Thursday, September 27, 2007

Joshua Tree National Park, great photo opportunities.

Click on images for larger size.
Staying too long under the sun can cause hallucinations. I thought I saw a corona between the trees.
Living in Southern California is not always stress-free. There is the traffic, the overcrowded areas, some of the highest crime ratings in the nation, pollution, high cost of living, etc. I was not born in California and I came here by choice. However, I can understand why so many people moved out West, hence the famous quote “Go West young men”. The gold rush is over with but it is still a great state.. At one time, before the overcrowded population, this state must have been really wonderful. You encounter everything in this state, from ocean, to deserts, to mountains and everything else in between. The weather is typically nice all year round. You want snow, you go up a mountain. You want to swim or surf, you go to the ocean. You want to hike; there are mountains, prairies, and desert areas all over the state.

We live in a community located in the High Desert area of the San Bernardino County in Southern California. We are a little far from the ocean but there are some very nice areas within a few hours of driving. Joshua Tree National Park is located about 76 miles South East from us. We went there several times during the last 12 months and returned for a visit a few weeks ago. All pictures were taken with my pentax K10D. What a great tool.

The park includes parts of two deserts, each with an ecosystem whose characteristics are determined, for the most part, by elevation. Below 3,000 feet, the Colorado Desert covers the eastern part of the park and features natural gardens of various cactus and desert plants. The Little San Bernardino Mountains run through the southwest edge of the park.

The higher moisture and slightly cooler temperatures of the Mojave Desert is the unique habitat of the Joshua from which the park is name after. In addition to Joshua tree forests, the western part of the park includes some of the most interesting geologic formations found in California's deserts. The foremost geologic features of this landscape are hills of bare rock, usually broken up into boulders.

The park is extremely popular with rock climbers referred to it as "JT" by locals. It is the best traditional winter climbing destination in the United States, no doubt. Thousands of climbers from all over the world come here every winter.
The flatland between these boulders is sparingly forested with Joshua trees. More than 200 species of birds have been observed in the park. There are nine renowned campgrounds in the park. There are several hiking trails within the park, many of which can be accessed from the campgrounds. Shorter trails, such as the one mile hike through Hidden Valley, offer a chance to view the beauty of the park without wandering away too far into the desert.
To sum it all up, JT is a unique area that presents unique photographic opportunities. If you are living in California or Colorado and even Nevada, you should visit the park. If you are living elsewhere, if you ever come to California, you should plan for a visit to JT.
National Parks are a treasure that we need to keep for all future generations.

Thank you for reading,

Yvon Bourque

Monday, September 24, 2007

I wonder who had this Contax camera when it was new.

Although I have gone completely digital with my photography endeavors, I still have this special interest for the 35mm SLR cameras. They were a marvel of engineering precision. Yes, digital is wonderful and I can do things with my Pentax K10D that I could only have dreamed of, just a few years ago. You know, it will get better still and in the years up ahead, we will likely say that the newer new digital revolution is bringing photography to levels that we could only have dreamed of. Of course, the up and coming generation of that time will only see that as normal. The evolution cycle will no doubt continue.
This past weekend, while I was glancing through the tables and the stuff laid down on the ground at the local flea market, here in Southern California, I found a vendor with a bunch of old camera equipment. Actually, most of the cameras were in real bad shape and some of them were broken. I spotted an old camera bag and peeped into it.There it was; a like-new Contax 139 quartz camera with the Contax 50 Years anniversary TLA20 flash, a Carl Zeiss Planar 50mm f/1.7 prime lens, the original Contax winder, all manuals, a 70-200mm Vivitar Series 1 telephoto and a very rare Vivitar 2x Macro Focusing Teleconverter. I got all excited but tried to act innocent about it. “How much do you want for this old dusty camera?” I asked. “Lets see, one hundred dollars” said the gentleman. Will you take $75.00?” The answer was a quick “no, this is a good camera”. “Okay then, I guess I will pass”. I know how these flea market sellers operate and I had not walked tree steps, when I heard, “I will make a deal just for you, I will take $80.00 no less”.

So the short of it...the camera has a new owner. I knew it was worth a lot more. Like a little kid, I couldn't wait to get home. Once I returned home, I logged on Ebay and checked the prices of recent completed auctions for all the same items sold individually. Surprise, surprise…the total of all items, in fair condition mind you, were sold for nearly $800.00. I would say that my Contax is in excellent condition so it’s an even better deal. The seals are like new, the glass is perfect, everything works like new. The meter is right on.

I wonder who had the camera when it was new? I wonder who used it last? Wouldn't you like to see what a camera like that recorded on film through the years? I know I would. How did it end up for sale at a flea market by someone who didn't know the difference between a Contax SLR and a Polaroid camera? I will probably never know.
I don’t really need this mid-1970's camera. The last thing I need is another camera. I should sell it on Ebay. On the other hand, I do love the claping sound of the shutter, the wizzing noise of the motor drive, the ease of manual focusing with the split center screen and the simplicity of it all. The Carl Zeiss lens is solidly made of aluminum with numbers engraved instead of stamped on the frame. It still is a great lens by any standard. How could I sell this great camera? It reminds me of when I was a younger man and still dreaming of becoming a National Geographic photographer. Ah! those were the good years.

Well...I’m not selling it, I have decided. I have a piece of history in my hands, and it’s a keeper. I do have dozens of old 35mm cameras like Nikon, Pentax, Canon, Minolta, Miranda, Kodak, but I didn’t have a Contax. Now I have one, and it's my first Contax at that. I will keep it until it’s my turn to push up daisies, and someday, perhaps with some luck or destiny, someone will get excited with their great find; an old Contax camera found at a flea market, garage sale or at a storage facility auction. Like me, they will be proud of their purchase and will wonder what the camera recorded on film through the years? How did it find its way for sale at a flea market by someone who didn't know the difference between a Contax and a Polaroid camera? They may never know. By the way, my wife likes the simplicity of the camera and will use the camera with film soon.

Thank you for reading,

Yvon Bourque

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Copyright protection © for photographs, does it really mean anything?

It seems that every picture we see on internet forums, blog sites, and websites in general and in magazines all carry the © Copyright protection . Example: “© 2007 John Smith, All rights reserved.”
Please note that the pictures used for this particular post were chosen because they are bad pictures, similar to some pictures seen sometimes on internet forums, blogs, magazines with the © copyright protection. Read on...

I have seen the Copyright protection © on some photographs that couldn’t be given away. I understand how someone can be partial to his or her work, but to copyright any and all images one post on the internet may be a little pretentious. I’m guilty of it too on this very blog. Do we think that the picture bandits surf the internet in the middle of the night in search of bad photographs to steal? I don’t think so; there isn’t much money in that.
Stock agencies used to be a great source of photographic images, where one could purchase photos and use them in advertising. It was also a great source of revenues for many photographers. That was when photos were produced from films. In the digital world we now live in, everyone can produce good photos. Because there are no film or processing costs in the digital world, (Just the initial cost of the memory card(s) and of course the camera equipment), one can take thousands of pictures of the same subject. By the law of average alone, one great picture will emanate from using this method. It’s probably one of the reasons that Stock Agencies are not what they used to be. Instead of charging hundreds of dollars for the use of one picture, you can now download beautiful pictures for a few bucks. As for the photographers who supply these photographs, there is only a very small commission. I use the word photographs, but they are actually no more than downloadable computer files. Apparently, here in the US, the moment you create a picture, you have a copyrighted image. You don’t have to affix Copyright protection © beside each images you publish or upload on an Internet site. That’s all fine, but in reality, there isn’t much you can do to protect your images. You see, if someone steals one of your images and uses it for a publication or for profits of any kind, the only recourse you have is to take them to Federal Court. Taking a case through judgment, (according to a copyrighted article I read somewhere), may cost as much as $50,000.00 (Yes, that’s fifty thousand dollars) Should you win the judgment against the photo bandit, the amount might not even be enough to pay for your legal fees.

There is apparently a way to get the copyright law working in your favor. Register your images with the Copyright office through the “Library of Congress”. There is one very special benefit to having them registered that way. If someone infringes on your images and if you take them to court and if you win, they get to pay all of the court costs and legal fees, maybe. An attorney knows this and will try to get his client to settle out of court.

Registering is easy. You can register as many images as you can fit on a compact disk or other recording media, for less that $50.00. There are two categories of images you can register; published images, (images that have brought some revenues) and unpublished images.

From my point-of-vue, it looks much simpler than that. Don’t post any admirable (by you and your mother, at minimum) image files larger than it is necessary to see them on a computer screen. Most digital imaging software has a copyright tool that can embed a message in the viewable image as a watermark as well as an encryption in the image file. Use it. If you get lucky enough to be published, sign a contract stipulating exactly the rights of the buyer. Just make it very hard for someone to copy your image full size. Keep the original big files on your computer or whatever you use to store your files.Thank you for reading,

Yvon Bourque

Most of the material found in the above post was copied from someone else's publication, but none-the-less, this article is copyrighted © 2007 Yvon Bourque. All rights reserved.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Flower Power and Learning Power.

About four months ago, many Pentax users of the K100D asked me if I would write a book for the K100D, similar to the book I wrote for the K10D. I thought of the idea for a few weeks. I am not sponsored by Pentax in any way, and for me to write a book about another camera meant that I had to purchase the camera. I talked it over with my wife, and we finally decided to take a chance and to go ahead and purchase the K100D. Once I received the camera, I tested it, took lots of pictures, read the user's manual many times over, searched the internet and experiment with it until I knew the camera inside out. Only then, did I start writing the book. (The book is out now and hopefully helping many Pentax K100D users get the best of the camera.)

None-the-less, Anne (wife) was appointed editor of the book by default (maybe reluctantly at first) and decided that she too would use the K100D to verify the correctness of the book. She hears so much about photography from me that she isn't all that interested anymore. I can tell her about a new lens just coming out and her answer can be something like "I need to buy new shoes this weekend". Obviously to me, whatever I say about photography goes in one hear and out the other, or does it?

She read the book and tried most of the buttons and menu items, as described in the book, on the K100D. She asked a lot of questions about this and that, and requested changing some of the explanations to a more user friendly and not-so-technical way.

A few weeks ago, she went on a trip to Victoria, British Columbia, with eight of her life-long girl friends. They visited a botanical garden and Anne took a lot of photographs of flowers and of the Victoria area in general…with the K100D. (Oh, by the way, it is now her camera). It is only upon her return that I realized that my perception that what I was telling her was going in one of her hear and out the other was wrong. With photos like these, I know that she listened, read, learned a lot and quickly. I better watch out. I have competition.

As for the photos of her and her friends, well...that's materials for a whole new post, between friends.

Thank you for reading,

Yvon Bourque

Saturday, September 15, 2007

PentaxK10D & K100D Books

If you own a Pentax K10D or a Pentax K100D, K100D-Super, or K110D, please consider purchasing our books. Check us out. Only $19.95 Click on the images or the title above.
Thank you,
Yvon Bourque

APS-C versus Full-Frame. What's the deal?

Are you confused with the conversion factor of 1.4 to 1.6 (and probably other conversion factors I don't know about) applied to most lenses designed for the 35mm format but used on DSLR using an APS-C sized sensor? Well, maybe this will help. Using AutoCAD and PhotoShop, I was able to make the sketches herein.

All lenses designed for the 35mm film format project an image circle on the film plane of roughly 43mm in diameter, regardless of the focal length of the lens. I am showing a 300mm lens in the figures herein, but all lenses designed for the 35mm film format project the same size image circle on the 35mm film plane. A 35mm film frame measures 36mm x 24mm and therefore the image recorded is not round, but measures 36mm x 24mm. The portion of the round image outside the 35mm frame is wasted.
See figure above for an overlay of the image circle, the 36 x 24mm film or full frame , the APS-C sensor and a 4 x 5 inch film sheet. See figure below for the actual 35mm film full frame. It is full frame 35mm film format because it captures the rectangular image of 36 x 24mm within the image circle.

What seems to confuse a lot of people is the perception that a lens designed for a 35mm film format, used on a APS-C sensor, becomes 1.5 times more powerful. I have heard, as example, that a 300mm lens designed for 35mm film format becomes a 450mm on a DSLR with an APS-C sensor (as 300mm x 1.5 = 450mm). That would be magic. A 300mm lens is a 300mm lens is a 300mm lens. Got it? What changes, is that because the APS-C sensor is smaller than the full frame 35mm format, the image is cropped. It appears to be a longer telephoto, but it is not. The angle of view changes, because of the smaller size sensor of 23.5 x 15.7mm. It's no different that cropping an image in PhotoShop. See figure below for the APS-C crop.

Now, if you were to use a lens designed for a 35mm formal and use it on a 4 x 5 inch view camera, the image circle would not be big enough to cover the entire 4 x 5 frame. What you would get is a round image in the middle. See figure below.

Using a wide angle lens would have the same effect. As example, a 20mm lens designed for the 35mm film format would give a angle of view equivalent to a 30mm lens. Again, you are just cropping the image.

Owners of APS-C sized DSLRs claim that they get more telephoto for the money. Similarly, the owners of full frame DSLRs claim that they get more wide angle for the money. Nobody can win at that game, it all depends what you shoot more often. Wildlife and sport photographer will have an edge with longer telephoto, while keeping the same widest aperture, for a lot less money. On the other hand, Landscape and architectural photographers will benefit from the true wide angle of their lenses. If you take all kind of pictures, you decide what's more important to you.

The sensors have evolved a lot in the past ten years or so. Most cameras were using CCD sensors a while back. Now, with technology advances and production costs going down, CMOS sensors are being used more and more. The bigger the sensor, the less noise is introduced and the higher ISO settings can be used. At this time, CMOS full frame sensors seem to be the fashionable sensors because they produce less noise. What about all those lenses I bought for my Pentax K10D? If Pentax joins the current trend and use full frame sensors, all my DA lenses won't work with full frame. The image circle will be too small. I am confident that the evolution of sensors will be such that APS-C sensors will produce less and less noise. I can use my lens designed for the 35mm format on my APS-C sized sensor DSLR, but cannot use the DA lenses on full frame DSLRs. Beside, it costs less to manufacture APS-C lenses and we stand to gain from that.

Just my two cents worth.

Thank you for reading my post. Let me know what you think.

Yvon Bourque

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Be a green photographer.

In my quest of becoming a green photographer, I have been surfing the Internet for ideas, suggestions, actual items already on the market, etc. I do think that we should all do whatever we can to become more energy efficient and at the same time, reduce the amount of waste or pollutant we, individually, add to the problem. The politicians will debate the planet's future, without doing anything concrete to fix the problems, until it is too late. Sometimes, I think it is already too late. None-the-less, just look around you; there is a lot that we can do as photographers. From buying solar battery chargers, to charging your batteries in your car, with an adapter of course, while you drive to work. Print your proofs on 4” x 6” paper instead of 8” x 10”. Just print the final image on the size you actually need for framing or selling. Use the Internet to display and show your pictures to clients, instead of actual prints. At best, take photos that show the effects of pollution, global warming, wild life instinction, and show them to the world.

The September/October 2007 issue of American PHOTO is dedicated on how to become a greener photographer. This is a "must get" issue and it actually prompted me to suscribe to their on-line magazine. I don't get paid to advertise their magazine. I just think it was a very appropriate issue. We need more of that king of writing. They offer a free e-book copy for evaluation. I do recommend that you log on their site. Another great source I found is the OK1000 Pentax Blog administered by Michael Gaudet in New York City.
Read his take on Green Photography.
National Geographic is always a good resource for what we can do for our mother earth.
This blog would be a good place to post what you are doing to become a green photographer. Give all of us some ideas. We need to save this planet for our grand children. Go ahead, we are all awaiting your comments and suggestions.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Snow in California on September 6th, 2007

Just kidding of course. It's been so hot, here in California for the past two weeks, that I wished for snow.The thermometer has been registering above 100 Degree Fahrenheit almost everyday. There isn't really anything that we can do about it. I haven't written much lately because I've been burning the midnight oil for the last two weeks, trying to finish my Pentax K100D book. So...I thought that a few refreshing winter scenes would help cooling off.