It was 2014 when I shot this volcano image and it’s languished on my hard drive ever since. The volcano’s in Bolivia and this shot was from our base camp about halfway to the summit. Yes, I had the “pleasure” of climbing this. The lower rim (the coloured part) is 4,900m and the top part is 5,300m; I wish I could remember the name though.
Those days seemed much simpler to me in terms of camera equipment. I was using the Olympus EM5 with three lenses; 9-18mm, 12-40mm and 45-150mm. The entire kit would fit in a small shoulder bag which I could wear under my backpack. The Fuji now feels a lot larger somehow but doesn’t look when the two are side by side. I’ve even found myself considering another micro 43 camera; I suppose I should make more use of the EM5’s which I still have.
Anyway, I hope you like the image and have a great weekend.
Today I thought I would share an image I shot back in May2016. It’s taken in one of my favorite countries – America. I love visiting the USA. It’s a vast country with a varied and stunning landscape. I also find the people very friendly and polite so it usually makes for a great trip.
On this occasion, I was doing a three-week road trip down the west coast. Originally I had planned to drive from Seattle to Santa Monica (I still want to visit) but in the end, I went as far as the south of Oregon, headed back inland and visited some more great locations before ending up back at Seattle.
This image was shot at a location called Crater Lake. I was staying at the lodge on the rim of the lake for a couple of nights. This was shot on the second morning before I left. It’s four images from the Olympus EM5 which were then stitched in Lightroom. There was quite a bit of work I Lightroom and Photoshop to ensure a balance of tones across the scene.
It’s the end of another week and I’m preparing for an early morning start. I’m going to try some shots over in the Peak District but as is often the case, the weather forecast doesn’t look too good. Hopefully things won’t look quite as bad when I get on location.
I have also been busy trying to find an image to share but I wasn’t coming up with much. In the end I selected the image above. I have shared other images from this shoot in the past but I really like these.
This is a single RAW image processed in Lightroom and then enhanced with Nik Viveza. I have tried to keep the adjustments looking natural and I hope you like the treatment.
Over the last few months I have been noticing an increase in the image noise from my EM5. Some areas which you would expect to be free from noise, such as clouds and blue sky, are starting to display faint traces of noise. These then become quite exaggerated when processed hard with Nik filters. In addition, I was beginning to feel that the greens and blues in the EM5 images just weren’t quite right, but it was difficult to put my finger on the problem.
It’s hard to say when this started but it may be that I was becoming increasingly fussy about quality as the Sony A7r was generally producing much cleaner images. A further factor may be that where I had begun to process old RAW files from the Canon 300D I was also seeing a very clean image, surprisingly so. All these factors started to suggest to me that it might be time to upgrade the EM5 or perhaps even switch to another camera manufacturer.
My intention had been to hold out and get the new EM1 when Olympus gets around to launching but I don’t know what the timeline is. In any case, I didn’t feel that happy with the Olympus colour handling and it certainly wasn’t as good as the Sony. These perceived problems together with my impatience lead to me trying a Fuji X-T1. The Fuji line up would also give me a great ultra-wide angle lens in the 10-24mm that would also accept filters. This was a failing of the Micro 43 ultra wides with only the Olympus 9-18mm taking filters but which suffers from edge distortion at 9mm (at least that’s what I was telling myself).
Hopefully this gives you an idea why last week I purchased a used Fuji X-T1 together with 2 lenses. Now the EM5 has taken revenge by making me regret this decision.
At the weekend I collected the new camera from the post office and headed off to the Peak District to try it out (between the heavy showers). Later with the images on my computer, what I saw shocked me. I called my wife in to get her opinion of the images and the first words out of her mouth was that the Fuji image “looked like a watercolour painting”, and that’s without zooming in on the detail. You can see this image below.
When you zoom in to the detail you don’t see much at all other than blur. Take a look at this 100% crop from the point of focus. You may need to click the image below to appreciate it fully.
Now let’s compare this with an image shot on the EM5 from a couple of weeks earlier.
And again, here is a 100% crop from the point of focus.
Both images have been sharpened only slightly in Lightroom as part of the conversion from RAW. I found I couldn’t sharpen the Fuji very much without causing artefacts. Both images have noise reduction turned off. Both sections are from the point of focus.
I can also tell you that this effect has occurred on all the Fuji images using both lenses and across different apertures. Fine details just vanish and become smudged.
I find this unusual as a friend who has the same Fuji shared a RAW file with me before I bought the camera so I could check the image quality and it was much better than I seem to be able to achieve. Another friend has also just shared a link with me which confirms the “watercolour” effect is a known problem with the Fuji XTrans sensor when using Adobe RAW converters.
I will need to investigate this further but if I can’t find an easy solution the camera will need to go back. This would be a shame as it’s a really great camera to use. Perhaps I should have waited for the EM1 MKII after all.
Last week I posted Friday Image No.92 and made comment about my having some kind of image blindness. In this particular case I think it was down to the conditions I was shooting in and the expectations I had in my mind. I often go out hoping for wonderful light and clean air, only to find the conditions are dull or hazy. Below you can see the starting shot for Image No.92. before any adjustments were made.
The light was quite nice now looking at this but it certainly wasn’t sharp light which is what I guess I wanted. I still took the shot but it’s only now that I recognise it’s potential. In case you’re wondering why I included all the sky, there is actually a hill in the foreground that prevented me from framing the shot any lower.
For the processing of this image I decided to crop the image to a more panoramic format which would remove the distracting sky and focus attention on the two halves of the image. There is the left half with the path and the right half with the mountain which is almost the inverse of this.
My initial thought was to produce a soft image with subtle colours that would make more of the hazy conditions. Often when you try to fight against and counter the conditions you end up with an image that doesn’t achieve what you want. It’s usually much better to work with the conditions and emphasise them even more. In the following screenshot you can see the conversion settings used in Lightroom – the colour temperature used is quite a bit warmer than the capture setting (originally around 5200).
The other key change was to use some negative Dehaze, which was set to -7. This was sufficient to lighten the image and emphasise the haze. I also added some selective adjustment to the shadows on the hillside to the right. This was intended to open the shadows so that they appeared to have texture rather than be a mass of black. The resulting image can be seen below.
For the final conversion to Black and white I used On One Photo Effects 10.5 with a Tonal adjustment to highlight the detail together with a black and white conversion. This is the same adjustment that I tend to use with my “Views from the Moors” collection of work.
I personally can’t make my mind up which I prefer most, colour or black and white. I think I’m favouring the colour version.
Last week I shared Friday No.91 which was taken on my first outing with the Olympus EM5. Later the same day I shot this image with the EM5. At the time I liked the scene but the conditions were very poor. It’s only now that I recognise I captured the image I wanted to. I definitely have some kind of block which prevents me from seeing a good image until sometime later (usually many months).
I will share some further thoughts about this next week.
I shot this image almost 3 years ago in June 2013. It was my first outing with the Olympus EM5, a camera that I feel has changed my photography. This is actually 4 images merged in Lightroom. I shot a lot of these panoramic series back then as I found the EM5 was so easy to use. But until the new Lightroom merge feature was introduced, I have left many of these to sit on my hard drive.
The location is Haweswater in the Lake District. It’s actually a reservoir that’s been engineered to look like a lake. There’s even a very pretty manmade island. It’s a shame they had to flood a village to do this. If you have never visited this area, it’s well worth a look. It’s much quieter than the rest of the lakes and the Haweswater hotel makes a great place to stay.