.

Archive for the 'Camera Stuff' Category

About cameras, equipment, and postprocessing techniques

Photo-Development Challenge Results #1: Hillside Temple Buildings

Today I'm sharing the first results from "Photo-Development Challenge: Inspire Me and Others With Your Artistic Interpretation". Today's photo is one of some minor outlying buildings at the Yoshiminedera Temple (善峯寺) in Kyoto, Japan.

First, let's look at the uninspiring original:

This was from a productive outing four years ago that produced "Temple Hopping in the Mountains of South-Western Kyoto", two examples for "Heading Out To Photograph The Fall Foliage? Don’t Forget The Polarizer Filter", and an item on "Visiting My Photo Archives: Random Pretty Shots #1".

For lack of a better idea, I'll present the various results in the [...]


View full post »
Another Nice (Tough!) Bicycle Ride in the Mountains Around Kyoto

水曜日もサイクリングをしました。今回は友達6人と一緒に60kmの山上下いっぱいのルートでした。

Two days ago I did a short easy bicycle ride into the mountains of western Kyoto, but yesterday I did something a bit more ambitious. As seems to be the habit since my first ride with folks from Cycling Kyoto!, we met in front of the Starbucks on Sanjo Street. This time there were seven people total...

Today's route would be a repeat of one that Manseki had done two days prior, so he was group lead. We got moving at 9:20.

We spent the first 45 minutes heading east on Route 1. The route looks horrible in the [...]


View full post »
Performing Minor Surgery on a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 Zoom Lens

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 [...]


View full post »
Thoughts on the Venus/Laowa 60mm f/2.8 Super-Macro Lens

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 [...]


View full post »
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, [...]


View full post »
2015 Kyoto Marathon

Today was the 2015 Kyoto City Marathon. Just as when I blogged about the 2012 Kyoto City Marathon, I went out with the Nikkor 300mm f/2, but new this time is that I intended to try to photograph two acquaintances who had told me their intended pace and sent photos of what they were wearing.

To help increase my luck in picking out two faces from 16,000 runners, I set up a bit past the halfway point just before a turnaround, so runners were going both directions in front of me. If I suddenly noticed a friend going by one [...]


View full post »
Fantastic Video for Photographers: Get Inspired From Stu Maschwitz’s Artistic/Lightroom Agility

This is a fantastic video for photographers. (Note: I couldn't get the original Adobe Connect version to work in Firefox; it worked for me in Safari. In any case, there's now a YouTube version for easy viewing, though the video quality doesn't seem as good as the Adobe Connect original.)

In the video, visual artist Stu Maschwitz sits down to a blacked-out Lightroom catalog loaded with a couple dozen photos submitted by strangers, and one by one he unveils and processes them as the whim strikes him, providing a running commentary about his artistic reasons for doing things, or technical [...]


View full post »
New Lightroom Plugin: People Support

I've finally released a new plugin for Adobe Lightroom that I've been working on for some time, my "People Support" plugin. Once configured, it can tell you the age of people in a photo, and include that data in exports.

It's consumed me for weeks. The idea of calculating and displaying a person's age seems quite straightforward and simple, doesn't it? It's not. Date calculations are surprisingly fraught with complexity, and presentation all the more so when you take into account dealing with all the languages that Lightroom can work in.

English is simple in that we use the same [...]


View full post »
The 2015 Young-Adult Archery Event at the Sanjusangendo Temple

Today was the annual toshiya archery event for new adults at the Sanjusangendo Temple (三十三間堂) here in Kyoto. I blogged about it extensively three years ago starting with "Traditional Archery Like a Boss".

I then followed up with what turned into one of my most popular series of posts, starting with "Total Discipline: Anatomy of a Japanese Archer’s Shot", followed by a note about the crowds and the hubub outside and the instructors taking their turn ("More Badass Japanese Archery") and then a look at the colorful wardrobes of the ladies and then perhaps my favorite post on the subject: [...]


View full post »
The Art and Science (and Complex Frustrations) of Creating my Wigglegrams

This post is about the art and technology of my 3D wigglegrams, but first a bit of context about the location seen above.

This wigglegram was taken during my first visit to Kyoto's Shugakuin Imperial Villa (修学院離宮) two years ago, a photographically-fruitful outing first posted about here, and most recently revisited a month ago here.

During the tour of the grounds, at one point you descend stone steps set in the side of a mountain....

There's a waterfall and a small stream... it's all quite picturesque.

As I described on that first post about the outing, the tour moves along [...]


View full post »
Photographer Introspection Amidst the Serenity at Kyoto’s Rurikoin Temple

Some friends and I paid a morning visit to the Rurikoin Temple (瑠璃光院) in north-east Kyoto on Thursday. It was my second visit, after the first two years ago when Damien introduced me to the place.

Two years ago it was probably about 500 yen (US $5) to get in, but I heard that they stopped being open to the public for a while. This year they're back, but it's 2,000 yen (US $20) to get in. It's a Buddhist Temple and so ostensibly a religious place (whose income is tax free), but during the fall-foliage season their business is [...]


View full post »
The Whole Gamut of My Blog In One Spectacular Visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple

I paid a visit to the Yoshiminedera Temple in the mountains of south-west Kyoto today, and the resulting photos pretty much covered all the main things I normally have on my blog. Let's run through some of them....

Above we have a vertical desktop background, which I started doing four years ago. I've now posted 385 of them.

And here's a wigglegram featuring Ai (who appeared with her husband in this photoshoot a year and a half ago)...

I first started making these things that I call "wigglegrams" two years ago, and I still have a lot of work yet [...]


View full post »
Fixing Lightroom Problems Caused by the POODLE Security Vulnerability

A security weakness dubbed "POODLE" has recently been discovered in how internet-connected applications make secure connections, and this is having an increasingly-detrimental impact on Lightroom. Thankfully, it's easy enough to fix for most folks, and this post tells you how.

POODLE manifests itself in that certain kinds of secure connections are no longer quite as secure as they're supposed to be, so until you fix this for your Internet-connected applications, your data may be at risk. But the secondary problem is that, until fixed on your system, your Internet-connected applications like Lightroom may experience seemingly random network errors as more [...]


View full post »
That Imperial Bridge, Funkified in Lightroom

When I visited my photo library to continue where I left off in last week's "An Autumn Visit to the Sento Imperial Palace in Kyoto", I came across a highly-overexposed bridge shot similar to the one that I did post.

Though shooting raw affords me generous latitude to recover from exposure mistakes, overexposure at some point washes out color to pure white, from which there is no recovery. It was severely overexposed (not by mistake, actually, but as part of a bracketed-exposure sequence) so I was about to delete it from my photo archive, but first thought to give it [...]


View full post »
Photo Shoot with Alice Gordenker in Kyoto

I've been a fan of Alice Gordenker's monthly "So What The Heck Is That?" column in the Japan Times for years. I first mentioned her writing on my blog more than seven years go when referring to an article she wrote about Gold Poop. (Yes, Gold Poop. Go ahead and read about gold poop, I'll wait.)

She writes a variety of articles for the Japan Times, and also has a blog where she often goes into more detail on whatever the newspaper article was about.

Somewhere along the lines we became acquainted via email, and a couple of years ago [...]


View full post »
Lightroom Catalog Maintenance: Clearing Out Edit History For Potential Performance Gains

This post is about trimming down the file size of an Adobe Lightroom catalog. In keeping with the off-season them of my previous post (which was filled with fall-foliage photos), this post is sprinkled with a few photos from Kyoto springs past, chosen more for their mentally-calming effect than for photographic quality, which they generally lack. (Sorry)

In a nutshell, if you have a large Lightroom catalog, and if you don't need the detailed editing history for your photos, you might be able to significantly reduce the size of your Lightroom catalog by flushing that edit-history data, which might generally [...]


View full post »
Milestones: Twenty Five Years Since First Coming to Japan, and More

Today is the 25th anniversary of my first arrival in Japan. 来日25周年になりました!

It was June 19th, 1989 that I flew into Tokyo from California after having finished grad school and then lived with my brothers for several months while waiting for my work visa to be approved. I was met at the airport by Krish Kulkarni, whom I had never met, but had no trouble finding because he's the twin brother of my best friend at grad school, Ram Kulkarni (who later went on to be the best man at my wedding, and I at his).

A day or [...]


View full post »
Unearthly Steak in Japan at Awaji Island’s “Beefland Prince”

With Anthony away on a school trip, Fumie and I made a day-trip date to Awaji Island two hours by car south from Kyoto, where our first stop was a late lunch in heaven, A.K.A "Beefland Prince".

息子は修学旅行中なので、妻と一緒に淡路島の日帰りデートをしました。まずは「ビーフランド大公」でめっちゃ美味いステーキを戴きました。

You can't begin to imagine how good this steak was. When I say the steak literally melts in your mouth, I'm literally using the word "literally" for its literal meaning... the fats in the meat just melt away. It's almost unearthly when compared to any other steak I've ever had in this life (including the fantastic teppanyaki steak I wrote about the [...]


View full post »
The Lazy Photographer: Exposing for Single-Shot HDR (Sort Of)

Photos in yesterday's "Heian Shrine Gate From a New Perspective" were taken during an open house at a new wedding-venue business. The fifth-floor terrace from where I took those photos is off a small cafe where wedding guests can wait for the events to begin.

The cafe was richly lit with shade streaming in from the floor-to-ceiling windows that made up two walls, but it was much darker than the outside, so the wide dynamic range (wide range between shadows and brights) made for a fun challenge.

To create the photo above, I overexposed for the outside and then "slightly" [...]


View full post »
In Case You Weren’t Fully Aware of Just How Stupid I Am…

If you don't know me personally you may not have a good grasp of just how stupid I am, but today's story should fill you in plenty.

Online reviews for Sigma's new 50mm f/1.4 "Art" lens have been universal in praise for its quality without respect to price, made all the more amazing that its price is ¼ that of lenses of comparable quality. I've not had good luck with Sigma in years past (as reported here and here), but all the stellar reviews made me give them another try.

Yesterday I ordered it on Amazon Japan, and it arrived [...]


View full post »