A Beautiful Seasonal Flower

Wow! It’s December. Time goes fast when you’re having fun.

The past 12 months have been hectic

  • 11/14 : Decided to move back to our home state after 55 years away
    • The next 7 months were something I’m glad are over
    • The good news is that we got rid of a lot of “stuff”
  • 7/11/15: House sold, movers come & gone, pulling out of the driveway
    • Three weeks at Seven Spring Resort waiting for the new house
    • A nice break
  • 7/30/15: Settled on the new house
    • Several weeks unpacking (got the car in the garage in under 2 weeks)
    • Followed by about two months of “fine-tuning”
  • 11/15: Starting to unwind & relax
  • 12/1/15: We’re glad we did it. Love the location & really love the house
    • At age 78, we’re not doing that again ;)

I all but abandoned photography for the past year.

  • A few flirtations with my iPhone trying to master smartphone cameras.
    • Useful, but not for “serious” photography
    • If you’re a serious photographer you need a serious camera and serious lenses – especially the lenses
  • But – yesterday my faithful Christmas cactus got me back to doing what I love with its first blossoms of the season

christmas cactus D800E_151130_104826__DSC5302

Nikon D800E, Nikkor 105mm macro lens, circular polarizer, tripod

Natural light with a black felt background

RAW file processed in Lightroom; no adjustments other than color & tonal contrast

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

A Warm November

The warmest November on record in my neighborhood. I enjoyed the comfortable temperatures and so did the new cherry blossom tree in my front yard (planted this summer). It was blooming for Thanksgiving. Since these trees normally bloom closer to April 1st, I’m curious what we’ll see then.

Nikon D800E, Nikkor 105mm macro lens, circular polarizer, tripod

RAW files processed in Lightroom

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Excuses, excuses, ….

My recent move has been the source of lots of reasons (excuses) for not doing regular postings on this site. Most recently, the excuse is that I’ve been busy designing and launching a new site.

Small communities typically have a homeowners association (HOA).

  • HOA’s, in turn, typically have websites
  • The community we moved to is in its first year (90 homes of an eventual 244 are complete)
  • Our HOA had plans for a website and asked me to do the development
  • Our site launched this week; enhancements coming over the next few months
  • The site is run entirely by homeowners, not paid HOA staff
  • It costs less than $500/year; some HOA sites run well over $25K/year

Residents of my previous community will see the irony in this – ‘nuf said.

Back On-Topic (photography-wise, that is)

I took a short walk through a park that’s five minutes away to see how it looked in the autumn. Here’s what I saw:

Nikon D800E, 105mm macro prime lens & my feet for zooming, hand held (gasp)

Small town living is wonderful. Better Amish horse and buggies on country roads than 18-wheelers and road rage on interstates and beltways. ;)

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Ed, Where have you been?

Still occupied with the move we (wife, dog, & I) made this summer back to our home state of Pennsylvania after a 55 year absence. We’re actually 99.9% done, but as one of our uncountable presidential candidates recently said – stuff happens.

One thing photographically that happened is that I had a large canvas gallery wrap picture made of one of my photos. It’s in three panels stretching 62″ in width and 36″ high. It’s something I’ve been meaning to do for several years now. Choosing an image from over 100K was tough.

The photo is a nine-exposure vertical pan multiple exposure image. It looks more like a painting than a photo. The only thing missing is the artist’s signature (which I’ll add as soon as I get the right pen). Now – where to hang the remaining 99,999?

Autumn in Acadia National Park

645 PRO Mk III for Apple iPhone 6 Plus_151030_080117_IMG_2042

The photos in this post are from my iPhone 6 Plus – no retouching (though they could use it color-wise).

Part of the selection process included taking a photo of the room with a blank wall. Next, candidates were overlaid on that wall until a winner was chosen.

645 PRO Mk III for Apple iPhone 6 Plus_151006_101356_IMG_1863 LR snag

The two 2’x3′ images above the lamps were voted down by she-who-must-be-obeyed. Click the image for full size – I still like them, Dear.

Lots of applications for this approach. Used it in the past to choose wall paint colors, flooring, etc. Give it a try.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

645 Pro Mk III

To get the best capture that my smartphone is capable of making, my go-to app is the 645 Pro Mk III. [Spoiler alert –  It’s for serious photographers. It’s not free and can’t be used for selfies ;).]

645 PRO Mk III Highlights

It provides access to everything that can be controlled on an iOS camera:

  • Fully manual exposure control, as well as semi-automatic
    • An on-screen meter lets you judge your manual exposures
    • Separate the focus and exposure points
  • Shutter Priority and ISO Priority plus fully automatic exposure
  • Automatic and semi-automatic modes include ±3 Ev. exposure compensation
    • Choice of spot or matrix metering
    • Adjust Ev, in combination with the histogram, to control exposure
  • Choice of single, 3-shot-burst, and 3-shot-bracket (HDR-like) exposures
    • Select the HDR exposure’s bright & dark focus points
  • Choice of AWB or a selection of white balance presets
    • Ability to create and save a completely custom white balance
  • Manual focus override
    • Focus-peaking to identify what will be in perfect focus

A display shows all the information you need including:

  • Real-time exposure metering, ISO and shutter-speed readings
  • Ev setting
  • A choice of histograms
  • Built-in level
  • Real-time GPS data
  • The interface can be customized

Top quality output

  • Save completely unprocessed image data at the highest quality possible
    • Next closest thing to RAW files
    • Or two JPEG alternatives if you wish
  • Film mode options
    • Inspired by classic Medium Format cameras
    • Seven formats, from square 6×6 to panoramic 6×17
    • 21 color filters with adjustable densities for B&W captures
    • You can also save custom, personalized films


More tomorrow…

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Apps – camera replacement

Before launching into smartphone camera app reviews, here are sixteen images made with my favorite iPhone app – 645 Pro Mk III.

645 Pro Mk III was mentioned in my last post

  • It falls under the category of a camera replacement app
    • It replaces the normal iPhone camera
    • It allows “almost-DSLR-like” control
  • The next post will explain why its features are important (and unique among apps)

I recently moved to a small town with lots of history

  • History in the USA measured from 1492 (when Columbus sailed the ocean blue)
  • The E. Main St. here in Lititz, PA has buildings dating from the mid-1700’s
  • The 1st house below is from 1765 (including the log abstract)

I walked Main Street this week and took these photos with an iPhone 6 Plus

  • I used the 645 app (not particularly well; still learning)
  • The different aspect ratios were done in-camera via the app’s options
  • The B&W treatment was done in P-P using Silver Efex Pro (via LR or PS)
    • It took several weeks for me to come up with a good workflow
    • Getting from the iPhone (Apple) to my PC (Windows) to LR & PS (Adobe)
      • Isn’t difficult
      • But – it took me a while to figure it out
      • If anyone’s interested, I discuss it in a later post…

Click on any image for a full screen slide show

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Apps – Smartphone (& DSLR?)

Software & Hardware – they are blending together. Where does one stop and the other begin? This post begins a series on smartphone apps. What do they bring to the table to set smartphones apart from DSLRs?

Previous posts in this Smartphone vs DSLR series have highlighted differences between these two camera options with smartphones coming up short if image quality is important to you.

  • It’s not all bad news for phone cameras though  — even if they can’t take the same clean images as full frame cameras.
  • Smartphone cameras often have software apps that can create unique image making options – thus overcoming some of their physics-limited hardware shortfalls.

Some food for thought:

  • Smartphone & DSLRs are, at their heart, computers (with light as an input)
  • That said, photography apps aren’t limited to smartphones. Why should they be?
    • Does your DSLR do multiple exposures? Those that do use software (apps).
    • How about in-camera editing, B&W, image overlays, HDR? Apps again!
  • Virtually any smartphone app could be duplicated in a DSLR
    • The main thing the Nikons, Canons, et. al., lack is the motivation
    • Maybe if they offered an application development interface for third-party developers, we’d see some exciting changes in the DSLR world

Smartphone cameras come with basic built-in feature sets that are, as previous posts noted, constrained by their lens and sensor.

  • Within these constraints, the built-in software controls image capture
    • Depending on Make/Model the capture might be limited to point & shoot
      • or – could include HDR, panoramas, and more
  • Add-on photography apps extend the camera’s built-in repertoire
    • These apps number over 10,000
    • Their quality ranges from outstanding to junk
    • This series will examine representative samples – lots of posts to come

The photo apps can be divided into two basic categories:

  1. Capture (camera replacement)
    1. These apps extend, or improve upon, the camera’s built-in functionality
    2. Their job is complete once the captured image’s file is written to memory
  2. Post-processing
    1. Some of these apps perform functions like Photoshop or Lightroom
      1. Their job begins after an image is captured and stored in memory
    2. Others do PP tricks & magic limited only by imagination
      1. These typically turn a photo into something non-photo-like
  3. Some apps are a hybrid of the first two
    1. These typically ask for the source of the image – Camera or memory?
      1. If camera, they assist with the capture & then provide P-P options
      2. If memory, they jump straight to the P-P phase
    2. Jack-of-all-trades, Master-of-none is an apt description for most of them

In the next post we’ll look at category #1 – camera capture apps. To illustrate what these look like, here are three screenshots from my iPhone.

The first is the iPhone’s camera as provided by Apple


The next two are from my favorite camera replacement app, the 645 Pro MkIII

The first screenshot shows a “simplified” ;) display of the app’s control options


The next display option shows current capture settings


Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.