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.

10 February, 2017

Go figure

Zeiss 50mm Loxia - Hats on the Santa Monica Pier

With all the recent news and discussion surrounding the Sigma 85mm Art, I've had a look at the relative prices between the United States and Australia.

So, for example, in the United States (at B&H) the Sigma 85mm f/1.4 Art (for the Canon Mount) and the Zeiss 85mm f/1.8 Batis are the same price, and the Sony 85mm GM is 50% more than each of those.

In Australia (at CameraPro) the Zeiss 85mm is 49% more than the Sigma, and the Sony is 107% more than the Sigma.

Yes, 107% — in Australia the Sony is more than twice as much as the Sigma. 

But there's a little more to the tale: The price of the Sigma just went up in Australia (at least at CameraPro), seemingly on the recent news of its DXOMark score and the DPReview report. Before the last few days, the Sony was 137% more than the Sigma 85mm Art.

14 January, 2017

Resolutions

Jasmine, 2003-2017    [Click image to enlarge]

These aren't New Year's Resolutions, mind you. These are resolutions that just happen to have been made near the beginning of the year.*


I'm going to print more. Not just images that others want (or might want), but images that are mine and I want. Prints are "real" in a way that electronic images can never be. This resolution led me, of course, to the issue of print size. A4 is great for the desktop, or for a collection, or for what we might call "snaps;" but I think an archived image needs A3 (or A3+). I added the A3+ because Epson papers (such as Hot Press Natural) don't come in A3 — but if I'm going to be focusing on the Canson papers, that shouldn't be a problem.

I'm going to cull my images in Lightroom more carefully. I just opened a new Lightroom catalog, so it seemed like a good idea. I organise my Lightroom catalogs into calendar years and I noticed (not for the first time) the unnecessary size of past catalogs and their backups. So, why is it hard to throw images away? I think I'm afraid of admitting the low number of keepers amongst the dross.

I'm going to make more personal images; not to be confused with making my images more personal. This means getting off my... couch, and taking more pictures. Once you have the gear this is the least expensive stage of image making.

_____

*So, because these aren't "New Year's Resolutions," I can add or subtract as I see fit. That seems fair to me.

06 January, 2017

Epson Hot Press Natural - We hardly knew ya

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Yorktown Historical Park [Click image to enlarge]

I love Epson's Hot Press Natural. It's been my "go-to" matte paper for years. I know exactly how a particular image is going to print on a HPN. And that's a good thing because Lightroom's soft proofing of matte inks and papers isn't nearly as strong as it is for photo black ink on glossy.

HPN is one of Epson's "Signature Worthy" papers. So it's surprising (and disappointing) that Epson has let this paper go out of stock here in Australia — and not for days, but for weeks. And, this isn't the first time.

To add insult to injury, at this writing, Epson's "Legacy" Papers still aren't available here in Australia. We just don't seem to be on Epson's radar.

But, as the song goes, "If you can't be with the one you love...."

So, what now?

I'm going to try out two possible replacements: Canson's Infinity Rag Photographique (310gsm), and the popular Hahnemühle Photo RagThe Hahnemühle  has some limited optical brightening agents (OBAs), but its longevity stats are very good anyway. I'm going to try to keep an open mind.

I'll try each of these with the "canned" paper profiles for my Epson 3880. If I choose one of these two, then I'll get a custom profile.

Crane's Museo Portfolio Rag is reported to be a beautiful matte paper (and OBA free), but it's longevity estimates with the Epson K3 inks I use, aren't impressive. I'll try out the other two first.

Wish me luck.

02 January, 2017

RAW images are flat

Zeiss Loxia 50mm - Santa Monica Beach [Click image to enlarge]

When I import my RAW files into Adobe Lightroom, Adobe has decided that any decisions about what my images should look like will be up to me — thanks, Adobe.

So, in order to leave the processing decisions to me, Adobe delivers the RAW images as raw as possible. This is particularly apparent by the absence of contrast or sharpening adjustments and without the white or black points having been set.

Lightroom's RAW images appear flat because RAW images ARE flat.

Some other image processing programs apply adjustments on your behalf on import. So those tweaked images look... well... less "raw." And that's fine it you want the program to make some of the initial decisions for you. 

So far, so good. What disappoints me, however, is that some software "reviewers" seem to presume that because auto-adjusted images look more like JPEGs than Lightroom's unadjusted ("flat") files, it's an indication of the inherent superiority of the auto-adjusting programs.

Nonsense.

Is this important for everyone? Clearly not.

Is this important for anyone? If we're unwilling to leave image quality on the table, then I believe that we need to understand what makes digital images tick and learn how our respective image processing programs address the range of digital elements.

Is control a lot of work? Absolutely, yes.