The Story Dome Project

This past year my artist friend Sofyia Inger has been working on her project, “The Story Dome”.  I’ve kept tabs on her progress and even had a chance to see her a few times this month but I was still not prepared for my visit this afternoon at the Indianapolis Art Center, to see the actual work. storydome 1 This evening is the official opening and reception, which I know will be fabulous, but since I wasn’t able to attend I snuck over early this afternoon to see it. As it turned out I was the only one in the dome during my entire visit. It was liking having my own imaginary world to wander and explore! Just entering the space I could feel the smile spreading across my face and lighting up both my imagination and my heart.storydome 2 It felt magical in there, completely surrounded by sounds of nature, words written from the heart and artistically displayed from ceiling to floor.  There were also listening stations where you could put on earphones and listen to music created specifically for this project.storydome 3 I felt like I had entered a different world, a world that was honest and hopeful and full of wonder. I wanted to live there! Or at least close the doors and keep it to myself for a few hours, to lay on the floor and gaze at the walls…humming to the music and writing my own stories. storydome 4The images I’ve posted here don’t do justice to the experience, you really need to go and experience it yourself. Although it’s a large enough space to accomodate several people I recommend giving yourself the gift of time alone there! I’m already looking at my calendar, planning how many times I can re-visit the installation in the next two months and wondering how different each visit will be. I left today feeling introspective, invigorated and happy. storydome 5Very, very happy!



Fuji FinePix JZ500 Camera – Review, Part 2

Last week I posted the first part of a camera review for a newly acquired point & shoot camera I had purchased. I’ve had another week to play with the camera off & on and thought I’d post an update. I guess I am more of a “learn by doing” person because I still haven’t gotten the CD with the instruction manual out of the box and looked at it. Perhaps I’ll get to that soon and share a few more things I’ve discovered.  In the meantime here are some more photos, thoughts and discoveries from my exploration. All images shown are straight from the camera with no adjustments made. One setting I’ve had fun playing with shoots two pictures back-to-back, the first with natural light and then second with a flash so you can choose which one you prefer.  Pretty cool! The first time I tried it I was indoors and really didn’t have enough light to get a good natural light photo so that version is pretty fuzzy (3 year olds don’t stand still for photos, no matter what light you are working with!).

test photo, sample 1, (natural light) fuji finepix JZ500 camera
test photo, sample 2, (auto flash) fuji finepix JZ500 camera

But the flash one turned out just fine. The second set of examples were taken outdoors, there was enough natural light for both to be in focus so then it just comes down to personal preference on which lighting you like.

test photo, sample 3, (natural light) fuji finepix JZ500 camera
test photo, sample 4, (auto flash) fuji finepix JZ500 camera

The next image was taken inside a building in the evening with very low light. The camera was able to find what I was shooting and focus on it (you never know in low light!) so that was a good start.  I snapped the photo and up it popped on the screen. Then a box closed in around the face, zoomed in, detected the red eyes from the flash and corrected them. I probably would have been expecting that if I’d gotten to the manual but instead it just turned out to be a really cool surprise!

test photo, sample 5, (auto red eye correction) fuji finepix JZ500 camera

Although the photo quality probably isn’t anything you’d want to enlarge (seemed a bit grainy) it made a fine snapshot image. Something else I discovered it has was a facial recognition system, you can actually type in a person’s name with their image and it will know who they are the next time you photograph them. Fancy stuff!  🙂 My next experiment was during a performance at a local mall. It took fairly decent non-zoom photos just using the lighting in the building but I was disappointed with the lack of flash power or ability to capture the available light when I zoomed in. I know point & shoots aren’t known for powerful flashes but from just 15 feet or so away the flash really didn’t seem to help much once the zoom was engaged.

test photo, sample 6, (indoors, available light, no zoom) fuji finepix JZ500 camera
test photo, sample 7, (indoors, flash, full 10x zoom) fuji finepix JZ500 camera

There is probably enough light in the second image that it could be salvaged through photo editing but as far as “straight from the camera” I wasn’t impressed. Oh well, nothing is perfect, right?

One evening I took time to play with another feature – the color selection. There is, of course, standard color but it also has a black & white setting as well as a sepia setting. Here are samples of each one:

sample image 8, natural color photo, Fuji FinePix JZ500
sample image 9, black & white photo, Fuji FinePix JZ500
sample image 10, sepia photo, Fuji FinePix JZ500

Although all that can be done with photo editing software it’s a fun feature to play with.  I do need to mention that I have also been testing out the HD video feature. I’ve not attempted to post any of them online yet so I can’t share samples. So far it’s done well, although the ones in low light were a little grainy. The ones with lots of light were tack sharp and, for such a tiny camera, it captures the sound very well too. SO, that’s all for now…I will try and wrap up my thoughts with one more post in the future!

Thanks for reading,


Fuji FinePix JZ500 Camera – Review, Part 1

I’ve never done a camera review before but thought it would be fun to do one for my newly acquired point & shoot camera from Fuji.  Right off the bat I need to say that I’ve owned several Fuji cameras and never been disappointed in them so I expect good things from this camera too. For you data buffs out there this camera is 14 megapixels with a 10x zoom. That’s a lot in a tiny package! As I unpacked it I had a “doh!” moment realizing that it had a camera specific battery and that I should have ordered a second battery so I’d always have one charged & ready.  That was my fault for not reading the data clearly online when I ordered it! I put the battery on the charger and then shortly I needed to leave. When I returned a few hours later it was completely charged so I’d estimate the charging time at 1.5 to 2.5 hours.  I’ll check that time again after the battery is totally drained. 🙂 I slid the battery & memory card in place and started to play. The start up time was very quick! It has several settings that I’m itching to play with but for this first, quick review I used the SR Auto setting, which seemed to work very well.  It selects for you the settings, automatically went into macro mode when needed, flashed at the appropriate time and behaved as it was supposed to.  For someone wanting an easy point & shoot with a high pixel count this setting would be all they need.  Of course for those of us that like to play there are lots of other settings too!  Here are the first several photos that I took, they are all take indoors, at first using flash then going in a sunny room to use natural lighting. Other than resizing them to fit on the web I did no editing, color correcting or adjustments to any of the photos shown.

First image, indoors, using flash 1/60 @ F 5:2, ISO 800 Fuji FinePix JZ500
3rd image, indoors, using flash 1/60 @ F 5:3, ISO 800 Fuji FinePix JZ500
4th image, indoors, using flash 1/60 @ F 5:3, ISO 800 Fuji FinePix JZ500
5th image, indoors, using flash 1/60 @ F 5:3, ISO 800 Fuji FinePix JZ500
6th image, indoors, natural light 1/90 @ F 5:3, ISO 800 Fuji FinePix JZ500
6th image, indoors, natural light 1/120 @ F 3:3, ISO 400 Fuji FinePix JZ500

I like the fact that the indoor flash photos aren’t overly flashy! I am anxious to take some people pictures to see how the flash reacts. I just don’t happen to have any people here right now to do that with! After playing a bit indoors I decided it was time to take it outside. The view screen on the back of the camera is fairly large – about 2 x 2.5 inches. There is no eye piece for viewing, which often can be troublesome outdoors on a sunny day but I could see the screen, even in full sun, just by shading it with my hand. I decided to play with the zoom first to check out the range.  Here are those images:

Outdoors, zoom test, image 1 - 1/220 @ F 6.4, ISO 100 Fuji FinePix JZ500
Outdoors, zoom test, image 2 - 1/320 @ F 3.3, ISO 100 Fuji FinePix JZ500
Outdoors, zoom test, image 3 - 1/320 @ F 3.3, ISO 100 Fuji FinePix JZ500
Outdoors, zoom test, image 4 - 1/125 @ F 5.6, ISO 100 Fuji FinePix JZ500
Outdoors, zoom test, image 5 - 1/220 @ F 6.4, ISO 100 Fuji FinePix JZ500
Outdoors, zoom test, image 6 - 1/160 @ F 5.6, ISO 100 Fuji FinePix JZ500

Cool beans! I can’t image needing more zoom than that in a point & shoot. (My last one had a 3x zoom so this one kicks it’s butt!) Next I decided to play around taking some macro shoots outdoors, in natural light. The first thing I discovered is that it will flash a sign on the screen if you aren’t in focus but you are still able to click & shoot. I’ve had some cameras that simply won’t shoot if you aren’t in focus so I’ll need to keep that in mind when I’m shooting. Other than that things went great. Here are a couple samples:

Outdoor, macro image #1 - 1/240 @ F5.3 ISO 400 Fuji FinePix JZ500
Outdoor, macro image #2 - 1/200 @ F5.6 ISO 200 Fuji FinePix JZ500

Next I came indoors to my computer to upload the images.  The camera comes with a CD & software but I uploaded it to my Mac using Image Capture and it recognized the camera immediately. No problems with the uploads at all. I was curious to see the file sizes so I open the images in Photoshop and checked. 60 x 45 inches at 72 dpi. Hmmmm.  Can’t say I’m thrilled about 72 dpi but I’ve noticed that many of the smaller camera run at that dpi.  The 60×45 inches was surely large enough though. I’ll be curious how they print at larger sizes but, judging by viewing them on the screen I can’t see that they’ll lose much quality until they get up into the 30×22″ range and, honestly, I don’t know many people that I buy a point & shoot to print images that large!  The only other thing to note is there is not much in the way of written instructions or manuals that you could keep with you when you are out shooting. That info is included on the CD. I will be opening that and exploring it in depth this evening and also hope to get some indoor & outdoor people shoots take as well.  AND it has a built in HD camcorder. So much to explore! Look for further reviews as I progress through those stages…