A quick Monday morning post, to say thanks to everyone who came buy and looked, whether you picked something up or not. It was a pleasant venue to meet both visitors and artists, and was a nice way to spend a weekend.

    The items that didn't sell are happily on my walls at home, no harm there, and I look forward to the next A4 event, which I believe will be a showing at the historic Mill of Kintail in Clayton. Details to come.

Again, many thanks to all who showed up, showed support for the local artists and had a good time doing so.

Best,

Chris Kiez
 
 
    The Art in The Attic 2012 show opened last night at the Town Hall, 14 Bridge Street in Almonte. A number of people showed up for the opening, which included free wine and cheese and live musicians playing Celtic themed music. The artwork on display involved a number of styles, as well as profiling some very talented local youth.

    As concerns my framed photos, six pieces went, so now when I gas up today, I can afford a luxury wash with hot-wax, instead of the usual econo-wash! Living large...

    About half of the greeting cards I had made up also sold. I had about 25 of my images on greeting cards. If you want blank greeting cards with my unique images for less than store prices, check out this link and order online. Its a quick, painless method, and the price includes shipping. http://www.redbubble.com/people/chriskiez

    Just click on any picture you like, and then click on the tab that interests you (greeting card, post card, framed print, laminated print, poster, etc). The prices are immediately displayed and are as good as anything you'll get at the big box stores.

    Two more days to sell the rest of my work. If anyone from platoon is reading this--there isn't--but if anyone is, if I don't come in on Monday, its because I sold everything and now I can retire. Actually, on annual leave on Monday. Don't replace me just yet, no matter how badly you may want to.

    All the best,

    Chris
 
 

    The Art in the Attic show is an annual display of local artistic talent that takes place in Almonte, Ontario. Almonte is approximately 30 minutes west of Ottawa, located by taking the 417 west, past Kanata, until you reach the exit for Highway 49 (marked Almonte). Upon exiting the highway, turn left, and continue on for approximately 10 kms, until you reach the town of Almonte. Go straight through, past the Tim Horton's, until you come to the third set of lights. Turn left (Bridge Street) and continue over the bridge. The art show is in the large, heritage stone building town hall, on 14 Bridge Street, with parking at the town hall and on the surrounding streets. The art show is on the third floor (wheelchair accessible with elevator). The town of Almonte itself is worth a walkabout. The main street is Mill Street, and is about 50 feet away from the town hall where the show is being held. 

    My photos are being sold as matted and framed, or framed only numbered and signed prints. Prices are all very reasonable, $50.00 to $20.00, ranging from matted and framed 11x14 inch prints to 5x7 inch prints. 

    I am also offering greeting cards, with 25 different images to choose from.  The cards are made from a very high-quality grade stock by a producer of fine paper. The cards are on a surprisingly heavy paper, which boasts a smooth, satin finish. The interior is not laminated, so its easy to write your message on. The paper is 10% post-consumer fiber, and is acid and elemental chlorine-free.  At $3.00 each or 5 for $12.5o, you'll wonder why you pay more at the supermarket or drugstore for inferior products....consider my sustainably-sourced products, on beautiful card stock, with beautiful images!

   All framed prints are on high-gloss photo papers; seeing the images here on the website and seeing the real deal in the frame is like night and day. People who buy them continue to tell me how pleased they are to have one of my pieces in their home or office, and I love to hear these stories. It makes me feel good to know that someone looks at my work everyday and gets a lift, a happy feeling from having my work in their lives. Pleasant and provocative images feed our spirits in this rushed and disjointed world. Consider having a piece of art that makes you stop and feel better for a moment each time you see it. All pieces are signed as 1/10, so if I get struck by lightening, hang on to that $20.00 art investment!
    
    After seeing the show, there are a number of restaurants doing lunch and dinner menus on Mill Street,  including the outstanding and eclectic Cafe Postino, among the main street. Palms Coffee shop also offers outstanding coffees and sandwiches, full free WiFi for customers, and a very pleasant atmosphere to sit and relax. Down the street are more amazing restaurants (Mill Street Crepe Company, Heirloom Cafe Bistro and the utterly amazing Foodies, nest to ) offering haute and original, superb fare. Baker Bob's bakery and candy store is definately worth a visit when walking down Mill Street. The Robin's Nest offers excellent fare up at Mill and Bridge Streets as well.

    Besides restaurants that will really impress you, there is all manner of shopping on Mill Street as well. Antique stores, an indoor shopping gallery where the Mill Street Crepe Company is located. Vamos Outdoor Clothing is a huge pull for shoppers, being like a small version of Mountain Equipment Coop in Almonte.

    All the restaurants and stores I mention here are a five minute stroll up and down Mill Street, which is a few moments walk from the art show on Bridge Street. You can make a really nice afternoon of it.

    So, its worth the drive to come visit Almonte. There are things to see, art to buy!, shops to explore and good food to eat. Seriously, why do you think I look like a retired linebacker gone to seed? Its the restaurants out here......

    I plan to be there at the opening on Friday night, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. for the artist meet-and-greet. I'll be in and out during the weekend as well. If you make it out for the visit, I'm fairly certain you'll be glad you did.

    All the best,

    Chris Kiez
 
 
I came home from working night shift, Tired, cold and in no mood for taking pictures, I knew I had to suit up in the rain gear and stumble out in my sleepy state to capture this rare Spring snow fall for the obvious contrasts it would reveal. You know, the cliches, snow-on-spring-flowers. Not Pulitzer stuff--people like to see war and conflict, or so the price being paid for those images compared to mine would suggest--but still and all, this is Canadian Springtime non-pareil. Snow when you thought it was all done.

I set up with my canon 7D, using a 60mm macro lens and an inexpensive yet robust Neeweer Ring Flash. I reviewed the Neeweer a few blog posts ago (http://www.chriskiezphotography.com/1/post/2012/02/macro-ring-flash-led-light-by-neewer.html). Its a no-frills unit; you can't dial down the power of the LCD lights, and I'm sure the LCD lights used are not 100% natural daylight output like on the $500 models, but this one was $30.00 and does an acceptable job in my opinion.

Why use a ring flash with a macro lens?

A ring flash sits at the end of your lens, attached by an adapter ring which the light housing then slots onto. The flash is made of a series of small LED light bulbs arrayed in a circle, so as to provide a ring of consistent light output around your lens (see bottom of this blog for a picture of the Neeweer ring flash). 

Since macro photography results in being very close to a subject, focusing becomes much easier with a consistent light source being projected onto your subject. Also, the light source makes for easier metering as well. Even with a wide open aperture, a subject being shot in macro format is often underexposed, requiring a tripod and double to triple the set up time. With a ring flash, you can shoot hand held often, you can get much better auto focus since the AF system needs reflected light to assist the focusing module to process information and to work properly.

The Neewer ring flash also allows you to use only the left side of the ring, the right side, or to light up the whole ring for 360 degrees of light.

I know its an inexpensive entry level option, but I was shooting in heavily falling snow, the housing that sits on the hotshoe was outside of the plastic weather cover I use on my camera in bad-weather photography, and it never shorted out. The AK-47 of ring flashes; simple, durable and keeps on working. 

Isn't that what you want when working outside of a studio?

In any event, the ring flash allows the operator to properly focus in macro photography shooting handheld, where this is usually a challenge. With this flash, my shots are tack sharp (accounting for bokeh with shallow depth of field) and overall, I was able to get some interesting late-Spring shots of daffodils covered in a lousy early morning wet-snow.

That's it for today. I'm going back to sleep, since I was up all night. You're likely going to sleep because you read my blog without taking amphetemines first to counteract the sedative effect of my writing.........

Keep taking pictures, if you're not out there shooting, you're not getting even bad pictures to complain about,
 
 
I recently received a package from B&H Video in New York City, the holy land for photographers. I opened the box and found my brand spanking new Rokinon Ultra Wide 8mm fish eye lens. 

Introduction:


Rokinon is a South Korean company which makes outstanding third-party lenses. I have been considering a wide angle lens for landscape work for some time, including wide angle lenses made by both Canon and Tamron in the 10-20mm range, but these are fairly expensive. In doing some research, I came across the Rokinon ultra wide 8mm fish eye. This lens is under $300 and has rave reviews everywhere you go on the internet. Being a fish eye lens, it grabs 180 degrees of the field of view, a range so huge that my feet often appear in a shot unless I'm certain to aim perfectly level. Its unbelievable. Fish eye lenses are limited in their use; the distortion they produce means you can't show these photos too often, or the novelty becomes trite. However, they produce very interesting results, and the more creative you can be, the more interesting the results of this very unique type of lens.

General: 

The Rokinon fish eye is a fully manual lens, so aperture and focus are set by the user, not by the camera. This brings the price down, but manual focus and aperture setting are the equivalent of driving a stick shift car over an automatic. You get a true feel for the lens in the operation of it.  Your camera will meter light levels, so shooting on manual--which I do 99% of the time anyways--is the best way to use this lens.

I'm happy to report that the quality of the lens is outstanding. The barrel is solid, metal construction. The base of the lens is metal, not plastic, and the lens glass produces rich colors with remarkably little chromatic abberation. There is a permanent, built-on petal style lens hood to reduce sunlight glare.  The manual adjustment focus ring is butter-smooth, and the overall feel in use of this lens is reminiscent of the solidly built Pentax manual Pentax lenses I learned photography on back in the early 80's. 

Use:

When using this lens, I find that image sharpness improves once the aperture is above f/5.6, with the sweet spot being at f/8. This lens has few moving parts and elements. Owing to the lens length and the quality of the lens glass, depth of field--the area of acceptably sharp focus from the film plane/sensor to the subject--is very long. Regardless of settings, you are almost always guaranteed to have nothing less than sharp focus for the whole image. Good for landscape shots, but with this lens, you cannot do a portrait shot with your subject in sharp focus in the foreground and the background in soft focus. Its not that kind of design.

There is a focus guide ring on the lens barrel; if you're close to your subject, you twist the focusing ring to the left using the distance guide on the ring as a reference ; for subjects further than 3 feet away, you twist the focus ring to the right until the focus ring meets the infinity symbol. This lens produces sharp, clear images every time it seems, and if in doubt, just check the focus guide above the aperture ring.

The aperture ring must be set wide open at f3.5 when attaching the lens to the camera body. Once locked on, I generally set the aperture ring to f/8 for general landscapes. I dial the aperture up and down to balance the light levels, keeping my shutter speed above 1/60 at all times since there's no image stabilization on this lens.

Owing to the bulging front element glass, you cannot use filters, not even the larger P-sized filters handheld. The front element glass is just too huge. That said, the glass on this lens is such good quality, that sunny skies tend to be nice and blue as the eye sees them, as colors are very well-rendered.

This lens is a well-built product which is very reasonably priced. Fish eye lenses are a novelty in their way. They produce outlandish barrel distortion depending on how you shoot your subject. You have to be careful not to overdo things, but if used well, they can create some very interesting landscapes and portraits.

Pros: Solid construction, metal body, built-on petal lens hood, metal base, smooth-as-silk focus adjustment ring, clear focus and aperture number markings, low price, high quality.

Cons: Cheap lens cap. That's it, the only thing I can find fault with.

Conclusion: If you want a fish eye lens or an ultra wide angle, seriously consider this one. Hundreds and hundreds of dollars less expensive than the Canon and Tamron offerings. A very, very nice lens.  I've added a few quick shots, with some non-fish eye shots for comparison. I'll add some more pictures as
 

    Author

    Chris Kiez, a hardcore photographer since the 80's, learned to take a picture before the age of selfies and cell phone photography, training on mechanical cameras and film. After years of taking photos of all manner of subjects and people, he did over a 10 year stint as a crime scene photographer on two continents. Now, he does portrait and landscape photos, and is currently distressing the world with his relentlessly, excruciatingly boring blogging.


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