Nobuyuki Kobayashi

You should have about half an hour to watch Nobuyuki Kobayashi’s “Portrait of Nature – Myriads of Gods on Platinum Palladium Prints” on Vimeo – it’s so totally worth it. Or, “yübi”, as he calls it.

This guy’s work goes far beyond what I’ll ever be able to reach and achieve, photographically.

Oh, and it helps if you understand Japanese. But you don’t have to – the video has English subtitles.

Found via Film’s not dead.

So enlarge that on your monitor, lean back, and enjoy…

More shades of grey, and three portraits in one

I’m currently re-reading EGOR’s blog, which I can only recommend to each and every photographer out there. And doing so chronologically, I’m at the moment reading his three-part post about the Leica Monochrom, starting here.

Like Mike Johnston, he suggested something like a monochrome digital camera even before it was invented. And like both of them, I support the idea of it, but I’m with Mike in that the resulting real camera is about 20 times too expensive for me, regardless of what its current happy owners might say.

And because at the moment even a shiny new Olympus Pen-F or a surely very nice Fuji X-100T (which aren’t monochrome but which have nice emulations) are also way out of my budget (hey, we just bought some tickets to Malaysia a couple of days ago, and it was about time!), I’ll have to do with what I have. And sometimes, I really like the results, like in this collague:

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Perceptions (or: how we mostly see each other)

The two pictures on the left were taken with the camera you see in the other one, so it’s both my E-M10 and my E-PL5 which share the same sensors anyway. If you want to see how these cameras translate colours into shades of grey, here’s a photo of my ColorChecker which I took yesterday:

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And I took that one short before noon under a very overcast sky:

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As always, minimal to none post processing on these, tho I always use Olympus Viewer 3 and RawTherapee to make jpgs out of the raw orf files – OV3 does pretty much the same what you can do in-camera as well. And RT sometimes adds only some Exif data like a title, and some tags…

It’s the photographer, not the camera(s), so get out and take some photos.

Thanks for reading.

This is beautiful

This. Be sure to watch the video. What a talented group of people.

Makes me think hard about Mike’s OC/OL/OY project.

P.S.: This is good advice as well, like always on Mike’s pages. I’d answer that with the lenses I have. So for me it’s about

50% portraits, or more. Lenses for these: 45mm/1.8 and 50mm/2 (also a macro lens)
40% other, more general photography. Lens: 25mm/1.4, and
10% a bit more wide, with my 14mm/2.5 lens.

For a two lens kit, I could live with the 45 and the 20mm/1.7 which Mitchie has. Or with the 45mm and an Olympus 17mm/1.8 .

A single lens? The 25mm one, definitely. Or the 20mm or the 17mm if you’re more into a slightly wider view.

How to find this info about yourself? Try exiftool. If you run Linux, it’s in your repository, so for Debian for example, it’s just an

sudo apt-get install exiftool

away. And on how to use it, it’s

man exiftool

You can do the math like this.

Thanks for reading.

A “featured” image

Never tried this until now, so I decided to have a look at blog posts with a “featured” image.

The one you see here is one of myself, but it is not a “selfie”. It was taken by Mélanie Gomez in February, two days before my birthday. She used her Nikon D800 camera and one of my studio strobes (and grey background) to make this.

Merçi encore, chère Mélanie!

Of course I had to take some of her as well. Here’s one I took using my E-PL5 with the 45mm lens, also with studio strobes:

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Mélanie Gomez, February 2015

Thanks for viewing.

This. And that.

This. And that. Pick three… (but if you really want to do so, it has to be today, the offer is time-limited).

Oh, special bonus points if you guess correctly which one (or more?) I would choose. My colleague Arno lost already 😉

Of stars, airplanes, light pollution, and the cold…

Yesterday I tried to collimate my telescope but ran into problems. So I asked Mirko Boucsein from the local observatory if he’d like to help me, and he suggested to meet me in Darmstadt.

After successfully collimating the telescope (which is a matter of minutes once you’ll get the right tools and the hang of it) I asked him if I could try some “Live Composites” using my Olympus E-M10 camera. “Live Composite” is a term invented by Olympus which does some stacking in-camera, taking one base image and then only adding lights (plus one dark frame in the end to compensate for noise). Mirko wanted to get some photos himself using the observatory’s biggest telescope, and accepted to have my camera mounted piggyback to the big tube and mount.

First he pointed the scope to Deneb, and the North America Nebula (NGC 7000), and my camera took 14 photos (of 60 seconds each at ISO 200 and f/2) which resulted in one raw file and one jpg:

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After doing that he wanted to get some long exposure shots of NGC 6946, better known as the Fireworks Galaxy. So he programmed that into the mount’s GoTo system, and the big scope went straight up to our zenith (the point right over our heads) to track that one. Here I took 45 exposures of 60 seconds each, which the camera again stacked into just one raw and jpg file:

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You don’t see the nebula and the galaxy in my photos which I took with the Panasonic Leica 25mm/1.4 lens. First this is a very wide angle, and those nebulae and galaxies are small (in fact they’re huge of course, but I mean a small angle in my photos here). Plus they are also faint, and since I didn’t use any filter against the light pollution (you clearly see Darmstadt city lights in the second photo), I had no chance to get anything like that. Plus my camera isn’t modified to allow h-alpha and other wavelengths to even reach its sensor.

What you do see in both images were airplanes flying straight through my frame. This you can’t get rid of if you let the camera do all the stacking “live”, while taking the image – you’re much better off with manual stacking if you want to avoid those.

But still – these were my first two astrophotos using a tracking mount which was even guided by a third camera, and PHD on Mirko’s Windows laptop. So it doesn’t matter if your exposure time will be 14 or 45 minutes like in my examples, or even hours (and some 10 hours over several days using different filters is pretty standard procedure in astrophotography) – your stars will be nice and round and pinpoint sharp if you use a Bahtinov mask to focus (which Mirko did, but we didn’t have one the size of my small lens).

You’ll need all of that stuff, plus something more: you’ll need to be able to stand the cold, and the wind. I was really feeling cold when I got home, and that was early in the evening (short before 10pm). Imagine having to stay there for several hours more – who said that stuff would be easy?

Anyway. Now I have my scope laser-collimated, and one more interesting experience as well. Thanks again to Mirko, whom I hope to see again soon.

Thanks for reading.

P.S.: this was also a test inspired by this thread in a German astronomers’ forum, to see if my Olympus camera can do something like an Atik Infinity – and no, not out of the box. Haven’t tried it through a telescope yet, but I surely won’t get any h-alpha colours on it.

A very interesting afternoon

As I wrote lately, Zuleikha developed some interest in stars, and in astronomy. So I bought her a little Newton telescope, and some books and a star map. And today there was one of the open door days at our local public peoples’ observatory, or in German, in our Volkssternwarte in Darmstadt. So that is where we went.

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And it was interesting indeed. I talked to some people, and learned a lot, while Mitchie and Zuleikha listened to some talk, went into their library, and even had some cake. Later Zuleikha bought a photo of IC 1318, or the butterfly nebula from Mirko Boucsein, one of the members of the society. Mirko took that photo with a modified Canon 500D DSLR camera (minus the infrared filter layer on its sensor), and with a GSO 150/600mm f/4 telescope on a Skywatcher HEQ5 equatorial mount which was guided by a second camera.

I even forgot to take photos inside, and because the sky wasn’t clear, we couldn’t even look at the sun through some of their telescopes. But I was invited to come back on a Friday evening when there’s a clearer sky, and to observe some stars and/or deep sky objects together with them.

Before we left, we had to take a look over Darmstadt from the place which is called Luisenhöhe. We’ve been here, and I’ll definitely come back.

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Thanks for reading.