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Amelia’s first camera

I love forklifts

After my Nikon gear, my next favorite piece of photographic equipment just may be a fork lift. They are just so handy and fun. I wish I had one at the studio.

I volunteer my services at North Dallas Shared Ministries, a well run and very effective organization that offers a broad range of services to Dallas’ poor. Last week they handed out hundreds of free school uniforms.

One of the other volunteers gave me a lift so I could shoot down on the line. That thing strapped around my waist is the Think Tank belt system for my gear. I’ve been using it and loving it for over a year. In this case it was particularly helpful because I didn’t have a loose bag to deal with.


Meet Bob, the head of the studio.

This is Bob, the plastic head that hangs around the studio. We use him as a stand-in for roughing in lighting and as a focusing target in the classes and workshops. He’s pretty nice and is the least creepy of all the inexpensive mannequin heads I could find on Ebay. If you don’t believe me then try the search for yourself. Be warned; you won’t be able to un-see some of those heads once you see them. We tried having an expensive, realistic head in the studio a few years ago but it was just freaking everyone out.


Thank you Tanner Electronics

Tanner Electronics, just north of Dallas, is one of a dying breed of real electronics parts stores. Don’t judge them by their website. They’re too busy stocking cool stuff and helping customers with their projects. They’ve been in business for decades and actually carry parts that you can use. My wife didn’t understand why I hated going into Radio Shack until I took her to Tanner’s a few days ago. Now she understands.

This is a bag of goodies for the film scanner project; SPST N/O momentary switches, header strips, jumpers and a small speaker. What every Arduino-based project needs.


Always carry backup gear on an assignment

I frequently remind my students that the minute they want to start making money from their photography they have to have backup equipment. It isn’t allowable to show up for a job, no matter how small or how much you’re getting paid, and have to leave because of an equipment problem. Well, I was shooting some headshots  for a frequent client of mine last week. The location was near my house and I figured I’d be in and out in about an hour. Half way through the first setup my camera inexplicably slid off my shoulder (I use an UP strap which never, never slips) and my 24-120 took the brunt of the fall. It’s off at Nikon having a $375 rejuvenating spa treatment. When I went back this week I had backups of everything and of course nothing went wrong.

There really is not supposed to be that big ugly gap between the focus and zoom rings!


What does this have to do with photography?

I bought an air compressor last week. It was to replace a small nitrogen cylinder that I had purchased a month earlier. What does this have to do with pictures? Kind of a long story that I’ll start here and finish in later posts.

I shot 35mm color transparencies for most of my magazine assignments, stock shoots and personal trips overseas. In my case that means that I now have six 4-drawer file cabinets and about 10 bankers boxes full of sheeted up slides. It totals around 225,000 slides. Most of it should be discarded but getting to the keepers in a long editing process. Once I have the few thousand images that I’d like to keep they need to be scanned so I can get them into Lightroom and start using them. I have a pair of 35mm Nikon scanners but the scan times are very long so I decided to build a rapid scanner using a DSLR and hacked Kodak Ektagraphic projector.

Part of the design is to have high pressure clean, dry air dust off each slide in the projector gate and then keep low pressure air flowing across the film while the exposure is being made. I wanted to use compressed nitrogen but my usage was higher than planned and frequent trips to the welding supply shop for refills was going to be a lot of trouble. Enter the air compressor. If you’ve every owned one you know that most of them vibrate loudly enough to wake the dead in the next room. I shopped hard and found this one. It’s really pretty quiet and I’ll likely build a ventilated enclosure to quiet it down even more.



Green wall, Thai restaurant

Wookie love

Sesha Smith, who assisted me with my film editing project over the last year, sent me a thank you card today. It went straight up on the wall of the editing area. It’s a tiny instant print of a Wookie doll that she and her husband travel with. You can see the rest of her fine work on her website at Convey Studios.


Prepping for the Panoramas class

Online test reveals how well you see color

I came across this test on the X-Rite site a few months ago when I was researching one of their monitor calibration systems. It’s an informative and fun test that will show exactly where you might have problems with color perception. I’ve had enough arguments disagreements with friends and family over the years about certain blue/green colors to guess that I had a very common male-linked weakness in that area. Sure enough the test showed me right where it was. Just rearrange the colors till they look like they are in order. Give it a try at the X-rite Online Color Challenge.