Work Station Upgrade.

Regular visitors here will have followed the digital Darkroom series I recently completed ( You can find the links in the side bar or main menu listings) , the start of which was talking about what you need when editing using a PC or Laptop. My preference will always be for a desktop PC although I do have one of the latest Samsung tablets as well that I can use for mobile photography. Having an ergonomic or comfortable desk is very much as important as the computer you use. In my case I was using a compact corner unit desk I built some time ago, however I have never been a fan of having a sizeable PC case taking up desktop realestate.

With than in mind I jumped on YouTube to see what I could find. I found this.


I knew straight away this was the design I would use as the basis for my new desk. I elected to leave out the extra drawer that is shown in the video as this helped keep the height of the top of the table exactly where I wanted it. As the components I use to power my i5 based editing rig included a full height video card and a larger than standard CPU cooler I needed to make the componentry drawer deeper.

I also flush mounted a 22 mm momentary switch into the front face of the drawer, and it sits about 1 mm higher than the panel face to make it easy to press. Thats it, no extra led or anything needed. I dont need power leds or hardrive leds, its pretty obvious if the PC isn’t running.

The table top is made from five 150 mm x 20 mm Macrocarpa boards and is 1800 mm in length with a depth of 650 mm. Framing

and legs are made from American White Oak and are tapered to give the whole thing a slight retro look. I liked the knot detail in the wood so much I choose to finish the top with semi gloss water based poly. Four coats in all. Now I have a much better work surface and it no longer feels crowded and cramped when I’m using it. As I had all the component parts in stock this cost me nothing but time to finish.

You could build your own desk like this very cheaply with some ply or even MDF and paint finish the project.

As always, Happy Snappin’

Film images from the Seabird Coast

Today I’ve been processing some of the negatives from my latest roll of 35mm films. Developed and scanned for me by Imageland in Frankton, Hamilton NZ.  I usually get their standard scans as they are always good. They do offer other services but I usually opt just for develop & scan with the scans uploaded for me to access from my desktop and pickup of the negatives later as I’m in the area. All very convenient

There was a few images from a trip to Mount Maunganui some months back. At that time I had the standard Pentax 28-90 kit lens on the camera for that trip and the difference between the new Tamron and the older kit lens was evident, with images generally being a little sharper  from the Tamron lens. The first two images are taken with the Pentax lens. Both images were processed using Photoscape and have had a film sim filter applied, with a gentle sharpen and noise reduction.

The following image was taken on a rather poor day weather wise with the light not being particularly good under the trees and as a result poor colour is seen in the image where in reality the colour of the fallen leaves and those on the branches were in fact a great deal brighter. 000024_filtered

I was using Kodak Ultramax 400, a medium speed film for these images and I have to say I’m not overly happy with the colour of this particular roll of film. I think I will have to try Kodak Colour Plus 200 which seems to have better colour reproduction. Fortunately with the ability to apply Colour Filters that simulate the look of well know film stock I have been able to gain back some of the colour in the images.

In the above images two have been colour corrected, the other two ( The wading bird & my wife taking a photo ) have been left as shot although some other post processing has been done, mainly a light sharpen and noise reduction, which is usually necessary when working with scanned images. Noise reduction done carefully should leave a small amount of  film grain visible. This grain is even less evident when the images are printed. The final image is from one of the corrected images above printed onto A4 High Gloss Canon Photo Print paper. The image below was taken with my Samsung J3pro, which is good enough to show that the final print is more than adequate for printing at A4 at 300 dpi. Printing larger would also be fine at A3 at 240 dpi. Colour correction in the image was more in line with what I was seeing from both the Note 9 and the HS20.


Having seen the resulting output from my printer I’m more than happy with what my film camera is producing and it now remains to be seen what the rest of the photos look like. Theres approx 16 images on a second roll of film from our day out around the Hauraki Gulf. These images are sitting on a roll of Fuji Superior Xtra 400/24.  Most of those mages are from the Burke Street Wharf area in Thames and it will be interesting to compare the two film stocks against the Fuji files from my HS20 which was set to Astia as the film simulation. Stay tuned more to come.

Happy Snappin’




Samsung Note 9 & Fuji HS20 and the Seabird Coast

Two recent trips have seen us at both the west coast at Kawhia. and visiting the Seabird Coast, the rocky shore line at Kaiaua   and Thames in the Hauraki Gulf.

The Note 9 is very good at doing panoramas and is something my wife enjoys creating. The first two images below are of the bike fence at Oparau and looking west towards Australia from the top of the sand dunes on the west coast just out of Kawhia, I even managed to insert myself in the image, completely unintentionally of course.

The last seven images in this set are all taken around the Kaiaua & Seabird Coast areas. Two remarkably different areas within ten kilometres of each other. The rocky shore line at Kaiaua has to be seen to be appreciated.

All the images seen in this first set from the Note 9 are unprocessed direct from the camera.

We had two other cameras with us as well as the Note 9, namely the venerable Fuji HS20 EXR and the even older Pentax MZ-6 sporting the ( new to me ) The Tamron AF 28-300 mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro Lens. Currently the film is away being developed and scanned and hopefully I will have some results this coming week.

While I wait for the film to be processed I have started to process some of the HS20 imagery. The conditions for the day were very bright clear and sunny which was a bit of a pain as it made everything very contrasty with deep shadows, typical for this time of year (winter).

I shot a series of images in both Colour and Black & White using Astia for the colour so as not to over-saturate the images and the B&W film sim for the others. As always Fuji includes some nice film simulations in their cameras and the HS20 is no exception to this.

The image of the old wharf to the right ( colour image) shows a little too much purple in the sky, it seems I may need to change the colour curve a little and get it back to a more natural look. After seeing this result I decided to try a sepia toned edit which I really like. I could have shot this as sepia in camera but I prefer to use the sepia settings in Photoscape as it seems to be more balanced between highlights and shadows. The Sepia film sim in the HS20 seems a little too lacklustre for my taste, therefore I generally convert from the colour image when using this process. This middle image was shot as B&W in camera and all thats been changes is a little more contrast.



In the image above I have cropped the photo slightly and processed the image using the AF2 middle film simulation in Photoscape. In the image below which was one of two identical images the overwhelming blue haze makes the highlights in the sky difficult to see. By using the AF2 process we create a more retro feel to the image while bringing out more of the highlight detail. As with all these HS20 images they are shot in Jpeg only in EXR DR mode with the dynamic range set to auto DR 400%.


Once the film images have been processed I will set them in Galleries to view so that they can be compared image for image.

HS20 image taken at 126mm, processed to remove colour cast due to extreme haze and natural telephoto image detail loss.


The image above is somewhat overblown in the highlights making it difficult to process. Being a Jpeg there isn’t much headroom to try to bring back highlights. However converting to a Sepia toned image increases contrast and provides a fraction more detail while imparting a somewhat retro feel to the image. Its a good image in that it shows the harshness of the light and the amount of blue in the atmosphere.


More to come later …

Happy Snappin’


I Now Have Twins!!

Not identical mind you but nearly so.

I recently purchased a good condition Pentax MZ-30 to go with my MZ-6.

Over the last week I sold of all my Canon DSLR’s. If your’e wondering why its simple really, I was getting bored with the Canon even though they were both fine cameras in their own right, I just didnt seem to be getting the enjoyment out of using them that I had with my Fuji Cameras and my Pentax film cameras.DSCF4624

As I’m nearing retirement I have decided to save my hard earned dollars until I have actually retired. Hopefully by then I will have a better idea of what to buy, be it mirrorless or DSLR.

Until that time I intend to get back to my photographic roots, which is film. I like the slower pace of shooting film. You have to be more measured in your approach and try to make each shot count. If you only have a couple of rolls of 24 exposure film then you have a lot less leeway than you would with digital

I’m as guilty as the next person for blazing away at something of interest and letting the camera do a lot of the work without too much thought and while I usually get at least a few frames that rank as keepers I also wind up with hundreds of images that really only bloat my PC’s hard drives.

Nothing in it size wise. Both bodies appear to be identical although the handgrip on the MZ-6 seems slightly bigger.

The reason for buying the MZ-30 which is the entry level model of the MZ line is because of the lens. The Tamron AF 28-300mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di LD Aspherical (IF) Macro Lens. This version is made for Pentax film cameras but will work fine with Pentax FF and APS-c bodies. Especially the Pentax digital DSLR’s as they have IBIS as standard. There are stabilised versions for most of the other manufacturers and the digital version of this lens is really the slightly shorter 18-250 mm designed with APSC in mind.

Like all telephoto lenses of this quality they get a bit soft at the long end so stopping down is likely to help. It should be noted that this lens works better for film than as a cheap digital workhorse. You can still get nice images they may just be a little softer than most digital shooters would like.

Once I’v run a roll or two of film through the MZ-6 with this lens attached I will publish the results. Because the MZ-30 doesn’t have as many features as the considerably more advanced MZ-6 it will have the 28-90 firmly attached. As it also has a plastic lens mount on the camera body I didnt like the idea of having the big telephoto lens mounted on it. I’m probably worrying about nothing but I would rather err on the side of caution.  I also think the MZ-6 is better suited for getting good results from the bigger lens.

While basically identical there are a few differences that are apparent on closer inspection.

In keeping with my ethos of using minimal dollars to continue my photographic journey the total cost including freight for the MZ-30 with the Tamron attached was $108.00 NZD. Money hopefully well spent.

And for those folk who think I have completely lost the plot…never fear I still have my trusty Fuji HS20 and my smartphone for the digital footprint.

Happy Snappin’