Friday, April 10, 2015

Pleased with the Fujis

Its been about a year since I sold my Nikon DSLR equipment and committed to the Fuji X system. I now have an X-E2 with two zooms and two primes, and a tiny little X-20 for situations where I want something extra light or inconspicuous. I have been delighted with both cameras. Their reputed strong points are indeed what has most impressed me. Provided I get the focus correct, the level of detail and sharpness is remarkable. Colors are vivid and, to my eye, realistic. And using software that excels at de-mosaicing the Fuji X-trans sensors, I am able to produce a surprising level of dynamic range, recovering image detail in areas where I thought it was lost. I have gotten very pleasing results converting Fuji raw files with Photo Ninja, Iridient Developer, and my current favorite, Capture One. As a result, I am less interested these days in using HDR software and, in extreme situations that really do exceed the dynamic range of the cameras, I’m more likely to use exposure blending techniques rather than go back to HDR. On this score, I’ve been strongly influenced by Sean Bagshaw, whose tutorials on extended dynamic range are masterful and crystal clear. Also, since the new equipment is relatively easy to carry and use, I’ve become interested in more spontaneous forms of photography such as street photography. So, one year on, I’m very comfortable in the new system, feel like I’m growing as a photographer, and getting results that make me happy. Since I’m an amateur photog, that’s all that matters to me. I’m really excited for the sun to come out, the snow to melt, and outdoor photography season to begin.



Saturday, April 4, 2015

Pre-dawn Sevilla



Calle Mateos Gago, looking toward Giralda, a few minutes before sunrise.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Iridient Developer supports Fuji shooters

Some of the major raw development software packages do a mediocre job with files generated by the unique Fuji X-trans sensors, and some just won’t handle these files at all (DxO). After my switch from Nikon to Fuji I experimented with different raw developers, and one I have come to appreciate is a boutique program called Iridient Developer. One thing I especially like is the time and effort the software developer puts into emulating the Fuji film simulation settings with their distinctive color palettes and tonal contrasts. These presets have been continually improved and updated, and the latest batch look spectacular. There is one set of software presets for Fuji APS-C sensor cameras (including my X-E2) and another for compacts (including my X-20). I’m delighted to have these in my digital photography toolkit. Thanks, Iridient!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

New Tutorial series on Extending Dynamic Range

Sean Bagshaw has a new video tutorial series on various post-processing techniques for dealing with extended dynamic range, or extreme tonal contrast, in digital images. These are images where the range between extreme light tones and extreme dark tones exceeds the ability of digital hardware to capture (camera) or represent (monitor or printer). In the film era, the photographer would have to choose whether to capture the brighter tones of a scene and allow the shadows to go dark, or to expose for shadow detail and overexpose the highlights. While digital cameras also capture a limited range of tones, there are a variety of ways to deal with this dilemma when processing digital images.

Sean is an excellent teacher, offering crystal clear explanations and easy-to-follow examples of when, why, and how to use these sophisticated techniques. He’s focusing here on developing raw images to maximize the dynamic range in single image captures, photoshop techniques for taming highlights and bringing out shadow detail while maintaining local contrast, and in case of extreme dynamic range blending multiple exposures into one image that more closely resembles the range of tones we might have seen with our our own eyes. In some of these tutorials, Sean makes use of Tony Kuyper’s luminance masking techniques to target specific tonal ranges for adjustment or blending.

I benefited a lot from the first version of this tutorial set, and the second version is even more comprehensive. Since my post-processing skills get a little rusty when I’ve been preoccupied with other things, I’m really enjoying going through these tutorials as a refresher.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Thanks Ken

My friend Ken is a real photojournalist, a highly-trained and experienced professional, and took the time to go frame-by-frame through my Right-wing Populism gallery and offer thoughtful advice. How cool is that? Thanks Kenny!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

new photo project

Photographing beautiful scenes can be a lot of fun, but I have felt like my photography was not much more than that, stuck in a rut. So I’ve been wondering what kind of long-term project I could undertake that would help me grow as a photographer and maybe say something about something that matters to me.

So I think I’ve hit upon the solution. I’ve started photographing instances of right-wing populism in American political life. I’m not interested in photographing politicians, but grassroots activists and ordinary people who are motivated by these kinds of political narratives. I’ve found a couple of venues for this, and I’m thinking of others.

A gallery of these images is now online here. I’ll be adding to them from time to time as I encounter other venues for this kind of thing.

Here’s a sample.