In the mood for black and white.

Olympus EM-5 and 60mm Sigma dn.

 Don't know why but when I woke up this morning I was so in the mood to shoot black and white that I flipped on all three GH cameras and set them to monochrome, jacked up the contrast and turned down the noise reduction. Got the weird optics on the front and now I'm looking for people and places that just look black and white in my head.

I think it's a result of too much color work all Summer long. It's either that or the cool, black box of Richard Avedon postcards I got last week...

Hope everyone has a happy weekend and, if you live in Texas I hope you stay cool. It will be a scorcher by Sunday.

Catch up with Henry White, the hero in The Lisbon Portfolio,
as he takes a Leica to explosive new extremes.....

Love letter to a lens? (Chapter one).

I didn't need you. I hadn't planned on bringing you home. It just seemed to happen. Oh sure, I was messing around with micro four thirds cameras when it happened. I just spent too much money on a trio of promising, fast zoom lenses and I guess they really are nice, and have good personalities, but they lack the romance you bring to our relationship. There's just something about you single focal length types that takes me right back to my early days as a photographer.

Those were the days when zooms were the trailer trash of the camera world. Brazen thugs who could shift around into different lengths but they were mostly no good. Not the kind of lens you'd depend on when things got tough. The kind of optical system you just knew was going to leave you in the lurch the minute the smallest dollop of direct light hit his front element...

Hanging around in the camera bags they were always like, "Hey, I'm so cool. I can go from a wide shot to a tight shot and back again standing in one spot. And you," they would taunt the 50's and 105's, "all you can do is your one trick pony act."  But they always seemed to drop the ball. They'd make excuses: "what the hell do you mean 'wide open'?? I wasn't designed for wide open. Set me at f8 or don't bother taking me out of the bag!" Then there were all those embarrassing episodes with flare. And again the rationales: "Dude! I saw it in Life Magazine. Flare is cool. Flare is artistic. And watch this! I can make iris rings show up right in the middle of your photograph. I swear, I saw Ernst Haas do it...."

But those zooms mean nothing to me now.

I still remember the day I sat, bored and at the same time busy, in front of my mighty computer. I was half listening to a client on the phone and half cruising through Amazon.com's website when I came across your profile. It might have been your photo that caught my attention. Was it a selfie? At any rate it looked....enchanting. Then I read your profile and I was really interested. But the thing that made me initially fall head over heels was your price. Only $209.  I'm sure I've paid more than that for a Leica lens hood.

It was an impulsive decision. You had to be mine. I hesitated when I saw your twin sister in the silver finish but for some reason I can't explain your smooth, black exterior was too alluring.

I remember the afternoon the guy in the truck pulled up and let you out. I rushed into the studio with you in my hands and peeled you out of all those unnecessary wrappings. And there you were, naked and gleaming.  The Sigma 60mm f2.8 dn. I sighed. I was smitten.

But we were both a little shy until we went out for that big walk through downtown. Me with my hat and walking shoes, you hanging off the front of a hulky camera body. And it was magic. Over the months my regard for you has grown and, though you don't say it out loud, I think you enjoy our time together as well.

But lest all the readers think us cloying and saccharine let me take a moment to more objectively catalog your charms:

1. The 60mm focal length is really nice for tight portraits and graphic close ups with the small format cameras.

2. The lens is very sharp in the center even when its aperture is wide open. By f4 the whole thing is sharp and by f5.6 it blows the doors off the same focal length on my zoom for that feeling of edgy good sharpness.

3. It is small and light and focuses quickly on all my modern m4:3 cameras.

4. I have had no issues with flare from glancing light or little pin points of direct photonic contact.

5. It's so inexpensive I never worry about it.

I took the 60mm Sigma out on a walk with me today and fell in love with it all over again. I have the 19mm and the 30mm and like both of them as well, but the 60mm is special. If they made a wider focal length to match the existing trio of lenses, say a 12mm, I'd buy it in a heartbeat. That would be a wonderful basic system of primes for any of the m4:3 cameras.

Ahhh. Summer romance.

Revisions. The firmware upgrade for electronic books!!! A novel update.

We love firmware upgrades for our cameras because they tweak stuff that wasn't just right when the cameras first came out. They make the focus a little surer and the overall response of a camera quicker. Now I find that I can "upgrade" the "firmware" of my recently launched novel in much the same way. The biggest difference is that the install is quicker and easier for the end user.

After we launched the book back on June 16th we started getting reviews (mostly five stars!!!) that read something like this: "The book is a page turner. I stayed up all night to finish it. It's a fun story for photographers. BUT it could have used a better editor---there are a lot of typos and a few inconsistencies....still, it's a great read." I resolved that as soon as I had the time I'd dive back in and try to find the stuff I missed or, alternately, I would some day have enough free cash floating around to hire an editor to help me fix the things that needed corrections.

But because of my incredible VSL family I am thrilled to say that we've been able to make the vast majority of the corrections. I want to say a big "THANK YOU!!!" to longtime VSL reader and participant, Michael Matthews, for painstakingly going through the manuscript and finding a huge number of things to fix. Belinda sat down with his notes this past week and made 99.9 % of the changes he recommended. Would have been 100% had I not been stubborn on one use...

Because of his hard work and generosity the book is now a much better read than it was just three weeks ago. So, what does this mean to you? Well, if you downloaded the book and have not yet read it you could delete the copy currently on your Kindle enabled device and download the newest version (your firmware upgrade) at no charge to you whatsoever. Then you can plunge in and enjoy the book as it was meant to be.

If you've been on the fence, really wanting to support my book writing efforts and really dying to read the photo blockbuster novel of the Summer, but you were put off by the mention of typos in some of the reviews you can now download a much improved copy and get right into reading for pleasure.

If you participate in Amazon Prime you should know that we've elected to make the book "borrow-able" from their lending service, at no charge, for five days. Wow! Free book read. 

But if you haven't looked, haven't read or haven't downloaded I would be interested to know what we can do to make it more tempting for you. Is price an issue? If so, what price do you think is appropriate? Is it the fact that the book is only available right now as a Kindle book?  Would you prefer to be able to buy a hard copy? I'm interested to know how I can get the book into more peoples' hands and I figure the blog is a good place to start a bit of market research....

If you have suggestions be sure to make a comment. I'll appreciate it. And if you are a script reader for a major Hollywood movie producer be sure to leave your contact info....

below is the book's latest review on Amazon:

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' Should Have BeenJuly 8, 2014
This review is from: The Lisbon Portfolio (The Henry White Portfolios Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
Swimmer, photographer, Dad, Husband, Blogger (the visual science lab) Kirk Tuck now adds another notch to his accomplishments, action adventure fiction writer. Drawing on his background as a corporate and portrait photographer, Kirk creates just the sort of story that made Alfred Hitchcock famous. Movies like North by Northwest put an ordinary fellow into an extraordinary situation. The audience identifies with everyman who will have to out wit a strange and menacing world around him.

Some action stories like Clancy's use long drawn out narratives (how to assemble a nuclear bomb or spread ebola virus for example) interspersed with action scenes every few chapters. For my money, Kirk has bested Clancy by combining a careful narrative explaining 'about to be' high tech weaponry or skull duggery computer hacking while getting right to the story.

The best parallel would be what Fox terms 'America's Thrill Ride' the 24 television series. High Noon took place in real time with the clock counting down. Jack Bauer and his group endure a 24 hour day to end all day sin every season. Likewise, Henry White is thrown from researcher/observer to field operative. Most of the story takes place over a four day convention in Lisbon. Caution to readers, once you get to the scene in the convention center rest room, the thrill ride really gets going, you are likely to be hooked, make sure you have time to finish the book from that point on.

And so we have Hitchcock style hero, Henry White, Austin, TX photographer set against a somewhat exotic Lisbon setting. The MacGuffin ins question are plans on a micro drive which as in any good action adventure story, everyone and we mean everyone wants. While another reviewer suggested GDS was emblematic of IBM or EDS, I can also imagine United Technologies in league with other military suppliers constantly at work finding buyers for their 'products' especially when the Dept of Defense gives them a pass on some expensive R and D project. IO am sure none of that R & D is simply expensed….

I stayed up until 11:43 Sunday night finishing the book, it's that good. Kirk certainly seems to have done his homework on the high tech stuff. I don't know where he got up to speed on how all the spy guys walk, take shooting stances, etc. perhaps there are more ex Black Ops types in those Austin Coffee Shops than I realized.

Thanks Kirk, I see this is Book 1, let's hope it does not take another 14 years to produce Book 2, the Further adventures of Henry Whitel
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