Nov 132007
 

The good news is, that this morning was cold but sunny and bright. The bad news is, that I was so late, I had to use the Underground. From that moment on the day deteriorated. While the train was in a station, I accidentally dropped the lens hood of my Nikon 18-200 VR. It rolled around between people’s feet, towards the open door, and came to a halt exactly on the gap between train and platform. I refused trying to rescue it 🙂

When I finally got out of work (extra early at 4pm, to get at least a bit of twilight), it just did not rain. Or so. You know these days when it’s windy and there are always some droplets in the air, coming at you horizontally? Rendering any umbrella completely useless? Well, such a day it had come to be.

It only turned better when at “blende 7“, one of my most favorite photo shops in Vienna, I got a new HB-35 (the lens hood) and for my 20/1.8 a new UV filter and a Canon lens cap. Why that, you wonder?

Now, Sigma lens caps are absolutely inferior. The first thing I do when I get a new Sigma lens, is to replace the front lens cap with a Nikon one. Nikon builds front lens caps that you can easily remove while having a lens hood on. Just as it should be. Well, Zeiss has a similar mechanism, but most brands seemingly not.

The only problem is, that the 20/1.8 has an 82mm thread, and Nikon has no 82mm lens hoods. Therefore this was the only Sigma lens that I had used with the original cap.

Whenever I buy a lens, I buy a UV filter for protection as well, and normally it’s a Hoya. Not because I like them so much, only because I like slim filters, and slim filters by B&W need a special lens cap. When I bought the 20/1.8, I could get no slim Hoya filter, so I ended up with a normal one, and because the B&W was so much more expensive than the cheap Hoya, I took the Hoya.

And exactly this combination was the problem. The 82mm Sigma lens cap extends farther into the lens than other lens caps, or the glass of the cheap 82mm Hoya farther to the front, or at one time I got dirt between filter and cap, or whatever, the lens cap scratched on the filter, directly or indirectly, and rubbed the multi-coating off. I was furious, but didn’t do anything about it for a long time. I simply used the filter as a lens cap, took it off for photographing, and that was it.

Today at the shop I finally fixed the problem. I got a normal size B&W UV filter (insanely expensive but of insane quality) and a Canon lens cap. The cap has the same mechanism as the Sigma, I have to take off the lens hood when I want to take off or replace the cap, but it does not scratch. 164 Euros for two pieces of plastic and a piece of glass, but I was happy.

Of course I had to use the 20/1.8 now. This is such a wonderful lens. It is only a medium-wide angle lens on a crop-factor camera, but it is incredibly fast, and what is more important, the minimum focusing distance of this lens is 20cm (7.9 inch), and that’s not from the front element but from the sensor plane, making it the only real wide-angle macro lens.

There have not been many survivors today. One of them is the night shot of a building in Seidengasse, taken with the Sigma 20/1.8 at f1.8, 1/15s and ISO 450, hand-held. It’s nothing special, but I like how welcoming the interior looks.

The other, of course, is the Image of the Day. Having nothing really satisfying, I took a chess board, a single knight, and many Go pieces, arranged them on the kitchen table, lit the scene with a single spotlight and the lamp above the table (yes, this one), and took the image, again with the Sigma 20/1.8 at f1.8, 1/500s and ISO 100.

What does it mean? I have no idea. I thought about photographing chess pieces, and then I suddenly had the vision of a mixup between Chess and Go, a war, and that Go would win. Basically I did not exactly pre-visualize the image, but I certainly felt it. The rest was only shuffling things around until they were right, and adding light for drama. Post-processing was done in Capture NX.

The Song of the Day is “Warrior” from RĂ©jane Magloire’s 2005 album “Forbidden Opera“, a fusion between modern popular song and classical opera. Try at least track #1, “L’Amour”, for something instantly recognizable. You’ll love it or hate it 🙂

The sound sample this time is not from Amazon but from CD Baby, a company that sells CDs and MP3 downloads from independent labels. Some great stuff there. Very recommendable, and the sound samples are real long. Not the whole songs, but almost.

Aug 202007
 

We had rain in Vienna all afternoon. In the morning I was in a hurry and didn’t make a single photo, in the afternoon on my way back home I couldn’t, in the evening I had no time, and so I began around 11pm to set up a game of chess, two flashes of my macro flash kit and the camera on tripod. At first I tried my luck with the Sigma 20/1.8 wide open and very near, but that didn’t work too well, at least I found nothing that excited me. I was already determined to use an archive image for today, when I finally decided to try one more shot with the Sigma 150/2.8 macro. About 20 shots later I had what you see here.

This is no real game any more, but photography has other rules than chess. I did a lot of shuffling around with the chess pieces and the flashes until I had this configuration. Actually I like it, I enjoyed the experience and I expect to get back to chess on another rainy day.

What really took time, was not taking the image, was not processing it in Photoshop, what took me time was finding a decent sound sample from one of the recordings of Claudio Monteverdi’s “Il Combattimento di Tancredi e Clorinda“. This is probably the most dramatic music Monteverdi has ever written, and I was lucky to find a sample from William Christie and Les Arts Florissants. I’m always amazed by how good Christie is. Whenever I compare recordings of something baroque and operatic, and whenever Les Arts Florissants are in the game, they usually end up among the three best, and frequently they are my favorites.

The sound sample is only from the beginning, but the drama builds up fast enough to give you at least a hint of what this really is.