Category Archives: Photography

Imaging Indecision, Part One Hundred Twenty-two

[Note: This has been sitting in my drafts folder since March of 2013. I ended up not going with the M as I have issues composing with a rangefinder and its attendant parallax challenges. Anyway, thought I’d throw it up here finally because I found it a funny glimpse in my thought process.]


So, I picked up a Leica M9 to play with. Reasonings could be as follows:

A. Having actually had the same photo set up for upwards of 8 whole months, I must go insane and waste time and untold amounts of energy selling and buying stupidly. You see, the rest of the world’s photographers try to take good photos. God bless but that’s not my way. I play with fun toys and in so doing, occasionally, by accident, take pictures I don’t hate. Well, hate that much.

B. I like small cameras. Ever since I got the Fuji XPro1 my D800E has sat in its bag unless I was taking catalog shots. The Fuji can fit in my jacket pocket and, as such, I take it everywhere. My trip to London a month or so ago was great with the Fuji.

I have a couple problems with the Fuji though. The smearing problem is the biggest. Even with Capture One this does not go away. Further as the ISO increases noise in the dark areas bunch up into odd shapes that you really can’t fix.

Now the second problem is pretty fixable if you stay at 3200 max. MOST of the time you will not see the problem unless the frame is pretty uniformly dark. But if you keep it at 1600 max it is great all of the time.

However the first problem doesn’t go away. I recently did a quick catalog shoot with the Fuji as I had left my D800E at home. It was a tool that was a special and was shipping that day so time was cramped. I took a ton of pictures of it and put it in UPS. I was really, really excited about one set of the pictures. This was one I was thinking that I could blow up and use on our booth at trade shows. When I was editing the pics later I noticed the vast majority of them had areas where the detail became washed out. We have lettering that is cast in aluminum and the detail was lost even when converted to B&W. It looked like plastic. Odd. These were not really useable on anything but a small print (which is completely fine for the vast majority of my work). But I really wanted that shot so the next day I had another tool built to take pictures of with the D800E.

The last problem is just one of aesthetics. The Fuji lenses are incredible and have really wonderful rendering of black to white. Everything is damn smooth. I have a couple Leica R lenses and they really remind me of them. Just buttery. Now I also have a couple Zeiss lenses and they are not that. Contrast is huge and all pervasive. Things that are black can be none more black. And I just absolutely love this. For example:

1. Note ISO 1600 and no NR

Now that is an image of nothing, sure, but doesn’t it just look heavy as hell? I just love the tones. The Fuji would give you a completely different, actually more detailed image. But it doesn’t move me as much. Don’t get me wrong I do love what the Fuji can do. I mean, this shot I really like:


walter-hop (1 of 1) by Andy Henry Photo, on Flickr

These two pictures have pretty much the same processing through Nik Silver. Number 2 though is much smoother in contrast than 1 and it just isn’t as striking to my eye. Again, this is personal preference not an absolute better or worse thing.

I did buy the Fuji M-mount adapter to try mounting the Zeiss stuff on the Xpro1. It is pretty good but manual focus on that is a fair amount of work. If it had focus peaking like the X100S or NEX cameras do this would fix this. But as it stands it is too much of a pain.

While we are on that subject, why not a NEX-6 or NEX-7? First, colors. When I had a NEX-5N and NEX-7 I just never shot in color. No picture ever worked for me that way. It was only when I got the D800E that I realized the problem. The Nikon colors are just fine for me but the Fuji’s are incredible. And the Leica seems to be in that same league:

Now this is, again, a crap photo of nothing but this is just straight out of the camera. To me it is great.

The second problem I have with the Sony is ergonomics. The tri-nav on the NEX7 was really pretty good. But I just like the obviousness of the Fuji or Leica manual controls. It is really easy to change settings quickly and know where you are at a glance.

Conversely, this is also true with pretty much every DSLR. (If you are still reading this respond on this thread with the word “orange” just to cause confusion for the non-massochistic among us who stopped reading or, smarter still, never started.) The Nikon (and Canon) ease of changing aperture, speed and exposure comp with finger dials is great. You really don’t have to take your eye off of anything to get everything done. This was especially true with the D3S which seemed to have a few more buttons and switches but that is definitely overkill on little cameras.

So with Sony and Fuji with things that I don’t find optimal, that kind of leaves me with Leica (and Samsung but I’ve never even seen one or heard of people using it–not a knock but I’d like a bit more data).

The initial impressions are:

3. Holy wow detail:

Working on this shot actually reminded me of when I first got the D3S. The Nikon zoom lenses having to cover only 12 mpix of really clean sensor left me with hilariously sharp images at 100%. If you had to crop or print bigger you really had no worries. This is actually a very, very, very small problem with the D800E. I really think that most of the time the bottle neck in the equation is now the lens. I don’t really think most of the lenses are capable of 36 mpix of detail. Again, small nitpick but it is real.

Noise is an issue with the M9 but 1600 in B&W is really workable. I would say that it is comparable if not a small bit better than the noise I would get out of my NEX3.

4. Note no NR

I can live with that for the time being. If I have a working ISO 3200 I can be happy. ISO 6400 and I then can forget about all things ISO.

So I think my plan is going to be to play with this for another couple weeks. See if I can live with the focusing patch–this is taking a bit of getting used to. I am finding myself slower on complex subjects where I wouldn’t be with an old SLR type split focusing screen. But on other subjects it is faster because you can figure out which way and how far you have to turn the focus by the position of the double image.

If this works out I think I’ll sell the Nikon and Fuji stuff, some plasma, the neighbor’s baby and the title to the Brooklyn Bridge and get the new M. That would fix the known problems with the M9 being better high ISO, lacking live view and the ability to mount long lenses as the M has an EVF so TTL focusing is on.

And then I’ll keep that for at least a year. Oh, who am I kidding. Six months. Tops.

Frank Hurley Photo Exhibit

A Frank Hurley photo of the Endeavor before being crushed by ice.

One of the neatest things we did on our last London trip was visit the Royal Geographical Society. They have an exhibit of Frank Hurley’s photographs from Shackleton’s Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914. The expedition was doomed pretty much from the beginning with the ship getting stuck and eventually crushed by the ice in the Weddell Sea.

The best part was they had the original glass plates on display next to the prints. Most of these glass plates have an incredible story in that they were trapped in the bottom of the boat as it was slowly crushed by the ice. Hurley a couple days diving in the frigid waters to the space far below decks–in pitch dark–to rescue his photos.

This is just a quick shot I took of one of the plates. I inverted the image on the right so you can see the normal photo.

Hurley went on to become a famous photographer in both World Wars and traveled back to Antarctica on a few more expeditions. Actually, the Shackleton one wasn’t his first–he was stranded a few years before with Mawson on the other side of Antarctica.

What I’m saying is he was insane.

The Walk, Revisited


Today was yet another day when the forecast called for light snow. They were correct. Then they said it would be tapering by noon. On that they were wrong. It really was a light snow but through its persistence it did accomplish raising the ground level another couple inches. I had almost convinced myself to just do the day’s cardio on the elliptical when sanity finally struck and I went for a walk around the yard.


Now, I don’t know why I don’t do this walk whenever I have the chance. It really was perfect walking weather with the temperatures in the low 20s and no wind. And unlike the last time I took this walk (well, with photos) I had assistants for the first section.


We did a loop around the far field and down into the woods. About half-way down it became apparent that Walt was going to have to have a shorter walk than I had planned. The snow was up over his belly and as his rear legs aren’t really liftable, each step became a leap. That get’s a bit tiring and so we made a bunch of stops on our way back up to the house.

Part 1
Part 2, thirty seconds later

The pups, of course, were everywhere at once. Having dogs that are mobile is a new experience. Walt and Jasper both had pretty bad hip and knee problems keeping their frantic motion to a minimum. This is not our experience with these new two. They don’t stop moving.


I took the pups back up and had to circle back to the beginning to get their leashes that are necessary to get them to cross the invisible fence. I was just going to go get them and head back inside but I did really want to look at the creek.


Standing on the beginning of the East Branch of the Chagrin River

The past couple weeks have been routinely cold making the ice pretty thick and solid. I was able to cross over and back a number of times with nary a crack or death. One of the neatest parts of this time is that the water is using the ice as a sort of speaker cone, amplifying it’s running noise throughout the valley. The rushing sound is quite loud and a bit more urgent than one normally hears.

Part of the deer superhighway


Indy Wrasslin’

wrasslin20140207-2109Before I start my blathering about the event I went to last night, let me introduce you to my new phrase: Jollyville Fuck-it.

Usage: Lewis, how in the Jollyville fuck-it did you end up with oatmeal on top of the ceiling fan?

This will be explained below. And now to our regularly scheduled bloviating.


There was a time when every small town had a theatre or two. In them the local people would see basic entertainment. Singers, humorous plays and the like, much like you would see in theatres today but with less, well, pomp. Ever since the advent of radio and television, the stage has been killed as a medium of entertainment for the mass of people. Sure plays are still put on, operas sung, but these are high dollar nights out and therefore not the staple of the average week’s fun.


With the death of mass media like the aforementioned radio and television, it seems like local entertainment is becoming more possible. Publicity is easier done through Facebook, Twitter and podcasts, bringing together a mass of like-minded individuals that would in earlier times not have access to each other. And so now we have a thriving wrestling scene. And this is good.

Combining strong doses of vaudeville and Mexican telenovela storylines, slapstick athleticism and outlandish violence, wrestling is a fun night out. Laughing, cheering, jeering and general joyousness is the order of the day. Yes, plentiful $2 beer helps.

A friend posted a couple photos to Instagram from a night she and her husband attended a show. I beseeched them to take me next time and so the next time it came around, we went. It was great.

wrasslin20140207-2103I didn’t really plan to take any pictures but I always have a camera in my pocket. Its wide angle lens gives a more atmospheric shot of the scene. I’m thinking I might do this again but with a different setup. This was fun. And how couldn’t it be when one tag team was named the Jollyville Fuck-its? Really.


The Walk


This weekend I took some time to walk along the creek. With the weather we have been having recently there have been some interesting signs of movement down there. For example a great deal of the grassy areas were run over with flooding that, after the snow, made for some interesting lines.

Here you can see how it all starts out along the banks.


And when you look more closely you can see the grass bent and swirled with the water flow.

house-20140118-1003 house-20140119-1021-2

We had a few days of cold temperatures, some a fair amount below zero. This built up a pretty good layer of ice. These cold temps were, as the world is wont to do, followed by a few days of temperatures in the forties. This gave rise to a goodly amount of water flow which threw these newly minted ice sheets all over the place.


And now we are heading back into a week of single-digit temperatures so the ice is growing yet again. Right now it isn’t strong enough to support my tubby weight but there are spots that work pretty well. (Don’t worry about me falling to my death. At best the water is about a foot deep in most spots.)

house-20140119-1021 house-20140119-1026

But until the creek is iced over, the local animals have made their own paths around the water, leaving their tracks about.


But even better is this one which, in a terrible picture, is one fallen tree that runs into another fallen tree on the other side of the creek.


And while there are always tons of trees falling, there are tons more still standing.

tree-base20140118-1155-2 house-20140119-1106 house-20140119-1056

But some times they don’t make it.


And in the rough weather you must keep the wildlife in mind. But not too much in mind.


And so we walk home…



Cleveland can be, at times, a nice place to visit.

Note: This post, and all of my other photography posts, will now be hosted at

I was afforded some free time on New Year’s Eve so I took a little walk around the University Circle area. Starting at the Cleveland Museum of Art is always preferred whenever I have anything creative to attempt (my original word was “achieve” and that is not something I can say I am doing very well). The new galleries are incredible. The displays allow the viewer to focus closely on each work without distraction. The building itself is just stunning. I cannot wait for the whole project to be finished. If you are not from this area–or if you are and haven’t ventured down there in a while–I highly recommend a visit. Cleveland’s museums are among the finest in the world. Go see.

From there I wandered around Wade Oval and was not shot, stabbed or run over by security driving on walkways. I count this a success.

Then to Little Italy for lunch. This area can be an interesting time capsule of architecture. The houses and churches have very strong arts and crafts era bones, often kept in good shape. Often not, however, and that is an issue. But it is fun to see a part of the city not completely in disrepair or completely repopulated with charmless condominiums.

Photos: Christmas Dinner Drive

Instead of annoying each other with the obligatory presents at Christmas, every year a group of us head out on a night of drunken bacchanalia. This year was wonderful. We started at the Velvet Tango Room, a true “grown-up” bar that we had been meaning to include previously but failed. We will be back. It is nice to actually go into a bar just makes classic drinks, correctly–a rarity in Northeast Ohio’s bar culture of clever drinks that just end up being noxioius mint-chocolate-bacon-celery-tinis and the like.

Then we adjourned to the Greenhouse for overeating. And then… back to the Velvet Tango Room. Thankfully the woman deemed herself to be the designated driver leaving me in the role as the lush. I did not dissapoint.

So as we drove home I randomly shot pictures and, actually, I like a couple of them. The Lakeshore power plant looks ghoulish, eh?