Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter / Passover

Easter Objects - Marin County  2013

Happy Easter!

Happy Passover!

Happy Vernal Equinox!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Cups and Cakes

Cups and Cakes - San Francisco  2013

Cups and Cakes Interior - San Francisco  2013

Also seen during a Mike & Hanna walk around SOMA: Cups and Cakes!

We had to go in, of course. Cupcakes were good, each with a nice generous helping of frosting.

Here are the Yelp reviews.

Cupcakes - San Francisco  2013

Friday, March 29, 2013

Clouds, Tioga Pass, Yosemite, 2000 (Last 4x5 Photo)

Clouds, Tioga Pass - Yosemite  2000

I was curious to see when I last developed 4x5 sheet film . . . it was easy enough to find out: I got down the 4x5 negative box and flipped through to the end. So: a photograph taken near Tioga Pass in 2000. I've cropped out a significant amount of meadow on the right along with most of the water, then made some adjustments in Photoshop. Obviously I was going for the clouds.

What's interesting is that the camera and tripod were so heavy and bulky that my movements were severely restricted. And then, of course, 4x5 sheet film was expensive, so I never really went overboard with multiple exposures. I'm thinking that I'd like to send my 2000 self, via TimeTravel FedEx (®), my current dinky little Olympus E-PL1. Of course, the information contained in 4x5 sheet film is far higher than the digital files generated by the Olympus. So, there's that. But: the ability to move back and forth and actually, you know, ZOOM in and out. Wow!

Photo of the Toyo view camera.

Earlier post on problems using the view camera in Utah.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Old-Timey Stuff

TMax 400 Box - Marin County  2013

The last time I developed 4x5 black and white film was in 2000. Due to an unfortunate film-fogging incident after a Death Valley trip I had instituted rigorous procedures to safeguard the film from being exposed to light. Thus, these used 4x5 TMax 400 boxes. I had a number of them, all holding 6 exposed negatives waiting to be developed (if rubber banded).

Additional historical note: I created the label on the box using a device known as a "typewriter."

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Point Reyes 2

Lichen - Point Reyes  2013

Fence - Point Reyes  2013

Two "straight" images. Used the tripod, as long as I had it with me. Photos taken on the Earthquake Trail.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Point Reyes 1

Reeds & Hills - Point Reyes  2013

Alders - Point Reyes  2013

A quick early morning visit to Point Reyes, tripod along, to try out some more HDR shots. What I'm basically trying to do is extend the dynamic range of the camera so as not to get washed-out skys, impenetrable blacks etc.

Tripod is required, unfortunately, along with some detailed fiddling with the camera's settings. For those interested, here's a video showing the basics using high-end Canon and Nikon cameras.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Monday Horse Blogging

Tuffy & Birthday Sign - Marin County  2013

We celebrated Tuffy's birthday over the weekend! Hali made the sign, and he got plenty of extra homemade horse cookies.

30 years old! Whoa!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mt. Tamalpais and Seminary

Mt. Tamalpais, Seminary, Cloud - Marin County  2013

Taken from the same spot as yesterday's photograph. I used the Olympus m4/3 14-150 zoom lens.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Mt. Tamalpais from Gas Station

Mt. Tamalpais from Gas Station - Marin County  2013

As I was getting gas in the AM I noticed this neat view of Mt. Tam while doing my pumping routine. I got out the camera, took this photo, then cranked out the telephoto for the photo that will appear tomorrow.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Panasonic G5

Panasonic G5 - Marin County  2013

. . . seen at Costco recently. A Panasonic G5. Nice looking camera! A "micro four-thirds" model, don't you know. But I don't like swing-out LCD screens, so I won't be getting one.

Also on display, a Nikon D600 DSLR. Really quite humongous, so I won't be getting one.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

SOMA Sightems

Cigarette - San Francisco  2013

Delivery - San Francisco  2013

Seen by Mike and Hanna as they took a little stroll around the trendy high-tech South of Market area.

Fellow with cigarette: in front of restaurant already featured in an earlier SOMA Sightems post.

Samys is not yet open, but delivery trucks are delivering.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


Poison Oak - Marin County  2013

Spring! As heralded by the new foliage on the poison oak plants in the vicinity.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

More HDR

Interior (HDR) - Marin County  2013

Another "High Dynamic Range" experiment. I finally figured out how to do automatic bracketing using the E-PL1. So, one button push gives you three exposures: on, over and under.

And of course, you have to use a tripod, so auto ISO and image stabilization have to be turned off.

Then the three files are processed in Photoshop.

What's odd is that the final result is almost an "LDR" image . . . Low Dynamic Range. Nothing in the image is either fully black or fully white. So, again in Photoshop, I had to try and expand the range. Result is just a little odd-looking. At first I thought that the screen pattern - somehow accentuated by the HDR process - was "moire," but maybe not.

Below, the normal exposure tweaked in Photoshop.

Interior (non-HDR) - Marin County  2013

Monday, March 18, 2013

Monday Squirrel Blogging

Squirrel on Fence - Marin County  2013

Squirrel Digging - Marin County  2013

Burying something or digging something up. Since the top picture was taken after the digging photo, and the animal has something in its mouth, maybe digging something up.

Something good.

Earlier fence shot, with turkeys.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

A Year With The Olympus E-PL1

E-PL1 - Point Reyes  2013

Two Prints - Marin County  2013

Actually it's now been a little over a year. The E-PL1 has been to Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks, to the top of Tchicoma Peak in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico and up and down Melrose Avenue. And let's not forget my pioneering Lembert Dome descent.

I bought the camera on sale from Costco with the idea of trying out the "micro four-thirds" (m4/3) format. At the time I was wondering if I could achieve the same photo quality with a m4/3's camera as with my much larger Nikon D90. What's interesting is that the answer is "yes," which calls into question the need for the much larger and heavier Nikon and Canon DSLRs.

Now, when I say that the E-PL1 can produce the same quality photographs as larger cameras my criteria are: photos on the web (for the mikereport), and prints made on an Epson 3880 (paper size 17x22 inches.)  That is to say, the end results of the process. 

Web: Of course, photos posted on the web don't require large DSLRs: iPhone pix look great, as do photos taken with every digital camera I’ve owned. Prints: I actually don't produce that many large size prints, but I’ve made large prints of agaves taken at the Santa Barbara Mission and my favorite Yosemite juniper (above). Actually, very nice! Yes, yes, they have soft corners and some distortion. But you know what? I've never had a visitor to the booth hold up a print and say, "Hm, too bad. If it weren't for the excessive noise in the shadow areas I'd buy it."

I now have two lenses that I use on a regular basis: an Olympus 14-150mm zoom (28-300mm equiv.) (which will need a separate post) and the Panasonic 20mm prime (40mm equiv.).

I use the eye-level viewfinder almost–almost–exclusively. But it comes in handy now and then to be able to compose using the rear LCD screen, especially when using a tripod. The viewfinder has a "flip-up" feature that might be useful, I guess, but I've had a problem with my glasses accidentally pushing the viewfinder to an unwanted position. Problem solved with a rubber band holding it down. Alas, a fall from the truck onto the road has left a crack in the viewing lens, but the device is still fully functional.

Handling is fine. The controls and interface are a little fiddly, but since I've used Olympus cameras in the past, not much of an issue.

Basically the tryout has been successful: size, weight, handling and image quality are all fine. Of course, it would be nice to have an integrated viewfinder and a flip-up LCD screen (like I had on my C-8080). So I suspect that there's going to be an OM-D in my future. Or the rumored yet-to-be-announced E-P5.


Bryce Canyon
Tchicoma Peak
Melrose Avenue
Lembert Dome
E-PL1 Purchase
Agaves, Santa Barbara Mission
Flip-Up Screen

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Backyard Pix

Maple Tree, Nandina - Marin County  2013

Nandina Berries - Marin County  2013

Taken in the backyard: maple tree, still leafless, and nandina berries.

Friday, March 15, 2013

San Rafael Sightems

Bordenave's Truck - San Rafael  2013

Shopping Carts (Mi Pueblo) - San Rafael  2013

Early AM, walking though the Safeway parking lot to the gym, seeing a Bordenaves' truck.

Later, having exercised, at the Mi Pueblo market, stopping for Mexican pastries. Yum!

Both taken with an iPhone.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Marin County Civic Center (Frank Lloyd Wright) #2

Tree & Civic Center - Marin County  2013

Pond & Spire, Civic Center - Marin County  2013
Having completed the form for the renewal of his fictitious business name, Mike brought it back to the third floor of the Marin County Civic Center. An overcast day, so some overcast shots, this time horizontal.

Another shot of the spire.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Marin County Civic Center (Frank Lloyd Wright) #1

Marin County Civic Center, Self Portrait - Marin County  2013

Plants, Marin County Civic Center - Marin County  2013

So Mike's fictitious business name, i.e., "Glen Drive Productions," was set to expire.

So he had to venture forth to the Marin County Civic Center to renew it. First, he dropped by to pick up the forms on a nice blue-sky day, somehow coming back with not only the forms, but two vertical photographs.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Lagunitas Creek

Lagunitas Creek - Marin County  2013
An earlier photo shoot here saw Mike dropping his lens cap into the creek. This time Mike didn't drop his lens cap! In fact, he's still using the old C-8080 lens cap mentioned in his earlier Lagunitas Creek post, now with the Olympus lettering becoming faded and illegible. Mike's hands were still, of course, frozen.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Monday Horse Blogging

Tuffy, Knee Issue - Marin County  2013

Tuffy. He had somehow messed up a knee last month, so Hali was running cold water on it while Mike documented the winter evening scene.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Grass & Oaks, 2007

Grass & Oaks - Pacheco Pass  2007

Taken with a Sony camera . . . the R1. I eventually sold it back to B&H. (Ergonomic issues.)

Since it's a photograph, everything is included, every last little detail insofar as the lens and sensor could render it. Now, a painter would have to decide, looking at this scene, what was going to be put in. (To reiterate earlier Evening Windows discussion.

Since writing that post I came across this article written by the painter Stephen Taylor describing his methodology. Very interesting: he uses digital cameras and Photoshop! The end result is somewhat similar to an HDR photograph, but not quite.

A quote from the article: There are differences in finish across a painting that brings out the character of the elements in it. These differences also reveal the artifice involved in the act of representation.

Quite so.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Friday, March 8, 2013

. . . from the archives #76: Cops, Market Street, San Francisco, 2003

Cops, Market Street - San Francisco  2003

March, 2003: 10 years ago. Mike was commuting into the city via the Larkspur Ferry. He had just gotten off the ferry and was heading towards the underground Muni station, when he saw this group of police. Of course he had to stop and fumble in his rolling daypack for his Leica Minilux to take a photo.

Right. It's coming back now. In February of 2003, Colin Powell had made a speech outlining the certainty of WMDs in Iraq; preparations were being made to go to war. So these are crowd-control cops, getting ready to take on war protesters later in the day.

Here's James Fallow's take on the anniversary.

And an interesting quote from Ta-Nehisi Coates:

I remember being out during one of the big anti-war protests and watching the crowds stream down Broadway. I remember thinking, "You fools believe that you matter? You think what you're saying means anything?"

In fact it meant a lot. It meant that you got to firmly and loudly say, "No. Not in my name." It meant being on the side of those who warned against the seductive properties of power, and opposing those who would bask in it.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Berkeley Sightems

Truck - Berkeley  2013

House & Flowers - Berkeley  2013

Neat looking truck and dilapidated siding.

Interesting: of course I wasn't sure that I had spelled "dilapidated" correctly, so I did a Google search on the word. It turns out that the third most-searched "dilapidated" phrase is "dilapidated Hollywood sign."

And yes, I had spelled it correctly.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Roses #2

Three Roses - Marin County  2013

After I had set up the E-PL1 on a tripod to get this photograph I could see that part of the image was going to be too bright for the sensor to record. Then I remembered that Photoshop CS6 has improved HDR capabilities. HDR stands for High Dynamic Range, wherein multiple photos are taken, over- and under-exposed, as well as a normal exposure. I took three separate photos using the dials on the camera to change the shutter speed. (I haven't figured out how to bracket yet.)

The different shots were then combined in Photoshop so that all parts of the subject have detail with no parts lost to shadow or highlights. Might take some getting used to.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Roses #1

Three Roses - Marin County  2013

I was taking these roses out to the recycle bin when I decided that they needed to be digitally preserved. I laid them on the courtyard walkway, then went and got the E-PL1.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Monday Egret Blogging

Egret - Marin County  2013

Taken from the Larkspur Ferry on its way to San Francisco.

Earlier cool foggy egret shot.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Scenic Marin

Hills & Clouds - Marin County  2013

Mushrooms - Marin County  2013

Top: Photo taken in the afternoon of a day that was alternately cloudy and sunny.

Bottom: Mushroom seen during Barbara's annual New Year's Day hike. No mushroom experts on the hike, so no ID, alas.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

San Francisco Sightems

Cable Cars - San Francisco  2013

Gown Caravan - San Francisco  2013

Cable cars back to back on California Street. (Earlier shot looking up California.)

Neiman-Marcus display window. One does wonder what the market is for their "Dress Collections on Level Four." Also, some crude person has affixed some WOW stickers to the window. I don't know what they're supposed to represent (World of Warcraft?)

Friday, March 1, 2013

Food Trucks

Wesushi - San Francisco  2013

Tacos El Tuca - San Francisco  2013

Food trucks are becoming more and more common in the SOMA area. Actually, more common all over the Bay Area. Alas, the food being served is usually not all that great, certainly not any better than you could get at a medium-grade restaurant, with nice chairs that you could sit at and eat. Colorful, though.

Also noticed in 2011 in Los Angeles.