Friday Mar 04, 2016

News about Science for the Curious Photographer (SCP)

I was not able to reach a satisfactory agreement about a second edition of SCP with CRC Press. I had hoped for an updated and expanded second edition with improved images and a lower price. In discussions with CRC and Focal Press, also a part of Taylor and Francis Group; I was told that, given the type of market this book is designed for, the price would have to be increased and my royalty would have to be cut. Publishing rights have now been returned to me for both printed and electronic editions while CRC retains nonexclusive rights for the pdf eBook version of the first edition.

I am currently working on a second edition of SCP that I will make available through as I did with the first edition prior to selling the publication rights to A.K. Peters, Ltd. in 2010. The science has, of course, not changed; but I am updating all the chapters and adding new material where appropriate. There have been incremental changes in the world of photography each year, but in five years the impact has been considerable.

In the electronic edition I will be able to display larger images and will have space for more detailed discussions. I understand the need for more emphasis on post processing, image storage, and database management. I also to plan add new appendices and perhaps remove some old material. Expect more discussion of the eye/mind system and perceptions of reality including illusions.

Is it time to remove material about film photography since most film production has been discontinued? What about the science of film photography and the history of Kodachrome? I enjoy the historic material, but perhaps it gets in the way for some people. What do you think?

Update:  It now appears that I will have a publisher for the second edition.  There are advantages to having paper copies and a good distribution system.  Unfortunately, the price will be higher.  Stay tuned.

Sunday Jul 05, 2015

Books about Landscape Astrophotography

It is sad that so many people in the metropolitan areas of the world have never seen a truly dark night sky. About my only opportunity on the east coast comes during our annual trip to Acadia National Park in Maine. Of course, there are many opportunities in the Rocky Mountains and the desert southwest. Unfortunately, the few nightscapes I have captured featuring the glorious Milky Way are often mysteries to my friends who wonder what that cloudy thing in the sky is.

Successful nightscape photography requires an interest in the night sky as well as some photographic expertise. As with landscape photography in general, this requires preparation and planning. My first exposure to night sky photography was a spur-of-the-moment thing when I aimed my f/2.8 15mm fisheye lens at the night sky in southern Utah and took a 30s exposure. The Milky Way in full color was enough to get me hooked. Now I avidly read everything about nightscapes that I can get my hands on.

There is a wealth of excellent books on nightscape photography. Here I will report on four recent eBooks.  To read more click

Books about Landscape Astrophotography (296kb)

Saturday Mar 28, 2015

Who First Used the Word Photography?

Sir John F. W. Herschel is usually credited with the first use of the word photography. In any event he popularized this word in his address to the Royal Society in March 1839. Herschel did not invent photography, but he made many important contributions to improving the photographic process. In particular, he discovered a way to stabilize or “fix” silver images. He was reporting on his work when he introduced the word photography.[Read More]

Tuesday Jan 27, 2015

Reposting of Corrections to "Science for the Curious Photographer"

The latest printing of "Science for the Curious Photographer" is identified by the CRC Press logo that appears at the lower right hand corner of the front cover, on the spine, and on the back cover.  Most of the typos have been corrected, but unfortunately a few remain.  The updated list of corrections with the remaining ones shown in red can be found here.

Friday Dec 26, 2014

Journey to the End of the World

In November/December 2014 my wife and I took a trip with Overseas Adventure Travel to "Patagonia and the Wilderness Beyond." I expected this to offer great opportunities for photography, and I was not disappointed.  Besides the wonderful national parks in Argentina and Chile, we had four days on a small boat cruising the Chilean Fjords to Cape Horn.  I have put together a journal of this trip with photographs.  To see this journal please click the link below:

Patagonia  (4,919 KB)

Sunday Jun 08, 2014

How Did Vermeer Achieve Photographic Realism Long Before the Invention of Photography?

Suppose a 17th century artist sets out to create a highly realistic, or shall we say high resolution, painting of a scene. He would want to achieve correct perspective along with perfect hue, saturation, and luminance at every point. That is a tall order, but apparently the Dutch painter, Johannes Vermeer (1632-75), did just that. His small oeuvre languished after his death, but when his work was rediscovered in the 19th century, artists and art historians marveled at the “photographic” realism of his paintings. The wide angle field of views with perfect perspective were striking enough, but the tonal values made the paintings almost supernaturally realistic.  You can find the complete text here:

Photoart_Vermeer2.pdf  (594 KB)

Monday Jun 02, 2014

My Loaded Camera Bag Is Too Heavy

If a nature photographer wants to be prepared to shoot any kind of subject, a lot of equipment will be required. By shoot I mean to capture high quality images that can stand a lot of enlargement. There are two ways to cut weight from the travel kit. One can either limit the objectives or compromise on the equipment. For example I like landscapes, but I also want to be able to photograph wildlife and sometimes even birds. That means I need both telephoto and wide angle lenses. This year my ideal kit contains a Canon 6D camera for landscapes and night sky shots. The lenses are a Canon 24-105mm standard zoom and a Samyang 14mm wide angle lens. For wildlife I include a Canon 70D equipped with a Canon 100-400mm lens.   You can find the complete text here:

Too_Heavy (279 kb)

Thursday May 15, 2014

Photographic Color Management and Color Vision Problems

In post processing photographers spend a lot of time adjusting colors.  We also profile cameras, displays, and printers in an attempt to obtain the same appearance of an image on all of our devices.  All of our tools are based on the concept of the standard observer who represents an average of individuals with normal color vision.  Unfortunately, up to 10% of the male population and 0.5% of the female population have color vision anomalies.  This is seldom, if ever, mentioned in articles on color adjustment.  To fill in this gap, I have prepared an essay on the topic.  You can find the complete text here:

Coloranomalies.pdf  (726 KB)

Thursday Mar 20, 2014

Essays on the science of vision and photography

I am writing a series of articles on science for the curious nature photographer that may eventually be part of a book.  The first few have to do with the operation of the eye/brain system.  In particular I am concerned with how we see the world around us.  What is real and what is illusion? The article, "What We See and How We Photograph It: There is No Reality, Get Over It," was published on   You can see the article (pdf, 653 kb) here.  An article on color management and color vision anomalies has been completed and will be published soon.

Friday Jan 10, 2014

Confusion about the circle-of-confusion

According to Google, “Circle of Confusion” is a song, an entertainment company, and the name of a website. It also has some connection with photography. In this article it is all about CoC in photography, and why it is important. Of course, you can look up discussions of the CoC concept, its history, and associated calculations online. However, in a few paragraphs I think I can clarify the concept for photographers and show why it is useful.

The complete (476 KB) article can be found here.

Sunday Dec 22, 2013

Corrections to "Science for the Curious Photographer"

There are no additions to the list.  The latest printing of "Science for the Curious Photographer" is identified by the CRC Press logo that appears at the lower right hand corner of the front cover, on the spine, and on the back cover.  Most of the typos have been corrected, but unfortunately a few remain.  The updated list of corrections with the remaining ones shown in red can be found here.

Thursday May 23, 2013

What is a Fake Photograph?

We are bombarded with images from television, computer screens, newspapers, and magazines. There are advertisements, illustrations for news stories, snapshots from social media, and on and on. From time to time there are news stories expressing outrage about manipulated photographs in advertisements and, heaven forbid, enhanced photos in news stories. There are rants about “fake” photographs, and prestigious publications such as the New York Times proclaim their purity. In the nytco web site1 we find, “Images in our pages that purport to depict reality must be genuine in every way.”

The complete article (507 KB pdf) can be found here.

Also, the article has been published on Luminous-Landscape.

Monday May 13, 2013

Samyang 14mm Lens: Revisiting the Hyperfocal Distance

I recently purchased a Samyang (Rokinon, Bower, Walimex) 14mm lens after reading glowing reviews of it. For example: “It is insanely great” Tim Ashley’s Blog, “ I think it’s an insane bargain for a very sharp lens” Roger Cicala of Lensrentals, and “…may be the surprise product of the season.” Overall this is a great lens, and similar lenses from the big name manufacturers cost five times as much. However, one should be aware that the Samyang beast is strictly mechanical. One must get used to that. There is no electronic contact with the camera for focus or exposure. Fortunately, focus is manageable given the large depth of field; and exposures are sort of automatic on my Canon camera in the aperture priority mode.

The complete article (414 KB PDF) can be found here.

Saturday May 04, 2013

What is the Canon 6D Good For?

One gets the impression that the Canon 6D was designed without serious consideration about what the competition might do. The 6D is an affordable full frame DSLR, but its feature set looks very weak when compared with that of the recently released Nikon D600.1,2 The D600 offers 14 stops of dynamic range at low ISO,3 a 24 megapixel sensor, dual card slots, 39-point AF system with 9 cross-type AF points, built-in flash, and 100% viewfinder coverage. In contrast, the 6D lags in all these areas and is missing the dual card slots and the flash unit. As some compensation, the 6D offers build-in Wi-Fi and GPS. In essence the 6D is a full frame version of the Canon 60D (APS-C sensor) with the serious omission of the flash and the articulated LCD screen.[Read More]

Sunday Apr 07, 2013

The Effective F-Stop of Your Macro Lens

I am doing macro photography with focus stacking again and that has forced me to revisit depth-of-field calculations as well as diffraction broadening effects. In both cases the effective F-stop of the lens is an essential parameter. So what is the effective F-stop of my macro lens? 

[Read More]

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