Archive for February, 2021

“Fujifilm X Acquire” updated

February 26, 2021

Fujifilm X Acquire” tethered shooting software for Apple Mac was updated on 17 February 2021 from Ver. 1.18.0 to Ver. 1.19.0.

What’s new?

The release notes say Ver. 1.19.0 includes a “1. Fix of minor bugs.”

The “splash screen” that featured cryptic characters from an Asian alphabet is gone. Otherwise, I see no difference between Ver. 1.18.0 and Ver. 1.19.0. Most notably, a fix for the “Linked Software” problem is not included in the latest X Acquire update.

Catch-22

The “About FUJIFILM X Acquire” window directs the user to allow access to “Photos” and “Files and Folders” from Apple “System Preferences” → “Security & Privacy” → “Privacy” [tab].

The same directive is reinforced on the Fujifilm X Acquire “Preferences” page.

First, a word of caution: In my strong opinion, Apple “Photos” is the wrong application to pair with Fujifilm X Acquire — if you do, then “You’re entering a world of pain.” (Source Credit: “The Big Lebowski.”) I think Apple “Preview” is a better solution for this task.

Second, there is a “bug” in “Big Sur” — the latest version of the Apple macOS — that doesn’t allow users (including system administrators) to add items to the list of applications that can access “Files and Folders,” as shown by the grayed-out +/- symbols in the following Screenshot (an Apple utility).

The same screen shows several Adobe applications can access “Files and Folders,” including “Adobe Lightroom Classic,” “Adobe Photoshop 2021,” and Adobe “Creative Cloud.” I must have granted permission (during installation) for these Adobe applications to access “Files and Folders” because it’s clear I can’t do so manually.

I strongly recommend Fujifilm should update X Acquire to do likewise, otherwise we’re stuck with a “Catch-22” dilemma in which X Acquire doesn’t set the necessary permission(s) to operate properly and Big Sur doesn’t let the user grant permission for apps to access “Files and Folders.” Both Fujifilm and Apple should fix these problems STAT!

Related Resource:Return to tethered shooting” – a blog post by Walter Sanford.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Dromogomphus spinosus exuvia (dorsal view)

February 19, 2021

Gomphidae (Clubtails) is the second largest family of dragonflies, behind Libellulidae (Skimmers). Many types of clubtail larvae (nymphs)/exuviae look similar, adding to the challenge of identifying some specimens to the genus and species level.

This specimen has a flat labium that doesn’t cover the face (not mask-like), indicating it’s either Aeshnidae (Darners) or Gomphidae; the shape of the body suggets Gomphidae. Several more field marks can be used to identify this specimen as a Black-shouldered Spinyleg (Dromogomphus spinosus) exuvia.

16 FEB 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | D. spinosus exuvia (dorsal)

The specimen is approximately 3.3 cm (~1.3 in) long, measured from head to tail. Notice the mid-dorsal hooks/spines located along the abdomen of the body.

At first I thought the exuvia might be a species from the genus Stylurus, based upon the mid-dorsal spine on abdominal segment nine (S9). After careful examination of two excellent photo-illustrated PowerPoint presentations by Kevin Hemeon at NymphFest 2016 (see Related Resources, below), I noticed none of the species in the genus Stylurus have dorsal hooks. That’s when I realized the specimen must be D. spinosus. Eureka! Source Credit: Dromogomphus spinosus exuvia – a blog post published on 28 June 2019 by Walter Sanford.

Related Resources

The following PowerPoint presentations by Kevin Hemeon are available in the “Files” section of the Northeast Odonata Facebook group. Direct links to the documents are provided below.

Odonate Exuviae – a hyperlinked list of identification guides to many species of odonate exuviae from seven families of dragonflies and three families of damselflies.

Tech Tips

The photograph featured in this blog post is a “one-off,” that is, a single photo rather than a focus-stacked composite image. The camera lens was set for f/16; the camera body was set for ISO 160 and a shutter speed of 1/250 s.

The photo was taken using a Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, Fujinon XF80mm macro lens (120mm, 35mm equivalent), and an array of external lights.

Two external flash units were used to create the white background by cross lighting the front of a piece of white plastic; another flash was used to light the subject. A Sunpack LED 160 was used as a focusing aid.

RAW FILE CONVERTER EX 3.0 was used to convert one RAW (RAF) file to a TIFF file. The TIFF file was edited using Apple Aperture and sharpened using Photoshop.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Dromogomphus spinosus exuvia (ventral view)

February 16, 2021

A dragonfly exuvia was collected by Joe Johnston on 22 May 2019 at Aquia Creek, Stafford County, Virginia USA. This specimen is the cast skin from a Black-shouldered Spinyleg (Dromogomphus spinosus) larva (nymph). D. spinosus is a member of Family Gomphidae (Clubtails).

The specimen is approximately 3.3 cm (~1.3 in) long, measured from head to tail.

15 FEB 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | D. spinosus exuvia (ventral)

Male odonates have two sets of sex organs: primary genitalia located on abdominal segment nine (S9); and secondary genitalia located on abdominal segments two-to-three (S2-3).

This male specimen has too much dirt on S9 to see the primary genitalia; the secondary genitalia are visible on S2-3. I plan to annotate the image in order to highlight select anatomical features.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The subject was photographed against a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique. The exposure was increased by 0.3 stop during post-processing in order to attain a pure white background.

A composite image was created from several photos taken using a Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, Fujinon XF80mm macro lens, and an array of external lights.

One external flash unit was used to create the white background and two others to light the subject. A Sunpack LED 160 was used as a focusing aid.

RAW FILE CONVERTER EX 3.0 was used to convert six (6) RAW (RAF) files to TIFF files. In a departure from my usual workflow, the TIFF files were loaded into Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 in order to create the focus stacked composite image. The composite image was edited using Apple Aperture and sharpened using Photoshop.

Tech Take-aways

Notice there is some color fringing (mostly reds) that is especially noticeable on the front legs and antennae, as well as along the edges of the posterior abdomen. I have been experimenting with a new technique for backlighting the subject. It appears I need to add another layer of diffusion between the light source and the subject.

There is also some “softness” along the edges of the abdomen that could be the result of too few focus points for the shape of the body, which in turn, could have caused artifacts in the composite image.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

MWAA jet airplane pencil eraser

February 12, 2021

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) was the school-business partner with Carl Sandburg Middle School (Fairfax County Public Schools) when I worked at the school as a full-time planetarium teacher and later as a part-time planetarium teacher/part-time physical science teacher.

MWAA always brought good SWAG when they participated in school events like the annual “Career Day.” The jet airplane pencil eraser, shown below, was one of the more popular items.

Single image

An MWAA jet airplane pencil eraser was photographed against a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique. The exposure was increased slightly during post-processing in order to attain a pure white background.

08 FEB 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | MWAA jet airplane pencil eraser

Composite image

The following composite image was created from several photos taken using a Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, Fujinon XF80mm macro lens, and an array of external lights.

One external flash unit was used to create the white background and another to light the subject. A Sunpack LED 160 was used as a focusing aid.

Seven (7) photos were edited using Apple Aperture, exported as TIFF files, then loaded into Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 in order to create the focus stacked composite image.

08 FEB 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | MWAA jet airplane pencil eraser

Look closely at the pencil shaft and you will notice some serious artifacts from the focus stacking process; more serious artifacts were cropped from the top of the image. Hey, sometimes focus stacking using Photoshop works; sometimes it doesn’t. When it works, it works well; when it doesn’t, well, there are artifacts in the composite image. I have read it’s possible to repair those artifacts, but I’ve never had any luck with that.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

When is a yellow pencil not yellow?

February 9, 2021

A yellow pencil isn’t yellow when the subject is photographed in a studio under artificial light and the photographer is more focused on focus than color fidelity.

08 FEB 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | SANFORD EAGLE yellow pencil

I know what you’re thinking. “Gee, I wish I had a pencil with my last name on it.” But you don’t. Hah! This isn’t one of those cheesy pencils you can order with your name on it — oh no, this “Sanford” brand pencil was manufactured by Newell Brands, a public company headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia. Newell Brands also makes “Sharpie” markers.

Tech Tips

A SANFORD EAGLE yellow pencil was photographed against a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique. The exposure was increased by 0.2 stop during post-processing in order to attain a pure white background.

The composite image featured in this blog post was created from several photos taken using a Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, Fujinon XF80mm macro lens, and an array of external lights.

One external flash unit was used to create the white background and another to light the subject. A Sunpack LED 160 was used as a focusing aid.

Six (6) photos were edited using Apple Aperture, exported as TIFF files, then loaded into Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 in order to create the focus stacked composite image.

Announcement: New schedule for publishing blog posts

Beginning on Tuesday, 09 February 2021 blog posts will be published on Tuesday and Friday every week.

I want the followers of my blog to know I struggled with this decision. My decision is based in part on the impact of the pandemic on my day-to-day activities. I’m not sure, but I think this is the first time I’ve mentioned COVID-19 in my blog — I always looked at my blog as a sanctuary from the pandemic for my readers and me. So I soldiered on. That said, with no end in sight for the foreseeable future I must admit I’m started to feel drained and just don’t have the energy to post three times a week.

Going forward, this change might be permanent, at least for the winter months of December, January, and February.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

I love me some Fujifilm.

February 5, 2021

Someone who follows my blog contacted me via e-mail for advice about Fujifilm cameras. I was happy to answer her questions in detail. After a little back-and-forth, I think she decided Fujifilm might not be a good fit for her and that’s OK.

For me, the big take-away is I realized some people might think I don’t like my Fujifilm camera gear because many of my recent blog posts are related to what doesn’t work rather than what does.

All I’m trying to do is figure out how to get the most from my camera gear and share with others what I discover from trial and error. Source Credit: My reply to a recent comment by Mike Powell, a good friend and fellow wildlife photographer.

Sometimes things work; sometimes they don’t, and it isn’t always the fault of the camera. For example, many of my frustrating experiences with tethered shooting are the result of software that isn’t “fully mature” and documentation that is sketchy at best. My hope is developers are listening to user feedback and working to improve their software and documentation. Otherwise I’m just “spitting in the wind,” as one of my colorful fossil collecting friends is fond of saying.

Speaking of tethered shooting, I think I’ve reached a point where I know what works for me and what is a waste of time given the current state of the art. I’m just starting to think about my “State of the Tethered Shooting” blog post. If my thoughts fall into place quickly, then I plan to publish the post early next week. Please stay tuned.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Alvin? Alvin? Alvin?!?

February 3, 2021

I thought I had figured out how the “FUJIFILM Tether Shooting Plug-in PRO (Mac)” does automated focus bracketing. My working theory was (past tense) the plug-in commands the camera body/lens to move from one auto-focus (AF) focus point to another, based upon the two end-points selected by the user. So I devised a test for my theory. Turns out I was not only wrong, but I’m more confused than ever based upon my test results!

My theory arose from the observation that the focus point changed from the beginning to end of every focus bracket test shoot. For example, the first end-point was near the following focus point…

and the final focus point was near the last end-point.

My camera is set to display 425 AF points. There are 25 AF points in each row, as shown in the first photo.

For the first set of test shots, the plug-in set the number of shots to three (3). That made sense at the time, since I could have selected three AF points manually and covered the image well enough so that the entire subject is acceptably in focus at an aperture of f/16.

During the next two sets of test shots, I selected the same end-points but the plug-in wanted to set the number of shots to greater than 180 photos for both tests. No way I was going to shoot that many photos since my theory was a bust — 180 shots far exceeds 25, the number of AF points in a single row.

Perhaps the number of shots has something to do with the function of the slider for each eye dropper, but I don’t know — I haven’t figured out how the sliders work. (Anyone? A little help, please.)

Alvin

A toy Alvin (the Chipmunks) was photographed against a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique.

02 FEB 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | toy Alvin (the Chipmunks)

9 photographs were taken using a Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens, including a set of three photos from my first automated focus bracket test shoot plus some test shots before/after the focus bracket.

The photos were edited using Apple Aperture, exported as TIFF files, then loaded into Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 in order to create the focus stack.

Related Resource: The Chipmunks : The Chipmunk Song (Christmas Don’t Be Late) (2:22)

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Testing tethered automated focus bracketing

February 1, 2021

I changed the orientation of the ruler featured in my last blog post and used the “FUJIFILM Tether Shooting Plug-in PRO (Mac)” to shoot another set of automated focus bracketing test photos. The ruler was aligned with the barrel of the camera lens, sloping downward gradually as the distance from the lens increased.

Based upon the end-points I selected, the plug-in set the number of shots to 11. The following slideshow shows photo No. 1, No. 6, and No. 11. The focus point moved along the ruler from back-to-front, opposite from the order in which I set the end-points. In other words, End-point 1 (located somewhere near the bottom of the photo) is photo No. 11 and End-point 2 (located near the middle of the photo) is photo No. 1. Is that a Fuji thing? Further testing required.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In case you can’t see each image clearly in the slideshow, here’s a gallery of larger versions of the photos through which you can move forward/backward manually. Click on any photo, then use the left and right arrows to cycle through the gallery.

Finally, here’s a focus stack of all 11 photos. I created a quick-and-dirty composite image using Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 plus the 11 JPGs straight from my camera (without any editing).

What looks like “ghosting” isn’t — the numerals and tick marks are raised above the surface of the ruler.

I don’t see any noticeable “focus gaps” from the middle to lower part of the ruler (relative to the photo) where my end-points were set. That’s a good thing!

As always, a small sample size is insufficient to declare success but the proof-of-concept is established and so far so good (he said with fingers crossed).

My Fujinon XF80mm macro lens lens was set for less than its maximum magnification ratio of 1:1. I’m curious to see how the plug-in performs when using macro lenses that feature auto-focus and a magnification ratio of greater than 1:1. On second thought, both of the high-magnification lenses I own are manual focus only. Perhaps one of my readers can comment.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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