Red Wall

Another image made with my wedge wall, still practising my processing. I have a little more work to do on the hair here which is definitely the hardest bit to get right. The easy fix is to convert to B&W of course. I seem to have quite a few images that are almost finished and not enough time to finish them but I will get there and even if I don’t it has been a useful learning process.

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Test Cats

I seem to be too busy to get out and make images just now, not good! I did however acquire a new lens (a long complicated story involving my old D700, a courier and a fork lift truck). I haven’t had a chance to get any real images but I did catch the cats briefly to try out the sharpness and image stabilisation on the lens, a Tamron 70-200 f/2.8. So far it looks pretty good, not my best shots but a start.

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1/13s @ f/2.8 ISO 3200, 200mm

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1/60s @ f/3.5 ISO 100 200mm

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1/400s @ f/5 ISO 400 170mm

Processing Options – DxO FilmPack

I recently downloaded DxO Optics Pro 9 to see how it compared as a RAW processor with Lightroom and Aperture, they also make a couple of other interesting products and I have been playing with the DxO FilmPack as well. It provides excellent reproductions of a wide variety of film looks and plenty of control to tweak them as well. I went back to some shots I took a few months ago to see how they would work out. I liked the polaroid touch and some of the B&W options as well.

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Canon Powershot G15

With doing more running and mountain biking I have been looking to get a smaller, lighter camera to carry with me. After much procrastination I finally bought a Canon PowerShot G15. I haven’t really had a chance to play with it properly but so far it seems to be suitable for what I want. It does feel very strange compared to my DSLR though and I have a lot to learn to be able to use it well. I will be interested to see the result once I get it out on a trip but for now I have a cat picture to share 🙂

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Cheap Camera Competition!

One of my friends at work decided he wanted to test the theory that a good photographer can take good images even on a bad camera. A few of us have signed up to give it a go and we now have two cameras to try, a NZ$100 Lumix camera which should be at least reasonable and a very cheap NZ$25 Polaroid camera which is probably the digital equivalent of a Holga, although that may be being unkind to my Holga which I quite like.

I have the cheapie first and have been playing with it, trying to find out what it can and cannot do. It cannot take sharp images which is a bad start but it has more control than I had expected including exposure compensation and a black and white mode which is definite option I suspect.

I took this shot this morning at sunrise on the way to work.

Sunrise 1

Since I had my own D700 to hand as well I also took (more or less) the same image with it.

Sunrise 2

For our competition we are not allowed to edit the image outside the camera but if was allowed I guess I might do something like this.

Sunrise 3

The next few weeks should be interesting, I don’t anticipate taking great images with the Polaroid but it will make me think very hard about how to get something at least useable and perhaps come up with some creative options.

Processing Options

For the last few days I have been playing with the post processing of some images. I have a variety of told and plugins to choose from, probably more than enough. My normal process is to use Aperture for my basic processing, and often this is all I do . If I want to go to monochrome then my plugin of choice is SilverEfex Pro II which is completely brilliant. However I thought I would give a few other options a go and see what I got.

A trip into Papanui yesterday took me past a church with an old graveyard and I took a number of images which leant themselves to different post-processing.

Church_2011-09-24_11-13-35__DSC1929_©RichardLaing(2011)

Processed with TopazAdjust, this plugin can generate some quite interesting and extreme effects. There are lots of sliders to play with, a good selection of presets and a random option which is quite fun.

Church_2011-09-24_11-13-27__DSC1927_©RichardLaing(2011)

A very different take using SilverEfex Pro II, I quite like this.

Church_2011-09-24_11-11-25__DSC1918_©RichardLaing(2011)

Not the same image but processed with another of my favourites, ColorEfex Pro. I really like the Tonal Contrast filter.

Today I was taking some macro shots in my garden of the spring flowers and again looking at different processing options.

Flowers_2011-09-25_10-15-18__DSC1938_©RichardLaing(2011)

This was processed only with Aperture, I really like it, quick and easy too.

Flowers_2011-09-25_10-15-18__DSC1938_©RichardLaing(2011)

The same tulip processed with Color Efex Pro 3

Flowers_2011-09-25_10-15-18__DSC1938_©RichardLaing(2011)

And finally processed with Silver Efex Pro II.

What did I learn? Nothing very helpful I suspect, I like all the options so I will continue to use them all more or less on a whim. Occasionally I don’t like the results but generally all these plugins provide very good and interesting effects which can enhance an image adding punch and drama.

Since I couldn’t really decided which version I liked most I thought a triptych would do instead.

Flowers_2011-09-25_10-15-18_Flowers_ Triptych_©RichardLaing(2011)

Playing With Reflectors

I recently acquired a soft box and have been playing with it to learn how to best use it. Quite interesting if a little limited by having to use myself as the model. It is definitely hard to get the lighting, exposure and focus spot on for self-portraits. At least with the soft box and a background I can set the aperture to f/11 or so for a decent depth of field.

One of the areas I was particular interested in was how using a white reflector versus a black reflector affected the image – obviously the black reflector takes light away while the white one adds it, but how much difference does it make? Quite a lot it turns out!

In each image the soft box is camera right, as close as possible without getting into the frame. The aperture and shutter speed were kept the same, shooting in manual mode. In the first image there is no reflector at all.

Soft Box, no reflector

For the second image a large white reflector was added camera left.

Soft bix with large white reflector

The reflector was moved closer, again as close as possible.

Soft box with large white reflector (closer)

Finally the white reflector was replaced with a black one.

Soft box with a large black reflector

The change in the light is quite clear in each case, which is best depends on what you want to achieve but it was an interesting exercise seeing how much the light was changed by the position and type of reflector. What I wanted for the final image was something fairly dramatic, more like this…

Self_2011-09-13_19-47-36__DSC1471_©RichardLaing(2011)

I really like Silver Efex Pro II.