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Old Oct 18, 2009, 9:08 PM   #11
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Terrific presentation of some finely done miniatures. All the shots are outstanding.

I Can't pick a favorite as I like them all.

Lou
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Old Oct 19, 2009, 12:44 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Rodney9 View Post
Wow, Wow, Incredible and the miniatures aren't bad either.

They are all so amazing and you shot them all so well, I like the depth of field in the General on Bridge shot and who doesn't like Pink Floyd.
I never seen anything like this, thanks so much for sharing, a real delight.

By the way that's a nice ring your wearing.
Hi Rodney,

Thanks!

These shows have evolved from the "lead soldier" days where battle fields were recreated with each of the figures maybe 1" tall, roughly painted with a blob of "flesh" colored paint and a couple of black dots for eyes, and hundreds of them were placed on a miniature landscape. In the past 6 years that I've been going to them, the artists have seemed to dominate over from the military history buffs, and the displays are usually single characters (full length, busts or just heads) or a few characters in a limited scene. Fantasy and horror characters from cartoons, movies and literature have replaced a lot of the military themes, and now occupy about half of the displays.

You spotted my ring! I didn't notice this until I was through processing the pic. I was so concerned with the reflections off the glass that I didn't notice the mirror reflection at all when I was shooting it.

Scott

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Originally Posted by danielchtong View Post
What a change of style from heavy long lenses!!
This could be a very capable portrait lens
Daniel
Hi Daniel,

Thanks! -- Yes, quite a departure from the big glass. I'm so used to shooting from a distance, but I knew from experience that wouldn't work at a show like this -- I had to be right on top of the displays. I was expecting to have to use an external flash, and had one in my pocket, but the lighting was good enough, that with a little help from SR, everything was pretty easy.

I had originally purchased the Sigma 17-70 for indoor events to possibly replace my Tamron 28-75/2.8 with something with more range on the wide side, but the K20 and previous bodies struggled with AF in low light with the 17-70 at the long end where it got over a stop slower (which is what I used most), and I went back to the Tamron. I like the sharpness and bokeh of this lens, so with the improved low light AF performance of the K-7, my original idea for using this lens might get resurrected, and it might become a preferred people lens.

Scott

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Originally Posted by Goldwinger View Post
Amazing shots Scott!
Shows a good combination of gear and skill.
The quality of these at such a high ISO is really something!
Hi GW,

Thanks! I was really pleased at how these came out.

Scott

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Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
Nicely done, Scott-
I shoot a lot with the Sigma 17-70mm lens and like what it can do.
Hi Sarah,

Thanks!

I don't use this lens nearly enough -- usually too busy with my long glass. I'm really going to concentrate on shorter FLs this winter.

Scott

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Originally Posted by Trojansoc View Post
Really outstanding series, Scott. I love the detail and manipulation of DOF. Favorites, in order, the Lincoln shot, the Japanese lady with a katanga, and the aviator smoking a pipe. Excellent job controlling the lighting.
Hi Paul,

Thanks!

I really had fun with this. I was actually surprised how well these turned out. They looked good on the LCD, but everything always looks good that small. I'm finding that the K-7's viewfinder is easier for me to see critical focus, so it allowed me to use the DOF more effectively. I'm also really getting to trust the AF accuracy of the K-7 in shallow DOF situations (which unfortunately is just about everything I like to shoot).

I had to shoot these where they were (couldn't even turn them), and there was usually only one angle to shoot from to get a decent background, but the light was pretty even because of the high ceilings, so I pretty much just picked the background that was as close to featureless as I could get.

The Lincoln Memorial sculptor's studio is my fav also.

Scott

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Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
These are all really awesome! Wonderful detail and just top quality shots. Lincoln is my favorite, closely followed by Gollum (think that's who it is, if I recall my movies correctly) - the DOF you used is perfect for it.

Is that your fingers and a bit of the lens in the mirror of the first one?

P.S. - I'm not crazy how Noise Ninja works with the K-7, these done with Topaz Denoise looks a lot better than what I've been getting with either LR's noise reduction or Noise Ninja.
Hi Harriet,

Thanks!

On the Lincoln shot, I took one with the sketch focused, one with the statue focused, and one with the sculptor focused. This one was easily the best. I really had fun playing with the DOF.

I was going to clone the reflection out when I finally discovered it, but then it occurred to me that I liked having this in the pic.

I must admit that I used NR on these because with plastic and plaster subjects, the "plastic" look of NR wouldn't much matter, and I was being lazy.

NR software is wierd. I've used NN and NeatImage in the past, but was never really satisfied, so with the relatively low noise K20 and K-7, I pretty much stopped using dedicated NR programs, favoring some pretty complicated PP techniques, and matching PP to the target output medium (using downsizing and selective blurring/sharpening to reduce the most apparent noise)

I saw a demo of Topaz, and started using v 2.2. This gave me some really good results, but it was slow and a little flaky, producing some wormlike artifacts where it should be smooth. I upgraded to v3, but they've changed the interface, and I liked the old one better. Either version is pretty slow. I'm running a 2.6GHz AMD dual core with 4GB of memory, and it's still pretty slow on the big 14MP files.

It's slow because it analyzes the whole pic instead of small portions. I think that this is more effective than some of the other products. I also think that Topaz relies less on just blurring or smearing to clean the noise. At the default settings, it seems to retain detail better than the other programs that I've used. I can also dial back the effect to just about zero if I want to, so I feel that I have more control. I could never see much difference adjusting the sliders on NI or NN, but the settings in Topaz make a significant difference. There is a problem of the delay before you see the result in the preview window, but that's something I have to get used to. The program also automatically boosts contrast and saturation in the preview (accentuating the noise), so many times the preview looks worse than the output, so you have to keep that in mind while playing with settings.

I think that the best recommendation that I can give is to download the trial and register to get the free trial key so you can save your results. They have versions for both Win and Mac.

Scott


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Originally Posted by nhmom View Post
Wow! Never seen anything like these. The statues and your shots of them are amazing.
Hi Patty,

Thanks!

A friend of mine is a former collector, knew that I didn't have any interest in collecting these, but thought it might offer a good photo op. I've been going every year since. If it was just military stuff, it wouldn't be as much fun for me, but it would still be a good challenge.

Scott
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Old Oct 19, 2009, 12:57 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by mtnman View Post
I echo every else's sentiments. Fascinating subjects, and excellent photos. My favorite is the general leading the soldiers along the brick walkway. I like how the background is very much out of focus, but you can still make out the next soldier in the line.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Keltech View Post
Terrific presentation of some finely done miniatures. All the shots are outstanding.

I Can't pick a favorite as I like them all.
Hi mtnman and Lou,

Thanks!

On the general and trailing soldiers, I first started to shoot each of the characters individually, then tried the angle of the shot I posted on a whim. When I got home, I decided that I liked this shot for exactly the reason that you posted -- the second soldier is WAY OOF, but it's immediately identifiable -- so in you mind, you understand the whole picture. This was a pretty good learning experience for me from a number of standpoints -- and I had a good time doing it.

Scott
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Old Oct 19, 2009, 2:25 AM   #14
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Nice shots they are all great and yea I see the cam and fingers in the first one too and the glass glare they are a bit mean to us. Great Job what show was this in what town? We have a lot of places in Seattle that I plan on visiting I will bring home a lot of course I take a good 200 shots a day right now and if I hit at least four to five in one day heck that could amount to be 1000 in a day!
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Old Oct 19, 2009, 6:14 PM   #15
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Fascinating subjects, excellent photography, especially great use of a good lens in some very capable hands!!
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Old Oct 19, 2009, 7:24 PM   #16
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Great choice of a lens for this job, and well used. Some non-EX Sigmas have been kind of flaky, but this certainly isn't one of them. Great color and detail, although I am sure both you and the K7 have something to do with that.
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Old Oct 19, 2009, 10:21 PM   #17
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Thanks for the info on NR software. I've been going through my Washington photos and due to the conditions, most were taken at ISO 1600 and I found the noise somewhat distracting. I've discovered that turning down NN's sharpening makes a difference - I've been using as small a radius as I could (think it goes down to .4), while leaving the percent alone, then turning down the strength, which doesn't do as much as the lowered sharpening does. It still takes out more detail than I usually want to take out though, and only use it if I'm resizing down to monitor size without any cropping. What I don't like it is that it gives you weird artifacts/wavy lines when you try resize and sharpen a bit. Turning down NN's sharpening seems to help.

Like you, I often do better with doing two layers in photoshop, sharpening one and blurring the other, then using a layer mask to allow the other one to show through where I want it. The K-7's noise isn't all that bad except where the picture is OOF, so this works pretty well. I'll do the free trial before I buy, but it looks good in your pictures.
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Old Oct 20, 2009, 12:24 PM   #18
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Here's one test comparison of several programs that might be of some help:

http://www.prophotoshow.net/blog/200...parisonreview/
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Old Oct 20, 2009, 3:56 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by SharpShotGal View Post
Nice shots they are all great and yea I see the cam and fingers in the first one too and the glass glare they are a bit mean to us. Great Job what show was this in what town? We have a lot of places in Seattle that I plan on visiting I will bring home a lot of course I take a good 200 shots a day right now and if I hit at least four to five in one day heck that could amount to be 1000 in a day!
Hi Nora Mae,

Thanks!

This is a once a year show. This year, it was held in a hotel in Arlington Hts, IL, but previous years it had been in Oak Park, IL.

I've had a few 1000+ shot days, but they were mostly at the zoo when new babies were being shown to the public for the first time -- the only times I've actually needed a spare battery when starting with a freshly charged one.

Looking forward to seeing some of yours posted here.

Scott

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Originally Posted by mole View Post
Fascinating subjects, excellent photography, especially great use of a good lens in some very capable hands!!
Hi mole,

Thanks!

I think that the camera/lens combo did most of the hard lifting here. In previous years, I had tried a lot of variations of flash (pop up with diffuser, external flash with bouncer, wireless external with mini soft box) but really didn't like the results that much. This time, it was surprisingly easy going. I could shoot right up to the subject, use the 1 ft or less of the table in front of the subject for support, and not have to wait much for people to get out of the way. It was a great learning experience.

Scott

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Originally Posted by penolta View Post
Great choice of a lens for this job, and well used. Some non-EX Sigmas have been kind of flaky, but this certainly isn't one of them. Great color and detail, although I am sure both you and the K7 have something to do with that.
Hi penolta,

Thanks!

I don't own a lot of Sigmas (just this one and the EX 300/2.8 APO), as I've had some problems with their QC in the past, but this one seems to be consistently good from other user's accounts, and at the time, was about the only lens with this kind of range and speed. I'd probably like the DA 17-70/4 a bit better (mostly because it's smaller and easier to pocket -- 67mm filter as opposed to the Sigma's 77mm filter size), but this lens performs very well, and I got a pretty spectacular deal on it, so there's no real reason to switch.

Scott
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Old Oct 20, 2009, 4:22 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by mtngal View Post
Thanks for the info on NR software. I've been going through my Washington photos and due to the conditions, most were taken at ISO 1600 and I found the noise somewhat distracting. I've discovered that turning down NN's sharpening makes a difference - I've been using as small a radius as I could (think it goes down to .4), while leaving the percent alone, then turning down the strength, which doesn't do as much as the lowered sharpening does. It still takes out more detail than I usually want to take out though, and only use it if I'm resizing down to monitor size without any cropping. What I don't like it is that it gives you weird artifacts/wavy lines when you try resize and sharpen a bit. Turning down NN's sharpening seems to help.

Like you, I often do better with doing two layers in photoshop, sharpening one and blurring the other, then using a layer mask to allow the other one to show through where I want it. The K-7's noise isn't all that bad except where the picture is OOF, so this works pretty well. I'll do the free trial before I buy, but it looks good in your pictures.
Hi Harriet,

I just looked at the site penolta linked to, and I pretty much agree with the author. I think for my purposes, Topaz works the best, allowing me to keep a surprising amount of the fine detail that I like. Note that the Topaz samples were from v2.2, and v3 does do a better job, IMO. I hadn't really thought of it, but his point about different NR programs for different images is probably spot on. I played with some of the samples out of curiosity, and was able to improve significantly over the default setting samples, even though they weren't full size.

Scott

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Originally Posted by penolta View Post
Here's one test comparison of several programs that might be of some help:

http://www.prophotoshow.net/blog/200...parisonreview/
Hi penolta,

I hadn't seen this one, so thanks for the link -- it's nice that the author included some discount codes for some of the programs. I've bookmarked the home page and will take a closer look at some of the other articles soon.

Scott
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