Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category
I always wanted to take a decent photo of the facade featured in today’s photo, but because the building stands on a very narrow sidewalk and faces a rather busy street, there is almost no room for maneuvering. The only option is to shoot from across the street.
Fortunately, I got a rather obscure Tamron CZ-715 70-150mm f/3.8 Adaptall lens as a freebie. It has been sitting idly on a shelf, until I decided to give it a go. This unassuming lens turned out to be quite alright. It’s compact and relatively lightweight, especially compared to Tamron 70-210 which weights a ton. More importantly, 150mm was just enough to shoot the facade from a longer distance. Now that this lens has proved its worth, I plan to use it more often.
Taken with Nikon F-501, Tamron 70-150mm f/3.8 Adaptall, and Ilford XP2 Super 400.
It all started with a Tamron 70-150mm f/3.8 CZ-715 Adaptall lens I got thrown in as a freebie when I bought my Nikon F-301. Although I had a vague idea of the Adaptall technology, I knew nothing about this particular lens. While doing research on the lens, I discovered that Tamron had a strong product line of the SP series Adaptall 2 lenses targeted at serious amateurs and professional photographers. One lens, in particular, piqued my interest: Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 Adaptall 2 54B. While this model is a bit slow, it has an impressive 300mm focal length and features 1:3.3 macro capabilities. More importantly, the lens is rather inexpensive, and I’ve managed to find a unit in excellent condition at a very reasonable price on a local online auction.
Tamron also produced a 2x converter for use with Adaptall 2 lenses, and I was lucky to find one on eBay. This converter doubles the focal length, but it does so at the expense of the aperture. So the converter transforms a Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 into a 600mm lens with the maximum aperture of f/11. Tamron lenses with the Adaptall 2 adapter for Nikon F mount are compatible with Nikon’s analog and digital SLRs. When bolted onto a Nikon DSLR with a DX sensor, the lens’ focal length equals 450mm. Add the 2x tele converter, and you get an whopping 900mm focal length.
To test the lens, I went to our local botanical garden. I started with my Nikon F-501 film SLR loaded with Fujifilm Fujicolor C200.
I also tried the lens with my trusty Nikon D90 DSLR. Using Tamron Adaptall lenses on a modern DSLR is only possible in the Manual mode. The camera can’t read aperture values either, and you have to switch to manual focusing. In other words, shooting with the Tamron SP 300mm f/5.6 Adaptall 2 lens is a full-manual affair. On the positive side, focus confirmation seemed to work just fine.
So how did the lens perform? For its age, the lens did admirably well. Sharpness is good, and the lens produces pleasing and creamy bokeh. Overall, it’s not so shabby for a twenty-something-year old lens, especially considering the price.
By the way, if you are looking for information about Tamron’s Adaptall lenses, the Adaptall-2.org website got you covered.
While GIMP offers a wide range of tools for working with photos, it lacks one feature that is essential for serious photographers: the ability to automatically fix lens distortion. Fortunately, the GimpLensfun plugin fills the void quite nicely.
Continue to read Correct Lens Distortion in GIMP with GimpLensfun
[...] while taking photos has become a way to mark almost any moment, there is often an unnoticed tradeoff. Photography is so easy that the camera threatens to replace the eyeball. Our cameras are so advanced that looking at what you are photographing has become strictly optional. To my surprise, no monument I saw in Israel could compete with the back of the camera. What gets lost is the idea that photography might force you to spend time looking at what is in front of you, noticing what you might otherwise ignore.
All this has spawned a rebellion that I consider myself part of: Call it the slow-photography movement.
The GPS Map app can turn an Android device into a handy tool for keeping track of locations you’ve already photographed or plan to photograph later. The app allows you to add so-called placemarks to the map, and you can use photos stored on your Android device as markers.
Adding a placemark in GPS Map requires several steps, but ultimately it’s a rather straightforward thing to do. Long-tap on the desired location on the map and tap Yes. Tap then Marker → Import Image. To import an existing photo, tap Gallery (or Browse) and select the desired photo.
If the selected photo contains geographical coordinates, you can attach the photo to the current placemark using the Import Image button, or you can import the photo as a new placemark by tapping on Import Image & Placemark.
Once you’ve attached the photo to the placemark, return to the Placemark Edit screen, modify the default description is necessary and tap the Confirm button to add the placemark. You should then see the placemark with a tiny thumbnail of the attached photo on the map. You can create as many placemarks as you need and use the Settings → Placemarks screen to manage existing placemarks.
GPS Map’s interface is somewhat unpolished, and the app can be slow at times, but if you are looking for a tool that can help you to track locations in an efficient manner, then the app is just the ticket.
Using commands under the Import menu, you can pull photos from a variety of sources, including remote servers. The latter functionality in digiKam is provided through the KioExportImport Kipi plugin which supports common protocols like FTP, SSH, and SMB.
To pull photos from a remote server, choose the Import → Import from remote computer command. In the import dialog window, press the Add Images button to open the Select Images dialog. There are two ways to access photos stored on a remote server. If the machine runs on the local network, you can access it by choosing the Network item in the Places panel (if the panel is not visible, press F9 to enable it). This will show all shares and services available on the local network. Navigate then to the desired share and select the photos you want to import.
To access remote servers outside your local network, click on the Location field and enter the server’s URL. The URL must start with the protocol prefix (e.g., fish:// (for the SSH protocol or smb:// for the SMB protocol).
Once you’ve located the source directory, select the desired images and press Open to add them to the list of imported photos. In the My Albums pane, select the target album (or create a new one), and press the Start Import button to import the photos into digiKam.
While digiKam can’t handle Adobe Photoshop curve presets directly, the application supports curves in the GIMP-compatible CRV format. So if you want to use Adobe Photoshop curve presets with digiKam, you have to convert them into .crv files — and the acv2gimp.py Python script can help you with that. Before you put the script to use, make sure that Python is installed on your system. Next, use the chmod +x acv2gimp.py command to make the script executable. Once you’ve done that, you can convert a curve preset by running the ./acv2gimp.py command followed by the name of the file in the ACV format:
By default, the converted file has the same name as the original preset sans the file extension (e.g., curvepreset.acv becomes curvepreset), but you can use the -o parameter to specify a different name:
./acv2gimp.py -o converteredcurvepreset.crv curvepreset.acv
To load the converted curve preset in digiKam, open a photo for editing and choose Colors → Curves Adjust. Press then the Load button and select the converted curve.
Buying an analog camera wasn’t a top priority for me, but the The Phoblographer’s Guide to Affordable Film Rangefinder Cameras article piqued my interest, so I decided to check the local auction website to see whether I could find a Yashica Electro 35 camera. I was in luck: there it was — a Yashica Electro 35 GTN in nearly perfect condition. The price was right, so I bought it on the spot.
There are a few reasons why I chose this particular camera. Firstly, I like the design. The all-black body with metal top and bottom plates gives the camera an understated yet classy look. Secondly, Yashica Electro 35 is an aperture priority camera, and since I shoot in aperture priority mode most of the time, this camera is a perfect fit for me. And thirdly, this was one of the best-selling cameras of its time (according to various sources Yashica sold over eight million Electro 35s), and it remains a popular choice among analog shooters. This means that there are plenty of Yashica-related resources and helpful info (including the excellent Yashica Guy website) floating around on the web.
The camera duly arrived a few days later. It was, indeed, in good working condition, requiring only minor cleaning and a fresh battery. Finding film in our neck of the woods turned out to be easier than I thought: a local dealer has a decent selection of films, and I settled for Fujifilm Superia X-TRA 400.
At the first opportunity I went for a photo walk armed with my Yashica Electro 35 GTN. As I expected, shooting analog turned out to be an interesting experience. Without all the creature comforts of a DSLR camera like auto focus, easily adjustable exposure compensation, a bright, and large viewfinder, I felt like a fish on a bicycle in the beginning. It took me about 10-15 shots to master the basics. A typical November day in Denmark doesn’t offer a lot of light, so I was shooting in low light most of the time. The viewfinder in Yashica is rather dim by modern standards, so focusing was somewhat challenging at times. On the plus side, the 45mm f/1.7 Color Yashinon lens proved to be fast enough for low-light shooting.
Of course, there is no such thing as EXIF metadata in analog photography which would have been valuable for mastering the finer points of exposure and improving my analog photography skills. I’m contemplating the idea of creating a simple database on my Android device for keeping track of important bits like aperture, ISO, film type, and so on.
Overall, shooting film proved to be a refreshing and even liberating experience. There is no need to worry about developing RAW files and post-processing images. I use digiKam to organize digitized photos, but the images themselves don’t require much tweaking, save for the occasional cropping and straightening. The only problem so far is that my lab delivers digitized photos in a rather low resolution, so I need to figure out how to convert negatives to high-resolution files.
So far, I only had a chance to take the Yashica Electro 35 GTN for a rather short photo walk, and I only have a few shots to show. But rest assured, it’s not the last time I shoot with this gem of a camera. Meanwhile, I’ve posted a handful of photos taken with Yashica Electro 35 GTN for your viewing pleasure.
Besides minor tweaks and fixes, the latest release of Pygmyfoto features a couple of significant changes. The Python script that took care of processing photos and pushing data to the pygmyfoto.sqlite database has been replaced with a Bash shell script which does the job with less code. This means, among other things, that Pygmyfoto has fewer dependencies.
Version 1.3.7 also provides integration with OpenStreetMap. Geotagged photos can now be viewed on OpenStreetMap via a dedicated link.
Photos can now be easily published and unpublished using the dedicated links.
The new version of the application also does away with the Google+ button and adds a simple view counter. The source code and a neatly packaged archive containing the latest release of Pygmyfoto are available in the project’s GitHub repository. A demo of Pygmyfoto is available at dmpop.dyndns.org/pygmyfoto
Here is a simple DIY project for a rainy weekend: replace the neck strap that comes with your DSLR with a less obtrusive and more practical wrist strap. This strap is ideal for photo walks and situations where you don’t want your DSLR dangling on your belly.
For this project you need a piece of 550 Paracord parachute cord which you can buy cheaply at eBay. Attach the cord to the DSLR, make a loop, and make sure that your wrist fits comfortably and you can reach all camera controls. Cut the excess cord off and tie a tight knot. Use then a lighter or matchsticks to melt the cut ends, and your new strap is ready to go.