Michael Wyman

Thoughts at Random


After years of travelling to the Island State, my parents invited my brother and Jenny and I to travel there this January. We just got back — we’re not yet recovered from jetlag — and we had a great trip! Except for my parents, it was our first time. We spent a day in O’ahu to see Pearl Harbor, then travelled to the Big Island to spend the week.

We saw a lot of the island (although by no means everything), some beautiful scenery, and it went by much too fast!

I took the same camera gear as for our Honeymoon (17-40, 50, and 70-200 lenses), and bought a brand-new B+W XSPro MRC Slim UV filter for the 17-40. While picking up my bag while in Honolulu, the bag strap caught on the chair and caused the bag to slip… Upon landing on the Big Island I went to change from the 50mm that had been on the camera since leaving Pearl Harbor, and heard in the 17-40 the crinkle of shards of glass!

Luckily it was only the new UV filter — when the camera bag dropped, the lens cap squeezed into the filter threads and compressed one side of the filter, shattering one side. The lens cap on the 70-200 also suffered a similar fate, but without the thin filter threads didn’t touch the glass.

With a little cleaning, the 17-40 lens element appeared to be alright and scratch-free. A visit to the local camera store in Kona found a Kenko UV filter that would suffice to protect the lens until a new B+W filter can be acquired!

So after a little scare, the camera gear worked well for the remainder of the trip!

Finally the LP 621

When David Hobby mentioned the new LP621 months ago, it looked like a great tool to open new lighting positions into my repertoire. At its price point, it offered a great and cheap way to have almost directly overhead lighting, either for portraits or still-life, without me having to hold the flash.

Well, after a mention like that from Hobby (aka. Strobist) MPEX immediately ran out of stock (the product was Slashdotted, you might say) and my order entered the queue of “we’ll ship it when we can.” Well, fast forward a couple months until I’d basically forgotten placing the order. Lo and behold, this past week a rather long package appears at my desk at work…

I was able to give the boom a whirl this evening while shooting the pumpkins we carved for Halloween, and I’m sold… This next week is going to be busy, but some evening I think I should try more. After all, my flash batteries are now all charged up again!

Door County, 2010

We’ve returned from our 2010 Door County expedition, and somewhat acclimated back to life. I’ve been reviewing photos from Door County. I’ve far fewer from my 5D that I care much for this year, but that is probably directly related to the fact that I burned through more film over the week in the Rolleiflex than I’ve used film at any one time in over 10 years. I got the developed rolls back from Universal Color on Friday.

I brought with about ten different rolls of film, some B&W and some color slide film. I ended up burning four (!) rolls during the week (the ProviaX did have several frames shot before the trip). One roll each of Kodak T-Max 400, Ilford PanF Plus 50, Fuji ProxiaX 400, and Fuji Velvia RVP 50.

Of the 48 frames, around 40 are probably usable! The Fujichrome I can already see the good results (great color and contrast visible), and from my inexperienced B&W eye, those shots look pretty decent, too. For having barely used the exposure meter and mostly relied upon the Sunny-16 rule, I’m very pleased!

Once I get a chance to get them scanned, I’ll definitely have film frames to post on the photoblog!

Photography Frolic

I’m not that much of a mountain biker. Point of fact, I haven’t had a mountain bike for several years. But when Tony suggested this past weekend’s mountain bike race as an opportunity to get out and shoot together, I jumped at the chance. I haven’t had too many chances to photograph people, and this also was a chance to try some new things for me – panning, etc.

Tony was shooting the event in place of a friend, who is the normal “official” photographer but had booked a wedding before the date of the race was changed. As such we were trying to catch good photos of each racer. This led to us parking in a few places waiting for the riders to get to our position, whence we would commence clicking away.

On most of my shoots, I get perhaps a 5-10% keeper rate. With the position set in advance, I found my rate of keeper photos up in the 90% range. Basically I would have to experiment with a position for a short while to find the proper exposure and framing, then wait for each racer to get to the right position. The framing was almost always on, and the only variable ended up being whether I tripped the shutter at the right time to get focus spot-on…

Sadly, while the technique was effective at getting shots, the process became almost boring. Our last position I burned almost an entire CF card without moving from one spot…

Not sure if I have a larger point in this post. Perhaps its just that I could see how shooting events like this regularly could get rather monotonous…

Holy Zeiss, Batman!

The Arboretum is a favorite photography haunt. Our recent busy weekends are not conducive to getting to the Arboretum, so we went this past Tuesday to make sure we didn’t miss the crabapple blossoms this year. Spring has come so early this year; the crabapples are normally blooming mid-May, but they’ve been out this entire past week.

The blossoms were marvelous, and the fragrance was so intoxicating, that we had to drag ourselves away in order to catch the Tulip garden before sunset (when the Arboretum closes).

The Zeiss 50mm has turned out to be an amazing flower lens — the background blur (bokeh, in photo-speak) is wild when shooting wide-open at f/1.4. Combined with the incredible saturation the lens provides and subjects almost take on a painting-like quality. I’ve taken many macro shots of flowers, but nothing quite like these! I must strive to use this effect in new and novel ways, as it can get very old very fast…

Spring at the Arboretum

Minnesota Spring has come early this year. This March, typically our snowiest month, was the first on record bereft of snowfall (or any precipitation at all). This winter had some early and heavy snows, and April brought some rain showers, so we’re probably in good shape water-wise. But with snow lacking from the ground for so long already, it’s been about time flowers are popping up.

So we were pleased to get to the Arboretum for our first trek around the gardens. Magnolias were flowering, as were several small ground-cover/wildflowers. But by far the most impressive display was the daffodils.

I’ve seen many examples of using a wide-angle lens placed within a flower bed to give a “bug’s-eye view”. So with a new circular-polarizer for my 17-40, I decided to give it a whirl…

Re-living the past

Or, how the new Aperture 3 and a lack of time spent with my camera is making me go back over older photos.

Our Honeymoon photos have been getting a recent work-over. Jenny would like some prints on our walls (currently somewhat barren), and I’ve been exploring several of the processing presets in Aperture. Mixing and matching works wonders. My favorites to mix have been the “Toy Camera” and black-and-white settings, with some tweaks.

“Toy Camera” gives such saturation and contrast. Mix that with a B&W conversion color filter, and it often gives some punch to the image that the straight B&W wouldn’t give.

Hopefully work and life will settle a bit, and I’ll get some chances to bring the camera out for more new pictures soon. We’re also hoping to take some vacation soon and get to the Minnesota North Shore to catch some spring. Before it turns into summer (which, given this winter/spring, will be sooner than we’d like to think).

Ah, that new blog smell…

Hi all — or perhaps more correctly “some”, as nobody ever really read my old blog. The Nysaverse is dying, “goodbye cruel world” and all of that, whut!

Since I created the photoblog over two years ago, I never really felt like my old blog related to my photography site, which I update far more often. I somewhat frequently have rather long screeds about what’s going on in the daily photo, sometimes tangentially relates to my actual life, and figured someplace tied to the photoblog might be useful.

So I decided to make a move.

Complete with new look (and perhaps eventually I’ll make the Pixelpost and WordPress pages look alike), new layout (see previous parenthetical), and most decidedly an entirely new database. Meaning I’m not bothering to move the old blog and its postings.

So we’ll see how often I’ll actually update this blog — I’ve managed to keep the main www.mwyman.com page going for over two years now…