1167 – Vienna Waits For You

 Tamron 17-50/2.8 VC  Comments Off on 1167 – Vienna Waits For You
Dec 242009
 

I’m on the train to Carinthia. It’s been a little complicated, the train was shorter than expected, I stood on the wrong end and had to go through the seven cars, all through to the front, but now all is well. I sit in the only car with electric current, in the right place at the window to have space for the mouse, I can work and I have an internet connection. The place was marked as reserved, so although hundreds of people must have walked by, nobody sat down. I found out though that the reservation was for the other direction, Villach to Vienna. A lot of luck, I’d say 🙂

I saw this bicycle yesterday when I left work. It looks like the bikes that those foreign, underpaid people use, who deliver our newspapers since the privatization of postal services. I have no idea why someone has sprayed “Vienna” on it, but it’s always nice to know where you are 😀

The Song of the Day is “Vienna” from Billy Joel’s 1977 album “The Stranger”. 1977?? Oh dear, I’m growing old. Hear it on YouTube.

Feb 272009
 

It was about time to post this entry. A month ago I got an email from a young man from New York City that read

Hi Andreas, somebody sent me a link to your photo blog awhile back and I just wanted to let you know that I enjoy it almost daily from New York. Your pictures are wonderful and that countryside there is stunning! I would like to share my new record with you as thanks for sharing your photos with me, if you leave an address. Thanks Andreas, Clarence Bucaro

Well, how often do I get fan mail from someone I own records of? I was pretty overwhelmed, checked the mail again, but no, it seemed authentic.

Reply with my address, that’s what I did, and really, a week later a package from New York arrived with Clarence’s new record “‘Til Spring”, due to be available from March 3, 2009. Now you see why it was about time for this entry 🙂

It’s a pretty fantastic record, and that’s not only due to the music, it’s most of all due to Clarence’s warm voice, a voice that catches you and makes you want to hear more. The New York Times describes his music as “warm songs that hark back to late seventies Van Morrison“. Not at all bad, is it? And when I hear to it, there is always something very like Dylan’s mid-seventies “Desire”, and that’s not bad either 🙂

You can hear long excerpts from his new album right on Clarence’s site and you can pre-order the album at Amazon.com. Now tell me: can this guy sing? I really look forward to more of his music and to where he will develop.

It took me some time to come up with an image that I could honestly match with these songs. I mean, this guy’s so damn’ positive, I needed something beautiful and warm, not the slush and the rain and the gloom of the last weeks.

When I went back home on Wednesday evening, I went a way that I rarely take now, through a passage between Lerchenfelder Straße and Neustiftgasse. This passage was renovated a few years ago, with a café, an art gallery and a restaurant on each side, but it has never lost its southern charm. In fact, it always reminds me of Italy, and that’s another good reason to post the image here, because when I asked Clarence about the origins of his name, he told me his grandparents were from Sicily, Italy. Clarence, this one’s for you.

Technically, this is an image shot with the Nikon 24/2.8 at ISO 3200, f4 and 1/2s. Handheld. I used DxO as a RAW converter and put 21 Photoshop layers atop, mostly to re-distribute tones and to make it glow 🙂

Nov 112008
 

A bicycle? I must be back to Vienna 🙂

Over the last two weeks I have spent quite some time with DxO Lab’s new version 5.3 of DxO Optics Pro. When I began processing today’s image, taken at f1.4, 1/60s and ISO 3200, I found that the demo had expired and I was back to Adobe Camera RAW and probably Noise Ninja. I reined in my first impulse to finally buy DxO and began working on the image with my usual tricks. I even uploaded the result to SmugMug, but the more I looked at it, the more I felt the need to go back and try it once again with DxO.

The result is, I did it, I am now owner of a license of the standard version of DxO Optics Pro, and I am glad that I did it. The result is clearly better than my first effort with Photoshop alone. I spare you another comparison on pixel level, fact is that I see a difference and that the difference is big enough to make me shell out the money.

DxO is not perfect. We have seen that Adobe Camera RAW plus Noise Ninja can outperform it under pathological conditions, and it also lacks in terms of workflow. Rather than acting as an import plugin, I’d like to see DxO being integrated into Photoshop as an alternative RAW converter, but all that is nit-picking. In practice DxO gives me the best RAW conversion that I’ve ever seen, at least for the Nikon D200 and D300. I probably won’t use it all of the time, but when I need it, it will be available.

The Song of the Day is “Try Some, Buy Some“, David Bowie’s George Harrison cover from the 2003 album “Reality”. Hear the album version and a live version on YouTube, and when you’re already there, why not compare it with the Harrison original?

Jan 312008
 

This is a night shot from when I went home yesterday evening at about 10:20pm. I paused to take an image of this door across the street, when I noticed that it would be much better to wait for passers-by. I did, captured a group of people coming from left, and then this young woman from right, pressing forcefully against the resistance of the graffiti.

Sigma 70/2.8 at f2.8, 1/25s and ISO 3200.

The Song of the Day is “Pressing On” from Bob Dylan’s 1980 album “Saved“. Nice on the album, but the real gem is the live version on YouTube. Go for it!

Jan 102008
 

You like this image? I do. I invented it. Actually when I was there I saw the potential, but in reality I’ve made these colors up. Hey, no street looks like this!

Or do some? It’s interesting how easily we accept colors, and even so outlandish ones as in this image. Out of the camera this was all yellow. Shades of different yellows. What I did in Camera RAW, was to put a gray point in one of the mid-yellows, with the intention to make the background blue. Not too blue, but blue. The yellow became a tad too greenish, thus I created a vignette with a red filter and a curves layer for darkening. The result was considerable color depth, paired with the depth created by the vignette. From there on I did some painting with light to accentuate the path, overlayed a B&W layer in mode “Soft Light” to push contrasts, and finally I strongly lightened the woman walking the dog, giving her back the original yellowish color to completely separate her from the background. What else? Oh, some minor cosmetics, a blur, Noise Ninja, only the usual stuff.

Normally I don’t do this, but here to the left is the image that the camera saw. It is intentionally overexposed, but not very far from what boring reality looked like.

I like this image, because I’ve made it 🙂

Sigma 70/2.8 at f2.8, 1/30s and ISO 3200.

The Song of the Day is “Walking The Dog” from the 1964 Rolling Stones album “The Rolling Stones (England’s Newest Hitmakers)”. See a video, albeit with very sub-standard audio quality, on YouTube.

Dec 012007
 

Yesterday I have applied noise reduction to an ISO 1600 image, today I have deliberately chosen to do not so – on an ISO 3200 image. Can you see the noise?

For me, the most important reason to buy the D300 and to replace my trusty D200 now and not in weeks or months, was the supposed low-light performance. You see, I work all day and, at this time of the year, regardless of how the weather is, when I leave work and begin to have time for photography, it is dark. OK, when you browse through the images of last winter, you will see that I was not exactly unproductive, but having some options more, is never a bad thing.

Click on the image. I guess you still can’t see any noise, and I can’t, even when I look at the image on the whole height of my screen, at 1200 pixels. Ain’t there any noise?

There is, and it is quite prominent in a 100% crop. Click the image to the right for full size, and see for yourself.

I really like this noise. It is nice noise. No color blotches, only grain. I have yet to print one of these images (my printer is in Vienna and I am in Carinthia now), but I guess it will come out quite fine.

At the moment I have “ISO Sensitivity Automatic Control” (the good old Auto ISO) set to go up to 6400, but I think I’ll change that. 6400 is OK for documentary purposes and for certain situations when you want to use noise creatively, as a general purpose setting it is too high. I would need a D3 for that, but maybe in 18 months the D400 will do as well.

This was it for today. Stay tuned, the story goes on.

The Song of the Day is “When Lights Are Low” from Roberta Gambarini’s last album “You Are There“. The Germans have the sound sample.