The Southwest in Black & White

The last few days of July 2017 and the first few weeks of August 2017 were devoted to a family trip, leaving California and thence traveling through Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and home.  In that time period we covered about 4000 miles, spending 2-3 days in each place.  There were four of us – my husband’s parents, my husband, and myself.  It was a family trip, to see places never before seen, as well as to see places where family ancestors lived and worked – specifically, Ft. Laramie, Wyoming.

On this trip, there were two photographers – my FIL and myself.  Tom has a Nikon D810 and D610; he brought the D610 along and shot numerous images, which I hope to see soon!  Myself, I brought along more toys than I should confess to, but enjoyed using all of them.  In particular, I brought along a new-to-me Olympus OM-1n, an OM 50mm f1.8 MC, and the OM 35-70mm f3.5-4.5.  Each has a 49mm diameter, so I also brought along UV, polarizing, orange and red filters, and used the latter two to see how JCH StreetPan 400 would work as landscape film.

It was gorgeous!  Combined with the Oly, I was incredibly pleased.  StreetPan comes in both 35mm and 120mm, so a lot of people will be really happy.

What I like about the StreetPan is that it is contrasty, yet has a good, long grey scale.  The orange and red filters helped to make the skies pop, and the landscape.  I didn’t have to do too much in post, perhaps modifying highlights and blacks to meet my own (artistic?) desires.  Detail was good, too.

The image at the top is a panorama I stitched together in CS6; below are individual images which can give you a good idea about the beauty of this film for landscape.  These scenes were shot in the Mesa Verde National Park and the Grand Canyon National Park, both in Arizona.

 

 

Too often, black and white landscapes don’t interest me, and the reason is the difficulty in differentiating small details.  Dramatic landscapes don’t have to look dramatic, but they need something to make them dramatic.  This can mean contrast, composition, and a number of other elements.  In all honesty, I do not consider myself to be a good black-and-white photographer simply because I find it difficult to think in terms of value.  I see color before I see anything else, and certainly my gaudy photos show this tendency.  Therefore, using the filters and an already contrasty film produced a number of photos that pleased me no end.  This experience is whetting my appetite for more!

 

Advertisements

Photography Decisions for Vacation

 

Yesterday, I packed up the rest of the choices I’d made for the photographic gear I want to take on our trip.  It was a really hard, but choices had to be made.

My first decision was the bag size.  I have back packs and over-the-shoulder bags of varying sizes, along with a sling bag.  I decided on an over-the-shoulder bag, which is roomy, but not large, and is now carrying the following:

  • Nikon V3
  • 1 Nikon 70-300mm
  • 1 Nikon 10-110mm
  • 1 Nikon 6.7-13mm
  • 1 Nikon 10mm
  • 1 Nikon 18.5mm
  • 1 Nikon 32mm
  • Olympus OM-1n
  • Olympus Zuiko 50mm
  • Olympus Zuiko 35-70mm Close Focus
  • 49mm yellow, orange, and UV filters
  • 55mm ND filters

The OM system and the Nikon 1 system were chosen because they are small and lightweight, but deliver good quality.

I am also bringing 12 rolls of 35mm film, in black and white, and in color, ranging in speed.  It’s still a toss-up between the XA4 and the Trip 35, but I am inclined to take the XA4 as it is more diverse, smaller, and has a covered lens.  No medium format camera made it to the final mix.  I may bring a tripod.   I am also packing some art supplies and my Kindle.  Some knitting, too.  Headphones.  Chrome Book.  Plugs and cords and a power strip.  Yeah, stuff.  Clothes, shoes, and a toothbrush!

Some thoughts on “On1 Photo Raw”

Today is the very, very first day that On1 Photo Raw is available for usage.  I think the original idea was to have a product ready to roll in October 2016, but rather than have a “finished” product full of bugs, they realized they had more on their plate, and held off until today, November 23.  I’m glad they did – and I am glad, too, that they realize that this really is a “work in progress” as it stands.

Personally, I love On1, and have been using them since version 8, which was a while back.  I use it with Lightroom.  What makes On1 great as a company is their support, ongoing consistent development, tutorials, and so on.  On1 products are sophisticated, and while they do not rival Adobe Photoshop for complexity, On1 products are far easier to use.  I prefer their brushes, spot and blemish removal tools, as well as the fact I can create presets which I can store.  At this point, the presets from On1 Photo Suite 10 cannot be used in On1 Photo Raw, but I expect they will have the ability to port them later on.  The one-up that Photoshop has is its “content-aware” fill.

waiting-for-lovers

The image above, Waiting for Lovers, was edited using On1 Photo Raw.  It is a film image using Kodak Ektar 100 in a 1930s Welta Weltur rangefinder.  The lens is an uncoated Xenar – probably about 75mm – which has an ethereal quality to it that I really love.  Scanning the image with my rather dirty Epson V600 (I have since cleaned it), I ended up with a blue streak across the entire image.  On1 took it out quite nicely.  Spots and threads were also easy to remove.  I think On1 did something to their processing algorithm (or whatever), as the spot removal works very quickly.

chumash-trail-1

This image is a pano stitched together in LR, and consists of two images taken with the Olympus XA4 and Lomography 100 film.  The only thing I did was perk it up a bit with some detail, in LR and in Photo Raw.  It is nearly identical to the SOOC image.

orchid-in-the-window

Finally, the above image was really pushed in On1 Photo Raw.  Spot removal, brush usage, presets, whatever.  This was an overall high-key, pale image, but I set it up to be contrasty and bright – possibly too much so – but wanted see what I could do.  This was also taken with the XA4 and Lomo 100 film.  Both of these two images were scanned using a Pakon 135 scanner.

There is so much software out there for photographers, that competitors to Photoshop seem to come and go.  My favorite and most consistent programs are Lightroom and On1.  I also use DxO v. 11, and while it is good for some things, it lacks the diversity of On1.  Capture One is good, too, but it makes me crazy as it does not make sense to me at times . . . but I admit, I have not put in time to using it as it has a higher learning curve, and is not, for me, very intuitive.  So, two thumbs up to On1 for its Photo Raw software – I think it will prove to be a real winner as they continue to develop it.

Old Things, New Things

Film

With film disappearing – and reappearing – it seems the only new cameras for film are made of plastic and don’t cost too much or else are quite expensive.  There is something to be said for both approaches, but the quality of pictures taken with a plastic camera are not as “good” to my eye as are ones made from better quality film cameras, whether old or new.

Lizard Mouth at Sunset Jimson Weed

Of late, I have been enjoying the usage of old folding cameras, made from the 1930s and into the 1950s, which use both 35mm and 120mm film.  Besides the folders, I do have some SLRs, but, those are for discussing another time.  The folders are weird (compared to today’s digital) and definitely slower.  I mean, you have to get the film developed, or do it yourself!  The majority of folding cameras use 120mm film, but 35mm did make its debut in the 1930s, popularized by Leica.

The Road Beyond West

When I become interested in something, I tend to end up with a small collection.  That is what has happened with folding cameras.  I have ones which range from 6×4.5 to 6×6 to 6×9, all in cm, not inches.  They use 120 film, and the results can be great to deplorable, but always interesting.  The 6×6 square format is perhaps the most challenging because the viewfinders are offset and the image – as is for all of these kinds of cameras (non-SLR) – but with a square format, the eye wants to move into the center.

A View at Sundown

Autumn in the Valley

So, here are some images.  I plan on taking some of these cameras up to the Sierra Nevadas next week, along with a digital or two . . .

Prickly Pear

Meanwhile, I hope you enjoy all these square images, taken with an early 1950s Perkeo II by Voigtlander, sporting a 75mm Color Skopar f3.5 lens, and Portra 400 film by Kodak.  Post in LR and other critters.

Black & White

Not really sure where I am . . . have had a cold for a week, and in this same week there have been anniversaries and parties and graduations and memorials for those who have passed, mixed with all sorts of other things.  Playing in the garden, playing with photos, a bit of this and that, but nothing that just grabs the soul.  Well, not true – we had a wonderful graduation party!  That said, here are some of my forays into processing color into black and white using the B&W channels in the HSL section of Lightroom.  Kind of pleased with the overall results, and maybe learned something . . . what did please me was the simplicity of strong contrasts and subject matter.