My New Pride & Joy

Two weekends ago I did something I didn’t think possible. I paid off all of my credit cards. I paid off all of my student loans, years early even! And after all of that I still had money burning a hole in my pocket. How much money? Well… let’s just say enough for me to pay cash for a few new toys.

First I picked up the big guy. A brand new Nikon D810. For the last six years I’ve been shooting with a Nikon D700 and I’ve loved it. This camera changed the way I shot photos and put me ahead of almost everyone in my photography courses with the incredibly powerful sensor and ability to capture such dynamic range. It is what allowed me to make the images I made with the awesome subtly that became my style.  Continue reading

The Most Amazing Time-lapse Video

This has got to be the most amazing time-lapse video I have ever seen. Not just because of the beautiful landscapes the camera is capturing but the way it is captured. Hats off to the guys at T-Recs.

Down below I’ll just guessing here on how the hell they did it. Meanwhile, take a look and share your theories in the comments. I’m thinking a little HDR magic is going on too.

So the sky shots must have been done on some sort of tower or a weather balloon with a stabilization and constellation tracking system. That’s pretty much the only thing that I can think of capable of making those shots so steady and so stunning.

The city shots have to have been done with a huge rolling crane on a track. Some of the shots are pretty basic but others change on both an X and Y plane. Tricky stuff! Especially in the middle of a city.

Finally, polarizing lenses to help make the sky dramatic and obviously a little HDR going on here. HDR = High Dynamic Range photography. They might be shooting with an awesome sensor in raw (Nikon D3X/S, Canon 5DMKII or maybe even a Red sensor) and composing a tone mapped image by post processing three exposures from a single shot. Alternately they could be shooting three or more shots right after the other and doing a standard tone map.

Either way, it’s the first time that I’ve seen HDR video look good and certainly the first time I’ve seen an HDR time-lapse video this awesome. I cannot wait to go through their other works.

Do you agree with me or am I way off base? Continue reading

The Hasselblad CFV-50 is Sexy

 

I love my Nikon D700 but if given the chance to use the Hasselblad CFV-50, I’d drop my Nikon like a bad habit.

Compatible with virtually all existing V-System Cameras and featuring a 50 megapixel sensor that is twice the size of even the best full frame 35mm DSLRs, the CFV-50 allows you to keep both the design and functionality of our classic V-System cameras while at the same time gaining access to a range of advanced features unavailable to film cameras, such as our proprietary DAC lens correction technology to correct for distortion, aberration, and vignetting, and the Hasselblad Natural Color Solution, which guarantees accurate colors straight out of the box.

This camera isn’t just a technical marvel, it is beautiful. Quite possibly the sexiest digital camera I have ever seen.

AND I WANT IT!

The Hasselblad CVF-50 digital back on a classic Hasselblad body. That my friends is photography heaven. The only possible competition might be the Better Light Super 10K-HS 4×5 digital back on a field camera…

And actually, if you’re willing to buy me either of these camera systems, go ahead and buy me both? Just think of what I could do with either of these…

I’m in the New York Times!

Well, not me, but a photo of mine.

One of our ventures, Globalpoint, was written up in the New York Times Technology section today. The freaking New York Times! Major hats off to Michael Urban, who is highlighted in the article, for working so hard to create such an awesome product/technology and matching that effort with getting the exposure that resulted in this article.

The article highlights the trend in measuring sentiment through the social web and how this information is being used in not just political campaigns, but really all sorts of campaigns. I know we use sentiment analysis for all sorts of projects and ad campaigns. The information you get from these sorts of tools can be light years more informative and real than what you may get from a focus group or cold call survey.

Of course, there are natural biases and difficulties in fully understanding the sentiment in a medium not known for its ability to evoke tone, but the technology is definitely promising! Companies like ViralHeat, ThinkUp, Radian6 and more have all put their hat  in the ring in this burgeoning research sector.

“We’re not necessarily seeking to replace — immediately, in 2012 — the traditional mechanism. But it’s got to have a seat at the table,” said Michael Urban, who worked on several Republican campaigns and on polling for Mr. Hancock’s political consultancy, before starting Globalpoint, a start-up that develops sentiment analysis tools for use in politics.

I lucked out in that the New York Times needed someone to take the picture for the article and I was given the honor of taking on the task. I recruited the help of Amy and Krissy as my lighting grips and shot this photo.

For the shot I used my Nikon D700, Nikon F1.8 50mm, SB800 flash corded to my camera and fired through a 52″ pop-out diffuser. Really simple one light setup but it worked! I’m really pleased with the image and the quality of light.

What do you think?

One of the best parts for me is that I actually got a byline! It’s not an easy feat getting credit in any newspaper, much less one as venerable as the New York Times!

So totally check out the article online or in print. It’s on page B4, above the fold for today’s edition, November 1, 2010. And if you can spare a copy for me… I’d love to have a few for my portfolio and family. Thanks!

Problematic Nikon D700 Sensor

I just have all the luck don’t I?

The latest consumer electronic of mine to begin its supposed spiral downwards is quite possibly one of my most loved.  Over the last few months I have noticed a truly bizarre pattern show up in my photos.  I’m not sure if they are in all the photos or random but it does show its evil little head somewhat regularly on photos with solid colors.

Here is an example of what I’m talking about.

Click to view larger version

It’s almost like a fingerprint right on the sensor.  The image on the far right is the most zoomed in and adjusted to better illustrated the problems.   In it you can clearly see horizontal stripes across the chair back as well as uniform, circular stripes in the green and grey.

Columbia Photo’s authorized Nikon repair tech said he had never seen something like this the Nikon USA rep that I talked to today said he had never heard of the problem.

Here’s where things get unfortunate.  December 22 I fly to Paris.  December 27 I’m in London, then back to Paris, then Bahrain, then Saudi Arabia, then Germany and then back to the USA January 12.  Fun trip right?

Except, the warranty on my Nikon D700 ends January 8, 2010.  The soonest they could get my camera back to me, if I sent it out tomorrow, is around December 22.  That’s too late.  I absolutely have to have this camera on my trip!  Pedro at Nikon said if I reported the problem and sent in examples via raw files before the warranty expired, they would extend the warranty period until I can get the camera fixed.

Phew.  Now let’s just hope they keep to their word.

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Kaldi’s Iced Coffee is Yum

I’ve wanted to record my daily iced coffee creation for a while now.

I have a few of these every morning, probably too many really!  I typically used Kaldi’s coffee brewed and then chilled overnight.  Just a little ice, some fat-free creamer and I’m ready to go.  I used to never put creamer in my coffee, wonder why I do that now…  Never-the-less, I’ve settled on this recipe and it has never failed.  Oh but what a difference quality coffee, water purity, grinding and proportion matter.

I grind my coffee just seconds before I brew.  I use only fresh beans and as I said earlier, I prefer Kaldi’s coffee though I’ve recently heard good things about Dunn Brother’s Coffee (c/o @samuelaveryhunt).  I use filtered water, once through a triple-stage Pür filter followed by a two-stage Pür filter. We have really metal-rich water in downtown Columbia so this is a necessary step to take all the copper etc out.

Perhaps tomorrow I’ll do a few more, trying out different angles and lighting techniques.  The video today was really just a test or proof-of-concept. I think this angle might be fun…

Though the real fun will come once I modify my Kodak Zi8 with different lenses.  Maybe someday I’ll own a proper HD video camera.  @ZackLuye‘s Canon 7D is such a sexy piece of equipment.  Too bad I’m a Nikon guy.  Next time Zack and I shoot an AdagioTeaV together, we’ll have to do some experimentation with his camera.

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Nikon D700 ISO Experiments

My friend Zack (@zackluye) just got the new, beautiful, Canon 7D.  This thing takes the most incredible video you ever did see, for under $2k!  It got me all in a mess.  I have this amazing Nikon D700 which has the insides of a Nikon D3 with a smaller outside.  Yeah it’s missing some of the features of the D3 but it also has a few that the D3 doesn’t have.  In the end, it takes identical photos as the D3, same chip, same processor, same images.

I went to Internet to read about the 7D, the Canon 5D Mark II, Nikon D700, D3, D3X and D3S and, to my surprise, I left happy.  I was expecting to read that the 5D and 7D have lower image quality than the D700 but shoot amazing video. Got that.

The Canon 5D Mark II has a full frame sensor but doesn’t handle low light nearly as well as my D700 but shoots at a higher megapixel and does video.  The Canon 7D has the same problem but is aggravated by a smaller sensor so even more noise.  But again, the video? Glorious.

I was expecting to hear that the D3, D3X and D3S all take better pictures than my D700.  NOPE!  While the D3X and D3S take arguably better pictures, there are caveats.

The Nikon D3X has a 24mp sensor that would allow me to print my photos even larger than my current (20×30 inches) which I would love.  But it’s low light performance is ranked below my D700 and it costs three times as much (or something like that.)

The Nikon D3S has the same size sensor but ISO sensitivity up to like a babillion. Basically it can shoot in the dark and still get great photos.  At ISO 12,800 the image looks like ISO 6400!  Incredible.

So, after shooting a weekend full of concerts and artists and having to deal with extremely low lighting situations, I decided to run a little ISO test. So check out the image below, click to view it a little larger, there will be a download link for the full size image if you really feel the need for that.

Nikon D700 ISO Experiment

Nikon D700 ISO Experiment click to download the (almost) full resolution image.

I wish I had my Nikon D80 with me right now to run the same test. I’m pretty sure it’s ISO 800 looks like the Nikon D700 at ISO 3200.  The results here are pretty impressive to me and it makes me feel just that much better about my purchase.  It will be a year in January. What shall we do for my Nikon D700 anniversary?!

And as far as shooting HD video? I’ll just keep experimenting with my Kodak Zi8 until I’ve grown up into something better.  Really do hope Nikon comes out with a DSLR that shoots video that competes with the Canon equivalents, with a full frame sensor and doesn’t cost a fortune

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