Nobody tells this to people who are beginners
I wish someone told me.
All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste.
But there is a gap.
For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not.
But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you.
A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit.
Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this.
We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have.
We all go through this.
And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know it’s normal and the most important thing you can do is
DO A LOT OF WORK
Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story.
It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap
and your work will be as good as your ambitions
And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met.
It’s gonna take a while. It’s normal to take a while.
You’ve just gotta fight your way through it.
– Ira Glass

More of this, please.

The paradox of our age
We have bigger houses but smaller families;
more conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense;
more knowledge, but less judgement;
more experts, but more problems;
more medicines, but less healthiness;
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back,
but have trouble crossing the street
to meet the new neighbor.
We built more computers to hold more information
to produce more copies than ever,
but have less communication;
We have become long on quantity,
but short on quality.
These are times of fast foods
but slow digestion;
Tall man but short character
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window,
but nothing in the room.
…His holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

I had the chance to travel to Southern Utah (Kanarraville to be exact) to photograph the Great Solar Eclipse of 2012. It was spectacular, and I had as much enjoyment simply being there as I did photographing and filming the eclipse. It was fascinating watching the quality of light change over the course of the hour, with the light dimming to near-dusk levels at the peak of annularity, only to ease back to full daylight as the moon passed out of the path of the Sun. It was eery and spellbinding, and held tens-of-thousands of onlookers captive for much of that hour.

In the very first moments as the ring developed, we could hear the mob of onlookers begin to shout “It’s starting!”, or “Ring of Fire!”, or otherwise cheering and expressing their awe at the sight. It was, in a way, neat to be connected to all those perfect strangers, all gathered around for the same purpose.

The whole day was inspiring. I half imagined the Sun wanted to inspire us all with its great beauty and power even before the eclipse began. As we drove to our destination, I was able to photograph another rare celestial phenomenon. A stunning sun dog was seen for the first half of our trip, and as you’ll see in the images below, it did not disappoint. (As luck would have it, a few airline contrails appeared in about half of the sundog images, with one passing directly in front of the Sun)

Lastly, please note that all of these images are produced IN-CAMERA, meaning the duplicate Suns, the flares, and the rays are all artifacts that were created the good old fashioned way – without any digital manipulation. I used Adobe Camera Raw to process the RAW images, and of course contrast and color-correction have been applied just like Ansel Adams did back in the good ol’ day’s of silver gelatin. Other than that, these are as pure as you can get. I invite you to enjoy the small collection of images here, or see the slightly larger collection of eclipse images by clicking here. You can also see these on Instagram by following @ronadair. (If you’re not on Instagram, see the Instagramified versions here.

Please feel free to repost to sites like Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. or personal (non-commercial) blogs. Thanks!

Follow me on Twitter if you’re cool.

Geekness: Nikon D800 + 17-35mm 2.8 (sundog photos) & 70-200 2.8 VRII (eclipse images). As mentioned above, no photoshop trickery is happening in these shots — all effects are in-camera. Color and contrast tweaks have been liberally applied. Unfortunately, sundog images have not been spot-corrected for the D800 dust-spot syndrome which I discovered plagues my camera. :(

I’ve put up a quick test showing a few examples of the differences that one might expect when shooting directly to an external HDMI recording device like the Atomos Ninja vs. recording directly to the SD or CF card in the camera.

Bypassing the in-camera compression is a tremendous advantage, especially when you are planning on heavily grading your footage in post. More information will follow soon:

***See the 1920×1080 PNG Screenshots here for a better idea of how these compare: bit.ly/IeLNan ( download ZIP instead? bit.ly/Ninja-plus-D800 )***

Nikon D800 Internal Recording VS. Atomos Ninja from Ron Adair on Vimeo.

UPDATE: Looks like it’s not as easy as everyone says it is to create a crappy photographic fake of a yet-to-be-announced camera. Lots of traffic, but zero entries. Guess we’ll try again next time. :)

UPDATE : I will close the competition on Wednesday, November 30th at 11:59pm EST. ***By submitting your entries, you consent that you are of legal age to compete, and have read through the terms, conditions, and requirements of this challenge.*** Please email your entries to contest@iamron.com

Fire up your machines and get those pixels popping!

UPDATE 2: Nikon Rumors Admin has generously donated a 32gb Sandisk Extreme card (SD OR CF) and offered to cover worldwide shipping and handling. The contest is now open to anybody worldwide. Thanks NR Admin!

There’s been a lot of talk about the leaked D800 images which were posted today on Nikon Rumors. Some are calling the images fake, photoshopped, composited, or claiming they are 3D renderings. There are a lot of comments like “I don’t consider myself a Photoshop expert, but…”

Well, heck. Since there’s no easy way to say this without sounding like an arrogant ass, I’ll just come out and say it: I consider myself a Photoshop expert. There are those who are better, to be sure, but I am confident I’m in the top 95% or so. I’m putting my stake in the ground, and my money where my mouth is. These images are real, and I’ll pay you to prove me wrong.

I made a comment on NR offering a free, brand new 16gb Sandisk CF or SD card to anyone who could create an image as convincing as the leaked images. Seeing as how there are so many commenters on there (possibly hundreds) who are sure the images are really the product of a photoshop hack job, I figure it won’t be hard for someone else to make something just as crappy, and yet just as convincing. The NR Admin chimed in and offered a sweet prize of his own to anyone who could come through with a convincing fake image.

The problem now is one of distribution. A challenge that only catches a handful of readers who chance upon one of over 1,000 comments is no challenge at all. So, without further ado, I’d like to officially announce my challenge to the world:

Winning Prize:

I will ship 1 of either Sandisk 16gb Extreme CF card or Sandisk 16gb Extreme SD card to anyone in the United States, or will paypal the equivalent purchase amount anywhere in the world. But we all know this isn’t about the prize. It’s about the bragging rights. 😉

NR Admin has generously donated a new 32gb card SD OR CF and worldwide shipping. This contest is now open to everyone. Thanks, Nikon Rumors!

Challenge:

You must create a composite image (e.g. compiled from existing images) or digital illustration (e.g. created entirely in photoshop or other illustration application) of a next generation, yet to be announced (or leaked :) ) Nikon or Canon prosumer DSLR design — the equivalent of the D700 or 5DmkII replacement (e.g. D800, D400, 5dMkIII, or 7dMkII). Keep in mind you CANNOT use any of the source images which NR rumor has just leaked.

25% original material rule: I estimate the leaked camera consists of about 33% new, never before publicized features/elements/design. Therefore, you are free to use existing images or artwork from other cameras, images, products, etc, but at least 25% of the fake image MUST consist of features/elements/design that you have created unique to you and your imagination, which is not taken verbatim from another image or product. For instance, the leaked images show a new command dial on the top of the camera. This is clearly not found on any other camera or device, and therefore would count against the 25% original material rule. If you use any elements to recreate new features or design, you must include that original artwork for reference.

Terms:

If you can create a convincing image that satisfies the criteria of being composited from source images or created entirely from scratch, (keeping in mind the 25% original material rule), you will be chosen as the winner and will receive the prize(s). Keep in mind that if definitive evidence can be found by me that the image is fake, the image will not win. In the event that numerous submissions fit the criteria of believability, the best submission will be chosen at the sole discretion of me, Ron Adair.

By submitting artwork, images, files or text (or any other stuff you could submit to me for this challenge) you are consenting to give me full permission to post — at my sole discretion — all, part, or none of your submission online both during and after the competition. In doing so, you also agree to accept the final decision which will be made by me, and promise that you will not complain, litigate, throw ice balls at my car windows, or steal my little kid’s trike…or become otherwise cantankerous or rude. Let’s all be cool here folks.

Nikon D800 Images Leaked

November 20th, 2011 Permalink

UPDATE: The “Fake Or Real?” challenge is LIVE! Check it out HERE, and see if you have what it takes to win!!!

NikonRumors just posted a set of leaked images for the upcoming D800. The body style is quite a departure from Nikon’s current DSLR prosumer shape, so I was thrown off when I first saw the new camera design. I was under the impression, upon seeing the images, that the camera was closer to the size of the Dx000 lineup (such as the D5100 or D7000), which was a huge disappointment. Not only are those bodies lesser build quality, but they are also uncomfortable for me in most shooting situations. The D700 feels great in the hands, and really screams “build quality” when you hold it.

So, I decided to find a comparison image between the D700 and the leaked D800 images so I could see just where Nikon cut corners on the new, smaller body.

To my surprise, they are essentially identical in size! I was shocked to realize that my impression of a more diminutive body design was, in reality, caused by the more rounded lines on the top area around the prism housing compared to the older, more boxy D700. I resized each image so the hot shoes were the same size, and voila — they’re pretty much a match in girth. Take a look for yourself:

***(ROLL OVER THE IMAGE BELOW TO SEE THE SIZE RELATION)***

Bring it on, Nikon!!!

Here are my predictions for the new Nikon lineup that is expected sometime between this quarter and the middle of 2012. (See the previous post for my reasoning on the pricing.)

What do you think? Do you agree with these predictions, or do you think we’ll see something different? Share your thoughts in the comments!

D4:

16-20 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 204,800 and 1,638,400 (likely 409,600)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
$4,999 – $5,500
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) is already incredible, so any improvements will be that much more amazing.

D4x:

36-50 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 25,600 and 102,400 (likely 25,600)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
$7,999
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) same as above

D800:

18-24 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 25,600 and 102,400 (likely 51,200)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are highly anticipated.
$2,999
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) same as above

D400:

16 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 25,600 and 102,400 (likely 51,200)
14-bit processing
Full HD 24p, 25p, 30p, and a slight possibility of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are expected.
$1,799
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) same as above

Joey Shooter, Issue #1

Updated version above. Original version here. Thanks to you Dan for the suggestions.

There are a number of folks around the internetz who seem to have forgotten two basic realities in regards to Nikon’s forthcoming announcements:

A) Nikon’s “new and improved camera” is only worth what the market will bear, and
B) Various realities, including Moore’s law, dictate that the cost will almost definitely stay virtually the same, product will improve exponentially, and profits may marginally improve or degrade depending on a number of factors.

Folks seem to think that Nikon produced the D3 only for a niche market of folks with highly specific needs, irrespective of their sensitivity to price. Really, it’s the other way around: the D3 is made for a photographer who can spend roughly $5k, give or take a few hundred. The best, generally appealing camera Nikon could produce while still sustaining profitable margins is, in the end, what they shipped.

If they charge significantly more than the $5k price point which the D3 carried they’ll get folks who will bail on that segment and find a lower end body, or jump ship altogether and find a different brand. Charge significantly less, and they also risk attrition, but this time through the photographers who think they’re being ripped off in the feature, specs, or quality department—regardless of the facts. For them, more is more (money) no matter what logic says.

If Nikon produces a D3 replacement that is more than, say, 10% higher (or 20% lower) than current selling price Nikon will not only profoundly confuse buyers, they will ultimately drive many of them away.

But alas, if you look at recent history you’ll see they did increase prices (dramatically!!!), but in a way that “reset” buyers’ thinking enough to partially mitigate market damage, or at least spread it over a longer period of time. They needed to increase prices to adjust for the softening dollar. What did we see? The DnH line was “done away with” (psst…it was really just replaced with the D3—sans the “h”) while the DnX (D1x, D2x, D3x etc) line saw a significant “bump” in price.

Now ask yourself, can you recall the response to greet the D3, (again, remember that it was being introduced with an effective price increase of $1,500)? It was embraced with open arms.

Now, if you’ll consider further the D3x announcement—particularly, how was that received: it was hailed as none other than the biggest ripoff in corporate history, with many photographers speaking out publicly against purchasing it until the price came to a more reasonable level.

Why? The D2x -> D3x was within the same realm of price increase as the D2h -> D3 (both bodies seeing roughly a 150% increase). See below:

(D2h) $3,499 -> (D3) $4,999 = ~ 145% increase
(D2x) $4,999 -> (D3x) $7,999 = ~ 160% increase

I don’t think it was the fact that the Nikon D3x was disproportionately increased compared to the D3 (i.e. folks weren’t angry because the D3x wasn’t priced instead at 145% above the D2x, or $7,250). I think folks were expecting to buy a camera with a D3x emblem, something that was historically in their price range of around $5k, and upon release they realized the new price had eclipsed their budget. Until the D3x was released, many claimed the DnH line was dead, and the D2h and D2x bodies had merged, resulting in their highly talented love child, the D3. They were more than happy to pay the $5k for that camera assuming it was the new “X” pro camera, despite there being many factors which indicated otherwise.

In other words, Nikon has a market full of people with preset expectations which they must consider if they desire to remain competitive. These people are not necessarily objective or rational. In fact, Nikon bet on this very idea during the last round. They got their big bump in market price, and while they may not have sold as many D3x bodies as they did of the prior D2x line, did they really need to given the increased profit margins? I doubt all those calls for boycott did nearly the damage the decriers dreamed it would. In fact, it probably just fed into the ego of those who could afford the D3x but were on the fence—likely enough to push them over the edge, driving them to splurge on the newest status symbol in the DSLR photo world.

For the record, my predictions for the next round of pro camera bodies:

D4:

16-20 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 204,800 and 1,638,400 (likely 409,600)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
$4,999 – $5,500
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) is already incredible, so any improvements will be that much more amazing.

D4x:

36-50 megapixels
Top ISO somewhere between 25,000 and 102,400 (likely 25,000)
16-bit processing
Full HD (or higher) 24p, 25p, 30p, and a good chance of 720p or higher 60fps. Full manual controls are guaranteed.
$7,999
The rest (fps, autofocus, buffer, etc) same as above

Of course, lots of magic powder is likely to accompany these new cameras—things we never saw coming. Here’s to hoping…

Years ago I happened upon an incredible find: a leather-bound quote book printed in 1910 entitled Old Friends Are Best which contains quotes selected and arranged by Richard Brooks. I love the paper, the letterpress design on the pages, and the well-worn cover. But even more, I love the quotes inside. Almost every page contains a treasure, revealing the care and attention to detail the compiler took in arranging this book.

So, with something so old and so rare, what better background for a few images of something new and ubiquitous, yet equally as well designed 101 years later: the iPhone. I took these images with an ebay auction in mind. I find that my attempts to create above-average images of my occasional for-sale product usually fetches me a higher price, and the extra few minutes it takes almost always turns out to be an enjoyable distraction. Below you can enjoy the images of the phone and the book.

And if you like, you can scroll down below the images for the story of how lame ebay has become.

EBAY SUCKS:

I thought I’d try selling my excellent-condition iPhone with a highly coveted baseband on Ebay in order to supplement my purchase of an officially unlocked version.

My only hitch? Ebay sucks Llamas teeth.

A few hours after I finished listing my auction, I received this email:

Followed shortly by this one:

But before you jump to judgement, try to understand this from Ebay’s perspective. First, I did log in with my own password. Second, I was also asked to verify my identity by answering a security question. Third, I uploaded these really generic-looking images that easily could have been mistaken for images like those often lifted from any company’s product pages by thieving Nigerian 419 scammers. After all, there are plenty of companies taking product pictures of their near-mint condition iPhone on a one-hundred-and-one year old leather-bound book, right? And lastly, I have an account that is nearly as old as Ebay itself, with 100% positive feedback, and a history of listing things intermittently.

Therefore—given the circumstances—there is only one logical thing for them to do: DELETE my auction, refund the clearly fraudulent .50¢ listing fee charged to my credit card, and disable my ability to login, forcing me instead to answer the same security questions all over again in order to verify my identity so I can then re-list the same auction a day later than intended while fighting off the impending feeling of déjà vu. Perfect.

Of course, their reset password feature is broken, so all this is for naught even after I get customer-non-service on the line.

In the end I must give up and say no thanks, Ebay. You can keep your crappy auctions and crappy customer-non-service, your crappy policies and crappy overzealous fraud department. I’ll take my business elsewhere—even if that means I’ll lose money. At least I won’t lose my sanity dealing with you inebriated monkeys.

The Stone of Destiny.

I loved it. The movie featured a unique storyline, a good cast, enough excitement, and a plot that was based on a true story. I don’t recall having heard of the Stone of Scone prior to this movie, but I found the movie interesting and the message inspiring.

If you’re into sex and blood, this show isn’t for you. Also, I love ultra-cinematic masterpieces. Despite this being nothing of the sort, it’s very much worth watching. I only wish it was streamed in widescreen. Fullscreen is sooooooooo 1992.