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.

Yet More RX100 Infrareds!

Dorset is experiencing something weird this year – summer! The skies are clear, the temperatures are hitting 30 degrees C and for people used to cloudy wet summers with just a glimpse of sunshine now and then it’s all most disturbing…..

So using this hot weather as an excuse to shoot yet more infrared handheld on the unmodified RX100 (with an R72 filter) , here we go.

First, a few of the pedestrian bridges over the River Stour near Tarrant Crawford – the leaves and grasses radiating IR like mad. All taken at 28mm setting at f1.8 using RAW, the ‘Black and White’ creative setting (for composition) and +1 exposure compensation.

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This is the next bridge along – the field boundary is heavily overgrown on either side which help isolate the dark path.

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And the same view but in landscape orientation with a lower contrast – can’t make my mind up which of the two is best. _DSC0948_DxOFP

Finally a small avenue of trees taken on the same day, the shadows on the road being an integral part of the composition.

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As usual, all taken for the book cover market – hope you like them!

Some Summer Flora

Summer is in full swing, and the grasses and flowers are providing some great subjects for photography. I’ve never really tried photographing these subjects before so this is a new one for me. All post-processed in Photoshop and DXo.

First – a really simple soft abstract using the plastic Lensbaby. As always with this lens, the results were pretty hit and miss, but when they’re good they’re unlike anything else.

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Next one with the Helios 85mm f2 wide open – the Canon 60D’s 1/8000th of a second shutter speed is really useful in bright light at these apertures.

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Back to the plastic Lensbaby and some wheat bending over in the wind towards the camera. There’s a dark line to the left which is an out of focus weed – shame I didn’t spot it.

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Finally a few poppies – can’t resist them at this time of year. I saw this large patch from the car but it needed at fifty minute walk to get there from the nearest place to park. This one was with the Zuiko 50mm f1.4, one knee in a muddy puddle!_MG_9625_DxOFP

Thanks for looking – hope you like them!

The Best of the Last Few Days

Four images here – all taken on the chalk downland where I’ve been doing a lot of walking lately. All taken with a Plastic Lensbaby on a Canon 60D in very nice weather.

Focussing on the LCD using ‘focus magnify’ is pretty much essential with these lenses – the viewfinder is more or less useless for nailing perfect focus.  This is mainly because the zone of focus for the plastic is very vague with no aperture disk installed. The 1/8000th of a second shutter speed of the 80D is very useful at max aperture in bright sunlight.

This first one really shows off why I really like the plastic lens and make images taken with it unlike any others.

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Next a more conventional ‘soft’ image of some railings – pretty simple but good nonetheless.

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Third one is door metalwork on a medieval church door – that tone as it blurs to darkness is lovely.

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Finally one featuring some grasses with a distant house adding something to the image – just blurred enough to be recognisable, not sharp enough to be to obvious – perfect!

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Hope you like them – all shot for the book cover market. Thanks for looking.

English Downland and a Lensbaby Plastic Lens

Been out today in some brilliant weather – up on the chalk downland which is in full summer mode with grasses, butterflies and birds everywhere.

In an attempt to stop taking IR shots on the Sony RX100, an old favourite was attached to a Canon 60D – the Lensbaby composer with the plastic lens and (very) manually changed apertures. As I’m not really a landscape photographer, the best subjects to concentrate on were the flowers and grasses, rendered very softly with this odd lens.

In order to boost the contrast the ‘Clear’ colour profile was used in camera. Other important settings were centre weighted metering, magnified LCD focussing and RAW file output as exposures can be all over the place – display a histogram on the LCD and keep an eye on it! Unless you really like lying down and getting up a lot, the pivoting LCD screen on the 60D is very useful for this sort of subject, though it’s difficult to see in bright sunlight. It’s all a bit hit and miss to be honest.

First some buttercups, post processed to give the yellow of the flowers a reddish hue. No aperture disk so very soft – just the essentials of the subject really. A neutral density filter (x3) was needed to prevent overexposure at f2.

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This was shot with the f4 aperture disk and converted to black and white in DXO filmpack to give it a harder contrast to cut into the softness and let the chalk path burn out.

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Finally another at f4 (once an aperture disk is in I rarely change it). Some odd flare top right, but given the lens it doesn’t seem to matter.

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Not a bad day at all – I may have picked up a slight suntan too!

Thanks for looking, hope you like them!

Just Wandering Around…

A few more from the Sony RX100 – and no infrared at least for a short while. As the weather in the UK (Dorset at least) has suddenly broken, and after a cold spring, late spring/summer has finally arrived. The late summer has resulted in every plant bursting out in one go, flowers and pollen everywhere…

This first one is using’ the Toy Camera’ JPEG setting, plus a -1 exposure compensation to make sure the yellow colour channel isn’t blown out (the green/yellows of this camera are over saturated).

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  This one uses the ‘Rich Tone Mono’ setting where three shots at different exposures are combined to extend the dynamic range. The whites of the flowers are a bit overexposed – my fault – but it’s a nice image.

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  “Short while” over …. I couldn’t resist two more infra-reds – processed as per the last post. When you’ve got an IR R72 filter in your pocket and a sunny day on the heath – well what can you do?

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  This tree is ancient – growing on an old Roman road running from Badbury Rings to Salisbury and this is the first shot I’ve got of it which I’m happy with.

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Thanks for looking – hope you like them.

Five Hundred Shots (and Two Weeks) with a Sony RX100

I’ve been hunting around for a pocket camera which can produce commercial quality images for some time now, and I’ve finally found one which fits the bill. This mini-test describes some ‘first impressions’ after a few weeks.

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Good colour and exposure in macro mode – good start!

In order to be useful it needed to replace my old Canon G9 (which has done a brilliant job as a “carry everywhere” workhorse), be truly pocketable and have around 18-25 Mp resolution to prevent excessive image resizing to meet minimal agency requirements. It must also shoot RAW to give the widest flexibility in post processing….

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Unbelievably small!

Here’s another on a CD with the roll of 35mm film – it really is tiny!

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The lens is a 28-100mm equivalent, f1.8 to f4.9. f4.9 is slow for a 100mm lens – however my Canon 15-85mm zoom on the 60D is f5.6 at 85mm so it’s not that bad! In bright light, the 1/2000th of a second shutter isn’t fast enough for f1.8 at 28mm so a neutral density filter is needed if you want to get shallow depth of field effects (it can be held over the lens).

The physical controls are very configurable – I’ve assigned ISO to the rotating ring around the lens mount, and exposure compensation, image quality, DRO optimisation level, AF mode etc to the Fn button. In aperture priority mode the rear control dial varies the aperture, and it all works well. The camera keeps up well with frantic setting changes so no complaints.

20Mp image quality is very good with low noise to to ISO 800 – about the same normal working range I’d use on the 60D. The large sensor is obviously making a significant difference.

Sharpness at 28mm and f1.8 is a bit weak probably due to distortion correction, but cleans up by f2.5. At longer focal lengths its sharp enough across the frame for me.

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Test shot in good light – colours tweaked from the default using an ACR colour profile (see later). 18mm, f5.6, 1/500th at ISO 100.

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Centre of the frame – the lens is sharp enough to pick out some telephone wires behind the tree which is impressive.

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Edge definition is fine too.

The Sony RAW converter is OK – but converting the ARW files to DNG format with Adobe’s RAW converter then using Adobe Camera RAW processing gives better results with more flexibility. Colour seems a little over saturated in RAW – especially a yellow hue to greens. ACR colour profiles by Maurizio Piraccini here allow for more neutrals results – and add a few colour options (thanks!).

Macro at 28mm and f1.8 is excellent, but the minimum focus distance increases dramatically as the focal length increases. The shallow depth of field at these close focus settings produces some good results – but it’s not a fast 50mm or 85mm on APSC or 35mm.

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Macro and some late bluebells .

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The last of the apple blossom. The slightly curved out of focus background highlights are like those produced by a Zuiko 50mm f1.4.

It reminds me most of a 35mm Minox camera which was a lovely small camera with a fixed sharp 35mm f2.8 lens. I really liked that camera – until it broke through overuse.

The special effects modes (JPEG only) aren’t bad, 10 frames per second is a bit over the top for me, but the multi frame dynamic range options and DRO settings look promising – I’ll do a test at a later date. All in all a very flexible package, and combined with an IR R72 and Neutral density filter (58mm diameter) a very portable one too.

Hope you find this useful and thanks for looking.

Abandoned/Found Things

(3 Images). Wandering around the countryside, you often come across bits and pieces which have been lost, then found by some passer-by and draped over a branch or fence – or just left there. There’s something very touching about them as they just sit there till they rot away, and as a photographic subject a bit of a favourite.

So – first one – a small Wellington boot which must have sat on the heath for years but somehow always looks untarnished (this bit of heath used to be a tip). The contrast between the natural autumn colours and the bright red was lovely.00151253

Next – the clouds cooperated here, and a small mitten wrapped around a metal fence.

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Finally a toy placed over a branch – before the leaves had grown.

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All shots taken for the book market, hope you like them. Have a good break over Easter!

Tree Tuesday Part Fifteen

A bit of an unusual Tree Tuesday this week – and rather sad. This is a Black Poplar in the grounds of the National Trust’s White Mill in East Dorset – a place I know very well as I’m a volunteer there during the summer. It’s age is anywhere between 300 and 500 years and the species itself is very rare.

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It died several years ago, and we didn’t know that the stump was hollow. The years of spiders webs and rotting wood accumulated in there is spectacular.

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I suppose the very high rainfall we’ve had this year contributed to the collapse, and as the tree is now unsafe it will have to be cut down – this is in a garden open to the public. It’s provided a home for snakes, birds and huge fungi for many years and will be greatly missed by all who know the site.

On the positive side, many cuttings were taken 15 years ago and are planted around East Dorset, so it’s not all bad.

Thanks for looking – Happy Tree Tuesday.

ps. There’s an article about Black Poplars here if you’re interested.

Tree Tuesday Part Fourteen

Part fourteen already? Well here we go…

First up – a telephoto shot of a clump of trees on an autumn day in Wiltshire. That dark sky and foreground made a nice shot (four images).

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This ones on film with a fast telephoto lens (can’t remember what), and lots of post processing gave an IR effect.

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Next the fog just past this tree made a nice ‘horizon’ in some morning mist.

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Finally a village street and road on a stormy morning.

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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. Happy Tree Tueaday!

Foggy Days Part Three

This is the third of a series of posts dedicated to photography on foggy days.

The first two were taken on the same morning when early autumn sunshine was burning off the fog down by the river. The bird swooping out of the low growing tree was a complete surprise – I only noticed it when I started processing the images. If I’d seen it I would have waited until it was a bit further to the right…

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It was a similar story with this photographer who was invisible on the day – they get everywhere! The spires in the distance in both shots are Wimborne Minster. The colour hasn’t been messed around with at all – these are straight shots from the RAW converter.

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This one was taken on a chalk ridge on a freezing cold day. The tree was covered in ice and the branches were drooping under the weight. Walking back across the featureless downland to the car park I got completely lost in this murk and stumbled across the car completely by accident…. 00074966

Finally the classic ‘straight line receding into the fog’ shot. Luckily I didn’t get lost on this trip.00074965

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

Thanks for looking!

Tree Tuesday Part Twelve

It’s Tuesday again (well nearly), and that means trees… I’ve dug out an old friend from the vaults and recharged the battery – the Fuji F810 converted for IR with a small screwdriver. It’s still working fine if a bit eccentrically, especially in the mode dial department, but it still works!

Equipped with this and an R72 filter held over the lens here’ s todays Tree Tuesday.

First – a huge oak which is in a lane nearby. The trunk must be seven feet thick and the tree itself several hundred years old. There’s enough creeper growth to give some IR response, so this is a good time of year to shoot before the main leaf canopy bursts out.

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Second – the same tree from a different angle across the fields. It probably started as a hedgerow tree and was allowed to grow, maybe in the 1700’s. There’s a rule called ‘Hooper’s Law’ which states that a hedgerow gains a woody species in a thirty metre section every hundred years – I must try a stretch of this one to check. The track next to the tree is at least two hundred years old (it’s on an old map), so it’s probably much older.

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Unusually these weren’t taken for the book cover market, but just for fun and Tree Tuesday – hope you like them and thanks for looking!

Tree Tuesday Part Ten

Two more for Tree Tuesday – hope you like them.

Both in infrared – the first one is a clump or trees on a very exposed hilltop, hence the bent and contorted forms.

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Second one taken ages ago on an Olympus 8080 on a windy day on the heath nearby. This one’s a silver birch as I remember.

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Happy tree Tuesday!

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.

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.