WAA. WAA. LEDs can't be good until they are over 90 CRI. Oh yeah? We've got that right now.

I know, I know.  You tried a tiny little battery powered LED panel a few years ago and it didn't put out enough light and the light it did put out needed to be color corrected.  That means they'll never, ever change and you'll never have to consider LED lights ever again. Ever.  Cause nothing ever changes.

Sadly, reality is about to intrude into your lighting world view.  I was researching new products from notable manufacturers and I've found that there are a number of new LED lights that are just now hitting the market and they've all crested the 91+ CRI threshold.  That means they are getting close to pure daylight rendering in imaging applications.  One of the companies I watch is Lowel.  They've been making lights for still photographers, movie makers and videographers for decades.  Their founder, Ross Lowel,  wrote a great book on lighting called, Matters of Light and Depth, which I've read through so often the pages are raw. (He was a cinema lighting pro).

Lowell jumped into the LED market with a small panel that blended lights between tungsten and daylight just a couple of years ago.  It's called a Lowel Blender.  It's a small light that mainly used camera mounted by electronic news gathering, ENG (read: video) guys but also, increasingly, by cinematographers.  It's metal, tough as nails and bright for the size.  Turn a dial to go from 3200K to Daylight, or anywhere in between.

The engineers at Lowel bided their time until the LED bulb makers started supplying the markets with higher accuracy bulbs.  Their new Prime(tm) line are all rated at 91 CRI (Color Rendering Index) which is a gold standard for professionals in a number of imaging fields.  Here's the webpage for their Prime(tm) panels: http://www.lowel.com/prime/

In one fell swoop the folks at Lowel have vacated the one niggling problem with the previous generation of under $2,000 panels, the tendency to have color spikes or a color cast that photographers needed to correct for best results.  The lights are available as either tungsten fixtures of daylight fixtures and feature a 50 degree light spread angle.  The chassis are all metal and have a functional yoke system for adjusting them around one axis.

The lights are available as 200 bulb fixtures or 400 bulb fixtures.

The interesting thing to me is how the improvements came about. I don't mean the engineering but the marketing that drove the engineering.  We creative people think that we drive the industries that we buy from but apparently nothing could be further from the truth.  When I spoke to a product manager at Lowel I guessed that movie and video professionals demanded better performance and that led to the development of more color correct LEDs.  The real story comes  from the retail sector.  Apparently major retailers found out that higher CRI lights made products look much, much better than the typical mixed store lighting.  They're the ones who started demanding better and better color performance.  It started in the higher end retailers and it's relentlessly trickling down into the mainstream, big box stores.  It's all about retail sales.

Humans like to see colors clearly and cleanly and marketing tests showed increased wallet response from consumers under improved light sources.  We benefit from the big store's massive retail buying power. But Lowel isn't the only manufacturer who will incorporate the new technology.  I'm sure that current bulbs with lower CRIs will be phased out as economies of scale come into play and the new bulbs will become an industry standard.  Give the science guys five more years and every LED will approach 100 CRI.  Except my own custom LEDs.  They're 110 CRI. (just kidding, the scale only goes to 100).

You can find out more about LED lights and applying LED lighting to still photography, here:  The Ultimate LED book for photographers. 

Need to know more about lights and lighting equipment in general?  You could do worse than to pick up a copy of the Lighting Equipment Book......

To see a wide range of LED product that's pounding and stomping into the general photo market check out B&H's website (no affiliation).  Try here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/LED-Light-Sources/ci/12248/N/4294551085  Warning, there are many, many pages of LED light/candy to look at...

Street Shooting at Cinco de Mayo. Photographer as anthropologist.

I'm still breaking in the Sony cameras so I walked through the thong with the camera set to face detection, zoned autofocus, single shot mode.  I put the camera in the "A" mode and worked with the Sony 35mm 1.8 DT lens, set to f3.5.  I would see something interesting and bring the camera up to my eye and shoot.  I took the strap off the camera.

Go see my post about EVFs over at The Online Photographer. Please.


It's a fairly long article about why I use EVFs and why I think they will be the future of camera designs going forward.  You might as well get to know them.....

 But you've got to have the "skull and cross bones" strap.  That makes it all official.

Great Piece about Art on A Photo Editor Today.

I'm posting this because it's interesting and germaine to our recent discussions about art.  Ooops.  ART.


Have a read and see what you think...

Post coffee world.

Sony a77.  35mm 1.8 DT lens.  ISO 50.

Did your parents have a Chevy when you were growing up?

I'm pretty sure that most of my European and Asian readers did not.  But in Texas the various full sized Chevrolet sedans, like the Impala, the Belair and the Biscayne were all over the place.  We had a brown, four door Biscayne that eventually became the car my older brother and I were allowed to drive in high school.  After my junior year in high school I worked a Summer job so I could buy my own car.  It was a normal thing for boys to do in Texas in the early 1970's.  I made just enough money to buy a 1965 Buick Wildcat with an enormous V8 engine and an equally big set of bench seats.  If you were my height you could comfortably sleep in the backseat.  And on the occasions, when vast numbers of my fellow high school students flocked to the Texas Gulf Coast for vacations and long weekends I often did, choosing to spend what would have been "motel money" for food and fireworks.  I fondly remember the bottle rocket battles on the beach.  Always fun...until (according to someone's mom) someone gets their eyeball shot out.

We'd finish school on Friday afternoon, skip swim practice, fill up our tanks with thirty-two cents per gallon premium gas, try to cadge $20 of spending money from our indulgent parents and then head south with a pair of surf shorts and a couple of T-shirts.  We brought our flip-flops so we could go into the Whataburger restaurant in Port Aransas.  We'd live on burgers and Cokes.  Some of the kids would live on beer.

After spending the weekend slathering our half naked bodies (and the bodies of our wonderful girlfriends) with Johnson and Johnson baby oil---to promote tanning, and eating trash, and trying to look cool and getting stung by little jelly fish we'd wait until the last ray of sun bounced off the water and then get back in our cars and head back to San Antonio Sunday night.  We'd be cranking the Moody Blues or Jethro Tull or Led Zeppelin on our cassette players and drive 80 miles per hour with the window all down so we could feel the warm, salt air wrap all sticky around us.  We were American kids from comfortable families. It seemed like it would be this way forever....

Those are the memories that flooded into my brain when I walked into a Cinco de Mayo festival on 2nd Street yesterday and came face to face with a beautifully restored Chevy Impala.  One look at the tail lights and I was humming the Beach Boys, Good Vibrations, all over again.

I saved a telling memory of my high school vacation history in one snap of the shutter.  I'll print this one and put it next to my desk to remind me that there's always something more fun to do than work.

Tech notes: Sony a77 camera.  ISO 50.  Big and Meaty Jpeg setting. Hasselblad 80mm Zeiss Planar lens at f4 with the Fotodiox adapter.  Post processed in SnapSeed for a bit more "structure."

"Catch a wave and you're sitting on top of the world."

Austin Texas Portrait Photographer.

My camera likes to shoot bright colors. And optimistic visual propaganda..

I like the juxtaposition of the wide shot of the alley way with the building in the background in the top shot and the close up arrangement of flowers and beads in the bottom shot.  I wasn't away of the vertical blue in each shot until I edited the images later.

These were taken within minutes of each other downtown at the Pecan Street Festival this afternoon.  In each case I used a Sony a77 camera, liberally "pre-chimping" and using the same 35mm 1.8 Sony DT lens.  Nothing was planned.  It's all happenstance.