Jun 042009

As far as I’m concerned, SoFoBoMo is over and I’m feeling a little exhausted. This is the reason for my delay.

I’ve done three things yesterday:

First, after shooting long lenses for a month, I have mounted a wide lens.

My Sigma 10-20 is showing signs of wear, I recently found that it frequently has problems focusing correctly, and it even seems to have some misalignment, because I have seen images where the left half was in focus and the right was not. I can’t remember having particularly abused it, but at the moment I don’t trust this lens.

Therefore I have mounted another lens, not so wide, but sweet with its wide aperture and its short minimum focus distance, the Sigma 20/1.8. Both images of today were shot with it.

Second, I have installed the new Blurb BookSmart 2.0, and I have used it to create a printed version of “Urban Dreams II“. I just followed the instructions on the Blurberati blog, and with one small glitch all went well.

The glitch was, that the PDFs from my InDesign template, when imported into Photoshop, produce images that instead of a white background have transparency. Imported with standard settings, the pages are cropped to the bounding box enclosing all objects on the page, but not the empty borders. Thus all page sizes were different.

Obviously there must be something wrong with my template, but in Photoshop’s import dialog simply choosing “Crop to Media Box” instead of “Crop to Bounding Box” gave me even sizes for all pages, and an action did the job of flattening the file (making the background white again) and exporting it to PNG. I’ve bound the action to Ctrl-F12, thus it was still tedious calling the action 120 times, every time typing a number for the file name, and after saving, closing the file, but it was bearable.

Another thing is, that in BookSmart I have chosen hardcover, but I could not set the color of spine and flaps. I’ve left them white with black text on the spine. I guess it will look awful, but at the moment I have ordered one book only, just to see how the quality is. It should arrive in about one or two weeks, and until then I should have figured it out 🙂

The third thing is, that I have bought a replacement for the Sigma 10-20. The options were the new Nikon 10-24/3.5-4.5, the Tokina 11-16/2.8 or maybe the announced but not yet available Sigma 10-20/3.5.

After much agonizing about these options, I have decided for the Tokina, mainly due to the amazing constant f2.8. That makes a big difference. This morning, before sunrise, I have made some test shots. OK, ISO went to 3200 and the exposure time was one full second, but it was really only dawn outside and practically dark inside. I was lying on the couch, holding the camera in a very stable position, and what I got was a perfectly focused, sharp image. I’m impressed. Light was so much lower than normally on the streets at night, that I will be able to use ISO 200 at 1/4s without any problem. 1/4s is what I can hold from a stable stance at 11mm most of the time, and almost all of the time when I can lean against a wall or a sign post.

On the other hand, this lens has three drawbacks as well. It is not as wide as the two contenders, and at these focal lengths, every millimeter makes a difference. It has a very limited “long” end, and what is most annoying for me, it focuses only down to 30cm, that’s six more than the 24cm of the other two lenses, and in that regard it can not even touch the Sigma 20/1.8 with its minimum focus distance of 20cm.

Remember: the focus distance is measured from the sensor plane! The Sigma 20/1.8 is quite a big lens, thus it focuses so near that you can almost touch the front lens. But even the 24cm of the Sigma 10-20 and the Nikon 10-24 are much better. With the Tokina, it is much harder to use something like a small flower as an unproportionally large foreground. We’ll see. I guess I’ll get accustomed to that lens soon 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Stealin’ Apples” by Roy Eldridge. I have it on disc 76 of “The Ultimate Jazz Archive”, and if you don’t want to buy this 168 CD box (though you should, it’s a steal), you can get it on the album “Little Jazz” as well. YouTube only has it from Fletcher Henderson, but Roy Eldridge has played with Fletcher Henderson, thus the two versions are very similar.

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