Camera club meeting will feature astrophotography | Arts


To start off the new year the Land of Waterfalls Camera Club will present a program featuring “The Fundamentals of Astrophotography” at its monthly meeting Thursday, Jan. 19. Starting promptly at 7 p.m., “live” via Zoom, the evening will conclude with the popular Shoot & Show activity.

For thousands of years people on earth have gazed into the night sky with awe and with questions. They have tried to capture and record what they could see with the naked eye. The German 3,600-year-old Nebra Sky Disk shows the first known depiction of the cosmos on a disk.

Opportunities to see the cosmic phenomenon increased drastically with the invention of the telescope early in the 1600s. Galileo saw the potential for the telescope and improved it drastically. He was then able to make many observations which he recorded in text and sketches.

Appropriately, it was an astronomer who coined the term photography in 1839, when Johann Heinrich von Madler combined “photo” (from the Greek word for “light”) and “graphy” (“to write). In that same year the French photography pioneer Daguerre himself is believed to be the first person to take a photograph of the moon, using his daguerreotype process. A year later John William Draper, an American doctor and chemist, took his own daguerreotype of the moon. By that time both astronomers and photographers realized that they could capture and document images that had eluded star gazers for centuries.

In 1850 Draper collaborated with astronomer William Bond to produce a daguerreotype of the star Vega. Henry Draper’s 1880 photograph of the Orion Nebula was the first ever taken.

Then physicists Jean Bernard Leon Foucault and Armand Fizeau improved the process sufficiently to photograph the Sun in sufficient detail that sunspots could be seen for the first time.

 Over a century both telescopes and cameras continued to improve the science of documenting the heavens. Professional applications got bigger, better and more expensive. The science belonged to those with giant observatories and special cameras. But the amateur photographers and astronomers really got their first break with the more recent introduction of digital photography. The digital camera gear and the software processing created limitless possibilities for the amateur Astro Photographer.

Night photography isn’t the easiest genre to master. There are so many things to consider. On top of your usual composition and exposure, you have to deal with noise, shadow detail, preserving highlights and camera gear considerations for night lovers.

Being out alone in the dark isn’t for the faint-hearted, but astrophotographers have learned to handle any fear of the dark when conditions are favorable. Some night images take a lot of planning: full moon and milky way images with specific foreground, for example. Interestingly, there are very few photographers who specialize solely in astro photography. The majority are versatile and shoot various types of landscape images.

Astro Photographer James S. Mack’s presentation of “The Fundamentals of Astro Photography” will be geared to enlighten and entertain photographers of all levels of proficiency (beginner to experienced pro). With a lifetime interest in the sciences and nature, 34 years as a graphic artist, 50 years of photographic experience (which includes over 25 years of astro photography with digital equipment), he will pass on tips and other valuable information about what common equipment to use and how to use it.

Mack has six telescopes and is a member of the SCSG – Suncoast Stargazers, LGDSO – Local Group of Deepsky Observers and WAS – West Jersey Astronomical Society.

Following the astro photography program the fast paced “Shoot and Show” activity will showcase the latest photographic achievements of local members. It will be a good example of what local photographers can accomplish.

These open-to-the-public monthly meetings will be “live” on-line with Zoom until the health crisis subsides. Club members and guests are encouraged to sign in at least 10 minutes early (6:50 p.m.). Non-member guests are encouraged to go to info@lowccnc.com for invitation and access information at least a day prior to the meeting.

The Land of Waterfalls Camera Club welcomes participation from those interested in becoming a photographer, to novices who need fundamental skills, to photographers who enjoy sharing with others, as well as experienced pros. No special equipment or software is necessary.

To offer more focused forums for small group participatory learning and sharing the club features two Special Interest Groups (SIGs). The Capture SIG concentrates on how to take the best picture and meets from 7 p.m. – 9 p.m. on the third Monday of the month in the community room of the United Community Bank in Straus Park or by Zoom. Please consult the website for the latest schedules. The Post Processing SIG features the developing/control of the digital image into the final photograph and continues to meet via Zoom at 7 p.m. on the first Monday of the month.

For more information, visit the Land of Waterfalls Camera Club website at www.lowccnc.com.



Best Ultra-Wide and Wide-Angle Lenses


 

 

It’s our first day for Camera of the Year Awards, and we’re kicking things off with the ever-popular categories of ultra-wide angle and wide-angle lenses. It was a busy year for wide lenses, with new optics arriving from a wide range of manufacturers across nearly every lens mount and camera system.

Sigma was especially busy this year, releasing excellent full-frame prime lenses in both ultra-wide and wide-angle categories. Panasonic was prolific this year, as well, launching excellent new wide primes for its Micro Four Thirds and full-frame S system cameras. Not to be outdone, Sony released five (!) new ultra-wide and wide-angle lenses, including a trio of APS-C lenses. However, we can’t give awards to every great lens that launched in 2022 — we must select the very best. Read on to learn the winners of our “Best Ultra-Wide Angle Lens” and “Best Wide-Angle Lens” awards for 2022. You’ll also find links to our extensive coverage for each lens, where you can read much more about the winning lenses. 

Looking ahead, tomorrow we’ll reveal the winners of our “Best Telephoto Lens” and “Best Super-Telephoto Lens” categories, so be sure to come back to learn which long lenses took the crown this year. If you missed this morning’s Camera of the Year announcement for “Best Camera for Beginners” and “Best Camera for Enthusiasts,” you can read all about those awards here. If you haven’t voted yet in our Reader’s Choice Award poll, be sure to do so before the poll closes later this week. 

 

 

As you’ll also see in the “Best Wide-Angle Lens” section, it’s been an excellent year for Sigma. The company released a pair of F1.4 “Art” lenses this summer, the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art and the Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art. The lenses, both available for E-mount and L-mount, deliver excellent build quality and optical performance across the board.

 

The Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens is in a class of its own. While the F1.4 aperture makes the lens quite long and heavy, it also sets it apart from the numerous 20mm F1.8 lenses on the market. The Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art is the fastest 20mm prime lens available for full-frame mirrorless cameras.

The Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art, in particular, is a unique offering. Alongside the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG HSM Art for DSLR cameras, the new Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art for mirrorless cameras is the only full-frame 20mm F1.4 lens available. There are 20mm F1.8 lenses but no other 20mm F1.4 lenses. While the extra speed adds a bit of weight and size to the 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art, it also provides more utility in low-light situations, especially for night sky photography. While the same focal length and aperture as the older DG HSM Art version, the new DG DN Art iteration is all-new, with a new appearance, design and optical formula. The fast aperture also allows for unique shallow depth-of-field images with an ultra-wide perspective.

 

Sony A7R IV with Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens at F1.4, 1/3200s, ISO 100.

For photographers looking for the unique qualities of an ultra-wide angle perspective, you’ll be hard-pressed to do better than the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens. It’s a great option for full-frame E-mount and L-mount cameras thanks to its excellent optical performance, fast aperture and outstanding $899 price point.

More info: Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art Hands-on Review / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

 

Best Ultra-Wide Angle Lens, Runner-up: Panasonic 9mm F1.7

One of the few Micro Four Thirds lenses on our list this year, the teeny tiny Panasonic Leica DG Summilux 9mm F1.7 made a big impression. This compact ultra-wide angle lens offers MFT photographers an expansive 18mm-equivalent field of view, and the bright F1.7 aperture gives it excellent light-gathering capabilities for astrophotography, low-light shooting, and pretty good shallow depth-of-field potential when combined with its good close-focusing distance.

 

 

In our testing, the lens proved impressive in most areas. It’s sharp, even wide-open, and focuses very quickly and closely, making it surprisingly versatile for a variety of subjects. It’s a fantastic addition to Panasonic’s Micro Four Third lineup and to the MFT system as a whole. It’s small, light, sharp and doesn’t cost a pretty penny, either. At just $500 MSRP, it undercuts several other wide and fast primes in the MFT system, which makes it even more of a compelling choice!

 

Olympus E-M1 Mark III + Panasonic 9mm F1.7: F1.7, 1/5000s, ISO 200. This image has been edited.

More info: Panasonic 9mm F1.7 Hands-on / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

Best Ultra-Wide Angle Lens, Runner-up: Panasonic S 18mm F1.8

We have yet another Panasonic lens to make our list of Best Ultra-wide Angle lenses of the year, this time it’s a fast ultra-wide prime for Panasonic’s full-frame cameras, the Lumix S 18mm F1.8. One of several F1.8 primes for Panasonic’s L-mount mirrorless cameras, this 18mm variety is the widest of them all, yet it shares essentially the same size, shape and weight as the rest of them. It’s a key feature that makes them all easily swappable — great for video shooters who use gimbals, cranes or other balance-sensitive equipment. A fairly simple lens in terms of its design, the 18mm F1.8 is nevertheless lightweight but ruggedly built with a dust- and moisture-resistance design.

 

 

Optically, the lens proved very sharp, even wide open at F1.8, and remains sharp throughout much of its aperture range. The F1.8 aperture and wide field of view make this not only a generally great landscape lens but also a good choice for astrophotographers. Focusing speed was very good, while close-focusing performance was even more impressive, allowing for nice, dramatic close-up wide-angle shots. Overall, the Panasonic Lumix S 18mm F1.8 is simply a solid, all-around great choice for L-mount shooters looking for a sharp, capable ultra-wide angle prime lens.

 

Panasonic S1R + Panasonic S 18mm F1.8 at F8, 8s, ISO 100. This image has been edited.

More info: Hands-on Review / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

 

Announced alongside the Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art, the 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art may not deliver a unique experience like its wider sibling, but it has distinct strengths. One of its greatest strengths is its affordable $799 price tag. That’s $600 less than the Sony FE 24mm F1.4 GM lens. Of course, we aren’t going to knock the Sony 24mm F1.4 GM – it’s a fantastic lens, but for Sigma to achieve the same focal length and aperture at a significantly reduced price is great news for photographers on a tighter budget. 

 

The Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art is a moderately compact, lightweight wide-angle prime lens

The Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens is a suitable choice for landscapes and even environmental portraiture. It’s also much more compact and lightweight than the 20mm F1.4 lens, weighing just 520g (18.3 oz). The lens exhibits minor image quality issues at F1.4 but also delivers beautiful bokeh. As always, there are tradeoffs.

 

Sony A7R IV with Sigma 20mm F1.4 DG DN Art lens at F11, 1/8s, ISO 100.

That said, the Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art is a great, fast wide-angle prime lens for full-frame mirrorless cameras. It delivers high-end performance across the board at a very fair price. Bravo, Sigma, for its outstanding new wide-angle lenses in 2022.

More info: Sigma 24mm F1.4 DG DN Art Hands-on Review / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

 

Best Wide-Angle Lens, Runner-up: Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G

So far, all of our top wide and ultra-wide lenses this year have been primes, but this Sony 16-35mm is our first zoom lens to make the list, and it’s quite an impressive and unique one at that. The Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G lens is unique among Sony’s several other 16-35mm full-frame lenses in that this one has Power Zoom, making it a really handy wide-angle lens for video creators. Of course, it works great for still photographers, too, but its primary use case is with hybrid creators who do both. You can manually zoom the lens, but the zoom ring is electronically controlled and can be operated directly from a compatible camera body, which is pretty cool. Plus, the lens is all internally zooming. The zoom behavior and speed are also adjustable.

 

 

Optically, the lens is very sharp lens across its full focal length range, especially in the centers, and even when shot wide open. There is some vignetting and distortion, but they are easy to correct if desired. Focusing is extremely fast thanks to its XD Linear Motors, and the good close-focusing distance allows for great close-up shots. Overall, this is another very impressive lens in Sony’s already-extensive lens lineup. If you find yourself in need of a wide-angle lens and you shoot lots of video as well as photos, consider the compact, lightweight and excellent power-zooming 16-35mm F4 lens.

 

Sony A7 IV + FE PZ 16-35mm F4: 16mm, F6.3, 1/320s, ISO 100

More info: Sony FE PZ 16-35mm F4 G Hands-on Review / Gallery

Buy now: Amazon, Adorama and B&H

Try before you buy: Lensrentals

 

• • •

We’re still running our poll through the end of this week for our Reader’s Choice Award!

So get in your vote today!

 

Imaging Resource Camera of the Year 2022:
Best Cameras for Beginners and Enthusiasts



Film resurgence captures photographers seeking to ‘slow down’ and hone their art


Treading water off a beach on Queensland’s Gold Coast, Calin Jones is waiting for the right moment.

A professional photographer, Jones would usually be snapping hundreds of photos a second as boardriders pass the lens of his digital camera.

Now, using an old film camera, he only has one chance.

“It’s so much more challenging,” he said.

“You’ve only got 36 shots on the roll, especially when you’re out in the water, so you’ve really got to make it last and watch for good moments, not just take a photo of everything that moves.”

Calin Jones says film photos remind him of his childhood.(Supplied: calinshootsfilm/Calin Jones)

Jones has been taking photos for 13 years. But two years ago, he swapped his digital camera for an old film rig.

“Digital cameras are so advanced; you can literally just hold the trigger and take 100 photos in a couple of seconds,” he said.

“It didn’t feel authentic. It just felt like cheating.

“It felt like I wasn’t a photographer. I was just using a camera and it was doing all the work for me.”

Calin Jones develops his own black and white film at home.(Supplied: calinshootsfilm/Calin Jones)

The challenge of film

The first photo from the moon was taken with a film camera.

Entitled Earthrise it was developed in 1968 by Kodak, the world’s largest film producer at the time.

Since then, digital cameras have stormed the market, taking away the perceived pain of winding, printing and waiting.

But for Jones, it was his return to film that “re-sparked” his passion for the art.

Jones says “little mishaps” while developing his own film are part of the reason he enjoys it.(Supplied: calinshootsfilm/Calin Jones)

“I was getting quite bored [with the digital camera]. I just found it too easy,” he said.

“With film … you really learn about how to capture those moments and watch what people are doing because you can’t just sit there and hold the trigger.

“It feels raw. It feels real.”

Blake Tate co-owns Lazarus Lab on the Gold Coast, one of the few businesses in the country that specialises in digitising film photos.

He said the lab gets orders from all over the world.

“In the [last three years] I’ve definitely seen a pretty big upward trajectory on all levels,” Mr Tate said.

“Big brands are demanding the film aesthetic, so it’s come back in on the higher-up commercial level, too.” 

The team at Lazarus Lab specialise in digitising film.(Supplied: Lazarus Lab)

Film is a ‘culture’

Digitised film photos have flooded the social media feeds of hobby photographers, wedding photographers and even businesses in recent years.

Jones said it was the feeling of nostalgia some of his clients were drawn to. For others, it was an aesthetic.

Blake Tate says demand is high for digitised prints.(Supplied: Lazarus Lab)

For many who have their film developed with Mr Tate, it is about the process.

“It is a whole culture,” Mr Tate said.

“Back in the day, it’s all that there was, so it wasn’t considered this special thing.

“Nowadays, with the whole resurgence, it’s a niche thing that is cool and there’s a whole culture around it.”

The Lazarus Lab team mix the chemicals, develop and scan the images into digital photos.

Blake Tate says film rolls can be expensive, but it did not disuade hobbyists.(Supplied: Lazarus Lab)

Mr Tate said it can take up to half an hour to develop a roll of black and white by hand.

“It’s weird, but people love that it takes so long and that it’s way more difficult than digital. They love what’s involved and that’s what’s keeps it interesting,” he said.

“It’s something that’s hard to replicate authentically with digital gear, which is why it’s still popular.”

Jones has been developing his own film at home after taking an online tutorial.

“It’s actually been so good for my mental health, sitting there focusing on something … being hands-on, touching the film, feeling it,” he said.

“Doing it myself now, I think, ‘I did that. I did all of that’.

“The rawness and being able to slow down, that was a huge one for me.”

In with the old …

Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012 after 130 years in business. It had not embraced modern digital technologies.

Jones says the “rawness and being able to slow down” are his favourite parts of film photography.(Supplied: calinshootsfilm/Calin Jones)

But for Jones, it was the simplicity he loved.

“The technology [now] is too good; auto-focus is just next level,” he said.

“It just takes away what photography means to me.

“I think capturing moments [with film means] waiting for moments and really involving yourself in the surroundings and whatever you’re shooting.

“[You’re] being present there — not just holding a camera and holding down the button.”

Jones believes film will only grow in popularity.

“I am waiting for big [camera] brands … to bring a new film camera out,” he said.

“It’s been 20 years since they brought out a film camera. I think that’s what’s to come.” 

A landscape photography journey through the Lake District with Mads Peter Iversen


by
Jeremy Gray

posted Wednesday, November 23, 2022 at 10:45 AM EST

 

 

Photographer Mads Peter Iversen recently visited the picturesque Lake District in England. It’s a great place for landscape and nature photography, and Iversen captured a diverse range of excellent images. In the hour-plus long video below, Iversen breaks down many photos, delivering tips on composition, lens selection, camera settings, and much more.

Iversen starts at a famous picturesque stone bridge, Ashness Bridge, for some long exposure photography. It’s a good example of approaching a scene that is frequently photographed. Just because many other photographers have shot a scene doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to put your spin on it. Iversen used a polarizing filter on his Sony 16-35mm lens and shot at 16mm, F8 and ISO 100. With these settings, his shutter speed was around 1/8 to 1/5s, which worked very well for the speed of the stream. It can be tempting to use very slow shutter speeds and get very smooth water, but often, it’s better to shoot at faster speeds to retain some of the water’s detail.

Iversen’s next shot goes from ultra-wide (16mm) to just over 300mm using his Sony 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens. It highlights the importance of having a diverse kit for landscape photography. While traditional “landscape” lenses, like ultra-wide and wide-angle zoom lenses, are important parts of any great landscape photography kit, there’s also a place for longer telephoto lenses. Sometimes the best landscape photo isn’t the grand vista shot, but rather a much smaller scene within the scene. A long lens is indispensable to ensure you get those shots when they’re available.

When doing landscape photography anywhere, and perhaps especially in a place like the Lake District, you are truly at the mercy of the weather. Luckily for Iversen, he was treated to “perfect” early morning conditions at Loughrigg Fell. It was one of those situations when you could look almost anywhere in the scene and find an interesting composition. Further, with the fog and early morning light, the scene was very dynamic, so new shots were regularly popping up.

There are so many amazing photos and excellent photography tips jammed into Iversen’s new video. If you don’t have the hour to watch the entire thing now, you should bookmark it and come back to it later. It’s an amazing watch for any landscape photography enthusiast.

To see more from Mads Peter Iversen, visit his website and follow him on Instagram. You can also catch up on more of his videos from the Lake District on his YouTube channel.

(Via Mads Peter Iversen)