Why are my best Pics coming from a KIT LENS?

Figure 1: Shot with my smc Pentax 18-55mm f3.5-6.2 kit lens.

It’s the strangest thing.  For months it seems I can’t take a sharp shot.  Recently I dug the old kit lens out of the bag (cheapest thing Pentax ever sold, probably), and shot some photos.  Finally, there was a little clarity in the photos it took.  I have a slew of older Pentax nifty fifties and a 35 mm Pentax as well as a newer Sigma zoom.  I was getting nothing.   So what’s wrong with this picture (pun intended)?  Clicking it will take the viewer to the smugmug page repo where I keep the larger size photos.

Depth of Field Ain’t so Tuff

Figure 1: The DoF (Depth of Field/Focus) equation.

Depth of Field ain’t so tuff.

Recently I needed to take some photographs of the antique glassware that my spouse collects.  This is easy with a point n’ shoot, since its depth of field is pretty good thanks to the short focal length that most point ‘n shoots have in their built-in lenses.  The point ‘n shoots usually have a wide angle (anywhere from 6 to 15 mm – but sometimes variable up to higher focal lenghs with fixed zoom offsets).

Read more about my DoF

I Suppose this VOIDS the Warranty …

Figure 1:  My Pentax K5 probably isn’t under warranty now. 

So … I guess my K5 has long been out of warranty anyway.  About a year ago the mirror-box went out of calibration. Anyway – I think that’s what happened, and I thought about sending it in for a re-cal. Subsequently the LED/Live-View screen went belly up, and finally the main board.  The cost trade-offs seemed to imply that fixing the K5 was no longer an option, so I decided I may as well take it apart and see what makes it tick.  After a dozen or so tiny little screw removals …

Read More about the K5

Bad Day for A Photo: Why is it Blue?

Have you ever asked yourself why those photoless days – the cloudy ones, are so diffused and blue?”  Probably not, because it seems to not be an important question to ask yourself.  Unless you’re me.  I love deep-diving the trivial things, it seems.

Blue light scatters, and red light is absorbed.  Actually, some blue light is absorbed, and some red light scatters, but it’s more often the other way around.  So, on a bright sunny day, all the light comes from one spot in the sky, right?  But on a cloudy day, it seems to come from every direction.  That’s because it IS coming from every direction, as a result of scattering.  When you take the red and yellow out of the color spectrum, what is left?  Well, green and blue are what remains – but it’s the blue we mostly see, because there’s not much in the clouds to reflect green light.  Water reflects blue light pretty well.  So, now you know the answer, and I’m sure you feel much more fulfilled.

Photographers hate cloudy days.  With the red and yellow all being absorbed, what is left is mostly scattered blue, and only 1/3 of the pixels in the photographer’s camera can catch blue light.  So, the camera sees 1/3 of what it could see on a sunny day.  No wonder the cloudy day pictures are dull and uninteresting.

My Favorite Simple Gimp Tricks

An overcast day is the worst sort of day for a photo guy.  The IR and the red tones are obliterated by the water vapor in the sky, and what’s left is a mono-tonish blue that uses only about a third of the pixels in your shiny new camera.  The result is often boring, but I’ll admit that creative photographers sometimes manage special photos in spite of the clouds and blue light.

Read More Gimp tricks …

Nature’s sculpture: Water Swept Grasses

Figure 1: Nature made a surrealistic sculpture, awaiting my lens

The photo in figure 1 is of water swept grasses.  Click it to see it in full size.  Nature makes some very pretty stuff by accident sometimes.  Lovely to be there to catch it.

For those wanting to see my smugmug collection of similar photos,  the link can be followed by clicking this :

https://stormofphotons.smugmug.com

 

Buggy for Bees – macro photos

 

Figure 1 : Bee shot taken with K5, Pentax 50mm /f1.4 vintage lens

Recently I started to take macro tube shots of bees in my area.  This is quite an addicting facet of photography, I must say.  I’m a rank beginner at this task, but so far have managed a few semi-interesting shots.  The picture in figure 1 is one of my favorites thus far (clicking on the photo will show it enlarged on smugmug).

Read more about the bees …

K5 Quandry

Figure 1:  Should I go mirrorless?

When I first used my K5, I was enthralled.  It was easily the most solid feeling camera I’ve ever owned.  Most cameras give me the feeling that I have glass in my hand (smile) – and that I have to be careful.  The K5 made me feel like I had a hatchet in my hand and that tossing it into a spiraling arc that ended on a cleaved tree trunk would do it absolutely no harm.

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Vintage Lens Honeymoon

Is Over.

Well, I kick-started my photography hobby for a second time recently after a hiatus of about 37 years. I bought into the theory that I could populate my lens arsenal with vintage stuff and save a bundle.  In short order I had over a dozen lenses in my possession, none made after the date they want to check on driver’s licenses in order to purchase hard whiskey.   Some were made not only that many years ago – but multiples of that many years.

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Caveats associated with Vintage Lenses

My vintage lens collection is growing by leaps and bounds.  I have gotten some good results from some of the lenses, and in some cases I find that they equal or exceed a number of currently available (newly manufactured) lenses.

However; not every vintage lens can be used safely on every camera.  I think the old film cameras must have had larger registration distances between the mirror and the rear of the lens barrel.  Certain lenses, when they are focused at some point in the direction of infinity on the focus ring, protrude from the rear of the lens mount.

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Vintage Lens Sharpness List

I’ve been collecting quite a few vintage lenses, and I consider some of them to be very good lenses, while others seem lacking.  I’ve decided to create a “Sharpness list” for these old lenses (most are older than 30 years old, and some are over 40 years old).

I should mention the methods I’m using to determine what is (at least according to my eyes) a sharp lens.   I am using an image focus comparison chart (a “fine resolution” spoked star chart), affixed to a wall, and illuminated with daylight.

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Bigger, Bolder Pictures

Figure 1:  Just one of those photos that needed more space

https://stormofphotons.smugmug.com

I’d been dabbling in the realm of photography for the past couple years, after a hiatus of almost forty years.  I wasn’t a very knowledgeable photographer back in the eighties, and really have only incrementally added to my repository of things to know in this realm of photography.

Most blog sites are (well, of course they are) – meant to be more for blogging than for photography.  I finally realized how tiring it must be for viewers who can’t really see my photos in high detail – due to size or layout or navigation restrictions, all the while I talk or write about those photos.  Subsequent to this epiphany, I set up a photo repository (on a photo site designed specifically for photos) in order to remedy that situation.  Don’t get me wrong – this blogger platform is great for blogging, but for photos it works in a more ancillary mode. The platform is more versatile if you want to run your own server, but I’d rather take the site’s photos, rather than worry about its security setup.

Technically, I could switch to another theme more suited to the photo.  But in that case I’d lose the nice textual format that is the mainstay of the blog.  It’s a bit of a catch-22. Anyway …

I started with a Kodak Brownie in the sixties, and eventually bought an enthusiast’s level Olympus film camera.  Later, when the film process became too complicated, I bought one of the first digital point ‘n shoot Kodaks.  I kept shooting my casual pics with that style of camera throughout all of the intervening years, but such casual shooting doesn’t necessarily qualify anyone as a photographer or improve their game.  The whole idea behind such a consumer camera is that one can know absolutely nothing about photography and still, at least some of the time, take reasonably usable pictures.

So, my latest adventures are blessed with more disposable time, and boy – can learning the ropes of the photographic arts dispose of quantities of that! Whilst I learn, I hope you can enjoy some of my stuff, as posted at the above referenced link.

Interval Infrared Photography of Dust

 

The dust level in one room of my house reached 3.5 million particles per cubic meter, where the particles were detected at a size of less than two microns (with some potentially as small as 500 nanometers) – using a Dylos 1100 (“Pro” version) electronic particle detector.  I have several detectors of various sorts. Often, the alarm on one of them is triggered in the middle of the night.  The other detectors do not have audible alarms.  In search of the cause of huge night-time spikes in the level of particulates, I used an IR camera to take shots of the affected room.

Read More

Doing Interval Photography with a Sigma SD14

Figure 1: Homemade “DIY” power adapter for Sigma SD14

I really have come to appreciate the Sigma SD14 camera that I’ve been using for over a month or so, applying it for IR photography.  It really shines there, due to the Foveon class sensor that outdistances most competitors in terms of IR sensitivity.  I have captured time-lapse photos that I believe contain as low as 1.5 microns (high mid-infrared) wavelength light.  This is ordinarily not possible with the standard Bayer sensor in most camera brands, based on the info (veracity unknown) – that I’ve come across in my internet meanderings.

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Infrared Photography with an SD14

Figure 1An unexpected explosion of infrared on my dry erase board.

Is there such a thing as an infrared bomb?  I’m hard pressed to explain the picture in figure 1, one of the first infrared photos I’ve taken with the SD14.  I had just taken the shot in figure 2 (a photo of me looking like an infrared zombie) – and had gotten up to check the camera.  Without touching the tripod, I snapped off another shot of the dry erase board that hangs on the wall behind the chair I had just vacated.  The photo of figure 1 emerged as a result.

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That Sinking Feeling (Camera Post Processing)

Figure 1: The only shot that was big screen viewable, without cringe.

I know what it’s like to be a balloon.   I had that deflated feeling once again this weekend, after a trip to the local lake.  The scene was spectacular, and was easily the most beautiful nature scene I’d personally witnessed to date.  In glee for my fortuitous presence at the scene next to the lake, at just the right moment, I snapped over two hundred photos.

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Computers should make Painting Easy?

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So, computers should make painting easy, right?  That’s what I thought when I went to create a custom color for my truck.  But, the truth I found has a different description than “easy”.

I like the 1958 Buick Chieftain’s tropicana turquoise, but wanted a little lighter color than that for my antique 1984 S10 Chevy pickup truck.  It occurred to me that I could perfect the color on my computer, and transfer it to a tint mix formula for an automotive paint.  Doesn’t that seem like a reasonable thing to be able to do?

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USING OLD FILM LENSES WITH THE K5

Figure 1:  Three old film camera lenses – a Tokina is mounted.

Who shoots green mode anyway?  Sure, using old film lenses limits the number of modes you can use on the K5.  For the lenses shown, only Av (Aperture priority) and M (Manual) modes are available.  But Av is about as automatic as I want in most cases.  I like to have the diaphragm and the ISO completely under my control.

Read More …

The Coyote’s Compass – and the Disintegrator

The Coyote and the Disintegrator

The coyote could navigate with uncanny ease.  North, South, East, or West – the animal could find his way easily, picking his path better than a man with a map.  For eons, the masters of the animal universe could only ponder the means by which the coyote traveled.  Or, for that matter – the birds of the sky or the fish of the sea.  They all had the ability to move without effort, in the navigation of their life paths, never missing an exit ramp, never with the slightest bit of inaccuracy.  All that man could do about this, was ponder.

(This post is an add-on to the post about old vintage lenses).

Read about the Coyote

Note: the author is an amateur photographer, and does not possess a degree in medicine or nuclear physics.  All articles are his opinion, conjecture, or short night results.

Rare Earth Plates for Breakfast?

Figure  1-3 A plate from the 20s, 30s, 40s.

I love to use old (vintage) camera lenses for my photography, but tend to stay away from the oldest ones.  Up through the sixties,  and (for some lens companies) – into the seventies and beyond – lenses were sometimes made with radioactive glass.  When this glass was marketed, the term “rare earths” was sometimes used to imply a glass additive or lens coating that contained thorium.

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Monochromatic Filter Fun – the White Towel Test

Figure 1:  The White towel test on an orange filter

So, I take my walks in parks and on green-ways, and I notice the way people dress.  The women wear bright colors often, and the guys wear the drab and dreary: gray, faded blue, and white.  I guess that’s par for the species for various reasons we won’t delve into, but I had the fleeting thought that these fellows would not look very  much different if they were photographed in black and white, versus color.

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Graphics Software for Linux

Application ColorCorrection Video ARM Arch Paint Description
DarkTable Yes No Prelim/Devel only? Mask only? Photo edit – Strong CC
Gimp Yes As Animation Yes Yes Paint/Photo Edit
Inkscape Some No Yes Yes Vector Graphics
DaVinci * Yes Yes No No Film Finishing
Krita Yes As Animation Yes Yes Strong Drawing, Also photo edit
Blender Yes As MJPEG, others Yes Yes 2D/3D Drawing, Video edit
Lightworks* Yes Yes No Mask only? NLE for Video edit
Natron Yes Yes No ? Video clip ed, multi

Table 1: Some attributes of various linux graphics software entries ** 

Note that table 1 is not at all inclusive of every known graphics software project, but is an enumeration of a few projects that I am aware of and that have some substantial following of users. 

I won’t vouch for the absolute accuracy of the feature list, as I’ve used only one of these packages very intensively, and most of them not at all. I would advise to check out the features of the various projects, and make you own determination as to which may be a good choice to try. For the most part, the items are free, so there shouldn’t be much downside to a trial and error approach to this.

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Photography On the Cheap

Figure 1: The K5 is shown with a Tokina lens from the 1980s.

I started shooting with a bridge camera about two years ago (the FujiFilm s8600).   This was an attempt to bootstrap a photography interest of mine that had started in the early eighties (with an Olympus OM-1) – but which never managed to progress past the level of a novice, and hasn’t to this day.  There was always something more important to do, other than to teach myself to use a camera.  Now retired, I am devoting a lot of time to the task of catching up with the post millennium photography world.

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A Human Powered IR Detector

Figure 1:   A low pass (visible light blocking) filter,  that allows infrared to pass thru it unblocked.

Normally, IR is invisible to the human eye.  So, how could a person detect infrared radiation with the eye?  It can be done indirectly.  In figure 1 is the low pass visible light blocking filter known to all IR photographers.   It blocks visible light (notice that it is jet black, even when held in front of a bright lamp).

The thing is, the human eye can detect IR already.  It can detect even down to the level of upper level “far” IR!

Read more …

Easy-Simple IR Detector

Figure 1:  A very simple, cheeeep, IR detector for hobby photography

Posted 06-08-2018

A lot of hobby photographers are using IR cameras, or retrofitting common cameras to do IR photography. If the camera is a retrofit, then the photo hobbyist may not know the level of IR before a shot is taken.

This easy junk box build is a way to discover at least a ball-park guestimate of how much IR is present before a shot is taken.

The nice thing about this detector is that it uses a photodiode that reaches all the way down to 1.7 um (micro-meters) in the Near IR / Mid IR boundary area. Some newer cameras may be able to take photographs in that band.

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Twisted Photons

Figure 1:  Poor depth of field, or the blowing wind?

This blog is closely related to another one of my blogs (called videomiscellany.wordpress.com) – which currently is targeted towards the journal-ling of experiences related to a nascent video-making hobby that I’ve recently adopted.  A first thought was to include photography as part of that site, but I’ve decided to split the two things, and make a separate blog to document any random bits of photonic decoupage I manage to produce.  WordPress makes adding a blog pretty easy … so why not? I think I have seven now, mostly with names ending in “miscellany.”

I think I may be a miscellaneous person.

I thought PhotonRain would be a good name for a photography site, but it’s apparently a name used already (by a rock band?) – as determined by a quick search that may not be accurate.  Storm Of Photons is a second choice. While that name doesn’t belong to musicians, it’s considerably less lyrical. Oh well. Ever notice that all the good names are taken already? I guess that’s what happens when you live on a rock with 7.6 billion people, and half of them are on the internet.

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