I didn't photograph the kid's play, JUNGALBOOK, in black and white but when I started messing around with B&W conversions I just couldn't stop.

I photographed a play on Saturday. The scenery and costumes were very colorful and the play itself was tremendous fun. Even for 63 year olds. I photographed it mostly with two cameras; one equipped with a prime, 56mm 1.2 lens and the other fitted with a 16-55mm f2.8 zoom lens.  After I did my post production on the 1,000+ files and sent along a huge gallery of brilliant color images I waded back into the ocean of files and started pulling out some of my favorites with the intention of tweaking them a bit further and sending them over to the marketing team as "Kirk's selects." 

I pulled the first image into SnapSeed and played around for a bit. I liked my color tweaks just fine but then I hit the black and white menu and I had too much fun. There's a film look in the program but it's way, way too contrasty for any imaginable human use. But it does have a brightness slider, a contrast slider (of which I made considerable and successful use) and a grain slider. Rendering your images into edgy black and whites is both edgy and filled with a nostalgic memory of how at least 90% of our jobs were done when I first started out.

Here's my very limited set of black and white variations from the play, JUNGALBOOK, at ZachTheatre.org. If you want to see the difference between the black and white versions and the original color ones I've set up a small gallery on Smugmug.com: https://kirktuck.smugmug.com/A-group-of-selects-and-variations-for-Jungal-Book-at/n-52n6ZL/

Go take a peek and see the difference.

Cameras: Fujifilm X-H1.

My "First Blush" pre-review of the Pentax 100mm f2.8 WR Macro lens.

I wanted a portrait length lens for the Pentax K-1 I purchased last month. I couldn't find a Pentax FA (full frame) 85mm-105mm, fast, autofocus lens in the catalog so I punted and bought a "used, like new" copy of their 100mm f2.8 WR Macro lens (current product). The new price seems to be locked around $550 but Pixel Connection (via Amazon) had a pristine used one for $349. It arrived on Thursday afternoon and it was incredibly well packed, right down to the original box and the Pentax branded lens pouch. It's an interesting looking lens with a slightly tapered metal tube and a front element group that progressively protrudes as one focuses closer and closer. 

I had other stuff to do over the weekend and most of it (Zach kid's play) was done with Fuji cameras and lenses, but today I had the opportunity to take a long walk through downtown and to shoot with the 100mm Macro on the K-1 body. Here are my observations:

1. The AF was fast and stable, locking in quickly and nailing focus each time. I used the 9 group, S-AF for everything. I like it though I'd use the single AF point if I was shooting speakers on a stage or an actor on stage. I'm not a C-AF guy and probably use the C-AF function in my various cameras once or twice a year; if that. 

The 100mm is small and light and doesn't call attention to itself. There is a focusing scale visible through a window at the front end of the lens and buy using the lens scale you could do a focus pull in video, if you were so inclined. When you focus close up or in macro the inner tube of the lens sticks out and looks a bit funny. It feels solid enough and the images are nicely sharp throughout the range. The high praise I can give to the lens early on is that it's one of the most use-transparent lenses I've photographed with. It does its job and stays under the radar not calling attention to itself either in the operation or to people who might find themselves on the other side of the camera. 

I really like the 100mm focal length on a 36mm wide frame. It's tight enough to isolate main subjects but an easy enough lens to design and make that getting sharp images is almost assured; across brands. I've owned 100-105mm macro lenses from Canon, Nikon, Sigma, Tamron, and Rokinon and all have been commendably sharp. The biggest complaint, almost across the board is that all of these lenses tend to hunt. At least we imagine they are hunting but what is really happening is that we're asking the system to make extremely accurate distance assessments while using one of possibly the worst support systems available: the human body. I find that when macro lenses are anchored to tripods and the AF squares in the camera are overlaid onto subject matter with hard edges there is really very little "hunting." We are trying to gauge the focusing success of a camera and lens trying for about 10x the precision required for images taken at 2 meters and beyond when we get into the close up range. If "hunting" is aggravating please remember that manual focusing was good enough for generations of photographers and, with a little practice, can be a workable solution for us as well. 

To paraphrase an early twentieth century, Texas governor: "If manual focusing was good enough for Jesus Christ it should be good enough for us!" (She was talking then about the English language....if you don't get the point then please cancel your VSL RSS!). 

I'm very happy with my purchase and even happier with the combination of the Pentax K-1 coupled to the 100mm lens. It's a great combination. I can hardly wait to try it out on some static landscapes or products, in conjunction with the multi-shot feature in the camera. Might be some amazing resolution. 

Of course, it's early days with the lens (and the camera too, for that matter) but the first test seems promising. 

On another note, I started out shooting today with the camera set for 1:1 crop. It made beautiful squares and I could definitely use the crop feature but it's going to take a lot of getting used to if I'm going to use a primitive optical finder to do it. I think I'll save the 1:1 and the multi-shot stuff for those times when I can use the camera on a tripod and also use the live view function. That, and a dark cloth over my head so I can see the images exactly as they should be. 

I quickly got frustrated with seeing the entire frame, riven by a box in the center and switched the ratio back to 3:2. We'll continue to test the limits of my patience with backwards change at another time. 

These are buildings. Sorry. I meant to shoot super models at the beach tossing a Frisbee with their pack of golden retrievers but everyone was taking Labor Day off. We'll round them up for the next free lens test. Count on it. 

OMG!!!!! Not a building.

One last note: I like shooting Raw better than shooting Jpegs with the K-1. In post processing the colors are initially much closer to what I saw with the DNG files versus any of the Jpeg profiles. I guess some cameras are meant to be used with raw formats while others do very well with Jpegs.
Looking at you, Fuji. King of the Jpegs.