Month: June 2016

Help Me to Help You

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North Wales, Olympus EM5. 12-40 lens, 1/400 at f/7.1 and ISO200.
North Wales, Olympus EM5. 12-40 lens, 1/400 at f/7.1 and ISO200.

I have been reading some books about blogging recently and apparently I need a mission statement – okay, let’s go with this for a moment. When I started The Lightweight Photographer blog it was my intention to share information about lightweight cameras as well as information about achieving fast results when editing images. Four years on and I feel I have lost a little bit of focus. In an attempt to address this, I wrote a mission statement.

To create a valuable resource of lightweight photography information and to make this freely available.

And this is where I now need your help. When I sit down to write these blogs, as well as the tutorials on Lenscraft, I am guessing a little about what people want. I am also guessing as to what problems and concerns people have about following a lightweight approach. So…

  • Do you have concerns about the image quality of micro 43 for example?
  • Do you like to print A3 images and wonder if you will be giving up print detail?
  • Are you concerned about noise levels with compact cameras?
  • Do you wonder about the aperture you should use with micro 43 cameras for depth of field?
  • Do you shoot with a Lightweight camera? Why?

I really want to hear about your concerns, thoughts, observations and questions. This will allow me to focus the blog and my website to hopefully respond to some of these points. If it is to do with photography but in particular lightweight cameras and image editing, then I would like to hear.

Please take a moment to let me know your thoughts.

Thank you.

Friday Image No.97

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Canon Beach, Oregon.
Canon Beach, Oregon.

One of the things that I love most about the Olympus EM5 is the stabilization. It allows me to shoot at some ridiculously slow speeds that just shouldn’t be possible. Sometimes I do set the camera to burst mode and fire off 5 or 6 shots. Doing this I can be pretty sure that at least one of the images will be sharp.

The shot above is one such example where I shot handheld at 1/3”. Strangely, I then decided to add some blur to the image (around the edges) as the image looked too sharp. At least I had the choice to do this though. Had the shot been slightly blurred to start with it wouldn’t have worked.

Have a great weekend.

Infrared Processing

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Olympus EM5 converted to shoot Infrared. Post processing with Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro.
Olympus EM5 converted to shoot Infrared. Post processing with Lightroom and Nik Silver Efex Pro.

A few people have written me recently asking about how to process Infrared images and how I go about processing mine. If you’re interested, I created a short tutorial and accompanying video which are posted on Lenscraft. These explain how the image above was processed.

Enjoy

Monochrome Forest

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Olympus EM5, 12-40mm lens. f/4.0, 1/200" at ISO800
Olympus EM5, 12-40mm lens. f/4.0, 1/200″ at ISO800

The Friday image this week seemed to draw a few favourable comments so I thought that I would post another similar image. I have also included the colour image below, but this time I personally prefer the colour image. I can’t say why this is but the colour image seems to have more depth to it.

Colour version of image
Colour version of image. My preference with this shot.

Friday Image No.96

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Forest Leaves. Olympus EM5, f/3.5, 1/50" at ISO400.
Forest Leaves. Olympus EM5, f/3.5, 1/50″ at ISO400.

Whilst on my recent road trip I captured this image. What I like is that it could have been anywhere and that I didn’t need to travel to the US to shoot it. My wife thinks I’m mad travelling all that way to take pictures of leaves. I suspect some of the people passing by me would have agreed with her.

What I also want to share is the colour version of the image which is below.

Forest Leaves prior to conversion.
Forest Leaves prior to conversion.

As soon as I saw this I knew how the finished image would look. The greens were so different that I could see them separating out naturally in the conversion. After a while you sort of get an instinct for these things.

I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.

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Embrace the Shadows

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Evening at Crescent Lake, Washington, USA.
Evening at Crescent Lake, Washington, USA.

Recently I found myself in an art gallery looking at some of the paintings. I can’t recall why I was there and it’s not something that I ordinarily do. As I stood, staring at an amazing landscape painting, a realisation struck me. The painter was simply using techniques to create the illusion of light. These techniques had to be mastered but they could also be learned.

Now this might not seem like a revelation to many of you, but it was like a light going on in my head. What I realised was that photography is becoming more and more like painting all the time. Most photographers spend a significant amount of time adjusting their images with tools like Lightroom and Photoshop in order to achieve their vision. What really struck home is that we should be looking to these old master art techniques when adjusting and enhancing our photography.

Looking now at works of the old masters, I see the use of shadows to emphasise light as being a core technique. You might think that I’m just referring to contrast here but I’m not. Their techniques and work are somehow different. It’s not like taking the contrast slider in Lightroom and boosting contrast globally. No, they are creating shadows to give the illusion of light and it’s not something that’s easily replicated with a few sliders in our editing tools.

What I take away from this is that we should be embracing the shadows not remove them. We need to include blacks in our images and not be afraid to make the image low key. Just because we have the tools to look into the deeps shadows doesn’t mean that we should.

This blog post was originally intended to finish with the above paragraph but then I decided to look for photography that reminded me of old paintings and came across the work of Kevin Best on Flickr – amazing isn’t it. I then took a look on amazon and found his book.

Still Life Photography
Still Life Photography Book

What spooked me though is that I had purchased this book a couple of years back but never read it. I’m off to download it to my Kindle again to see what I can learn.

Friday Image No.95

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Haystack Rock, Canon Beach, Oregon. Sony A7R with Canon 24-70 lens.
Haystack Rock, Canon Beach, Oregon. Sony A7R with Canon 24-70 lens.

For the Friday image this week, I wanted to share another shot from my recent trip. The rock in the frame is rather famous (I could find a Wikipedia page anyway https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haystack_Rock) and is called Haystack Rock. It’s located at Canon Beach in Oregon which is a fantastic place to visit. It’s a little like St Ives in Cornwall but done American style.

Whilst this sea stack is an impressive and imposing sight, it’s not that easy to create a pleasing composition. At a distance and with a wet beach/reflection you can create some interesting arrangements. But when the beach is very busy as it was here, you find yourself quite limited as you try to dodge the many people.

I struggled for some time before I moved sufficiently close to shoot this and have to admit that it was more of a grab shot taken hand held. What was fantastic though was the light. There was a bit of a sea mist rolling in and the low setting sun was catching it; sometimes the light makes compromise worthwhile.

I hope you like the shot and have a great weekend.