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!

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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.

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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!