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]

Monday Mar 18, 2013

Update to corrections for SCP

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.

Sunday Mar 03, 2013

Should APS-C Camera Users Consider Moving to the Micro Four Thirds (mFT) Format

These comments concern mainly amateur nature photographers who would like to reduce the size and weight of their gear. I am the happy owner of a Canon 7D that I use primarily for wildlife photography with telephoto lenses. I also use a Canon 60D for landscapes, macrophotography, and night sky photography. When I travel with two camera bodies and a set of lenses including my Canon 100-400mm, my backpack is too heavy. Why not switch to one of the new mFT cameras and cut the weight by a factor of two? The Michael Reichmann’s recent review1 of the Olympus OM-D on and the in depth review2 of the same camera on indicate there will be little, if any, loss in image quality relative to APS-C with the smaller format.[Read More]

Saturday Mar 02, 2013

Landscape Astrophotography without Star Trails

I like to photograph the night sky in such a way that the stars appear to be bright points of light and not lines or streaks. This is possible if the exposure time is adjusted so that the images of the stars move on the camera sensor by amounts that are not evident in enlarged images.  My calculations of the required exposure times are described in the following pdf document.

Landscape Astrophotography without Star Trails (647kb)

Latest printing of "Science for the Curious Photographer"

“Science for the Curious Photographer” is now being shipped with the corrections that I have reported. Also, I am happy to note that photographs, illustrations, and tables have been appropriately improved. I did not see any indication that this is a “second printing.” One way to check that you have a corrected copy is to look at Table E.1 in Appendix E. In the latest printing, the table contains a left hand column giving numbers 1 – 17 for the rows.

You can find all of the reported errors listed in my December 6, 2012, blog entry. There is also a link to high resolution copies of the photographs.

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