canon

LED astray

I paid a visit to the Frankfurt Dippemesse on the 5th of May to get some photos of the fireworks and the fair at night. Generally I got some decent long exposures using a tripod and settings with low ISO and 2 to 4 second shutter. There are a lot of bright lights so f stop can be f8 to f11 and even f16 for more starry effects in the bright spots.

glittery white lights

glittery white lights

One thing that I noticed when looking at the photos is that most of the lights on them did not produce constant blur lines in the photo. Most of the lines of light are composed of dots when you look at them closely. I have noticed this phenomenon more over the years and finally realised the cause after blaming my technique, camera and other superstitious reasons.

dots are visible at fast speeds

dots are visible at fast speeds

In the olden days, lights were almost all incandescent bulbs or halogen. Nowadays, everything is LED. LEDs are cheap, efficient, don't produce heat like halogens and last longer, so they are now find everywhere in torches, home and automobile lighting and even fun fairs. The downside to LED lights is that they pulse (for cheap ones) at a much slower rate than incandescent lights or florescent tubes. As far as I can tell from reading on the internets an old style light bulb pulses at twice the frequency of the power supply current, while a cheap LED pulses at half of the frequency. This is measured in Hertz. Let's pretend the power supply is 50 Hertz, a florescent light would pulse at 100 Hertz, an LED at 25. Apparently, all lights on AC flicker but the effect is made more prominent with LEDs as photon are not emitted when they are flickering on and off. While a regular light bulb is in an off state it still produces heat and some light. If the LEDs are dimmable, this is achieved not by lowering the amount of voltage as in the case of a light bulb, but by increasing the time the LED is off per flicker cycle.

Digital dots of the break dancer ride

Digital dots of the break dancer ride

Does any of this matter?

Health-wise, lights that flicker at a slower cycle can cause seizures in some people.  For long exposures, lights with slower flickers on fast moving objects are easy to spot as a series of dots rather than a single line as in the examples here. Photographers have long been aware of the effect of florescent lighting and shutter speed causing issues at certain rates. The LED issue is a newer version of this but I also found recently that if a room is predominantly lit by LED, my Sekonic flash meter doesn't function properly as it thinks a flash has been fired when it is actually the room lighting flickering. It was unable to get a reading at all while the LEDs were on. This even occurred when a regular light was the dominant light source. The only solution was to turn off the offending lights while reading for flash exposures. Seeing as LEDs are not going away any time soon, I guess we will just have to get used to seeing lines of Morse code instead of smooth clean light trails during long exposures in future.

Good food

Japanese Kaiseki cuisine at its finest

Japanese Kaiseki cuisine at its finest

Last week I got to take photos at Nihon Ryori Ken in Sachsenhausen, Frankfurt. It's an intimate new restaurant hidden away in a quiet street and it's simple exterior bellies the fact that inside the restaurant, there's a Japanese essence to the place, people and food that is hard to find anywhere outside of Japan. If you know what shiso, yuzu and good raw tuna tastes like after being to Japan and feel like you have been disappointed by Japanese restaurants by owners who don't even speak the language, then you must try here. If you do go, a counter seat offers the possibility to view the chef close up and really appreciate the amount of care and attention that goes into each dish. The menu changes monthly too, so there's no fear of running out of flavour sensations.

 

Everything including the desserts are handmade

Everything including the desserts are handmade

Canon gear advice

A 50mm wide aperture lens is a kit essential. The Canon 1.8 is so cheap that it would be better as part of a set than the standard 17-50mm. It is most DSLR users' introduction to bokeh and can be addictive. For most photographers, the €1000+ 50mm 1.2 L lens is completely out of reach and while there are cheaper choices from other makers, every Canon photographer has to take the 50mm f1.4 which you can get around €200 used on eBay.

It is great in a lot of ways: wide open, relatively high number of aperture blades so the bokeh highlights are not like squished pentagons (like the 1.8), full time manual override, distance scale on the top, and it's light and did well on any camera.

 But all of this comes with a dark side: The one major construction defect this lens has is the front focus ring that extends when you focus something up close is so weak, just a little pressure in a bag is enough to push it out of shape. 

This happened to mine over 2 years ago. It got slightly crushed then refused to work. I thought I had destroyed it for good so invested in a Canon 85mm 1.8 instead. But I always missed the close focusing ability of the 50mm. I searched around on YouTube and found a few repair videos. I followed the instructions, took my lens apart, gently coaxed the metal back to shape and then reassembled the lens. When I put it back on my camera, the focus send to work but when taking a shot an error came up saying something about the lens connection. I figured I had probably broken one of the delicate data cables inside the lens so back in the cupboard it went for another year.

 I was considering selling some old equipment recently and found the lens in the cupboard looking dusty. I got a bit nostalgic and wondered if I had the skill to finally fix the lens (or pay somebody else to), so I watched the videos on YouTube again and opened up the lens. It didn't take me long to spot that one of the data cables want sitting completely in the socket! I reassembleded the lens and to my relief and surprise, it started working again!! So this year I'm going to get re-acquainted with my nifty fifty but a word to the wise:

 Always store this lens with the focus set to infinity. This reduces the chance of going through what me and many other Canon 50 1.4 owners have already been through!

  

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Congratulations

 something old, something new, something borrowed, something full frame

 something old, something new, something borrowed, something full frame

I might have to work on my rhyming skills. I did some photography at a wedding last week and while it was a long day, it was sunny and enjoyable every minute. Weddings are a special time and this wedding was certainly that involving a ceremony, party at a cafe and a trip on the local Frankfurt apple wine tram!

On my part, before the wedding I researched the locations, hunted for good photo places online and in person, did lots of research, found an able assistant and made tons of prep notes which all went out the window as time and circumstance didn't work in my favour at all...

Even so, it was a great event that I was proud to be a part of, and hopefully have recorded some decent memories of! If anybody needs any advice for wedding shoots - definitely have a back up camera even if you just borrow; take more batteries than you think you will need and make sure they are all fully charged; take time to relax amongst the chaos and have fun! 

100 Strangers

Slack Lining (despite how this picture looks, he was not falling but actually bouncing on the line)

Slack Lining (despite how this picture looks, he was not falling but actually bouncing on the line)

Slack lining is one of those modern sporty pastimes I have seen being performed in parks a lot recently. It's curious and obviously must be good for exercise, balance and body conditioning but I have never understood how you actually do it. Let alone, what happens if you fall off when the elastic rope is just tight enough to rob your of any offspring should you land the wrong way. Chatting to Nico was enlightening and watching him bouncing up and down, turning around and maintaining his balance was really impressive for somebody who has only been doing it as a hobby. I can't say I would feel comfortable giving it a go yet but at least I have a greater appreciation of the skill. Maybe I can get my son to try it out...

100 Strangers

Drum and plates

Drum and plates

shy for a street performer

shy for a street performer

Seeing Iliya beating out some captivating rhythms on the street took me back to the first time I saw a street summer performing on pots and pans in New Orleans. It's amazing the amount of sounds that can be gotten out of a plastic tub and some old saucepan lids. Iliya told me he picked them up from hostels while he has been touring Europe. I always take street performer signs with a pinch of salt but I believed him when he said he's saving for a real drum kit so he can go to university to study music. With his talent it shouldn't take him long.

In the hot seat

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One of the oddest things I've seen next to a children's playground in Japan is this grounded fighter jet that was used for training the Japanese air force. The canopy was a bit hazy and has some anti glare coating on which caused some strange reflections and I had to reach over with my camera, so I didn't know what was actually in the cockpit until after I got to my computer.