f/8 and be where?

I was reading Tim Barribeau’s [excellent article on µ4:3 lenses][m43 lenses], when I was taken aback:

> The oft repeated creed of the photojournalist is “f/8 and be there.” You can set this lens to infinite focal length, and anything more than 6 feet away will be in focus, making it great for candid shots.

This goes against my instinct. A 4:3 sensor with a wide-angle field of view, should do better than f/8.

Being anal, I had to check [DoFMaster][dofmaster]. Inputs: (E-P3, E-P2, E-P1), Focal length: 15mm 30mm equiv), f-stop: f/8, subject distance: 6.2feet

Hyperfocal distance: 6.2ft
Near limit: 3.1ft
Far Limit: Infinity

Translation: If you set this lens correctly (to six feet, not infinity), then everything from 3 feet to infinity will be in focus to within the ability of the sensor to resolve (any m4/3 sensor: at f/8 we’re at the diffraction limit of them all).

Now this bodycap doesn’t really have focus or a focus scale, so it is conceivable that the article statement is technically correct. But since this thing only has a focus lock in two positions — .3m and infinity — I have a hard time believing that the infinity focus is actually locked at infinity and not the hyper focal distance, giving it an extra 3 feet of focus room. If it is really set at infinity, then there should be a click stop somewhere at the hyperfocal distance.

I don’t have this lens so I can’t verify. But if the infinity lock doesn’t lock focus at 6 feet (focus down to 3 feet), I’d be surprised. (If it actually is an infinity lock, then I guess the recommendation is to lock at infinity and pull back a bit.)


wheat… grass, really
China Camp State Park, Marin, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 85mm f/1.4D. Canon 500D, handheld
1/250 sec @ f/8, iso200, 85mm

One of the dangers of “f/8 and be there” is that depth of field is very dependent on distance. When doing macro photography, even f/8 can not be enough. (Unless buttery bokeh is the effect you are intending, like in this photo.

[m43 lenses]: http://thewirecutter.com/reviews/the-first-micro-four-third-lenses-you-should-buy/ “The First Micro Four Third Lenses You Should Buy — The Wirecutter.”
[dofmaster]: http://dofmaster.com/dofjs.html “Online Depth of Field Calculator—DOFMaster”

Take your best "Take"

The folks at [Popular Photography][popphoto] recently published an introductory book, [Take Your Best Shot][tybs]. Since I like introductory works, and I wanted to test what a photography books look like in digital form, I purchased it on my iPad through Apple’s iBooks.

By tip 5, I was confronted with a familiar scene:

Excerpt from "Take Your Best Shot"

I lived in SOMA for a couple years. In fact, I’ve photographed this same scene before (on an SD card that got corrupted), so I made a mental note that next time I was there with a camera, to have another (and my own) take on this “take”. Because [I was visiting Yerba Buena Center for the Arts to see my cousin and her son][ybca post], I had a camera with me, though not the right lens or equipment. That never stopped me.

SFMOMA from the terrace

SFMOMA from the terrace
Yerba Buena Gardens South of Market, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G
9 exposures @ ƒ9, ISO200, 24mm

Handheld, and in a rush to catch up to my nephew, I set my aperture to something non-diffractive and eyeballed the hyperfocal distance with my autofocus and held down the shutter for a bracketed exposure.

Even though I’d have much preferred a wider-angle lens, and the most-level bracket had to be chucked due to ghosting, you’ll notice from my take on the “take” shows I much prefer portrait-oriented landscapes. I find [foreground interest][symmetrical comp] contains details often lost in landscape-mode. It also forces the eye to follow much more rigidly down a path toward the background creating a more dramatic image (which I encouraged with post-processing).

(An added benefit: landscape is the way your eyes sees the world, flipping your camera to portrait-orientation forces you (and the viewer) to see the world differently.)

Next time you are out-and-about with a camera and see a familiar scene. Try to copy what someone else did, then have your own take on their take. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

(BTW, I have an iPad subscription to Popular Photography Magazine through Zinio. Always have a subscription to one magazine on photography, just to inspire you.)

[tybs]: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1616281219?tag=terrychay-20 “Purchase Take Your Best Shot on Amazon”
[popphoto]: http://www.popphoto.com/ “Popular Photography Magazine”
[ybca post]: http://terrychay.com/article/her-phone-has-more-levels.shtml “Her phone has more levels”
[symmetrical comp]: http://terrychay.com/article/symmetrical-compositions.shtml “Symmetrical compositions”

Just keep shooting

One brunch, I noticed that a trio of my friends all had single-letter twitter names. I asked them to activate their wonder-tweet powers. They obliged:

@a @c @k

@a @c @k
Zazie’s, Cole Valley, San Francisco, California

Olympus E-P1, M.ZUIKO Digital 17mm 1:2.8 Pancake
2 exposures, 1/60sec @ ƒ2.8, ISO400, 17mm (35mm)

After discussing the [kissy ass face][kissy anus face] video, I asked my friends to pose one of the things that were “too dirty for [College Humor][college humor].”

Do the kissy-anus-face

Do the kissy-anus-face
Eddie Rickenbacker’s, SoMa, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Cosina-Voigtländer NOKTON 35mm F1.2 Aspherical
3 exposures @ 1/30sec, iso 320, 35mm (47mm)

One thing I like to do is keep shooting even after people are done posing, the smiles are more honest.

[kissy anus face]: http://vimeo.com/344008 “Jeff and I at the Rejection Show—Vimeo”
[college humor]: http://www.collegehumor.com/ “College Humor”

My cousin Juno

It’s been four years [since I last wrote about my cousin Juno][thanksgiving chicken]. I haven’t changed much but a baby grows up a lot in that time.

While technically he’s my nephew, he calls me “사촌”—사촌 (sa-chon) means cousin in Korean, so I refer to him as my cousin Juno. And apparently I’m a big hit with him—Juno constantly pesters his parents before family get togethers, “Is Sa-chon Terry going to be there?”

The reason why is I have a secret weapon…

iPhone attention
Vicolleto, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Voigtländer Nokton 35mm F1.2
1/60sec, ISO160, 35mm (47mm)

…an iPhone loaded with [tons of free and $1 games][nintendo vs iphone].

Unfortunately because I never actually *play* the games, I hadn’t unlocked enough levels in [Krazy Kart][krazykart]. Marie had to help out:

Here is how you do that

Here is how you do that
Vicolleto, North Beach, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Voigtländer Nokton 35mm F1.2
1/60sec, ISO160, 35mm (47mm)

What an amazing device, and an amazing cousin. Oh, to be a kid right now! Wait a minute…

Photobooth - Me, Juno, Marie

We still are!

[thanksgiving chicken]: http://terrychay.com/article/thanksgiving-chicken-story.shtml “It isn’t Thanksgiving without the kimchee”
[krazykart]: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/krazy-kart-racing-us/id329373629?mt=8 “Krazy Kart Racing (US)—iTunes Store”
[nintendo vs iphone]: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2011/8/1/ “The Fire—Penny Arcade”

Focus on the eyes

The eyes are the most expressive part of a person.

One thing people forget about smaller-sensor cameras is that it is easier to do close-up photography. Even if the subject is a person, it’s okay to crop everything out, just remember to focus on the eyes. The closer the subject the smaller the depth-of-field gets so even with a small sensor, you have to get the focus just right.


The Richmond, San Francisco, California

Olympus E-PL3, Lumix G 20/F1.7
1/60sec @ ƒ1.8, ISO500, 20mm (40mm)

What attracted me to photographing Marie was the way the light from the bay windows caught her eyes. Unfortunately, my camera blocked a lot of that.

This camera has face and eye detection. I can even select which eye to prefer (I always select closest eye of the closest subject), but it is not always accurate. This photo suffers a little because the camera mistakenly focused on the distal eye—probably because I am near the close-focusing limit of this lens (the sensor isn’t small enough and the lens is a pancake).

It is interesting my appreciation of this image is interrupted because as the photographer, I see my mistakes: the off-focus and camera [gobo][gobo], but my friends don’t.

### Other tips

Even though the image is highly cropped it’s okay. A closely cropped photo rarely suffers and you can crop a person anywhere as long as it isn’t near a joint. As with “focus on the eyes”, these sort of photographing decisions are derived from our evolution.

Just remember, you will have to retouch the portrait a bit. Soften the skin (a little, not too much) and add definition and saturation to the eyes and lips. You should probably remove some of the color from the whites of the eyes, but I didn’t need to in this photo. Note that retouching tools have gotten very good as computers have gotten very powerful. I didn’t even need to leave Aperture (or use the RAW image) to retouch.

[gobo]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gobo_(lighting) “Gobo (lighting)—Wikibedia”

World Bike Festival

CNN informed me that[a photo of mine][amsterdam photo] was selected for [a slideshow about the World Bike Festival][cnn article]:

World Bike Festival highlights benefits of cycling around the globe - CNN.com

It occurred to me that this combines a ton of my passions—photography, internet, writing, cycling, and activism—with my ethnicity.

Save the world, one bike ride at a time. 🙂

[amsterdam photo]: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tychay/5700378467/ “Amsterdam bicycle parking—tychay @ Flickr”
[cnn article]: http://www.cnn.com/2011/10/21/living/world-bike-festival/index.html “World Bike Festival highlights benefits of cycling around the globe”

You have a camera

“I want to tell you the most important tip I learned about photography.”

“What is it?”

“You have a camera.”

Frame that shot!

Frame that shot!
Zazie’s, Cole Valley, San Francisco, California

Olympus E-P1, M.ZUIKO Digital 17mm 1:2.8 Pancake
1/60sec @ ƒ2.8, ISO1000, 17mm (35mm)

Coley teases my habit of photographing my friends.

Recently some colleagues had a contest: “Guess how many cameras Terry has on him right now?”

Even though I have one, too often, I forget I carry a camera.

Smiling Sean Coates

Smiling Sean Coates
The Invisible Dog, Brooklyn, New York City, New York

Olympus E-PL3, Lumix G 20/F1.7
1/60sec @ ƒ1.8, ISO500, 20mm (40mm)

Sean is embarassed to have my camera in his face… or happy that he guessed how many cameras I was carrying.

You have a camera, shoot it! You never know what will happen.

Gordy's Camera Straps

Somewhere along the way, I ran into [Gordy’s Camera Straps][gordyscamerastraps].

Gordon Coale is a guy out in Washington state who hand makes leather camera straps. Last year it occurred to me that one of his straps would perfectly match my [Hirano case][hirano japanexposures] (which you [may have seen before][live view]). Hand straps are simply a good idea for nearly any camera, because they’re the most minimal safety leash for photography: you don’t really need a one normally; but if something bad happens, you’ll be glad you have one around your wrist. Plus, when you do it right, they look gorgeous:

The food camera and Gordy’s strap

The food camera and Gordy’s strap
Barracuda Sushi, Castro, San Francisco, California

Nikon D3, 24mm f/1.4G, SB-900
1/50 sec @ ƒ2, iso 800, 24mm

I bought this Gordy’s strap almost exactly one year ago.

[gordyscamerastraps]: http://www.gordyscamerastraps.com/ “gordy’s camera straps”
[hirano japanexposures]: http://www.japanexposures.com/shop/index.php?manufacturers_id=36 “Camera Hirano—JapanExposures. These English speakers will get import Hirano cases for you.”
[live view]: http://terrychay.com/article/live-view-aperture-on-the-e-p2.shtml “Live view aperture on the E-P2”

Continue reading about camera straps and cases after the jump

That camera? Do not want.

Heard on the radio:

Want a camera that is easy to use and takes good photos?

My first thought: No. Because it’s not the camera that makes the photo good, you do.

Good photos record a worthwhile experience; and those experiences are earned, not taken.

Look this way.

Look this way.
Morgan’s Apartment, South of Market, San Francisco, California

Leica M8, Zeiss Biogon 2.8/25ZM
1/16sec, ISO320, 25mm (33mm)

There are few small cameras harder to use (and slower) than a Leica.

“i like to poke things with my finger. tummies, ears and noses mostly. oh, and jello. jello is fun to poke. red jello. no, green.”
—Cyan. Always causing trouble.