ND Filter Color Cast Test

Lately I’ve been examining the color cast created by the ND filters I own.
I have a beautiful Singh-Ray soft grad 0.9 that was given to me as a gift years ago and a set of Formatt Hitech 0.6, 0.9 and 1.2 which I use primarily for strobe work.
Granted the Formatt’s are resin CR-39 instead of glass but they permit me to open my aperture for shallow DOF with the slow flash sync speed of the Pentax.
I have notice a small amount of magenta color cast while using them as such but never found it to be too overwhelming to clean out in post.

Nevada - Montgomery Pass - Boundry Peak Motel - Boundry Peak - abandoned - abandoned motel - monochrome - historic locations - Formatt Hitech ND Filter - ND Filter Review - nd filter color castFormatt ND0.9 with Yongnuo IV Speedlight

On a shoot a couple of months back I tried to stack the Formatts to achieve a 7 stop ND effect.
Wow, was the color cast dense. So heavy I couldn’t pinpoint a spot with either LR or PS Raw to achieve a natural WB.
Looking on the web for ND color cast I came across a review for the Ice ND1000 by a fellow Pentaxian which showed minimal casting between the image shot and corrected.
When B&H listed the P series of $49.95, I decided to give it a try. If I didn’t like it I wouldn’t be out that much.
While I haven’t used it much, I’ve been pleased with the results so far. It is made of optical glass and feels much like my Singh-Ray in build quality, one to take care of for long life

California - Bishop - Sculpture - White Mountain - historic locations - Ice ND Filter - Ice ND1000 - ND Filter - ND Filter Review - nd filter color castIce ND1000 + 1.3 stop circular polarizer

California - Bishop - Horned Lizard - Horned Toad - animals on the decline - circular polarizer - ND Filter ReviewSpectator during the shoot 1.3 stop circular polarizer

Decided to try an experiment to see how my filters compared to each other for cast by brand.
I kept as many constants as possible: tripod, f8.0, ISO 100, 50mm focal length and WB set in camera to 5500k.
In LR the as shot WB showed as 5300 temp and -16 tint (slightly to the green) on all photos.
I chose the exact same point (mid grey rock) in each photo to achieve the WB correction and will list the difference with each photo. Continue reading

Death Valley by Zone Plates

Last month I was fortunate enough to get out of the snow and head to Death Valley for a well enjoyed photography trip.

For the past couple of years I have really been enjoying working with zone plates and decided to try my luck in the desert landscape.
Zone plates are very similar to pinhole photography in there is no lens and the resulting photo is from light diffraction rather than refraction through a glass element.
Zone plates however use a pattern of opaque and solid concentric circles resulting in a softer (less sharp) image caused by a larger amount of undiffracted light to reach the image plane. They are often reduced in contrast and produce a distinct glow or halo in the highlights.
California - Death Valley - National Parks - Panamint - historic locations - valley - zone plate photography Continue reading

Zone Plate Photography on US Route 6

One of the cool things about where I live is the distinction of the western terminus of Historic US Route 6.

The route starts in Provincetown MA and follows a cross country track to become the second longest highway in the United States.
Originally the western terminus was in Long Beach CA and in 1937 it was the longest highway in America with a total of 3652 miles.

California - ranch - tatum ranch - barn - horse - monochrome - historic highways - us route 6 - zone plate photography- Bishop Continue reading

Bull Riding and Rodeo Photography

I’ve realized it has been over 15 years since I’ve worked on any form of motion/action photography.

With either night skies & light painting or my primary focus of historic artifacts and locations,
most of my subject matter has been very still. Depth of Field and composition had become my central focus and half my work involved tripod use for longer exposures.
This year I’ve been feeling the need to bring my photography back to me, inspire my feelings of creativity and learning.
I’ve gone back to many of the older techniques I learned in my film days, selective focus, soft focus, black & white (which has always been my preferred taste),
pinholes and zone-plates; I’ve even been trying to refine my use of strobes.
It has been difficult to find motion inspirational. I enjoy wind and water working a landscape but receive much more pleasure from simply watching.
The same applies to wildlife. And though I do enjoy partaking in certain sports, I find spectating is usually quite boring.
Reflecting back on my childhood, the two sports I always enjoyed watching were baseball and rodeo.
Besides requiring incredible athletic ability and endurance, I find rodeo fascinating because of the teamwork.
Especially when your partner, as well as the opponent, doesn’t reason with the human mentality.
Being able to communicate with your horse to make the tight turn of a barrel or cut a steer for roping takes talent.
Riding the bulls is one of the finest shows of endurance, agility and reading your opponent.

So off to the Desert Empire Fair for the bull riding and rodeo photography. Continue reading

Yongnuo YN560 System for Pentax

Yongnuo YN560 IV & TX with Pentax

Recently I picked up a pair of Yongnuo YN560 IV speed lights to use with my K3.
Though I still love my Paul C Buff Zeus lights and packs, I was looking for something smaller and lighter to carry out into the field.
I had finally decided to break down and buy another Pentax AF540FGZ to give me the two light setup.

I have used my Buff radio syncs to trigger my original Pentax light and own a backup I figured I would use for the second light.
Only draw back I’ve noticed is the Pentax flashes don’t perform well in TTL for strobe work and in manual mode one must consistently go to each flash for adjustments.

RailRoad - Railway - California - Eastern Sierra - museums - miners cabin - lantern - coffee pot - strobe - Yongnuo - Bishop - Laws

While watching for used speed lights at B&H, I started noticing the reviews for the Yongnuo YN560’s.
Versions I, II & III all had exceptional reviews.
The only negatives I found were that this model isn’t TTL compatible with any camera and that the original two versions required radio slaves for off camera firing.
Versions III & IV are capable of working directly with the YN560-TX controller so all exposure and zoom adjustments may be done on camera. Version IV can also act as a controller for additional version III or IV lights. Continue reading

How the Digital Age destroyed Photographic Creativity

Don’t get me wrong, I love working is PS and have been enjoying learning new tricks in LR.
Also, it’s been over three years since I’ve even picked up any of my trusted film cameras.

Ghosttown - California - Eastern Sierra - museums - seiler house - lace curtains - lensbaby - sweet35 - selective focus - monochrome - Bodie - Bodie State Park
Selective & soft focus through the lens.

My passion for photography actually started in the darkroom and not behind the lens, so I’ve always been enamored by the tricks and techniques for post production.
The ease and speed of being able to burn/dodge, fine tune, stack, create multiple exposures or mask for precise detailed exposure; almost every software now provides these tools for the photographic enthusiast.
When I first started with a digital camera I thought instant preview (so long polaroid backs) and eliminating developing chemicals was the only real advantage over film.
Now so much more data is recorded at the same time & in the same place, it’s incredible. Shutter & f-stop, exposure, copyright info, location, even star tracking.
No more pocket notebook and tear sheets that I would misplace and desperately look for a month later.
The digital age has brought more of photography to the masses than anything since Kodak’s “a camera for every household.” Continue reading

Black & White for Digital Cameras at “Shooting the West”

At Shooting the West

I was fortunate enough to attend “Shooting the West Photography Symposium” again this year and take a workshop offered by Mark Citret on creating B&W utilizing Lightroom for global adjustments and then PS for individual or spot work.
In the past I usually thought about my subject in greyscale and then shot as I imagined the final to be in my mind. I would post process in greyscale, then burn or dodge in layers/curves to bring the grey tones into the zones I desired. Finally, I would import into LR for final adjustments of blacks, whites, shadows/highlights and for any toning or sharpening I wished to add.

Mark’s technique is exactly the opposite and one I find to be interesting (as well as useful) evolving from many of the simple practices we used with film. Continue reading

Back to the Basics 2 – zone plate photography

I’ve really been enjoying working with the zone plate photography and the fresnel effect it gives

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There is something challenging about not being able to picture the image through a viewfinder and trying to imagine how the final will emerge. Continue reading

Bodie Ghost Town- Bower 8mm Fisheye lens Review

A few weeks back I was able to test out the Bower 8mm fisheye lens designed with the APS sensor in mind.

The model I tried was labeled Bower, though there are many other names on the same lens produced by Samyang/Rokinon.
Supposedly an all manual lens I found the Pentax version functioned in both A & ATV priority as well.
The exposure settings on the lens seemed to be true to my camera, about 1/3 less needed in post. I only tried f5.6 & 8, as most reviews I’d read mentioned sharpness dropping off after f11.
The Bower 8mm fisheye lens instructions suggest focusing in live view. I didn’t find this helpful and found the focusing ring the best option. Other reviews mention having to calibrate the focusing ring to infinity for the model/brand camera you own. I found this to be the correct. At 1.5 feet it seemed accurate but noticed the ring would go past infinity on the scale and would be a bit out of focus.

Monochrome - Fisheye - lens - Bower - 8mm - Bower 8mm fisheye lens - Bodie - BodieStatePark - GhostTownPhotography

The price is about 2/3’s less than the Pentax 10-17mm I rented a few years back and I would say the image quality of the Bower is as good. Also, I think there is less distortion than with the Pentax.
If you find yourself needing a fisheye for a project, I would consider renting a Bower 8mm fisheye/wide-angle lens. For the price they seem to be a  quality lens.
More images taken with the Bower 8mm fisheye lens may be seen in archives/ghosttowns.

Postprocessing

Last month, a fellow photographer hosted a nice discussion on her blog about post processing – do we do it, how much, personal reasons and some discussion of ethics. While I might wish to be a purist, it reminded me of how much fun I used to have in the darkroom, dodging, burning, measuring and masking to superimpose or just for finer exposure adjustment. So for June I gave myself the project of working on images that captured high detail in camera and required extensive post processing. Continue reading

Lensbaby Sweet35

Recently I’ve been experimenting with the Lensbaby Composer Pro & Sweet35 Optic.
I decided to head over to “Laws”, our local railroad museum and try to create a “historic image” effect with several of the buildings and artifacts there.
All the reviews I’ve read on the Lensbaby tilt process say that it does take some getting used to, all manual mode shooting and a small degree of tilt goes a long way. Continue reading

Historic Cemeteries

Cemeteries offer so much for photography. Art, sculpture & architecture, shadows and countless untold or forgotten stories.
The individual stories of each person interned, as well as that of the community. One can often see the economic and political eras of a community by the layout of the sections: fraternal orders, racial/ethnic, religious, pioneers, etc., as well as by the materials used: wood, iron, brick, stone. Everything within the cemetery tells the highs and lows a community has experienced.
This month I was photographing some of the pioneer graves at Benton Hot Springs. While processing the shots, I was trying to verify a name on a faded marker when I came across a story from another stone I had shot. Continue reading