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An Unexpected Image

03rd August 2022

A Miscue Turns a Photo Into a Favorite

During the 60’s my favorite pastime was photography.

Having only an after school part time job, I used used many techniques to make an expensive hobby more affordable.

I remember buying 100-foot long “bulk film” to reload 35mm cartridges into shorter five foot 36-exposure lengths. This was enough for 18 cartridges of film – enough for the summer season for about the same cost as buying 6 individual rolls of Kodak or Ansco film.

Next I learned how to develop my own film. I constructed a small darkroom in my parents’ basement where I would hang the still-wet film on a clothesline to dry. Not long after I earned enough to buy an enlarger. Wow, I was in photo heaven. The enlarger let me make my own prints and I would patiently watch the image slowly appear (under a safelight) in the developing solution. I was having all of this fun for a fraction of the cost of sending the spent film to my local photofinisher.

Mine was a hobby was like that of many others where you just seem to keep spending your earning for the latest gadgets – easel for holding photographic paper, new developing trays for bigger enlargements, paper dryers for drying prints, color drum for making color prints, etc. 

Perhaps you can now see that my association with photography goes back a very long time.

From all of those years spent in the darkroom in the 60s and 70’s there is one event that I remember well. It was a darkroom miscue that had a happy result.



But first a quick intro to how to develop a roll of 35mm black and white film:

In a dark, lightproof room, you remove the exposed film from its cartridge and slide it onto a metal reel. The reel is placed into a stainless steel tank with a specially designed top which lets you complete the development in normal room light. Pour the  developer solution into the tank for a designated time – usually 6 to 8 minutes and then pour the developer solution out of the tank . Next pour plain water into the tank for one minute to halt the film development and discard the water. Then pour in the final solution called fixer for 5 minutes. This desensitizes the film from light and makes the image permanent. Now it’s safe to remove the film from the tank and give it a final rinse wash in water for ten minutes.

These operations are done with all of the liquids – developer, water and fixer – at a temperature of 68 degrees F. On one occasion, I inadvertently washed a developed roll at a colder temperature. I wasn’t paying attention and unknown to me at the time the final rinse water must have been a lot colder. 

I removed the film from the reel and hung it on a line to dry. But when I finally looked, several of the frames looked very weird




The meshlike pattern that was imbedded into the film surface is called reticulation. Although this was result of an error in development I think that the resulting image of our first dog Candy is a winner.



Sometimes a mistake turns into a favorite.


Written by: Arnie Lee



After You Finally Print That Cellphone Photo

The overwhelming number of photos these days reside on cellphones. It’s common see friends staring at a screen as one of them swipes to show you that funny picture that they captured a few days ago.

Once in a while you may have want to get that image off of your screen and into someone’s hand. You can send the digital copy to your home printer or email it to your local Walgreen (or other local printer) to have it turned into a “real” photograph.

When it’s finally printed you can clip it to your refrigerator door with a magnet, scotch tape it to a nearby wall or mail it to your grandma to show her your graduation gown and diploma. But you may want to print a treasured photo and turn it into a proud presentation.

Here’s a few ways that I’ve done this over the years.




Dry Mounting

This large piece of equipment is called a dry mount press. A thin sheet of specially prepared paper is sandwiched between a mounting board and the back of the photograph. The heated press squeezes the sandwich for a short time leaving the photograph “pasted” to the board.




This press can handle photographs enlargement up to 20″ x 24″. Other dry mounting presses are available in smaller sizes.




Spray Adhesive Mounting

For smaller prints I sometimes use this adhesive spray. This one is made by 3M but other similar products are also available.




The adhesive is evenly sprayed on the back of the photograph. Place the photograph on a larger piece of paper or corrugate since the adhesive will “overspray”. You’ll want to do this is a non-enclosed space so that you don’t inhale the fumes. Carefully apply the photograph to the mounting board.





Ultra Board Mounting


I discovered a very convenient product for presenting photographs called “UltraBoard”. These products are available in various sizes and thicknesses from United Industries
Using an UltraBoard is simple. Unpeal the protective backing from the board and carefully position your photograph onto the surface.



The photograph is securely mounted to the flexible board and ready for presentation.


When you finally get those images off of your cellphone you now have few ways of making a presentation quality photo.

Why not show off your favorites without swiping your cellphone screen?


Written by: Arnie Lee


More Pixels Let You Get More Detail From Your Originals.

One of the first digital cameras that I owned was the Olympus C-2000Z. This was way back in the year 2000. With its 3X zoom lens it had a sensor able to record images 1600 x 1200 pixels – roughly 2.5 megapixels. I treasured this digital camera since it allowed me to bypass the all of the film, darkroom and scanning steps and go directly to the computer screen. While the consensus is that 35mm film is roughly equivalent to 20 megapixel resolution, the quality of printed images from the C-2000Z would not match those made with film but they were certainly adequate for computer display.

Of course we’ve witnessed so many amazing improvements in technology these past twenty years and many would argue that digital imaging quality has surpassed that of film.

Since then I’ve been lucky enough (or unlucky according to my wife) to own a succession of digital cameras. With each new model the sensor resolution among other features has steadily increased. For a few years I have been using the Sony A7 III camera. This is a full-frame, mirrorless device with a 24 megapixel sensor and has proven to deliver excellent images under a large variety of shooting conditions. This camera had about the equivalent image quality as my ancient 35mm film cameras about 6000 x 4000 pixels.

A few years ago I upgraded to a newer Sony A7R IV camera mostly for its advanced autofocus and high burst shooting capabilities. It also gave me another feature – a sensor that captures 9500 x 6300 pixels – an astounding 60 megapixels of imaging data.

Shortly thereafter on my next photo excursion by car, I headed out west with the A7R IV.

Below is a photograph that I took when I stopped to shoot a large cattle feed lot near Ogallala, NE. I was standing across the Interstate highway about 100 yards from the lot fence.



The size of the original image is 9504 x 6336 pixels but for this web article the original has been reduced to 600 x 400 pixels (or 1200 x 800 if you click to enlarge)
.



Below I have cut portions from the original image to show you the amount of detail this camera is capable of recording. These portions are not enlargements. They are part of the original 9500 x 6300 image that have been cropped to fit on the computer screen.



Here are the cattle that are standing next to fence adjacent to the highway. You can clearly see the detail of these animals.




Here you can see the silo with the logo towards the back of the feed lot.



Lastly is an even smaller potion of the original image that shows even more detail of the silo.



Hopefully you can see why high resolution equipment is useful when shooting subjects such as scenery or wildlife. Capturing so much detail enables you to crop portions of your original photograph to achieve a desired composition.


Written by: Arnie Lee


How Size Matters

When picturetaking, most often I’m concerned about the subject that is closest to me. I’ll pick the length of the lens that emphasizes the subject.

But there are often times that I’ll want the subject to fit in nicely with the background. By using a zoom lens, I can compose the subject in the viewfinder by varying the lens length setting.

While taking these photographs, I stood in the same place at the same distance from the foreground subject. I changed only the length of the lens (using a 24 to 240mm zoom lens).

As I’m not verbally astute enough to give you a proper explanation, I’ll show you visually how changing the lens length interacts with the perspective of the background.

My favorite is the last photo taken with the longest lens setting which emphasizes the mountains in the background.

For those that are interested, the foreground subject is the Moulton barn along Mormon Row in Grand Teton National Park. The background are some of the iconic mountains of the Teton Range.




For reference this is a photo taken with an iPhone at 4.5mm (equivalent to 26mm lens)



full frame camera with lens set at 27mm



full frame camera with lens set a 37mm



full frame camera with lens set at 53mm



full frame camera with lens set at 66mm



full frame camera with lens set at 83mm


Fuji Instax Cameras

29th March 2018

Instant Cameras on the Comeback Trail


When I was growing up, Polaroid instant print cameras were very popular.

After I bought my first SLR, my next purchase was the $19.95 Polaroid Swinger. The size of a small loaf of bread, the Swinger produced small black and white prints (about 2″ x 3″) in a mere 60 seconds. Instead of spending hours in the darkroom to see the results of my picturetaking, the Swinger provided me the instant gratification that today’s digital devices now deliver.

Before I knew it, I had several Polaroids in my stable of cameras including the OneStep as you see on the right. This model popularized the square 3′ x 3″ format prints in both black and white and color.

For many reasons by the start of the year 2000, the Polaroid Corporation was on a downhill slide and its bankruptcy claimed their instant cameras and film as a casualty.


At about this same time, Fuji was developing their Instax line. Fuji has since introduced a series of cameras that are tailored to multiple markets. Various models of the Instax are available in many different sizes and dozens of bright colors as you can see below. They include models for children, teenagers and millenials. I had a chance to see many of these models and displays at this year’s annual Wedding & Portrait Professional International Convention and Expo where I learned about Fuji’s continuing commitment to instant photography.

 

Instax film is available in several different sizes and with colorful borders.

The board on the right shows a set of instant prints that might be displayed for an engagement – in real time.


Instax Square SQ10

 

The Fuji rep showed me one of their new models. It’s called the Instax SQ10 and Fuji dubs this an instant print camera with digital features.

As its name suggests, the prints are about 2-1/2″ x 2-1/2″ square. The SQ10 has a digital sensor so it can capture images to a microSD card. You can edit and or enhance the images using the builtin LCD monitor. The SQ10 has 10 builtin filters and adjustments for brightness and vignette. Lastly you can immediately print one or more copies.

The SQ10 has a fairly fast f/2.4 aperture with autofocus, a builtin flash, a self-timer and automatic ISO setting from 100 to 1600. The film is packaged for 10 exposures.

The suggested price is about $230 and film about $12 per pack. For more information please visit Instax Square SQ10.



Instax Share SP-3

 

The rep also demonstrated the Share SP-3. This is a small, portable printer that uses the same square film as the SQ10.
It’s aimed at users who want prints of their smartphone photos. To use it you first install the SP-3 app onto your smartphone. The app then establishes an integrated Wi-Fi connection from the SP-3 to the smartphone.

The app offers several ways to customize the prints. There are adjustments for brightness and contrast, color and special effect filters, conversion to black and white and multiple ways to combine two, three, four or nine images on a single print. Additionally the time, date and location can be added to the print.

The SP-3 also lets you print images from a Facebook, Instagram, Flickr and Google Photo account so you can share prints with others.

The suggested price of the SP-3 is about $180. It uses the same film as the SQ10 costing about $12 per pack. For more information, please visit Instax Share SP-3.


 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

The Litra Torch

28th March 2018

Tiny LED Lighting


As I was walking through the WPPI Expo, the display to the right caught my attention. And so I stopped to talk to the rep. Here is a small aquarium filled with water. At the bottom are two small cube devices. Both of them were brightly shining to demonstrate that they are waterproof.

The small device is the Litra Torch – a cube about 1-1/2″ in size and weighing a mere 3 ounces. It provides up to 800 Lumens of continuous daylight balanced light but is also adjustable to 450 and 100 Lumens. With it’s 80 degree coverage, it’s usable with most wide angle lenses. The Torch also has a strobe mode – useful for special effects while shooting video.

There are a variety of options for mounting the Litra. The body has two standard 1/4-20 tripod sockets. Its back is magnetic for attaching to a metallic surface.

For close up work, you can attached the diffuser (see below). It includes a mount when used with a GoPro. Rep Andrew Siminoff showed me a GoPro mounted with a pair of Torches that was set up for video recording (see below right).

The Torch is powered by a rechargeable lithium ion battery that provides about 30 minutes of light at the high 800 Lumens setting.

Litra also has a set of accessories for the Torch including bicycle mounts, head mounts, several handheld mounts, miniature tripod and filters.



 

The Torch is an accessory that you can literally carry around in your pocket to provide a convenient light source. Suggested price is $80 and includes the diffuser, belt clip, GoPro mount, USB charging cable.

For more information please visit Litra.

 

 

Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

I’ve been a tech junkie for a very long time. It seems that whenever new technology appears, I’m fairly quick to try it out.

Several years ago, I bought a MakerBot 3D printer. Early adopters know that purchasing new technology is usually expensive – this model had a price tag just north of $2000. Using it, I’ve learned the mechanics of how these amazing devices turn long rolls of plastic filament (PLA) into very detailed solid models. The prize is a collection of plastic models that adorn my office and the house. To be honest, I haven’t had a need for additional 3D models, so the MakerBot has been sitting unused for the past few months.

At this past January’s Consumer Electronics Show I ran across a couple of new 3D printers. And while the technology is no longer new, the prices of several of the printers are now within the grasp of many more consumers. My interest in a second 3D printer was motivated by my curiosity about the quality of the finished models compared to the more expensive MakerBot from a couple of years ago.

New Matter is a relatively new manufacturer that makes the MOD-t 3D printer. I purchased one directly from New Matter bundled with additional filament and accessories for $350 – a huge price difference vs. the MakerBot from a few years ago.

 


The MODt is small in size and can easily fit on a desktop. When operating, the continuous movement of the base plate mechanism creates a a noticeable noise. The clear plastic cover keeps the noise level down. 3D models are created by emitting melted plastic filament (PLA) from the heated extruder. The PLA is supplied in long rolls of different colors. A 150-meter length roll of PLA costs about $20.

Here’s the MODt at work as it lays down a few thin layers of melted PLA. A few minutes later, several more layers have been added revealing more of the model.

This is the completed 3D model. You can see that the completed project shows a tremendous amount of detail. The patterns for models are available free from many online 3D libraries. This model was available from the New Matter 3D library.

This model was printed as two separate parts. Afterward, the base and the launcher were combined to turn it into a working catapult. This white model was also printed as two separate parts – the bottom circular plate and the tall intricate vase. Complex models may take a few hours to complete.

 

 
I’m impressed with the quality of the finished 3D models, especially at the rock-bottom $$300 price. For more information, please visit New Matter.

 

 

Remote Photography Made Easy

 
At this year’s Wedding & Portrait Photography International (WPPI) trade show I made it a point to watch several live demos of drones. Why, you may ask, are there drones on exhibit at a conference dealing with photography? Well, judging from their impressive video capabilities, drones are frequently used to record weddings. Although it’s been a while since I ended my stint as a wedding photographer, I’m still quite taken by the possibilities and usefulness of drone photography.

After talking to a few of the drone sales representatives at WPPI, I purchased the Mavic Pro. This compact unit has many impressive features – foldable rotors, interchangeable battery, gimbal mounted 4K video camera, micro SD card to record images, remote controller with multiple flight modes, live streaming to your smart phone.

Following, I’ll give you a quick look at some of the above-mentioned features that I make this a worthwhile investment for my flying pleasure – and the pleasure of a few of my grandkids.


When not in use, you can fold the rotor arms. This makes it very easy to carry the Mavic from place to place. On board sensors guide its flight path away from obstacles such as trees or buildings. The Mavic’s battery is rechargeable. Each charge provides about 25 minutes of flight time. Since the battery is also interchangeable, you can carry a spare to extended your flight outings.

The built-in video camera provides very good quality images owing to the 3-axis gimbal that steadies the movies. Video images are stored on an interchangeable micro-SD card. You can also stream live video to an attached smart-phone.

You can connect your smart-phone to the remote controller. Use the controller to start and stop video recording, point the camera in a different direction or take still photos. The smart-phone screen displays the live camera imagery. Additionally, the DJI app lets you change drone settings and view vital information and statistics. Users can command the drone to follow and record a specific person or object from up to 4 miles away. Wave at the Mavic to snap a still photo of you on the ground. Or plot a course for the Mavic to fly using multiple waypoints. The controller is very capable.

Newbies can fly the Mavic using several foolproof ways to avoid crashing. Here’s my grandson taking his first flying lesson using Beginner Mode. You can see that this still photo taken remotely by my grandson demonstrates the high quality of the Mavic’s on-board camera.



Below is a series of Mavic clips that I’ve combined into a short movie. Note how smooth the video plays due to the steadying effect of the gimbal mounted camera.


 

 



 

 
The Mavic Pro sells for about $1000. For more information about the Mavic Pro please visit DJI.

 

 



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Hover and Shoot


You don’t ordinarily think of looking at drones at the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference & Expo. However, DJI had a booth there showing off the new Mavic Pro.

At the DJI booth, representative Laura Schutz showed me the company’s newest drone. She emphasized that drones are now simpler to fly. And drones are now much more affordable.

Users have invented innovative ways to use drones for airborne photography. DJI, a pioneer in the industry, recently released the Mavic Pro which builds on the simpler and affordable features.



The Mavic Pro is compact. When not in use, the rotor arms fold tightly against the unit’s body making it easy to store and transport.

Owing to its efficient motors, flying time is up to 27 minutes at 40 mph.

The unit’s remote controller has a range of more than 4 miles. It can send livestream directly to popular smartphones.

Mavic Pro has five built-in sensors that can detect and avoid obstacles during flight. There is also a set of backup sensors that can take over in case one is malfunctioning.


Specifically for photography is a camera that shoots 4K at 30fps mounted on 3-axis gimbal for smooth, jumpfree video. Stills are captured at 12MP.

Its GPS capabilities enable accurate positioning whatever your location.

In “ActiveTrack” mode, the drone follows or flies alongside the subject.

In “Gesture Mode”, the Mavic follows you until you give it the go-ahead to snap your “selfie”.

The “Terrain Follow” mode flies the drone at a fixed altitude above the ground.


This Mavic Pro is taking video footage of me.

The Mavic Pro has many features which set it apart from other drones. The DJI website has many videos that demonstrate these features.


The suggested price of the Mavic Pro is $1000.

For more information about the Mavic Pro, please visit DJI.


 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

Canon’s Latest Mirrorless


This past February at the Wedding and Portrait Photography International Conference & Expo, I stopped at the Canon booth to take a look at the company’s new M5 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera.

Canon is best known for their full featured DSLR cameras. Although I own several high end DSLRs from both Canon and Nikon, I’ve been a devoted user of mirrorless cameras for at least five years owing to the compact size and electronic viewfinder that I highly value.

Sony has been a leader in the mirrorless realm with Fujifilm, Panasonic and Olympus close behind. Canon has been playing catch up with its M series for a couple of years. I now consider the M5 a strong contender.

The new M5 now uses a 24MP sensor with Dual Pixel AF for faster and more precise autofocus. This is Canon’s first M series with built-in viewfinder. The M5 combines in-camera digital and optical lens stabilization. The tilting LCD has doubles as a touchscreen. And the camera has a built-in flash.


This is the Canon M5 with the 18-150mm EF-M lens.


The tilting LCD also functions as a touchscreen. Touch the screen to activate focus manually.

As you can see the M5 has a convenient, dedicated exposure compensation dial.

The M5 also captures full HD 60p movies in MP4 format. The touchscreen can be used during video operations to affect focus.

The camera includes Wi-fi and NFC capabilities as well as bluetooth to send images to a smartphone.

The suggested price of Canon M5 with 15-45mm EF-M lens is $1099. The suggested price of the Canon M5 with the 18-150mm EF-M lens is $1479.

For more information about the M5, please visit Canon.


 

 
Written by: Arnie Lee

 

 


 

 

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