Monday, October 10, 2016

Dorset: Long Exposure Trip

After several weeks of 'camera inactivity', this weekend was a chance to get away and ‘do some photography’: in particular Long Exposure photography with my new ND filter system.

For the wide angle photographers out there, you know that ‘normal’ ND filters break down as you start to go wide. For instance, my Sigma full frame 12-24mm WA lens, can take a screw in front element ND filter, but only at 24mm, ie at 12mm you just get the circular cut off of an 82mm ND.

To get round ultra wide angle lens problems, I have adopted two solutions. The first is to use a Vizelex M645-EOS ND Throttle adapter on my Canon 5D3, with, in my case, a Mamiya-Sekor 45mm prime. This combination allows me to put a variable ND filter at the back of the lens, instead of on the front. This way, I get no strange ND effects, such as the dreaded X effect. The down side of this arrangement is that I’m ‘limited’ to 45mm focal length, ie not very wide.

The second solution is what I wanted to experiment with this weekend. That is my new Fotodiox Wonderpana system, that puts a 145 diameter filter system on the front of most WA lenses, including my Sigma 12-24mm.

Although I have the 6.6 inch square filter adapter, this last weekend I only explored the 145mm diameter ND1000 filter; and as we were in Dorset, the obvious target was to see what I could do with a seascape. So I chose Durdle Door and St Oswald's Bay, which is sometimes called the Man of War Cove, on the UK’s Jurassic Coast.

This first image was taken, handheld, at F/8, ISO 100, 1/60s and at 24mm. I first used Magic Lantern to establish a RAW ETTR setting and took the image with Dual-ISO switched on, ie an inter-laced ISO 100/800 image. I first processed the Dual RAW in Lightroom and then undertook a round trip to Photoshop to carry out some luminosity mask work.

As for Durdle Door, I managed to get there early enough, so that my photography was not complicated by too many tourists. However, as you can see from the elevated view of Durdle Door that I took walking down to the beach, one family still managed to beat me to the shoreline :-)

For the long exposure, I used my Sigma 12-24 with the Wonderpana attachment, to hold the 145mm diameter ND 1000 filter. I also used the Magic Lantern LE ND Bulb module to make exposure setting easier. For instance, I simple composed and set the exposure without the ND filter, then screwed on the filter and used the ML ND Bulb module to grab the LE. In this case a 91 second exposure, which I processed in B&W.

One mistake I made, was to only take a travel tripod with me, ie not my heavy duty tripod. So I’m aware that the image is soft in places, which I attribute to a small amount of tripod-relate ‘movement/vibrations’, ie the tripod was placed on a shingle beach. This created issues with this second LE, taken at 124 seconds down on the shoreline at St Oswald's Bay.

The rest of the weekend was spent relaxing in a very nice hotel, The Priory at Wareham,, where we enjoyed great food and wine. It was also a chance to visit Kingston Lacy.

Wiki tells us that Kingston Lacy is a country house and estate near Wimborne Minster in Dorset. It was for many years the family seat of the Bankes family who lived nearby at Corfe Castle until its destruction in the English Civil War after its incumbent owners, Sir John Bankes and Dame Mary, had remained loyal to Charles I.

The house was built between 1663 and 1665 by Ralph Bankes, son of Sir John Bankes, to a design by the architect Sir Roger Pratt. It is a rectangular building with two main storeys, attics and basement, modeled on Chevening in Kent. The gardens and parkland were laid down at the same time, including some of the specimen trees that remain today. Various additions and alterations were made to the house over the years and the estate remained in the ownership of the Bankes family from the 17th to the late-20th century.

For me it was a chance to take a few snaps:


Friday, September 9, 2016

Take all the help you can get

Like many I am a little intermediated by certain words and phrases: Fine Art Photography is one such phrase.

Wiki tells us that Fine Art Photography (FAP) is photography created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer. Fine art photography stands in contrast to representational photography, such as photojournalism, which provides a documentary visual account of specific subjects and events, literally re-presenting objective reality rather than the subjective intent of the photographer; and commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services.

Of all the types of FAP, the one that I'm drawn to is  Black and White fine art photography; which leads to discussing post processing.

There are many tools out there and some are real bargains: for instance Google's free Silver Efex Pro:

In addition to such 'plug-ins', anyone trying to undertake B&W FAP work is well advised to exploit luminosity masks. Once again, there are a few tools out there. From personal experience I would suggest you look at TK Actions, ADPpanel+ or lumenzia

A rather new boy on the block is the B&W Fine Arts Adjustment Panel from Joel Tjintjelaar

Joel has also written about FAP: here

The following images, of a couple of the buildings at the Getty Centre, were taken with my Canon EOSM. Post processing started in Lightroom and progressed to Photoshop-CC, where I made use of Joel's new panel.

Although Photoshop, on its own, is a powerful tool: there is no doubt in my mind that the addition of some of the above 'plug-ins', or all of them, is a great way to take PS to the next level.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Another cloud resource for Photographers

As you are aware, there are some great photography resources 'up in the cloud'; and many of them are free,
In case you are not aware a new one has been added by Google: an introduction to the scientific, artistic, and computing aspects of digital photography. 
Topics include lenses and optics, light and sensors, optical effects in nature, perspective and depth of field, sampling and noise, the camera as a computing platform, image processing and editing, and computational photography. It also covers the history of photography, looks at the work of famous photographers, and talks about composing strong photographs.
This course is based on CS 178 (Digital Photography), which was taught at Stanford from 2009 through 2014. The link is to the Google version. 
The course consists of 18 lectures. The topics, with dates, are given in the course schedule. The lectures were delivered live on Google's Mountain View campus, broadcast live to Google offices around the world, and recorded for later playback.  The videos linked into these web pages are from those recordings, edited slightly to remove discussion of Google internal projects. Keynote slides from these lectures were converted to PDF files and linked into the schedule after each lecture. 
Marc Levoy, the Professor Emeritus of Computer Science at Stanford, and Principal Engineer at Google,  has made his material freely available, but some of the photographs included in the lectures are individually copyrighted. Please respect copyrighted information.

Monday, August 29, 2016

Garlic Husk

A simple posting of a discarded garlic husk.


Photoshop: Exploring different looks

As all digital photographers know, capturing the 'raw' data is only the start of the photographic process. Although it is is not universally used: Photoshop and Lightroom are considered the 'go to' tools when creating your digital art.

Today, being a Bank Holiday, means that I have a few hours free in-between my household and gardening chores, and looking after my wife, who is struggling with crutches at the moment :-( 

Plenty of time to experiment with my new A3 LED lightbox :-)

The technique I've been trying, is to capture a high key bracket set and post process as layers in Photoshop: no HDR tone mapping here!

Once in Photoshop, it is a simple matter to explore different 'looks'. 

For example, in the first image below I went for a basic high key look; whilst in the second image I carried out some inversion and channel swapping.

Two different images: but both created from the same capture data.

...and finally: this interpretation.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Wet days can be productive

A rather on/off weather day today, coupled with a need to stay at home. But this allowed me to grab this experimental image using a light box, bracketing and some Photoshop layers.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Invention of Photography

Having just returned from a business trip, and two 10 hour international flights, I thought I would let readers of this blog into a little secret, get the podcasts from 'In Our Time', to make long haul business travel tolerable.

Wiki will tell you that In Our Time (IOT) is a live BBC radio discussion series exploring the history of ideas, presented by Melvyn Bragg (The Lord Bragg, of Wigton in the County of Cumbria) since 15 October 1998. It is one of BBC Radio 4's most successful discussion programmes, acknowledged to have "transformed the landscape for serious ideas at peak listening time".

As of 7 July 2016, 727 episodes have been aired and the series attracts a weekly audience exceeding two million listeners: me being one of them!

In the latest episode Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the development of photography in the 1830s, when techniques for 'drawing with light' evolved to the stage where, in 1839, both Louis Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot made claims for its invention. These followed the development of the camera obscura, and experiments by such as Thomas Wedgwood and Nicéphore Niépce, and led to rapid changes in the 1840s as more people captured images with the daguerreotype and calotype. These new techniques changed the aesthetics of the age and, before long, inspired claims that painting was now dead.

Those joining Melvyn Bragg in this episode were:
  • Simon Schaffer: Professor of the History of Science at the University of Cambridge 
  • Elizabeth Edwards: Emeritus Professor of Photographic History at De Montfort University 
  • Alison Morrison-Low: Research Associate at National Museums Scotland
If you don't know about IOT, you may be interested in scanning the archive of podcasts.

Personally I think IOT is one of, if not, the best podcasts that the BBC offer.