Tips and Tricks

Tips and Tricks

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State

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Hurricane Ridge, Olympic Peninsula, Washington State
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Image by Bogdan Migulski
More Bogdan Migulski Photography.

Hurricane Ridge is the most easily accessed mountain area within Olympic National Park. In clear weather, fantastic views can be enjoyed throughout the year.

Hurricane Ridge is located 17 miles south of Port Angeles on Hurricane Ridge Road, off Mount Angeles Road (directions).

The road is open throughout summer, and is scheduled to be open daily during the winter months, weather permitting. All vehicles must carry tire chains during the winter season. Make sure to check the status of the road before coming.

A general map and information regarding facilities, picnic areas, camping, and regulations can be found on the park’s Hurricane Ridge brochure (pdf).

Places to Stay:

The nearest campground to Hurricane Ridge is Heart O’ the Hills, 12 miles north of Hurricane Ridge, between Port Angeles and the Ridge. Open year-round, Heart O’ the Hills has 105 campsites in the old-growth forest.

The city of Port Angeles is just 17 miles north. Lodging can be found through the Port Angeles Chamber of Commerce website.

Recreation:

The Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center is a great place to start. Located just before the end of the road, stop here for brochures, maps, snacks, and tips regarding your stay. It is open daily in the summer, and whenever Hurricane Ridge Road is open during the remainder of the year.

Hurricane Ridge has a number of hiking trails, from ridgetop traverses to steep trails that descend to subalpine lakes and valleys. Obstruction Point Road (weather and snow permitting, open from July 4 through October 15), branches off right before the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center, and provides access to a variety of trails as well.

Hurricane Ridge can be enjoyed throughout the year. During the winter months, snow enthusiasts enjoy the winter scenery, along with snowshoeing, cross-country skiing and sledding. Ranger-guided snowshoe walks are offered on the weekends and are a popular way to explore and learn about the Ridge’s winter environment. Weather permitting, the Hurricane Ridge Winter Sports Club operates two rope tows and a Poma lift.
During the spring, wildflowers cover the ground of the subalpine meadows and blacktail deer are often spotted grazing. Sunrise and sunset on a clear day provide magnificent panoramic views of the park.

Nearby Areas:

Heart O’ the Hills is the closest destination. The Elwha Valley and Deer Park are within a one-hour drive from Hurricane Ridge. Make sure to check the Getting Around page for mileages to and from different park destination. Source: National Park Service

Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Space Shuttle Enterprise
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Image by Chris Devers
See more photos of this, and the Wikipedia article.

Details, quoting from Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum | Space Shuttle Enterprise:

Manufacturer:
Rockwell International Corporation

Country of Origin:
United States of America

Dimensions:
Overall: 57 ft. tall x 122 ft. long x 78 ft. wing span, 150,000 lb.
(1737.36 x 3718.57 x 2377.44cm, 68039.6kg)

Materials:
Aluminum airframe and body with some fiberglass features; payload bay doors are graphite epoxy composite; thermal tiles are simulated (polyurethane foam) except for test samples of actual tiles and thermal blankets.

The first Space Shuttle orbiter, "Enterprise," is a full-scale test vehicle used for flights in the atmosphere and tests on the ground; it is not equipped for spaceflight. Although the airframe and flight control elements are like those of the Shuttles flown in space, this vehicle has no propulsion system and only simulated thermal tiles because these features were not needed for atmospheric and ground tests. "Enterprise" was rolled out at Rockwell International’s assembly facility in Palmdale, California, in 1976. In 1977, it entered service for a nine-month-long approach-and-landing test flight program. Thereafter it was used for vibration tests and fit checks at NASA centers, and it also appeared in the 1983 Paris Air Show and the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans. In 1985, NASA transferred "Enterprise" to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum.

Transferred from National Aeronautics and Space Administration

• • •

Quoting from Wikipedia | Space Shuttle Enterprise:

The Space Shuttle Enterprise (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-101) was the first Space Shuttle orbiter. It was built for NASA as part of the Space Shuttle program to perform test flights in the atmosphere. It was constructed without engines or a functional heat shield, and was therefore not capable of spaceflight.

Originally, Enterprise had been intended to be refitted for orbital flight, which would have made it the second space shuttle to fly after Columbia. However, during the construction of Columbia, details of the final design changed, particularly with regard to the weight of the fuselage and wings. Refitting Enterprise for spaceflight would have involved dismantling the orbiter and returning the sections to subcontractors across the country. As this was an expensive proposition, it was determined to be less costly to build Challenger around a body frame (STA-099) that had been created as a test article. Similarly, Enterprise was considered for refit to replace Challenger after the latter was destroyed, but Endeavour was built from structural spares instead.

Service

Construction began on the first orbiter on June 4, 1974. Designated OV-101, it was originally planned to be named Constitution and unveiled on Constitution Day, September 17, 1976. A write-in campaign by Trekkies to President Gerald Ford asked that the orbiter be named after the Starship Enterprise, featured on the television show Star Trek. Although Ford did not mention the campaign, the president—who during World War II had served on the aircraft carrier USS Monterey (CVL-26) that served with USS Enterprise (CV-6)—said that he was "partial to the name" and overrode NASA officials.

The design of OV-101 was not the same as that planned for OV-102, the first flight model; the tail was constructed differently, and it did not have the interfaces to mount OMS pods. A large number of subsystems—ranging from main engines to radar equipment—were not installed on this vehicle, but the capacity to add them in the future was retained. Instead of a thermal protection system, its surface was primarily fiberglass.

In mid-1976, the orbiter was used for ground vibration tests, allowing engineers to compare data from an actual flight vehicle with theoretical models.

On September 17, 1976, Enterprise was rolled out of Rockwell’s plant at Palmdale, California. In recognition of its fictional namesake, Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and most of the principal cast of the original series of Star Trek were on hand at the dedication ceremony.

Approach and landing tests (ALT)

Main article: Approach and Landing Tests

On January 31, 1977, it was taken by road to Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, to begin operational testing.

While at NASA Dryden, Enterprise was used by NASA for a variety of ground and flight tests intended to validate aspects of the shuttle program. The initial nine-month testing period was referred to by the acronym ALT, for "Approach and Landing Test". These tests included a maiden "flight" on February 18, 1977 atop a Boeing 747 Shuttle Carrier Aircraft (SCA) to measure structural loads and ground handling and braking characteristics of the mated system. Ground tests of all orbiter subsystems were carried out to verify functionality prior to atmospheric flight.

The mated Enterprise/SCA combination was then subjected to five test flights with Enterprise unmanned and unactivated. The purpose of these test flights was to measure the flight characteristics of the mated combination. These tests were followed with three test flights with Enterprise manned to test the shuttle flight control systems.

Enterprise underwent five free flights where the craft separated from the SCA and was landed under astronaut control. These tests verified the flight characteristics of the orbiter design and were carried out under several aerodynamic and weight configurations. On the fifth and final glider flight, pilot-induced oscillation problems were revealed, which had to be addressed before the first orbital launch occurred.

On August 12, 1977, the space shuttle Enterprise flew on its own for the first time.

Preparation for STS-1

Following the ALT program, Enterprise was ferried among several NASA facilities to configure the craft for vibration testing. In June 1979, it was mated with an external tank and solid rocket boosters (known as a boilerplate configuration) and tested in a launch configuration at Kennedy Space Center Launch Pad 39A.

Retirement

With the completion of critical testing, Enterprise was partially disassembled to allow certain components to be reused in other shuttles, then underwent an international tour visiting France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the U.S. states of California, Alabama, and Louisiana (during the 1984 Louisiana World Exposition). It was also used to fit-check the never-used shuttle launch pad at Vandenberg AFB, California. Finally, on November 18, 1985, Enterprise was ferried to Washington, D.C., where it became property of the Smithsonian Institution.

Post-Challenger

After the Challenger disaster, NASA considered using Enterprise as a replacement. However refitting the shuttle with all of the necessary equipment needed for it to be used in space was considered, but instead it was decided to use spares constructed at the same time as Discovery and Atlantis to build Endeavour.

Post-Columbia

In 2003, after the breakup of Columbia during re-entry, the Columbia Accident Investigation Board conducted tests at Southwest Research Institute, which used an air gun to shoot foam blocks of similar size, mass and speed to that which struck Columbia at a test structure which mechanically replicated the orbiter wing leading edge. They removed a fiberglass panel from Enterprise’s wing to perform analysis of the material and attached it to the test structure, then shot a foam block at it. While the panel was not broken as a result of the test, the impact was enough to permanently deform a seal. As the reinforced carbon-carbon (RCC) panel on Columbia was 2.5 times weaker, this suggested that the RCC leading edge would have been shattered. Additional tests on the fiberglass were canceled in order not to risk damaging the test apparatus, and a panel from Discovery was tested to determine the effects of the foam on a similarly-aged RCC leading edge. On July 7, 2003, a foam impact test created a hole 41 cm by 42.5 cm (16.1 inches by 16.7 inches) in the protective RCC panel. The tests clearly demonstrated that a foam impact of the type Columbia sustained could seriously breach the protective RCC panels on the wing leading edge.

The board determined that the probable cause of the accident was that the foam impact caused a breach of a reinforced carbon-carbon panel along the leading edge of Columbia’s left wing, allowing hot gases generated during re-entry to enter the wing and cause structural collapse. This caused Columbia to spin out of control, breaking up with the loss of the entire crew.

Museum exhibit

Enterprise was stored at the Smithsonian’s hangar at Washington Dulles International Airport before it was restored and moved to the newly built Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum‘s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport, where it has been the centerpiece of the space collection. On April 12, 2011, NASA announced that Space Shuttle Discovery, the most traveled orbiter in the fleet, will be added to the collection once the Shuttle fleet is retired. When that happens, Enterprise will be moved to the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City, to a newly constructed hangar adjacent to the museum. In preparation for the anticipated relocation, engineers evaluated the vehicle in early 2010 and determined that it was safe to fly on the Shuttle Carrier Aircraft once again.

Waxing Gibbous Moon – Color
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Image by MarkGregory007
77% illuminated. April 2, 2012, 9 p.m. MEADE ETX-90, 32mm lens, Sony digital camera.

Colors of the moon

Our eyes cannot see the moon’s true colors. While we normally see mostly shades of gray, there are in fact many subtle color differences. These colors are muted, but they do exist.

The colors are from different chemical elements on the moon’s surface. Blue indicates high amounts of the element Titanium. Red areas have reduced amounts of titanium.

Dried lava beds, craters, and rocks all have subtle color differences that can be brought out with digital photo software such as Adobe Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. To enhance the colors in this photo I used Photoshop Elements and a filter by Topaz Labs.

Moon viewing tips….

The days on either side of first quarter phase of the moon are the best times for lunar observers. Sunlight comes directly from the right, casting long shadows that emphasize the lunar landscape. The rising sun casts the moon’s topography in high relief.

Some of the moon’s features are familiar from Earth such as mountains, plains, and valleys. However, similarities are deceiving. Lunar plains were not created by ancient lakes or oceans, but were formed by lava flows after impacts from asteroids.

The most distinctive feature of lunar topography are craters. Unlike craters of Earth, which are mainly caused by volcanic action, the moon’s craters were mostly formed by the impact of meteors and asteroids billions of years ago.

Without water to erode them, these impacts are still visible. Although there are many impact craters on Earth, most have been eroded away, only detectable by geologic analysis.

Copyright – Mark Mathosian


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Bright Greens with Pink Blossom Tips – Details Best Viewed Large
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Image by Crystal Writer
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One of fifty-one new designs I captured from inside one of my real kaleidoscope. This particular scope uses light from the side which reflects through colored glass into pieces of glass and jewels floating in oil. It also has a black bottom and black sides so the light actually illuminates the inside items like neon. I believe this one has some reflection from the yellow surface to the light source.

Two negatives do make a positive!
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Image by whatsthatpicture
Using a cameraphone to view negatives …

I’ve been meaning to write this trick up as a mini tutorial, but for now this little example will have to do.

Occassionally I’ll be looking at a negative and want to get a quick feel for what it looks like. In the case of the image here, it was brought in by a visitor to the Who Do You Think You Are? Live show where I was working dating old photographs.

The trick is simple: on your cameraphone (or on most ‘point and shoot’ digital cameras) put the camera in ‘negative’ mode. This is often found in the ‘options’ or ‘effects’ menu. You’ll see that the hand and all background objects (including the white sheet of paper it is being viewed against) now look odd, but the image itself is good enough for viewing.

Sankt Dionys, Saint -Denis, Dionysius, San Dionigi, Dionisio, Dionizy, Dionis, Denis . Esslingen Stadtkirche, market. Markttag – with reflexions – Alta-Lux enhancement by IRFAN, Plug-in.
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Image by eagle1effi
former part of Saint-Denis, Île-de-France, Paris – an important bendictine monastery. Saint Fulrad(e) was abbot ( from 750 ) and a counselor of three Frankish rulers: Pepin, Carloman and Charlemagne. He also served as grand- almoner and ambassador. The importance of this person may be bigger then we know up today. Pepin, the Pope Stephan II. and Fulrad were best friends and decided about the future, the political Europe and the Christianization.

market-place, Esslingen, Germany –
this town is an
"El Dorado" for markets in every atmosphere and offers traditionally high quality and level during the year.
Eg.
Garden Days, Asparagus market, flea market, light market, crafts market, Christmas market,
folding bike and bicycle accessories market, Children’s flea market, honey market, Tea and Spices market, . . .
antique market, night lights market, ceramics market, ( so called "Hafen"-markt ) .
Places / Germany / Baden-Wurttemberg / Esslingen/ Ezelinga

since 800 this town received market rights from the Charlemagne*, aka Charles the Great,Carlomango, Karolus Magnus , Karl der Große.
(* " Charles I. "
At this time his reign was as great as the whole center of Europe – he can be called the Father of EUROPE )

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Sony RX1, A User Report
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Image by kern.justin
Sony RX1 User Report.

I hesitate to write about gear. Tools are tools and the bitter truth is that a great craftsman rises above his tools to create a masterpiece whereas most of us try to improve our abominations by buying better or faster hammers to hit the same nails at the same awkward angles.

The internet is fairly flooded with reviews of this tiny marvel, and it isn’t my intention to compete with those articles. If you’re looking for a full-scale review of every feature or a down-to-Earth accounting of the RX1’s strengths and weaknesses, I recommend starting here.

Instead, I’d like to provide you with a flavor of how I’ve used the camera over the last six months. In short, this is a user report. To save yourself a few thousand words: I love the thing. As we go through this article, you’ll see this is a purpose built camera. The RX1 is not for everyone, but we will get to that and on the way, I’ll share a handful of images that I made with the camera.

It should be obvious to anyone reading this that I write this independently and have absolutely no relationship with Sony (other than having exchanged a large pile of cash for this camera at a retail outlet).

Before we get to anything else, I want to clear the air about two things: Price and Features

The Price

First things first: the price. The 00+ cost of this camera is the elephant in the room and, given I purchased the thing, you may consider me a poor critic. That in mind, I want to offer you three thoughts:

Consumer goods cost what they cost, in the absence of a competitor (the Fuji X100s being the only one worth mention) there is no comparison and you simply have to decide for yourself if you are willing to pay or not.
Normalize the price per sensor area for all 35mm f/2 lens and camera alternatives and you’ll find the RX1 is an amazing value.
You are paying for the ability to take photographs, plain and simple. Ask yourself, “what are these photographs worth to me?”

In my case, #3 is very important. I have used the RX1 to take hundreds of photographs of my family that are immensely important to me. Moreover, I have made photographs (many appearing on this page) that are moving or beautiful and only happened because I had the RX1 in my bag or my pocket. Yes, of course I could have made these or very similar photographs with another camera, but that is immaterial.

35mm by 24mm by 35mm f/2

The killer feature of this camera is simple: it is a wafer of silicon 35mm by 24mm paired to a brilliantly, ridiculously, undeniably sharp, contrasty and bokehlicious 35mm f/2 Carl Zeiss lens. Image quality is king here and all other things take a back seat. This means the following: image quality is as good or better than your DSLR, but battery life, focus speed, and responsiveness are likely not as good as your DSLR. I say likely because, if you have an entry-level DSLR, the RX1 is comparable on these dimensions. If you want to change lenses, if you want an integrated viewfinder, if you want blindingly fast phase-detect autofocus then shoot with a DSLR. If you want the absolute best image quality in the smallest size possible, you’ve got it in the RX1.

While we are on the subject of interchangeable lenses and viewfinders…

I have an interchangeable lens DSLR and I love the thing. It’s basically a medium format camera in a 35mm camera body. It’s a powerhouse and it is the first camera I reach for when the goal is photography. For a long time, however, I’ve found myself in situations where photography was not the first goal, but where I nevertheless wanted to have a camera. I’m around the table with friends or at the park with my son and the DSLR is too big, too bulky, too intimidating. It comes between you and life. In this realm, mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras seem to be king, but they have a major flaw: they are, for all intents and purposes, just little DSLRs.

As I mentioned above, I have an interchangeable lens system, why would I want another, smaller one? Clearly, I am not alone in feeling this way, as the market has produced a number of what I would call “professional point and shoots.” Here we are talking about the Fuji X100/X100s, Sigma DPm-series and the RX100 and RX1.

Design is about making choices

When the Fuji X100 came out, I was intrigued. Here was a cheap(er), baby Leica M. Quiet, small, unobtrusive. Had I waited to buy until the X100s had come out, perhaps this would be a different report. Perhaps, but probably not. I remember thinking to myself as I was looking at the X100, “I wish there was a digital Rollei 35, something with a fixed 28mm or 35mm lens that would fit in a coat pocket or a small bag.” Now of course, there is.

So, for those of you who said, “I would buy the RX1 if it had interchangeable lenses or an integrated viewfinder or faster autofocus,” I say the following: This is a purpose built camera. You would not want it as an interchangeable system, it can’t compete with DSLR speed. A viewfinder would make the thing bigger and ruin the magic ratio of body to sensor size—further, there is a 3-inch LCD viewfinder on the back! Autofocus is super fast, you just don’t realize it because the bar has been raised impossibly high by ultra-sonic magnet focusing rings on professional DSLR lenses. There’s a fantastic balance at work here between image quality and size—great tools are about the total experience, not about one or the other specification.

In short, design is about making choices. I think Sony has made some good ones with the RX1.

In use

So I’ve just written 1,000 words of a user report without, you know, reporting on use. In many ways the images on the page are my user report. These photographs, more than my words, should give you a flavor of what the RX1 is about. But, for the sake of variety, I intend to tell you a bit about the how and the why of shooting with the RX1.

Snapshots

As a beginning enthusiast, I often sneered at the idea of a snapshot. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to appreciate what a pocket camera and a snapshot can offer. The RX1 is the ultimate photographer’s snapshot camera.

I’ll pause here to properly define snapshot as a photograph taken quickly with a handheld camera.

To quote Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So it is with photography. Beautiful photographs happen at the decisive moment—and to paraphrase Henri Cartier-Bresson further—the world is newly made and falling to pieces every instant. I think it is no coincidence that each revolution in the steady march of photography from the tortuously slow chemistry of tin-type and daguerreotype through 120 and 35mm formats to the hyper-sensitive CMOS of today has engendered new categories and concepts of photography.

Photography is a reflexive, reactionary activity. I see beautiful light or the unusual in an every day event and my reaction is a desire to make a photograph. It’s a bit like breathing and has been since I was a kid.

Rather than sneer at snapshots, nowadays I seek them out; and when I seek them out, I do so with the Sony RX1 in my hand.

How I shoot with the RX1

Despite much bluster from commenters on other reviews as to the price point and the purpose-built nature of this camera (see above), the RX1 is incredibly flexible. Have a peek at some of the linked reviews and you’ll see handheld portraits, long exposures, images taken with off-camera flash, etc.

Yet, I mentioned earlier that I reach for the D800 when photography is the primary goal and so the RX1 has become for me a handheld camera—something I use almost exclusively at f/2 (people, objects, shallow DoF) or f/8 (landscapes in abundant light, abstracts). The Auto-ISO setting allows the camera to choose in the range from ISO 50 and 6400 to reach a proper exposure at a given aperture with a 1/80 s shutter speed. I have found this shutter speed ensures a sharp image every time (although photographers with more jittery grips may wish there was the ability to select a different default shutter speed). This strategy works because the RX1 has a delightfully clicky exposure compensation dial just under your right thumb—allowing for fine adjustment to the camera’s metering decision.

So then, if you find me out with the RX1, you’re likely to see me on aperture priority, f/2 and auto ISO. Indeed, many of the photographs on this page were taken in that mode (including lots of the landscape shots!).

Working within constraints.

The RX1 is a wonderful camera to have when you have to work within constraints. When I say this, I mean it is great for photography within two different classes of constraints: 1) physical constraints of time and space and 2) intellectual/artistic constraints.

To speak to the first, as I said earlier, many of the photographs on this page were made possible by having a camera with me at a time that I otherwise would not have been lugging around a camera. For example, some of the images from the Grand Canyon you see were made in a pinch on my way to a Christmas dinner with my family. I didn’t have the larger camera with me and I just had a minute to make the image. Truth be told, these images could have been made with my cell phone, but that I could wring such great image quality out of something not much larger than my cell phone is just gravy. Be it jacket pocket, small bag, bike bag, saddle bag, even fannie pack—you have space for this camera anywhere you go.

Earlier I alluded to the obtrusiveness of a large camera. If you want to travel lightly and make photographs without announcing your presence, it’s easier to use a smaller camera. Here the RX1 excels. Moreover, the camera’s leaf shutter is virtually silent, so you can snap away without announcing your intention. In every sense, this camera is meant to work within physical constraints.

I cut my photographic teeth on film and I will always have an affection for it. There is a sense that one is playing within the rules when he uses film. That same feeling is here in the RX1. I never thought I’d say this about a camera, but I often like the JPEG images this thing produces more than I like what I can push with a RAW. Don’t get me wrong, for a landscape or a cityscape, the RAW processed carefully is FAR, FAR better than a JPEG.

But when I am taking snapshots or photos of friends and family, I find the JPEGs the camera produces (I’m shooting in RAW + JPEG) so beautiful. The camera’s computer corrects for the lens distortion and provides the perfect balance of contrast and saturation. The JPEG engine can be further tweaked to increase the amount of contrast, saturation or dynamic range optimization (shadow boost) used in writing those files. Add in the ability to rapidly compensate exposure or activate various creative modes and you’ve got this feeling you’re shooting film again. Instant, ultra-sensitive and customizable film.

Pro Tip: Focusing

Almost all cameras come shipped with what I consider to be the worst of the worst focus configurations. Even the Nikon D800 came to my hands set to focus when the shutter button was halfway depressed. This mode will ruin almost any photograph. Why? Because it requires you to perform legerdemain to place the autofocus point, depress the shutter halfway, recompose and press the shutter fully. In addition to the chance of accidentally refocusing after composing or missing the shot—this method absolutely ensures that one must focus before every single photograph. Absolutely impossible for action or portraiture.

Sensibly, most professional or prosumer cameras come with an AF-ON button near where the shooter’s right thumb rests. This separates the task of focusing and exposing, allowing the photographer to quickly focus and to capture the image even if focus is slightly off at the focus point. For portraits, kids, action, etc the camera has to have a hair-trigger. It has to be responsive. Manufacturer’s: stop shipping your cameras with this ham-fisted autofocus arrangement.

Now, the RX1 does not have an AF-ON button, but it does have an AEL button whose function can be changed to “MF/AF Control Hold” in the menu. Further, other buttons on the rear of the camera can also be programmed to toggle between AF and MF modes. What this all means is that you can work around the RX1’s buttons to make it’s focus work like a DSLR’s. (For those of you who are RX1 shooters, set the front switch to MF, the right control wheel button to MF/AF Toggle and the AEL button to MF/AF Control Hold and voila!) The end result is that, when powered on the camera is in manual focus mode, but the autofocus can be activated by pressing AEL, no matter what, however, the shutter is tripped by the shutter release. Want to switch to AF mode? Just push a button and you’re back to the standard modality.

Carrying.

I keep mine in a small, neoprene pouch with a semi-hard LCD cover and a circular polarizing filter on the front—perfect for buttoning up and throwing into a bag on my way out of the house. I have a soft release screwed into the threaded shutter release and a custom, red twill strap to replace the horrible plastic strap Sony provided. I plan to gaffer tape the top and the orange ring around the lens. Who knows, I may find an old Voigtlander optical viewfinder in future as well.


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Cool Tips Digital Camera images

Check out these tips digital camera images:

The Veronica Belmont Series, Plate 4
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Image by Thomas Hawk
Veronica Belmont interviewed me a while back giving tips for digital SLR owners.

You can see the video here: thomashawk.com/2008/01/veronica-belmont-interviews-me-for…

For more of my thoughts on digital photography as a lifestyle, I’ve penned the post "Principles and Guidelines for the Modern Photowalker" which can be found at the link below.

thomashawk.com/2007/09/principles-and-guidelines-for-mode…

Playing for a Tip
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Image by rpphotos
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA


Nice Tips Digital Camera photos

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Dude, there’s some guy taking my picture! What should I do?
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Image by Ed Yourdon
It was hard to resist taking several pictures of this young woman: she seemed so clean-cut, attractive, and well dressed as she stood in the square while chatting on her cell phone.

She then marched back and forth several paces, then went into the entrance to the 72nd Street subway station, came back out again, marched around, continued chattering on her cell phone, and occasionally glanced at me with a puzzled look as I snapped several pictures. A good ten minutes went by until she finally disappeared for good into the subway station, still chattering away on her cell phone…

Note: this photo was published in a Jul 9, 2009 photo titled "How to Ease Your Transition to Google Voice." It was also published in an Aug 1, 2009 XYHDTV blog titled "How Do I Know if She Likes Me?" It was also published in a Jun 11, 2010 Online Dating Finder blog, with the same title as the caption that I used on this Flickr page. And it was published in a Jul 21, 2010 blog titled "En busca del look perfecto para ir de rebajas." It was also published in an undated (mid-Oct 2010) "Second Store on the Web" blog titled "A Grеаt Option – Digital TV οח Yουr PC." And it was published in a Nov 1, 2010 blog titled "Get it for free! Put away your credit card – Tips on free online dating." It was also published in a Dec 3, 2010 First Date Conversation blog , with the same title and detailed notes as what I had written here on this Flickr page. And it was published in a Dec 18, 2010 blog titled "Single? Try Online Dating, It Works!"

Moving into 2011, the photo was published in a Jan 3, 2011 PC and Parts blog titled "Q&A: Is there a store online where I can get a powerbutton switch for a gateway essential 500 (pentium 3 500mhz)?" And it was published in a Jan 25, 2010 blog titled "The Best Things in Life are Usually Free – Online Dating and Singles Tips." It was also published in a Jan 27, 2011 blog titled "Help me please where can i work online from my laptop?" And it was published in a Jul 21, 2011 blog titled "Judging Female Sexual Attractiveness Based On The Clothes They Wear."

Moving into 2012, the photo was published in an Apr 9, 2012 www.my-essential.de/2012/04/09/dude-theres-some-guy-takin…, with the same caption and detailed notes I had written on this Flickr page. It was also published in a Jun 21, 2012 blog titled "6 Little-Known Facts that Could Affect Your Air Miles." And it was published in an undated (early Dec 2012) blog titled "4 Good Reasons to Dress Up Well All The Time."

Moving into 2013, the photo was published in a Mar 20, 2013 blog titled "WHAT DO YOU SAY TO SOMEONE WHO SAID NO TO BEING A BRIDESMAID."

**********************

This is part of an evolving photo-project, which will probably continue throughout the summer of 2008, and perhaps beyond: a random collection of "interesting" people in a broad stretch of the Upper West Side of Manhattan — between 72nd Street and 104th Street, especially along Broadway and Amsterdam Avenue.

I don’t like to intrude on people’s privacy, so I normally use a telephoto lens in order to photograph them while they’re still 50-100 feet away from me; but that means I have to continue focusing my attention on the people and activities half a block away, rather than on what’s right in front of me.

I’ve also learned that, in many cases, the opportunities for an interesting picture are very fleeting — literally a matter of a couple of seconds, before the person(s) in question move on, turn away, or stop doing whatever was interesting. So I’ve learned to keep the camera switched on (which contradicts my traditional urge to conserve battery power), and not worry so much about zooming in for a perfectly-framed picture … after all, once the digital image is uploaded to my computer, it’s pretty trivial to crop out the parts unrelated to the main subject.

For the most part, I’ve deliberately avoided photographing bums, drunks, drunks, and crazy people. There are a few of them around, and they would certainly create some dramatic pictures; but they generally don’t want to be photographed, and I don’t want to feel like I’m taking advantage of them. I’m still looking for opportunities to take some "sympathetic" pictures of such people, which might inspire others to reach out and help them. We’ll see how it goes …

The only other thing I’ve noticed, thus far, is that while there are lots of interesting people to photograph, there are far, far, far more people who are not so interesting. They’re probably fine people, and they might even be more interesting than the ones I’ve photographed … but there was just nothing memorable about them.

Sony RX1, A User Report
tips digital camera
Image by kern.justin
Sony RX1 User Report.

I hesitate to write about gear. Tools are tools and the bitter truth is that a great craftsman rises above his tools to create a masterpiece whereas most of us try to improve our abominations by buying better or faster hammers to hit the same nails at the same awkward angles.

The internet is fairly flooded with reviews of this tiny marvel, and it isn’t my intention to compete with those articles. If you’re looking for a full-scale review of every feature or a down-to-Earth accounting of the RX1’s strengths and weaknesses, I recommend starting here.

Instead, I’d like to provide you with a flavor of how I’ve used the camera over the last six months. In short, this is a user report. To save yourself a few thousand words: I love the thing. As we go through this article, you’ll see this is a purpose built camera. The RX1 is not for everyone, but we will get to that and on the way, I’ll share a handful of images that I made with the camera.

It should be obvious to anyone reading this that I write this independently and have absolutely no relationship with Sony (other than having exchanged a large pile of cash for this camera at a retail outlet).

Before we get to anything else, I want to clear the air about two things: Price and Features

The Price

First things first: the price. The 00+ cost of this camera is the elephant in the room and, given I purchased the thing, you may consider me a poor critic. That in mind, I want to offer you three thoughts:

Consumer goods cost what they cost, in the absence of a competitor (the Fuji X100s being the only one worth mention) there is no comparison and you simply have to decide for yourself if you are willing to pay or not.
Normalize the price per sensor area for all 35mm f/2 lens and camera alternatives and you’ll find the RX1 is an amazing value.
You are paying for the ability to take photographs, plain and simple. Ask yourself, “what are these photographs worth to me?”

In my case, #3 is very important. I have used the RX1 to take hundreds of photographs of my family that are immensely important to me. Moreover, I have made photographs (many appearing on this page) that are moving or beautiful and only happened because I had the RX1 in my bag or my pocket. Yes, of course I could have made these or very similar photographs with another camera, but that is immaterial.

35mm by 24mm by 35mm f/2

The killer feature of this camera is simple: it is a wafer of silicon 35mm by 24mm paired to a brilliantly, ridiculously, undeniably sharp, contrasty and bokehlicious 35mm f/2 Carl Zeiss lens. Image quality is king here and all other things take a back seat. This means the following: image quality is as good or better than your DSLR, but battery life, focus speed, and responsiveness are likely not as good as your DSLR. I say likely because, if you have an entry-level DSLR, the RX1 is comparable on these dimensions. If you want to change lenses, if you want an integrated viewfinder, if you want blindingly fast phase-detect autofocus then shoot with a DSLR. If you want the absolute best image quality in the smallest size possible, you’ve got it in the RX1.

While we are on the subject of interchangeable lenses and viewfinders…

I have an interchangeable lens DSLR and I love the thing. It’s basically a medium format camera in a 35mm camera body. It’s a powerhouse and it is the first camera I reach for when the goal is photography. For a long time, however, I’ve found myself in situations where photography was not the first goal, but where I nevertheless wanted to have a camera. I’m around the table with friends or at the park with my son and the DSLR is too big, too bulky, too intimidating. It comes between you and life. In this realm, mirrorless, interchangeable lens cameras seem to be king, but they have a major flaw: they are, for all intents and purposes, just little DSLRs.

As I mentioned above, I have an interchangeable lens system, why would I want another, smaller one? Clearly, I am not alone in feeling this way, as the market has produced a number of what I would call “professional point and shoots.” Here we are talking about the Fuji X100/X100s, Sigma DPm-series and the RX100 and RX1.

Design is about making choices

When the Fuji X100 came out, I was intrigued. Here was a cheap(er), baby Leica M. Quiet, small, unobtrusive. Had I waited to buy until the X100s had come out, perhaps this would be a different report. Perhaps, but probably not. I remember thinking to myself as I was looking at the X100, “I wish there was a digital Rollei 35, something with a fixed 28mm or 35mm lens that would fit in a coat pocket or a small bag.” Now of course, there is.

So, for those of you who said, “I would buy the RX1 if it had interchangeable lenses or an integrated viewfinder or faster autofocus,” I say the following: This is a purpose built camera. You would not want it as an interchangeable system, it can’t compete with DSLR speed. A viewfinder would make the thing bigger and ruin the magic ratio of body to sensor size—further, there is a 3-inch LCD viewfinder on the back! Autofocus is super fast, you just don’t realize it because the bar has been raised impossibly high by ultra-sonic magnet focusing rings on professional DSLR lenses. There’s a fantastic balance at work here between image quality and size—great tools are about the total experience, not about one or the other specification.

In short, design is about making choices. I think Sony has made some good ones with the RX1.

In use

So I’ve just written 1,000 words of a user report without, you know, reporting on use. In many ways the images on the page are my user report. These photographs, more than my words, should give you a flavor of what the RX1 is about. But, for the sake of variety, I intend to tell you a bit about the how and the why of shooting with the RX1.

Snapshots

As a beginning enthusiast, I often sneered at the idea of a snapshot. As I’ve matured, I’ve come to appreciate what a pocket camera and a snapshot can offer. The RX1 is the ultimate photographer’s snapshot camera.

I’ll pause here to properly define snapshot as a photograph taken quickly with a handheld camera.

To quote Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” So it is with photography. Beautiful photographs happen at the decisive moment—and to paraphrase Henri Cartier-Bresson further—the world is newly made and falling to pieces every instant. I think it is no coincidence that each revolution in the steady march of photography from the tortuously slow chemistry of tin-type and daguerreotype through 120 and 35mm formats to the hyper-sensitive CMOS of today has engendered new categories and concepts of photography.

Photography is a reflexive, reactionary activity. I see beautiful light or the unusual in an every day event and my reaction is a desire to make a photograph. It’s a bit like breathing and has been since I was a kid.

Rather than sneer at snapshots, nowadays I seek them out; and when I seek them out, I do so with the Sony RX1 in my hand.

How I shoot with the RX1

Despite much bluster from commenters on other reviews as to the price point and the purpose-built nature of this camera (see above), the RX1 is incredibly flexible. Have a peek at some of the linked reviews and you’ll see handheld portraits, long exposures, images taken with off-camera flash, etc.

Yet, I mentioned earlier that I reach for the D800 when photography is the primary goal and so the RX1 has become for me a handheld camera—something I use almost exclusively at f/2 (people, objects, shallow DoF) or f/8 (landscapes in abundant light, abstracts). The Auto-ISO setting allows the camera to choose in the range from ISO 50 and 6400 to reach a proper exposure at a given aperture with a 1/80 s shutter speed. I have found this shutter speed ensures a sharp image every time (although photographers with more jittery grips may wish there was the ability to select a different default shutter speed). This strategy works because the RX1 has a delightfully clicky exposure compensation dial just under your right thumb—allowing for fine adjustment to the camera’s metering decision.

So then, if you find me out with the RX1, you’re likely to see me on aperture priority, f/2 and auto ISO. Indeed, many of the photographs on this page were taken in that mode (including lots of the landscape shots!).

Working within constraints.

The RX1 is a wonderful camera to have when you have to work within constraints. When I say this, I mean it is great for photography within two different classes of constraints: 1) physical constraints of time and space and 2) intellectual/artistic constraints.

To speak to the first, as I said earlier, many of the photographs on this page were made possible by having a camera with me at a time that I otherwise would not have been lugging around a camera. For example, some of the images from the Grand Canyon you see were made in a pinch on my way to a Christmas dinner with my family. I didn’t have the larger camera with me and I just had a minute to make the image. Truth be told, these images could have been made with my cell phone, but that I could wring such great image quality out of something not much larger than my cell phone is just gravy. Be it jacket pocket, small bag, bike bag, saddle bag, even fannie pack—you have space for this camera anywhere you go.

Earlier I alluded to the obtrusiveness of a large camera. If you want to travel lightly and make photographs without announcing your presence, it’s easier to use a smaller camera. Here the RX1 excels. Moreover, the camera’s leaf shutter is virtually silent, so you can snap away without announcing your intention. In every sense, this camera is meant to work within physical constraints.

I cut my photographic teeth on film and I will always have an affection for it. There is a sense that one is playing within the rules when he uses film. That same feeling is here in the RX1. I never thought I’d say this about a camera, but I often like the JPEG images this thing produces more than I like what I can push with a RAW. Don’t get me wrong, for a landscape or a cityscape, the RAW processed carefully is FAR, FAR better than a JPEG.

But when I am taking snapshots or photos of friends and family, I find the JPEGs the camera produces (I’m shooting in RAW + JPEG) so beautiful. The camera’s computer corrects for the lens distortion and provides the perfect balance of contrast and saturation. The JPEG engine can be further tweaked to increase the amount of contrast, saturation or dynamic range optimization (shadow boost) used in writing those files. Add in the ability to rapidly compensate exposure or activate various creative modes and you’ve got this feeling you’re shooting film again. Instant, ultra-sensitive and customizable film.

Pro Tip: Focusing

Almost all cameras come shipped with what I consider to be the worst of the worst focus configurations. Even the Nikon D800 came to my hands set to focus when the shutter button was halfway depressed. This mode will ruin almost any photograph. Why? Because it requires you to perform legerdemain to place the autofocus point, depress the shutter halfway, recompose and press the shutter fully. In addition to the chance of accidentally refocusing after composing or missing the shot—this method absolutely ensures that one must focus before every single photograph. Absolutely impossible for action or portraiture.

Sensibly, most professional or prosumer cameras come with an AF-ON button near where the shooter’s right thumb rests. This separates the task of focusing and exposing, allowing the photographer to quickly focus and to capture the image even if focus is slightly off at the focus point. For portraits, kids, action, etc the camera has to have a hair-trigger. It has to be responsive. Manufacturer’s: stop shipping your cameras with this ham-fisted autofocus arrangement.

Now, the RX1 does not have an AF-ON button, but it does have an AEL button whose function can be changed to “MF/AF Control Hold” in the menu. Further, other buttons on the rear of the camera can also be programmed to toggle between AF and MF modes. What this all means is that you can work around the RX1’s buttons to make it’s focus work like a DSLR’s. (For those of you who are RX1 shooters, set the front switch to MF, the right control wheel button to MF/AF Toggle and the AEL button to MF/AF Control Hold and voila!) The end result is that, when powered on the camera is in manual focus mode, but the autofocus can be activated by pressing AEL, no matter what, however, the shutter is tripped by the shutter release. Want to switch to AF mode? Just push a button and you’re back to the standard modality.

Carrying.

I keep mine in a small, neoprene pouch with a semi-hard LCD cover and a circular polarizing filter on the front—perfect for buttoning up and throwing into a bag on my way out of the house. I have a soft release screwed into the threaded shutter release and a custom, red twill strap to replace the horrible plastic strap Sony provided. I plan to gaffer tape the top and the orange ring around the lens. Who knows, I may find an old Voigtlander optical viewfinder in future as well.


MAXIMM 5 Feet |10 Pack | Multi-Color| Snagless Cat6 Ethernet Cable With Cable Ties

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