with reflection of sun from opposing window…
You might find this interesting. I basically turned off all the lights except one last night (in the house) and with the f1.4 Sigma lens shot at 26,000 ASA. I’ll be honest with you: I’m not actually sure what this thing goes up to. I set it at high, turned off Highlight Priority – and put it in AV mode and the most I could squeeze out of it was 26,000 (as if that’s not enough).
My normal shooting speed, going back to the days of film, was / is 400 ASA. So let’s see how many stops I’ve added: 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 25,600. That’s an extra 6 stops! (Yeah, that needs an exclamation point).
Now you probably want to know if it’s usable at that speed. Sure it is. In the examples below, the first shot straight from the camera, though I had High ISO Noise Reduction set to Standard. There are five levels there… from turned off to super-duper NR. That’s something to fool with.
Anyway – as far as my workflow goes: I took the RAW file into Lightroom (4.x) and using NIK Dfine I did my best to get rid of noise while still holding on to sharpness. I would say that you can get somewhere that resembles 400 film pushed to 1600. It’s not the same, and I can’t say that it’s better or worse. Just different.
Then I went into NIK Color Effex and later Silver Effex – and played around as if I were going to try and make an actual image with the processing.
One of the things – technique-wise – that I like about the swivel live view (once I saw how the Quick Focus worked) was that I could stand in the middle of a block, swing the LCD out, look down, and for the most part be about as close to invisible as I could get. In other words, it makes a very big difference whether the camera is going to your eye, or whether you’re looking down and seem to just be fiddling around with the playback. In this shot, I was already pre-focused and just waiting for the scene to develop.
Two HDR shots stitched together (top and bottom). A neighbor sees me shooting the bench which is across the street from me and wonders why I’m wasting my time with it.
Hard to explain what’s going through my head. But I try to answer, that it just interests me. But I see it as an interesting subject for the photo stitching I’ve been doing combined with HDR.
Every few days I get an email (sometimes a phone call) that goes something like this:
Dear Mr. Beckerman,
Hope you are doing well. I understand that you might be busy this season. I would be grateful to you if you have few minutes to go through my words below and find anything interesting to proceed with.
We have studied your search engine standing and found it nearly impossible to find you on the major search engines. We discover that for your important key phrases you rank zero.
We are a [some sort of b.s.] firm that specializes in giving search engine visibility to you firm. In fact, we can offer a guarantee that you will be found on the first page of Google within one month of working with us.
[The basic pitch is that my site can't be found, has a terrible ranking, and that they can put me on the first page.]
And the conclusion,
Looking forward to explaining how we can help your business…
* * *
One of the first things that strikes you is, if you are doing so badly how did they find you in the first place? The second thing that hits you is – you can’t guarantee first place for a particular key phrase on Google. Really – I don’t care how good you are at SEO – it just don’t work that way. So for fun, I picked the most professional sounding of these offers and responded.
* * *
A little background. I’m an old timer on the web and dealing with search engines. My site went up in ’99. I think that Altavista was the big search engine at the time but I couldn’t say for sure. What I do know is that the search engine was obviously going to be the most important way for customers to find, and that from day one I tried to understand how they worked. At that time – going back a decade – it wasn’t as hard as you’d think. All you needed to do was search for what you were interested in, see who popped up on the first page, and then look at their code and try and understand what they were doing to be rated so highly.
Later on it became more messy as search engines began to use a ranking system based on incoming links. Some people began to use link farms – so that they’d have lots of links coming into their site and in theory their site would look popular to the search engines that counted incoming links. Search engines were way to smart for that – and I never went near that scheme. In fact, I didn’t use any scheme. I told people what the site had on it, and I only linked to sites that I liked and didn’t try to get too fancy with SEO.
But this isn’t a how-to about SEO – so let me continue with the story. I wrote back to one of the solicitors and asked point blank how they had found me. They told me that they had searched for “xyz” and that I had appeared on page 10 for that.
I wrote back that they were way wrong. If they searched for “xyz” in Google my site would appear on the first page. (It’s even more complex than that since G is different in different countries). At any rate they got back to me and complimented me on doing so well for my xyz key phrase. They then picked some other phrases that they promised they could help me with.
I looked at these phrases and they weren’t particularly something someone would search for – that was related to my site. So that made no sense. One phrase that they picked I was already on the first page of search results…
Again, the congratulated me on doing so well. But they could still help get a phrase on the front page. So I asked for an example of a phrase that they could guarantee me first place ranking for. That I was really interested in. There’s a phrase, very related to my site, and I asked if they could guarantee within a month that they could get me on the first page or even the second page for that phrase.
Guess what. That’s where the hemming and hawing began.
So I finally asked, what phrase would they guarantee me first page placement on and sure enough it was a phrase that had my name in it.
Duh. First off, I’m already on the first page of every search engine for my own name.
Second. You don’t care about people that know your name. They can always find you.
And somewhere around that point I wrote back that I wasn’t in need of their services, and they should be able to see that.
What I love though – is that – that wasn’t the end of it.
Two months later, I got another email from them – just like the first one. Ah… so it’s all based on a program they use that finds you and starts the ball rolling…
I still get offers at least once or twice a week – but now they just get the big spam heave ho.
Now – if you really can’t figure out how to get your key phrase ranked highly – I believe some of these places could help you. In fact, I’m sure I could help – so long as the phrase isn’t too popular and you’ve got the content to back it up. But you can help yourself by at least getting your book about SEO or doing what I did and studying sites that rank highly for your keyword phrase. If you don’t know how to look at the html code that makes up a browser page – then you might be better off hiring someone or using some sort of program. But I can’t recommend any.
For anyone that’s interested – I’m removing – actually I’ve removed the file downloads. It just didn’t pay off. I found that it was possible to make a small amount of money if the price was low enough – but it meant pushing and pushing and putting up advertisement posts over and over again in G+ land and the other web lands that I inhabit.
Just wasn’t worth the effort. The sale of one print, even a small one usually brought in much more than selling a bunch of full-sized images. People missed out on what I think was a great almost amazing deal – but the truth was that I could barely give it away.
So one day I might have a customer purchase 20 or 30 prints – and at the same time I couldn’t make a go of the file sales. So that’s another thing I’ve learned.
The next thing was that I usually license files to companies and even to small offices that want to redecorate and they are willing to pay much more than I could get by just offering the files. So say goodbye to a nobel idea.
Yeah it’s true – I’ve gone to one nice big wide column for the blog. I can put up 1000px images easily and write to my heart’s content. If I need to add something or other I’ll put it on the top menu. I don’t have the time to go back through everything and change the sizes… well you actually can change all the sizes with regenerate thumbnails plugin – but you’d still have to go through all the WordPress code and change that as well… though maybe there’s a plugin for that as well somewhere… for now I’ll just use the large sizes going forward, and when I get a chance do the better shots large in the blog.