Friday, September 6, 2013

Lee Filter Holder and Tokina 17-35mm f4

Sorry I haven't posted anything to this blog in a while.  I have moved most of my blog postings over to Tumblr.  I thought this would be a good item to post on my official blog.

I purchased a Lee Filters Foundation kit along with Lee Lens Adapter Ring (Ultra Wide) for the 82mm thread of the Tokina 17-35mm f4 lens.  I quickly learned that the adapter ring could not be directly attached to the lens because of the position of the lens hood bayonet mount.  The filter adapter ring just can't clear the bayonet mount on the lens.

To work around the problem, I attached my 82mm UV filter to the lens and then attached the Lee 82mm UW lens adapter to the UV filter. I have not yet had a chance to this in real life.  I am hoping it doesn't cause a lot of vignetting or other problems. I will know for sure when I get to try in a few days. If you have had success with this configuration, I would love to hear about it.

Update: At 17mm, the vignetting is horrible and pretty much unusable with just the filter ring attached. At 22mm, everything is happy. I still need to try in between. Still need to try with the filter holder and a filter.

Update 2: I have learned that the UW Filter ring wraps around the lens, while the standard ring does not.  I have ordered the standard filter ring.  Using the UV filter along with the Black Glass, I get a reflection when the light hits the lens. Not a good combo.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Playing with Big Toys

If you have visited this blog before, you know I am always posting comparison images.  Today I took some shots with the Fujifilm X100s using WCL-x100 conversion lens and the Nikon D600 with a Tokina Ultra Wide 17-35mm lens.  For specific Exif data, you can visit my flickr page.

Overall I think the x100s is pretty amazing. Both cameras used a circular polarizer. Images edited in Aperture along with Color Efex Pro.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

The Faces of Brushy Peak

I have taken many pictures of this park and I thought I would show what it looks like different times of year.

June 2011

April 2012
December 2012 (slightly different image POV

June 2013

Monday, May 27, 2013

Reflections on 2013

We are approaching the 1/2 way point for the year, so I thought it would be a good idea to post what I consider to be my best work of the year so far.  By the end of the year, I wonder which of these images will be removed from the list. Overall I feel like I have shot a lot of crap with very few "keepers". These are my keepers. What are your best pics this year?

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

My take on the big Flickr Change

Like many of you, the change at Flickr was pretty intense when I first saw it. Bang! Everything is new.  I actually noticed something was "wrong" the day before they went live with the new website. I was trying to upload some pics from Aperture when the upload failed and I had to re-authenticate Aperture with Flickr.  Maybe unrelated. Who knows.

Anyway, I have been a Pro subscriber for about 2 years now.  I use Flickr to store all of my edited images (good or bad) so that I have easy access to them when doing blog posts, tweets or any other time I need access to an image. Flickr has become part of my workflow.  Every day I check flickr for new activity and most importantly for the stats.

The Bad
Stats and Activity pages
What used to be as simple as visiting now involves going to and I then have go to a menu and select either "stats" or "recent activities".  The recent activity screen does not use the same layout of the old default activity summary.  I prefer the old summary.  I hear the free and "ad free" accounts have no stats. They should at least offer google analytics support.

I really do not like the new layout to view sets.  Before a visitor could see my most recent pictures and a list of the sets on the right side. Visitors would always see both.  Now sets are basically hidden and most people will never click on the Sets tab to see what sets I have created. Flickr went from offering us multiple layout choices to no choice at all.

"Edit Menu"
To view the "classic" Flickr screen with all of my photos, I have to click Edit. Silly. I don't want to edit anything. I want to view comments on my pictures and the total hits.

On my 13 inch Macbook, 1/3 of the screen is taken up by the cover photo in the edit screen. Once I start scrolling I can only see 2 rows of pictures. I can live with this, but still annoying.

I wish I could view this "classic" layout on everyone else's page, like we could before.

Once I click on a photo I get the new super ugly picture layout which forces me to scroll down to view comments from users.  I challenge you to figure out how to view different sizes of your own image.  No obvious menu exists for this. If I right click on my photo, I get an annoying window with size choices:

Cover Photo
Did you notice that the Cover Photo interface allows you to only select "recent" pictures or upload a picture. What are they thinking? The entire reason Flickr exists is to store my photos, yet I can't pick an old photo as my Cover image. I have to upload an old photo that I have already uploaded to Flickr six months ago. #fail. Pathetic design choice.  The list of these recent photos appears to also be at a low resolution, which is just ugly. I should have access to my entire photo collection.

I still have ads on my Groups list. I know I am just a "Pro" user and not "ad free", but that seems like a mistake.

The new buttons within the interface do not have tool tips, so you don't know what they do until you click the button.

The only thing I like about the new interface is that I can see big versions of my contacts pictures. I am clicking the star more often for my contacts.

Bottom line
I think Flickr screwed up with the new pricing model. They have increased the price for anyone who doesn't want to view ads and who isn't an old "pro" account holder. Not only do you pay twice the price of the old pro account, but you get less for the money.  You don't get "unlimited" storage and you don't get stats. 1TB of storage is just smoke and mirrors so that you drink the KoolAid. 1TB of storage is great buzz for the press, but what about the things you don't get?

I want a layout choice.  The best thing Flickr could do is to offer a "classic layout" choice.  When most websites roll out major changes, they give users a transition period at the least, which includes a button to switch between layouts. Flickr didn't consider this or just didn't care about the existing customer base.   Am I going to stop using the service?  No. It still serves my needs, I just have to click a lot more to get things done.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

More Nikon D600 vs Fujifilm X100s

I have been shooting with the x100S for a few weeks now and every day I use it, I am more impressed with the Fujifilm image quality. At times I love the results much more then the Nikon D600.  In mixed lighting situations, I find I have more control over the x100s.

A few comparison shots:



Interior of a train


Burned Bridge

X100s (B&W)


Cash Register



Wednesday, April 17, 2013

FujiFilm X100s vs Nikon D600

I wanted to post a comparison of some pictures taken on the Nikon D600 vs the FujiFilm x100s. These pictures were taken about 2 days apart around the same time of day.

Images were edited using Color Efex Pro.



Saturday, March 16, 2013

My first sensor cleaning

As I have noted before, I am one of the many who has experienced the dirty sensor issues of the Nikon D600.  After already sending my camera to Nikon once (at around 2500 images) for a "real" cleaning, I was not in the mood to wait 3 more weeks for another cleaning by Nikon.

I am at around 4000 shutter clicks right now and images taken at f16 using my 50mm Nikon lens were full of probably 40 small dust spots.The spots were not nearly as visible with my Tokina 17-35mm lens.

50mm at f16. Image enhanced to show the spots
I purchased a wet cleaning kit and used probably 10 or more swabs over the sensor in an effort to get things clean.  Pretty scary process at first, since I had never done this before. At one point I had made things worse. The end results were far from perfect but I still think it is an improvement. What do you think?

Below is a sample image after cleaning.

50mm lens at f16 AFTER cleaning. Image enhanced

50mm at f8 AFTER cleaning. Image enhanced
Image enhancements done with Color Efex Pro.


I have been shooting for over a week since I cleaned the sensor myself and so far I haven't seen a single spot. This has probably been the first time since sending the camera back to Nikon that I have been dust free.

Image 4500 taken today:

Cleaning was done with a Sensor Swab kit:

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Before and After

I haven't made a blog post in a while, but I thought it would be interesting to post a couple of pictures that show the water level at the EBRPD Del Valle Park has dropped dramatically in the past year and a half.

June 2011
December 2012
Note the water gauge to the right of the building
I haven't been to the park since December, but I suspect it isn't much better. I may return in June 2013 to see if it is much lower.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

EyeFi Cards and the Nikon D600

I have been using EyeFi memory cards since I first saw them at Macworld many many years ago. I probably bought an EyeFi card within the first few months the company put the cards on the market. In total I probably own 4 or 5 cards with capacity going up to the new 16GB card. All of the cards have been reliable and the wireless upload with Geotagging of images had been fantastic.

With the Nikon D5100 I had no problem using the card. It was a little slow to upload to my computer but I didn't mind the wait.  Now with the 24 megapixal D600 I am finding that the wireless download time of a RAW image is just unusably slow. JPEG images upload really fast but RAW is impossible.  With 200+ RAW images taken on a typical shoot, it would take hours and hours to complete the download.

With the slow download, I am finding myself removing the card from the camera and putting it into the iMac's SD card slot and doing a drag and drop so I edit my images.

Just to be clear, I do not think the card itself is the main source of the problem. Home internet connections are great when downloading from the web, but uploads speeds are pretty bad.  The EyeFi card uploads every image to the web and returns it to your local computer and that is just a super slow process.

If anyone has suggestions for getting a faster download of a RAW file from an EyeFi card, let me know. For now, I am probably going to drag and drop my images even if that means the file doesn't get a geotag.

UPDATED 5/5/2013

I recently made a minor change to my wireless network and suddenly I have seen a speed increase in my Eye-Fi transfers.  In the Wireless settings of my Airport Extreme I changed WPA/WPA2 to just WPA and suddenly transfer speeds jumped. Not sure why, but that is the only change I made to my network.  The Eye-Fi card is working fast enough now to use it with the D600 RAW files.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

HDR Showdown

If you have been following my blog, you will know I am a big fan of train interior shots.  I have always considered the below train interior image one of my best pictures.  Originally it was taken as a 3 shot bracketed HDR edited with Photomatix.

I have been using Photomatix for my HDR work for over a year but I haven't really been happy with the "softness" that the images produce.  Today I purchased a copy of HDR Efex Pro and re-edited the image.  The difference in quality is stunning. HDR Efex Pro left a brighter, more realistic image that is sharp and clean.  Look at the details in the train ceiling. Look at the richness of the wall colors.

I am hooked. HDR Efex Pro rocks. The editing controls are simple and clear. The detail it produces is fantastic. But at the same time, it is far from perfect. I tried to re-edit a bracketed landscape image from last year and the Photomatix results are fantastic while HDR Efex Pro really made a mess out of the image.  I think both products are great to have, depending on the image type.

I played around with some bracketed image of Vasco Caves and found that Efex Pro did a nice job. You can see the image is slightly sharper.

Photomatix HDR

HDR Efex Pro


HDR Efex Pro

Saturday, January 12, 2013

D600 repair status

Just giving an update on my repair.  Nikon received my package on Wednesday. Saturday morning they sent me an email with my service number and details:

1) Covered under warranty. No cost
2) Problem Description from Nikon: • EXPOSURE OFF -- OVEREXPOSURE • CHECK SENSOR - CLN -
3) Category is a B2: Moderate Repair-Major parts replacement.

Wonder what would qualify for major parts replacement?

Thursday, January 10, 2013

New Online Store

Yes, I have tried this in the past but I think I finally found a really simple and fast online store for photographers who may not need a fancy custom store.

The store comes from Image Kind, which appears to be the same company that owns CafePress.

Setup is easy. You can login with your Flickr account and you can import your images directly from Flickr.

They have pricing options from free to under $99 a year. You pick your pricing and markup for the items you sell.

So go ahead and check out my store. And of course buy something:

Saturday, January 5, 2013

D600 Sensor spots

After 2000 images on my D600 I decided it was time to send it into Nikon to have the sensor professionally cleaned.  The amount of dirt was just out of control and it was becoming too hard to "repair" every spot.

Below is an cropped example of the upper left corner of an enhanced image that shows off the amount of dirt/oil/dust that is stuck to the sensor. If you look at a larger view of the image, you can see at least 15 spots.

I took about 500 more "junk" shots to get the count to 2500, packed up the camera and shipped it off for repair. I hope Nikon is fast.