Shot in the dark

Quick preliminary test of the new camera body’s low-light capability (double-sized if you open it in another tab):

This is the view of the neighbor’s house from my back yard, with no streetlights or other lighting, at midnight with no moon. It’s soft and quite noisy, but it’s clear and in-focus.

It’s also about three stops overexposed, because this is what the scene looked like to the naked eye:

In other words, it was able to successfully meter and auto-focus (admittedly with help from the built-in focus lamp) in conditions where I couldn’t even see that there were fences. Exposure was 1/30 at f/1.2, hand-held at ISO 204,800. By comparison, the latest and greatest iPhone tops out at ISO 12,768 with an f/1.78 lens, which would give a ~1.2-second exposure, if it could meter the scene at all.

Here’s a crop showing what the noise looks like on the full-sized image. Rough, but there’s still some good detail, and it can be cleaned up and sharpened.

No temple, castle, or museum is even close to this dark inside, and I haven’t even tried the built-in HDR features or adjustable Dynamic-Range Optimization yet, so I don’t think I’ll have any trouble getting clear, crisp pictures of anything I can see. The zoom I’m taking has a constant f/4 aperture, so there may be conditions where it has to use a noisier ISO setting, but I don’t think I’ll need to crank it up to even 100K, much less this setting.

And, of course, I’ll be carrying my small LitraPro color-corrected USB-powered LED light. Which is sadly discontinued now that Logitech owns Litra and just used their IP to build a clip-on light for streamers. It looks like the Luxli Fiddle is the current hotness for pocketable LED lighting, although it’s only half as bright as the LitraPro.

Metering digression: the Sony A7S III’s meter sensitivity is EV -3 with an f/2.0 lens; with the 50mm f/1.2 that’s still only EV -4.5, and this exposure computes to EV -5.5, so it got a little help from the focus lamp, even though it was half-blocked by the lens hood.

Juxtaposition, Twitter style

66% No Yuuwaku revisited

So, quite some time ago I posted the cover art for the Japanese release of Meatloaf’s Two out of three ain’t bad single, which translated the title as “Two-thirds of Temptation”. Randomly, I found two things recently: a fan translation of the English lyrics, and the actual lyrics that were included with the single:



僕の目からは涙でなく、 つららが下がった

“君が欲しいんだ、君が必要なんだ” とね

TL/DR: it’s just the first verse, simplified but pretty much on target until you reach the last two lines, which are as far off as the title but in a completely different direction: (roughly) “out of three people, it’s not a bad thing when two of them leave”.

Props to the big G for Google Lens; when I fed it this JPG in the hopes of finding a higher-resolution source (because no one had ever transcribed these lyrics), it couldn’t find one but still managed to OCR almost all of the kanji correctly. The few errors were easily caught and corrected.

The importance of expressions

Dear Glamour Photographer/Editor,

You want to know what it looks like when you publish a picture like this one? Fear.

There’s plenty of shots that show that Riri Nakayama was willingly participating in this photo shoot (NSFW! disable javascript!), but this isn’t one of them. It’s worse than the typical failed attempt at sultry that just looks angry or slightly ill; this one ended up all the way at “please don’t make me do this”.

J's Rules Of Invisible Glamour Photographers

If the first thing I notice is the lighting, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice is the framing, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice is the angle, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice is the focus, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice is the filtering, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice is the makeup, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice is the fashion, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice is the pose, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice is the setting, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice are the props, you’re doing it wrong.

If the first thing I notice is the pretty girl, keep doing that.

Editing tip: edit.

Bonus tip: most models under the age of 25 are not capable of “sultry”; stick to smiles or at least neutral-but-breathing expressions, or they’ll look angry, constipated, bored, and/or dead.

A better camera bag...

For this latest trip to Japan, I’m taking my Sony A6500 body, 18-105mm f/4 lens, a small flash, a Litra Pro LED light, and an ancient Minolta 100-200mm f/4.5 with E-mount adapter. For accessories, I’m taking a Sirui 3T-35 tabletop tripod (sturdy and versatile, with an Arca/Swiss-style mini ballhead), and a small color checker card. I’ll have my Ninja Reflector in the suitcase, in case we have a really scenic view out of one of our hotel rooms, but I don’t expect to pack it along unless we go to an aquarium or museum where everything’s under glass.

I spent some time a few months ago trying to figure out how exactly I was going to carry it all. I have (coughcough) “several” camera bags. The smallest of my Domke bags would be more than big enough for this modest loadout, but it has two flaws: it looks like a camera bag, and it’s not a good fit for a trip that involves more shopping than serious photography.

What would be ideal is something like my old PacSafe anti-theft laptop backback, but with a proper camera insert to keep everything organized and protected. There are a lot of things like that out on the market, but they all end up looking like camera bags, and most of them are at best half-decent at other things.

Then I found the Tenba BYOB 10 (Bring Your Own Bag) insert:

Careful measurement of my PacSafe backpack confirmed that it would snuggle inside, protecting my gear without adding significant weight, allowing me to carry a bag I already like. Win-win.

Flash back

More precisely, flash meter back, from the dead.

After I bought the little LitraPro LED light and started playing with it, I dug out my Minolta Flash Meter V (no actual digging was involved, but lots of box-shifting and rummaging over the course of about a week), only to discover that I left the battery inside last time I used it. Several years ago.

Vinegar and a q-tip cleaned out the visible corrosion in the battery compartment, but when I took the back off, I found more, and as soon as the vinegar started bubbling it off, the negative wire snapped off completely.

Fortunately we have a highly-skilled hardware team at the office, so I begged pretty-please, and Todd was willing to remove the old wire (the corrosion had wicked its way all the way to the main board) and solder on a new one.

Which is good, because the only real big-name company left in the flash-meter biz is Sekonic, and now I don’t have to spend ~$220 on a cool new one.

Oh, and as soon as I found the bad battery in the Minolta, I continued digging until I found my spot meter, and that one had been stored correctly without a battery. Whew.

Been there, done that


…except in my case, I fell into the deep end of a hotel swimming pool while distracted by the gorgeous model I was shooting (“Hi, Carmen!”). I don’t know what this guy’s excuse is.

Dear Glamour Photographer,

Don’t get so distracted by Anna Konno’s hotness that you forget about the laws of physics.

Anna Konno, slightly deformed

(via the very, very NSFW Gazou Navi)

Dear Promaster,

The purpose of a camera strap is to keep the user from dropping the camera. The cheap little rivets holding this piece of shit together fail miserably at this task. Fortunately the camera only fell a few feet onto asphalt, rather than, say, off a cliff or into the ocean.

“Need a clue, take a clue,
 got a clue, leave a clue”