Friday, August 03, 2012

Late Supper

Took the day off from the office and worked around the house. Filled out and filed all my insurance claim forms (all one of them) over the robbery. Six items (two bodies plus vertical grips, two zooms) can cost a lot of money if you want to replace them with current gear. If the insurance company cuts me a check minus our deductible then I'll have a decent (for me) unexpected windfall to replace everything with contemporary technology. The question is with what.

After a day of just doing house chores my wife and I went out for a late supper to a place on International Drive. I like I-Drive because I can exercise my crazy style of photography and nobody bats an eyelash. After all, I-Drive is the heart of tourist country, and tourists are always snapping something. Later on in the restaurant I saw no less than three groups taking photos of themselves, and one of them had a Canon digital Rebel (model unknown). What was interesting is that none of them were using flash. Contemporary cameras now have decent enough high-ISO performance that flash isn't a necessity any longer, especially for the latest consumer DSLRs.

I left for supper with the Olympus E-PL2 with the Leica 25mm in tow. That combination can work in just about any light, usually at or just above base ISO. Because it was late afternoon/early evening light, the deepening shadows and colors were all the more deeper and richer, especially around the restaurant. I love the combination of camera, lens, and light, and with a little extra effort in Lightroom I can actually get pretty close to the original colors, such as the blue neon zig-zag in the top photo. I also love how sharp that Leica lens is wide open, yet I can still achieve a decent fast shutter speed at ISO 200, the E-PL2's base and best ISO.
I tend to wait outdoors for our name to be called. I can wander about and practice photographic "sketches", little experimental vignettes of light, color, and composition that don't really have to do anything but please me. As I was walking slowly down the sidewalk I came upon this huge yucca plant where untold numbers of visitors had carved their names into the succulent's leaves. Every leaf out of the hundreds growing on this one plant had a name crudely carved in it, some with dates. Such mindless vandalism makes me a little sicker every time I see it. How are we as a race going to save our planet and ourselves if we keep going through the world and insisting on carving our names into everything?

It shows what kind of lemmings we humans are, as I'm sure some huge crowd didn't just show up one day and do all this damage to this poor plant. No, someone started it, and as time went on others came by, thought it was cool, and added their own names. This is human destruction against nature, major and minor, perpetuated.
These cacti, growing at different locations, provided an interesting layered effect with the Leica. Once again the Leica at f/1.4 is an awesome optic on the E-PL2. Being able to quickly move around and compose by looking at the back is very fluid and easy. Unlike some critics tend to note, I didn't look like I was holding a stinky baby diaper out in front of me.
Our Waitress
Once seated I ordered something simple, soup and salad. My appetite has been lackluster lately, and I tend to eat sparingly and infrequently. It might not be the best nutritionally, but it will certainly help the waistline. The young woman above was our waitress. I was experimenting with the camera inside the restaurant where the sun had finally set and interior lighting was on. The interior was dim, yet the Leica was bright enough that the E-PL2 only raised the ISO to 500 at f/1.4 at 1/60s. Because of how far away she was I heavily cropped the original photograph. I feel this photograph turned out pretty well, at least by my amateur standards.

The Leica 1.4/25mm might be the most expensive prime in my µ4/3rds collection, but it's been worth every penny.


  1. Yesss... that's the one lensss I'm lusssting after. Mussst have thiss preciousss one day... ;-)

  2. Dear Bill,
    by the suggestion of Mr Lonien I surfed in to your blog and I´m amazed by the nice pictures you take! Hard to believe you are an amateur!! Both technically and the feeling is great!

    Great inspiration for the future :-).

    I myself is a hobby photographer but not close to your standards. Though I´m looking for improvements everyday. I recently bought the Oly E5 and found that Lightroom 4 do not process the RAW files that well. Seems to be very flat and hence it sometimes hard to get the JPEG look right out of Oly.

    Mr Lonien said that you might use some presets like "Huelight". Do you by chance have any to share?
    I´ve look around on DPReview etc and getting closer. Still not right there.....

    Best regards

    1. Thank you for your compliments. As for using Lightroom 4, I have no presets. Not owning an E-5 I'm not sure what kind of advice to give. All I can say is experiment, especially Highlights, shadows, whites, blacks, clarity, vibrance and saturation. The top photo, for example, has the following settings:

      Shadows +25 (to unblock shadows a bit)
      Whites +35 (to brighten the scene, help brighten colors)
      Blacks -25 (to enhance acutance a bit, saturate the blacks)
      Clarity 20
      Saturation 20

      And then I worked on individual color channels
      Red - Saturation 50, Luminance 25
      Yellow - Saturation 50, Luminance 25
      Blue - Saturation 50, Luminance -25, primarily for the blue neon

      The image was taken in Olympus Raw, and I stayed with the camera's selection of white balance. In fact I did that for all the photos except the last, which I set to tungsten and then processed as black and white in Silver Efex Pro 2.

      I can't tell you why I made those particular choices, except to say it comes from a lot of experience, experimentation, and personal taste both in post processing and in creating the photograph to be post processed. If you look at my E-3 photos from when I first obtained it with my most recent photos from that camera you'll see a dramatic shift in how the images look, over a nearly four year period.

  3. Thanks for responding that quickly!
    I´ll certainly test your tweeking to see what that will do and as you say at the end it is up to yourself to decide what the pic should look like !

    Looking forward to follow a very interesting photography blog for the future. Keep up the good work!


    1. Peter, you might want to check out this 17 minute tutorial by Julieanne Kost, an Adobe employee, where she explains how to use many of the sliders in Lightroom 4's Develop module:

    2. Thanks Greg for the link. Though it´s not the basics behind the develop module I´m after. I just find it hard to get a consistent preset that would reflect true colors from the cam. It takes a bit too long to adjust color sliders for each photo.....

    3. Peter, OK, I understand. In the Develop module, the bottom panel on the right is the Camera Calibration panel, and under the Process version selection is the Profile selection. Every camera that Lightroom recognizes, be default, gets assigned to Adobe Standard profile (which is a pretty "safe" gamut of colors). On the more popular camera models, Adobe includes other profiles that come very close to matching the JPG colors that the camera would produce. On my Canon cameras, the Camera Standard profile is not too far from what you get when the camera is set to Standard. On my Olympus OM-D E-M5, there is no other choice other than Adobe Standard.

      You can easily create your own Profiles, which can be used by both Lightroom and by Camera Raw. It will set you back $100, but that's a lot less than a new camera or a new lens. What you need is made by X-Rite, and the product is called the ColorChecker Passport. You make a custom profile for each light source (they all have their own spectrum of color), such as daylight, daylight with polarizer, speedlite, tungsten, etc. Joe Brady has put out several webinars in the past that explain exactly what this thing is, and how to use it. Those past webinars are archived, and you can see them here:

      You are looking for the ones that he did on May 1, 2012 and also April 12, 2012.

      I use this product, and I am very happy with the results!
      Best wishes, and good luck.


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