Friday, February 24, 2012

More at the Citrus Bowl


I went back again to the Citrus Bowl and Tinker Field for another afternoon session. This time I concentrated on the southwest corner of the Citrus Bowl where Tinker Field is located, and arrived a good hour earlier than the previous evening. The light was more neutral.

Tinker Field

I used two cameras this time, an E-1 with the ZD 50mm and the E-P2 with the Panasonic 20mm. Both were used at base ISO; 100 for the E-1 and 200 for the E-P2. Because the light was bright the lenses were both stopped down at least three stops from wide open. Oddly enough, the 50mm was stopped down to f/5.6 (E-1, ISO 100) while the 20mm was stopped down to f/4 (E-P2, ISO 200). you would have thought it would have been the other way around, but I believe it was my subconscious training taking effect; I have gotten into the habit of closing the 50mm down as much as possible because I want maximum depth of field, especially in macro mode, while for the 20mm I've gotten into the habit of opening it up as much as possible and shooting wide open in low light. It's a wonder both lenses were as close as they were in their aperture settings.

I've been digging a bit deeper into post processing with LR4, using the shadows, whites, and highlight sliders to pull detail from the shadows, unblock highlights, and in general shift the overall tonal range of a photograph more towards the middle. There are some photos that don't benefit from this, but right now it's a big interesting laboratory of experimentation. I'm after detail and texture in the concrete structure, and as much detail as possible throughout the photo.

One interesting annoyance is the blue sky. The photo top left was taken with the E-P2, while the photo top right was taken with the E-1. Both taken raw. Same color temperature and tint. Pretty much the same brightness levels. But the color cast in the blue sky in both are notably different. The only difference between the two is I saturated the orange channel a bit on the left photo. I went back into LR4 and set it back to neutral, but it did nothing to really change the sky color. If I were truly persnickety I'd drag the right one into PS5, create a layer for the sky, and match the colors up. But I'm too lazy. Instead I'll just note this and move on.

I've also learned I didn't know what I was talking about all this time while complaining about a lack of "dynamic range" in the Olympus sensor. LR4's re-arranged controls have allowed me to recover detail from so-called blown highlights as well as the so-called blocked shadows. And I've been able to shift the center of the histogram with the whites slider. This has turned out to be a lot more enlightening than screwing around with the histogram on the back of the camera. I can study these simple but important changes at my leisure, and then take any lessons learned back out into the field when I photograph again. Whether it's right for everyone isn't the point; it's a process that seems to work for me.

Now that the days are lengthening my wife is encouraging me to stop on the way home and use the camera. Her attitude is if I'm going to spend all this money on camera equipment then I'm going to use it, even if she has to drive me around to places. Which, of course, is a way for her to get out and enjoy the weather as well. And she gets to pick anything I take and use as wallpaper on her Mac, and her Nook Tablet, and her Android phone. And she's starting to mumble about prints. Until I mention the price of the $1,000 Canon printer, and then the mumbling dies down. I really need to get out and find a good local printer. It's been a long while since I used Colonial, and that was back in the days when I shot film. It may be time to try their digital processing...


  1. Hi Bill,

    As an E-1 user myself, I find your pictures simply amazing in the crispness and color (not to speak of the lovely composition!). I must be doing something wrong as for the life of me I can't replicate what you do to your images either on my E-1 or E-300.

    Admittedly I don't shoot RAW much since the JPEG colors are great (more like im lazy), but would you kindly be able to advise this poor soul what settings you use for your E-1s if you shoot JPEG. (eg. sharpness, color etc).

    Many thanks, and keep the Olympus flag flying. It's such an underrated system and only so few people know how to use it.

    Kevin Ho

  2. Thank you, but please keep in mind that two of the three photos were taken with the E-P2 and Panasonic 20mm. Only the photo in the upper right corner was taken with the E-1 and Zuiko Digital 50mm Macro.

    As for settings, all I remember is that sharpness and contrast are set to 0, and color set to natural.

    I shoot raw completely now, and run everything through Lightroom, specifically Lightroom 4 Beta at the moment. When it's released I will upgrade, then upgrade all my LR3 catalogs to LR4.

    As for the E-300, my daughter has mine, but here's a link to all the photos I took with it on Flickr:

    Once again I shot raw and processed most of these in Lightroom. I miss that old E-300, but then, if it were around the house it would be sitting on the shelf, so it's good that my youngest daughter has it.

  3. Thanks Bill,

    The colors of the E300 are lovely, especially the E1. The only difficulty is that it takes a bit of care shooting on older Olympus gear like them. My newer Nikon gear tends to make one lazy in a sense that the one tends to take Nikon output for granted, given the D700's amazing low light performance.

    With the E1 or E300, i somehow enjoy the process more, just need to walk around with a gorillapod and shoot at ISO 100.

    Just love your images -- will be coming back to your blog often!



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