Somebody took my picture

At the Wikiloops meeting in Steinfeld, someone – I guess it was Diana – took a photo of me playing Marc’s Jazz Bass in front of Gijs’ rig and Marc’s fantastic little Markbass amp:

Looks nice – thanks for the portrait, friends! It was fun being there with you all.

Oh, and the metadata of this one is quite interesting as well. This was taken with 75mm on a Nikon D7200 at ISO 14400. Amazingly good!

Thanks for viewing and reading.

Back from a wonderful 2018 Wikiloops members meeting

I’m just back from the meeting mentioned in this picture, and wow, what a ride it was! Started a thread about it over at wikiloops.com, and here are the two photos I’ve posted there so far:

Pit, emptying his cornu copiae

Wikiloops Meeting 2018, group photo

More images and videos will follow on the Wikiloops forum in case you’re interested.

For here and now, all I can say is that it was awesome. Really nice and talented people in those ‘loops, and it’s an experience everyone should have. Thanks to everyone who was involved in this, and/or who participated, you were all great! Here’s hoping to see all of you again next year.

Thanks, and cheers,
Wolfgang

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:

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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.

B&W toning – but in the midtones only

Looking down my own blog entries, and finding the one about Laura Wilson (mother of Owen and his brothers), I wondered how that horse photo of hers was made. So I checked, and the values for RGB in the midtones of this black & white image were decimal 150, 145, and 141, or hex 96, 91, and 8d. Which explains why it looks brownish rather than grey. But the whites are white, and the blacks are black – so I tried that myself. On this 16:9 selfie one:

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Interesting. I made a preset in RawTherapee for it, so I don’t have to perform that many mouse-clicks to (re) produce these mid-toned black & white images.

So here’s one from the colleagues photo session from last month. Same treatment as above:

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And here’s my ColorChecker with that same treatment:

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Finally, a direct comparison between neutral grey and the treatment from above, as thumbnails from my nautilus file browser:

So that’s the reason I’m doing this.

Thanks for viewing, as always.

Update/Edit from August 16th, 2018:

Sorry – totally forgot to show you where to find this in RawTherapee. Well at home I have version 5.x, but even version 4.2 at work has the possibility to do this, under the ‘Color’ tab, and then under ‘Color Toning’. Just select the right method of Shadows/Midtones/Highlights, then adjust those midtones as you see in my example of Sarah:

Thanks again for reading.

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:

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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…

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Looking at my camera strap, Moerfelden-Walldorf 2018

Thanks again for viewing.

Caught in the act (of photographing)

Yesterday I took a picture in the atrium. I had set the camera to square format, and later at home I used both Olympus Viewer 3 (to make a slightly desaturated .tif), and Nik Color Efex Pro to simulate Fuji Astia slide film. I called the result “Nature wins”, and it looks like this:

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What I hadn’t noticed until I took that picture was that my colleague Arno caught me photographing, using his new Huawei P20 Pro phone (with a couple of Leica branded lenses, same as I used on my Olympus camera). So here am I taking the above picture, from Arno’s phone:

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He took some more photos. Interesting what you can do with a phone these days…

fairlight
rpt

So much for our lunch break. Thanks for viewing.

Two portraits of Arno, from last week

Last week I took pictures of some colleagues, on white, black, and grey backgrounds. I haven’t asked the colleagues if I could show their photos here (or in Flickr where these are hosted) – except Arno, who agreed. So here are two of the photos I took of him:

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7e2_7250993-arno

As always, thanks for viewing.

Feeling honoured

I’m included in this collage of photos (taken out of videos which we’ve made ourselves):

Wikiloops Videocollab 2018, participants

You can hear all the songs and watch all those videos in this playlist on the Wikiloops Youtube channel.

Thanks to Richard, founder of Wikiloops who has cut all these together, and thanks also to all participants. It was great to be a part of all of this fun jamming, and I hope to see some of you soon in real life.