Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Wish You Were Here

I think some of these images from Roosevelt Island may become greeting cards / postcards. They just seem to speak to that retro vibe.

Friday, April 25, 2014

It Isn't Always Grey

And it isn't always black and white either.

Springtime keeps threatening to arrive, despite recurrent retreats to a more grey, wet time. This week the weather gave us sun one day, rain the next, followed by chunky wetness. You never know what you'll get in the "spring".

Daffodils have little patience for the cold wet and grey. They defy the weather, asserting their urge to brighten everything in their path. We are consistently finding them popping up everywhere in our yard alongside squill and grape hyacinths. It is such a wonderful riot of color at a time when even the grass isn't sure it wants to green up.

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Quick Look at the Queensboro Bridge

This image of the Queensboro Bridge was made just before midnight after arriving on Roosevelt Island. Still full of energy from the bus ride down into the city, I went up on the roof to see what I could see. I didn't expect that the view would be so compelling. I also didn't anticipate how incredibly dark it would be. If that wasn't enough, I was testing out a new camera, the Fuji X-T1 with a Zeiss 12mm, f/2.8 lens. I rented this new kit from BorrowLenses.com. Trying to figure out a new camera, with no manual in hand, in the dark... is an interesting experience. I shot probably fifty exposures in about half an hour. It was drizzling rain...but the light was interesting. I look forward to going back again soon to see if I can improve on these images by working with longer exposures, ND filters and a tripod in hand.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Visiting VT in the Springtime

I tend to forget that Vermont has mountains. It is easy to forget since VT is far enough away to not really be an easy get-away for the day kinda jaunt. It is however, beautiful. Whether looking at the Green Mountains of Vermont or the High Peaks of the Adirondacks from across Lake Champlain, the views are inspiring.

As if you didn't already know of my longstanding love for photographing graveyards... here is yet another example...this one taken from the passenger seat by Aurora as we zoomed along down the road.

This last image was made as we left our trip through Vermont on our way through the Berkshires of Massachusetts. The town of North Adams (in a daylong deluge of grey and rain) made me wish we were back in Vermont again where the fields were starting to show the greens of Spring. The following morning in Amherst, we were greeted with snow and ice. Where is this Spring I keep hearing about?

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Learning New Things By The Handful

While Nancy and I were in NYC last week, I had the great fortune to rent the Fuji X-T1 and two lenses. I have to admit, I fell in love with the Zeiss Touit 12mm f2 lens. It was crazy sharp and allowed for nearly instantaneous focusing. I wish I could say that there is something horribly wrong with the Fuji X lineup, just to keep you from buying into a whole new system. Can't do it. If you're on the fence, buy the Fuji. You'll love it. Or you wont. Whatever. That's not what I learned this past week.

The first image in this series is an as-shot-JPG straight from the Fuji X-T1, with the Black and White Conversion with Red Filter added in-camera. Yup, this is pretty darned nice. I was mighty happy. I figured that it would still need editing once i got back into the studio, but nope. I liked this.

At the time (last week), the Fuji X-T1 was not supported in Lightroom 5.3 . As a result, when I tried to import the native raw files from the Fuji, the RAF files came up as unsupported. I tossed them into a separate folder and figured that sometime this summer, Adobe would release a LR update that would allow for the raw Fuji files to be read. I didn't expect that to happen this week!

The image that follows (below), in COLOR is the Fuji RAF, raw image. Surprise. Even though I had the camera selected to shoot in B&W, the raw image is in color. Hmmm. Very interesting.

Original raw Fuji RAF file, uploaded as DNG in Lightroom 5.4 this afternoon.

This image (above) was created simply by converting to black and white (B&W) directly in the Lightroom Develop Module/Basic. My usual method of working in black and white is to start here. I then adjust the "color" setting sliders. Even though the end result is B&W, by adjusting the sliders for Red, Orange, etc., you are able to affect the lightness or darkness of a given area (of color response) in the image. If you push or pull the slider for blue for instance, folks with blue jeans on (and your sky) will darken or brighten, depending on your personal preference. The image below shows what the settings for this particular image looked like in the LR dialogue for B&W adjustments in the Develop module.

This image was created in Nik Software's Silver Efex Pro2. Nik SilverEfex is loaded with choices, options, and sliders galore. It is incredibly easy to be overwhelmed. Most folks tend to take the easy path and choose one of the presets. I typically start with a preset that gets close to what I imaged the image to be like during my editing visualization process, early on. In this case, that preset filter is called Full Contrast and Structure. I dropped the exposure considerably since it had automatically brightened the already bright noon-day harsh highlights. It also bumped up the dark shadow areas considerably. In many circles, this could be considered black and white HDR. For me, it doesn't seem very real or pleasant, so it isn't what I would consider a "keeper".

This last image was made in OnOne Software's latest version of PerfectB&W8. I picked up the software about two weeks ago and am slowly figuring out how to best make use of the different style of editing software. This particular setting in PerfectB&W8 is called Palladium. The preset originally comes with a "palladium" border which looked like a sloppy emulsion laid down with a brush. Not the effect I particularly wanted for this image. So I switched the frame to something more subtle and discrete.

After all of that, am I happy with the image? Not really. It was a great "grab" shot, but it isn't my ideal image. I detest hot-high-noon photos. I would have been much happier with an early morning or late afternoon photo... but by then we were in a totally different part of Manhattan, (specifically, the Cloisters) and were on our way back to the Island. In terms of a scouting session, it gave me incredible feedback on the area (near the Empire State Building), what gear would make it easy to get the shot (definitely the X-T1), time of day (ideally morning or late afternoon), and where is a good place to stand. All of those issues play out in every single image I made during this trip. In each image, there is something I feel like I can improve... so we'll go back hopefully either at the end of April or the beginning of May.

Want to know more about the latest incarnation of Lightroom or any of my other editing software? Ask me questions, either here on the blog or on Facebook. Always happy to share my process.