Saturday, January 4, 2014

Sleepless in Ventura Harbor, borrowing a line from the movie

We live on our 35 ft 1963 Pearson Alberg sailboat (hull #7) (named Sashay). Living in a small confined space (78sf to be exact) on a sailboat is not for everyone but for the right person (persons), it is the best life money can buy.

Ok, I miss having a garden and a real kitchen. In exchange I get to fall asleep to the gentle roll of the tides at night, waves crushing on the breakwaters a short distance away. Each morning, as I peek my head out of the companion way hatch to get ready to start the day, the smell of the pacific ocean and the crisp cool air welcome me. Every so often, a family of harbor seals can be seen frolicking in the water while the pelicans and seagulls yelp loudly and flutter their wings as they protest my intrusion into their space when I walk the harbor slip to the marina building.

Seals frolicking against a backdrop of boats at Ventura Harbor Village, Canon 10D, Tamron 19-35mm Wide Angle with CPL, 8:45am Jan 4 2014

Our office is located some 500 feet from the marina, which means most days when I do not need my car to run errands I could walk along the harbor front to the office. If I am early enough, I catch the beautiful first light.....sleepy sailboats and their reflections on the glass like water. My favorite morning is when the harbor is shrouded in fog...Most mornings as luck would have it I am caught without my cameras which I keep in my office. The fresh misty morning air around me, I stop for many minutes soaking up the priceless view no money can buy, before continuing on my short journey to start the day.

A Chinese junk lookalike - a Bed & Breakfast in Ventura Harbor, Canon 10D, Tamron 19-35mm Wide Angle with CPL, 8:45am Jan 4 2014

Sunset is always magnificent, the water sparkles and gradually turns into beautiful hues and glows as the sun disappears behind the horizon. Nature picks up her paint brushes and gets to work - a watercolor, a gouache or oil. Why would I live anywhere else? (unless it is a small place in the wine country at the foothills with plenty of grape wines, fruit trees and herb gardens).

It does not take a lot to make me happy.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Adobe Photoshop Elements - Using Artistic Filters

I am having some fun this first day of 2014. For anyone interested in photography or art or the creative side of things, there are so many tools readily available today which means endless digital darkroom possibilities. One of such tools I use is Photoshop Elements. I am still with my 2.0 version that came with the Canon 10D I purchased from another photographer in 2006. Photoshop Elements 2.0 is ancient by many accounts. However, I have no need to upgrade to the later versions as all I need are a few standard editing tools and artistic filters to let my creative juices run.

Having shot stock photography for quite a few years and only just stopped doing so in earnest recently (stock photography business has slowed for just about every photographer that depended on it). My external back up hard drive boasts of thousands of images I took over the years....Sweet.. artistic filters, layers, the possibilities are really endless when I am in the mood to create.

Above - Wish You Were Here Postcard - Photo of a candy/nut kiosk taken while I was visiting an indoor farmers market in Allentown, Pennsylvania this past summer. Cutout filter applied (Filter -> Artistic Filter -> Cutout)

Left - A card created using artistic filter (Filter - > Sketch -> Graphic Pen). This source image actually came from my Samsung Galaxy 10.1 which takes rather good pictures

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Fooling Around With Photo Editor On My Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1

By far one of the best utilities (and most used) on my Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1 is the Photo Editor, which allows me to add filter, photo frame, edit contrast, hues or crop with just a few taps. B & W and Sepia are my two favorites not forgetting the Polaroid frame.

Photography meets art


Ok, I do use my Samsung Galaxy Tablet 10.1 as a tablet, that was what I bought it for, as a second device and when I am away from my desk. It powers up from Sleep mode instantly, the battery lasts me a good 10+ hrs. Connecting to wifi hotspots in public is a breeze, no complex set up, locate and connect or a prompt to enter password if necessary and you are off to web surfing. Camera is not bad, front and rear facing, it is real handy and lets me capture a candid shot for a blog post. Other than occasionally freezing up on me after an Android/Samsung software update, it has been money well spent.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Olympus XA - Neopan 400 Professional 135-36 film, Adonal developer and Boats in Ventura Harbor

Both neg's were scanned using SVP FS1700

Firstly, the film grain was visible in the scan, I love it! one could never re-create that look on digital. Secondly, the top photo was taken around 8am ish when the harbor was shrouded in fog, it was not quite a sight. The element made for perfect backdrop. The lower photo was shot late afternoon approximately two hours before sunset..... In both situations, the Olympus XA handled both shots beautifully. See last blog post below for a picture of this wonderful little gem of a camera

Neopan 400 Professional is one of my favorite films, I am so disappointed that it is only available in 35mm format and Fuji has decided to discontinued the 120 format. I just reminded myself to order more to stock up on these precious films.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Koni Rapid Omega sample shots and on another subject the Olympus XA rangefinder 35mm camera

Here are two scanned sample shots from the Koni Rapid Omega 6 x 7 rangefinder medium format camera (see picture of the camera in my earlier post below) Kodak Tri X 400 120 film, developed in Agfa Rodinal 1:50 for 13 minutes, Ilford Rapid Fixer. Neg scanned on Canon flatbed scanner, invert, and levels slightly adjusted. As I won't be able to set up a home darkroom for a while longer, I will have to contend with digital scans but all is not lost, it does give me a glimpse of what I might be able to print from the negatives. Koni Omega is a 6 x 7 camera and the negative did not quite fit the neg holder that came with the scanner. I was not thrilled with the scan results, even at 600dpi. I was more interested to see if I have messed up the shutter speeds/f-stop since I was using the sunny 16 rule. it is a test roll so I was not expecting much. Looking at the negatives on my light box, the images had good sharpness, contrast and bokeh.

The picture above was shot in old town San Juan Bastista, California. A town that had the look of an old western town, forgotten, left behind in the mad tech rush of the 21st century, complete with western style saloons on Main street, a few adobe houses interspersed with brick red and blue walls, an old church, a rather quaint town. On that day, there was a gathering of a small group of classic cars whose owners had driven all the way from San Diego. Hanging out with good friends outside a cafe soaking in the sun. I chatted with a gentleman who asked about the chunky camera in my hand. He told me he shoots digital now, his film cameras are now collecting dusts on the shelves, he added "I now take pictures with my iPhone, and never missed a shot". An hour south of San Jose and a short detour from 101S, San Juan Bastista Mission is the main attraction in town and most of the area surrounding the Mission has been gazetted a national park. Tourists from near and far in tour buses, locals hoping to escape the city flock to the Mission ground each weekend, with their cameras and anything that takes pictures, you could hear chatters and footsteps from afar.....

One of the few quirks of the Koni Rapid Omega is that until one gets used to the film advance lever it is very easy to accidentally overlap images. Below is one such accidents that turned out pretty interesting and instead of cropping it, I decided to leave it alone.

One gets 10 shots per roll on the 120 film. The negatives are 6 x 7, that is 2.7 times larger than a 35mm neg. If you are looking for a negative to print easily into a 8 X 10, the 6 x 7 camera is the most suitable film format. I am looking forward to getting the two rolls of Velvia shot also on the Koni Omega developed at a lab soon.

Olympus XA 35mm rangefinder film camera

I have also just acquired two Olympus XAs with Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 lens off ebay for under $30 a piece including shipping. The XA was reputed to be "the other" camera for Henri Cartier-Bresson and his peers and many famous photos were shot on the XA. It is very small, measures just 4" x 2.25" x 1", weighs a mere 10 oz with batteries despite having a stainless steel body. For those of you familiar with Minox GL, it is just a tad bigger. Easily fits in one's coat pocket or purse, it is a rather inconspicuous little camera. It is a true rangefinder camera with a fast Zuiko 35mm f/2.8 lens, offers aperture priority and viewfinder shutter speed display. A switch at the bottom of the lens for ASA/ISO selection. Very quiet shutter, almost inaudible. The XA is a genius design by Yoshihita Maitani, the man behind Olympus PEN and OM film cameras. One other plus point for the Olympus XA is that it uses the readily available SR44 batteries. If you plan to get one, be sure to get the XA and not the later models (XA 1, 2, 3 and 4) which has a slower 35mm f/3.5 lens. I am going to carry both cameras with me, one loaded with b&w film and the other perhaps Velvia. Now I can never say I wish I had a camera on me!

To learn more about the Olympus XA and many classic camera, go to This is absolutely my favorite go to site if I am looking for well documented and researched info on classic cameras.

Update on the XA

As mentioned above, I had bought two XAs (could not help myself). The second one that is cosmetically a 9/10 had a dead metering needle (viewfinder). After much web research, I learned this is very common with cds cell from age/lack of use etc. I shook the camera a bit (the old trick), it did not work. There are two cds cells in the XA, one for the viewfinder meter and the other for the lens shutter. The lens shutter seems to behave correspondingly (to the f/stop change) but not knowing the shutter speed is killing me. One guy on the XA forum said sometimes if you jiggle/move the focus lever a few times, at the same time point the lens at a bright light, the needle may come back to life. I did and what you know, the needle started moving. It could have been age/lack of use, corrosion, dust between the contacts or anyone of these. It reminded me of the old Weston light meter I had, which needed some help to start working again. There is no telling if the shutter speed is accurate until I develop the very first roll, but I thought I should share this little trick. Definitely need some luck here :)