Sunday, July 29, 2007

From Camera to Print: First Thoughts

Michael Reichmann of Luminous Landscape fame has just released the new From Camera to Print video tutorial. This tutorial endeavors to take a photographer through the entire process of fine art printing. The tutorial consists of 6 hours 40 minutes of material and has so far been excellent. I have watched the first three segments out of a total of twenty four and I have been very impressed. This tutorial is a bargain at $34.95.

Although things have changed in the digital era, the final output medium of any serious fine art photographer is the print. The advent of not only digital photography but even more importantly digital printing has changed the landscape forever in the fine art printing industry. It is now possible to produce breathtaking prints easily from your home or office without having a darkroom.

I highly recommend this video tutorial. While I have been involved in photography for many years now, I have just started to get into printing my own photographs and this is exactly the tutorial I need. Take a look for yourself.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Pentax SDM Lenses now Shipping!

Thank to Ned Bunnell, we have confirmation that the Pentax SDM lenses are now shipping. The first two lenses are the DA* 16-50mm f/2.8 and DA* 50-135mm f/2.8 lenses. I should have copies soon. I am looking forward to testing them out.

Zeiss ZK Official Press Release

Last week, Zeiss officially announced the new Zeiss ZK series for Pentax KA mount. This confirms the earlier announcement from the Spanish site.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Strobist: The FSTOP

A post at Strobist mentions a new online magazine that deals with advertising and high-end commercial photography. It is called The FSTOP. I just took a look and I like it very much.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Pentax Optio E40 and M40 Announced

Pentax has announced the new Optio E40 and Option M40 compact digital cameras. Both build on the excellent success of the Optio E30 and Optio M30 compact digital cameras yet add new features.

The Pentax Optio E40 takes the place of the economy E30 and also runs on AA batteries. In addition, it now sports 8.1 megapixel resolution, new burst shooting capability, and higher ISO abilities. All of this for under $150 is quite a bargain.

The Pentax Optio M40 fills the ultra-slim role of the M30 while increasing the resolution to 8.0 megapixels. In addition, it includes the ability to use World Time for 28 time zones. Also included is the ability to call up images by date. To top it off, Pentax has added new red-eye reduction improvements.

These two cameras should be a great upgrade from the already excellent Optio E30 and M30 compact digital cameras. It is great to see Pentax staying current with technology and continually updating their digital lineup.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Strobist: Two Video Tutorials

Strobist has posted two very helpful video tutorials done by another Strobist reader by the name of David James. These may help to clear up some questions for how things work. The first video, as seen on Strobist:

The second video deals with basic umbrella setup. The second video, as seen on Strobist:

Lighting Accessories: Speed Gobo, Speed Snoot, and Speed Strap

Rob Galbraith DPI has posted an article about a new flash accessory which seems to be an excellent solution to some common lighting problems. The Speed Gobo, Speed Snoot, and Speed Strap were created by Photojournalist David Honl and are available from his online store. I think I may order some of these. They seem to be a great accessory for lighting in the Strobist style.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Pentax K10D Firmware 1.30 for SDM Lenses

Today, Pentax has released new firmware for the K10D digital SLR. This is the firmware that enables support for the long-anticipated SDM lenses like the DA* 16-50/2.8 and DA* 50-135/2.8 lenses. It is available from Pentax Japan.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Lightroom 1.1: Sharpening and Noise Reduction

As reported by the Luminous Landscape, an excellent article about sharpening and noise reduction in Lightroom 1.1 has been released. Take a look at the article.

Wedding Reception Photoshoot with K10D

I shot a wedding reception Monday evening for a friend and classmate of mine. I used my two Pentax K10D bodies along with D-BG2 batter grips. Unlike some previous shoots, I only really used two lenses. The lenses I used were the SMC Pentax-FA* 28-70/2.8 and SMC Pentax-FA* 80-200/2.8. I also used the SMC Pentax-FA 50/1.4 for about three frames. The lighting was all fluorescent and was not that great. Fortunately, with digital, I can change the white balance in post-processing.

I shot just over 550 frames and the majority of these were without flash at ISO 1600. I am really amazed at what a nice job the K10D does. I am post-processing the images in Lightroom which I have found does a little better with this type of shot than Aperture. The noise reduction in Lightroom also does a nice job of clearing up the noise that is present. That is not to say that no noise is there. It just makes it less visible. In order to further mitigate the noise, I also use Noise Ninja.

While the FA* 28-70/2.8 and FA* 80-200/2.8 lenses did a great job, I am definitely looking forward to the DA* 16-50/2.8 and DA* 50-135/2.8 lenses. The quiet and faster autofocusing will be very nice. The lenses will also be a little more compact which is always a plus.

New Zeiss ZK Series for Pentax

A Spanish web site notes that Zeiss is bringing out a new ZK series compatible with the Pentax KA mount. While they will be manual focus, this indicates that the lenses will have automatic aperture coupling. These should be some superb lenses. The first lens to be released will be the 50mm f/1.4 ZK Planar T* in August. After that we should see the 85mm f/1.4 ZK Planar T*, 25mm f/2.8 ZK Distagon T*, and 35mm f/2 ZK Distagon T* in the months following August. The last two will be released near the end of the year and will be the 50mm f/2 ZK Makro-Planar T* and 100mm f/2 ZK Makro-Planar T* lenses.

I would love to pick up all of these lenses. I think they will be a great addition to the excellent line of Pentax lenses. You can read the original Spanish site translated into English here.

Strobist: The Simple Light

Strobist has a great post about how you can use simple cross lighting that is balanced with ambient light to create a fantastic look for your photos. Take a look at the post.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Think Tank Photo Bags

I have been searching more better camera bags lately and I have come across some exceptional bags by Think Tank Photo. One, the Think Tank Airport International, was reviewed by Michael Reichmann. Next time I am planning on a major photographic trip, I think I will buy one of these bags.

While I think that rolling bags are excellent for some situations, I am really looking for a shoulder bag that is large enough to carry a decent two camera outfit as well as some lenses and possibly a 17 inch MacBook Pro. In that category, the Think Tank Urban Disguise series seems almost ideal. I plan on ordering the Urban Disguise 40 Urban Disguise 60 as soon as they are back in stock.

From past experience, in a traveling situation I find it best to carry a shoulder bag with my main camera gear and use a backpack for extra camera gear as well as my laptop and related accessories. When I went to Egypt I did the reverse. I carried a laptop shoulder bag and a Lowepro DryZone Rover for my camera gear. This was not a very efficient arrangement. I ended up using a Domke vest and just putting my extra lenses in the vest. It worked reasonably well but there were many times when having a shoulder bag for my camera gear would have been very nice.

On the subject of backpacks, I also have been looking at the Think Tank backpacks. After looking around at the different options, I decided to order the Think Tank Airport Ultralight. I chose this backpack because it fits inside a Pelican 1510 rolling hard case which I already own and use for my video equipment.

Once the Think Tank Airport Ultralight arrives, I will post pictures and my review of the item. In the future, I plan on posting reviews of my favorite bags with pictures and the reasons why I like the bags.

Video of Crumpler Brazillion Dollar Home Bag

I am on the lookout for a better large camera bag that fits my 17 inch MacBook Pro as well. The Crumpler Brazillion Dollar Home bag seems to be a good possibility although it is very large. I discovered a video of this bag that gives you an idea of its size as well as its cargo holding capabilities.

This bag is available from

Pentax DA* 16-50/2.8 and DA* 50-135/2.8 Timeline Update

According to my sources, the new Pentax DA* 16-50/2.8 and DA* 50-135/2.8 lenses have been delayed due to much higher than expected demand. This allows Pentax to build up more stock. The estimate for arrival is the middle of July.

On another front, the DA* 200/2.8 and DA* 300/4 lenses are scheduled for release in September which is earlier than originally stated. That is good news. Also, the DA* 60-250/4 lens is officially scheduled for December but may be released earlier, possibly in the September time frame. The DA 35/2.8 Macro Limited lens is also on its way but I have not been able to confirm if it will be released by September. Of course, as with all deadlines, things can be unpredictable in manufacturing. Hopefully these deadlines will hold true.

Egypt Selections: Ramses II, The Nile, Saqqara, and Hatshepsut

In May of 2006, I had the privilege of going on a trip to Egypt and Cyprus. On this trip I visited many amazing sites. I took about 3500 pictures on this trip and here are a few selections.

This pictures was taken at the Ramesseum, the mortuary temple of Ramses II better known as Ramses the Great. It seems that this particular statue fell at some point in the past but it seems to have been made from darker granite instead of the much lighter stone that most of the statues in the area are made of.

This is a massive statue of Ramses II. From the ground to the highest part from the ground is at least fifteen feet. This statue used to stand as a huge and pointed reminder of the power of Ramses II.

This is a picture of the Nile river with a traditional sail boat called a felluca. While I was in Egypt, I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours sailing on the Nile in one of these.

This is a statue at Deir el Bahari, Hatshepsut's mortuary temple. Hatshepsut is significant because she declared herself not Queen but King of Egypt. She was originally co-regent with Thutmoses III who was too young to rule at his father's death. Rather than allow Thutmoses III to rule when he became of age, Hatshepsut declared herself King and ruled until her death. Most likely because of this, her name and image have been chiseled out of the reliefs all over Egypt. Many of these statues at her temple were defaced as well. This subject is also of interest because of the recent identification of Hatshepsut's mummy.

This is an image of a falcon at Deir el Bahari.

This is Djoser's steppe pyramid at Saqqara. It is hard to get a sense of the scale of this Pyramid. There is actually a man in this image about one third in from the left in the sand in front of the pyramid. In order to better see this, here is a blow up of this same man.

It really changes your perspective on this massive pyramid to see a point of reference. Of course, this pyramid is nothing compared to the Great Pyramid at Giza.

Strobist: Lighting 102

Those of you that have been following the Strobist site and its fantastic tutorials on doing lighting in an inexpensive, portable, and highly versatile way will be excited to know that a new Lighting 102 series started at the beginning of June.

David says, "L102 is designed to be a comprehensive course that starts from square one and is designed to build a broader and organic understanding of how to control light." Lighting 101, while excellent, was not as specific as this new course. This is all very exciting and should be excellent. Go get started with Lighting 102.

Strobist: Sabbatical or Pro?

David Hobby, the creator of Strobist, made an announcement last week that surprised many. He is taking essentially a sabbatical from his work as a newspaper photographer to work exclusively on developing the Strobist site even more and also give seminars on lighting. He is doing a fantastic job and it is great to see him continuing in this vein. As stated in his announcement, this will also allow him to spend more time with his family. Take a look at the announcement.