Dick’s Rant

For years I read about the Hasselblad X-Pan camera and the Fujifilm TX-1 - in reality the same camera from the Fujifilm stable but wiht different body treatments - and did not crave one. I owned a Hasselblad and a studio and combined the 6 x 6 format with indoor shots. There was very little call on my part for any sort of panorama work. Indeed, I had decided that I could not see panoramas anyway - I have been wearing glasses for 64 years and they formed the tunnel of my vision. Yet I have a book of Kodak Colorama panos from Grand Central Station and they are some of the most charming advertising shots I've seen...

Specifically, Wha Cha Got Noo? My standard question when I visit the Camera Electronic Shop. Sometimes the staff will throw something to me - sometimes it'll be at me. It pays to be alert. This week I mooned around looking for novelty until the Sony representative - Sheryl Mauger - came in the door and I battened upon her with the question. She plucked out several items - one of which I've put on the heading Image. It's the Sony FE 12mm - 24mm full-frame lens. The reason she pulled ti from the cabinet for my pictures is that it is apparently flying off the shelves. No wonder - an f:2.8 wide-angle zoom for the 24 x 36 sensor size that goes that wide is actually a sensation. Remember that this is a rectilinear view of the world - not a barrel-distorted one or a fish-eye. Think architecture and landscape with the lines straight. This is apparently the widest 2.8 zoom made, and I can see it playing a major part for interior coverage at weddings or conferences that try to look good in reduced...

You never know what these things do - you never know that you want them. Till you see them. I can't tell you what the little metal spider is called - it was sitting in the Edelkrone rack at the Stirling Street store all folded up like a dead arachnid. The fact that it had a 3/8 in. treaded stud on the top sort of gave away that it might be to support a ball head or other camera device, but that was all. Then I tried unfolding it and it refused to open - until I figured out that the legs only open one way -and once they are out, the structure can spread like an " X ". At this point the rubber feet that form the ends of the legs set onto a flat surface and the whole device starts to make sense. It also starts to be a very sturdy support. A little more experimentation shows that the stiffness of the joints in the arms is deliberate - you can set them at intermediate points and they will...

Is archivist a fancy technical word? It is in a job description for a State Library position. You can probably get away with a simpler term for the person in your family who has control of the shoebox. The shoebox full of postcard prints, slides, and negatives that form the bulk of the historical images for you and your relatives. We are well into a digital age but our family pictures have rarely joined us. Of course we all take hundreds of superb digital portraits of our relatives ( don't we...

And not the rude ones, either. You can get in a lot of trouble making those sort of signs, but you won't have any problems if you use the Manfrotto Mini and Micro arm systems. Who needs them? Video shooters who are using a tripod ( preferably a Manfrotto ) and want to mount monitors, lights, controllers, or other accessories onto their rig. if they need real flexibility as to where the goods will go and at what angle they will see them, these are the arms that will do it. The construction is all-metal. The machining on the joints and struts is exquisite and the sturdiness reminds you of good motorcycle parts. The double joints men a very wide range of movement and the attachment screws at the end mate perfectly with Manfrotto tripods. Away from video work, these would also be perfect for still operations with light cameras that needed to be positioned close to a shooting surface. The locking control freezes whatever you are pointing at a precise point and then doesn't creep. Note also that Manfrotto make great big versions of...

I get to look at the dashboard for this weblog column and stare horrified at how many posts I've written. I'm surprised that I've had time to eat, sleep, or cement model airplanes together in the years that the column has been written. I took the opportunity to ask the mechanism to show me all the osts with " Tether Tools " in them.It turns out I've written about the products from this company ten times already. Well here comes number eleven. Note: I so admired the idea of their Tether Tools computer tray for keeping a laptop near you while you shot your DSLR in the studio that I pinched their design and made one for myself out of plywood several years ago. Nowhere near as elegant as the real thing, but it worked and proved that they were making a useful item. They have added no end of even better things since. These are two of them: a. Tether Tools Air Direct Arca Clamp If you're firing into an Air Direct wireless transmitter that will connect to your computer or tablet but...

The police advise you not to make eye contact with criminals. Yet we all look at politicians on the television as they give speeches. This seems somewhat of a contradiction. If you, on the other hand, are the one giving the speech, you want to be able to fix the audience with a steely and virtuous look as you make your spiel. If you have a great memory and are a good orator, you can do this. Otherwise you need to read out your speech and that means glancing away from the viewers. Not only do you break eye-contact and give them a chance to look around, but you also give the game away. Enter the teleprompter. You've seen them for decades in presidential debates and Hollywood awards ceremonies attached to complex podiums. The user is behind a glass screen but is looking out at the audience. You think they are looking at you but they are reading what their scriptwriters are sending up in a rolling script. The teleprompter is a two-way beamsplitter that lets a camera lens look through to...

Tools. Use Tether tools. Specifically use Tether Tools' Case Air Wireless magic box on the top of your camera. If you've got a Nikon or canpn camera you're going top be very pleased. What does it do? it creates a WiFi hotspot on your camera that your mobile phone or tablet can pick up. The app that comes with the little connecting box lets you play with all the different phone and operating systems. And then you: Compose. Focus. Adjust aperture. Adjust Shutter. Adjust ISO. Bracket. HDR.  Focus stack. Do time lapse. See the darn image clearly as you are working. That last one was not in the advertising blurb but it's the most realistic one. We all get older as we get older...

Proof of concept is a very useful idea when you're a photographer - particularly when you want to come down to the shop and spend money - but can't think of what to spend it on. You are floating in a limbo and you need a lifeline. Every new photo idea needs to be thought out well, but after you've done all you can with coffee and scribbled diagrams you need to start making it real. I'm sorry to say that you generally can't design it 100% on a screen or a yellow pad - you need to block it out with pinewood strips, cornflakes packets, and expensive camera equipment. We don't sell wood or cornflakes but we may be able to help with the camera gear. You have a studio idea. It need a backdrop - we sell 'em. It needs a stand to hold the backdrop - we sell those, too. Lights? Yes. Camera? Yes. You provide the action. And you'll only know if it works when you give it a go. Be prepared to fail. With a bit of luck...