Archive for the ‘Sunpak LED-160’ Category

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.

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.

More FUJIFILM Tether Shooting Plug-in PRO (Mac)

January 29, 2021

Adobe Lightroom Classic doesn’t support tethering with my Fujifilm X-series digital cameras (X-T1 and X-T3), that is, unless you buy a plug-in from Adobe. The plug-in is available in two versions: Standard ($29.00); and Pro ($79.00). I recommend the Pro version. The plug-in runs on my 11″ MacBook Air (Intel processor, 2011); it DOES NOT run on my new 13″ MacBook Air (M1 processor, 2020) although both Adobe and Fujifilm report they are working to update both Lightroom Classic and the plug-ins to be compatible with the Big Sur macOS.

Documentation

FUJIFILM Tether Plug-in PRO – Features — page one of a set of nine Web pages — is the only documentation for the plug-in that I have been able to find. We might say it’s a work in progress although I can’t say that I know anyone actually is working on updating the guide.

FUJIFILM Tether Plug-in PRO – Users Guide 1 -Preparing for tethered shooting. Step “3. Launch Lightroom, go to [File] > [Plug-in Manager] and make sure that the FUJIFILM Tether Shooting Plug-in PRO is enabled.” I did; it is.

The Pro version of the plug-in features two modes: CAMERA mode; and PC mode.

In CAMERA mode, your camera operates as it does when it isn’t tethered to a computer; a view of your last shot is shown on the right side of the window. (See the following screen “Grab.”) The areas shaded in red are over-exposed. That’s good, since I want the background to be pure white.

In PC mode, the camera is controlled by the computer; press the LIVE VIEW button to see a Live View from your camera. The following screen “Grab” shows the plug-in in PC mode, LIVE VIEW.

Automated Focus Bracketing

FOCUS BRACKETING is a feature of the plug-in of particular interest for me. Eye droppers can be used to set two (2) end-points: End-point 1; and End-point 2.

Specify one end of focus-bracketing range as End-point 1 and the other end as End-point 2. Click on applicable positions on your image, using the eye dropper tool, to specify the end points. Source Credit: Using the Control Panel in the PC mode (operation from Mac or PC).

The function of the slider for each eye dropper is unclear to me. (Anyone? A little help, please.)

As far as I can tell, the user has no control over the number of shots in the bracket — it appears to be set by the software automatically based upon the user-selected end-points. For example, the following screen “Grab” shows the camera will take seven shots based upon the end-points I selected. My camera is set to display focus peaking (in red). It’s possible the focus peaking provides a visual display of the part of the photo that will be in focus based upon the end-points I selected. Then again, the focus peaking might just show what will be in focus for a single shot. I’m thinking it might be helpful to use dots on a screen overlay in order to display the user-selected end-points.

A feature conspicuously missing from the FOCUS BRACKETING settings panel is the option to set an interval between shots. This is especially important for flash photography because it’s necessary to pause between shots for the flash units to power-cycle. Some time between say 3-5 seconds is long enough for many (if not most) external flash units to recharge to full power. Lacking this option, a Godox PROPAC PB960 was used to power the two Godox TT685 flashes that lighted this test shoot. (See “Burst mode flash photography” for a demonstration of the power recycle rates possible with the PB960 external power pack.

Full disclosure: Before I began the FOCUS BRACKETING test shoot, I set my Fujifilm X-T3 to use a two-second timer. I have no idea whether the timer was working during the test shoot. I need to try again using a 10-second timer to be sure. Point being, if the timer works during automated focus bracketing using the plug-in then it could compensate for the lack of an interval setting in the FOCUS BRACKETING settings panel. POST UPDATE: A 10-second timer was set BEFORE a tethered session was started. I’m pleased to report my interval work-around works!

Not to belabor my point (too late?), it’s interesting to note that in-camera focus bracketing allows the user to set a step size, the number of shots, and an interval between shots. For more information about in-camera focus bracketing, see the link from the Related Resources to a video by pal2tech. In-camera focus bracketing has two big disadvantages: 1) the user can set only one end-point (the beginning point); and 2) setting both the step size and the right number of shots in the bracket is a guessing game at best.

What are the take-aways?

I shot two sets of focus bracketing test shots: a set of three (3) photos at f/16; and a set of seven (7) shots at f/8. I used a purple plastic 12″ ruler as the subject, thinking it should be easy to see where each photo is in focus. Problem is, I posed the ruler poorly and it’s not easy to see the focus/out-of-focus areas from one photo to the next. I need to try the test again with the ruler aligned along the lens barrel. POST UPDATE: I changed the orientation of the ruler and shot another set of focus bracketing test photos. The 11-photo set clearly shows the focus point moved along the length of the ruler. Details in my next blog post.

Is automated focus bracketing using the plug-in better than in-camera focus bracketing? I don’t know, but I think it’s worth further exploration.

Related Resources

Plug-in related videos…

Automated in-camera focus bracketing…

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Toy dinosaur: Brachiosaurus

January 18, 2021

The following toy dinosaur was photographed against a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique. Raised letters on the belly of the toy say it’s a Brachiosaurus. The toy is ~4.8 cm tall.

17 JAN 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | toy Brachiosaurus

The Backstory

Regular readers of my photoblog know odonate exuviae is one of my favorite subjects for macro photography. Each specimen must be photographed from several viewpoints including dorsal, ventral, and lateral views that illustrate field marks used for identification.

This makes it impractical to “pin” each specimen the way many photographers do (see Related Resources, below), thereby eliminating “table-top” macro photography rigs where the camera, subject, external flashes, and white background are arranged in a line along a horizontal plane such as a sturdy desk or table.

My solution, albeit ever-evolving, is to go vertical. Small clear plastic trays are used to stage subjects between the camera rig and the white background. One of the bigger challenges of a set-up like this is to devise a way to increase the distance between the white background and the tray where the subject is staged so that fine details like legs and eyes aren’t “blown out” by the strong background light.

Long story short (too late?), I have been experimenting with a new vertical rig that enables the stage and background to be separated by 15″ to 20″ without the need to stand on a step ladder in order to see the camera. I plan to post “behind the scenes” photos of the new rig after I switch subjects from small toys to odonate exuviae, that is, assuming the set-up works as well as I hope.

Tech Tips

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

The toy dinosaur is nearly as large as the small plastic tray used to stage the subject, resulting in a photograph that was poorly composed. Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to expand the photo frame and reposition the subject — a relatively easy task given the “clean” pure white background.

Related Resources

Two excellent videos by Allan Walls Photography…

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Dino the Dinosaur, revisited

January 15, 2021

There’s only one cartoon character named “Dino the Dinosaur” but there are two Dinos in my collection of toy dinosaurs! This one is Dino the hipster roller-blader.

15 JAN 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | toy “Dino the Dinosaur”

Tech Tips

The preceding photograph was taken using a Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens. The toy is ~6.0+ cm tall.

I prefer using single point focus in most situations. In this case, the focus point was centered over the face of the subject. Most of the subject is acceptably in focus at an aperture of f/16.

One external flash unit was used to create the white background and another to light the subject. The exposure was increased by 0.1 stop during post-processing in order to attain a pure white background. A Sunpak LED-160 — a continuous light source — was used to assist in focusing on the subject in low light.

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Dino the Dinosaur

January 13, 2021

Of course no photo gallery of toy dinosaurs would be complete without a guest appearance by the one, the only “Dino the Dinosaur!”

13 JAN 2021 | BoG Photo Studio | toy “Dino the Dinosaur”

Tech Tips

The preceding photograph was taken using a Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens. The toy is ~5.3+ cm wide.

I prefer using single point focus in most situations. In this case, the focus point was centered over the face of the subject. Most of the subject is acceptably in focus at an aperture of f/16.

One external flash unit was used to create the white background and another to light the subject. The exposure was increased by 0.2 stop during post-processing in order to attain a pure white background.

What’s up with all the pictures of toys?

I’ve been experimenting with yet another reconfiguration of my macro photo “studio,” with the goal of improving the lighting for photographing subjects against a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique. I might have had an epiphany today. More later after further experimentation.

Related Resources

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

What is it? It’s a toy Monoclonius.

January 6, 2021

Congratulations to Sherry Felix, a regular reader of my blog who seems to have correctly identified my toy dinosaur: It’s a Monoclonius. Good work, Sherry!

20 DEC 2020 | BoG Photo Studio | toy Monoclonius

Tech Tips

The toy Monoclonius was photographed against a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique. The toy is 2.42 cm long.

The full frame photograph (that is, uncropped) shown above was taken using a Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens.

I prefer using single point focus in most situations. In this case, the focus point was centered over the right eye of the subject. Notice the entire subject isn’t in tack sharp focus despite using an aperture of f/16, but hey, at least the eye is in focus!

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

What is it?

January 4, 2021

OK, here we go again — it’s time for another toy dinosaur related episode of “What is it?”

We know it’s a toy dinosaur (and this time I’m fairly sure it is really a dinosaur). Question is, what kind of dinosaur? When I was a young boy, my collection of toy dinosaurs included at least one Triceratops but I can’t recall any toy dinos with only one horn.

Good luck!

Copyright © 2021 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

What is it? It’s a toy Dimetrodon.

December 23, 2020

The following photo shows a toy Dimetrodon, but I stand corrected — it’s not a toy dinosaur.

Dimetrodon is often mistaken for a dinosaur or as a contemporary of dinosaurs in popular culture, but it became extinct some 40 million years before the first appearance of dinosaurs. Source Credit: Wikipedia.

Who knew? Not me!

20 DEC 2020 | BoG Photo Studio | toy Dimetrodon

I discovered the identity of the toy be refining my Google search to focus on its most prominent feature: “dinosaur with large dorsal fin.” Again, the toy isn’t a dinosaur but the search string I used was close enough to find the answer to my question (and more).

Tech Tips

The toy Dimetrodon was photographed against a pure white background (255, 255, 255) using the “Meet Your Neighbours” (MYN) technique. The toy is ~1 3/8 inches long.

The full frame photograph (that is, uncropped) shown above was taken using a Fujifilm X-T3 digital camera, Fujifilm MCEX-11 extension tube, and Fujinon XF80mm macro lens.

I prefer using single point focus in most situations. In this case, the focus point was centered over the right eye of the subject. Notice the entire subject isn’t in tack sharp focus despite using an aperture of f/16, but hey, at least the eye is in focus this time!

Copyright © 2020 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


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