Thursday, December 30, 2010

Kodachrome is well and truly over now
I sometimes wonder if this would have gotten as much attention as it did if Paul Simon had not had his hit "Kodachrome" in the early 1970s. OK, granted, it had a unique look and yes, it was just about the first colour film available to the masses in the western world. But honestly, by the mid 1970s there were a lot of other films in the E-6 process available. I've always prefered the look of Fuji slide film over the somewhat alien look of the Kodachrome K-14 process.

But, let's honor this film with what I think is the best pic ever shot on it:
Steve McCurry's shot of an Afghan girl.

Black and White as a sign of weakness

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Sometimes it feels that way. This was shot under a heating lamp with a tremendous red/orange colour cast, so much that it dominated the whole scene. Even with the channel mixer and adjusting the white balance I just could get something nice.

So... in the end I gave up and converted to B&W

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

my buns

my buns
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
200 grams of wholemeal flour, 200 grams of plain flower
2 tea spoons salt, 15 grams of yeast, 1 teaspoon of honey.

Sieve the flower in a bowl, add yeast, salt and honey. Add about a 100ml of lukewarm water and start kneading. Add water as needed. It's done and ready for proving if you can pull it out quite a way without it tearing.
Prove for 60 minutes in a bowl, bash and divide into buns, dust with some flour, prove for another 60 minutes. Bake in a 200 degree oven. Turn oven down to 180 after 10 minutes.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

unexpected bonus

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I was shooting a very lively nuthatch when I noticed this little fellow at not even 4 meters. Slowly moved the lens and got him just like that.

Slight crop, bit of exposure correction and that's all.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Yes, 17th of December we had about 15 centimeters of snow in a day.
I went out around lunchtime to do some shooting. It was snowing so hard this quickly became a major challenge.


Near the end of my walk I found this family of swans. Yes, lousy angle but I was cold and could not see a way to get to eye level and don't fall into the water. I was attracted to the way these birds where slowly getting snowed in.


Of course this got us the usual traffic chaos again. Taken at 1430 on a friday afternoon, a time where's theres 2, maybe three traffic jams due to accidents.

All in all I like winter, even though it took me an extra hour to get home.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Lost the bad bird pic mojo

caught in the act
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
After the disastrous shots from this weekend I think I've shaken off the bad bird pic mojo.

A few of the ladies at the office decided they wanted to have something to look at from their window so they got some bird feed and hung it in a tree. Took a few days but now the blue tits and great tits have discovered it.
This time of the year these little fellows are quite tame, especially if you bribe them with food.
Shot with the new sigma, cleaned up with dfine because it was shot at iso 1600. Added a bit of local color with viveza.
The background colors were from the building on the other side and a parked car, works nice here I think.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Annoying day

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I had a few extra hours to spend so I got the camera and headed out. Solid overcast, really solid. I was at iso1200+ most of the time and struggling to get a decent shutter speed.
Pretty near the end of my walk I found my friend the dipper again, relaxing, singing a bit and enjoying himself.

Came home and, well, perhaps I'm getting picky, but I got a bit depressed when I noticed all the noise. Cleaned up best I could with dfine but still...

I love my D300, I really do but a clean iso1600 and a useable iso3200 would be nice.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

Epub Reader for Symbian Series 60 5th edition!

Yes, I've finally found an ebook reader for my Nokia 5800 that is capable of handling the epub format! When I first got my phone I searched all over the web and settled on zxreader. A basic but function reader capable of handling plain text and the, in the western world, somewhat obscure FictionBook fb2 format.

Now, with the freeware tool Calibre converting to this format was no big issue but occasionally I would end up with weird formatting and the rather basic nature of the format was at times rather annoying. Additionally quite a lot of ebooks are now released in the epub format

Figuring that eventually someone would write the application I needed I kept looking for a solution every other month. I even tried Nokia's own OVI store but that proved to be as useless as ever.

Yesterday I found the Dorian Reader project. Initially started as a project for the N900 but recently also available for Symbian. My first test proved rather futile, it is written in QT, a JAVA-like "write once, run anywhere" environment which requires a seperate framework to be installed on your phone something which the author kindly pointed out to me.

So, what do you need:
QT 4.7.1
Latest version of Dorian for Symbian (0.4.2. at time of writing)
Some epub books

And you're good to go!

The application takes just a bit longer to load than zxreader but is a lot more intuitive to use, especially when you go into the options screen. It seems very stable, only imperfections I've seen so far is that having to tap the upper right corner to turn a page seems a bit counter intuitive and sometimes when you turn a page the first line is only half visible.
Main bug I've found so far is that when the phone switches from landscape to portrait or back it's inclined to switch back to the beginning of the chapter but that may be something just on my phone.


I've dumped the Nokia early this year and went to an HTC Desire. The Android platform is so incredibly much more mature for the mobile reader. I'm running cool reader on mine. Uses almost no resources, is free, reads all the major formats including epub . With Android you go to the market (build in on just about all phones) and download any of the half a dozen excellent and well maintained ebook readers for free!!

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Vogelenzang at dawn

Vogelenzang at dawn
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Did I ever blog this? If not why not? I had doubts at first but when I see it now it works, perhaps a bit more puddle would have been nice but I enjoy the clouds and it gives me a peace and tranquility feel.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


Now, I don't know about you but this happens to me and still to often. I really should know better. You're approaching a bird and it decides to leave. Now, what you should do is remember that in the two or three steps you did you're not all that far out of focus. You should also remember that you're in single area AF and that just blindly jabbing the AF button is not going to help. In this case this is the third shot, the first two had the barn in focus, then common sense and a quick twist on the focus ring got me this shot.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Hezbollah operates own fiber optic network

In a spare half hour I've also browsed trough the wikileaks cable collection.

One interesting tidbit I stumbled upon is that Hezbollah, or Hizballah as they are called in the cable, now owns and operates it's own fiber optic network.

An understandable initiative from their part of course, after all SIGINT (signals intelligence) has always been an important tool in the hands of the US and their allies to keep track of their enemies. In fact most of the serious GSM intercept equipment has long been made by Israeli companies.

Having an own fiber optic network gives Hezbollah a secure communications channel. According to the same cable Hezbollah knows this too and has threatened the government of Libanon that they will view this as equal to an Israeli attack:

As a sign of its confidence Hizballah official Safa told Khoury and Rifi that any move against the FiOS system would be taken as &an Israeli attack8 and dealt with accordingly

Apparantly it's quite extensive too:

The current installations, as per the map Hamadeh has given us, shows lines running from Beirut, around both sides of the airport, into the south below the Litani and back up through the Bekaa valley to the far north. It covers the Palestinian camps, and the Hizballah training camps in the Bekaa, and is penetrating deep into the Christian Metn and Ksarwan areas.

An interesting point is made here:

Hamadeh highlights the system as a strategic victory for Iran, since it creates an important Iranian outpost in Lebanon, bypassing Syria. He sees the value for the Iranians as strategic, rather than technical or economic. The value for Hizballah is the final step in creating a nation state. Hizballah now has an army and weapons; a television station; an education system; hospitals; social services; a financial system; and a telecommunications system.

In the latest KLM frequent flyer magazine there was an interesting article on how Lebanon is once again returning to it's "Geneva of the Mediterranean" status it used to have before their civil war started in 1976. Makes you wonder if there's two different countries that just happen to share the same real estate.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

my winter landscape

my winter landscape
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Driving to work and noticed one of these crossing the road, then in my rearview I saw a second one approaching. I was lucky enough to find a safe place next to the road and was just in time to shoot this.

This is winter for me, snow, white and yet Schiphol, which is a very defining influence in my area, continues like it always does.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM review

A review of the Sigma 150-500 from a real world point of view.

Those of you that know me must have noticed that I like to spend time outdoors, walking in a nature reserve trying to get good shots of the inhabitants. Up until two days ago I did most of that with a Nikon 70-300 VR. A very nice lens, well built, able to take a lot of abuse but 300mm is a bit short for smaller mammals and birds.

Recently I got a bit of extra cash and decided to look into the available options for going just a bit longer. I did a lot of googling, boy did I google! I've also posted in a few internet forums. What I got was a lot of confusing information and a large load of very expensive solutions and snobism.

Old and long manual focus lenses.
400mm f3.5. Quite a rare lens, I found none in my country and only 1 in europe at a very high price. Ebay had a few in the sub-1000 euro class but all showed distinct signs of a long and hard life.
500mm f4 Ai-P. Huge lens, only about 7500 of this beauty ever produced. Rare on the used market and hard to find. Goes for 2000 euros for a decent one.
3rd party lenses. There's a few 300mm f2.8 lenses from the former soviet union, none in the area otherwise I would have gone and checked one. I briefly tried an old 400mm f5.6 vivitar which was a huge disappointment. Tokina also produced a 300mm f2.8 which is supposedly quite decent but also hard to find.

Autofocus solutions
400mm f5.6 sigma. Their latest version is supposed to be quite good. Out of production for a few years already and hard to find. If you can find one it's an interesting option since they go for around 500 euros.
Nikon 300mm f4+1.4TC gives you effectively a 420mm f5.6 and, judging from the samples on various websites that's a good combination. Nikon made this in two versions, a normal AF version which goes for 600-700 used and an AF-S version which is more expensive and hard to find used. I got hints from a Nikon rep that this lens is next up for replacement by a VR version.
Nikon's 80-400. Nicely built, VR but no AF-S so glacially slow to focus. I got mixed information on sharpness on the long end so it may suffer from sample variation.
Sigma 50-500 in it's various incarnations. Once again, very mixed information on sharpness. At least two versions without OS and the current one with OS goes for about 1300 euros.

At this point I pretty much gave up the search. I very briefly contemplated moving to Canon since they have very affordable 100-400 and 400mm f5.6 lenses but then sanity hit me again.

I went to a shop, had a good look at the Sigma 150-500, shot this handheld at 15 meters, 1/30 and 500mm in the shop:

new toy at 500mm 1/30

And plunked down almost 800 euros of my hard earned cash. Sales clerk tried to sell me a 86mm B+W protective filter for 130 euros which I politely declined figuring that I could do better on ebay (a Hoya SMC filter is on it's way for less than half that)

I did get a packet of optech rainsleeves, somehow I don't trust the sealing on this Sigma nearly as much as I trust my Nikon.

At home I noticed a card in the box that promised me that if I registered on the Sigma site they would extend my warranty to three years. Sigma seems the first manufacturer to do something about the inequality in warranties between Europe and the USA so thumbs up to them.

Out in the field
Of course I was keen to see what this brute would do out in the field, after all that's why I bought it. Combined with my D300 it's about 2500 grams of gear hanging on a neckstrap and that's something you noticed. I decided to use this lens like I do my 70-300, shooting from a monopod if possible but doing the occasional handheld shot as well.


A crop from a shot at, according to my exif, 42 meters!
Exposure 0.002 sec (1/500)
Aperture f/14.0
Focal Length 380 mm (Still getting used to the zoom ring)
ISO Speed 640

hmm, note to self, that zoom ring needs to go all the way to the right!

Grey Wagtail

Camera Nikon D300
Exposure 0.003 sec (1/320)
Aperture f/7.1
Focal Length 500 mm
ISO Speed 640

A grey wagtail, cropped a bit. These are nice birds, foraging along the water they are not extremely shy but do like to keep some distance. Up until now a shot like this would have required excellent light and shooting to get something to crop this far.

Camera Nikon D300
Exposure 0.005 sec (1/200)
Aperture f/6.3
Focal Length 500 mm
ISO Speed 1000

My regular model, fallow deer. I decided to go to 500mm to see what I would get in detail from the fur on the animal.

In addition to these shots, which are good enough for flickr for me, I also produced a number of what I like to call ident shots, pictures where there's enough information to identify the animal but not necessarily of a quality that you are proud of.

That was the end of day one, light was failing me and I was cold. The next day I took it with me to the office to do some bird spotting in my lunch break. This is a lens that attracts attention, lots of it.

Due to the weather, snow and windy, a lot of small birds were absent from their normal spots. Still, in a brief bit of sunshine I managed to capture this:

Song Thrush

Camera Nikon D300
Exposure 0.004 sec (1/250)
Aperture f/11.0
Focal Length 500 mm
ISO Speed 500

This is what I bought this lens for! A comfortable working distance of about 9 meters in this shot which is enough not to spook the bird. Excellent sharpness on the body, a little less on the head but that's most likely due to 1/250 shutter speed and the fact that this trush was busy demolishing a snail.

More samples
I'm busy learning to work with this lens. I use the same tag on all my pictures shot with this lens so if you want to see more shots just go here:

I've now worked enough with this lens to form an opinion. It's heavy enough to start thinking about an alternative to the standard Nikon strap I'm using on my D300.
Focus can be a bit nervous at times, especially beyond 400mm it's easy to focus on a branch just in front or behind of your model. I've also seen it attempting to lock onto falling snow.
Optical stabilisation or OS for shot works and works well. I have observed a slight delay before it fully kicks in, about half a second (read the manual, it's mentioned in there). I got the impression that it starts up immediately but needs a bit of time to work fully, wouldn't surprise me since it's a lot of heavy glass.
The balance is beautiful! It's center of gravity seems to be just behind the focus ring right on the tripod collar.
Birds in flight is a major challenge. At 300mm+ the angle of view makes it difficult to follow the bird and at around 300mm the Nikon 70-300 VR is just quicker to focus.

If you're into birds or other wildlife and you have less than 1000 euros to spend this lens deserves a serious look. If you got a bit more to spend you could explore some of the other options on my short list.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Snow in the Netherlands

This country doesn't work in the snow. This was the Amsterdam area at 1800 today.
Watching Joe McNally at work

Yesterday I visited a Dutch Photography fair organised by the magazine "Zoom". Judging from the other guests their average reader shoots Canon, needs L glass and preferably a big flash. I've seen 30-40 people shoot the same poor model, quite a few feeling the need to add their own hotshoe mounted flash to the studio lights that were already in place.

Insanity aside there were some interesting bits. My friend Akos and me had an interesting time at the Sigma stand where Akos felt the need to try out their latest 24-70 f2.8 on me:

Quite a big hunk of glass, almost dwarfing his D90 but at approximately 700 euros an interesting alternative to the Nikon.

I had a chance to toy with their 150-500 on a Canon (they didn't bring the Nikon version). Nice lens, good handling, suprisingly good autofocus in that tricky light. High on my list as my new birding lens.

Over at Nikon we played a bit with the D7000 and were very, very impressed. Handling is roughly equal to the D90, the AF is significantly better and the high iso performance surprised me.
This was shot at iso3200 under poor lighting. It's roughly equal to what the D90/D300 will do at iso 1600. Impressive.

Last year Nikon's "try and fondle"department was located in a dark corner of their stand. This year, as you can see from this shot, it was a lot better. I asked to try a 300mm f4 and a TC, since that's another option for my next birding lens, but was told that that lens was no longer in stock. The guy from Nikon hinted that we would see a replacement with VR soon.

With birding in mind I also had a look at their really long lenses. Took the chance to play with a 500mm f4. Unfortunately these were all fixed on serious gimbals with serious bodies attached. Quality was astonishing but I couldn't test the weight.

After all these toys and Akos buying a 8gb Sandisk card for only 19 euros it was of to the Nikon theatre. Here Nikon showed that they'd learned their lesson last year, it was big, roomy and you had a good view from all sides.

Joe McNally
One of those photographers who, thanks to his website and books and videos, is now quite famous. Typical American was my first impression after I noticed he uses cool and great at interpunction. Joe is quite famous for his use of flash and rightly so, the portfolio shots on the big screens while we were waiting for the show were impressive.

Joe is a little guy who sounds a bit like Jerry Springer and looks vaguely like the Dutch top chef Robert Kranenborg. I stopped noticing all that after 5 minutes. Joe showed us what you can do with a good model. (He had found someone in the Nikon service center who looks like a rocker with 20 years of hard living behind him). What he could do with two flashes was simply stunning.

He did the entire demonstration with a D3s and a single SB-900 on camera as commander, lenses used were Nikon's "holy trinity", 14-24, 24-70 and 70-200. All the remote flashes were also SB-900 with the optional SD-9 battery pack. Joe started out slowly showing us that even a single SB-900 "on a stick" with an umbrella already makes a big difference when compared to straight ahead hotshoe flashing. The "stick" Joe seems to favour looked to me like a Manfrotto stand. The white panel was Lastolite, probably one of their skylight series.

From this basic setup Joe went on to do a front and backlit setup using nothing but the standard diffuser and coloured gel that comes with the SB-900. I was surprised at the working distance, he put these lights at quite a distance from the model. Adding just an assistant with a Lastolite Trigrip difflector and he got this:

I don't know about you but if I got this I would wipe away a few tears of emotion and pack up my gear convinced it wouldn't get any better than this. Not Joe, he went on to show a packed Nikon theater how to light a scene of a rock star with his entourage.
What we see here is two flashes behind the big Lastolite panel, an assistant behind Joe holding the commander flash to ensure all the flashes got a good view of the commander. Two assistants pointing flashes on a gold colored sheet of a big 6x4 reflector and, not in this view, a single sb-900 firing straight at the back of this group. Quite an impressive result of course.

After this Joe proceded in showing what 4 backlights and 2 flashes on each side can do to a jumping figure.

At this time I was quite impressed. Not only was he capable of putting together a complex setup seemingly on the fly, directing two assistants but at the same time he kept joking with the audience.

Now studio photography is not my thing at all, I prefer to be out in the field shooting birds or other animals but this made my fingers itch.

What I learned from this:
  • There's a two flash minimum for the more creative setups.
  • Some room to work is nice
  • Shooting at high shutter speeds is a sure way to eliminate ambient light (duh!)
  • Don't be afraid to get your equipment quite close to the model
  • Even with two bare flashes and a single diffuser or even an old sheet you can already accomplish nice shots.
  • Experiment, try seemingly strange things (like that gold sheet on the floor)

So, thanks to Joe McNally and Nikon for an inspiring session!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

HDR time again

Meise Church 1
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
This time the Church in the lovely village of Meise, Belgium

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Quite rare in the Netherlands, extremely rare in the west part of the country, normally you only find this in Limburg and the Ardennes in Belgium/Luxembourg.
Nice bird to watch, very active and still tame enough to approach closely. Constantly in and out of the water. I've seen it fly trough a cascade of water to search for food behind it.

I found this bird via the website where twitchers post all sorts of bird sightings. This one was spotted in a nature reserve where I walk almost every weekend.

Because I had 2 dozen confirmed sightings to work with it was extremely easy to pick an area to start searching for it. Right at the edge of that area I noticed 6 other bird enthousiast staring at something. Bingo! There it was darting in an out of the water. The 6 gave up rather quickly muttering something about a more tame second dipper that was supposed to be in the area. I walked to the other side of the clearing where the bird was and just waited leaning against a tree. Took about 10 minutes before it came close to me while foraging. I even managed a second shot when it had caught something.

waterspreeuw / white-throated dipper

Of course I'm not entirely satisfied with these shots. A grey, misty morning is not the best time to get enough light, let alone nice and warm light which does birds a lot more justice. I also wished for more tele than my 70-300VR provides. Despite that I think I did well and I got to shoot my first truly rare bird.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Ilse deLange - next to me

I'm often very slow to notice new music, the fact that I don't listen to any music stations on the radio and don't watch the shows on TV where these things are often announced makes me miss these things.

But, things get trough to me eventually like Ilse deLange's new album, next to me.

What can I say? I liked her first efforts in the 1990s, nice, laid back and somewhere between Country, Singer/songwriter and plain pop. I liked to see her do TV interviews, that shy but also somewhat impish smile, the very natural looking responses, for me a refreshing change from all the big American names with media coaching and rehearsed interviews.

Her latest album shows that the girl has matured in her music and has the good sense to hire a good crew. Next to me was the most obvious single choice but I also like Paper Plane (which I would have picked as the single), Caroussel and the lovely Ballad "almost". All in all a nice album, recommended!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Getting shitfaced!

poo on beak
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
This crow was fishing bags of dog shit out of the bin, rooting trough them in the hope of finding something tasty. Constantly wiping his beak clean.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

I apologize for my friend...

I apologize for my friend...
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
There he is, posing majestically, assuming that his friend would be doing the same...
His friend chooses this time to do some intimate grooming.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
The Alexandrine Parakeet. At least half a dozen live in the trees near the office where I work. These were all in this bush stuffing themselves on berries.

A native of Afghanistan via India all the way to Vietnam which does, like the rose ringed parakeet, surprisingly well in our cities.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Pondering a longer lens

I'm getting fed up with how difficult it is to shoot birds, especially smaller ones with "just" a 70-300. So I'm pondering an addition. Problem is, as soon as you get beyond 300mm things get expensive really fast.

Sigma 50-500mm F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM
Sigma 50-500mm F4-6.3 EX DG HSM
Sigma 150-500mm F5-6.3 APO DG OS HSM
Nikon AF 300 f4 IF-ED
Nikon AF-S 300 f4 D IF-ED
Tamron SP AF200-500mm F/5-6.3 Di LD (IF)
Nikon 400mm f3.5
Sigma 400mm f5.6
Yashma 300mm f2.8

Is the list so far. A few like the new Sigma 50-500 and the Nikon af-s 300mm are way too expensive. Ah, what to do?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Horsing around

Horsing around
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
More and more I'm enjoying when I can catch some movement in an animal picture. The most obvious way of doing this is panning of course but sometimes you get lucky and you can catch something like this paw moving.

Shooting trough wire is always tricky as you can see here again.


Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I was rather unsure when I shot this. Spend some time getting the big male of the group in a good view and, somehow, I ended up with this. Bit bummed about that pole in the view on the left.

What did amaze me is what a few clicks with the mouse in Adobe Camera RAW managed to get from what was originally a very drab image. The colours on the nose and the shoulders are magnificent!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Macaque mother

Macaque mother
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
We went to Ouwehand's zoo yesterday. Lousy weather for photography, solid overcast all the time.

This picture says it all for zoos. On one hand, live goes on, this mother is suckling her young. On the other hand, animals look out of place in an artificial environment as you can see by the background here.

I was by no means the only one carrying a DSLR, spotted quite a few of them. I was the only one using a monopod and not using the pop-up flash for everything.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

I'm well camouflaged

I'm well camouflaged
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
I more or less stumbled upon this little deer, just about a year old I think. I was tracking a herd of one big male and at least 5 females by tracks alone when I heard something besides the path. This little girl was there with a bigger female, possible the mother. She noticed me and didn't feel much like running. Instead she did two paces and though she was hidden enough since she couldn't see me anymore and started cropping these greens.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
A lot of people will convert to black and white purely because this is an old trade. I didn't, I converted because it was a low colour image to begin with and I wanted to emphasize certain aspects of the image.

Shots like this do make me realize how much of an art black and white really is. I wish I could do images like this out of camera. I'd be very interested in something the size of a small DSLR body or even an evil camera that could do a dozen different types of black & white film and do that very well.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

bored now!

bored now!
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Took a bit of tweaking but this pic just looks so right to me. The colours really reflect what I saw at that time and still the deer pops out of the picture really well.

I'm slowly getting the hang of Nik's Viveza to make a subject pop.

The behaviour is really typical of a fallow deer buck, it's stared at me for a few minutes and now it has decided to wander away.
HDR Efex pro 1.0

Apparantly I'm not the only one who thinks this piece of software is not as good as it could be.

Yesterday at 21:06 I sent the following message to Nik Software:

Perhaps HDR efex was released a bit too soon.

I'm running it on an AMD x2, 240 @2.8 ghz with windows 7 and 3gb ram.

I'm on day 5 of my trial now, I've processed maybe a dozen pics so far.

HDR efex has crashed 4 times, invariably taking CS5 with it. On 3
counts it acted wonky and vivenza crashed twice (which it never does)

Processing from selecting 5 images in bridge until a completed image
takes 5 minutes easily.

OK, granted, you guys have show the world, including the people behind
photomatix, that it is possible to produce good HDR software with a
nice user interface. Shame it's still very buggy and requires a very
high end intel box to run.

I don't think I'm going to buy it, this is not 160 euros nice.

Now, within an hour I got this reply from Josh, a product manager at Nik (note the misspelling of my name, this makes me believe it's no autoreply)

Dear jereoen,

Thank you for contacting Nik Software.

We have run into a few issues that we are currently working to resolve. The issues you indicated you are having with HDR Efex Pro are affecting a small number of our users, however the update that we currently have planned for early next year is planned to resolve these types of issues.

Please keep an eye out for when this new version comes out, as it should be both much faster as well as much more stable for your system.

So... I'm curious to see how early next year this may be.

Since HDR Efex pro 1.0 runs fine on a friend's Intel based laptop I would advice anyone to try the trial version before buying this. If it runs it's very nice.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

What I see on a sunday morning

Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Not an over the top HDR but a shot that more or less captures my sunday morning. Including, I like to think the verry chilly temperature this morning.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Roman bowman
Originally uploaded by j_wijnands.
Some old shots from august I just got around to processing. Legio II augusta from the UK visited.

A Roman archer, something you don't see often. Even rarer, a Syrian auxilia

auxillery bowman

Now I'm not sure if this is also an auxiliares or a barbarian. The dagger suggests Gaul to me.

Look here's my dagger

And last, the Aquilifer, I think. The person carrieng the Legion's standard. An important and well paying job.

slavegirl serving drink

Thursday, October 14, 2010

I love VR!

D300 on a monopod, 70-300 VR on 250mm, iso 1600 and 1/4 shutter speed and I get this:

VR rules! 1/4 second!

Not too shabby I think. OK, granted, this was one of about a dozen but still...

A bit further on I got this.
Looking at someone else

Now, pictures like this will never draw in the crowds, certainly not on flickr but I like it. I'd found this doe and was tracking her for a few minutes in my viewfinder waiting for her to raise her head briefly. She did when a walker some distance away stepped on a twig.

This one took some more effort, this buck is camera shy, doesn't run but strolls away taking care only to show his rear towards the camera. Waling a big circle and doing a slow approach work

Elusive deer

All in all some nice work I think but still not the fighting bucks I'm hoping for.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

HDR Efex Pro, a very quick review.

Yes, it's out and you can grab a trial here. Review is perhaps a bit too strong, first impression would be better.

I downloaded the 27mb trial and first surprise, even though it is apparantly a 64 bits plugin it still works well with my 32 bits Photoshop. You can call it from bridge but all that does is open CS5 and start the plugin with the files you selected. I have not yet tried it from lightroom

On my humble dual core 2GB AMD phenom box it's somewhat sluggish, more sluggish than Photomatix although it does seem to take roughly the same amount of time.

What it does fairly well is aligning, Photomatix seems slightly better in aligning my handheld shots. It does beat photomatix in one critical aspect, usability.

Photomatix has an interface with a load of rather cryptic settings on the left. HDR efex has about 30 presets that are all quite different. Each can be finetuned. For each preset a preview is rendered which takes a bit of time. I tested it on three images and it ran out of memory and crashed once.

Perhaps it's my test shots but right now it doesn't blow me away in output just yet but, honestly, I did a rather quick and dirty processing job on just two sets. It does excel in usability, it makes you feel in control, makes you feel like getting a good looking HDR is relatively simple.

HDR efex:

Nik HDR efex test shot 1

Photomatix (slighty different shot)

hdr lens flare

And this was a weird idea that seemed

Nik HDR efex test shot 2

More to come soon, certainly before my trial period runs out.