Sunday, 21 July 2013

Capel Tan y Celyn Canon 5D2

On the way back home from Beddgelert I stopped to investigate a small Chapel I'd seen previously hidden by trees by the side of the A470.

Hoping to find a ruin I could explore and hopefully get a few decent photos I was disappointed to find the building locked tight.

There is an open window through which access to the interior can be gained but the single room is being used as a storage facility for old washing machines, lawn mowers and other white goods.

The exterior is so overgrown that even a photo of this is virtually impossible.

A quick Google revealed a planning application to convert into domestic accommodation was withdrawn in 2007.

Saint Julitta's Church Capel Curig Canon 5D2

After a hard days work mowing the lawn and repairing some tiles in the kitchen of our house in Beddgelert, we took a ride out to Capel Curig.
We drive through this little village on our way to the house and I've been meaning to stop at the ancient church there to take some photos for a while.

Saint Julitta's Church is deconsecrated and looked after by "Friends of Saint Julitta".

It is very small and the "friends" don't appear to have a website so I know little more than you can get from looking on Wikipedia.

I was using the Canon 5D2  with the 24-70mm.

Photos processed in Lr and Nik Silver EFX Pro

Canon 5D2 - 24-70mm L series ISO 3200

Canon 5D2 - 24-70mm L series ISO 3200

Canon 5D2 - 24-70mm L series 

Canon 5D2 - 24-70mm L series

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Leica Akademie Mayfair - Leica Monochrom and silver EFX workshop

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Leica Akademie Mayfair - Leica Monochrom and Nik Silver EFX workshop courtesy of my friend Simon having recently bought two Leica Monochrom, entitling him to two free places on this workshop.

The workshop is intended for those new to the Leica Mononchrom, basically a Leica M9 with the Bayer and Anti-Alias filters removed, thus making it a B+W only digital M. 
The benefits of this are:

  • Sharper images
  • Raised base ISO of 320
  • Better high ISO performance (for a Leica)
The disadvantages are:
  • No control of B+W image colour channels in editing software
  • Having to use colour filters on the lens when shooting
  • No option of a colour version of image
  • Costs more than the M240
So, why bother? It was precisely this question that made me keen to attend the workshop.

We arrived at the Leica Akademie, and if you've not been then I suggest you pay a visit if you like all things Leica, its very cool.

There were only the two of us on the workshop and were were taken by the workshop leader Robin to the Akademies' inner sanctum. In the cool designer interior of white and silver we were given a quick overview of the Leica Mononchrom. It was quickly apparent that both Simon and I were pretty experienced, Robin realised this and skipped through the basics and we went out with the Monochroms and a loan Leica 18mm to take some shots around Mayfair.
When we returned we loaded a selection of our RAW images onto Robin's Macbook to process.
Robin uses a combination of Lightroom (Lr) and Nik Silver EFX as his workflow, which is the same as me, Simon preferring to use Lr for cataloguing and then opening the image in Photoshop (Ps) and using Silver EFX from there.
Whilst processing it was apparent that out of the camera the images from the Monochrom are very sharp but to my eyes, a bit flat. 
The images processed well, they have a wide dynamic range and there is a surprising amount of detail in the shadows. Leica recommend exposing for the highlights and then bringing out the shadows in post processing. Any noise was "film like" and the high ISO performance is very good.

I was keen to post process the images myself using my workflow:
  • Adjust Black and Highlight levels in Lightroom either manually or by using Auto
  • Pre-sharpen in Nik Dfine RAW pre-sharpener
  • Re-check Black and Highlight levels in Lr
  • Process in Nik Silver EFX - Brighness, Contrast and Structure
  • Re-check Black and Highlight levels in Lr - Apply Clarity
  • Spot removal in Lr
  • Optional Application of Vignette using DSLR GURU preset.
For me, this produced a better image from the Monochrom. Any comments welcome.

Leica Monochrom/Elmarit 28mm ©Huw Jones

Leica Monochrom/Voigtlander 15mm ©Huw Jones

Leica Monochrom/Voigtlander 15mm ©Huw Jones

Leica Monochrom/Elmarit 28mm ©Huw Jones

Leica Monochrom/Elmarit 35mm ©Simon I Hill

Leica Monochrom/Elmarit 35mm ©Simon I Hill

In conclusion, if your only experience of photography is with digital then the workshop should fill in all the gaps so you can get the best from your Monochrom, if, like us, you are old enough to have started with film, then it will be somewhat basic. In a way it was good that there was only the two of us so Robin could tailor the contents to our requirements. Simon and I had a thoroughly enjoyable afternoon at the Leica Akademie with their enthusiastic and professional staff, Simon even got the sensors on both the Monochroms' cleaned for free!

My opinion on the Leica Monochrom? I think I'd rather the ME or a used M9 and retain the option to use colour channels in post process. As it is I'm going to stick with my M8, the weak IR filter and lack of AA filter gives B+W a unique look and the images process beautifully.

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

St Lawrence Working Mens Club Leica M8

Not far from my house is an old working mens' club. It turns out that this abandoned buiding is actually of historical importance to York, i'm not going to type it all out again so read this link to get the details.

I took my Leica M8, ans both the Elmarit 28mm and the Voigtlander 15mm. The light was a bit variable but the images convey the sadness this building is obviously feeling at the moment. 

At the rear of the building Leica M8 Emarit 28mm

Leica M8 Elmarit 28mm

Leica M8 Elmarit 28mm