Time For Some More Infrared

It’s been a while since I posted any infrared as I was determined to post something else. It’s been a while though, so here goes (four images). All shot on a Fuji F810 converted to IR, shot through a Hoya R72 filter.

First – IR through old glass – an arched church window on a very nice day. The window frames the clouds nicely.

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This next one was a real surprise – a chance shot of a tennis court net which turned out to be a real abstract. Still you never know what you’re going to get with IR…

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Aah – a traditional bit if IR gothic – ivy growing over a church window.

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Finally an old WW2 observation post overlooking the English Channel. There’s something about the post-processed colours and the intersection of lines I like – not sure why…

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As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography. It’s IR film next!

In Praise of the Olympus OM1N

Some designers produce items which are just about ‘perfect’. One such designer was Yoshihisa Maitani who worked for Olympus from the mid 1950’s through to the 1990’s. Influenced by Leica , he designed many superb cameras, amongst them the 1/2 frame PEN cameras, but my particular favourite is the OM1N, my first ‘proper’ camera, and still in active use 35 years later. It’s still by far the best designed camera I’ve used – here’s a brief description.

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Lens off showing the film rewind release switch (marked ‘R’ top left), mirror and self timer ratchet (left of lens mount). The 35mm film is there for scale (it’s Adox Silvermax). The scratched black paint is due to attaching a dodgy 3rd party lens 25 years ago on holiday – I can still remember my horror!

What’s so special about it? It’s a small, light, all metal mechanical 35mm SLR with only the most basic controls required to take great pictures with the minimal of fuss. The viewfinder image is huge and bright, especially compared to most DSLR’s. The exposure control is manual only – a match needle system indicates the ‘correct’ exposure’. The battery powers only the meter so the camera works perfectly well without any power if you’re happy to guess the exposure.

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The minimalist top plate – the exposure meter on/off switch, shutter release, wind on lever and film speed dial.. Can’t get simpler than that! The dial around the lens mount (top) is the shutter selector ring. The yellow bit at the back is a ”Post-It’ pad sellotaped on to remind me which film’s in it…

In addition there’s a mirror lock up for macro or astro photography and access to the huge range of OM accessories –  autowinders and motordrives, bulk film backs, an electronic flash system and 14 easily interchangeable focussing screens! The Olympus OM system provided at it’s peak top notch lenses from 8mm to 1000mm in focal length – almost all of them prime lenses. The depth of field preview button is placed on all the lenses at the lower right of the barrel.

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OM1N and 50mm f1.8 next to a PEN EPL3 to show relative dimensions. The aperture ring on the OM1N’s lens is at the front of the lens marked 1.8, 2.8 etc. A depth of field scale is included on all OM Zuiko lenses (next to the shutter dial).

In use its amazingly simple and makes you wonder why modern DSLRs are so complex. Exposure is set by changing the shutter speed (round the lens mount throat) and the aperture (in front of the focussing ring) until the needle in the lower left of the viewfinder is in the centre of the bracket. The nice thing is that as you gain experience, you set any anticipated exposure compensation as part of this process – not on a separate dial. All the exposure and focus controls are operated by one hand as part of a fluid, simple process.

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The OM1N’s magnificently minimalistic viewfinder with the match needle exposure system to the lower left and the split image microprism focussing aid in the centre (the red arrow shows the direction it will move on increasing exposure).

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Setting exposure compensation – simplicity itself and no extra dials or controls to fiddle with!

Focus precision is achieved with the central split image centre/microprism collar. If you’d like a depth of field preview just press the button on the lower left of any Zuiko lens and the aperture will close to the selected aperture. Shutter speeds (the shutter blinds are made of rubberised silk!) run from 1000th to 1 second plus ‘bulb’ (open as long as you like).

As a camera to learn photography with it’s brilliant – nothing to distract you from the basics as there is nothing but basics….. Most people who’ve borrowed it for a day don’t want to give it back!

Problems?

Well the battery type is one, which is the now banned 1.35V mercury oxide (E)PX625 battery. However the camera can be converted either by a service engineer (if you can find one) or by using a battery insert which wraps around a 386/301 silver oxide battery and has worked beautifully for me. Batteries last 1 year or more.

The depth of field preview isn’t that useful at smaller apertures as the viewfinder darkens so much but that’s inevitable.

The light seals around the film chamber will have deteriorated over 30 years  and will need replacing but this is a very simple and cheap job. Foam around the pentaprism can also deteriorate leading to a blotchy/dark viewfinder – this is more serious and needs some more expensive attention.

Finally of course, the OM system is now no longer in production, which means getting to grips with the second-hand market where some items are rare and expensive, or not available at all. The upside is that a ‘new’ chrome OM1N is around £80 (black ones are more expensive) so even if your old one packs up, picking up a working one isn’t that difficult.

The superb OM lenses go from mid £30 up to £hundreds depending on their rarity, but a working setup with a 28, 50 and 135mm lens, or a few zooms should be around £250 – cheaper than a digital compact! You can use them on your DSLR too with an adaptor with some restrictions (no AF, stop down aperture metering).

All in all, a camera for that ‘pure’ photographic experience – rugged, minimalistic and simple producing great results with no fuss. I’d recommend one to anyone hoping to improve their photography or those wanting try something radically different to a DSLR.

There – I’ve always wanted to do a camera review – hope you like it and thanks for looking.

Tree Tuesday Part Seven

Four more images from last Autumn, posted as a change from bare winter trees. All taken on the same (very good) photographic day!

All taken on a Canon 60D, 15-85mm and post processed in Canon’s DPP RAW processing software.

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This one was post-processed in DXO filmpack (one of the creative filters).

Finally a ‘vintage’ treatment for this ‘one side of the road’ avenue of trees.

Thanks to Jeff for the idea, – as always these are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking and hope you like them.

Shooting Doors Part Four

A few more for the Legion – hope you like them!

First one – a badly bashed up and overgrown door on an old farm. APX100 film, OM1N.

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This is ‘quality’ peeling paint – Canon 60D + some basic post processing.

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Can’t do a post without a Lensbaby shot…. This one’s the Sweet 35 on an Olympus Pen.

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Well it’s part of a door… The slatted parts made a nice graphic pattern surrounding the latch.

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This one was taken as part of the series in the Rollei Blackbird film post – Zuiko 50mm F1.4 wide open.

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Thanks for looking – hope they give you some ideas for your photography (doors in this case!).

Adox Silvermax First Impressions

It’s not often a new film comes along these days, so when one does it’s almost impossible to resist trying it – so, here are some of the results from my first roll. There has been no post-processing on these images other than resizing, so they look a little more ‘raw’ than the images I usually post.

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It’s been snowing in Dorset (as you can see!) so the conditions for a test aren’t exactly bright. However there are lots of subtle graduations in the snow which some films struggle with. I’ll do another test in brighter conditions, but until then this is what we’ve got.

Adox lost their monochrome CHS ART film lines after the closure of their supplier’s Croatian factory, and ‘Silvermax’ is the replacement film, manufactured in Germany. Adox claim it has a higher silver content than ‘regular’ film resulting in greater dynamic range.

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Initial impressions are that it’s a quality film, light grey in colour, rather like APX100. The 35mm cassette feels well made with a substantial felt light trap and a hefty weight. The film, maybe because it’s thin and quite stiff, winds smoothly onto a plastic film spiral for development.

This film was developed in Rodinal 1+50, rather than the specific developer Adox supplies. There are development times for most common developers here on the Adox website. All shots scanned on a Plustek 7500 and taken on an Olympus OM2N with exposure compensation as required.

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Below is a small section enlarged from the right side hanging branches.

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The grain is moderate for a 100 ASA film – no surprises either way really.

The dynamic range under these limited conditions was very good, the film picking up a good range of midtones. Quite a bit better than AGFAPhoto APX 100 (which is my favourite general purpose film), and handling the range from deep black to white so well that the scanner just needed to do a straight scan with no adjustments or pre-canned film profile which is very impressive!

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Initial impressions are very good. I think the dedicated developer might be worth a try rather than Rodinal, which has maximised edge sharpness but hasn’t done much for the grain. However many photographers only use Rodinal so it’s been a useful test.

So – next step is a roll under brighter conditions – blue skies, sunshine etc. I may need to wait a while for the weather before it’s done though!

Thanks for looking and I hope you find this useful.

Click here to see my second impressions, this time developed in ID11/D76.

p.s. I have no connection with Adox in any way – other than buying some of their film of course….

Tree Tuesday Number Six

This ‘Tree Tuesday’ thing is becoming a bit of a weekly habit!

First one – Oly EPL3 + Sweet 35 Lansbaby + ‘Dramatic Tone’ post processed in DXO.

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Second one – Canon 60D and a simple clump of trees in Wiltshire – OK it’s not ‘Trees Tuesday’ but forgive me…

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Finally a darker, more mysterious one taken on a misty morning, the effect enhanced by a colour layer. This was a Canon G9 I think.

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Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Recent Film Stuff

These are some film shots which were recently accepted by the agency, proving there’s still life in the Olympus OM1 yet. All taken on Agfapan APX 100 film rated at box speed, developed in Rodinal 1+50 for 12 minutes.

This didn’t seem that good through the viewfinder – a bit of post-processing worked nicely though.

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This  was shot on an overcast day on the 50mm F1.4 at max aperture. Looking at this now I should have cropped away the roof at the lower left just leaving the tower.

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Same lens with the narrow depth of field blurring the closed leaves into a nice soft mush.

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This is a covered walkway with plants trained over arched supports. As this was taken in autumn, most of the leaves had fallen off and the gaps allowed dappled light to filter through which gave a nice effect. Zuiko 28mm.

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This shallow puddle was full of fallen leaves – providing a way to break up the bare tree branch reflection. 28mm lens again.

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It’s strange – I take shots on film equipment which are very different from those on digital kit. Maybe it’s the fixed focal lengths or the slower approach. Anyone else find this?

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Tree Tuesday Number Five

It’s just about the last 2 hours of Tuesday so here goes… Will they appear in the new reader? Yes they will!

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Above – Fuji F810 converted to IR.

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And EFKE 820 IR film in some beechwood nearby.

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And another – infra red EFKE 820 on a windy day.

As always (broken record!) these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

More In Camera Processing

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Why my first image won’t appear in the reader is anyone’s guess – always used to work – any ideas out there? Following on from the last post about using the Olympus PEN ‘Dramatic Tone’ effect, I’ve had a bit more of a play around using it on some Lensbaby Sweet 35 shots.

These first three were taken on a very stormy day on the coast – it was worth the effort despite getting soaked.

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The weather has mostly been dark and overcast over the last few weeks, and the effect drags some lovely cloud detail out from an otherwise grey sky.

00274808It all lends itself to some dark, moody (maybe melodramatic!) landscapes, enhanced by DXO Filmpack post processing and maybe the odd layer here and there. There’s been a few birds added here as well – blurred in a layer using the ‘motion blur’ tool.

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This is a milennium beacon inland – shows the ‘burnt in’ sky nicely – I used to do this on B/W prints with bits of card on sticks!

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Might as well finish on a gothic feel – been trying to take a decent shot of this monument for years and this is my best attempt yet.

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As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

p.s. Apologies – haven’t been posting much lately – been too busy taking pictures!

Shooting Doors Part Three

Another set for the Legion – hope you like them as there’s a part four….

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Sometimes a defocussed shot can be worth a try…

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This one was taken for the darker blue worn around the door’s edge and keyhole.

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This is an infra red shot though it’s not obvious. It’s the only reason I’d be carrying a tripod…

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And finally a derelict door covered in ivy and garden rubbish.00129788

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Teacups

Not the most obvious theme for a photo shoot, but sometimes the agency sends out a specific client request – hence these. Apart from negotiating the ‘loan’ of these from my wife’s china cupboard (not as easy as it sounds as I’m a bit clumsy!) this wasn’t too difficult.

This one’s had the ‘bonkers’ layers treatment – otherwise just shot on some plain card.

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Here the 50mm was put on some old Olympus extension tubes to give a razor thin depth of field to isolate the top of the cup from the saucer.

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Straight shot – but some more subtle layers this time…

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Finally one shot with a Jupiter 85mm F2 which I’d been dying to try out as I’d just bought it.

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As always these shots are taken for the book cover market, and all comments, critiques and questions are welcome.

Thanks for looking – hope you like them and they give you some creative ideas for your photography.

Dreaming of a Watery Christmas?

It’s been a very wet Christmas break in Dorset (possibly the wettest year on record for the UK), with lots of flooded roads and rivers making getting around a bit ‘lively’. It does create some interesting photo opportunities though.

This was a freshly formed pond with some dead autumn leaves at the bottom – tweaked in DXO to get the reds of the leaves just right.

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This bend by a bridge over a flooded river has caught a few people out – the ‘puddle’ is too deep to drive through and it’s just possible to walk around it onto the bridge.

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Even minor dips can form some deep water on the back roads.

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Most of it’s draining away now – January is meant to be much drier…

ll taken on a 60D for the agency – hope you like them and a Happy 2013!