• Abandoned
    An abandoned British research station on Stonington Island in Antarctica
  • Harbour Dusk
    The daily buzz on Sydney Harbour is always a joy to experience.
  • Mona Vale
    View from the headland to Mona Vale Pool.
  • Antarctic Night
    Midnight in Antarctica and mirror-like reflections.
  • Neko Harbour
    Sunrise over Neko Harbour in Antarctica.

Archive for the ‘Geek Talk’ Category

Nikon D7000 or D300s

Monday, May 30th, 2011

After my Nikon D300 had broken on holidays, I decided to buy a D300s as a replacement.
But recently the brand new D7000 was released and I received many emails asking me why I decided for the older D300s and did not buy the slightly cheaper and newer D7000.

Well it was a very close race for me between the D7000 and the D300s.
My camera broke at an unfortunate time, because later this year the D400 should become available (D7000 sensor in a pro-DX body), and I am planning to buy it. However since I needed a camera right now, I had the choice between the D7000 and D300s.

The problem with the entry-level bodies like the D7000 is, that you need different batteries, different cards and other connectors, like a different remote release. Frankly I did not see the point in buying all those additional things for a camera that I will definitely sell again when the D400 gets released this year.

So whilst I was very tempted to buy the 16MP D7000 with superior image quality, I stuck with the D300s. It allows me to keep on using my batteries, CF Cards, remote release and camera plate.

Essentially, for me the more expensive D300s is the better camera. However, the D7000 is no clunker, it’s 80% of what the D300s is. Now, if that was all there was to the story, the D300s would be the better camera, but there’s a lot more.
On the spec sheet, the D7000 equals or betters the $500 more expensive D300s in areas like high ISO performance, resolution (more mega pixels), video capability, AF capabilities (those extra 12 points on the D300s probably don’t matter much), frame rate (D7000 can go 6fps in 14 bit while the D300s can only do 2.5 in 14 bit), AF microadjust, and a built-in intervalometer.
Looking at the complete package, there’s no reason not to buy the D7000 unless you are like me and not a fan of the entry-level design (esp. when you are used to a pro body) as well as the issues I mentioned above. So you must decide if you want to get the essentially 3 ½ year old D300s or if you can live with the few shortcomings, buy the latest and greatest by buying the D7000.

I can hardly wait for the D400 to get released. But for the time being I have to bite the bullet and shoot with a camera that is not at the top of the DX line-up anymore.

D300s or D700 for landscape photography

Friday, May 20th, 2011

Well a few days ago I was wondering whether I should replace my broken D300 by upgrading to a D700 and therefore going full-frame.

I have now made my decision. I will stick to the D300, or what is the newer model – the D300s.
It’s basically a D300 with a few minor bells and whistles (HD movie, 2nd card slot, artificial horizon and silent shooting mode).

I simply realised that all those super wide angles for full-frame can’t take filters, and therefore are completely uninteresting to me. Aside from many disadvantages IMO of a full frame sensor over a cropped sensor (see attached image), there is a larger choice of wide and super wide-angle lenses for cropped sensors and almost all of them can take filters (esp. at the super WA end of things).

As you can see, the issues are mostly related to the corners of the image. And since a full frame sensor is larger than a cropped sensor, you hardly have the above mentioned issues on a DX sensor because it does not cover the corners of the image.
Also lenses and bodies are much cheaper for cropped sensors and it would have been expensive for me to upgrade those lenses, for virtually no apparent difference in image quality.
Of course I understand why some ppl upgrade due to the obvious better ISO capabilities, but personally I do not care about high ISO settings as 99% of the time I shoot at ISO 200 or less.

So I stick to cropped-frame and looking less professional on location, but I can live with that 🙂

Use your Ipad as extended display

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

I usually don’t write much about gadgets such as the Ipad, but this feature I just discovered is too cool.If you have a Mac there is an app which allows you to to share your screen on the ipad. Check it out for yourself.

In-camera sRGB or Adobe RGB?

Friday, April 9th, 2010

adobe rgb vs srgbI noticed something interesting the other day and wanted to share it with all of you.

Many of the modern SLR’s give you the choice of shooting in-camera sRGB or Adobe RGB – which one would I use?
Well it depends if you shoot raw or jpeg.
If you shoot jpeg only (god forbid :)), I highly recommend you set your camera to Adobe RGB. Its color space is a lot larger compared to sRGB (image to the left) and you can always convert your image back to sRGB later (e.g. when you want to post it on the net). So why not get the most out of your pixels?
Which brings me to the second point:
Why shoot jpeg at all? I know it’s an old discussion and I won’t go into the merits of shooting raw, however since you are reading this, you are obviously interested in retaining the largest amount of image information your camera can handle. So rather than simply shooting jpeg in Adobe RGB color space, you may as well shoot RAW.

Now here is where it gets interesting for the RAW shooters: I bet some of you were wondering whether to set the camera to sRGB or Adobe RGB?
If your answer is: It does not matter, shooting RAW format allows me to change the color space after the fact (i.e. in your raw processor) anyway. My answer is: Not exactly.

There is one merit to setting your camera to one of the two color spaces and it is the one that you would have suspected least: sRGB.
Here is the reason: Our cameras have a neat little feature called highlight warning. I prefer calling it blinkies (coined by Moose Peterson). It shows you on your display when and where a channel has blown out.
When you set your camera to sRGB color space those highlight warnings will be more sensitive to the blown out colorful highlights.
So since it does not make a difference in post, which color space you set in-camera (when shooting RAW), next time you play around with your camera, set it to sRGB and take a look at those blinkies. Amazing hey?

Painting with light at its best

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

It was about time I got around to processing the following shot. It’s been in my database for several months and on my mind for just as long, so one quiet evening I got to work. Layer-blending 13 different exposures takes time. Esp. when you only use little details from every image.

The whole shoot took about 2 hours, just to take one single image. It’s not like taking pictures on mobile phones where you can do it over and over again. If you don’t like the composition, that’s too bad because there is only one chance. Once you have decided on a location, angle, lens,… there is no changing. No going back. It’s what it is.

Every lighting technique you see in this image has been captured in a separate exposure with the help of either Brent or Gavin.

The image is called ghost. The ghost (being me) to the right of the image – trapped in some psychedelic prison made of light.
Hope you like it!


Sync your Photos with ChronoSync

Sunday, February 28th, 2010

I am using a lot of hard drives. Lots of Terra Bytes. Usually when I upload my images from my camera to the Macbook, I back them up at the same time to two additional hard drives. Those drives are two 500 GB Mercury on-the-go drives 500 GB Mercury on-the-go drives with FireWire 800 connections. They are lightning fast and can be daisy-chained so you really only need one FW 800 plug at your computer. It is really amazing and the transfer speed of FW800 makes USB 2.0 look very bad. I am really looking forward to the new USB 3.0 to be released. It is supposed to be 10x as fast as USB 2.0 (in theory).

But I digress… what I wanted to tell you about is how I keep track of all those files on several hard drives. It sometimes happens that I forget to backup my photos automatically when I upload them, or I only have one of the two additional hard drives handy. Also due to disk space issues, I only temporarily upload those photos to my main hard drive inside the Macbook Pro. Shooting RAW, you will notice sooner or later that your drive is full of photos, so that’s when I sync all my hard drives to make sure I do not miss any photo, then delete them from my main hard drive as well as from the two Mercury’s. I do this every time those 500 GB have filled up. I then sync them with my two 1 TB drives for permanent storage.
When I go on holidays I also take one of those 1TB drives containing all my photos off site and give it to a person I trust.

Ok this was the short story of my backup plan. Without syncing, you can quickly lose control over all your photos on all those drives. This is where Chronosync comes in. It simply checks two folders against each other and copies left to right, right to left, or both ways.
After several days of research and testing multiple syncing software products, this is the most sophisticated one that I found. After all it is an important task and you would not want to lose any photos, which may happen all too quickly without a good piece of software. It also allows you to analyze the folders and files before giving the go.

Make sure you have a sound system figured out for yourself. This is the one I use and I am very happy with it. Simply using the finder and keeping on top of all those files and folders on multiple hard drives is an almost impossible feat and prone to errors which may result in accidentally deleting photos, you had not yet archived.

Don’t let disaster hit you – use software like ChronoSync and always have at least 2 copies of every photo that you take.

New tool: Fluidr

Wednesday, February 10th, 2010

If you are anything like me and you can not fall asleep occasionally, what I do is turn on the laptop and browse the flickr galleries of my friends, always looking to push my photography and get some inspiration.
However everyone who uses flickr knows, that it can be quite a bright expierence – the white background is not particularly contributing to viewing images well. Especially at night when you are half asleep.

Here is the solution: www.fluidr.com turns flickr’s lights off.
It is a lot of fun to browse flickr via fluidr. It’s free and easy to use. Just let it allow to access your flickr account by loggin in and you’re set.

Give it a try, you may just like it even more than the original flickr 🙂

If you click on the link below you will jump straight to my photostream on fluidr.

Screen shot 2010-02-10 at 11.37.46 PM

How Photoshop helps with what you saw

Sunday, January 24th, 2010

Sometimes you take photos and get excited what you captured, but then you return home and instantly get disappointed once you look at them on your (calibrated) screen.

One of those moments I had just recently upon returning from a 4WD trip through the Outback of Australia.
We went up north to Northern Queensland to shoot the rainforest.
I waited for the sun to shine through a whole in the canopy of the rainforest and was rewarded with some really nice sun rays (caused by the 100% humidity up there).

However back home these rays were almost invisible when looking at my raw files in Lightroom.

In those instances I need to recreate what I saw. This is when photoshop is really handy.
Some call it cheating – I call it recreating what you saw – or what you felt.
The camera with it’s 5-6 stops of dynamic range is a pretty primitive tool compared to the capabilities of your eyes which have a dynamic range of about 25 stops.

So I have no problem to utilize photoshop in those cases. Maybe eventually photoshop will become obsolete for me, however as long as we deal with cameras which have very little dynamic range, it is a necessary tool for me.

The below photo has been run through photoshop using the following steps:

• copy background layer
• Filter > Blur > Radial Blur
• Amount: 100, Select Zoom, Select Best
• Move centre point into the appropriate place where the gap in the canopy is
• Recreate the same effect one more time by pressing CMD/CTRL + F
• Set Layer Blending mode to Screen
• Create Layer Mask and take out the effect where you think it is overdone

I am quite happy with the end result and it reflects very closely what I saw when I was in this special place far away from civilization.


Bracketing shots for HDR

Saturday, January 2nd, 2010

Bracketing exposures is important for all of us who do not want to bother, trying to expose the image correctly at the point of shooting (the lazy ones) or for the ones who are really into HDR.
HDR is becoming more and more popular amongst photographers young and old.
Taking several exposures all with at least 1 EV difference, can be tedious on consumer-style cameras, who do not have a bracket button.
However all pro-sumer and professional cameras have a bracketing button. I may be lazy, but I simply could not live without mine although – as you will find out in a minute – even I have to dial in three different exposures sometimes. I am talking about shooting in Manual mode.

When the sun has set and light begins to fade, you may still be inclined to take HDR photos. There is only one problem, your half-automatic program setting (Shutter priority or Aperture priority) displays a Lo sign in your viewfinder. Meaning: There is so little light, that the camera can not figure out the exposure time anymore.
The only way out is shooting Manual Mode. At those times an exposure time of over 30 seconds is usually necessary.
In these cases even I have to resort to manual bracketing, since you can not use the bracketing button in Manual Mode. It does not make sense.

Now you will find yourself looking at your watch and starting the countdown at say 30 seconds, 15 seconds and 1 minute (0 EV, -1 EV, +1 EV).
A tedious job.
I am always on the look for more efficient ways of doing things, and so I came up with the following solution to the bracketing problem:
Rather than having to use your stop watch (or for some of us, their more sophisticated remote releases), we can simply change the aperture or the ISO for that matter and just double it for one shot, half it for the next, and leave it as it was for the third ( e.g. ISO 400, ISO 100, ISO 200) or f/16, f/ 8 and f/11 as an example.

It is easily dialed in and saves you a lot of time too. You may say that this changes the noise or the DOF, true, but from my personal experience – the resulting HDR image has significantly degraded in quality anyway. You will not notice this minor issue, promised 🙂

The below shot has been taken from 3 exposures at different ISO’s (the ones mentioned above: ISO 400, 100, 200)


Color Space: Part 1 – a simple approach

Monday, June 15th, 2009

horseshoeI have been asked this question on many occasions and realized that color space and color management are two difficult subjects to get your head around. So I will try to answer many of those hot questions in a Q&A-style format. We will focus mainly on color spaces in this blog post.

The following assumes that you know what a color space is therefore so we will dive right into it:

Q: Which color space should I use?
A: If you are serious about your photography, convert your files into either AdobeRGB or even better ProPhoto RGB (it is the widest color space available. I religiously convert my raw files into ProPhoto RGB. No exceptions.

Q: Which color space should my camera be set to?
A: If you have a high end model, there are two choices: sRGB or Adobe RGB. The simple answer is: If you shoot RAW, it does not matter.
Set it to either one, a RAW file receives its color space after it has been exported and been converted into the destination file format (tif, psd,…). In case you shoot jpg (which I hope you don’t – more on this another time) please choose Adobe RGB. It is the wider color space of the two.

Q: Which color space does LR or Bridge use?
A: None. LR and BR are RAW converters, they assign color spaces upon exporting the RAW files, therefore they don’t work in a particular color space themselves.

Q: Which color space do I need to use for the web?
A: Many people do not know that; you need to convert into sRGB for web presentation. If you work in photoshop you do not need to convert to sRGB right before you save the file, if you use “save for web”, it converts the photo to sRGB for you automatically.

Q: Which color space should I set up in photoshop?
A: Check which colour space you currently work in PS under Edit > Colour Settings and assign the one you decide to work in from now on and save it.

Say for print you want to use one of the ICC profiles of the printer/paper combination that you chose as your output color space.
Or if you export it into photoshop you set your color space in the export section of LR. Make sure your color space in photoshop is set to the same color space that you assign to the photo, so that you do not get mismatches. It makes things unnecessarily more complicated.

Q: Which color space do I use for printing?
A: The colour space you will work in is wider than what your printer can print. You assign an ICC profile (downloadable on the respective website of the paper manufacturer) when you softproof (that term will have to be content of a future blog post) your image straight before you print and on the print screen of your printer dialog box. You will also have to choose between relative and perceptual (forget the other two) rendering intend. Relative and Perceptual redering intent are two different ways to compress the wider colour space of your monitor (the one that you assigned in photoshop for example) into the smaller colour space of your printer, just see which one you like better – it is depending on the photo, so you need to make this choice on a per print basis, just try both and see which one makes you more happy.
So now you know that the colour space that you print in is sort of out of your hands, it depends on the paper and should be selected in regards to which paper you use. No other one. You select the ICC profile in the printer dialog.
The mismatch only happens when you have setup PS with a different colour space than the file that you are trying to import.