Monday, April 25, 2022

The Great Hagerstown Hamfest is back on for 2022!

That's right, after two years of COVID-19 cancellations the Antietam Radio Association is holding the 2022 Great Hagerstown Hamfest! There are a few things that are different this year so I suggest that you keep reading as well as view the linked flier for more information.

When are we having this hamfest? That's actually the first change we made this year, we are holding the Hamfest on Saturday, April 30, 2022. That's this Saturday. Please note that this is the same date as the York Hamfest. The gates open at 6 AM for Vendor and Tailgaters with regular admission starting at 7 AM.

Where is this Great Hagerstown Hamfest? We are back at our normal location of the Washington County Ag-Center at 7313 Sharpsburg Pike in Boonsboro, Maryland. This is also known as state route 65. There is easy access to route 65 from Interstate 70 and we are close to the Interstate 70 and Interstate 81 Interchange.

Okay, what does it cost to get in? For general admission we charge $7 per person, outdoor tailgating is $7 per 8 foot space. Indoor tables are $10 Per Table/space if registered in advance (deadline this Wednesday) and $15.00 per table/space the day of the hamfest. You may not need an indoor space, I will discuss outdoor tailgating spaces a bit more when I get to the bad weather section.

So what is there to eat? This is a major change we made this year, while we still have the cake, we are not running our own kitchen this year and we have a food truck coming to provide both breakfast and lunch. This allows for better food service and to eliminate the need of having club members work the kitchen for the entire hamfest.

Are there any prizes this year? Yes, we have plenty of prizes ready to go. Between 8 AM and Noon we will have at least one door prize every hour. We have made another change this year, you no longer need to be present to win the smaller prizes as you have in years past. We have our grand prize drawings at 12:30 PM.

Sounds good so far, what about forums and presentations? We have three lined up this year we have an ARRL forum at 8 AM with MDC Section Manager Marty Pittenger, KB3MXM. At 9 we have Greg Getz, KC3TDC from the local community college presenting a program about solar power. At 10 we have Nelson Sollenberger, KA2C presenting Antennas for Field Day with good Isolation and Modeling using EZNEC and Auto EZ.

Excellent, what about other activities? We have plenty of those as well. We have the bargain auction at 11 which I usually buy too much stuff from. We also have a fox hunt after the Grand Prize Drawings. At 1 PM we have amateur radio license exams, please check in between 12:30 and 12:45.

What happens if the weather is poor and it rains? The hamfest is still on, our outdoor tailgating space is in pavilions, however, on nice days we do have some spaces that are out in the open if you so wish. We have four pavilions available when we have bad weather and one is used regardless of conditions anyway.

Excellent, but I want to see the official flyer with contact information, where can I get that? Sure thing, you can get it here:

Digital Black and White Photography, a lesson on using Canon color processing with RAW files.

There are several ways to explore black and white photography these days in both film and digital. While I will be concentrating on Canon cameras and software today, other platforms have additional options with black and white. This discussion will also be using RAW files and it is important to do this if you intend on trying this yourself.

First a few background rules for those that wish to try some of the ideas in this article. Firstly, even though we will be working with black and white, the camera captures and records a full color image in the RAW file. This means we shouldn't be using color filters in front of the lens and that we need to keep white balance in check, although that can be changed in post-processing if you wish.

For black and white photography we set our camera up in the same way we do for color photography, except for one major settings change. On Canon we change our picture style, similar settings exist for other platforms, Fuji cameras can even do Acros film emulation. We again want RAW as we want to change things later. On Canon you select a the Monochrome Picture style and we have a few additional options in the monochrome mode. You can set the sharpness and contrast to taste or leave them at the defaults. We want to set the filters and toning to none. We will work with the filter setting a bit later, all of these options can be changed later in the editing software as well.

Now we need to go out and take our pictures, you can do this just any other photography exercise you perform, you can also change the picture style if you want to capture a color photo or two, but this isn't strictly necessary as we can restore the color information by re-processing the RAW file. You can also skip this step if you have some existing RAW files you can pop into your photo editor. For Canon users, I am recommending Digital Photo Professional at least to follow along with this discussion. If your editing software has similar options, you can use that instead.

With our photos on our computer, we can then take a look at them in our editing software. In my case I'm using Canon's digital photo professional. When we double click on an image we will get the image and a few other windows including our tool pallet. First, if you did not shoot as monochrome in camera make sure the white balance is good and then select the Monochrome Picture Style.

Now, we have a monochrome image we wish to edit, we can make several edits after the fact. You may want to tweak the contrast, shadows, and highlights, but first, let's try out the filters effects. With these filter effects you can re-process the image to virtually place a Yellow, Orange, Red, or Green filter in front of the lens. Yellow filters are used to dim the sky slightly and bring out the clouds in the image as this dims the blue in the image. The orange filter does this as well, but also provides some dimming in the green spectrum as well. A red filter dims out the green and blue spectrum increasing contrast of grass and other plants by dimming them down. A green filter will dim out the red and blue spectrum while brighting the greens in the image. Green will also slightly dim any exposed soil in the image from trails for example. Try the filters out to see what you like best for a particular image. There is also plenty of additional information that better describes how to use color filters for black and white photography.

Lastly, I want to cover, reverting to a color image. Since this exercise involved shooting RAW, we can adjust out picture style to revert back to a color image and make the appropriate color adjustments. If you have a landscape, you can simply select the Landscape picture style and make the appropriate adjustments to taste, you can also revert to monochrome if you want to keep the image Monochrome.

RAW images give us a lot of flexibility in black and white as we capture and record a color image. More advanced editing software can provide even more options such as putting in grain or even film emulations. Remember, that Fujifilm cameras have some film emulations built in to the camera and their RAW processing software, but other options are available in software such as Adobe Lightroom.

Sunday, April 24, 2022

Why I Chose To Go Back To My Kit Lens, a detailed investigation into focal lengths, crop sensors, and kit lenses

About five years or so ago, I thought I would not use my DSLR's kit lens the EF-S 18-55 IS1:3.5-5.6 II again except under limited circumstances. This was around the same time I bought my first superzoom the Canon EF 28-135mm 1:3.5-5.6 IS USM. The superzoom is excellent on film and full-frame bodies, but left something to be desired on the APS-C.

For those that are familiar with APS-C sensors, you already understand the problem I'm going to bring up and that is the crop factor. On a full frame camera, the 28-135 range is a wide angle to telephoto zoom range that is great for normal day-to-day photography. The 28-135 range is a bit of a problem on APS-C however as you have no wide angle. The lack of wide angle capability in a Day-To-Day lens is a bit limiting even when you have enhanced telephoto capability.

To understand the impact of the crop factor we need to discuss a few other lenses as well. These lenses are the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II or the newer STM version and the Canon EF 28-80mm 1:3.5-5.6 II lens which is film SLR kit lens. Both of these will help explain the APS-C cropping.

Now with the lenses we are comparing out of the way, we need to understand how the APS-C Sensor crops the image by getting the equal to the 35mm focal length. Let's first understand the 35mm focal lengths of all three applicable lenses, remember EF-S is for APC-C only. Let's start with the 50mm prime lens. The 50mm focal length is very popular as it is a standard focal length. The term standard means that field of view is nearly equal to that of the human eye. Usually around 40 to 50 or 55mm is considered a standard focal length for 35mm film. Now let's look at the other two lenses. Note that the shorter focal length is the same on both. At 28mm on a 35mm frame you have a wide angle field of view. At 80mm which is the limit of the film camera kit lens you are into the telephoto range while the superzoom gets you deeper into the telephoto at 135mm. Remember, the longer the focal length, the tighter the field of view is or an increase in magnification, but this isn't the only way to increase the magnification.

To increase the magnification in camera, you can do two things. You can increase the focal length, or change the physical size of the image capture, if you leave the other factor the same, your magnification increases. This is how the size of point and shoot cameras and cell phone cameras was reduced. Smaller sensors and shorter focal lengths can give you the same range of magnification. So what is the change in magnification.

With some early exceptions, Canon APS-C sensors have a 1.6 times increase in magnification compared to their full frame versions. This means we can do some rather simple math to convert to the 35mm equivalent focal length as we simply multiply by 1.6. This makes 28mm equal to 44.8mm, this means our wide angle lens setting becomes a standard focal length with APS-C. This means that my superzoom becomes a standard to telephoto zoom instead of a wide to telephoto superzoom. This means that my 135mm becomes equal to 216mm so I gain on the telephoto side. This also means that my standard 50mm focal length prime lens becomes equal to 80mm or a telephoto lens with an APS-C sensor. Now let's compare the focal lengths of the kit lenses.

This is why I brought up the film kit lens earlier. The 18mm on the APS-C kit lens is equal to 28.8mm at 35mm, but the 55mm is equal to 88mm at 35mm. This means that the kit lenses have about the same equal focal lengths and more importantly the wide angle of my DSLR kit lens is about equal to the wide angle of my superzoom.

Now, can I get a superzoom of a good focal length range for my DSLR when I am doing better financially? Yes, the lens I would be looking for is the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM. This is a great lens for the APS-C that gives a 28mm to 216mm 35mm Equivalent on an APS-C sensor. The biggest challenge is that this lens is $549 so I may try to find it used like I did for the 28-135mm lens which is now discontinued. I can also get a 35mm lens which is equal to 56mm which is very close to the standard range to compliment my 50mm. Since that would be an EF-Mount lens it would also do double duty as a wide angle prime on my film bodies.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Why I changed my Raw Photo Editing Software Back to Canon Digital Photo Professional

I published an article a bit over a month ago about how I moved my Photos Library to and external drive so I could store more RAW photos in the Photos Library file. As I'm getting back into photography I discovered a few things with Apple's photo's software that I didn't like, mainly with the RAW Processor. Let's go through these a bit to see what is going on.

First is how the edits are handled and stored. Just like with other image formats that Photos supports, RAW edits are done non-destructively. Unfortunately, this also means, Apple uses the same way of storing the edit Metadata. If you export the RAW file, you get what was imported into Photos, only on exporting to a non-RAW format do you get the edited results. I expect this is the way software such as Lightroom works as well and thus should be expected. I doubt Canon's Raw file recipe can carry the metadata from third party editors anyway. I can't even call this strike one.

The second problem is the editing capability, especially for black and white. While Photo will allow you to apply colored filters to an image in post-processing, it is a simple slider that allows you to select what you want to see. You don't know what position gives you no filtering or the position that gives you what colored filter. If you use the auto setting, you have no idea what filter was selected, even if you like the auto selection and thus can't even think about replicating it using a film camera in the future. This may be possible with paid third party add-ons, but my budget is tight and thus why I'm shooting black and white digitally in the first place. This was strike one.

The next two strikes are related to each other. This involves how Photos handles the picture style selected in camera or from Digital Photo Professional if you edit with that first. Photos completely ignores the picture style you select and performs it's processing exclusively. That's strike two, but that's only part of the story. Photos and Apple's Raw Processor is 100% capable of handling and processing this metadata. In fact, when you connect the camera to import into photos, the picture style selected appears on the preview, but disappears when you actually import the image. This is strike three.

Now, I can't put the blame on Apple too hard for this. I don't think Photos is designed for the intermediate style editing that I'm doing and it is very likely that Apple's software engineers are thinking along the lines that someone like me will pony up for Adobe's Lightroom software or another third party equal. There are things I don't like about Digital Photo Professional too, these mainly are due to the way processing is handled for batches of exports and the fact that the code is Intel only at the moment.

Tune back in here tomorrow at 10 AM Eastern Daylight Time (14:00 UTC) for why I chose to start using my DSLR Kit Lens again.

New Posts Coming Out On Schedule Soon

As you know I don't have a regular schedule for updating or even looking at my blog here. Unfortunately, this also means that sometimes I have a lot of content to put out and end up putting it out in too short of a span. To avoid flooding the blog with too much content at once this time, I'm using scheduled publishing to spread this out a bit. The first of these posts will come out at 10 AM Eastern Daylight Time today. That's 14:00 UTC. The second post will be scheduled for tomorrow at the same time. Both of these posts are digital photography and software related so you don't want to miss it. Keep an eye on here Monday at the same time just in case I get a third post out.

Thursday, March 10, 2022

Tech Tip for Mac Users, How to Add a Mac Formatted External Drive to Time Machine

If you read my previous post regarding moving your Photos Library to an external drive and saw that I have Time Machine configured to back up my external drive, you may be wondering how to do this yourself. Please note, these instructions assume you have either a Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or APFS volume, other types may not work. Additionally, you cannot back up data stored on a Time Machine volume using this method. I've been backing up my large external drive using this method for over five years.

  1. Connect your external drive
  2. Open the Time Machine Preferences.
  3. Click on the "Options" Button
  4. Locate your external drive on the list of excluded items.
  5. Select your external drive and click the minus sign and then click the "Save" button
  6. Start a backup manually. This will take some time as it will do the standard incremental backup of everything else normally backed up, but will perform full backup of the new drive you added.
Time Machine will back up your external drive any time the external drive is connected and mounted during a Time Machine backup. Time Machine will not provide any error and will simply skip backing up the external drive if it is not available. You can also backup multiple external drives using this method.

Tech Tip for Mac Users, Move Your Photos Library To An External Drive For More Space

I've been hoping to get back into photography, but two things were discouraging me. The cost of film is increasing and my MacBook has limited storage space on the internal SSD so storing a lot of RAW files would not be ideal. When I switched to using Apple's Photos app to manage my photos I thought I was required to use the internal SSD. I have an external drive for larger files, which I have configured with Time Machine as I used to store my digital photos there.

If you plan to do this, Apple does have instructions which I will repeat here, however, this is discouraged as Time Machine does not backup external drives by default. You want to make sure you have Time Machine making a backup of your external drive that you are using for photos prior to moving your library.

This had been discouraging me for quite a while, but I need to explain my workflow first to show the impact of film versus digital on my storage requirements. With film photography, I do not have the large RAW files that I do with my digital photography. When I have my film processed at a lab they scan to JPEG images and any editing that would need to be done is usually performed during the scanning process. I do not need large TIFF files. With digital, I'm on my own for editing and trying to get the best image out of what I captured. This means I need to capture a RAW file from my Canon DSLR which is around 17 or so megabytes per image instead of about 3 to 6 megabytes per image. Even a large number of film photos would eventually cause difficulty with my SSD space.

If you wish to move your photos library to an external drive, you need to perform the following steps.

  1. Select the external drive you wish to move the library to, this drive should be one that is usually connected to your machine and one that is included in Time Machine backups. This drive must be formatted as Mac OS Extended (Journaled) or APFS. You cannot use a time machine drive or a drive formatted in another format such as FAT or exFAT.
    1. If you are not sure how to configure an external drive to be backed up by Time Machine I will follow up with an article on how to do this.
  2. Close the Photos application if it is open. Also ensure that no devices such as iPhones or iPads will sync to your Mac during this process.
  3. Locate your Photo's Library folder in the Finder. This is usually in the pictures folder in your home folder. Note this appears as a file that opens in Photos, but is technically a folder.
  4. If needed, open another Finder window and open your external drive.
  5. Drag the Photos Library folder from the source to the external drive. This only copies the folder, we will remove the old folder.
  6. Double click on the Photos Library folder on the external drive, this will launch Photos.
  7. Go to the Photos menu and select preferences. Ensure that the library location indicates your external drive. Click the "Use as System Photo Library" button.
  8. At this point iPhones and iPads can sync again.
  9. If your desktop wallpaper is stored in photos, you should drag this individual photo to the Pictures folder and reset your wallpaper to one of the default options and then to the file in the Pictures folder. This ensures the correct wallpaper is displayed even if the Photo's Library is not available.
  10. Next find the old Photo's Library folder and move it to the Trash/Bin. Do this with Photos open so it will not let you remove the wrong copy. Do not empty the Trash/Bin yet.
  11. Perform a Time Machine backup, ensure that the backup is larger than the size of your photos library. If you have multiple Time Machine drives, repeat this step until all the backup is made to all Time Machine drives.
  12. Close and re-open Photos to be absolutely sure the Photos Library is configured correctly. When re-launching, launch from the dock, Applications folder, or Launchpad to ensure that Photos is defaulting to the correct folder.
  13. Once Time Machine is fully updated, you can empty your trash to remove that large Photos Library from your internal drive.