A Few Abstract Landscapes

The chalk downland between Dorset and Wiltshire is a superb location for photography. The gently rolling ploughed fields produce some hypnotic patterns which are the subject of this weeks post (well most of it). All shot on an Oly EpL5 using the basic 40-150 f4-5.6 kit lens which is excellent given it’s price and light weight and pretty sharp one stop down from it’s modest maximum aperture.

EPL5 40-150 f4-5.6 Wiltshire Dorset dramatic tone zuiko

To get that ‘flattened perspective’ the long end of the telephoto zoom range is needed – not normally considered a landscape focal length, but as some readers may have noticed, on this blog it’s all about breaking those classical photographic rules to achieve a ‘different’ result (or maybe just being contrary)…

Olympus EPL5 40-150 f4-5.6 Wiltshire Dorset dramatic tone zuiko

To further enhance the abstract effect, monochrome has been used, and to maximise contrast the Oly’s ‘Dramatic Tone’ and some heavy post processing has been ‘inflicted’ on these images.

Olympus EPL5 40-150 f4-5.6 Wiltshire Dorset zuiko

The jpeg’s straight out of the camera are already heavily stretched across a broad tonal range, so they’re quite ‘brittle’ during post processing. The worst side effect is a tendency to see heavy banding in the sky so careful exposure is required (it’s just visible in the shot above).  This is usually only seen in clear blue skies, but with a 300mm equivalent lens to play with (150mm on micro four thirds), just cheat and don’t include too much sky…

Olympus EPL5 40-150 f4-5.6 Wiltshire Dorset dramatic tone zuiko

These lines of trees have yielded some good images in autumn – looks like they’re also quite photogenic in winter too.

Olympus EPL5 40-150 f4-5.6 Wiltshire Dorset dramatic tone zuiko

Next one of those odd ones which I quite like but I’m not sure why. The two trees frame the distant view,  and the dramatic tone effect has given a lightening effect around the trunks. The bokeh produced by the little 40-150mm Zuiko is quite good too!

Finally – one not in the slightest way connected with abstract landscapes but I thought I’d throw it in anyway just for fun :-

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This looks like a grad filter effect but it’s a result of that dramatic tone doing odd – but very good – things….

Thanks for looking – hope you like them.

 

p.s. if you like this effect, have a look at this WordPress photo blog (he’s rather taken with ‘Dramatic Tone’ too!) – Postcard Cafe.

Spring is here…

Which must mean it’s time for messing around with some infrareds on a warm sunny day….

Sony RX100 Infrared R72 filter

Everything still works as it should! Black skies and water, white vegetation and clouds.

It’s good to see the IR effect again after a long wet winter. Fresh foliage seems to reflect more IR wavelength light than older grass and leaves so the ‘Wood Effect‘ is especially pronounced.

Sony RX100 Infrared R72 filter

Here’s the setup – an RX100 with R72 filter held on a Lensmate filter attachment. A much better arrangement than just holding the filter over the lens, this little gadget is very useful. The AG-R1 grip is also attached and transforms the RX100′s handling (get one!).

All shot at the ’28mm’ focal length (really 10.4mm) at f2, ISO 800 with a +1 stop exposure compensation to allow hand held speeds of between 1/30th of a second and 1/8th of a second. These were processed in DXO Optics Pro 9 using the ‘Dense’ black and white conversion – straight from the camera they have a very intense magenta hue. A slight ‘diffuse glow’ was added in Photoshop to give it that old Kodak IR film look.

Sony RX100 Infrared R72 filter

A bit more abstract here – fresh growth in a pond with some clouds reflected.

Sony RX100 Infrared R72 filter

Same bridge – but from the other side.

Sony RX100 Infrared R72 filter

More of a traditional landscape really – the vegetation at the lower right seems to be ‘reaching into’ the frame.

Not a bad result for some gentle messing about – more a practice for later in the year.

Hope you like them, thanks for looking!

 

Kodak No 2 Folding Autographic Gets a Digital Back!

Well, almost. You could think of this as a Kodak Brownie (£5) with a tiny digital back, or an Olympus Pen with a cheap Lensbaby. Either way, shooting with a 100-year-old lens on a modern digital body was always going to be a bit of fun on a wet Sunday afternoon….

Quite a promising start in flat overcast light.The low contrast has been boosted just a little in these shots as they really were flat. This experiment is really pushing a cheap mass-produced lens – the Micro Four thirds sensor is tiny by comparison with the area of medium format film so we’re in effect ‘pixel peeping’ this lenses abilities.

The Kodak was a real success at the beginning of the last century – 1/2 million made. A real ‘camera for the masses’, most prints were probably small contact prints from the medium format rollfilm.

Here’s the lens and shutter. We’re not going to worry about the shutter – just put it in ‘T’ mode (one click opens the shutter, the other closes it when you’re finished several hours later). The aperture has been left wide open – I’ve got enough difficulties focussing this thing already thanks.

If you’d like to know what all these interesting looking controls are look here.

The focus mechanism is a rack type arrangement with bellows between the film and the lens. It’s very hard to move smoothly, even after oiling, but just about useable.

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Here’s the sophisticated mounting system – the back comes off the Kodak to load film, leaving a hole just about the size of an EPL5. The writing on the Kodak body is notification of all of their patents in Great Britain, Canada and Australia – 1909 to 1919. This was taken with the much more sensible RX100.

There’s no point in worrying about lens alignment – the lens is already ‘out of true’ on the bellows, and I’m not even sure the EPL5′s sensor is in the middle of the image cast by the lens anyway. The focal length? My guess is around a 4/3 100mm equivalent and the effective aperture is going to be tiny. Just like using a Lensbaby, aperture priority with centre weighted metering is best (‘best’ here is a relative term!).

Bulbs overwintering in a tray – no harsh areas of lighting so quite good all things considered. ‘Quite good’ in this context means we can see what this is…

The soft ethereal light is partly the drizzle, but mainly the tendency of this very old lens to flare at the slightest opportunity. I really like this effect. The colours are surprisingly good – this camera predates colour film (the Kodak, not the Oly obviously)!

Focus not nailed here (at least I don’t think so!), but what a good rendering of the out of focus windows.

A nicely misty/flared shot of mistletoe on a bare tree. This could be useful with some post processing…

In the interest of true experimentation, a ‘Dramatic Tone’ just for good luck. I’m sure this is a world first with this combination!

What to make of all this?

Is it useful? Er, not really, but it’s a cheap alternative to a Lensbaby if you don’t mind the baffling degree of messing about with the focussing rack. It does show that you can create an image – albeit a rather fuzzy one – using some very old kit indeed.

It was however the most photographic fun I’ve had for a while, and just like the early days of using film, I’m just pleased to get any result at all. I’d really like to have another crack at this on a brighter day…. I’ll post the results when I get round to it.

Hope you like them, thanks for looking!

 

 

Extreme Combinations…

Combining various obscure photographic techniques is irresistible – at least to me. So apologies in advance.

What happens if you shoot infrared hand-held with an IR R72  filter through a Lensbaby Sweet 35 using Olys ‘Dramatic Tone’ filter? I had no idea until today.. The 35mm focal length is a fixed 70mm equivalent on micro four thirds, so a bit restrictive, but let’s see what we can do. The Lensbaby has a problem resolving detail at the edge of the frame – how bad is it ‘in the field’ on small micro four thirds sensor? There are loads of ‘fields’ near where I live, so lets give it a go – walking into ‘a field’ as I do so. MTF charts are unavailable due to a technical fault.

Here’s the kit – an EPL5,  a micro 4/3 mount converter, a Sweet 35 Lensbaby, a 49mm to 58mm thread converter and a Hoya 58mm R72 filter. I’d hoped to fit in some macro extension tubes but time didn’t allow. To add a little colour, DXO filmpack was used to tone the monochrome images (we’re a long way from photo realism already)….

EPL5, Lensbaby, lens converter, micro four thirds, infra red

This isn’t the easiest combo to focus – ISO needs to be around 8000 to hand hold a shot in spring sunshine (the R72 filter is pretty much opaque), so the focus magnify button is essential to find something like a sharp image. To add to the excitement (why do I do this?) the ‘wide open’ sharpness of the Lensbaby makes sharpness a relative term. The Lensbaby people must do something about this…

Onto the results…

EPL5EPL5, Lensbaby, lens converter, micro four thirds, infra red

A bit too grainy possibly – ISO 8000 should be free of noise in a modern camera surely. I well remember using Kodak IR 8000 film ten years ago and it was nowhere as grainy as this. Digital is obviously rubbish. The IR effect is showing, but the ‘Dramatic Tone’ element isn’t too visible. That black dot is a bird by the way rather than ‘dust on the sensor’. Why don’t Lensbaby make a zoom pinhole attachment by the way?

 

EPL5, Lensbaby, lens converter, micro four thirds, infra red

This is better – even something in focus. The blurred areas are – well – very blurred and rather good. The grass on the right is bright (as it should be), and the new foliage on the willow tree is nicely bright too. Why is this less grainy – I have no idea!

EPL5, Lensbaby, lens converter, micro four thirds, infra red

More grain again – but this time it seems to suit the subject. Well maybe….

Finally the Mill, used in the past as a test target for previous lens tests. The lovely Lensbaby out of focus areas have produced an abstract, almost ‘painted’ blurry result. Assuming most painters like blur of course, which is an unproven hypothesis in my experience.

EPL5, Lensbaby, lens converter, micro four thirds, infra red

Hmm.

Thanks for looking, enjoy Spring (in the Northern Hemisphere)  and have a good April 1st!

Even More Dramatic Tone on an Oly EPL5

This ‘Dramatic Tone’ phase in a dark cloudy winter is hopefully over soon! Overcast is an uninspiring light source at the best of times so any useful technique helps. A recent trip to Tyneham and Worbarrow Bay in Dorset (UK) provided a chance to use it again.

Tyneham – a village taken over by the army and never returned to the previous owners (the Bond family). The Bond’s family motto ‘The World is not Enough’ was used as a Bond film title.

This isn’t just a gimmick – it’s genuinely (commercially) useful at those times of the year when light is limited and flat and you need to inject some drama into an otherwise bland scene. ‘In Camera’ effects are often criticised for being a bit crass – the ‘Dramatic Tone’ is genuinely useful in black and white if used carefully, so I beg  to differ.

someoneelses

A published book cover (Arcangel Images/Rob Lambert) using this technique!

Corfe Castle shot from the south. The original was pretty dreary but this is good.

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Corfe Castle – a remarkable range of tones for a winter landscape, shot with the 40-150mm kit lens.

Finally, a shot of an old farm building near the coast, inhabited by some wind battered trees.

Using the 14-42mm kit lens. The remains of a farmstead on the way to Worbarrow Bay.

Thanks for looking – hope you like these!

A Quick Test – AgfaPhoto APX 400 Professional 35mm Film

Having used AgfaPhoto’s APX100 for a few years, it seemed a good idea to try the 400 ASA version as I haven’t used much film above 100 ASA for a while. I was wondering if a modern 400 ASA film might be good enough for occasional use, as winter in the UK has been pretty dark and cloudy. Here are the results from a roll shot ‘on and off’ over winter, shot on an Oly OM2N with a 28mm f2 lens and developed in ID11 for 10 minutes.

apx400_1

Shot on a flat, dull day in January, this is a good start – no post processing other than resizing, straight from the scanner. Not much of a challenge for DR though…

apx400_1bit

An enlargement from the centre left. This is much better than expected, and not much grainier than 100 ASA film.

Another dull overcast day at Worbarrow Bay after a storm had passed over – this looks quite grainy when resized, though not when viewed at full size which is odd. Still the ‘grainy look’ works quite well with this subject.

apx400_2

Physically the film canister is very well made, with a quality felt seal and a solid metal case. The film itself is a modern emulsion, and is easy to handle and process. It gathers hardly any dust and dries to a hard scratch resistant finish – all very reassuring.

Now for a proper subject to test with – the interior of Salisbury Cathedral. Very bright windows and dark shadows are something of a ‘torture test’. All shot on a 28mm f2 which is a bit soft wide open, but with exposures of 1/15th of a second meant any smaller aperture was out of the question.

apx400_4

This is very, very good – an excellent range of tones and a lovely rendering of brighter mid-tones. I really like this!

And another :-

apx400_5

Again a superb result with a wide range of tones. The sun was just coming out making the contrast between the windows and arches extreme.

All in all a very good result. This is a 400 ASA film which is almost indistinguishable from 100 ASA film, and it’s ability to capture a wide range of tones is impressive. I’ll certainly be ordering a few rolls for next winter and for occasional interior use. Highly recommended.

Thanks for looking!

Dramatic Tone Landscapes

Having liked this effect on chalk downland landscapes in an earlier post last November,  it was only a matter of time before another shoot. These were all taken on an Oly EPL5 with a 40-150mm Zuiko on the Wiltshire/Dorset border (southern UK) in January during a brief break in what has been truly terrible winter weather.

The ‘Dramatic Tone’ effect – if used with care – can produce some impressive images on a dull day. Winter seems to be the best time to take these as the bare trees and ploughed fields seem to suit the moody darkness of the images.

These are cropped to a square format from the 4/3 ratio of the Oly because they (and a few others) are going to be printed and framed in groups of three as a series of triptych type arrangements.

The shot above was a quick ‘grab shot’ – the lonely figure looked perfect, but only for a few seconds as he disappeared over the horizon.

Finally a nice sweeping landscape looking towards Shaftesbury – the edges of the downs are quite impressive too!

Thanks for looking – hope you like them!