Sometimes you find yourself in a position that yields a shot that you hadn’t anticipated. Normally shooting stuff over a long distance doesn’t do much for you because atmospheric distortion means the shots are of no use. However, sometimes the conditions are clear and things show up better. In this case I was shooting some jets on final to SeaTac. The position meant I had a good view of jets that were climbing out on departure. The departure path from SeaTac to the south is straight for a long time so you could get two or three jets climbing out in sequence. In this shot I got the three of them.
UPDATE: It turns out, the upload process for the profile sends to an address that doesn’t work. While I try to fix this, if you want the profiles to use, you can download them by clicking here.
Within Adobe processing software, there is lens correction functionality built in to the Lightroom Develop module (or Adobe Camera Raw in Photoshop) that compensates for distortion and vignetting in the lens the image was taken with. Adobe has created a large number of lens profiles but they never created one for the Canon 500mm in its initial version. Adobe also has an online tool for sharing profiles but this does not include one for this lens either. The 600mm had a profile and it was supposedly close so I had been using that for a while. Recently, though, I was shooting with the 1.4x teleconverter fitted and this introduced some new effects which required some manual tweaking to offset.
I still wasn’t happy with the result so I decided it was time to bite the bullet and create some profiles from scratch. Adobe has a tool for creating a lens profile. It involves printing out some grid targets which you then shoot a number of times to cover the whole of the frame. It then calculates the profile. I was shooting at both 500mm and 700mm so I needed a few targets. To make a complete profile it is a good idea to shoot at a variety of focusing distances and with a range of apertures. The tool comes with many targets. Some I could print at home but some of the larger ones I got printed at FedEx and mounted on foam core to make them more rigid. Then it was time to shoot a bunch of very boring shots.
The software is not the most intuitive I have ever worked with but it eventually was clear what I had to do. (Why do some manual writers seem like they have never used the process they are writing about?) I found out how to run the analysis for different charts and distances separately and append the data to the profile as I go. I did need to quit the program periodically because it would run out of memory which seems like an odd bug these days. After much processing and some dropped frames as a result of poor shooting on my part (even on the tripod I got some blur occasionally with very slow shutter speeds) it got a profile out. The proof of the pudding is in the eating of course (that is what the actual phrase is for those of you that never get past the pudding part) so I tried the profile out on some recent shots. It works! I was rather delighted. I may shoot a few more samples in good conditions to finish things off but this was a rather happy outcome. Once I have tweaked the profiles sufficiently, I shall upload them to Adobe and anyone can use them.
For all of my previous cameras I have created profiles. When I got the new cameras I decided not to bother and to go with the profiles that are built in to Camera Raw/Lightroom. This was working okay for a while but there were some shots where I felt like the adjustments were having slightly odd effects. It was almost like the files had less adjustability than my old Mark IV files. This didn’t seem likely. I figured I would have a go at creating profiles and see whether that made any difference.
The profiles are relatively easy to create. I have a color card that has twelve different color squares. You take a shot of it in RAW mode. Then comes the slightly annoying step. You have to cover it to a DNG file. Not sure why, since this is all Adobe software, they can’t combine the steps but never mind. Then you open the profiling software. Pull up the DNG file, align the four color dots with the corner color squares and let it do its thing. Choose a name and the profile is saved on your computer where the Adobe software can see it.
It does make a difference. The thing I found most interesting was that the profiles for the two cameras were quite different. It shows up most in the blues for my bodies which, given I shoot aircraft a lot, is no small deal. The shots here are versions of the same images with the default profiles and the new profiles for comparison. Everything else is the same so the difference is purely profile related.
These days you will struggle to come across a car that has not undergone extensive aerodynamic optimization. Even those cars that look like they have deliberately avoided an aerodynamically efficient shape will actually have undergone considerable testing to make sure that they are not just relatively low in drag but that they are also stable at speed. The widespread appreciation of aerodynamic performance became apparent in the 80s with the introduction of various cars that had noticeably lower drag than their competitors and associated improvements in fuel consumption.
However, the 80s was not the first time that aerodynamics occupied car designers. Go back a long way and you will see some very interesting shapes on cars. Some of these were looking to emulate the space age looks that were popular at the time. Others were real attempts to reduce drag. Blackhawk has a collection of three Alfa Romeo models. These show the iteration of design to try and achieve very low drag. They don’t look anything like a modern car and have more of a Jetsons appearance. However, they are a fascinating look at how some car designers were thinking at the time.
Obviously modern cars don’t resemble these machines which suggests their approach was not the best way to go. They also look like they would have been expensive to manufacture. What they do show is the willingness to push the envelope. It is great that they are still around for us to check out and see what was seen as cutting edge at the time.