3502 – Night is Falling Into a River

 Olympus M.Zuiko Digital 45 mm f/1.8  Comments Off on 3502 – Night is Falling Into a River
May 212016
 

Even at f1.8 and 1/10s I had to raise ISO to 800 in this image. That’s not very high, but I had plans for brightening the sky. That’s always a dangerous endeavor in digital images.

Approximately at that time Google had released their Nik suite with Dfine 2, a noise reduction plugin that I had tried years ago. I took the chance to pitch it against Topaz DeNoise 6 (also acquired years ago and upgraded with the old license for free – thanks Topaz!) and against Lightroom’s built-in noise reduction. And while I was at it, I decided to also test it against DxO Optics Pro’s PRIME noise reduction.

My suspicions were justified. In order to get anything out of Dfine and DeNoise that is as good or better than the results from Lightroom, you need a lot of fiddling. You may get better results in Photoshop, because there you could use different strengths and settings on different layers and then work with masks, but in Lightroom I see no advantage of such a plugin over what you already have paid for.

DxO was a different beast though. Basically it blew everything else out of the water. The difference was so obvious, that I don’t bother you with 100% crops.

You most likely see it in the blue of the sky. I had wanted to raise it from what the camera recorded, and due to the peculiarities of Bayer array sensors, blue is a very vulnerable color. Red is so as well, but most of the time you don’t have big dark red areas with smooth gradients in an image. If the sky is red, it’s brightly so, and your consideration is normally not to raise its level, but to keep it from burning out.

DxO PRIME was introduced years ago and I have already tried it in the past. On my old laptop it was marvelous but slow. Processing one single image took between five and eight minutes.

I have no idea how they managed it and it can’t only be my not-so-new-anymore Macbook Pro. Somehow DxO has sped up PRIME by a factor of 10. Now processing an image takes around 40 seconds. I still don’t do it for every image, but it pays off for very high ISO or if you want to strongly brighten up dark areas.

It’s not only detail noise though. Color noise reduction may be much less obvoius than detail noise reduction, but it is responsible for the washed out look of high-ISO images. In fact DxO’s color noise reduction is vastly superior to everything that I’ve seen before.

I’ll show you some more examples in the course of the next few days.

Nov 092012
 

It was foggy until noon today, but when the fog dissipated, a bright sun in a blue sky was revealed. That was about the time when some problems crept up at work.

I had originally intended to do as I did yesterday, to take an hour or two off while the sun was bright, but instead I was swamped until four, and then the sun was already gone. What a pity.

I currently have the Nikon 50/1.2 AI-S up on eBay and I’ll have to ship it on Monday. Thus I was at the post office and bought some more boxes. In front of the post office, just before I went back into the car, I saw this phone booth. The impulse to take the image was the same as with the two blackboards a few days ago.

Sure, the OM-D does not have the same dynamic range as a Nikon D800E and the Olympus 12/2.0 is not as fast as the mighty Nikon 35/1.4G, but then, Mike may enjoy holding 1.5 kg in his hands, I actually prefer slightly more than a third of that. Oh yes, and for the lesser quality at high ISOs I make up with the shutter speeds enabled by this camera’s excellent in-body image stabilization. How about half a second? Handheld 😀

The Song of the Day is “Telephone” from Captain Beefheart’s 1980 album “Doc At The Radar Station”. Hear it on YouTube.

Oct 132012
 

It won’t last indefinitely, but we can play this game for a while.

Today, on a day as bleak as yesterday, I was again shooting at nightfall, this time around the biggest church in Villach.

The image to the left was taken with the Panasonic 20/1.7, all others with the new Olympus 12/2.0, handheld at 1/5 s, well stabilized by my iron grip, my solid stance and … nope, just Olympus’ incredibly well working in-body stabilization 🙂

I really liked the JPEGs from the camera, but in the end I have spent a lot of time tweaking the RAWs in Lightroom.

The biggest problem is always the over-the-top blue of the sky, but I’ve also tweaked local contrasts, yes even local color temperature.

It’s almost half a year now since I switched to Lightroom, and I don’t miss Photoshop at all. It’s only under the rarest circumstances that I switch back. There is simply no reason. Almost everything that I used to do in Photoshop or in its various plugins can be done in Lightroom as well, usually even easier.

Of course in a way I am restricting myself to straight photography, at least under Lightroom’s generously stretched definition of “straight”. Much of what I did in the past simply can’t happen in that environment. We could say Lightroom covers a smaller creative space than Photoshop.

Do I worry about that? Should I?

I really have no idea. The danger is, to find Lightroom comfortable enough to even accept an image that could (and should!) be driven much further in Photoshop.

Yes, I think I do worry about it and I’ll keep it in mind.

The Song of the Day is “Everybody’s Got A Game” from Solomon Burke’s 1997 album “The Definition Of Soul”. Hear it on YouTube.

Oct 132012
 

I’ll be here in Carinthia for more than a week and the weather forecast is frustrating.

We had one of those bleak October days that don’t even have the decency to be foggy, and still I wanted to take images. Waiting for dusk solved two problems, color and contrast.

Our cities tend to be bright at night and the lights colorful. It’s a strategy that I employ all winter. I wouldn’t have liked to fall back to it so early, but if I have no choice, so be it.

The other problem is the bright sky in combination with a relatively wide lens. As with all new lenses, I currently use the 12/2.0 almost exclusively, and in most landscape situations the sky is part of the image, relatively too bright and bright at the top of the frame. Again, dusk solves it all. You normally have to take some saturation out of the blue, but it is a problem that’s easy to handle.

Unfortunately it will go on like this. The next sunshine has been tentatively predicted for Thursday. Yikes!

The Song of the Day is “Mercy I Cry City” from the 1968 Incredible String Band album “The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter”. Of the early classic ISB albums this is probably the one you have to have. Before you buy the others 😀 😀 😀

Hear for yourself on YouTube.