Friday, January 30, 2009
I've been watching this lens because it's been described as having Canon L series (pro) quality optics and that the only L series features it lacks are the distinguished red ring and the magnesium alloy body (it's plastic), trade-offs I could live with easily given the right price on the lens!
The price spike seems to indicate that Canon is matching a more definitive move by its chief competitor. The other day, Adam Freedman, an acquaintance in a LinkedIn photography equipment group, said the owner of Ace Photo, his local authorized Nikon USA dealer, told him that Nikon USA is increasing dealer costs on lenses by 20% come the first of February.
I'm not exactly sure of gear manufacturers' logic in all these price increases in this slumping economy ... unless it's a response to the depressed US dollar.
Meanwhile, Freedman said it looks like Sigma Corp. is preparing to release a new 10-20mm f/2.8 lens for Nikon and Canon cropped-sensors camera bodies. This seems to be a response to last year's release, by Tokina, of an 11-16mm f/2.8 lens, which has received pretty good reviews.
Also, Sigma reportedly is adding Optical Stabilization (OS) to its 70-300mm telephoto lens. Rumored not far behind, Freedman said, is a new Sigma 70-200mm f/2.8 OS lens that will be for both full-frame and cropped sensor single-lens reflex cameras. It would seem that this lens is to give shooters a more affordable option to Canon's vaunted and pricey ($1,600) 70-200mm f/2.8 L series telephoto lens, as Sigma and all third-party lens makers usually sell for attractively less than the Big Two. But Sigma will have to do a top-notch job with its version of the 70-200, however; the optics of Canon's are sweet ... and will be hard to beat unless the Sigma price is so much lower that a wallet-watching buyer simply would not be able to resist.
This is all in addition to Sigma's already announced 24-70mm f/2.8 hyper-sonic motor (HSM) lens.
Monday, January 26, 2009
The above image was the starting point of an odyssey that I'm sure a lot of photographers have experienced: Finding different ways to look at the same image. The "anatomy of a single image" below tells the story of one such odyssey -- some successes, one surprise and one "I'm not sure sure about this."
The top image isn't anything spectacular or unusual. It was taken inside the Garfield Park Conservatory in Indianapolis in a tropical plants exhibit. The foliage was dangling from a boulder from which a very modest waterfall was spilling. I got behind the waterfall and shot into the light behind it. Dodging the light was nearly unavoidable; the conservatory is a glass-surrounded facility, so no matter what angle I chose to shoot -- unless it were straight on -- I would have had to take into consideration the presence of backlight -- and decide whether I wanted to compensate for it by overexposing, or shooting for silhouette. I chose to overexpose slightly because that day, I wasn't interested in a silhouette; I wanted to capture the color in the foliage and the waterdrop cascade. I wasn't surprised afterward when I saw a lot of the reflective circles -- the result of flare. But I chose to use those to my advantage in this little project.
Again, the shot at the very top is the original image. Right below it is the same frame with a slight increase in the color saturation and contrast. Not a huge difference, but enough to bring out a little more red in the leaf and darken the dark green foliage shadow on the left. Next, I took the same frame one more time, boosted the highlights and increased the saturation (only a little less than the first time). The result is the image above. The red leaves, especially, are beginning to pop out in the frame, which was the objective in the first place. It's fascinating what just a tweak in highlights and saturation can do when you're looking to distinguish elements in an image file.
While studying those three images, it occurred to me that I could crop this frame into smaller segments and create several whole "new" pictures. First, I concentrated on isolating -- and accentuating -- the vertical nature of the leaf foliage itself. So I created a copy of the original image and cropped it to isolate just the leaf vine.
Again I went back to the saturation, highlights and contrast and tweaked with those ever so slightly to effect the vertical version at left. The one thing I didn't like was how the crop drew unwanted attention on the bright white spot in the upper right corner. I figured that if I really wanted to display this version, I could address the white splotch by applying a frame or border to the image, harnessing a bit of the white. Two things I did like about this version:
1) It gave more prominence to the hefty water cluster near the bottom of the red-leafed vine, the heart of the cluster falling right on top of the series of horizontal reflective circles.
2) It played up two solo reflective circles -- one just above the third leaf down, the other on the far left side of the frame, providing a sort of balance.
Next, I wanted to create an extremely horizontal frame. At the far left side of the rectangle, I placed the lower portion of the leaf cluster; on the far right, the green foliage with the white circular spot. So I created that crop off the original, went to the color curves and played up the reds ever so slightly and the greens a bit more and came up with the horizontal slice you see at left. I liked that it maintained the prominence of the water cluster; what I didn't like was that it possibly introduced confusion as the real subject, or focus, of the image -- was it the leafed vine, or the foliage on the right? My initial hope was to include the two for balance, and again initially, I thought that because the leafed vine would be in focus and the green foliage out of focus (beyond the depth of field), that it would be clear that the leafed vine was the focal point. But after making the crop, I wasn't so sure that got accomplished.
I saved the most enjoyable sectioning for last. It was the super-crop of just the horizontal row of reflective circles on the far left of the original image (the one dissected by the unleafed vine).
With only a few droplets in the image anywhere close to being in focus, it left me a challenge to find something to make this version appealing. So I pushed the color curves to the extreme -- and came upon this strikingly dual-shade purple abstract. It did fetch a few comments at my photo.net gallery (in the Manipulations folder). The only drawback to this crop was that the image file is so small -- relative to the original, anyway -- that I probably couldn't squeeze a print larger than 5x7 out of it, and that might be stretching it.
Friday, January 23, 2009
That beautiful, distinguished sunset you see above was captured by Trish van den Berg, the subject of Photo Potpourri's inaugural "Photographer in the Spotlight" interivew.
In the two years that I've maintained a photo gallery at photo.net, I've come to appreciate the work of fellow photo.net photographers, including Trish. As her bio at photo.net states, Trish was born and raised in Holland, has lived in the United States and Spain, and for almost 20 years now has resided in the Bahamas. Her portfolios and galleries at three sites – photo.net, Fotki.com and DeviantArt – support her self-description as a nature photographer. Her specialties are sunsets, skyscapes and the animal-reptile-insect kingdom – and all the images you see in her collection (and in this post) were taken in the
Trish, how (and when) did you get into photography? Was it an interest that developed over time, or did you throw yourself into it right away?
I have always enjoyed photography, even as a child. When my two children were born, I made each of them their own albums to take with them once they moved out of the house. I have made at least 50 albums over the years. Then, in 1996, somebody told me about photo sharing on line, and I took notice and great interest in that. I love to share my work and see the reactions of people worldwide, and I enjoy their work and learning from it, while at the same time, I grow and get better. I am not very protective of my work as so many artists are. I love to share and see it on sites. I think we need to share with everybody on this planet. I saw a photograph of my wonderful dad on a Web site about old people in the world. A picture that I took of him was next to a picture of Mother Theresa, and my dad was so taken by it. I was so happy to see that as well. As long as people do not abuse it, I think it is wonderful that it is being shared...
What gives you the most pleasure, satisfaction or fulfillment in your work?
The most pleasure I get out of my work is when I have done a piece, and I put it on my wall – in the the garage, living room or anyplace. It does not matter where it ends up. It is such a satisfaction to see it, and I get so much confidence from that. When it is on the wall, I know I have done a good piece. Plus the thousands of comments and questions I get from random people from all over the world on the Web sites – it is so fulfilling! Plus, I am not a churchgoer, but being so close to nature I so feel the spirituality of our amazing beings … human beings and creatures …
At your DeviantArt site, you identify yourself as a nature photographer. For sure, the vast majority of your photographs are taken outdoors -- landscapes, sunsets, sky/sea vistas and members of the animal, bird and reptile kingdoms. How did you pick those as your focus of interest?
I photograph as I walk … as I stroll through the nature trails I photograph it when the sun hits that spot so incredibly that I feel it is a cry for attention from nature. "Look, here I am. Take it before the sun moves away from me!" I don't particularly look for things to photograph; I just walk and see and click. I sit with my animals for hours, and they crawl over me, and I am in heaven … and I feel so one with nature.
Do you have interest in and/or indulge in other forms of photography -- such things as portraiture, street photography, architecture -- and simply elect not to include those in your online portfolios?
I do, yes I do. I have really a bit of everything in my photos that I store. I feel I am only beginning. I have done fashion work as well. I just did a shoot for a French artist, photographing her jewelry that she makes, and it is on her Web site.
Do you have a favorite lens? How have you adjusted to the Canon 5D, and what are the pros and cons of it vs. the 30D?
My all-time fave lens is the macro lens. Never knew this lens before, and it is a must to own if you enjoy macro work, and it is a lens with lots of possibilities. Also the wide-angle lens is a nice extra to have. You can make so many fun shots with it. I still prefer the 30D over the 5D. My macro lens and my wide angle will not fit on the 5D. The 30D is a very, very easy camera to use. I would recommend the 30D over the 5D. That's just my personal preference. I am still getting to know the 5D, as a matter of fact.
Which of your images tend to fetch the most comments or interest? And how popular, would you say, are the series of "framing" – or integrating – the setting sun around either a natural element (such as a rock formation or plant, tree or bush) or a human subject (hand formations and such)?
If you go to my DA (DeviantArt) site, you can view the most popular photos in my gallery and the amount of hits they get. All my animal shots are the most popular. The cute shots of baby rabbits and chickens are very, very popular. Yes, framing of the sun … playing with the sun … making the photo special is the key. Everybody can take a photo, but it needs that extra something that makes you want to go back and look at it again. The light is the most important subject on a photo. It can make or break even the most beautiful subject … or the most boring subject. The background is also very important, making sure that your eye doesn't go to a bright spot. I look at a photo, and I can tell right away if something bothers me. It jumps out at me, so to get the photo right, it has to be perfect. My eye goes directly to the part that bothers me. I want my photo to have a bit of art in it. That's the secret: It becomes art, rather then just a photo. That's always my goal.
Have you ever had any of your work published, or displayed in a public gallery or exhibit? Have you made your work available for sale at arts and/or crafts fairs? If so, how was the experience? If not, is that something you would like to do some time?
I am about to have my first official exhibit in April/June this year. I am so excited, and we just went over the 40 shots that will be exhibited. I do sell a print once in a while on DA, and it is a great feeling to know that my work is in some living room or garage or kid's room. I have made a wonderful children's book that I have given away to my friends and family over Christmas, and it is so, so popular that I am thinking of publishing it in a serious matter.
Are there any subjects or types of photography you haven't tackled yet that either intrigues you immensely or you would like to undertake sometime?
Yes, I am very interested in the human body. That's something I would love to photograph and get into. I think with time, I will look into that further. Plus, I want to go to
Explore more of Trish van den Berg's work:
Thursday, January 22, 2009
Here's the reply I received:
"Thanks for following up on the statue. It is currently awaiting restoration and has been moved indoors to protect it from the elements from further damage.
"There are many projects across the Indy Parks system similar to this statue that await renewal and maintenance upgrades that depend on funding. (The statue along the drive as you enter the Conservatory is one such project.)
"There are many supporters of our arts programs here at parks that we hope we will be able to look to to assist us with projects such as repairing the James Garfield statue at Garfield Park. We are super excited about the opportunity to improve the parks system and expand our successful programming. We hope we will find the funding soon to repair the James Garfield statue and return it to its rightful home."
Tuesday, January 20, 2009
Well, it was there, at least, until sometime late last summer or early fall.
I called the city parks department in September to inquire, and all I was told was that it was removed because the center of its base was decaying and had become loose. The person I spoke to said she wasn't sure whether it was going to be repaired and returned, replaced ... or permanently removed. She did say she would let me know when that could be ascertained. So far, I haven't heard anything. Again, it's been September since that conversation.
The two photos you see on top were taken in August 2006; I was concerned even then because of the serious crevice down the side of the face. The photo below, taken in February 2005 after a snowfall had moved through the area, gives some perspective of where the statue stood in relation to the Burrello center.
The likeness of the nation's 20th president was made from a single solid piece of sycamore weighing an estimated 2,000 pounds and completed in 1999 by sculptor Chie Kramer and woodcarver Dennis Maddox. According to the sculptor, the tree was alive -- and on the grounds of the park -- when Garfield was president.
Monday, January 19, 2009
Two weeks ago, an Indianapolis freelance writer, communications specialist and blogger, Kelly Jones Sharp, and I became connections at LinkedIn. After she visited my fledgling blog site, she posted at her blog an unexpected (and, I add, unsolicited) mention about Photo Potpourri and included a copy of the picture you see at the bottom of Photo Poutpourri's home page. Thanks much to Kelly, whose blog, "All the Commentary (Apparently) Not Fit to Print," has picked up steam again after she went on temporary hiatus at the end of last year. Kelly, who's compiled an impressive resume of writing jobs and achievements and currently contributes monthly commentaries for the op ed pages of The Indianapolis Star, recently began a full-time position as director of communications for the Indiana Dental Association. Because the Indiana legislature convenes only during the first quarter of each year, and hence the association will have only a short time to best position its membership for any legislative issues related to the state dentistry profession, this will be a very busy period for Kelly. A link to Kelly's blog always can be found in the "My Blog List" area on the right side of this home page.
Then just last week, another recent connection at LinkedIn, Jon Samsel, asked me if I would give him an interview for a writing/marketing/Web design blog that he compiles regularly. I was impressed that Jon, who recently began a full-time job as senior vice president with Bank of America, is well-versed enough in the art of writing and composition that he would consider taking on a blog of this sort, much less ask me for an interview. As if being a banking executive doesn't give him enough to do! But I jest; I visited the site, and it has some helpful information for people either trying to hone their writing skills or wanting to learn how to publish or market their work.
I accepted Jon's request, and in doing so, couldn't help but flash back to the last "interview" anyone asked me to do for publication. It was 30+ years ago in Muscatine, Iowa, where I toiled as a local news reporter for the daily Muscatine Journal. A student at Muscatine Community College wanted the interview for publication in the campus newspaper.
Jon and I already have conducted the "interview"; in this cyberspace era, you can accomplish a lot quickly via email, and the post of our interview at Jon's self-named blog is scheduled to publish this Wednesday, Jan. 21. In the interview, Jon wanted me to discuss the craft of copy editing (my full-time job) and my photography hobby. He is planning to use small versions of two of my images with the interview post. One image is the winter park bench scene you see at the top of the Photo Potpourri home page. The other is one Jon found himself after visiting one of my online photo galleries. I was impressed that Jon did a little homework to learn more about his interview subject. As a longtime professional journalist, I can attest that doing background research and data collecting are critical steps in the process of developing most news stories a writer composes. So Jon got a couple big points from me on that score.
The second photo Jon selected (above) is one I plan to discuss in a later post. You can find it in the "Manipulations" folder of my gallery at Photo.net. I include it here simply so you could at least say you saw it here first!
Saturday, January 17, 2009
Check Ovation's schedule guide for dates and times, but I can tell you this much: This month's installments will be aired and repeated on only three days -- this coming Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday (Jan. 19, 20, 21).
I saw three of the shows for the first time last month and am glad I thought to record them on my DVR, because I plan to revisit them periodically. They deal primarily with photography's origins, influences and master photographers. It's something anyone with a strong interest in the craft of creating images should look in on. Check back in early February to see when any of the others will air.
In addition to checking Ovation's schedule guide, you may want to visit the BBC Web site on the series to read more about it.
Friday, January 16, 2009
Saturday, January 10, 2009
In early 1972, only a few months before burglars broke into Watergate, Eugene McCarthy of Minnesota came to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire to drum up student support in his bid to win the Wisconsin Democratic presidential primary. The Wisconsin contest was critical for McCarthy; his campaign was not keeping up well with George McGovern, the South Dakota senator who had announced his candidacy the previous year and already was regarded as the front-runner.
McCarthy had established his legacy in presidential politics four years earlier in the 1968 primary: His anti-war campaign and pledge to wage clean politics picked up such steam and popularity early on that he finished a surprisingly strong second to the incumbent president, Lyndon Johnson, in the hard-fought New Hampshire primary. It was enough to persuade LBJ that he didn't want to stay in the race anymore, and at the end of March, Johnson stunned the nation by announcing he would not seek a second term. But McCarthy's steamroll was short-lived; he soon was overtaken by the rocketing campaign of New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, and when RFK was assassinated after winning the California primary in early June, Vice President Hubert Humphrey stepped in to snag the nomination at a rancorous, violence-marred convention in Chicago.
McCarthy's 1972 campaign never picked up the steam or notoriety it had attained in '68. Still, when he came to UW-Eau Claire that winter, his was a big enough name to justify a decision I made to take my school-issued Yashica-D camera and attend his news conference to get pictures for a class "news story" assignment. I gave my instructor a contact sheet (below) showing the frames from nine pictures I took (including one in which I held the camera over my head and aimed blindly down into the crowd in front of me, trying to get a better angle; it's the one that you see upside-down). My instructor selected and marked two that he wanted me to print -- one from the news conference (above left), the other of McCarthy talking to one student while another waited at the candidate's side, standing front and square toward my camera.
On April 4, 1972, McGovern won the Wisconsin primary, finishing narrowly ahead of perennial candidate George Wallace of Alabama. Finishing third and fourth were former Vice President Humphrey and Sen. Edmund Muskie of Maine. McCarthy was so far behind those four that he called a wrap to his campaign. McCarthy would try again for the presidency-- as an independent candidate -- in 1976, but he spent almost as much time battling laws that made it difficult or impossible for independent candidates to get their names on the ballot as he did trying to draw attention to the issues. Nevertheless, he did manage to get his name on the ballot in 30 states.
Eugene "Clean Gene" McCarthy was 89 when he died of complications from Parkinson's disease on Dec. 10, 2005.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
Above is one of the first sports shots I ever took. I was in college, taking a photography course required for my journalism major, and decided to see what kind of shots I could get with the class-issued Yashica-D camera at a flag football game on campus. Harry, my sophomore year dorm roommate, was playing in this game; he is the quarterback in the above picture. I was standing along the sidelines when Harry dialed up a down-and-out pass play that ended up coming right at me. I was fortunate enough to capture the ball in flight; as I remember, the receiver did make the catch.
The twin-lens reflex Yashica-D (pictured) entered the market in the early 1950s and was out of production not long after we trained on these in college. It was considered a "break-in" unit affordable for those interested in moving into medium-format (medium-size negative) photography because of the large images it provided (compared to negatives provided by the smaller 35 millimeter cameras already more popular by this time). The Yashica-Ds shot 6cm x 6cm frames (2.25 inches by 2.25 inches) on 120 film (we used Kodak Tri-X) and was equipped with a Yashikor 80mm f/3.5 lens. With such large frames, photographers could squeeze a lot of material into a picture -- if they wanted it. Sometimes, though, they didn't want so much, like for a portrait. So because there was no zoom option, photographers had to move forward for tight frames, or backward to take in more subject matter ... much like photographers do today when using any prime (fixed focal-length) lens.
It wasn't until I developed the film and made the contact sheet that I realized that not only did I capture the neat ball-coming-at-me-in-flight, but also got two unexpected nuggets -- the gleam of sunlight off the car behind Harry and the grossly mismatched pass-rush battle on the far right. Good thing Harry was so far over to the left; I don't think his undersized teammate could have staved off that defender for very long!
Below is another sports shot I took with the Yashica-D in about the same time period. I had brought the camera home to shoot some pictures of family. I took it to the playground of a nearby intermediate school, where my brother, Pete, was playing two-on-two pickup basketball with two neighbors and an interloper we knew from grade school. Pete's the one taking the shot, on the far left; the interloper is defending. The fellow on the far right, who lived across the street from us, went on to play on the local high school team as a center. I don't think he made the team because of his agility, or scoring or rebounding prowess, as much as he did for his size and eventual bulk (as I recall, when this was taken, he had just begun a growth spurt that would max out at somewhere around 6-5 or 6-6).
Pete and I used to play basketball at the playground a lot, and snowy weather was not an obstacle, as you can see in this shot. In Wisconsin, where we grew up, you get a lot of snow in winter, and it made playground basketball more interesting. After particularly heavy snowfalls, we'd bring shovels to remove just enough to move around and create a path to the basket. Besides, a good snow would slow down a stray ball rolling away from the court!
I don't pretend that this is a spectacular image; it's not. Plus, the quality of the print itself (from which this scan was made) has suffered a bit through the years. That gray area in the sky is not a twister moving in; it's undoubtedly evidence of inadequate time in the darkroom stopper or bath (and, yes, I did the lab work on these). Nevertheless, it has preserved all these years ... and it was taken by that classic Yashica-D.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Granddaughter Lizzy's third birthday was last week, and the family got together Saturday to mark the occasion. That's Lizzy above, donning the head gear (I know there's a more fashionable term for this stuff, but this is a guy speaking!) from a dress-up outfit she received as a present. Below, Lizzy takes her first huff at the three candles on her cake. She needed two tries!
Lizzy's mother and the mother of Eva (above and below) are longtime friends dating to grade school. Eva, who will be 4 years old in February, was seated at a small card table in the kitchen, where the kids were eating cake, and I happened to find an open corner behind the table, right below a window where sunlight was splashing through a curtain. Eva, who had been facing forward (to the left) when I first sat down on the floor, turned toward me while I took pictures in another direction. Apparently intrigued by my activity, she struck this pose without any prompting. I turned and noticed her -- and the interesting light play on her face -- and I was able to take two pictures before she moved. This frame was the first of the two, which I deemed slightly better because the illumination on her right eye in this one was a bit more generous than the one in the second shot. I liked the light play so much that I created a copy and converted it to grayscale (below) for dramatic effect.
Sunday, January 4, 2009
I'm currently working on using such filters on copies of some of my autumn vista photographs; I'll be uploading those to my Fototime gallery in the near future; a link to that gallery can be found below and is always available in the "My Favorite Sites" list on the right side of the Photo Potpourri home page.
To see more examples of "Winterscapes" images transformed with software edit filters, visit the "Winterscapes - art textures" folder at http://www.joekonz.fototime.com/
Thursday, January 1, 2009
Above is a January 2005 photo of a bridge over Bean Creek in Garfield Park, Indianapolis, the result of an experiment with software filters that apply fine art textures to photographs. A long strokes painting filter was used in this image and the one below.
Above is another January 2005 photo, this of a clump of snow serving as a sort of hub on a branch in Garfield Park.