www.lumen-perfectus.com

Gear and Software

As mentioned elsewhere, Lumen Perfectus is not here to discuss equipment , photography techniques, digital image processing, or Web site development. We continue to receive, however, requests for this kind of information. We've created this page to answer some of the common questions about the equipment used and the development of the Web site. For photography techniques and tutorials, however, you'll have to look elsewhere.

What follows is the photographer's description of the photo and computer equipment and the software used to create Lumen Perfectus, liberally sprinkled with comments and opinions. When not taking pictures, most photographers enjoy talking about equipment, accessories, film, and techniques. Their latest purchases, equipment trials or rentals, and X-Y comparisons are all topics of conversation. That's true for me as well, but as you'll see my "kit" is pretty modest. It's also necessary to hike to the places from which I like to shoot; a "modest" kit also means light weight.

You'll find links at the bottom of the page to several of the manufacturers mentioned here.

Camera Equipment

I use Canon EOS gear in the field. In May, 2017, I purchased a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR body. This replaced the 5D Mark III I bought in late December, 2012, which replaced the 'original' 5D I got in April, 2007. That camera had been a solid, reliable workhorse that ended our years of shooting film. The Mark III proved to be a significant advance in many ways; I think my photography benefited greatly, and I hope I can one day say the same about the Mark IV. I use two Canon lenses, an EF 24-70mm F/2.8L II USM zoom and an EF 100-400mm F/4.5-5.6L IS USM zoom, and a Sigma 20mm F/1.4 'Art' lens. I use Canon's 12mm and 25mm extension tubes for macro photography. I also have a Canon 1.4x teleconverter.

A small collection of filters is used, including B+W circular polarizers and split neutral-density grads. I also have a Hoya variable neutral-desnity filter. I rarely use color filters now, as the effects of these filters can generally be added in Photoshop.

A Gitzo G-1257 tripod is used. The camera is almost never hand-held now, though nearly all photos on the Web site were taken sans-tripod until I saw the error of my ways around the middle of 2001. Since then I've taken the tripod everywhere. I use the outstanding Ultimate Ball Head from Acratech and quick-release plates from Really Right Stuff. The light weight of the carbon-fiber tripod and the Acratech head make up a nice system for hiking.

All of this fits into a Renaissance Photo Tech P3 backpack. With the tripod this kit weighs about 30 pounds. Sadly, Bruce retired and closed RPT (and photobackpacker.com) in 2014; these wonderful backpacks are no more.

I have some custom-made panorama gear. My dad was a retired machinist, and maintained an impressive shop in his home. We collaborated over the years on a number of designs, mainly for tooling and assembly fixtures, for various employers. In this case, I sent sketches of what I wanted, he did the design work, and then turned his drawings into the metal parts needed for the pano rig I wanted. It allows adjusting the camera postion over the tripod head's panning base so the entrance pupil (often called the nodal point) of the lens is over the panning axis. Under all of this is the excellent Acratech Ultimate Level Base, the most compact and lightest weight leveling base I've found.

I also have a Manfrotto 3021B Pro tripod, but since getting the lighter and stiffer Gitzo, the older tripod with a pan/tilt head is used mainly with our spotting scope.

My long-retired film camera body was an EOS A2e, purchased in 1998 prior to a trip to Alaska's Denali and Glacier Bay National Parks. See my EOS Control Dial Repair site for an interesting story about this camera.

This site has a number of photos taken before I bought the A2e. Nearly all of these images are scenics or macros. These were taken with Topcon Super-D and RE-2 bodies and an assortment of third-party lenses. Extension tubes or bellows were used for some of the macro photographs. The maker of Topcon cameras and lenses no longer does that, concentrating instead on equipment for ophthalmologists, but the brand was quite popular in the 1960s and '70s. You'll find several Web sites devoted to collecting, history, and use of Topcon equipment.

We still have slides not yet processed for printing or display on this site (more information below). Slides are viewed, sorted, and inspected on an Apollo light box with a Pentax 5.5 power loupe.

As mentioned above, I no longer shoot film, but for many years I used Fujichrome Provia F 100. I also used Fuji's Velvia (ISO 50), but it was often too slow for use with my lenses, especially for wildlife photography. It was frequently fine for landscapes, and the color saturation is wonderful for most nature photography. I used Kodak E-200 but found it to be grainy and contrasty, especially when pushed a stop. You can see evidence of this in some of the photos from Svalbard, Norway and those in the Polar Bear gallery. I also used E-100VS but didn't cared for the overall color cast, especially in scenes with a lot of green.

I occasionally used Fuji's Provia 400. The speed was terrific, and under some lighting conditions it worked very well. It could get a little grainy, especially in clear skies, under some conditions.

Older images from the Topcon days were generally shot with Kodachrome 25 or 64 or with Ektachrome 160 or 200.

Digital Processing

Although we no longer shoot film, we have many slides yet to be reviewed and scanned for the Web site and for printing. 35mm slides are scanned with the excellent Nikon Coolscan V-ED scanner. Previously I used a Hewlett Packard "PhotoSmart" S20 scanner, a surprisingly flexible low-end film scanner. The HP's scans were more than adequate for the small files on our site, but would fall short when making prints much larger than 8 x 10 inches. Scans from the 4000 dpi Nikon result in files over 100 megabytes in size. This is overkill for anything displayed on the Web, but I usually use this resolution and then resample as necessary to reduce the image sizes as required by my page designs.

As described in our December, 2016 article, we've purchased an Epson Perfection V850 Pro flatbed scanner. This provides high-resolution scans of reflective (print) media, and also for transparencies larger than 35mm negatives and slides. Nikon no longer manufactures slide scanners; they offer no Mac-compatible driver for them. We use SilverFast Ai Studio software from LaserSoft to make scans with both the Nikon V-ED and the Epson V850. The scanners have been profiled, giving us a color-managed workflow from scan to print.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 is used for image editing. Most images receive some processing and sharpening to make them look as much like my original vision of the scene as possible, at least on my calibrated monitors. They may look different on your monitor, as relatively few are calibrated for proper color, brightness, and contrast. I will also crop images to improve composition or better display the subject. This sometimes results in enlargement as well. I use a Wacom Intuos Pro Medium drawing tablet ("digitizer") when editing files.

Processing is done on a Mac Pro dual 2.8GHz Intel Quad-Core processor system with 16 gigabytes of RAM and dual monitors. The Mac is aging well, thanks in part to a SSD boot drive and an upgraded video card. Given the size of files produced by the 5DIII and the scanners, and those created for producing large prints, this level of computer performance saves a great deal of time. An NEC MultiSync PA272W-BK-SV (27-inch LCD) is the primary monitor. This is calibrated with NEC's SpectraViewII software and the X-rite colorimeter included with the monitor. A Dell UltraSharp 2007FP (20.1" LCD) is the secondary monitor; it's calibrated using ColorEyes Display Pro software from Integrated Color Corp., and an X-rite DPT94 colorimeter.

The Mac is networked to shared storage for backups, a MacBook Pro 15-inch laptop, and to a monochrome laser printer. The large-format color printer (see below) is also on the network. The network is held together by a Netgear Wireless Router/Firewall and an SMC 16-port gigabit switch.

Backup and archiving are done over the network to a 4-bay QNAP NAS (Network Attached Storage) with six terabytes of RAID1 storage. The NAS and the networking gear are powered through a Belkin 1500VA UPS. The RAID is backed up to hard drives via a USB 3 dock, allowing the backup drives to be stored off-site.

Printing

I'd not done much printing going into the end of 2006. However, for a late autumn show at a local gallery I made and framed number of small prints. I discovered print making is an aspect of photography I really enjoy and find very satisfying. It's gratifying to see a fine print of my work framed and hanging on the wall. I have since concentrated on that aspect of the art and now have photos displayed in shows and galleries in the area.

In early 2007 I purchased a Canon iPF 5000 large-format printer. I spent a year working through samples of many paper types and learning the art of printing. In 2008, with much help from my wife, Pat, we aggressively pursued print sales and were rewarded with good results both from local galleries, outdoor shows, and commissions.

In December 2008 we began offering prints for sale via our site. Due to on-going issues with shipping damage, in April, 2017, we stopped taking print orders via our site, and no longer ship prints.

In October, 2011, I installed an Epson Stylus Pro 7900 large-format printer. It replaced the iPF 5000, which suffered from yet another failing printhead. I felt this failure was premature, and Canon's technical support was, uh, unsupportive. After much research I decided to purchase the 24" Epson.

The installation of the 7900, prompted the creation of a blog describing my on-going experience with the machine. The " Life With a 7900" blog is aimed at those who use these printers (or it's larger brother, the 9900).

Software

Nearly all of this site's art, including the page-top banners, word marks, logos, icons, and other graphic elements were created with Photoshop or Adobe Illustrator. These two packages make a nice set-up for such work, although Illustrator is certainly overkill for what I need to do. As the version we have is for the Windows OS, we no longer use it. As mentioned above, all image processing is done with Adobe Photoshop CC.

The original Web site, hosted by Corecomm's Stratos.net, was created with Microsoft's FrontPage 2000. This was also used to create the early "draft" pages for Lumen Perfectus. We upgraded FrontPage 2003, but used it mainly as an HTML editor. All pages on the current site are hand-coded using any of several HTML-aware text editors. Our current site design is XHTML "strict" compliant. Older pages remaining from the our earlier design (mainly, the "wallpaper" pages) very likely comply with nothing. We've lots to do before even thinking about updating those pages.

I favor open-source software and use it whenever it offers good alternatives to commercial apps. Some excellent examples are LibreOffice, Editra text editor, and FileZilla FTP client. Naturally I also use a number of commercial apps, along with some free- and share-ware. I have nothing from Microsoft or Symantec installed on the Mac, as I simply can't afford the hassles.

Manufacturers' Links

Here are links to the Web sites of some of the manufacturers mentioned. These sites are maintained by their respective companies. We are not responsible for their availability, operation, or content, but if you find a broken link here please let us know!

- Canon EOS cameras and lenses
- Epson large-format printers
- Epson Perfection V850 Pro scanner
- Schneider/B&W filters
- Gitzo and Manfrotto tripods
- Acratech (ball head and leveling base)
- Really Right Stuff

- Apple Macintosh
- NEC PA272W-BK-SV monitor
- Nikon USA
- Hewlett-Packard
- Netgear networking equipment
- QNAP network storage appliances
- Dell computers and peripherals
- Integrated Color Corp (ColorEyes Display)
- APC backup power

- Editra open-source text editor
- LibreOffice ("office" suite)
- FileZilla ftp client
- Adobe (Photoshop, Illustrator)