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


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)


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 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.’ “]

Feb 262012

A Saturday visit to two centers of art in Washington, DC.

The Phillips Collection

My favorite art museum in DC, this is the place to take visitors from out-of-town.  Located about a block from the DuPont Metro Station (at 21st and Q NW), Duncan Phillips started the collection in the family residence in 1918, and opened it to the public in 1921.

The most famous painting in the collection is Renoir’s “Luncheon of the Boating Party”.  People really love this painting, and for good reason.

Luncheon of the Boating Party (Renoir)

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 18mm f/4 lens; ISO 800; 1/25 sec.

A detail of the ceiling and mantlepiece in the Music Room.

In the Music Room

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 1600; 1/15 sec.

The gallery rooms in the original residence are intimate and calming.  They stress that the furniture in the rooms is intended to be used, and these galleries are nice places to relax.

Gallery room in the original residence.

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 21mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 400; 1/30 sec.

Staircase in the Sant Building, looking out onto the courtyard.  This used to be an apartment building, and a complete interior rebuild was completed in 2006.  It added additional gallery space, an auditorium, a library, classroom, and workshop space.

Staircase in the Sant Building.

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 18mm f/4 lens; ISO 800; 1/500 sec.

National Gallery of Art, East Building

Part of the immense Calder mobile (untitled) completed just before he died.  It weighs about 1,000 pounds but moves subtly in the air light currents inside the building.

Paintings and Calder Mobile

Leica M9 w/Voigtlander 90mm f/3.5 lens; ISO 800; 1/90 sec.

On the main floor with Ellsworth Kelly’s “Color Panels for a Large Wall” in the background.

Main Floor of East Building

Leica M9 w/Voigtlander 15mm f/4 lens; ISO 400; 1/30 sec.

Painting, viewed from above.

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 400; 1/25 sec.

“Multiverse”, by Leo Villareal, is a light sculpture that lives alongside the underground moving walkways between the East Building and the cage/museum shop at the east footing of the West Building.  This shot looked awful in the Leica’s monitor, but it actually “cleans up pretty good” in the computer.  I need to go back and try a few more shots.

Leo Villareal's "Multiverse"

Leica M9 w/Zeiss 25mm f/2.8 lens; ISO 1600; 1/30 sec.

Dec 112011

Lincoln Memorial, May 2008

I stumbled across this picture while working on another project.

Not traditional composition and framing, which is why I like it.


It was shot with a Leica M8 and a Voigtlander 90mm lens.  The image is very low key, with no startling whites or deep blacks.  Typical for an M8 image, the DNG (RAW) file required very little post processing.

Nov 122011

A Favorite Spot for Shooting

I go out to the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum near Dulles Airport to test new cameras and lenses.  It is a challenging venue, and if things go wrong, they go wrong in a very noticeable way.   From the overhead walkway, this particular location always draws me.

Vantage Point

I like the open space, gray concrete, shadows, the pieces of “museum stuff”, and seeing what people are doing.

The camera being tested is the Fujifilm X10 — which hit the dealer shelves on Tuesday.  This shot was made as an EXR JPEG (EXR’s SN mode, for you Fuji geeks) with only a little bit of Noise Ninja in post-processing.  Everything else was done in the camera: 1/35 sec., f/2.5, ISO 640.  EXR makes all the selections once you decide which of three modes you will use.

The intelligence in cameras is getting a bit scary…The X10 produced a very nice image with almost no input from me.

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