Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Clarity and sharpness

So that you know, I can take just as bad of a picture as blurry one even if the focus is spot on.

Pentax K-7
Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50/1.4
1/250 @ f/2.8
0 ev
ISO 200

Monitors with calibration

Monitors are a source of frustration for me. When I started shooting pictures few years ago, i didn't think much of it. I only noticed when I got into printing. I suppose I ought to talk about that sometimes.

The thing was that when I printed, it did not look as I remembered it on my monitor. In fact, it looked completely different. I knew then that I had to sink some money into displays.

There are many choices. There is a company called EIZO, and they produce outrageously expensive displays specifically built and calibrated (so they say) for digital photographers. It was too pricey for a shitty photographer like me. So I researched around, and ended up with NEC multisync P221w with x-rite calibration. More about calibration later.

Problems were solved almost instantly. With color and tone calibration, which I must repeat ever 30 days or so, my display correctly shows how it is going to appear on my Epson 3800. Now they are literally identical.

How you see my pictures on your monitor, I have no control, and I am almost certain that it does not look like the way I want it to. I know it doesn't. I have two monitors; crappy LG, along with my NEC. On my LG monitor, which I use for everything other than photography, looks nothing like the other monitor. So I try to adjust for it when I post it on the web.

I don't really like posting my pics on the web for this reasons. This is why I save my worst work for nobody to see . . . . .

Pentax K-7
DA* 50-135
1/60 @ f/2.8
-0.3 ev
ISO 400

Monday, June 28, 2010

Worst birthday party photo

Birthday party photos should also be called "accidental photography." You just cannot plan anything ahead of time. You certainly cannot stage anything, because that would take away from their playing time, which is what the kids really should be doing anyway.

I don't usually like to do things that way. I would typically want to have an idea of what I want to express with my photo, and then go look for suited subjects for that specific purpose. At occasions like birthday parties, I suppose I have to recognize before that very situation present itself as worthwhile. Because it happens so fast, and without warning of any sort, I have no control over what can unfold any minute. So, if it happens at all, it is nothing but a convenient accident, not a whole lot more.

If you take photos a lot, I think it can get to the point where you know before it happens. I haven't decided if I like that kind of photography. I want to try it out and see if there is anything in it.

I do think that this photo says a lot about what is happening. Very interesting.

Pentax K10D
Carl Zeiss Planar T* 50/1.4
1/80 @ f/2.8
-0.3 ev
ISO 200

Sunday, June 27, 2010


I am a long long time Mac user. It used to be that I wouldn't dream of using anything other than Mac. I still use Mac, but I don't feel as emotionally constrained by Apple products any more.

In the old days, and until recently, I just didn't see other platforms such as windows as viable options. Now, their operating software has grown, improved, and became more of an option, but not enough to switch over, yet.

Especially someone like me who tries to play with graphics. I am so used to the "system" that too many things are of second nature already.

Having said that, I am becoming less and less fond of Apple products. Their OS has become somewhat complicated, and I find myself unable to work it out by playing with it for a while. This was never an issue before. It is now.

Since the arrival of iphone, things are even more different. They even admit it, that they are no longer just "computer" company. I wish they still were.

Now they sells not only computers, smart phones, softwares, online services like Mobile me, along with other crap like iTune store.

I used iphone for about 8 months. One day my iphone was in my bag, along with a not so tightly closed soda bottle. As a result, it got doused in it, and the screen went dark. So, I went back to Apple store, wanting to buy another one, naturally. They wanted to charge $700 for it, since the replacement will not be subsidized by AT & T, another lame ass company. At the time I bought my iphone, they wouldn't let me buy insurance policy; I knew then why they wanted to do that. So, I took the sim card out, and left that stupid iphone right there on the counter. The store clerk asked me what I wanted them to do with it. I told them to throw it away. I went straight to AT & T, and canceled my line, and gladly paid early termination fee. Their service was just awful, not to mention reception.

I had iphone withdrawals for about a day, then that was that. I am now with Verizon, and yes they suck just as bad in terms of customer services, but the reception is slightly better. I am ditching them too though, in about a year. I don't need a contract. I don't make that many calls with it anyway. A pay-as-you-go phone is more than adequate.

The new iphone 4 just came out, and apparently, you have to hold it in certain ways to optimize the reception signals.

You have got to be kidding me, right??

Pentax K10D
DA 35/2.8 macro ltd
1/20 @ f/4
0 ev
ISO 400

Manual focusing with a long tele - how stupid

These are examples of what you should not do if you have to have everything tack sharp. A long big tele, manual focusing, single shot mode, and no shake reduction. Just can't get any harder than that. There are no reasons why one ought to make it that hard himself. But I do.

Diligent practicing with manual focus will certainly improve sharpness, but it is becoming a lost art form; I hear most shooters these days shoot with auto focusing. Nothing wrong with that though. Not all of us have 20/20 eye sights. All of us, as we get older, do not see as sharp as we once did.

I for one, partly because I am resigned with the fact that I am a horrible photographer, don't mind not so sharp pictures such as these. At least in series, these pictures do what I want them to do; that is to represent motion. A photograph is 2 dimensional. But with a bit of creativity, you can add more dimensions to it.

I know many people disagree with this concept. I can see that, by the way. But, I need to look further, deeper, else where. I don't want to be constrained. I want to be free, just like a kid.

Pentax K-10D
SMC-P Takumar 300/4
1/125 ~ 1/250 @ f/5.6
- 0.3 ev
ISO 400

Friday, June 25, 2010

Multiple frames per second (fps)

I am not bagging on photographers who shoot multiple frames per second. In fact, I am sure that there are genres of photography where something like this is very helpful.

I typically don't. In fact, I have my K-7 set so that in only takes one picture at a time.

But, on this particular photo I did have is so that it would shoot as fast and many as the camera allowed me to.

What I do have issues is that there are people out there who complain that 5 to 6 frames per second that K-7 does is not good enough. I don't get that. When is it going to be enough???

Pentax K-7
DA 70/2.4 ltd
1/90 @ f/3.5
0 ev
ISO 400

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Another Takumar Lens

About a year ago, I got this old Takumar fisheye lens that I somehow don't use too much. The thing about Fisheye lens is that I have no idea how to use it. My guess is that since this lens is designed for 135 mm format, when used on aps-c sensor, the outer part caught by the lens is probably cropped; therefore, it doesn't look as warped as other pics taken by fisheye.

This is an interesting lens. The lens is equipped with this colored filters (red, green, and uv) that you can rotate at the tip of the lens, and as you turn, the color of the picture changes. I think it is pretty obvious which picture had which filters . . . .

I ought to use this lens a bit more. But I think it takes a while to learn this thing.

Pentax K-7
Takumar 17 fisheye/4
1/30 at f/8
0 ev
ISO 200

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Confession - part 2


This is a confession part 2.

No, I don't have any more images on PPG.

Actually, this is more of a big deal.

Saitama is one of smaller prefectures in Japan, yet in terms of population it is the fifth largest with nearly 7 million people.

For the last 60 years, they have held what they call "prefecture exhibition," which is held annually. There are several genres of art works, including oil paintings, traditional Japanese paintings, sculptures, and photography. There were close to 5,000 entries, with photography being the most competitive.

For whatever reasons I never understood, my picture was selected for display. The rate of acceptance for non members like myself was about 5%.

This exhibition is thought to be one of the most prestigious competitions, with many of the entries by well known professional photographer. Although I didn't win the contest, just to be selected for display is a huge accomplishment, I am told.

Just about anybody in the know just cannot believe that my work got selected.

Few weeks ago, I went to Japan for a vacation, and I was able to see my own work being displayed, along with other fine photographs.

Many photographers have gone on to have fine careers after being selected for this competition, I was told.

Maybe I am not all that bad after all.

Confession - part 1

Several months ago, I have posted here that I submit thousands of photos to PPG (Pentax Photo Gallery) and not have one work accepted.

Well, I do have two confessions to make. I have only submitted a total of 10 pictures, not thousands. Second is that I do have one picture there, and it is this one.

Ah yes, I did say that the day I have a picture accepted by them, that would be the day I stop quit this blog. Well I lied . . . . . I actually had this pic accepted when I made that post.

I still do not like that site. Yes, there are many good pictures there, but that is about it for me. I don't like the selection process. People take one quick look, and vote yes or no. It is silly.

So why did I? I dunno. Just because, I guess . . . . .

Since that acceptance, I have not submitted any. Am I going to? I seriously doubt it.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Worst antique car photography

Well, not quite. This one came out better than planned.

Every Saturday morning, there is what we call "the farmer's market" where local organic growers gather around near the city hall and sell what they just harvested. There I saw the truck, actually being used to haul around the produces. You just don't see these old cars around any more. So I figured I would take a picture of it.

I had a very wide angle lens today; 15mm. I don't know why, but when I have this lens attached to my camera, I like to get really close to the subject. I find the perspective very interesting. My camera Pentax K-7 has a feature that correct the distortion often seen in wide angles. I personally think that with DA 15 the pictures look more interesting with that feature off. I forgot to turn that off on this pic.

Interestingly, it seems to me that DA 21 has even more distortion than the 15mm/f4. Many people don't like that lens for that very reason. I am on the other hand, being a scrooge that I am, the exact opposite. If it wasn't for that distortion, that lens would just be another run of the mill lens . . . . .

1st picture
Pentax K-7
DA 15/4 limited
1/200 at f/7.1
+0.3 ev
ISO 200

2nd picture
Pentax K-7
DA 15/4 ltd
0 ev
ISO 200

Friday, June 18, 2010

Worst Takumar pic - part 1

Well, here it is. This demonstrates how difficult it is shoot with a long Tele. The focus is not on the bird, but on the telephone pole. Very disappointing.

Pentax K10D
SMC Takumar 300/4
1/750 @ f/8
0 ev
ISO 200

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

My lens buying addiction took an interesting turn while I was in Japan this past week. I was about to meet up with my cousin, who works for Canon's printer division at Shibuya, one of Tokyo's busiest of places on one Saturday. I got there about an hour or so early, and as I walked out of the train station I saw a huge banner hanging from the top of the department store (Tokyu department store), and it said, "Used Camera Fair."

I knew I was in trouble.

It was as if I was hypnotized. I made my way through the department store, seemingly knowing exactly where to go even though I had no idea. I only had an hour or so, but for whatever reasons I am not entirely clear, I knew that I would get there in time and have plenty of time to browse around.

And I did. It was being at the top floor, where special events like these are typically held. There were 10 venders or so, each bringing their loads of used inventory, neatly being displayed under the show cases. It was typical Japanese. Nearly all of the merchandises were in top conditions.

Just about every brand was represented. Nikon, Canon, Pentax, Olympus, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Leica, and you name it, they had it.

My interests were, naturally, lenses.

I knew I only had few minutes, and I knew that I was not supposed to, you know, not buy anything when my wife was not around to be consulted with, if you know what I mean.

About 5 minutes into it, this old Pentax-Takumar 300/f telephoto lens caught my eye. The reason it did was that it was such in pristine condition; in fact, it looked brand new although this lens was manufactured sometimes in the mid 1960's. The mount was not bayonet; and it was what is called M42 screw mount. In the old days, they used to screw the lens right onto the body. That is a weird thought, as I have never seen a camera with a screw mount.

One of, if not the only cool thing about Pentax DSLR is that you can use just about any lenses ever produced by Pentax with the newest of the camera body, like K-7. All I needed was an adapter that cost less that 30bucks.

Before I knew it I had my wallet out. It was about $150 us. I wasn't sure if it was a good deal at the time (apparently it was). But I bought it anyway, because it looked so clean, so neat, and it didn't have AF.

Tomorrow, I will be posting pictures taken by this beast. One will be surprised how good pictures it takes, considering that the thing is close to 50 years old.

This is really a gem.

Takumar is the last name of the half brother of the initial founder of Pentax, or something like that. When you go to Pentax Forum, you will find a group of die-hard Takumar fans, who almost exclusively shoot with these screw mount lenses, because according to them, the optical formula and materials have no equals, even compared to the most expensive lenses available on the market today.

Pentax K-7
DA 35/2.8 macro ltd
1/250 @ f/9
0 ev
ISO 200

Monday, June 14, 2010

Worst culinary photography of all time

Perhaps because I suck so badly in photography, I like going to fancy restaurants just to feel better about myself somehow. I am not all that sure how feeling better about myself would do anything to my terrible photography, because my photos show no signs of improvement whatsoever no matter how fancy the restaurant I frequent.

But here are some pictures of Hotel de Mikuni, a famous Japanese/French restaurant that amazingly did not make it to the Michelin Guide of Japan this year. I really find that laughable.

There are two Hotel de Mikuni in Japan. One in Tokyo, and another in Karuizawa in Nagano prefecture, where the winder olympic was held not so long ago. Karuizawa is a ski resort in the winter, and during the summer months this is where people go to avoid the oppressing humidity and heat. Our family owns a small condominium there, and from there just around the corner is the Hotel de Mikuni that we frequent.

As long as one does not pay too much attention to the pricing, the food is just more than ecstatic. Kiyomi Mikuni, a French trained chef/owner creates a fusion of Japanese and French cuisine from the bottom up. He uses Japanese sea kelp (konbu) and dried fish flakes to make basic soup stock.

I don't want to talk too much about how the dishes are prepared; I am afraid of ruining them. Ideally, pictures that were well done would give the viewer a good idea of the subtlety of aroma and texture, but no luck here. These pictures look just awful, and the dishes are already started to look stale.

This was a four course lunch that took about 90 minutes to enjoy. The portion is just right, not too little, yet not large at all, and when you take that much time, the satisfaction you get from it is not of a full stomach sensation, but a feeling of being so well taken care of, and that of extreme privilege.

Very bad travel pictures - Japan 2010 - part 2

Words cannot describe how awful these pictures are . . . . .