the brandenblog

Branden Frederick is a San Jose-based nerd, technology manager, and photographer.

forest green lightroom preset: color grading

forest green lightroom preset: color grading

869
21 Nov 2020
Lightroom (despite Adobe's attempts to sabotage it) remains the best photo workflow and editing software in existence. A recent update replaced one of the most powerful tools, Split Toning, with an even more powerful tool, Color Grading. I go through the steps of using this tool to create a new preset called "Forest Greens" (which you can freely download). Read more.

babylon 13 lomography kino film

babylon 13 lomography kino film

103
10 Nov 2020
It began in the Earth year 2020, with the founding of the last of the Babylon films, located deep in neutral space. It was a port of call for refugees, smugglers, businessmen, diplomats... and travelers from a hundred worlds. Could be a dangerous place – but we accepted the risk, because Babylon 13 was our last, best hope for peace. Read more.

zeiss sharpness

zeiss sharpness

381
1 Nov 2020
Carl Zeiss is a lensmaker with a historic reputation for creating the sharpest optics, with only Leica giving any consistent reputation. Of course, with modern lensmaking, pretty much everything new is sharp. But I shoot with a lot of older gear, so I got curious, and explored this reputation. Read more.

my next kindle will be an iPad

my next kindle will be an iPad

861
27 Oct 2020
I am the exact target audience for the Amazon Kindle e-reader: a) I read a lot of text-only books, usually several at the same time; b) I am a nerd who has lots of gadgets; c) I read anywhere and everywhere; and d) I am already buying nearly all my books from Amazon. So it is no surprise that I have had three different Kindle devices over the years. But no more – each Kindle has been worse than the one before it, and I'm calling it quits. Read more.

explore on Flickr is a trick

explore on Flickr is a trick

1332
20 Oct 2020
Flickr is the internet's biggest photographer-centric social media website. Hobbyist and professional photographers go there to share photos and talk about how they made them. "Explore" is the official Flickr daily magazine, where the 500 most "interesting" photos are sorted and featured. For the user, a photo being selected for Explore is the best way to get their work seen. And so, the Flickr community places huge value on being listing in Explore, as if being featured equates to being validated as a photographer. But Explore isn't about photography at all, it's a trick to keep people engaged. Read more.

a new year for mind and body

a new year for mind and body

378
30 Sep 2020
We are in the season of the most sublime transition in the Jewish festival cycle. We are traveling from the mental to the physical. We have just passed through the introspective self-reflection of Yom Kippur, spending all day fasting and reciting pensive prayers and meditations, only to emerge spiritually transformed. The spiritual journey complete, we now embark upon the strenuous labor of constructing a sukkah. Read more.

the day the sky turned orange

the day the sky turned orange

638
28 Sep 2020
On Wednesday, Sept 9, 2020, along the west coast of North America, ash from raging wildfires was suspended high in the atmosphere, casting the skies in the eerie deep orange hue of the American president's artificial tan. And yet, this was just one more in a series of plagues of Biblical proportions. Read more.

worthy of my time

worthy of my time

1056
21 Sep 2020
Attention is my most valuable asset. Begging, screaming, demanding my limited resources are phone calls, text messages, emails, in-app alerts, billboards, mailers, flyers, guys holding big cardboard arrows and dancing on street corners. Things constantly grab my attention. I cling to sanity only by instantly judging the thing's worth. Only things with merit are allowed past my defenses and into my brain. So, when you've got a message for me, how do you get me to actually absorb it? Read more.

Windows 10 cranky setup checklist

1453
11 Sep 2020
Because of my poor life choices, I have to frequently install operating systems on my computers. Out of the box, Windows 10 comes loaded with booby traps, unwanted software, the worst default settings imaginable, and shitty design choices. Here is my secret recipe for neutering the worst parts. Read more.

Judaism and sheltering in place

Judaism and sheltering in place

using the tools of Judaism to perservere

389
31 May 2020
As the novelty of sheltering in place descends into a distant memory, and even tedium has become tedious, we lament the myriad social gatherings this pandemic has robbed from all of us, including many of our Jewish festivals. Because of this, it is important that we remember Judaism is not just a communal religion, but also has powerful personal rituals. Read more.

connecting to our families during the quarantine

connecting to our families during the quarantine

366
10 May 2020
Unfortunately I never got to know my grandparents as an adult. However, I did end up inheriting from them a dusty box of Judaica. It contained, among other things, a collection of free Passover Haggadot, the kind given away by organizations as a “thank you” to their supporters, dating back to the 1950s. Many are from food companies – coffee, matzah, wine – others are from Jewish and Israeli charities. Read more.

off-camera lighting on a shoestring

off-camera lighting on a shoestring

1028
7 May 2020
Want to get started with off-camera lighting, but don't want to waste money buying junk gear? Want to know what parts of the setup you can safely cheap out on? Here's my researched and tried shopping list to get a powerful, portable, flexible three-light off-camera studio setup for under $500. This gear will work with any brand of camera. Read more.

a tale of two ektars

a tale of two ektars

565
7 May 2020
Kodak makes a great film called Ektar. Known for its bright, saturated colors, it's labeled at ISO 100 and is a great film to use for landscapes and vacations and pretty much anything. However, it is is not the only Kodak Ektar film out there. Search for expired film, and you may come across old Ektar at ISOs of 25, 125, and 1000. What's the deal with those? Read more.

five years with fujifilm X

five years with fujifilm X

1143
6 May 2020
In November 2014 I went whole hog into Fujifilm's X camera system, starting with the X-T1 and two lenses. Now, over five years later, I have 25,000 Fujifilm X photos from four different camera models and a dozen different lenses. Is Fujifilm X still the right system for me? Read more.

COVID-19: living in interesting times

COVID-19: living in interesting times

1378
22 Mar 2020
We are in the midst of pandemic. Survival is our first priority. But once we've survived, how we remember these times is crucial. All of us have at out fingertips powerful documentary tools unfathomable to those of previous generations. We must use these tools to record our experiences, to remember our own stories from these 'interesting times'. Read more.

linux love letter

linux love letter

1384
6 Mar 2020
I've been a *nix user since high school, but never as my primary system. I've been running web servers on Linux for ever. I've experimented with Linux as a desktop operating system, but it was never compelling enough to replace Windows or macOS – until now. Here's why and how I made Ubuntu work for me. Read more.

the future of reform judaism

the future of reform judaism

829
1 Mar 2020
What will a Reform Jewish Friday night Shabbat service look like 30 years from now? How many people will be in the congregation? Where will they be gathering? What will their backgrounds be? What will be the nature of their connection to the Jewish community? How will they wrestle with the contradictory aims to be traditional yet modern? Read more.

the dumb story of APS film

the dumb story of APS film

forever haunted by 1996

1253
17 Feb 2020
The Advanced Photo System ("APS"), aka Kodak Advantix, had a brief, dumb existence. Claiming to be an upgrade to 35mm film, APS was actually the opposite, making the entire format dead on delivery. Flawed as APS was, it was also launched in 1996, simultaneous to the first digital cameras. Even though digital photo sharing was nascent, digital photography grabbed people's attention in precisely the way that APS did not. APS is dead, but it has had one lingering stain that nobody has been able to wash away: the digital sensor size "APS-C". Let's look into the details. Read more.

why is saturday named after a roman god?

why is saturday named after a roman god?

2354
29 Jan 2020
In English, the days of the week are named after Germanic gods, all except Saturday. How did Saturn uniquely preserve his standing in our culture? What's going on? Read more.

LomoChrome Metropolis

LomoChrome Metropolis

519
26 Jan 2020
In summer 2019, Lomography introduced a completely new film stock. Into their existing lineup of traditional (i.e. Color Tiger) and non-traditional (i.e. LomoChrome Purple) films, they were adding a new beast: LomoChrome Metropolis XR 100-400. With muted tones and a cool color balance, they pushed it for urban street photos. Instead I used it to shoot my normal junk. Read more.

2019 in photos

2019 in photos

wiping it off our boots

946
25 Jan 2020
Every year about now I "check in" to track changes both in my self and in the world of hobbyist photography in which I swim. This is what I've learned, what I've seen, and what I've taken photos of in 2019. Read more.

2019 in music

751
2 Jan 2020
In Twenty-nineteen I added 48 new albums to my iTunes, about half of which were actually released that year, and only a third from artists new to me. Totaling it all up, here's my recommendations. Read more.

let's talk about Flickr

let's talk about Flickr

yes, Flickr is still a thing

600
20 Dec 2019
Flickr's CEO told the world yesterday that the service, as it is, is unsustainable, and without help will die. I love Flickr, it's the one social media(ish) site I use, and I've been using it daily for a decade. What would the world lose if Flickr went away? Read more.

the chanukah spirit

739
4 Dec 2019
I sometimes write articles for my (Reform Jewish) congregation's monthly newsletter. Here's one I wrote to be published this month, all about digging into the roots of Chanukah. Read more.

tranquility

tranquility

2158
18 Nov 2019
I just completed the fourth major version of the program I use to manage websites. This program – collection of scripts, really – is 561kb of HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and Miva, all handwritten by me over over a period of 23 years. I call this "Tranquility". Using Tranquility, I can instantly create a new website with a custom theme and any number of static or dynamic pages, including blogs, photo albums, and forms. It is how this blog you're reading right now is powered. To find out how I got to this point, read on. Read more.

checking in to the teachers' lounge

checking in to the teachers' lounge

454
19 Sep 2019
A few years ago my school remodeled the Teachers' Lounge, and the IT offices were moved inside. When my helpdesk guy and I were moving into the new space, I saw the barrenness of the freshly-remodeled walls as a decorative challenge – an opportunity to set thematic precedent over the staff's respite from students. The burden of this decision weighed down, I was a key player at a linchpin moment, all eyes were on me to make my move: I hung a theatrical poster for the 1996 family comedy "Dunston Checks In". To this day it is still the centerpiece of our Teachers' Lounge, and I do not understand why. Read more.

walking simulators

walking simulators

2574
12 Jul 2019
When I was a kid, I played a lot of video games. I would play anything, but mostly first-person-shooters, which I was never very good at. I'd play on "easy" and give up the first time I failed a challenge. But I was fascinated by the games' stories, by the fantasy worlds the games' makers had constructed. That these fictional universes were in service to violence was their downfall – I lost my patience with the "game" part of the game. A few years ago, I discovered I'm not alone, there's a new genre of games for people like me: Walking Simulators. Read more.

tear your backing paper

tear your backing paper

see what happens

285
18 Jun 2019
When I got the Hasselblad 500C/M, the previous owner showed me how to use the camera. One of the pieces of advice was to not be too aggressive spinning the film loading crank. Last week I decided to ignore that advice. Read more.

lomography diana baby

lomography diana baby

is it any good?

891
19 May 2019
110 film was designed for consumer simplicity. It came in cartridges which handled a lot of the machinery, giving 24 shots of 13x17mm negatives, most often at ISO 200. This allowed for very simple camera designs and film loading, at the expense of image quality. It's the film type I used for my first 15 years of life, but it died out when digital rose up. Until Lomography brought it back in 2017. Read more.

ektachrome is back!

ektachrome is back!

443
2 May 2019
Like a zombie, Kodak's Ektachrome film has risen from the grave. Its re-animated version is called E100, and it is a daylight-balanced neutral-toned slide film only available in 135 (35mm) format. Yes, this is the most boring version of Ektachrome, but hey there's new film stock! Read more.

frame sizes revisited, 645 digital edition

frame sizes revisited, 645 digital edition

492
18 Mar 2019
With the inclusion of a Pentax 645D in my arsenal, a (somewhat) medium format digital camera, I once again am curious to know how lens focal lengths translate into fields of view for this sensor size. Read more.

2018 in photos

2018 in photos

another horrible year

1910
8 Jan 2019
The year of our lord two thousand and eighteen is finally over (a week ago, whoops). Did my photography grow in technique and skill? If nothing else, my pile of cameras and lenses definitely grew in size. Let's dig in! Read more.

2018 in music

561
1 Jan 2019
Friends and other acquaintances have told me I have horrid taste in music. They say music I enjoy has immature lyrics, takes itself too seriously, has a grating sound, and is repetitive and simplistic. I've had two decades now to come to terms with this, and I no longer apologize for my tastes. The Music Stats tool puts on full display exactly which music I listen to. But that's just numbers – if you want the nuance, read on for my 2018 album recommendations. Read more.

black & white showdown results

black & white showdown results

878
10 Dec 2018
Back in May I purchased eight rolls of different black and white 120 roll film for a comparison (six Ilford stocks, two Kodak). The rolls included some I was familiar with, and some I had never shot before, with the intention that through shooting all films of similar subjects and in the same style, I'd be able to determine which B&W film best matches my style, or if I could even tell them apart at all. Read more.

kodak lumiere slide film

kodak lumiere slide film

203
8 Dec 2018
I picked up off eBay some unusual film stock: Kodak Lumiere. Wildly out of date, and with only two rolls, see how the images came out. Read more.

80's sitcom pitch

803
27 Nov 2018
I've got a pitch for a hot new addition to must-see-tv! Read more.

fujfilm GA645Zi: medium format point-and-shoot

fujfilm GA645Zi: medium format point-and-shoot

1079
21 Nov 2018
Nine months ago I learned of the existence of this line of cameras that both use medium format film and are flat and compact. Unfortunately, they are also glorified point-and-shoots. Read more.

twitchcon 2018: dispatches from video game streaming culture

twitchcon 2018: dispatches from video game streaming culture

1391
30 Oct 2018
I returned to TwitchCon this weekend, aiming to update myself on the world of hardware, video games, and streaming culture. Last attending in 2015, I am apparently interested in video game streaming even though I'm a decade too old to participate in it. Here's my notes, as an outsider looking in. Read more.

I rode an app-based rental scooter

I rode an app-based rental scooter

895
28 Oct 2018
Two pay-by-the-minute scooter rental Apps have popped up in my neighborhood. I got my gigantic self on one for the first time yesterday, and rode it for 4 miles. This was my experience. Read more.

how to: set up a classroom cart of MacBooks

1015
18 Oct 2018
My task is to set up a portable classroom set of 26 MacBook Airs so that each user always has a clean logon. To accomplish that, I take advantage of the Guest user logon on MacOS, which is a special logon which is always reset on logoff. The difficulty is, how do you customize a user account that never saves changes? These are the steps, as of MacOS Mojave. Read more.

old list of concerts I've been to

old list of concerts I've been to

465
17 Oct 2018
I used to go to a lot of concerts, and I kept a list of what shows I'd been to. Read more.

how to: install Miva Empresa on linux

445
17 Oct 2018
Miva is not the most glamorous web technology – by today's standards its 1995 origin makes it ancient. But it is still actively maintained and developed, and can be used to make web apps. Read more.

what I'd like to learn

what I'd like to learn

692
16 Oct 2018
It's always good to have goals to work for. Here are some things I'd like to teach myself. Read more.

music stats: it turns out love *can* be measured

music stats: it turns out love *can* be measured

1077
15 Oct 2018
I have spent the past 10+ years measuring and analyzing what music I listen to. After many, many iterations, I finally have the data in some semblance of order. Read more.

statistics 101: difference between mean and hypotenuse

510
14 Oct 2018
This is a brief look into the difference between sorting pairs of numbers by their mean versus by their hypotenuse. To the more mathematically gifted, this article is likely mundane, but I wanted to visualize the difference, and couldn't find this comparison pictured out anywhere else. Read more.

thoughts on de-googling my life

1528
11 Oct 2018
How hard would it be to cut ties with the Black Google of the Internet with a Thousand Young? Ever since Google tore down their slogan "don't be evil" and replaced it with "well, maybe a little", the deal has been altered, and I've been praying they don't alter it any further. Read more.

trivia: movies edition

55
9 Oct 2018
Can you answer this brain puzzler? Read more.

autobiographies are hard

autobiographies are hard

620
3 Oct 2018
I ruminate on writing the autobiographical blurb which appears in the header of this blog's page. Read more.

welcome to yet another blog

welcome to yet another blog

111
2 Oct 2018 21 Oct 2020
This is the first post to this blog. Read more.

pentax K-50 saga

pentax K-50 saga

wherein I learn about aperture block failure

325
28 Jul 2018
I love bright and crazy colors, so a few years ago when Pentax made the unusual decision to produce their K-50 camera in a huge array of toy-like colors, they had my attention. I was not in any way looking to buy a new SLR system at the time, so I didn't, but I never forgot about it. Read more.

polarizing the ocean

polarizing the ocean

how a polarizing filter can affect photos of the ocean

219
23 Jul 2018
A few weeks ago I was able to see some dramatic differences between polarized and non-polarized light with regards to photographing the ocean. Read more.

tips for aerial photography

tips for aerial photography

586
30 Jun 2018
Some of my favorite photos have been ones I've shot out of an airplane window. From 1000 to 3000 feet up in the air, you can get some amazing views, and smaller aircraft travel slow enough that you have time to prepare and compose your shots. Read more.

pentax K-01 a.k.a. the brick

pentax K-01 a.k.a. the brick

505
24 Jun 2018
I bought, used, then sold a Pentax K-01 all within two months. More than just not being the camera for me, it's not even clear why this camera was created in the first place. This is its story. Read more.

cell phone cameras

cell phone cameras

a review

1057
24 Jun 2018
I read yet another article yesterday about how technology in cell phone cameras has surpassed that of dedicated cameras and "wow! look at these photos where you can barely tell which camera made the image!" *barf* Read more.

the great black and white showdown

the great black and white showdown

431
12 May 2018
One of those things that's been tickling my noggin for a good measure of time now is, exactly how noticeable is the difference between all those black and white films? Read more.

photographing a performance

photographing a performance

1227
20 Apr 2018
I was asked recently to photograph "Play on Words", an event where performers do dramatic readings of short stories. Here's how I did it. Read more.

hip to be square

hip to be square

1071
23 Feb 2018
I love using my Fujifilm X cameras to make square photos. I learned to love squares through Instagram and medium format, and I was happy to discover that square photography is built right into my Fujifilm digital cameras. To help this, here are the Fuji X equivalent focal lengths for 6x6 medium format. Read more.

lomochrome purple

lomochrome purple

357
17 Feb 2018
Lomography sometimes sells batches of their own, unique "LomoChrome Purple XR 100-400" film. How this film works and where it is made are mysteries – we can only know through guesswork, since Lomography themselves say very little about the film. So I guess I might as well just try it out, see what happens. Read more.

xpan: a prestige camera

xpan: a prestige camera

1110
2 Feb 2018
For years, the Xpan was a dream camera for me. Then that dream became reality. Did it live up to its expectations? Read more.

2017 in photos

2017 in photos

2033
26 Dec 2017
By far, the most important thing that happened to me this year was the birth of my daughter. Yes, this is a photography blog and childbirth has nothing to do with cameras, but her birth transcended all parts of my life, including photography. Read more.

kowa/six compared

kowa/six compared

1421
2 Dec 2017
The Kowa/SIX was produced from 1968 to 1974, and was the first of three Kowa medium-format 6x6cm cameras. It competed against (and was cheaper than) the Hasselblad V system – and someone familiar with the Hasselblad will recognize many of the same selling points in the Kowa. I've been shooting with a Kowa/SIX for about two year now, and have become familiar with the camera. Read more.

testing slide duplicating film

testing slide duplicating film

336
19 Jun 2017
One of the weirder films you can find on eBay is Kodak's Ektachrome "Slide Duplicating Film 5071". There's not 5,070 other Ektachrome slide duplicating films, so "5071" is probably one of those cool index codes from back before computers made the codes 64 digits long. But most importantly, this "ESD" film isn't labeled with a film speed. So let's find out what it is! Read more.

2016 in photos

2016 in photos

187
26 Dec 2016
Here we are – nearly at New Years Day, our annual reminder that we're all slowly approaching our deaths. As the heavy drinking drowns our sorrows, so does it turn our reflection inward, and cause us to self-evaluate. We realize how little we've accomplished, and to what degree we've let ourselves down. Read more.

accidental double-exposure

accidental double-exposure

186
13 Aug 2016
A few years ago, a friend's father gave me a box of assorted camera junk that had been gathering dust in his garage for who knows how long. Included were some rolls of trash film. I threw them into my freezer and said "one day I'll shoot those". Little did I know, for one of the rolls, someone already had. Read more.

leica m3 versus fujifilm x-t1, a comparison

leica m3 versus fujifilm x-t1, a comparison

2342
18 Jul 2015
In which I compare the 1955 35mm legendary film rangefinder Leica M3 to the 2014 modern digital mirrorless Fujiflim X-T1. Read more.

metering without machines

metering without machines

a manual how-to

427
3 Dec 2014
So you've got one of these old cameras from the days of yore, and you've figured out how to get the film in it and where to point the dang thing, but uh-oh, how do you know what numbers to set for the aperture and shutter speed? Read more.

the photo process

the photo process

687
24 Nov 2014
This is my process; this is how I make a photo. Read more.

is film really cheaper than digital?

is film really cheaper than digital?

412
19 Nov 2014
These prices are as of 11/19/2014. They are all taken from actual receipts. This point of this exercise is to challenge the statement (that certain internet pundits make) that shooting film is cheaper than buying a digital camera every few years. Having done a lot of both of those things, I don't believe it to be the case, but I want some evidence to back this belief up. Read more.

Thomas and Trey photo walk

Thomas and Trey photo walk

116
14 May 2013
I showed up for a photo walk hosted by prolific photographers Thomas Hawk and Trey Ratcliff. The event was sponsored by Google, which was having its annual I/O conference near the walk, and who gave everyone a copy of the Nik software suite, and one lucky person got a Google Glass. Read more.

one landscape, different days

one landscape, different days

355
28 Aug 2012
This is the view off my father-in-law's balcony. I've been going up to his house for years, and at all times of year at all times of day, in all types of weather and with all types of cameras, I've been taking photos of this view. So I've accidentally set up an example of how different light, weather, seasons, cameras, etc. can affect the same landscape. Read more.
I am not a lawyer, this is not legal advice