Lens Hacking – the easy way

Lens Hacking – the easy way

I became interested in photography when I was going through High School. I spent the first two years working in the schools darkroom (read: storage closet that also held a photographic enlarger). I also spent those first two years borrowing a Pentax K100o. Shortly before graduation, my Grandfather gave me an older Revuflex T SLR camera that was his when he was in his 20’s and 30’s. I used that camera for a year or two, and eventually upgraded to a k1000 own. Now, for those of you who are unfamiliar with these types of cameras; they are built like tanks. Made from aluminum or steal. They are heavy, and fairly large for what they offer. They worked only as a manual camera: manual focus, and manual exposure. The Pentax k1000 was somewhat unique, in that the k mount lenses that it used were very common. I read somewhere, that there are 25+ million K mount lenses out there in the market. That is a lot. The collections of lenses available to a k mount or an m42 screw mount are vast. I eventually bought in to the autofocus idea… and after getting my first camera, was very disappointed in the amount of lenses available and the cost of said lenses. I shoot canon now, and while canon does have a significant lens catalog, I have always found my collection missing a few special purpose lenses. Then I bought a Canon EOS M. If you want to put an older canon manual lens on your canon ef mount camera there is a little thing that you need to understand...
Stargazing – Photographing the night sky

Stargazing – Photographing the night sky

Last week, We had a storm move through and it reduced the humidity in the air, and cleared all the clouds away. Perfect time to get out at night and photograph the night sky. I met up with a friend, and we ran out to shoot. We picked a location with a view of the southwest horizon, and headed out as soon as the sun set. I used Stellarium [ http://www.stellarium.org/ ] to find the approiate time and position of the Milky Way, and I used Dark Sky finder [ http://www.jshine.net/astronomy/dark_sky/ ] to find the level of light pollution levels. Both are free to use and will work on virtually any platform (windows, mac, linux). Once we arrived at the location we shot for about an hour until the moon came up. Once the moon was up over the horizon the extra light made it very difficult to see any details in the Milky way,  so we packed up and called it a...
In the Drink

In the Drink

I was out at Dry Run Creek yesterday. Since we had nice overcast skies, I thought I would shoot a few moving water images. I planned to shoot 4×5 large format film. My 4×5 camera is very large, and excessively heavy. After setting up the first shot, I moved the tripod a little, and the screw that attaches the camera to the tripod broke, and the whole camera fell into the water. Completely Submerged. I was a little upset to say the least. When I pulled the camera out, at least a gallon of stream water flowed from the bellows. I was surprised that no trout jumped out of it. Once I finished fishing the camera from the creek, I finished my walk and came home. I took the camera apart as soon as I got inside. Luckily, there are no electronics in this camera, it is fully mechanical. Everything looked OK, the only thing that i was worried about was the lens and shutter. Once the  lens was apart, all the glass dried nicely. The shutter, however was a little more difficult. After spending time in a bag with a hair dryer blowing on it for about 30 minutes it dried out nicely as well. I suppose I am lucky that it was the 4×5 that fell in the creek and not the digital SLR that fell in. There is no way the digital would have escaped a fall like that unscathed 😉 Interestingly, this marks the 4th camera that has been completely submerged in a body of water, it is one of the hazards when photographing moving water or...
Eagle bringing a kill to the nest

Eagle bringing a kill to the nest

I have been trying to get a shot of one of the eagles flying to the nest with a fresh kill for some time. I have seen them fly in several times, and I either don’t have a clear view of them, or the images that I do get are soft, or some other technical problem. This is such a tough shot to get, they fly in without warning, from a completely unpredictable direction, and they are moving very fast.        eagles.mp4 from Ben King on...
Red Bank Access at night

Red Bank Access at night

Last summer we were out exploring the area, and stumbled across the ruins of an old house near Red Bank Access in Gamelia, Arkansas. I have been planning on going back to it to shoot the Milky Way rising behind it. Since there is almost no light there (and to the south of this location there is very little light pollution) this should be an absolutely stunning location for shooting the Milky Way. The old building and lake in the foreground will provide a nice anchor for the image and will add considerable interest to the milky way shot – at least that is what I hope. A friend approached me, and wanted get a few people together to go shoot, I suggested that we go to Red Bank. We had a favorable forecast, it was partly cloudy during the day, but the forecast was for clearing skies by 10 pm. We planned to shoot at 3 am, when the brightest part of the milky way would be at it highest point in the sky. During the day of, the forecast changed a little, calling for the clear skies to become partly cloudy at 3 am; so we moved up our shoot by an hour. As the night went it, it stayed pretty cloudy, and right around 1 am it cleared up. I arrived to the location right at 1 am. It looked awesome, I could see the Milky Way, and so I knew that it would photograph well. It had been almost a year since being at this location, and there was a TON of deadfall along the...
Falling Water Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

Falling Water Falls, Ozark National Forest, Arkansas

So… funny story. I wanted to go shoot some waterfalls last weekend and I convinced the family that it would be a good idea for us to visit a waterfall or two on Sunday. We decided that Falling Water Falls was a good one. I had seen pictures of this waterfall online, and heard many people talk about it being awesome. I found directions, and a few GPS coordinates, so we packed up and left out after church. It was a little more than a 2 hour drive through the national forest to get to the fall. Two hours was a little more time than Andrea and Caitlyn wanted to sit in the car to begin with, so there was a little anxiety about the drive to begin with. After quite a while down a dirt road (Andrea thought we were lost) the GPS told me that we had arrived. Looking to our left, there was the most boring looking creek, there was just nothing interesting about it, and along it was this very pathetic looking set of cascades. The cascades were even a little ugly. Andrea looked at me and yelled, “ we just drove for two hours for this!” She seemed a little more than annoyed. Caitlyn as well. We got out and looked around, I was sure that we had just wasted four hours of driving. I figured I would shoot a few frames anyway…. We ended up driving down the road for about another ½ mile, we go around a bend and come up on a beautiful set of falls....
Activity around the Eagles nest in Mountain Home, Arkansas

Activity around the Eagles nest in Mountain Home, Arkansas

I got out of work a little early on Friday, so I used the opportunity to get out and shoot some eagles. There was quite a bit of activity at the nest over the next couple of days. This has been a pretty unique set of circumstance for me; I have had the privilege to see the eagles work around the clock to raise the 2 chicks in the nest. Now that they are getting much bigger, we can finally see them as they start to fledge. The partners are bringing more and more food to the nest, and one of the images that I still want to capture is one of the eagles carrying a fresh kill to the nest. That particular shot still eludes me, as I write this blog post. I have seen the eagle bring a kill in to the nest 3 times and I have been in a place to photograph it twice, but each time, I walk away with an underwhelming image. The 1st time, I had the camera in manual focus (I was shooting the babies in the nest, and they don’t move much) when the eagle flew up and shot the entire sequence with out focus. The 2nd time, I had just pulled up and missed the shot because my camera was still in the car. The 3rd time my shutter speed was just a little off and it is just a little too blurry. There is not much time left, the eaglets will be fledging soon, and the whole lot of them will be gone until next year, but we...
The Analog Camera

The Analog Camera

    Digital capture has completely changed photography. The digital won, it is cheaper, quicker, and easier to work with, more accessible to everyone. There are almost no downsides when compared to traditional wet chemistry. For me however, there still is value to be gained from taking a craft and reducing it to the very simplest form, and shooting a view camera with large format film is kinda like that. The large format view camera is about as simple as a camera can be made. It is really not much more than a box that on one end holds a lens, and on the other end holds the film. You might think that tearing down your camera to the barebones basic might make operating it a little easier, and that the capability of the camera to make quality images would be less; but the exact opposite is what happens. Operating the camera becomes much more complex, and the larger negatives show even the slightest mistakes even more. The camera does nothing for you, except keep light off of the film. You have to focus and expose the image with no help for the camera. Tilt and shift further complicates the focus, and to make matters worse, trying to see an image on the glass can be incredibly difficult in bright daylight or dim situations. The camera itself is a quite large, heavy and generally awkward to set up and use. Completely dissembled and stored in my pack, it takes about 15-25 minutes to set up and get ready for a shot, so shooting in quickly changing light can be...