Submitted by Ken Norton on Sun, 03/27/2016 - 22:18

This photograph was taken by Emily Cuckow. who was assisting me with senior portraits. Lighting was a studio monolight with shoot-through umbrella placed about 8 inches away from the head. A second monolight was bounced off the wall to the side, which threw just a little bit of light onto the gray colored seemless paper. Camera used was the Canon T5i with 24mm lens. Only minimal processing in Lightroom.


Red Branch and Road - Two Views, Two Edits

Submitted by Ken Norton on Wed, 02/03/2016 - 22:28

These two photos were taken up near Copper Harbor, Michigan. I'm showing them here with an explanation.




1. First of all, these are taken with 35mm film. I used the legendary OM-4T camera loaded with Fujichrome Velvia, ISO 50 film. This gives an illustration as to a slightly different look/feel to the images that a Full-Frame digital camera may give over a crop sensor camera.


2. Secondly, two lenses were used. In the wide shot, it was taken with the Zuiko 35-80mm F2.8 zoom at a wider, if not the widest setting. This specific lens is in the category of "best of" that any particular brand will have produced. The vertical picture was taken with the Zuiko 300mm F4.5 lens.


3. The lighting changed between the two pictures. The sun was coming in and out of the clouds (the only sun we saw that entire week) and the scene changed dramatically from one picture to the next. This is an important point because in changing light, taking pictures across the various lighting can produce different results.


4. Editing. I did interpret the images differently. The editing for both images does include dodging and burning and different levels of adjustment in Lightroom. Had I intended for both images to be displayed together, I would have processed them to match. But each image was edited "stand-alone" with no regard for the other.


5. Believe it or not, the red branch at the top is the same in both pictures. The color is different because of the lighting and how it was processed.


6. Back to the second point, I changed perspective and shooting location. I liked the branch and wanted to work with it and moved about 200 feet between pictures.


7. The telephoto picture required getting dirty. The road curved, so this picture was taken from within the woods. I had to avoid patches of poison ivy and I needed to move branches out of my way. Many landscape photographers carry thread with them, but I used spare tripods to lean against branches to get them out of the line of sight.


8. Time. It took time to work this scene. We spent around a half-hour at this location, shooting a number of pictures. I started out wide and kept going to a longer and longer focal length. I finally ended with the 300mm lens and a long ways from where I started. In a rush, I work the scene getting my standard angles and views, but with time, I can explore the other options and expand beyond just the obvious.

An Olympus OM System Fireside Chat

An Olympus OM System "Fireside Chat". From the left, an OM-4T (An OM-4T is the USA version of the OM-4Ti) with Zuiko 28mm F2 lens and Motordrive 2. An OM-3Ti with Zuiko 100mm F2 lens. And an OM-4T with 50mm F1.4 lens and Motordrive 2.

Photograph was lit with a single Olympus T45 flash with Flashbender. Camera used is the Olympus E-3 with OM Zuiko 35-80 F2.8 zoom at 85mm and F2.8.

Fireside Chat

Ken Norton Thu, 01/21/2016 - 18:49

Paradise on Earth - Looking for Adam and Eve

Submitted by Ken Norton on Thu, 01/21/2016 - 17:21

My artist-photographer friend, Michel Szulc Krzyzanowski, has contributed greatly to Zone-10 through the years and is starting a new project. I'm posting his request here to help expand the search:

I am a conceptual and autonomous photographer. I develop my own ideas into photo projects that result in books, publications and exhibitions.


Typical aspect of my photo projects is that it is always a journey into the unknown. This I achieve by choosing a subject from which beforehand we cannot predict how it will reveal itself.

For example, last year I travelled to the geographical center of the United States, which is somewhere in the South Dakota hills, to find and document the person that lives the closest to the heart of America.


Another example: I went to 10 countries to look for people who believe they are the most beautiful in the world.


Now I work on a project that is called “Paradise on earth”. For this I am looking for a couple with the first names “Adam” and “Eve”. I want to meet this couple to document their lives.

Do you happen to know a couple named “Adam” and “Eve”, let me know:


A Craftsman And His Tools

Photo of cameras

We are not supposed to get emotionally attached to a piece of equipment. "Cameras are tools" we are told. Personally, I think that's nonsense. To a craftsman, a tool is a very personal thing. Each one is selected for very precise reasons. If you are just making money with cameras, yes, they are just tools. If you are a craftsman, there is a joy in what you are doing and making money is secondary. The reward for what you do isn't money, it's the personal satisfaction of doing something that brings you personal joy.

Ken Norton Mon, 01/11/2016 - 18:58

Clearing Fog - An Editing Exercise

Submitted by Ken Norton on Sun, 01/03/2016 - 20:59
Clearing Fog
Clearing Fog - Edited Version

The art of editing a photograph is just that, an art. There are no formulas, only basic guidelines. The "Rule of Thirds" is an example that comes to mind. These days, there are a lot of people demonstrating editing techniques with Youtube videos on how to get the most out of your images in Lightroom and Photoshop. While I am tempted to do the same, and I will, to some extent, let's take a look at the original, unedited, uncropped version.

Clearing Fog - Unedited Version
Clearing Fog - Unedited Version

The hazard to showing you this is that you would be tempted to process and edit the picture entirely differently. That's perfectly acceptable. In fact, this is the third time I've published this very photograph and each time it has been different. But this time I wanted to give a little background to the thought process that went into THIS particular version. One thing to keep in mind is that your VISION of how to present an image may not be wrong, but the actual mechanics involved in presenting that vision may be wrong. This is why there are general guidelines to follow. I'm not saying that this is the best or only way to edit this image, but I am saying that it was my vision for this image on January 3, 2016. It may be different two days from now.

All editing was done in Adobe Lightroom CC 2015.

Do keep in mind that editing is an iterative process. Just as a chef will taste test the soup and add a touch of salt late in the cooking process, so editing images is the same. You'll get to the end and discover that a pinch of visual salt back in stage one is required.


Tonal Adjustment - Overall Brightness and Contrast Interpretation

First thing to do is an initial tonal adjustment. This is done by pulling the Highlight slider back a little and moving the Shadow slider up. This decreases the contrast in the highlights and shadows. I then increased the Contrast which essentially pulled the midtones apart and gave the overall image some snap. I did add a little bit of Clarity and DeHaze at this stage to give the image bite. As the Highlight slider did very little on this image other than in the sky, I decided to bring it back up to normal and make that adjustment more localized later. I liked what it did to the sky, but not the rest of the image.


White Balance - Overall Color Interpretation

Second thing is I adjusted the White Balance. I started out with the "Shade" setting, but could have also used the "Shadow". To give it more sunrise look, I then increased the Tint towards magenta. Then I added some Vibrance and Saturation to louden the image up. I did go down into Lens Corrections and clicked on Remove Chromatic Aberration.


Detail Control - Noise Reduction and Sharpening

Third item was to adjust the Noise Reduction and Sharpening. The Panasonic DMC-L1, which I used for this image, will not perfectly convert in Adobe converters as you will get a bit of a maize pattern and also uniform black dots. It is important to work the Sharpening Detail and Masking sliders till the dots effectively disappear. There are times when they won't, so you may be called upon to do further editing heroics.

At this point, we have a choice. We can either crop the image, or do our localized editing. I recommend that you do all of your localized editing BEFORE cropping the image. This way, if you need to alter a crop, you don't have to correct your edits.


Localized Editing - Enhancing the subject of the photograph

Editing is my fourth item. There are six specific edits to this photo, which could have been done any number of ways, but this is what I did here. First, I placed a Graduated Filter down over the sky. With this filter, I increased contrast and pulled back the Highlights slider. I liked what the Highlight recovery slider did to the sky, but not the rest of the image, so I applied it here. I added a second Graduated Filter over the foreground and pulled back the exposure and lifted the blacks. I wanted to make the fog more prominant, as the other edits really reduced it, so I added an Adjustment Brush in the band of fog and pulled the Highlights slider up. I had tried various adjustments, including Exposure, Contrast, Whites, Clarity, and so forth, but in this specific case, just lifting up the Highlights slider did what I wanted it to do. A second Adjustment Brush was placed over the trees and I pulled the Shadows slider back. Again, it was just the one tool that accomplished the task THIS TIME, but could have been any of the other sliders on another image. A third Adjustment Brush was placed over the entire middle distance of the image and I increased Clarity and Dehaze sliders to get this middle range to better match the rest of the image. A final Adjustment Brush was placed over the grassy areas and I adjusted the Temp +6 and Tint -6 to put a tiny bit of green back into the grass.


Cropping - Presentation and Eye-Flow Control

Finally, the image was cropped. I removed a little bit of sky and a lot more of the bottom. Using the "Thirds" marks in Lightroom, I put the horizon at the top third and the horizontal line of grass and trees at the bottom third. While there are any number of ways you could crop the picture, this was what seemed to work this time for this image.



Baked Computers - Bringing electronics back from the dead

Submitted by Ken Norton on Sun, 01/03/2016 - 10:03

Baked Computer

A common problem with many laptop computers is that they run very hot. The heat/cold cycles of using the computer and the stresses of movement will cause the solder connections to crack or break between the componants and the circuit board. This will cause intermittent failures and eventually a full failure of the device. This is also a common problem with high-performance video cards.

A solution is to bake the circuit board. Remove it from the case, disconnecting all the removable parts, such as hard-drives, memory cards and cooling fans. Especially make sure you remove the cooling fans. Do not bake them as it will cause spindle failure as the lubricant will fail.

Turn the oven on to 385 degrees Fahrenheit (196 degrees Centigrade). This temperature is in the middle of the range for the melting point of the solders used in the attachment of surface mount componants. In fact, many of these are using very low temperature solders which are not much more than metallic adhesives. Other componants are held on with higher temperature solders in places that run hot. 385 degrees is not an exact temperature to aim for, but is close enough to do the job, without damaging or burning things up.

While the oven is preheating (make sure it is warmed up and stable BEFORE placing the parts inside), prepare a cake pan and place a sheet of aluminum foil across it. Lay the circuit board onto the aluminum foil, making sure that it doesn't sag or bow. You can use little balls of aluminum foil to prop it up or hold it away from the sheet. Why the cake pan with suspended aluminum foil? As the oven cycles the heating element, this creates a thermal cushion between the heat source and the componants.

Place the pan with the componants into the oven and set the timer between five and ten minutes. Depending on the size and thickness of the board, you'll judge the time accordingly. A small, thin circuit board will need only five minutes, but a thick, multi-layer motherboard will need to run a little longer. Regardless, DO NOT exceeed 10 minutes, as this will cause the solder to run and you'll have all new sets of problems on your hands. Let the pan and parts cool to room temperature and reinstall.

A side benefit and additional application of baking is to address issues with tin whiskers. The heating of the solder will melt any existing whiskers and does a quick annealing of the solder surface which should delay any further whisker growth for a while.

While baking is not a "cure-all", and does have risk of further destruction of the device being repaired, if the device is already non-functional, it is a low-cost solution that may work.

The picture is of the motherboard from a Lenovo Thinkpad X100e, which is known for it's extremely hot operation and failure of the solder joints.


Darkroom Tip - Covering Trays Between Sessions

Submitted by Ken Norton on Fri, 12/25/2015 - 22:00

Tray coverings

One challenge we darkroom rats have is shutting the safelights off and shutting the door to the darkroom without spending 15 minutes in cleanup mode. Cleanup mode always involves putting chemistry back in the bottles and washing trays. Unfortunately, this means that every darkroom session begins with 15 minutes of setup and ends with 15 minutes of cleanup. When you will return to the darkroom within two days an alternative is to leave the trays setup but covered.

The solution is to cover the chemicals with "Saran Wrap" or equivalent static-cling food wrapping plastic. Just place a strip of the plastic over the tray and press it down to the surface of the chemistry. Push the bubbles off to the side to eliminate as much air contact with the chemistry as possible. You don't have to get too extreme about it, but reducing air contact will help preserve the chemistry longer.

When beginning the next darkroom session carefully remove the plastic and dispose of it. Be aware that any chemistry that has gotten on top of the plastic will have oxidized and needs to be kept from mixing back into the chemical tray.

Quincy Mining Company Stamp Mill - Hancock, MI
Stamp Mill
Stamp Mill

The Quincy Mining Company Stamp Mill is located along the Portage Canal in Hancock, Michigan. This photograph was taken from across the Canal on the Houghton side. Camera used is an Olympus OM-4T. Lens not recorded, but most likely is the Zuiko 50mm F1.4 lens. Image scanned from the Ilford Delta 400 negative (processed in Ilfotec DD-X) in the Nikon Coolscan V-ED and edited in Lightroom. The image is heavily cropped (about 50% of original full frame image).

Ken Norton Tue, 12/22/2015 - 16:08