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Analog and Digital opinions from photography to politics and everything in between.

24 November 2009

Loss of Wisdom

There's been a lot of talk lately in the 4/3rds groups on flickr about gear and people whining about not having it or whatever. I'm getting really sick of it, to be quite honest, and the fact that it drove away one of the biggest contributors of really any forum I've been a part of sickens me.

It doesn't matter what kind of camera you have. It really doesn't. There are very few highly specialized situations in which it matters what kind of camera you have. Shooting for billboard ads doesn't even really count. Images can be scaled up with genuine fractals almost limitlessly and then vectorized (is that even the right word?), giving you truly unlimited scale potential. So I could theoretically shoot for an ad campaign to be put on the sides of buildings with an 8mp E-500. theoretically, of course. Commercial photography is one of those things that "requires" huge investment with little return. Need a honkin computer to deal with the 150mb RAW files from MF digital backs, need the storage space to hold all those files, the huge CF cards to store them on while you're shooting, etc. You could do it with a D3x or 1Ds, or even a D300 or 50D. Image quality is superb with the right glass on any of those cameras. But everyone does it with a hasselblad, or a mamiya 645AFD with the newest leaf back. Because when clients see you with a big honkin camera, their first thoughts are, "Man, this guy must be good at this." (yes, I know they have resolution several orders of magnitude more, but are we really going to go back to the MP wars??) Speaking of Hassys (Hassies?), they just announced the H4D recently. really? yawn. Call me cynical but I'd rather shoot with a 1DmkIV than the latest hasselblad, and I really despise Canon. I'd take a 501cm over the H4D any day. Actually, no. I lied. I'd take the H4D then sell it. Buy some stock in apple or google. save the rest for other gear. Like the Hasselblad they took to the moon. I don't know why, but I really like that camera.

So I don't really count high end commercial photography as being specialized enough to require a certain camera. Certain software, absolutely. MF a necessity? definitely not. but what about sports photography? maybe. I understand that 10fps will basically insure you don't miss the shot, but I think it's total overkill. any camera with 5+ fps can do it. I've seen it. you don't need a 1D to shoot this stuff. I'd argue that theres really no action happening in 1/10th of a second that you would miss between .1s and .2s, though conceding that depending on the shot you are trying to get there will be action happening there, and the buffers on ~5fps cameras could be and should be designed to practically shoot all day whereas the 10fps cameras should technically, all things being equal, fill the buffers faster. but they don't, because the professional camera market is a total racket in my opinion. Seriously,how hard is it to stick a faster image processor on a circuitboard and for how much (read: little) extra? Canon intentionally neutered the 5DII (ooooh but it shoots video!!) so that it wouldn't cannibalize 1D sales and Nikon doesn't include features like sensor cleaning (seriously, what the fuck man. my 5 year old E-500 has that) on its top cameras.

photojournalism does require one to have a "specific" camera. It needs to be rugged and fast preferably weather-sealed. it also needs to be inexpensive, because PJs are poor as shit for the most part and so are the publications they work for. ideal candidates: K-7, E-3, D300. I'd mention Canon's 40 and 50D here but from what I've heard I really don't think their weather protection is as good as these three. portrait photography? a D90 will suit you just as well as a D3 and cost you a few thousand dollars less. money you can put towards good glass. Underwater photography? forget about it. numerous companies make housings for almost every semi-professional camera ever made, with strobes to match and ports for almost any lens.

before I start sounding like an idiot, which I'm sure I already do, I am going to say that for what YOU do, there is a camera that is best for you. There is no end-all be-all camera and there never will be. figure out what it is that you need, and then go and buy it. need fast telephoto zooms with great IQ and weathersealing? olympus is probably your system, go buy an E-3 and a 35-100 (2x crop factor guys). in-body IS will work with any lens. as an aside, I've been toying with the idea of buying a Nikkor 80-200/2.8D for my F100 to be used also on the E-3. extremely long reach on the E-3, a good tele zoom on the Nikon, and exceptional build quality all around. If you shoot shows all the time and need high ISO performance, go buy yourself a D3 or D700. really, any recent Nikon is great with low-light performance. ISO102,800 (not a typo) on the D3s. for when you need to shoot at 1/8000 at nighttime (because we all need to do that). I'd say Nikkor glass is second only to Zuiko, and you do pay for it on both systems. I'm not going to even recommend Canon to anyone. that would be mean of me. They haven't got a WA or UWA lens that's as sharp wide open as Pentax's, Nikkors's, or Zuiko's, and Nikkor can match their telephoto offerings and speed for all you sports shooters out there. I can't comment on Pentax or Sony, unfortunately, because I've never used either system for long enough to formulate a valid opinion on them.
I have to end this with another little rant, because there are some other problems besides just the camera system that a lot of people whine about. for example, "wahh I just got to try out pro glass on my camera and it was so cool how am I ever going to afford it/go back to my crappy kit lenses". seriously, shut the fuck up. if you can't make decent images with a basic camera and lens, you shouldn't be taking pictures. end of discussion. a professional-caliber camera and lens system will not help you one damn bit if you don't have the technique or skill in the first place. Get up, grab your camera, go outside, and just shoot some damn pictures.

I had surgery yesterday to get all four of my wisdom teeth out. I have to say that Vicodin is highly overrated. It's hardly helped with my pain, which, to be honest isn't as horrible as I thought it would be. I just really want to start eating real food soon. I'm gonna get sick of eggs and pudding in about....now. I've been absent from this blog for quite some time now and I'm really trying to get into more of a groove with everything. Finally uploading stuff to flickr on a regular basis though, so hopefully that will carry over to this little project I've got going. If I haven't let it out of the bag yet, I'm on twitter @mathewmphoto, and as always, I'll be on flickr. Hoping to do some reviews of apps for the iPhone/iPod Touch and potentially the Droid, so be on the lookout for those in the coming months.

P.S: Kodak Ektar is one of the nicest films I have ever shot.

Nikon F100 + Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 ai-s + Kodak Ektar.

15 October 2009

Some Thoughts

Nikon F100 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 + Fuji Velvia RVP50

I love crazy color casts. definitely wasn't expecting it from this roll, even though it was pretty old. kept it in the fridge for so long I figured it'd be fine but I guess these pleasant little surprises are nice every now and then. I was shooting into the sun too, so that probably compounded the issue. Weather's been really weird lately. cold and dewy on this morning, and then two days ago we had driving rain almost all day, then a day of heat, and now its just muggy out there. I thought San Francisco weather was supposed to be predictable.

The F100 is still amazing, thank you very much. Not too many problems, the only big one (and I wouldn't even call it a problem) being that it seems like I get a frame or two less out of a roll than on my N8008s. instead of the 38 I used to get, sometimes I can only get 36. Weird. its performing great though, finally got around to setting everything in the CSM and dialing the camera into what I like. I'll report on battery life once mine die. I'm not using AF lenses or putting too much stress on the motor drive so I'll see how many rolls I get out of this thing. curious how long I can make an exposure last once I get my remote trigger. I get a roll of Velvia back from photoworks tomorrow night so that will be on flickr probably by monday. I did make the mistake of wanting to see a roll from this weekend too badly last night. So I took it to walgreens. definitely a no-no. when I picked it up they had given me prints, something I specifically asked to NOT get. I wasn't in the mood to make it an issue so I just paid the man and left. waste of an extra five bucks.

So, I get back, expecting to have headache-free scanning. yeah, no. Vuescan gave every negative a blue or green cast with way too much grain. This on Reala 100, a film that normally doesn't have grain issues, at least with me. I scoured the interwebs for some help, and eventually just RTFM, which told me to set the base color, lock the exposure, etc. better, but not good enough. so I quit that, opened up epsonscan and what do you know, I can actually get some good scans. Turns out Vuescan is extremely picky about the C41 it likes (a conclusion corroborated by quite a few people on an old dpreview thread). which is a really shame because Vuescan is good, and I mean really good, with slides. Number of problem rolls of slides I've had: two. ever. That's life I guess. I'm gonna keep trying with different film, see if I can nail something down with vuescan. I have a bunch of NPS160 and I really just don't wanna run it all through Epsonscan. call it personal preference, but Epsonscan doesn't seem like a high-quality program. It works, it just seems like it's the Piknik of scanning software.

Also, anybody catch the UFL? I hope they make it through next season, cuz when the NFL locks the players out in 2011 you can bet your ass UFL attendance is going to skyrocket. And I mean, these games aren't that bad at all. I watched Florida and Las Vegas I think, kinda just looked like an NFL game between two "okay" teams. I hate those red ref uniforms though. so. hard. to. tell. and they need to get different team uniforms. the silver, green, black and blue just doesn't work when you have all the teams with those colors. Anyways, go Redwoods. I'll probably be watchin the game on friday night. Hope Cal doesn't choke this weekend......again.....Oregon will win so I'm not too worried.

09 October 2009

Tenba Shootout

As promised long ago, I am finally going to go over this bag. It's the Tenba Shootout Medium, not the daypack, which does not have a laptop compartment.

Hit the jump for more info. Olympus OMG + Zuiko 50mm f/1.8 + Fuji NPH400.

First off, this bag is heavy at around 2 pounds dry. If you are looking for a lightweight bag, look elsewhere. If you want what I feel is the best bag in this size range, keep reading.

There is a ton of padding on this bag, from the shoulder straps to the waist belt and back panel. It's wildly comfortable to carry, even fully loaded. the camera compartment is also well padded and fully modular, like most bags these days. It's stiff when new, like almost everything you buy, but is easy enough to move around to your liking. This compartment can also be pulled out from the bag, giving you a ton of storage space for clothes or what not. I use it for groceries. I can fit a 12 pack of whatever, a few cans of soup on the side, some small boxed foods, and some other random stuff. Those hand carts you get at the store? Think of that capacity plus some. Underneath the back padding there is a small compartment that holds a cover for the shoulder straps. it's simple enough to deal with, just zips right over them to keep the bag streamlined. Good if you're checking the bag through the airport, but not for much else in my opinion.

The side pockets of the main compartment have flaps that fold inward so you can easily access your gear; and extra lens, body, whatever you would like. Good idea? yes, I think so. good execution? no, not in my experience. once you get the backpack fitted correctly to your body, the pockets are so high up that it's almost impossible to unzip them, let alone reach in and grab a lens. What I do is stick my extra body (Nikon N8008s) with an extra lens in one of the compartments, then I zip the strap up in the side pocket's zipper. That way I can just grab the strap and pull the whole body out. The N8008s is a bit bulky though, so I'd really recommend using a smaller body in this manner as there is a size constraint with this whole ordeal. I use the other side pocket with the flap closed. I keep a memory card wallet in there with some microfiber cloths and extra rolls of film if I decide to bring them with me. The other outer pocket, on the front of the bag, is for tripods. Tenba has some system for using it with different sized tripods. I only have one tripod and its pretty small when closed, so I haven't really worried about Tenba's "system"

The laptop "compartment" on the shootout really just piggybacks on the camera compartment. there is a rubberized zipper on the top of the bag that allows you to drop your laptop into the little padded sleeve on the camera compartment. it seems quite padded to me and seems to be able to easily fit a 15" notebook with its own neoprene padded sleeve. depending on the size of your notebook, your mileage will vary. I'd like to come back to the rubberized zippers later though.

The top flap on the bag could have used a little more thought. it's a little tough to get anything bulkier than a Nikon rear lens cap in there. There are two translucent plastic pouches. one I keep gels and small PC cords in, the other has lens adapters, filters, and some other misc. small objects. there is a bottom pouch, but again it's small and you can't fit anything bulky in it. Not even really more than a couple rolls of film. really wish there was some more thought put into that area of the bag. There are elastic bands for pens and such, which is nice.

The camera compartment for this bag is awesome, despite any other shortcomings. It can fit everything. I keep two strobes with small light modifiers in one area. the modifiers are really just to cut down the power of the strobes while softening light just a tad. nothing important. I also throw in a manfrotto super clamp with my wireless triggers in a different compartment. On the camera side, I've got my Nikon F100 on top, my N8008s on the side, both with 28mm, 50mm, or 105mm primes. The Olympus E-500 goes on the bottom of the compartment with the Zuiko 35mm macro, and the 14-45mm rarely makes it out of the house. I toss in an Olympus Stylus Epic when there is space, loaded with neopan 1600 as a last-ditch effort to get a shot. All this, and there's still some room.

Everything has a downside, and there are certainly some to the Shootout. The biggest issue is the zippers. They are all fully rubberized, which is nice since it gets rainy here and I like to be assured my gear is going to be dry. however, the zippers are stiff as hell when new and take a while to break in, especially the one for the main compartment. also, Tenba claims their weather cover is the "fastest-deploying" or some bullshit like that. lies. the zipper to get to the cover is on the bottom of the bag, no biggie. the zipper tab, however, is smaller than on most of my pants and is damn near impossible to unzip. the cover then snaps over the shoulder straps, which can be difficult if you're out of practice. other than that, and the fact the the bag stays stiff for a long time, there's really almost nothing wrong with the shootout.

Note that I have the medium version without the rolling wheels, the large and small are obviously of relative sizes and if you opt for the rolling version there is a price premium. The daypack is, if I recall, the Medium, but instead of Tenba's tripod system, there is a collapsible compartment for food, softgoods, and other miscellaneous items you may need on a hike. I would recommend it if you don't need the use of a laptop compartment or tripod carrier. My shootout came from B&H and retails for about 189. Check eBay, you may be able to find one on there, but I had very little luck with that. For reference, I was also looking at an Ape Case Pro, and the Lowepro Computrekker. I would recommend the Lowepro if you don't want to swing for the Tenba. I should add that this was a present to me from Chloe, the greatest elf of them all.

That was a mouthful. just as an update, I'll have stuff up on flickr next week. it's been busy. 2 rolls of chrome on the way. I am on twitter now as well. you can follow me @mathewmphoto. Anyone else as suprised that Obama won the Nobel Prize as I am? Some thoughts to come. Also, I am debating an F100 review, but we'll see. Ken Rockwell's F100 review is quite in depth and I feel like I am only going to have opinions on the camera to supplement his. That's all for now.

25 August 2009

I need a job

anyone got one for me?

I should have a steady stream of stuff going up on flickr, tryin to get back into the groove. I'll try for 5 a day M-Th since I'm much too lazy on fridays and weekends.

More later.

Olympus Evolt E-500 + Nikkor 105mm f/2.5 + Sunpak 422D

1/8 power, Shoot-through umbrella high & left

18 August 2009


sorry. it's been a hectic month. Just moved into my new apartment, trying to find a job, scanning about 10 rolls of film, blah blah blah, excuses excuses.

Just thought I'd update with a thought or two on umbrellas.
  1. Asians rock. seriously, where else but Japantown (Ichi Ban Kan if you need to know) could I get a white umbrella for a dollar? nowhere I tell you. except maybe Chinatown, but I don't think white umbrellas really draw in the tourist set.
  2. BEHOLD! Dollar store umbrella of death! Photobucket
  3. so I kinda did a hack job on the handle. my dremel cutting wheels kept shattering so I kinda brute forced it. on the plus side, now my umbrella can double as a lance. the cool thing about this is that it opens automatically. sweetness. you just have to close it carefully and use the snaps on the outside of the umbrella to hold it closed. they'll probably fail at a very inopportune moment. who cares. I don't. why?
  4. Because this is an awesome shoot through umbrella. westcott, move over. I would be willing to bet that this piece of shit transmits light just as good if not better than a lot of the inexpensive shoot-throughs out there while still diffusing pretty well. example? thought you'd never ask.


Olympus E-500 + Zuiko 35mm f/3.5 Macro.
Canon 420EZ high and left shooting through white umbrella, 1/8 power.
Triggered with poverty wizards

In other news, my Tenba Shootout just came today. review and pics up soon. Also, if you've been living under a rock, the Radiopopper JrXs just dropped. I creamed my pants. Flickr will soon be updated with much too much film for my own good.

07 July 2009

I shall return

Blog I have not forgotten you. I've been so swamped with accounting and history its not even funny. I've been shooting like mad though, so all is not lost. Fair just ended, I'll have some shots from that up soon. Just doing some scanning right now then it's off to bed. some of my stuff on ebay is ending tomorrow, I hope it all sells. probably won't. oh well. if anyone must know, there's a nikkor 28mm f/3.5, tamrac 5608 pro 8 bag, and some other assorted treaties. send me a flickrmail and I'll see what I can do for you. as always, flickr.com/photos/mathewm. later, and hopefully an update soon. got some new gear in and on the way, maybe a review or two ahead. more to come this week, promise.

08 June 2009

Second Shot

for the first time. kindof.  Terri needed some help (rippeephoto.com, have a looksie. She's a good friend and I'd definitely recommend her for engagement, wedding, and baby photos if you're in or around San Diego) and i offered my services.  Got there and helped set up, standard stuff.  backdrop for these shots she does at every wedding.  The guests write a message on a piece of paper, hold it up, and pose.  It's really cool and a neat (and easy) way to get a shot of everyone.  

Anyways, the bride was running a little late getting ready so Terri was really busy with her, I just plunked around and shot a bunch of detail stuff.  Nice ceremony and everything, but I really wish I had more to do instead of making sure the backdrop didn't blow over in the wind.  I mean, there were only like 40 people at the wedding anyways so I was pretty extraneous, but I still wish I could have done more.  Oh well, I was only there in an auxiliary sense anyways, and I guess now I've got some stuff I can add to my portfolio. Maybe next time. 

I definitely admire the wedding photographers out there, but that stuff isn't for me I don't think.  Too many batteries, too many CF cards, too much going on, and too much responsibility for those shots.  

I've got a lot of post to still go over, and I'm waiting on a roll of NHG800 to be developed.  Speaking of,  I should really get down to Little Italy and pick up my Ektachrome and Neopan at Chrome.  

I think this is my favorite shot of these little gift boxes on the tables. There's another that's not up on flickr yet that runs in a close second.  I've also got to think about b&w, too.  I've got some decisions I need to make on post and what I could put in a portfolio possibly.  I just really liked this one because I got the tones very neutral and undersaturated and without a strong contrast, which seemed to be the theme with the colors for the wedding.  If you go look at my flickr you can see what I mean.  Baby blues, seafoam green, pinkish orangish flowers, pale blue tablecloths.  I processed this shot very vividly as well, but I think it pops too much and doesn't accurately reflect the subject or the wedding.  So yeah, I finally figured out how to utilize my Vintage Lightroom preset and I've pretty much got it figured out. I was always trying to change color temp when I really needed to look at the primaries because the yellow cast was coming from the reds.  Anyways, more shots on flickr, more to come tomorrow from the wedding, and I'm gonna get my new little project up by Wednesday (Chloe, you will finally wet your pants in relief).  Also, Ektachrome 1600, Neopan 1600, and Fuji NHG800 by mid-week, hopefully scanned and processed.  

Just a reminder, I still have a Canon A2E on eBay, as well as a bunch of other photo-related stuff, so if you're so inclined reference my previous post and you'll see what's there.  probably soon to go on eBay: North Face Recon backpack, Tamrac Pro 8 Camera bag.

06 June 2009

Back in the South

Sorry about the absence, been busy with moving out of school, horrid finals, starting summer school, etc. Finally got a place, we hope. It's on Vicente and 24th...ish. Still need to finalize paperwork, get the lease signed, etc, but we're workin on it. first on the list, but it gets kinda hard with 500 miles between here and SF. But yes, we will be moving into a place in the Sunset, 2br/2ba, nice kitchen and bathrooms, all the good stuff. happiness all around. 

Did some work for Marion Knowles (one of my mom's photographer friends) the other day got a grip of film out of her fridge. I love when people think they'll never use it and just give it away. makes me feel all warm and happy on the inside. And she had some legit cameras to shoot it with, so it's not like there wasn't a capability. Oh well, one person's trash is another's treasure. Got about.....10 or so rolls of Kodak's B&W C41 film, in 2 varieties: the Portra BW400 and the T400CN. 10 rolls of Provia, 5 rolls of velvia, some superia, reala, NPH400, NPS160, NHG800, a roll of kodak gold, 2 rolls of kodak HD, which I assume is a consumer oriented version of UC or something like that. or maybe just a finer-grained gold. who knows, I'll have to find out. I think it's in the Pentax right now. actually no, NPH400 is in the pentax, and the Kodak HD is in the OMG. NHG800 in the Nikon. more on that later.

Also scored a roll of Ektachrome 1600 (win!) and scala 200. sending that one out should be interesting. Took the Ektachrome (god that is a hard word to type for some reason) to Chrome in SD. Prices are about as good as Photoworks so hopefully that will be a good place to get my E-6 developed. they send out their B&W though... freakin weird. Develop E-6, sendout for B&W. makes sense. Their price also includes mounting, so I hope I get a discount on that since I hate mounted slides. anyways, I'll have those ready and hopefully up by Wedesday. 

Back to the NHG800. I'll be assisting Terri Rippee at a wedding tomorrow, hopefully the Nikon will deliver. and the NHG. and the neopan. will also be my first time doing anything photographic at a wedding. actually, I think it'll only be the second wedding ive attended. that seems weird to me. so, two rolls of NHG800, a grip of Neopan, and some NPH400 or NPS160. I'll bring both and I'll just have to see what kind of light I have to work with.  

as some additional news, I've got a bunch of stuff on eBay. if you need some vintage flashes, I guess I'm your guy. I've got...
Voigtlander VC21B
Vivitar 2500
Focal M500CS
Achiever 115A
Sunpak DC-3

Flashes not for the strobist types, the only manual control is via distance and aperture.  the Achiever and Sunpak do have PC cord connections though. also on ebay: an old pentax strap, a .45x wide angle/macro filter for a 58mm thread, a lowepro TLZ mini case, and Marion's Canon A2E. it's nice, you want it. canon professional/domke gripper strap included.


I shot this in a DIY softbox.  inspiration/idea from the master himself, David Hobby.  at least I think it was his blog... oh well.  it's just your average medium sized cardboard box with four sides cut out of it, a poster board sweep, and copy paper taped on the top and right side, and also the inside left to act as a bounce.  Shot a 420EZ at 1/16 or 1/32 through the top and a Sunpak 422D through the side, also at 1/16th.  

In later shots, I snooted the 420 because I was getting weird shadows from the solid parts of the box.  you can see them to the right and left of the body.  stopped the aperture way down so I could tell where the light was hitting and adjusted the flash until it was hitting the paper diffuser and only the paper diffuser, not any cardboard.  tried to control the light spill from the 422D but I just didnt have the time or materials to try to flag the background.  the other shots turned out fine, but if I was doing serious work for pay, that would have been rectified.  all in all, a great DIY project that took about 45min from start to finish (my box cutters suck, I ended up using kitchen shears) that gave me some good high-key product shots for ebay.  certainly nothing worthy of calling art, but shit that definitely works for its purpose. 

On the film front: this is what I love about Velvia.  awesome.freaking.colors.  taken at the Tulip Garden in Golden Gate Park, SF.  You get some weird types there.  Asian guys with fat tripods and D3oos with huge lenses mostly.  Anyways, this was scanned on a V500, which I think is a ridiculously good scanner for the amount of money you can pay for it.  3200dpi gives you 14.7mp images (according to Adobe Camera Raw) from 35mm frames.  not too shabby at all.  it does kinda lack in the B&W department.  Vuescan just doesn't seem to be able to hit the exposure correctly for Neopan, FP4, or HP5.  And I'm hating Epsonscan.  stuff turns out sharper but its because of an aggressive unsharp mask, and it just doesn't give the highest quality possible. I'd recommend shying away from it, and also because it has a really hard time recognizing dark negatives and slides (im talking in terms of the positive image here). Anyways, enjoy.  

Nikon N8008s + Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 + Fuji Velvia RVP50

About this whole photo class thing. goddamn SFSU and its BS rules. 

After my visit to SLO i'm kindof lusting after giant softboxes now. got to play with some Dyna-lites in Photoflex boxes and I am really impressed. Considering it took us like an hour to setup for one shot, I don't think it's going to be a purchase I'll be making anytime soon. I mean, we did have to set up a sweep, 2 soft boxes and lights, a gradient, and the actual product shot, but a big softbox is a serious investment (for me, especially because of space constraints, and my utter lack of funds and hardware to support it) especially to get the most out of it. Besides, a Westcott double fold on a Manfrotto Nano Stand is infinitely more compact, easier to setup and take down, and depending on your subject size and proximity, can replicate a softbox in terms of light quality. Except for the catchlights. Anyways, I'm gonna throw some more information out in the coming few days. its late but I've got some ideas floating about in my head that I'm gonna try to formulate into a coherent, concise flow of words. 

I just wanted to throw it out there that Chloe's super delicious. I really wish she'd shoot more, she's really good. you can find her at her flickr. if she'd ever get out of shooting only assignments for photo classes, her photostream would be populated with many many more great shots. But I promise, she's much more awesome than boring beginning photo class assignments indicate.  As an aside, this is the first real photo ive posted that's horizontal.

05 May 2009

Hey, SFSU!

is this for fucking serious? a lower-division, introductory photo course that I CAN TAKE TO MEET A G.E. REQUIREMENT AND YOU DON'T FUCKING LET ME REGISTER FOR IT? WHAT THE FUCK! This is some serious bullshit. just cuz I'm in a major that's going to actually make me real money doesn't mean you should get all jealous and pretentious-starving-artisty and bar me from taking this class.  I'VE BEEN WAITING TWO FUCKING YEARS for a chance to get into this class, and now look what you've done. you've shattered my hopes and dreams is what you've done.  well screw you and your tight-ass darkroom SFSU Art Department, I'm gonna develop IN MY FUCKING CLOSET and blow your panties off.  bitch. 

in other news...

I love Cafe Americana. They have the best potatoes with their eggs benedict. and the hollandaise is fresh every day I think. so delicious. I get hard ons thinking of those eggs and bacon. They're on the corner of 15th and that one main road in Del Mar. if you're in town, you should go eat there, just not when I am, cuz I don't want anyone stealing all the raw sugar and cholula.

Can you tell I'm starving right now?

Nikon N8008s + Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 + Fuji NPH400.

01 May 2009

Weekend Trip!

I'm going down to see Chloe for the weekend. There's a gala for the art dept at SLO so we're going to that, and I should be doing some studio work with her. mostly helping set up but i might get a few shots in. forecast is for rain, but hopefully it'll blow through today and tonight. I just don't wanna be stuck inside all day. There's some lovely hills in the back of SLO and I'd really like to shoot there more, weather permitting. We'll see tomorrow. 

Anyways, I just wanted to take this time to talk about what to pack. Don't pack what you don't need. Let me rephrase. Don't pack what you ABSOLUTELY don't need, or if its something you might end up needing then make sure you have it available to you at your destination. I'm bringing the kitchen sink, just because that's how I roll. 

Nikon N8008s, Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 (technically, I don't need this, since chloe's got a 28mm that's a stop faster, but I really like this lens). I left my 50 at home since Chloe's got one and I can borrow it whenever. The E-500 is coming too along with the 14-45 and the macro. because I like wide and I like tight (two concepts that go together as much as Nazis at an Annie Liebovitz gallery, if you're talking about something besides photography). Bringing both my flashes too, wireless triggers, and extra batteries. if you have a bag that has memory card/battery holders, USE THEM. They are so helpful. ive got all mine full of AAs, some assorted AAAs, and the BLM-1 for my E-500. the nice red tags let me know which batteries are dead. I'm going to miss this bag. maybe.

oh yeah, if you're traveling, I'm of the opinion that a dedicated camera backpack trumps EVERYTHING. especially if it can carry a laptop. I looked into getting a messenger bag, but the lack of space (I need [read: like] lots of it) turned me off. so I'm getting a backpack, ditching my Tamrac Pro8 and my North Face Recon. shoulder bag + backpack = no bueno on the shoulders. I need something that can carry 2 bodies with lenses, an extra lens for each body, 2 speedlights, wireless triggers, a laptop, hard drive, and assorted knick nacks. A 'weather proof' backpack beats my thin north face bag and my [fairly substantial] tamrac bag any day of the week. consolidation FTW. you might like the ease of a shoulder bag to get at your stuff, but i normally have a camera slung around my neck anyways. besides, I'm talking about travel here, not going on day jaunts around the city. I'd probably prefer a messenger for that, but for travel, id rather carry a small bag with my clothes along with the backpack. it just seems more convenient to me.

I've been processing a lot of B&W lately, don't really know why. color C-41 films are lookin nicer in monochrome to me or something. I have a fetish for good tonality. not claiming this is a shining example or anything, but I like it. Happy may day kids, I'm off to an econ midterm. fuck this professor.

Nikon N8008s + Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 + Kodak Portra BW400CN.

30 April 2009

Split Toning

Saves bland monochrome conversions!

Use it!

Blue and yellow work best, no more saturated than 15 or 20. Balance is up to you, and is picture dependent.

of course I can't remember what I did to this shot...

Nikon N8008s + Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 + Fuji Pro400H

29 April 2009

Kodak BW400CN

Also known in the past as T400CN, Portra BW400, and now as Kodak Professional BW400CN (professional my ass, I can find this shit in the local walgreens). 

Anyways, it's a monochrome C-41 film that you can get processed at any drugstore minilab. I really think it's a hidden gem in the film world. Ilford made (makes?) a similar film, its name escapes me at the moment (XP2?), but I don't think it gives you as creamy of a texture as the Portra. I'm calling it portra because it's what it was called when I first shot it. to my eye, the emulsions are more or less the same throughout the name changes, so get over it. I've shot every the T400, Portra, and professional versions, so I can testify.

moving on, it's a great film. Lots of dynamic range, though not as good as a silver-halide film developed and printed yourself, and the contrast is right in the middle so you've got the leeway to play with it in post if you have a hybrid A/D workflow like I do. if I didn't have so much neopan, I'd probably be shooting this a lot more. as it stands, I've got 15 rolls of 1600 to burn through, and I don't get out enough at night. 

when developed by a lab that knows what they're doing, it looks a lot better than from your drug store minilab. yeah yeah, i know they probably use the same machines to do it, but pro labs definitely take care of theirs better. I'm tellin you, it's worth paying twice the price for a much better negative. 

The only downsides to the B&W portra? well, if you're obsessed with Fuji, you're out of luck for an equivalent in their line (maybe acros 100, but that's not C-41. in fact, Acros is a much nicer film, it just doesn't really fall into the same category, and it's cheap at my local lab so i guess I could call it another hidden gem) The fine grain of BW400 is also deceiving—yeah, it's great, but the film itself isn't a high-resolution film. I mean come on, it's sold in drugstores. Think of it as a nice companion to some NPS160 or Portra NC.

I'd definitely recommend it, but if you're a "true" B&W shooter, you might be disappointed with this C-41 stuff. definitely worth bringing along with you on a trip since anywhere in the world you can probably find a 1 hour place to develop it. but then again, you might want to be shooting the good stuff if you're only gonna be there once if you know what i mean.

Oh i almost forgot, if you're the kind of person who loves to use all the technology youve got, you can use your scanner's Digital ICE on BW400CN since it's a C41 film.  or you can save yourself some time and brush the big pieces off and clone the rest out in photoshop.

Nikon N8008s + Nikkor 28mm f/2.8 + Kodak Portra BW400CN

sorry. I just don't understand how people say Velvia is so ridiculously oversaturated. i had to ADD saturation/vibrance to this, along with many of my other slides, just to get them to look like the actual scene that i remember through the lens. 

Maybe it's the 100.  RVP50 seems a bit more saturated, but only marginally.  I still have to add saturation/vibrance to most of those shots, and I scan the two films identically.

could it be the scanner? possibly. but a look at the slides reveals that the scanner only has minimal exposure issues, generally erring to overexposure. so that would make colors lighter and appear more vibrant. again, I just don't get it. and i probably never will until i shoot things other than Velvia. but I get Velvia for free every now and again so I'm really not going to make this a final statement until i shoot something else side by side with it. Maybe some Astia or Ektachrome.

I could just remember things in technicolor or something though.

20 April 2009

Siggy Surreptitious

Hey, so who knew Sigg was in The Fifth Element? yeah.  A fuckin gold one with a green top.  How freakin baller is that?  I want it.  My blue one has a dent in it now, goddamn Virgin America baggage handlers.


I guess today is 4/20, too. I had no idea. so all you little fucks who celebrate that holiday and think it's cool, you're a bunch of dumb cunts.  if you smoke weed regularly enough to be a part of the whole 420 "culture," why do you need a special fucking day to smoke?  yeah, you don't. quit being little shits.  it's annoying. 

also, finally have a shot up with the beauty dish.  it needs some spacers and velcro on the top and bottom to hold it onto the flash head, but i should have that taken care of soon. just a matter of a quick trip to home depot or a crafts store. or both.

I'm gonna start making some more light modifiers, got myself started with a snoot but I think I'll go to a Michael's or the San Francisco equivalent to make a better version.  Maybe I'll make a grid spot, but I'm just not sure yet.  if I need it.  god I want a light stand  and an umbrella.

DIY [Tejada] Beauty Dish. Sunpak 422D @ 1/4th 

01 April 2009



'nuff said.

31 March 2009

About damn time.

Finally i get to write what I had in mind from the onset of this entire foray into the blagosphere. 

I made a beauty dish in preparation for flashing all over the place.  The Strobist bug bit me, I guess.  Actually, I just wanted to be a part of an upcoming...thing...in the photographic world, although it's really nothing "new."  Anyways, I've got some gear on the way, and I was bored and had time and money to kill, so I built a beauty dish with the help of David Tejada. I think he got his information from someone else, but I don't remember and I'm too lazy to go look.  It's on his site, you can go find it there.  

I chose a beauty dish because it seemed the easiest.  not gonna lie, I'm lazy.  and I don't have pictures yet.  again, because I'm lazy.  you don't really need to see mine anyways.  the paint needs some work and it looks identical to David's.  See his here.

A few notes on David's design:
  1. This is really designed for Americans.  Everyone else without a Home Depot (the other 90% of the world), you can still do it, but don't expect to find the same parts.
  2. It's designed around an SB-800. When I say designed, I really mean that it just happens that an SB-800 fits into the opening.  If you have, say, a Vivitar 283 or 285, you can't use the gutter piece. You'll have to find something else to fit the bigger flash head.  If you have a Canon flash, your head is wider so it might not fit either.  I'm brainstorming a fix, which is half- pointless since my beauty dish is already completed.  Oh well, Home Depot is like 15 minutes away and if I need to, I'll fix it.  Check the comments on David's blog to see what people with other flashes are doing.  
  3. Fasteners: David briefly mentions using them to connect this whole contraption together without mentioning the best ones to use.  Go to HD's screws n shit section, and look for green packs of machine screws.  You want the pack labeled #4-40 x 1/2".  I bought round heads for a slotted screwdriver, and it was 8 little screws with 8 matching nuts.  I should have gotten phillips, what was I thinking.  Loc-Tite (blue or red, pick your poison) might be a good idea for these, since the nuts are non-locking and a washer this small is pretty impractical.  I used super glue.  it's not entirely necessary since I dont think that the dish will be seeing a lot of vibration, but better safe than sorry.
  4. The screws I used may not work for you.  There are ridges on the bottom of the CD spindle that I cut off with a dremel to make the whole thing sit more flush.  I would recommend doing this unless you go for longer screws.  it probably saved about 1/4" in height, maybe a little less.
  5. The reflecting assembly: the convex mirror I bought was labeled 3.75", David said his was labeled at 3.5". they look the same size to me in relation to the CD.  I was going to use an old useless DVD of mine to cover the gap on the top of the CD spindle cover, but I decided against it.  My DVD reflected blue , and I didn't want a blue cast to my beauty dish since I would be mostly shooting under flourescent ambient.  I opted for a CD, which had a yellow-green reflection. I just felt it would be more neutral, that's all.  do what you like.  Although, you could get away with a 4-4.5" convex mirror and skip the CD altogether.  try to find the most convex one that you can, the object is to get the light reflected out into the dish. 
  6. Someone who posted on David's blog said they made a variable distance mirror assembly. That would be cool, or you could just get it right so that it reflects into the whole dish.  I used a 50-cd cover, but due to the non-convexity of the mirror it seems like a bigger cover, like a 75 or 100, would work better.  But it also looks stupider.  so I went with the 50 and if i need the extra whatever I'll just turn the flash up or put a white tshirt over the dish and have a pseudo-soft box.
  7. Painting this thing: paint before you cut.  You'll thank me later.  trying to paint one side white and the other side black with a big gaping hole is just plain stupid and you'll be frustrated every time you flip the bowl over.  As diffusion and reflection are the name of the game (seems almost counter-intuitive), you want to paint the inside ultra-matte white.  expect some hot-spots or harsh shadows if you use anything below a regular matte or satin.  I went with flat white and I'm just hoping it diffuses enough.  paint the outside whatever you want, but flat black looks the coolest and will most likely match 100% of your gear.  
  8. make a bracket to connect the beauty dish to the hot shoe/radio trigger/whatever.  you can do this if you want to take strain off the flash head and hot shoe. it's best if it's adjustable so that you can fit it to as many of your flashes as possible.  I didn't, but probably will eventually. 
oh yeah, use a Dremel.  Go buy one. it doesn't have to be expensive, but they help immensely with this project and lots of others.  I use mine as often as possible.  The best use I've ever gotten out of it? drilling holes in a C-class' half torn off bumper to zip tie it back together.  Alcohol may have been involved.  NOT IMPORTANT.  

bottom line: Dremels (not necessarily that brand) are worth it. I got mine in like 6th grade (Black&Decker), and its still going strong.  

So that's all. I'll update by monday to get some samples and comment on my new toys. Maybe I'll update this post, maybe just make a new one.  

Okay, so as well as the SB-800, this fits a Sunpak 422D.  and anything SB-800 ish sized.

I'm so fucking pissed. I come back to San Diego expecting Mexican restaurants that I have frequented for the last five years to cook their dishes in the same manner as they have been for the last 5 fucking years.

But no, Roberto's and Las Olas decide to fuck with my shit.

First, Roberto's, since they screwed me first. scrambled eggs in huevos rancheros? really? okay, you guys had to fucking try to screw me on this one. I'm pretty damn good with eggs, just ask Chloe, and I know for a fact it takes more effort to scramble eggs than it does to fry them, cook them sunny side up, over medium, over easy, over hard, whatever.

you crack the fucking egg and watch it fucking sit there. not that hard.

Second, when did you stop putting the eggs on top of the tortillas on top of the beans? did that go out of style or something? cuz i sure as hell missed that fucking memo. Las Olas is guilty of this too. they make their eggs right but goddamn they dropped their fucking balls on the construction.

let me explain via the use of a simple drawing:

beans, corn tortilla, fried eggs, and ranchero sauce. Not that fucking hard to make.
[p.s: this is why I'm not an art major.]

Second of all, fish tacos. you'd expect in San Diego, hell even north LA, that mexican restaurants would have fish tacos down pat. It's like the greatest and saddest stereotype of all: Mexicans being too lazy to be Mexican. i swear to god i got the worst fish tacos ever this past week. the fish was like a long john silver's reject. McDonald's fish sandwiches avoid this fish. we're talking leper-status fish here. like, fished out of San Elijo Lagoon fish. Fish whose migratory patterns include San Onofre and the LA coast.

I mean goddammit, what is the world coming to when good reputable Mexican places fuck up their mexican food! it's all the fuckin white people who own them! fuck!

At least Rubio's can still make a damn fine fish taco, and that's the third whitest Mexican place ever (behind Del Taco and Taco Bell, of course).

fuck man. fuck. and i heard a rumor Board and Brew is gonna lose their lease. shit. fuck. goddammit.

what the fuck is happening?

stay tuned for strobes. coming soon.

Seriously, I don't get it, what the fuck is with them.  They are a bunch of fucking closeted idiots who can't play nice with others.  Fuck, i learned that skill in preschool, can 50 year old men not do that?  Mostly Fox News is the public face of the party that I can't stand.  These people rail on Democrats based on the fact that they are Democrats.  Not because they have bad ideas, or different ones, or whatever, it's because they aren't in the GOP and are therefore "evil" "Socialist" "liberals." Oh my god, get the fuck over it.  Just cuz you can't hate people based on the color of their skin anymore doesn't mean you should pick another group to hate based on some meaningless criteria.  And WHY are you hating on the New York Times?  You rip on the editorials for God's sake: people's fucking opinions!  Oh, you might not remember this little fact, but Fox and the NYTimes are owned by the same fucking person.  It's probably in your best interest that they do well.  And stop putting fucking conjecture on your little news ticker. Trying to trick stupid Americans is pretty weak.  And why rip on Matt Lauer for his interview with Michael Steele.  He was asking fucking journalistic questions, because you know, he is a journalist, and Fox anchors "attack," to use your words, their interviewees, too.  It's called being a good reporter.  It should be illegal for you to say that you're fair & balanced.  FCC, please get on these lying motherfuckers.   

So, you might not have heard, but GOP members fear that Obama's administration and agenda seeks to destroy individual liberties and the foundations of capitalism, or something like that.  -_- . for serious?  Destroy individual liberties? In America.  Yeah, good luck trying to tell me that the eevil eevil liberal executive (and legislative) branch[es] can destroy personal liberties without the intervention of, you know, Senators with half a brain (Rep and Dem alike), or the conservative Judicial Branch.  And please, I would love to know how you could turn America into a non-capitalist country.  Really, I want to know.  I want to know how anyone in the government would try to pull that one off.  You know, nationalizing everything with all the money we have.  I'm sure China would lend it to us, but come on, do you really expect anyone to buy that?  
RNC Chairman Michael Steele, grow a pair and stand up for the things you say and believe.  Everyone and their dead grandmother knows Rush Limbaugh is an incendiary far-right conservative voice.  Are you so intimidated by his fucking jowls that you'd pretend you didn't know it, too?  Why don't you and Hannity get down on your knees and start blowing.  And stop trying to be hyphy.  YOURE FUCKING HELLA NOT.  Fuckin bootsy motherfucker if you ask me. 
GOP leaders: stop being the people who say no all the time.  It's fucking annoying in a time when we need to be doing shit for the country.  Who cares if you don't like the stimulus package, if it doesn't work we'll try things the Reagan way.  Which brings me to another point: Reaganomics doesn't work.  Those tax cuts didn't really get us out of that stagflation slump.  It kinda was a coincidence and things just kinda fixed themselves without major help from the cuts.  You know, because the market and economy work in cycles.  Trickle-down economics is the biggest joke ever.  
I'm so afraid of the left-wing media conspiracy, oooooooh.  SHUT THE FUCK UP.  You are the people who said the market was only gyrating, you are the people who decided to get us into two wars, you are the people who got us into this slump, you are the people who use loaded words and questions to demonize and attempt to ridicule anyone who doesn't think the same as you, the world hates America because of you.  Who fucking cares if your news leans left? It's a hell of a lot better than media outlets that try to turn Americans against each other.  Oh i hope there's a civil war in this country, the Democrats would win cuz they know when to spend their goddamn money.  Also because California has the 5th largest economy in the world and is a blue state.  Ironically, it also has some of the tightest gun control laws.  Hmmm....
Oh, I fuckin hate democrats, too.  Obama administration: is it that hard to do a background check on someone's taxes before you appoint them? You're the fucking federal government you've got the IRS on like speed dial # 8 or something.  It's not the biggest deal in the fucking world, the media (left & right) is just kinda making it that way, but come on.  How about some fucking crossed Ts and dotted Is for once.  Also, fire you're fucking press secretary, he's a little bitch who's been bending it over and taking it in the ass from the press and is making everyone look bad.

Nikon N8008s+ Nikkor 28mm f/3.5 Ai + Fujichrome Velvia RVP50

18 February 2009


iStockphoto and their little rules for submissions.  I'm kinda just doing this whole iStock thing for shits and giggles so that I can maybe make enough money to buy myself a 6 pack of Blue Moon every now and then instead of whatever other tasty beer is on sale, but it's really getting frustrating.

I would really like to know what defines "we found this file over filtered from its original appearance/quality," or if that's just their way of saying sorry, we really just don't like you or your pictures. This photo received that little mark.  It's scanned Velvia.  The preset I used for it added highlight recovery, brightened the scene, pulled some contrast, and changed the tone curve slightly.  ooooooooh drastically over-filtered. This one is scanned Kodachrome that was just so damn good I didn't even do anything to it.  Props to mom for the shot. Apparently, it's also over-filtered. -_- . Does iStock not even look at any metadata at all? I know LR writes all adjustments to exported jpegs (I don't know why), so its not like the information isn't right there in the open.  Oh wait, it gets even better. Fuji Neopan 1600 is now an extreme Photoshop filter you put inside your analog camera to make it shoot Black & White film.  Ironically, they accepted a shot that was ridiculously processed compared to the original.  :{|.

I actually had another one rejected due to excessive purple fringing (chromatic aberration?). I understand, since that can really make or break a photo.  You know, if your photo even has purple in it.  Saturation levels for that particular shot:

I just want my beer. Seriously, iStock, how hard can it be.

Nikon N8008s + Nikkor 28mm ƒ/3.5 + Fuji Velvia RVP50 + San Francisco, California.