Taking Pictures

Sony a7 II Sony a7 II shot on an iPhone 11 Pro. Edited in darktable.

Update 4/29/2021: Removed link to gallery, will add something back after I figure out a better way of hosting photos.

I have had my Sony a7 II for a couple of days now and have been happily snapping photos with it and learning the platform. Mine came with the kit 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS zoom lens (SEL2870) and the lens has been surprisingly great.

Things I have already picked up for the camera:

  • UV filter, mainly to protect the front of the lens.
  • Screen protector for the 3" screen on the camera.
  • Paracord wrist strap so that I don’t have to use the kit strap.
  • A mini RGB LED light panel for taking pictures of stuff indoors.

This YouTube video was quite informative on getting started with the camera:

I have been skimming through The Everything Digital Photography Book by Rick deGaris Doble on my iPad Pro. It is a little dated on the technology side, but the general photography information is still relevant. The book was available on Libby via the San Jose Public Library – I love my local library, I do miss going in person, but the eBooks/eMedia makes up for it (if you’re not taking advantage of your local library, you’re missing out).

Because of the fires and bad air quality, I have mainly been taking random pictures indoors. The pictures that this camera produces are awesome, the full-frame sensor does make a difference especially when shooting indoors. I started shooting in Extra Fine JPEG, but have switched to shooting RAW & JPEG so that I can have more data to work with when post-processing the photos in darktable. I have been posting photos more often in the Photos section.

Yum Pizza!

Xbox One Controller

1 Up Mushroom Family



Back in the day when I was shooting on my Sony NEX-5N, I also was dabbling with shooting RAW. At that time, I bought a copy of Adobe Lightroom 4. It worked great and I used it a lot to post-process photos. But, Adobe has since moved away from selling software licenses and started selling software subscriptions. I have no problem paying for software subscriptions – I pay for the most excellent Office 365 and get a lot of value out of the whole suite of Office applications plus the 5TB of storage (I have the Office 365 Home subscription at $99.99/year and gets me five accounts, each with 1TB of storage). A subscription for Adobe Lightroom and 1TB of storage is $9.99/month (or $120/year), that kind of math doesn’t work out for my wallet – plus, there was the recent incident where an update to Adobe’s Lightroom iOS app caused data loss for subscribers – yikes. I went looking for alternatives.

There were paid applications that caught my eye: ON1 Photo RAW and Luminar. I eliminated Luminar 4 because the software does not seem stable for general use. A glance at the Luminar forums shows the frustration of Luminar users because of the constant crashing and instability. I was really tempted to get a license for ON1 Photo RAW, especially since it got a recommendation from a buddy of mine whose opinion I trust. But, I spent time looking at Open Source alternatives too and found two pieces of software that would do what I wanted, but for free.

I found RawTherapee and darktable. I have been playing with both and each are great. I am going to stick with darktable for now and learn how to better use it. On my AMD Ryzen 7 2700X system, darktable performs better than RawTherapee. The workflow in darktable is a bit faster for me also since out-of-the-box it is able to detect the camera and lens from the metadata in the RAW files. For some reason, in RawTherapee I have to pick the lens everytime. I am sure that there is probably a way to get RawTherapee to get the lens data from the metadata when importing an image. Having the camera and lens detected means that I can easily do lens corrections. In the end, they are both awesome pieces of software, darktable is what suited by tastes better.

On my iPad Pro, if I do any post-processing, I am using the app Darkroom 4.

Sony NEX-5N’s Next Play

Sony NEX-5N

The Sony NEX-5N has been handed down to my daughter. She has really taken to the camera and has started to take some beautiful photographs. She imports all her shots into her iPad Pro and uses Darkroom for post-processing.

Here’s a picture she took yesterday during a walk around the neighborhood and post-processed in Darkroom.