Unexpected Results (one minute video)

The first full day of shooting pseudo-timelapse footage for a commission is completed – and quite a weight off my mind.

Thought you might want to see some interesting results from a very good day’s shooting at Knowlton – a 12th century ruined church in the centre of a Neolithic henge. This is fifteen minutes of footage compressed to one minute and there are phenomena here which just aren’t visible to the “naked eye” in normal time.

A very foggy morning yielded some results which were better than expected. The sun flaring through the fog looked terrible on the LCD of a Canon 60D during filming but worked out well in the final edit. Shot through a Sigma 10-20mm lens at f9 (ish)

This is one minute of fifteen which make up the ‘Autumn’ segment. The one hour video will cover all four seasons so lots to do!

So – hope you like it – thanks for looking.

Some More From the Zuiko 50mm F1.4

Been trying something simple today – just one fixed focal length lens on the Canon 60D – the lovely Zuiko 50mm f1.4. Having only one focal length really makes you work for the pictures but the results are usually better – especially when used at a wide aperture to give a narrow depth of field. All shots required a bit of post processing as the exposures and colours can be slightly off using old MF lenses – easily fixed in RAW though.

The butterflies were quite still this morning – allowing me to approach to around 50 cm.

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Without the help of the 60D’s 1/8000th of a second shutter the use of such a wide aperture on a sunny would be impossible at ISO 100 without a neutral density filter (which I always forget to carry with me).

This note tied to a branch by a ribbon is at the ‘Wish Tree’ at Knowlton (see previous posts), an evocative location at all times of the year.

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Same location for this home made pendant. The 50mm’s out of focus areas never disappoint!

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Finally in an attempt to get a ‘different’ angle on the ruined church, a shot from down the road through the roadside grasses.

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As always – taken for the book cover market – hope you like them!

A full review of the lens on this blog is here, or have a look at several Zuiko lens reviews on the “Film, Camera and Lens Review Index” tap at the top of the page if you’re interested.

Shooting Doors Part Eight

Time for few for the Legion.

First one on the modified Fuji F810 – an overgrown garden gate in a Dorset village.

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Next a church door – can’t remember where – just open wide enough to allow a bit of light in.

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Finally one on Ektar 100. The faded look seemed to suit the subject.

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All shots for the book cover market – thanks for looking and hope you like them!

Spooky Monuments Part 2

(Four Images). This is the second of a short series about very odd, some might say macabre, monuments which attract the ‘odd eye’ of a book cover photographer. The first part is here.

Poking around some old places usually yields some good results – the best shots are hardly taken in the most obvious locations or from the easiest viewpoints.

First one – taken with a Canon 60D and an ordinary kit zoom, toned in Photoshop. That eye is oddly mesmerising!

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Next a subject made for Rollei Blackbird film and a 17mm lens on an OM1N  – spooky, what more can I say?

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Next one of those gruesome 18th century monuments involving flying skulls – vignetted and converted to mono after shooting on a Canon G9.

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This final one seems to have been squeezed in by 1/2 cm – the laurel wreath is particularly odd. Extensively layered, taken on a 60D.

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All shots taken for the book market, hope you like them and thanks for looking.

Texture Layers Part Three

The last (for the time being) of the layer posts and this time it’s about even more subtle layering.

This was taken as a simple abstract but a light blue/brown helped it along nicely. Not too obvious, but then that’s the theme of the post…

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Next a Lensbaby shot which was taken on a stormy day by the coast. The post-processing added an extra boost to an otherwise so-so image.

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Finally one with a vignette, and the same image as number one layered to add something to an otherwise grey featureless sky. 00182158

Layering is a useful technique to add a bit of extra mystery and atmosphere to a shot which is graphically promising but lacks a certain ‘something’ – especially shots taken under flat skies. Give it a try using the hundreds of free layer/texture images on the web, or even better, shoot or create your own.

All shots taken for the book market, hope you like them and thanks for looking.

Texture Layers Part Two

Following on from part one of this layers series, this on is dedicated to a more subtle (but not too subtle!) use of texture layers in post processing.

This first layer is almost like one of those odd Hoya filters from the 1980’s with a strong colour bias to one side. Combined  with a Lensbaby Sweet 35 at max aperture it makes a nice combination!

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Next a shot of the same tower as the first post – but the rain and condensation in the inside of a car window added to the fogged effect. This was one of only a few shots from a wet and cold day which was worth the effort.

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And finally a narrow alley with a ‘daguerreotype’ layer added – that bricked up window makes the shot. Converging lines again….00178893

All shots taken for the book market, hope you like them and thanks for looking.’

Shooting Militaria Part Three

Post three about an epic weekend shoot of a car boot full of military objects. The opportunity to shoot so many graphic subjects took two days and was a real test as they all had to be back within 48 hours.

First, a communist era Red Star cap badge between two converging shadows.

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Next a Royal Air Force cap badge – strange how the stitching in the wings looks more ‘feather like’ in close up.

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Finally a real challenge – how do you take a photo of a (deactivated!) WW2 hand grenade? This was my best effort but I wasn’t really happy with the result. A layer might have helped.

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All shots taken for the book market, hope you like them.

Texture Layers

It’s about time something was posted about using texture layers – I’ve already posted loads of shots with this type of post processing, sometimes so subtle that it’s hardly visible.

Starting with a few where it’s very visible:-

There are two main layer images added to this Lensbaby shot – one to enhance the stonework (which was a shot of rust), and one to give the brighter tones some texture. The images are blended together and then the layers ‘flattened’ to give the final effect. The interaction of the out of focus areas and the layers is very attractive.00182163

To achieve this effect you’ll need to ‘layer’ one or more shot on top of the other in Photoshop.

The easiest way I’ve found is to open the main picture and the texture images then drag a texture image over the main image from the ‘Projects’ floating toolbar. Resize the texture image to be the same size as the main image beforehand – this helps a lot!

The ‘Layers’ floating toolbar will then give various blending options such as ‘Overlay’ and ‘Soft Light’ – just have a play about with the options and the opacity of the layers and you’ll get the hang of it.

This next one is another Lensbaby shot with some strong layering to give a scratched/blotchy appearance. The Lensbaby plus layers combination is very nice!

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And finally a more subtle one – a soft green texture with a vignette around the edge. The texture has the effect of altering the tone curve and the colours which, if you get it right, can make the image look a lot better without looking over processed.

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I’ve gone a bit ‘Gothic’ here – probably because these types of shot suit more extreme layering. One you get used to this as a normal part of post processing it’s easy to build up a library of textures from free downloads or texture shots you take yourself.

There’s a detailed free tutorial here if anyone wants to see the process in more detail.

Give it a try – it can really add a special look to your images – especially for book cover stock. It’s also good for hiding dust and scratches on film images, and for adding some colour to black and white shots.

Hope you find this useful and thanks for looking!

Foggy Days Part Four

Though this winter has been bad, there’s a lot of water about which, with a bit of cold air now and again means fog! It’s by far the best weather for photography, and it never lasts too long which adds a bit of extra pressure to get those atmospheric shots (four images).

All these were taken in a short 15 minute period on a Canon 60D and a 15 – 85mm lens. I liked the feeling of foggy silence and isolation in this one.

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Post processing consisted of texture layering to enhance the fog and below some lightening of the foreground to add some detail to the forest floor.

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This shot’s red channel was tweaked to give some more punch to the leaves on the forest floor as they were a bit pale.

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Finally a simple layer to darken the darker midtones which brings the image closer to the scene as viewed.

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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!

A Few More by the Sea

Time for a few seaside shots as it’s slowly getting warmer and though it’s not exactly beach weather, it’s getting there.

First shot taken ages ago with the ISO cranked way up on a Sony P200 – oddly the grain and banding effect add to this (maybe).

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Next – same camera, and a highly processed image of some ripples in the sand. This wasn’t much until the ‘levels’ tool in Photoshop brought out some contrast.

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I’m really not sure what these were for – a series of roped posts sectioning off a bit of empty winter beach. Still, it made a good subject so I’m not complaining. Looks like the Lensbaby on the 60D.

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Finally one taken on APX100 film – those highlights in the seawater have a very analogue look to them!

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All book cover shots again – hope you like them!

Manual Focus Lenses on a Canon 60D – A lens with a long name beginning with ‘Meyer’

This is the eighth of a detailed series of posts for photographers who are thinking of using relatively cheap old manual focus lenses on an APS-C DSLR. This time the full name of the lens is ‘Meyer Optik Gorlitz Primotar E 50mm f3.5’ which an impressive start!

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Very soft pastel colours and a soft diffuse glow at maximum aperture – nice!

It’s an old East German-made lens in M42 screw fit and usually was sold with Exactas and Praktica cameras as the mid 20th century version of a ‘kit lens’ – i.e. a 50mm. On an APS-C DSLR it’s the equivalent of an 80mm lens. My hope was that with only a few lens elements, no multi coating and a relatively low contrast, it might be good to give a classic 1950’s look to images.

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Closer to infinity, and again a strange ethereal appearance – I’m beginning to like this effect. It’s more noticable at larger image sizes.

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The bokeh is unusual too.

The barrel is solid turned aluminium which is good, but the controls for focus and aperture are very thin making using it uncomfortable to use on a cold day. The min focus is around 50cm, filter size 40.5mm and the aperture range is f3.5 to f16. Oddly, the aperture is hexagonal at max aperture on my copy – which means hexagonal bokeh at all apertures. With the mount adaptor, there’s only stop down metering available.

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The lens from the top and the thin focus and aperture controls. At the top the last ring has black and red dots – operating on the original cameras the red dot aligned with the red arrow keeps the aperture open for focus, moving the ring so the black dot is aligned closed the aperture to that chosen on the aperture ring. Unfortunately on the mount adaptor it makes no difference!

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It’s quite a nice lens on the 60D – despite being small these old lenses are heavy.

So having notched up some nice initial impressions, off to the mill for a quick test.

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The test frame in all it’s glory.

f3.5 – soft in the centre and very soft at the edge, with that odd max aperture sheen seen earlier. On the Zuikos it was a bit unpleasant but on this lens it’s quite nice.

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f8 – very sharp in the centre and not bad at the edge

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f16 – softening again  but the edge is better.

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Viewed as a ‘normal’ lens it’s not bad, except at f8 to f11 where it’s very sharp. However at f3.5 it’s age and flaws give it’s results something of the look of a Lensbaby plastic lens at smaller apertures where the softness is better controlled. The soft rendition, pastel colours and the way light bleeds into shadow when light and dark areas coincide are a nice effect. It certainly lives up to expectations in producing vintage looking images, and would make a very good 8omm equivalent portrait lens.

So if you see one cheap (it’s much cheaper than a Lensbaby) give one a try – even 50 year old lenses can sometime produce a pleasant surprise.

Hope you find this useful – thanks for looking.

If you’re interested in using other MF lenses on your DSLR have a look at the other reviews on the film, camera and lens review index tab.

Lensbaby Magic

The Lensbaby is an unpredictable beast – the results you think you’re going don’t often appear.

So with that intro, some shots which were pre-visualised as a particular image but ended up as something better – Lensbaby ‘fairy dust’ if you like, and hypnotically good as you play around in Photoshop and watch the results emerge!

First then – one of ‘those’ shots taken by instinct on a Sweet 35 mounted on an EPL3 in the winter. I could look at the wave patterns for hours…

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Next on the plastic lens and this was vaguely what I had in mind, just better than I’d imagined.

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Finally the best example – I can’t even recognise where this was taken, just sunlight off a road somewhere and, well much more impressively abstract that whatever I’d thought of!

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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.

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.