Archive for Big Sur

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2: A Game Changer for Phase One IQ Series and Leaf Credo Medium Format Digital Backs

Posted in General, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 18, 2014 by kendoophotography
Microsoft's Surface Pro 2 and Phase One's IQ180

Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 and Phase One’s IQ180

Background in a Nutshell.  When Phase One released its IQ180 digital back, its full frame medium format sensor boasting a staggering 80 megapixel resolution was not so surprising. What took the high-end medium format photography community by storm was its large high resolution retina touch screen. Prior digital back screens were postage stamps by comparison. The IQ180 and her sisters the IQ160 and IQ140 were indeed groundbreaking, easily surpassing the viewing screens of its competitors and even those of the smaller format DSLRs such as those offered by Canon and Nikon.  Phase One’s sister company, Leaf, released similar high resolution retina touch screens on its Credo line of digital backs.

Phase One now offered “live-view” on its IQ series and Leaf Credo digital backs, but live-view on a CCD sensor is quite limited in comparison to live-view on a CMOS based DSLR.  Furthermore, the size of MFDB CCD sensors with its high sensitivity often meant that the sensor was overexposed in live-view mode.  Consequently, stopping down the aperture and/or using neutral density filters are often necessary to enable this rather limited live-view function. The Phase One IQ series offered focus-mask, which in my opinion was a sleeper surprise feature on the IQ series digital backs, one that quickly overshadowed the claimed benefits of having live-view. But in a fast moving tech world, the clamor still continued for true live-view, something DSLR CMOS sensors could accomplish well whereas the much larger CCD sensors of MFDBs could not.   And again, the voices clamoring for live-view continued, and Phase One answered with its recently released IQ250 MFDB, the world’s first CMOS sensor digital back—with true live-view.

But regardless of live-view capabilities, the most significant limitation on the effectiveness of live view on location is the physical size of the screen. No matter whether DSLR or MFDB, the screen size on the back of a camera or digital back is still limited to about three-inches in width, or about the size of a credit card.  Regardless of technology, this is a physical limitation that can not be overcome absent an external monitor.  When combined with tired aging eyes, the difficulty of the challenge becomes more pronounced and the proponents of true live view on a diminutive three-inch screen suddenly discover that it is not the panacea that they had been clamoring for.

Tethering in studio is not a problem where powerful computer workstations can run fully featured versions of Capture One Pro software, viewing full resolution digital raw files on large monitors.  In prime conditions it is relatively easy to check composition, exposure, and focus. The difficulty or challenge is viewing images while on location with a larger portable screen option. Tethering on location generally requires using a laptop solution mated with tethering options such as those offered by Nine-volt.com.  For architectural and interior photographers where size, weight, or carrying equipment long distances is not as much of a concern, tethering with a laptop with a larger 15″ or 17″ screen may not be a problem.  Nine-volt offers flexible solutions and I have been able to successfully mount a laptop with a 17″ screen on the DigiPlate Lite, although a 15″ laptop is the largest recommended configuration.

However, size and weight is often a significant concern for landscape photographers and other photographers working on location.  A tablet provides a much better form function over a laptop,  especially where size and weight are primary considerations.  Despite a large selection of tablets on the mainstream market none have had the power or memory necessary to tether a medium format digital back.  None, that is, until the introduction of Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2.  And I’m not talking about the use of Capture Pilot and viewing scaled down JPEG files on an Apple iPad.  I’m talking about viewing full resolution RAW digital files from an 80 megapixel digital back using a fully featured version of Capture One Pro 7 —all in a small tablet format.  That’s a game changer.

The DigiPlateLite shown on a studio stand and on tripod.

The DigiPlateLite shown on a studio stand and on tripod.

The Game Changer.  A tablet has a better physical form factor for both traveling and viewing in the field than the clam shell configuration of a notebook or laptop computer, a popular selection being the Macbook Pro or MacBook Air.  When tethering, additional accessories are helpful to secure the laptop to a tripod for ease of viewing. There is no doubt in my mind that Nine Volt’s DigiPlate is the finest solution for a laptop tethering. For those with a Macbook Pro or Air, look no further than Nine-volt. The DigiPlate and DigiPlate Lite are both well-crafted and CNC machined from aircraft grade aluminum and allow for infinite configurations and tethering options. Both are designed with laptops in mind and although I could attach the Surface Pro 2 tablet to the DigiPlate Lite, I found myself wanting a smaller and lighter on location solution yet—as even the DigiPlate Lite weighs almost as much as the Surface Pro 2 tablet itself.  I have instead decided to use the Nine Volt tethering solution in studio only.

The Microsoft Surface Pro 2 tablet weighs two pounds.  It is smaller and lighter than a laptop, but heavier and much more powerful than a typical small tablet, casting itself as a red-headed step-child among a large, rather uniform, and ordinary field of tablets, notebooks, and laptops. There really isn’t an equivalent piece of hardware readily available in the mainstream market.  The Surface Pro 2 measures 10.81 x 6.81 x 0.53 in, with a 10.6 inch HD touch display with a resolution of 1920 x 1080. It sports a fourth generation Core i5 processor, 8GB of RAM for those selecting the 256/512 hard drive option, blue tooth, a micro SD card slot (adding up to another 128GB of storage),  and a full-sized USB 3 port essential for tethering the Phase One IQ series or Leaf Credo series MFDBs.  Battery life is excellent. It is essentially a laptop in tablet form that can run a full version of Capture One Pro 7.   This changes everything.

Cambo WRS, Phase One IQ180, HR40 t/s. Surface Pro shown mounted on a RRS TVC-24 tripod

Cambo WRS, Phase One IQ180, HR40 t/s. Surface Pro shown mounted on a RRS TVC-24 tripod

Tethering on Location.  Size and weight are major considerations when working on location, especially when you have to hike any considerable distance to your destination. The Surface Pro 2 tethering solution adds no more than 3 pounds total to my pack, including the Arkon heavy duty c-clamp universal tablet mount, which attaches to my Really Right Stuff TVC-24 carbon fiber tripod.  Set up is quick, taking no more than a minute. The tablet mount features two ball joints allowing me to maneuver the Surface Pro 2 in any position quickly and easily. Some care needs to be taken to avoid over tightening the c-clamp and damaging the tripod leg. I placed thin adhesive rubber strips inside the c-clamp which adds grip while also protecting the tripod leg from potential scuffing. I have placed strips of gaffers tape around the tripod legs to quickly mark where to attach the Arkon c-clamp and also provide further protection to the tripod legs.  I chose the Manvex case for protection, and leave the Surface Pro 2 in the case even when using the tablet mount. The Manvex case provides a secure holder for the stylus pen.  In the above photo, I have chosen to position the Surface Pro 2 directly below the digital back on the camera.  The Surface Pro 2 boots up quickly to a nice clean desktop, having opted to bypass the messy desktop of Windows 8 using a neat free program called Classic Shell. Seconds later, Capture One Pro 7 DB is ready. The program recognizes the IQ180 automatically after plugging in a short three-foot USB3 cord connecting the digital back to the Surface Pro 2.  This is just too easy.  

Full view. Note the yellow rectangle for reference.

Full view. Note the yellow rectangle for reference.

Although Capture One Pro 7 can be used to tether a DSLR or Phase DF with digital back, the real advantages become apparent when using a technical camera. The larger screen of the Surface Pro 2 makes it easier to compose images, check settings, and check focus using Phase One’s Focus Mask feature.  Since the Surface Pro 2 is running a full version of the Capture One 7 raw processing software, all the features of the program remain accessible, though my intent is to use the Surface Pro 2 more as a tool on location and process the image files later on the studio’s workstation. The convenient tablet form factor and the capability of the Surface Pro 2 to run a full version of Capture One Pro 7 is ideal for landscape photographer and is also an attractive tethering solution for architectural and interior photographers as well.

Full image view. Note the approximate area of the image marked by the yellow rectangle on the screen.

Full image view. Note the approximate area of the image marked by the yellow rectangle on the screen.

For working on location, I have chosen to set up my Capture One Pro 7 work space to maximize the viewing area of the main image.  Once the cable release is triggered, the image captured by the IQ180 MFDB appears within seconds on the Surface Pro 2’s high resolution screen. Too bright outside? Simply tap in the bottom right corner and adjust the brightness of the screen to match.   Double-tap on the screen and the program automatically zooms in 100% to check focus. Tap the Focus Mask tool to assist and the sharper areas of focus appear painted in green. The Focus Loupe tool or any other tool in C1 Pro 7 is also available to use on the full 80 megapixel raw file.

Full View.

Full view on image on the Surface Pro 2.

Partial zoom. You can easily zoom in from zero to 400% viewing to check details.

Partial 33% zoom using C1 Pro 7 on the Surface Pro 2. You can easily zoom in from zero to 400% viewing to check details.  Simply drag a finger on the screen to easily adjust the location of the image area to be examined.

100%. Note the area selected from the yellow rectangles.

100% image view using a simple double-tap on the screen of the Surface Pro 2. Note the area selected from the yellow rectangles in the previous images.  Double-tap the screen again to return to full image view.

Once on screen, the image can be moved around to inspect other elements of the image simply by dragging a finger on the screen to the area of the image desired. Viewing the preview image on the larger screen of the Surface Pro 2 makes it much easier to check composition, focus, and even the desired amount of lens movement afforded by technical cameras.  Changes can be now be quickly and confidently made on the camera or digital back before again triggering the shutter for the final image capture. Once satisfied with the final image, an LCC image is taken to assist later in post-processing with Capture One Pro 7.  The IQ180’s 80 megapixel image files are stored on the Surface Pro 2’s hard drive and later transferred to the studio’s workstation for processing. I’ve never been much of a fan of tethering, however, the Surface Pro 2 changes everything at least for when I’m working on location with my Cambo WRS technical camera.  For my typical workflow, I do not see myself using the Surface Pro 2 to photograph tethered in studio, although its Windows 8 Miracast WiFi capability to send images to other Miracast enabled monitors, such as high resolution viewing tablets and high definition widescreen televisions, has potential worth investigating.

Live-view still remains an option on IQ series and Leaf Credo series medium format digital backs, and except for the CMOS-based IQ250, are still limited by the constraints of its CCD sensor.  Live-view via USB3 may still be an option on the Surface Pro 2 and C1 Pro 7 enabled later via Phase One firmware update, however, in my opinion, I do not expect any further improvements in live view capability to be implemented with CCD sensor-based digital backs, although I surmise that live view on the ten-inch screen of the Surface Pro 2 will be better than on a three-inch MFDB screen .  My understanding is that live-view via USB3 firmware update is now in beta testing.  In the meantime, I find that using focus mask and other tools within C1 Pro 7 on the Surface Pro 2 on full resolution raw files to be faster and more effective than working with a limited version of live-view and neutral density filters.  Even the IQ250 and DSLRs, with their true live-view capabilities are still limited by the physical size of their viewing screens. Indeed, the IQ250’s true live-view via USB3 (if enabled by firmware) on the larger screen of the Surface Pro 2 may be something to really silence the live-view pundits. *update*  Live View via USB3 on the Surface Pro 2 is now possible with the latest firmware 5.11.36 update for IQ backs and C1 Pro version 7.2; all CCD sensor limitations on live view remain, but is more usable on the larger screen of the Surface Pro 2 as expected.  Life is indeed good with options!

The Verdict.   For Phase/Leaf/Mamiya medium format digital backs that are USB3 capable, the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 is an ideal tethering companion on location. The tablet format does take some getting used to but its form factor and power is exactly what makes the Surface Pro 2 unique as a tethering tool, especially in the world of medium format digital photography. The tablet is lighter than a laptop and consequently does not require as strong of a mounting clamp to attach to a stand or tripod. This means less bulk and less weight. When traveling the Surface Pro 2 can serve double duty replacing a laptop while also providing a small but capable tethering solution. The Sony Vaio Tap 11 or the less expensive first generation Surface Pro are alternative tablets that could be considered, but their performance does not appear to be as good as the Surface Pro 2 running programs under Windows 8.1.  Further, battery life for both of these tablets in the field is substantially shorter than that offered by the Surface Pro 2. While tethered to the Surface Pro 2, images from my 80 megapixel Phase One IQ180 appeared on screen in Capture 1 Pro 7 DB in a scant three to five seconds.  Battery life in the field for the Surface Pro 2 is rated up to ten hours but I would rate it conservatively in the field at about seven hours. At least one review points out that the Surface Pro 2 has better color performance than the first generation Surface Pro. The Cintiq Companion was not considered as the larger 13″ tablet is almost twice the weight of the Surface Pro 2, which would necessitate a heavier clamping option and further limiting tethering portability in the field.

The Surface Pro 2 has a faster fourth generation Core i5-4300U processor at 1.9GHz base and 2.9GHz Turbo, an increase of 19% at the lower end and over 11% in turbo compared to the first generation Surface Pro. The Surface Pro 2 also offers 8GB of RAM over the first generation’s paltry 4GB of RAM. Consequently, the Surface Pro 2 is capable of much faster image viewing, taking only three to six seconds for a full image preview to appear on its screen via C1 Pro 7.  Processing time to tethered viewing varies according to the resolution (40, 60 or 80 megapixels) and type of digital back being used.  The Surface Pro 2 also has substantially longer battery life.  The tethered view in the field from either Surface Pro generation is still magic.

There are two items that I don’t like about the Surface Pro 2.  First, the Windows 8 operating system to me is like Vista was to XP. It’s like Microsoft just couldn’t help themselves and leave well enough alone with Windows 7. The Windows 8 desktop is a messy social enabled interface. I am sure it’s fine for many, but I’m here to work. Some may recall why the term “desktop” was even developed: software engineers likened the “computer desktop” screen as replacing a real office desktop, as in papers, folders, and projects on your desk. I want a clean office desktop, and the Windows 8 interface is busy, messy, and trendy. Thankfully there are a host of free programs such as Classic Shell that address this minor shortcoming, allowing you to boot directly to a nice clean desktop similar to Windows 7, with a C1 Pro 7 shortcut icon now plainly visible. No more useless clutter. Finally, the magnetic holder which doubles as both the battery charger port and pen stylus holder on the side of the Surface Pro 2 is gimmicky. I find myself spending more time making sure that the magnetic connection is secure enough to enable charging without inadvertently being bumped off. Using the magnetic holder to store the digitized stylus pen is almost insuring its eventual loss and replacement. The charger works well enough, but storing the stylus pen is much better in the pen holder provided by the Manvex case.

There are a host of accessories available for the Surface Pro 2, including the Touch/Type 2 back lit keyboards which attach magnetically (which does work very well) or by wireless blue tooth, and wireless blue tooth mice. All of these accessories are best left in your bag (except for the digitized stylus pen) when tethering on location.  Unless Apple releases an iPad Pro, Microsoft’s Surface Pro 2 currently stands alone as the ideal tablet tethering solution on location.  Lighter than a laptop or notebook, yet heavier than a tablet, the Surface Pro 2 has not been as widely embraced as a powerful hybrid computer tablet that maybe it should.  But for photographers seeking to shoot high-end medium format digital backs tethered on location, the Surface Pro 2 is indeed a game changer.   It is a worthwhile investment for Phase One IQ series and Leaf Credo medium format digital back users.

Special thanks to Zac Henderson, technical support at Capture Integration in Atlanta. For more information on tethering with Capture One Pro or medium format digital photography, contact Capture Integration at (877) 217-9870.  I will be doing further testing tethering with the Surface Pro 2 during this weekend’s medium format digital workshop, the 5th annual Capture Integration in Carmel.  You may contact me at my boutique portrait photography studio in Carmel or view my landscape work at www.houseoflandscapes.com.  Ken (831) 626-1844

Surface Pro 2 with Type 2 keyboard attached; Arc Touch mouse and digitized stylus pen; Arkon Universal Tablet Mount

Surface Pro 2 with Type 2 keyboard attached; Arc Touch mouse and digitized stylus pen; Arkon Universal Tablet Mount

The Equipment List.

  • Microsoft Surface Pro 2, with 4th gen Intel Core i5 processor, 8GB RAM, 512GB storage
  • Sandisk 128GB micro SDXC memory card with adapter
  • Superspeed 1.5 foot USB3 Type A to B cord; optional 3 foot USB3 cord
  • Manvex case for Surface Pro 2 with Type 2 cover
  • Microsoft Type 2 keyboard
  • Microsoft Arc Touch Mouse
  • Am Film screen protectors for Surface Pro 2
  • Arkon Heavy Duty Aluminum c-clamp Universal Tablet Mount (10 inch) Tab 804
  • Classic Shell
  • Phase One – Capture One Pro 7 DB

Improved Clamp options! (revised February 2015)

  • K&M stands 19740 Universal tablet holder  “Wolf Clamp” (fits Surface Pro 2 or 3)
  • RRS CRD rail with end clamp or Sunwayfoto rail with end clamp
  • or RRS MPR-CL II nodal rail (my recommendation)
  • quick release plate with 1/4″ screw for clamp
  • RRS FAS lever clamp for camera/Cube/tripod head
  • Optional Urban Armor Gear UAG case for Surface Pro
  • PerfectFit Anti-glare glass shield for SP3 (not for use with UAG case)

New “hiking” clamp!  (revised April 21, 2015)

  • The “Pig” clamp Small, flat folding clamp ideal for hiking. Lightweight clamp but not cannot adjust viewing angle. Usable only with RRS MPR-CL II or Sunwayfoto 180 with end clamp on top of rail. Fits SP2 and SP3.

No further updates will be made to this article; updates will be in “new” blog articles on tethering with the Surface Pro.  The latest clamping options are discussed here:  Tethering With the Surface Pro: Evolving Clamp Choices

ken.

See my new fine art printing website at www.carmelfineartprinting.com —order your photos on canvas and fine art papers online!  From Vision to Print

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Capture Integration Returns to Carmel 2014!

Posted in Events, General, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , , , on January 3, 2014 by kendoophotography
Sunset on Weston Beach, Point Lobos. ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRS, HR40 t/s, Phase IQ180

Sunset on Weston Beach, Point Lobos. ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRS, HR40 t/s, Phase IQ180

It’s back—again!  Capture Integration is returning to Carmel, CA for its fifth medium format digital workshop. Capture Integration from Atlanta, Georgia is a leading dealer of exclusive photography equipment, specializing in medium format digital cameras and backs.  This definitely isn’t your normal photography workshop.  Don Libby of Iron Creek Photography in Tucson, AZ and I have been co-hosting this event for five years now.  CI in Carmel is an informal workshop that has grown in popularity, selling out in less than two weeks last year.

Garrapata Sea Stacks printed in B&W on the studio's specially converted K7 B&W Piezography printer. ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRS, Rodenstock HR40 t/s, Phase IQ180

Garrapata Sea Stacks printed in B&W on the studio’s specially converted K7 B&W Piezography printer. ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRS, Rodenstock HR40 t/s, Phase One IQ180 medium format digital back.

This year’s event will include a tour of the Really Right Stuff facilities, a Capture One Pro 7/8 class, B&W K7 Piezography printing, and of course, world-class barbequed (famous in my own mind) babyback ribs smoked on a Traeger. The workshop focuses on landscape photography along the central coast. Although the event is weighted towards technical cameras including Alpa, Arca, Cambo and high resolution medium format digital backs, you can expect appearances from the Phase DF, Leica S2, and Hasselbald cameras as well. I expect to see the new Alpa FPS, Phase One IQ260 Achromatic, and new lens offerings as well.  CI in Carmel is scheduled for February 21-23, 2014.  Registration is online through Capture Integration in Atlanta, and the current itinerary. Capture One Pro 7/8 class, barbeque lunch, and B&W K7 print included.  For more information, please contact me at my boutique portrait photography studio in Carmel, CA.  Ken (831) 626-1844.

B&W Piezography MPS Prints On Display

Posted in Events, General, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , , , on May 15, 2013 by kendoophotography
B&W K7 Piezography MPS Gloss Selenium. ©2013 Ken Doo Photography

B&W K7 Piezography MPS Gloss Selenium. ©2013 Ken Doo Photography

When Drs. Mowatt-Larssen and Nicholas made plans to re-decorate their patient waiting room area, I was pleased that my landscape work was considered for inclusion at their office.  The selected works were all custom printed on my newly converted B&W printer.  This new printer features seven shades of black pigmented inks capable of producing stunning B&W images with incredibly smooth tonality, great dimension, and presence.  The images are reminiscent of B&W fiber prints.  All images were photographed by me with a Phase One IQ180 digital back and Phase DF camera or Cambo WRS technical camera.  You can see these images at the Vein Specialists of Monterey located at 757 Pacific Street, Suite C-2, Monterey, CA 93940.

The studio recently added several more fine art papers that have been profiled for this special wide format B&W printer, which is able to produce both glossy and matte fine art B&W prints up to 44″ in width.  For more information on K7 B&W printing or high resolution medium format digital copywork, contact Carmel Fine Art Printing & Reproduction.  You can view more of my landscape photography at www.houseoflandscapes.com, or contact me at my boutique portrait photography studio in Carmel, California. (831) 626-1844.

Capture Integration in Carmel 2013

Posted in Events, General, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , on February 21, 2013 by kendoophotography
Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point and Fort Mason. ©2013 Ken Doo Photography. Cambo WRS, IQ180, Rodenstock HR40

Golden Gate Bridge from Fort Point and Fort Mason. ©2013 Ken Doo Photography. Cambo WRS, IQ180, Rodenstock HR40

Last weekend marked the fourth Capture Integration in Carmel workshop, which started on Friday in San Francisco and back to the central coast in Carmel.  This year’s event (formerly known as Pigs in a Blanket) sold out in less than two weeks of being announced.  CI in Carmel is a light-hearted workshop put on by Ken Doo Photography of Carmel, California, Don Libby of Iron Creek Photography in Tucson, Arizona, and Dave Gallagher’s Capture Integration in Atlanta, Georgia.  CI in Carmel is a medium format digital workshop and provides a great opportunity to try the latest camera products and lenses.  This year Capture Integration included new technical camera offerings from Cambo, the Phase One DF+, Schneider and Rodenstock lenses, and  the latest medium format digital backs from both Leaf and Phase One.  Oh, and the Canon 1DX—just because.

Pigeon Point Sunset. ©2013 Ken Doo Photography.  Three image panorama. Phase 645DF, IQ180, Schneider 240LS

Pigeon Point Sunset. ©2013 Ken Doo Photography. Three image panorama. Phase 645DF, IQ180, Schneider 240LS

Friday evening’s sunset shoot was at Pigeon Point Lighthouse, just south of Half Moon Bay.  Despite nearly cloudless skies, sunset brought on nice hues of a warm sunset.

John Milich sets up for a shot with his technical camera.

John Milich sets up for a shot with his technical camera.

Dr. Paul Indman photographs the Pigeon Pioint Lighthouse

Dr. Paul Indman photographs the Pigeon Point Lighthouse

This year’s workshop included visits to Point Lobos and Garrapata State Park on Saturday.  A figure model studio session was also included, followed by a visit to a crowded Pfeiffer State Beach.

Weston Beach, Point Lobos.  ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRS, IQ180, HR40 t/s; 3 stop reverse neutral grad.

Weston Beach, Point Lobos. ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRS, IQ180, HR40 t/s; 3 stop reverse neutral grad.

Garrapata. ©2013 Ken Doo.  Cambo WRS, IQ180, HR40

Garrapata. ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRS, IQ180, HR40

Pfeiffer. ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRS, IQ180, HR40.
Pfeiffer. ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRS, IQ180, HR40.

CI in Carmel would not be complete without breakfast at the Wagon Wheel, the origin of the first Pigs in a Blanket!

Pigs.

Pigs.

Dave Gallagher teaches a 1/2 day C1 Pro 7 class.

Dave Gallagher teaches a 1/2 day C1 Pro 7 class.

Babyback ribs for 18 for lunch—love my Traeger!  Oh yeah.  Who could forget—there’s nothing better than spending Valentine’s Day Weekend with Dave Gallagher!  A big thank you to Dave Gallagher, who helps to make CI in Carmel come together.  I’ve been a client of Capture Integration for many years now, and for good reason.  I depend on Capture Integration for all my medium format digital equipment and Canon DSLRs as well.

Dave Gallagher of Capture Integration in Atlanta, GA

Dave Gallagher of Capture Integration in Atlanta, GA

This year’s event also included an introduction to printing with a specially converted B&W piezography printer.  The printer is an Epson 9890 converted to a K7 (seven blacks) MPS Selenium glossy and matte printer. This printer is capable of exceptional quality B&W prints.  Participants prepared and printed B&W images from the weekend or images from prior work.  Although the workshop ended officially Sunday evening, several of us extended the weekend with a tour of the new Really Right Stuff facility in San Luis Obispo.  This was a treat.

Prints from the specially converted K7 MPS Piezography printer

Prints from the specially converted K7 MPS Piezography printer

Graham Welland.

Graham Welland.

Phil Lindsay

Phil Lindsay

Big Sur.  ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRD, IQ180, HR40
Big Sur. ©2013 Ken Doo. Cambo WRD, IQ180, HR40

The tour of the Really Right Stuff (RRS) facility was like touring the Hershey Chocolate Factory as kids.  Except they weren’t giving out free samples…

Don and Ken

Don and Ken

Karla works with Don
Karla works with Don
And yes---RRS has a machine shop!

And yes—RRS has a machine shop!

Really Right Stuff is a specialized photographic equipment maker. They specialize in making all the special parts that make fine photography possible, including but not limited to quick release plates, L-brackets, and carbon fiber tripods. The quality of their products is unsurpassed and it is no wonder that RRS products are a first choice among discerning photographers. Products are carefully designed, engineered, and CNC machined from solid blocks of metal.  And yes, we got to see where it all happens!

Don and Joe Jr.

Don and Joe Jr.

Don was very considerate in his shopping, independently making sure that sales figures were high enough to ensure Joe Jr. could plan his vacation to Hawaii or Europe this summer.

CI in Carmel tours the RRS facility in San Luis Obispo
CI in Carmel tours the RRS facility in San Luis Obispo

I look forward to the next CI in Carmel!  For more information on Wine, Dine, and Schwein, medium format digital photography, or B&W piezography and fine art printing, contact me at my boutique photography studio in Carmel.  (831) 626-1844.  ken

Traeger in the House: Bbq Just Got Serious

Posted in Events, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , , on May 21, 2011 by kendoophotography

I love food.  And with some apologies to my vegan friends (ok, not really), I like meat.  And one of my favorite ways to cook meat is barbeque.  Real bbq.  No stinkin’ propane gas.  Real fire, the type that men and pre-pubescent boys can revel in.  (ok, not really).  But yes, real barbeque to me does mean cooking with fire, whether with charcoal or wood.  And Traeger Barbeques has made it easy, marrying the taste of real wood-burning barbeque with the ease of a knob. 

Traeger Wood Pellet Burning Barbeque

The Traeger Barbeque comes in several sizes, but all operate similarly with a hopper that feeds wood pellets into a fire-pot at the bottom of the barbeque.  The bbq uses wood pellets specifically made for barbeque in a variety of different hardwoods, such as hickory, mesquite, and fruit woods.  A thermostat easily adjusts the temperature making perfectly smoked meats child’s fare.

Baby back ribs and baked potatoes on the side

Traeger Barbeques are often used in barbeque competitions.  It took me about a year to perfect my baby back rib recipe, and the Traeger simply makes it easier.  And yup, you guessed it, coming full circle back to Pigs in a Blanket and medium format digital photography.  You can count on the Traeger being part of an upcoming Wine, Dine, and Swine —a medium format digital landscape workshop.  No joke!  ; )  ken

p.s  My version/recipe of chinese bbq pork or char siu is here CHINESE BBQ PORK. (And no, that’s not my baby back rib recipe)

Beyond Landscapes in Big Sur, California

Posted in General, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , on September 3, 2010 by kendoophotography

The central coast of California certainly offers incredible views and scenic landscapes.  Just south of Carmel towards Big Sur, Highway One meanders and curves above the rustic coastline, and is host to one of the most stunning drives in the world.  I love landscape photography and Big Sur is a landscape photographer’s paradise.  But not this time.  I took time off earlier this month with my son for a little R & R, and Big Sur offered a us quick getaway.

Cabins in Big Sur offer comfortable lodging nestled in the woods

I was able to secure a reservation for a cabin in Big Sur, even in the thick of summer vacationers to the central coast.  This particular site even allowed our dog to stay with us.  Though we’ve lived on the central coast for fifteen years, we had not taken the time to actually stay overnight in Big Sur before.  We enjoyed the restaurants and Nicholas especially enjoyed inner-tubing down the Big Sur River.  I brought an underwater housing and was able to take a few quick photos with a small Canon G9 p&s camera as we floated gently downstream.

Big Sur River inner-tubing

Dining outside at the Big Sur River Inn; the view looking up!

Panasonic GF1 with 20mm pancake f/1.7

 No landscapes this time, though I did take a few photos with my Panasonic GF1.   I’m fortunate to be able to have the time to spend with my sons and do different things.  Though school has already started in Carmel, we’re already talking about traveling and things in the world to see and do.   Alaska may be in the works (again)….with all us packing cameras!  kmd

Capture Integration in Carmel – 2nd Annual PIAB Part II and Other Misc. Ramblings

Posted in Events, General, Landscapes, Nature & Wildlife with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 3, 2010 by kendoophotography

Last week marked the end of the Capture Integration in Carmel workshop, otherwise known as the 2nd Annual Pigs in a Blanket.  As promised in part two of this series, I’ve included some of the images created over the course of several days shooting at Alcatraz, Muir Woods, the Sutro Baths, Carmel Mission, and south towards Big Sur. Many more images are available for viewing at my boutique photography studio in Carmel, and I will also post additional images on my landscape photography website.   As I write this, Don Libby of Iron Creek Photography in Tucson, AZ is just getting home from his extended travels with his new Leica M9, having photographed Yosemite, Lone Pine, Death Valley, Mono Lake, among others following the workshop.  All I can say is that Don is really really pleased with the addition of the Leica M9 to his Cambo RS and Phase One P45+ medium format digital back!

Alcatraz at Night. Phase 645AF, P65+, Mamiya 35mm, ISO 400, f/4.5 at 1/4oth

The CI in Carmel workshop really is a great opportunity to meet other like-minded photographers, socialize, learn, and try some of the latest digital photography gear.

The new Leica M9: the perfect MFDB complement

Phase 645AF with Phase P65+ and the new Leica S2 with 70mm lens

I did get to try out the new Leica S2.  This new offering from Leica is more similar to a DSLR, but with a much larger 37.5 megapixel sensor, placing it much closer in medium format digital territory.  The S2 is self-contained like a DSLR, and the body does not have a removeable digital back like its Phase counterpart.  For those new to the world of medium format digital, the S2 offers yet another platform to consider.  But for those that already have a medium format digital camera platform, the S2 is much less attractive.  And for me, quite bluntly, the S2 just didn’t feel right in my hands, and struck me as being cold and sterile.  Others in the workshop either loved the feel of the camera or disliked it.  Those smaller in stature enjoyed the S2, finding that the camera body was easier to hold than the heavier and thicker Phase One camera platform with a digital back.  And I can see how the S2 fills a niche.  I wasn’t a fan of the S2 menu layout, but then again, I’ve been using Phase One MFDBs for years now.  Compared to the Canon 1Ds Mark III or Nikon D3x, I’m sure that the comparatively spartan rear of the S2 would not be difficult to master.

Big Sur Coastline. Leica S2 with 70mm; ISO 160, f/2.4 at 1/4000th

But what do the images taken with the S2 look like?  That’s what is most important right?  I found that when used in abundant light, the S2 produced absolutely stunning images.  Just simply wow.  Leica is known for its quality lenses, and the big 70mm Leica lens does not disappoint.

Muir Woods with Dave Gallagher. Leica S2 with 70mm; ISO 160, f/2.4 at 1/60th

Cropped section of above image. Leica S2. Amazing clarity and detail with the Leica 70mm lens.

Now the bad news.  Unfortunately, the Leica S2 doesn’t perform as well in low light situations.  And the once stellar performance gets ugly when the light gets dim.  Real ugly.  Maybe I should qualify my comments.  In an age of relatively inexpensive DSLRs such as the Canon 5D Mark II, which are capable of quite respectable images at 1600 and 3200 ISO, it’s rather easy to demand more.  And there certainly haven’t been any exceptions, not even for medium format digital.  And true to form, newly released medium format digital backs such as the Phase One P40+ and P65+ are capable of producing good quality images at higher ISOs.

Leica S2 and 70mm; f/2.4 at 1/90th; ISO 640 equals yuck!

At ISO 640, images produced by the Leica S2 looked mushy. I took a quick photo of fellow photographer Rafael Hernandez  and the lack of detail and mush became even more apparent.  I processed the Leica images in Capture One Pro 5.1.  Alternatively, I also tried processing the images in Adobe Photoshop CS4 ACR, but the images from ACR were noticeably noisier and C1 Pro is simply the better raw processor.  We also noticed weird discolorations or anomaly on the back of the S2 LCD viewing screen.  Rafael later determined that this was caused by a bad JPEG viewing algorithm, but with no apparent effect on the final digital image files generated.  A firmware update should cure this anomaly on the LCD, and maybe Leica can improve high ISO image performance by firmware as well.  A clean 800 ISO image file is not asking for much considering the current high ISO performance of recent  MFDBs offerings from both Phase One (P40+ and P65+) and Hasselblad (H4D)—which are also available for sale at a lower price of entry than the S2.

Leica S2 at ISO 640 mushy!

Crop of above image; Leica S2 at ISO 640 mushy and loss of detail

I don’t doubt that Leica will sell many S2 cameras, for what it does well, it does exceedingly well.  But $28,000+ for the Leica S2 (body and 70mm lens) is quite a bit to invest, and certainly will give pause to many particularly considering that other medium format platforms, such as the Phase one P40+ and H4D40, are actually less expensive, albeit a bit bulkier, and minus that shiny red logo.  If I had money to burn, I might be inclined to buy a Leica S2 myself—just because.  But professionally, the S2 is not suitable for me.  Doctors and dentists are lining up now…..  ; )      [Note:  My comments here are not meant as a pixel-peeping review; rather they are my limited observations with the S2 during the workshop.  Hell, it could be fraught with user-error, so go out and grab an S2 and try it yourself…]  Okay, enough rambling….

Garrapata Beach; Phase P65+, ISO 50, f/32 at 3 secs.

Pfeiffer Beach; Phase P65+, ISO 50, f/32 at .8 secs

Carmel Mission Window; Phase One P65+, ISO 100, f/4 at 1/320, Mamiya 120mm D

Carmel Calla Lilly; Phase P65+, ISO 100, f/4 at 1/180, Mamiya 120mm D

Don and I really enjoyed hosting Capture Integration in Carmel, and working with Dave Gallagher.  It seems quick, but we’re already discussing plans to formalize future medium format digital workshops—keep an eye out!  For more landscape images visit my landscape website,  www.houseoflandscapes.com .  For more information, including future Pigs in  a Blanket endeavors, contact Ken Doo at (831) 626-1844; www.kendoophotography.com

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