Imacon Scanners, Firewire PCI card and Windows 10 upgrade – what a hassle!
Just built a fast PC tailored for Lightroom and photoshop work, loaded with good things like Samsung 950 and Intel NVMe drives. BUT, came to install a firewire card to run my Imacon Scanner and Flexcolor software – and it won’t work.
After hours of searching for solutions and switching cards, I discovered the solution to getting Imacon scanners (343, 646, 848 etc) to work with Windows 10 (Win 10):
About nine months back in invested in a Ricoh Pentax 645z camera body, and purchased nearly every medium format lens available (from super wide 25mm (approx 19mm in 35mm equiv.) to 400mm tele) for this wonderful new camera. I thought it was time to talk about the joy I’m getting from the amazing output quality I’m seeing.
I used to shoot medium format film cameras up to 6 x 9 colour transparencies. Shooting 35mm full frame digital is great, but when Ricoh Pentax brought out this camera I felt it was time to jump up. Sure, Canon has recently unveiled 50MP 35mm camera bodies, but to be honest, they won’t come close to the performance of this. The file sizes might be comparable, but the pixel size with the Canon is so small now, that the quality of output will be miserable in comparison. Check out the photo below for a large copy (which is 1/10th the size of the original by the way) – click on it and make sure you’re viewing at 100%. As you see, there’s no shadow detail. Infact, I’m finding I can shoot the Pentax 645z at 3200 ISO and the files are better than the best Canon 400 ISO files I’ve seen. It’s just luscious to shoot with and I still marvel at the results every day.
Incredible image quality - click for full screen view - make sure you have 100% viewing
It’s been a big investment in equipment, but as we specialise in very large reproductions (especially doing a lot of giant murals for clients) and have always aimed for the best quality output. It’s why we also maintain a top of the line Hasselblad Imacon Scanner for sucking the best out of our back collection of quality transparencies. The feedbck we’ve had from clients is very rewarding.
Pentax 645z in action. Rob Suisted, Kaimanawa Forest Park
Nikon make a tremendous set of binoculars in the Monarch ATB series. I was drawn to this model after Cornell Lab reviews that consistently place these binos in the same league as models many times their price.
I work and photograph in some pretty hostile environments – from the Arctic to the Antarctic, to remote parts of the New Zealand wilderness, and deliberately chose the lower priced model thinking I could wreck or lose several binoculars for the price of one Leica, Zeiss or Swaroski.
High Arctic Nanavut, NZ Sub Antarctic Islands, Antarctica - the Nikon Monarch's have had a good life so far
But alas, after a few years they’re still going strong after hardy service in salty coastal areas, mountains and near the Poles. But for one weakness, a broken eye cup ring (a common problem I believe because of the very thin plastic design and normal wear and tear) they have been excellent.
The thin plastic ring holding the eyecups eventually fails on Nikon Monarch Binos. A known weakness but easiy fixed though
My job was to communicate Bryce’s varied roles in one image. This was a formidable task as CEO of the NZ Fish and Game Council his is a complex and varied role. Primarily, Fish and Game is a statutory organisation concerned with the rights of anglers and hunters, and advocating for improving habitat.
The portrait needed to capture that variety. I wanted to focus on his advocacy for anglers and freshwater quality for all of us, but also how his day can stretch from political halls of the The Beehive, to the bank of a river. Here’s what I got:
The shot was fairly complex, it required a wide angle underwater photo to catch the habitat around Bryce and called for a balanced mix of underwater strobe, above water flash and ambient natural light. I used a slave trigger that fired the topside flash whenever the underwater camera strobe fired – one underwater strobe lighting Bryce’s legs, one flash pointing upward towards the softbox flash, and natural light toned down to give a sombre background to delineate Bryce’s from.
While we’re on the subject of our beautiful Southern Beeches, I took a photo that shows just how colourful these trees get. This was taken near the top of the 4×4 Porika Road track in Nelson Lakes National Park and shows both new growth leaf colour and beech mast flowering:
Colourful New Zealand Red and Silver Beech Tree forest
Of interest is that this year is a ‘Mast’ year for our beech forest.
Black Beech tree flowers
Masting is a breeding strategy that sees a species breed only once every few years, and then all individuals breed in unison, when conditions are favourable. Our beech forests are into it now.
TV3’s 3rd Degree show last night said they have ‘new’ evidence proving Robin Bain was the murderer, from tiny marks on 20 year old photos. I’m a professional photographer, and once an A grade competitive target shooter (full bore and .22), so I took an interest in the ‘new’ photographic evidence.
I think what was portrayed was VERY UNSAFE and doesn’t offer a ‘slam dunk’ to the case as claimed by some. I looked into it and can easily show the new evidence does not prove anything. I’ll show you why:
Original evidence. Note shadow direction, high contrast, sharpened image
This was taken on film, printed to paper, scanned and presented here. It’s high contrast, has been through various reproductions already, was a crop of the original frame, and looks to have been sharpened to maximise it’s contents (this is a problem as I’ll explain).
I looked at my own hand and immediately saw I had two marks, which turned out to be exactly the same size as my .22 rimfire magazine. Hmm, interesting. I grabbed my iPhone and here is my quick shot taken on the couch during the programme:
my first snap with my phone on the couch watching the 'new' evidence. Wow, I have two natural fold lines EXACTLY the same width of a .22 magazine too. Getting itneresting.
NOW I’m interested! How can it be so easy with a quick photo of someone else’s thumb (mine), get immediately into the ballpark of the new evidence? OK, let’s try with my Canon 1DsMk3 and 24-70 lens, and try to roughly copy the lighting (note the shadow direction – it will give very good relief to any folds or imperfections on Robin Bain’s skin from that side angle). Here’s the first go (quite difficult with camera angles and only 2 hands):
Yesterday Garry Glynn contacted me to photograph a family heirloom piece. Other photographers he’d contacted weren’t interested; I assume it being a small paying private job. I had a hunch that there was something more interesting about it, took it on, and luckily I was proved right.
89 year old Garry arrived and delivered to my hand a small simple heavy brass drinking cup similar to many I’d used in India. Nothing special except it had engraving around the outside. It carried a story that I’m still thinking about today; a story of history and horrific human bloodshed.
From the Battle of Mahajapore. Scroll down for result
Turns out Garry’s relative (Col Sgt J. Barry, 39th Dorestshire Regiment) was present at the Battle of Maharajpore, India, on the 29th December 1843. He was lucky to make it. 5000 people did not make it that day! In a nutshell, Central and Northern India had fallen to British forces in 1818, but Marathas in Gwalior saw the failed British campaign in Afghanistan as opportunity to regain independence. The battle ensued. It’s believed that nearly 800 Bristish soldiers and 3-4000 Marathans were killed; an unbelievable slaughter of human beings in one day. The significance of this event for the British is remembered with the Gwalior Star campaign medal.
Garry is passing this family ‘war trophy’ or heirloom down to the next generation and wanted a photo showing all the cup’s text to give to his relatives. My job was to attempt that. Given the circular object with concave face, and the highly reflective nature of the surface, the job wasn’t straightforward. But I love a challenge, and I reckon it could be done.
First up was to prepare the vessel. A good polish brought out a good shine, and a closely held candle flame sooted the surface up nicely, and another shine left a little soot in the engraving. Next was figuring out how to light the face of the vessel with even light. No problems there, get an Elinchrom studio light out and pop on a softbox, but trouble is that you can’t get a camera in there without interrupting the clean lighting. I tried a couple of tilt shift lenses attempting to shoot off the central axis, but this just distorted too much. Then I figured the concave front face would let me lower the softbox and shoot over the top without breaking the clean reflection – great.
Camera shooting over studio flash and softbox
Once a nice even light was sorted, next was to carefully rotate the vessel and photograph ovelapping images. Another lens base proved to be the perfect stage.
Photo slices ready to be worked up
I ran this through a panorama stitching programme and gave it a clean up. Garry just called around today and seems very happy with the result:
The final result
But I’ve been thinking about the cup since: what horrors and good times it has witnessed, and what route it has taken to arrive in my hands? Garry tells me that a number of ‘retired’ seasoned British soldiers were offered land in New Zealand in exchange for being willing to fight in the NZ land wars if necessary. They become known as ‘The Fencibles’, and this is the route in which the cup arrived in NZ.
I also found this gritty, stiff upper lip, description of the battle by Henry Man. It’s a short honest read that gives you an appreciation of how gnastly that day must have been. Please take a moment to read it if you can.
So, all in all, a photo job that paid for itself in not only in dollar terms, but that was also rich in knowledge, experience, and technical challenge.
Bianca Edwards doesn’t do things by halves. But her back was broken in halves. Her story is as remarkable as her attitude. Several weeks ago I shot the New Zealand Geographic Magazine article on ‘Happiness’. Bianca was part of this story. I enjoyed meeting her, and thoroughly enjoyed working together on an image that captured her remarkable spirit. On the drive back to the office, my assistant Aliscia Young spoke about the inspiration we’d both experienced. Let me tell you about it.
Bianca was a top athlete, competing in multi-sport events, and while training, was hit from behind by a van at 100km/h. Her back was shattered and she was lucky to survive. What followed is a remarkable recovery led by determination, optimism and, I think above all, the unwillingness to be a victim to her situation. The article by Dave Hansford focuses on how Bianca was able to readjust her expectations; from expecting to win events, to making simple steps, like wiggling a toe. A trait that some research suggests is key to being happy.
So, knowing this, how do you approach a photo shoot that gives dignity to the subject, captures their spirit, and avoids creating another cliched photo of a disabled person toiling against obstacles?
Discussing angles on the phone with Bianca was a joy – full of ideas and keen to give it her best, we threw around ideas about the things that were important to her – fitness, swimming, study, Ducatis… Motorcycle riding was key, especially with her friends and fellow Ducati owners Carla and Fiona (friends like this that Bianca rates in her recovery) . Hang on….from not being able to walk, to riding big motorcycles?! The angle fast became clear. But, how to shoot a portrait that captured this story?
After the shoot. Carla, Rob, Bianca & Fiona. The Ducati women of the Wairarapa.
Bianca’s story in the happiness article for me is one of ‘freedom’ – freedom of movement, but also freedom of mind. So, it was important that we had a very dynamic image to portray freedom. We tried to accomplish this with an open face helmet, but the freedom died. With considerable care we took this without the helmet. I think we caught Bianca’s spirit in the image below. What do you think?
Bianca Edwards and her Ducati, with Fiona and Carla
TECHNICAL SPECS: We pottered very slowing along with a 1/8th sec shutter with ND filter, while using my aerial photography gyro stabiliser to maintain sharpness but achieve a blurred movement. I super-clamped and magic armed 3 strobes to the back of the vehicle, and shot from the rear hatch. Canon 1dsMk3, 16-35mm, ND filter, 3 canon flashes, Kenro gyro.
Recently I helped judge the New Zealand Geographic Magazine Photographer of the Year awards with Andris Apse, Arno Gasteiger & James Frankham. Some interesting things stood out, but one in particular really surprised.
I’d guess 50% of images submitted in the landscape / scenic section had overly heavy use of HDR (high dynamic range) or some other overworked tonal mapping technique. For me it’s becoming the ‘graduated tobacco coloured sunset filter’ of the 80’s; obviously fake, overblown and often used pointlessly. It knocked how I felt about current landscape photography for a number of reasons…
Nature blesses us with remarkable beauty. We should seek to be good enough to do her justice in a photo. Sure, it can be tough dealing with the light she gives us, but we should rise to the challenge and learn how to capture it with strong technique and novel ideas when you’re out in the field, and then maybe touch it up with a light hand back home on the computer. We learnt good field skills before digital was invented.
New Zealand Geographic featured a nice article about Rob’s TankCam, otherwise known as RoboCam (nice touch guys!). If you’re interested in a behind-the-scenes look of the Fairy terns shoot please check out the article here and Rob’s video here.
Let us know what you think, it’s always great to hear your feedback!
I’m doing a lot of commercial helicopter photo work at the moment, mainly for Tourism New Zealand. I want to take you along behind the scenes in Fiordland New Zealand, on a job I just got home from. Spectacular! Things don’t go as forecast so it’s an interesting day with some interesting sights and some interesting blokes. You have to watch this:
The day started in a run of perfect weather, but mysteriously a thick layer of fog/cloud filled Fiordland making filming tough for myself (stills photog) and the HD Cineflex video helicopter team to operate. What happens next?
I had an ephinany this morning. I poured my first decent bit of Latte Art. After months of learning and trying hard, this one just popped out without fanfare or conscious effort. I’m proud as, and its got me thinking…
Rob's first latte art fern
Several things have been drawing coffee and photography together for me over the last few days so I’m going to make a caffeine fueled comparison.
It would be fair to say that coffee has become quite important at Nature’s Pic Images. Over the last year a brand new Vibiemme Super E-61 group head espresso machine has become a shrine to which morning work schedules often bend around. Before actually owning a coffee machine of any quality, I enjoyed a good coffee at a fav local cafe (Cafe duParc), but I had no idea of the skill employed by Georga, Terry, and the team when making a consistently good brew. There is a lot to know and a lot of variables to deal with. I now tip my hat to a good barista.
So, why the hedonistic comparision between coffee and photography?
Both are, at the same time, technically intensive, and creatively infused. It’s an interesting blend and one that I love. To make the perfect photograph is impossible; to make the perfect brew is impossible. What do you think?
I was reading an article (for the life of me I can’t find it now) by a life long barista where he claimed to have only poured about 30 ‘God Shots’ in his career. God shots would be an espresso pour to die for I guess? There was no definition….. > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >
TANKCAM (‘Rob-o-cam’). Tough assignment to film NZ’s rarest bird – the Fairy Tern for NZ Geographic Magazine. Less than 40 birds known, they nest in the open and human disturbance may stop breeding.
Solution was to build a remote control vehicle that I could very slowly inch towards the nest over an hour while we monitored the birds’ reaction and leave it set up to capture intimate scenes (very, as you’ll see below!). So that’s why I built TankCam. We’ve kept the highly successful assignment under wraps until now. This video tells the story and gives you an idea of three days worth of filming, behind the scenes. Please view and post your comments – it’s great to get your feedback:
It was a privilege to work with the rare and little know native New Zealand Falcon this month… New Zealand Geographic Magazine were running a feature on the rare NZ falcon, but didn’t yet have the wow shot to sell the story, so asked if I’d have a crack at it. Knowing that these birds are amongst the fastest on earth, very cryptic, and not particularly large meant that a challenge lay ahead. I love a tough assignment that pushes thinking beyond the norm; the satisfaction of success is very sweet. Here is part of the result:
New Zealand Geographic Magazine Cover this month
The other part includes the next photo as an internal double page spread. It blows me away and I just can’t stop looking at the result below…MORE…
Had a challenging, but fun, photo job last week in Rotorua with the rare native New Zealand Falcon (really exciting photos coming very soon! Sneak peek below). While there I managed to shoot down twice to a great spot on the Waikato River where I’d shot during summer, as I thought comparision photos would be very interesting. I couldn’t wait to prepare them alongside each other, and share them with you. So, here they are – a nice little study of interest I think. Nice when a simpy idea comes off like that:
Waikato River, Summer season
Waikato River, Winter season
The last shot below was taken in -3 degree celsius frost. While it’s hard to see here, there was a tremendous hoar frost forming on the trees from the freezing fog along the river. Not as epic as our Central Otago hoar frosts, but always stunning to see. I’ll have a few waikato hoar frost shots up in my library in a few weeks….MORE… > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >
‘We’d like you to mentor a ‘Young Gun’ photographer’ was James Frankham’s request from New Zealand Geographic Magazine. The ‘Young Gun’ was Spiderman Bryce – a keen young chap from Hamilton who has a penchant for bugs, especially big spiders. Bryce was super keen, and while spiders are not one of my fav critters, I’m always up for an interesting challenge, giving back to a good cause and something different.
Cook Strait Giant Weta female climbing onto Bryce's hand (Deinacrida rugosa, Stenopelmatidae). Endemic endangered New Zealand insect. Wetapunga. Island gigantism
NZ Geo magazine have just started a programme where they pair promising photographers with seasoned pros (not sure what my seasoning is yet though). We chose to take Bryce to Mana Island, a Scientific Reserve that is an island sanctuary for some of New Zealand’s rarest animals and plants. Currently Mana is being restored to a pest free island status, which means that the lack of introduced predators gives the local fauna a chance to recover – especially the giant weta and lizards. Kindly supported by the Department of Conservation (DOC), we were collected in the DOC boat and whisked across to Mana Island from Paremata.
Party trick. A common Gecko licking its eyeball while hanging off branch hunting at night (Hoplodactylus maculatus, Gekkonidae)
The trip was fantastic. Lost about 5kgs/12lbs from sweat and toil…would have been more if the weather hadn’t done its best to muck us up. So, what was the trip all about? Once a year a ballot is run to allow folks to chase Wapiti deer in a remote part of Fiordland. We happened to get lucky in the very popular ballot, so set off into this seldom visited part of New Zealand, seeking in the least to get some great photos.
A unique part of the trip was that I carried a new SPOT personal satellite tracker unit that allowed people to follow us in real time on google earth, as well as an emergency backup with our mountain radio set. We had quite a following after our original post. So, here’s the write up about the trip…..
Below you’ll find the final annotated GOOGLEMAP of our trip you can play with, filled with our satellite transmissions and photos of the locations. Waypoints are numbered so you can figure which way we went (#1-266). Click on the camera icon’s for photos and further info. Zoom the map below in to see everything and more photos (use ‘+’ or ‘-‘ on top left), and drag map around with your cursor…..
Just arrived in the mail from the publisher. This image was taken on a particularly cold winter’s night on the flanks of Mount Ruapehu – apparently the coldest of the year. As conditions were so clear I spent most of the night working on this image. At 35+ minutes per photo (plus similar time for the noise reducing dark photo phase) you don’t get too many photos for your labours, but this one came out a cracker, and I’m proud of the quality of the final results. Thanks guys. > > > Continue reading : full post + comments > > >