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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?

dudler's latest blog : art, snap or reportage

The long and the short of it?

27 Apr 2021 2:05PM  
Views : 59
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

dudler's latest blog : art, snap or reportage

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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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : alas poor glasshouse, i knew it well…..

johnriley1uk's latest blog : cool activities on the streets of manchester

Alas Poor Glasshouse, I knew it well…..

2 Dec 2020 8:00AM  
Views : 82
Unique : 70

Once upon a time there was a Salford Parks Department that had a whole system of gardeners and workmen looking after parks, tennis courts, mini golf courses, boating lakes and even glasshouses. It’s the last one I’m referring to today, because in Buile Hill Park there was a magnificent glasshouse full of exotic plants, but also fish, brightly coloured birds, butterflies and a fantastic tropical section where the damp heat would hit you like a wall when you entered. Here’s a picture of my Mum in the glasshouse, somewhere around 1969.
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Sadly, funding cuts and whatever else was going on behind the scenes put paid to all of it, and by 2005 the glasshouse looked like this.
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How could anyone let such a valuable resource fall into such disrepair? The Parks Department buildings behind this are equally derelict and the whole place has been reduced to a mess. We intend to go back and get an updated set of images. Unfortunately fencing and atrocious weather hampered our last attempt a couple of years ago.
I have seen it reported that one problem is that renovating would need the use of new security glass and that is too heavy for the wooden structure to support. If that is the case perhaps we should be looking at acrylic or some other solution, but surely this is not only a problem here and others around the world must have found solutions.
I don’t like to see advancing dereliction of things that were once so fine, especially as in the early stages it is avoidable. It is nonetheless a case for making sure we record what we currently think of as normal, because it disappears very quickly and becomes another kind of photographic interest, Beauty In Decay.

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Colour Grading In Lightroom And Photoshop – Which Does It Better?

Colour Grading In Lightroom And Photoshop - Which Does It Better?

So, just how good is colour grading in Lightroom when you compare it with the colour grading technique you can use in Photoshop? To find out, we’ll be putting both pieces of Adobe software head-to-head to see which comes out on top.

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Adobe Lightroom in Adobe Photoshop

 

In the latest round of updates to Adobe’s line-up of software, an improved Colour Grading tool, that replaces the Split Toning tool, was added. The new Advanced Colour Grading tool gives photographers more editing precision by adding colour control for mid-tones in addition to highlights and shadows which can be adjusted via colour wheels. 

 

Lightroom Introducing Color Grading From Split Toning To Color Grading |
 

 

Now, we’re all for improvements but just how good is the new tool? And does it do a better job than the already well-known method for colour grading in Adobe Photoshop? These are the questions The School of Photography are asking in their newest photography tutorial where they show you how to colour grade in Lightroom as well as put the two techniques head-to-head in an Adobe colour grading competition. 

 

Lightroom MAX Release  Advanced Color Grading |

 

Before we get onto what The School of Photography thinks, we should probably cover off what exactly colour grading is and, basically, it’s just when you change/enhance colours in an image to create a certain mood/feeling and to just generally make a photo more aesthetically pleasing. It’s something that’s used in cinematography a lot so once you see it, you’ll probably recognise the effect. 

 

Lightroom Introducing Color Grading Paola Franqui Coat And Hat |
Lightroom Colour Grading – Paola Franqui ‘Coat And Hat’

 

As for which is better at creating the effect, Lightroom or Photoshop? The School of Photography says this will depend on what you want as if speed is of the essence Lightroom is your tool of choice but for more complicated edits, always reach for Photoshop. 

“If you want a quick, easy and somewhat effect approach to colour grading, Lightroom will do the job fine. If you want a more professional, refined look, particularly in portraiture, Photoshop is where to go,” The School of Photography.

You can see side-by-side comparisons of images colour graded in Lightroom and Photoshop over on The School of Photography website where they also go into more detail on how the effects are created. 

 

Lightroom Introducing Color Grading Vintage Cat |
Lightroom Colour Grading – ‘Vintage Cat’

 

For more details on the latest Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop updates, take a look at our update

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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : take it it’s red!

johnriley1uk's latest blog : cool activities on the streets of manchester

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Take It It’s Red!

13 Nov 2020 9:09AM  
Views : 125
Unique : 108

We showed our red pictures at ADAPS last night, via Zoom of course. The brief was to provide nominally 10 images, shot within one hour, all containing some red. It’s an exercise in observation, but also an exercise in getting that shutter button pressed without undue hesitation. Should I or shouldn’t I press the shutter release? Just do it and get into the feel of the place. A sense of purpose to a photo shoot makes all the difference. Very therapeutic! So we all contributed around 10 images, some more than that, which is fine because we’re doing it for enjoyment, not just to fulfill the rules of some competition.

My choice was Astley Green Colliery (of course, where else?) and this is the red that I found, although somebody did ask if I went with a can of red paint. The very thought….

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Black Friday 2020: When Is Black Friday? What Is Black Friday? And Why Should I Be Excited About It?

Black Friday 2020: When Is Black Friday? What Is Black Friday? And Why Should I Be Excited About It?

-Advertorial Promotion-

 

Black Friday

 

What Is Black Friday?

Black Friday is now a day that most consumers have written in their diaries as it’s a time when stores of all shapes, sizes and varieties offer discounts on a huge range of goods. 

Originally, it was an American event that took place the day after Thanksgiving but now, it’s definitely a day the UK embrace. In fact, it’s now not even a day with many retailers running week-long discounts that take consumers right through the sale weekend into what’s known as Cyber Monday. 

 

When Is Black Friday?

Black Friday 2020 takes place in November and this year, it falls on Friday 27 November 2020. However, some retailers, both online and on the high street, do start sales earlier so do keep an eye out for posters, emails and online ads which have Black Friday Deal details on them. 

 

What Time Does Black Friday Start?

The time offers become available will change from store-to-store but generally, it’s midnight online and high street retailers often open earlier (around 6 am), although, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, there will be a lot fewer stores you can walk into and grab a bargain this year. Different deals may also go live at different times. For example, as well as ‘deals of the day’, Amazon offers ‘Lightning deals’ which are discounted products available in limited quantities, for a short period of time. ‘Lightning deals’ are introduced throughout the sale, with new deals becoming available as often as every five minutes.

 

Online Shopping

 

Where Can I Get The Best Black Friday Deals?

All major stores and even some independent retailers offer Black Friday deals so it’s more of a case of knowing what you’re looking for and shopping in the right place. 

For ease, most people actually do their Black Friday shopping online and if you’re going to be one of the millions of customers who do this, don’t forget most stores also have apps you can use that make it easier and quicker to shop. 

 

How Can I Ensure I Get The Best Black Friday Discounts?

To get the best Black Friday 2020 discounts, you often need to shop early as stock flies off shelves quickly and do your research beforehand so you know if you are really getting a bargain or not. This could mean checking the average price of things that you want before the discounts are applied as well as comparing discounts from store-to-store. You also need to factor in P&P when shopping online as this will add more money to your total. 

If you don’t already have accounts with stores online, create them before Black Friday arrives so the order process is quicker and if you have voucher codes, put them all in one place so you can quickly refer to them (if applicable). You can also sign up for email alerts so you don’t miss any deal announcements. 

 

Shops

 

What Is Cyber Monday? 

Once the dust has settled on Black Friday, Cyber Monday 2020 arrives for tech fans and this year, it’s Monday 30 December 2020 – just after payday for many. Basically, it’s another day you can take advantage of big discounts before Christmas arrives. 

 

When Will My Black Friday Goods Arrive?

Due to the volume of orders stores receive, they may be a slight delay on when your new purchases will arrive but a lot of stores do work hard to ensure delivery deadlines are met. 

 

Amazon Prime And Black Friday Deals

PrimeIf you’re an Amazon Prime member, even one who’s enjoying a free Amazon Prime 30-day trial, you are usually given a 30-minute early access period to all Lightning Deals on Black Friday and Prime Now, a service which offers 2-hour or even 60-minute delivery windows in some postcodes, also usually offers special Black Friday deals. We will, of course, confirm this as soon as we know this will be happening this year.  

Start An Amazon Prime 30-Day Free Trial 

 

Find The Best Deals With ePHOTOzine 

ePHOTOzine wants to help you find the best deals on cameras, photography accessories and more so like last year, we’ll be updating the website with posts on the very best photography related deals. The deals will be posted in one feature so they’re easy to find and you can even bookmark the page once it’s live on site.  

We have some very exciting offers from a wide range of photographic brands such as Samyang and Serif waiting to reveal their Black Friday Deals so do make sure you’re signed-up to receive our newsletter so you’ll be one of the first to see what fantastic offers are available. 

 

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Support this site by making a Donation, purchasing Plus Membership, or shopping with one of our affiliates:
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johnriley1uk’s latest blog : it never rains in manchester

johnriley1uk's latest blog : cool activities on the streets of manchester

It Never Rains in Manchester

9 Nov 2020 11:15AM  
Views : 86
Unique : 75

That can’t be right. Can it? Well we might think it could be looking at the images I have shot with the Pentax W90 waterproof/dustproof/crush proof/freeze proof compact camera. All these bright, sunny pictures, or perhaps when it’s raining I look out, think I don’t think so, and wait for the sun to break out again. Come to think of it, it never rains on holiday either, so I must be on to something. What is certain is that I got on very well with this camera, I clearly liked it and shot masses of images whilst I had it from 2010 to 2014. Even then it was not done, as I gave it to Granddaughter Amelia and she still has it in use.

To be fair, the W90 did prove itself in some wet situations, even if I chickened out. The most notable was the Dishwasher Incident. I put the camera on interval timer, with the flash activated, and then popped it into the dishwasher to happily shoot at 10 second intervals. This was a cold water rinse cycle with no abrasive detergent, but even so:
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However, a word of caution. I have found these cameras to be totally waterproof, as have several friends, but at least one was not so lucky and managed to find two leaky examples. Once water gets inside the camera will be as vulnerable as any other, so the seals should be carefully kept clean and cards and batteries should not be changed unless the camera is totally dry. There is also a depth limit (currently 45 feet) and a time limit of 2 hours for submersion.

However, there are also plenty of other subjects for a rugged carry-anywhere camera, so let’s have a look.

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rlf’s latest blog : what was it?

What was it?

31 Oct 2020 8:03PM  
Views : 53
Unique : 43

About 15 years ago I was paddling my sea kayak on Lake Windermere about 7 am at theSE corner of the lake. I was about 100 yards off the shore when I was lifted out of the water about 6 inches from a soft bump from below. I tried to look over my left shoulder as to what had just collided with me. As I turned my head back towards the front of my canoe I saw a large hump off to the right, the size of a grand piano, dive about 30 yards from my boat creating a 3 foot wave. I quickly reacted turning my kayak to face the wave as I’m sure it would have capsized me. The lake that morning was like a mill pond. It looked like a very large manatee to me! Whatever it was it picked my craft up so easily and I’m over 18 stone. I suspect the first bump was not the same beast as the one I actually saw. The people I was camping with just laughed it off but it was definitely alive, massive & moving quickly.

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dudler’s latest blog : what is it about film?

dudler's latest blog : mirrorless - and why they?re (arguably) better

What is it about film?

23 Oct 2020 8:56AM  
Views : 45
Unique : 39

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Yesterday, I wrote about a photographer who uses (or at least seems to me to use) film. What is it about film that appeals to some of us so much?

Well, the more I learn about digital picture-making, the more I think that it’s the realm of control freaks. We can manage everything to the finest detail, retrospectively changing colour and everything else. Film, by way of contrast, requires some good decision-making upfront, with far more limited changes after the event. As I have said a few times, it’s like a high wire act without a net, and that gives me a big buzz when it works.

Then there’s the way that film has a non-linear response to light: this softens the extremes and gives a much gentler treatment to skin, in particular.

And it’s like gourmet food: so much of the process is about patience and waiting, and the rewards are somehow higher because of it.

Then there’s the feel of the cameras: this doesn’t apply to every camera, but the best (not necessarily the most expensive) are a tactile delight. There’s a silkiness to a metal manual focus mount that is superior to the most accomplished fly-by-wire electronic lens. I’ll probably be writing about camera ‘feel’ before long…

Anyway, it’s Film Friday, so please post an old-school picture. Scan a negative or slide, or maybe get out that old camera and see if the battery still works.

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