Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Sign of being a failure

You taking the same intro course over and over again.  As you simply couldn't finish what you started.  It's like a bad dream or an infinite loop you can't wake up from or get out.  You need a hard reset but you are hesitant to do it.

If you don't make the choice, somebody will make it for you.  It probably doesn't make any difference.  Or it probably does.  But in the end everybody dies so it doesn't really matter.


There is some advantage of being such a failure.

You don't get to wake up in the middle of the night thinking that you are such a fraud.  That never happened to me.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

AF and MF

Minolta may not be the first manufacturer that does auto focus but that's the company I remember them of in the late 80s.

As an amateur I shot color negative and had them developed in 3R, or 3x2" prints.  For the longest time, that's how I judged my pictures.

You asked your subjects to remain still before you pressed the shutter release button.  Rarely, if at all, did I shoot any moving subjects because you and your subjects should remain stationary when taking pictures, that's just a given.  Auto focus was not even germane to what or how I shot.  A focusing screen with split, micro prism, and the ground glass is all I need.  The choice is just whether is a horizontal or a 45 degree split.  Actually it wasn't much of a choice.  My first Ricoh came with a 45 degree split while Nikon came with a horizontal split focusing screen.

My first auto focus camera was the Nikon F5, a camera imported from the future, as proclaimed by their marketing folks.  F5 was supposed to have the latest and greatest AF, at least that's what I was led to believe.  But through out almost its entire life I never put it to the test; I was using my old manual focus lenses and years later when I shot with my first AF lens, the 24-85 f/2.8~4, it was never ever for any action photographs anyway.

In short, I have never shot any action using a manual focus lens.

I am sure it can be done.  Maybe just not by me?

I guess what I am trying to write is for the sake of "money saving" does it make sense to buy a MF lens to shoot action?

I have been using my 80-200 f/2.8 and beginning last year the 70-200 f/2.8 VR for the majority of my action shots.  I almost use AF-C and 9 points exclusively.

My longest lens is the MF 300mm f/4.5 which I used a handful of times and maybe once on the velodrome.  I like the color rendition.  I did have one shot that I quite like, not the kind of fast action shot.  But definitely not stationary, it's in focus and has the emotion pull of the moment.  The 300mm on a DX sensor seems longish but on a FX sensor well not that long.  It's subjective but if I am going to get a tele photo lens, it's going to be at least 400mm.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Ethics in Photojournalism


Last year, I was at Red Hook.  There was an accident.  A rider crashed.  I took a few pictures of it.  A bystander said "Come on man!" to express his disapproval, I guess.

There were designated volunteers and EMS on scene for incidents like that.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

iMovie and File Format

I use iMovie because predictably it's "free" if you own or have access to a Mac.  Arguably it's an easier to use video editing software and relatively stable.  I used a bunch of Linux video editing software and they just crashed and burnt every few minutes.

Here is the biggest discovery ever for me.

I notice iMovie actually lags when editing, that's it stutters as I try to edit the footage or video clips.  That prompted me to try out Final Cut Pro X and the problem went away, seemingly.  After my FCPX expired after the one-month trial period, I was hard pressed to pay $300 to own a working copy.  I mean if you make money out of it, it seems like a bargain.  I am going to spare my thoughts on this.

After some Google searches, I think I found out why the stuttering.  I think it has to do with the source file format.

In FCPX, I edit the MOV files directly from my Nikon D7000, as I can de-squeeze my anamorphic footage in FCPX without changing the file format first.  I don't remember if I ever used HandBrake to un-squeeze and then edit in FCPX and if so did it show any lagging at all.

iMovie doesn't allow me to un-squeeze the footage while editing.  So I used HandBrake to un-squeeze the footage to 2.35:1 and along the way I think I compressed the file quite a lot.  And I think hence the difficulty of iMovie when editing.  I am assuming iMovie has trouble editing "highly" ompressed mp4 files.  The file was changed to mpeg4 in mp4.

I now de-squeeze files in H.264 (default mpeg4) in mp4 and retain a higher bit rate at 8000kb/s (default is 1000).  When I edit them in  iMovie, it doesn't lag anymore.

A word of caution:  I really don't know for sure, just want to share my experience.  When it becomes technical stuff which video editing is, I just test it out to see what works or works better without spending tons of money or time reading up.

Also, I use a Nikon hack to increase the recording bit rate at I think 65mbps in 1080p at 24fps.  I am sure along the way when I use HandBrake to de-squeeze a lot of data are lost.  Still when editing the stutter goes away.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Flash Sync, Again

The thing with flash sync is you know about it and sometimes you just have to ignore it.

I was shooting the velodrome again this past Sunday and I would just like to shoot some back light fill flash using my Nikkor 16-35 f/4 to mix things up a bit.

exif tells me the above were shot at f/9, 1/500 and f/8, 1/640.  I probably used 1/8 of the power of the Sunpak 120J.  The max sync of the D700 is at 1/250s but since the ambient was so bright  there were no noticeable black half frame to speak of.  The riders were riding fast and close, 1/640 can barely stop the action.  The subject was about 10 feet away so the motion blur was not too obvious unless viewed at 100%.  Maybe I have to shoot at 1/800 of a second?  I routinely shoot at 1/1000 of a second just so I am sure I got clean shots.

Friday, April 01, 2016

Flash Sync

Just when I thought I have it down like long time ago, I got confused again, none other than from Nikon USA, or in this case Dave Black or the editor or both of them. http://www.nikonusa.com/en/learn-and-explore/article/huceaq1c/using-auto-fp-high-speed-sync-to-illuminate-fast-sports-action.html

My understanding (mind you, I always got things wrong) is Auto FP doesn't stop fast action.  Auto FP provides pulses of light continuously for the duration of the shutter staying open.  Essentially FP sync is like sunlight or continuous lighting.

Apparently Dave Black's article kind of implies or states that FP high speed sync stops action or has to do with shooting actions.  I know it says illuminate fast sports action.  FP high speed, in my mind, has to do with using a bigger aperture, the fact that it uses a high speed is just incidental and not an end as to stop action.  Because it can't.  Of course, Dave Black proves otherwise or so it seems.

So once again, I am confused.

Since I am pretty much a desktop photographer, I can't be or won't be testing what I read.

Here is another article on the topic, the guy is apparently a genius.