A quick look back at my favorite digital camera of all time and a magic lens.

This image was done for the Austin Lyric Opera. It was done in the early days of digital imaging. I shot it with a Kodak DCS 760 camera and a wonderfully eccentric lens, the Nikon 105mm f2.0 DC lens. The DC stands for "defocus coupling". All I know is that the lens had a sharp center core and the ability to shift the out of focus areas behind or in front of the main subject.

While the image looks like we just found amazingly nice available light it is actually lit. I used my favorite big scrim for the model with a 1,000 watt tungsten light as a source and a direct tungsten spot light on the back wall some 50 feet behind her.  I love the way we were able to frame her head in the little pool of background light. I like the lighting in here more every time I see the image and that amazes me since I liked it a lot when we shot it. Learning more stuff isn't always better....

Swimming pool re-visited.

Photographed for an article on water features for Tribeza Magazine 

I keep thinking about this image for some reason. I think it's because I am a sucker for diagonal lines, triangular shapes and the interplay of the opposite colors in the closest part of the pool. It's an image that's all about patience and planning. I needed to pre-visualize the effect I wanted, get there in time to figure out the composition and then sit back and wait for the pool light and the twilight to balance. 

Negative edge pools are neato. 

Just for the record, I am currently having much fun playing with fluorescent lights.

Late last year I explored what was available in the realm of fluorescent light fixtures for still and video production and I bought four fixtures from Fotodiox. The biggest one has six double tubes, the two next biggest ones have four double tubes and the smallest one has two double tubes. All but the smallest have switches that allow you to turn off one or even two banks of tubes for more control.

The bodies of the lights are made of heavy metal and they have metal barn doors that close over the tubes to protect them during travel. I have used them now on six different commercial video projects and dozens of still photography shoots and have had no issues with them at all. I like the quality of light and the color is easy to manage by either shooting raw files or by doing a custom white balance before shooting.

Here is an image of one of the "middle-way" banks:

Unlike portable flashes these lights are heavy and need to be on stout stands. It might also be a good idea to toss a sandbag or two on those stands as well. You'll also need electrical power. But not the amount you'd need to make a nice tungsten soft light....

I've seen people use them "bare", with no diffusers or modifiers but I prefer mine to be pushed through a nice diffusion silk. A "one stop" silk is just right. Used with diffusion these already large light sources become lush with softness. The Dulux bulbs are powered by electronic ballasts that are supposed to be flicker free. At the price point I'd take that with a grain of salt and test them before you do any high shutter speed work or high fps videotaping for eventually slow motion effects. All I can say is that I've never seen any flicker or banding in my use.

The one caveat I'll toss out is that no big assortment of tubes like this is going to travel well. I limit my travel with long tube fluorescent lights to cars only, no airlines, no shipping services. If you are looking for a little change in your still life, portrait or video work these might just move the creative needle a bit. They are cheap enough to try out.

Checking off the days on the calendar. Ben is off to college on the 30th. My team of mental health care practitioners should be here on the 31st.

Just to confuse all the camera pixel peeking activities, this is one of my favorite images of Ben. He's just out of the pool having raced in a swim meet.  The eccentric camera of choice I was using at the time was the Kodak DCS 760. All 6 megapixels of it. It had an APS-H (1.3x crop factor) CCD sensor from Kodak. It had a removable AA filter but I used it without. Since the lens mount was Nikon I was using a Nikon 50mm f1:1.2 lens stopped down just slightly. I can't remember the exposure settings but the ISO was either 80 or 100 as we didn't dare go much above that for fear of noisy files.

We have a very large print of this and it is sharp, noise free and fabulous, which again makes me question the need for more and more little, tiny, skinny pixels when big, plump, fat ones do so well.

We talk about the "why?" of photography from time to time but nothing brings home the value of preserved memories to an individual's life like someone you love moving away...

For Readers of "The Lisbon Portfolio." Henry White sent along one of the shots described in the novel...

© 1999 Henry White & Kirk Tuck

From a trade show many years ago in Lisbon, Portugal. Image taken with a Leica M4 and a 50mm Summicron lens. It was a week and a half of indecision. Sometimes I wanted color and some times I wanted black and white and I tried only to take one camera along with me on my walks so I was constantly trying to decide which way to go. I  thought I never really got it right but to be perfectly honest I've never been the best judge of what works in which medium. Somehow, ten or fifteen years later is seems that no matter which decision I made in the past it was the right one. 

The funny thing about photography is that it's all about forks in the road. Do I go left or right? Are those the only choices? Can I go foreword or backward? Can I stand right here and see what happens next? Our decisions are always less about what camera or film to use and more about which path to take on our walks. Which path determines everything. And ultimately it doesn't matter which path you take because there's something to see everywhere......