Exploratorius

Old School Film Hack

Lush Grounds

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Garden path
Winterthur, Delaware (July 2017)
DxO ONE + 32mm/1.8 ASPH

As I shared in my last post, Winterthur is filled with amazing gardens, grounds, and landscaping.  Definitely a place to explore over the course of all the seasons.

Winterthur

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Butler’s pantry
Winterthur, Delaware (July 2017)
DxO ONE + 32mm/1.8 ASPH

Americana at its finest.

For anyone not familiar, Winterthur is the fifth largest historical “house” (if you can call it that) in the United States.  At a 175 rooms and over 96,000 square feet of interior space, I’m not sure it qualifies as a house anymore.  And that’s just the main structure.

Winterthur was built by the one of the wealthiest families in the nation, whom were also responsible for the nearby industrial chemical giant, Du Pont.  That should give a sense of the level of wealth required for such an edifice.

Cindy and I visited the estate for the first time this past weekend.  Prior to going there, I had heard of Winterthur, but thought it was just a few gardens, some minor furniture collections, and little else.  What I had learned by word of mouth from others really didn’t interest me, so I had never delved deeper into the subject.

Wow.  Was I ever wrong! Continue Reading →

Like a Giant Bowl

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Mono Lake basin
Mono Lake, California (October 2016)
iPhone 6S + 29/2.2

Mono Lake — as it exists today — is in the distance.  But at one time it was so big and deep that the shore would have been close to where this photo was taken, rather than the 8.5 miles away that it is today.  Hundreds of feet deeper, too.

So what happened?  It’s a terminal lake, meaning that water flows into it, but it doesn’t flow out.  And since this is an arid climate, the heat slowly evaporated hundreds of feet of water over the course of thousands of centuries (dating back some 760,000 years), until the city of Los Angeles began diverting some of the meager water sources for the lake back in 1913.

After that, the evaporation quickly outstripped the inflow of water and the lake level plummeted until legal action reversed the process in 1994.  Since then the lake level has slowly been increasing.  You can read more about it here and here.

Once Clearcut

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Old logging stump
Inyo County, California (October 2016)
Zeiss Ikon ZM + Zeiss Biogon 21/4.5 ZM
Ilford Pan F Plus + T-MAX RS (stock) 4 minutes

In most nature places around the US you will find evidence of logging; in fact, I know of only a handful of virgin stands of forest left remaining across the entire country.  Why were the trees clearcut in areas?  Usually it’s due to mining, lumber, or agricultural activities.  In this case, the stump is a result of nearby lead and zinc mining, which require lots of timber to brace the shafts that are dug into the mountain side.

Unlike the forests in the eastern US, where logs and stumps disintegrate and can get absorbed into the loam over the course of a couple of decades or so, stumps and logs in many of the western forests can last for many decades or even centuries, especially in arid locations like this one.  The stump above was cut in 1863, which means that it’s already lasted 154 years.  I imagine it will last at least another century or more.

Almost Down

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The last rays of the day
Cameron, Montana (October 2016)
Zeiss Ikon ZM + Zeiss Biogon 21/4.5 ZM
Ilford Pan F Plus + T-MAX RS (stock) 4 minutes

I know most people prefer color for sunset and sunrise photos, but I find that they have a different beauty when shot with black and white film.  I like the positive and negative spaces, details in the shadow areas that I wouldn’t pay attention to if the same scene was in color, etc.  And in a case like this one, rather than the clinical detail of digital, I prefer the suggestion of what may be with analog film.

Boneshaker

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Old horse buggy
Bodie, California (October 2016)
Zeiss Ikon ZM + Zeiss Biogon 21/4.5 ZM
Kodak Ektar 100 + Commercial C-41 processing

Another image from our trip last year to the preserved ghost town of Bodie, California.

Even though it looks abandoned, there were tons of visitors here… I merely had to wait until they had all moved out of the line of sight of the camera.  Sometimes that’s just a brief moment or two; other times it can mean a delay of 10-15 minutes or more.

UPDATE:  One of my readers sent along a link to check out.  It’s a lot of fun and has illustrations by the famous Brandywine School illustrator, Howard Pyle!  You can read the link here.

Affinity Photo Update

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The view from Kobayashi Beach
Ennis, Montana (October 2016)
Zeiss Ikon ZM + Zeiss Biogon 21/4.5 ZM
Ilford Pan F Plus + T-MAX RS (stock) 4 minutes

This image was a good Affinity Photo learning experience for me; I messed up the post-processing of it twice — losing everything I had done to the image (hours of work) each time.  The biggest take away?  Within Affinity Photo, go to File => Save History With Document => Yes.

Ugh.

I’m so accustomed to Lightroom saving the entire post-processing history, that it never occurred to me that this would not be the default setting within Affinity Photo.  Lesson learned.

UPDATE: This is not a global setting.  If you want to save the post-processing history of all your images, you have to set it each and every time!

Fall Afternoon Drama

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Gathering clouds over the Madison Range
Southwestern Montana (October 2016)
Zeiss Ikon ZM + Zeiss Biogon 21/4.5 ZM
Ilford Pan F Plus + T-MAX RS (stock) 4 minutes

I love wandering around and grabbing shots as they develop in front of my eyes; this was such an occasion, as Cindy and I were driving around and sightseeing.

Lucky Little Hopper

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A friendly toad
Central Maryland (June 2017)
iPhone 6S + 29/2.2

There’s nothing quite like the chill of seeing movement down by your feet just after passing over a patch of lawn that you thought was clear of any critters.  And so it was with this little guy, who hopped over to the side of this utility cover in our yard right after our electric push-mower whooshed over the top of his hiding place.

When did this occur?  About twenty minutes before posting this image.  I checked him/her carefully to make sure he/she was okay, then let him/her wander off, while I went inside to post-process the image and cool down from the heat for a bit.

We rarely see toads or frogs in our yard anymore; this is the first large toad we’ve seen in over three years (the last one can be seen here), so we always keep an eye peeled for them while we’re doing yard work.

Switching to Affinity Photo

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Macro of a tiger lily
Central Maryland (May 2017)
Sony a6300 + Zeiss Sonnar 50/1.5 ZM

I’m done with Lightroom and Photoshop; Adobe doesn’t seem to use much quality control with their patches, and recent updates have rendered Lightroom almost unusable in my computing environment — even with extensive troubleshooting, including uninstalling and reinstalling their products.  Their customer support was dismissive and condescending in dealing with paying customers, and their follow-up attempts to fix the performance problem via product updates has failed.

Years ago, Photoshop was it.  There was no other choice.  That’s still the case if you use their very advanced features (fortunately my needs are far more simple).  Lightroom wasn’t necessarily the best product for managing your photo library, but Adobe kept it compelling by adding features that made it very difficult to say no to their product as the competition grew.

But now?  Now there are serious (and far less expensive!) competitors for both, and I’ve gone with Affinity Photo as my Photoshop replacement.  The image above is the very first that I’ve post-processed within Affinity, and I’m pleased with the results.

My Adobe subscription has been cancelled and all their products have been forcibly removed from my systems.  The king is dead; long live the king!


Update:  This post is generating all sorts of comments both online and offline, so I will add some additional detail:

  • Affinity Photo is a pixel editor; their non-subscription full desktop/laptop version is selling currently for $39.99; you can find the URL for Affinity Photo here.
  • Adobe Photoshop (a pixel editor) and Lightroom (an image manager) are bundled together or with additional packages as part of the Adobe Creative Cloud Suite; their annual (billed-monthly) subscription only desktop/laptop version is currently available for $120-$240 per year, depending on the Creative Cloud package you select; the URL for Adobe products can be found here.

Affinity Photo is NOT a photo image manager with editing tools, like Adobe Lightroom is.  Affinity Photo is truly intended to be a Photoshop replacement, which is serious overkill for most casual photographers.  If your post-processing needs don’t require the horsepower of Affinity Photo, then a different package may be better suited to you.

Affinity Photo is available for the MacOS, Windows, and iOS platforms.  Details are as follows: Continue Reading →