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

Using ND Filters for Strobes and Speedlights

ND Filters, often used to slow exposure times can also achieve great effects with flash.

Being a loyal Pentaxian, one of the biggest limitations to my setup is the flash sync speed of 1/180.
I often wonder where Pentax came up with this exposure and why they hadn’t developed a higher sync speed of 200 or 250 like many of their competitors.
Then I remember my film days and cameras that only had a sync of 125 and realize that even a shutter of 800 is slow compared to the speed of flash.

Flash or strobe work is really the balance of two exposures simultaneously.
Background or intent – exposed with ambient light, controlled by shutter, ISO and aperture plus Subject – exposed by flash, controlled by ISO and aperture.
Shutter speeds don’t really come into play during the flash part of the exposure, as most flash units fire much faster than the top sync speeds in cameras today.

Often, I find the strength of my studio strobes and non-ttl speedlights powerful enough on their lowest settings, that even with a low ISO 100 and the fastest sync speed of 180
I must still use an aperture of f11 or f16 to keep the highlights from blowing out beyond recovery.
When I have my ideal exposure setting for the flash, these small lens openings often cause an undesired effect,
they create a greater depth of field, taking focus away from the subject. 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

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

Back to the Basics – Pinhole & Zone Plate Photography

Pinhole & Zone Plate Photography. Back to the Basics – No Lens, No Meter, No Viewfinder

A couple of weekends ago I was fortunate enough to partake in a day trip down Titus Canyon in Death Valley. A colleague was wanting to work on some landscapes for the upcoming “Shooting the West” photo symposium and as I had always wanted to see this canyon and the en-lying ghost town of Leadfield, off we went.
Also around this time I had been studying the effects of pinhole photography. For the price of a lens cap I was able to pick up a pinhole/zoneplate optic for my Lensbaby to give it a try. I hadn’t really done any pinhole since college and never tried anything like zone plate photography, so was curious to see the effects and try the skills myself.
The pinhole is around an f177, so there is not enough light passing through to frame anything in the viewfinder and of course no in camera metering. While the zone plate is an f19 because of the concentric circles, the same applies. Continue reading

Manzanar – Google+ Black & White Challenge

Realizing I’ve fallen way behind in posting anything to the blog.
Sept. I was traveling to visit family and October started the work preparation for the winter season at the ski area.
I did make it to a great workshop in October led by Jeff Sullivan where we spent one night working on light paintings and then managed to obtain entrance into 14 buildings.
I have started to post these photos on the recent Additions page and they will be archived under archives – ghosttowns as I process them throughout the winter.
This month, I was also passed the #fivedayblackandwhitechallenge on Google+ and chose Manzanar Historic Site as my theme.
These photos are now on the Recent Additions page and also archived under landmarks/poi.
I always love photographing at Manzanar, there is so much beauty and history there. Every time I visit I see or learn something new.
It is also an ideal location for Black and White photography as color isn’t the predominate feature of the landscape so one must work with tones.
Hope you enjoy and if you ever have the chance, please visit this part of our American history.

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

Mule Days

Every year during the Memorial Day weekend, our small community of 3900 host approximately 30,000 guest for one of the best festivities in the nation – Mule Days.
What once started as a low key event for packers & outfitters to show their skills and for local businesses to attract vacationers to the Owens valley, this six day event just celebrated its 44th year and draws ranchers, trainers, packers and spectators from all over the world. Continue reading

Light Reflectors

This last month I have been focusing on historic cemeteries using the Pentax 70mm DA. I’m specifically shooting for the bokeh affect achieved with f2.4 and 2.8 and given the limited flash sync offered by the Pentax system, I’ve been experimenting with collapsable reflectors for fill light.
The two reflectors used were a 24″ Creative Light Deluxe (sunlight/white) and a 36″x48″ Bowens (silver/gold). 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