Photos I took since Sunday evening

Sunday:

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Monday:

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Today (Wednesday). Fun with my long lens at work:

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Today (Wednesday). Using two of my studio strobes at home:

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As always, get the photos from Flickr if you want them (just click on them).

Also as always, thanks for viewing.

Some low light / high ISO photos

I was thinking about my last lens purchase lately. 135mm with a maximum aperture of 1:2.8 is very nice to have on a film camera, but on my Olympus Micro Four Thirds with its crop factor of 2 you’ll have an angle of view like the one from a 270mm lens used with a film camera. A bit long, especially indoors. The 75mm/1.8 prime (single focal length lens) for Micro Four Thirds would be nice to have. To experiment with a focal length of about 75mm, I took my 40-150mm/4-5.6 zoom at that setting.

Angle of view: 76mm – very nice. Maximum aperture at that setting: 1:4.7 – not so nice. I got some nice and blurry photos of Tuna, not so much because of camera shake (IBIS works well, and the background was sharp in some of those photos), but because a moving and breathing subject simply can’t hold still this long. So you have three choices:

– more light (didn’t want to use flash this time)
– wider aperture (couldn’t do that with my zoom lens), or
– higher ISO (for sharper but more “grainy” / noisy photos)

So for today I set the maximum “auto” ISO of my camera to ISO 6400 – normally I have this on 1600. The camera instantly made use of it, tho the following photo was also taken with a -1EV correction (the metering was confused because of Mitchie’s black bag, and wanted to make the image too bright because of it):

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Tuna the cat, November 2017

This is with noise reduction switched off, and without any noise reduction applied in post processing. In web resolutions like here (1600×1200 pixel) this is certainly nice enough, but looking at the photo in its full resolution shows that a Micro Four Thirds camera cannot compete with those which have larger sensors (“full frame”, or Fuji APS-C for instance). On the other hand, none of these cameras except Sony have IBIS, so you have to use much higher ISO settings to avoid camera shake, so the “full frame advantage” isn’t as big as you might think. At the same settings, it might be about 2 stops, so an ISO 6400 photo would look like my normal ISO 1600 ones.

Anyway. After testing that 75mm focal length I asked Mitchie to lend me her 20mm/1.7 Panasonic prime – haven’t used that since a while, and I love that focal length. But since it got darker, I let the camera at its settings, and so I’ve got some more low light / high ISO photos, like the following ones:

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Tuna the cat, in twilight, November 2017 (ISO 3200)

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Zuleikha on her piano, November 2017 (ISO 5000)

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Tuna the cat, being teased by Mitchie, November 2017 (ISO 3200)

Like I said – for the web with its reduced resolutions, these are certainly more than good enough. For prints? I don’t know; haven’t tried printing something big which was taken at such a high ISO setting.

Mitchie liked the “twilight” photo of Tuna with its blue shade from daylight (and yellow from the indoor artificial light) – but pictures as these are impossible to correct of course, which makes them ideal candidates for a black and white conversion.

But which one? Here are three different ones, shown beside each other:

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Tuna the cat, November 2017 – Three different black and white conversions of a low light / high ISO image (ISO 3200)

These photos have captions, but again, here’s what I did:

– left: Olympus out-of-camera or OV3 conversion

– center: Silver Efex Pro2 019 “Fine Art” preset

– right: Silver Efex Pro2 000 neutral with Ilford Delta 3200 film simulation, 50% contrast reduced (like on a low grad paper)

This is a reduced 90% quality jpg for storage on Flickr – remember, one single photo has 16MP, so three of them make 48MP or ca. 50MB. As stored, the photo has its original dimensions, but a file size of about 12MB. But I have the original uncompressed images of course, and my choice would be the middle one, with the 019 Fine Art preset of Silver Efex Pro2. Couldn’t make it much better myself. Your choice might be different of course.

Again, and like always: thanks for viewing / reading.

Update/comment about the low light performance of other cameras, from Sunday morning:

Of course they’re better, all of them, maybe with the exception of Sony. Look here for an example. The Sony A7Mk2 – as much as I love the idea of adapting my old manual Olympus OM lenses to one of these – is clearly beaten by even an APS-C-sized Fuji camera, let alone other “full framers” like Nikon or Canon. See here for an example of the cheapest offerings in current “full frame” cameras. I don’t know about you, but I’d take a D610 or even a 6D – as long as they’re around – any day above all others. Yep; they’re dinosaurs compared with mirrorless, but as long as you’re after image quality, dinos beat those others big time still.

Again, thanks for reading.

Qotd Nov 15, 2017

“the shared vocabulary between cameras and firearms is both regrettable and illuminating”

Teju Cole, in his article in the New York times

This is why I try to avoid vocabulary like “aiming one’s camera”, “shooting”, and the likes. I don’t shoot people, I make photographs of them. Language can be very telling, or “illuminating” as Teju wrote…

Three films, one portrait I liked

Maybe I was a bit sloppy. Or maybe I just pressed the shutter too fast and on too many objects. Out of the three Kodak black & white films which I had in my camera lately, I liked exactly 1 photo – a portrait of my colleague Arno, like so often:

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I quickly (and again, sloppily) “scanned” the negative using my OM-D E-M10 with the old Four Thirds ZD 50mm/2 macro lens against a white background illuminated by one of my studio strobes, using a polaroid slide copier holder in front of that macro lens. So what you see here is a digitized version (ca. 13.5MP) of the 24x36mm negative turned positive.

This was also one of the first photos I made with my new old 135mm/2.8 lens, and it’s very nice and sharp even when used fully open like here.

Like always, thanks for viewing.

Some snapshots, some playing around

Played around with Silver Efex Pro 2 again today, on this:

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This is the original photo, with the “Natural” setting of my Olympus OM-D E-M10 camera. In Silver Efex Pro2 I used the “020 Fine Arts” preset this time, which is a bit more high key than the 019 one, and which also adds the frame border you see here. What I also did was to selenium-tone it (number 4 in SFx).

Here’s another snapshot from today. It’s the Latin version of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets”:

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And as always, thanks for viewing.

More photos on white

Today I made photos for Zuleikha, all with the white background like in my last article. Zuleikha needs some photo for application letters – next year those kids will do a practical fortnight in their preferred professions, and they have to find jobs themselves, it’s just part of the game.

I took Zuleikha’s favourite photo from the session and also made a black and white version of it, just in case, and just out of my own curiosity. Looks nice with the “019 Fine Arts” preset of Nik Silver Efex Pro2 (plus a bit of final tweaking in RawTherapee like always):

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Here’s another one of Zuleikha’s choices, tho this ain’t for applications 😉

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Our chosen ones are all on Flickr, so Zuleikha can use and download them on demand whenever she likes to or needs them. I have unlimited storage space on Flickr; time to make use of that 😉

As always, thanks for viewing.

Me on white

I’ve got a third studio strobe. The reason is that the original seller/distributor in Germany (who is just another photographer) doesn’t seem to continue selling the ones I bought, and so I’ve got a similar – maybe slightly older – model from another seller via Amazon.

And just an hour ago I did the first real test: light something “on white”, which means put two strobes onto a white background, and one on your subject.

First test was with two bare strobes (just standard reflectors) at level “2”, and that main one through a 20″ socked beauty dish on level “3” – that measured aperture 11 on the background, 8 on the subject, which gives a difference of exactly 1 stop. Should have raised the background ones to 2.5 to blow out the white just a bit more. Set as I did, I had almost no light “spill”, which surprised me a bit – the place was a bit small for a setup like this, so I have to check again with those background flashes powered up more. But for a first check it was ok, at least in black & white.

Mitchie took my picture with these settings (thanks sayang!), and I worked on it a bit with the usual 3-step process for black & white, which is OV3 and SFX on Windows, then RT on Linux. It’s borderline usable, but it shows the direction, which is why I show it here:

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Wolfgang, November 2017

As always, thanks for viewing. And as Joe McNally uses to say/write, more tc…

My 50mm macro lens, used as a “normal” one

I once bought a used ZD 50mm/2 macro lens from the Four Thirds digital series, and I still love that one. Its autofocus is slow on CDAF machines like our small Pens and the E-M10, but the rendering of that lens is, in lack of another word, special. And yes, it’s very very good as a macro lens, but since I bought it I mostly used it for portraits and the likes – with an equivalent field of view like a 100mm lens on film, and with a max aperture of f/2 it’s just beautiful for everything. Here are 1 picture from this morning, and two from my lunch break:

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Arno, buying breakfast for us

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The view from the middle

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Selfie in the lift, fim simulation, toned

All three of these photos were made with the lens wide open at f/2, where it’s nice and sharp already. And if you stop it down one or two stops, it gets razor blade sharp. But that’s not the point of it – from all the lenses we have, and we do have some nice ones, this might still be the one with the most beautiful rendering of the image, and therefore, if you will, “the best”.

As always, thanks for viewing.

Tuna from yesterday, Arno from today. Both toned.

Here are two photos I made yesterday and today, and both are toned using the Lab curves in RawTherapee. Arno’s photo was converted to black and white using Nik Silver Efex Pro2 (with the 019 “Fine Art” preset), Tuna was more or less out of camera (and Olympus Viewer could do the same).

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Oh, almost forgot: Tuna was lit with two of my studio strobes (both simply reflected over the walls), while I took Arno’s photo in natural daylight in the company.

Another difference: I photographed Tuna with the 25mm/1.4 Panasonic Leica DG Summilux lens at f/2.8, and Arno with the new, old, and manual OM Zuiko 135mm/2.8, also at f/2.8.

As always, full resolution photos are on Flickr – you get there if you click on the pictures here.

Also as always, thanks for viewing.