Sunday, 28 February 2016

Macro with Canon G10 Powershot

Low winter light falling on some roses in a vase, I quickly grabbed my Canon G10 Powershot and took some macro shots.

Processed in MacPhun CK suite.

Another 4th place

Pleased with this as I took it one morning on my iPhone.

Sunday, 21 February 2016

First portrait shoot with Neewer Eagle EG250 Strobes

After the trial shoot on inanimate objects yesterday, I had a couple of live subjects today. 

I used my Canon 5D2 but with the 24-70 f2.8 L rather than either the prime 85 or 100mm USM lenses purely because its easy to use the zoom to frame when doing a quick test like this.

I set up all 3 strobes, two with soft-boxes the third with the reflector with a diffuser on it illuminating the back wall. I switched these on and off in various combinations during the shoot, as well as adjusting the power of each strobe for effect.

As before the strobes worked perfectly.

These are my favourite images from the session processed in Lr and Tonality used as a plug in in Lr.

Canon 5D2, Canon 24-70 f2.8 L, Neewer EG250 strobes

Saturday, 20 February 2016

Quick HDR in Photoshop Fuji X-Pro1

Made a quick HDR in Photoshop.
Canon 5D2, Canon USM 100mm f2.8, Neewer EG-250 Strobes

Used my Fuji X-Pro1 as a subject, the shape of the camera makes it a good subject for HDR.

I like this camera a great deal, true, its not that fast in general operation or AF, but I do find the AF accurate. 

The Optical/Electronic Viewfinder (OEVF) will not be to everyone's liking. It is not a rangefinder like the Leica M or just a Viewfinder like a Canon Powershot G series. It is unique but there is the ability to switch to EVF mode if you desire.

I find the EVF quite useful, I like t shoot RAW +jpg, on all my cameras, with the Fuji I set the jpg to B+W (red filter) and then see a BW image in the EVF which is helpful for composing the shot as you get to see what it looks like in BW, then develop to taste from RAW later.

The Fujinon XF lenses are superb, no question about it, but then, Fuji have been making lenses since 1938 and make some of the best TV and Motion Picture lenses as well as the Hasselblad lenses for the H system. I've used the 'blad lenses quite a bit and know how good they are.
The Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4, that the X-Pro is wearing in this photo, is extremely sharp, has no distortion and superb colour and contrast. 

The x-Series cameras and lenses are pretty much hand built as can be seen in this video:

And this interesting article on DPReview:

Fuji have produced some nice videos on their lens heritage:

Here is another video showing the manufacture of the X -Series cameras and lenses.

First go with Neewer Eagle EG-250B Strobes

I recently pressed the button on Amazon and bought a Neewer Eagle EG-250B Strobe kit.

For my £174.00 I received a rather nice carry case, with Neewer embroidered on the side,  which contained, 3 x 250W strobe heads, 3 x stands, 2 x soft boxes, 1 x reflector, a circular grid diffuser which fits the reflector, barn doors and 3 x colour filters which slot into the barn doors and a white shoot-through umbrella. There was also a 16 channel RF flash trigger with Hot shoe transmitter, PC cables, mains leads and 3 spare fuses.

Quality was better than I expected, with no sharp edges. The case is made of plastic, which is nice as the mains cable is off the unearthed figure of eight type. The Strobe is double insulated and is CE marked.
Flash power is from 1/1 (full) down to 1/16, adjusted with a detented rotary control. There are two levels of modelling light and at each level the output varies with the flash power setting. The flash can be triggered by PC cable and optical sensor.
The strobe head uses Bowens fit for attachments, which is nice and secure, not all the cheap strobe heads out there are like this.

Rear of Neewer Eagle EG-250 strobe head

Front of Neewer Eagle EG-250 strobe head
It is of course possible with digital photography to use studio flash without a flash Meter by using trial and error, however its is much easier if you do have a flash meter, I bought a Sekonic L308s from Wex photographic for £119.00, it was sold as an Open Box but arrived in brand new condition.

I set up a quick table-top session to see how the strobes performed. I used my Canon 5D2 with Canon USM 100mm f2.8 Macro.

Recycle time was under 1 second, which is fine for this kind of slow paced photography. 
I used two strobes fitted with a soft-box and placed at 45 degrees with their top edges almost touching to form a "light tent". Both strobe heads were set to the same power by counting the clicks on the control and that appeared to be accurate. Both heads are the same colour temperature.
I ran the strobes for around 2 hours and remained only warm to the touch.

Very pleased with the performance so far. 

Sorry about the quality of the images but I'm still using a Canon 5D2 and I know from reading camera forums that these are rubbish because they are only 22MP and use Canon sensors.

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF35mm f1.4 portrait session preparation

Whilst Topsy was getting ready for the shoot, I took the opportunity to take some preparation shots of the makeup look being applied.

I used the Fuji X-Pro1 with the Fujinon XF 35m f1.4 lens. I shot wide open with the ISO set to auto.

Processed in Apple Photos. If you frequent any of the Fuji X forums there is a great deal of debate on which RAW developer App handles the X-Trans RAW files the best. I've tried Rawtherapee, Lr and Adobe Camera Raw (obviously), SilkyPix (supplied with the X-Pro1) and Apple Digital Camera RAW (part of OS X). I tried pixel-peeping to see which one was the best, I tried all the settings for the Apps suggested on various websites and in all honestly could not see any differences that I could reliably pick out, not on my Apple Thunderbolt monitor anyway. So, I just use either Lr or Apple Photos.I f I open the Fuji RAW files in MacPhun CK suite, it uses the Digital Camera RAW engine.

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35m f1.4 
Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35m f1.4 

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35m f1.4 

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35m f1.4 

Single light portrait, Canon 5D2 and Canpn Speedlite 430EX

Topsy wanted to try out a new make up look based on the film Burlesque.

I took the opportunity to try a single light setup to record the result.

I used a single silver reflective umbrella, with a diffuser over the open end, wi the Canon 430EX firing into the brolly so it bounced off the inside on the subject, and was diffused by the white diffuser over the end. Its a set up that is supposed to giver similar results to a beauty dish.

I used the flash in ETTL mode with the 5D2 and a Canon ST2 remote flash trigger. Lenses used were a Canon USM 100mm f2 macro and Canon SM 85mm f1.8.

I processed images in Lr, Ps, Photos with plug-ins and the MacPhun CK suite as stand-alone Apps.

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 100mm f2 Macro

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 100mm f2 Macro

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 85mm f1.8 Macro

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 85mm f1.8 Macro

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 85mm f1.8 Macro

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 85mm f1.8 Macro

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 100mm f2 Macro

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 100mm f2 Macro

Saturday, 13 February 2016

Impromptu macro with Olympus PEN E-P1

I was sitting enjoying a mid-morning cup of tea with a McVitie's Orange Digestive biscuit when I noticed the light shining through the bottom of a vase of Daffodils on the fireplace.

I grabbed my Olympus Pen which just happened to be on the bookshelf with cheapo Chinese macro attachment already on the end of the 14-42mm Zuiko.

Set to manual everything I knocked out a few abstract images before I lost the light.

Processed in Lr.

I also tried a couple of images in Intensify

Sunday, 7 February 2016

Canon USM Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4 R and Apple Photos with MacPhun Creative Kit

Continuing with my experimentation with non-Adobe workflows.

As I had already bought MacPhun Tonality from the App Store while it was on offer, I qualified for a deal on the complete MacPhun Creative Kit (CK). This is a package comprising of Tonality CK, Intensify CK, FXStudio CK, Snapheal CK, Focus CK and Noiseless CK. The CK in the App title means that it it can be used as a Photoshop Plugin as well. When bought via the App Store individually this function is not available.

I have yet to try the Apps with Photoshop, I'm still playing with non-Adobe workflow.

For these images I used Apple Photos as the main App, I like the viewing experience, then a double click to view a single image and then click the edit button. In the album view if you had shot RAW+jpeg, then the images are stacked, the jpg being the image on top, this is indicated with a J bottom left of the image. One double clicked and being viewed full-screen, go to Image on the Menu bar and select Use RAW, you are then viewing and working on the RAW file. I then processed the images using the MacPhun CK as plug-ins within Apple Photos.

My method is to choose a preset from the Creative Kit, then adjust that to taste. Being able to layer the presets and adjustments and then control their opacity make it a very flexible workflow.

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4

Fuji X-Pro1, Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 50mm f1.4

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 50mm f1.4

Canon 5D2, Canon USM 50mm f1.4
What I did notice when processing these images is that the Fujinon XF 35mm f1.4 and the Fuji X-Pro1 compare very well to the Canon 5D2 and the Canon USM 50mm f1.4.