Archives For Photography

Taken with the Pen F and 75-300mm II. ISO 1600, 179mm, f/5.9, 1/20 second. I had the lens propped on another piece of furniture when I took this, so it wasn’t totally “hand held.” I tried a few totally hand held, and they turned out OK. But this one was the best of the two, especially when magnified to look at the hair detail. Which just goes to call into question some of the outrageous claims with regards to Olympus hand-held IBIS results I’ve seen around the web with the latest Olympus cameras. Or any other camera for that matter. What Ming Thein calls shot discipline is important for opportunities like this. Particularly the technique side of it, at the top of his list: stability.

Observation: those extra pixels (20 million of ’em) make high ISO photography easier by “filling in” any perceived “gaps” and smoothing out the digital grain that occurs at the higher ISOs. Some want extra megapixels for cropping. I compose to fill the entire frame, and prefer my extra pixels to have better results at high ISO.

I can’t have a specialist lens like the 75-300mm just sitting around in my bag, to only come out in bright light. When I had the original 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5 Digital Zuiko zoom, and later the HG 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 Digital Zuiko, I used them quite a bit around the house photographing animals and children. Sensor improvements and IBIS improvements have allowed what might have been a cripplingly slow lens to be quite useful, indoors with low light. It doesn’t hurt to also know your subject, the wily¬†Felis silvestris catus, so that you can be prepared for that “decisive moment.” (ahem)

Since going completely digital in 2006 with the Olympus FourThirds E-300 DSLR, I’ve taken a long and winding road with regards to how I treat the images that those cameras produced. In the beginning I used the Olympus Viewer to touch up and modify what came out of the E-300. The camera had been purchased with two kit lenses, the Olympus Digital 14-45mm f/3.5-5.6 and 40-150mm f/3.5-4.5. Both of those lenses were quite good; I only got anything better when I purchased the HG 50-200mm f/2.8-3.5 three years later for my E-3.

In addition to just using Olympus Viewer, I worked on a computer with a screen that absolutely refused to be reliably color tuned. In the end I had to depend almost entirely on how the color and exposure curves looked and to use a color chart to I would photograph from time to time to help mechanically achieve something close to color balance. And I worked strictly in JPEG.

By 2009 I’d picked up an Olympus E-3 along with the HG 12-60mm and HG 50-200mm. I wasn’t looking for the fastest lenses, but what I had covered, unbroken, focal lengths from 24mm to 40mm in 35mm camera terms. About that time I started to experiment with post processing RAW from the E-3 and I began to work with a beta release of Lightroom. By the middle of 2009 I’d switched completely from JPEG to RAW and processing it all through Lightroom. I’ve been doing that ever since.

And then, over the past few years, I began to seriously think of abandoning the Ligthtroom-based post processing workflow. The iPhone and iPad were quite powerful, and I was experimenting with Snapseed, VSCO, and Pixelmator. Getting the camera images off and onto the devices was accomplished, at first, with the Apple SDHC to Lightening adapter. Pixelmator imported them on the iPod Air 2, and later, Snapseed on the iPhone 6s Plus. Going from the computer to the iDevice was a revelation for me and my photography. I accomplished the final stages of my photography much more quickly, and I was able to move my work out to the general web much more easily and quickly. Adobe didn’t make staying on the PC any easier with its demands to use their cloud-based tools or else walk away, and I felt (and still feel) the need to walk away. As much as I’ve used Adobe products in the past and still continue to use Lightroom, I feel betrayed and abandoned by Adobe (and don’t bring up Flash and its immense security flaws).

Now, with the Pen F, I’ve hit the pause button on those plans. I’ve run the Pen F exposures through both iPhone and iPad as well as Lightroom on my MBP, and I have to admit I find the results more pleasing through the MBP. And yet, ironically, these images were the most lightly treated of any Lightroom post-processed images I’ve done in some time. I have Google’s Nik Collection, purchased before Google bought Nik for Snapseed. I used (perhaps abused) it extensively over a number of years, producing what might be called technicolor puke photos. Now, because of the journey through the iDevices and Google’s intent to let Nik die through willful abandonment, these photos were post processed with the lightest of settings in Lightroom only. The Pen F produced images that provided more than enough detail and proper color balance (working with the mid-2015 Retina Display as well as viewing on the iPad Pro 9.7″ has been revolutionary for me) so that I can leave well enough alone. And part of it may in fact be me just realizing that a subtle touch is much more effective than the sledge-hammer effect of a Nik Tool dialed to 11. But the path is pretty clear for me. The Pen F shows where Olympus is going, and what it can produce. And I’m moving off of Adobe for any number of reasons, and on to other tools, probably Afinity Designer/Photo before this is all over with.

In a way I’m coming back to my roots. Just as I learned with B&W film that good mid tones made for a good print, so good mid tones and detail in color digital makes for good digital images as well as prints. And the Pen F helps to achieve that by producing images with enough information.