Entries in photography (12)


My photo on davidbromberg.net

A photo I took last month was selected to be used as the background image on David Bromberg's website!


The evolution of an image

I know I've been somewhat obsessed with this photo I took the other night...It was one of those magical moments and I was lucky enough to have my camera there with me and hit the shutter at the right time. It's definitely one of the best images I've made. Here are the basics of how it was processed:

The photo on the left is the original capture, after I cropped it to square. Then the following adjustments were made in Snapseed (damn you Google, for killing off my favorite app): decreased the exposure, increased the contrast, pulled down the saturation a bit, and added structure and sharpness. Back in Aperture I retouched the image a bit to remove a couple of light spots (e.g., that dot at the left hand edge of the image; the series of little green X's in the upper left), which yielded the middle image (the version I posted yesterday). Then using the Nik Silver Efex plugin in Aperture, I did a basic conversion to black and white (no filters, little, if any, fine tuning the exposure/contrast), which resulted the final image on the right.


What recognition matters?

On the left is a screenshot from David Bromberg's Facebook page; I took a photo at his concert last night at the Colonial Theatre in Phoenixville, PA, and sent it to my friend Mark Cosgrove, the guitar/mandolin player in David's band. Mark asked me if they could post it on their Facebook page. I gladly agreed; I'm honored that they liked the photo.* In the first 5 hours, 165 strangers had "liked" the photograph, 18 people had "shared" my photo on their Facebook walls, and there were a number of very complementary comments.

On the right is the PsycInfo information on my most well-cited article (Le & Agnew, 2003...Our Investment Model meta-analysis; PsycInfo is the primary database for psychology journal articles). This paper was published a decade ago (coincidentally, exactly 10 years ago this month), and to date has been cited 153 times. I haven't gone through to talley up how many of those citations came from (a) me (probably about 10-15 of those are me citing that paper in my newer work), (b) colleagues I have done research with (maybe another 40 of those citations?), or (c) researchers in my field that I know personally (another 40 of those?). My guess is that there are about 50-60 people in the world who have stumbled upon that paper in their own research, without knowing me, and decided they like that paper enough to cite it in their own work.

Fifty people in TEN YEARS. Or 165 people in 5 hours? It's no surprise which one is more satisfying...

Update #1: In the time it took me to write this post, 7 more strangers liked my photo, but, to my knowledge, no new papers citing my article were added to PsycInfo.

Update #2: After a couple of days, the photo has been shared around 35 times and liked over 345 times (as far as I can see). 

*As an aside, at the last minute, on the way out the door, it dawned on me that taking my camera might be a good idea. I didn't know if photography would be allowed at the Colonial, but after seeing all of those people trying to take shots with their phones, I realized that with my X-Pro1 I'd be much less annoying/disruptive than everyone else trying to snap shots...


The beard illusion

I usually wouldn't be so keen on posting advertisements on my site, but these images were interesting to me, both as a photographer and beard enthusiast. See more info on these pictures here.


Ron Galella @ Foam

Last month in Amstedam I visited the Foam Museum ("FOto AMsterdam"). It was definitely one of the highlights of my trip. When I was there they were showing Ron Galella's work. I didn't recognize the name, but had definitely seen some of the images. He's an agressive paparazzi photographer, most well known for his photographs of (and legal tanglings with) Jackie Onassis. But he also photographed many other celebrities, including musicians. Love him or hate him, you can't argue with the images. Here are two of my favorites:


Travel photography gear, recap

We’ve been back from Europe for almost a week, and I’ve had time to reflect on how my photography and computing gear performed. Before the trip I mused about the gear I was planning on bringing here and here.

Atlas at the Archeological Museum in Naples (50mm lens on a Nikon D90; click to embiggen).Across the three weeks I took more than 2200 photos (about 30GB). My 64GB iPad had enough storage for all the pictures, but that’s with a minimal amount of movies/music loaded (although a lot of apps). For a longer trip, storage would be a problem. My planned strategy of uploading photos from the iPad to Dropbox worked okay when there was a good internet connection, but took a long time (i.e., had to let it upload overnight). Given the limited internet access in some of the smaller hotels and B&Bs, it would be a problem if I had to rely on this. But overall I didn’t miss having a laptop at all. Traveling with the iPad is great.

Processing photos on the iPad was better than I expected (all of the the photos posted in my albums from this trip were done on the iPad). I used the Snapseed app for the majority of the editing, although iPhoto was useful for some touch-ups since Snapseed doesn’t have a clone tool. My only complaint about Snapseed is a minor gripe about the black and white conversion tool, compared to Silver Efex (both Snapseed and Silver Efex are made by Nik): the filters in Snapseed aren’t adjustable like they are in Silver Efex. They are either on or off, and can’t be tweaked. But other than that, I’m really happy with the quality of the edits from Snapseed. 

The view from Hohensalzburg Castle, Salzburg, Austria (Tokina 11-16mm on a Nikon D90; click to embiggen).

In terms of lenses, the Tokina 11-16mm was used a lot on my D90. Other than the distortion and proneness to flaring, this is a perfect lens for the sort of travel photography I do. My guess is that 50-65% of my best pictures from the trip were with this lens. The second most used lens, at least in Amsterdam, was the 50mm f/1.4, although I ended up not using it wide open that much. But it was a good length for photographing the cyclists and architectural details around the city. I really only used the 105mm micro at the Amsterdam Botanical Gardens and Zoo, but it was great for that day. I’m wondering if a good combination/compromise would have been to pick up the Nikon 60mm f/2.8 macro and leave both the 50mm and 105mm lenses at home, but that $550 was probably better spent elsewhere. As anticipated, I only used the 10.5mm fisheye for a few shots. 

At the World Press Photo show at Oude Kerk in Amsterdam (Fuji x100; click to embiggen).The only time I really needed telephoto reach was on the Amalfi Coast leg of the trip; I was lucky to have access to the 18-105 lens that originally came with my D90, and is now on Jen’s camera. I ended up borrowing it from her a lot. It’s making me rethink not having a zoom lens to travel with. Maybe pairing the 11-16mm with a 24-70mm f/2.8 would be a good (but heavy) combination.

I used the Fuji x100 a good deal in Amsterdam, when I was traveling by myself and had plenty of time and flexibility to walk around to get the shots I wanted (especially since I was on my feet a lot, so it was refreshing to carry a minimal amount of gear from for a few hours a day). But in Italy I shot almost exclusively with my D90 given the range of the Tokina 11-16mm and Nikon 18-105mm combo.


Travel photography gear, part 2

I made a brief trip to Washington DC last week to give a talk, but it also gave me a chance to beta-test some of my camera gear plans for my upcoming trip to Europe (see here for previous musings on this topic). Some thoughts about the following stuff I had in tow along with observations about workflow (Fuji X100, Nikon WC-E68 adaptor, iPad): 

  • I spent some time playing with zone focusing on the X100. This seems like it will work pretty well for unobtrusive and candid street photography.
  • Click to enlarge; Fuji X100 In my previous sessions with the X100 I almost exclusively used the optical viewfinder, which I like very much. But since I had time to visit the US Botanic Garden, I figured it would be a good opportunity to test the macro mode and electronic viewfinder. I've been torn about whether I should bring the big/heavy 105mm macro lens for my Nikon to Europe, for taking pictures of flowers and other details, but maybe I can get by with the X100's macro mode instead. It's not bad.
  • Given that at f/2 the X100 maxes out at a 1/1000 second shutter speed, the built in neutral density filter is a lifesaver. Thanks to a recent firmware update, the RAW button can be reprogrammed, and I've set mine to toggle the ND filter.
  • A few days before the trip I received a Nikon WC-E68 wide angle adapter that screws on the X100 lens with a 49mm-46mm step down ring and the Fuji hood adapter/ring. The Fuji WCL-X100 adapter was just announced (although won't be available for a couple of months) and it's relatively pricey although I'd be tempted to get one if it was wider (relative to a fullframe sensor, the X100 has a field of view similar to a 35mm lens; with the WCL-X100 it would be similar to 28mm, and with the WC-E68 it's akin to the field of view from a 24mm lens). From the samples I've seen online, the Nikon adapter lens works pretty well if the X100 is stopped down to f/8 or smaller. Based on the handful of shots I took between f/8 and f/16, it seems fine for my purposes (and the $40 price on ebay); although I'm not a pixel peeper, I did notice that it flared a bit shooting into the. If it had better performance wide open, I'd be tempted to leave my Tokina 11-16mm home, but for low light the Tokina + Nikon D90 that I'm planning on bringing will probably serve me better even though it will be heavy.
  • If I had an unlimited budget my travel kit would be the X100 and a Fujil X-Pro1 with the three lenses that are currently available (18mm f/2, 35mm f1.4, 60mm f/2.4 macro). The 18mm lens isn't quite wide enough for my liking, but if Fuji comes out with the 14mm lens that is listed in their X-series lens roadmap it would be ideal, assuming it performs well. I'll start saving now...
Click to enlarge; Fuji X100, converted with Nik Silver Effex Pro.
  • What about keeping it simple and traveling with just the X100? It's tempting. Creatively, I think it would be great and not too limiting. I'd love to be able to shoot wider, especially in Europe, but the Nikon WC-E68 will get me into that range, assuming I can stop down to f/11 or so. And the sensor and image quality are good enough that I could crop in for details when necessary. My main worry is the reliability of the X100. I haven't had any problems with it, but the camera-geeks on the interwebs keep talking about "sticky aperture blade syndrome" where the lens gets stuck wide open so you can only shoot at f/2. I'm not sure how widespread the problem is, or if this is some form of internet hysteria, but I'd hate to be on vacation for a few weeks and have the lens on my X100 fail without a backup camera. Another reason the X100 + X-Pro1 combo would be ideal! But for now, I think I'll lug the D90 along so that I can choose between the full Nikon system and the X100, depending on that day's planned adventures.
  • Using the camera connection kit, I uploaded pictures to my iPad. Any (or all) originals (as RAW files) as well as edited images (in Snapseed, iPhoto, PhotoForge...I still don't have a preferred editor yet) can be uploaded to Dropbox via WiFi (or cellular connection, but I won't have that in Europe). My Dropbox doesn't have enough storage to copy every single image over (I have about 30GB free, so this would be okay for a shorter trip), but I'll backup the very best on the cloud, and then keep the originals on the memory cards. And I am planning on clearing as much room on my iPad as I can for storing photos (i.e., sorry...the movies will have to go!).
  • As an aside (but related to video on the iPad), streaming Netfilx over the cellular connection worked pretty well, as long as the connection was strong. When I was on the train it dropped a few times, but overall it was very functional.
  • Black and white conversion with Snapseed is pretty good, although it doesn't offer all the same options as Silver Effex Pro (even they are both Nik products). I need to play with the other programs I have (i.e., iPhoto etc) to see which have the best control when converting one's images (filters, contrast, structure).

Musings on travel photography gear

This summer's plans will include three weeks in Europe, with stops in Amsterdam, Munich/Bavaria, and the Amalfi Coast. I'll be on my own for the first week, traveling with a friend for the second week, then meeting up with Jen for the last week in Italy. The fundamental tension on this trip will be trying to travel light (i.e., backpacking) and wanting to make the most of the photographic opportunities.

I'm torn on what photography gear to take. On one hand, I'm tempted to go the minimalist route and bring only with my new (as in haven't shot with it much yet, although I've had it about 6 months) FujiFilm X100. It's a portable package with great image quality, and the 23mm lens (full-frame field of view similar to 35mm) would be a reasonable choice as a single focal length to carry around (okay, maybe it's a bit long).

On the other hand, this migh be a once in a lifetime photographic opportunity (hopefully not!), so it would be a shame not to use my Nikon system (D90 with a range of lenses), which includes lenses from 10.5mm up to 300mm (on DX). Of course, the idea of having my backpack filled with heavy gear isn't so appealing.

I've been ruminating on this a lot recently (more than any reasonable person should think about such things), and here's the gear I'm currently planning on bringing:

  • FujiFilm X100 (23mm f/2)
  • Nikon D90 with the three lenses below and maybe the small SB-400 flash. Not sure how much I'll need an external flash, but it's compact and won't take much room in my bag.
  • Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8Tokina 11-16mm f/2.8...This seems like the "must have" lens for the trip. Going wide will be key in the narrow European streets, and this might be the favorite I have (here are some images with it, and also I used it a lot when we were in Hawaii last year). It's the obvious first choice to take.
  • The second lens choice is a bit odd: I'm definitely taking my Nikon 10.5mm fisheye. I just love the unique perspective this one gives, and I ended up using it a lot when we were in Rome a couple of years ago. It's a really compact lens, so even though it's a pretty specialized piece of glass, it's easy to justify bringing it. Given it's size, it's basically a freebie (in terms of size/weight).
  • Nikon 50mm F/1.4I've pretty much decided that I should only bring one other lens besides the stuff listed above, so it has to cover the "long" end. But how long is long enough? When we went to Hawaii I carried a 70-300mm lens, but really only used it for a few pictures of sea turtles (that you weren't supposed to approach too closely). I'm really glad I had it for those shots, but otherwise it pretty much went unused. As far as I can tell, I won't be encountering any sea turtles (or other wildlife), so it's probably not worth carrying that one. The 105mm macro is another possibility; there surely will be some close-up opportunities and it would be a good telephoto to take, but it's big/heavy and still would probably see limited use compared to the other options. It's coming down to either a 50mm or 85mm lens. My guess/hope is that 50mm (on DX) will be enough reach. If not, I can always crop later. Plus my 50mm f/1.4 is small, light, cheap enough that I won't be devistated if something happens to it (as opposed to my 85mm lens, which would be more costly to replace), and fast enough for some low-light shooting. I'll throw a close-up lens in my bag and attach it to the 50mm if I want to do any pseudo-macros.
  • One additional lens I'll have access to is the Nikon 18-105mm that came with my D90, which I used a lot when we were last in Rome. Jen now has that one on her D3100, which I assume she'll be bringing. Maybe she won't notice if I hide another lens or two in her bag...

D90 with fisheye lensSo, that's the plan/rationale, at least for now. If once I start packing my bag I find there's more room, something else might get slipped in there :-)

Interestingly, I've put all this thought into it, and now that I think about it, this is exactly the same lightweight kit I took when I last went to Oregon, sans the fisheye, and when we went to Seattle (again, no fisheye, and this was also before I got the X100).

On the computer/editing side, I'm only taking my iPad (no laptop). I previously mused about getting a Hyperdrive to back up all my pictures, but that's more weight and expense than I want to deal with. Instead, I'll make sure I'm stocked up on SD cards, import pictures onto the iPad for previewing and basic editing, and then upload the best shots to Dropbox to save them to the cloud. I was pleased to find that the iPad can import/export RAW files.


Winfield 2011, in photographs

An intersection of two of my favorite things: (a) photography and (b) music festivals (especially those featuring acoustic music and bluegrass). Check out this amazing spread from Urban Nature, a photography magazine I just ran across. These are from the 2011 Winfield Festival (click here to enter the album).

The images below were made by Ryan Hodgson-Rigsbee.


Kodak and Fujifilm: Past, present, and future

I stumbled upon this interesting article in The Economist on that state of two old rivals: Kodak and Fujifilm. As someone who is interested in film photography and has a Fujifilm X100, this piqued my interest. It's sad to see an icon like Kodak struggling, but at least we know that fans can keep niche film products alive, like when Polaroid ran into trouble.


Photo galleries up

Ever since Apple announced that iCloud is replacing MobileMe, I've been meaning to migrate my images over to this website. I finally got my albums made; click here or see the list below to access them: 


X100 vs. V1 vs. ???

My photography gear includes a Nikon D90 and FM3a and a collection of nice Nikon lenses. I love carrying the FM3a (with a 40mm or 50mm lens) around for casual shooting as a "have everywhere" camera but the convenience of digital is attractive. On the other hand, the D90 fits my needs perfectly and has an ideal set of features for me, but it's too big to carry around everywhere (although I don't mind carrying it, with a bag of lenses, when photography is a primary activity). Options for an "everywhere" camera? I admit I haven't actually had my hands on any of these cameras (since the Fuji is always out of stock and the V1 hasn't been released yet) and I'm just thinking through options (i.e., this isn't a review; it's me thinking out loud about if/what I want).

Fuji X100

Upsides: Good, simple controls; a fast lens; groovy retro styling; the relatively large sensor.

Downsides: I've read that the focus system is a bit slow; not sure how I feel about a fixed-lens (I like that it's a prime lens, but will it be limiting to not be able to swap out for other lenses?).

Nikon V1

Upsides: Compact, with (in the future) a system of small lenses; some interesting new technologies; using my other Nikon lenses with an adaptor...the 35mm 1.8 and 50mm 1.4 are interesting possibilities.

Downsides: Relatively small sensor...I'm not as worried about the image quality, but the limited ability to have a really shallow depth of field is a bit of a concern; lack of buttons/knobs for key controls, instead having to dig around menus.

A micro 4/3rds system camera

I admittedly don't know a a lot about these systems; is there a small m4/3 camera with a viewfinder and good manual controls? Do I want to invest in another lens system (admittedly, the V1 would lead down this path as well)?

*   *   * 

Probably the best solution would be a Leica M9 with a handful of lenses. But I'd have to sell a kidney and all of my guitars to go this route!




Update (10/7/11): I decided on the X100; the two downsides (slow[?] focus and fixed lens) are fine given that if I want to shoot sports or carry a kit of lenses I'll take my D90. The appeal of the X100 is that it complements my Nikon system; I shouldn't expect it to have all the same features in a smaller package.

The X100 is hard to find, at least at it's list price...Given it's scarcity (non-reputible) on-line retailers seem to be jacking up the price and it's backordered at all the places I like to shop (both on-line and locally). But Crutchfield seems to have just received a shipment, and one is on its way to me!