Infrared Wednesday

I charged up the batteries for my infrared converted Nikon 995 and took it out with me on my lunch time walk yesterday. The weather wasn’t all that good and there isn’t much in the way of fresh green vegetation around at the moment (Mid March).

Infrared Converted 995 with WC-E63 (24mm) Lens

Infrared Converted 995 with WC-E63 (24mm) Lens

Nonetheless, I did manage these two half decent snaps taken from the tow path of the Titford Canal, Langley. When I use my 995 I either screw on the FC-8 (Fisheye) or in this case my WC-E63 wide angle converter (24mm equivalent). At the moment I’m undecided on what filter to have put in my D200, can’t make up my mind between the 720nm (better for channel swapping) or the deeper 830nm (Monochrome).

Infrared Converted 995 (800nm Filter), with 24mm (E63) Lens

Infrared Converted 995 (800nm Filter), with 24mm (E63) Lens

I must say I like my IR images to be contrasty – I really must come to a decision soon. Both images were shot as Hi-quality Tiffs and processed in Capture NX, before going into CS5 for the final tweeks.

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Clay Cross Photographic Exhibition 2014

Clay Cross celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2013. In that year they also successfully re-started the Clay Cross National Exhibition (this time with digital projected images) after a break of five years.

Poseidon Rising

Poseidon Rising .. Accepted Colour Image

Anne; A Brief Encounter .. Accepted Image

Anne; A Brief Encounter .. Accepted Colour Image

This years exhibition attracted 3.300 entries across four section categories: Colour, Monochrome, Natural History and Creative Images and was judged over the weekend of 22nd – 23rd February, 2014 by Peter Cheetham APAGB, Erica Oram CPAGB and Ray Brammell ARPS DPAGB.

Andy Capp .. Commended Image

Andy Capp .. Commended Mono Image

We Can Make It .. Commended Image

We Can Make It .. Commended Mono Image

I entered 8 images (4 colour and 4 monochrome) and managed to get 5 accepted, including 2 commended images in the monochrome section, which brings my BPE (British Photographic Exhibition) total to 445 acceptances with 78 awards.

Ooh! That Was Tough .. Commended Image

Ooh! That Was Tough .. Accepted Monochrome Image

 

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SWPP Photography Competitions

These past two months I’ve took to entering competitions offered by the SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers). The Societies are a group of organisations incorporating the interests of all aspects of photography. Membership is open to full-time professional, semi-professional and the serious enthusiast. The good news being, you don’t have to be a member in order to enter these competitions, they’re free to anyone.

In December I entered their “Timeless Portraits” Competition and gained a Highly Commend with a monochrome version of “Mud,Sweat & Glee”.

Mud Sweat and Glee

Mud, Sweat and Glee – Highly Commended Image

All HC entries can be seen Here

In January I fancied my chances with yet another portrait comp, “Faces” Photography Competition, again, much to my surprise, I was awarded two Highly Commends with “Ooh! That was Tough” and “Urban Existence”.

Ooh! That Was Tough - Highly Commended Image

Ooh! That Was Tough – Highly Commended Image

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Urban Existence – Highly Commended Image

All HC entries can be seen Here

The Society can be found at: 6 Bath St., Rhyl, LL18 3EB UK
Or you can subscribe to their Newsletter Here

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Nikon 28-70mm f2.8 – A.K.A “The Beast”.

. . . . or to give it it’s proper title . . . .
Nikon AF-S Zoom Nikkor 28-70mm f/2.8D IF-ED

Nikon ceased production of this lens in 2008 having made around 130,000 units since it was first introduced in 1999; around the same time as the F5 would have been hitting peak production. Just like the F5 this lens was targeted at professional users and consequently had the build quality to match. Most outer parts are made of metal and carry the crinkle finish typical for professional grade Nikkor lenses at that time. Make no mistake, this lens is big, fast and heavy, which is not surprising because it contained all the very latest in optical features available at that time.

JON_1779a

Nikon describe this lens as being the ideal mid-range zoom lens for architecture and portraiture. Fast maximum aperture for shooting in low light. ED glass element reduces chromatic aberrations providing superior optical performance – even at maximum aperture. It has an M/A switch for fast transitions from AF to manual focus, there’s also no power drain when manually focusing.

There’s only one noticeable feature missing, which features heavily in today’s lenses  and that’s VR (vibration reduction), first introduced on the 80-400mm f/4.5~5.6 lens.

JON_1777a

This is my first “Gold Ring” lens; first offered to me back in October, 2013 along with several other Nikon items, but finances were tight (as always), but I finally secured the deal at couple of weeks ago, along with very nice (low mileage) D3. Since this lens has an aperture ring it can also be used on my F4, or if I prefer to manual focus, my F3 too. Although it was designed to be used on full frame “film” cameras, it works perfectly well on crop censor cameras like the D2X, the lens then becomes a 42-105mm.

JON_1778a

Make no mistake this is not a walk-about lens, especially if you happen to have it on a D3. Having used it to photography the recent Tough Guy over at Billy Wilson’s farm in Staffordshire, by the end of the day I felt like I’d run the course too; I was totally Knackered!

JON_1776a

Any misgivings I had over the focal length (me thinking 70mm might be a bit short) were totally dismissed upon seeing the results. The lens turned in a stellar performance, despite the really awful weather.

JON_1780a

I can see me and “The Beast” becoming the best of buddies for a long time to come.

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Tough Guy 2014 .. The Year of the Great War Horse

Now in its 27th year, the Tough Guy Challenge has been widely described as, “the toughest race in the world”, this gruelling marathon, come obstacle course, zig-zags across a 600 acre farm in rural Staffordshire, England. Tough Guy is the brain child of Billy Wilson, a former battalion barber in the Grenadier Guards, Billy Wilson (a.k.a Mr. Mouse) runs the farm as a horse sanctuary.

JON_8784

Nonetheless, on the last Sunday of January, often in freezing winter conditions (this year it never stopped raining), around 5000 runners attempt to finish the 12 kilometre course, which features 25 obstacles, including a slalom run (up and down a hill), ditches, jumps, freezing water pools and blazing fire pits!

JON_1513224

The organisers claim the risks involve; barbed wire, cuts, scrapes, burns, dehydration, hypothermia, acrophobia, claustrophobia, electric shocks, sprains, twists, joint dislocation and broken bones – and that’s just what us photographers can expect! God help the runners!

JON_8736

Although the course is adjusted each year, its main features are: Stalag Escape, Death Plunge, Battle of the Somme and Dead Leg Swamp.

Entry fees start low, but increase every time 300 people sign up. Entrants must sign their own “death warrant“, which acknowledges the risks and dangers involved. Yes, fatalities have been known. Despite all this the event regularly attracts fields of up to 5,000 competitors from all around the world.

JON_1675226

Despite the wet and windy conditions Sundays event went well. However. The miserable weather kept a lot of spectators and a few well regarded photographers away too.

JON_1435219a

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Nikon FM2 #7089108

Well! After what seemed like an impossible search I have finally found a decent Nikon FM2. I must point out this is an original FM2 and not the newer FM2N, which everyone seems to list as an FM2.

FM2-Ch

Nikon FM2 #7089108 in Chrome

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve thrown my arms up in frustration when I thought I’d found one – only to be disappointed, because some lazy arse seller can’t be bothered to list it properly!

FM2-Chr

FM2 Top Plate 125th shutter speed in red (250th in red on the FM2N).

In my experience the original FM2 doesn’t come up for sale all that often and when they do you have to strike fast as they tend to go very quickly, especially in good condition.

Despite having a daily search report emailed to me from eBay I actually found this FM2 via my local camera shop of all places! Well, when I say local I mean a 50 mile round trip to Worcester and back! Nonetheless, in this case I was happy to commute as it also gave me the opportunity to part exchange some of my unwanted gear.

FM2N

Nikon FM2N in Black

Just like the old FM2, finding a local camera shop is becoming more and more difficult.

Back in the day most pro’s would have either an FM or an FM2 tucked away at the bottom of their camera bag (which may explain why you find so many battered ones today) as a back up to their F3, F4 or if they was doing well, their F5.

Unlike the aforementioned cameras the FM/FM2 didn’t rely on batteries for power, it was totally manual. As a rookie amateur back in the eighties I preferred the FE2 over the FM2 because I only had to set the aperture, with the FM2 you have to set both aperture and shutter speed for a perfect exposure. Granted it would get you out of a pickle should the batteries in your electronic Nikon fail, but for lazy sod like me I never really got to grips with it.

FM2-Shutter

Nikon FM2 with Honey combe Shutter

Despite my initial misgivings the FM2 has a long-standing reputation for reliability and durability. It has an extremely strong alloy body. The film transport mechanism consisted of high-strength hardened metal gears and the vertical shutter blades made from titanium (adapted from the FE2).

FM2N#1

Nikon FM2N Top Plate – 250th Shutter Speed in Red

If, after read this, you fancy going in search of your very own FM2 (not FM2N) take note of the external differences. The later/new FM2N has a 250 setting on the shutter speed dial and the letter N prefix before the serial number. In 1989 Nikon began shipping FM2N‘s with aluminium shutters (the same as was used in the new F-801) as a substitute for the expensive titanium ones. The only way to identify the different versions is to open up the film back and inspect it; the FM2 had  the honeycombed shutter blades, whilst the FM2N has smooth blades.

N_serial

Nikon FM2N

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Street Photography

I’ve not been out with my camera for ages so decided on a day out in Birmingham to go see the new library and do a bit of street photography. Not wanting to be burdened down with too much gear I went armed with only a D7000 and just a couple of lenses; a 15-30mm zoom and a nifty 50 prime.

The library was a challenge, having seen quite a few good images posted on-line already I felt my efforts didn’t quite come up to scratch.

At this time of year the German market is in full swing, stretching from Broad Street all the way down to the Odeon, near the Bull Ring.

image

Despite all the hustle and bustle of Christmas it was this image that caught my eye. A young woman sat all alone texting to a loved one maybe? Next to her lay her rook-sack, was she going somewhere, running away? Who knows?

A bit of a sad picture in many ways, but I just love it when an image evokes such thoughts.

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Yashica Electro 35 GSN/GTN

No self respecting camera collector should be without a Yashica rangefinder in their collection! Lets face it Yashica made around eight million of them throughout the 1970′s, so there’s still plenty of them to be found. My latest search showed eBay had several examples dating back to the original Electro 35 of ’66.

Yashica Electro 35 GSN

The Yashica Electro 35 is a coupled rangefinder camera with a fixed 45mm lens – and a very good one at that. Shutter speeds are step less and range from 30 to 1/500th of a second, thanks to the Copal (leaf) shutter, which is part of the lens. There’s no flipping mirror in a rangefinder camera, which makes them very quite to use.

Despite its “cult status” Yashica rangefinders have no TTL metering like modern day SLR’s, instead A Cds cell is located to the right of the rangefinder window and measures the light from there.

An Electro 35 may not be your first choice when shooting slides, but it does a magnificent job with negative film.

Powering up your Electro 35 today will require a simple adapter. Originally, the Electro 35 were designed to run on 5.6v mercury batteries. However, these batteries have now been banned due to environmental concerns. Nonetheless, a 6v alkaline battery (4LR44) with adapter works just as well.

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The Olympus C2020z is King

I don’t know what possessed me to buy another C2020 after selling my three previous purchases.

Well that’s not strictly true! The reason I purchased this one was because I traded my Infrared modified Nikon D100 for a normal D300. The thing is, I love shooting IR and not having an IR camera is a bit of a wrench for me.

image

So why did I choose a C2020?
Well, for a start, it cost just £1.20 from eBay. Let’s face it these cameras are ancient, nobody wants them anymore. There’s no dedicated battery and it uses the near obsolete smartmedia card, the largest available is only 128mb which doesn’t allow for many saved images – 22 if you shoot at best (SHQ) quality. So really, why would I want to pay anymore more?

Back in February 2000, when the camera was launched, SHQ meant 1600 x 1200 pixel sized images, yet another reason why people over look this camera today. However, what a lot of photographers failed to realise is this camera is special in other ways. When I comes to Infrared Photography the Olympus C2020 is King!

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As a result we can forgive the fact that this camera is slow to start, very slow to use and very very slow at writing SHQ (TIFF) files to card. And that’s before you even place a infrared filter over the lens!

Back in 1999, possibly at a time when Olympus were putting the finishing touches to this camera, we were all threatened with the Millennium Bug! A supposedly nasty little creature that was going to render all our electrical goods useless come the new Millennium.

Knowing this, my guess is, Olympus thought – hang on here! Let’s not bother putting in an expensive infrared blocking filter over the sensor – nothing electrical is going to work after 1999 anyway, let’s do without it!

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Well! As we all know now, Nikon had just delivered us the D1 and secretly ordered the mass extinction of said Bug in order to make way for their new D2 range and world dominance of the digital SLR market.

Robert W.Wood may hold the title of the Godfather of Infrared Photography, having pioneered the film emulation in the early 1900′s. Olympus on the other hand have given us the “Holly Grail” in terms of Digital Infrared Camera.

If you’ve ever used a C2020 you’ll understand how slow and limiting it is compared to modern day “normal” camera. Nonetheless, if you’re interest in Infrared photography then you must seek out and own one of these cameras for yourself. Just cover the lens with an infrared filter of your choice (I use a 720nm filter) and away you go – you don’t even need a tripod. Images can be taken hand held at f4 – 100 ISO @1/60 sec on a sunny day.

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For those of you who are interested, here’s how I set up my C2020:

ISO: 100
Drive: Single Frame (but you can Bracket the normal 3 exposures)
Flash: Off
Digital Tele: x1 (off)
White Balance: Auto
Function: Off (but you can set to B&W)

Mode Setup
All Reset: Off (must be set to “off” in order to save camera setting when switching off
Sharpness: Normal
Set Up: TIFF
Quality: SHQ

IR Filter Used:
720nm (R72) or
650 nm if you want more colour in your infrared images.

There are several infrared photography groups on Flickr where you can gain inspiration from, notability the Infrared Photographic Society for one and the Olympus C2020 Infrared Group.

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Those of you who have iPads may also be interested in the Digital Infrared Photography Magazine on Flipboard: http://flip.it/eFXkA

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Time Stands Still for No One . .

2001, the year Microsoft bought us Windows XP, Apple delivered us the iPod and Nikon reigned supreme by giving us the D1X.  Today, all three products could be considered dead, replaced by bigger and better things – time stands still for no one – yesterday’s news is today’s chip paper as my old gran used to say! Things move on whether we like it or not.

Nikon D1X

Although I love embracing new technology (when I can afford it) when it comes to cameras, particularly Nikon cameras, I love the old ones. The D1X is no exception. I waited long and hard to find the one that befitted my current collection.

Back in the day the D1X meant business, it was the workhorse of many professional photographers the world over. Like all other Nikon Pro bodies the D1X was built like a tank – the only chink in its armour was power – it had an insatiable appetite for batteries. Not so much of a problem today as you can now convert your old EN-4 batteries to take two UltraFire 18650 -3.7volt rechargeable batteries, which are readily available on eBay in their millions.

NIkon D1H

The other misconception surrounding the D1 series is their pixel count, minuscule by present day standards I grant you, but still very, very usable. In fact, I have a PAGB Gold Medal from the Cotswold Monochrome Exhibition to prove it!

Images from any of the D1 series have a familiar resemblance to that of film, which a lot of photographers try to emulate. Trying to get film-like quality out of your D4 just isn’t going to happen – period!

Nikon film cameras are currently under going a bit of a revival, prices for their mechanical bodies, Nikkormats included, are going through the roof. Theres even been rumours of Nikon patenting a digital back for their film cameras – cant see it happening myself – ever!

First and foremost, If you want film quality shoot film – simples!

Ropes D1X

If you want film quality from your digital SLR – grab yourself a camera from the D1 series and treat it as you would have done when shooting slide film – expose for the highlights and let the shadows take care of themselves. Don’t get bogged down by noise – use it to your advantage. In any case the D1X produces beautiful noise free images up to ISO 500. Just like Kodachrome the D1X produces beautiful reds and yellows. But than again, if you like your Ilford HP5 set the D1X to shoot monochrome and raise the ISO to 800 – 1600 and you’ll love it.

Finally, it should also be noted, if Nikon made it for film the chances are it will work with your D1X, after all they based it on the Nikon F5.

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