Two Images

I travel from California to Iceland as often as time and funds allow. I have been enough times (5) and spent enough days (nearly 100) to have favorite places. One of the places I return to is Ásbyrgi (Canyon).

Ásbyrgi is a horseshoe shaped canyon carved by a titanic glacial burst or, according to other geologists, repeated, big enough glacial bursts. The canyon walls are vertical lava. Midway down the canyon is an outcrop. I’ve set with a camera aimed at this outcrop on three of the trips. I spent years as a 4×5 inch film photographer so I know how to sit and wait. But no mater how good and eye or how great a subject, the quality of the light will separate good images from little more than records.

My visits in 2006 and 2014 Ásbyrgi were sunny and relatively warm. I get annoyed with sunny Iceland days. The light on sunny days reminds me of Winter light in the Southwest Deserts of the US. Great light at the beginning and end of each day with hard work in between. In 2014 the late in-the-day clouds are a great help.



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Bárðarbunga – Images of the Eruption

Bárðarbunga has put on a show. Follows are some of my favorite still and video images of the Holuhraun Eruption.


The Bárðarbunga Volcano

As someone who is interested and visits Iceland I’ve been watching the progress of the Bárðarbunga (Bardarbunga) Volcano with great interest. As of this post, and after a false report, the Volcano is not yet erupting. Follows are some links to keep up with the eruption – if there is one.

(early September) The eruption started in Holuhraun lava field, north of Vatnajökull (ice cap) along a dyke that is fed by the same magma chamber as the Bárðarbunga volcano. Bárðarbunga lies under the central ice cap. Thus far the eruption has been along the dyke and adjacent to the Ice cap. A sub-glacial eruption would cause flooding and ash production as seen in at Eyjafjallajökull.

(October 17, 2014) Iceland Review now has their coverage neatly in one place.

Earlier coverage:

For a pretty constant stream of information try the Icelandic Met Office


Where My Photography Lives

My portfolio site has examples of both my Landscape and Commercial Architecture work. For those fascinated by Iceland, that spectacular rock in the North Atlantic, there are two portfolios. Also, for those interested in visiting  Iceland, there is a section on “Camping in Iceland.” Camping is remarkably easy and inexpensive in Iceland. This was a 2006 trip but still serves as an practical introduction to the much traveled Ring Road.

If you are interested in  a print or three of my work visit Crated.

William Smithey

So, As I Predicted, Aperture Lives On (if only as a rumor)

Aperture is better at organizing images than Lightroom and it’s equal in most other ways. I also prefer the workflow. It is not an Adobe product so the specter of onerous upgrade prices or, worse, a monthly “rental” price is not a concern. Aperature runs only on Macs and Apple uses it and other apps to sell hardware. Adobe has shown that it’s software only business model is frayhing a bit. Their response has been to squeeze the users of Adobe products a little harder. I am not a fan of being being squeezed nor upgrading simply because Adobe has a virtual gun at my head.

The current version of Aperture is 3.4.2 is where I live as a photographer. With a couple of pug-ins I rarely need to go out Photoshop. When I do I am reminded what a mess it has become. Photoshop is a lifestyle, not an app for occasional use. All the non-photographic cruft is just too much to wade through. Though less able, I can get the little things that Aperture and plug-ins lack from Pixelmator.

So, as I predicted, comes a rumor that Apple is developing Aperture X, a replacement for the current Aperture app. Aperture came out a slow, poorly engineered app which has become a stable, cabable place to do RAW processing and manage a large number of images. As good as it has become, Aperture, it was released in 2005 and  is in need of some fundimental re-engineering,There has been some discussion as to it’s continuing as a product. Well, it looks as though it will.

Which is no surprise. Apple clearly understands the importance of digital photography – the iPhone camera’s starting with the 4s prove this. Even Preview, free on every modern Mac, is a fairly capable photo editor. A reimagined and re-engineered Aperature may just keep Adobe honest – at least in the photographic app space. Aperture is $79 in the Mac App store, which is a genuine bargain for a Pro app, and It has already caused at least two price decreases in Lightroom.

Nice way to start 2013.

Roger Cicala of Lens Rentals and the Canon EOS-M

I think it’s great that Roger, he of LensRentals is doing more writing. This is a “First Impressions” look at a the very interesting (and for Canon, potentially very important) EOS-M. The EOS-M is a mirrorless camera that is, in all ways that matter, a repackaging of the very good T4i.

Roger is on my side of the viewfinder / no viewfinder issue:

I try to disclose my personal feelings first, so you can later use that to discount everything I say that you disagree with. It just makes it easier on both of us. I was predisposed not to like the camera because it doesn’t have a viewfinder. I like viewfinders. If I can’t have a viewfinder, then at least give me an articulating LCD. This has neither. So on the front end I definitely was planning to not like this much.

He has lots of things to say about the camera and it’s available lenses.

But, and there always seems to be one these days when Canon releases a new camera.

We did a simple test: we focused the OM-D and the Canon EOS-M to minimum focusing distance, aimed at a good infinity distance target, and pushed the focus buttons simultaneously. We could hear the focus-confirm beeps quite clearly and thought we’d be able to notice a significant separation. Oh, boy, did we ever. The Canon took almost exactly twice as long as the Olympus to focus. We tried it the other way, too, from infinity to close up. Same result. Exactly twice as long.

It is dog slow at focusing. For what I do, focus accuracy trumps focus speed. If you do sports or street work, well this is not your camera. But Mr. Cicala, who has seen and used hundreds more cameras and lesnses than I have ends with this”

So Who is Going to Like It?

Oddly enough, I do. I’m all about image quality above all other things. This camera gives me great, great image quality in an amazingly small package. It had me at 870 line pairs / image height.

No Way To Start The Day – Google Buys Nik Software


Google Aquires Nik Software:

We are pleased to announce that Google has acquired Nik Software. For nearly 17 years, we’ve been guided by our motto, “photography first”, as we worked to build world class digital image editing tools. We’ve always aspired to share our passion for photography with everyone, and with Google’s support we hope to be able to help many millions more people create awesome pictures.

We’re incredibly grateful for all of your support and hope you’ll join us on the next phase of our journey as part of Google.

All our best!

The Nik Software Team

I can imagine Google wanting Snapseed. Fine, sell them Snapseed. But I care far more about Viveza 2 and Sharpener Pro 3.0 and I don’t think Google does – at all.

And as for the long term viability of Viveza as an Aperature Plug-in I am not even a little optimistic. And to think, I almost bought HDR Efex Pro 2…

For Those of Us Who Use Aperture

In the spirt of full disclosure, I use Aperture if not daily than nearly so. I run it on a first generation Intel (1.1) MacPro. I paid some attention to Lightroom when it was first released but generally I despise Adobe’s upgrade policy (which just gets worse and worse.) That said, it is worth noting that Lightroom is an outlier in the Adobe ecosystem. It looks different than any other Adobe app and cost way less than any other Adobe app. The upgrades are even reasonable.

Also, I shoot at low ISO – ISO 800 is a ceiling for me even on my very capable at ISO 1600 Fuji X100. I’ve pixel peeped enough to know that the basic RAW development in Aperture versus that of Lightroom at low ISO’s is one only a dog can hear.

So it is with great interest that I read (via Duncan Davidson) the two opposing views of the current state of Aperature vs Lightroom.

From Scott Bourne:

I assumed we’d hear something about Aperture 4.0 by now. I was really confident in fact that there would be an Aperture 4.0 by now. I wrote an article not long back linking the timeline to releases and thought surely we’d have an answer by now. After all, Lightroom 4 is shipping and in every way it needed to, Adobe caught Aperture and in some cases passed it. But from Apple – not a peep.

I’ve used Aperture for more than five years for the simple reason that I thought it was the better product. As of the Lightroom 4.0.release, I no longer believe that’s accurate.

From El Aura:

 In regard to Aperture, nothing much is new. It is just the same trend that has been there all along with LR receiving more frequent major updates and having an edge regarding image adjustments and Aperture an edge regarding organisation. It is just that the gap that has been growing slowly but steadily (in regard to image quality but also to some extent speed and reliability) has become now big enough to being noticed more easily.

The meta point, I suppose, is the perception that Apple has left the Pro market for lower ground. To date, I do not share this opinion. Apple is, well has been for several years, a company that,, pursued both mobile via iOS and traditional computing via OS X. Uniquely, Apple controls the entire platform for both. Final Cut Pro X was and is a paradigm shift and big changes make for grumpy people. That said, Apple has rolled out increasingly capable versions of FCP X and, not suprisingly, people have become less grumpy even though the core shift in the way that video editing works in FCP X has not changed.

I have no special insight into the future of Aperture but I just don’t see Apple leaving something as fundamental as Pro level RAW development and image management to the Adobe. Digital still imaging has become a very big thing.

If You can see it you can shoot it (photographically that is…)

From Thorin Klosowski on Lifehaker:

In general, the mantra of “If you can see it you can shoot it” will keep you safe from legal prosecution in the United States, but not all countries and states are the same so check out local laws before shooting.

And he mentions and I would add: So long as you are not standing on private property that is posted no trespassing or if you have  been informed that you are on private property and have been asked to leave because you do not have explicit permission to be on that property.

In my experience it’s nice prose, the First Amendment, but in practice guys and gals in any kind of uniform tend to take themselves quite seriously. I’ve never been asked to leave private, or in two cases, public property. I have been ordered to leave, never asked.

Thorin mentions and I have had words with a security guard over exactly this topic. The security guard, the property owner and even the police cannot confiscate your camera, film or digital media card without a warrant.

It’s a good and important read for photographers that like to roam the streets. And, no, Mr. Kiosowski makes it clear and now it’s my turn, neither of us are lawyers. If you have legal questions or issues a real lawyer seems like the proper place for a consultation.