The Gotcha of the Great

Submitted by Ken Norton on Tue, 12/08/2015 - 17:30

 

Colorado road
Colorado road. Fujichrome Velvia. Olympus OM-2S, Zuiko 24/2.8

I've been in hog-heaven shooting Fujichromes again, but I discovered an old curse that has reared its ugly head again.

The Gotcha of the Great!

A good 'chrome, such as Velvia or Kodachrome is expensive to shoot.  The per-shot cost is very high, and when combined with larger-formats, is difficult to justify.  This was true before, and it's even more true today in the world overrun by digital.
 
This is only one side of the equation, though.  The reason to shoot Velvia or other high-quality 'chrome is for the quality of the images it results in.  You know, for example, how well Velvia enhances colors during the "golden hours"--it takes what is beautiful and extends it into another dimension.

But this comes at a price--not just monetory, but psychological.  You end up not shooting pictures because you are constantly asking yourself: "Is this Velvia-worthy?"  Because of this questioning, you end up NOT taking the picture because you know in your heart that the picture just isn't good enough to commit to a film of this quality. As a result, you miss many photographic opportunities through this "pre-edit" process.

A massive advantage of digital over great film is that you are more likely to take pictures of things that you'd never commit a frame of expensive film to. Granted, the majority of these pictures are "tossers", but once in a while one of these "also-ran" photographs is a winner.

The key to survival in the film world is to be willing to waste photographs on experimental or secondary pictures. If you can't get beyond the "Gotcha of the Great", then it may pay to have a second camera loaded with low-cost film or even a digital camera.  Save the expensive film for the "I'm making a statement with this photograph". This way, by using dual cameras you won't miss out on the low hanging fruit while you reach for the highest apple.
 

The UV "Protection" Filter

Submitted by Ken Norton on Sat, 12/05/2015 - 21:06

UV "protection" filters are not too unlike putting plastic runners over your carpet or slip-covers over your furniture. In theory they "protect" against something, but who or what are you saving it for?
 
The sunspot flare that you are experiencing is highly likely being exasperated by the filters. One of the easiest tricks in the book for improving your photography is usually just removing the "protective filter" and keeping the glass clean.
 
Nowadays, we have the iPhone, iPod Touch and iPad. You can buy these "protective" films (as advertised on this very site) to go over the glass. Again, why?  Why put up with the additional surface to look through, the ugly look, the reduced effectiveness and accuracy of the touch-screen?  To protect it from SCRATCHES?  It's awefully hard to scratch this new glass used in these devices. If you are going to scratch it, chances are you're going to break it first.
 
But we do these things to "preserve value". Ooooooooookay. Again, for what/whom are you doing that?  Unless trashed, most used lenses are pretty much about the same price regardless of whether you used a protective filter on it or not. As to cell-phones and other consumer electronics, they have no value, used, anyway. The moment a new model comes out, your existing one is nearly worthless.
 
UV "protective" filters serve a purpose if:
1. You're photographing around water,
2. You're photographing an industrial site with abrasive and oily materials in the air,
3. You can't help yourself from sticking your fingers on the glass all the time,
4. You smoke and the haze builds up on your equipment,
5. You're photogaphing at high-altitude and need a UV filter,
6. You don't use lens caps,
7. You photograph motorsports from the fence opening on the outside of a turn.
 
I'm sure there are random other examples, but you get the idea.
 
Think about it this way--the average non-professional hobbiest photographer keeps his camera safely tucked away inside a camera bag until a picture reveals itself. Only then does he/her remove camera from bag, remove lens-cap from lens, shoot picture and then put lens-cap back on the lens and the camera back in the bag. It is not unusual at all for a five-year old lens to have been exposed to the air for less than two hours total.  Personally, I can get two hours of air-time on my lenses before breakfast!
 
Another thing about UV filters which most people don't realize. Due to the disparate materials and the plastics used in the filters and lenses, it is very common for the filter to become statically charged which attracts dust, oils and other gookies in the air directly to the filter. It never ceases to amaze me how quickly my filters become hazy. (I use filters for B&W photography and polarizers). The bare lenses rarely become hazy, but the filters will get so with only an hour of exposure.

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What is Anti-Aliasing?

Submitted by Ken Norton on Sat, 12/05/2015 - 19:56

In digital signal processing, anti-aliasing is a key approach to reducing distorting artifacts, which are known by the term ‘aliasing’ when dealing with high resolution signals received by a lower resolution imager (sensor).

Aliasing 1

In digital photography, aliasing artefacts appear in several forms. Chiefly they are most visible as wavy noise or moiré patterns, strobing or as sparkle-type spots. 

Anti-aliasing therefore refers to the removal of higher frequencies that the sensor cannot properly resolve during live capture. In other words when the sampling is performed, undesirable artifacts can occur if they are not removed beforehand, causing visible noise in the image. The below illustration is a receding checkerboard pattern showing what happens when no anti-aliasing filter is in place.

Nearest Neighbor
Figure 1: Nearest Neighbor

It clearly shows the visible distortion occurring when anti-aliasing is not deployed. As the checkerboard pattern converges into the vanishing point, the image becomes too difficult to resolve for the sensor.

Gaussian Nearest Neighbor
Figure 2: Nearest Neighbor, with Gaussian Blur

In contrast, Figure 2, which is anti-aliased, fares considerably better where the same area now blends into greyness. This is what the anti-aliasing filter does when the resolution is incapable of displaying details clearly. Furthermore, towards to the bottom of the image, the edges of the lines are smoother.

Digital cameras usually resolve this problem with the use of an analog anti-aliasing filter (aka Low Pass Filter, LPF, AA or blur filter) in order to remove the out-of-band component of the input image signal prior to sampling with an A/D converter. These filters are optical in nature and are integral in the sensor to block invisible light. They are often made from the use of two layers of birefringent materials such as lithium niobate (LiNbO3), which spreads each optical point into a cluster of four points.  

(Note: ‘Birefringent’ means ‘double refraction.’ Therefore a birefringent material is able to decompose light into two separate rays – one ordinary and the other extraordinary. Cellophane is a cheap example.)

Crop One
Figure 3: Crop 1

Figure 3 shows a portion of the original image with no filtering applied. When resized or photographed with a digital camera, these converging lines will alias, causing artifacts.

Crop 2
Figure 4: Crop 2

Figure 4 is of the same section of the image with an anti-aliasing filter applied to the image.

Because of this spread, the shortcoming of an anti-aliasing filter is that it curtails part of the image sharpness as well as fill factor and that is part and parcel of its effort in reducing the resolution to a level that the sensor can accept. This loss of image sharpness is able to be somewhat corrected with a sharpening filter to counteract the loss of apparent resolution.

A central part of understanding anti-aliasing is that in signal processing, downsampling (aka sub-sampling) is an integral part of the effort to reduce the sampling rate to make it more acceptable for the imaging sensor to cope. As this is normally done, the data rate or the size of the image data is affected and because of this, it is important to ensure that the criterion proposed by the Shannon-Nyquist Sampling Theorem is maintained. Otherwise the resulting digital signal will be aliased.

Medicine Bow Peak

Submitted by Ken Norton on Fri, 12/04/2015 - 21:04
Medicine Bow Peak
Medicine Bow Peak

Medicine Bow Peak is located about 35 miles west of Laramie, Wyoming. This photograph was taken just east of the peak at Snowy Range Pass.

This is a 14 image photomerge from a Panasonic DMC-L1 camera using an Olympus DZ 14-42 lens at 14mm, F7.1 and 1/500. Image processed in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC.

Morning Monochrome

Submitted by Ken Norton on Tue, 12/01/2015 - 16:46
Morning Monochrome
Morning Monochrome

There are times when there is very little color in the scene. This is one of those images. A misty morning in Iowa presented this monochromatic image. No desaturation has been applied to it.

The camera used is the Panasonic DMC-L1 with an adapted OM Zuiko. I believe this was with the 35-80 Zoom.

 

 

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Brown Cloud

Submitted by Ken Norton on Mon, 11/30/2015 - 19:39
Brown Cloud
Brown Cloud

This is a photograph taken in May, 2013 just north of Creston, Iowa. A line of storms had just passed through before sunset and this photo was taken as the sun was getting very low in the sky. Some of the clouds were still in bright sunlight, others were in shadow while this brown cloud was lit by the lowest bit of sun.

Camera used was the Panasonic DMC-L1 with an adapted OM Zuiko 24/2.8 lens. Image processed in Lightroom.

New Zone-10 Website Launched

Submitted by Ken Norton on Sat, 11/28/2015 - 16:37

Welcome to the new Zone-10 website. This has been a work-in-progress for the past year. The old site was no longer upgradeable to be mobile device friendly, so a new site was needed. Versions of this site have been built using Wordpress, Joomla and Drupal. After extensive testing and time spent trying to address the shortcomings of Wordpress and Joomla, it was decided to settle on Drupal. However, we also wanted to wait for the new Drupal Version 8, which is native Mobile friendly. This site will adapt to whatever device you are viewing it on, whether a computer, tablet or phone.

As it has always been, Zone-10 remains free to access, however, to help with the hosting fees, we do use Google Ads. We'll keep the advertising to a minimum, but please understand that this is necessary to avoid having to charge for accessing the content. This website is now the home site for the photography services arm of Zone-10 Photography, formerly Image66 Media, which had a separate website.

The website is a work in progress and we'll be migrating content from the old site over to the new site as time allows. However, not all content will be brought over. Just the evergreen content. News stories and most opinion pieces will be shed. But the camera reviews and Olympus heritage information will be migrated. The site was founded in 2007 and has reached nearly FIVE MILLION VISITORS in that time. While the original intent of the website has changed and now offers photographic services, the information and education side of the website will remain.

Sunset through the woods

 

Wedding Photography

Wedding Sample 1

Zone-10 provides Wedding Photography. If you are looking for a free or lowest cost wedding, we are not it. We are also not the most expensive, either. The national average for the cost of a wedding photography package is $2800. Does this seem too expensive? Maybe, maybe not. Does the price include the album and several prints or is it for the photographer just showing up for a few hours and handing you a thumbdrive at the end of the evening? While there are wedding photographers here in Iowa that will charge just a few hundred dollars for a wedding, there is an advantage to spending a little more and getting your complete package.

So, how much does Zone-10 charge for a wedding? Basic coverage with a proof book and a thumb drive for files is as low as $1000 for weddings in Central and South-West Iowa. Albums and fine-art prints can add up to an additional $1000. A typical full wedding package averages about $1600 which includes the wedding photography, a large art print and album. When we sit down and discuss your wedding, we can cover the options available to you. In many cases, we do use a second photographer to cover multiple angles at the same time and have the ability to be in two places at once.

 

WE USE FILM!

Film photography weddings are also available AND PREFERRED! We will shoot parts of the wedding and some of the formals with film, along with the digital cameras. The look and feel of the images is not only unique, but often times superior to digital camera photos. We use Kodak Portra 400, which has extremely wide exposure latitude, fine grain and amazing skin tones and colors. A film-only wedding is available at extra cost. Unless otherwise noted, we will use some film during the wedding. All film images are digitized and edited alongside the digital camera images. Film or digital, the images can be adjusted to a seemless look for the album.

The cameras are all Olympus, which have extremely high-quality lenses and produce the best skin colors.

 

group shot

 

WE DO USE FLASH!

Outdoor weddings or indoor weddings. It doesn't matter. We DO use flash to control our lighting when appropriate. A true professional wedding photographer knows how and when to use flash. Just cranking up the ISO on the camera is not the solution for wedding photography.

 

Wedding Sample 3

Please call or email to discuss pricing, schedule and availability. If you are looking for a $600 wedding package, you may not get it from us, but if you are looking for a realistic, fair-priced package that is customized to your specific needs, please give us a call.

On the subject of lower-cost packages, if you are having a simple wedding ceremony and want just basic coverage of the wedding and a handful of portraits, we can work up a package just for that. These are far below the normal pricing and are usually considered a blend of event and portrait photography and priced accordingly. There is a big difference between a one hour wedding in the park with just a handful of people and an all-day cathedral wedding with horse drawn carriages and hundreds of guests. One may need only about a hundred pictures to be taken, while the other will need about 3000 pictures.

 

Wedding Sample 4

Wedding photography for Des Moines, Council Bluffs, Central Iowa, Southern Iowa and Western Iowa.