Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Power Of Tilt

The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 L II is an astounding lens! Tilting for an infinite depth of field allows for magical renderings shot with the aperture wide open.

Setup and adjustment is all manual and takes a very long time but I think the results speak for themselves. Something ineffable about the look of these. ^_^

Click for larger views...


Power Outage

Stuck in a diner when the power went out. Luckily I was at the counter by the front window.

Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 Nokton on Sony NEX-6 again...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 Nokton - Second Gig

Finally got a chance to do some some real-world shooting with the Voigtlander 40mm f/1.4 lems. This time I used it on a Sony NEX-6 with a Metabones adapter.

Quite a lot of character but thankfully a very appealing one.

Click for larger photos...

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Bundle Up...

Autumn is settling in and it's the rainy season here in the PNW again. Add on a few layers and get out there with your camera, but don't forget to have a warm drink or two while you're out and about.

The following were all shot with the Leica M9-P and the 35mm Summilux ASPH.
Click for larger images...

Friday, November 8, 2013

"Detail Oriented" vs. "Perfectionist Gearhead"

So...I preordered the Sony A7r. 

A friend asked why I needed a camera with such a big sensor and high pixel count, which is a very good question. My answer wasn't just "because I'm a gearhead"...though that is partly true and would have helped me avoid a lot of typing.

I have a pocket camera I have with me every day that has a 12.1MP 1/1.7" MOS Sensor paired with a 28-200mm equivalent zoom and I find its output quite acceptable for most things...especially considering it really does fit in my pants pocket! (Most "pocket cams" are HUGE.)
The sensor size limits its dynamic range, noise floor, low light capability and DOF rendering but it's still fine for a good third of the kinds of things I like to photograph and its easy to always have with me.

But if I'm going to climb to the top of a volcano in Hawaii (next February) to capture amazing vistas or go trekking through a temple in Belize to discover the ancient Mayan
genius loci, which is on my "to do" list, I'm bringing the best camera I have paired with the best glass I have because I want the best dynamic range, the lowest noise floor and highest detail possible. You can always downsample, resize or crop if you want but you can never "add back" what isn't there in the first place. I figure, hey, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing to the best possible result.
The critical thing for me right now is I want the sensor to resolve slightly better than the lens, which is no small task considering I have some superb glass right now.

Admittedly, over a certain density, say 20MP or so, the number of pixels is unimportant - especially if the pixel size is too small! That new 40mp smartphone can only produce 5MP images that aren't a smeary mess - the rest are for oversampling but, hey, consumers think "more megapixels are better" - definitely not true for small sensors.

The new Sony A7r looks about right for my needs based on the full-size images I've looked at - plus it's about five thousand dollars less than the Leica M 240 which, until the A7r came around, was my only upgrade path from my Leica M9.
If I had a different set of lenses, the Nikon D800e would probably appeal to me for the same reasons.
The A7r's tiny flange distance is also great because it means I can use ALL my glass, including current Leica, Voigtlander and MS Optical M-mount lenses as well as legacy lenses like my vintage Carl Zeiss Jena wide-angles (20mm, 25mm & 28mm) and the venerable Minolta MC Rokkor 58mm f/1.2 (best bokeh ever).

The largest prints I currently have made is 12"x18" though I've only done a dozen or so that least so far. There's a few images of mine I'd like to print really big say 2'X3' but we'll see.

Thursday, November 7, 2013


Some think a famous sports figure with a contract with a shoe company is a hero. For others its a parent or someone who touched their life personally in a profound way.

For me it's someone who holds a beacon for us all. My heroes are Carl Sagan, Joseph Campbell and James Burke.

Carl Sagan, the astrochemist is probably most well-known as the creator of the landmark television documentary about the universe we live in, 'Cosmos'.
One of his best books was 'The Demon Haunted World', a treatise on the power of Science to act as a shining light in the current shadowed climate of superstition, religious zealotry and disdain for intellect.
Instead of embracing the unknown, people embrace unknowing - the dumbing-down of textbooks by the removal of things well known to any geneticist or organic chemist so as to cater to the narrow beliefs of a religious minority is only one of the symptoms. Psychics, astrology charts and horoscopes are commonly consulted. There's a tendency towards escapism instead of fixing the thing people are escaping from. Ignorance of every flavor and shade dressed up as knowledge surrounds us - and people are embracing this ignorance with open arms. Carl looks at the explosion of pseudoscience and "junk science" as integral components of modern culture and exposes them for the subversion of reason that they are.

Joseph Campbell is the author of "Hero With a Thousand Faces" and a number of television programs, most notably 'The Power of Myth' with Bill Moyers.
Joseph was a man of real wisdom who showed through his books and lectures on spirituality and comparative religion, a person can be both Spiritual and Religious without burning any bridges, without excluding anybody and, most importantly, without giving up Reason - we can be both Scientist and Pilgrim.
By finding the common threads of spirituality in all traditions, Joseph helped me realize long ago that there are many paths to one goal and Belief isn't always about us and them. Aboriginal shaman or Roman Catholic, Buddhist or Jew, Muslim or Hindu, Shinto or Zoroastrian, we all tell the same stories and are filled with the same light. The spark of the infinite is within and it is up to us to fan it into a bright flame, tempered by wisdom and knowledge, so that we may illuminate the way in these dark times.

James Burke is known for his books and television series about the interconnectedness of historical events. "Connections" and "The Day The Universe Changed" are probably his most well-known series and certainly my favorites. He shows how our growth of understanding of the universe around us changes the way we see the universe and, in effect, changes the universe itself - for example, the Sun no longer orbits the earth, does it?
James shows how events in history are connected to and influence other, sometimes seemingly-unrelated, events - everything is linked in an intricate web of cause and effect. History is not isolated events happening in a rigid linear timeline but a cross-pollination of events large and insignificant, near and far, obvious and hidden happening in a continuous matrix.
One of my favorite trails of cause and effect shows how Napoleon's invasion of Egypt was very important to the development of the modern computer:
1 - Napoleons troops, while in Egypt, buy up a lot of intricately woven shawls.
2 - When they get home, this starts a fashion craze for the complex fabrics.
3 - Looms are designed in Europe to copy these designs controlled with paper cards with holes punched in them.
4 - The American engineer Herman Hollerith borrows this the idea to automate the mechanical retrieval of census data with punched paper cards.
5 - Later, these cards are used to get data in and out of ENIAC, the first electronic computer.

I think Carl, Joseph and James slip right under most peoples' radar but, to me, they're examples for all of us, holding candles in the midst of the vast spiritual and mental darkness of pervasive ignorance, fear and superstition that I see so much of these days.