Monthly Archives: March 2015

No Aurora but the Milky Way

March 28, 2015 – Alaska Geo. Inst. forecasts a Kp index of 5 for the Aurora.  Kp 5 means – if the Aurora occurs you should be able to see it low on the horizon in Massachusetts.  Sounds awesome so we decide against going for the CamNats (Massachusetts Camera Naturalists) and head to Maine.  Acadia is always a great spot so we head to the loop road. WRONG most of the roads are closed.  A nice cop gives us direction on how to get to Sand Beach – so it is about midnight and we find our way to the parking lot.  Poor visibility forces us out of there and heading further towards Otter Cliffs.  The road is closed at the turnoff to Otter Cliff road. We pull over into a small clearing at one of the entrances to a parking lot and wait for the Aurora – nothing.  Well the Milky Way rises over the cliffs so we wait.  3:15 and the Milky Way shows its full arc.  It is cold, the wind does not help. I mounted the Rokinon 14mm on the Sony A7R to get this image.  The foreground trees were light painted during the exposure.

Please click on the image for a larger presentation.

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Milky Way – Acadia NP. Sony A7R, Rokinon 14mm f/2.8 at f/2.8, 25 sec at ISO 1600.


A subsequent 7 image pano yielded the arc but the 14mm lend distortion is apparent.


Milky Way – Full Arc – Acadia NP – 7 image panorama.


Posted in ISO 3200, Mirrorless, Night Photography, Noise Reduction, Photography, Sony A7R Tagged , , , , , , |

Wine and Cheese

As the cold and snow continues, photographing indoors is always a good choice.  This is another image created using light painting.  Equipment: Sony A7R, Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8, Maglight (non LED) flashlight, Surefire LED flashlight.  Exposure triad f/16, 30 sec, ISO 400. 5 image composite.

Please click on the image for a larger rendition.


Posted in Accessories, Lens, Lighting, Mirrorless, Photographs, Photography, Sony A7R Tagged , , , |

New Bags for your Mirrorless gear

Urban Approach 10

Urban Approach 10

Are you looking for a shoulder bag or backpack for your Mirrorless or compact DSLR camera system, one that can also hold a tablet or laptop?  Think Tank Photo has just released the Urban Approach 15 backpack, the first backpack designed specifically to hold a complete mirrorless or compact DSLR camera, as well as a 15” laptop, up to a 10” tablet, smart phone, and extra space for gear and personal items.  The Urban Approach 5 shoulder bag holds one medium to large mirrorless or compact DSLR body with lens attached, one to three additional lenses, and an 8” tablet.  The Urban Approach 10 shoulder bag holds one medium to large Mirrorless body or compact DSLR with lens attached, two to four additional lenses, and up to a 10” tablet.  And don’t forget that with my special arrangement with Think Tank, when you place an order for $50 or more you will automatically be able to receive a Think Tank item for free!

Click on the links below to order or learn more.




Urban Approach 15 lowes

Posted in Photography

Light Painting – Still Life

Pears on Brass

Pears on Brass

With all the snow and not many places to go, a little light painting seemed to be the thing to do yesterday. This also gave me the opportunity to test out the Zeiss Touit 32mm f/1.8 lens.  Mounted on the Sony A7R in crop sensor mode the lens performed flawlessly.  There was a fair amount of ambient light at 4:30 in the afternoon so I stopped down the lens to f/16 at ISO 50 that allowed an 8 second exposure.  Individual portions were light painted and three images combined to create this final composite.

Please click on the image for a larger rendition.

Posted in Composite, Lens, Lighting, Photography, Sony A7R Tagged , , |

Phottix Luna Collapsible Beauty Dish

The Phottix Luna collapsible beauty dish is the answer to location and on-the-go beauty lighting needs.


Luna in Carrying Bag

Luna in Carrying Bag

The dish comes in a collapsed state in a drawstring sleeve. Also included is a diffusion sock. Folded up like an umbrella the beauty dish weighs 2.5 lbs. and measures 15.5 inches.

As you open the unit and spread out the white internal panels, you see a very clever interlocking system. Each individual panel is spread and held by hinged white fiberglass rods that lock together. This keeps the panels spread and form the shape of the beauty dish. Just as easily, you collapse these rods to close down the dish. The assembly and disassembly is very easy and very quick.

Fiberglass Rods and Hinges

Fiberglass Rods and Hinges

The internal reflector dish is mounted to the unit with three aluminum rods and screws. This is one component that feels a bit flimsy and in the unit I received one of the holding screws is loose and cannot be tightened. Possible over tightening during manufacture has caused the threads to strip.


Internal Reflector and Mount



A rear extension sleeve covers the front section of your strobe and stays in place using the provided drawstring.


Extension Sleeve



The diffusion sock is also well constructed and fits snug over the edge of the dish.


The Luna with the Diffusion Sock



The basic unit comes with a Bowens compatible speed ring. Speed rings for Elinchrome and Balcar units are available at a reasonable price. The Phottix HS Speed Mount is available for use with a hot shoe flash


The overall quality is very good. The panels are well made and the material used is as god as some expensive soft boxes. The use of fiberglass instead of plastic keeps the unit rigid and maintains its shape even after multiple assembly and disassembly. The center reflector is a bit flimsy and could be made better.

The Luna was attached to an Elinchrome strobe to check the quality of the light it produces. I found the light to be well balanced and provides very similar light to one produced by a metal beauty dish. The shallow rim does impact the quality somewhat. The light quality becomes much softer when you add the provided sock.


As Phottix does not provide or make a grid for the Luna, controlling the light would require a DIY grid. I do hope they can make a grid attachment in the near future.


  • Lightweight
  • Quick assembly and tear down
  • Good construction and materials
  • Portability 


  • No Grid capability

Overall the Phottix Luna Beauty Dish is a great light modifier and ideal for location and studio shoots. The light quality is good and with the diffuser you have a true portable soft light suitable for head-shots and waist up portraiture. Most of all, the price is right – $60.

I would recommend this for both location and studio work and there is one in my studio.

Posted in Photography

The Arcanum

Arcanum blue

Yesterday I became a “Master” at The Arcanum – feel privileged and proud to be a part of this group of distinguished and incredible photographers, mentors and most of all an exceptional community.

The Arcanum founders and visionaries are Trey Ratcliff, Peter Giordano and Curtis Simmons. You can find out more about these Mystical Pioneers on their websites and social pages.

The Arcanum delivers a personalized learning experience that values people over place, and coaching over content.
Using the time-tested Master & Apprentice learning method within an online social community, you can quickly close the gap between aspiration and ability.

If you want to be a part of this world of AWESOME or just to learn more click here or the logo above.

There is also a great podcast episode worth listening to on the Sprouting Photographer – click here for the link.  This is an interview with Trey and Peter.

Posted in Photography