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.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Capture Integration

Allow me to begin by saying that no one at Capture Integration asked me to write this; with that said I guess the question should be asked if no one asked me to write it then why am I doing it.  The answer (at least for me) is simple; because I like them. A lot.

I get asked questions all the time about the cameras I work with and sometimes the conversations goes from what's being used to why I'm using it and where I got it.   I just spent a week shooting the Palouse area and having a rather long drive home my mind began to drift to thinking of my next blog. 

I've known the great people at Capture Integration for several years now being fortunate to find them as I began my journey into digital medium format photography.  The single defining moment for me in knowing that Capture Integration was a right fit for me was shortly after contacting them.  I had sent an email requesting information on the 31 megapixel, Phase One P30 digital back.  I had sent the request in late Friday afternoon and fully expected not to hear anything for several days.  Sunday I get a response stating how sorry the sales person is for taking so long.  Monday morning I was on the phone with Capture Integration and within a week I had the back and my switch from film to digital had begun. 

Since then I've brought several 35mm cameras and lens as well as other medium format gear including a new camera body shortly after Phase One released it.  The list of equipment I've used or am currently using is rather long and I won't bore people with it.  Suffice it to say that every single medium format item I have has come from Capture Integration from 645-camera bodies and lenses to my Cambo WRS technical camera and lenses.  The digital backs from them are now up to 4 having progressed from the 30-megapixel P30+ to my current 60-megapixel IQ160 and soon to another.

I learned very quickly that Capture Integration cares for their clients.  I now count Dave Gallagher, founder of Capture Integration as a close personal friend.  Dave has instilled his caring to his employees so you aren't just a customer and they aren't out just to make the sale and move on.  Finding Capture Integration not only gave me a great camera dealer it also gave me a partner that looks out for me as a photographer. 

Just a small note on digital backs.  The majority of any digital back is electronic.  There's very few moving mechanical parts to wear out.  I'd say there are less than 5-total mechanical parts to any back; the part that mates the back to the camera, the card holder door, the card holder and the lock holding the back to the camera.  The Phase One back is a very robust piece of gear and has less chance of anything going wrong than say a camera body with a finite number of shutter activations.  My P30+ was my first Phase One back I bought and one which I made certain to buy new.  The succession of backs since the P30+ have all been used, saving me a huge amount of money; money that could be spent on glass for my cameras.

If you are looking for a top notch camera dealer that is willing to listen to your needs and help you then contact Capture Integration; it doesn't matter if you're looking for 35mm or medium format - you can trust them as I do.  Sales is just a small part of what they offer, they also offer excellent service and training.  Whether you are a Pro or Amateur Capture Integration will be there for you.

Again, I wrote this much in much the same way as I a do when I answer questions of my equipment and where I got it from.  This should come as a complete surprise to Dave that I did this and any mistakes I've made are mine alone.



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.