May 032014
 
At the museum, from above…And opinions

I posted this picture (taken from the blog posting that precedes this one) on an online forum — mostly to give the members a look at what a couple of new lenses could to.  More of a semi-technical posting than an art statement.

TN-140406-nasm-xt1-411

Click Image to Enlarge

Of course this invites comments on the aesthetics from both the well-intentioned and the clueless alike…Which is why I rarely post photos on forums.

I got this one: “I like the perspective on the 4th indoor shot, but I would tighten it up quite a lot. I’d crop away everything except mom, baby and the girder. I wouldn’t crop much from the bottom, don’t want to lose any of the stroller’s shadow. The round things at the ends of the girder would go though, as would the shadow coming in from the top.”

A follow-up post from the same person was a backtrack that decided not to backtrack:  “I didn’t say you had to tighten up the shot, I said ‘I would tighten up the shot.’ I just don’t see how the extra elements add anything to the sense of time or place. For me, the photograph is all about the baby and the mother. Everything else is a distraction.”  His would look something like this:

TN-140406-nasm-xt1-411-crop1

Click Image to Enlarge

And from a very superficial point of view he is correct:  It is about the woman and the baby.  But his framing leaves us with little else, and certainly not a hint of context.  To me, it ends up almost as a gimmick shot.

His concerns about not showing a “sense of time or place” should really be about his suggested cropping.  In my wider cropping you get a sense that this is probably a large public space.  His gives you non of that.  The sense of time is not absolute, but subjective or relative.  In the context of that larger public space, the connection between the woman and the child is even more apparent — a personal moment in the larger world.

The girder has an interesting look, but in his cropping it becomes a visual barrier:  There is nothing beyond.  There are some interesting shadows, but nothing that provides any context to the venue.  The girder constrains rather than expands.  Pretty much “Here it is”.  In the tradition of faux photojournalism.

140406-nasm-xt1-411-crop1-mark-w

I like the looser cropping of my original post.  For me, it works for two groups of viewers.

  1. For people familiar with the venue (granted, far less than 1% of the viewers), it illustrates the space.  You know what the shadows represent, at least in a general way.  And you also know how precious these moments are at a busy museum…In a minute or two, thirty people can be standing at this very spot.
  2. For those just looking at the photo afresh, there is a little more mystery.  Leaving the angle on the girder (to the left) gives the viewer a “way out”.  With the area left above the girder, the girder is no longer a visual barrier, but begins to define the “beyond”.  All of the area surrounding the woman and the baby becomes potential subject for speculation.

140406-nasm-xt1-411-mark-w

I often come across situations where I want to acknowledge people in my photos, but don’t want the viewer dwelling on the details.  There is room for debate on whether this is an effective approach, but it does reduce the emphasis on individual people — a sort of ephemeral objectification of the humans.

Lincoln Memorial

Lincoln Memorial

The Louvre

The Louvre

Auschwitz

Auschwitz

But one last note on cropping the original image…Perhaps I could have cropped out a wee bit of the distracting stuff along the right edge…

Click Image to Enlarge

Click Image to Enlarge

Nov 102013
 
What you have attached to the front of your camera does alter your point of view

I’m building out my Fujifilm X-Pro1 kit and I was on the fence about the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 R LM OIS.  When shooting for myself or traveling I rarely find a need for a lens longer than 90mm (in 35mm full frame equivalent field of view (FOV)).  The FOV on this lens is 82.5mm to 300mm — that far end not being a place I spend a lot of time.  Also, I’m not a fan of lenses that change aperture while they zoom.  Aperture, in most shooting, is the control that has the most impact on the “look” of the picture and many photographers prefer to have all the exposure controls stay the same over the zoom range, especially if they are using a hand-held light meter or are using flash units.

Space Shuttle

Space Shuttle Enterprise.  (100mm; 1/25 sec @ f/6.4; freestanding)

(Notes:  (1) Click on the images to see them more clearly — it makes a big difference.  The pictures in the blog body were automatically downsampled to lower resolution to fit the column width.  (2) All the larger images you see after the “click” were down-sampled in PhotoShop to 50% of original cropped size in order to save loading time.  (3) All the photos were shot with the Fujifilm X-Pro1 — all at ISO 3200 with the exception of the Boeing 307, which was shot at ISO 6400.)

Engine cowl detail.

Engine cowl detail of Dornier Do 335 A-1 Pfeil.  (172mm; 1/20 sec. @ f/6.4; freestanding)

On the other hand, constant aperture lenses are heavier and more costly.  The engineering is more complex, lens elements are usually larger, and that means that the lens, overall, needs to be beefier.  My Nikon AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II lens weighs 1,540 grams (3.40 lb).  The Fujifilm, on the other hand, comes in at only 580 grams (1.28 lb).  The Fuji is physically smaller, so hauling it around isn’t that much of a chore.  Both lens have optical image stabilization.

Self Portrait from Boeing.

Self Portrait from Boeing 307 Stratoliner…I’m the shape reflected in the propeller dome with the light at my feet.  Note the dust and lint.  (141mm; 1/40 sec @ f/8; freestanding)

Pondering the purchase, my research showed the Fuji lens was getting good reviews.  The image stabilization was reported to be very effective and the optics across most of the zoom range performed well.  Optical performance degrades a bit at the long end of the zoom, but that’s not as much of an issue for me.

Corsair.

Vought F4U-1D Corsair.  (149mm; 1/70 sec. @ f/5.6; freestanding)

So I wrote out a check (the advantage of shopping locally — PhotoCraft in Burke, VA) and the next day I visited the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy facility near Dulles International Airport.  As some of you know, this is my lens and camera test venue.  The displays inside don’t change that much, but the lighting can be a real challenge….Fairly dim inside combined with the mixed-source lighting, so the photographer is presented with ample opportunities to really blow shots.  The longer and slower the lens — the more those opportunities present themselves.  (There are some photos from this session that will never see the light of your monitor.)

Cockpit

Lockheed T-33A Shooting Star cockpit.  (90mm; 1/17 sec @ f/5.0; supported by handrail)

So…Pictures close up.

Cockpit

Globe Swift GC-1A cockpit.  (200mm; 1/30 sec. @ f/6.4; supported by handrail)

View

Ryan PT-22A Recruit.  (156mm; 1/50 sec. @ f/4.5; freestanding)

Rotary Engine

Nieuport 28C-1 rotary engine & cowl.  Note the dust on the propeller.  (67mm; 1/15 sec. @ f/6.4; supported by column)

Tail Gunner position on the B-29 "Enola Gay".

Tail Gunner position on the B-29 “Enola Gay”.  (200mm; 1/40 sec. @ f/4.8; supported by handrail.  This is pretty much the extreme shot:  slow shutter speed, lens fully zoomed and wide open.  But the rivet and hinge detail still holds up well.)

Post Processing (PP):  Raw conversion by PictureCode’s Photo Ninja running inside Adobe Photoshop CS6 — includes Noise Ninja and some adjustment for detail and highlights.  Continued PP in Photoshop including conversion to a PSD file, curves (for a black point and, if available, a white point),  cropping,  color balance, etc.  A final pass with NIK Viveza 2, which gives you a last chance to see how the image looks and adjust lightness, saturation, shadows, etc.  Then saving for Web JPEG in PhotoShop.

Nov 032013
 
A Lens Test at a Familiar Venue

The Fujinon XF 23mm f/1.4 lens was eagerly anticipated by many Fujifilm X-Camera users.  Fuji has paid more attention than is typical in developing a line of prime (non-zoom) lenses for this line of mirrorless cameras.  With a wide aperture of f/1.4 photographers will have more options with regard to depth of field — which is a good thing.  This is a very nice lens.

Walkway leading to the entrance of the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center -- Near Dulles International Airport.

Walkway leading to the entrance of the National Air and Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center — Near Dulles International Airport.  (1/600 sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 200)

(Notes:  (1) Click on the images to see them more clearly — it makes a big difference.  The pictures in the blog body were automatically downsampled to lower resolution to fit the column width.  (2) All the larger images you see after the “click” were down-sampled in PhotoShop to 50% of original cropped size in order to save loading time.  (3) All the photos were shot with the fujinon 23mm f/1.4 lens on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 at the ISO values given in the picture information.)

NASM Udvar-Hazy observation tower viewed from the museum entrance.

NASM Udvar-Hazy observation tower viewed from the museum entrance.  (1/800 sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 200)

Vought

Vought F4U-1D Corsair near entrance.  (1/20 sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 1600)

P-47D

Republic P-47D Thunderbolt.  (1/25 sec. @ f/5.6; ISO 3200)

Concorde front landing gear detail.

Concorde front landing gear detail.  (1/80 @ f/2.8; ISO 1600)

Floor of the museum near the entrance with Japanese

Floor of the museum near the entrance with Japanese Nakajima J1N1-S Gekko “Irving”.  (1/20 sec. @ f/4.0.  ISO 1600)

Curtis

Curtiss 1A “Gulfhawk”.  Notice the blue ceiling — the result of the differences in lighting, and my selecting a black point and white point (the pin striping) on the plane itself (warm light) which let the background go much cooler.  (1/25 sec. @ f/4.0; ISO 1600)

Walkway as airplanes land at Dulles.

Walkway as airplanes land at Dulles.  (1/300 sec. @ f/8.0; ISO 200)

Post Processing (PP):  Raw conversion by PictureCode’s Photo Ninja running inside Adobe Photoshop CS6 — includes Noise Ninja and some adjustment for detail and highlights.  Continued PP in Photoshop including conversion to a PSD file, curves (for a black point and, if available, a white point),  cropping,  color balance, etc.  A final pass with NIK Viveza 2, which gives you a last chance to see how the image looks and adjust lightness, color, saturation, shadows, etc.  Then saving for Web JPEG in PhotoShop.

Oct 172013
 

Ending this series of postings where it began…

The Lincoln Memorial -- looking at Lincoln's Second Inaugural Address (Click image to enlarge)

The Lincoln Memorial — looking at Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address.  (Click image to enlarge)

The highwaymen — who tried to hold a gun to the Nation’s head — failed, at least for now.  We’ll know in a couple of months whether those who see America primarily through their own tunnel vision, and who listen only to their most rabid followers, have learned anything since they dreamed up this shutdown “strategy” those months ago.

But for the benefit of those who care more about the Nation as a whole, I extract a short quote from Lincoln’s address, carved into the wall before you:  “With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in…”

(Posted from London, UK)

Oct 112013
 
In Redwood National Park.

In Redwood National Park.

d11-rnp-02a

Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Redwood National Park

Redwood National Park — Closed.  You didn’t get to walk here today.  Fortunately, there is still access to Jedediah Smith Redwoods, Del Norte Coast Redwoods and Prairie Creek Redwoods state parks, which adjoin RNP.

(These are smaller pictures, originally shot with a Minox subminiature camera._

Oct 102013
 
Southern Railway Locomotive 1401 -- Smithsonian Museum of American History (Click image to enlarge)

Southern Railway Locomotive 1401 — Smithsonian Museum of American History (click image to enlarge)

You couldn’t contemplate #1401 — One of the eight locomotives that, in doubleheader pairs, brought FDR’s body from Warm Springs, Georgia to Washington, DC.

What would FDR have thought of a shutdown of most of the federal government engineered for the political benefit of about 30 house members of one party?

Oct 072013
 
The Smithsonian's Hirshhorn Museum

The Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum
 (Click image to enlarge)

You didn’t get to see messages being pushed out in the Hirshhorn’s entrance lobby.

Meanwhile the battle of messages continues unabated in Washington, DC.  This past weekend more stories on how this shutdown was part of a plan hatched months ago by a small number of one political party.

Oct 042013
 
World War II Memorial at Sunset

World War II Memorial at Sunset  (Click image to enlarge)

…But it is interesting how some in Congress turned this into a photo op on Tuesday.  The very politicians who have been contemplating this shutdown for months managed to show up at the WWII Memorial just as a group of WWII veterans did.  These politicians made a big deal about how the veterans were being denied access to the memorial — a situation these same politicians had engineered. An incredibly disrespectful exploitation of the veterans my father served with.

Oct 012013
 
The Lincoln Memorial on a Better Day

The Lincoln Memorial on a Better Day  (Click image to enlarge)

So instead, we can consider the following excerpts from Lincoln’s speech to the Copper Union, February 27, 1860:

Your purpose, then, plainly stated, is that you will destroy the Government, unless you be allowed to construe and enforce the Constitution as you please, on all points in dispute between you and us. You will rule or ruin in all events. This, plainly stated, is your language…

In that supposed event, you say, you will destroy the Union; and then, you say, the great crime of having destroyed it will be upon us!  That is cool*.  A highwayman holds a pistol to my ear, and mutters through his teeth, “Stand and deliver, or I shall kill you, and then you will be a murderer!”

Rule or ruin.  The highwaymen are among us today.

James Fallows on the shutdown here and here.

[* The 1852 edition of Noah Webster’s dictionary has it: “3. Not hasty; deliberate; as, a cool falsehood or deception. Hence, 4. Impudent in a high degree, as when speaking of some trick, pretension, &c., we say ‘that is cool.’ “]

Bad Behavior has blocked 229 access attempts in the last 7 days.