Archive for May, 2013

Stragglers

I don’t know what’s wrong with  me that I just don’t finish processing stuff before posting. I’m a nut. These are from the Mt. Foss sunset session.

By now you know I have a fern habit and when I saw these I knew I had to try to work with them. I’m not 100% sold on this, but I was trying to work fast with the light that I had. I wanted them back-lit and I like the glowing aspect, but the sun isn’t in a great position. Moving though, gave me a lot of lens flare. It was too distracting, so I went with this offset sun instead. It’s handheld at ISO 500 and since I wanted those rays coming from the sun, it’s stopped down to f13. I wasn’t sure it would be enough, since this is a new lens, but I took a chance and it worked. In order to get those in your shots, that kind of star effect, you need to close the aperture down.

Can you see the real me?

Usually the most color in a sunset happens after the sun sinks down past the horizon. I learned the hard way that sometimes the color takes a while to develop. The old adage “don’t pack until it’s black” is right on. If you have to hike back to your car in the dark, do it. Bring a headlamp or a flashlight and stay until you can’t see. It’s the only way to make sure you get the most out of the sunset. In the field I used an 8-stop graduated neutral density filter. I still use them because I think it helps me control the light better in-camera. In processing this one, I did notch the saturation up a bit (I think 15 on the sliders) and the luminance on the green and yellow channels, too, just to highlight that spectacular new foliage. I think it gives some much-needed depth in the foreground.

White Mountain Sunset

Anyway…sorry for the extra post. Sometimes I’m like a runaway train.


After the rains

I took a day off this week to do some spring shooting. It ended up being a pretty perfect day. Overcast and not too hot and it didn’t actually rain. It had just done though so the colors really popped. Yeah, I was pretty much surrounded by mosquitoes in the Musquash the whole time I was there, but I doused myself in anti-bug juice and they didn’t bite. Of course I had to get in a trail shot –

Somewhere down there

I liked the perspective of this one. The mystery of the trail disappearing under the canopy. And the canopy itself. Fresh, new leaves. Everything seeming to drive upwards towards the sun. Springtime has a feel of energy being released all around you. Also of hurry. You can feel the rush to reproduce all around you. The urgency to get it done before winter arrives again. One of the best places to feel it is at a vernal pool.

Echoes in my mind

I have an idea of working a project around these. They’re so vital to the ecosystem of a forest, providing breeding grounds for many reptiles and amphibians. And regular water sources, too. I just love how still and hidden they seem even though they’re teeming with life. Just moments before I took that shot above, I scared about every frog in the place. When the ripples subsided, I leaned against a tree and composed. Such a perfect reflection. I flipped the image upside-down and it looks really weird. Like a regular forest scene, but something is just so slightly off. The only drawback to photographing vernal pools is the bugs. I have a few shots with mosquitoes just hanging in the air in front of the lens. Sometimes they land on it, too. I have to remember to spray my hands because they always try to bite my fingers. Bah.

Being May, it’s wildflower season and even though I’ve shot pink lady slippers before, I couldn’t pass this one by. The leaves remind me of wings and the bent stem reminds me of a swan’s neck so I spent a bit of time shuffling the beanbag around hunting for just the right angle. So lucky to get that backdrop, too, a big pine. The flower really stands out because of it. The OM 90mm is probably at f8. It likes it there.

Cygnus acaule

So that’s what I got in the morning of my day off. Wait till you see what I got in the afternoon. OMG. But before I sign off, here’s another shot from my sunset shoot with friends on top of Mt. Foss.

Shrouded Whites

 

 

 


Me and my new GH3

As I said in my Elusive Wildflowers Part 9 post, I have a new camera. It’s a Lumix (Panasonic) GH3. Yeah, I know they’re hemorrhaging money these days, but the Lumix was the only one that would do what I want the way I want it. It’s my first mirrorless camera and also my first non-Olympus. Here are some shots of it from reviews and articles –

That’s exactly my kit. The lens & body I had to pay for, but the grip was a bonus and I also got (but haven’t received yet) a $125 rebate on the body. Pricey, yeah. But as I said it was the only one that would do what I need how I need it. A lot of folks who had its predecessor the GH2 are mad because it’s bigger. Considerably so, but since my E-30 was bigger still, I don’t mind. It fits my hand nicely and has all the controls I’m used to working with in very convenient places. It has function buttons that are customizable and that’s new for me and something I have yet to really work with, but as time goes on, I think that I will. It also has customizable modes for different styles of shooting and that I have played with. Check out the top and how nicely arranged it is. Granted, I’d like that forward control dial in front of the shutter since that’s what I’m used to, but I can adapt.

I’ve had a camera with a tilt and swivel screen for 3 years now and can’t live without it. I don’t know what the stubborn insistence is with pretty much all camera manufacturers to relegate that feature to their most entry-level cameras, but it’s frustrating. Since I’d be upgrading, I wanted in addition to improved image quality, a weather-proof body and lens, but without the screen it would be unusable. Panasonic gave me that and tons more. The OLED viewfinder is taking the most getting used to, but since I work mostly from the live view screen, it’s not that much of a problem.

So that’s my new rig. Enough pictures of it. Time for some shots from it. Of course I put the Olympus 90mm macro on it right away. It’s a dream. Not only is the IQ improved, but because the OLED screen(s) brighten automatically I can focus with the lens stopped down, something I couldn’t do with the E-30. It makes for a smoother flow in the field. Check it out!

I didn’t touch the color sliders on either of those, btw. The richness is amazing just by setting white and black points. I don’t have to do much to the contrast either, but I still do. I think it’s the lens itself – the age and the type of coatings they used. Even the color purple, which I’ve talked about before, is accurate. For something different, I decided to use the on-board flash to kick up the dazzle in the raindrops a bit and it worked a treat. All I did was turn it on and leave the camera in Aperture-priority. It did amazingly well.

To test the camera a bit and see about its limits and strengths, I’m doing things differently than I did with the E-30. I still shoot in RAW, but I am putting it on auto white balance a lot and it’s pretty accurate. Not always, but mostly. I am also experimenting with the improved low-light performance and so I tried hand-holding this shot at 800 ISO. No WAY this would look this good with my old camera.

Sure, I reduced the noise in Lightroom a bit, but not more than I would have for 200 ISO in the Olympus. And the colors are accurate and I didn’t tweak them at all. If anything, I sometimes have to turn the vibrance down a bit so they don’t look so saturated. The trillium shot is with the Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 lens with the IS turned on. Yeah, the one black mark against the GH3 is the lack of in-body image stabilization which means I don’t get it when I use my OM 90mm or any of my other legacy glass. That was a nice thing to have on the E-30 and I do miss it. I can live without it though since most of the time I’ve got the macro on a support of some kind, but my perfect camera would have IBIS. The 12-35mm is a bit shorter in reach than my recent standard lens, and I don’t think it focuses quite as close, but it is a constant f2.8 aperture and so far I like working with it.

I haven’t done a lot of landscape work with this rig yet, but I did get out to do a sunset on Saturday and here’s one shot I have processed so far.

It’s from the top of the diminutive Mt. Foss in Eaton, NH. I used one of my Cokin ND grads (the holder is for my old lens, so I handheld the filter for these) to control the light better and I did tweak the red, orange, purple and magenta channels a bit in LR, but none over 25 on the slider scale. I also hit the luminance on the yellow and green channels to hightlight the strip of trees there. Just setting my white and black points and leaving the contrast low, and the thing still pops. I’m pretty amazed. In the field this camera is really nice to work with and it’s WAY quieter than my Olympus, which even comparing with other cameras with mirrors, was louder than anyone else’s I’d heard. It always embarrassed me and now I don’t have to worry about it anymore. I could even turn on the electronic shutter and have the GH3 run totally silent. Very cool.

So apart from a couple of fiddly bits (remote cable, ND filter, batteries) I’ve got a pretty good package. Oh and before I forget, the thing also has an intervalometer built-in and HD, broadcast-quality video. Two VERY new things for me, but both of which I’ll be playing with soon.


Two by water

While out the other day I spent a little time on the shore of a beaver pond. It seems lately that there are more and more of them around, creating lakes and overflowing vernal pools. Sometimes they can be nuisances, but beavers evolved to be successful in their niche, and they are part of how meadows develop and forests change so I don’t mind what they do.

The seeming stillness of decay

Plus their houses are pretty cool.

Here there be beavers

These are some of the last shots I took with the E-30. Poor old thing. Maybe if I can get the lens repaired it can still be useful for someone. It’s a good rig. Great lens. Easy to work with. Both shots are with the Olympus 90mm at about f5.6. That one you’ll still get to see shots from. As if there was any doubt!


Elusive Wildflowers – Part 9

So, two new things for you today.

First being this gorgeous wild bleeding heart I found in my yard today. Never before have I seen or photographed the wild variety and so when I saw it today, I got right out there.

My sad slowing heart

I didn’t use the E-30 though.

Nope.

New camera making its debut on the blog this Mother’s Day. The first non-Olympus camera I have ever owned.

A Panasonic Lumix GH3.

And the OM 90mm macro.

What? You were expecting total change?

Well, maybe in future posts. I did get the Lumix 12-35mm f2.8 as well, but didn’t keep it on the camera for these.

I’ve had the thing all of 28 hours now and I’m still messing with its millions of settings, menu selections and buttons. It’s a bit overwhelming, but if I concentrate on finding, using and becoming proficient with the things I used most often with the E-30, it helps keep my head from exploding. This is one serious camera. Woah.

Cross my heart

I say again. Woah.

This is almost too much camera for me. I mean, I shot with an OM-1 from 1988 to 2005 or so. Interspersed with an OM-3 in the later years. All manual. All mechanical. Could shoot without batteries as long as I could meter in my head, which I used to be able to do. I should try it again just to see if I still can.

Anyway. I decided on the m4/3 flagship from Panasonic for a lot of reasons and I don’t think I’m going to be disappointed at all. It’s weather-sealed. It has a level. It has a flip and swivel screen. It has 16 megapixels. It takes my old glass just fine. It has an incredible image processing engine. It’s slightly smaller than my old rig. It has some excellent weather-sealed lenses with fixed apertures all through the zoom range. It feels good in my hands. It has a million customizable buttons and settings.

Phew.

It’s going to be a while before I really get comfortable with it, but so far it’s been pretty terrific. And I have some snazzy HD video options, too, so look out!

For the love I bear

So watch this space for more Lumix GH3 images. It’s going to be a wild ride.