Pelican in St. Petersburg

Pelican in St. Pete

I really haven’t done that much to this image, but it looks almost like some of the work the grad student teaching under Wallace Wilson back in 1980 used to do. I can’t remember his name offhand, but I think his initials were “R.R.”. He would work on photos with a marker to outline regions of similar tone.

My process for this image was “crop”, “levels”, “curves”, “unsharp mask”, “scale”, and a small boost to “hue/saturation”.

Update: By request, the image as it appeared originally. The only thing I’ve done to it is “scale” via GIMP (Sinc/Lanczos). If I recall correctly, the gear was a Nikon D2Xs with a Tamron 17-50mm f/2.8 lens. It didn’t really need a whole lot of intervention, primarily the cropping to limit the visual elements.

Pelican in St. Pete

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Nikon D3s

Nikon announced a new professional DSLR model, the D3s. This is a full-frame (FX) sensor with 12 megapixel resolution. It will take those at 9 frames per second. It will take 5.1 megapixel photos in “crop” mode at 11 frames per second. It has live view and will take HD video in 24 fps 720p format.

But the stunning difference is in sensor sensitivity. The standard ISO range goes from 200 to 12,800. In boost mode, it can go as low as 100, but on the high end it ends three stops of sensitivity, with an incredible high end of a bit over 100,000 ISO. The sample photos on the Nikon site show the results of up to 12,800 ISO, and it looks great. The noise does not look distracting at all.

Yeah, I want one. If anyone feels moved to drop one on me, just let me know. They are being initially offered at a retail price of about $5,200.

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Theme Work

I switched from a fixed-width theme to the Sancta Simplicitas (SS) theme. The primary reason is that I can use a larger photo size for inclusion in a post.

I picked SS as the theme for another reason: it is based on the Yahoo! YUI Grids CSS package.

Out of the box, it used a 240 pixel sidebar on the right. That wasn’t so hot for the reason that if you reduced the size of your browser, an image could be truncated by the right sidebar.

Changing the sidebar width and layout is as simple as changing a tag in the header.php file in the theme. Unfortunately, Yahoo! YUI Grids CSS doesn’t come with a 240 pixel left sidebar option. 180 pixels on the left is too small for the calendar view, and 300 pixels on the left is just too big. Fortunately, it has been extended by a web developer who likes symmetry in code, and that allowed me to set the layout to have a 240 pixel sidebar on the left. Now, if your browser window is too small, it will present a scrollbar to view the complete image as posted.

I doubt that I will have time to do much more with the theme until September.

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“Devil In Dover” Book Cover Photo

Tammy Kitzmiller in press scrum after trial, 2005/11/04

This was one of the photos I took while attending the 2005 Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District trial in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. In the middle of the press scrum, Tammy Kitzmiller (in the salmon sweater), the lead plaintiff, watches as her daughters answer a question from the reporters.

Lauri Lebo, a reporter for the York Daily Record, wrote a book, The Devil in Dover, about the case and her own experiences in reporting on it. Lauri had a philosophical difference of opinion with the management at the York Daily Record, and by the time the book was published, she was no longer working there. She had originally planned to use a photograph taken by a York Daily Record photographer the showed most of the press scrum on the courthouse steps. I’m pretty sure that the picture was taken by the fellow on the ladder:

KvD photographer who planned ahead.

The York Daily Record refused Lauri’s request for use of the photo for her book cover. Given that the print date was just a couple of weeks away, this put Lauri in a tight spot to come up with cover art on short notice. Lauri contacted Glenn Branch at NCSE, and Glenn reminded Lauri that I had a bunch of photos from the trial myself. Lauri and her editors picked the photo at the top to go on the dust jacket for the book.

The gear I used for the photos was a Fuji S2 Pro DSLR with a Tokina 12-24mm f/4 zoom lens. I went pretty light to the trial, with just the one lens, camera, and a flash.

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Gallery 21 Shot

Laurie Hitzig framed

From 1982 to 1983, I worked at Media Image Photography in Gainesville, Florida. Randy Batista ran Media Image, and the space was shared with Gallery 21, run by Laurie Hitzig. Gallery 21 sold fine art poster prints and had shows of original works by North Florida artists. I had often done time exposure work, and I have a series of photos done in and around the Gallery 21 space. The one above features Laurie Hitzig in the frame, as it were.

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Gator Guard Photo

UF Gator Guard 1981/01/27

The negative sleeve reads, “Gator Guard, 1/27/81”. I have stacks of negatives in glassine sleeves as a legacy from my job in college, which was as a staff photographer for the Independent Florida Alligator, the newspaper serving the University of Florida campus.

I recall doing my share of grip-and-grin pics and photos of visiting scholars and celebrities. But one thing that was consistently being provided by other staff photographers was “feature art”, the picture splashed on the page for no other reason than that it made people look at the paper twice. I remember just after lunch that day when the photo editor, Kim Kulish, caught me upstairs in the hall outside the darkroom and told me bluntly, “You will have feature art by 5.” OK, so he knew how to give people incentive. That still didn’t make it simple to actually deliver. Fortune favors the prepared, and I got over to campus.

Gator Guard is a drill team made up of ROTC students, and they happened to be out practicing. I have three negatives on the strip in the sleeve, the first an uninspired and uninspiring long shot down the line of students. As I recall, they did some fairly typical march maneuvers, but then they ended up in a rough circle around the drill leader, suddenly flipping their bayonet-tipped drill rifles inward, stopping just a few inches from the drill leader’s face. That was different, and I got a photo, but the angle was such that I could only see about three of the bayonets. I got a better angle on the group as they repeated the drill, and got the third photo, the one shown above. So I did actually have something for Kim when I got back to the Alligator, and they ran the shot and put it out on the AP Wire, making it the first photo of mine to get broad distribution.

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Taken around 19781986, Nikon F2A and Nikkor AIS 24mm f/2.8 lens. Fountain just outside the auditorium at Florida Southern College. I’m on the left, and my friend Bill Robinson is on the right.

The slide was scanned on an Epson Perfection V500 scanner. Given the age of the slide, I’m pretty pleased with the result.

Correction on the date: I found some other slides taken at the same time that were labeled as 1986. Still going back a ways, but not quite so far. It makes more sense, though, given that I didn’t take up color slides as a common film choice until the early 1980s.

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The Panoramio photo sharing service is linked to Google Earth. You can upload images to Panoramio, geotag them (pick a spot on the map where your picture was taken), and they may be selected for viewing via Google Earth. They tend to only select those photos that are primarily landscapes. If a person or animal is the central element of the photo, it is unlikely to be selected for Google Earth. The selection process takes a while, with about a monthly schedule for inclusion of new photos into Google Earth, so don’t get impatient.

I’ve uploaded some of my photos to Panoramio.

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Taming the Fuji S2 Red Response

At, a surgeon asked about using the Fuji S2 with a ringflash for surgical photos. Red is easy to oversaturate on the Fuji S2, and this leads to photos that don’t yield the distinctions between tissue color that he is looking for. Here is the advice I gave:

The Fuji S2 sensor is noted for this red sensitivity. Here’s a few different approaches to getting the shot with the S2, all of which require some experimentation.

1. Set the “Color” and “Tone” Function options to “ORG”. Underexpose the shot. Progressively change the exposure compensation downward until when checking the histogram, the red channel does not show saturation at the high end. Advantages: this is the simplest approach to getting the picture. Disadvantages: the S2 already had a fairly limited dynamic range, and this will make things worse for the parts of the photo that are not red. For the surgical setting and use of a ringflash, this may not be much of a disadvantage, since a lot of the stuff of interest will be red, and ringflash illumination generally is of lower contrast than directional lighting.

2. Set the “Color” and “Tone” Function options to “ORG”. Use a custom white balance. The idea here is to have the camera adjust the red channel sensitivity itself, and leave the blue and green channels alone. To do this, start with several sheets of white paper and a red or pink marker or highlighter. Scribble with the marker across a sheet, then use that to set a custom white balance. Take a test shot of the red stuff that has been problematic, and see whether the histogram for the red channel shows that there is no saturation at the high end. Repeat this with progressively more red or pink on each sheet used to set the custom white balance until you find the custom white balance that takes enough of the edge off the red channel response. Alternative: I just tried out making a gradient across an 8.5×11″ sheet of paper going from white to about 30% red saturation. I can set more or less red adjustment in a custom white balance just by pointing the camera at different parts of the page. This seems to work OK for me. Advantage: can allow the full dynamic range of the sensor to be used. Disadvantages: the experimentation period is likely to take a while to get the best results, and the final images are unlikely to look completely natural.

3. Set the “Color” Function option to “B/W”. Use a green or cyan filter on the lens to cut the amount that the red color channel contributes to the final image. Advantages: this is fairly simple as an approach. A similar post-processing technique can be applied to the photos that you already have, by nulling out the red channel contribution and desaturating the blue and green channels to produce a grayscale image. Disadvantages: you lose the color information entirely. Since much of what you want information about is colored red anyway, the organs are likely to appear quite dark when only taking the blue and green channel contributions to the image.

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