This image is a good example for the “tone mapping” technique that I described a few days ago. The image from the camera also had a well distributed histogram across the full range of values, because cameras tend to do that, but while the sky was overly bright, the trees were dull and brownish at best. No gold was to be seen, and gold was, what I had in my memories.
Looks like an infrared image? It certainly does to me, at least in terms of tonality.
Basically that’s what happens when you pull back the highlights (-100 in Lightroom), raise the shadows (+70), pull up the whites until you get blown highlights (frequently around +60), compensate for too much brightness by dropping exposure (often by up to 1EV), adjusting the blacks for a full histogram, and finally fiddling with all that plus vibrancy, saturation, clarity and contrast, until things look right.
This has been my usual routine for more than a year. I do it with all my images. It’s contrary to the orthodox view, but it produces nicely saturated, richly contrasted images.
What I technically do is, I stretch the highlights. It’s kind of a tone mapping. In the end, although these adjustments look violent, I often find myself at a result that’s not very far from what the camera did. It’s just more controlled, more saturated, but in quite a pleasant way. Sometimes you almost don’t see it at all, sometimes, like in this case with that much yellow, you positively do. It can look unnatural (like all sorts of tone mapping), but I think, even if it slightly does so here, it does not look wrong at all. Ymmv.
How much detail do I need? The PEN-F has 20 megapixels, and with a sharp lens, one like this 75/1.8, I can actually get at the limits of this sensor. Then I crop to a square, which drops me down to 15 megapixels.
Would it be enough to print the images? Well, I’ve recently used a printing service to make adhesive prints for a few white doors here in Carinthia. They were 70×90 in cm, that is 28×36 in inches. Big enough for a door, decently sized for a wall. Most images used were originally taken with the Nkon D200 (10 megapixels), one with the Panasonic LX5 (10 megapixels) and one with the Nikon D300 (12 megapixels).
I’d say 20 is enough for my use. And even if I’d use them to make billboards, honestly, how close do you get to a billboard?
Of course there are uses for higher resolution cameras, that’s OK, and of course when Olympus makes the step to 24, that’s the most likely next step, I will likely upgrade and I will surely appreciate the increase in resolution. Don’t get me wrong, it will be welcome. It just won’t be needed.
Why I say this? Well, it’s this image and its abundance of detail 🙂
In fall 2008 we moved from “the country” to Villach. There we spent three years in one apartment until we finally moved to where we live now.
In a way I miss living in the country. I took many, many more images of trees, flowers and landscapes there. No wonder, but …
Today we have an exception. This tree is a hundred meters off the main road entering Villach from the south, maybe 150 meters further on is our apartment block. It’s near all shops, it’s only minutes to the next five supermarkets and so on, but it is almost as silent and rural as “in the country”.
Still, it makes a difference whether you only drive by those trees or if they grow in your garden. You give more attention to those in your garden 🙂
A rarely use the Mitakon Speedmaster 25/0.95, and when I do (usually only for a week), I rarely use it for what it’s intended. It does not matter though. Sometimes I like it slow.
As we’re speaking of “slow”, well, there is one thing that bugs me. It’s that I have no way to automatically set lens information in the EXIF data. I don’t care for the f-stop. You see that anyway, or at least I see it. I know the tree, I know how big it is and that at that distance it must have been something between f2.8 and f4. And if I’m wrong, I just don’t care.
No, it’s the lens itself. At the moment I have only two manual lenses, the fish and the 25, ok, that’s also easy to spot. This image has not been taken with a fish 🙂
But still, I may buy other lenses in the future (I used to be in the habit), and then it may be less easy to distinguish them by looks of the images.
What I currently do is tagging images with “Lens Tagger“. That’s a manual step in Lightroom though, a step that I forget at times.
What do I really wish? Well, ideally the camera would ask me to choose a lens from a list of lenses maintained by me. After buying a lens, I would enter its name and data into the list. Maybe this could be supported by an app over WiFi or by a program running on a computer connected by wire, but this is so rare, even entering using a pseudo “keyboard”, the cursor keys and the OK button on the back of the camera would be acceptable. At the moment, entering copyright information on Olympus cameras works that way. It’s slow, painful and rare. The pain goes away though and soon you can’t remember it – until next time 🙂
OK, so we would maintain a list. The list would have to survive firmware updates, which is currently impossible on Olympus. All your settings are always gone after an update. It could work like this:
Whenever you mount a lens that identifies itself, the camera knows that no manual lens is mounted. After you’ve taken the first image with a newly mounted manual lens, the camera asks you to choose from the list, to enter a new lens or to skip the step. If you choose a lens, data for that lens is automatically recorded in EXIF.
This works perfectly for cases where you have only one manual lens and at least one automatic lens with you. You change back to automatic, the choice gets cleared, next time you are asked again. If the list is short, you don’t change lenses all the time, this works really, really well.
If you change between multiple lenses and the camera can’t detect changes (probably it could detect the lens release button, but that may be fully mechanic), then you have to remember making a choice from the list manually.
And, of course, the whole thing should be manual. What do you think about it?
OK, back to Carinthia, back to the E-M1, back to the big, long and heavy lens. Well, at least for Micro Four Thirds that is.
Does it make a difference? Sure, it does. Here we have a dreamy, rural scene, shot wide open through a lot of foreground dandelions, augmented by a pseudo-infrared black and white conversion in Lightroom. You can’t do that with the cheap plastic lens at f5.6 or, as I mostly use it, at f8.
On the other hand, aside from the conversion, the use of foreground bokeh is an effect. I like it, but using it makes the image less dependent on composition. In a way it just looks good all of itself.
I wouldn’t call it a cheap effect (certainly not in a literal sense, when you consider the price of the lens), but when I think of it, working without it takes more creativity.
Well, look at yesterday’s streetlight overwhelmed by the tree. Positioning the light was a conscious decision. I put thought into it and I like the image, because there is much of myself in it.
You know that I have my problems with the concept of “style”, but as it is, you can’t escape developing something like that. Yesterday’s image has more of my style than today’s. Today we see just a technique that I employ a few times a year, when I feel like it or, like here, when the lens permits it.
Here’s the color version.
OK, back from yesterday’s pessimistic mood 🙂
This is one of the trees that I see very often. Sometimes I see a scene like this, sometimes I don’t, and sometimes when I do, I lack a long enough lens. It’s 62 mm, almost the wide end on this cheap plastic zoom, but still, in order to get this frame, 45 mm would have been too wide, 75 mm (the other long prime that I frequently carry) would have been too tight. In this particular case the macro would have been perfect, but as I never carry more than one long lens, I wouldn’t have been able to make yesterday’s image.
Sometimes slow but light zooms are sweet 🙂
A spring meadow with flowers and blossoming trees, the shot taken low and with blurred flowers in the lower foreground, well, that’s kind of a classic. You could also say that it’s a cliché, but I don’t care and allow myself the luxury of a few such images per year 🙂
Looks nice, huh? Incredibly rural, far from the madding crowd?
Nope, it’s halfway between a busy street, leading into Villach from the south, and our apartment complex, basically a hundred meters in each direction. I love living in a small town 😀
Both of today’s images were taken with the same lens, the Olympus 75/1.8, a lens able to achieve shallow DOF as well as the compression of a lens equivalent to 150 mm.
The Image of the Day may not look like it, but I used f10 for maximum sharpness of the foreground blossoms. The background is still pleasantly out of focus, because I was close to my subject and the distance between subject and background was comparably huge.