Points in Focus Photography

That little excursion around south and central Florida a week back that took me to Sanibel also brought me to Walt Disney World and the many attractions there. I’m not as much of a fan of Disney as I was when I was a kit but I do appreciate the incredible level of detail they put into making you feel like you were somewhere else. Details like rundown power lines and even non-functional electrical meters on the building in Animal Kingdom’s Africa and Asia areas really helps complete the suspension of reality.

Animal Kingdom isn’t one of my favorite parks attraction wise–thought the Kilimanjaro Safari is absolutely fabulous and one of my all time favorite Disney rides–it is, however, full of exotic looking buildings and architecture and well though out detailing which makes it quite interesting photographically.

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Sanibel Birds

One of the things I like most about shooting on Sanibel Island is that you don’t really need a really long lens. The majority of the birds are so use to people that you can very easily get within frighteningly close distances with out ever spooking them. In some cases they almost seem like they want to pose for you.

Gulls on the Beach

One thing I really enjoyed in last year’s visit, was working a Royal Tern colony. I have a soft spot for terns, as far as I’m concerned they rock. As long as I stayed still laying in the sand they had no problem getting so close that I could get frame filling shots with a 150mm lens.

This year, I was hoping for a repeat performance. However, that was not to be and I didn’t have the time and light to search much more of the beach than I did.

There were some Ring-Billed Gulls that were more than happy to sit still and pose. So I settled for them to kick the day off. In fact, this one was so comfortable with me while I was working him that it sat down and took a nap.

A ring billed gull.
A ring billed gull.

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You can’t say that technology isn’t moving at anything less than a frightening pace. I use to think it was cool, at this point I feel like I’m constantly struggling to keep up. Photography has morphed into a combination of photography and videography that’s slowly gaining an ever growing emphasis on video especially in journalism. Now the major magazine publishers are looking to take their magazines into the digital age as well.

Of course who can blame them. In our world of short attention spans and an ever increasing desire for what’s shiny, still images and paper magazines are becoming increasingly problematic to sell.

Even worse the rest of the world is seemingly waging a virtual two pronged attack against the traditional media with social media on one side and bloggers on the other. Couple that with the ease of duplicating digital content and the widespread perception that everything online should be free and it becomes hard to see ways to add enough value to traditional media to keep people paying.

Recently though, it seems that at least two major media companies have started investigating ways to present their content in a format that takes advantage of the digital medium. However, I fear the idea of a digital magazine will ultimately go nowhere partly for technical reasons and partly because they won’t have the foresight to really embrace the digital medium.

Digital magazine technology was recently demoed by Time Inc. for Tech Crunch and it appears there might be a bright idea buried in it, even if I think it’s doomed. It appears in the case of the Time’s prototype, to leverage a widely available framework (Adobe Air which is based on the ubiquitous Flash environment) to present the digital magazine on top of a commodity computing platform (in this case a HP tablet computer).

Read on to see my take on the technology.

20091020_loRes_1dmkiv_3qToday Canon introduced the EOS 1D Mark 4, the fourth generation in their professional cameras aimed at low light and action photographers. As I’m writing this, information is just starting to trickle in, but from what I’ve seen the 1D Mark 4 isn’t nearly what I was expecting.

What is apparent to start with is that the 1D mark 4 looks to fix many of the deficits of the 1D mark 3 and put Canon back in the running with Nikon in the high ISO noise performance game.


Like the D3S that was just announced a few days ago, the Canon EOS 1D Mark 4 supports ISO sensitives up to ISO 102,400 in expanded mode. The base ISO range is from 100 to 12,800, with H1 (25,600), H2 (51,200) and H3 (102,400) expanded options as well as a Lo (ISO 50) option.  I think again, like the D3S, the EOS 1D Mark 4 is a camera where expanded ISOs, at least the high ones, are no longer absolutely necessary for low light shooting.

That said, the ISO 3200 shot from Canon Japan (Sample 5) looks pretty solid to me.

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D3S_50_frontNikon has announced their newest pro body, the D3s, and it’s quite an update if you ask me. Lots of ISO (up to ISO 102400), movie recording, a self cleaning sensor, a new 1.2x crop mode and a quite shooting mode top out the list of new features.

The Sensor

That said, the big news from the D3S is high ISO performance. The D3s expands the base sensitivity of the sensor a full stop on the top end, from ISO 6400 to ISO 12800. Further in addition to the normal H1 and H2 expanded modes, Nikon has added an H3 expanded mode equivalent to ISO 104,200.

While there isn’t much to go on yet, the fact that Nikon felt comfortable expanding the expanded range form 2 to 3 stops may say a lot about the sensor’s performance. At least if H3 isn’t just a bullet point to gain some photographic bragging rights.

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It seems that you’re looking for updated Spyder3 colorimeter software. A lot has changed since 2009 when this article was originally published, perhaps most importantly is that there is even more powerful and fully featured color management software available now. Even better it’s free, and open source. If you’re interested, you can read through my guide to getting started with DisplayCal and ArgyllCMS.

If you use a Spyder 3 Pro or Elite and don’t have the Spyder Utility set to auto update, there is a new version (3.1.2) of the Spyder Utility to introduces several improvements to the UI as well as fixing some annoying bugs I was experiencing in the previous version. The new version also introduces two new calibration targets for default CRT and LCD luminance levels.

I recommended disabling your anit-virus software when you install the Spyder Utility. I had problems when installing while either Kaspersky or Avast were running causing the software to take forever to install. Temporarily disablingthe AV software, and the install was done in maybe a minute tops.

Download the new Spyder software from Datacolor’s website (links to download page below):

Spyder3Elite 3.1.2 – Win Spyder3Elite 3.1.2 – Mac
Spyder3Pro 3.1.2 – Win Spyder3Pro 3.1.2 – Mac

Update 2016-06-27: The original links with this article no longer work and have been removed. Drivers for legacy Datacolor colorimeters can be found on their site here.

I have a whole new level of respect for the people who flew in these things–B-17 Flying Fortresses–in World War II. They are cramped, hot, there’s not a whole lot of room to move around, and with 13- .50 cal machine guns firing over the sound of the engines it would have been very loud. In fact, when they fired up the engines alone it was a very impressive. This time we have some shots from inside the Liberty Belle.

Who's Flying?

Hot inside, would be an understatement; by the time I got a chance to crawl around in it, the plane had been sitting on the tarmac under the glorious South Florida sun for something like 4 hours. It was probably close to 120 degrees, or more, inside the plane and there is very little in the way of ventilation. At least they had the bomb bay open and a perspex panel from the roof removed. Not that it helped very much.

It war time, it was probably only marginally better in the air until they got to cruise level, at which point it would be very cold.

Bombardier's Seat in the Nose

I can also say I very much wouldn’t want to be in one of these things when they started shooting at you. There’s very little room to move,  though it’s hard to tell from the photographs since they were shot at 10mm. Getting to the nose from the tail door involved crawling over a 1 foot wide catwalk in the bomb bay then though a small crawl space under the cockpit. Even then, once you’d reached the nose getting to the bombardier’s stool at the bomb site was nothing short of gymnastics, for me at least. To get to the tail gun required crawling though the smallest part of the fuselage around the tail gear. The belly turret was claustrophobia inducing just looking at, I can’t imagine what it would have been like sitting in one with your knees by your ears, for 8 hours.

Waist Gunner Stations Me, In the Hotseat

Cramped, hot and yet so awesome.

Photo of me in the bombardier’s seat, courtesy of Bill Cantrell, used with permission.

Had to go out this morning to pick some stuff up and I decided that since I was going to be in the area, I’d stop by Wakodahatchee and Green Cay and see how things were going, especially since I’ve been seeing more and more birds around the house.

Juvenile Common Moorhen

To make a long story short, there wasn’t a lot of activity at either site. Bird populations were dominated by juvenile Common Moorhens and Boat-tailed Grackles. Other than that there were some cattle egrets at Wakodahatchee on the island in the first pond if you turn left on the boardwalk. There were also some numbers of Mottled Ducks and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks; not a lot mind you, but a few more than I remember seeing this time last year.


One disappointing change of note, at Wakodahatchee they have put up a chain link fence–probably due to alligator related concerns–along the south side of the northern most walkway (the concrete one on the berm). Unfortunately, they’ve placed it far enough away from the existing fence that it pretty much ruins shots into the pond there (there are a couple of clearings) for anything that’s closer than about 10-20 feet out.

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