Shooting a Waterfall in the Rain

One of the things I had learned during the last decade is that image making is a pursuit that involves a healthy amount of plastic bags and gaffer tape to solve various problems.

Let’s take the following image for example.

Smooth and Rough

Smooth and Rough

There was a light rain when we arrived, not to mention the water droplets from the waterfall that the wind slammed in our face. It was a blessing to walk the scene with the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder with no need to open the backpack and soak several lenses just to find a composition.

In my favorite composition (of the several I tried in just a few minutes) I wanted to emphasize the clash of dark rough rocks and light smooth water. So I needed a long exposure to smooth out the water flow. Unlike the 5DS R, none of my Zeiss lenses are weather sealed. And water accumulating on the LEE Big Stopper is also problematic. Since I don’t carry an umbrella (which would be the trivial solution), I used the largest water-resistant thing in my bag: the Shadepirate flag in the plastic bag I used to carry it in.

Shadepirate flag functioning as an umbrella

Shadepirate flag functioning as an umbrella

Some extra light also came from the direction of rain/water so the flag actually served double-duty. The setup worked quite well, and had to wipe just a small amount of water from the filter between exposures.

When Puffins Dance

We were driving home from the central highlands, and since road quality gets worse every week I didn’t want to stop or slow down (one trick to maintain comfortable ride on washboards is to keep the speed upward of 60km/h). I said to Agnes: “we’ll stop only if we see puffins dancing on the back of a whale”.

Soon a lovely sunset started to unfold. Nicer colors with every minute. Like several times, it was nice, but saw no image. Then suddenly looked to the left – and pushed the brake to the metal. Yes, I saw the puffins dancing.

A Stormy Night Falls

A Stormy Night Falls

This is something you can’t plan for. A small hole opened in the clouds, and the last rays of the Sun illuminated just the center mountain – leaving everything else in the dark.

It was a magnificent view, but had to act quickly. Set the tripod and camera up in less than 30 seconds, and had enough time to take four frames before the light vanished. The whole event lasted about a minute.

Taken with the Canon EOS 5DS R and Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 lens.

Performance is a Key Kuuvik Capture Feature

Since I took over Kuuvik Capture last year, one of my top priorities is to provide the fastest, highest performance tool possible. While the original company arrangement did not allow for costly, time consuming optimizations required to reach the speed I wanted, now I can spend all my spare time on it. And the results are stunning. Just think the brutal improvements version 2 brought to the table…

These days I’m doing some groundwork that will make exciting new features possible in Kuuvik Capture (and also serve as a base for upcoming products). And improving performance along the way.

Kuuvik Capture 2.5 Beta

Kuuvik Capture 2.5 Beta

No more Windows leftover

Originally Kuuvik Capture was designed to be able to run on both OS X and Windows, and we used a bunch of readily available software components (Canon’s own SDK and libraw for example), which turned out to be a bag of ugly worms. I had spent several long days on wrapping those components to make them usable and reliable.

This “wrapper” was able to run on both operating systems. On top of this, the operating system specific “engine” connected the “wrapper” to the user interface and provided services to the “wrapper” (such as proper asynchronous camera communication – something that Windows completely lacks).

With version 2 I had already replaced these problematic components with my own code, but parts of the “wrapper” and the “engine” were still present. Since we decided to drop any and all Windows plans, there was no need for them – my Digital Camera Library and the user interface could talk directly. So I started to gradually remove them, which task is finished by now.

During the removal I had not just eliminated several thousand lines of code, but since there’s less machinery involved, camera communication became faster and consumes less battery. Image download from the 5DS R is 1% faster compared to version 2.4, and overall communication is up to 5% faster compared to 2.0 (measured on my mid-2012 15″ Retina MacBook Pro). This seems a small number, but think about it this way: you can take 1-5% more shots on a charge.

Even faster RAW decoding

I’m using a lossless jpeg decoder based on dcraw‘s routines to open the RAW files. This had one drawback: dcraw was not designed to be able to work on multiple images simultaneously – something I need for my future plans. Not to mention that I also had to work around this limitation in Kuuvik Capture.

Fortunately I found and fixed the issue, and my decoder not just works parallel on multiple processor cores, but also crunching numbers faster. I measured 5-6% faster file opens (with 50 megapixel files on my MacBook Pro).

When?

These improvements will be available in Kuuvik Capture 2.5 later this fall.

Looking Through

Windows are one of my favorite architecture subjects. I can’t help it, I photograph them everywhere I go. But its a rare occasion to have two windows perfectly aligned on the opposite sides of a small church with no furniture or anything else in between. Not to mention the interesting patterns of both the walls and the roof.

Looking Through

Looking Through

I had played a little around with the Mark II Artist’s Viewfinder to find the best place for the camera. And when I saw the above composition on the screen, I started smiling. It was quite a bit of work to get everything aligned perfectly (guidelines in Kuuvik Caputre helped a lot), as well as to get the Zeiss Apo Sonnar T* 2/135 focused properly (you know, field curvature).