Blog Theme

I switched a few weeks ago to the Touchfolio theme. It offers galleries that get first-class treatment on visiting the blog, and has very nice mobile navigation and display.

However, various forums indicate that Touchfolio is likely abandonware, the author has moved on to doing other things. I’m likely to keep it until some incompatibility with a WordPress upgrade manifests.

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Themes 2014-2015: #1, At a Distance

This post is my sixth entry for the LWRDPC 52-Week Theme Photo Challenge, and my theme selection is #1 At a Distance.


My father attended University of Florida, and later so did I. Family outings to the Gator football games have long been a tradition, and we have season tickets for seats up in section 13, row 61. That puts us at about the north 20 yard line, a ways back and up from the sidelines of the football field. My sister, my father, and I trekked up to Gainesville to see the Gators play the Eastern Michigan Eagles. The Gators put up 65 points and denied the Eagles any.

Sometimes I’ve been able to take my best lens in, the Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8, but the gate staff have been getting progressively pickier about length of lens, and the stadium rules permit them to deny entry to a camera sporting a lens longer than six inches. So for this game, I took gear that easily fit into the regulations, a Panasonic GF2 camera with a Nikkor 135mm f/2.8 lens. The camera is about 2010 vintage, and the lens was likely manufactured in the late 1960s. This made things fairly old school in operation, with manual focusing and operating the lens aperture essentially as preset (via use of a Nikon G adapter to Micro Four-Thirds, providing its own ring to adjust aperture). The field of view of the 135mm lens on the M43 camera is equivalent to a 270mm lens on a 35mm film camera. As the light faded, I edged the ISO up and eased the f-stop back from f/8 to f/4, aiming to keep the shutter speed at 1/500th or better.

I seemed to have a field day for catching errors. I have pretty good photos of pass interference and a couple of incomplete passes. The one in the far end zone was pretty heart-stopping, and the missed catch near the sideline just struck me as being humorous.

Back during my time at UF, I got to take photos from the sidelines as a photographer for the Independent Florida Alligator newspaper. I don’t have a sideline pass anymore, but I still enjoy getting photos of the Gators doing their thing. One thing being so high in the stands does for me is keep me from worrying about a couple of three-hundred pound guys running into me at speed, which is something you do worry about when working the sidelines.







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Themes 2014-2015: #27 Musical

This post is my fifth entry for the LWRDPC 52-Week Theme Photo Challenge, and my theme selection is #27 Musical.


I do most of my work at home. But several times a year I head off to visit the corporate mothership in Carrollton, Texas. Besides getting face time with my colleagues, I’ve been staying with my good friend Marc Nowell. Marc is the drummer in a band, The Hydros. They get together to jam once a week or so, and when I’m in town and one of these session is on, I go and take photos.

The jam house is on its own in the midst of Trinity River bottomland, the better to not annoy the neighbors. Think man cave scaled up to four to five man band size and loaded with rock and roll musical instruments. They prefer the lighting turned down, just as it would be in a bar or stage venue. This makes it a bit challenging to get photos, but I’ve been at it since around 2006, so I have some strategies. The best one so far has been to use a camera with extended sensitivity, the Nikon D600. Most of these photos were taken with that camera. A couple of them, though, are taken with a Panasonic GF2 camera with the Navitar 50mm f/0.95 lens at or nearly wide open.









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Themes 2014-2015: #32 Painting with Light

This post is my fourth entry for the LWRDPC 52-Week Theme Photo Challenge, and my theme selection is #32 Painting with Light.

I’m working on a small scale. My “canvas” is a piece of white foam-core board. I’m using a Panasonic GF2 camera, ISO 100, and a Navitar 50mm f/0.95 lens at about f/11, distance of about two foot. My light source is a laser. I’ve worked out a means of obtaining virtually unlimited different patterns, which has an obvious up side (lots of different photos are possible) and a not-so-obvious down side (it would be virtually impossible to return to a particular pattern once I’ve moved on). For the moment, I’m concentrating on these as an end in themselves. A future project will be to turn these into masks and combine them with textures in CorelDraw.


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Themes 2014-2015: #31 Panning

This post is my third entry for the LWRDPC 52-Week Theme Photo Challenge, and my theme selection is #31 Panning. On August 2nd, 2014, I was at the TailWaggers Club Agility Trial, held at the Turner Center in Arcadia, Florida. Our 10-year-old female Vizsla, Ritka, competes in agility, and Diane has turned over running her to me. On that day, we ran in three events, and Ritka both qualified and took first place in all of them. But even three events does not fill up a day, so I had time to get out the camera and get some pictures of other agility dogs. I thought it was a good chance to do something with the panning theme, since the Turner Center’s lighting, what’s the word I’m looking for? Right, it sucks. There’s not a lot of it, and it has a weird color distribution. On top of that, the club (rightly) disallows the use of flash photography, since breaking the concentration of one of the fast-moving canine athletes is simply the wrong thing to do. Getting to action-stopping shutter speeds is hard to do in any case, so embracing the badness leads right to panning as a way to (sometimes) reduce subject blur.

I set myself up near the dogwalk, which wasn’t hard, since it was only a few feet from the side of the ring. In fact, getting the framing right was a challenge with some of the larger dogs. I ended up actually across the walkway from the ring. The dark walls of the Turner Center were causing problems for auto-exposure, so I went to manual exposure. For the dogwalk, the runner comes up a ramp to a walkway about five foot off the ground, then walk or runs across about twenty feet of elevated walkway, before taking a ramp back down to ground level. So I would start following the dog as it came up the ramp, and fired off shots as it proceeded across the walkway, keeping the camera moving and trying to maintain about the same framing in the viewfinder throughout.


Technical photography details: Nikon D600 camera, ISO 6400, auto white balance, 1/160s exposure. Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 lens, at 105mm and f/2.8. Camera and lens were mounted to a homebuilt “gunstock” style mount, and I used a remote release to trigger shots. Focus was set to manual after focusing on the near edge of the elevated part of the dogwalk, then I shifted forward slightly to try to approximate having focus be in the plane where the dog was traveling.

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Themes 2014-2015: #6 Bridge

This post is my second entry for the LWRDPC 52-Week Theme Photo Challenge, and my theme selection is #6 Bridge. The bridge photo is of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge, spanning the mouth of Tampa Bay from St. Petersburg to Manatee County on the south side.


The Sunshine Skyway lights up at night. This is about a 10 second exposure with the camera moving about 65 MPH, resulting in a wavery light display that I dub the “aurora caelum via”.

Technical photography data: Panasonic GF2 camera at ISO 100, auto white balance, with Olympus 14-43 f/3.5-5.6 lens, 14mm, f/18.

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Themes 2014-2015: #50 Urban Scenery


This is an image taken in the midst of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, along an access road leading to the George W. Bush Parkway (eastbound) just north of Las Colinas.

Photo technical details: Panasonic GF2, Navitar 50mm f/0.95 @ f/8. Crop, levels adjust, scale image, and unsharp mask done in GIMP.

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Full-frame v. DX Viewfinder Brightness

On a photography forum somewhere (I’m sorry, I’ve lost track of it), I saw the following comment:

“In this regard, once again, your f/2.8 lens is “slow” in that it cannot illuminate a viewfinder as large as a FF viewfinder as brightly.”

This seems highly suspicious to me. The physics of optics uses f/ values as estimated measures of light-gathering capability. To a first approximation, they also serve as highly correlated measures of light transmittance. (Lots of elements in a lens design will factor in a reduction in transmittance, and thus the T-stop for critical exposure and reproduction work.) The amount of light transmitted per unit area in the focal plane is exactly the same for the same f/2.8 lens mounted on a DX camera, on an FX camera, or even on an oatmeal box, and will be quite similar even for different lenses of maximum f/2.8 aperture. Modulo some minor concerns about light fall-off with a larger image circle, the absolute amount of light per unit area in the viewfinder remains a constant for any lens shared between DX and FX bodies.

The expectation, in fact, would be that DX bodies will have apparently dimmer viewfinders, or if equally bright, that the DX viewfinder image will subtend a smaller apparent angle. Magnifying the smaller DX viewfinder image area to subtend the same apparent angle of view as the FX viewfinder image area will necessarily deliver a smaller amount of light per unit area to the retina (assuming the viewfinders are constructed using the same materials in each case and differ only in the optics).

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Canon Loyalty Program

I have owned several Canon digital cameras in the point-and-shoot through prosumer range. Something Canon has offered for a long time is the Canon Loyalty Program. This allows one to obtain a refurbished Canon digital camera at a discounted price when one trades in a Canon digital camera. Unfortunately, I’ve never had much luck finding current offerings via Canon’s website. So a little while ago, I asked on the phone what refurbished cameras are currently available and at what price. I will provide the list in a table. I wanted to collect all the ancillary information, but my life is still pretty hectic now, so I’ll put up what I have and add to it as I get time (if I get time).

Camera model Price Remarks
SD1200 $87 CanonDirect price = $125.99, 10.0 MP, Image stabilization, 35-105mm (35mm equiv.), CHDK ready
SX120 $120 10.0 MP, 36-360mm (35mm equiv.),
G11 $260 Amazon price: $548.99, CHDK beta only
XS $320 w/18-55mm lens
7D $1088
T1i $480 w/18-55mm lens
T2i $576$511 (per comment) w/18-55mm lens
50D $665.99 w/28-85mm lens (not positive about the end of the zoom range)

To take advantage of the program, call Canon at 866-443-8002.

(Originally posted at the Austringer.)

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College Football — from the Stands

Here’s a bit of a challenge… get the best shots I can from up in the stands at a college football game. Football has moments of quick action with periods of nothing much going on, which is pretty much perfect for digital image bursts and subsequent writing to media. The action helps keep me on my toes for getting timing right. The fact that the action is happening 30 to 100 yards away from my seat means practice with a longer lens.

Back in the days when I worked for the Independent Florida Alligator and before that doing yearbook photography at high school football games, I was able to work on the sidelines. I just don’t have that access at the moment.

So here are a couple of the better images I’ve captured over the past two weekends of attending the startlingly hot University of Florida Gator home games. I used my Nikon D2Xs and two lenses, a Nikkor 70-300m G and a Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8 G VR. The 70-200mm produces cleaner images, which it should: it costs about twelve or thirteen times as much as the 70-300mm. The drawback is the smaller total size on sensor of the image when working at the maximum focal length, as I did. I also needed to use an aperture of f/9 or so on the 70-300mm to keep various lens faults in check, which meant bumping up the ISO on the camera to keep the shutter speed around 1/1000th of a second, and that introduces some issues in the image of its own. With the extra speed and better correction of the 70-200mm lens, I was able to shoot at ISOs between 200 and 400 using f/5 and f/5.6, and still have high very high shutter speeds.

With the 70-200mm VR lens:

With the 70-300mm G lens:

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