July 14, 2010  0808

I FINALLY found an extra battery and the 16mm F2.8 pancake lens for my Sony NEX-5.  I've been looking since I received the camera and these items weren't available in Thailand and no camera shop could even give me an expected date for delivery.  B&H my favorite on-line camera store couldn't give me a date either.  It turns out www.adorama.com my second favorite long time on-line camer store had both the battery and the lens in stock and they're now on their way to my forwarding addresss.

That's right, I'm  using a shipping forwarding company for on-line retailers who will not ship direct to Thailand.  You ship it to one of their addresses they provide, they'll even consolidate your boxes into a single box to save on shipping, allow you to fill our the customs labels on-line, and then forward it to you via USPS Airmail or any carrier you wish.  My last shipment, four items weighing about 3 pounds cost me a total of $40.45.  Not bad if you have no other way of getting your stateside or EU orders here to Thailand.  Interested?  I'll be doing a full review and write-up of this service in the near future after I've used them a few times and can 100% trust them.  If you need the service before then email me at info@bangkokimages.com and I'll give you the information to use at your own risk.

 

July 14th, 2010   2042

There is a huge misconception out there that a single quality setting on your jpeg compression, whether it be in Lightroom 3 or CS5, suits all types of pictures.  It doesn't and it never has.  Experienced pros can tell you the amount of compression an image can take without serious degradation depends heavily on the type of image and the subject matter.  Some can be set to 0 (that's right, some images will look find at 0 and produce very small management file sizes), and others will need to be set to 7-9 to be void of any serious artifacts.  It's a matter of experience and paying attention to the details.

Jeffrey Fried's Blog has an excellent article on jpeg compression I know you're going to get a lot out of.  Not only does he explain things very clear and well, but he gives excellent rollover examples at the different compression settings with different image types.  You'll be better off for studying this article for a few minutes or ten.  Students often ask me what the "ideal" setting is, and without getting into an hour long discussion the short answer is there is none.  So I'll usually say "5" for web work and "7" for prints should get you by, but try different settings to be sure.  For myself, I'll often try 4-5 different settings and compare before settling on the perfect compresson setting for a particular image type.

 

July 13th, 2010  2236

This evening I was reminded of a special trip I took with my boys.  A tuned Cobra Mustang with near 500hp at the rear wheels, a perfect summer, a boy heading off to Iraq in the coming weeks, and a younger boy who idolized his brother.  We crammed everything in the back of the small trunk and headed up the Oregon coastal highways to the Pugent Sound in Washington State, one of my favorite places on earth.. shared with my two favorite people on earth.  Driving a custom car that in my mind could be no better.  Life was perfect.

On a long hike down Deception Pass they both waited patiently for me, helping to carry gear, and on once such stop I saw the below image.  Yet, the harsh afternoon sun and the fast approaching darkness let me know I would never catch this scene as I remembered it.  I quickly set up my tripod, each son handing  me the gear they knew I needed, each piece attached in order, and finally I was framing the composition.  They looked on not fully understanding, only knowing it made me happy and that was good enough for them.

HDR was just a concept back then, a dream, software was just coming on line and it was far from perfect.. yet I decided to exposure bracket the scene hoping a new HDR package soon to be delivered would be my saving grace.   I made the captures, seven in all.. it should have been 10-12 considering the dynamic range but the clouds above moving in excess of 140mph and the currents in the water were limiting to say the least.  I made the captures, my sons and I quickly packed the bags, and we made the long ascent back to the car arriving after dark with the aid of a single flashlight that was more a afterthought than planned

Months later I made this images.  It's far from perfect, even shoddy in some respects, yet it was the combined effort of me and my sons.. so it couldn't fail.  In the next week I'll reprocess this image, same framing, same composition, but using the newest most agreeable software for the job.  WIll there be a big difference?  WIll my taste in saturation and lighting have matured?  I hope so.  Its the journey.. all of it.  My sons, the equipment, the software, the image.. I'm priviliged to be able to take this journey again.  Keep any eye out in the coming weeks for the second redendition.. 

 

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm  F16 1.6secs 24mm   ISO 100

 

Canon 1ds Mark II, Sigma 12-24mm  F16 1.6secs 15mm   ISO 100

July 13th, 2010   2000

I usually don't pay much attention to "special features" on most products because I realize they're mostly marketing hype.  Recently I replaced my motherboard in my workstation and one of the features was labeled USB3x power with a special Iphone/Itouch/Ipod feature that recongizes when such a device is plugged into any of its USB ports and then supplies 3x the normal power to charge the device 40% faster.  Surprisingly it worked.  My newer model Ipod went from being so dead it wouldn't even turn on, to fully charged, in less than an hour!