Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Splash Art Photography with a Fujifilm GFX 50s Part 3

Neon Uproar
f/11 ISO 400 1-second
 
Train wreck
f/11 ISO 400 1-second
 
Splash Dance
f/22 ISO 400 1-second
Back again with more information.
ELF Disruption
f/22 ISO 400 1-second
 

I recently upped the anti by adding 2-addition siphons for a total of 3-separate drops valves. Doing this we also changed the brains of the system from Cognisys Stopshot Water Drop kit to the much more involved Stopshot Studio 3 valve water drop kit.

Several thoughts on the Studio 3 system are; I can now control the entire enterprise directly from my laptop. The software included runs on both a Mac or PC and I'm using it on a 15” Microsoft Surface Book II from one of my USB 3 ports. Another thought is that I have better control over the individual drop valves setting them for up to 3-drops at a time and various intervals. The same is true with the flashes and I now routinely use between 2 and 3 flashes per session.  There’s much more to this however the greatest aspect is that I can drop up to 3-colors now.
Fracas
f/22 ISO 400 1-second
 
When I first began dropping 3-colors I decided to go for the standard RGB as in Red, Green and Blue. I’ve tried Purple, Yellow, Purple as well as various other colors. I’ve also experimented leaving the well clear of color; at least until I begin dropping into it which after awhile can make for an interesting color. I’ve also added colors to the well to experiment with the results. UPDATE: I now fill the well with clear cold water letting the colors add as the drops fall. I change the water depending on how long I shoot. 
I’ve tested various combinations of drops, 1 each, 2,1,1, 2-each, 1,2,1 etc. You are limited only by your imagination.
Amok
f/18 ISO 400 1-second
 
The last blog I shared I had ended up trying and liking a black paint roller tray. That still works well however I since found a new tray to act as the well.  It’s plastic, black and measures 12x32 and  about 1.5’ deep on the shallow end. The width and depth are good however the length is what makes this tray perfect. Made by Husky, it's a x-large stackable garage storage bin I happened to find at my local The Home Depot. I've been using this for several weeks now with great success.
Shambles
f/18 ISO 400 1-second
 
I’ve now just about perfected my solutions making me feel more mad scientist each time I make a batch. I normally make a batch of gum the night before making enough to fill the well to the level I want with a little left over for the siphons. I’ve got a couple older glass beakers I used to use in making up a varnish for my canvas prints. 50mg gum, 50 mg 2%milk, 100mg water and a generous helping of food coloring. Stir well before filling the siphons.  I’ve not been adding any colors to the well knowing that in time the drops from the siphons will color it.  I also found I like the well to be a darker color mixture so the eye stays with the drop sculpture.
UPDATE: I've done more research and I now shoot I'll be using a pure gum solution with 2% milk and food coloring. This solution gives a more plastic look to the drops.  I also stopped adding any gum solution to the well, instead I'm using plain cold tap water.  I also very recently began using cold water that has been refrigerated overnight in the well at a depth of approximately 1.5 inches.
Twisted Imp
f/18 ISO 400 1-second
 
Please note that I began writing this a several weeks ago updating  information along the way.

I haven’t talked about how I’ve been setting the camera up until now. I had been doing this in a small confined area that only had room for the small (24x42) folding table and rolling computer stand. I was forced to set the camera on the table due to limited area and kept going back and forth using either a table top tripod or a large Platypod. Both worked and both had their strengths and weaknesses. The new table I’m now using is 30x60 and set up in the garage which allows me the freedom of using a choice of either a tripod or table pod.
Ka-Boom
f/16 ISO 400 2-seconds
 
Manifesto
f/10 ISO 400 1-second
 
Macro photography is about getting as close to the subject as possible. The GF120 while a macro lens is still a 50% lens. Using the new 45mm extension tube allows me to photograph at 100% at a much closer distance. I’ve now used the 120 with and without the extension tube. The extension tube allows me to get in closer however I find that I might be too close as I was getting the occasional water drops on the lens. Removing the extension tube allows me to set back a couple inches further keeping the lens dry. I also use the lens hood in order to better protect the lens from splashes.  I found that in each case I was very pleased to have a full frame image that I could print. Here again you’ll need to experiment with your own setup.
Distracted
f/10 ISO 400 1-second
 
While not water drop related it nevertheless is macro related. I’ve also begun experimenting using the 45mm extension tube on the Fuji GF250 lens. I’ve attached the 1.4 extension to the 250 as well as the macro tube. I’ve found I can get macro images at a focal distance of 5 to 6 feet. I’ll share a couple samples here and maybe write more about this process later.
 
GF250, 1.4 extender 45mm macro extension tube
f/5.6 1/200 ISO 160
Handheld - cropped to taste
 
GF250, 1.4 extender 45mm macro extension tube
f/8 1/160 ISO 160
Handheld - cropped to taste
 
GF250, 1.4 extender 45mm macro extension tube
f/11 1/200 ISO 200
Handheld - cropped to taste
 

That's it for now, thanks for visiting, feel free to leave a comment or question and I'll do my best to answer all.
 
 
 
Don
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Splash Art Photography with a Fujifilm GFX 50s Part 2

f/11 2-seconds ISO 400
Singh Ray Color Intensifier Filter
Dual flash
 

I recently shared information on capturing water drops and want to expand on it.
Here is the equipment I’ve used so far. The camera is a Fujifilm GFX 50s medium format with cropped sensor. The lens is the Fujifilm GF120 macro which by itself is about 50% less than a true 100% macro. I’m using the new MCXX 45G WR extension tube which when combined to the GF120 allows me 100% macro. Using the extension tube also allows me a much closer focus distance by a factor of one-half. I’ve experminated using various f/stops and seem to like f/11 the most for the shallow depth of field.  I began using ISO 100 when I used a single flash and changed that to ISO 400 after adding a second flash.
f/11 2-seconds
Singh Ray Color Intensifier Filter
ISO 400 Dual Flash
 
Flash – I now use 2-separate flashes with the primary flash set at 290ms and the 2nd at 300 to 400ms. I’ve found the position of the flashes are just as important as the flash settings. Too close and you get burnout; too far, darkness and shadows. I’ve found it normally takes a couple minutes for the water to settle down and I’ve taken a couple images moving the flashes around before I settle into place.
 
f/11 2-seconds
ISO 400 Dual Flash

Timing is everything
 
I use a very dark room to capture the images with the shutter set on bulb mode. The water drop is triggered by pushing a button on the StopShot console only after I open the shutter. Stopshot controls the water drop and  triggers the flashes. Once the flash has activated I close the shutter. The entire time the shutter is open is between 2 and 3-seconds with the time dependent on how fast I release the button on the remote shutter release.  The camera captures the image during the instant the flashes fire.
Focus is done manually. I fire a drop into a container to see where it lands. Using that as a point of reference I then hold a pencil in the water to set the focus.
f/11 6-seconds
Dual Flash ISO 400
 
f/11 4-seconds
Dual Flash ISO 400
 
f/11 3-seconds
Dual Flash ISO 400
Custom White Balance
 

Water – I try to add some strength to the water and will generally mix a batch of Xanthan Gum to 2-cups of warm water letting it sit overnight. I’ve found that the gum thickens the water giving it a plastic look.  I also use food coloring in both the drop tube as well as the container it drops into.  Go crazy with the coloring.
f/11 2-seconds
Dual Flash ISO 400
 
f/11 3-seconds
Dual Flash ISO 400
 

I’ve now experimented using a bowl, plate, burner cover and paint roller tray. Each container has their good points however I find I like using the paint tray the most (make certain you get a black one).
Water drops are very much like snowflakes as no two are alike. They will be similar however they’ll surprise you when you least expect it.  The makeup of the water is key; do you have hard or soft water as each presents their own issues. Heat of the water and ambient temperature add into the mix. I’ve shot 3-days in a row using different water mixtures and each day it was slightly different to where I needed to change the timing of the flashes.  I’ve found my main flash stays in the neighborhood of 290 to 291.5ms while the secondary flash is anywhere from 300 to a high of 900ms. If I hadn’t shared this before I’ll do it now. Patience is the key here. It took me several hours that first day before I captured my first collision. Patience will remain being the key as each day brings its own issues.  Each mixture will be off just enough to make you stumble. Okay – enough said on Patience…
f/16 2-seconds
Dual Flash ISO 400
 
f/22 2-seconds
Dual Flash ISO 400
 
Capture format – JPEG or RAW.  I always capture in RAW format as that will give me the most information available. Yes, RAW files are larger than JPEG and can take slightly slower to capture if you are in continuous (burst) mode, however I’m not. Besides, RAW files are larger for a reason; the information they contain, so use it.  I’ll normally take close to 200 files at a sitting and use less than 10%.  I’ve found that you get into a visual overload where all the images look good and you have a difficult time picking the best of the best..
 
You don’t need medium format camera to do this and actually from what I’ve been able to learn I might be the only one if not a rare few who do. The normal camera system is 35mm. The one thing you’ll need is a macro lens. If you are like me and have one that isn’t a true maco then you’ll also need an extension tube. An extension tube will allow you to set the camera up and focus much closer. A remote shutter release is also a must as it keeps you fingers off the camera. And of course, a sturdy tripod for your camera.

Visit the Cognisy website for much more information on the water drop kit as well as other tools available.
I’ve got much more planned so please stay tuned for another update.
Over Ice
f/11 2-seconds
Dual Flash ISO 400
 
 
Don
 

 
 

 

 

 

 
 
 

 
 

 

 
 

 


Friday, July 20, 2018

Splash Art Photography with a Fujifilm GFX50s

f/4 ISO 100 (cropped from top and bottom)
 
I’ve been interested in splash art for some time experimenting at capturing water drops as they fall.  I recently found a company that produces a water drop kit that will help me capture water drops as they hit the surface.  Cognisys offers an array of water drop kits that allow you to capture 1 or more drops.  I’d suggest a visit to their website to learn more about what they offer.
 
f/4 ISO 100 (full frame)
 
Capturing water drops is all about timing. And luck. Lots of luck. It helps if you have a steady supply of water dispensing drops at a regular interval. It also helps if you have at least one flash as it will be the flash that freezes the action not the camera.
f/11 ISO 100 (full frame)
 
There are videos on YouTube available to help you begin capturing water drops just do as I did and use a search phrase of “water drop photography”.  What I’ve learned during my research is the majority of photographers are using 35mm cameras.  A must is a macro lens as is a tripod and of course a flash.  I happen to use a Fujifilm GFX 50s medium format camera. There are differences between using 35mm and medium format among them is shutter lag; the delay between triggering the shutter and when the image is actually recorded.  Each camera system has a different shutter lag with a 35mm normally faster than medium  format.
f/11 ISO 100 (full frame)
While water drop photography can be captured in normal light using a high shutter speed and flash the shutter lag can become a problem.  The best way to work around this is going dark. I’ve gone back to a dark room much the same as when I worked in a wet dark room. Believe me I’ve laughed at the irony of using what has become a wet darkroom to capture digital images.  Working in a dark room allows me to set the camera in bulb mode before triggering the water drop. The drop falls causing the flash to light and shortly afterwards I close the shutter. The camera only captures at the instant the flash works so allowing for any delay on my part the shutter is open between 1 and 2-seconds.
f/11 ISO 100 (full frame)
 
Here is the first attempted setup using our kitchen; notice the black paper covering the windows.
 

I used a spare tripod to set the water drop kit on over the counter and while it worked it also took up a lot of space.  I have a copy stand on order which is a much small footprint and will allow the height I need.  I’m also moving from the kitchen to a smaller windowless room that will allow me to photograph in the daytime in complete darkness. The next blog will be from that setup.  I’ll be sharing a complete list of equipment used in the next blog as well.

Splash Art is much more involved and I plan on adding to this as I learn so please stay tuned.
 
 
Don

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Good news

Our web gallery is back on line and fully functional. We had to rewrite the entire site so this will look totally different: in a good way.  We also revamped the buying experience which should be easier. Come visit www.Ironcreekphotography.com kick the tires and give us a try.

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Updates

Good news, our regular email and web gallery are both restored.  The web gallery had to be built from the ground up so while doing that we changed a few things to make it easier to navigate. Please visit and let us know what you think of the new site.

We're in the process of writing a blog on our recent visit to Scotland which we hope to have published soon. We will also share thoughts on the new Fujifilm GF 250 and 1.4 extender as well as the 45mm extension tube. All of these had to take a backseat in order to get our web gallery restored.

Stay tuned for more.


Sandy & Don

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Website Issues

The company we host our web gallery suffered a catastrophic failure earlier this week. This failure affects both our web gallery and email addresses.
 
The good news is that our blog is run separately and we continue to have an older email address. We are advising our clients and visitors to use ironcreekphoto@msn.com as our primary email address.   You can also continue to contact via the telephone numbers listed.

It will be sometime before we have our web gallery back and we thank you for your patience and understanding.


Sandy & Don Libby

Friday, March 16, 2018

Catching up on the Fujifilm GFX50s


Fujifilm GFX50s, Mamiya 200APO
1/3200 ISO 400





Before we begin speaking directly about the Fujifilm GFX50s we'd like to introduce a great camera store.

 Foto Care is located in New York on 41-43 West 22nd Street.  Foto Care has been on our radar for some time however we’ve only recently begun shopping there and more importantly recommending them. There are a few things (actually more than just a “few”) we like about Foto Care. First, our colleague  Anthony Festa works there.  Anthony is a great photographer as well as being a highly skilled technician; he’s our go to guy for anything we screw up on our cameras or software.

The second reason for liking Foto Care as much as we do is their diversification of products offered.  From cameras of all types, to tripods, bags, storage,and of course service.  While Sandy still prefers to shoot with a 35mm camera Don prefers medium format and Foto Care can offer Don a choice of platforms ranging from Fujifilm, Hasselblad, Mamiya, Leaf, and Phase One.  For 35mm shooters the offering is just as wide with selections ranging from Canon to Nikon, Fujifilm and Leica.
You can visit Foto Cares website by clicking here or follow them on Facebook by clicking here. Neither of us are employed by or are affiliated to Foto Care in any way. We neither receive payment nor other compensation and are recommending them as we feel they are an excellent source for camera gear. 
  
1/400 ISO 160
 
We plan on writing more on Foto Care soon. In the meantime…

We recently visited the Reid Park Zoo in Tucson.  The primary purpose was for Sandy to test her new FE100-400 with her Sony A7rII.  (we’ll be sharing this soon). Don decided to use the Mamiya 200 AP attached to the GFX 50s via a Fotodiox pro lens mount adaptor.  The 200mm is currently his longest available lens and he is very patiently waiting for the Fujifilm GF 250 to be released. Okay maybe not so patiently. Don has cut his emails down to once a month to Anthony on this subject. Don’s  biggest fear is that it’ll be released in June while we are in Scotland and he’ll have to wait until we return to try it out.
1/400 ISO 160

The above image shows the full-frame version while the bottom is a 100% crop.  This as well as all the other images in this blog were captured handheld.  The processing was all accomplished in Adobe ACR and Photoshop CC.  I’d like to point out that the amount of processing was kept at a minimum and in all cases I used “Shake Reduction” either at 100% or 50% depending on the file.    

 
Full-frame 1/3200 ISO 200
100% crop
The Mamiya 200 APO was kept attached to the camera the entire time in the zoo and shot without the extender. While Don could have used the 1.4 extender on some occasions he found the resolution to be more than good enough to allow for cropping in. Since he was shooting animals, most of which were moving Don decided to do a continuous capture (or burst mode) thus allowing to take several frames at a time. There’s a trade off with this type of shooting which is volume. Don keeps 2-64-BG cards in both slots at all times; ending up using 1-entire card before it automatically switched to the second for a total of 566-frames. Don hadn’t done that much shooting since we were  in Alaska several years ago shooting bald eagles as they were feeding.

1/400 ISO 250
 
1/400 ISO 640

Don found the overall weight of the camera and lens to be more than manageable while walking around the zoo for several hours and miles.  This is something Don would not have attempted with his older medium format kit as it was much heavier and slower.
Yes, its a crop!
1/4000 ISO 800
 
As is this one

1/400 ISO 800
 
While Don carried a spare battery he never had to change.  Beginning the day with a freshly charged battery that showed 4-bars on the indicator; he ended the day with the same battery showing 3-bars. It was a pleasant day with partly cloudy and temps in the mid 60’s.
 
1/640 ISO 400
 
1/500 ISO 200
We had a lot of fun photographing at the zoo and are looking forward to our trip to San Diego later this year hopefully after Don gets his Fuji GF 250.    
It was an interesting exercise as the range of movement was either glacier slow or very fast.  The Mamiya 200 APO is a great lens to use as it is totally manual from the aperture to the focusing.  Don is still excited about being able to capture with a longer lens that offers the choice of auto-focus.  
Capturing this guy was more luck than anything else. Don is still uncertain if he was posing or just showing off.  
1/500 ISO 200
We have more to share with the next blog showing how well the Sony FE100-400 works with the A7rII so please stay tuned.
Thanks for visiting
 
 
Sandy & Don

 


 

 

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Shooting Northern Lights with a Fuji GFX 50s

Fujifilm GFX50s GF 23mm
f/4 20-seconds ISO 2500
Singh Ray LB Color Intensifier

We recently spent a week in Alaska attempting to capture the Aura Borealis or Northern Lights.  While we did see them we were only able to capture them 2-out of 5-nights due to heavy cloud coverage.  We also learned that while January is okay the real show normally begins mid-February lasting until the end of March.  Needless to say we’re already making plans to return.
23mm f/4 20-seconds ISO 2500
Singh Ray LB Color Intensifier

The Northern Lights began to show close to midnight and lasted until around 3am.  The temperatures while shooting ranged from a high of -10 to a low of -25 degrees and one night the wind was in excess of 20mph with gusts where it made it uncomfortable to stand straight.
I used a combination of the Fujifilm GFX 50s and 2-lenses; GF23mm f/4 and a GF63mm F/2.8.  I also used a Wine Country Camera filter system with a Singh Ray LB Color Intensifier filter.  Samples where no filter was used for comparison are included.

23mm 10-seconds ISO 2000
No filter

I had no issues using the GFX50s with either lens. I made certain the battery was fully charged at the beginning and carried a spare kept warm inside my jacket and never had to change batteries during the 90-minure period I was outside shooting.  I would spend between 60 and 90-minutes outside at a time before going inside to warm up and return back for more punishment.  The first night I shot I changed batteries just as a precaution however the second night I didn’t.
63mm f/2.8 10-seconds ISO 2000
No filter
 
63mm f/2.8 10-seconds ISO 2000
with filter

The Wine Country Camera filter system worked well and was very easy to use.  The Singh Ray filter was in a 100x100 “filter vault” which slipped into the filter holder.  The vault system helps protect the filter while making it much easier to remove while wearing thick gloves.
63mm f/2.8 10-seconds ISO 2000
No filter 

There isn’t much more I can say about the Singh Ray LB Color Intensifier than I’ve already shared. I spent a couple minutes shooting without it and after seeing the results in camera I immediately decided to keep it in place.  I found that using the filter instantly produced richer colors.
63mm f/2.8 4-seconds ISO 2000
with filter

The average ISO used was 2000 to 2500 at anywhere between 4.0 to 20-seconds. I shot both lenses wide open using f/4 for the 23mm and f/2.8 for the 63mm.  Surprisingly my favorite lens turned out to be the slower GF23mm f/4.
While I’m disappointed at the lack of northern lights I am very pleased with what I was  able to capture.  I’m equally pleased with the performance of the GFX50s as well as the lenses.  I did other shooting while in Alaska last month with some of it in cold wet conditions just not at night and never encountered any difficulties.
I had tested the Singh Ray LB color intensifier prior to Alaska and was pleased with the results of shooting sunrise and sunsets. I figured if it failed to work with the northern lights I’d still be happy; however it works better than I could have hoped for.
23mm f/4 20-seconds ISO 2500
with filter
 
63mm f/2.8 20-seconds ISO 2000
with filter
 
I highly recommend the Fujifilm GFX with any combination of GF lenses. I also recommend using the Wine Country Camera filter system for your filters. And lastly I highly recommend giving the Singh Ray LB color intensifier filter a try as I believe you’ll be just as pleased as I am.

The following image is from the first night we saw the northern lights.  The temp was hovering around -20 with winds gusting to well over 20mph. This is a really quick capture at around 11pm using the GFX 23mm f/4 13-seconds ISO 6400 and the LB Color Intensifier filter.  The red lights are from our headlamps which I forgot to turn off due to the excitement of actually seeing the light show. There’s no processing done here other than converting to Jpeg and resizing the image.



There’s more to come so please stay tuned.
Don
 
23mm f/4 20-seconds ISO 2000
with filter