Opinions And Ramblings By Adam Kmiec On All Things

Category Archives: Photo

When Software Generates Pure Emotion

I don’t think people who develop software realize the pure emotion they can create in their users. Software, when done right, is so much more than 1s and 0s. It’s something that empowers and enables its users to create emotions and feelings. There are feelings of joy, excitement, pride and more, that come at the perfect moment when software becomes transformational.

I’ve been playing with cameras since 1986, when I was 7. Not just any camera, but Nikon cameras. My first camera was a Nikon FE2; the camera of choice for National Geographic photographers. Since then I’ve only shot Nikon. Be it my N80, N90 or F5, in the film days or my D100, D2Hs, D700 and most recently, D810 in the digital days of today, I’m a Nikon guy.

Nikon creates horrible software. There’s no 2-ways about this. Their software is rudimentary, inadequate and an insult to photographers. Harsh words, but true words. The one saving grace was Nikon NX2. It was a nearly flawless piece of software for processing Nikon’s proprietary RAW (the equivalent of a film negative) digital file format. But, for reasons I can’t fathom, all cameras post D700 were no longer supported. The software was discontinued. In its place NX-D was launched. NX-D is not software. It’s barely better than Microsoft Paint from Windows 3.11.

This put me in a bit of a quagmire. Here I was with this great new Nikon D810 and my images were being compromised by bad software. In doing some research, I stumbled upon DxO Optics Pro. I should say, I stumbled upon DxO and their full suite of software products. Just before the new year I purchased their full suite of photo editing software products. This included DxO Optics Pro, DxO Filmpack and DxO Viewpoint.

Candidly, I was stunned, with how damn good it was. I was so stunned, this is what I sent directly to DxO:

I didn’t see an option to contact you about something good! I’ve been photographing with Nikon since my first camera; a Nikon FE2, in 1986. When Nikon abandoned their users by no longer supporting cameras in NX2, I was a bit lost. I purchased the full software suite, just before the New Year and I’m blown away. Frankly, I wish I had been a DXO user, years ago. You’ve got, not just a happy customer, but a big time fan and a life-long supporter and purchaser. Thank you for making such a great suite of software. As an example, of what you’ve enabled me to create, I attached the latest capture. You guys rock. Please pass this on to your product team, marketing team and whomever should know that the software your company creates, changes and improves lives. Great images create emotions. Those emotions are priceless. Thank you.

The photo I was referencing is this one of my daughter, during a moment in between games at her 1st basketball tournament:

Happiness and #Zeiss

A photo posted by Adam Kmiec (@adamkmiec) on

I can’t say enough about DxO. They make software that makes it fun to be a photographer. They make software that makes it easy to create emotions. I’m sold. If you were a person who was on the fence or in my situation, I can’t recommend DxO enough.

Test Photos From The New Nikon 35mm 1.4G

I love new “glass” – that’s what we photo junkies call lenses. For a while I’ve wanted Nikon’s 35mm 1.4 G. It’s a great focal length for nearly all occasions and you can’t beat the 1.4. I recently got a great deal from National Camera in Minneapolis and couldn’t pass it up. This past weekend I put the lens through its paces. These are all shot at 1.4. I can’t get over how sharp they are in the foreground and how beautiful the bokeh.

This first one is from an outside skating area. It’s the day after Cora lost 1 of her front teeth.
Cora Smiling Sans Tooth

Same location as the first photo. We’ve been teaching John how to skate. On the advice of someone else, I bought him a hockey stick and it’s made a huge difference in how well balanced he is on the ice.

John the Hockey Player

Picked Cora up some acrylic paint and canvas. This was her attempt at painting my portrait.

Getting My Portrait

Ordered this custom super hero cape from Etsy. He’s in love with it.

Super John

The Joy Of Christmas

John and Cora at the Christmas Tree

Having kids is a guaranteed recipe for incredible moments that you’ll remember for many years to come. This was intentionally shot out of focus and as a silhouette. John’s on the left. Cora’s on the right. Both are reaching at ornaments on the tree.

A wonderful Christmas to remember, full of food, fun, friends and family. You can’t ask for anything more, can you?

Shot with a Nikon D700 and a Nikon 50mm 1.4 D. Love the bokeh from the lens.

Cora Turns 5

Cora 1 Thru 5

Time flies. It really does. The above are photos taken on each birthday. It’s amazing how grown up she has gotten. It always blows my mind to think that I helped create her. Not to get overly sentimental, but you can really appreciate the concept of kids being a miracle…after you have your own.

At 5 she already has her own personality. We tend to think she takes after me…even though she looks like Cheryl. I’m just peachy with that. She has that great mix of confidence and cockiness that you’ll need to succeed in this world. Add in the fact, she’s a master on her iPad, growing up technologically savvy and is opinionated…and well…you can see why I’m busting at the seams just talking about her.  5 years; they go by in a blink.

I regret the days I don’t get to see her and I so very much enjoy the moments I do get to spend with her.  The distance and time challenges are made every easier, knowing she’s in the ever capable hands of Cheryl. These 5 years went by too fast. Let’s hope the next 5 years are as great to us as the first 5, but that they go by just a bit slower. There’s no rush!

First Photo From The New Nikon 85mm

I have an addiction. I love photography gear. For the past few years, I’ve managed that addiction really well. Although, to be fair, I was so happy with all my gear, there just wasn’t a reason at all to upgrade any of it. But, time marches on. More than 5 years after I purchased a Nikon 60mm Macro 2.8 and a Nikon 85mm 1.8 D, I had finally surpassed their capabilites. I’ve always felt that was when you should upgrade…not when a newer version of something came out, but when you’re work was being compromised by the gear.

Well, I traded in both the 60mm and the 85mm to Calumet Photo in Chicago. Calumet is a great place; I’ve done a lot of business there in the last 10 years. My intention was to trade in both lenses for the new 85mm 1.8 G. The G lens lacks an aperture ring, is lighter weight, sharper and more importantly contains a motor inside the lens that speeds up the auto-focusing. They accepted the trade in, but were out of stock on the new 85mm 1.8. Bummer. I waited nearly a month for them to address their out of stock situation…with no dice. So, on a trip to Minneapolis, I swung by National Camera (another great place) and picked one up.

This is the very first photo I took with the lens. Keep in mind this was taken, not with my Nikon D700, but with Cheryl’s D5000.

As Fro remarked in his review of the lens, when compared to the older 85mm 1.8 D, “When comparing the sample images at f1.8 it is clear that the new AFS blows the older AFD out of the water.”  He’s right. It does. It’s fast. It’s sharp. It’s light weight. It’s a huge step forward.  I took a good 50 snaps throughout the day and was never disappointed. Definitely a good purchase.

Back From Greece

I’m a geek when it comes to Greek and Roman history. In college, Age of Caesar 3001 was the first non business class I took, that I got an A in. Not an A-, an A.

Greece has always been on my list of places to visit. In the past I’d looked into Mediterranean cruises and it was a topic of conversation as a honeymoon destination.

Having visited Rome in 2005 and being underwhelmed overall, but loving the photos I came back with I had hoped for a more balanced visit to Greece.

I spent the last week in Greece; 4 days in Athens and 2 in Santorini. Before I left, everyone had cautioned me that I was doing it wrong. Instead of 4 days in Athens and 2 in Santorini, I should be doing the opposite.

Well, let me say, I think I chose the right balance. My 2 days in Santorini were enjoyable, but more than enough for me and how I travel. And I travel through the photos I want to take.

Athens was a great experience. It shared a lot of similarities with my trip to Rome. The food was great and the wine wonderful. You have to love a country where the wine and beer are cheaper than the soda. Though I speak not a word of Greek the city was easy to get around and the people easy to converse with. Few people and signs I encountered were Greek only.

I came to Greece wanting one photo. Years ago, I created a list of places/things I wanted to photograph. The Acropolis was on that list. More specifically, the Parthenon. On day 2, I was up early and one of the first through the gates to experience the Acropolis. I couldn’t have asked for better light. The early morning Greek sun warmed the location and the deep blue skies provided a beautiful backdrop to the hero of my shot, the Parthenon. I captured it from multiple vantage points and a collection of angles. This was the winner.

The Parthenon

It’s already been sent off for printing and will be ready for pickup when I’m back.

Beyond the Parthenon, I traversed the streets like a local. The bakeries, cafes and street vendors helped me add on a few extra pounds, I’m sure.

Athens, even in its current state of political and economic turmoil…complete with riots, tear gas and armed military guarding government buildings, is a beautiful city. Not beautiful in the way Paris or New York are. Not beautiful like the Caribbean islands. But beautiful in the way the combination of old and new will leave you hypnotized. Beautiful in the way Rome was. Earlier I commented that I was disappointed with my visit to Rome, yet here I am talking about the similarities of the two cities. The problem I had with Rome is that it’s a very hard city to enjoy. The topography makes it a non walking city. Which would be fine if the train system complimented those shortcomings. But, the train system in Rome is built around their history. This means there’s rarely a direct route anywhere, for fear a piece of history would be disturbed.

Athens on the other hand had a train system to rival the wonderful London Tube, New York City’s subway system and Paris’ metra. It seems like a small thing, but when a city is easy to travel, you can see more of it. Athens made it easy.

It was a wonderful week abroad. Here’s a few photos from the trip.

Adam Stands Tall

The Parthenon

The Roman Forum In Greece


Santorini Coast

A View From The Roof

View From The Hotel

Lastly, a special thanks to all of the people who offered me great advice on what to do and see. Most of the advice came via social media, from people I’d never met. The advice made this trip so much better.

Countdown To Vacation

About 10 years ago I came up with a list of places I wanted to photograph. All the photos would ultimately end up hanging in a room I called, in my head, the gallery. On my list was the Eifel Tower, The Colosseum, Stonehenge, El Castillo, The Pyramids Of Giza, The Great Wall Of China and The Parthenon. Sure, there are other things I want to see, that I want to visit, that I want to photograph. Christ The Redeemer in Brazil, The Taj Mahal in India and a few other locations have caught my eye. But, I had to keep my list a bit focused.

To date, I’ve knocked off the Eifel Tower, The Colosseum, Stonehenge, and El Castillo. You can see the body of work below.

The Eifel Tower

The Colosseum


El Castillo At Chichen Itza

Well, this year, I aim to knock one of the remaining three off the list. The countdown begins:

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Remembering What The 4th Of July Is Really About

Shot on slide Film (Fuji Velvia 50) circa 2002 and with a non-digital SLR (Nikon F5), this is an all time favorite of mine. Many of us will be grilling today, having a beer and enjoying the company of friends and family. I know I will. But, beyond the fun, let’s take some time to remember those who gave us this holiday and who continue selflessly keeping us safe and free. Hope your 4th is filled with fun, sun, family and a cold beverage.