The Hasselblad X-Pan Is Pretty Cool – But I’m Not Running Out To Get One !!

Looking down Market St to the Ferry Bldg while crossing 2nd.

Looking down Market St to the Ferry Bldg while crossing 2nd.

What do you do if you’re Swedish camera manufacturer Hasselblad and want a panoramic 35mm camera? You go to Fuji and have them design and build it, of course!!!

The Hasselblad X-Pan is a fantastic 35mm film camera that can switch between standard 35mm frames  (24mm X 36mm) and panoramic frames equal to that of approximately two frames (24mm X 65mm) mid-roll. Yes, I said midroll. The film canister is loaded in the same manner as any 35mm camera, but the first thing you notice when working with this beast for the first time is an unusually long film winding process. What the camera is doing is winding the entire roll of film out into the take out spool. The idea is genius since the camera then continues to wind the film back into the spool as you shoot through the roll. Not only does this allow the camera to compensate mid-roll for the difference between standard and panoramic frames, but it has the added benefit of protecting any images already exposed within the film canister should the back door come open and the film be exposed to light. It would take quite a bit to make this mistake with this camera, but the redundancy gives you added comfort that the engineers really put some thought into this little baby.

The F streetcar line on Market St.

The F streetcar line on Market St.

Back in late Oct 2013, I found myself not knowing what I wanted to rent from my Friday afternoon go-to rental place, Adolf Gasser. I decided to try something different and the X-Pan happened to be there. Definitely a crowd favorite and rarely available for a weekend rental, I jumped on the opportunity and took it home with the 45mm f/4.0 lens option. The camera was manufactured with a removable lens and Hasselblad/Fiju manufactured three lenses for the system: a 30mm f/5.6, a 45mm f/4.0 and a 90mm f/4.0.

A row of old Victorian homes on Oak St in Oakland.

A row of old Victorian homes on Oak St in Oakland.

When previously researching this camera, I came across some information on the internet that basically said that the camera would have two different perspectives with any given lens choice because of the difference between the standard 35mm format and the panoramic format. Well, it must be true then because you can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true. Where did I read that, you ask? The internet, of course. Ha!

The walkway to Embarcardero from the Portobello Complex in Oakland.

The walkway to Embarcardero from the Portobello Complex in Oakland.

That’s not true, folks. The only thing that changes between standard frames and panoramic frames is the film format, but a 45mm lens remains a 45mm perspective regardless of the format. If not, the 45mm lens in a panoramic format would have all sorts of distortion and curvature to the image. I picked the 45mm lens simply because it’s the closest option to a human field of view perspective, but I’d be interested to see how the camera feels with the 30mm wide angle and the 90mm short zoom.

Hills behind the valley in Pacifica while on a hike.

Hills behind the valley in Pacifica while on a hike.

Speaking of feel, the camera is a freakin’ brick and heavy at that. It’s rather ridiculous, but at 720g, this thing easily weighs a little more than two mainstream 35mm cameras without the lens. The lens is no joke either and the whole kit weighs in at a little over 1,100 g. Built like a tank, the X-Pan is built for whatever task you want to throw at it.

Entrance to a horse ranch in the back of the valley in Pacifica.

Entrance to a horse ranch in the back of the valley in Pacifica.

Since I had a few other things going on that weekend, I only managed to put a single roll through the camera over the entire weekend. I had a roll of Ilford Pan F Plus 35mm b&w film handy so that’s what I went with. Pan F is one of the slower film offerings from Ilford with medium contrast and HUGE resolution capacity and an excellent choice for outdoor shooting. I do, however, develop a little longer than recommended to boost the contrast up a bit and love the look. It’s got bright whites, and very black blacks. Like buttah…

Horse ranch. Too bad the camera can't capture smells as well...

Horse ranch. Too bad the camera can’t capture smells as well…

After shooting SLR cameras for the majority of my photographic journey, shooting a rangefinder for the first time took some getting used to. And what you can’t imagine is how much this can affect your ability to properly focus. I found after developing this roll that a number of my images were out of focus and it left me thinking “WTF?!?!?!”

Hiking trail in Pacifica.

Hiking trail in Pacifica.

What does it mean to shoot a rangefinder? Rather than looking through the viewfinder and seeing the image as it comes through the lens and up the pentaprism, with a rangefinder, you are looking through a viewfinder that is off-center and focusing relies on a “ghosting” effect where duplicate images of what you’re looking at come together as you manually focus until the meet. Once the two ghost images meet as one, your focal point has been reached.

Trees...I think.

Trees…I think.

So, what don’t a like about this little magical image maker? For starters, the camera takes a bit to get used to working with the exposure settings compared to other SLRs. In AUTO, the photographer gets to set the aperture, since it’s located on the lens itself, while the camera’s meter adjusts the shutter speed to compensate for the center weighted average it’s set up for. The camera can completely work in full manual, but with no meter reading in the viewfinder due to it being a rangefinder, it makes it a bit more challenging. The camera has quite a number of modern camera features, but the lack of autofocus is really apparent as something that is missing. But, at the same time, it was done by design since the camera was rather expensive  when new and still remains a little out of my price range on the used side may years later. I can only imagine that the conversation was had during the design phase of the project and autofocus had to be left off for weight consideration and consumer cost.

So, do I really not like the X-Pan? Nah..it’s pretty awesome! I can work around the slight inconveniences mentioned above in order to obtain beautiful panoramic images, but I’m still not running out to get one! Boom!

Look, Ma'!! You can hold the X-Pan vertically as well...

Look, Ma’!! You can hold the X-Pan vertically as well…

Advertisements

Why Getting Your DSLR Sensor Cleaned is Badass!!

With any DSLR camera, the best part about owning one is the flexibility that they offer with all the different lens choices. The bad news about having lens choices is having to interchange the lenses. Any opportunity to replace the lens leaving the inside of the camera body exposed to the elements, is another opportunity for dust to get in there. The worst part is that sensors are like a dust magnet, so keeping your sensor clean and free of dust can be a real challenge. Obviously, there are steps that you can take to minimize the possibility of dust getting in there. When replacing the lens, you can turn the camera body downward, so that gravity is helping you keep some of the dust out of there. You can even take the extra step to blow off any potential dust that may be sitting on the inner element of your lens, since it gets to hang out with your lens inside your camera. But, still, you can go through serious heroics and still need to clean your sensor.

How often should you clean it? Well, that depends on how picky you are of your images. I’m sure that there are folks that could go for years looking at their images start to degrade with specks before they really notice what’s going on. Of course, some photography lends to having this stand out more than others, so it may be hard to pick out. I can even imagine having some folks convince themselves that the images are turning out as poorly as they are simply because its normal or the process of the dust accumulation is so slow that it isn’t noticeable. Then there are those that are ultra picky and would notice the first speck of dust within a few days of it attaching itself to the sensor. The good news is that there is no right or wrong answer on how often you should get your sensor cleaned.

I’ve had my Canon 1D Mark II N since the new year, so I haven’t been with it for very long. At first, I started noticing small speck on the images wherever I was photographing something very light in color, such as the sky. Or if something was intensely bright, I would usually pick it up as well. Shooting wide open at the max aperture of whatever lens I was using helped minimize the effect, so I would just spend the additional time in Photoshop using the spot healing brush to do away with the flaw in the image. I would notice the majority of the specks on the top half of the image, which happens to be the bottom of the sensor inside the camera and where the dust tends to settle most. Oh, yeah, as light comes into your camera body, the lens inverts the image and your sensor flips the image back right-side for you. Neat, huh??

Where it became most apparent to me and where I drew the line was when I was trying to photograph with a very wide depth of field, such as f/16 or higher. When shooting landscapes, sometimes you want everything in the image in focus, so you would shoot with a wide depth of field. In doing so, every single speck of dust and debris on my sensor was blacker than the rest of the image. I could have sworn that someone had sprinkled pepper inside my camera looking at those images. So, something had to be done.

Now, you have two routes that you can take on this, the DIY and the repairman. Most shops will charge in excess of $60 for sensor cleaning. Is it worth it? Absolutely, but keep in mind that if you want a clean sensor and do a lot of lens replacement, you may be in the shop every few months for exacting requirements. But, there are those of you that could incorporate the cleaning in a yearly service appointment to make sure that everything is working properly. The other option requires a little more involvement and responsibility on your part. Sure, there are plenty of sensor cleaning kits on eBay and more than a few cleaning videos on YouTube that will teach you how to do it. Do any of these options offer you the security of guaranteeing that you won’t damage your sensor? Absolutely, not!! And, most of them will issue a disclaimer that they are not responsible for any damage you cause to the camera. Does the pro in the shop guarantee his work?? Yuuuuppp!!

So, what did I do? I took my camera down to Adolf Gasser’s in San Francisco to get looked at. Scott, the head repair tech, was around and not too busy, that he was able to look at the camera while I waited. I was in and out in half an hour, and the job was fabulous. I was able to see the before and after using a loupe with LED lights that illuminates the sensor, and let me tell you that this sensor was DIRTY!!! The folks at Gasser’s are top-notch and I can’t recommend them enough. A typical sensor cleaning will run your $65 if you need it real quick, but the pricing dips quite a bit if you are willing to give them two weeks turnaround time. Then it’s only $45. Will they take two weeks to get it back to you? Nope, but it’s the point that if you need it now, you’ve gotta pay a little extra for the special attention. If you stop and think about it, a pro photographer that wants a cleaning really isn’t going to think twice about paying an extra $20 to have his/her camera serviced.

So, I was super excited today to get out and shoot a little bit to see how the images would turn out. IT TURNED OUT AWESOME!!! I specifically shot in the f/16 and higher range today to test it out and it passed with flying colors. I was able to pick out ONE little spot on one image that was a dust speck, but that goes to show you how easy you can get dust on there from one day to the next. So, instead of working on an image for almost twenty minutes to clean it all up, I was done with the image within a few seconds since I only had to process one little speck.

One question that I had for Scott was what about the camera models that offer a sensor cleaning function either at startup or shut down, or both. Don’t they advertise that your sensor will be clean? Well, his answer was very interesting and makes a LOT of sense. The probability that this sensor cleaning operation is just another marketing ploy is pretty strong. To prove my point, let’s go through an example. Let’s say that you do have dust on your sensor and the vibratory action of the function gets the dust off the sensor. Where does it go? And what keeps it from re-attaching? Well, the answer is it doesn’t go anywhere!! If the camera is sealed with a lens or lens cap attached, the dust is trapped in there along with the sensor, only to get re-attached at the next opportunity that it can. There isn’t a tiny black hole in there to swallow all the dust, so it can’t go anywhere unless you physically remove it by blowing out the cavity with air. Does it help? I’m sure it does if you follow it up with a quick blow of air to get everything out, but it definitely isn’t the end all, be all answer to why you shouldn’t have to clean the sensor.

So, here I leave with you a few images that I shot down by the Pacifica Municipal Pier this evening using a Canon 70-200mm IS f/2.8 L series lens and my Canon 1D Mark II N with the freshly cleaned sensor. This is just too awesome, folks…

Messing Around At The Sand Dunes By Mussel Rock in Pacifica

This weekend was jam-packed with all sorts of photographic adventures up and down the San Mateo Peninsula in efforts to avoid the city and all its festivities going on that I’m sure made traffic horrible. After the adventure of Point Montara Lighthouse on Friday, I wasn’t about to just let the weekend roll on by, oh no siree!! Saturday was an early rise day in order to make it to Filoli Gardens in Woodside, CA close enough to opening time at 10AM to make sure we were able to enjoy everything. We did make it by 10:30AM and didn’t leave until about 2:30PM. I’ll be sharing that adventure with everyone shortly, cause I fell in LOVE with that place. I will be back and with a more focused vision as to what I would want to photograph. It turns out that Filoli Gardens has a family year pass for around $65 that sounds like the way to go. Whether it’s just me and the camera, or the whole gang, it sounds like a great deal and pays for itself by the second visit!!

Today was another early rise day. I would have wanted to shoot up to Marin to visit Point Bonita Lighthouse, but I rethought that after remembering the Pride Parade that would be happening in the City. Even though the Bridge is far enough away from where the Parade would be happening down Market Street, I didn’t want to find myself in severe traffic trying to make it to Marin. The good news is that Point Bonita will be there next weekend, so I decided to shoot for something else. But, staying with the lighthouse theme, I decided to hit up Point Pigeon Lighthouse just south of Pescadero, CA.

Pescadero is beautiful coastal country about 20 miles south of Half Moon Bay. If you live in the Bay Area and have never driven down Hwy 1 to Half Moon Bay or Pescadero, YOU MUST DO IT NEXT WEEKEND!! Well, you don’t have to do it next weekend, but put it on your soon-to-do bucket list. Hwy 1 hugs the coastline almost the entire way down, so be sure to drive with the sun up to take in all that beauty. I loved Point Pigeon and will also be returning sometime soon. It is run by the same non-profit organization that runs Point Montara, so it also has a hostel with similar amenities.

So, with this packed weekend of photographic adventures, why would I want to share some images that I took earlier tonight before dinner while my son and I took a leisurely stroll over to the sand dunes a few blocks from my in-laws? Great question, folks!! I’m bumping the many photos that I took at Filoli and Point Pigeon first and foremost, because there are MANY and I didn’t want to sit here looking through them all only to have to work them up through Photoshop in order to share them. I did a LOT of walking, and my fat ass can’t take all that abuse. From all the squatting and walking, both my hips and legs are killing me. So, I want to make this a quicky…

But, just so that you don’t all think that I’m just a lazy sack of shit, I do have a valid point that did come in play with the decision-making process to share these images with you tonight. As I may have mentioned before, I’m a photographer on a budget. This means that I don’t have a LOT of equipment, cause frankly, folks, I’m not getting paid for this shit just yet!! So, it’s just me and my Canon 1D and Tokina 100-300mm setup. Obviously, I can’t photograph everything with that focal range that my AWESOME Tokina offer, so I have to explore other options.

My favorite option for all of my weekend adventures is the camera equipment rentals houses. They provide access to name brand lenses that I couldn’t hope to afford for a very long time at reasonable prices. Adolph Gasser in San Francisco is my favorite due to their convenient location on my way home from work in Oakland and their 40% off discount on any non-reserved equipment that may be sitting on their shelves. For the longer sessions, such as my week-long trips to New York or Chicago, I use Borrownlenses.com down in San Carlos. Occasionally, Borrowlenses.com doesn’t have what I really want (usually cause I waited until the last-minute and someone else reserved what I wanted) and then I use LensRentals.com out of Tennessee. They are huge!! The down side is the added shipping cost that usually kills you with the UPS 2 day express charges.

But, I’m not going to rent forever, right? So what other options are there for a cost conscious photographer using a modern-day digital camera? God, you are on a roll with the questions today!! Well, there is a PLETHORA of manual focus lenses getting thrown out every day, my friend. With a little homework online to figure out which ones are the better ones and can work with your camera setup using a suitable adapter, you too can have access to many lenses that are DAMN good for next to nothing compared to today’s fancy lenses.

Is there compromise? Of course!! First, you have to manually focus. We have gotten accustomed to all the hype that the big name camera manufacturers have given us with the auto focus over the last 40 years that we forget that our parents had to manually focus their cameras while having to buy rolls of film to get developed only to find that they had messed up the shot. Today’s world of instant gratification has us a little spoiled with auto-focus lenses. Not only this, but most DSLR cameras tend to lock up if they don’t receive a signal from the lens installed. Of course, setting the camera in full manual mode fixes this real quick. So, now in full manual, the photographer is responsible for setting not only the ISO speed, but the shutter speed and aperture setting as well. Certain cameras will allow you to use a manual focus lens in AV or Aperture Priority Mode. This is the mode that lets you decide which aperture you want while letting the camera’s computer brain determine the other settings based on the information being received by the internal light meter and sensor readings. But, I don’t want to turn this into a hands-on lesson on how to work your camera with a manual focus lens.

Where I’m going with all this is that I picked up a Tokina 80-200mm f/4.0 II lens in M42 (Pentax thread) not too long ago at the Alameda Antique Fair and hadn’t gotten a chance to test it out properly. Well, I had plenty of instances, but it was just another paperweight sitting over by my desk until today. I dusted it off and took it with me knowing that we’d be heading over to the dunes later. And I was sooooo impressed by what I came home with, that I HAD to share these with you tonight.

Now, I had a little trouble with the settings myself at first. It took me at least half a dozen shots to figure out that I wasn’t looking closely enough at my internal light meter to tell that I was over exposing all the images. So, I adjusted my shutter speed to compensate, and BINGO!! For such a light weight lens that is very unassuming, this lens is scary sharp!! Just look at some of these images!! It was very contrasty and the colors were very rich! The only post processing I performed on Photoshop was slapping through the auto functions (which I do for all my images prior to determining if I want to go back and tweak a few things) and adding my watermark. That’s it!! I did notice that on the shots of the water, probably since I was standing to high up, my light meter was misreading the light coming in and they were under exposed. The auto exposure feature took care of that, and I was very pleased with how they turned out.

Did I have to stand for a few extra seconds establishing perfect focus when compared to the auto focus lenses? Sure, but this is a lens that cost be all of $20!! Compared to the equivalent Canon L series lens of a 70-200 f/4.0 L, I would have paid almost $800. For a savings of almost $780, I’ll not only stand there a few extra seconds, but I’ll even consider doing flips while trying to take the picture as well. Is the image quality comparable? Nah, I’m sure the Canon lens would kick this lenses ass, but I’m looking at the dollars signs right now, folks.

This was the first time I had gone over to the sand dunes on Palmetto Ave near Mussel Rock. My in-laws live not even four blocks from there and have driven it thousands of times over the last 12 years. I’m glad I took the time. It was a beautiful vista of some of Pacifica’s cliff side coast in the Pacific Manor area.

In one of the images, my son had written the word “too” on the sand with his finger. I was so impressed with the detail in the sand that was captured by the lens, that I had to include it. There is another shot of one of the sand formations I walked around. I found it funny cause the sunset light had cast a shadow to the right and towards the bottom it appears light the profile of a man’s face. A man with a HUGE nose, that is!! There was also a telephone pole that had so many nails in it, the texture intrigued me. There is even one image of a parked car that at 200mm, the license plate numbers were sooo crisp, that I decided to erase the plate number in Photoshop for the owners sake. If you notice closely, there is a row or two of homes behind it along with a steep cliff that jets up with other homes on top. That steep cliff that you see is actually the different tectonic plates of the North American and Pacific that rub up against each other. I SHIT YOU NOT!!!

Did you also know that the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906 was actually centered at Mussel Rock where Pacifica and Daly City meet up??? Ah, now you know!!!

I hope you enjoy the images. If I need to go into greater detail on the use of manual focus lenses, I’d be glad to on another occasion. For the time being, I give this little Tokina lens a HUGE two thumbs up for being a great value and being super sharp. It is a push-pull design that I’ll have to get used to, but for such a bargain, I’m all over it!! Have a great night, everyone.

The Championship Game That Wouldn’t Be Had and The Kickass Cookout/Potluck That Did

The two topics that I won’t discuss here on my blog are religion and politics. There’s plenty of other venues for that kind of stuff, and I just can’t find a place for it in a photo blog. But, with that said, I’m sure we can all agree that there wouldn’t be politics without drama and bullshit surrounding it. If not, there would be a whole lot of paparazzi type photographers that follow the hot politicians around left without a job. PNLL is no exception. The championship game that was scheduled to take place today did not happen. However, the awesome cookout and potluck that was scheduled for after the game did.

Whereas I thought that I would just share a couple of my favorite pics from the cookout without any clear direction other than to share them, it occurred to me to share a few pointers that I employ to get the candid and up close shots that I love to come home with, in case there are others that are interested out there. I came packing with my Canon 1D Mark II N and my Tokina 100-300mm f/4.0 lens, but don’t for one second think that if you don’t have a fancyass setup like mine, you couldn’t possibly take these same images. The best news is that you can!!

Whether you have a all-in-one ultra zoom camera like the 30X to 35X zoom cameras that Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony and a couple of others have on the market now, or you have an interchangeable lens system with a DSLR, there a just a few things that you have to keep in mind when taking these images.

1. Be sure to give your subject some distance. Most subjects, whether they like to be photographed or not, are aware if you are standing close to them when the camera is pointed at them. The best advice I can give you is to get comfortable with the long end of the zoom and get as far away from your subject as possible to avoid detection. You can get some great candid shots when they don’t expect to be photographed, as I have done below.

2. Place your camera in the burst mode setting, if available. Candid shots happen once and that’s all folks. How do you capture them? Well, if your camera has a burst mode function that shoots a series of photos in a short duration of time, setting the camera to that function will allow you to capture the precise moment you are looking for. Some of the ultra-zooms have a burst function that will give you up to 10 fps for 10 images prior to having to buffer and delay taking additional photos. Just be aware of what the limitations are in your particular camera model in regard to the burst mode so that you don’t end up with a bunch of images just before the ones you really wanted to take. Buffering is bad!!! If you don’t have that function on your camera, be ready to shoot as many photos as your camera setup will allow.

3. Don’t be afraid to get in close with your zoom.  Although body shots are great, sometimes you get more of a portrait look if you zoom in on the subject’s torso or head. You don’t want to get in too close that it’s creepy, but you’ll have to play with this in order to gain comfort in how to employ this. In these particular shots, I shot all over the place, from 100mm to about 250mm. At all times, I was almost ten to twenty feet away from my subject.

4. If shooting a group of people, don’t focus on one subject too long. If you are photographing a group of kids (as I was in this example), I always try to keep in mind not to focus too much attention on one kid in particular, even if it’s your own. Kids are funny when they interact with each other and are constantly saying things to make each other laugh. Groups of kids messing around with each other will always yield great photos of them having a great time.

5. People laughing or smiling make great images. Although there is a time and place for serious portraits, family gatherings aren’t one of them. It’s actually a pretty creepy to see family gathering photos with a lot of serious people. So, try to point the camera at the folks having great conversation and laughing it up. If everyone had a great time, you’ll look back at the images years down the road and remember the great time that was had.

6. Speeches or presentations make for great shots as well. Don’t forget to include your host or hosts in the photo session, especially if there is some type of recognition being given. A trophy, diploma or simply a pat in the back can be a great memento to record for both the person giving the praise and the person receiving it. Everyone loves a pat on the back!!

7. When photographing outdoors, always be aware of the location of the sun. Any camera when shooting directly into sunlight will give you an image full of contrast that is sometimes difficult to work with, if visible at all. Some fancier lenses employ hoods of various lengths to combat the additional glare that can be cause by any light source from the side or back. However, no lens hood can help if you are pointing the lens in the direction of that light source. I decided to include one image of said rule below simply because I liked the effect it gave. I did add a little saturation to bring out the yellow in the sunlight during dusk, but I liked the image. So, my advice on this point is not to never point the lens towards the light source, but to be aware of where the light source is coming from.

8. Always be moving!! Staying in one particular spot to photograph a whole session like a freaking sniper is weird. All of your images will come back with the same vantage point and will not add variety. If you are at an event that prevents you from moving around, that’s one thing. But a family gathering or cookout gives ample space to wander around, so use it.

9. Never shy away from a willing participant. Every so often, you’ll come across a subject that is completely open to having their picture taken, so take it!! Sometimes you can coax a smile out of them. Sometimes they give you a funny pose to work with. Don’t pass up the opportunity.

10. When you have a subject that is camera-shy, you can sometimes get great candid shots as they run. The great part about subjects that are camera-shy, is that the majority of them will shy away or run laughing to avoid being photographed. It’s during these moments that great candid shots can be had, so be ready.

That’s about it for now, but I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of other things. I’ll be sure to come back to this posting and update the information as I remember other pointers to pass along.

To all my fellow PNLL Rockies players, coaches and family members, we had a heck of a season. This was a great team and we had a ton of fun!! Thanks for everything!!

Drive to Little League: $4, Bag of Bubble Gum: $3, End of Season Party: $25, Having Your Memory Card Crap Out On You: PRICELESS!!!

The Pacifica NLL Rockies had their last official game of the season today against the Tigers. After mounting a late game rally, the Tigers put up a fight and almost tied the game in the top of the 6th. Fortunately, the Rockies were able to keep the lead and secure the win. Both teams played their asses off, and although someone had to come away with the L, the opposing team should be proud of their efforts today.

The head coach of the opposing team was an assistant coach for a team my son was on two years ago, and I have great respect for the man. Besides being a great coach, he put up with my kid in what was probably the worst season filled with fits and tantrums on the field. Throughout all that, the coach remained steadfast in his instruction even though he probably would have wanted to whack my kid on the head. At that time, I would have gladly held him down while he did it too!!!

Fast forward two years, and he’s now the head coach of one of the other Pacifica National Little League teams. I don’t believe that his team has had much success this year, but his team staying in today’s game is proof enough that there is good baseball being played on his club!! I approached him before the game and asked if he was ok with my tucking myself off to one of the sidelines in order to photograph the game up close. He agreed, and so did our head coach. SCORE!!! Someone is always too worried about getting sued nowadays, so I rarely get the opportunity to be on the field on the game side of the fence.

Although I’ve discussed techniques for shooting through a chain link fence and adjusting the image in post processing to regain the clarity lost through the fence, there is nothing like not having to worry about any of that crap cause you have a direct line of sight to the action. Obviously, my new concern with being on the field is a line drive with my name on it whacking me across the head, or worse, right into my lens!! Luckily, I had my wits about me today and the kids really didn’t feel like tagging me with a foul. Thanks, guys!!

Although I would expect to have a great number of really great images when I got home today, there always has to be something going on to screw me up. It’s Murphy’s Law, I tell you. Halfway through the game, I started to get an error message on my camera and the images being recorded weren’t popping up on the LCD on the back, as they usually do once they’ve recorded. In between innings, I managed to Google the error code to find that it was a memory card error. I recently had to replace my main memory card with a real expensive SanDisk one, cause my previous one had just crapped out. That was earlier this week, so you can imagine that I immediately got pissed.

First, I’m thinking that I purchased a faulty memory card. But, that usually wouldn’t be the case since probability has it that I wouldn’t be able to pick out the one in several million that actually do come defective from the factory. So, I then start thinking that it’s the camera. Then I start panicking, cause I haven’t had this camera body for long and I had almost convinced myself that it was already crapping out. I put it out of my head hoping that the backup memory card would capture what I was photographing.

Once you get to this level of Canon camera’s, the body offers you two memory card options, a CF card and an SD card. The CF card can hold up to 32 GB, which is HUGE!!! The SD card can usually hold up to 16GB, but it depends on what your budget will let you afford. The camera also offers you different formats in which to record the images. For professional level results, the way to go with images is to record them in RAW format. This is the unprocessed image that the camera sensor records without having the camera apply any type of processing. This file can then be opened up in a number of post processing photo editors for a greater ability to manipulate the image. Most point and shoot cameras only take JPEG images, which are images taken by the camera sensor and then put through the factory post processing and appears on the LCD screen as the captured image. My Canon allows me to take two images at once and will separate them between the two memory cards. So, the CF card records the RAW image that I’m taking while the SD card records the JPEG image that also show up on my LCD screen. With this backup system, I was sure that I’d get one or the other, if not both.

So, I had to deal with the camera stopping on me every time that I took a series of high-speed shots to display the error message. I figured that if I depressed the shutter button, it would bump the error message off the menu screen and go back to allowing me to photograph. Well, it appears that the CF card did not record any of the images after I started to get the error message. Fortunately, the SD card did capture the remaining images. The down side is that it only captured the first photo in each series that I took and not the entire lot. So, if in a pitching sequence, I shot a total of 8 images, I was only able to capture the first and the rest were never recorded. I was completely bummed…

I still managed to get a good number of good images, but I would have rather come home with many more. What’s the lesson to be learned here? Don’t rely on just one memory card, folks. So, what am I going to do to make sure that I don’t have this happen again? As soon as I can afford another CF memory card, I’ll purchase another one to keep in my camera bag. If this ever happens again, I’ll quickly swap out the cards and keep shooting.

I was able to locate on several other photo blogs that others have had this same problem. Most of them mentioned that this might be caused by formatting the memory card using the PC instead of the on-camera formatting allowed. It just so happens that last night I chose to format the memory card with my PC instead of the camera, so I’m hoping that this was the case. Tomorrow, I’ll be doing some experimenting to make sure that this was the case. If the problem persists, I may have to take the camera in to the shop for evaluation and that’s never cheap…

Anyway, I hope you enjoy the images. Since there are quite a number of them, I will try putting them on here as a slide show. If I find that this format doesn’t work, I’ll edit the entry and include the separate images in a gallery. Good night, all!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Anyone Else Wanna Try Pitching???

As we come to the end of my son’s little league season, we are finishing up all the make-ups due to the rain outs earlier in the season. Today’s game brought one of the Half Moon Bay teams up to Pacifica for the makeup. I showed up late, since the game started around 5pm and I had to drive all the way from Jack London Square in Oakland. I started snapping away as soon as I got there, but managed to miss the first three innings. By the end of the 4th, we were looking at a blow out of at least 12-1, so the game was called early in our favor. Our coach, being the type of coach that doesn’t believe in showing up the losing team, held all our players to singles after the score started to get ridiculous. And, when the game was called, he offered to let the opposing team bat through their entire lineup one last time. That was classy, coach. I tip my hat off to you!!

Since we have three games to play this week, with today’s being the second for the week, the coach opted to not use up his available pitching arms on this game once it was clearly going to be a blow out. So, anyone that wanted to pitch was able to. We had quite a few position players that really haven’t gotten on the mound, get a shot at it. It was fun photographing the kids today, especially as they were testing out their “guns.” I walked around a bit to get different vantage points, but since most of the photos were taken of the pitcher, the elevated score keepers box behind the backstop provided the best view of the mound.

I was shooting through the protective fence, but since almost all the photos were taken at 300mm, I was able to contend with the fence with a little post-processing contrast work. I added a little sharpening and that’s all, folks. Enjoy!!