The Resumption of this Blog

I have not been keeping this blog current for the past four years. For those of you who have visited my site, I owe you an explanation and an apology for the hiatus.

Sony a7II: The Unofficial Quintessential Guide by Dr. Brian Matsumoto and Carol Roullard

Sony a7II – on Amazon.com

The reason for not updating my writing was my writing books. During the past four years, I have been researching cameras and writing how-to books on using those cameras for Rocky Nook and most recently Crowood Publishing. I had always wanted to be a freelance writer, and my retirement provided me with an opportunity to explore that lifestyle. Well after four years and publishing nine books with my wife, I satisfied my curiosity. It has made me forever thankful that I had not tried to career in freelance writing! The effort for writing for money is often not worth the pay.

For me, writing is hard work. The effort and time it took to research a book, to write the text, and then to proof the manuscript was time-consuming and exhausting. We figured that our book went through a least six drafts. My wife and I would argue about phrasing and grammar. The arguments could become heated. To this day, our collaborators were amazed that we could stay married after publishing ten books! One had to develop a thick skin to survive the recommendations and suggestions of one’s coworkers. The continual reading, reviewing, and revising of the chapters were wearing. The recommendations made the copy editors and layout artists became a source of annoyance, even though, I knew their job was to help us produce a better product. Invariably, while their criticisms and recommendations were excellent, but responding to their suggestions became irksome. Unsurprisingly, the effort and frustration to complete a book destroyed my enthusiasm for writing.

This month, my wife and I, decide to resume our retirement by pursuing other projects. So, we quit our writing careers. For me, what I started doing was to begin playing with my microscopes, telescopes, cameras, guns, and fishing gear. With this eclectic collection of toys, I can keep myself active and occupied. My observations and discoveries will be recorded on this blog and website.

A legitimate question is why am I bothering to resume writing? In part, this is my way to “fact check” my observations. Too often I am swayed by prejudice, prejudgment, and failed to observe, to evaluate, and assess my viewpoint objectively. Writing helps alleviate this quandary.

-Brian

Brian Matsumoto, PhD

About Brian

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Contrast Reversal with a Diatom Exhibit

Here is an example of contrast reversal using a diatom exhibit. The effect is quite nice with darkfield images.

This is a “new” discovery for me; but, the process is very old school.  It is based back in the days when astrophotographs were black and white photos and the astronomers noted that the negatives revealed more detail than the prints.

Darkfield of the slide:

Diatom Exhibit
Diatom Exhibit

Inversion contrast of Darkfield image:

Diatom Exhibit (inverted image)
Diatom Exhibit (inverted image)

-Brian

Brian Matsumoto, PhD

About Brian

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Artwork in Your Community

A great place to see art is sometimes at your favorite restaurant or in a frequented office lobby. Businesses need to fill their walls with something suitable for their establishment. Displaying local artists work is a great way to fill those blank spaces while helping out someone in the community. In addition, the displayed artwork tends to change frequently meaning that the next time you visit your favorite restaurant or walk into an office building’s lobby, there may be new artwork to view. Most artists will include some information about each of their pieces and have their biography available. Many times the art is for sale. So the next time you are out and see some artwork that you like or intrigues you, ask an employee about it. You might be surprised to find someone you already know created the work.

-Carol

About Carol

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Evolution of a dSLR Photographer

Are you a photography novice? Or maybe you have experience but you don’t know how to determine the best exposure for a specific situation. dSLRs are still a wonderful camera for you.

The mid to upper end digital cameras have automatic modes where the camera controls all of its own settings. The camera’s firmware determines the scene, current lighting and distance and then calculates what the best settings are for the image it registers in the viewfinder. You don’t need to know what the shutter speed should be or which ISO is best. The camera will try to figure it out for you. Just set the camera to its intelligent automatic or one of its predefined scene modes and point and shoot. Just that easy.

Or maybe you know your way around the camera and want to co-own the camera setting responsibility with the camera. You can choose one of the semi-automatic modes (P, S, A) where the camera determines some of its settings and you determine the rest. This starts your ability in determining the image outcome, which might not be the camera’s choices but one where you can create an image with a mood or specific lighting.

Of course, you can have all the fun and manually take full control and test your photography expertise to create a quality, exciting image.

How you use your camera doesn’t have to be determined by your level of expertise. Experimenting can reward you with wonderfully captured images. Isn’t technology great!

-Carol

About Carol

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Going Digital

I enjoyed photography growing up. I wasn’t into taking pictures of family gatherings or of summer vacations. I preferred the artistic approach. I would arrange flowers and interesting objects by a window and take black-and-white photos. Outside I would look for natural patterns and textures such as rocks and tree bark. I would vary the camera’s meager settings to see the results.

Vista Focus - Eastern Sierras birch grove

Eastern Sierras birch grove

I got my first SLR as a college graduation present. I purchased a telephoto lens, a set of macro lenses and a UV filter to go with it. I loved the flexibility and picture taking range the camera gave me. I still worked with black-and-white on occasion but I enjoyed color more.

I hung onto my film camera long after dSLRs came on the market. The first time I thought of going digital was after my children and I had traveled to England and shot well over 20 rolls of film. The cost of the film and its processing was a clue that I needed to switch. But no. It would take several more vacations before I would trade in my film camera for a digital.

My first digital camera was a small point-and-shoot Minolta. Very easy to carry and simple to use. After that I went through a progression of more complex dSLR cameras ending up with the micro four thirds Panasonic GH2. Lots of bells and whistles compared to the small Minolta.

It has been great fun learning how to get more out of photography. And one of the best rewards is if I don’t like the picture there is always the delete button.

-Carol

About Carol

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We Begin with the Microscope

Leitz Microscope

Leitz Microscope

A microscope is indispensable for studying the smaller plants and animals. The picture on the right is the microscope that I have used for taking many of the photographs on this site. It is 50 years old but it provides clear and contrasty images that rival what can be obtained with a modern microscope. However, old microscopes of this vintage can be purchased at a reasonable cost and are truly a lifetime investment.

At the top of the microscope is a digital camera–a single lens reflex. Remove the lens and replace it with a tube that joins the camera to the microscope and you now have a camera system for recording your observations.

Below is a picture of a section of a plant leaf enhanced with polarized light.

Plant Leaf under the Microscope

Plant Leaf under the Microscope

-Brian

Brian Matsumoto, PhD

About Brian

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