In Focus, Bangkok Photography Blog February 20th, 2010

A Friday Night in Auckland, Stick Reports / Review Logitech Performance Mouse MX

Norway Hotel Guide
Clarion Collection Hotel Havnekontoret
Thon Hotel Bristol Bergen
Thon Hotel Bergen Brygge
Thon Hotel Rosenkrantz Bergen


Thank you for your generous contributions. We've been making some great headway over the last few weeks and soon I'll be running some test images. These test images take a considerable amount of time and computer processing power so once we start we won't be accepting any new images. Please send in your images now so you can be sure to be included in this great project. I have big plans for these mosaics.

We are still accepting (and pleading for) images of children from SEA. No matter how terrible you think they are, please send them in anyway. These images will be used to complete a set of 3 high quality mosaics which will be sold to benefit the Karen and Burmese Orphans living in the orphanages and refugee camps. The more images the better, I can use all you have. Please take the time to go through your images for anything you think might help. If you missed the "No Place to Call Home" special, you can click on the link and read more about this. Thank you! [email protected]


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Feature Photograph A Friday Night in Auckland, Stick Reports! Logitech Performance Mouse MX, A Reviews Photography News of Interest

Readers Submissions Readers Questions A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review Infocus Blog, Cleaning Out The Inbox…


Feature Photograph *menu

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L @F5.6 1/15th 24mm ISO3200

There are few cities on this earth that have as much activity and motion as does Bangkok. Yet, you see far too few images that impart a feeling of both the motion and activity in the same frame. This wasn't on my mind when I snapped this image, but looking at it later I realized that was exactly my intention whether I knew it or not at the time of capture.

Everyone knows you can use the shutter speed to blur moving objects, nothing new there. But in this picture we're showing a variety of speeds.. from walking, to barely moving, to speeding down the street and the shutter speed was deliberately selected to show this motion and the busyness of a typical Bangkok street scene.

Notice the clearly delineated tuk-tuk, the speeding motorsais, the man standing stationary by his bike, and the man walking.. The motions are almost layered in the frame from front to back. The lights, the motion, the activity.. the very essence of a Bangkok night shot.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L @F5.6 1/60th 57mm ISO1250

Of course there is the right time and place to slow down and relax a bit.

Canon 5d Mark II, 24-70mm F2.8L @F5.6 1/15th 34mm ISO3200

And if you're not sure exactly where these places are..

A Friday Night in Auckland, Stick Reports! *menu

Contrary to unsubstantiated rumors floating around that Stick has been spotted in Soi Cowboy helping the economy out of its slump, he was briefly in New Zealand on business.. and he's been kind enough to send in some images he took at a rugby game he attended.

I'll probably never understand rugby, but I do understand exfil data, camera serial numbers, and dates. Unless Stick loaned his uber expensive camera gear to a friend, which isn't damn likely, it would be him who was in New Zealand taking these images.

Thanks for the great images Stick, I don't understand rugby but it sure looks like fun!


The women of New Zealand aren't the first thing you hear about from visitors to that fair land, but you don't have to look too hard at big rugby matches to find plenty of hotties. And yeah, not only were they hot, there was one Thai bird amongst them, bouncing around and jiggling it with the best of them!


North Harbour stadium was home to the first match of the 2010 Super 14 rugby season, arguably the best rugby tournament in the world, and certainly that featuring the very best players. The match kicked off at 7:30 PM when it was still quite light but by the end, around 9:15 PM, the skies were dark.

Being the opening match of the season there's always something interesting going on and the match ball was delivered by helicopter. I joked to my friends I attended the match with that that was the entire NZ airforce and they weren't impressed! Thank goodness the country is so isolated otherwise it could be an easy target for a nefarious bunch to invade!

This was a home match for the Auckland side, often referred to as the Blues!

More of the helicopter delivering the ball. What is interesting is that this happened just before kick off and while the seats in the background look empty, the match was in fact a sell out!

Just before half-time and it's getting a little darker.

Ah, there's a good Kiwi bird for you! Wow, what a hotty!

For the uninitiated, this is called a "lineout". The ball is thrown in from the sideline and the tallest players from each team leap to try and gain possession of the ball for their team.

And so is this. All of these photos were taken with just one small lens. Shots like this would have been much better had they been taken with a telephoto. 200 mm would have been good, or Steve's 300 2.8L would have been perrrrfect! Steve mate, can I borrow your fast telephoto?!

Rugby is a game for barbarians played by gentlemen and the matches are always a pleasure to watch. There's none of the sort of crowd trouble you get in that game with round ball, a game for gentlemen played by barbarians!

Sadly the good guys didn't win and this fan with the Blues flag may have gone home sad….

Still a fun night was had by all.

Review, Logitech Performance Mouse MX *menu

Introduction

A few weeks back I wrote a review on Logitech's MX1100 cordless laser mouse. In that review I detailed my previous experience with Logitech's MX Revolution mouse which I'd used for three years and that Logitech Service replaced the MX Revolution with the MX1100. In that review I compared both the MX Revolution and the MX1100, and in the summary said part of me still wanted to test drive Logitech's top mouse product, the Logitech Performance Mouse MX. That part of me won out and I placed my order.

Unfortunately the Logitech Performance Mouse MX is not available in Thailand. I had to order it from the states. It is now their current "top mouse" and it has some impressive new features. It also comes up short in some areas when compared to the MX Revolution mouse and I'll cover these areas as well.

A week ago my new mouse arrived and I've used it for a week and have formed some opinions.

Features

Without a doubt, this is 'overall' the best mouse Logitech has ever made and its due to the following features.

Darkfield Laser

This is brand new laser technology that allows the Performance Mouse to 'properly' track over almost any surface you can imagine, you can even use it on glass table tops without a mouse pad.

Anyone who does detailed imaging or fast game playing knows how important the unsung hero the mouse pad is. A positive uniform surface is vital to proper tracking and a proper mouse pad has always been essential to the best possible performance. Not anymore! Now, with Darkfield virtually any surface becomes ideal for a mouse pad which can have many advantages in style, when traveling, or when you just don't have or want a mouse pad.

Unifying Receiver

USB dongle transceivers for mice and keyboards are nothing new, but look how small this one is. You can put it in the USB port of your laptop and never take it out. There is no need to remove it. If you use your mouse with several laptops, or a laptop and desktop, extra receivers are available for roughly $10 USD each.

Further, a single receiver can be used to connect up to six compatible devices which reduces the number of USB ports required. I like this receiver.

Flexible Recharging System

This is genius! (or at least obvious) There is a easy to replace, user replaceable, rechargeable battery. It's a simple NIMH AA battery which can be found anywhere for a couple of bucks. The battery can be charged via connection to a USB port and the mouse can be used while connected and charging. We all know rechargeable batteries work great and hold a charge when new, but after 6-12 months of continuous use they'll often only hold a charge for a fraction of that time. Now, when the battery starts to fade you can replace it to 'as new' performance for a few bucks. This is great!

The MX Revolution had rechargeable batteries which lasted 4-7 days when new, but you had to put the mouse in a docking device to recharge the batteries, often when you were in the middle of a project. Irritating!

The MX1100 takes disposable AA Alkalines which look to last a good 6-8 months per pair. This is great, but today we're trying to limit the number of batteries that end up in land fills so I like a user replaceable rechargeable better. Besides, if we must we can put a AA Alkaline in the Performance Mouse.. so its the best of both worlds.

Sculpted Right Hand Shape

This is hardly a 'feature' if your left handed, both my father and brother and my uncle would tell me this. I'm not left handed so it works for me is what I'd tell them.. :)

Really, this is the best size vs. shaped mouse I've ever used for my hand. It's obvious a lot of thought and design went into the Performance Mouse. It fits my smaller than average hand very well, and the buttons and wheels are ideally located and very smart in function.

The MX Revolution is almost as good, while the MX1100 is just 'too large' for total comfort. All three have the same basic shape, but the subtle nuances of the Performance Mouse MX and the higher quality buttons and wheels are real and appreciated.

You'll also appreciate the tactile rubber compounds ideally placed where you'll need them the most, and the smooth frictionless surfaces where you'll feel them the least.

And there's also no denying the lines, the metal toned trim, and that this is just a great looking mouse!

Hyper-Fast Scrolling

The scroll wheel can be programmed for custom functions in any program you desire. It has two modes, click and free spinning. The button immediately to the bottom of the scroll wheel changes the mode from click to spin.

You'd think this would be the cats meow if you've never used the MX Revolution with it's automatic mechanism that automatically changes the wheel from click to free spinning depending on which levels you choose in the software. This was a great mechanism that worked for me for three years without fail and I'll miss it. Having to push a button while quickly navigating a long document or web page is just plain irritating. Logitech, what in the world were you thinking!

For this series of mice, the Performance Mouse MX and all the others currently available, we'll have to do without the automatic switching scroll wheel. Lets hope Logitech wises up and brings back this feature. This feature alone would prompt me to order a new mouse tomorrow.

Four Thumb Buttons

These buttons are ideally placed, of very high quality, and allow you to assign any function you want through use of Logitech's Setpoint software.

The older MX Revolution also had a side wheel that I used all the time and I miss it as well.

This isn't as big a loss as the automatic scrolling wheel, but it's deletion is obviously a cost cutting measure and we can always use more ideally and properly placed controls. I wish they'd bring it back.

Software and Drivers

The drivers and Setpoint software are both a breeze to install and easy to use. I covered their use and custom feature setup in detail in the MX1100 review and I encourage you to read it again. Everything 100% translates to the Logitech Performance Mouse MX.

Actual Use & Summary

This mouse is a joy to use. It tracks perfectly over any surface I've tried, and the level of control it provides due to it's dual choice DPI settings allow you to whiz quickly over screen real estate when required, and a quick push of the hidden button later the mouse slows to a crawl for exact detailed work.

In the week I used it there have been no issues of any kind. Tracking is perfect, I'm still on the original battery charge and it's only at 60%, and the size and feel suits me perfectly.

Overall, all things considered, this is Logitech's best mouse yet. It's my choice from all the others. Yet, some features like the automatic free spin/click scroll wheel should immediately be brought back in the next release, as should the side wheel.

The Performance Mouse comes with a nice zip pouch that holds several nice items. A "receiver re-locator" which is basically an extension that plugs into a USB port on one end, and accepts the unifying receiver on the other so you can place it closer to the actual point of use. There is also a wall plug with a USB port so you can connect the also included cable to this port to charge the battery. You should also know this is the new type of "mini-USB" port more commonly found on cell phones and Bluetooth headsets rather than on computer peripherals.. The pouch and accessories are a nice touch to let you know Logitech appreciates you buying their flagship product.

I can't tell you enough how important human interface devices (keyboards, monitors, mouses, graphics tablets, etc, etc) are to the complete workstation experience. Very important. With that said, I'll continue to use the Logitech Performance Mouse MX until something else better comes along. Right now this is the best mouse available. I suspect Logitech will be the company to surpass it.

Photography News of Interest *menu

When you consider how much and how fast new technology is being announced on an almost daily basis in the photo industry it probably shouldn't come as a big surprised to learn camera manufacturers rank among the worlds top patent applicants.

In the past I've told you stories supporting the durability of flash memory cards, stories of leaving them in my pants pocket and washing them sometimes over and over again. Dryer too! In one story I told you about how when I was in the south and they were trying to confiscate my memory cards I dropped my Micro SD cards in a can of Coke and they only took the shell adapter. In all instances the cards worked afterwards and I was able to retrieve my images. Now, you can read about how a camera fell overboard in the Atlantic ocean and after a year was found.. and guess what? Yep, the owner was able to retrieve his images from the flash memory card!

I wasn't going to post this, but I decided to anyway. We all know the Canon 1d Mark III had focusing issues that some regarded as severe. In truth, every person I know who shoots a Mark III (and there's a lot of them) never had a single complaint. The issues they were discussing were only evident in certain circumstances when using the camera at the very edge of it's capabilities.. which is well beyond what you and I can do. Rob Galbraith broke this story and did a great job of documenting the issueon his site. Unfortunately there are rumors he had a falling out with Canon over this issue. Now, he 'tests' the new Canon 1d Mark IV and compares it against Nikon's D3s. This is great information and I applaud Rob Galbraith for his efforts, but I caution you to understand they've a lot more recent time with the Nikon, a lot DOES have to do with the shooter and his particular style, and that for this test they were shooting at the very upper limits of what AF can really do.. beyond that which many of us think they can do. I think technology is great, but it's a big mistake to lean too heavily on technology. We were getting perfectly focused sports shots well before autofocus even existed.. How? Techniques. You can use the same techniques today on modern cameras and someone could probably argue that if you must get the shot, you're probably still better off using them at this level.

Happy Birthday Walt Disney! As a Southern California native we probably followed Mr. Disney's dreams and successes more than most, but everyone knows Mickey Mouse and Disneyland. A true creative genius. This article givesa look at his life.

Readers Submissions *menu

Hi Steve,

Attached some photos from my last trip to Aurangabad, India. We managed to visit the Ajanta caves, a world heritage site of Buddhist temples carved right into the hills.

Not a single loose stone was used to build them, or the decorations and statues inside.

Everything was carved out of the same hard stone hills. Pretty impressive considering the caves date from a few centuries B.C., to a few centuries A.D.

KVW

Overview of the many caves carved into the rock.
Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F8, 24mm, 1/200 ISO 100

Some façades of the temples.
Canon 40D, 70-300 DO IS @F8, 300mm, 1/60, ISO 100

Canon 40D, 70-300 DO IS @F8, 150mm, 1/160, ISO 100

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F8, 17mm, 1/40, ISO 100

The carvings found here can be very elaborate

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F4.5, 12mm, 1/25, ISO 100

Because all the stairs can be hard to negotiate for older, disabled, or plain lazy people, porters can be rented to carry you up and down.

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F4.5, 12mm, 1/320, ISO 100

Canon 40D, 70-300 DO IS @F5, 140mm, 1/800, ISO 100

Ajanta is famous for its well preserved paintings on the wall.

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F5.6, 24mm, 1/13, ISO 3200

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F5.6, 12mm, 1/10, ISO 3200

Buddha and Bodhisatva statues are carved in almost all temples. Again the detail is breathtaking.
Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F4.5, 12mm, 1/10, ISO 1600

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F4.6, 12mm, 1/20, ISO 1600

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F4.5, 12mm, 1/13, ISO 3200

This temple with its elaborate roof structure and wall carvings was one of my favorites.

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F4.5, 12mm, 1/13, ISO 800

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F4.5, 12mm, 1/6, ISO 800

One temple has never been finished and gives an impression of how these structures were built. Amazing to think this was done 2000 years ago.

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F4.5, 12mm, 1/6, ISO 3200

The temples still attract Buddhists from all over the world. Judging from the robes I’d guess these guys are from Taiwan or China.

Canon 40D, Sigma 12-24 @F7.1, 24mm, 1/20, ISO 100

These monkeys are found all across the region, and of course where there’s tourists, these guys will hang around in search of a free meal.
Canon 40D, 70-300 DO IS @F5, 115mm, 1/60, ISO 100

Hi Koen –

Nice pics! Interesting light.. did you paint it in? The effect is nice but something about the direction on some of them isn't entirely natural. I'm really glad to see you doing this.. thinking about light and going for the impact isn't easy.

Steve

Hi Steve, thanks for all your advice that you've given me.

When I look at the photos that I now take compared to one's that I took just 1 year ago I can see an improvement in my technique and how I now try to plan/visualize the photo in my head before taking them. Your weekly column has also benefited me greatly. Thank you.

Here are some photos that I took during my honeymoon in the first week of January this year. There are also a few of my wedding which were taken by the Wedding Photographer. I've not including my photo has I prefer to remain anonymous, though I did have great tie at my own wedding. Even if the whole Wedding Night seemed to last forever!

We stayed at a Resort in Chiang Mai called the Krisadadoi Resort and when we booked it online I'd seen the great looking photos of this place, but having lived here for nearly 2 years now know all to well that the real thing can be very different than what you see on their website.

You can image my surprise when arriving there to see it has beautiful has what the website pics were, not only that but they had prepared our room with Rose pedals and a basket of fresh fruit, and when we checked out we were told that the bar fridge purchases were free, a gift from the Resort for our Wedding. A very warm surprise to say the least.

Just wish more places would go to this much trouble.

We also travel to Ko Samet, I like this place and have been here a few times already. I've included a panorama that I took as our speed boat was leaving the beach at speed (not an easy thing to do).

We then travel to Kanchanaburi to visit the Bridge on the River Kwai and ride the Train. We had my mum with us most of the time and for her the highlight was patting a Tiger at the Tiger Temple, though I'm not fond of this place personally due to the way they treat their animals.

Charles

Hi Charles –

Wow, that train down in Kanchanaburi is sure colorful! The wedding pictures look like fun.

I'm glad you're getting something from the column. It's a fair amount of work and it feels good to know people benefit.

take care

Steve

Steve,

If you haven't already seen this, you may enjoy reading. funny.

MTS International

The Smiths were unable to conceive children and decided to use a surrogate father to start their family.

On the day the proxy father was to arrive,
Mr. Smith kissed his wife goodbye and said, 'Well, I'm off now. The man should be here soon.'

Half an hour later, just by chance, a door-to-door baby photographer happened to ring the doorbell, hoping to make a sale. 'Good morning, Ma'am',
he said, 'I've come to…'

'Oh, no need to explain,' Mrs. Smith cut in, embarrassed, 'I've been expecting you.'

'Have you really?' said the photographer. 'Well, that's good. Did you know babies are my specialty?'

'Well that's what my husband and I had hoped. Please come in and have a seat !.

After a moment she asked, blushing, 'Well, where do we start?'

'Leave everything to me. I usually try two in the bathtub, one on the couch, and perhaps a couple on the bed. And sometimes the living room floor is
fun. You can really spread out there.'

'Bathtub, living room floor? No wonder it didn't work out for Harry and me!'

'Well, Ma'am, none of us can guarantee a good one every time. But if we try several different positions and I shoot from six or seven angles, I'm
sure you'll be pleased with the results.'

'My, that's a lot!', gasped Mrs. Smith.

'Ma'am, in my line of work a man has to take his time. I'd love to be In and out in five minutes, but I'm sure you'd be disappointed with that.'

'Don't I know it,' said Mrs… Smith quietly.

The photographer opened his briefcase and pulled out a portfolio of his baby pictures. 'This was done on the top of a bus,' he said.

'Oh, my God!' Mrs. Smith exclaimed, grasping at her throat.

'And these twins turned out exceptionally well – when you consider their mother was so difficult to work with.'

'She was difficult?' asked Mrs. Smith.

'Yes, I'm afraid so.. I finally had to take her to the park to get the job done right. People were crowding around four and five deep to get a good look'

'Four and five deep?' said Mrs. Smith, her eyes wide with amazement..

'Yes', the photographer replied. 'And for more than three hours, too. The mother was constantly squealing and yelling – I could hardly concentrate,
and when darkness approached I had to rush my shots. Finally, when the squirrels began nibbling on my equipment, I just had to pack it all in.'

Mrs. Smith leaned forward. 'Do you mean they actually chewed on your, uh…equipment?'

'It's true, Ma'am, yes.. Well, if you're ready, I'll set-up my tripod and we can get to work right away.'

'Tripod?'

'Oh yes, Ma'am. I need to use a tripod to rest my Canon on. It's much too big to be held in the hand very long.'

Mrs. Smith fainted

MTS –

I can't help but chuckle over that one.. :)

Steve

I suspect the readers submissions will be a highly anticipated section of this column and I encourage anyone with photographs and travel accounts they'd like to share to please send them to me at: [email protected]

Readers' Questions *menu

Hi: Steve:

How are you and how are you doing? Say hello to your lovely lady for me. I hope that things are going well for you. I sure wish that I could get back your direction but it looks like I am heading a different direction this year. More about that later. What has been going on with you?

I still haven't gone to a new camera but did pick up a couple new [used] lenses. I have had some fun with both of them. I got a AF-s Nikkor 24-120 mm 1:3.5-5.6 G lens and took this shot with it last Thursday in Paso Robles. I did a little photo shopping on it in that I cloned out a house that was silhouetted in the shot. I under exposed it so that I could pick up the color. I kind of like the shot.

I also picked up a Nikon AF Micro Nikkor 60 mm 1:2.8. I am excited with this one. I took this one this fall in my back yard.

Looks like I will be going to Italy and Germany this summer. The whole family will be going to Italy for 2 1/2 weeks and I will take off for 2 weeks and drive around Germany. I will also be taking a class in Death Valley in March if I get anything that looks good I will pass it on.

I was out looking at the wolf moon on Friday and tried to take some pictures of it but just couldn't seem to get anything that looked good. Any suggestions as to how to shoot the moon? I was using my 24-120 and also a 200 mm zoom that I had. Tried to underexpose as much as possible but never got the craters on the surface.

I was using a tripod and a remote release.

Mike

Hi Mike –

I like that red sky!

I wish you had asked about the 24-120mm.. It's not the sharpest lens.. and slow to focus. Slow too. Canon's 24-105mm is far superior.. Rumor has it that Nikon will be updating the 24-120mm very soon.

Italy and Germany sound great!

Suggestions? You bet.. :)

You were trying to "underexpose" for the moon. Keep in mind that how much you underexpose has no limits with a DSLR. I'm guessing you were either in Program mode or Aperture Priority? And your metering system was in Dynamic Evaluative? Which means it was evaluating the entire frame and not just the moon.

Keep in mind that on a typical night the moon will be 5-7 stops brighter than you're average point and shoot or DSLR will meter it IN THE REGULAR METERING MODE where it meters for the entire frame. This makes it hard, because during our workshop I taught you how to use Ev (exposure compensation) to adjust for such differences, but you can only go 2 stops up or 2 stops down with EV. Not enough. So what should you have done?

There are several ways to do this:

1. Switch to spot metering. Spot metering only meters the center 8% of the frame. You would have got within "Ev range" using spot metering.

2. Switch to manual mode vs. aperture priority mode and then you can simply increase your shutter speed for proper exposure.

I attached an example. It was taken handheld at 200mm (35mm equiv, a 200mm lens on your APC-S sensor camera would be 300mm equiv). I was sitting outside at a dinner and was a bit bored so I decided to photograph the full moon.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS F5.6 1/100th ISO1600

The first exposure showed me that the moon was at least 5-7 stops overexposed. It was also blurry. What I wanted to do was to adjust my settings so I could get the best quality image, yet still be able to handhold the camera. This means a shutter speed of no less than 1/100th. Really it should have been 1/200th but because I practice a lot I can shoot at slower speeds and get well focused images.

So.. In manual metering mode I set in 1/100th for my shutter speed, and I knew my lens was it's sharpest at F8 but still plenty sharp (for moon purposes) at F5.6. I set the aperture for F5.6. From there, it was simply a matter of adjusting my ISO for proper exposure. I tried ISO 200 and the moon was so over exposed you couldn't tell it was a moon. Then I tried ISO 6400 and it was way underexposed. ISO 3200 looked better, but ISO 1600 was perfect!

In effect I set my shutter speed by the slowest speed I knew I could hand hold. Easy. I then set my aperture at the widest acceptable setting which in this case was F5.6. From there the only other exposure adjustment was the ISO and I simply adjusted it up/down for proper exposure.

Fireworks aren't all that much different.. :) You set the aperture the same way, and the ISO so you'll get proper exposure with a 1-15 second long shutter speed.. and then you choose your shutter speed for "hang time."

I hope this helps Mike. I find the moon looks good in black and white.. This little moon has been fun to play with. It's just big enough to layer on a full size image so a moon appears over a subjects head/shoulder for effect.

If I was going to seriously photograph the moon I'd want a telescope adapter, or if using only camera equipment and I wanted the biggest possible moon in the frame.. I'd set up my longest lens on a tripod and use the same technique I described.

Btw – Someone at the party was watching me and made the comment "you need an expensive camera to do that.." I asked to hold their $100 point and shoot he'd been using all night. I ran the lens out to maximum zoom, put it in manual mode, and already knowing the exposure settings from my DSLR I fed them in and in one shot he had a great moon shot on his $100 point and shoot. It's not about the gear, it's about using the gear you have to it's maximum..

Take care Mike

Steve

Hi Steve,

I decided to upgrade my camera and lenses, and now am the proud owner of a Nikon D700 and a 24-70mm 2.8 lens. As well as the 50mm 1.4 G lens.

Starting to get the hang of it all, but am using the tripod around the home as the camera lens flash combo gets quite heavy!

I've a submission in the pipeline, but only with pics from the old camera. My Thai brother in law bought a boat to do tourist trips around the klongs of Bangkok, and am keen to get him to perhaps specialise in a photography tour around Loy Krathong time.

Anyway, hope all is well in BKK….things are sweet over here in Oz.

Cheers

Rick

Hi Rick –

I busted out laughing at your self portrait! Thanks, I needed a good laugh today.

The Nikon D700 is a fine camera and that 24-70 is a jewel ideally suited towards your needs. You'll do great with it. Remember the formula for DOF? (depth of field?) The bigger sensor and F2.8 lens will make it much easier for you to create that nice pleasing blur in the background. Did you tell people in Australia about me? So far I have seven workshops scheduled for Feb.. all Australians! They must think I speak the language.. :)

Seriously, Aussies are in my favorite bunch.. reasonable and a good sense of humor.

I'll look for your submission. Remember, if you have any questions please ask. I'm more than happy to answer any questions floating around in your head..

Take care

Steve

Hi Steve,

Good to hear you are getting a few Aussies through…wonder if they drink a lot of beer as most Aussies seem to do.

Oh…I do have a quick question for you!

One of my wife's' friends here always has a shiny face/forehead in any photo I take of her.

Any way to simply get rid of the sheen?

I have attached a small photo I took today, and she isn't too shiny in it but it gives you an idea.

Rick

I also took a pic at 24mm of some of the wife's' friends on the new lens, but one girl at the edge of the frame seemed to be distorted……I'll attach a pic to see if it's my imagination or perhaps I have to frame the photo better!

See what you think if you have the time.

Thanks…happy Australia day!

Hi Rick –

There is no 'easy' way to get rid of the sheen in post processing. There are some more complicated retouching steps you could do, but I don't think you'd find the results worth the time involved.

The trick is to not get the sheen in the first place. This lady obviously has either oily skin, or she puts some sort of treatment on her skin, which produces the shine. Any direct light (as from your flash) will make it shine in a huge way. Try either diffused or bounce flash when photographing her. Anything that makes the light softer. TO make the light softer you want to make it less centralized, like from an umbrella rather than a flash on your camera. Did you try the stofen box your flash came with? The stofen and bouncing together should work fine for you.

And yes.. distortion at wide angles is very common and to be expected. Your defense to this is to know why it happens, and when it will happen, and then compose around it. This is the sort of stuff we concentrate on during a wide-angle workshop.. there's a lot to cover.

With wide angles and people, you want the camera to be level, and directly aimed at the subject. Subjects off to the sides will always appear distorted. The closer you are, the more the effect. I'll use wide angles for people when in larger groups, or to use the distortion effects for advantage, otherwise I stay away from them. Your zoom is nice, but there will be times when moving back a few paces with your feet has no substitute.

Try shooting your 24-70 from 40-70 when you're shooting people.

Steve

Steve –

Evening…..

Yes, that lady has an oily face alright!

I did have the diffuser on the flash and it *was* bouncing off the ceiling but I think needed more angle on the flash…..which means I should really take more time to compose photos.

Now I know some of the characteristics of the lens I can set up the photos better.

I'm learnin' dammit…….

Thanks for your reply!

Rick

Rick –

For such people I often use a diffusion panel to soften the light even further. It's a collapsible disc of sorts.. You pull it from it's bag, snap it open, shoot your light through it.. and presto chango.. it's fixed.

But you could do almost as good by getting your flash off the hot shoe and out of alignment to your lens.

Do you have the off-camera hot shoe cord? This has one end that your flash slides into, another end that slides into your hot shoe, and a coil telephone type cord between the two. Using this cord (I think it comes in 1-2 meter lengths) you can hold the flash out by hand, put your flash on a stand/pod, or even buy a decent flash bracket and this cord will allow you to mount your flash off to the side of the lens axis.

One more thing.. I forgot to tell you.. Check out the Nikon Ah4 leather hand grip strap. It will make carrying around that beast with its' heavy lens a lot more enjoyable. Nikon makes he best grip straps ever, I use them on all my Canon's.. ;o)

Steve

Please submit your questions to [email protected] All questions will be answered and most will show up in the weekly column.

A Snapshot of Bangkok Images Week in Review *menu

A great week that has had me working with clients in Bangkok, Hua Hin, and Pattaya.

Pattaya was especially interesting. A client was keen to learn how to make nice portraits and we had a great time starting from the basics and going into some pretty advanced methodology and techniques.

Workshop Bookings:

These last few months have been slow but things are picking up. I'm already taking booking for February and March and I thought I'd post the dates already booked (which leaves all other dates open) in the event you're planning to take a workshop with me during your time in Thailand but haven't yet got around to contacting me and reserving a slot.

Feb 25,26,27

Shoot me an email, I'd love to hear from you!

Infocus Blog *menu

Cleaning Out The Inbox

Looking at my inbox recently I realized it's been close to a year since it was empty. Incoming email gets sorted, assigned, replied to, and in some cases they must get tagged with the "limbo" tag because there they remain awaiting a thought, an action, a project to be finished, something so you can finally close out that email.

Do you think your inbox might possibly resemble your life to a certain extent? Do you think how you handle the incoming emails to your inbox tells us something about the way you handle issues in your life? Quite possibly when you consider your inbox IS a big part of your life. Do you procrastinate, intentionally delay, control, forget, or just intentionally slag it off?

I decided to take a look at some of the emails that have been hanging around my inbox for a while and finally clear that sucker out!

1. An email from a friend suggesting a writing project together. Really, it's a good idea and I wanted to do it.. so I kept it right there in the inbox. A year goes by, no time, I can't get in the mood for this type of writing, but I think maybe I will someday? Probably not. Deleted.

2. Another email from Canon Professional Support. I need to renew my membership. The problem is that before there was only one level of membership, so nothing to think about. Now there are three levels, two you have to pay for. Cripes, I want the top level of service but I'm too cheap to pay for it. A year later I'm still thinking about each one. I checked on their site and renewed at the free level. At least I have that support and I can upgrade at any time.

3. One more email is from a meat and produce supplier in Bangkok who delivers to your home. Great prices and it looks to be great product. The problem is I haven't been home long enough to make a minimum order worthwhile (takes months to eat 4kg of meat!) so I was waiting until I was. No way I want to miss out on a great deal. Sigh.. I booked marked the site and deleted.

4. An email from a software developer wanting to know when I'll be reviewing his product. This is easy. His product sucks, but I don't want to publish that. I'd sent him feedback already and I was hoping a new version would be forthcoming. So far there hasn't been. Sigh.. I replied and told him I didn't want to review this version because it sucked and I'd already told him why. I said I was looking forward to reviewing his next version.

5. There are about 14 emails from readers and people I've never met personally who have said they'd like to get together for a drink. So would I. The problem is if I took up every invitation which was generously extended, and believe me I very much appreciate them, but if I accepted every one I'd be a full time alcoholic and I'd never have time to write this column. Still, I want to meet these guys! Maybe we should think about a group dinner for photographers? A get together like Stick had for submission writers? Anyone think this is a great idea? Let me know if you do. I created a new mailbox and put these 14 emails in there for safe keeping.

6. Only a few left now. The next one is from a family member who has this unique talent of being able to piss me off without even trying. Every time I read the email it pisses me off. Responding requires thinking about it, and I don't feel like getting wound up. I'm an easy going guy. Plus, if I respond in less than 10 seconds he'll respond back with new material to piss me off. I just deleted it and maybe he'll forget I'm alive.

Anyway, my inbox is now empty. I'm looking at it on one screen while writing this blog entry on the other. Why? Because I know it can't last. There she goes.. 'checking mail, 43% complete…" YOU HAVE MAIL! AAAARRRRGGGHHHHHHH!!!!

Until Next Time..