Wednesday, 18 September 2013

The French Connection

In an earlier post, I featured an image taken in 2005 in (actually, just outside of) Paris, taken with an Epson R-D1 digital rangefinder camera. This 6-MP camera could mate with Leica M-mount glass and produced quite good results.

Recently, I reprocessed some of the RAW files with the newer software and I was very pleased with what I was able to pull out of the files. Presented below are some examples:

Our apartment in Montmartre, right next to the Sacré Coeur Basilica.

The neighborhood around Sacré Coeur (visible in the background).


Some street scenes...







I would move to Paris in a heart beat.


Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Making of a Blog

Although I've had my website for a number of years, having designed and created it myself, I recently decided to add a couple of blogs. The main reason for this is to have a page that I can post to easily from my iPad and, if need be, my iPhone.

As I am a Gmail user, Google's Blogger was the platform I chose to use. Creating the blog account is simple and because I wanted a dark background, I started off with a template called "Travel". At first, I was able to use Blogger's Template Editor to customize the template, but subsequently, access to change things has gone awry (common, and apparently something to do with the Mobile template?!?).

I ended up carrying on the customization process by editing in the HTML editor. (Not too bad once you get your feet wet!) Once the page looked the way I wanted, with a background image, darker main backgrounds and larger fonts, I save it and then backup the XML file. Now, we're ready for posting.

Because I wanted the blogs to be used with mobile devices, I have only posted from my iPad. After doing some web research, I chose Blogsy as my blog editor.

This app is super at making post creation and management as simple as drag-and-drop, and with a built in browser, you can see exactly how the changes look live without having to leave the editor.

Because Blogsy only runs on the iPad, I did purchase BlogPress for the iPhone, but it is nowhere near as visual as Blogsy, so if I need to post images from my phone, I'll just continue to transfer them to the iPad using the PhotoTransfer app.

My own images are typically processed on my iMac and then synced to the iPad from iPhoto and Aperture. From Blogsy, I have direct access to them, and to any photos that I take and/or process directly on the iPhone or iPad.

I actually find it faster to create posts on my iPad than I do through Blogger's web interface.

Ain't technology great?

Friday, 6 September 2013

It's a Small World

The iPad is a truly wonderful device. I can create with it almost anywhere. With the exception that I used a camera to take most of the shots in this post, the final post processing for what you see was all done on the iPad.

The featured app, if you will, is called MarbleCam, and although it's probably considered a 'one-trick pony', it does yield an interesting effect. For these images, I browsed the iPad library of my images and then ran them through the following routine:

  1. MarbleCam (very little to manipulate here)
  2. Perfectly Clear (does a great "first pass" to enhance the image)
  3. Snapseed (further adjustments as needed)
If you're wondering why I didn't run them through Perfectly Clear first, I wanted the backgrounds to be as soft as possible, so I only wanted to enhance it after being marbleized.

Because I couldn't post images as a grid from my editor (Blogsy), I created single images of a 3x3 grid using an app called PicFrame. These I could easily paste into the blog.

I love the little worlds you can create using MarbleCam...

(The top-left and bottom-right in this matrix features processing the image with the Craze app before 'marbleizing'.

The most effective images seem to have the horizon in the middle to get the best "reflection".

Ciao for now,

Monday, 2 September 2013

Shadow Play

Back in 2005, my wife, Marcelle, and I spent 3 weeks in Paris, and at that time, I was using a pair of Epson R-D1 digital rangefinder bodies with Leica and Voigtländer M-mount lenses. It was a great combination of equipment (well before Leica announced the M8), compact, unobtrusive and capable of producing excellent 6MP images.

My typical shooting practice with these (and most) bodies is to dial in -0.7 EV exposure compensation to ensure highlights are not blown. I also meter for the brightest area, lock the expose and then re-compose as this gives me a file that I can best work with to produce a final image.

This practice can lead to some pretty dark images, but the ability to manipulate RAW images has steadily improved and it is amazing what detail can now be gleaned from these dark treasures. As a case in point, we'll have a look at a file I just returned to from the 2005 trip.

When I looked at the thumbnail in Adobe Bridge, I could see the stained glass windows, but not much else.

When I started to pull up the shadows in ACR, I was amazed to find a figure kneeling in the bottom right corner! Obviously I had seen the person when I took the image, the framing makes that abundantly clear (even if my memory isn't), but they had remained hidden in the shadows.

Since the low-light/high-ISO performance of the R-D1 (which used the Nikon D90 sensor) wasn't great, after ACR, I ran the file through Nik's Define to reduce and eliminate any noise. Next, I presharpened the image in Sharpener Pro and then processed it in Color Efex Pro.

Here's the final version:

Cathédrale de Chartres
As a long time believer of "get it right in the camera", used to using graduated NDs and polarizers etc, I have to say that I've started to do much of this type of manipulation in software now. As long as I make sure that I have nailed the exposure, then using Color Efex Pro (and, of course, Silver Efex Pro) for things like graduated filtering and adding warmth etc are much more easily and accurately done using the U-Point (control point) technology.

In another post, I'll showcase some of the other Paris images that I reworked.