24 November, 2015

The Luminous Landscape — an absolute bargain

I'm not sure how long I've been a reader of the Luminous Landscape. But over the years it has become, for me, and I'm sure for many others, an invaluable source of information about both the the art and the craft of photography. No other website has my confidence the way that "LuLa" does.

I think that my trust in the site is borne out of their consistently positive attitudes and approaches about products, photographers, and photography. No whining, no assassinations.

And, icing on the cake: The "Guide to Lightroom" and "Camera to Print and Screen" videos, amongst many others, have taught me more than I care to admit.

Good luck to Michael, Kevin and Chris. It's my hope that LuLa has ensured its continued existence with this change to a membership model.

I'm in. (Cheap at twice the price.)

Here's their seven minute video about the change:

22 November, 2015

Pigment Ink Prints

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Old Petrie Town - Whiteside, Queensland [Click image to enlarge.]

I visited an art gallery this morning that was showing a number of photographs, as well as paintings and sculpture. I was struck by the various ways the prints were described: "Pigment," "Pigment Print," "Pigment inkjet," "Digital Print," and a couple of others that I can't recall — should have written them down. I'm just grateful that I didn't see "Giclée" in there.

If a gallery can't standardise, what help is there for the rest of us? It looks like every printer is going to have to decide for him or herself.

Epson describes my 3880 printer as using, "pigment-based ink technology." So, from now on I'm going to try to describe my prints as, "Pigment Ink Prints." 

14 November, 2015

Vive la France !

My deepest sympathies are with the families of those killed and injured, and with all the People of France.

I send this message in the certain knowledge that France will prevail over the forces of murder and terror.

Tenba Reload Battery 2 - Battery Pouch

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Old Petrie Town - Whiteside, Queensland [Click image to enlarge,]

I don't like batteries loose in my pocket or in the bottom of my camera bag. The Tenba Reload Battery 2 - Battery Pouch fixes that. And, for once, it's something useful that isn't expensive.

First, the case is designed for larger, DSLR batteries. Sony's FW50 batteries (for the A7 series, NEX, A6000, and RX10 cameras) are smaller than the case was designed to hold. That means that FW50 batteries in the upright orientation move around a bit inside the Tenba case. This, however, isn't a problem, it's an opportunity.

Because the Sony batteries are smaller, they can also fit firmly in the Tenba case when placed sideways. (The actual battery pouch is formed by stretchy neoprene.) This allows me to keep charged batteries upright and discharged batteries sideways.

This means that I can tell if there's a charged battery in the case either by shaking or poking it. When I give the case a bit of a shake, if there's a charged (upright) battery inside I can feel it moving. Alternatively, if I press on either side of the case I can feel whether there's an upright or sideways battery inside.

Sony's FW50 batteries are big enough that they can't fall out accidentally; and, at the same time, they can't change orientation once I place them sideways. While there's a snug fit for batteries that are placed sideways, they pop out easily with a little push on the neoprene from below.

The Tenba case also has a belt loop (with Velcro so it can wrap around a belt or strap) and rings, that afford a variety of carrying options. I, on the other hand, just put the Tenba case in my bag or in my pocket.

The case has a little piece of advice printed on the inside of the flap: "NEVER COMPROMISE." Nonsense — I compromise all the time.

Tenba has a video showing its memory card wallets and batteries cases HERE.

I'm not trying to change anything that's in front of me.
I'm trying to give it respect and I'm trying to call attention to it.
It's a matter of sharing with people.
—Jay Maisel (b. 1931)

05 November, 2015

Prince of Darkness - the Sony A7RII

Zeiss Batis 85mm - Ibis - South Bank [Click image to enlarge.]

I'm just not using my tripod these days. 

But it's not the tripod's fault. My Benro A-0691 Travel Angel (now discontinued) is a great balance between cost and weight. It's aluminium so it doesn't offer the weight saving of the carbon fibre models. But, aluminium is less expensive
 and makes for a steadier platform in a slight breeze — perfect for mirrorless sized cameras. And, one of the legs will detach to make a monopod. But I digress.

My tripod is a victim of the Prince of Darkness: Sony's mirrorless, E-Mount A7RII. I'm mostly a prime shooter, so the in-body stabilisation has delivered to me three additional stops (but often it will go four). And, everyone seems to agree the sensor adds a further stop. (I think it's closer to two.)

But, for the sake of the argument, let's say it's four stops all up.

If we were still using film, for example, that would mean a new Tri-X delivering ASA 6400 with the same grain and response that it previously delivered at 400. Money for old rope.

So, where I wouldn't have dreamt of hand-holding 42 mp (or 36). I do now.

I'm not selling my tripod. It's comforting to know it's there if I need it.

03 November, 2015

Peak Design Camera Straps

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Old Petrie Town - Whiteside, Queensland [Click image to enlarge.]

A while ago I started using Peak Design's wrist strap, called the Cuff, and their neck/shoulder strap, called the Slide. Peak Design makes a few different products, but it's their camera straps that most interest me.

Here are the benefits for me:

I've dumped the D-rings. I hate D-rings. They're fiddly, they clink, and attaching straps to them is a pain. (I don't know why they call them D-rings anymore, because they're not "D" shaped, they're triangular with an even smaller, tiny plastic clip.)

Happily the Peak Design Anchors attach directly to the lugs of my cameras. So, once attached to the lugs, I never have to fiddle with D-rings again.
Hint: The Sony camera body lugs are small and there is no way that you can PUSH the cord of an Anchor through. You can, however, PULL an Anchor cord through. I use a doubled length of dental floss, with a small bit of soap on the Anchor cord. That allows me to pull them through the hole in the lug.
I don't need a strap for each camera. With Anchors on each camera, any Peak Design strap will attach to any camera.

No metal ends. Many other straps have metal connectors at their ends. I've been worried that heavy, metal connectors at the ends of long straps may not always play nice with exposed, expensive glass. The Peak Design straps have light, rounded plastic on the ends of their connectors and Anchors.

Secure but easily used — one-handed. Switching between the Slide and the Cuff, or switching between cameras is quick and easy.

Non-slip Slide. The Slide has a rubberised strip on one side. If I want to use it over one shoulder, I just flip the Slide to access the shoulder-gripping side. Nice.

I don't want to give the impression that the straps that I was using before were "deficient." They weren't. It's just that the Peak Design straps work better for me given how I'm shooting now.

I read that there had been some failures with the spring mechanisms in the connectors; and it's the connectors that are the heart of the system. So, I wrote and asked, and I received a prompt and informative reply that put my concerns to rest. And then, when I went to B and H, I noticed that there were two versions of both the Slide and the Cuff, at the same prices. So I went with the Mark II versions for each.

Below is one of Peak Design's videos (2:25) that shows how the connectors and anchors work.