Category Archives: About

Sony Global Imaging Ambassadors Interview

SGIA-intervew

Want to learn more about my story, my vision and how I work in the field?
Curious to learn how much work I put in one single image before, during and after I shot it? (and realize how insane I am about it?)

Check out the interview I did with the great people from the Sony Global Imaging Ambassadors.

Zeiss Otus 28mm f/1.4 (pre-released) and 55mm f1.4 tests

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A little while ago, I received a box from the good people at Carl Zeiss Lenses (thank you!!).
I opened it, my heart skipped a beat 🙂

I will have about one month to play with the yet UNRELEASED 28mm f/1.4, and the 55mm f/1.4. My goal is to test them in the field for tilt/shift and long exposure 🙂

Here is a first peak at the UNRELEASED 28mm f/1.4 Zeiss Otus (Nikon mount).
This bad boy is larger than the Otus 85mm f/1.4!! (see the quarter coin to give a reference) Of course, the tripod foot will be necessary to mount on the tripod for landscape photography 😀

Let me know if you have questions regarding either the 28 or 55mm! I will do the regular field tests (although nothing with charts and such), and focus on Tilt/Shift and long exposure.

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New solo show at the New England School of Photography

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Come join us next week for my next solo show at the New England School of Photography!
11 big prints of my most recent and best seascapes work.
I hope to see you there!!

Text of the original announcement:

NEXT at the The Garner Center for Photographic Exhibitions: Aquae: Photographs by Thibault Roland Fine Art Photography. Aquae is a series of landscape images that explores the serene and formal nature of water in a most alluring and minimal fashion.

Opening Reception: Thursday, Nov. 19, 5:30pm – 7pm
Show Runs: Nov. 16 – Dec. 18, 2015

Ask your questions to top Sony developers and engineers

11425539_846315538750965_7996445082006891878_oGuys!! I have the unique opportunity to ask any questions to some of the top Sony employees who developed the new cameras that got released a couple days ago: the RX10II, the RX100IV, and extremely anticipated a7RII.

This is the chance for you to ask your own technical questions and hopefully get an answer!!
How? Just ask you questions in the comments below, and I will try and pass them along. Maybe not all of them, but as many as I can!

The answers will come in a future blog post early next week.

PS: no need to ask for future releases or the directions the tech is going. This meeting is only about the new releases

Building a technical camera – Part II

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Step Two of Building a technical camera: taking apart a GX680

For those of you who did not see my first post about it, you can find it here. In a few words, after many discussions with my photographer friend Satoru Murata, I decided to throw myself into a new project: building a technical camera that I can use to mount almost any lens on a Sony a7/II/R/S body, much like the Cambo Actus system, but on the cheap side.

Getting to it now. You will find higher and below a few pictures of the (very functional) Fuji GX6800 III I bought recently and took apart these last few days…

Scary, right? 🙂

Because it was the first time I took one apart, I actually ended up removing more parts than I should have, but I guess it does not matter too much since I’ll show you next that I basically milled (cut out with a power tool) entire parts of the camera (already done) and I’m now too committed to go back and put things back together.20150322_125815

To get to the bare minimum of the camera (front, back elements and railing, see the terrible phone picture below), all I needed to do was de-attach the bellows from the front and back elements, and mostly to unscrew and remove the camera body (back element) from the railing system.

11046131_10153153202593485_1501836423_oThe idea now is to keep the front standard as is, because it has all sorts of movements (tilt, shift, swing) for the lens. However, I want to modify (mill) the back element in order to remove the different parts with red arrows on the picture below: a couple of posts that were used to screw the body on and the front and rear metal parts on which it rested.

The goal is to create a platform on which I can fix a 2-way rail. This rail will eventually be used as a support for the camera board and it will allow for left/right shifting of the camera (great for shooting panos, blue arrows on the picture below).

Sans titre-1 copieI’m also thinking about adding swing to the back of the camera. The way I see it, it will require a precision rotating stage (similar to what can be found in science labs doing optics), but I’m having issues finding something cheap and precise enough. Ideally, it also has to be about 1 to 2 inches (~25-50mm) in diameter and I would like to have: a knob to rotate the stage, and one to lock in it place. It also needs to handle 3-4 pounds (~2kg) of weight. If you have suggestions, please fire away!

Conclusions of this part:

1/ Taking this guy apart was easy peasy, and probably the most straightforward part of the project. I can’t stress enough that I’m happy I’ll never have to put the Fuji back together. It seems now that I have multiple small parts all over my work table, and I have no clue where most of them would go 🙂

2/ Next part is using a milling machine to reduce some of the back element in order to create a nice resting platform. I’ll show you some pictures of this step, but if you are not familiar with how to work these machines, please don’t go ahead on your own repeating what I’ll do. You can get hurt. Badly. If not worse.

3/ If you are aware of where to acquire new or used (small 1 to 2” dia) rotating stages (with a precision adjustment knob and able to carry ~3-4 pounds), please shoot me a message. I am currently designing the next steps, and would love to get my hands on one. Worse case scenario, I’ll start with a prototype that does not have swing if I can’t find one.

4/ As usual, if you have questions or ideas, send them my way!

Till next time!

New Publication: Landscape Photography Magazine (UK)

landscape-pageI was glad to learn recently that one of my only color photographs is published in the great UK Landscape Photography Magazine, issue 49.
It’s a picture I shot in Monument Valley in the USA. Truly one of my fondest memories of my first (and longest) road trip in the USA: about a month, and 20 000 km. Epic! 😉

Have you ever done such a road trip? If so, I’d be curious to hear about the little gems you found on the road. Did you find not-so-famous locations you’d recommend others to visit? Please share them in the comments below if you do!landscape-cover

Partnership with SmugMug; 15% rebate for you and you only :)

SmugMugTRI am extremely happy to have setup a partnership with SmugMug recently, and I would like to tell you more about it.

SmugMug is a platform that provides photographers and videographers with top of the line services:

  • build your own website for your fine art work: high resolution image preview, secured storage of your images
  • sleek website designs (you can create entirely new ones or modify templates to your liking
  • Monthly or Yearly subscription plans dedicated to each photographer, from amateurs to pros: Basic – Power – Portfolio – BusinessSmugMug-Plans
  • CSS is supported which means that the computer guru in you can personalized their templates even more
  • complete integration of your Social Media streams in order to share pictures or pages on them
  • direct sales of your photographs to your clients in a “hands free” fashion; what I mean is that all you need to do is upload your files on their server, choose what products you want to offer (pictures, canvas etc), the price of the pictures, which lab will print them and ship them directly to the client etc.
  • you can also setup direct payment from your clients for other services you may offer: workshops, one-to-one mentorship, limited edition prints etc

I have been using their services for nearly 2 years now with my website. I am very happy with their professionalism, the services they offer and they also have a wonderful customer service in case you need help from them. On top of it, they also have developed online support for people who want to tweak their websites even more.

If you’d like to see more about what can be done with SmugMug, I recommend you check out:

If you’re ready to go, you can benefit from a 15% off rebate on their yearly subscriptions by clicking on any of the images in this article, or here.

On a different note, I am very excited to announce that SmugMug will also be supporting my workshops and mentoring programs, with lots of great stuff and opportunities for my students!

So if you’re interested in some of the group events I am organizing or want to work on a one-to-one mentoring program with me, please comment below or use the contact form on my website: http://www.thibaultroland.com/

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Feature on Google Nik Software’s website

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I was just informed that my photograph Tails is featured on Nik Software’s website: https://www.google.com/nikcollection/

Huge honor, thanks Google! 🙂

To see it big and order prints, please follow the link to my website: http://www.thibaultroland.com/Urban-Myths/i-bxDWdpK/A

I would also like to remind you that I am running a special offer for limited signed editions of my prints: 8×8, 6×12 or 8×12 Fine Art prints can be purchased for $150 USD plus shipping. To order, use the contact form on my website.

Two intense weeks with the Sony a7R.

Those of you who followed my last trip know that I brought along my new Sony a7R camera. Before this trip, I was working exclusively with my Canon 5d Mark III and thought it was the best camera I could use for long exposure…

So it was a challenge at first for me to make the decision that I would mostly use the a7R for that trip. I was concerned that not being familiar with the system and might have issues while shooting and realize later that all my pictures were junk. I could not have been more wrong… but let me elaborate.

The gear I used during the trip:

Sony a7R

Sony Vertical Battery Grip for Alpha a7/a7R/a7S

Metabones Canon EF Lens to Sony NEX Camera Lens Mount Adapter Mark IV

Mirex Canon to Sony E mount tilt/shift adapter (for manual aperture control lenses)

Sony Wireless Remote Commander

– a bunch of Canon lenses including 24mm TS-E, 17-40mm f/4.0, 50mm f/1.2, 85mm f/1.2

My first impressions after I received the camera:

Initially, I thought that the camera itself was small, maybe too small, compared to my Canon 5d Mark III. But rapidly I realized the size and weight of the a7R was were actually a great advantage compared to my Canon. Smaller means lighter, and lighter means less strain when you carry it around, or that for the same weight you can pack up an additional lens. Cool!

On top of the obvious increase in resolution (36.4MP for the Sony a7R; 22.3MP for the 5D), another huge difference in my opinion the absence of anti-aliasing filter on the images. I was very curious about that point, I after shooting a few images, I want to stress out that they are EXTREMELY sharp, much more than the 5D. So much that I had no idea what my lenses were capable of until I used the a7R . Really impressive! (see images below)

My other first impression was “I still can’t believe this is a mirrorless camera, and I can attach any FF (or MF) lens I want. This is amazing!!” And true to its promises, with an adapter, I could mount all of my very precious tilt shift or fast lenses on it.

My third main focus was the back screen that can be oriented in almost any direction, and allows the photographer to shoot from very high, or very low, which is almost impossible with Pro Canon or Nikon cameras.

Field use:

My first day using the camera “seriously” was in Death Valley National Park, CA. As you can imagine, there are smarter ideas than going there in August, and it was 120+F (52+C), but I still braced myself, and thought it would be a test for both the machines and the man 🙂 I spent almost two days in the area, and used my a7R most of the time. I have to say that I was very much impressed by the little guy. It worked very well, and looking back at the pictures from then I am surprised by the low noise level and very small number of “hot pixels”. One thing I should say is that after almost a full day under the unforgiving blazing sun, the a7R internal temperature was over 120F and the firmware shut the camera off to prevent it from burning white. Only solution for me, use the 5d instead and cool the a7R in the car with the A/C running.  I shot with my 5d for about 30 minutes until the a7R was ready to go, and the 5d turned extremely hot because of the insane heat. Here is a behind the scenes image of when that happened:

I need to state now that one of the things I like the most with the a7R is the Electronic ViewFinder (EVF). Some people say they don’t like it… well, especially for long exposure, I think it is amazing! Why? Two main reasons: 1/ no need to tape the viewfinder anymore to avoid diffraction, it’s electronic! 2/ I use the back screen a lot to setup my camera at the best spot, and it implies that the outside isn’t so bright that you can’t see a thing. With the EVF, you don’t have this issue anymore. You can just take a look with your eye stuck to it, reducing the ambient light to virtually zero, and use the zoom in function to digitally zoom on a detail and precisely focus on it. Something impossible on any other Pro SLR out there!

Along the trip, it became clear to me that another very important feature makes the difference between the 5d Mark III (and other high end cameras) and the Sony a7R. Only the a7R allows you to shoot at ISO 50. Why is that important? Because some day, the sky is just too bright to use exposure times longer than 2 minutes at ISO 100, even with 16 stops. Sure it’s rare, but it happens and why not have the advantage? But my main reason why I love the low ISO follows: if you want to shoot wide open with fast lenses or tilt/shit lenses, you’ll need to either increase the filter attenuation (sometimes not possible), or reduce the sensitivity of the sensor. Impossible when you’re stuck to ISO 100. Going down one stop to ISO 50 can make all the difference between an OK photograph, and a killer shot 🙂

The one drawback of the camera to me is the absence of a counter during long exposure shooting like that of the 5D. This is not a big deal, since you’ll always have a watch or cell phone with you, but it would make things easier, especially that the screen at the back actually stays on during the acquisition. No doubt a firmware update should solve that issue and allow time to be shown on the screen in a future version.

Side note: you know I do long exposure, and use mostly tilt/shift lenses when I work. Being able to rotate, tilt and shift such lenses implies that they have cracks on them. And having cracks for long exposure photography is an issue since it will create diffraction patterns and ruin the photograph. This is the reason why every time you see a behind the scenes picture of my camera, it is wrapped in a cloth. Old school, but effective method 🙂

A few test shots:

You will find here a few pictures I shot with the A7r during that trip. They are plain Raw images, with absolutely NO PROCESSING. To give a better idea of the quality, I also added a couple 100% crops of these images.

Bodie Ghost Town, CA:

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Yosemite NP, Vernal Falls, CA:

As you can see, the images rendered (again, raw with no adjustments) are very sharp, due to the absence of the anti-aliasing filter.

Please note that these photographs have been shot with my 24mm TS-E lens. They are two horizontal images (top, bottom) that have been stitched together. Exposure times of at least 4 minutes for each, and I used the new Firecrest Formatt-Hitech ND 16 stops filter. I will write another article later focused on this filter alone.

Verdict:

I would recommend the Sony A7r camera in a heart beat. It is a great camera for most subjects (with the exception of action shooting when using third party lenses), and especially for long exposure.

In my opinion, the a7R has a number of advantages compared to the competition that make all the difference: the EVF makes focusing much easier, especially in bright environments, and no need anymore to cover the viewfinder to avoid diffraction during LE. The size and lightness are also nice features, and above all, being mirrorless, the a7R can be used with any third party lens provided the right adapter (Nikon, Canon, or even medium format lenses!). Of course, that is without mentioning the absence of anti-aliasing filter, increased resolution, lower ISO, and the exciting new and future native lenses…

So seriously… what’s keeping you from switching over to Sony? 🙂

 

Bonus:

As a bonus, here is one of the images I showed you before, fully converted to B&W:

Details: 24mm TS-E lens, two horizontal pictures stitched (top/bottom); f8; 275 seconds; ISO 50; 16 ND stops Firecrest from Formatt-Hitech.

For more photographs from that trip, or to order Fine Art prints, please follow this link to my website.