Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Amazing Grace!

It's here!!! It's finally here!!! My Canon EOS 7D! After spending 2 weeks waiting for it it is here finally. It has been in clearance delay for around 3 days and the guys in DHL called me and sent me emails to send them some links or catalogs about this product! Why? I don't know. After all, and when I went to pick it up, I was told there was no duty on it. What the hell is going on?

Canon EOS 7D 18 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with 3-inch LCD (Body Only) 

Of course along with that came in my spare battery. Now with the arrival of this beauty, there is sooooooo much work to do. Preparing a place in it and getting some adequate place for my old camera, Canon 350D, and also getting a remote control (and I will check if I can get a wireless one for it too), because I didn't buy a remote along with it thinking that my remote cable will be sufficient for it (I got mixed up with descriptions in various websites and I was lead to think that my remote will work with this as well). So far so good. The modes dial on the left is making a real difference for me, but I didn't try real photography with it yet and I'm still to this moment trying out the various functions in the LCD preview and also the functions assigned to the buttons. So much reading for the manual to do as well, and also I have to write a decent review for this camera on Amazon and B&H. I like to be honest with camera-related subjects. I'm going to be busy beside being busy already reading the printing book, which is about to finish so far. This book is a mine of information. Thank you Uwe. Thank you Jürgen.

Fine Art Printing for Photographers: Exhibition Quality Prints with Inkjet Printers, 2nd Edition

Beside reading this book, I'm trying to apply some of its concepts specially regarding the calibration of my monitor which is not easy at all. I've been looking for more information about my own monitor just to get an idea about what kind of monster I'm dealing with. The first you are expected to do when calibrating your whole system for printing process, is to calibrate your monitor. My monitor is LG L1954SM, and for my ill luck, I've found out that it has been discontinued since 2008 maybe. Typical luck of mine. However, I got to install some drivers and a software from LG website called Fortemanager, that is supposed to help you out in the process of calibrating your monitor. Because of the hardship I'm facing in creating a profile for my monitor and creating an idea about what I'm expected to see, I'm thinking seriously now of getting a colorimeter. I found one that is relatively cheap in Amazon, and might do the job perfectly.

Pantone huey Pro MEU113 Colorvision, SPYDER3 Tv, Colorimeter
Some "relatively" cheap colorimeters

The thing about these tools is, you don't have to use your eyes for calibration or anything. Relax! The more digitized the process is, the more objective and reliable it is.
While checking again about the procedures to calibrate the monitor (which seems that I have to do using the controllers of my graphics card in Control Panel because, simply, the controllers of the monitor are not suitable at all!), I've realized the fact that before doing the tests with the usual test images, the conditions for my monitor MUST be unique in a certain way:
  • White Balance must be set between 5000K and 6500K (mine is on 6500K already).
  • Gamma must be set to 2.2 (my monitor does not display any values for gamma except 50/0/-50 !).
  • Luminance must be in the range of 100-125 cd/m2 (candela per meter square).
Of all, the third was the hardest to check. Until I found out some website that suggested an objective way to measure it using the camera light sensor, and even though it is not a professional or unique enough, it does some work and approximates the desired results already. You can find this method here. This method solved something, but still more to do. An idea popped into my mind as well, which is to try this camera method for
 checking how much light does the media (glossy paper...etc) would reflect. I'm not sure if this is really an objective way, but it might shed some light on the matter of reflectance of papers, and also the opacity of papers. The theory is to measure the light source in a dark room by the camera (i.e. checking the shutter speed while setting ISO400 and f5.6 in Av mode). and then reflect this light from the media and check it again with the camera. Then check the ratio of the two values. This might be a deciding factor later on in case I want to make special prints in a less or more reflective surfaces (for a desired effect for example). Yet, it's just an idea still.

Along side to the monitor calibration, a printer set-up and calibration is required as well but this one is going so slow. Just recently, I've printed out another test image of my own and tried to compare various settings. The colored ink though was finished of blue and this really PISSES me off. I bought new inks, but didn't fix it in the printer yet. After all, from the talk that goes on in the book itself (Fine art printing book), seems my HP Photosmart C4783 is simply, a simple printer and not really made for advanced use or printing, although it gives some nice results somehow on various glossy types, providing that you'd know how to manage the ink and know when to print in Best (not always good) or Normal mode (but never Fast because it shows banding).

The Cracked Marble. My test image.

About the image above, it was taken for one marble from my collection (yes, collected them when I was 10 years old or younger), and it is a tone-mapped HDR. I made several experiments in fact with this marble but I've found out that the most beautiful version was this one. My main aim was actually to try out making a SR image out of it, but once I've seen the beautiful colors, I went on and did the shoot for HDR as well. The HDR shoot though was not regular by the camera only, but done with the dedicated flash, Speedlite 580EX II.

Canon Speedlite 580EX II Flash for Canon EOS Digital SLR Cameras
Speedlite 580EX II

Now, fixing the flash sync with the shutter made much difference, as well as pulling down the diffuser (which is mainly, according to the manual, for fisheye lenses to avoid vignetting on edges), and the ISO - all of these factors changed the nature of the image (which was taken inside the home-made softbox). One setting, which unfortunately I don't remember quite well, made the perfect image by almost lighting the background as well the marble as well. Notice that in all of these shots I was using FEB (flash exposure bracketing), because I can't use the camera's bracketing (AEB) when the flash is in work, and also I was still using daylight bulb on the side.
After this little experiment I decided to do some others, but they were simple. One of them was done for my shaving cream brush, trying to make a suitable pattern or texture from a SR image, and then taking a picture for my pine cones that I've collected one year ago from Ireland.

Brush pattern. Suitable for photoshop too!

Pinecones from Ireland with background removed.

Nothing was so special about these images, except that for the pine cones, I've mounted the 500W halogen light on my monopod to light the pine cones and I didn't use the flash at all. Removing the background was not completely an easy task anyway because the white background was not quite unique (mainly because of dust particles accumulating on the box's ground). I think I should change the background translucent paper already.

Now, everything is on busy mode. Trying to do everything as fast as I can, and experimenting as well as much as I can before going to Ireland with my new camera. There in Ireland, I will try to do it as I did last year, writing a blog for every day of my stay and putting pictures here, if possible. So far so good with the camera for now, but I didn't install any software that came along in the CDs with it. I need to do this ASAP in my laptop and my PC. I hope though, my 8GB+1GB CF cards would be sufficient, since with such high resolution and with my desire to shoot in original RAW always makes the average file size around 18MB with this beast! For this reason, I got myself today a 16GB CF from a local Canon store, and the price was not adequate at all. The price of this "unknown" brand to me was 32KD, and for this same price I would get something similar from the US delivered to me, and from SanDisk. The problem now that I didn't count for is the recording speed (in terms of MB per seconds). But probably I won't use this property a lot.Most probably I will be using the 8GB CF then 16GB and then if things got worse, I will use my old 1GB CF. The 8GB and 1GB CFs are from SanDisk with different writing speeds.

SanDisk 8 GB Extreme IV CompactFlash Card ( SDCFX4-8192-901, US Retail Package )
My current CF.

Dane-Elec - Flash memory card - 16 GB - CompactFlash
The thing I got today, and please check the price
and compare it to 32 Kuwaiti Dinars!

Beside this CF, I should mention that I went there in the first place for something completely different. I was there to get myself a remote control for my new Canon EOS 7D, because my control was not adaptable to it. Now, the shop owner surprised me that the remote is wireless too (not a complete surprise but the surprise is that he has it!). He told me it works with AAA size batteries but when I checked the shape just now, it runs with lithium CR2032 battery, which I think gives a longer life. But I have to check the manual for this little thing to check how it would work for successive shots and for the the bulb mode (shutter speeds exceeding 30 seconds).

Canon RC-6 Wireless Remote Controller for Canon XT/XTi, XS/XSi, T1i and T2i Digital SLR Cameras

Well, I guess this is the end of the story for today. I've been writing this post for 2 days now, and probably it will be the last for me for the time being here in Kuwait. I have to prepare things and re-check everything before my travel to Ireland next Tuesday's after-midnight. See you till then!

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