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Now you see it…..

johnriley1uk's latest blog : the cameras with the wonderful lenses


Now you see it..... 1
….now you don’t! And it can be that quick for something to unexpectedly disappear. We were out and about shooting sample pictures for lens reviews and chose Worsley a couple of days ago. W…

Now you see it..... 2 Now you see it..... 3 Now you see it..... 4 Now you see it..... 5

Now you see it..... 6

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robert51’s latest blog : is it time to start shooting in the raw…

robert51's latest blog : is it time to start shooting in the raw...

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Is It Time To Start Shooting In The RAW…

19 Jul 2021 3:40PM  
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Unique : 28

As much fun it may be to shoot naked this doesn’t need for you to take all your clothes off.
This is about taking the step to shoot in the RAW format and time to ditch the JPEG. For years like most I shot in jpeg which allowed me to shoot more images on my SD card. Now the price of all these cards have come right down, is it time to switch.
This may sound like a major step for most but with Adobe Camera Raw as a free download and all the updates they have done it’s a good time to switch or at lease give it a try. Just change your camera over to shoot in RAW and after you have taken a few images open them in camera raw.
At the top there is an auto button which now does a great job (at last) and something you can use as a starting point if you want to make further changes, it’s only pushing a slider. If not press Auto and save.
Your find I hope this will make a big difference to your images and something you wish you had done years ago.
Below is an image of Kinston Lacystraight out of camera shot in raw, below is the Auto adjustment in camera raw. Looking at the image I think it was a good shot to start with and the Auto only made some very minor changes.

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If or when you starting using the other adjustments in camera raw you will also be able to use Lightroom as they are very much the same now.

So now you can all put your clothes back on and go and give it a try, I don’t think you will be disappointed.

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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : let it blur…..

johnriley1uk's latest blog : the cameras with the wonderful lenses

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Let it Blur…..

11 Jul 2021 10:52PM  
Views : 62
Unique : 54

The quest for sharpness is clear enough, but the converse is also a valuable photographic technique. The quest for emotional content via the use of blur. This may or may not be the same as movement, so for example wouldn’t include in this concept racing cars with blurred backgrounds. This is something different. I have just had a look through many years of images, actually going back as far as 2011, and I can’t find many examples where I have used blur to make a point with an image. But there are a few, so let’s see what I found.

We Are Ghosts.
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Melissa Swirling.
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Ghosts.
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In Monet’s Garden.
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Abstract.
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Blowin’ In The Wind.
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Woodland Up and Down.
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The Ghosts of Bramhall Hall.
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Mark Pops Up.
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Passing By.
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Red Car Passing By.
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dudler’s latest blog : not a very good lens ? but does it matter?

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Not a very good lens – but does it matter?

10 Jul 2021 10:02AM  
Views : 54
Unique : 45

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So… A couple of years back, Amateur Photographer’s list of possible presents for Christmas (I think it was) included a Fujian CCTV lens, all the way from China for under £20. I bought one, and it gives rather charming results. I can envisage a few glamour photographers buying them for a Sliver-like ‘don’t you like to watch’ set of pictures. (I remain a Sharon Stone fan.)

But you can have too much of a good thing, as I proved to myself when I bought a 50mm f/1.4 Fujian in the hope of even better things. And while the 35mm has faults that add charm to the Bokeh and dark corners on full frame cameras, the 50mm has FAR more of them.

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Neither lens has click stops, and a diaphragm with plenty of blades changes from near-circular at full aperture to a long and thin rectangle when stopped well down before closing completely. There aren’t any index marks for either aperture or focus, so they might as well not be marked: though at least the 35mm lens has the f-stop sequence the right way round – the 50mm markings, if you can see them, mislead you as to which way to turn the ring…

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It doesn’t stop there (pardon the pun…) While the 35mm optic focusses to infinity more or less at the end of the focus movement, the 50mm goes way past infinity, and goes no closer than around four and a half feet: most 50mm lenses go down to one and a half feet, not one and a half meters! The package I received included a couple of extension tubes as well as the Sony mount adaptor, but these bring the furthest focus down to a few feet. It doesn’t feel well thought-through.

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Both lenses appear to be available still, at vastly varying prices, and I believe that there’s another branding with the same optics in a more user-friendly lens body. AP reckoned that this was worth the extra money, at nearly double the price. I’m less sure!

If weird appeals, for the price of a cheap meal out, you may want to give one of these lenses a go – though unless you have gone mirrorless, you will never achieve infinity focus!

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dudler’s latest blog : look it up

dudler's latest blog : art, snap or reportage

Look it up

15 May 2021 8:52AM  
Views : 87
Unique : 61

OK. It seems to be the week for displaying my ignorance… I really want to find some LUT software that gives me specific looks in pictures, and my internet research has led to a dead end or two, because it comes up with video colour grading, which I don’t understand.

So what do I know? That some films and TV programmes have highly characteristic colour rendering which gives a distinctive atmosphere to them: and I have two specifics in mind. The earlier one, 2013’s Filth (from an Irvine Welsh book about a stunningly corrupt policeman) uses, surprisingly, exaggerated colour along with soft focus and flare. I’ve tried winding up the saturation in images, but that isn’t all there is to it…

The opposite is true in American Gods, Amazon’s version of Neil Gaiman’s book – the palette is dark, browned and muted, but with very high contrast – and the problem for me is that I can’t analyse it further than that. But it makes Ian McShane’s craggy features positively mountainous: Lovejoy never looked so sinister. It’s a sort of colour noir… (And writing that makes me aware that both lighting and makeup are also involved – as I keep saying in the Critique Gallery, camerawork is behind all the other stuff, and needs to be right for the result you want to achieve!)

The name, Look Up Table, gives me a clue: for any given colour and tone, the software substitutes a different, but consistently different, tone and colour. And I know that you can set them up for yourself – but for a change I’m being impatient. Life’s too short to learn complicated techniques that have limited application, and I suspect there’s software out there that does the business – it’s just that I don’t know which it is, and vendors seem quite coy about showing examples of their full range of effects.

It occurs to me that things like Nik Efex have a very similar function, although I’ve never seen that described at LUT software – is that because it only works on still images, not video? Anyway, help! Ideally, you will know the answer, and post a couple of examples, along with the name of the supplier of the software you used. For copyright reasons, and because there don’t seem to be stills displaying the effects, no pictures from the productions. Both may be worth seeing, though…

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dudler’s latest blog : and then it was gone

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And then it was gone

14 May 2021 10:53AM  
Views : 91
Unique : 69

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Some people can’t take criticism, from a certain former president of a certain friendly country on upwards. I suppose it’s OK to be delicate, but if you don’t want to take it, you really shouldn’t dish it out – and you probably should also avoid putting yourself on offer, or calling anyone else a snowflake.

Now, I come to this as a member of the Critique Team – we’re volunteers, and beyond free membership of the site, are unpaid. We undertake to provide constructive and thoughtful comments based on our experience and knowledge of taking and processing pictures because we want to encourage new photographers, and perhaps inspire those who have become jaded.

Sometimes, though, it feels like a bit of a dead-end job. There are people who don’t read the instructions for uploading to the gallery, because… Well, I really don’t know why. But they ignore the request for details of what they were aiming for and what they did to get the picture looking the way it does, and whether they’re satisfied with it. And there are some who ignore the comments we make – not because they have busy jobs, but because they aren’t that interested.

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We try hard to be kind and constructive, but sometimes there is an inconvenient truth to convey – a picture simply isn’t very good. We’d be doing everyone a disservice if we didn’t get this across. I’ve had my full share of constructive criticism in my career as an internal auditor (and plenty of practice at making recommendations for change to the unwilling and aggressive, as well), and I continue to be surprised at the range of responses.

All of the Critique Team love the people who respond and turn things into a conversation. We enjoy talking to the photographers who want to tell us more, who genuinely yearn to discover and learn new things, and it’s fine if they make mistakes, miss things out to begin with, and sometimes can’t get back online for ages. They are eager, they are delighted when things go well, and they really want to learn.

And then there are the other ones. They sometimes seem to withhold information wilfully, to test us, to see if we’re good enough to work out things that are vital to giving any helpful suggestions, and which are obviously important – things like not using a tripod because the shot was grabbed in a hurry, or taken through dirty secondary double glazing. When questions are asked, the response is sometimes aggressive.
It’s particularly aggravating when one of the less receptive contributors soaks up the comments, then deletes the picture, along with a cumulative hour or two of Critique Team input. We can forgive that pretty easily with a newcomer who hasn’t realised that their horrific mistake may help others – but there are occasional repeat offenders. And occasionally, someone really takes the huff and deletes their membership of the site altogether!

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So if you’re going to contribute a picture to the CG, please be honest with us and with yourself. If it’s just that you want a social media style round of comments about ‘great shot’ and ‘awesome’ you really don’t want to post there. If you really do want to engage with people who love photography, we can forgive a lot, whether it’s asking for general critique of a bland shot that is actually an experiment with a new technique (so that comments on composition aren’t relevant) or a month’s absence because you were dealing with a family crisis – just put us in the picture when you can.

Grouchiness over. And we’ll be delighted to see you in the Critique Gallery, even if you simply want to share the thought that your latest effort is a a dead end, and you wonder if we know a way out. Literal dead end below is © Keith Rowley, aka Dark_Lord.

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dudler’s latest blog : using it or losing it and giving things a chance

dudler's latest blog : art, snap or reportage

Using it or losing it and giving things a chance

13 May 2021 8:00AM  
Views : 98
Unique : 87

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Somehow, it feels as though a real measure of ordinary life is likely to return to England next week – we’ll be able to go into other people’s houses again, even if it’s only a few of us. I’m starting shooting again, indoors. And I should be able to hug my daughter, for the first time in over a year. We’ve both been pretty good at observing the rules, and we deserve it by now.

So I’m doing things I haven’t done for a while. I have dusted off my printer, and that took a bit of an effort. If you leave an inkjet printer unused for several months, things clog up. Repeated thirsty head-cleaning runs were necessary before the magenta ink deigned to flow at all – as you can see from the test pattern below. I’m ever so glad that I use continuous flow ink which comes in 125ml bottles – though a set of them costs a fair bit.

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Last year, I wrote about needing a new battery in my 2005 Dynax D7-D, and I’ve used it intermittently since. And I’ve discovered the benefits of regular exercise anew: if I leave it for two or three weeks, it’s not very happy with me, and the first frame or three will be dysfunctional, and for some reason it takes thirty seconds to save the failed frames. Persistence pays, though, and five minutes of switching on and off, and taking a few shots restores normality. And that makes me happy, because 6mp isn’t much, but there’s sometimes a gentleness and colour quality in the images that later cameras don’t match.

So – what have you been neglecting during lockdown? As well as many of my cameras not getting exercise often enough, I’ve neglected housework, and my office is untidier than ever. And while the inner need to run the Dyson round the house may still be weak, I really want cameras to work next week, so I’m checking batteries and cards, and making sure that I know where the flash triggers are. What do you need to sort out before the next level of lockdown lift?

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dark_lord’s latest blog : sharpness, does it matter?

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Sharpness, Does It Matter?

7 May 2021 9:14PM  
Views : 65
Unique : 50

Sharp images are what most of us strive for and indeed are encouraged by a variety sources from advertisements of the latest lenses to picture library editors.

On the whole I like to see something sharp in an image as the focal point to draw me in as I explore the image. Not all of an image necessarily needs to be sharp (think differential focusing for example). Unsharp images produced by poor equipment or bad technique are no substitute for carefully considered and crafted soft images (something produced by a Lensbaby for example). Light and composition are still the important elements.

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There are times of course when sharpness is a prerequisite. Scientific and technical photography rely on detail and clarity. NASA took the hit on weight by taking medium format cameras to the moon in the 1960s and 1970s. Faultless technique and competency with good equipment is necessary. Advertising photography makes use of top quality gear, such as Phase One and Hasselblad cameras. With most advertising being viewed on small screens such as phones ultimate sharpness isn’t of any benefit or great concern except for high end products. A soft and dreamy result may be what a client is looking for and that can be added later (it’s easy to make a soft image from a sharp original than the other way round). For those of a certain age the Cadbury Flake adverts of the 1970s epitomise that look (though for some the chocolate was a secondary attraction!).

Before the internet, photographic magazines would regularly publish lens test results. I guess they still do but I don’t buy them. Amateur Photographer would use the view from their offices in south London, placing one particular building at the centre and edge of the frame and showing enlarged sections of the frames for comparison. There were some truly awful lenses. With many enthusiasts shooting on colour print film and having nothing larger than small prints made I doubt edge softness wasn’t a huge concern. Stopped down somewhat and with solid technique acceptable results were possible with most lenses.

Old lenses (or ‘legacy’ lenses) are enjoying a revival for some of their optical qualities and imperfections as photographers look for something less clinical and more individualistic than the cold and clinical rendition of modern lenses. Landscapes and portraits are ideal subjects for them.

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In the days of film you could choose to develop your monochrome film with ‘Acutance’ developers. What they did was increase the edge contrast between dark and light tones which gives the impression of greater sharpness. Useful with technical and architectural photography for example. There was no equivalent for colour film.

For any image that’s digitised (so that includes scans from film and print originals) there are various methods of sharpening an image. They all have their merits. The ‘Unsharp Mask’ which seems inappropriately named does in fact have its origins in the darkroom. An unsharp copy of a negative would be sandwiched with the original negative when producing a print. The result would be an apparent increase in sharpness. All to do with edge contrast. And the ‘Unsharp Mask’ tool does just that, increasing edge sharpness. Details stand out more clearly.

With this increased control over sharpness there is the spectre of over-sharpening. I think spectre is a good description as the result of over-sharpening is the stuff of nightmares and something you don’t want to see. Images take on a wiry look with halos around the edges of subjects. It’s often seen in poorly taken (or heavily cropped) images that someone has tried to rescue. Even a soft image looks better than on over-sharpened one.

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So in most cases sharpness is an important consideration. What about those situations where nothing is sharp? Or at least critically sharp? There are some very successful images that fit this description and I don’t profess to be able to do such things well though I keep trying.

ICM (in-camera movement) where the camera is deliberately moved during the exposure produces impressionistic images. I do find it works better if you are sharply focussed on the subject to start with so there is some structure to the streaks and patterns.

Lensbaby lenses produce dreamy and blurry images and even the ‘sweet spot’ maybe isn’t crisp. But that’s to miss the point, it’s not about the ultimate detail.

Panning with moving subjects is used to obtain a sharp subject against a blurred background to give the impression of speed. If you take the shutter speed even slower you’ll come to a point where even the subject isn’t sharp but you can still end up with something that embodies the atmosphere.

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It may seem counter intuitive, or even perverse, that a sharply focused, or at least as accurately focused as you can, will result in a better soft image than an image that’s unsharp to start with.

All text and images © Keith Rowley 2021

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dudler’s latest blog : the long and the short of it?

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The long and the short of it?

27 Apr 2021 2:05PM  
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Unique : 52

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Bless ‘em all! Bless ‘em all! The long and the short and the tall.

Format… It’s what you do to your memory cards after clearing images to your hard drive. It’s the size and shape of your sensor. And it’s the orientation and ratio of the sides of your image. You can actually choose whether to make an image long and thin, or square: and vertical or horizontal.

I’m not sure how much I thought about very much it until I got a copy of Charlie Waite’s first book, The Making of Landscape Photographs, which (Long South American River tells me) was published in 1993. It surprised me that the images were square, because Charlie Waite used a Hasselblad for most of his work, and didn’t normally crop the images. They’re beautiful examples of the art of composition.

Interestingly, Colin Prior’s first book, Highland Wilderness, was published the same month, and as Waite is a master of square images, Prior deploys panoramic frames to devastating effect. It might be tempting for some to some to try to decide which format is ‘better’ – but it may be more productive to consider why you might choose to use one or the other, or something in between for any given picture.

Some cameras offer a choice of format, in that they will produce JPG images that have a different format from the sensor: in this, they are like the APS film introduced in 1996 – cameras had a switch to choose between a panoramic, a ‘classic’ and a ‘high definition’ format – in each case, the same amount of film was exposed, but the camera imprinted data on the film so that in processing, only a part of the frame was printed for classic and panoramic frames.

This wasn’t quite as clever as it seems – the biggest prints, the panoramic ones, were from a 9.5mm strip across the centre of the 30mm-long frame, and a 4” wide print from this is starting to look a little bit grainy and soft. Mind you, this is gigantic compared with the panoramic frame on a MFT digital camera… Fortunately, modern sensors have upped the game compared with mass-market print film.

But here’s the thing: you don’t need a masked viewfinder to shoot different formats. If you do even minimal processing (and I’d advocate doing more, always, just to polish the gem) you have the opportunity to crop your picture. And if you are a reflective photographer, you will be able to look at the subject and decide, when you are shooting, how you want to frame and crop the final image. There is no shame in discarding part of the image if it isn’t contributing to the final result.

I found that an APS camera with a zoom lens invited me to take panoramic format images at the long end of the zoom: the results could be grim, with a very compact zoom that had a maximum aperture of f/6.7 at the long end! But the ability to see how a panoramic would look through the viewfinder invited me to explore details on the horizon.

APS film was a curious, late development of film: within a decade, digital cameras made it look like the evolutionary wrong turn that I think it was. Ken Rockwell says it was created out of greed, not need, and it was certainly a very ‘consumer’ phenomenon, with more sizzle and less steak.

But don’t dismiss the idea of using different formats: you can use a long thin frame to tell an extended story that winds across the print like a country road, or bring stability and solidity to an old tree with a square frame. And there’s always the full frame, uncropped as Cartier-Bresson intended, with its near approach to the Golden Ratio. Just like the choice of colour or mono, of contrast and tonal balance, it’s an artistic choice you can make with every exposure.

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dudler’s latest blog : thinking about it

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Thinking about it

28 Mar 2021 10:35AM  
Views : 24
Unique : 21

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Many years ago, I reported to a maths graduate from Cambridge University at work. He is one of the most straightforward people I’ve ever met, and I learned a lot from him, professionally and generally. He believed in thinking about problems, carefully, ruthlessly, and checking every fact and assumption. When I left our mutual employer, I brought home a few outdated documents he’d written, and they are models of clarity and also of intellectual honesty.

What’s this got to do with photography, you may ask. Well, it’s the fact that Mike believed that it is always possible to solve a problem by getting sufficient data about it, and thinking hard. Actually, you begin by thinking, so that you can gather data that is likely to be relevant; and later on you may conclude that you need more data before you can continue with the thinking.

So, if you want to solve a photographic problem – shall we say, decide the likely correct exposure for the moon – you start from what you know. What light source is illuminating the moon? Yes – the sun. And you already know a lot about the strength of sunlight 93 million miles from the sun. Combining this with the fact that the moon is made of rock, a first approximation for exposure would, therefore, be 1/125 second at somewhere between f/11 and f/16 at 100 ISO.

At this point, more data – try it and see what happens. In practice, you will need a shorter shutter speed with a very long lens, but you can either open the aperture or raise the ISO to compensate. And then you can fine-tune things.

How about that phenomenon called ‘rolling shutter’ that you’re supposed to get when you use an electronic shutter – the ‘silent shutter’ mode that many mirrorless cameras have. I was wondering about it as I went for my morning walk yesterday, and decided that step 1 was to get real data for myself, by taking a picture of a moving object with an electronic shutter.

So I engaged silent mode on my camera, and got the result you see at the top. Definitely noticeable distortion (this with the car moving at around 30mph, and a shutter speed of 1/400), uneven across the frame, so that a simple skew correction won’t sort it, which surprised me (anyone who can explain why, please do so!)

I wonder if turning the camera upside down would make the car lean forward in a Looney Toons sort of a way? I don’t do enough action photography to be very interested in taking this further, and shutter noise isn’t relevant to motorsport: but if I photographed wildlife, I’d be doing more experiments in very short order, and possibly queuing up for Sony’s new Alpha 1, which apparently minimises the effect, as well as offering 30fps. As one frame every couple of seconds will do for what I shoot, you can have my place in the queue.

So, if there’s a particular photographic issue worrying you, think about it. Decide whether there are any practical experiments you can carry out to get more data. And consider looking in a traditional photographic textbook, as well as on the interwebs… Or ask here at EPZ – though you’d be well advised to do as Mike would have done, and check the thinking behind anything other people tell you. Even me.

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