“Explored”

Well – I didn’t have that since a while. But the photo I took of Tuna (our cat) yesterday evening was somehow “explored” in Flickr today, which usually results in lots of views, and also “faves”:

7e2_c080014-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

Somehow I find this cool – happening on the same day that I got my new camera. 🙂 And the fact that even with a cat photo you can become “explored” shows that it’s still both the subject and the photographer – tho the cuteness factor surely helps 🙂

As always, thanks for reading, and for viewing.

Sunday morning photo, mixed light, b&w

Now that I finally have a camera of my own again, I’m always on the lookout for photo opportunities. So when Tuna the cat decided to lay down on a warm spot of our heated floor just in front of our kitchen entry, I took two quick shots. And in the first of the two she was looking directly into the camera with a very intense stare.

This was in mixed light – natural daylight from outside, and artificial light from our kitchen which sadly doesn’t have any window. And although Olympus cameras do a very good auto white balance, they can’t of course correct for two totally different light temperatures – so I knew the end result would have to be in black & white (the only sensible resolution if you don’t use flash on your background).

And this is what I did. First I switched to black & white with a simulated yellow filter in Olympus Viewer 3 (same as if I had done this inside of the camera before even taking the photo). Then I checked and compared with the “fine art” preset no. #19 in Silver Efex Pro2 (and sfx won). And the final touches and the midrange colour toning (from grey to brown) were done in RawTherapee 5 in Linux as always.

So this is the result, cropped to a 3:2 format:


7e2_c090017-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

About these Flickr embeds: I decided to use the new “block” from WordPress 5’s “Gutenberg” editor from now on. The difference for you is that I can’t alter the resulting HTML code to let the photo open in another tab or window anymore, so if you simply left-click on such a photo you will be directed to Flickr (and away from my site). If you don’t want that, then from now on you’ll have to right-click the image and select to open it in a new frame yourself.

As always, thanks for reading and viewing. Have a nice Sunday!

Another photo of Tuna with my new camera

That Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark 2 is a terrific little camera. I only have it since a few hours, but I love it already. So when I saw Tuna on her favourite chair in our living room, I switched on two of my studio strobes, and took her photo again:

7e2_c080014-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

As always, thanks for viewing.

An exceedingly generous offer

Almost a month ago, my camera stopped working. The technicians from its maker said it’s an issue with the mainboard which would have to be replaced, and the cost for that including work would be ~ 160€. Considering the cost for a replacement which was 3 times that amount, I agreed upon the repair offer.

But as it turned out, they needed a part for my camera which they couldn’t get anymore. And so they came up with another offer: for that calculated repair cost they would instead send me the camera’s successor (see above, usually 3x the repair cost).

Wow. Of course I just couldn’t refuse that. And after some waiting, today my shiny new toy arrived, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark 2. And of course I had to check it immediately, first with mixed daylight and artificial light:

7e2_c080001-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

And a bit later with two of my studio strobes:

7e2_c080002-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

So finally I can take photos with an own device again. Cool.

And wow, what a generous deal! Now I have to make the device mine, and set up everything like I had it before.

Cool.

Still no camera…

I’m still waiting for my camera, so in the mean time I used Mitchie’s again today to take another photo of the cat. Used Rawtherapee on Linux only this time to “develop” it from the raw file:

7e2pc071242-tuna
Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

I’m writing this with the new editor in WordPress 5, new from this evening.

Interesting…

A photo of Tuna from yesterday

I still don’t have my camera back from repair, so yesterday I took Tuna’s picture with Mitchie’s E-M5 Mk2 camera. She had the 45mm/1.8 lens on it:

7e2_c011222-tuna

It’s an in-camera black & white picture with a simulated yellow filter, but I mid-toned it in post with RawTherapee.

Thanks for viewing.

Using Mitchie’s camera

My camera which broke almost 2 weeks ago will be repaired at Olympus – it will be a heart-and-brain transplant (mainboard) which will cost about one third of a camera replacement, so it’s the reasonable thing to do.

Until then I can sometimes borrow a camera from Mitchie or from Zuleikha, so today I used 2 of my studio strobes and Mitchie’s E-M5 Mk2 to take this photo:

7e2_b231216-sfx-tuna

Thanks for viewing.

My currently most used camera gear and technique

This week was a big one, at least for Nikon – they announced their new “Z” line of mirrorless cameras together with three “S” lenses available for those, and while they don’t replace their current DSLR cameras, it’s clearly Nikon’s way into the future (together with what is probably the greatest and most intelligent change, their new and bigger lens mount).

Do I need one, or maybe one of the pretty similar Sony A7 models? No, I don’t think so. Tho one of my cameras and my most expensive lens got stolen by pickpockets in Paris lately, I can still live – and live very good – with what we have already. And I used the favourites of our current gear for this for instance:

7e2_8251184-sfx-019-tuna

Tuna the cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

Just took this today with my Olympus OM-D E-M10 (first generation), and with Mitchie’s Panasonic Lumix 20mm/1.7 lens used at an aperture of f/2. The camera chose ISO 1600 and 1/15th of a second for exposure, and I had the preview in the camera set to black & white, together with a simulated yellow filter.

I love black & white, and to be able to preview it before even taking the shot is the first of many advantages of mirrorless cameras vs. those with optical viewfinders.

I still took the raw file, which I “developed” using different software products on different operating systems as follows:

1. Olympus Viewer 3 on (a virtualized) Windows 7 (I also have a virtualized and even a bare metal (dual boot) Windows 10 on my machine, but using these is in most cases just overkill).

I’m using the camera makers’ raw processor in almost every image, simply because it gives me the best lens correction and settings which I also have in the camera itself, and because the default conversions look exactly the same as in-camera jpg images. For black & white, even the display of the raw image is still in black & white, tho you can of course change it back to colour at this point. However, the fact that I *don’t have to* look at a colour image is exactly what I want. So at this stage of the process I generally crop only, and I think about if the simulated filter and exposure or contrast settings are good enough to go on. I cropped this image into a 5:4 format (1:1 is too square, 4:3 or even 3:2 or 16:9 are too rectangular in my point of view – I love 7:6 or 5:4 formats which were used in large and in medium format film cameras in ancient times, last millenium or so 😉 ). For this image, cropping was all I did in OV3.

2. Silver Efex Pro2 with one of its presets

Still on my virtualized Windows, I then usually fire up Silver Efex Pro2 which I downloaded for free from Google while they still owned it (it now belongs to DxO and costs a bit of money again, but IMO it’s totally worth it). I mostly use one of the different presets, which I sometimes still alter a bit, but they’re incredibly good. For this image (and most others) I used their “019 Fine Art” preset, because that saves you tons of work in other raw processors, and it brings out detail like no other. Just love it. I save this as a .tif like the original conversion from OV3, so I have both and can still compare and decide which one to use later – but in most cases, SFX just has an easy win. It’s also really great if you want to simulate film, their “grain” alone is totally worth it.

3. RawTherapee on Linux

Back in my main operating system of choice (Debian GNU/Linux, which I use since 15+ years now), I use the free and open source RawTherapee converter to finish the image. I mid-toned it with the settings described a few days ago, and I also add an Exif title, and IPTC tags for categories which describe the image (like animal, cat, cat portrait, bw, and so on).

And that’s it, if I don’t have to make local instead of global adjustments (like on hair or skin for instance).

So here you have my currently preferred gear, software, and techniques on how I make photos. Would I want or “need” “full frame” – that horrible description of cameras with a sensor size of Kleinbildfilm, which was 24x36mm? No, not really. The dynamic range and depth of field I’m getting from my Micro Four Thirds camera are just perfect, the image quality (“grain”) at ISO 1600 looks pretty much like film did (and Silver Efex accentuates this quite nicely as well), and the handling and weight of that small camera is just perfect. I even love that its display “only” tilts up or down, while Mitchie’s E-M5 Mk2 has a fully articulated display a la Canon and others. With my tilting-only display I can still simulate an old TLR (twin lens reflex), and view it from the top, so it’s just perfect for me.

If I would earn money with photography, then I would probably think about additional cameras or gear – but since I’m a humble amateur, I’m pretty happy with what I’ve got. I’m trying to make the best out of it, and if people like my shots (like on Flickr), then all the better.

Thanks for reading, as always.

Trying to see squares

I was reminded of some great (and famous) photographers lately, who used square format cameras and films, like the twin-eyed Rolleiflex to name a famous piece of gear. The difference in composition? These cameras were mostly held at breast height, and viewed from above. On their ground glass – with or without a magnifying loupe – you saw a square image, half mirror-inverted. Meaning that when/if you moved the camera right, the picture on the ground glass would move left, and vice versa.

I’ve seen so many good photos from that time that I started to wonder how it would be to use my small Micro Four Thirds camera that way (because that’s all I have, folks). Luckily I have the E-M10 which has a tilting screen, and if I move it 90 degrees upwards then I can use this as a fake ground glass, with or without magnification, but not mirror-reversed (would be funny to have that implemented in firmware I guess). If I switch the camera to black & white I can already see the photo in black and white before I even take it – definitely an advantage compared to the film days when you had to wait for development to see anything.

Just playing around with my camera set up that way, today I took this:

7e2_8051104-sfx-019-sleepy-cat

Sleepy cat, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

Yes, it’s square. And yes, it’s black & white (both in camera and in “post production” which was to first reduce contrast with Olympus Viewer 3, then to apply the 019 “Fine Art” preset in Silver Efex Pro2, and with RawTherapee (on Linux) to add some title and Exif information).

Yes, it’s a sleepy cat. And yes, this is fun, really. Modern day Rolleiflex or Mamiya 330.

Thanks for viewing.

P.S.: here’s another one. Same cat, same day, a few hours later…

7e2_8051110-looking-at-my-camera-strap

Looking at my camera strap, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

Thanks again for viewing.