I was working in the studio today but every time I started to make progress on something my calendar program would chime in and remind me of something I needed to be doing somewhere else. I'd promised a friend that I would speak to his kid about what to expect of a career in the arts. The kid is in college and is focusing on what she wants to do in the real world. After our Starbucks consultation I headed over to meet my friend, Will, for lunch. Instead of heading off to yet another restaurant he invited me to his house and served an incredible clam chowder, some wonderful stinky cheese on freshly toasted sourdough bread, and a nice glass of chardonnay.
Over lunch I was reminded of how nice it is to have friends who are both great cooks and also much smarter than me. Will shared some of his newest assignment photographs with me and gently chided me for making the statement that 'photography has gotten too easy.' He is already a master of the art and he was quick to point out that there is always so much more to learn.
I was back in front of the computer screen a little while later when I got a call from Eric, a DP and motion picture camera operator I have known for nearly thirty years. He wanted to return a camera I'd lent him and it was a good excuse for me to procrastinate. To use an old saw, Eric has forgotten more about motion pictures, video and film cameras and TV commercial production than I'll ever know. We discussed all the stuff I generally only get to read about on the web. Things like shooting anamorphic with various sensor aspect ratios. The search of the perfect video production lens. The attributes of various codecs. Fast lighting for reality TV. The way projects seem to come together and, of course, how to present one's self to an ever younger crowd of clients. (Tip: Never talk about how we used to do this in the past...).
I tend to think and live in my own little world as a photographer and it was great to share notes with someone who spends his life enmeshed in a different but related field; one with shared clients and similar work situations. We both have clients half our ages and we both have brain acres of detailed information about how we used to do the work that are no longer needed or valued in day to day production. But we've both figured out how to make accommodations and to move forward with projects and passions.
So it wasn't until four in the afternoon when I got back into the studio and started working on making a photograph. I wanted to work with the Pentax K-01 in order to see how well the sensor works with darker tonalities. How it manages the left hand side of the histogramic universe. So I put the K-01 on a tripod and popped a big Loupe/Hood on the back so I could make the highest and best use of the LCD screen on the back. I equipped the test camera with an 18-55mm DA II lens, stopped down to f8 and got to work on the lighting.
I used the Fiilex P360 LED light on the gray background and lit the subject of the exercise with several big florescent fixtures modified by two overlapping 4x4 foot Chimera panels covered with one stop white diffusion screens.
Just to make sure I was practicing safe shutter actuation I put the drive mode of the K-01 into the self-timer mode. I know that my choice was a little eccentric but I chose the 2 second delay instead of the 10 second delay.... Just to be macho and techno I made sure to shoot raw.
After I shot a few frames of the static subject I stopped and made a really close evaluation of the image on the rear screen of the K-01. I decided that I needed some subtle fill on the front of the lens and, indeed, the front of the entire still life subject so I grabbed an 8x10 gray card and held it just out of the frame on the opposite side from the main lights. I think it does the job well. Not too much but not too little...
My take? The sensor in the K-01 does a really great job of handling shadow transitions with no apparent banding and very little noise in the dark areas. It's really a very good performance!