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I can also recommend MyPublisher, with one, possibly two reservations. I have done four books with them, using their software. One creates the book locally, sets up the order, then it uploads the images, prints and sends it to me. The quality of the printed images is outstanding, very similar to what I see on screen. I've had many people comment on the quality and none say anything negative about it. They have many choices along the way. Their heavier paper is a sensuous pleasure to leaf through. The lay flat pages option is outstanding. I don't have to worry any longer about part of the image disappearing into the gutter. It also allows great two page spreads of panoramas, with only a very thin, dark break in the middle. I swore I would never do those when encountering them in photo books, but like them with the lay flat pages. There is an option in the software to create panoramas. There is something very special about holding, watching others go through, giving to others, a book that I have made myself. The process itself, selecting, preparing, selecting order, and so on has quite a different quality than printing up a bunch of images. It becomes a specific project, beginning with a goal/plan, process and end, with a tangible finished creation. As to the reservations: 1. When I first used their software several years ago, I had trouble with portrait format images, getting them to exactly fit the height of the page without the software resizing them. I don't want unknown software messing with my carefully made images. I found out the actual pixel size of their pages and created full page sized images before pulling them into the program. This works perfectly for me. The software has been updated several times since then, and improved a lot. So I imagine that problem may well have been corrected. I just don't know, because I'm working the way I know for sure works. 2. Their pricing is silly, with a high/low model. List Prices are high, it seems to me, although perhaps not higher than Blurb and others. Then I receive at least one special offer a week with various discounts, two for one offers, special reprint prices, etc. Waiting for and taking advantage of them does keep my average cost down. With patience, I've found it possible to get a roughly 8.5 x 11" book with 100 images, premium paper, glossy printing, lay-flat pages, etc. for about $60, plus shipping. They don't seem to be as well organized as Blurb to facilitate sales to others through them. It's possible, of course. I've not tried either myself. I have so far made books for myself, family and friends.
Toggle Commented 2 hours ago on The Blurb Experience at The Online Photographer
"If you listens very closely, you can hear Gould saying ..." I didn't realize that Gould had rather poisoned me for the Goldberg Variations. Then, just a few years ago, I heard them played by a pianist who only spoke, knowledgeably, charmingly and wittily, when he was not playing. When he played, it was excellent. Quite enjoyable. With the large number of extremely talented pianists, I wonder how Gould became such a "thing".
The Mozart was fun. I also listened to a few others on YouTube. I was fascinated with the Gilels at first. Amazing delicacy, especially compared to the ferocity he shows elsewhere, as in parts of my favorite Waldstein. But it palled after a while, staying delicate so consistently throughout that it lost interest and momentum for me. A strange contrast to his appropriate changes in touch/mood in other Mozart and the Beethoven Sonatas. I have to say my favorite hasn't changed. Mitsuko Uchida manages to bring individuality and life to each part while creating a unified whole. I also quite like her use of a repeat of the introduction at the end. The conventional ending is not Mozart's work anyway.
As I was somewhere in the middle of watching Nebraska, I began to question myself. Maybe, I thought, the human race is just a blot on the planet and the Universe, and it would be better if we just died off. The motivations and actions of most of the characters, most of the time, are either opaque or distasteful to me. Say that's just how people are, and: 1. I circle back to my second sentence. 2. That is not my experience of life. My family is not like that. I know so many people and have so many wonderful friends who aren't like that. Fortunately, it was only a movie. It ended. Depression lifted, and I was released back into a world of color, both literally and figuratively.
" But of course the very idea of "the best" is a mirage. Fact was, the D800 was too big for me, in two ways. The camera was a lot to cart around. And the images were too big too" One of the problems with this whole thing is the definition of Best. To the extent that one allows the opinions of others, individually and as groups or whole societies, to define the terms, one is more likely to find the Best to disappoint. It's easy, when surrounded by a group of performance addicted people to buy a camera, watch, car, and on and on, that over emphasizes certain (largely macho) quantifiable measures. Added to this problem is that the accepted wisdom among such groups is often wrong. After many months of listening to the Fuji X fans in my group raving about image quality, I was starting to feel torn. So I downloaded test sample images from both Oly E-M1 and the latest object of Fuji adoration, the X-T1. And you know what? Working with ISO 100 and 1600 Raw files, there's not a spit of difference between them. I can find parts of the images where one or the other has a very slight edge at 100% in one aspect or another. Part of my measure of best is size and weight. I know others who are driven by things like how the camera fits their hand and how they interact with the controls or the quality of the viewfinder. To the extent that such a person listens to the MP and absolute resolution sirens, they will likely be disappointed, as you were with the D800. If one finds a proper balance of the many qualities of all the various bits of Stuff that one likes/needs to have, the best may actually be best. I toted a 5D around for about five years, because smaller cameras didn't meet the IQ part of my personal equation. Now an E-M5 has made me happy for about 2½ years, and I would likely go on , but for the advent of a camera that fixes or enhances nearly everything about it without messing up the size/weight equation - E-M5 Mark II. OTOH, I have a friend who went from E-M5 to E-M1, without need for the PD AF for old lenses, and is in love with the, to me, enormous grip, with the viewfinder and with the different positioning of the control wheels. "All truth is in tai chi: to cultivate the mind, body, or spirit, simply balance the polarities. " - Hua Hu Ching, Lao Tzu, trans. Brian Walker, c. 46
Toggle Commented Feb 21, 2015 on Seeking the Best at The Online Photographer
So make the end point of a photo project a book, or a show, even if only in a defined space in your house. Not long ago, a book wasn't something an everyday photographer could easily aspire to. Now, it's rather easy and not all that expensive, especially if one shops the sales offered endlessly in emails. For me, there is something immensely satisfying in holding in my hands a finished book/project containing images I've made, each individually carried to completion, then edited and ordered into a "final, finished body of work". And - there is now an unexpected, growing, open ended, unfinished body of work in the slowly growing set of volumes on my bookshelf. I've also found great satisfaction, and surprisingly little frustration or second guessing, in watching people go through the books, whether interactively or at a distance. It's impossible to describe the feeling when someone turned to an image I had decided was a mistake, as no one had paid it any attention at all, and burst out crying. "Oh, that one was for her." I believe I've learned more about my "Real Art" with these projects than in many years of photography before. Think how OC/OL/OY changes when the end point is a book with that title in your hands. To me, the whole project now has a completely different feeling and driving force. The possible extension into a commercial project seems to me a different thing. Although quite a few people have urged me to do so, it seems to me somehow as though a commercial endpoint may change the journey in ways I may not like, that may not be my Real Art.
There are examples of far more famous views that have changed over time. Just in Yosemite Valley, there have been big changes. Many images taken from the Wawona Tunnel overlook area, snaps and serious, including some of St Ansel's, can't be reproduced today because of trees growing up into the view. I've seen a big change just in the few decades I've been visiting and photographing there. I can't even reproduce a film shot I took in 2003. (OK, I admit it, I secretly hope the NPS does a little thinning.) Mirror Pond, the site of so many shots of Half dome reflected in the still water, is fast becoming Mirror Swamp or Bog, as the pond silts up. The NPS has decided to let nature take her course. Still an interesting place to photograph, just different. The famous Jeffery Pine is gone. Things chnge so we won't get bored. \;~)>
It screams HDR to my eyes. Honestly, that's the first thing that arose in my mind when I opened the page, at first without words, before descriptive words appeared, long before starting to read. Whether that's a good or bad thing, is a matter of taste. As you say, I may be especially sensitive. I do see the HDR look as a legitimate artistic option, but with your condition "Only if it's invisible is it okay.", it doesn't pass for me. I am somewhat bemused by HDR as a tool for making natural looking images of high DR subjects. I have many times bracketed exposures with the idea that I would need to mix then, either manually or with an HDR tool. Inevitably, when I actually look at the results in ACR/PS, I find that I can get what I want from the single exposure that just clips the top of the histogram. (What "just clips" means varies with camera/sensor system) And the result always looks more natural to my eyes than HDR. That said, an HDR tool, used judiciously, which this example is not for me, may be an easier thing than what's sometimes necessary in PS. You don't provide full information. Is this actual multiple different exposures on a tripod? Or multiple conversions of a single Raw file at different "exposure" settings? That can make a big difference. If the latter, HDR simply can't do what a skilled digital darkroom worker can do with one conversion, because it can't intelligently mask to use differential amounts of various tools, NR, Shadow/Highlight, Levels, Curves, LCE, and so on on different areas of the image. In the case of an image like this, where the extreme DR areas are fairly easily separable, manual "HDR" would be fairly easy. Still, I generally find it harder to get an entirely natural look that way. Your digital darkroom mileage may vary. (As to the mug handle, a single swipe of content-aware Healing Brush makes it disappear, if one wishes.)
Toggle Commented Feb 18, 2015 on HDR Madness!! at The Online Photographer
Pictures? But you have to push a button. Well, OK, round pictures, like this.
Toggle Commented Feb 18, 2015 on Brief Tech Q at The Online Photographer
Ah yes, pay attention! A couple of days ago, I was photographing a feeding frenzy at our bird feeders, portrait orientation, when I though to use a video to capture all the frenetic motion. Nice videos, if I lean over or put the monitor on its side. {;^(>
That's what makes horseraces ... Not very cool bokeh to my eye. Interesting, as an effect, in an image designed to grab attention, but not appealing. Great bokeh, to me, is where the OOF disks of highlights are bright in the center and get dimmer as they go out, to a soft, undefined ending, as opposed to a visible edge - Airy disks, in other words. These, relatively even in brightness with hard edges are fairly typical of modern lens designs, especially fast ones and many/most zooms. You can also see unnatural hard edges in the face, nose, ear and line between light nose/mouth and shadowed cheek. Not bad, but noticeable in the context of all the other hard edges. The harsh bokeh of the lights behind him is pretty typical of a double Gauss based design (which this is) with a close focal plane with highlights in the background. There are further examples in the PhotoZone review Bokeh section and I agree with the text. This is not the worst. That's when they are reversed, with dark centers brightening out to bright, hard edges. Sometimes they will even become doughnuts, bright rings with black centers. Typical of the double Gauss design basis of essentially all fast, "normal" focal length lenses, this OM Zuiko 50/1.8 will do that, with the 'right' subject, as in the upper right corner here.
"Either they're trying to appeal to the legions of fans of 40mm prime lenses ... and the Panasonic 20mm [40mm-e] ƒ/1.7 for Micro 4/3.)" Oh dear! Do I now need to dispose of mine? Don't you hate it when you choose something for simple utilitarian reasons or highly personal reasons of taste, then some bunch of Yahoos make it a cult thing? The difference between 35 and 40 is far too small and subtle for me to worry about, a step forward or back, or leaving a tree or rock in or out on one side. Well, OK, I dissemble. I chose the 20/1.7 in spite of the 40 mm nutters. I wanted something wide-ish, small-ish and fast. The Oly 17s are on one hand too big, on the other too slow and of so-so optical quality. The Panny 25/1.4, is too big and heavy and the Oly 25/1.8 and Sigma 19/2.8 didn't exist. The Panny 20/1.7 is small, light, good optically. Just right said - Goldilocks Moose
Toggle Commented Feb 12, 2015 on Legions of 40mm Fans at The Online Photographer
"... Sufficiency isn't an amount at all. It is an experience, a context we generate, a declaration, a knowing that there is enough, and that we are enough. Sufficiency resides inside of each of us, and we can call it forward. It is a consciousness, an attention, an intentional choosing of the way we think about our circumstances .... Sufficiency is an act of generating, distinguishing, making known to ourselves the power and presence of our existing resources, and our inner resources. Sufficiency is a context we bring forth from within that reminds us that if we look around us and within ourselves, we will find what we need. There is always enough. When we live in the context of sufficiency, we find a natural freedom and integrity. We engage in life from a sense of our own wholeness rather than a desperate longing to be complete...." - The Soul of Money by Lynne Twist, Chapter 4 Seems to me to apply here, as well. Why, then do I want an E-M5 Mark II? \;~)
Oh my! I may be honored, I think, to be held up as a good example of a possibly bad thing. Before thinking that through further, or reading any comments, a small clarification. As soon as I posted my comment, I realized a part of it makes no sense. "I wonder if the original of this image might have been [toned]. Pure B&W, as this is on screen ..." The original as presented in Mike's post IS toned. I had spent enough time messing with the diptych, where the B&W half is not toned, that I had momentarily forgotten. Mea Culpa
Toggle Commented Feb 11, 2015 on Moose Colorizes Liszt at The Online Photographer
I have a more than full set of German and Italian kitchen knives in the classic style. They are certainly wonderful tools, beautifully made. However, what I use most are a couple of ceramic knives and an ancient cook's slicer. The ceramics are cheap ones, but just as sharp as pricy ones and scarcely less durable. All ceramics eventually chip, but replacement is easy. The vintage cook's knife is forged, like the German ones, but lighter, longer and more flexible. The steel is not stainless, has an interesting pattern of stains/colors, which obscure any name, if there ever was one, and wooden handles which would never pass a restaurant health inspection. Yet it handles and slices beautifully and bends easily to cut around/close to things. Used on my large, hardwood cutting board and straightened with a steel, it stays sharp a long time Cost? Maybe $4 at a thrift shop. OTOH, it's equivalent in a chef's knife has no advantages other than being slightly lighter than my contemporary German version or even larger Italian one, so they are the ones in use. Honey just doesn't interest me.
Toggle Commented Feb 10, 2015 on Fun Facts at The Online Photographer
There actually is a quality, Simple Camera, the Oly E-PM2. Although widely ignored by us serious photo folks, it's a very effective combination of simplicity and ability to get great images. No Mode dial. I know, I know, no serious photographer would even consider that. And yet, I shoot about 99% of my shots on any camera in Aperture Mode (using EV to adjust exposure) - and the thing that most often gets mis-set in handling on most cameras is the Mode Dial. (Lockable Mode Dial on the E-M5 II is a BIG improvement for many.) The Modes are all there, but require intent and a couple of clicks to change - a positive in the Simple Camera. One Fn button (set to MF/AF for me) and a resettable Rec button (set to Magnify) are all I need for my simple camera. Touch screen may be set Off, rear dial may be disabled. Button function of rear control remains on for EV/Aperture, Drive, Focus point (unfortunately), Super Control Panel Settings and to turn dial on/off (which requires a long press, so hasn't yet been done in error for me.) I always have it set to Aperture priority, but iAuto or P make it even simpler. If one needs a VF, the VF-3 or 4 work fine, and lock on securely. With the Panny 14-42 X power zoom lens or, I presume, the newer Oly version, it's P&S simple, yet adjustable as needed. Shove/grab it in and out of largish jacket pocket or small bag over and over and it's never mis-set, always ready to catch the shot. Same sensor as the E-M5 means excellent IQ, three axis IBIS is quite good. I've used it extensively alongside my E-M5 with a different lens and it's only IQ drawback in comparison is less effective IS for Macro. Put the 14-150 on it and it loses pocketability, but gains versatility. In dim places, the µ4/3 fast primes make it again simple, but effective. I use the Panny 20/1.7 and Oly 45/1.8. Setting it up as Simple Camera is sorta complicated in Oly's extensive menu, but it is then really simple. It's hard to explain in a few words how simple, yet effective it may be. The Panny GMs would be in the running but for their inability to be 'dumbed down' as effectively and lack of IBIS.
"Things come and go, by the mid 1950's home-built Hot Rods were replaced by Factory Hot Rods like the 1957 Chevy with it's 283 HP engine and four speed transmission." Ah yes, I had a '55 with hand rebuilt, ported and balanced engine bored out to the 283 of '56 and later, CR Vette 4speed on the floor. (So the bench seat wouldn't go forward much.) A very goin' machine - but a piece of junk by contemporary ride and handling standards. Very few of the Duntov one HP per cars were made. The fuel injection was hard to maintain. The dual 4BBL 270 HP was more common and practical.
Toggle Commented Feb 6, 2015 on New Models at The Online Photographer
So glad you made it back intact. Just for fun. A little sloppy, quick and dirty on a small original. I hope you get the idea.
It's only "A very hard choice" because you've set it up as a straw man. I have the M.Z. 45/1.8 "and" the amazing 60/2.8 Macro. As you say of most macros, the 60/2.8 is a truly excellent general purpose and a superb macro lens. One might almost say micro, as it focuses to 1:1*, which, with the format multiplier, is like 1:2. It gets twice as close as any of my old MF, FF macros without using bellows or tubes. Usability is tops, too. A dial on the lens allows setting AF to 0.4m-inf., 0.19m-inf. or 0.19m-0.4m. It also has a spring return setting at the end that takes it to closest focus, lovely for MF when working on a focusing rail. The extra focal length is a blessing for the extra working distance over a shorter FL lens. The hood is unique, too. It bayonets on, but is sliding, so it retracts over part of the lens body. Really slick when getting so close that the hood gets in the way. (The JJC version works the same, but mine required some lube in the channels to slide smoothly.) Then the 45/1.8 may be used for its own special strengths. It's tiny, half the weight and a stop faster than the Panny 45 macro. And an excellent lens, too; a joy to use. * As does the Panny
"This is one of the last pictures I took along those lines. I eventually realized that one of my failures as a human being is simply not *really* caring that much about the sorts of things that show up in these pictures. I realize their majesty and beauty and overall importance in the grand scheme, but taking pictures was the extent of my personal involvement with the places and things. So my pictures would never be that good, and I should leave the places to people who really cared about them, was my thinking." Interesting that you would have those feelings. My reaction to this particular image was instant, visceral engagement. I've not been to that particular place. Yet I do know that sort of land, and was and am moved by your image of it. This particular is that good, to at least one viewer.
Toggle Commented Jan 22, 2015 on Scenic Photography at The Online Photographer
"My entire web presence is all about putting pictures together in such a way that they do something more than just sit on the screen. I try to assemble portfolios so that you can construct a narrative to go with them: they're processed and ordered so they fit together, and then given a title that sums them up and gives a launching point for the imagination. I like to think that the title reiterates to people that this group of photos is a curated album, not a shoebox of snapshots. Hi James, I liked the few images I've seen so far on your site. But back to the point. I've concluded that the kind of portfolio you describe above is very difficult to pull off on the web, perhaps impossible for me, to my ideas of what it should be. Lots of major photographers have tried, with varying degrees of fanciness and success, but none really work for me. Where I have a book of their images, I always have found it superior to the web site. So, I've moved to books. It's possible today to make amazingly good photo books using on-line publishers at not unreasonable prices. I see you are trying to make a little money selling your images and through product links. A non-commercial book can't do that, but I've found the physical object to please me a great deal. I've also had family, friends, acquaintances (even the occasional stranger) react to the physical object in a far more intense and engaged way than ever from my images, even the same ones, on the web. Watching, sometimes interacting, as a person goes through a book of mine is far more rewarding than checking the number of views on a web site. The link WTF isn't landscape, in any traditional sense, but I like it and it's something I would do, too. In fact, it would have fit right into my book Extracts from Artifacts
Toggle Commented Jan 20, 2015 on Scenic Photography at The Online Photographer
"... but her appraisal of the gorge and its visual gifts was not complimentary. The light was too flat; the blue sky, rare enough in winter, was not blue enough; "you have to avoid the contrails"; there's not enough color in winter; and so on." So, you ran into someone who's photographic glass is half empty, who wants the world to be different than it is. I photograph a quite range of subjects, and scenics are a large, but not majority, part of that. But my interest is in seeing clearly what is there, not what isn't there, and finding ways to capture some of that essence in photographs. If life gives me contrails, I take their picture. I know from experience that my better efforts often elicit an emotional response from people who have not even been there, let alone those who have. For myself, these images recreate the experience of awe that I often have when confronted with natural places and phenomena. The images I took of a spectacular sunset as our plane approached LA last week, from knock down intensity near/around the setting sun to ethereal wisps of colors without names and the Channel Islands floating in subtly colored mists, will forever remind me of something closer to a spiritual than a photographic experience. Flying above the earth, jammed into a metal tube with 100+ other people, everyone else had closed their blinds against the strong sun and were interacting with phones, laptops and books, chatting, napping, etc. While physically with them, I was in another world, amazed, transfixed, by the visual drama taking place outside. That experience will be evoked again, with less intensity, but still wonderful, whenever I look at those images. "Of course the flip side of that coin is the way that practicing scenic photography can enhance our experience of land and landscape, and of the natural world, by sharpening our seeing and enhancing our powers of observation." It seems I experience that more powerfully than do you. One of my little delights is to be in the same places as others and surprise them later with images they had in front of them, but didn't notice. In Cabo last week, we, and especially my wife, spent a fair amount of time on the deck outside our room. When I did my usual sort of thing, setting up a tripod and fussing with camera one evening, she paid little attention. When I showed her the shot on the LCD, she said "That's beautiful; I didn't even notice it." For me, photography has been, and is, something that leads me to actually 'see' more of the world than I otherwise would. Ram Dass succinctly summed up a great deal of spiritual advice from millennia, "Be here now." Good advice for the photographer, too.
Toggle Commented Jan 19, 2015 on Scenic Photography at The Online Photographer
I am so grateful to be a photographer making $0 per hour, and year. To be in a position to do so is one of the great blessings of my life. My boss is both a quite tough critic and a great appreciator of the stuff I get right. Sunset over the Channel Islands as we approached and landed at LAX yesterday, coming up from Cabo, was mind bogglingly gorgeous. Before the sun dropped into the clouds, it was very bright, so almost everyone had their blinds closed. Tough shots, through not so clean multi-layer windows with what looked like slight condensation inside. But even if they didn't come out (and, oh, yes, many did), I SAW it all, and sat in awe as the rest of the little world around me sat engrossed in their books or electronic devices. I don't know about others, but being a photographer has helped me to really see the world around me. Priceless.
"Twenty-seven to be exact—eight maids a-milking, nine ladies dancing, and ten lords a-leaping." Taking the words of the song literally, there are a total of twelve partridges in pear trees, as each preceding gift is repeated in all subsequent giftings. 40 Maids 36 Ladies 30 Lords That's 106 people - and 40 dairy cows. Holy Sh**!
"I hate being force-fed the same bad ones for an entire month in the service of mindless commerce." Perhaps you get out too much? {;~)> They don't play music on line. Is there mindful commerce? I don't think the catalogs full of over hip, over priced meditation oriented stuff counts. Sorry, I cheated, and listened today. Nope, bored almost immediately. Stuck it out, hoping for more musical interest or better lyrics ... No brain damage, but I don't need to hear it again. Happy snark. And all your lovely wishes reflected back at'cha.