Sunday, March 18, 2012



Since March of 2006 I have been a constant user of Olympus cameras, starting with the E-300, then moving on to the E-3, then the E-P2, and finally the E-1. During that period I used Olympus Master for post processing of JPEG output from the E-300 and E-3, then switched to Lightroom 3 for post processing of Raw from the E-3 forward. The abrupt switch from pure JPEG to (nearly) pure Raw was mid-2009, with the last six years roughly split between the two.

During that same time period I've used Olympus 4/3rds lenses exclusively with the lone notable exception of a Sigma 30mm. It wasn't until much much later that I started to mix in old OM lenses with the MF-1 adapter for 4/3rds and the MMF-1 adapter for µ4/3rds. Given my experiences of mixing lenses across all the bodies, I'd rather use native lenses designed for a given mount, and each lens has a unique color personality; different lenses on the same body, shooting the same scene, will usually require different handling if you want  the same results. Not always but usually.

During that time I've taken tens of thousands of photographs with all the cameras, the largest number with the E-P2. After six years, all those photographs, and all the years I've spent in post processing, especially with Lightroom, I believe I've finally reached a point where, at least technically, I'm happy with the results. Paradoxically I've learned that if I work with the camera and the light and scene in front of me most of the time I can live with the Raw results out of the camera with minimal intervention. Most, but not always.

Of the three photos, the first photo of bell peppers was the most heavily post processed. The original was taken with the Olympus E-P2 and M.Zuiko 45mm. Here are the steps I used to produce the final image in Lightroom 4.
  • Highlights -100
  • White Balance: Tungsten
  • White Clipping -50
  • Black Clipping -25
  • Shadows +25
  • Clarity +50
  • Sharpening +25
Everything else was left untouched. All those changes were to bring a certain clarity and color depth to the whole image. It might be nothing more than four different colored bell peppers at a Whole Foods store in Orlando, but to me, printed up and on the wall, it reminds of me all those colorful paintings I made back in the mid-1970s, using canvas and bold acrylic colors. I loved acrylic because its colors were far wilder than anything that oils could provide at the time. Acrylic reminded me of Kodachrome, my all time favorite film.

Yellow Hibiscus

These last two photos were taken in the backyard during the last few moments of the golden hour using an Olympus E-1 and a ZD 50mm macro lens. I used far less adjustments with these images than the bell peppers;
  • While Clipping +50 for the Mandevilla and +55 for the yellow Hibiscus
  • Shadows +50 for the Mandevilla and -25 for the yellow Hibiscus
  • Sharpening +25 for the Mandevilla and +10 for the yellow Hibiscus
  • Clarity +10 just for the yellow Hibiscus
The camera did the rest (or I should say, the Kodak sensor did the rest).

I'm curious to see what I can produce with the E-M5 using these same post tools and settings. I'm certainly no Lightroom expert, and I have no doubts that my tastes will horrify certain folks who look. For those who feel offended by my work, I apologize in advance. Give me enough time and practice and I'll probably evolve this color style (if you will) a bit more. But right now I enjoy enhancing and reveling in the emotion of the color I see. Life is chock full of strong colors. So should my photographs be.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful photos as always Bill! By the way, I wonder what that 'clarity' slider might do technically - I don't have any Lightroom (not even using Windows anymore), so I cannot try to figure this out myself...

    About the E-M5: I downloaded the DPReview studio shot .orf file of it, and applying my usual workflow gives me slight oversharpening with my settings for the E-520 - but then, it's the same with an E-PL1. And yes, compared to an E-PL1 you can expect more fine detail in the results.

    Also downloaded some of those Focus Numérique raw files with firmware 0.95, and the quality really is amazing. Wish I could have attended that Amsterdam session, the model herself would have been worth the journey ;-) What was also impressive was the ISO 3200 raw file of that hotel lobby which I downloaded. Really usable low light shots sound pretty good to me...


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