Apr 072012

It’s again cool and rainy, again I serve you leftovers, and this time the theme is “railway”.

And the first image is already an exception. It’s one of those pass-along images that happen when I suddenly see a pattern, a light effect or whatever. People may have wondered why I take an image of the side of a truck, but really, wondering what people may think is the direct way down the drain. Just don’t do it 🙂

Well, at least the truck stood in front of Villach’s main railway station, thus I’ve decided to include the image.

The small bridge over the railway track is outside of Villach, the image was taken two weeks ago on one of my trips to see the doctor. Since then it has been waiting and today is the day 😀

Both the Image of the Day and that of the red locomotive have been taken from the same road bridge across Villach’s main station area, the one with the locomotive facing east into the station, the Image of the Day looking west, into the late afternoon light.

All images have been taken with the Olympus 40-150, except the Image of the Day, that was the optically much superior 45/1.8.

You may have noticed that I haven’t used my Nikon F mount primes in a long time, and in fact the Sigma 150/2.8 Macro is a much sharper lens than the slow 40-150, but in this case there was plenty of light and I was not out for subject isolation. To the contrary, both the locomotive and the railway tracks cry for depth of field.

Still, I expect to use the Nikon F lenses much more often with the OMD, once it’s there, and that’s because focusing and composing with long lenses is much, much more convenient with a stabilized preview/viewfinder. That’s what the OMD has and that is one of the features that I await most eagerly.

The Song of the Day is the “Railroad Song” from Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1975 album “Nuthin’ Fancy”. Hear it on YouTube. Hmm … probably not the refrain, but the rest of the song could have been by the Stones as well 🙂

Oct 302008

It’s still Thursday, I am still on the train, and here is finally the image of today. I shot it on my way to the train, already inside of the station, standing on the stairs to the platform. I fooled around with focusing on the last step, the Sigma 50/1.4 wide open at f1.4, and when I heard a man coming up behind me, I waited until he was exactly in focus.

Well, that’s it for today. Oh, and, one more thing: Nikon has released a firmware update for the D300. If you have one, this is not to be missed. They have added some features and corrected some bugs. Most spectacular is what they have done to automatic white balance. It was already good, now it is much better. It’s not perfect, and if you want to, it is still easy to fool it, but I have seen some extremely good results under very difficult lighting conditions, mostly mixed light at night or in twilight on the streets. These were situations when the old firmware would definitely have been far off. In other words: Install this!!

The Song of the Day is “Step It Up And Go” from Bob Dylan’s 1992 album “Good as I Been to You”. Sorry, no video, no sample but what Amazon has.

Jun 082008

Sometimes you’ve got only one chance. This is the single image that I shot on Friday. I took it on my way to the train, just as I went up the escalator from the Underground. After the gloomy darkness below, I suddenly saw a blue sky and a flash of strong yellow. I did not think about it, I just raised the camera and, without any conscious effort, got this, just in the right split-second.

I combined three versions from one RAW file to cope with the enormous contrast, but otherwise I could have taken the original composition as shot. That I still cropped it, well, I saw the chance to get some lines int corners, and I simply couldn’t resist. The original was not bad, but this one is even stronger.

The Song of the Day is “The Day That Jackie Jumped The Jail” from the 1991 Deacon Blue album “Fellow Hoodlums“. See them live on YouTube. The song is in the second part of the video.

597 – SoFoBoMo – A Hard Day’s Night

 Nikon 10.5/2.8 Fisheye  Comments Off on 597 – SoFoBoMo – A Hard Day’s Night
Jun 012008

You may have read the post from this Sunday noon, “SoFoBoMo – Not Yet“, that I have missed the SoFoBoMo deadline. Still, I don’t give up. This afternoon, shortly before 6pm, I have finished the last image. I am at 51 images now. I think I will cut that down to about 40 images in a very simple layout. I don’t even think about something as complicated (though it may not even be) as the book of Gordon McGregor. For me a very simple layout will do. One image on each right hand side, a piece of text on the facing side. The images will have a simple white background without a border. El cheapo? Sure, but so are many books. You must not forget that I have no influence on the sequence. What came first comes first. Strictly along the time line. This was one of the premises for the whole project. I wanted to get that combinatorial problem out of the way.

Have a look at Paul Butzi’s book “A Good Walk” (PDF). The left and the right image often combine wonderfully and make for one big composition. I can’t do that. I don’t have 800 images to choose from. I have what I have and the sequence is given.

Anyway. Now I sit on the train to Vienna, finishing this hard day with today’s blog entry. The Image of the Day was shot somewhere in the middle between Carinthia and Vienna, of course with the new fisheye.

The Song of the Day is “A Hard Day’s Night” from the Beatles album of the same name. See the video on YouTube.

497 – Stop That Train

 Sigma 70/2.8 Macro  Comments Off on 497 – Stop That Train
Feb 232008

Obviously I am back to the Sigma 70/2.8. This is one of the few images that I shot today, while on my way from work to the train. ISo 200, f4.5 at 1/125s. These ramps are used to load cars on to the train. Nice colors, no?

OK, that’s it. Backlog eliminated 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Stop That Train“, a Peter Tosh song, interpreted by the Jerry Garcia Band on their 1991 live album. See a live version on YouTube.

Dec 142007

Train time again like every Friday. It’s gets increasingly harder to make images these days. We had snow in Vienna (thankfully not in Carinthia where I am now), not much, but enough to completely level out the light and drain everything of colors. I shot this image at about 4pm, and if there would have been sun, it would already have been down by that time.

Nikon 18-200 at 18mm, f8, 1/15s and ISO 2000. Yes, 2000! Goodness, is that dark 🙂

The Song of the Day is “Traintime” from the 1968 Cream live album “Wheels of Fire“.

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.

Nov 272007

The minute when a reflection from some glass pane shed light on the wall outside to the right of my living room window, was a nice start into the day, but basically that was my last glimpse of sun. I am afraid it is becoming a pattern now: bright, sunny mornings that turn into gray slush as soon as I get out of the house 🙂

The next opportunity for taking photographs did not occur before I left work. It was already dim and unfriendly, everything from gusts to rain and the odd snowflake. I had protected my Loewepro Slingshot 300 with its all-weather cover (a fantastic bag, the best I’ve ever had), taken the camera out, protected by an umbrella, and tried to brave the elements.

No avail. When the droplets attacked horizontally and the wind turned around my umbrella for the second time, I cowardly retreated to the Underground.

The station “Volkstheater” is a crossing of two Underground lines, U2 and U3, thus it has two levels, U3, the one that I needed to take, being on the lower level. I took the image to the left while riding down the escalator. It is entirely uncomposed, basically a snapshot, but I like the slight motion blur and the strong feeling of perspective.

At the base of the escalator I turned my attention straight upwards for the Image of the Day. That’s always a good idea when you search for an image: look where you normally don’t look. It’s surprising how often this yields interesting views.

All images were taken with the Sigma 10-20 at 10mm, the Image of the Day at f4, ISO 500 and 1/4s, hand-held.

The Song of the Day is “Notes From The Underground” from the 1987 Manhattan Transfer album “Brasil“. I have not found a video clip on YouTube. Maybe there is one, but searching for the title, you only find clips related to Dostoevsky’s short novel, and searching for the group you find so many clips that I gave up wading through. Anyway, if you don’t already have this album, I can heartily recommend it to you. It is different from most of the Manhattan Transfer’s work, but nothing short of excellent.

Oct 162007

I shot this train (tramway line 5) in the morning on my way to work. It’s one of the new trains with low entrances, actually looking more like a gliding metal worm than like a train. I used the Nikon 18-200 at 200mm, f5.6, 1/60s and ISO 720.

Post-processing was … hmmm … elaborate 🙂

The problem was, that the file had more noise than I like, and even worse, that because of the dynamic range, in any normal exposure the highlights in the red channel would clip excessively. Developing for the highlights was not an option either, because that would render the image much to dark.

My solution was to create an HDR image from the RAW file (Photomatix Pro allows that from a single RAW file), use highlight compression for tone mapping, and use that along with a version developed for the midtones in Photoshop, one in screen mode over a gray single color layer, the other in soft light, both slightly desaturated in the extreme yellows and reds. Noise Ninja on the pixel layers, a beauty blur mixed in, some sharpening with the high-pass filter, a little warming in Lab, hmm … I’m sure I’ve forgot something.

Don’t forget, you can now click on the image and see a much bigger version.

The Song of the Day is Tom Waits’ “Downtown Train”, but today not by Tom Waits, no, not even sung at all, today we glide along with the Spring String Quartet on their 2002 album “Train Songs“.

Sep 182007

This morning, when I went to work, I saw the truck of a transport company and it had all those slightly different shoulder straps hanging on it. I took the shot with a quite unusual lens, at least for walking around: my Sigma 150/2.8 macro. Boy, you gotta carry that weight 🙂

But really, it’s not the first time that I say this: it may be an awkward lens for general use in the streets, but it forces you into a completely different way of using your camera. It’s amazing: try it at times. Nothing fuels creativity better. Finally, post-processing was entirely done in Capture NX.

Now, so what could be the Song of the Day? Hmmmm … Well, this was one of the rare cases when I did not have to search for a title or a song at all. It came all by itself.

The Beatles’ “Carry That Weight” from “Abbey Road” is actually the middle part of an acoustic triptych. Amazon regrettably has no sound samples, and I guess it’s not their fault. The Beatles were alway last when it came to new technologies. It took ages until their music was available on CD, and I can vaguely remember having read that they just released it for electronic distribution via the Internet. But of course you can hear it on YouTube.