Saturday, December 27, 2014

Grand Canyon Inversion

Phase One DF/IQ180 150mm f/6.3 1/250 ISO 35
Sony A7r FE70-200 (104mm) f/11 1/320 ISO 125

Normally when visitors come to the South Rim of the Grand Canyon they expect to see the majestic wonders of looking into the canyon and seeing the North Rim in the distance. And normally they would. December 2014 offered a rare treat for visitors; first on December 13th then again on the 20th. While we missed the first one, we were fortunate to witness the second on the 20th. We're uncertain if the weather service is calling the 20th an inversion as it looks like it only effected part of the canyon. Arriving the morning of the 20th we were greeted with scattered clouds near Mather Point however the further east we went the more clouds we began seeing until the entire canyon was filled.

Phase One DF/IQ180 80mm  f/8 1/320 ISO 35

Sony A7r FE24-70 (24mm) f/6.3 1/100 ISO 50

Looking at the effect of the clouds covering the canyon makes one believe you're on the top of the world looking down. Views of the beautiful colors normally found inside the canyon are obscured with clouds. The North Rim is just barely visible and you can forget seeing the Colorado River. What you do see is peaks that are just barely visible inside the canyon as they take on an appearance of creatures swimming in a sea of whip cream.

Phase One DF/IQ180 80mm f/8 1/400 ISO 35
Sony A7r FE70-200(123mm) f/8 1/100 ISO 50

The National Weather Service says the event happens about once every couple years.  Don has been fortunate to see this during a visit several years ago near Bright Angel Trail Overlook and happened to photograph it as it began clearing.  This year we sat for several hours watching the event unfold without it dissipating.  We stopped at several overlooks slowly making our way to Desert View finally stopping at Grand View where we could just barley make out the tower in the distance.

Sony A7r FE24-70 (70mm) f/8 1/100 ISO 50 

From what we understand, the clouds are forced down by warm air and are unable to rise above the rim thus causing an inversion.  An inversion can last several hours to most of the day when fog sticks around and is built up overnight when there isn't any wind.  I remember the morning being cold yet with no wind once the sun rose it felt warmer.

Sony A7r FE70-200 (70mm) f/7.1 1/125 ISO 80

Closer to the canyon walls you'll be greeted with what can best be described as a surf effect as the clouds/fog move against the walls.  While many visitors were probably disappointed in not being able to see the bottom of the canyon they nevertheless were treated to a visually beautiful event like none other.  Just another reason to visit one of the seven natural wonders of the world.

Sony A7r FE70-200 (97mm) f/13 1/250 ISO 50
Cambo WRS/IQ180 40mm HR 3-shot panorama
Next stop is Moab so stay tuned.

Sandy & Don

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

A Little Bit Of Everything

Sometimes it's difficult to put a name to a blog post, especially when we're sharing so much. 

This post includes images from Sandy and her Sony A7r, the full spectrum Sony A7r, as well as Don's Phase One DF and Cambo with a new digital back; the 80 megapixel IQ180.. 

We went out for a couple days shortly after Don got his new IQ180 from Capture Integration in order to get use to it. We visited Saguaro National Park in Tucson where the following images were shot. While we're including images from both the IQ180 and Sony A7r they are not meant to be offered as any type of comparison in image quality. 

 The new IQ180 on the Phase One DF camera. The green in the image display is the focus mask at work. (taken with the Sony A7r):


This is the image that was captured above.  The file was opened in Capture One Pro and processed to this point.

Here's a shot of the Cambo WRS/IQ180 40HR on a Kirk Window mount working as a ground pod.  We had to use this pod due to the very close area we were shooting in. (taken with the Sony A7r)

  This is the image captured from above. 

Sandy did more than take pictures of medium format cameras in use; here is a shot taken from the same location in Saguaro National Park.


Sony A7r FE24-70 (24mm) f/7.1 1/160 ISO 50. Processed first in C1-Pro then opened in PS-CC and Nik Software. 

There's an overpass in Marana AZ where the I-10 passes over a set of railroad tracks that Sandy spotted on our way home from the Saguaro National Park.  We returned the following day to capture it.

Sony A7r FE 24-70 (24mm) handheld, no crop f/4 1/200 ISO 50.


Sony A7r FE16-35 (34mm) handheld, no crop full spectrum with a 590nm filter attached to the lens. f/10 1/640 ISO 400 


Cambo WRS/IQ180 1/180 ISO 35

The processing on all three of the above images was done in C1-Pro 8.02.  The two handheld shots were straighten and converted to black & white using adjustments found in C1.  The 590nm file also received a little help with the custom white balance in C1. The file shot with the IQ180 was also opened and processed in C1Pro where it was processed in black and white using a custom adjustment. 

And some close-ups.. 

The hummingbird surprised Sandy as she was out shooting.

Sony A7r FE24-70 (70mm) f/6.3 1/200 ISO 50.  Handheld shot cropped in to better show the little bird.  While it was first opened in C1 Pro and processed, it was also sent to PS-CC where using the Anti Shake filter added clarity. 


 Non-crop file, Sony A7r FE 24-70 (70mm) shot on monopod f/5 1/200 ISO 50

Cropped image from above.  This shows the effect of shooting on a monopod as well as using the anti-shake filter in PS-CC.  Also helps to be shooting with a 36-megapixel camera... 

Sometime a slip of the trigger can produce a pleasing image. 

 Sony A7r 4.5 1/100 ISO 50  

Phase One DF/IQ180 150mm lens at f2.8 1/600 ISO 35 shot on tripod (not cropped).  Don was trying to capture a bee however it stayed on the other side of the bottle brush.  Maybe better luck next time.


Close up of cotton alongside the road in Marana.  Sony A7r FE24-70 (70mm) f/4 1/200 ISO 50 handheld non cropped.



Phase One recently updated Capture One (we use C1-Pro) to 8.0.2.  C1 isn't the easiest processing software to learn however once you have the basics it does get easier.  Don has used Photoshop since shortly after it was released and is more at home than in C1.  Actually we hadn't begun using C1 until a couple years ago after it was more user-friendly with 64-bit.   C1 8.0 was released a couple months ago adding several new improvements; among them better support for Sony.  One of the improvements we like the most is the new Film Grain tool which is found in the black & white images above. 

While we continue to be more comfortable in Photoshop we also recommend giving Capture One a try.  There are a number of videos on YouTube that are offered by Phase One that will help in learning the software.  Give it a try whether or not you use medium format or Sony.  What we've found is the new black & white adjustments rival that of Nik software.

And now to our new digital back. 

Don began shooting digital medium format in 2007 with a 30.6 megapixel Phase One P30+ which had a crop of 1.3.  Sadly, that back was unsuited for working with a technical camera and was replaced with a 39 megapixel P45+ that had a crop of 1.1.  The P45+ with a crop factor of 1.1 was at the time the closest to "full-frame" medium format there was. The P45+ served well on the Cambo WRS technical camera for quite awhile.  Mid 2008 Phase One introduced a full-frame 60 megapixel P65+. It wasn't until May 2011 that we upgraded to the P65+ and discovered the joys of 60 megapixel full frame shooting.  

Cameras, much like computers have a very short lifespan.  By that we mean that just as soon as a camera is introduced, within a year or two another one will show up.  Prime example -- what's going on currently with the Sony A7 series; first it was just the A7 and A7r which was quickly followed by the A7s and now the A7 MKII.  All four of the Sony A7 line has been introduced within a span of 12-months. 

The beginning of 2011 was when Phase One dropped a bombshell with the introduction of the IQ series.  You had a choice of 40-megapixel IQ140, 60-megapixel IQ160 and the 80-megapixel IQ180.  Much larger touch screen, live view, focus mask, onboard level, firewire 800 and after several long months, a working USB3 port.  The screen is 3.2 inch retina type multi touch with 1.15 megapixel resolution.  And I almost forgot to add the ability that with one tap on the screen you can bring the file into 100% resolution to check focus.  Simply put, while this is a kickass digital back to be used on a 645-dslr camera body it was heaven sent for use on a technical camera. So how long did it take Don to upgrade?  Slightly longer than you might think. 

Don upgraded to the IQ160 in early 2013. 

The features offered by the IQ was too much not to upgrade to especially when you consider how well it interfaces with a technical camera.  So why not jump to the IQ180?  Simple, we got a great deal on a slightly used IQ160 that had been used by a friend of ours.  But that isn't the end. 

A couple weeks ago we were offered a deal on an IQ 180 which is the digital back Don has lusted for since it was introduced in 2011.  The IQ160 has a low ISO of 50 while the IQ180 shoots at 35.  For a landscape photographer the lower the ISO the better.  Added to this is the extra 20-megapixels and slightly longer exposure.  Don is indeed a very happy camper. 

We wrote recently of our camera dealer, CaptureIntegration.  Once again we strongly recommend Capture Integration as a place to contact if you are looking for camera equipment whether it be medium format or 35mm, new, used or rental.  Contact them, you won't be sorry. 

And speaking of sorry, this is one of our longer posts however we wanted to catch everyone up with what's been going on with Iron Creek Photography.  We have a trip planned in the near future to visit Moab UT and the South Rim Grand Canyon before the end of the year.  Since we aren't certain if there's going to be another post before the end of the year we want to wish everyone Happy Holidays and a safe New Year.



Sandy & Don


Monday, November 24, 2014

Using a Sony FE 16-35 on a Sony A7r

f/8 1/400 ISO 1600
f/8 1/400 ISO 640
I enjoy pushing boundaries which is just one reason I like to capture in the infrared spectrum.  I'm currently on my 3rd converted camera having begun with a Canon 1DsII then a Sony NEX7 both converted to capture in the 665nm range.  The current camera is a Sony A7r which I had converted to capture 665nm and later re-converted to capture full spectrum.
The first thing I've learned in capturing IR is that not all lenses play well with some producing a hot spot (normally found in the center of the image).  I quickly found that it didn't matter the manufacture or the cost of the lens, if it was going to give me a hot spot.  I've had an expensive lens produce a hot shot while a cheaper on didn't, then again I was surprised when it happened in reverse.  There's several listing of lenses that produce hot spots just do a web search to find them.  This is the most terrifying aspect for me when ordering a new lens and so far with the 7r I've been very lucky.  I have now tried several lenses, Sony FE 70-200, FE 55, FE35, FE24-70, FE16-35 and the super fast Mitakon Speedmaster II 50mm f/0.95 and all perform well.
f/8 1/640 ISO 1000

f/8 1/640 ISO 2000
The images included here were all captured using the Sony A7r converted to full spectrum with a 830nm filter attached to the new Sony FE 16-35mm lens.  All the samples were captured at 16mm handheld with the ISO set to "Auto".
f/10 1/640 ISO 2500

f/10 1/640 ISO 2500
The files were opened in Capture One Pro where a lens correction was applied prior to correcting the white balance.  Minor processing was also done on a case by case basis before saving as a Tiff and sent to Photoshop CC.  Once in PS the files were opened where I ran an automated infrared adjustment as well as using the shake reduction filter (I do this on any handheld file) then resized and saved as a jpeg.  No other processing was performed likewise no cropping was done.
f/10 1/640 ISO 1000

f/10 1/640 ISO 2500
My instant gut reaction as to how the new Sony FE16-35 performs with a infrared converted camera is favorable.  I've now tested the lens in full spectrum and 830nm and can find no fault.  I plan on testing in 590 and 720 shortly and will post those results as well.

Once again thanks for visiting.





Thursday, November 13, 2014

Mitakon Speedmaster II 50mm f/0.95 (M67)


The Mitakon Speedmaster II 50mm f/0.95 (M67) arrived in the post yesterday and I began testing it shortly afterwards.  I used a Voigtlander Nokton 50mm f/1.1 several years ago when I still had my Leica M9 and have fond memories of the lens and recently begun craving a lens such as the Nokton to use on the Sony A7r and stumbled across the Mitakon. I first wrote about the Nokton 50mm f/1.1 on August 5, 2011 here 

The Mitakon Speedmaster was introduced May 6. 2014; available for pre-order by Shenyang Optical Electronics Ltd and made in China; with the first version shipping with a filter thread of 58mm however this was quickly changed as well as other modifications to the current 67mm filter.  The lens was renamed the Mitakon Speedmaster "Dark Knight" and introduced this past September at Photokina 2014. 

Taken with the Nokton 50mm f/1.1 on a Leica f/1.1 August 2011
Taken yesterday; the color is much better than from 2011

We have several Cheyenne Dog Soldier masks that were made by Cindy Jo; they guard us while we're here and the house when we aren't.

I'm just beginning to get used to this wonderful lens and will be sharing thoughts and images to come. In the meantime here are three sample images from this afternoon. All were captured at f/.95 handheld with the ISO set to "Auto". All were taken using ambient light....


I now have 3-lenses to choose from when using my modified Sony A7r; the Sony FE 24-70 that weights 1 pound 1.2 oz; the medium format 45mm Hartblei Super Rotator weighing in at 2 pounds 8.6 oz (which includes the Sony adaptor and tripod plate) and now the Mitakon 50mm which weighs 1 pound 13.3 oz.  I also have the new Sony FE 16-35 that with any luck will be in by hands by the end of next week.  I used my Dymo scale to weigh all 3-lenses just as I began writing this.
The Speedmaster is a manual lens; manual focus and manual aperture with a Sony E-mount so unlike the Hartblei there's no adaptor needed thus keeping the weight now.  I've found a manual focus lens on the Sony A7r is easy, especially using the focus peeking option.  I realize I've only had the Speedmaster for less that 24-hours however the files I see are all sharp and well detailed with excellent color thus I highly recommend the lens if you need/require a uber fast lens, with shallow depth of field and great detail.

A note on the camera used.  These samples were all captured using the Sony A7r modified to capture full spectrum; a filter was used to capture true color after making certain I had a custom white balance.  
This is just the beginning so stay tuned if you want more information on this lens.



Monday, October 27, 2014

Return to The Palouse

Old Flour Mill
Sony A7r FE24-70 (50mm)

Sony A7r FE70-200 (200mm)

Cambo WRS/Phase One IQ160

Sony A7r FE24-70 (29mm)
After only having one-shooting day in The Palouse earlier this year we decided to return to see what early fall would bring.  The plan was to spend at least 4-days shooting and scouting using whatever equipment we had available to capture the best possible image we could.  The good news was that the weather cooperated for the most part giving us 2-days of beautiful cloudy days; 1 day with heavy overcast and 1-day of rain.

Phase One DF/IQ160 and a 45mm Hartblei Super-Rotator

Sony A7r FE24-70 (29mm)
I strongly suggest you do a Google on "The Palouse" if you are unfamiliar with either the name or location.  As we stated before, this is a landscape photographer's paradise.   Rolling hills which go on forever, various shades of color and beautiful cloudy days.  Thrown into this is a mixture of old abandoned buildings and railroad tracks and you soon see what the attraction is.
Sony A7r FE24-70 (24mm) 830nm Infrared

Sony A7r FE24-70 (24mm) 830nm Infrared

Sony A7r FE24-70 (49mm)

Sony A7r FE24-70 (70mm)
Sometimes you need to listen to the image as you process it.  The following image is of an old abandoned farm house that was captured using a 830nm filter; it looks so much better with a sepia tone than black and white.

Sony A7r FE24-70 (30mm) 830nm Infrared
Two separate views of the Palouse Falls.

Sony Ar7 FE24-70 (51mm)

Phase One DF/IQ160 and a 45mm Hartblei Super-Rotator
2-shot image shifting left to right
We ended up shooting a combination of color and infrared using Sandy's Sony A7r, Don's Sony A7r converted to capture full spectrum and his Phase One IQ160 digital back attached to either a Phase One DF 645 camera or a Cambo WRS technical camera. 
Phase One DF/IQ160 150mm

Sony Ar7 FE24-70 (25mm)

Sony A7r FE24-70 (70mm)
We traveled on both paved and dirt/dusty roads in search of the perfect image.  During our travels we found an old gas station, as well as a flour mill, old family houses and old grain/seed storage buildings; some still in use and at least one that was being dismantled.
Sony A7r FE24-70 (32mm)

Sony A7r FE24-70 (67mm) 

We quickly noticed there was little change to the colors of the hills as they still showed a mixture of light to dark browns and gold and yellow.  We did see the addition of greens from a late planting that added to the overall color palate.  While it was fall, there was little evidence of any fall colors due to the lack of trees; yet where they were it was indeed colorful.

An old church
Sony A7r FE24-70 (24mm)

Old Farmhouse
Sony A7r FE24-70 (42mm) 830nm IR

Sony A7r FE24-70 (42mm) 830nm IR

We've now visited The Palouse in late summer and mid fall.  We'll be returning next year to catch mid spring and early summer when the fields become alive with colors and the farmers begin their harvest.  We might even run up in the winter to see the fields covered in snow.  Maybe...


You might have noticed 2-images using the Hartblei 45mm Super-Rotator medium format lens.  While both samples were taken with the Phase One DF camera and 60 megapixel IQ160 digital back, I also used this on the Sony A7r IR with equally good results and will share those later.