Following the traumas of the weekend and my Lenscraft website crash, Monday saw me get back to photography. Well talking about photography at least. I was over at the South Manchester Photographic Society giving a presentation on Lightweight Photography and the benefits of using small cameras
The talk went well and seemed to generate a lot of interest from members. My usual test of picking out the Nikon D800 image from two A2 prints (the other was shot on an Olympus EM5) was as inconclusive as ever – no one has ever been able to pick the D800 with a valid reason. But what really stood out for me is the reviews of the prints after the talk. People were genuinely shocked at how good the image quality was from compact cameras when printed at A3, A3+ or even A2. People still don’t view high quality compact cameras as a serious camera with which to create high quality photography.
Providing the tools are good enough a craftsman can work with them. Once the tools achieve the right level, you can produce a masterpiece with them. Improving the tools doesn’t make the masterpiece any better, it just makes the tools easier to work with. Let’s not forget this.
Regular readers may know that I have a 7.5mm Fisheye Lens for my Micro 43 cameras. Whilst it doesn’t get used all that often, it’s a great lens, very well priced and is incredibly well made. If you haven’t seen one check out this link on Amazon (http://amzn.to/1QyJzUJ) and take a close look at the focus scale in the picture of the lens.
This lens is certainly one of the sharpest lenses I have and the depth of field is incredible which you can see from the depth of field scale. With the aperture wide open at f/3.5, I can easily achieve a depth of field from 12 inches to infinity. In fact the depth of field is so great that I tend to forget about it when shooting landscapes. I simply set the aperture to f/5.6, set the focus on infinity and shoot away without bothering to focus any further.
This is a useful approach as the lens is manual focus and you don’t need to worry about zooming in on the back of the camera to check the focus before shooting. And this was my downfall. You see I decided to use the lens on my Infrared camera. What I forgot is that infrared light focuses closer than infinity and this lens doesn’t have any IR focus markings to remind me. What made me feel even sillier is that I was also shooting IR film in my XPan at the same time and using the IR focus scale on that cameras lens.
By the time I realised my mistake most of my shots had been lost. In the end, the one you see here was manually focussed by setting the focus scale to (very spookily) what you see in the amazon picture. If you look at this, although I had been shooting at f/8, there is no way the image would have been in focus when I had the focus set to infinity.
So lesson learned. When shooting infrared using a manual focus lens, focus on the back of the camera and don’t rely on depth of field markings.
In case you’re wondering, the image here did start of in focus but has been deliberately blurred using Nik Analog Efex. You can’t do that when the image is out of focus.
For this week’s image I thought I would share a Panoramic. This was captured as four images using a Canon G16 compact camera. The resulting stitched image is approximately 21″ x 12″ at 300dpi. The stitching was done using the new Lightroom 6 (Creative Cloud 2015). All I can say is that I’m now addicted to panoramic photography. Lightroom makes it so easy to group and work with images and the resulting file is in DNG format giving lots of flexibility.
I’m very impressed.
A couple of weeks back I had a clear out in my study. I have shelves full of books and decided to throw out many of the older ones. I also have stacks of old note books full of random jottings so I pulled out and ripped up all the used pages. It wasn’t until I came to develop some Infrared film from my trip to Malham that I realised I had ripped up all my developing notes – gulp.
This was not a good feeling but as they say, every cloud has a silver lining. In this case I found mine on the Massive Dev Chart website (http://www.digitaltruth.com/devchart.php).
If you have never used this site it’s a great resource to find out development times for different film and developer combinations. But the real bonus for me was that they now have an App. Whilst I had to buy the paid version in order to record my development notes it’s a really great little app.
If you haven’t seen this before and you still use film, it’s well worth checking out.
I have been experimenting with the image from my new Infrared camera and identified a rather interesting look that can be achieved in Nik Color Efex Pro.
You can see the finished image above and shown below is the starting image following RAW conversion and white balance correction in Lightroom.
The next image shows the conversion to infrared black and white using Alien Skin Exposure 7. This is one of my favourite tools for Infrared processing as it includes sliders that allow you to control the halation effect (bright glowing areas).
The conversion from this image to the finished image was achieved using a few contrast adjustments in Nik Color Efex but the toning was achieved using the Glamour Glow filter. You can see the filter settings below.
I really quite like this effect as the halation glow is further enhanced and the toning can be controlled quite precisely moving from warm to cool.
In case you’re wondering how I got rid of the sun flare, I moved the Cyan slider to 0 in the black and white conversion process.
As planned (and mentioned in my Friday post) I visited Malham in Yorkshire at the weekend. The weather conditions were forecast to be sunny with broken cloud so the intention was to shoot Infrared. I actually intended to shoot mainly infrared film on the XPan using my new 30mm lens. In the end I found myself shooting more with the newly converted infrared EM5. By the end of the day I was convinced the EM5 conversion was a great idea but I still had some reservations about processing the RAW images.
When I returned from my previous trip and first outing of the EM5, I found problems in trying to process the RAW files. For some reason I couldn’t achieve a good white balance with the RAW files in Lightroom. As usual they all came out blood red. You can normally overcome this by creating a bespoke profile using the Adobe DNG editor but for some reason I still can’t explain, I couldn’t get this to work for me. I even started to wonder if I had made a mistake choosing a 665nm conversion.
This time on my return I tried again to create a new profile and it worked first time. I then tried processing the images. Channel swapping to produce false colours seems much easier with the 665nm converted camera, but that wasn’t my objective. Instead I was trying to create a nice Infrared look that was more akin to the traditional Kodak HIE films but retained better definition. I wanted to create something of a cross between Kodak HIE and Ilford SFX (at least in my vivid imagination).
In the end I came up with a custom preset in Alien Skin Exposure 7 which works pretty well with most of the RAW files once they have been white balanced. I hope you like the results.
In addition to trying out my new EM5 Infrared conversion at the weekend I also had the opportunity to take the XPan 30mm lens for a spin. This is a lens that I had lusted after for most of the time I had owned an XPan but it had always seemed out of reach. The XPan went out of production in the early 2000’s and the kit obtained something of a cult following. Some elements, the 30mm lens being one began to sell for silly money. I remember seeing one kit (30mm lens, viewfinder, hood and centre filter) sell for almost £3,000.
Sunday was my first opportunity to try out the lens and I am delighted. It did feel very odd shooting film again (Kodak TMax 400 to be precise). I processed the film on Monday and have just scanned the first image. This is Gordale Scar in Yorkshire and merits some further exploration in film. I need to spend a little more time perfecting my film processing but I do like the look when printed.