Friday, December 30, 2011

PAW 2011


The “Picture a Week” (PAW) project began as a challenge to myself to get at least one picture every week that was worthy of publication in my LightDescription blog. My original intention was to minimize family photos; however, my granddaughter is so photogenic, so active and, well, so cute that she was still my main subject. In addition to this blog, my PAW photos are “published” in a SmugMug gallery.  This picture, PAW 6, was the most popular picture – by far -- in that gallery.

Of course, producing a picture a week would be much more difficult if film were used. With film, to keep on schedule, the photo would have to be taken early enough in the week so that it could be chemically processed, scanned and post processed for publication in the blog. Instead, all of my PAW were digital and post processed in Photoshop.

To determine popularity, I relied on SmugMug statistics. That is, the assumption was made that anyone sufficiently interested in my PAW would click through the current PAW to the SmugMug PAW gallery, see the thumbnails and look at an enlarged version of the picture. There is a major problem with this method for my PAW project because, naturally, the first images in the SmugMug portfolio tend to have more views than the images that were added later in the year.

The High Dynamic Range (HDR) PAW were always popular and PAW 25 was the most popular of the HDR images.

PAW 25

This “fog” picture – almost an afterthought—was popular, PAW 30.


I really liked this picture of kids playing in the fountains, PAW 15, and thought it to be one of my better efforts for the year.

Baton Rouge

Not as popular as I thought it would be, this Swiss Army Knife adventure, PAW 28, was a good one to add to my Swiss Army Knife collection of photos.


The third most popular picture was the first one posted, my granddaughter about this time last year, PAW 1a.

2nd Christmas

The second most popular picture was PAW 3.



Did any of the PAW replace one of my previous “Top Ten”? No and this was sort of frustrating as I really hoped that the PAW project would generate a Top Ten Photo.

The PAW project will end with PAW 52. Instead of PAW, in 2012 LightDescription will regularly feature a photo – could be recent or from the past – along with the processes and thoughts that went into it.

Have a Happy New Year with much good photography!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Year at LightDescription

Although not quite the end of the year, today I have the time and inclination to summarize 2011.  I blame this timing on my real job for which I must submit a monthly report before the end of each month.  First, some background and statistics.

LightDescription began five years ago with a variation on a joke and true story; it now includes 356 posts – some 70 posts per year.  I usually do at least one post per week.  This year, there have been 92 posts – primarily because of my PAW commitment. Except for PAW, LightDescription has become mostly about my adventures in learning to use equipment and technique.  Next year the PAW (as such) will be dropped; its replacement will be photographic but non-geek in nature.

For many readers, LightDescription is about the G series of Canon PowerShot cameras; however, it really is not.  I happen to find the G series to be a good fit to my needs, purposes, and preferences and therefore have chosen to use them as my primary cameras (although I have, uh, many other, cameras).  By “using” a camera, I really mean to become proficient with (nearly) all its features and doing so takes me quite a while.  Organizing my thoughts for a blog post helps me in the process – hence LightDescription.

In much the same way as becoming proficient with a camera, I want to learn to use a flash.  This “want” has led me to many flashes, add-ons, gadgets, techniques, etc.  In many ways, flash is even more geek-like than a camera and lens.  I have a long way to go in the learning-about-flash process.

In 2011, there have been nearly 60,000 visits to LightDescription.  Most days there are between 100 and 300 visitors.  Most visitors are new to LightDescription and find their way here through a search engine looking for information about a piece of camera or flash equipment.  On average, a visitor views two posts before exiting. 

The most popular posts for the past 30 days are shown on the left hand side of the blog.  The most popular post during 2011 has been about the Yongnuo 460 flash which still works well for me and is used regularly.

I’ll summarize the PAW experience and popular pictures in another post.

As for being the “G12 blog”, that almost certainly will change in 2012 as will the need for focusing on the G12. I could continue using the G12 for my photography or, based on past choices, I could be getting and writing about a G14 but who knows what Canon will be doing and when they will be doing it? 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

PAW 51


My wife made this Nativity set years ago in her ceramics club and we’ve displayed it every year since. 

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 23, 2011

S100 Review – New G Coming?

Combining and commenting on two newsy items …

An extensive and largely positive review of the new PowerShot S100 has been posted by DPreview. It appears that Canon’s upgrade of the popular S95 has been successful.  In particular, Canon’s CMOS version of the 1/1.7 inch CCD used in both the G12 and S95 enabled new features to be added to its compact enthusiast camera.

About the same time, CanonRumors began speculating on a successor to the G12.  Interestingly, follow-up discussions in the CanonRumors Forum  vary widely with respect to a wish list or even the need for such a camera.  The points made by Canon and interpretation by CanonRumors seem to point to  a new “G” (variously being called G13, G14, Gx)  being introduced in 2012. 

My own opinion about the “G14” (my previous guess about the product name)  has changed and is changing again.  I’d made my own wish list and then decided that the days of the G series as we know it were over.  When the S100 came along, I began to think that the next G would really be a souped-up S100 and use the same sensor.  Later, I again decided that the days of the G were over but that Canon would introduce a compact  “mirrorless” camera with interchangeable lenses.  Now I’m back to believing that the “Gx” will be a non-interchangeable lens camera with CMOS sensor but somewhat larger than the S100 sensor.  Surely the “Gx” will have virtually all the features of the S100.  I hope it will include the features from my own wish list.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

PAW 50

Ski Side Lights

This was a fun picture.  More precisely, it was a fun day and a picture quickly assembled from my iPhone and G12 photos.  My granddaughter and I put up a few Christmas lights outside my house.  In the process, I grabbed a quick shot of her with my iPhone.  Later I got a shot of the lights using the G12 at ISO 80, f4, 1/4 second – tripod mounted of course.  Actually, my original thought was to do an HDR assembled from several shots.  Fortunately, one of those shots underexposed everything except the lights and I didn’t even attempt the HDR.  Although this particular selection was processed from RAW, the JPG version (shooting in RAW+JPEG) was nearly the same.  The iPhone photo was simply pasted into the G12 photo and then partially erased.

Although I don’t use the iPhone as a camera frequently, I do use it and have been wondering if and when one of the iPhone photos would make it into my picture a week series. 

Sunday, December 11, 2011

PAW 49

Wesleigh Christmas Program

Perhaps not one of my more artistic photographs but one that I suspect will be treasured for many more years.  This is from my granddaughter’s Christmas program.  She is singing her heart out (top row, 3rd from left).

Photo taken with the 7D plus 580EX II flash direct mounted on the camera.  Camera settings were ISO 1600 and manual exposure of 1/60, f5.6 – which gave a very slightly underexposed histogram without the flash.  The flash was set for +1/3 flash exposure compensation.

Monday, December 5, 2011

YN565EX Cross References


Here are cross references to previous posts on LightDescription about the YN565EX flash:

Introduction to the YN565EX
External power
YN565EX with the Canon G12 
YN565EX with the Canon 7D

Posts on LightDescription about the older, simpler YN460EX flash:

Introduction to the YN460-II
YN460-II with the Canon 7D

Additional articles and information on the YN565EX:

Speedlights Review
An ongoing discussion on POTN forum

I continue to use and like both the YN460EX-II and the YN565EX. 

Sunday, December 4, 2011

PAW 48

OS Beach

When I undertook the picture a week challenge, my intention was to avoid “manipulated” pictures such as “Photoshopped” and especially
“HDR” post processed images.  In the course of doing this for nearly a year, I’m reminded that I do like HDR post processing for certain situations and images.  On the other hand, my HDR preferences are now tending towards less dramatic contrast and saturation. 

This particular picture was taken on an overcast day with the handheld Canon 7D (although set for high speed) using Av mode and auto bracketing at +/- 2 stops.  Processing was done first in ACR and then Photomatix using the “Adjust” method.  After processing three images in Photomatix, the final version was slightly tweaked in Photoshop.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

YN565EX on External Power


One of the selling points for the YN565EX is that it can be used with an external power supply.  As shown above, the standard Canon three prong power connection is next to the old style “PC” flash connection and protected by a rubber cover.  As reported previously, I have a Pixel TD-381 external battery pack; I wanted to see how well it worked with the YN565EX flash. 


As expected, the TD-381 simply plugged right into the YN565EX and worked fine.  My TD-381 is fitted with NiMh batteries.  I recharged the batteries and made a few simple recycle time tests with the YN565EX.

A few years ago I began to use the XNote Timer as a stopwatch to get approximate timing for shutter lag, flash recycle, etc.  I again photographed the XNote Timer to get an idea of the recycle time for the YN565EX with and without the TD-381 power pack. 

With four freshly recharged NiMh batteries, the YN565 can get off five full power flashes in about 10.7 seconds.  When powered by the TD-381, recycle time is reduced such that five flashes can be done in about 6 seconds.  As reported previously, the YN565EX recycles somewhat faster than the Canon 580EXII when both are powered by internal batteries; however, when connected to the TD-381 power pack, the recycle time is about the same.

On a somewhat related note, I used the YN565EX as a slave flash driven by the 580EX II mounted on a Canon 7D camera over the Thanksgiving Holidays.  It worked well.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

PAW 47

OS Beach


Although in fits of sprinkles, the rain fell just often enough that I cowered under a roof on a pier instead of taking the long beach walk that was planned.  While waiting, I practiced my BIF (Birds in Flight) photography without much success.  Eventually I noticed this nice,  even though somewhat static, scene and zoomed the 100-400mm lens on the 7D to this composition.  The result was processed from RAW in ACR but otherwise pretty much untouched and not cropped.

To some, this may be a cluttered picture but to me this is a vertical format with a horizontal top.  The horizontal portion is another pier in the background and a bridge even farther in the background.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

PAW 46

Ski Side Flowers

Even in south Louisiana, the hibiscus flower wraps up in itself at night and sleeps while awaiting early sun beams.  I know this but still was surprised to find sleeping flowers this morning.  After all, the sun was up even though somewhat hidden by clouds and fog.  Suddenly realizing that I had no photos of sleeping hibiscus flowers, I retrieved my 7D and got this shot.

As usual, shot in RAW and processed with Adobe Camera RAW before cropping for composition.

Friday, November 18, 2011

YN565EX and the G12

YN565EX with G12 and 580EX

The G12 and any large flash become an ungainly, but sometimes useful, combination.  In my introductory remarks about the YN565EX, I noted that it was not purchased for use on the G12 and implied that there were problems. Indeed, the YN565EX should be considered as incompatible with the G12; however, it does work on the G12 in certain modes. Let’s get the bad news out of the way first.

The YN565EX does not work at all – that is, does not even flash – when the G12 is in manual flash mode. This was completely unexpected. I expected some kind of odd ball behavior but it never crossed my mind that the YN565EX would not fire at all when mounted on the G12. Curious, I tried the YN565EX on my G9 only to find the same behavior (after changing batteries in the G9). Next, I tried the YN565EX on the G6 and G3 and discovered that the YN565EX is completely incompatible with those older G series cameras.

On the positive side, the YN565EX does work on the G12 when the G12 is in P, Tv or Av mode. The YN565EX zooms with the G12 zoom and Flash Exposure Compensation can be controlled either by the YN565EX or by the G12. The YN565EX seems to work in either direct or bounce orientation (I say “seems” to work because I did not attempt to check the accuracy of the flash exposure). Again, I’ll comment that the YN565EX is noticeably louder than the 580EX II when flashing. Also, to my eye, the YN565EX produces a more noticeable pre-flash when used on the G12. I would not be confident in using the YN565EX mounted on the G12.

But I didn’t get the YN565EX for direct mounting on the G12; I got it for use in the Canon wireless system. The G12 does not have its own internal wireless controller as does the 7D but the 580EX II can act as the master, or controlling, flash. My first attempts to set the 580EX II as the master flash were unsuccessful and I was beginning to think that the 580EX II was itself incompatible with the G12. Then I discovered that the G12 requires a menu setting to enable the Canon wireless system. As soon as the wireless system was enabled in the G12 menu, the 580EX II immediately became the master flash. Alas, the YN565EX did not respond to the 580EX II as a master when the 580EX II was mounted on the G12.

In my frustration, I got out a Canon 420EX and set it to slave flash mode using the same settings as the YN565EX. Side-by-side with the YN565EX, the 420EX responded to the 580EX II as expected but the YN565EX did not. More frustrated, I removed the 580EX II from the G12 and placed it on the 7D, noting that the settings did not change. When triggered by the 7D, both the YN565EX and the 420EX fired as expected -- end of compatibility tests.

Well, almost the end of compatibility tests. In optical slave flash mode, the YN565EX does respond to the G12 internal flash and also to the 580EX II when mounted on the G12.  The YN565EX also responds to the simple Yongnuo RF-602 wireless trigger. These are very useful features.

My conclusion is that although the YN565EX is not totally incompatible with the G12, it is best to declare the YN565EX as being incompatible and therefore avoid the frustration of attempting to remember which settings and modes work and which do not. I won’t be using the YN565EX with my G series cameras except as an optical slave flash or with the RF-602 trigger.

… but I’m still OK with having purchased the YN565EX.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Clone Batteries Kaput!

Canon G3 and G9 Cameras

My G9 became a (mostly) unused spare camera when I got my G12 even though the G9 is used on occasion to photograph the G12 and its accessories. As part of testing the compatibility of the YN565EX flash, I put it on the G9 only to discover that the G9 battery was dead. No problem, I had spares. Whoops, that spare was usable but weak so I tried yet another spare battery and this one was usable. Then I noticed that the weak batteries were both clones whereas the usable battery was the original Canon battery.

For camera batteries, I follow a philosophy of one in the camera, one in the pocket and one on the charger. As this practice is both debatable and expensive, I usually use inexpensive cloned batteries. Most of the time I get those clones from (I have no affiliation with Sterlingtek except as a customer).

The next step, of course, was to recharge the weak cloned batteries; however, the charger changed from “charging” to “charged” all too quickly for both batteries so something was not quite right. After only a few shots and screen displays the G9 again indicated that the batteries were weak.

This post is really not a rant or even a gripe. These particular batteries, NB2L Li-ion, were purchased as spares almost exactly four years ago (I write the purchase date on the batteries). It does seem strange for both clones to go bad at the same time. Perhaps the lack of use was a contributing factor? I know that the G9 was used on July 4th this year and also that all the G9 batteries were recharged before a vacation in mid-July.

The problem does not appear to be with the G9 or the battery charger because the original Canon battery works and charges fine. On the other hand, what if the original battery is on its last legs? Even though the G9 is not used very often, I want it to be available so after a few minutes of internal debate, I placed an order with Sterlingtek for two NB2L batteries ($30 plus shipping).

Sunday, November 13, 2011

PAW 45

Soccer Game 7

Soccer season is over for the five year olds and the kids got to run through the “tunnel” one last time.  I’m pretty sure that running through the tunnel is their favorite part of the game.  Interestingly, I don’t recall any of the kids asking whether their team won or lost the game.

Shooting the kids soccer game has been a learning experience for me.  My best approach seems to be with the 7D, 15-85mm lens, ISO 800, JPEG only, daylight white balance, AI focus using 9 center focus points, and rapid fire in manual exposure mode at f8 and (usually) about 1/640 second.  I simply follow the ball and shoot in bursts.  The result is not exactly sports journalism quality but produces decent snapshots.

I decided to shot in JPEG (“Faithful”) for the soccer games because my plan was to make a slide show as a gift for the coaches and parents (and my granddaughter).  I wanted the photos to have a consistent appearance without my having to process hundreds of shots from RAW.  This approach worked out fairly well and the slide show was appreciated.

I was standing on the sidelines of the small (these are five year olds) soccer field for all the games.  For portions of a few games, I used my 70-200 lens at f2.8 to get head shots during the action.  Most of the time, the 200mm was too long.  Something along the lines of 24-135, f4 would have been great.

Wait ‘til next year!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

YN565EX and the 7D

7D and YN565EX

My YN565EX performs as expected on and with my Canon 7D. The YN565EX does not have high speed sync and cannot function as the master flash for the Canon wireless system but the lack of those two features was expected. Otherwise, the YN565EX seems to work well with the 7D. In fact, the easiest way to describe the YN565EX is that it is almost a Canon 580EX II.

YN565EX with G12 and 580EX

YN565EX with G12 and 580EX

While playing around with the YN565EX and Canon 580EX II, I realized that the YN565EX is perceptibly louder and sounds a bit “harder” as well when it flashes. The sound and volume is not particularly objectionable but is definitely noticeable when the two flashes are activated side-by-side. On the positive side, I found that the YN565EX recycles a bit faster than the 580EX II. With one flash in each hand, I manually triggered them at the same time and watched the ready lights. Both flashes were in manual mode and flashing at full power. The YN565EX ready light always lit first – even after swapping batteries. This may be nothing more than an indication that the YN565EX ready light comes on at a different point than does the 580EX II; even so, it is sort of reassuring.

To get the (first) photo of the 7D with mounted and flashing YN565EX, the camera was turned off and the flash was set to optical trigger (SL 1) at lowest power (1/128). The picture was taken with my G12 using its manual internal flash set to minimum power. A YN460-II, also in SL 1 mode, was placed outside my homemade light tent as the main light. The YN565EX (and YN460-II) work well in both SL 1 and SL 2 (ignores Canon pre-flash) modes.

On the 7D, the YN565EX works as expected. Again, there is no high speed sync and the YN565EX cannot be used as the master flash in Canon’s wireless system. The YN565EX zooms with the 7D lens (15-85mm Canon in this case) and indicates the true focal length (not the 35mm equivalent) on its display.

Off-camera, the YN565EX could be triggered wirelessly by the built-in flash of the 7D or by the 580EX II mounted on the 7D. Exposure compensation on the 7D was passed along to the YN565EX. Using the 580EX II mounted on the 7D as the “A” flash and designating the YN565EX as the “B” flash, the flash ratios could be set in the 7D system.

The YN565EX and RF-602 were used to make my most recent PAW (and many more that day) so this combination works well together (shame on Yongnuo if they did not!).

My intention is not to use the YN565EX mounted on the 7D but as a second flash with Canon’s wireless system or as a manual flash to be triggered by my Yongnuo RF-602 wireless triggers. The YN565EX seems to meet my requirements and expectations.

Next, the YN565EX and the Canon G12 …

Sunday, November 6, 2011

PAW 44


Strictly speaking, my granddaughter is the photographer for this shot but since I helped by setting up the lights, camera, the remote triggers, etc., I don’t feel bad about using it for PAW 44.

Today was picture day for our extended family.  I set up flash through umbrellas in our garage and triggered them with Yongnuo RF-602s.  The backdrop was a painter’s drop cloth (canvas) from Home Depot.  Camera was the 7D with a 50mm Canon set at f4, 1/250 second, ISO 100.

This was the first time that I’ve really used the Yongnuo YN565EX with the RF-602 other than a brief test.  It worked well.  Power setting was 1/4. 

Thursday, November 3, 2011


It’s one thing for the fast recycling NiZn batteries to fail and another thing for the failure to occur at Grandparents’ Day!  After unexpected problems in mid-August, I sorted through my NiZn batteries with a volt meter, discarded a few and gave the remaining ones another try. A month later, I used those batteries at my granddaughter’s birthday party and my confidence in NiZn returned.  Today, six weeks later, two of the four batteries in the 580EX II (right, not yet using the YN565EX mounted on my 7D) let me down.

I admit to not recharging the NiZn batteries last night before using them  today.  I think the last time the batteries were charged was mid-October and they’ve been used for perhaps 10 flashes since that re-charging.  Still, I’m unhappy to get only five flashes from the NiZn batteries today before I noticed my wife waving her arms and mouthing, “The flash is not working!”.  I immediately removed the 580EX II and popped up the little built-in flash in the 7D.  Fortunately, my granddaughter’s small classroom was well lit and, with the 7D set for ISO 1600, the built-in flash generated sufficient fill flash.

Why didn’t I simply change batteries once I realized that the NiZn’s had failed?  Because I foolishly, but intentionally, left my camera bag in the car – that’s why.  I didn’t even drop a spare set of batteries in my pocket.  After all, we were only to be there for an hour. 

Tonight I checked my supply of NiZn batteries.  Of the 13 spare batteries, 2 were bad.  So of 17 total NiZn batteries, 4 were found bad today.  For all I know, the remaining batteries are fine but I no longer have faith in NiZn.

PowerEx 2700 mAh NiMH batteries served me well for several years and were my battery of choice before NiZn.  I’ve also tried Sanyo Eneloop 2000 mAh batteries.  The Eneloop batteries definitely hold a charge longer than the PowerEx but also do not produce quite as many flashes.  My strategy now is to first use PowerEx but to have the Eneloops in my pocket.  Of course, I can’t really bring myself to toss out all those NiZn batteries so I’ll keep them around for a while as unreliable extras.

Signing off to order Eneloops …

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


The Yongnuo YN565EX flash is a near clone of the Canon flagship 580EX II. I say “near clone” because the YN565EX does not look exactly like the 580EX II and is not controlled exactly like the 580EX II. Even so, the YN565EX is obviously intended to be a low cost variation of the 580EX II. Although I already have a 580EX II, you can never have too many and at one-third the price, the YN565EX was well worth investigating. I ordered my YN565EX from ThePhotoGadget and waited more or less patiently during the two week delivery period.

I’ve had good experiences with my Yongnuo YN460-II and use it regularly as an off-camera manually adjusted flash. My intention was and is to use the YN565EX as an ETTL slave unit to be wirelessly triggered and controlled by either my 7D on-camera flash or by the 580EX II. Alternatively, the YN565EX can be triggered as an optical slave or by the RF-602 wireless triggers; however, these simpler alternative triggers do not include ETTL control.

Because my Canon G12 has bugs – undocumented features – in flash mode, I was fully prepared for the YN565EX to be incompatible with the G12. In this I was not disappointed as the YN565EX does display a few quirks when mounted on the G12 (more on this in another post). As I’m always reminding others, flash on the Powershot G is not the same as flash on Canon’s DSLRs.

ThePhotoGadget site and the Yongnuo store but especially Speedlights contain specifics and technical details of the YN565EX so I’ll just say that it is generally expected to perform like a 580EX II. On the other hand, the YN565EX does add the two optical slave trigger modes that have been very useful to me on my 460EX-II.

YN565EXMy YN565EX arrived in a sort of soft and squishy cardboard box but the package inside (top photo) was well protected and undamaged. The flash survived its journey from China apparently intact and undamaged. My quick inspection and abbreviated tests so far indicate that my YN565EX works as it is supposed to work but I’ll have more on this in future posts.

YN565EXAfter a few test shots, I was forced to skim through the instruction manual in order to turn off the very loud and irritating BEEP-BEEP (page 58, custom function 14).

YN565EXThe YN565EX is a nice looking flash and much more robust than the YN460EX II – especially the battery door.  I do prefer the foot locking mechanism of the 580EX II but the more conventional screw lock on the YN565EX is OK.  The YN565EX flash head is swiveled and tilted without having to press and release any locking buttons.  If the friction resistance holds the head in place, this is an advantage -- time will tell.
The controls are just enough different from the 580EX II that I’ll have to remember both systems but, if anything, the YN565EX controls actually seem more intuitive.  Button presses all seem OK to me. 

Next: Using the YN565EX with the Canon 7D

Sunday, October 30, 2011

PAW 43

Butterfly Weed

With my granddaughter playing soccer, I’m spending more time with my 7D than with my G12.  Today, in my attempt to recover from watching the Saints football game, I grabbed the 7D and walked around in our garden looking for close-ups.  Normally I prefer to use the G12 for “macro” photography but it seemed natural to use the 7D today.  At first, I tried the Canon 85mm prime lens but it really doesn’t focus close enough so I switched to the 15-85mm zoom because it has  “macro” focusing. 

I planted “Butterfly Weed” last year in hopes of getting many easy photos of butterflies.  Maybe next year.  Meanwhile, the butterfly weed is very colorful and does attract various critters.  This shot was taken at ISO 400, f11, 1/250 second from about a foot away (not the minimum focus distance) and is cropped to perhaps one third of the original.

There’s no need to discuss how many attempts it took to get this shot! 

Sunday, October 23, 2011

PAW 42

PAW 42

It’s that time of year when I begin my annual search for hay bales to photograph.  This one, not too far from my house, was taken in mid-morning with my Canon 7D.  This is another HDR composited image and made from five shots:  -2, –1, 0, +1, +2 EV exposures.  Looking at the above HDR image as I write, it appears to show some haloing; however, the full screen version and the print version do not show this effect. 

HDR processing was done in Photomatix from .tif files processed from RAW in ACR.  Although I often use the “compressor” mode in Photomatix, this one was processed with “details enhancer”.  The tonemapped version was then opened in Photoshop for final processing.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

PAW 41

Ski Side

Still trying for my pier-in-fog picture, I captured this early morning scene with my G12 at ISO 800, f3.2, 1/100 in manual exposure mode.  The shot was taken in RAW and converted in ACR to color, then converted in Topaz B/W to the final version.  The B/W conversion used one of the Topaz presets that is supposed to produce low contrast with vignette and simulate Tri-X film.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Ultra-Micro Camera-Like Device


LightDescription is pleased to announce the development of a new photographic capture tool: the Ultra-Micro Camera-Like Device (UMCLD). The UMCLD represents the ultimate miniaturization of digital cameras. Key to the commercialization of the UMCLD is the continued development of the tri-layer Sensor/Processor/Display Unit (SPDU).

I can already hear the detractors: “Hey, wait a minute! That’s just a lens cap with a piece of duck tape on it!” OK, so it’s a mockup of the concept. The mockup clearly illustrates not only the current direction of digital camera development but also the problems of optics and physical size.

UMCLDIt seems that we (well, not me personally) know how to continually reduce the size and simultaneously increase the performance of electronic devices such as computers and cameras – yes, the “camera” is now an electronic device. In fact, the modern “camera” could easily be lumped into the category of “computer”. While the “camera” is ever being reduced in size, lenses are a different matter. Apparently the laws of optics are strongly enforced and continue to impose restrictions on the physical size of lenses.

One has only to glance at recent camera announcements to realize that, instead of attaching the lens to the camera, the camera is actually attached to the lens. The UMCLD is a logical extension of this trend.

True, the UMCLD will be highly menu driven and operated but that trend is also well underway. Perhaps some controls could be moved to the “lens” (even though a true photo enthusiast will want an adaptor for attaching the UMCLD to his existing lens collection).

UMCLDThinking of adaptors for the UMCLD, the iUMCLD Adaptor is a natural!

… and the UMCLD is pocketable*!


* pocketability varies with pocket size and style as well as personal preferences such as fit of the garment. Lens not included.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

PAW 40

Soccer Game 2

Not much time for photography this week – unless you count the thousand plus shots I took at two soccer games for five year olds.  Of those shots, I like this one best even though it is not of my granddaughter. 

Taken with the Canon 7D, 85mm lens at f1.8, 1/640 second, ISO 400.  Processed from RAW in ACR, slightly cropped.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Steve Jobs R.I.P.

I just learned of the death of Steve Jobs.  It is said that Steve Wozniak invented the Apple computer but Steve Jobs invented the Apple company.  Although I did not know Steve Jobs personally, I came to respect him greatly as a visionary.  He made his mark and the world, especially the world of technology, will miss him greatly.

In the ‘80s, I bought an Apple IIc “for my son”.  It was interesting but not quite what I needed or imagined.  Later I considered an original Mac but could not see how it could be programmed for engineering use.  I was correct in both cases but still missed the Apple/Mac experience.

I now have an iPhone and iPad.  The Mac looks ever more interesting, especially for photography.

Thanks, Steve.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Visual Science Lab–Gone?

Kirk Tuck of the Visual Science Lab Blog has signed off or, perhaps better said, blogged off.  He gives his reasons in a final post but I suspect he is simply burned out.  Kirk is a very prolific writer and it seemed that he posted a new entry every day – sometimes more than one.  I usually checked Visual Science Lab every day and included it in my list here of “Blogs I Like”. 

Then again, perhaps Kirk will not be gone very long.  Already he has been invited to be an occasional author for The Online Photographer and readily accepted the offer.  I hope so.

In the meantime, I’ll leave the link to Visual Science Lab here as a blog that I like.  Apparently it will remain online for some time and contains much good information and food for thought. 

Best wishes to Kirk Tuck (and hurry up with the next book!).

Popular Pics

PAW 35

Based on views at SmugMug, PAW 35 is the most popular of my PAW photos during the last month.  PAW 25, also an HDR rendering, is second most popular.

Looking at the year-to-date (not entirely fair to the more recent PAW), PAW 6 (below) is by far the most popular picture.  PAW 3 is a distant second for the year.


My own favorite, so far, is also PAW 6 although I’m not sure it will be moved into my Top Ten gallery.  For my Top Ten, based on SmugMug statistics for the year, the most popular picture is “Plantation Bedroom”.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

PAW 39

HGTV Party

As mentioned previously, my daughter was featured on HGTV’s “Bang for your Buck” yesterday.  Last night we had a little party to celebrate. 

HGTV Party

Yes, these are simple family snapshots and not at all what I intended to use for my Picture a Week series.  On the other hand, they are decent snapsnots and, in all honesty, the best shots from last week.  Taken with Canon 7D, 580EXII with Stofen diffuser, 1/2 CTO gel, ISO 1600, 1/100 sec at f5.6.  Processed from RAW in CS5.  Noise reduction using Noiseware Pro.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Off Topic: Real Estate and TV

My daughter, Laura Buck Smith, will be featured on HGTV’s “Bang for your Buck” on Saturday, October 1, 2011 at 1:30pm (Baton Rouge time and COX cable).  Laura and a designer from New York walked through three homes in south Louisiana and discussed the pros and cons of renovations.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

PAW 38

Rural Life Harvest DaysI returned to the Rural Life Museum for their Harvest Days festival and quickly visited the old blacksmith’s shop with my fingers crossed that the blacksmith would be there.  Using the Canon 7D with the (inexpensive) 50mm prime at f1.8, ISO 800 and 1/125 second, I got several variations on this theme but liked this one best. 

Sunday, September 18, 2011

PAW 37

Rural Life

When I want to try out a new piece of photo equipment or a new technique, I often go to the Rural Life Museum.    I’ve been wanting to re-visit my Canon 50mm f1.8 lens for some time and today seemed a good day for it.  The Canon 50mm is not a great lens but is OK and does offer an out-of-focus background that some like to call “bokeh”.   I walked around for a couple of hours today shooting my 7D only with the Canon 50mm almost always at f1.8.  Of the pictures I took, this is my choice for PAW.  It was taken at ISO 800, f1.8 at 1/30 second in the “schoolhouse” at Rural Life Museum.

Although my first thought was to covert this image to B/W, I prefer this somewhat desaturated version as processed from RAW in ACR because it is more representative of what I was seeing in that dim light.  This version is slightly cropped to 1024x768 screen resolution (as are most of my PAW shots).

Thursday, September 15, 2011

S100 Announced

Today Canon announced the launch of its latest PowerShot camera, the S100.  The S100 appears to be a significant upgrade to last year’s S95 and manages to squeeze quite a lot of features into a small package.  More details from Canon at the S100 page.

CanonRumors first predicted that the S100 would be announced Tuesday and then revised that prediction to be today.

In my own predictions, I was both right and wrong but missed many details.  First of all, my prediction was built around a successor to the G12 – which I called the G14.   However, I acknowledged that the emphasis would be on the successor to the S95 – which I correctly predicted would be called the S100.  (Seems obvious now but many thought that S100 would not be “reused” because of the S100 Digital Elph in 2000.)   I thought that the announcement would come in late August and would include both the G14 and S100.

I got the “Digic V” right (duh) and even the new sensor and 12MP but gave up too soon on Canon using CMOS in that size sensor.  Because I’d given up on CMOS, I did not predict full HD video.  I didn’t think to predict a lens both wider and longer for the S100.  On the other hand, I did predict GPS (for the G14).

In predicting the G14, I once again thought that it would be the last of the G series but now it appears that the G12 is the last G standing.  Or is it?  Canon has not said that the G series has ended.  Canon has simply not announced a new G series camera.  The new CMOS sensor in 1/1.7 inch format is a key consideration.  At this point, the only Canon cameras using the 1/1.7 inch sensor format are/were the S and G series.  If Canon does not continue with a CMOS G14 then the S100 will be their only camera using that sensor.  This makes me think that there will be a CMOS G14 in the near future (well, probably early next year).   Enticingly, that CMOS G14 probably out-specs the S100!

Dpreview has posted their hands-on preview of a pre-production S100.  Very interesting.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

PAW 36


First official soccer practice!  Soon these five year olds will be playing their very first game – should be a blast!

I like my Canon G12 but for these action shots I very much prefer the 7D; in fact, it is not much of a contest.  For future practices and games, I’ll be using the 7D with 70-200mm zoom as I prowl the sidelines.

Friday, September 9, 2011

TS Lee Damage

TS Lee

Although when posting PAW 35 I thought we had completely escaped Tropical Storm Lee without any damage, the next day I found this tree blown over.  This is the same tree that blew over in Katrina and then in Gustav.  Although it is now upright and braced, I’m pessimistic about its recovery this time.

(I don’t intend to belittle TS Lee because it damaged many homes and lives.  I’m thankful we were spared any real damage.)

Sunday, September 4, 2011

PAW 35

PAW 35

With Tropical Storm Lee raining down on us for a few days and thankful that I’ve been without resulting photojournalism opportunities, I arranged (that is, walked into the dining room) a High Dynamic Range (HDR) scene.  Even with the overcast sky, outside was much, much brighter than inside.  Checking a few exposures, it seemed that there was about a six stop difference without the overhead light.

With the G12, I took eight shots, one stop apart at ISO 80 and f5.6.  I then turned on the overhead light to illuminate the flowers and got one more shot. The eight bracketed shots were combined in Photomatix to get the 32 bit HDR image and then Tonemapped to a 16 bit TIF.  The lighted flowers were added as a 50% opacity layer in Photoshop and everything masked off except the flowers.  More Photoshopping and then cropped to this oblong aspect ratio to eliminate some background clutter.

This is one of the better HDR images that I’ve made in a while so I’m pleased to call it PAW 35.

Triumph TR6


So what does my long-ago Triumph TR6 have to do with photography?  Well, for one thing, this shot was among my first attempts to learn photography.  The camera was most likely my Konica T2, which I still have – unlike the TR6.  If the Konica, then the lens was certainly the Hexanon 52mm f1.8 because that was the only lens I had for many years.  The film was probably Ektrachrome – I didn’t make note of it when the slide was scanned probably 15 years ago.  Someday that slide will turn up again and I’ll take notes while scanning on a better scanner.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

PAW 34


I watched this scene for several mornings while hoping in vain for a good sky to develop in the background.  Good thing I got this shot as soon as I saw it because the sky just would not cooperate.  Yet another reminder to immediately take the photo if a scene attracts your attention.  After that first shot is in the bag (can? sensor?), you can look for the optimum composition and timing.

Taken with the Canon G12 at ISO 100, 1/400 second, f4.5 through a sixth floor window.  Processed from RAW in ACR, saturation pushed up a bit, cropped.Reflection

Of course, I could “Photoshop” in a few clouds.  I’ve even taken cloud photos for that very purpose.  But that would be wrong.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

PAW 33


I sometimes like to have my morning coffee on the patio but the temperature now is far too hot – even in the mornings. Predictions are that we will not have the “high” temperature below 80 F until late October!

Taken with my G12 using Av mode, ISO 100, –2/3 exposure compensation resulting in f2.8 at 1/250 second.  Processed from RAW in ACR, slightly tweaked and cropped in Photoshop.

(See PAW 2 for a point of reference and “Coffee?” for more info.)