Month: April 2010

Avatar treeline

How I love landscape photography. In particular, I love the opportunity for a ghostly or spiritual feel to be evoked by an image. Like this one. It also looks 3D to my eyes. Suffer, James Cameron!

The processing story follows:

This was one frame of a series of 3 for a HDR I was planning. It was shot behind an old church in Millthorpe, NSW, one misty morning last November. I was too lazy to cut the HDR in the end, so it sat in my files, untouched.  A run through Topaz Adjust in Photoshop making it a tad “smoother” resulted in the focus piece for this entry.

Alone together

These people might have thought that they were sharing a private moment, but the wonderfulness of low-light noir photography at 1600 ISO allowed us to join them in their perfect symmetry. Actually, it was incredibly noisy. This is Darling Harbour, the night before Australia Day, so there was a fireworks practice run occurring. Privacy is a rare commodity in the center of Australia’s largest city.

Here is the original – it was hard to see, let alone focus properly:

The Canon 5D is a brilliant low light tool, but in this case it was let down by my poor choice of lens. I had been at Luna Park all day with my family, so I only took 1 lens – the Canon 24-105mm L. A brilliant walk-around lens during the day, it is too slow really for available light duty at f4. I should have been carrying some really fast prime glass.

  • The B&W version was processed as follows:
  • adjust the exposure in Photoshop
  • crop to a better 3×2 layout to center them
  • pull process +1 mono simulation
  • sharpen the body outlines just a bit to counter the movement at the shutter speed of 1/13 second that I used

and that’s it.

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo, by Tamron 500mm f8 SP mirror (55bb)

Sulphur Crested Cockatoo

This image of the crazy, zany, Sulphur Crested Cockatoo was shot from my balcony today, using the Tamron 500mm f8 SP  mirror lens, the model 55bb in Tamron speak, that I posted a short article on a few days ago. I didn’t notice the foliage in the way of the bird’s tail when I took this, oh well it’s a bit hard to see at f8.

This has been sharpened a bit in Photoshop to counter the natural softness inherent in raw images, but otherwise is pretty much as it was shot. I didn’t have a tripod handy, so this was shot at 1/400 sec on a setting of 250 ISO. The short physical length provided by the folded optical path makes it a snap to hold steady in comparison with a conventional long focus lens, especially one that isn’t a telephoto (look it up).

The model 55bb Tamron SP mirror lens is an absolute beauty. Get one if it ever crosses your path. Sharp across the field, contrasty too,  and brightness is almost constant with little vignetting (unlike most other mirror lenses). And that’s on a full-frame camera. Just remember to use the hood.

Suprematism / minimalism / geometric abstraction (or whatever)

Today is ANZAC Day – 25 April. This post is here because it reminds me of an army unit’s colours, worn on the pugaree of an old slouch hat.
Sometimes I do wonder if I have grown as a photographer over the years. I shot this more than 30 years ago, and I look back at it and marvel at the beauty in this image. So seemingly simple, but I found out later, oh so complex. My wife is a PhD candidate in Art History, and she has informed me that his image has a foot in the following artistic camps:
  • suprematism
  • minimalism
  • geometric abstraction

When I shot it in about 1978, all I saw was a well of pure colour. I honestly believed at the time that I was breaking new ground – and perhaps I was, working in ignorance in the artistic backwaters of the most isolated city on the planet -Perth. What a shock it was to find out I was simply treading a well-worn path in art theory circles. Ah well.Perhaps the purity of ignorance worked for me at the time. Now I know what I was seeing, I find it hard to repeat it and do it again.

I do still love the glowing colour from this completely unaltered trannie, however. Long live ignorance!

Olympus Pen Firmware – Version 1.1 / 1.4 Update

I have been following the story of the digital Pen firmware updates on the web for a while. Having updated my E-P2 to version 1.1 last night (on the day this firmware was released) I must say that the Pen focuses pretty quickly. I am guessing, but it feels as though the delay has dropped from more than 1 second to under half a second with the kit zoom lens. The camera is nice and responsive now, but of course any further speed improvements will only keep improving things.

I don’t like Olympus’ approach to the firmware update process, though. Here’s why:

1) The Olympus Master Software through which the firmware is acquired and the upgrade performed has a horribly unresponsive GUI interface. It often crashes, and bleed through from Windows beneath suggests that it is poorly programmed. (Yes, I do have adequate resources and bandwidth. I run Windows 7 on an 8 Gb dual-core machine.)

2) It is a one-way process – once updated, there seems to be no way back.

3) The Olympus Master Software takes an absolute age to acquire the firmware over the web. One can think that the process has stalled, as there is no progress indicator suggesting the activity still remaining. If you are silly enough to interfere in the process, you can kill the camera.

Perhaps Olympus should allow its user base to download and update firmware in a similar manner to that adopted by Canon, where the users feels as though they are in full control of the process.

Orange & blue

Ahh, colour. And especially colour contrasts, I just love images that display this trait.

This was shot with my Canon 24-105mm f4 L zoom, and from the meta data I see it was set at 60mm focal length, and shot at f11. These are hardly the right conditions for selective focus. Never mind, as a couple of tricks can give an equally separating effect without resorting to fake bokeh tools.

I have selected the kids, inverted the selection, and applied a softening and colour loss to that area, that, in my mind at least, makes this image jump off the page and the screen. A severe crop adds to the intensity, by removing just about everything except what I am interested in seeing.

Accidental Cronulla

Full Frame Sensor has a great post about accidental pictures, that caused me to have a look through my back catalogue and examine some of my more valid mistakes. I found ths image shot by mistake at a surfing contest at Cronulla beach in late Janaury on a very flat, overcast day. I liked the look of the accidental composition, so I decided to give it a go and processed it to give it some oomph.

Here’s the unprocessed original: