Joseph V Higbee.com P & M Intro

Photos and Musings

Volume Three

Page 2
December 6, 2010

Every Day is a New Day

Sunrise, Almost

A new day. I had hoped a hole in the clouds would occur around Mt. Rainier but it only opened up this little bit just south of the mountain. Standing in the cold waiting, I got to musing about how I hadn't been out for a while and how good it felt. The air was crisp but clean and my new wool coat was doing a good job, as was my camera, even though it wasn't the new one I'm hoping for. And this is pretty even if it isn't what I was after.
   As I think about it, it occurs to me that comparatively few of the photos I have taken are the ones I set out to get. Some are, of course, and it's always a triumph if it happens that way. But most times one of the many circumstances involved isn't quite right and I come away with less than hoped for. But almost always, I come away with something, and the challenge is still there for the next time. That is really what it's all about.
   If a person always got it right, it would take away a lot of the reason for doing, at least for me. Having the challenge, doing my best and learning from the results are part of life, an experience I'm glad not to have missed.

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December 12, 2010

New Printer

Song Sparrow

The new camera I want still hasn't been offered for sale in the U.S. yet. Durn! It's not that I'm impatient or anything, I just dislike waiting. But I do have the new printer to play with. Seventy-two years old and still playing with toys!
   I've been going slow with the printer. Working each photo up from the original raw file, applying everything I have learned to produce the best picture I can. Then I have printed a few different 8x10's on two kinds of paper and compared everything to the monitor as well as the two papers. It seems to be printing pretty true to color and shade. It may print a little darker than it appears on screen, but after it is completely dry and in daylight it is very close.
   The papers I have used are a matte and a luster finish. I like both but the luster seems a little truer to what I'm after. Some time this week I will take the plunge and try a couple large prints. Probably print 14.5x18.5 for use in 20x24 frames with about a 3" border matting. These are both photos I have previously printed at 12x16 on the Canon printer. Those were older workups but from the same raw file so it should be a fair comparison. I had to print the older ones more than once to get them right so I'm anxious to see if this new printer will help me get it right the first time. At the price of paper and especially ink, I hope so! I read recently that if figured by the volume in the printer cartridges, the ink sells for about $30,000 a gallon.

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December 19, 2010

This doesn't work in Internet Explorer (64-bit)!

This is an embedded video file from You Tube. I tried embedding the file directly on this page but couldn't get the size big enough. I'm sure there is a way and will continue to explore that. Meanwhile, This is working pretty good and may very well be the preferred way of presentation.
   The whole thing here is an exploration of adding video clips from the new cameras that have the ability to take quality video and quality still shots. The new camera system I'm looking at has that capability. The camera I used for this video does too but with more limited abilities in the auto-focus. That, along with the weight, make a tripod neccesary. Even then, operating the focus and zoom controls produce wiggles and jiggles.
   Having sold my long lens, (and, yes, I miss it some) I am eagerly looking at new styles and techniques to use with the lighter weight equipment I wish to use. This is part of that and I'm pleased and excited about it so far!

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December 24, 2010

Longer Days

Audubon's Warbler

The days are getting longer! Each year about this time I realize that fact and feel a definite lift in spirit. Knowing the darkest days of the year are past, I start musing about what I would like to do in the coming days as they grow brighter and longer and warmer. This time, as I await the availability of some new equipment, I am wondering what changes I will end up making in what I do photographically.
   Video is going to be part of it, I'm sure. Not using a long lens is going to force me to be stealthier and more patient if I continue seeking bird and animal photos. The trips I make need to be better planned and more productive as I will be making less of them. Practice here at home will be even more important to become familiar with new methods and equipment.
   And the need to learn how to process and edit the video. This will require a different type of program and techniques than the still photos I have worked on until now. New ways of looking at things in the field and then the knowledge needed to turn them into pleasing presentations for viewing.
   So many things to muse over. So many new things to try and learn about. Yes indeed, the days are getting brighter. It's refreshing!

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December 30, 2010

More Practice

The new camera and lenses are ordered and should be here January 3rd. In the meantime I keep wondering if I'm doing the right thing. I think I want to do videos and I'm sure I don't want to stop doing stills. The question is 'how to get there'.
   Canon will undoubtably come out with a better autofocus system on the video side and maybe even a mirrorless system, but the question is when, and at what cost. And even if they do, is it likely they would have a series of lightweight, lower cost lens to compliment it, or would the only options be the large, expensive lenses built originally for the now obsolete full frame 35mm cameras. So far, after 8 years of successful use of smaller sensors, they show no signs of doing so.
   The video above is some stuff in the yard taken with the Canon 7D. The lack of auto focus in the video mode makes it less than fun. I would not bother if this was what I had to continue using.

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January 4, 2011

First Fruit

Spent quite a bit of time today working with, and learning how to use, the new camera. It is quite different than what I have used before and presents somewhat of a challenge, both physically and mentally. Not so much with the still photos themselves but the video is all new to me as is the relationship of one to the other on the camera dials and menus.
   This bird was a nice addition to the day, as I have never had one of this species in the yard before. I had been shooting video and that's what the camera was set for so that's what I used. And it worked.
   This type of clip is part of what I hope to get as time goes on except, I hope, It will be a little steadier and more polished. So far everything is working out pretty well.

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January 12, 2011

The waiting is over, kind of.

Bufflehead

Oh, the agony! The waiting for the GH2 to go on sale. The waiting over a long weekend for it's delivery. Trying for a week to learn all the new menus, buttons and knobs. And then, waiting for the sky to lighten enough to try it out. It could have been brighter but yesterday was the best we are apt to get for a while, so off to the park and pond I went.
   Other than the interbred resident ducks, there wasn't an abundance of subjects and the wild birds seemed even more wary than usual. I did take a few still shots but spent most of the time working on mastering the video stuff. It'll be a while. I am not pleased with the results so far but feel the fault lays more with me than the camera.
   I wasn't able to get any full frame shots. the best was a Mallard that I processed as about a 60% crop. It is in the current file in the photo galleries. This Bufflehead is about a35% crop and I am pleased with it. I made the usual compensation on the camera so as to save the white, as I always do with this duck, and the camera did the rest. I do have to adjust my expectations, being used to the 500mm lens I sold. But doing that and comparing this 100-300mm zoom to the 100-400mm Canon lens, this is less mushy and more evenly exposed.
   I should mention, even as I have been reminding myself, that bird photos are not what I bought this camera to do. But until we have better weather and it drys out some, this rut is one I know how to travel. Come spring I will try harder to climb out.

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January 17, 2011

Experiments

Spotted Towhee

The Lumix G Vario 100-300mm F/4.0-5.6 lens is the longest focal length I have with the 4/3 micro mount. It is great for video and medium size subjects but is short when taking photos of small birds. So I bought an adaptor to hook my Canon lenses to the Panasonic body. A few moments of relative brightness between rain showers allowed me to quickly set up and take a few shots through the glass window in the living room. (If I try to set up outside, the showers and darkness return before the birds do)
   This is one of the photos I took with the Canon 100-400mm + 1.4tc on the GH2. There is no auto-focus and the aperature remains wide open when used this way. This camera has an electronic viewfinder and I find it easier to focus with than the SLR's.
   So, how did it do? Be sure and click on the photo here for a bigger picture in a new window(or tab). A comparison to a similar shot with a 40D and 500mm lens is in my Birds of the Northwest gallery. (In Firefox use the back and forward buttons on the new tab to compare the two.) Keep in mind, this is not meant to be a technical comparison. I'm simply exploring the possibilities.
   Makes me wonder what a 500mm lens and teleconverter made for this camera could be and do.

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January 21, 2011

Is Musing the Same as Blogging?

Yellow-rumped Warbler

No! A blog is defined as "a web site that contains an online personal journal with reflections, comments, and often hyperlinks provided by the writer." (Merriam-Webster) Blogging, then, would be writing and posting a blog. A 'blogger' would would not be so until, and unless, he put it on the web.
   Musing, again from Merriam-Webster, is "to become absorbed in thought; especially : to turn something over in the mind meditatively and often inconclusively". A musing would still be a musing even if it was never revealed. A muser is still a muser if he takes no further action other than to muse.
   Some conclusions: A muser may be a blogger and a blogger may be a muser; A blog may contain a musing but is not in itself a musing; A musing is a musing even if written into a blog. By definition, then, this page is a blog. While it has some musings on it, it also has other types of information such as the entry before this one titled 'Experiments'. Lately my entries have included videos instead of the usual photo.
   Obviously musing and blogging are not the same thing nor are photos and videos. So to refer to this page as 'Photos and Musings', such as I have written in the past, would be incorrect. To call it 'Musings' would only be a partial and misleading title. To call it a blog, and thereby become one of the crowd, goes against my nature. I would much rather just refer to it as 'stuff'. Inasmuch as each entry is about what is current, I will refer to this page as 'Current Stuff' and have so labeled it in the menu links on the other pages of this site. In the 'Photo Galleries' I will refer to it as 'Stuff' so as to not confuse it with the 'Current' gallery.

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January 26, 2011

Some Comparisons and What They Mean

Chestnut-backed Chickadee Black-capped Chickadee Black-capped Chickadee

The center photo was taken with the 7D, 100-400mm, 1.4X, AND 2X, all Canon. It is the best of the three. The other two were taken with the Panasonic GH2 and 100-300 lens and they aren't bad.
   The left photo is almost the full frame, the right one is only about 20% of the original and the center is a vertical slice of the horizontal frame. For a picture taken with two extenders coupled to a lens with a reputation of lacking sharpness, the center one is phenominal! I won't bother with the details of what I see but leave it to you to look and compare for yourself. What I will write are some of the musing I'm doing about them and the equipment used.
   I like what I see. I purchased the Panasonic with the goal of having an acceptable quality but lighter weight means of taking photos. It is that. I want to concentrate more on things other than birds but still have some ability in that field. I think this will do that. The Canon setup used here has more range and, to me, a somewhat more pleasing result. The Panasonic weighs 1/3rd as much and is physically smaller and the results, photographically, are not at all displeasing. In other words the Panasonic is pretty much what I was looking for.
   So, at this point, I will continue to hold on to the Canon gear I mentioned above but will start selling most of the rest of what I have. Anyone interested can see the list by clicking the 'Equipment for sale' link at the top of this page. As I have the chance I will add descriptions and photos there.
   Now if the sky would just give forth with a predictable ray or two of sunshine, this old man could fulfill his desire to travel, once again, beyond the confines of the yard.

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February 3, 2011

A True Comparison, Canon 7D and Lumix GH2

Eldorado Mountain Eldorado Mountain

A couple days of clear weather sent me looking for something to photograph with the new camera. The first order of the trip was to make a direct comparison of the old and the new. Here it is, and I'm very pleased with the result. These photos were taken minutes apart and each one is a 50% crop of the original. In cropping I have maintained the aspect ratio of each, 3/2 for the Canon and 4/3 for the Lumix (Panasonic). For this picture the 3/2 is better but in others the 4/3 is preferable. Being able to crop either format to the other works well, if I remember to leave a little room for that when taking the shot.
   As I stood there for about 3 hours in 35 degree weather, with the Skagit river on one side of me and SR 20 on the other, waiting for that wonderful late afternoon color all the photographer gurus talk about (didn't happen), and watching the ducks on the river and the Eagles and Ravens in the sky and trying to hear them, and the river, in between the cars and trucks roaring by every 30 seconds or so (I timed them), I began to muse; What am I doing here?! Kinda like the alligators and the swamp thing, really.
   But where else to go? Away from the highway is mostly forest. To hike any of the trails would put one in deep snow long before getting a better view. Even without the snow, I'm not up to that kind of hiking these days. So, grin and bear it and after the sun sets I can go to the campground and shiver myself to sleep and maybe tomorrow find a different view in a more peaceful setting.

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February 5, 2011

Another Day, Another Mountain

Whitehorse Mountain

Now, this is much better! This morning was a bit colder than the afternoon before but this scene is taken from a field next to a backroad where all is still. The only traffic to come by was a local man pulling a small chicken house on a trailer over to his neighbor. He stopped and chatted some even mentioning some other locations I could try.
   This photo is quite a bit more saturated than the ones yesterday. I could have adjusted it to be less so in photoshop but I think it is because of the cold air mid-morning light so I left it. I have so little chance to work in the sunshine this time of year, I'm never sure of what does look right.
   I have a couple other photos from this area I will put in the galleries but I really didn't get much this trip. Two days isn't enough anymore with the traffic and the drive from my house and back. And I get a lot more tired than I used to. My body just isn't keeping pace with my desire anymore. I think having lighter weight gear will help some but it is certainly no replacement for youth.


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