Monday, October 6, 2014

Visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park with a Sony A7r

We've been thinking of going to San Diego for a number of years and finally went last month.  While planning the trip we wanted to visit either the San Diego Zoo or the Safari Park (or both) and ended up going to the Safari Park twice during our stay; it was that much fun.  Lions, Tigers,  Gorillas, birds of all kinds and, Elephants.  There's so much to see it takes several days to see it all and we decided to spend our entire stay at the Safari Park.
123mm f/4 1/125 ISO 50

200mm f/4 1/500 ISO 50

200mm f/4 1/500 ISO 50

200mm f/4 1/500 ISO 50
While there's a tram that visitors can ride we opted to walk.  We went through the "Wings of the World" on our way to the "Gorilla Forest" where we spent several hours over the next two-days; we walked through the "African Woods" and "African Outpost" into the "Lion Camp".  We saw Giraffes, Rhinoceros and Water Buffalo to name just a few.  Our next stop was in "Elephant Valley", where we spent several hours there over the next couple days.
Babies of all sizes
200mm f/4 1/100 +0.7 ISO 1250 (shot in 830nm IR)
200mm f/4 1/125 ISO 50

200mm f/5 1/160 ISO 250

200 mm f/4 1/50 ISO 100
200mm f/5.6 1/200 ISO 100

89mm f/5 1/125 ISO 50
We quickly found we had two favorite spots; the Gorillas and Elephants.  After spending several hours at each we could see how the two species care for one-another.  Each is protective of their "pack" (for lack of a better term).  While we knew that Elephants are protective of one-another we were surprised at how well behaved the Gorillas were.
The expressions on the Gorillas were priceless; the longer we watched them the more we saw their individualism. 
200mm f/4 1/80 ISO 50
There's a side story to the next two-images. This one was getting fed up with the antics of two-teenagers who were racing around acting very much like teenagers so he decided to go off by himself for some quite time.  Only it didn't last long... 
The other interesting aspect of these two images is Sandy's was shot using "normal" color while Don's was captured using a color filter attached to the full spectrum body.
200mm f/4.5 1/160 ISO 320

200mm f/5 1/125 ISO 400

"Can You Hear Me Now?"
200mm f/5.6 1/160 ISO 640

200mm f/5.6 1/160 ISO 250

200mm f/6.3 1/160 ISO 400
200mm f/4.0 1/125 +0.7 ISO 320
We aren't going to attempt to write much more about the Safari Park other than to say if you have a chance to visit San Diego try and make it out there as it's well worth the time.
"Peek a boo"
118mm f/6.3 1/250 ISO 50

200mm f/6.3 1/250 ISO 50

200mm f/5.6 1/125 ISO 50

All the images included here were taken with a Sony A7r and a Sony FE 70-200 lens.  Sandy has a 7r that shoots regular color while Don has one that captures full spectrum and can also capture color and infrared (more on that later).  All of Sandy's images were captured handheld while Don used a combination of handheld and a monopod.
You can't go to San Diego without seeing a couple Flamingos.

Couldn't resist one more image...
Thank you for visiting and allowing us to share the Safari Park.
 Sandy & Don



Sunday, October 5, 2014

Hartblei 45mm Super-Rotator

I made the switch to medium format late 2007 using a Phase One P30+ digital back attached to a Mamiya AFD camera body.  Among the lenses I was using at the time was a 45mm Hartblei Super-Rotator made in Kiev, Ukraine which taking a huge leap of faith I bought off E-Bay.  After waiting almost 30-days the lens arrived and boy was I impressed.  The lens is heavy and well made with little to no plastic with the setting numbers engraved and painted. 
3-shot image 12mm left/right and center on tripod
f/11 1/320 ISO 64 (full spectrum)
I ended up using the lens in shots in the Redwoods and Sequoia's among other locations with great success.  The Super-Rotator is a unique design that allows a tilt-shift capable of tilting in any axis. That's the good news; the bad is that it is slow to use and requires deliberate thought.  Manual focus and aperture ring allows the lens to be used on multiple camera bodies with the proper adaptor (more on this later).  Set at zero the lens can be shifted 12mm left, then rotating the lens to 180° it shifts 12mm right.  Likewise with the lens set at zero you can tilt the lens upwards then rotating to 270° lower it.  You can also rotate in-between shifting and using tilt to suit your needs.  The best way for me to describe this is to point to the website showing the instructions which are found here.  It can be confusing at first but like anything after a little practice it becomes clear.
Lens attached to the Phase One DF

Adaptor for the Sony

Hartblei attached to the Sony A7r

Sadly I sold the lens shortly after getting my Cambo WRS technical camera as I had (at that time) no need for a tilt/shift lens.  Fast-forward to now.  I've continued using the WRS as my main landscape camera and am using a Phase One DF 645 camera body as well.  I've also added the new Sony A7r after having it converted first to shoot 665nm infrared and just recently having it re-converted to capture full spectrum (more on this later). 


Sunbeam Rest Area I-8 California
Handheld with slight amount of rise
830nm IR

Another example of slight rise (tilt)

Lens centered and handheld
I found that I wanted/needed a lens capable of tilt/shift for the 7r.  I could have added a Canon tilt/shift lens however I wanted a lens that could be used on the 7r or the DF body and instantly thought of the Hartblei.  The added benefit of using the 45mm Hartblei was the ability to use additional filters as well as my placing it on the 7r it captures the "sweet-spot" of the medium format lens as well as making it into a wide 28mm.  Best of both worlds.

Two classic examples of not thinking it thru.  I had originally wanted to see what a square image would look like however instead of shooting the required 9-files I only shot 7.  At least I did get a good pano as evidenced of the first image shows.
Then there's this one.  As I was returning home I came across a small cattle drive.  Not having much time to switch lenses or add filters I made sure the lens was centered and captured this in full spectrum.  The file was later processed using a combination of Capture One 8 and Photoshop CC and Nik Software.
f/11 1/320 ISO 64

Placing any medium format lens on the 7r works well as the 35mm sensor works with the center of the lens which is the sweet spot of just about all lens. I've written about this before and won't go into it again.  Placing a tilt/shift lens on a mirrorless camera is a great idea.  With any lens on a mirrorless camera you are seeing what the sensor sees which aids in shutter speed and aperture.  Adding a tilt/shit lens adds to the experience as you instantly see what the changes are as you make them in live view.  Again, using this or any tilt/shift lens requires deliberate thought as to what effect you are looking for (I'll address more later).  In short, I'm extremely pleased with the lens and look forward to using it for years to come. 

This will become a two-part series addressing/showing how the Hartblie Super-Rotator works first on the Sony A7r then on the Phase One DF with an IQ160 digital. 
As always, let me know if you have any questions that I can answer.



Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Palouse

After the harvest
Sony A7r FE 70-200mm (103mm, f/8 1/400 ISO 50)
Dusty work
Phase One DF/IQ160 Schneider LS 240mm (f/8 1/500 ISO 50)
There's a region in southeastern Washington and north central Idaho that is a major agricultural area producing primarily wheat and legumes.  One of the features that makes this area unique is large areas of level land are rare.  Undulating hills with crops can be seen for miles.
Old Storage
Sony A7r FE 24-70 (24mm f/11 1/320 ISO 50)

Close up
Phase One DF/IQ160 Schneider LS 240mm (f/4.5 1/320 ISO 50)
We've know about this area for several years however we just hadn't been able to visit it due to our other shooting commitments.  That is until this past August when we decided to take the time and do an all too short visit as we made our way north from Arizona to Jackson Hole.  The trip from Tucson turned out to be a little over 1500-miles and took 2 1/2 days.

Old Barn
Phase One DF/IQ160 Mamiya LS 55mm (f/8 1/400 ISO 50)

Palouse Field
Phase One DF/IQ160 Mamiya 120mm (f/11 1/200 ISO 50)
Having no experience in the area we decided to spend time in Moscow Idaho and travel into Washington State just barely scratching the surface.  We visited the areas around Pullman, Palouse and Colfax finding stunningly beautiful areas that just begged to be photographed.
Palouse Harvest
Sony A7r FE 24-70 (31mm f/8 1/200 ISO 50)
Palouse Afternoon
Phase One DF/IQ160 Mamiya LS 55mm (f/11 1/200 ISO 50)

What should you expect is rolling hills with depending on the season, crops or crops being harvested.  Beautiful skies, beautiful colors on the ground with an almost dreamlike quality.  Old buildings that have seen better days as well as dusty roads.
Sony A7r FE 24-70 (70mm f/8 1/160 ISO 50)

Phase One DF/IQ160 Mamiya 80mm (f/2.8 1/2500 ISO 50)
This just scratches the surface of what you can expect and from our too short stay; we are already planning return visits. 

Image Samples:
What we've posted are great examples of how well the Sony A7r can work beside a 60 megapixel digital back.  You'll notice that in each case we're shooting using the lowest possible ISO.  The f/stops range from wide open at f/2.8 to closing down at f/13.  Another note is that we primarily shoot in full manual mode being that we decide which stop we use, likewise the shutter speed.  It's easy in a mirrorless camera like the 7r as what you see in the viewfinder is what the sensor sees--which means what you see is what you get.  It gets slightly more complicated when using a camera with a mirror like the Phase One DF where you need to be aware of the readings in the camera viewfinder. 
Sony A7r FE 70-200 (144mm f/13 1/200 ISO 50)
You'll also notice none of the images were captured using the Cambo WRS technical camera; not that Don didn't want to.  The sole reason none were taken is that the camera was sitting in Jackson Hole.  We have a return trip scheduled very soon and Don has every intention of using the Cambo as well as the infrared converted Sony A7r.
Having limited time as we did, we stayed close to the Palouse Scenic Byway visiting areas near Colfax, Palouse, Pullman and just skirting Steptoe Butte.
We'll be going back...
Sandy & Don