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Wednesday, 24 March 2021


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Samuel Johnson said Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. He was probably speaking of false patriotism.

I think that bokeh is the last refuge of someone who has nothing worthwhile to say. Background separation is one thing, but paper-thin DOF is appropriate about 0.001% of the time.

The smart-phone has made focus stacking so-last-year.

Leave us not forget that Edward Weston's wife (and model) Charis was the daughter of the comic novelist Harry Leon Wilson. His classic novel "Ruggles of Red Gap" about an English butler who gets lost in a poker game to a rancher in Washington State was the inspiration for P.G. Wodehouse's character Jeeves the butler. Mostly forgotten now, Harry Leon Wilson was a very funny guy. He was 45 when he married Charis's mom, who was a rather youthful 16 at the time.

I'm quite excited to have a three super-fast lenses in my bag now: f/4. Whew, so much speed. Alas, I don't think I've ever used them in earnest at that blazingly fast f-stop. Normally I'm hanging around f/11 with strong f/16 tendencies. What is this "boh kay? of which you speak? ;)

I've often wondered if large format camera lenses have less diffraction effects at f64, or did the f64 school just not recognize diffraction ?

A couple of years back I got a Panasonic 1" sensor pocket camera and gave my G1 outfit to a high school. Quality of 1" so close to M43 that I can't tell. Good. All set. Done for life.

Recently re-read Craig Mod's paean to Leica Q, got vaguely interested again (but it's soon to be hundred$ more than just bizarrely expensive), and who needs another camera anyway? I'm all set, I remind myself. No need nothing now.

Sony RX1R II. What? Hmmm. Dang. Smaller. Longer, more practical lens. But RX1R III due last year and still hanging fire, so... And I don't need it, so not practical in any sense, even with a guaranteed huge increase in image quality over 1".

Sigma fp-L. What the...? Now there's a thought. 61 Mpix. Yeeps! Tiny. Interchangeable lenses. Due out tomorrow. But $2500 without finder, $3000 with, and all untested. Yeeps again. No, not crazy enough for that yet, but tiny, 61 Mpix...? No. No. Move on.

Maybe back to thoughts about the Fuji X-E4 for a higher-quality but still tiny not-needed luxury? With a little lens here, a little lens there, but not too many, just a couple. Maybe three? OK. Meh. Sony a7C? Meh some more. Not really that extreme, are they, either one? So mediocrely excellent.

Then I start getting wistful about the Panasonic G1 and the surprisingly fun, useful, and weightless "Olympus fisheye body cap 9mm f/8 lens" that I had for it. (Focuses either here or there, no more, with a fixed aperture, producing slightly fuzzy but correctable not-too-bent images.) Hmmm. Throw in a 20mm lens for small and light, add a couple small zooms for the rest, and just maybe the 9mm body cap again? Because...

Yeah, so I might possibly go there again, go back there. Back where I was, staying at less than maximum mega pixels, partly because I liked the M43 system a lot and can convince myself that spending a couple thousand on a versatile but not bleeding edge system is a good way to justify throwing in another one of those 9mm fisheye body caps.

And I'm old and redundant and have the money, and this would be my idea of living dangerously, and the newest and biggest and best isn't necessarily the best anyway. And even though this lens is only f/8, I can always lie and say it's f/16 (or maybe even f/64 if I'm feeling really frisky). Who would know?

Anybody mildly interested see https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/1026132-REG/olympus_v325040bw000_bcl_0980_fisheye_body_cap.html/overview
* Micro Four Thirds System
* 18mm (35mm Equivalent)
* Fixed f/8 Aperture
* Two Aspherical Elements
* $99.99

Or maybe I'll learn how to use my camera phone and try to fit in yet once again. (Could still lie about stuff regardless.)

"...so almost every digitographer on the World Wild Web with a larger-sensor camera shoots almost every picture wide open most of the time, regardless of the subject, with no thought to what ought to be in focus or not" – Mike

And this is largely why so many of the photographs I see on the InterWebs and places like FB are...so bad.

About 3 years ago, I joined a wonderful group of photographers at This Week in Photo Pro (aka TWiP Pro). One of the perks of being a member is we have a weekly photography critique based on a specific theme, and judged by PPA Master-rated photographers. Not only has the regular commercial work I've been doing has been instrumental in clarifying my Vision, Intention and Execution ("Fix those verts! Remove that color cast!" 😉), but submitting my personal work into weekly formal critique for the last 3 years has signficantly improved my own photography.

And...it's also made my own photographic eye much more critical.

As a result, I see a lot more poor photography these days.

P.S. The other thing that has really improved my work in the last coupla years is luminosity masking, but that is a story for another day.

Not to forget: on large format film, even f64 doesn't mean a lot of DoF - in most cases careful tilting and shifting was necessary to deliver sharpness all over the image plane.

Another reason for the wish for sharpness was certainly the intended differentiation from the last spurs of pictorialism.

In that context it doesn't look so different from todays dispute between the (simplified) camera phone and the full frame camp.

Of course, "rendering a photograph evenly sharp from foreground to background" was one thing that separated f/64 photos from snapshooters--you need a tripod to go with that small aperture, and a view camera to tilt that front standard down--just as ultra-bokeh is the thing that separates today (at least for a few more minutes).

Let's talk a bit about depth of field (DoF).
Let's agree that using f/64 gives you great DoF on your 8x10 inch view camera.
On my iPhone 7, I'm "stuck" with f/1.8.
Let's think a bit about that.
A sheet of 8x10 inch film has a diagonal of 12.8 inches (= 325 mm).
The web tells me that my iPhone 7 sensor has a diagonal of about 8 mm.
Thus the film to iPhone "crop factor" here is 325/8 = 41 from 8x10 to iPhone 7.
This makes the "effective aperture" for DoF of my iPhone 7 compared to this 8x10 view camera at f/64 to be (f/1.8)x41 = f/73. Wow!

"That link you provided for the ergonomic mouse—if you scroll down a bit, it says 'frequently bought together'...and lists the left-handed version! :-) "

For graphic intensive content I prefer to use a gaming mouse with my right hand.

For document editing / reviewing I prefer to have the mouse in my left hand, where it is used mostly to scroll /page up /page down, etc, keeping my right hand free to take notes, which I can only do with my right hand. Much more convenient from constantly swapping my pen for a mouse.

The shot of the Golden Gate Bridge would make a wonderful Print Sale. Just sayin'

Weston has turned out to be the star of that exhibition but if you checked current print prices for others like Henry Swift, John Paul Edwards or Preston Holder, you would conclude that your $10 dollars would not have been a good "investment."

[Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, and Edward's son Brett Weston were in the exhibition as well, and they were stars too. Willard Van Dyke, who provided a good deal of the energy behind the group, was Edward's assistant. As for the lesser-known names you mention, are you sure that prints actually shown in the de Young Museum Group ƒ/64 show have not outstripped inflation? If they have the provenance, I'll bet they have. But I don't know. --Mike]

One of my favorite aspects of crop frame cameras is I can can shoot wide open for light gathering purposes but still have a bit of depth - I do love wide open closeup wide angle shots, the subject isolation with a recognizable but less dominant background helps tell a story better in many cases. With a 16 1.4 on my Fujis, I can do that without having a nose in focus and a fuzzy eye, and have enough light for a theme park or campsite at night. I was very excited for the Tamron 15-30 full frame lens having image stabilization for the same reason on full frame cameras - I have a bit more breathing room with depth of field but still can shoot in the available dark.

The large DoF (at least for middle to far distance) associated with phone cameras also seems to lead to flaws with focus. I've been doing some close up (not quite macro) work with my phone and getting an accurate focal lock (and holding it) on a close subject is incredibly difficult. There isn't enough DoF at 1-2ft to mask poor focus.
Never had such an issue with LF even at close range: a good ground glass and loupe ensure highly accurate focus, even if I'm looking for large DoF.

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