Volume 10, Number 18 29 August 2008

Copyright 2008, The Imaging Resource. All rights reserved.

Welcome to the 235th edition of the Imaging Resource Newsletter. There's quite a bit of news this time in the Notes section, some of it worthy of some serious head scratching. So dawdle a bit with our piece on the Lee Miller exhibit at SFMOMA and Shawn's Nikon D90 hands-on preview. Summer fun at the beach has ruined a digicam or two, so we do our best imitation of Bay Watch to help you out before it's too late. Finally, we cork this issue with a piece that tells time. Enjoy!


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Feature: Shooting the Unseen

September has always been the best month to visit San Francisco, as this August's blanket of fog has proven once again. But even if the views have been obscured, there's always a lot to see here. The other day, we took in the Lee Miller exhibit at SFMOMA ( to get out of the damp.

It isn't exactly easy to get into SFMOMA these days. Thank Frieda Kahlo for that. An exhibit of her paintings has people lined up around the block, with tickets available for timed entries only (you may wait half an hour or so before you can get in to the Kahlo show).

Kahlo may be a commodity but not a lot is known about Miller ( In fact, her only son was surprised to find, on her death, the cardboard boxes of her photographic career in the attic.

But the exhibit of her photographs trumped the Kahlo exhibit for us. Not to disparage Kahlo, but Miller gave us a good deal to think about and was even aided a bit by a few fellow museum goers.


Born in 1907 in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., Miller studied painting, theatrical design and lighting at the Art Students League in New York and worked as a model for Edward Steichen, Hoyningen-Huene and Arnold Genthe. Yes, she was stunning. A Steichen image of her used in an ad for Kotex caused a scandal because it was the first image of real woman to appear in a feminine hygiene ad.

In 1929, perhaps to escape the unwelcome notoriety, Miller went to Paris and announced herself to Man Ray as his new studio assistant. In Ray's darkroom she learned to print photos. He too photographed her but it was there that she slipped behind the camera herself, intrigued by the patterns of light and shadow in the City of Light and influenced by the amusing juxtapositions of the Surrealist movement. When she set up her own studio there, she paid the bills as a portrait and fashion photographer. But even these went beyond a mechanical reproduction, using a technique she discovered by accident with Ray.

As she told the story, she was in the darkroom around 1929 or 1930 developing negatives when a rat ran over her foot. She screamed and turned on the light but Ray immediately turned it off and, to save the film, slipped it quickly into the fixer bath to stop development and remove unexposed silver from the emulsion. Examining the negatives later, they were surprised to see a clear line (which would print black) outlining the subject of the image, a nude. They had discovered the technique of photo solarization based on the Sabatier effect.

Miller moved her studio to New York in 1932, where she took yet more portraits for two years before giving it all up to marry Aziz Eloui Bey, a wealthy Egyptian businessman. They set up housekeeping in Cairo.

During the years of her marriage to Bey, she didn't do studio work. But she did carry around a Rolleiflex twin reflex with which she shot images in the Egyptian desert that, for the contrast and love of shadow, echoed her earlier work in Paris.

In 1939 Miller moved to London to be with Roland Penrose, the Surrealist, whom she had met in 1937 and with whom she traveled to Greece and Romania. As World War II loomed, she ignored orders from the U.S. Embassy to leave London, opting instead to freelance for Vogue. She had a life-long relationship with Vogue from the time Conde Naste himself held her back on the curb from oncoming traffic and, when he turned to look at her, discovered his newest model. Vogue published some of her most memorable images and essays both.

With the world at war, Miller's life got even more interesting.

In 1944, as a war correspondent, Miller teamed up with Time Life photographer David E. Scherman. She brought (and relied on) her Rolleiflex but also used a 35mm Zeiss Contax with interchangeable lenses.

She endured the London blitz, followed the Allied troops overseas on D Day + 20 and witnessed some significant events. Those included the siege of St. Malo (famous for the first use of napalm) that made her perhaps the only woman combat photographer of the war, the liberation of Paris, fighting in Luxembourg and Alsace, the Russian American meeting at Torgua and the liberation of Buchenwalk and Dachau. Her photos documented everything from the dying children of Vienna to her boots caked with the mud of Dachau on the bath mat of Hitler's tub.

Miller also wrote about her experiences on a Hermes Baby typewriter for Vogue, publishing a scathing portrait of post-war Germans oblivious to their role in the war and its atrocities. "In the towns we have occupied, the people grin from the windows in friendly fashion. They are astonished that we don't wave, or return their smiles," she wrote.

She returned to portraiture and fashion for Vogue for two years after the war, married Penrose and contributed images to his biographies of Picasso, Miro, Man Ray and Tapies. She used a Rolleicord until the 1960s when she bought a Honeywell Pentax whose built-in light meter and coated lenses delighted her.

Miller died in 1977 in Sussex, England. Her ashes were scattered there in the garden of her home at Farley Farm House.


The exhibit is well laid-out over several rooms at SFMOMA with a great deal of reading material to fill in the blanks about this little-known artist who moved from pose to portraiture to photojournalist in her career.

You can read about her early life, the early stereoscopic photos her father took of her and her education. And you can read that Vogue article and see images from every stage in her life, including the Egyptian shots and some fun things from Farley Farm House published in Vogue near the end of her life.

As you wander the rooms of the exhibit, her virtuosity eventually bowls you over. Each room could be a different person. The pretty woman you admire turns out to be a fashion photographer, too. The fashion photographer turns out to be a combat photographer. The combat photographer turns out to have written eloquently about the war. One person but all those things. And something of a practical joker, too (giving an unknowing school mate some blue dye to pass through her bladder).

Which may be why her observations at the concentration camps and in the German towns seem to hit the bull's eye. She had a human breadth that ran from the deep shadows to the bright highlights, outlined by the solarization of enlightened insight. She always seemed to have kept her eyes open -- no matter what they saw.


Near the end of the exhibit, a tall, older gent sauntered into the room with his shorter, respectful son-in-law at his side. They didn't actually look at the images. Instead they circled the room as if they were inspecting an open house.

"I can see how painting is art," the tall gent allowed. "But photography is like cheating," he chuckled. The son-in-law grinned up at the old man, nodding his head in agreement.

Ah, that again. Were we wearing a watch we would have glanced at it to see what century we were in.

Maybe the gent was too tall and his sidekick too short to appreciate Miller's art, but their angle of view probably had nothing to do with it. The contention that photography merely mimics reality is not only uninformed, it's also photography's great seduction.

Anyone who has ever pushed a shutter button realizes, however, that there's no such guarantee. We are constantly amazed how little our snapshots look like what we saw. And yet some people still don't believe photography is an art.

On the contrary, it's as if photographers shoot in a fog all the time. That fog is the medium itself. And your control of it (what Ansel Adams liked to call visualization) determines how well you are able to express yourself in this art (which is what this publication is all about). But it is more than a craft, too. There aren't just rules, tips and tricks to learn to be able to shoot a photograph that looks exactly like the real thing.

You never will shoot such a photograph. Thanks to physics, you can't. Art is imposed even on the craft, forcing the photographer to make choices that mean something.

Not to mention the problem of composition. Whether the subject is posed or discovered, the photographer must still compose the frame in some meaningful way.

Who hasn't seen a snapshot that was so cleverly exposed and so well composed it seemed created by something other than a person holding a camera?

Our skeptical pair are probably back at home in front of their plasmas by now, unbothered by Miller's small black and whites. But they should have stuck around another month or two. They might have learned something when SFMOMA opens its next show Oct. 11 titled "Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible."

It's a collection of 19th century scientific prints. The "invisible" part of the exhibit, according to curator Corey Keller, reflects the show's focus on photographs "of things that are invisible to the naked eye: faraway stars, microscopic creatures, electricity, motion, the inside of the body. We expect a photograph to look like the thing it's a picture of. But what happens when you make a picture of something you can't see?"

What happens is simple. You can't be accused of cheating.

The complaint that photography merely records the visible world is a naive one. As Miller's work shows, that's just where the art starts. She took it quite a long way in a career that took her many places. The model whose breasts inspired a French champagne glass became the Surrealist photographer who shot a surgically removed breast on a plate with utensils at the ready and the combat photojournalist who framed a liberated Dachau in her Rolleiflex.

As we left the exhibit, we had to smile imaging the practical joke she might have played on anyone who didn't appreciate how well the art served her or her the art.

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Feature: Nikon D90 Hands-on Preview

(Excerpted from the full review posted at on the Web site.)

There are a lot of great dSLRs on the market and I've had the pleasure of using most of them. But I've never taken to a camera as quickly and easily as I did to the Nikon D80, announced in 2006. Within moments of using it, I could tell I had a winner in my hands. The fit, the operation and the lens was just right for getting all the shots I saw around me, in one camera.

The Nikon D90 felt so much like the Nikon D80 that I had to check the badge to make sure I hadn't picked up the wrong camera. Even the new lens felt pretty much the same, if a little shorter. The dimensions of the Nikon D90's body are indeed identical, measuring 5.2x4.1x3.0 inches and the weight is only 0.35 ounces heavier. But what you get for that extra weight is noticeable indeed.


Though many elements are subtly restyled, the D90's front end has only one new feature: three holes for a microphone, just up and left of the D90 logo. This is, of course, for the new movie recording mode. All of the buttons are in the same locations and have essentially the same functions. Note also that the autofocus screw drive is still in place on the D90, meaning it will still drive old autofocus lenses as well as the new electronic lenses, something not included in the less-expensive Nikon D40, D40x and D60.

On the back, again the controls are restyled and the LCD is larger, but most of the controls are in familiar positions. Right of the LCD is where you'll find the major differences. First is the Live view button, marked with the letters Lv. Just below that is the new navigation cluster, which, like the Nikon D700, has an OK button in the center. The arrow pad is locked by the switch just beneath it and the Info button, again from the D700, takes up position where the OK button was on the Nikon D80. The Info button brings up a status display and a second press brings up a new onscreen menu.

The top deck has nothing new, just a slight reshaping to the buttons and a new top status LCD layout. The significant upgrade here is the new 18-105mm lens. While it doesn't have the extra reach of the 18-135mm lens that came with the D80 bundle, it does have the benefit of Vibration Reduction, Nikon's optical image stabilization.


The Nikon D90 feels just about identical to the Nikon D80. It's smaller and lighter than the D300, but still has a good grip, with a good dent inside the grip for the tips of your fingers. It also feels more substantial than the Nikon D60, with more of what an enthusiast photographer wants from his camera. I was very happy with the new multi-controller, which includes the OK button in the middle, rather than in some location distant from the menu navigation tool.

As on the new Nikon D700, the Nikon D90 also has a new Info button for bringing up the new rear Status display and further activating the submenu. The submenu includes different items, but they're well-tuned to the enthusiast photographer. Options include changing Long Exposure Noise Reduction, High ISO Noise Reduction, Active D-Lighting, Set Picture Control, Assign Func. Button and Assign AE-Lock/AF-Lock button. Whether many photographers will use all of these functions, it's good to have them here, rather than having to dig for them in the menu.

Changing most other items of importance is done by a button, including ISO, White Balance, Image Quality (on the left of the LCD); and metering mode, EV compensation, Drive mode and Autofocus mode (on the top deck); and even flash exposure compensation is integrated into the flash pop-up button, appearing on the left of the lens mount, just above the Bracket button. These are all critical functions that need their own button for fast access and they're out where you can find them easily; in the case of the latter two, you'll have to learn their positions, since they're out of sight, but at least you won't have to dig in the menu to activate these features.

Having the power switch around the shutter button is always nice too, because you can turn the camera on without taking your eye away from the viewfinder. I frequently turn my dSLR off as I walk around and some models make you pull the camera from your face to even find the switch.

Like all other Nikons, the shutter sound of the Nikon D90 is relatively quiet and tame. It's not whisper quiet, but there's not a lot of winding and whirring, just the necessary clicking to activate the mirror and shutter. Check the video at right to see what the D90 sounds like at its maximum frame rate of 4.5 frames per second.

The Nikon D90 speeds along in several areas over its predecessor, including startup time (0.15 compared to 0.18 on the D80), shutter lag (0.065 compared to 0.08) and optical viewfinder blackout time, which is down to 120 milliseconds from 150 milliseconds. That's of particular importance to me, because I like to keep my eye on the subject.


Similar to the Nikon D80's viewfinder, the Nikon D90's 11-point autofocus system is arrayed in a diamond formation. Still called the Multi-Cam 1000, as on the D80, the D90's AF engine has been updated to include 3D focus tracking and the advantage of Face Detection, which will bias AF points to favor eyes over noses and other objects in a scene.

As a test of this system, I held my hand up in front of my nose much like the Three Stooges used to do to protect their eyes from their fellow stooges and had someone take a picture of me. The Multi-Cam 1000 consistently lit up the AF points right over my eyes, rather than choosing the closer object (my hand), which was a welcome surprise. If this system is applied to a camera with 51-point autofocus, it will realize its full power.

Nikon D90 users will have to remember to keep their subject's eyes under the 11 AF points for it to work properly, but that's better than having to hope the camera will guess right. Better, of course, is to lock the AF point manually. But if you're in a hurry, you'll take what you can get.


Another significant treat for D80 upgraders, the LCD is the same bright, crisp, 920,000-pixel LCD screen found on the Nikon D300, D3 and D700. Three inches big, it makes checking your images more satisfying and sure. And autofocus in Live view mode is bound to be more accurate as well. The D80's screen was no slouch but higher resolution is higher resolution. Even menus benefit from the higher res, more color-rich screen. For one, they can use smaller fonts for more descriptive titles and include more explanatory text via the help button.

A removable screen cover is still included with the Nikon D90, but the back glass is tempered to resist scratching. I've finally gotten used to using the screen protector, but be sure to carefully clean it before going out for a shoot in daylight, as the protector can transmit even more glare in daylight when it's dirty or smudged. The chief benefit of the screen cover is that if you scratch it, it's at most $20 to replace. The LCD glass, on the other hand, will cost a lot more.


Activating Live view on other Nikon SLRs means turning the Drive Mode dial to Lv and then pressing the shutter button to lock the mirror up. Hardly intuitive. The Nikon D90, however, has a dedicated Live view button on the back within easy reach of the thumb. With a single press of the Lv button, the mirror flips up and Live view framing begins. The difference with the Nikon D90 is that you can only focus using contrast detection, whereas the Nikon D300 and D700 allowed a choice between Handheld (phase detect) and Tripod mode (contrast-detect mode).

If face detection is activated, the Nikon D90 quickly begins tracking faces, placing a yellow box around each one, up to five at a time. Once focus is achieved, the box turns green. It's just as we've seen from almost all recent non-SLR digital cameras, but it's impressive on an SLR. Panasonic, for the record, was first with this feature.


Nikon is first with something else: Movie recording in Live view mode. Just press the OK button to start recording. You have to set focus before you start shooting your movie, but you can still manual focus while you're shooting, as well as zoom. The movie will record the noise of the zoom ring to an extent, depending on which lens you're using and how fast you zoom, but it's still pretty impressive.

A whole new generation, now of non-professionals, will learn what it means to "pull focus" as the moment of interest turns from one subject to another. It's a cinematic technique usually performed by someone other than the camera operator, who is too busy framing the image to attend to focus as well. But millions of Nikon D90 owners will be able to try a technique that few camcorder owners can.

Movie resolutions include 1280x720 (16:9), 640x424 (3:2) and 320x216 (3:2). Recording times are limited to five minutes for HD mode and 20 minutes for the latter two modes. Nikon couldn't explain the reason for the limit as of this writing, but it's likely due to sensor heating issues that might start to degrade image quality. The frame rate is 24 frames per second and audio is monaural, not stereo. Approximate maximum file sizes for two of the modes are 588-MB for the 1280x720-size movies and up to 2-GB for the 640x424 movies.

As a Nikon representative pointed out, it's particularly interesting that it's Nikon, a company that has never had a dedicated camcorder camera, that is first breaking down this barrier in the SLR world. It will be fun to watch what photographers will produce with a video recorder that can use a full range of quality Nikon glass.


Playback mode's enhancements include a new calendar display, a 72-image thumbnail display, a 12, 9 and 4-thumb display; and a new enhancement to the Histogram view that locks the histograms to the displayed image as you zoom. In other words, the histograms show data for just the displayed portion of the image. The retouch menu has new features, including Cross screen and image overlay options, as well as the ability to rotate images in-camera and create fisheye distortions. For more on this, see the Operation tab of this review.


A step up from the D80's 10.2-megapixel sensor, the D90's 12.3-Mp CMOS sensor may be the same as is found in the Nikon D300, but Nikon representatives were not sure as of this writing. Quoted dimensions are different, measuring 23.6x15.8mm, while our info on the D300 says it's 24x15mm. The sensor has 12.9 megapixels total, but only 12.3 are effective. Output is 12-bit, so you won't get the same lovely 14-bit Raw images, nor the 14-bit Analog to Digital conversion that you get on the Nikon D300.


Nikon's multi-frequency sensor cleaning is also employed in the D90, vibrating the optical low-pass filter glass perpendicular to the plane, rather than parallel as most sensor cleaning systems do. Due to the extreme variability in types of dust in the environment, don't expect any sensor cleaning system to remove everything, but it's certainly better than no cleaning system at all.


Scene recognition is something that Nikon has been working on for years and these last few models have seen incremental improvements to the system. With the D90 comes Face recognition.

Nikon's 3D Color Matrix Metering system employs a 420-pixel RGB light meter that covers most of the image area (the D300 and higher models use a 1,005-pixel RGB sensor). As in past models, the Color Matrix Metering system compares what it sees in the image to a database of 30,000 photos to make its metering decisions for each scene. They've added more to properly gauge factors like white balance and subject motion and now they're tracking faces with SRS.

The autofocus sensors are another piece of the SRS puzzle, each aspect informing and tuning the other. Finding and focusing on eyes rather than foreground objects or even foreheads and noses, is one particular benefit of the overall integration. Another is improved 3D tracking of objects as they move across the image area.

The RGB sensor may not be able to help focus on an object, but it can add a set of data for the Nikon D90 to use while tracking a subject with the autofocus system. For example, if a red object is traversing the frame from left to right and growing in size as it does so, the SRS would add this information to the AF-sensor data to help it tune the focus more quickly.


No longer new, Active D-Lighting keeps gaining enhancements. In addition to the Auto Active D-Lighting mode added with the Nikon D700, the Nikon D90 gains an Extra High setting to add even more punch to shadow detail. Note that JPEG files modified as they are captured with Active D-Lighting, so there's no unaltered "original" to refer back to. Consider whether you want top shoot Raw + JPEG to back up those files or even use D-Lighting after capture if you think an image would benefit from the help.


The Nikon D80's Optimize Image setting has been replaced with the Picture Control system found on other recent Nikon dSLR cameras. Options include Standard, Neutral, Vivid, Monochrome, Portrait and Landscape. Each Picture Control includes adjustments for Sharpening, Contrast, Brightness, Saturation and Hue. Monochrome mode allows adjustment of Sharpening, Contrast, Brightness, Filter effects and Toning. You can also apply Picture Control settings to movies and Scene modes have complete control over adjusting which Picture Control setting they use, based on information from the Scene Recognition System.


New to the output stack is HDMI for easy connectivity to a high definition television and an Audio/Video output connector (the D80 has a Video connector). Under a separate door you'll find the same Remote control port, but it's now dual-purpose, allowing connection of the new GP-1 GPS accessory, as well as the MC-DC1 Remote cord.


You can get up to 850 shots with an EN-EL3e battery. It's not clear whether that's with or without some Live view usage or whether it includes video capture. Likely not. You can enhance the battery capacity with the Nikon MB-D80 Multi-power battery pack that was designed for the Nikon D80. If you have large hands or shoot in portrait mode a lot like I do, battery grips can really raise your comfort level. You can use two EN-EL3e batteries or six AA batteries in the grip. Adding the battery grip does not increase frame rate, as it does on the Nikon D300 and D700, but it does add greater control if you don't mind the weight.

Image storage is via SD cards, which offer up to 32-GB capacity at this point. Some are disappointed that Nikon switched to SD in this level of dSLR camera, but other manufacturers have begun to follow suit, including Canon. On a practical basis, current SD cards provide plenty of storage (does anyone really need more than 32-GB on a single card?) and modern SD cards are quite fast, if not quite up to the level of the latest UDMA CompactFlash cards. SD cards are also somewhat more robust, less prone to bent contact fingers in the camera or card reader jamming the card connector while also rendering the camera useless.


I'm starting to feel strange about saying Nikon's done it again, but it looks they have. The Nikon D90 seems to be a really excellent camera for the intermediate photographer and a great choice as a full-featured, light weight body for those who own a Nikon D200 or D300. The addition of video is ground-breaking and will open up new possibilities that will be fun to explore. My only major disappointment for the intermediate market is the lack of a higher frame rate. I'd like to see at least five frames per second, if not six. But at least they raised it to 4.5 from the Nikon D80's three frames per second. Otherwise, there's nothing to complain about and only more great features to praise.

The Nikon D90 is a very well-rounded dSLR offering, with just about everything an aspiring photographer will need and quite a few of the advanced features found on the higher-priced Nikons in the line, but at a lower price.

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Beginners Flash: Preventing Zoom Error

Got a digicam with a lens that extends when you turn it on? Got a dSLR with a zoom lens? Then we've got a little helpful advice for you.

We're really not one for giving advice. Nobody wants it. But you may appreciate this little tidbit. Because, while there's no cure for the problem, it is easily prevented. So we've broken our usual rules and have resorted to giving some advice.

The problem is zoom error, speaking generically. You turn on your camera and the lens fails to come out all the way or your dSLR complains about the lens. You may hear a few beeps, you may get an error message, but one thing becomes clear right away: Your lens isn't working.

You can tell because you hear a grinding noise and the zoom ring, if you have one, may feel gritty. But in any case, the lens doesn't slide smoothly from wide angle to telephoto. If may not even move at all.

The problem is caused, in fact, by some foreign matter that has gotten into the lens. Sand may have blown in as you shot on a windy day at the beach or in the desert. Dirt could have found its way in as you navigated some home remodel with the sand dust flying. But let's not give you any ideas.

Those harsh conditions are no friends of fine optics. But the solution is not to avoid them. You go to the beach, you want some pictures. It's perfectly natural.

Of course when the winds crank up enough for small craft warnings, it's time to protect your small craft, too.

One of the best products we've found for protecting your gear in strong wind (and even rain) is Op/Tech's Rainsleeve (, available at camera stores and online. For $7, you get a package of two generously-sized plastic sleeves with a cutout for your viewfinder.

Just slip your camera up the sleeve, snugging the far opening around the lens and lining up the cutout with your viewfinder. You can get a tripod or your hand to the camera through the other opening. But the material is thin enough that you can easily see and manipulate the camera controls. And it's cheap enough you won't feel bad about tossing it out when you get home.

You can, if you're at all inclined, concoct a home-made solution, too. Large clear plastic bags are not hard to find. Keep one in your camera bag for when the wind picks up.

Unfortunately, there's really no practical cure if this happens to your digicam. The dirt is not easily removed with a vacuum, nor is it a simple process to dissemble the camera and clean it. Repairs cost several hundred dollars, as much as a new camera.

Your dSLR lens can often be salvaged by the manufacturer's service center. Not cheaply but less expensively than a new lens.

But the best advice is to protect your gear.

There, we've done it. Given some advice. Glad to get it out of our system, too. It was annoying us like, well, a grain of sand in our lens.

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Just for Fun: Photographing the Clock

We know how it started. And, we're pleased to report, we even remember the story.

A nephew, aware of our medicinal use of viniculture, asked us if we wouldn't mind saving our corks for a project he was working on. It was a corkboard, as we recall, which required splitting corks in half and gluing them together inside a frame.

No problem, we told him, on the condition that he come for dinner when we had assembled a respectable collection. He didn't hesitate to agree.

When he arrived on the fateful night, he was astonished at our generosity. But what else are aunts and uncles for? He didn't forget to take his corks with him that night.

In our family, it turns out, wine making is a religious rite. Grandpa and his gang used to ride up to the Napa Valley during Prohibition to buy grapes every year that would be delivered to their homes in Albany where they would assist each other in turning them into wine. Dad never forgot his turn in the 'tina crushing grapes. And even our generation, spending a couple of weeks at the old place each summer, would stare in admiration at that empty large tub and the fragrant casks that lay nearby.

When exactly to bottle the wine, we can tell you, was a mystery. Each member of the gang had his own theory. Some had to do with the moon, some with the taste of a sample (or three) from the cask, some with more erudite calculations. Grandpa, however, called it a crap shoot. And so it was. Somehow, though, legend has it that his guess was always informed.

It has never occurred to us to make wine. The stuff is readily available at a level of quality we could never approach. Besides, the 'tina wouldn't fit in the garage.

But the idea of saving corks, now that's another story.

When nephew left with his corks, we had an empty pitcher. Months later, when we'd filled it again, we took a picture of it and emailed it to him. The meaning of the photo was clear: It's been too long. He came for dinner and relieved us of our corks.

We haven't seen him in quite a while now. It's become a challenge to stack the corks above the rim of the glass pitcher, but when we feel we've gone as high as humanly possible, we photograph this clock that measures only his absence and email it to him.

He's in New York City now, so the photo merely amuses him. But one of these days we wouldn't be surprised to get a reply illustrated with a jug of corks of his own. It's part of his heritage, after all.

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RE: ERR99 Again

I learned during 34 years as an electrical/computer engineer that we never used a pencil eraser to clean any contacts because the eraser may have contaminants on it or in its formula that you don't want on an electrical contact. You may get away with it 99 times out of a 100, but the one time something foreign is deposited on a contact may interfere with the circuit or even cause the contact metal to deteriorate. Please use erasers for what they were designed to do, erase pencil lines on paper.

-- Bob

(Kind of waiting for the other shoe to drop, Bob. What's the solution that works 100 times out of 100? -- Editor)

I should have done my homework! There are packaged wipes and liquid sprays designed for contact cleaning. Here's one source (from Google) of sprays and wipes:

-- Bob

RE: Flash!

Enjoy your newsletter immensely, look forward to it every two weeks. Had a nostalgia trip when you described all the graphic arts tools and paraphernalia of the '70s and '80s, pre-computer.

Here's a "flash" story for you. Somewhere back in the '60s ('50s?) when you still had to use a flashcube on your little camera I was on a plane leaving Washington, D.C. It was an evening flight and as we lifted off a gorgeous harvest moon appeared over the Potomac River. Behind me sat two little old ladies. One of them said, "Oh Emily, look at the moon, get out your camera and take a picture." "My goodness yes," Emily said, and then with great disappointment said, "Oh, I can't!" "Why not?" "I forgot my flashcubes."

-- Joe Vitek

(LOL -- and we mean laughing out loud, not little old ladies! We've still got some of those rotating flash cubes around. You never know (or else we've been watching Antiques Roadshow way too much). -- Editor)

RE: POTD Request

While enjoying greatly the results of your photo of the day competition (and being in great admiration of the standard of submissions), might it not be make things more interesting if you were to stipulate that all entries need not be sharpened to the point of unreality? I find myself having to remove my contact lenses to make their awesome clarity bearable.

-- Jim McDermott

(We're working on this problem, Jim. As the entry form explains, "All but undersized images are sharpened by our software for our output sizes." Our software really can't tell if an image has already been sharpened, unfortunately, and when we resize, we do sharpen, ratcheting back when the resize is minimal. But all that isn't enough sometimes. -- Editor)
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Editor's Notes

Microsoft and Nikon have signed a patent cross-licensing agreement "to further the development of each company's current and future product lines." The agreement ( covers digital cameras made by Nikon as well as a broad range of other consumer products each company manufactures and sells. Although the contents of the agreement have not been disclosed, the parties indicated that Microsoft is being compensated by Nikon.

Canon ( made a number of announcements, including the EOS 50D, which improves on its 40D by boosting resolution from 10.1 to 15.1 megapixels, doubling the maximum standard ISO to 6400 and the maximum boosted ISO to 12,800 and upgrading the resolution of its LCD screen. The new Digic IV moves data fast enough to maintain a maximum continuous-mode frame rate of 6.3 frames/second, down only 0.2 fps from the 40D. With a high-speed UDMA-capable CompactFlash memory card, the JPEG buffer capacity has also taken a nice step up from 75 to 90 large/fine JPEG images.

The company also announced an 18-200mm EF-S lens with image stabilization for $699 and two new WiFi all-in-one inkjets, the $299.99 PIXMA MP980 and $149.99 PIXMA MP620. The MP980 is the first all-in-one printer to include a separate gray and photo black ink. Two new Selphy compact photo printers were also announced, the $199.99 ES3 (with 1-GB internal flash memory) and the $149.99 ES30.

Finally, Canon updated its PowerShot line with the new $199.99 E1 designed for the fashion-conscious crowd, the $199.99 A1000 IS for the two-tone crowd, the $249.99 A2000IS replacement for the A720IS and the $249.99 SX110 IS, which updates the SX100IS with a 9-megapixel sensor and 3-inch LCD.

Epson ( has announced its $99.99 Perfection V300 Photo scanner featuring 4800 dpi optical resolution, 48-bit color and a 3.2 dynamic range. The V300 offers both reflective or film scanning with less power drain and no mercury using ReadyScan LED technology.

The company also introduced its $299 4800-dpi Artisan 800 all-in-one inkjet with faxing and its $199 2400-dpi Artisan 700 all-in-one, both with six-color Ultra Hi-Definition Claria inks, Ultra Hi-Def 5760x1440 dpi, built-in automatic photo correction, CD/DVD printing, print speeds up to 38 ppm for black text and built-in Wi-Fi and Ethernet. The all-in-ones include networking and are compatible with Mac OS X 10.3.9 and up and Windows XP/Vista.

Olympus ( introduced a few cameras itself, including the $300 shockproof and waterproof Stylus 1050SW, the $200 ultra-slim Stylus 1040 and the $400 smaller, lighter 20x long zoom SP-565UZ.

Casio ( has introduced three new EXILIM digicams: the $180 EX-Z85 and $250 EX-Z250, both with 9.1-Mp and the $300 10.1-Mp EX-Z300.

Adobe ( has announced Photoshop Elements 7 [W] and Premiere Elements 7 [W], available separately for $99.99 or as a $149.99 bundle. Elements adds a Scene Cleaner based on Photomerge technology to brush away unwanted subjects, a Smart Brush to apply effects, Quick Fix tools to brighten teeth and blue skies and more.

The company simultaneously announced two membership levels in Basic membership, which provides 5-GB of storage, access to photos and videos from virtually anywhere and online photo sharing is free (as it is with Photoshop Express, which offers 2-GB storage). The $49.99 Plus annual membership provides 20-GB of storage, online backup of image albums stored on your hard disk and tutorials, artwork and themed templates, plus the benefits of a Basic membership. Members will be able to upload photos from a cell phone (not an iPhone, however) using the Flash-based Mobile beta.

Light Crafts ( has updated LightZone 3.6 [LMW] with support for the Raw formats of newer dSLRs.

Microsoft Live Labs has introduced a public beta of Photosynth [W] (, a new service that builds 3D synths from a collection of 20-300 photos of a place or object. The synth can be navigated on the service or embedded in a Web page. There's more on this in our Nvision 08 report (

Ohanaware ( has released its $34.95 Funtastic Photos 1.0 [M], a non-destructive photo editor "designed to make photo editing available to everyone." Save your photo using FunPhoto's default format and Funtastic Photos remembers your edits so you can tweak them the next time you open the image.

Houdah ( has released HoudahGeo 1.4.13 [M] with improved compatibility for Adobe Lightroom DNG files. A caveat in the release notes observes, "Adobe's DNG converter supposes that both the computer and the camera share the same time zone. The computer time zone information is embedded in the DNG at the time of the conversion. From then on camera time zone settings are ignored as the information attached to the image takes precedence. Always make sure computer and camera time zones match when converting from Raw to DNG."

SanDisk ( has announced its Extreme III 30-MB/s Edition line of SDHC cards. The new cards, expected to be available worldwide in September in 4-GB, 8-GB and 16-GB capacities, are designed to deliver peak performance when used with the Nikon D90.

Rocky Nook ( has published Digital Infrared Photography by Cyrill Harnischmacher, a compact guide providing basic theoretical background, information on cameras, filters and equipment and lots of guidance on how to do infrared photography from image capture to post-processing. The title is available via the Imaging Resource Amazon affiliate program at a 34 percent discount (

Hamrick ( has released VueScan 8.4.82 [LMW] with support for the Canon 5600F and the Epson WorkForce 500/600, improved infrared cleaning and improved support for WIA document feeders.

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Happy snapping!

Mike Pasini, Editor
[email protected]
Dave Etchells, Publisher
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