First Man is Grade A

It takes great talent and skill to tell a story we think we already know with an outcome that is also believed to be well known and make it compelling. With the film First Man Director, Damien Chazelle (AA Whiplash, 10 Cloverfield Lane, AA La La Land) demonstrates he has the talent and skill on this front.

First Man presents us the life of Astronaut Neil Armstrong and the American Space Program through his eyes from 1961-1969.  First Man is superb if only viewed for the production values, visual effects, sound, and music score.  However, that would be underselling First Man to a great degree.  All of the actors playing the roles of people involved in Gemini and Apollo Mission are believable and additive. Josh Singer’s (The West Wing, AA Spotlight, The Post) screenplay provides just enough depth and breath to pull this off.  Singer accomplishes the same with injecting aspects about what was  going on with America in general at the time as well.  Singer also provides in a nuanced manner aspects about the relationship between Armstrong and his Wife (Janet).

Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson, Lars and the Real Girl, Fracture) is superb as Armstrong.  Neil Armstrong was ultimately known as a person of strong internalized belief in one’s self that was constantly challenged with melancholy.  As in Lars and the Real Girl, Gosling pulls this aspect off with outstanding effect.  Gosling is so understated in the role, his successful portrayal is at risk of going unnoticed.  Claire Foy (The Crown, Unsane, The Girl in the Spider’s Web) plays the role of Janet Armstrong with equal effect.

However, the production values of First Man is what shines brightest.  Chazelle and the Production team have created a film that is highly immersive and convincing. You often feel as if you are the one in an out of control test vehicle, sitting strapped into a space ship experiencing the G-Force associated with being on top of the the most powerful rocket ever built to this day (Saturn V) or landing on the moon.  What may also jump out in this era of IPhone’s and self driving cars, is the archaic nature of technology in the 1960’s versus today.

The combination of all factors important to the success of a film exist in First Man.

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Jeff’s Worthless Trivia and Other Thoughts

I am fortunate to possess the signatures of the three astronauts involved with the 1st Moon Landing on the same piece of paper; Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins.  It was given to me by my father.  I was infatuated with the Manned Space Program as a young boy.  My Dad, given his position as Managing Editor of the Detroit News, loved what the space program was about and devoted big coverage to it. After quarantine was completed, he asked the three of them to sign it for me.

Tough to Follow Brilliance: The Girl in the Spider’s Web

The film The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a solid conventional Hollywood production.  And now comes the but…

It follows the original three The Girl... novels of the Millenium Series. The Millenium TV Series in Swedish. The Girl movies in Swedish starring Naomi Rapace. The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo in English starring Rooney Mara. All brilliant bodies of work.  Steig Larsson, the creator of these works, died in 2004.

David Lagercrantz was contracted to continue with the Millenium Series novels.  He has produced two with favorable results in terms of reviews and sales.  The first novel: The Girl in the Spider’s Web was published in 2015. The second novel: The Girl Who Takes an Eye for an Eye was published in 2017. I have read both books, and they are good reads.

If you know nothing of the original works and have not viewed the movies, The Girl in the Spider’s Web would be considered a pretty solid worthwhile watch.  It is a thriller made using good, predictable, and reliable Hollywood playbook formulas for the genre.

Unfortunately viewers who are familiar with the original works (like me) may feel cheated and or deprived by this latest installment. With The Girl in the Spider’s Web there is no exotic otherworldly Lizbeth or tawdry pot-boiler storyline that contains a dash of naughtiness and sin added for extra measure.  There is no eclectic and memorable musical score such as that by Trent Raznor.  Director Fede Alvarez creates no riveting feel to the presentation when compared to what was accomplished by David Fincher, Niels Arden Oplev, or Daniel Alfredson.

Instead The Girl in the Spider’s Web is a by the book and by the numbers production.  For example, Claire Foy (The Crown, Unsane, First Man) plays the role Lizbeth.  Foy is becoming Hollywood’s choice for Leading Lady in films – with 3 releases alone in 2018.  Foy is girl-next door “pretty.” In First Man, Foy is superb as Janet Armstrong.  In this film it is as if 10 minutes of makeup and a few clip-on nose and earrings were used to make Foy look like Lizbeth.  However in comparison, Rapace and Mara transformed every aspect of their being and turned into Lizbeth.

Sverrir Gudnason (Borg vs McEnroe) as Mikael Blomkvist and Vicky Krieps (Hanna, A Most Wanted Man, Phantom Thread) are excellent actors with great performances on their respective resume’s.  However, both in this film feel as if they are mannequins when compared to the other actors who have played these roles.

The Girl in the Spider’s Web is worthy of a viewing, just do not expect it to be similar in any fashion to the earlier works.

The Choices We Make In Life: The Wife

Viewing the film The Wife is like watching a superb stage play with legendary lead actors afforded unrestricted freedom to perform their role to “A” Game level.  Glenn Close (The Big Chill, The Natural, Fatal Attraction) and Jonathan Pryce (Evita, Tomorrow Never Dies, Game of Thrones) are the lead actors in The Wife and Director Björn Runge (Daybreak, Mouth To Mouth, Happy End) lets them run free.

As Joan and Joe Castleman, Close and Pryce are exceptionally good – together and separately – in every scene of the film.  They are wife and husband of 40+ years.  The script from Jane Anderson (It Could Happen To You, How To Make an American Quilt, Mad Men, The Wonder Years) based on the Novel by Meg Wolitzer provides Close and Pryce the vehicle to be their very best.  They are successful to such an extent that you would think Close and Pryce had actually been married for 40+ years.

Joe has a big event occur that is effectively a crowning achievement in a career full of major success and public notoriety.  Joan is clearly the behind the scenes person supporting Joe.  When together and out of the public eye Joan has her own voice and persona and for the most part it is used to protect Joe from himself (e.g., eating, memory lapses, etc).  In public Joan has a highly muted voice that is deferential to Joe.  The Castleman’s have two adult children in various stages of their life that Joan and Joe do not necessarily agree upon as to the method of treatment as aging parents.

Through flashbacks, we learn how Joan and Joe meet, fall in love, get married, struggle, and eventually prosper.  It is clear that Joe is the outgoing dreamer who – while appearing to be considerate – is hyper focused on his own persona and success (private and public).

Joan on the other-hand accomplishes much early in the relationship; she is recognized by Joe (private and public) as a promising disciple in their chosen profession and determines she wants and gets Joe as her husband – although he is married when they first meet.

As Joan and Joe struggle after going out on their own, choices (based on the reality of the situation) are made that influence and ultimately determine their respective career paths.  The Wife is superb at peeling back and revealing layers of the life and relationship of Joan and Joe.  The Wife is adept in presenting the character of Joan and Joe without falling victim to easy gross over characterizations.  Because of the quality of the screenplay and the skill of the actors, Joan and Joe are shown to make career choices that while not ideal, and not known outside the two of them, adapt to reality and allow for them to stay together, have kids, and prosper financially.

The Wife pushes and pulls, and tugs and tears at the fabric of a 40+ year relationship, and the dilemma involved when considering, let alone actually changing your role in the relationship.

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Jeff’s Worthless Trivia and Other Thoughts

Annie Starke (South Pacific, Albert Nobbs) plays Joan in college.  She looks like a young Glenn Close.  The reason being Starke is the daughter of Close and Producer John H. Starke (Deadpool, Sicario, Prisoners).

Glenn Close is clearly deserving of an Academy Award Nomination in the role of Actress in a Leading Role – which she received.  What surprises me is that Pryce and Anderson were not nominated as well. Their work in The Wife was, in my opinion, near or at the top for all films in 2018.

The PHASE ONE IQ4 151MP Camera System: Technical Camera and IQ4 150

Pine Tree in Fresh Wet Snow – Cambo WRS 5000 and PHASE ONE IQ4 151 using Electronic Shutter ISO 50 1/400 f5.6 (Meta data).

 

In the early days of PHASE ONE’s move to take control of the Medium Format Market it had to navigate the decision making process as whether to purchase existing medium format product lines, build from the ground up, or partner. PHASE ONE took steps that included all of the scenarios. While PHASE ONE has moved boldly with its IQ digital back, it moved carefully on the other fronts. Mamiya’s camera body was brought into the fold and retro-fitted to work with the IQ while PHASE ONE developed the XF Camera. The same was done with lenses until PHASE ONE began collaborating with Schneider and ultimately creating the Blue Ring line.

Note: The subject matter and application chosen by a photographer influences what equipment should be chosen to succeed. While stating the obvious it is crucial this is considered when reading this Post. The iPhone is a wonderful piece of photographic equipment that serves 100 percent of my need for grabbing images of everyday life at a moments notice. It is great for many other photographic applications. However, if I am going to hike (or ski with skins) for three straight days into the wilderness (which includes multiple thousands of feet of elevation change two miles high in the mountains) then I want the best equipment at my beck-and-call. Yes, I understand the IPhone weighs little to nothing and my camera kit with tripod comes in north of 52 pounds.

During this period Technical Camera manufacturers and lens makers were encouraged by PHASE ONE and others to work with and have their equipment operate with the digital backs. The results from Technical Cameras and their associated lenses during this period remained far superior (for certain applications) than what PHASE ONE offered.

River-rock Column – Cambo 5000 and PHASE ONE IQ4 151 using Electronic Shutter ISO 50 1/25 f5.6 (Meta data).

In simple terms, in 2012 – on a scale of 1-10 – my top of the line line 35 MM equipment (the very best from Nikon and Nikkor) was a 7.0,  PHASE ONE gear with the IQ was an 8.5, and my Cambo WRS 5000 with the best lenses from Rodenstock and Schneider coupled with the PHASE ONE IQ was a 10.

I have been exceptionally fortunate, that many images I have captured have proven to be rewarding personally and a commercial success.

All of my my current gear (iPhone, Sony, Nikon, PHASE ONE and their related gear has delivered at one time or another). However, a handful of images have single-handedly covered the cost of my entire camera related equipment expenses (2012-2018) plus needed return on investment.  All were captured with the Cambo WRS 5000 as the camera body.  The results from the other configurations have been gravy.

With the advent of the PHASE ONE XF Camera and Blue Ring Lens series, the difference between the PHASE One XF package with the IQ digital back versus my Technical Camera kit shrank dramatically.  The perceived (or practical difference) became so small that I decided to stop bringing my Cambo WRS 5000 on my long backcountry shoots – given the extra weight and challenge of using the equipment in trying conditions (e.g., materially cold temperatures, sitting on top of a mountain peak after a climb – exposed to the elements).

Along comes the IQ4 151 from PHASE ONE.  At first, I am thinking that all of the computing power now in the IQ back combined with the XF Camera and Blue Ring lenses will make me seriously consider selling my Technical Camera gear.  As the IQ4 151 moved towards production, my trusted collaborators and consultants Steve Hendrix and Brad Kaye from Capture Integration suggest otherwise.  How about trying to get this reliable expertise and insight on a reliable and dependable basis via reviews on a on-line website.

Steve and Brad tell me they are astonished with the images from the IQ4 151 combined with a Technical Camera.  These guys do not throw around the word astonished very much, if at all.  While PHASE ONE was behind schedule towards ensuring all adapters and plugs would work on day-one with a Technical Camera, the basic operation did work.  Both Steve and Brad suggested that the IQ4 151 would actually breath new life into my WRS 5000 kit, given what I photograph and my exacting nature.

Steve and Brad know their stuff in a big way.  The same can be said of CI Founder Dave Gallagher.  I am just a guy from Idaho who takes photographs and each of these three guys have saved me from myself since December 2011.

Here is a really good article by Brad on the IQ4 151 and Using the IQ4 151 with a Technical Camera [HERE].

If you want to look at the entire Lineup from PHASE ONE go here [HERE].

The Cambo WRS 5000 Technical Camera with the Schneider 60MM Lens.

the PHASE ONE IQ4 151 attached to the Cambo WRS 5000.

The Electronic Shutter and cable (along with tethering cables) that attaches to the IQ4 151

This week I finished my initial test of the PHASE XF IQ4 151.  The test was used to compare PHASE ONE’s IQ3 100 versus the new IQ4 150..  The story is [HERE].

The next test involved two steps.  First, was to compare the PHASE ONE IQ4 151 digital back using the PHASE ONE XF and the Cambo WRS 5000 Technical Camera. Second, was to compare the PHASE ONE IQ4 151 digital back versus PHASE ONE IQ3 151 digital back using the Cambo WRS 5000 Technical Camera.

Backstory

PHASE ONE is proving to be a determined development company that happens to be in the photographic equipment and software business.  The IQ4 151 is no exception.  PHASE ONE is pushing the envelope.  That can be a bad or good thing – depending on execution.  Seeing the IQ4 151 is effectively a ground-up new device that just happens to fit inside the same box would be a challenge for any company to deliver all that has been promised on day one.  PHASE ONE chose not to delay the delivery of the sensor and a decent portion of the programming features of what has been promised.  The downside is that many other features and functions need to be delivered in updates.  This is the world of commercial electronics in 2019.  PHASE ONE is not unique on this front.  Unfortunately, for example, full functionality with every type of cable and synchronization that can and should work with the third-party Technical Cameras offerings was not incorporated into the first production delivery of the IQ4 151.

The implication to me personally is fully synchronized cables for the Cambo WRS 5000 Technical Camera are not available at the moment.  That is disappointing. However, Electronic Shutter shooting and black card virtualization is in place for the PHASE ONE IQ4 151. The IQ3 100 has similar functionality, but it involves more time and steps to complete. What that means is the type of shooting I would want to perform is ready, able and highly efficient with the PHASE ONE IQ4 151.

When advising me on the topic of ES, Brad says that some undesired artifacts might appear (e.g., strange pixilization of some colors or people contorted) in the image is there are fast moving objects involved in the composition. When advising me on the topic of ES Steve suggested the better result might be with the ES, because there would be no moving parts (i.e, shutter).  Both guys prove to be correct, and helps greatly in the decision process of whether to use ES or synchronized cables.

The Results of the Second Test Go First

Headline: Casting in images is as important as it is on Broadway and in Hollywood

An X/Y Technical Camera allows you to adjust image capture to the Left and Right and Up and Down without change to the point of focus.  If you purchase the capability, a lens for a the Technical Camera can ad tilt and swivel to change point of focus dependably without introducing body movement or vibration.  These aspects are material if you desire an optimized composition and want a spectacular panoramic image. Why? You can take the time to tweak the composition of the shot while mitigating (or eliminating) the risk of losing shot quality given distortion, vibration, and or an unintended dramatic change in focus and angle. For me, this means I have the tools and can spend the time to get the shot(s) dead-to-rights. Note: after traveling for multiple days to get to a location, I want these options available to me.

As discussed earlier, the Cambo WRS 5000 and Rodenstock 32MM HR Lens are using the Electronic Shutter feature of the IQ4 151 with built in Black Card Substitution in my comparison shots.  In comparison the IQ3 100, requires a Black Card Substitution be built after each shot – and while really important – this takes time. Some experts would say that synchronized cable shooting with an LCC profile created from a White Card shot (as I normally would do with the IQ3 100) is a logical alternative and would produce a better result for the TC.

So why all the hub-bub?  Color Casting.  Okay everyone, say it with me; Color Casting.  In short, the TC and lens are manual devices with no electronic capabilities to deal with the angle of light, imperfections in the lens, and other factors.  While moving the TC up and down and left or right can be a huge factor in enhancing the composition of the image, the implication is a potentially negative casting of color can be introduced.  The Color Cast is eventually eliminated by taking an additional shot with a translucent white card in front of lens and applied during post processing. For details and a better explanation read Brad’s article [TC with IQ4 151]

The IQ4 151 virtually eliminates Color Casting and the time needed for Black Card substitution. Hmm, lets see… reduce time delay and eliminate extra shots?  This is a material advantage for the IQ4 151.

Below is a visual example.  I took a wide panoramic shot that was comprised of six images.  The first three: 15MM is to the left of center, center, and 15 MM to the right of center all at 0MM elevation change with the TC. The next three: 15MM to the left of center, center, and 15 MM to the right of center all at 10MM elevation change with the TC. I have provided a chart below for assistance better understanding the six shots taken.

Left Center Right
15MM to Right (#1) 0 MM (#2) 15MM to Left (#3)
15MM to Right and 10MM To the Top (#4) 0 MM and 10 MM To the Top (#5) 15MM to Left and 10MM To the Top (#6)
The shots below are with the IQ4 151 on the left and IQ3 100 on the right. Using the chart, the shot displayed below is the one on the lower left (i.e., #4 of #6).

The shots processed.

The shot after processing (including White Card).

at 100% after processing (including White Card).

As is evident the IQ3 100 has a significant cast of color to it.  The IQ4 151 has none.  To be clear the Color Cast can be eliminated with the image from the IQ3 100, but many more steps and time are involved.

Camera Position and Practical use of a X/Y TC

So is the ability to quickly adjust the composition of the photo to be taken via the X/Y TC (enhanced with a tilt and swivel lens) that big a deal?  Can’t you just move the tripod or where the camera points? In many shots it is not a big deal and the location of camera and tripod can simply be changed with little downside to the result.  However, there have been many times were it is a big deal.  For example, attempting to moving back 10 feet (to get more sky above the mountain top being photographed across from the peak you are shooting from) will result in a 1,284 foot fall to your death.  For example, spending 10 minutes to find the better spot in rugged terrain often can result in the shot being missed altogether.

Vignetting

Vignetting (darkness at the edges) still occurs about equally with both the IQ4 151 and IQ3 100.  This aspect is a function of the lens and not the digital back.  The implication to me – at least at this point in my understanding of the capabilities of the IQ4 151 – was to apply the use of the White Card and an extra shot.

The Results of the First Test Go last

Headline: Heavyweights go toe-to-toe

For the sports oriented person, this is test is like Heavyweight Boxing at its peak and the match is Ali versus Frazier with Howard Cosell making the ringside call.

I took the XF Camera with the Blue Ring 35MM 3.5 Lens and compared it to the Cambo WRS 5000 with the Rodenstock 32MM HR Lens.  I shot all the images below using manual focus.  Two sequences are not included. One I focused way better with the Cambo and the other way better with the XF.  As a backup I shot all sequences with the XF on Auto-focus at 3 and 6 feet away.  One sequence was more accurate for the XF versus the Cambo, the other was not.

The IQ4 150 with the 35MM Blue Ring is utterly superb.  However, their are times when the Cambo WRS 5000 with the 32HR lens takes the crown.

Note: These comparisons reveal directional differences given my shots were not taken in highly controlled environments.

Message to PHASE ONE… deliver the synchronized cable capabilities for Technical Camera’s in your next firmware update.  You are On The Clock!

Final Note

Please do not let Linda know that you noticed all the dead bugs and spider webs in between the stones on the River-rock Column images at the front of the house.  I will argue it is FAKE News!

Disclaimer

It should be noted that I am my own guy and have not been remunerated (I love this term) by PHASE ONE, Steve Hendrix, Brad Kaye, Dave Gallagher or CI in any form or manner for my comments or remarks.  I continue to use, purchase, and enjoy 35MM related camera gear (from Nikon, Sony and Sigma) and encourage you to to do so as well if it is best for your situation.  The Mirrorless platforms are pressing the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) platforms in a big way. I also shoot with my Apple iPhone if the situation warrants – and make no apologies or condescending remarks when doing so.  I mean what I suggest and imply.  While I think highly of PHASE ONE gear, photographing Mother Mountain Goats and their babies (less than 10 days old) in the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains without disturbing them called for the Nikon D8XX camera bodies and the Nikkor 1000MM Lens.  We brought along PHASE ONE Gear as well on the climbs that entailed 3,000 – 4,000 vertical feet of ascent with the starting point being 7,000 feet elevation.  Having both platforms available served us well.

The PHASE ONE IQ4 151MP Camera System: Is It Worth It?

Lunch in Lower Stanley © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – MESH Art LLC – all rights reserved.

And Who Might You Be? © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – MESH Art LLC – all rights reserved.

Seating Available Upstairs © Jeffrey H. Lubeck – MESH Art LLC – all rights reserved.

PHASE ONE is now delivering production versions of its latest Flagship offering – the XF IQ4 151 Camera System.

The Danish manufacturer announced the system upgrade in August 2018, with the intention this new offering would further widen the gap between themselves and the competition as the provider of the best and most powerful commercially available camera system in the marketplace.

It is not my intention to duplicate specification sheets of the offering.  The nuts and bolts are located [here].

Founded in 1993, PHASE ONE has been on a relentless mission to create the best high-end offering available in the world for almost 10 years running.

The Bottom Line

Has PHASE ONE met their goal of creating the new Standard Bearer? Is the price of entry worth it?

After 30 days of use, the answer to the first question is – at least in my opinion – yes.  As each day passes I get more comfortable with this determination.  However, I could change my mind over the next few weeks of heavy duty field testing. Another aspect that could change my mind is the timeliness of delivery of features and functions promised by PHASE ONE.  In my opinion, PHASE ONE is clearly pushing the envelope (which if implemented correctly is a great thing) and has missed some deadlines on providing features and functions from a firmware perspective (which is a bad thing).

The answer to the second question is a qualified yes. If the money you make for selling a fine art photographic work or a body of work from a photo shoot will ultimately pay for the disproportionately initial high investment – then yes.

In my case, people can walk into MESH Gallery and view the image above (Lunch in Lower Stanley) at 72 inches – On Canvas Framed.  They can purchase a Limited Edition version from 24 inches to 144 inches in size.  When the artwork is larger than 40 inches the IQ4 150 is proving to make a a material difference in the quality of the results.  Less than 40 inches? – not-so-much.

The answer to the second question is yes – if money is no object and ego, or the desire to own the latest shiny new object rules the day.

When PHASE ONE announced its new offering, the advancement being suggested was material if not astonishing:

A new sensor architecture

A material increase in resolution (101-151 Megapixels)

A new technology platform to support the sensor

Capture One Image Processing Software embedded into IQ device

While I am a person willing to consider new propositions, I do become skeptical when major hype is included in the announcement (e.g, seamless, future-proof, promotional material includes pictures of female models boxing in Cuba).

When PHASE ONE stated their new platform was named “Infinity” – I will admit I rolled my eyes with a bit of sarcasm.  Well… I have the product in hand and after 30 days so far so good – so I may have to eat some crow.

However, from a Risk Management perspective, a ground-up product change is highly challenging from delivery perspective and PHASE ONE is doing so with the IQ4 150.  However, the risk is materially mitigated given my relationship with my vendor.  I have my IQ3 100MP for the A-B Comparison and until then, I feel I am good to go.  This situation has always been the case.

My plan is to field test and post my thoughts on the new system over the next few weeks.  My goal is to provide observations and opinions based on real-world use of the product.  I will attempt to provide a narrative that is not drowned out by pixel peeping, while at the same time is not filled with generalities and platitudes.

Backstory

I am an early Adopter. VHS over Betamax (although Betamax was better technically, licensing would favor VHS). I bought into and enjoyed Laserdisc and DVD from the start.  I chose Bluray over HD-DVD (although HD-DVD and Bluray were similar, politics would favor Bluray).  I bought into the Macintosh and MS-Windows graphical user interface platforms since their market introductions (actually prior to). I use both platforms to this day, but also have Chromebooks and Android devices.

In 2012, as the owner of the best Canon, Nikon and Sony 35 MM formats could offer in the marketplace, I considered, evaluated, and chose to invest in PHASE ONE and the larger sensor 645 format system they advocated.

The choice to move to the 645 platform was not easy.  The decision was compounded by the fact that the PHASE ONE offerings are expensive.  Before making the move, I carefully evaluated and field tested the offerings from Leica, Hasselblad, and Pentax.  The problem for Leica, Hasselblad, and Pentax is they licensed cropped, non-full-frame offerings based on older technology digital CMOS Sensors.  PHASE ONE chose to go 645 Full Frame and then developed with Sony the next two generations of digital sensors – 16 Bit, 101MP 54mm x 40mm Frontside CCD and 16 Bit, 151MP 54mm x 40mm Backside CMOS.  The three Letter Acronyms and terminology is gobbledeegook to 99 44/100 of the population.  So where do I sit?  I chose to make the jump and have been rewarded handsomely on a variety of fronts since.

Over the past number of years, PHASE ONE bought out and brought in house one of the standard bearers of the 645 body and camera lens makers (i.e., Mamiya). For the past 10 years, PHASE ONE has worked with Schneider-Kreuznach to create the best lenses available for their 645 offerings.  The PHASE ONE work with Sony on the digital sensor has already been pointed out previously.  While there have been hiccups along the way, PHASE ONE made it clear their XF (Camera Body) and Blue Ring (Lenses) and IQ (Digital Back + Sensor) were to be the very best available in the market.  At the same time PHASE ONE – in my opinion – remained smart and savvy, and continued to support the Technical Camera Body manufacturers (i.e., Alpa and Cambo) and the lenses they used (e.g., Rodenstock) that work with the PHASE ONE Digital Back offerings.  I own a full WRS 5000 Technical Camera kit from Cambo and supported lenses.  While the margin of difference is shrinking, if I need a 10 out of 10 from a photo-shoot and shot – the WRS 5000 Cambo Tech Body, Rodenstock or Schneider Lens, and IQ Sensor is Paper Money Daddy!

Another crucial aspect is having a resource to assist in identifying and selecting equipment and or upgrades that ultimately will prove to be in your interest.  Equipment such as we are discussing should not be bought without it.  I cannot stress this point more empathically.  For me, that means Steve Hendrix, Brad Kaye, Dave Gallagher and Capture Integration of Atlanta.  The relationship is in year seven and is stronger today that when it started in December of 2011.   Steve, Brad, Dave, and CI have advised, consulted, represented my best interest, and most importantly protected me from myself.  Your voice activated auto advisor does not meet that standard.  In short, do not fool yourself; you get what you pay for and there are no free-lunches.

It should be noted that I am my own guy and have not been remunerated (I love this term) by PHASE ONE, Steve Hendrix, Brad Kaye or CI in any form or manner for my comments or remarks.  I continue to use, purchase, and enjoy 35MM related camera gear (from Nikon, Sony and Sigma) and encourage you to to do so as well if it is best for your situation.  The Mirrorless platforms are pressing the Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) platforms in a big way. I also shoot with my Apple iPhone if the situation warrants – and make no apologies or condescending remarks when doing so.  I mean what I suggest and imply.  While I think highly of PHASE ONE gear, photographing Mother Mountain Goats and their babies (less than 10 days old) in the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains without disturbing them called for the Nikon D8XX camera bodies and the Nikkor 1000MM Lens.  We brought along PHASE ONE Gear as well on the climbs that entailed 3,000 – 4,000 vertical feet of ascent with the starting point being 7,000 feet elevation.  Having both platforms available served us well.

If you have aspects you would like for me to test and comment or you would like a link to my Dropbox page for the actual image files to review yourself:

Test #1 – Compare the image sensor capture of the product to one of its predecessors: IQ4 151MP versus IQ3 100MP

I decided to compare the IQ4 151MP against my current back the IQ3 151MP by performing an A-B Comparison using the same XF Camera body, and Phase One lens with all settings being equal.  The camera profile was to capture the image using the default settings of Outdoor daylight and Film Contrast.  The images are displayed side by side in Capture One without any adjustments.

Note:  Click on the image to view in larger size. For review on a web-page the comparison result is more directional than comprehensive.  RGB images in 72 dpi will not yield anything definitive.  Therefore, all the the actual images in this test can be made available to you if desired.

IQ4 151MP image starts with a P

IQ3 101MP image starts with a CF

Scene #1: The entrance to my home.  AM 22 minutes after sunrise in January Temperature 12 degrees Fahrenheit

The images at 100%

Scene #2: The entrance to the Lift Tower Lodge.  AM 60 minutes after sunrise in January Temperature 14 degrees Fahrenheit

The images at 100%

Scene #3: The entrance to the Sun Valley Lodge. AM 45 minutes after sunrise in January Temperature 14 degrees Fahrenheit

The images at 100%

Scene #4: The entrance to the Kentwood Lodge. AM 50 minutes after sunrise in January Temperature 14 degrees Fahrenheit

The images at 100%

Scene #5: The entrance to the Sisters Store. AM 50 minutes after sunrise in January Temperature 14 degrees Fahrenheit

The images at 100%

Scene #6: The office lamp. 22 minutes before bed in January Temperature 70 degrees Fahrenheit

The images at 100%

Scene #7: Winter on the Harriman Trail. AM 3 hours 10 minutes after sunrise in January Temperature 27 degrees Fahrenheit

The images at 100%

Scene #8: Lunch in Lower Stanley. PM 4 hours 20 minutes after sunrise in January Temperature 25 degrees Fahrenheit

The images at 100%

The Digital Sensor Considered in Context to Film.

The images from the eight scenes above are compared as captured and unprocessed. Digital images like their film counterparts do need processing to achieve an accurate, acceptable end product.  There are (in history) about 32 major makers of still-camera film for print.  Each offers/offered various products that were created to handle different ISO levels, light sources, grain, contrast, tint, and other aspects.  As a photographer you needed to pick from one of them when shooting and take advantage of or be subject to its design bias. The beauty of the digital sensor is you do not have to pick as it captures an image and can be processed for basic aspects such as White Balance, Color Balance and Levels.  It can be processed further given the ISO as shot and light source. The image can be processed further to achieve a desired effect that is available given the sensor’s dynamic range and levels of gray scale/color depth.  The image can be processed (or edited) even further in what most people term photo-shopped; (e.g., change color from red to blue, make the moon larger, add or remove something such as a fence or person, etc.). All from the same single image.  I do enjoy it when a proper noun (Photoshop from Adobe Systems) becomes a verb in practical conversation.

A list of photographic films is [here]

The PHASE ONE IQ4 150 Device provides a tremendous advantage to a photographer.  The IQ4 150 offers 151 megapixels of 16Bit Color uncompressed RAW natively.  Virtually no other commercially available digital camera provides such a capability.

PHASE ONE 16Bit (and lower with and without compression if desired).

Nikon: 8Bit, 12Bit and 14 bit

Cannon: 8Bit, 10Bit and 12Bit

And what is the implication of xxBit color –

16Bit: 65,536 available colors and tone

8Bit: 256 available colors and tone

Below is Winter on The Harriman Trail using some basic White Balance and Color Balance (processed via Capture One 12)

Image at 100%

Jeff’s Crib Notes and Comments
Subject Plus Minus Comment
Sensor Size 22 or 28% larger than IQ151 depending on how you measure None really No visible difference in sharpness over IQ3 100.  Difference starts to reveal itself at 40 inches and bigger given larger image size.  This aspect is an important advantage for my work.
Sensor color capture Seems to be much more natural than IQ3 100 A bit too much magenta at times. In general I like the results more than the IQ3 100 except for whites at times being too magenta.  IQ3 100 a bit too much cyan at times.  This is the trade-off with sensors.  Would be interested in how it compares with Tri-Color
Time from Boot to Shoot Ready to shoot in 10-11 seconds vs 23 seconds for IQ3 100 Occasionally comes into play and has reduced some levels of wait-time frustration.
Cold Weather Operated at 4 degrees Fahrenheit when IQ3 100 did not fire off a shot during test. Occurred on three different occasion.  If device is effectively better in colder weather, this is a big deal to me.
Storage No more CF cards Only one of two slots operating until firmware update Much faster operation and has reduced some levels of wait-time frustration. Always worried about Sony controlled memory structures.
Features and Functions Big upside Some Features and Functions I like are promised but yet to be delivered. What is missing are nice to haves at this point – at least to me. I have been promised they will be delivered.  For seven years PHASE ONE has kept its word,. At this point, I have no reason to believe otherwise.
Electronic Shutter & Cable For Technical Camera Crucial for long-term shooting I have a work around in place thanks to CI that will test next.  Do not use in the winter on the top of a 12,000 peak in 4 degree Fahrenheit weather after a full day of climbing. Will need as spring appraches.

Next POST:  The IQ4 151 Digital Back used with a Technical Camera

Celebrating A Friend

My buddy Dr. Robert Sigley passed away recently and his funeral (actually more of a celebrating remembrance) was held this weekend in the enclaves of Magnolia and Ballard, and city of Seattle, WA.  Linda and I made the trip from Sun Valley to Seattle in order to join in on the celebration.

Bob was the kind of friend that no matter distance or time, you could reconnect without missing a beat.  If you have a friend like that, I need to say no more to explain the relationship.

Bob’s obituary is below. You will quickly discern he was a rather remarkable guy. There was one singular thing about Bob, that would indicate to me that he liked and cared for someone; Bob would tease you.  And because Bob could never do anything half-assed, he would make comments that were of dry humor, highly relevant, and keenly observational.

As many know first-hand, Linda Ruth Lubeck can deliver a formal dinner with all the proper settings and accompaniments at the drop of a hat.  One such occasion was a dinner served on the roof-deck of our Magnolia home which possessed a 360 view of Magnolia, The Puget Sound, The Olympic Mountains, Mt. Ranier, and Downtown Seattle.  A perfect setting for a summer dinner.  Our guests were Bob and Dana Sigley.  The Lubeck’s and Sigley’s had become –  closely tied – over the years – via community events, school, Mothers of Boys, sports, outdoor sports, kids, youth soccer volunteering, youth baseball volunteering and enjoying time together on the Hood Canal (both of us had cabins and water-craft).  Dinner is ready, we go up to the deck, the setting is perfect. The four of us sit down.  Bob straightens up and survey’s the table setting.  Bob turns to Linda and says “Linda I am so disappointed. I would have expected Virgin Olive Oil for the bread and you are serving margarine.”  It was butter, but you get the point.

What struck me at the event this past weekend is Bob’s greatest legacy – his children.  Karen, Sara, Kevin, and Todd.  Each of them are similar to, and different from each other and Bob in many ways.  The one thing they have in common, is that they are exceptionally fine people and their own person. How many parents get to (without qualifiers) make that claim?

Bob loved and lost throughout life – as many do – a young baby child (Daniel), a marriage, and a spouse to cancer. I am hard pressed to think of a time when Bob complained about something. Ironically, Bob – who could have easily gravitated to reclusiveness – chose the opposite; inclusiveness.

After Dana’s passing,  it appeared the Sigley’s moved into another gear towards enjoying and celebrating their family (including spouses and grandkids).  And this was a family (by choice of occupation) that were spread out around the globe.  Bob also took the remarkable step of embracing the possibility of a new companion in his life; Terese.  Ironically Bob’s dealing with Dana’s passing and courting of Terese was the most vocal and open about personal feeling he had ever been with me.  We spent hours on the phone in discussion and well as I would travel to Seattle specifically to see Bob during this period.

The Sigley’s chose to spend the last of their annual ski trips with the Lubeck’s at our home in Sun Valley this past year;  it included loved ones, children, spouses of children, and grand-children. All were present for skiing, home-made dinners, and endless card games.

Bob Sigley was relentless in learning about and experiencing all aspects of things which interested him (e.g., fully optimized spreadsheets containing all the correct, and relevant data for registration, and analysis of Magnolia Soccer).  This could be intimidating to some people, but in my opinion that is the other person’s problem – I loved this aspect of Bob.

Bob Sigley granted me much in life – someone with which to debate any topic of interest, a running partner, a skiing partner (water and snow), a hiking partner, a volunteering partner – school and multiple sports.

I do not focus on the loss of a friend, but instead; the benefits of the relationship.

Jeff’s Thoughts and Other Worthless Trivia

Linda and I stayed with my cousin Dave Hughbanks (c. David) who lives on the Bluff overlooking Shilshole and The Puget Sound.  When we go back to Seattle the Hughbanks home is where we place anchor.  The home was built in the 1920’s by the Hughbanks and has stayed in possession since.  I first stepped foot on and in the home located at 6214 37th Northwest (Ballard) on February 17th 1982 at 6:37 PM.  Cousin Ruth (mom of Nancy, Jim, and Dave) greeted me with open arms.  I met Ruth when I was 12 years-old on a trip she made to Michigan. Ruth made sure her home was made to feel as if it was mine.  Ruth, Jim, and Dave without expecting anything in return embraced Linda and I (and soon thereafter Kyle) with the greatest of love, attention, and acceptance from the get-go.  This home and these people have provided for 36 years of remarkable times and experiences for the Lubeck’s.  Over the decades c. David ensured the house on 6214 37th Northwest be updated smartly while staying true to its character.  My guess is that each of us have a few places that offer the safety and comfort of home.  6214 37th Northwest is one of those places for me.

Bob Sigley

Dr. Robert D. Sigley (Bob), 74, passed away on January 3, 2019 after a two-and-a-half-year course of advanced cancer and extensive chemo-, radiation and immunotherapy. He spent his final days and hours at his home in Magnolia, surrounded by loved ones, passing comfortably with the belief that he would soon see his parents, his son Danny, his sister Darilyn, and his wife Dana.

Bob was born September 17, 1944, to Daniel Tell Sigley and Margaret Louise Muetze Sigley in Takoma Park, Montgomery County, MD, before the family relocated to southern California. The smartest man we knew, he did not follow a traditional educational path. Bob never finished high school or college. After three years of each, he dropped out to obtain a medical degree from UCLA. At UCLA he met, and in 1967, married Margee, with whom he raised their daughters, Karen and Sara, and son Daniel (September 1972 – December 1972).

As a Navy surgeon, he served and operated at Camp Pendleton in California. Following his military duty, he established himself as a leading surgeon in Seattle, creating dialysis access for kidney failure patients for Northwest Kidney Centers. He met his second wife Dana in the Swedish Hospital operating room. They married in 1981, and together raised their sons, Kevin and Todd.

As a father, Bob was intimately involved in his children’s education, athletics, and character growth. After his retirement from surgery, he was a faithful supporter of youth soccer in Seattle, helping to bring the game to thousands of Seattle’s kids.

We will remember fondly his enthusiasm for his outdoor passions: cycling, skiing (on water and snow), running, and gardening. He was also an avid genealogist, delighting in researching his family history. He inspired his family with his humility, integrity, kindness, generosity, wry humor, and spreadsheets. His great legacy will continue through his children and grandchildren, and through the charitable Sigley Family Foundation, which he established in 2016 following his cancer diagnosis.

He is survived by his four children, three grandchildren, his sister Janet, and his faithful companion Terese.

Please honor Bob by CELEBRATING LIFE and committing random acts of kindness every day. Please also consider charitable contributions, either to the Sigley Family Foundation or to your favorite organization.

A service will be held at Our Lady of Fatima church in Magnolia on Saturday, January 19 at 10 AM.

Following the service, Bob invited family and close friends to gather at Ray’s Boathouse on Shilshole Avenue. Please join us for light refreshments from 12-4 PM on the 19th.

A Film With Which to Laugh, Call Foul, and Most Likely Both at the Same Time: Vice

The Biography, Comedy, Drama, and Satire (BCDS) known as Vice is a really, really good film.  In order to be a great film Vice Writer\Director Adam McKay  (AA The Big Short, Anchorman) would have had to remove one or two of the aforementioned aspects or spent more time crafting Vice before its release.  I will take Vice as it is and you should too.

Hollywood produced BCDS films are usually extremely uneven, and ultimately a weak unsatisfying product.  From this perspective Vice is remarkably fresh.

Vice – in its simplest form – is about Dick Cheney and (in many respects) Dick and Lynne Cheney. The Cheney’s and their family move through relative obscurity to become high profile people (some would argue icons) who’s actions have a heavy influence on our daily lives.  Cheney navigates, negotiates, and interprets his way into becoming the most powerful Vice President in the history of the United States.   Vice presents the Cheney’s in all aspects of BCDS, and it is an enjoyable watch.

Because of public records, the Biography and Drama aspects should be considered relatively accurate.  These scenes are compelling and show a person, couple, and family that is loyal and sincere.  Some scenes are extremely powerful, and reinforce the positive aspects of these people.  Nonetheless, some are sobering and heartbreaking.

The Comedy aspects are funny and well placed. The Satire is hilarious and often completely unfair  – as it should be.  Do the Cheney’s discuss – in bed – their next steps in political life in Shakespearean prose?  Not a chance! However, in Satire they do, and it is over-the-top brilliant.

Are Dick and Lynne Cheney five steps ahead of everyone else?  Are Dick and Lynne Cheney critical thinkers and operational implementer’s?  My guess is they are to the highest degree (right or wrong, good or bad).  Vice presents them as such.  It is up to you to decide the implication.

Christian Bale (as Dick) and Amy Adams (as Lynne) are uncanny in their roles.  The performances by these two are a singular reason to see the film – even if you do not want to watch or deal with any other aspect of Vice.  The performances are solidified by the best makeup, hair work, and coaching as it relates mannerisms and posture I have seen in years – if not ever in film. Adams and Bale have remarkable on-screen chemistry.  Both were highly effective together in American Hustle (2013).

The role of the supporting characters are solidly built, but it might have made for an even better film if they had been developed a just a bit more. Vice is also sprinkled with funny cameo performances and a clever scene in the credits.

The ending scene – a monologue from Cheney – epitomizes Vice and its effectiveness.  Cheney looks us square in the eye and tells us how he see things.  The words and delivery feel 100% Dick Cheney.  My guess is those that have historically supported Cheney’s line of thinking – would easily cheer and defend the statement 100% – with no reason to apologize.  For those that have not historically supported Cheney’s thinking – they would use the statement as evidence to make their case against him.

Jeff’s Thoughts and Worthless Trivia

As many of you know, I am not a straight ticket political party guy. I have voted for Republicans, Democrats, and Independents for office – including the President of the United States.

I like being in the company of people who – while well read, and willing to stand up for what they believe – are willing to listen to opposing positions and the reasoning behind it.

I like people that step back at times and make fun of themselves.

My guess would be that McKay’s politics are liberal and would not like Cheney, but I am not sure that matters when I look at Vice as a film.  If you are making a BCDS you got to throw out your bias to a great degree or you will not make an effective film.  I think Vice is an effective film.

McKay has written and directed some of the silliest scenes in film.  When you add Will Ferrell to the creative mix, many are going to end up completely over the top – many succeeding and failing.  The warehouse\alley fight scene between the news teams in Anchorman is one of the better examples.

American Voters have historically been fickle with Executive Branches who inherit a war and then prosecute; especially if the U.S. starts out as the victim (Pearl Harbor, Marine Barracks in Lebonon, 911).  Cheney’s popularity is perhaps one of the best examples in history.  Highest and lowest rating as a V.P.:  68% and ending up at 13%.

Cheney is pronounced CHEE-KNEE.  The film seems to have missed the pronunciation completely.

While Title Says Wildness: Snow Patrol Returns Tighter Than Ever

I became familiar with the the Scottish Alt-rock band Snow Patrol in the early 2000’s.  With the albums Final Straw, Eyes Open, and One Hundred Million Suns, the group moved from Noticed to Highly Popular to Headliners.  Snow Patrol’s style was one of thought-provoking melancholy with a up-paced edge sound. That sound was enhanced over the years with a couple of band-member changes to support co-founder and lead-man Gary Lightbody, given the departure of co-founder Mark McClelland.  On occasion Snow Patrol would move to upbeat themes – which were superb.

International hits such as Chasing Cars and Taking Back The City were not only popular world-wide, but American T.V. Shows grabbed them for themes as well.

Two more pretty good but not superb albums releases followed – leaving fans in 2011 to wonder if Snow Patrol was capable of another gear or out of gas?

Not only was Snow Patrol out of gas but they all but disappeared from the scene. Now revealed, Lightbody dealt with depression, addiction and writers-block.  Diversions to make time for writing music for others and potentially creating super-bands did nothing to help Snow Patrol itself.

Late in 2018, Snow Patrol released Wildness in what appears to be out of thin air (which we all know is never really the case). With Wildness, Jacknife Lee is back for Snow Patrol’s fifth straight album as its Producer.  My guess is Lee has a lot with this album getting into the ears of the public.

Over simplified, Snow Patrol albums almost always sit around 4 out of 5 star rating in terms for satisfaction and quality.  In short, never perfect, but very memorable, and always worth purchasing.

Wildness does not fall short of the a four-star rating on any aspect.  Given the time lapse from new music by Snow Patrol – the album feels fresh, tight, and truly welcomed.

Straddling The Line with Great Effect Again: BlacKkKlansman

With respect to general audiences, Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Clockers, Inside Man) has made a career being provocative, not crossing over the line, and not selling out.  Lee is a vocal and animated teller of american stories about people usually mired in the system (e.g., race, gender, education, occupation, location) who are about to challenge the status quo.

Materially more often than not, Lee is exceptionally effective at presenting the story on all fronts; script, production values, music, cinematography and acting.  BlacKkKlansman starring John David Washington in his first real lead role and Adam Driver (This Where I Leave You, Logan Lucky, Star Wars, Star Wars: Episode VIII – The Last Jedi)  is no exception.

As quirky as the story-line may sound – Two Police Detectives (a Black Man and a Jewish Man) are able to team up and infiltrate the KkK in Colorado and National Headquarters.  Quirky?  Yes.  Truly happened?  Yes, at least in Hollywood terms adapted from a biography.

Lee’s frequent collaborator Terrance Blanchard has created a really solid music track to support the film. Charyse Irvin in what appears to be his first feature length film as Director of Photographer presents a compelling image.

Lee, as much as he wants you to believe he is operating totally in the moment, is a polished professional filmmaker who is operating per plan.  As an audience, we benefit.

Christmas 2018 – At The Cabin in Stanley

We decided to have Christmas at the Cabin in Stanley, Idaho in 2018.  It is located on Goat Creek.  The property abuts the Sawtooth National Forest\National Recreation\National Wilderness Boundary.  We access via a Private Road and need to cross Forest Service property to get to our cabin. The property is part of a small enclave which has a permit that includes our ability to plow the Forest Service Road and our private road in winter.  We chip in funds such that we have access to the cabin year-round.

 

Linda, Sage of the Wood River Valley dog, Kyle, Merry [Christmas] dog on Christmas day at the cabin. Not Pictured Valentine dog, Willow of the Wood River Valley dog and Jeff.

Jeff and Linda at Sawtooth Wilderness on Iron Creek. 1/2 way through 10K back-country ski on Boxing day 2018. A bit chilly at -2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Dawn on River Run on Baldy 12/23/2018.

Sage of the Wood River Valley dog, and Willow of the Wood River Valley dog working out on Christmas Eve at the cabin 2018.

skiing up Iron Creek Christmas 2018

Entering Sawtooth Wilderness – Sign in Required.

Following the Rules – on Christmas Day 2018.

Ready to Pump – Always! Jeff’s favorite Water Pump since 1982; The Iron Creek Campground Water Pump Christmas 2018.