Thursday, May 31, 2012

HS25 Review – Part 16 – Late night walk in the neighborhood …

So it’s fairly late in the evening and the sun has just set or is just about to. You decide on a nice walk for half an hour and you grab your HS25 for the wander. It’s the time of year when many flowers are at or near their peak, so it is a good time to see what the neighbors have been up to.

Before I left on the walk, I started in my own back yard. The Hansa Rose bush is now covered in blooms. Looks terrific. Here’s a reasonably nice one, straight from the camera except for resizing.

Note: the majority of these images are straight from the camera, except wher I note that the image is processed. All are shot in EXR DR mode. I shot the first third of the image at auto ISO 400, but as the light waned I was forced to shoot auto ISO 1600. Meter was set to averaging the entire time.

fuji hs25  400iso  f/5  1/80

Here is the same image as I usually prefer to render it.

Yes, the difference is subtle. But subtle differences matter.

Another bloom with the stamens showing.


fuji hs25  400iso  f/5  1/150  -2/3ev

Although it is not a sunny or contrasty light, I prefer to drop exposure a bit to protect pinks and reds, which are really hard to capture without blowing them out.

The whole bush as Fuji would render it and then as I would render it. No EXIF, it is embedded if you want to see it.

A robin lands right in front of me on the fence, and then walks towards me. I actually have to zoom out to get the whole thing in. Ho cocks his head at me as the camera is beeping (I am furiously trying to turn off macro mode.)

Again, Fuji’s and then mine. I correct white balance by clicking the dropper on the fence.

For those who don’t like to process, perhaps working with custom white balance will suffice. But I would seriously consider getting Lightroom 4, which is half the price that Lightroom 3 used to be.

As I was about to leave the yard, I noted that the moon was up and looked really nice in the late evening blue sky.

That’s hand held of course. I tried exacting more detail and the sky turned to sandpaper, so I went with black and white and much prefer this rendering, even though it is nothing like the original scene.

For those wondering how clean the moon came out at around 100%, the answer is not very.

There is quite a bit of coarse detail, but the smearing is brutal. And this is 100ISO! Perhaps there was slight movement because it was hand held. Anyway, I have better output from this cam on the tripod.

So … off I went for a walk. I still had the camera set to auto ISO 400, so I got some blurry shots. Since this is an experience report, you get to see evrything.

This shot is blurred, but the camera did a nice job with the white balance. Still a bit cool, but nice overall. Note that I am shooting for capture quality, which means that these are all low contrast. I also have DR400 set up in EXR DR mode.

Fuji hs25  400iso  f/5.6  1/50  -2/3ev  687mm EFL (too long for the shutter speed)

The next shot are Lupins. Gorgeous. And I got lucky on the stabilization.

Fuji hs25  400iso  f/5  1/50  -2/3ev

Lucky again with these Poppies.

fuji hs25  400iso  f/5  1/30(!)  -2/3ev

A neighbor decided that the Lilac had to go. Bummer. I like Lilacs.

Note the leaning garage. I pointed the lens down to capture the scene, and that makes anything straight up and down lean outward.

Nice looking fluted flowers. Can’t remember the name, but they remind me of Morning Glories, which bloom much later on.

Generally, the color is coming out pretty well from the Fuji. Sometimes the cool white balance is too obvious, but other times it looks fine to me. YMMV of course.

This neighbor has an incredible set of Hostas out front. I processed this one for sure.

There must have been 6 or 8 take-offs during my walk. Here’s one just climbing over head … heavy crop shows the grain.

Got another sharp one. Some Iris at full zoom. No idea how I got it sharp at 1/60 …

A bit more muted than I like, which is the fault of the white balance I think.

Next door we see more Lupins. Almost fully bloomed. Great background provided by their porch.

I don’t recommend shooting 400ISO in the dark, but I did get quite a few keepers. But it gets harder as time goes on, as the sun is definitely gone by now.

Right next to the gorgeous Lupins we see the bent ones and I got blur again. Can’t complain at these shutter speeds (1/25 in this case.


The Alliums (yes, of the onion family) next to them came out all right, but there is still a bit of blur if you look for it.

Another shot of Irises, and another ruined shot. 1/25s is too slow and I still have not quite figured out what is happening. Duh …

These Cosmos are almost sharp, but alas, not quite. The bull’s eye composition would normally have been fixed with a crop, but I am posting what I shot. In this low light, I am finding it a chore to compose images at full zoom. This is something I have noticed about the HS25 … not really a tough light camera. Everything seems a bit more difficult.

And finally, I notice the ISO is too low., The Peonies are gorgeous and I really want this shot. The two before this one were horrid. This one is still blurred, despite being shot at 1600 ISO.


Because it is dark, the speed still only came out to 1/70. So still pretty slow for full zoom.

But here I get a very crisp image of these Irises. The shutter is fast enough at 1/220.

These Clematis look great. But I don’t like the cool tint, so I process them myself again.

Now this one had no excuse to be blurred at 1/250s … but statistically it is still going to happen. I should have shot it 3 times to be certain.

And yes, that one was processed. This is what Fuji did …

A cropped shot of a rabbit at full zoom and 1/70s. Not very sharp, not very clean, but hey … it’s a wascally wabbit.

I went to wide angle and got a nice shot of a Peony down the road from the rabbit. At wide angle, you really have to watch your backgrounds. This worked well.

Then I back off a bit and shoot with more zoom and macro mode set. There is much less to worry about in the background with this narrow angle of view.

And once more … a wide shot of an Iris, then a tele shot in macro mode.

Again, the background makes a huge difference.

A while later, I notice this way cool flowering bush between two houses. I think I want one of these. Anyone know what it is? By the way, this one is processed.

Iris is a popular flower around these parts.

Second bunny in 10 minutes. Cool.

I had to reset white balance to show how pretty these Iris were. Wow …

1/90 was just to slow for the closeup. Again … had I shot it three times … maybe.

Last image … just before I turned the corner for home. This house is just gorgeous … the huge Maple in the front yard with the Ivy on the brick and the lovely stone driveway. Very nice …


So is it fun to carry the HS25 in fading light? Well, mostly. I enjoyed carrying it. It is light and unobtrusive. But it has hesitations on the AF and the LCD / EVF freezes while that is going on. The EVF and LCD do not really show you what you are getting, although the LCD is far better than the EVF, which is a bit of a joke as a viewing device.

But I still find myself framing with the EVF because long zoom needs stability and the third point of pressure on the camera (eye socket) makes a lot of difference.

The noise and grain is ok, but not spectacular. At these sizes, full shots look fine at 1600ISO. But cropping is not going to make you happy.

One of these days I need to bring the D7000 out in this light. I expect a slaughter.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

I’m meeeellllltttttiiiiinnnnnggggggg ……

It’s very warm and very humid in the eastern part of Ontario today. I’ve been working in this all day:

I’m not all that thrilled with 83F and 63% humidity. The humidity went up quite a bit later, as it poured …. see previous article.

Anyway … I signed the papers for my brand new furnace and AC from Carrier. A very good unit – the Infinity -- I am told by my friend Mike. 96.6% efficient with a DC motor that sips electricity and the whole package is silent inside and quiet outside. This I know from visiting him in Mississauga and not hearing a thing all weekend, yet the house was cool and comfortable.

I can’t wait … should be here next week.

It’s 2012 and we have Green Pool Syndrome all over again …

Will it ever stop? Apparently not. I get to start each year now with the chore of clarifying the pool …

It was pouring rain today, so no opening the pool this evening. Here is a shot of the rain filling my pool for me (with a great many thanks to the man in the sky.)

fuji hs25  100iso  f/3.2  1/280 (average metering)

And here’s the window I was shooting through …

fuji hs25  100iso  f/3.2  1/350  (average metering)

Average metering seems fairly steady after using the more finicky Matrix meter for several weeks. Of course, this was a scene of pure midtones and thus trivial to meter.

Anyway … rain, rain go away … and don’t bother coming back …. except at night …. mid week … try to be convenient please.

Bulldozer …. Zambesi … a chip by any other name would run as sweetly …

With my deepest apologies to William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

Anyway … just thought I would show you what the AMD 8150 8-Core running at 4.4ghz with 16GB of PC1600 RAM looks like when playing music in iTunes, running a Linux virtual machine with ClearCase and modeling tools, and a remote desktop to my work laptop …


Yeah …. now that’s what I’m talkin’ about … with my deepest apologies to more than a few movies …

HS25 – Random images and a bombing run …

The secretive SH drone flies at great heights. Choosing targets at random for its payload, it is able to drop them several times a day.

fuji hs25  125iso  f/5  1/240  -1ev

Kind of like being hit with a paint ball, only gross.

Note that the interplay of shadow and sun was problematic, seeing as how it crossed the bomb’s crater area. I dropped compensation to –1, which helped a lot. Pulled up the shadows in Lightroom 4.

SH stands for shit-hawk, by the way. This, to my knowledge, is an affectionate name given to the gulls that follow ships around, dining on their scraps.

The rather large Hansa Rose (a native North American rose species) in my back yard is starting to bloom fairly well. This is a somewhat prolific rose and can bloom a good part of the summer.

fuji hs25  100iso  f/5  1/300  -1ev

I happened to be in the front yard and heard this racket from down the street. This young fellow is cleaning up a mess on the pavement in front of a couple of houses that are getting new interlock put in. Cool ….

fuji hs25  100iso  f/8  1/400  -1ev

Monday, May 28, 2012

Blessed, blessed silence … and smokin’ performance!

Remember that article I wrote a few days ago discussing the opening of Pandora’s box?

Well … I rammed Pandora’s box closed today with great finality.

The noise had gotten just awful … the mouse was veritably howling as I moved it, the disks made a horrid racket, and the GPU didn’t know whether to sh…. never mind, old saying from the 70s.

So … the solution.

Yes, the HX850 Professional Series power supply from Corsair has made my computer run silently.

Oh ….

My ….


It’s fantastic …

Seriously, if you have weird sounds coming from you computer, including the mouse setting up a strange screech as you move it, then you need to size your power supply properly and get a good one. This one is certified 80 Plus Silver, which is very efficient as well. It’s just a thing of beauty.

Update: And I was able to overclock it to around 4.5ghz! With Northbridge and HT Link at 2400mhz. I turned off turbo mode of course since I am already well above that on 8 cores.


My best experience index ever. Some day I may feel like cranking up the OC a bit to see if I can get a perfect score, but for now this machine performs like a champ and seems perfectly stable so far.

I tested a render operation on the new settings. Wow. The stock chip renders my latest 9:20 video in about 3:20 … the new settings in 2:50. On a long video that is a non-trivial improvement. Very cool.

Update 2: My mouse froze this morning, so I only got 12 hours of stability on those settings. I backed the multiplier for the CPU off from 19x to 18.5x, which dropped the speed to 4400mhz from 4500mhz … we’ll see how that fares. So far so good. Still fast as hell :-)

Light Your Subject with Flash, but Without UGLY Flash Shadows

I stumbled into this article after reading a discussion between Nightwings and Graystar on one of the Nikon forums at I’d seen similar information before, at, a great site for wedding photography with bounced flash. To say that he is good is to understate the matter considerably.

Anyway, I was trying to confirm the results of the discussion, which were that a Nikon flash on a Nikon dSLR generally will expose perfectly because it has access to distance information, but can be fooled into exposing less perfectly in matrix metering mode when the background is very light or very dark. I.e. the meter gets fooled because distance information can no longer control the subject. And while shooting, I started bouncing the flash around the room and thought it might make for an interesting comparison.

Which I think it does.

So here is the setup … a subject standing a few feet in front of a wall. If you shoot the flash directly, there will be shadows. Most people consider shadows from direct flash an abomination. I am one of them. So most people start bouncing the flash. But all is not quite roses, since some bounced modes and some diffusers throw forward light. This can leave shadows in play anyway.

So … following are 6 images with annotation. Hopefully, you might find them enlightening.

Direct Built-In Flash

The D7000 has a decent built-in flash and it makes perfect exposures in TTL mode. But it also create wickedly ugly shadows straight down from the subject. With people, you might get lucky in landscape orientation, but portrait orientation is an absolute nightmare.

This was shot in landscape orientation, as were all of these. There are shadows everywhere and they are very well defined. The closer the subject is to the background, the worse the problem gets.

All of these shots include no ambient light as the shutter speed is 1/250s and the aperture f/4.5 in a dark room with only one light 15 feet away.

direct off-board SB-600 with diffuser

Here, I hold the SB600 pointed straight at the binoculars. The flash is at left of camera and slightly below.

You can see that the shadows are more distant from the subject, since the flash was shot from an angle instead of straight on. There is certainly a better feel for the dimensions of the subject and a more diffused shadow edge, this being the result of diffusion.

Bounced off of ceiling straight up

I then simply tilted the flash upwards to bounce from the ceiling. The diffuser is still on, though, and therefore a great deal of diffused light went forward.

The light is better diffused as the light that bounced from the ceiling can reduce the effect of the shadows somewhat. Highlights inside the lens barrel have been reduced, as has the direct light on the tripod center column. This is much better light overall, but the effect of the flash shadows still causes issues.

I almost prefer the previous image, though, as the shadows are far away from the subject, but there are real issues with firing a light upwards at a face. You get really nasty shadows from any protruding bump – nose, lips, eyebrows, a zit … all of it causes issue.

Bounced off of ceiling straight up – No diffuser

Once the diffuser is removed, bouncing no longer throws light forward. This really changes the game. A really nice, soft light comes from above, much like the light on an overcast day – i.e. a large surface of diffuse light that creates very soft shadows.

How do you like them apples?

There is enough light bouncing around the room to really define the curved surfaces, so I declare this the best by far.

From here, we’ll experiment with bouncing from different surfaces. These last two also have no diffuser. All the light on the subject has bounced.

bounced off of wall at left

Now this one is interesting. The direction of the light has again eliminated all shadows. But now we see light hitting surfaces that are not facing us, giving considerable definition to the subject’s different planes. To us, the left side of the subject is bathed in light and really helps define it. I think this is actually better than the one bounced from above.

bounced off of wall-ceiling behind camera

Here, I simply raised the flash over my shoulder and hit the wall and ceiling behind me. This bounced the light across the ceiling, which eventually found its way to the subject.

I think the main difference from the ceiling bounce is the improvement in the surfaces facing the ceiling / wall join behind me. This adds somewhat to the subtle dimensionality in my eyes. I prefer this one over the ceiling bounce by a little bit.


The message to take from this is that you really want to try to bounce your flash when you have the option. A diffuser on a flash is way better than no diffuser on a flash, but when you are bouncing the diffuser adds an unwelcome direct component, so you are generally better off without the diffuser.

Try this out … the flash does not have to be off-board by the way. It works just as well in the shoe. Possibly slightly better, as distance info can be factored in.