding party up there — there's also a restaurant, so that's quite common. It was crowded and I don't like to do anything that might intrude, so I was lucky to get the picture above.

I have no idea whether the family in the picture were a part of the wedding.

02 June, 2017

Nik Silver Efex Pro headed for oblivion

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Departure from Brisbane

It was just a matter of time before Google announced that it's cutting the Nik Software Suite loose. The writing was on the wall when they made it free.

I don't blame Google. It looks like the Nik Suite wasn't paying its way. (And, certainly not once they made it free.) If there aren't enough users; well, then, there aren't enough users.

I'm sure that Nik users all have their own favourite programs; mine is Silver Efex Pro — the program for working in black and white. 

Silver Efex isn't perfect. (I wrote about using it in 2015.) And, yes, I can get the job done in Lightroom, but I'm really going to miss the Silver Efex control points.

22 May, 2017

Tumblr

On the water in Virginia, USA - Zeiss Loxia 50mm

I've started using Tumblr. I'm not a fan of Instagram, but Tumblr seems okay. (It's free, and they seem to respect copyright.)
https://billdanby.tumblr.com/
I'm using Tumblr just as a place to show images — mostly portraits. Unlike in this blog, there won't be editorialising. 

You'll probably be surprised by this, but not everyone is interested in the technical aspects of digital images and printing. Hard to believe.

11 May, 2017

All reasonable efforts

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Book signing (Alison Rushby, "The Turnkey")

Recently, Epson Australia sent me an automated message about their truly outstanding, but long out-of-stock, Hot Press Natural matte paper:
Thank you for your interest in the Epson Fine Art Paper Signature Worthy Hot Press Natural A4 Sheet Media (C13S042318) This product is now in-stock, and was available on Shop Online from 05/05/2017 at 6:29 PM. 
Good news you might think; but there was a further note:
We make all reasonable efforts to ensure stock availability, however due to the popularity of this item, it may be sold out by the time you visit the website. 
"All reasonable efforts," indeed.

Epson keeps printer ink in stock — they have to.

Paper? Not so much.

18 April, 2017

Lynn Goldsmith v Andy Warhol Estate

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - The Inside of the City Hall Clock Tower, Brisbane

In my opinion the intellectual property of photographer Lynn Goldsmith was infringed by Andy Warhol. I urge you to have a look at the relevant images.

If the courts decide that every pop artist with a crayon has a license to use the photographs of others as colouring-in books – and sell them as their own art – then we're all in trouble.

Photographers are entitled to the integrity of their art, and fame is not a licence to steal. So, I think that this is an issue worth following.

There's more information at:
https://www.dpreview.com/news/3185361002/andy-warhol-estate-preemptively-sues-photographer-over-infringement-claims 
https://news.artnet.com/art-world/prince-photographer-fires-back-warhol-foundation-copyright-suit-923759

14 April, 2017

Sigma 24-105mm Art with the MC-11?

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Book signing (Alison Rushby, "The Turnkey")

The Zeiss Loxia 50mm is my walking-around lens, and I love it. There are times, however, when wider or longer would be very useful.

I've thought about a bridge camera like Sony's RX10 models. The Mark III (24-600mm equivalent) has more reach than I need, but the (still available) Mark II (24-200mm equivalent) is just about right. And they use the same batteries as the A7 series cameras. But, most of that expense would be for the camera elements, and I already have a camera.

I'm wondering if a new lens might be a better choice.

The Sony/Zeiss 24-70, at f/4.0, seems overpriced to me (albeit, compact and weatherproof), and the 24-70mm, f/2.8 G-Master seems ridiculously expensive here in Australia. And, in any case, 70mm is a little short if replacing a 50mm lens.

As you've probably noticed from some posts, I've been flirting with Sigma "Art" lenses (using Sigma's MC-11 Mount Converter). The Sigmas are much less expensive and the image quality is outstanding, but there's little or no weather sealing. Sigma has been adding some mount protection to some recent models, but as the MC-11 has none, that doesn't help me.

So, let's cut to the chase:

The Sigma 24-105mm, f/4.) Art is still reasonably compact, but has the extra reach to provide more subject isolation in portraits. Its depth-of-field on a full frame (at f/4.0) would be the equal of f/1.2 on a 1" sensor camera. And, with a bit of cropping (the image above, for example, was pretty heavily cropped), I think it might serve as a reasonable alternative to a 24-200mm RX10.  The low-light performance and dynamic range of the A7 series would also be better.

And, no new camera to learn.

Much to think about.

01 April, 2017

Very wet weather

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Almost total darkness in the Anthony McCall
installation - Gallery of Modern Art (GOMA), Brisbane

The remnants of Cyclone Debbie dumped a load of rain on Brisbane, causing some flash flooding. But, thankfully, Brisbane dodged the bullet – missing both the actual cyclone and the worst of the remaining rain. The ground, however, remains wet.

All this has limited my opportunities to get out and shoot. I hope to remedy that in the coming weeks.

22 March, 2017

Sigma MC-11 — better and better

Zeiss 50mm Loxia - Looking at art (Ron Mueck's "In Bed"), looking — 
Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane

After reading reports that some lenses close down, focus, re-open and then take the shot (sometimes causing a mis-focus), I decided to check out the Sigma 24mm and 85mm Arts while attached to the Sigma's MC-11 Mount Converter.

One of the assumed benefits of mirrorless cameras was that they were exempt from the front and back focusing errors to which DSLRs can be prone. So, it seemed a useful question.

I'm pleased to report that from what I could see in my tests, neither the 24 nor the 85mm Sigmas close down on focus, on either the A7RII or A7II.

I'm presuming that this will apply equally to the upcoming Sigma 135mm, f/1.8. I'm also guessing the 135 is due soon as there is a firmware update for the MC-11 to accomodate it.

And a final note: I'm not sure many people "get" the MC-11 Mount Converter. It's not just a tube making a generic connection between Sony E-Mount bodies and applicable Sigma EF Mount (or Sigma SA Mount) lenses. The MC-11 applies E-Mount firmware to Sigma lenses that have been designed to be able to directly accept that information. That's why, for example, the MC-11, provides Sony's eye auto-focus that other adaptors do not.

It's true that the MC-11 will work with some Canon glass. But it's sad to read reviews marking the MC-11 down because it doesn't do those non-Sigma lenses as well as it does the Sigmas. That it works with any other lenses at all is a bonus, icing on the cake, an Easter Egg.

Here's the short version: I believe that the Sigma 85mm Art with the MC-11, on an A7RII, is the best lens on the best body. I think the combination uses every bit of Sony's 42.4 megapixel sensor, provides (reasonably) fast auto-focus, eye focus, and throws in the 5-axis stabilisation that Canon and Nikon users can only dream about — usually for less money than comparable Sony or Canon lenses. 

Good times.