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Performing Minor Surgery on a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens
Minor Lens Surgery in Progress Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 レンズの手術、始まり点 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Minor Lens Surgery in Progress
Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8
レンズの手術、始まり点

I've had my Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens (seen here) for more than eight years. I don't use it all that much anymore because for the last few years I've tended to prefer faster prime lenses, but it's a great lens for many situations.

I'm pretty tough on my gear... I don't baby it, I use it, and this lens is no exception. In particular, after using it all day in heavy snow five years ago (First Look at Snowy Shirakawago Village), the zoom became a bit less smooth. It wasn't so bad that it was worth the bother of having it serviced, but it was a slight inconvenience I lived with for years.

Fast forward to a few months ago and it suddenly started getting stuck while zooming... I couldn't zoom out past a certain point. It was hitting a hard stop, as if a bolt had been placed to stop the zoom. The problem came and went... when it came, I found that I could usually unstick things by jiggling the lens, or turning it sideways, or something... I never knew what would get it to work, beyond futzing with it until it zooms again, sometimes for several minutes. It was a major inconvenience when I was shooting the big new-year's storm at 3am (Kyoto At Night During a Heavy Snow), so I knew I needed to finally get it fixed.

Thinking to bring the lens on my upcoming across-the-country RV trip, I checked Nikon's service website and found that the estimation to fix a troublesome zoom was US$800(!). This is probably for the worst-case scenario... having to replace the guts of the zoom... but mine probably needed only a little TLC. They didn't have a pricepoint listed for a little TLC, so I was reticent to send it in.

So, I decided to open it up and fix it myself.

Three resources really helped:

The comment by David Dietrich is painful to read because of his writing style (he comes across like a real jerk), but the information is accurate and invaluable.

In the end, what I did was quite simple...

After using an X-Acto knife to remove a thin glued-on ring that covered the edge around the end of the lens, I was left with the three exposed screws seen in the opening photo.

Removing the three screws (all while leaving the lens covered with a lens-cleaning cloth, as minor insurance) lets the filter-holder pop off, yielding six more screws:

Ready To Remove the Front Element -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/320 sec, f/2.5, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Ready To Remove the Front Element

In the shot above, notice that three of the screws are recessed, while the three that are not have some kind of smudge next to them. The smudge is likely Loctite, indicating that those screws should not be removed without a very explicit need. This is where the video made a mistake, which the comment corrected.

With that understanding, I removed the three recessed screws, and the whole front-element unit popped out, leaving the hollow center of the lens open to access:

Zoom Grooves -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Zoom Grooves

I applied tiny dabs of silicone grease to the grooves.

Inner Grooves -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/125 sec, f/2.5, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Inner Grooves

結局、美味く修理を出来ました。怖かったけれども。

I would have liked to used lithium grease, but I couldn't find mine, so I went with what I had. I put the six screws and the little cover ring back, and it zoomed just fine. Not good as new fine — I have a feeling that lithium grease would have been better — but good enough.


Thoughts on the Venus/Laowa 60mm f/2.8 Super-Macro Lens
Mango Plunging Into a Huge Vat of Red Goop Splat! -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + 2x teleconverter — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Mango Plunging Into a Huge Vat of Red Goop
Splat!

After seeing it mentioned on PetaPixel earlier this month, I ordered a Venus (LAOWA) 60mm f/2.8 Ultra-Macro lens. For less than $400 I didn't expect much, but it was worth a try.

(It seems they're changing their name from Venus to Laowa. The Chinese characters for Laowa seem to be 「老蛙」, which means Aged Frog, at least in Japanese.)

This is not a review... just some observations that I haven't seen others make yet, and some illustrative photos. In addition to the review on PetaPixel, other reviews I've seen include this and this.

For the TL;DR crowd, here in short are some of the things I discuss that I've not seen others cover yet:

  • You can get the aperture Exif data correct in camera (at least for Nikon prosumer cameras).
  • The lens sharpness profile (summary: only in the center).
  • The lens has a lot of pincushion distortion, but it's easy to fix in Lightroom/ACR.
  • This lens will show you how dirty your sensor is.
Japanese Coin can you guess how many yen it's worth? -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/15 sec, f/8, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
Japanese Coin
can you guess how many yen it's worth?

I should preface my comments to note that I don't have much experience with macro photography beyond some stupid macro tricks seven years ago with a reversed lens, and general use over the years with a Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5, which is a full 1:1 macro. The new Venus/Laowa lens is a 2:1 macro.

So we're clear on the terminology, the phrases full macro or 1:1 macro mean that the lens can project a life-size image of an object onto the sensor or film. How big that sensor or film frame is in physical size or pixel dimensions is not relevant to the phrase, though of course what camera/sensor you couple the lens with has a direct impact of the results you'll see.

A 1:1 projection of a medium-sized postage stamp might fill the sensor of a full frame camera like a Nikon D4 or a Canon EOS 5D, but be substantially cropped on a camera with a smaller sensor, or only partially fill the frame of a medium-format camera. But in all cases, the lens and the projected image are the same.

This new Venus/Laowa lens is a 2:1 macro, meaning that it can project a double-life-size image onto the sensor. A bigger projection means more detail in the result, at least if the lens has the quality to back it up.

As other reviews have mentioned, the thing arrives in a shrink-wrapped bag, which gives a decidedly cheap feeling:

Arrival -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/640 sec, f/2.5, ISO 4000 — map & image datanearby photos
Arrival

The lens' box was somewhat disheveled, so at first I worried that I'd gotten a used copy, but the shrinkwrap helped assuage that feeling. The lens glass and barrel was pristine, and had enough heft to dispel the cheap feeling that the shrinkwrap had initially imparted.

Weird the lens retracts into itself when focusing at a distance -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/4, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Weird
the lens retracts into itself when focusing at a distance
About the Same Size as a Voigtländer 125mm not quite in the same class in terms of build quality, but good enough for ⅕ the price -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 85mm f/1.4 — 1/400 sec, f/1.6, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
About the Same Size as a Voigtländer 125mm
not quite in the same class in terms of build quality, but good enough for ⅕ the price

When it first arrived a week ago, the late-afternoon sun was quickly retreating behind increasing gloom, so just to play a bit I threw some things on a windowsill for a few quick handheld not-much-light snaps. My first impression on seeing the following shot was that the lens distortion was really noticeable...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/200 sec, f/2.8, ISO 110 — map & image datanearby photos
original   -   corrected in Lightroom

mouseover a button to see that image

The distortion and vignetting, both of which can be severe, are easily corrected in Lightroom or ACR with a lens profile created by Adobe's Lens Profile Creator, which they generously provide for free. The download includes everything you need to get going: the application, instructions, and printable targets. It's all quite easy.

So, as you might expect, the corrected version above is with the lens profile applied.

If you'd like to try the simple profile I created, you can download it here, saving it as NIKON D4 (Venus 60mm Super Macro f2.8) - RAW.lcp in your Library/Application Support/Adobe/CameraRaw/LensProfiles/1.0 folder on OSX, or its equivalent on Windows.

You can probably get reasonable results with any camera. I created the profile using Nikon D4 raw files, but you can manually apply it to photos taken with any make and model camera. As illustrated at right, in the Develop Module's Lens Corrections' Profile tab, select Nikon (because that's the body make I used when creating the profile), then the Venus 60mm... model from there.

Jumping ahead a bit to later sessions with the lens, I found a tiny graph-paper illustration in my son's old fifth-grade math textbook that I could use for some tests. Here's the same scene shot at f/2.8 and f/8, with and without correction in Lightroom. At f/2.8, sharpness falls off drastically as you move away from the center, and of course that can't be corrected the same way distortion and vignetting can...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
f/2.8 f/2.8 corrected
f/8 f/8 corrected
mouseover a button to see that image

Jumping back and forth between the f/2.8 and f/8 versions really makes the lack of sharpness at f/2.8 readily apparent. (You'll appreciate that I refrained from saying that it ..made the sharpness clear.  ;-) )

The non-center softness is probably not a problem for many kinds of photos this lens would be used to take, and for the kind of photo where it matters (where you want the whole flat object to be in focus), it's probably not a moving subject and you can stop down for better sharpness, at least if using a tripod like one should. Back to the lens-arrival day, I was just snapping some quick shots by hand, sometimes bracing the camera against the window. Here's a 2:1 macro shot of part of the banknote seen above.

Full-on 2:1 Macro (Handheld) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/200 sec, f/8, ISO 1800 — map & image datanearby photos
Full-on 2:1 Macro (Handheld)

The small images embedded on this post are drastically reduced copies, of course, but clicking through on any of them goes to the full-size (uncropped) full resolution (un-shrunk) version of the respective shot.

Just to include a bit of un-shrunk full-resolution result directly in the article, here's a tiny bit out of the shot above...

full-resolution crop (1/50th the area of the whole frame) from the shot above not great, but not too bad for a handheld, natural-light shot -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
full-resolution crop (1/50th the area of the whole frame) from the shot above
not great, but not too bad for a handheld, natural-light shot

While we're at it, here's a full-resolution crop from the uncorrected f/8 grid shot above:

f/8 uncorrected full-resolution crop (1/50th the area of the whole frame) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
f/8 uncorrected full-resolution crop (1/50th the area of the whole frame)

As other reviews mention, there's absolutely no communication between the camera and lens. When one hears non-CPU lens, there's normally at least a mechanical coupling so that the lens can communicate its current aperture to the camera, but with this Venus/Laowa lens, there's nothing. When you mount the lens, the camera doesn't even know something's there, much less what it is and what its aperture ring is dialed to.

At least on prosumer Nikon bodies, you can set the Non-CPU lens data in the setup menu:

Sadly, as with many things, Nikon doesn't make this as simple as it should be...

We'd like to denote that we're using a lens with a 60mm focal length, but 60 is not one of the choices available. I run into this problem a lot... I need 420 when using my Nikkor 300mm f/2 with its dedicated 1.4×TC, but Nikon doesn't allow for it here. I need 125 with my aforementioned Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5, but it doesn't include that either. Sigh.

So, for my new 60mm lens I go with 70.

Normally you'd set the maximum aperture size (minimum aperture number for your lens — F2.0 for the 300mm lens mentioned above), and the mechanical linkage between the lens and the camera would tell the camera what aperture the lens was actually dialed to for any particular shot, but since our super-macro doesn't have that linkage, instead of the maximum aperture, set the actual aperture you're using. For each shot.

This means that if you want the aperture properly encoded in each image's metadata, you've got to visit this menu every time you make an aperture change. That's 11 or 12 button presses per aperture change. Sigh. I don't envision using this lens except for special macro needs, so it's a hassle I'll live with.


Even if you've gone through all the Non-CPU lens data hassle, Lightroom still shows the lens as 0.0 mm f/0.0, which is frustrating to say the least, and a metadata geek like me can't put up with that, so prior to importing the raw files into Lightroom, I update them with proper metadata. (It's abhorrent to me to modify a raw file so this is painful, but to me the wrong metadata is even worse.)

I update the files with a custom Perl script, but in effect it uses Phil Harvey's exiftool under the hood, along the lines of this command-line invocation (which should all be on a single line; it's broken up here for legibility):

 % exiftool -Lens="Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8"
            -MaxApertureValue=2.8
            -MaxApertureAtMaxFocal=2.8
            -MaxApertureAtMinFocal=2.8
            -FocalLength=60
            -MinFocalLength=60
            -MaxFocalLength=60
            -FocalLengthIn35mmFormat=60   *.NEF

I really wish Lightroom would let users edit this data so we wouldn't have to go through these kinds of silly hoops. I've made feature requests, but so far to no avail.

Knowing the limitations of what Lightroom lets plugins do, I know that a plugin can't do everything that I want in this area, but if your needs are less demanding, the LensTagger Lightroom Plugin apparently lets you denote some of the lens info from within Lightroom.


Okay, anyway, back to the day the lens arrived...

Since I had it handy, I also snapped some close-ups of the used bicycle brake pad I'd just had swapped out of my bicycle after my 90km mountain ride. One of the shots appeared as the Dark, Striated What-Am-I? quiz the other day...

It Gave Me a Brake -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/400 sec, f/4, ISO 1600 — map & image datanearby photos
It Gave Me a Brake

A few days later I took a step toward proper shots by breaking out the tripod...

Tiny Halogen Bulb my capture method was not such a bright idea -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 2 sec, f/11, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Tiny Halogen Bulb
my capture method was not such a bright idea

The results were unfulfilling because of camera shake. Even with a tripod, at this magnification the slightest shake manifest itself in the viewfinder like a seismograph going crazy, so a two-second shot like the light bulb above becomes mired in detail-stealing blur.

Still, I'll share two other shots from that session, of the hologram thingie from the lower left of a Japanese 5,000-yen banknote (such as seen in the windowsill shot above).

One Angle... -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 0.8 sec, f/16, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
One Angle...
... and Another -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 0.5 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
... and Another

Anyway, really needed a flash to eliminate blur due to shake, so I broke out the speedlights and spent Monday afternoon putzing around the house looking for things that might make interesting photos.

2:1 Strawberry at f/8 it was delicious -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
2:1 Strawberry at f/8
it was delicious
full-resolution crop from the shot above (1/50th the area of the full image) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
full-resolution crop from the shot above (1/50th the area of the full image)
2:1 Strawberry at f/2.8 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
2:1 Strawberry at f/2.8

I was happy to have a 2:1 macro, but had to push the limit, so I reached into my bag of stupid macro tricks and added 68mm of extension tubes between the lens and the camera. This results in a 3:1 macro.

3:1 Strawberry -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
3:1 Strawberry

Finally, I added a Sigma 2× TC, which, for optical reasons I don't understand, resulted in an overall 8:1 macro. Here again is the lead photo of this article, properly captioned:

8:1 Macro of a Strawberry Seed -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + 2x teleconverter — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
8:1 Macro of a Strawberry Seed

Here's a shot of the setup...

8:1 Macro Setup -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D700 + Voigtländer 125mm f/2.5 — 1/400 sec, f/2.5, ISO 4500 — map & image datanearby photos
8:1 Macro Setup

Nikon D4 body on top (with an SB-910 flash unit attached), the Sigma TC, three extension tubes totaling 68mm, and finally the Venus/Laowa itself. It's connected to the tripod via a Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead, an exceedingly exquisite piece of craftsmanship, and a Really Right Stuff macro focusing rail, the only Really Right Stuff product that I've been disappointed with (its movement is sloppy).

I'd chosen to have all the lens stuff pointing straight down to eliminate torque on the camera body mount, but this had a side effect I should have handled better: without any weight to anchor the lens, it could swing and oscillate microscopically at the slightest provocation, and due to the high magnification, the slightest such movement was rendered monumentally in the frame. I think that I could literally see the effect of my heartbeat reflected in the oscillation in the live-view display, traveling through my body, into the floor, to the tripod legs, and up to the camera and lens.

Next time I'll have to try something else, but for the moment I was hoping that the flash was sufficient for a sharp result.

Standard LEGO™ Minifig with extension tubes and lens -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 640 — map & image datanearby photos
Standard LEGO™ Minifig
with extension tubes and lens
... plus 2×TC Yields Minifig @ 8:1 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + 2x teleconverter — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
... plus 2×TC Yields Minifig @ 8:1
Halogen Bulb @ 8:1 in the left half, you can see where it melted ( this is the same kind of bulb seen above ) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + 2x teleconverter — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Halogen Bulb @ 8:1
in the left half, you can see where it melted
( this is the same kind of bulb seen above )

This halogen-bulb shot illustrates one of the most important things I learned during these experiments: just how ridiculously dirty my camera's sensor was. Something about the extreme macro combined with the flash made the result hyper-sensitive to dirt/dust/crud on the sensor, causing the results to be a veritable star field of failure.

In any one individual shot I found literally 10× the number of spots that I'd seen in total over the last 10 years.

I spent some time to clean up the spots with Lightroom's spot healing tool, but even though the shot above has 612 such corrections(!), clicking through to the full-resolution version shows many more that I just didn't have the energy to deal with.

But for a taste of what I was dealing with, here's a full-resolution crop without the spot-removal corrections:

My Sensor Shame tiny crop (1/50th the area of the whole sensor) at full resolution Did I let a dog lick the sensor or something? I think I see the Big Dipper -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
My Sensor Shame
tiny crop (1/50th the area of the whole sensor) at full resolution
Did I let a dog lick the sensor or something?
I think I see the Big Dipper

Not every photo needed as much work as this one... often, the spots were lost in the detail of the shot, at wider apertures they don't show up as much, and even for me there's a limit to how much energy I'll spend for my blog. Overall the photos on this post have 2,147 spot corrections, which perhaps says as much about my level of anality as it does about my sensor.

(I didn't count the spots by hand... my Data Explorer plugin counted them for me.)

Checking for sensor dirt the way I normally do, with a normal lens and without a flash, showed just a few of the more egregious spots. If that's all I'd seen, I'd have been unconcerned and simply gotten the blower out to give the sensor a quick once-over. But this was well beyond my ability to deal with, so I headed directly to Nikon's Osaka service center yesterday to have them clean it.

(I brought the lens and a flash to test how well they did while still at the service counter, and had to send it back for a more-thorough cleaning. They were patient as I did my strange test, but probably had never seen anything like it.)

My Watch @ 8:1 this watch -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + 2x teleconverter — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
My Watch @ 8:1
this watch
Toothbrush @ 8:1 the answer to the “ Otherworldly What-am- I Quiz ” -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Toothbrush @ 8:1
the answer to the Otherworldly What-am-I Quiz

Back to the straight 2:1 macro...

Shaver -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Shaver
Nylon String -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Nylon String
Standard Needle not a big leather-use needle... a standard not-much-bigger-than-a-pin needle and thread ( unfortunately, I missed focus on the needle, getting slightly behind it. ) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Standard Needle
not a big leather-use needle... a standard not-much-bigger-than-a-pin needle and thread
( unfortunately, I missed focus on the needle, getting slightly behind it. )
Needle @ 8:1 ( again with missed focus :-( ) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + 2x teleconverter — 1/60 sec, f/22, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Needle @ 8:1
( again with missed focus :-( )
Modern Key @ 8:1 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + 2x teleconverter — 1/60 sec, f/11, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Modern Key @ 8:1
Japanese 50 -Yen Coins Edge On -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + 2x teleconverter — 1/60 sec, f/11, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Japanese 50-Yen Coins Edge On

I used 50-yen coins because I could stick a toothpick through them and then bind them tightly together with a rubber-band around the ends of the toothpick. You can see a 50-yen coin and its doughnut center at the left side of the money shot above.

Corrugated Cardboard on Edge @ 8:1 courtesy of Amazon Japan -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 + 68mm extension tubes + 2x teleconverter — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Corrugated Cardboard on Edge @ 8:1
courtesy of Amazon Japan
Amazon Cardboard @ 2:1 -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Amazon Cardboard @ 2:1

I learned a lot from these fairly haphazard experiments. In the end the lens' quality exceeds my skill, so I'm happy with my purchase. For less than US$400, it's a great value if you know how to use it... something I aspire to.


An Otherworldly “What am I?” Quiz
What am I? これ何でしょうか? -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/ -- This photo is licensed to the public under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/ (non-commercial use is freely allowed if proper attribution is given, including a link back to this page on http://regex.info/ when used online)
Nikon D4 + Venus 60mm Super Macro f/2.8 — 1/60 sec, f/8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
What am I?
クイズ!これは何でしょうか?コメントで答えをやってめて下さい

I don't normally have two of my What am I? quizzes ongoing at the same time, but even though I've not yet been able to write up the article that answers the previous A Dark, Striated “What am I?” Quiz, I wanted to offer this one. I just really love the colors and unearthly mood.

What are the things above?

(As always, I'll keep submitted answers private until I post the answer in a day or two.)


Photo-Development Challenge: Inspire Me and Others With Your Artistic Interpretation

A week ago I posed about a fantastic video of an experienced photographer giving a quick once-over to photographs submitted by strangers. The change from unprocessed original to processed result was often striking and of interest on its own, but the true value of the video was the running dialog of the what/why/how of his editing decisions. No right or wrong... just inspiration and ideas.

With that in mind, I think it could be quite interesting to see how different people interpret the same photo, so I'd like to offer a few unprocessed raw files from my own photo archives, with an invitation to all to process them in Adobe Lightroom, imbibing your own personal artistic senses on the photo, and then send the result to me to share here with everyone.

The result, I hope, will be more ideas and inspiration for all.

The Raw Files:
If the download link is visible, I'm still accepting submissions for that photo.


download raw file

download raw file

download raw file

download raw file

download raw file

download raw file

download raw file

download raw file

The Rules:

There are no rules... this is not a contest or anything like that. It's just some fun to see what direction different people take the same photo.

But here are the guidelines on how to get your result featured here on my blog:

  • Process the Image

    Download the raw file and import it into Adobe Lightroom (any version) and processes it as you like. Once the pixels and metadata (see below) are as you like, save the XMP file (Metadata > Save Metadata to File) and then mail that XMP file to me. You'll find the XMP file will be located next to the raw file, with an xmp extension.

    Be sure to mail only the XMP file; I don't need another copy of the original.

  • Your Name and Other Info

    In the Title and/or Caption metadata fields, enter anything you'd like to be presented on my blog along with your result... such as your name, your web site, and your thoughts on the photo and the approach you took in its processing. (This kind of description is where there can be real value-add for me and others, to see the thought process behind the result.)

    If you provide professional post-processing services, by all means feel free to mention that.

    The Large Caption metadata preset may be useful here.

  • Multiple Versions of the Same Image

    If you have different takes from the same original, make a Develop Snapshot of each one, being sure to give the snapshot a descriptive name when creating it.

    There's only one Caption for all snapshots, so if you indeed do include multiple versions, please describe them all in your one Caption.

    You can also just send multiple XMP files.

    Note: it might be convenient to use virtual copies while creating your different versions, but you still must save each version as its own Develop Snapshot prior to saving the XMP file. It's sometimes a source of confusion with Lightroom because snapshot saved in a virtual copy is actually saved in the master. To add to the confusion, metadata like Title and Caption of a virtual copy are not saved with the master, nor in the XMP file, so they must all be entered in the master's metadata fields.

  • Multiple Images

    You can participate with as many images as you'd like... the more the merrier! Feel free to zip up the XMP files to make mailing easier.

  • Other Ways To Share

    You can also feel free to process the image however you like, with whatever tools you like, and post the results on your own blog. Just please drop me a note via email or via comment on this blog post, so that your efforts can be shared with other readers here.

When it comes time to publish, I'll load your XMP into Lightroom and generate JPEG versions to be published on my blog, along with your Title and Caption info. Hopefully we'll have all kinds of different results from a variety of folks, with the differences among them to inspire creativity and new ideas with our own work.


Filming a TV Segment about Mochi and Shiga
Making Mochi for a little TV segment -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/9, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos
Making Mochi
for a little TV segment

僕はテレベ出るかもしれない。来週の火曜日(24日)、関西テレベ放送のスーパーニュース アンカーの中 の短い部分、滋賀県の話題について。放送予定は17:20〜17:45です。よろしく!

I recently had a fun experience to be part of filming a short TV segment scheduled to be shown next week... it's scheduled to air on Kansai TV on Tuesday the 24th, during a bigger news program, sometime between 17:20 and 17:45.

The segment was part of a larger piece on Shiga Prefecture (the state next to Kyoto) and what it has to offer, and why it's not as popular among foreign tourists as Kyoto. The TV station was working with Tour du Lac Biwa, a tour company that provides day excursions into Shiga, in English, doing all kinds of really interesting off-the-beaten-path things.

I worked with the tour company prior to their starting business, as a test foreigner, to help them get their tours up to speed. I got to experience (and photograph) all kinds of fun things, and I was in their Rolodex when they needed someone at short notice for the TV segment.

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
Presenter in Action -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/6.3, ISO 180 — map & image datanearby photos
Presenter in Action

The presenter for the segment is radio/TV personality Sunny, a guy from India fluent in five languages (including English and Japanese). As he explains above, my impeccably-dressed friend Aeron readies himself to work the mochi mallet.

Later it's Chris' turn...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/6.3, ISO 360 — map & image datanearby photos

The guy with the white hat is a farmer who's been making mochi for 70 years, and the lady in the white smock is his wife (and the young child seen in some of the photos is their granddaughter). They host the mochi-making part of a tour at their home for the aforementioned tour company, and were gracious hosts for the TV segment on making mochi, which involves repeated pounding of cooked rice into a heavy, sticky, chewy paste.

With Gusto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/200 sec, f/3.5, ISO 100 — map & image datanearby photos
With Gusto

The rice is in an extremely heavy granite bowl. After each mallet blow, either a bit of water is added to the rice, or the rice is folded over on itself for the next blow.

I took a turn at the non-mallet half of the operation, while the mallet was wielded by a representative of the local government who was joining in the segment. Sadly, everyone failed to mention that my hair had the general appearance of the unholy joining of a Brillo pad and Velcro. :-(

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/3.5, ISO 500 — map & image datanearby photos

Each mallet blow was greeted with a great spray of watery rice, so black was not the best color to wear for the event. The poor guy's suit became speckled with white, but he took it all in stride, as did I in my speckled turtleneck.

Then Sunny stepped in to try again...

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 56mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos
Splat! -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 56mm — 1/250 sec, f/3.5, ISO 220 — map & image datanearby photos
Splat!

I then gave it a try with the mallet, though I don't have any photos of it. The farmer himself took the second position, and with each mallet blow he kept saying faster. I asked how many broken fingers he'd had over his 70 years, because I was worried about adding to the count with an ill-timed mallet blow. I shouldn't have doubted that he's a master... the answer was of course zero.

So, we got into a pretty good cadence... maybe two blows every second, for what seemed like much longer than I'm sure it was. It's heavy work! That, combined with my visit to the gym later made for a well-earned outing that evening.

Once the pounding was done, final preparations were a simple matter...

Adding Kinako and Natto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 42mm — 1/200 sec, f/3.5, ISO 720 — map & image datanearby photos
Adding Kinako and Natto
Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 70mm — 1/320 sec, f/3.5, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos

As is common with mochi, it's coated in kinako powder (crushed dried soybeans) to keep it from sticking to your hands when you hold it.

Mochi can be eaten plain or with various fillings, the most common being a sweet bean, but in this part of Shiga it's common to eat it with natto, fermented soybeans.

Japanese people love to offer natto to foreigners just to see their reaction to the slimy texture and somewhat pungent aroma. I think the very presentation often prejudices the recipient against it. Personally I love natto, and when I offer it to someone for the first time I don't make any kind of fuss about it, to let them form their own opinion on its merits. More often than not they like it.

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/3.5, ISO 250 — map & image datanearby photos

We then retired to the farmer's livingroom where we ate for the camera...

Itadakimasu! ( “ Bon appétit ” ) -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 34mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Itadakimasu!
(Bon appétit)

Sunny doesn't care for natto but the rest of us enjoyed it. The farmer's wife had made it personally, along with the fantastically-tasty veggies we were given. It was all superb. The farmer himself had grown the rice the mochi was made from. Everything was fresh and healthful and exceedingly local. It was wonderful.

Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 40mm — 1/125 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Interview Continues while I dip in for seconds on natto -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 35mm — 1/160 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Interview Continues
while I dip in for seconds on natto
Post-Filming Refreshment -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 32mm — 1/60 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Post-Filming Refreshment
Filled to the Unfortunate Brim -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 3600 — map & image datanearby photos
Filled to the Unfortunate Brim

I was a bit too late to catch the farmer offering a drink to Chris, so I asked them to recreate the moment for my camera, and in doing so Chris' cup was filled to the brim. I thought it was just simple saké, which has the mild alcohol content of wine, but it turns out that it was some kind of 70-proof spirit made with a poisonous snake (that you can sort of see in the jar in the lower left of the shot above). Poor Chris was in a bit of a pickle with so much of the strong drink. I had driven my scooter to the event, so could not offer help in finishing it.

Photo Op tour-company folks with the camera and talking to Sunny -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 24mm — 1/80 sec, f/2.8, ISO 6400 — map & image datanearby photos
Photo Op
tour-company folks with the camera and talking to Sunny
Photo Op TV crew taking care for a mochi shot -- Kyoto, Japan -- Copyright 2015 Jeffrey Friedl, http://regex.info/blog/
Nikon D4 + Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 @ 26mm — 1/100 sec, f/2.8, ISO 800 — map & image datanearby photos
Photo Op
TV crew taking care for a mochi shot

We spent two hours for the filming, but it'll probably end up being just a few seconds on screen, or perhaps even zero if there's some big news event that day. We'll see next Tuesday. I was interviewed in Japanese... if any of that is shown, I'm sure I'll cringe at hearing my own voice, but it was a fun experience.

I think the experience also highlights a wonderful aspect of the Tour du Lac Biwa tours, that they bring you into people's actual homes and workshops for personal, intimate experiences not otherwise open to the general public.

Being able to speak Japanese let me get the most out of each experience, but the tours are designed for non-Japanese-speaking (English-speaking) tourists, so they have an English-speaking tour conductor. But, as I'm sure is common around the world, a warm smile and a welcoming spirit need no translation.