Monthly Archives: January 2013

These boots have done some walking!

After leaving the service in 1971, I reinvested in some more modern camping and hiking equipment along with photography gear. New technology mountaineering equipment was arriving on the market that replaced war surplus tents and sleeping bags. One of my new investments was a good pair of boots.

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My first pair of mountaineering boots. Nikon D2Xs, 60 mm F 2.8 Macro Nikkor, Flash.

The boots I acquired are a pair of Galibier guide boots made by Richard Ponvert of France. These boots have served me very well for many years. They have walked untold miles, climbed Fourteeners in Colorado, endured minus 40 degree temperatures in British Columbia and kept my feet dry in raging streams and mines in Mexico. But, sadly over 4o years later they have become obsolete.

Today, these great boots are still made but somewhat hard to find, especially here in the States. Galibier was a pretty well regarded footwear maker in the 1970s and 1980s and was a manufacturer that helped pioneer new innovations in boot making. They were excellent boots for that day and age. Also heavy (about 5 pounds) and very stiff. But they were rugged, could take almost any punishment and gave exceptional support.

Modern materials have brought many advances to the boot making industry. New waterproof and lightweight materials have replaced the heavy leather uppers, new breathable fabrics now line the interiors and Vibram® lug soles have become industry standard. What we get today is a superb boot with less than half the weight for a somewhat more moderate price.

So yes, I too, have made the move to a more modern boot. Do I think they are better? I would never believe that they are as tough and perhaps supportive as the Galibiers, but the weight and comfort make a ton of difference.

© 2013 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

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Move the Mole Hill, not the Mountain

In macro photography we are supplied with a variety of components for fine-tuning focus. This equipment includes focus slider rails and built-in sliders as part of a bellows. All of these devices facilitate changes in focus by moving the camera closer or more distant from the subject.

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All of these components work quite well; some better than others. A well-made slider (above) can provide infinite adjustments in focus with extremely small changes in distance.  These are ideal for gross specimens or single shot macro images.

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Bee head. 53 images stacked in Helicon Focus. Nikon D2Xs, 50 mm flat field EL Nikkor lens on bellows, two SB-800 flashes, tripod. Image magnification in camera: 1.6X.

However, when enhanced depth of field of tiny subjects is required through focus stacking, moving the camera may not be the most ideal method of changing point of focus. With very small insects like the bee above for instance, many exposures–perhaps 50 or more– must be produced over a distance of less than one centimeter.

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Several problems are presented. First, the mass of the camera, bellows, and lens assembly is great. Moving it smoothly and accurately may not be possible. Second, the focusing rack and pinion may have coarse threads, not suitable of minute adjustments.  Further, the camera, bellows and lens combination when moved is subject to unwanted vibrations. The answer therefore, is to move the subject, leaving the camera solidly stationary.

Macro subjects like those encountered for focus stacking are most frequently tiny and present no above mentioned problems. They are small, lightweight and can be easily and smoothly moved. And making repeated movements at uniform dimensions is practical. All this suggests that moving the subject instead of the camera is an ideal solution.

In my photography, I use two devices. For single shot macro I have converted an Olympus microscope stage for an X-Y-Z motion platform in the image below. It has a movement of 3 inches in left-right and fore-aft directions and a vertical movement of just under 1 inch. In addition, it has a 2 x 3 inch hole for sub stage illumination. All movement controls are under the stage so they are perfectly out of the way.

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For focus stacking I use a single-axis micrometer linear positioning stage. Movements are possible along the lens axis for focus stacking in uniform increments as small as 0.001 inch. The movement for this stage is only one inch, but that is more than adequate for most focus stacking tasks. To center and align the subject, I use the gear head on my heavy duty Gitzo tripod. As illustrated in the photograph below, everything is locked down tight. Consistent, vibration-free images are possible with this set-up.

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For the ultimate in focus stacking, a motorized linear positioner like StackShot® by Cognisys makes life easy. The price is affordable if a lot of focus stacking photography is required. Even with the StackShot it still makes perfect sense to move the mole hill not the mountain!

© 2013 Brian Loflin. All rights reserved.

Texas photo workshops seem worlds apart

Happy New Year! To start the New Year out right, I will lead a series of nature photography workshops in 2013. While all are in Texas, the subject matter seems worlds apart. They range from an African wildlife photography workshop at
Fossil Rim Wildlife Center and another wild bird photography workshop in far South Texas. Let’s start in order.

RGV Bird WS

The first workshop will be held on February 22-24 on the Laguna Seca Ranch in far south Texas only a few miles from Edinburg and the Mexican border. This ranch is a well established for bird photography with permanent blinds and water features. The timing of this workshop will allow the participants to capture images of south Texas and northern Mexico specialties, as well as migrant species. The details of this most economical workshop are found here: http://www.thenatureconnection.com/SoTxBirdPhotoWS.html .

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The next workshops feature Africa in Texas at the Fossil Rim Wildlife Center near Glen Rose, Texas. Four workshops will be featured in April, June, September and October on the 1,900 acre facility. One- and two-day workshops are offered, with the two-day workshop featuring lodging overnight at Safari Camp in the heart of the center’s wildlife preserve. For more information visit http://www.fossilrim.org/workshops.php.

All workshops feature copious hands-on instruction, plenty of great subjects and are limited in participant numbers to assure lots of individual attention. To download a flier for either of the workshops click on the link below:
South Texas Bird Photography Workshop:     RGV Bird Photography
Fossil Rim Wildlife Photography Workshop: FR WildlifePhotoWS

© 2013 Brian Loflin. All Rights reserved.