Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Retrospective 30 official photo (I am not with my camera to take photo of my bag).

This is a review of the ThinkTank Photo messenger bag: the Retrospective 30.

A small disclaimer: I am not a professional photographer, I have ties to ThinkTank Photo (personal and through the affiliate program) and I will be reviewing this bag primarily as a messenger bag, not a camera bag.

I received my Retrospective 30 in the pinestone material around the launch of the bag last year and have been using it daily ever since. Prior to the bag I used either a Timbuk2 bag or a Jandd backpack. Despite being told otherwise the bag fits my fifteen inch MacBook Pro in its neoprene sleeve without a problem. Granted this removed the nice squishy aspect of the bag but it does transform it into a stylish laptop bag.

The remaining space in the main compartment can various combinations of things. Usually I carry a book (trade paperback to large hardcovers) and a lunch (fruit and a sandwich). It can also fit a binder or notebook in addition to the book/lunch combo. There are inside pockets that fit miscellaneous things like pens, iPods, cables, chapstick, memory stick, small flashlight and lens cleaning cloth. Even though it is an open pocket (there is a velcro flap for the concerned) I have only had things spill out on one or two occasions.

On the outside of the main compartments are two large velcro pockets. For me I have one these constantly filled up by the custom fitted rain fly, a necessity in Seattle. The other pocket rotates between a laptop charge, random things for the day, a sandwich (in case the main pocket cannot contain a sandwich) or, if the mood arises, my Nikon D60 with a 50mm lens. They all fit well without making the bag feel too bulky. Though with all the pockets filled and a laptop it can get fairly hefty.

Speaking of heft, the main strap is nicely padded with grippies to prevent sliding. The pad itself slides but not very easily so it will remain in the set place when taking the bag on and off.

Oh, the main flap also velcros down onto the same large velcro pads as the big front pockets. However this is where a really neat feature of the bag comes into play. Each of the velcro strips has an additionally silencer strip. Essentially a complementary velcro section that can be put into place to prevent the velcro from making contact, effectively silencing the bag.

Personally, I use the the velcro for the main pockets in the front and use the silencer for the large main flap. The only time I velcro the main flap is when I am in a really crowded area such as Pike’s Place Market, a conference or a packed bus.

There is also a thin zippered pocket on the body side of the bag. For the first six months I thought this was a useless pocket with no real design purpose. Then when the rain season started again I had the rain fly on and realized that I could still access that pocket. This then became temporary book storage when scuttling from bus shelter to bus in the pouring rain.

On the sides are pockets presumably for water bottles or maybe cellphones. With the laptop always in there I am never able to use the pockets but I am sure they have a purpose. Right above the pockets are thick straps, the use for these on my bag is to hold a carabiner clip which then occasionally holds on umbrella or grocery bag when waiting for a bus.

Overall I really like this bag a lot more then my other bags and even better then my Streetwalker bag. If I am going someplace with camera gear it is in this bag, if I am going somewhere with a laptop it is in this bag, if I am going to work it is with this bag.

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Foggy Edinburgh


Foggy Edinburgh

Edinburgh on a foggy night.

Occasionally it is nice to peruse through a photo library looking at photos from a few years ago. Especially when the photo reminds not so much of the subject but what led to the photo.

This one was after we decided to hike up to the Arthur Seat crags during an especially foggy night. We could barely see ahead of us in this small island of darkness in the center of the city. Being able to take a photo like this one is encouraging me to buy a small compact camera to carry around with me as my dSLR does not readily fit into my jacket pockets (I tried and it just does not want to fit).

I don’t have an idea of what compact cameras I should be looking at, luckily there is time between now, black Friday and the end of the year.


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Phone Photos



Delicate camera controls.

Sometimes I see a great photo opportunity but do not have my camera, especially when it is raining out. So I fall back to my phone if it is not raining that hard.

When I do I immediately remember why I bought a DSLR. In the above photo I could have gotten it right with a few more photos except it was raining fairly consistently on my phone. I am also always surprised at the wide angle of phone cameras.


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Suzzallo Library

The reading room at the University of Washington.

The reading room at the University of Washington.

I figured that the best time to take a photo of the library reading room would be before the quarter started when it only contained a few grad students or those taking summer classes.

I wanted to do an HDR shot (which I did) but I did not have a tripod but I had a lot of desks. I balanced a book that was left laying around on top of the lights for a little more stability and to reduce the sound of the shutter (it is a library). The shots were not perfectly lined up however when reduced to an 800 pixel width it is hard to tell.

I want to do a better HDR in the future when it is either night outside or direct sunlight is coming through the stained glass. This was done with an overcast sky which was not impressive. Though it did let me get the full range of light with only three exposures.

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Mt. Rainier View

This should be prominently showing Mt. Rainier in the background.

This should be prominently showing Mt. Rainier in the background.

Right outside the building that I will be working in for the next several years is this walkway. I hope in that time to get either a really nice sunset/night photo or day shot of Mt. Rainier with the fountain in the middle ground and students in the foreground.

I like this one because the clouds add some interest but the mountain did not show up as clearly in the photo as it did in person, mostly due to the exposure. Also maybe a photo after it rained with a wet ground reflecting the fountain. I am sure at least a few photographic situations will occur in the next several years.

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New Think Tank Website

The camera was carried to this photo in a Think Tank bag and it clearly shows in the photo.

The camera was carried to this photo in a Think Tank bag and it clearly shows in the photo.

Think Tank Photo has just put up a new website.

I helped test the website before it went live and found that the it would not let me place an order for over $10,000 of product.

I hope that is fixed but I don’t want to find out by placing an order that large.

Also the affiliate program (free bag!) should be slightly updated in the user interface. I think it now works by clicking the link and then navigating the website, or maybe clicking it after logging into the website.

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An scanned slide from a Imagelab FS5C05 35mm slide scanner.

An scanned slide from a Imagelab FS5C05 35mm slide scanner.

I received an Imagelab FS5C05 slide scanner in the mail earlier this week. Finally a chance to scan some of my family slides but first I should test it out before getting excited.

I opened it up carefully, plugged it in and got out one of the slide trays. Easy enough. I put a slide (that I have imaged before) into the machine, centered it and clicked the scan button. Fast, easy and not at all complicated. I took out the SD card (not provided) and put it in my laptop to take a look at the quality.

Well it is not so great. In fact it is just bad. Over saturated, noisy yet blurry, muddled and not even the full 35mm frame. While the slide fits into the scanning tray the device itself does not image the entire slide, rather just the center part (unless moved) and crops off the edges. It took a 3:2 image and reduced it to 4:3 image.

I returned it today and hope that the next one I try will work better and give better results.

Now I will admit there is a chance that this was a defective scanner, however I am not willing to try for another one. Especially since I would not be able to scan the full frame anyway.

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