Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Tackling the simple yet difficult subject, flowers with a Fuji X-T1 and Zeiss 50mm macro lens.

There is such a proliferation of flower images out there that in stock photography, at least, no one even wants to see one anymore. And yet...we photographers are constantly drawn to an image of a spring flower -- the promise of relief from winter, colors that bring a smile to our face, new life emerging from the dead landscape. I succumbed today to a vase full of fading tulips that have been in our home for several days. Not to mention how easy it is. Point the camera at the flower. Click. Done.

The light was right. My Fuji X-T1 was sitting nearby with the Zeiss 50mm f/2.8 macro lens on it. I went for it.

I was looking for something different but deep down knew that wouldn't happen with such an over-done subject. The flowers were past their prime. The glory of their color fading. Open petals. Dulling green leaves. But they still had a statuesque beauty.  I wanted to capture it before they faded into oblivion. Flowers teach us how to live.  Like people, they are not always at their best in their prime.

It was a relief to me not to feel like I had to punch the color. No HDR. (I really hate the over-exagerated look of HDR). No over-saturating the image beyond what nature intended. A Fuji X-T1 set to Classic Chrome. Aperture open to its widest at f/2.8.  Less is more.















Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Combining exposures from the Fuji X-Pro2 to maximize dynamic range

Last night I crossed the Hudson to take some night shots of the city from the Jersey side. I had with me the Fuji X-Pro2 and three zooms, the 16-55mm f/2.8, 50-140mm f/2.8, and 100-400mm. That pretty much covered everything I planned on doing, and I used everyone of them at one time or another.

I did this image in both color and black & white, but ended up preferring the monochrome version.
I wanted to experiment with shooting at a later time than normal. Typically I try to finish my night shots by 15-30 minutes after sunset, while the lights balance out with the light remaining in the twilight sky. This time I worked into the dark with long exposures to blur the moving water. I also took multiple exposures one stop apart to preserve all the detail of the scene. Instead of using HDR to combine the exposures because I usually do not like the false look it creates, I did it by hand in Photoshop by layering all four or five different exposures and then painting out or using the opacity slider to smooth out the tonal transitions.

Taken with the Fuji X-Pro2 and 16-55mm f/2.8 lens set to f/11 and four different exposures one stop apart. It took about one minute to blur the water like this.
By combining several images like this I was able to increase the dynamic range of the scene without having to actually open up shadows in post processing, which would have introduced excessive noise. Instead I was able to keep the ISO at 200 throughout, and with the new 24mp sensor of the X-Pro2 this resulted in a large image with excellent detail and resolution.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Fooling around in Photoshop

On days when I don't have much editing to do I often dip back into some earlier shoots to see what I can create by assembling images.

This is a composite of only three different images using Photoshop layers. The background is actually a single photo of a stormy day in the city with iconic building removed to make it more generic. The model was photographed in the studio against a seamless background and then clipped to superimpose over the background. The clear balls were done using the technique I described in this blog post.


Thursday, April 21, 2016

The Face of Liberty -- maximizing the Fuji 100-400mm lens

I love Fuji's XF 100-400mm zoom. Not only is it tack sharp at every aperture, when combined with the X-Pro2 it is an incredible tool for high resolution tight shots of subjects. Amazingly, it has the added convenience of being able to be used hand-held. This is a combo, along with the 1.4x teleconverter, that I find myself using more and more.


For this image of the Statue of Liberty I stitched three photos together. Each was shot at 560mm, a full frame equivalency of 840mm, and that was hand-held. I later added contrast while also muting and desaturating the colors to give the images a more rugged tone.  I intentionally left the over-lapping borders of the three original photos to involve the viewer in the stitching process. The result is a very high resolution image suitable for an extremely large print size.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Getting the most out of my X-Pro2

To increase the resolution of many of my large city and landscapes I often resort to taking several photos and combining them later with PTGui software. Last night I decided to give the method a try using the new 24mp sensor of the X-Pro2. Using the 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom set to f/5.6 I took seven images stretching from the north of Manhattan to the southern tip of the island, a full 180ยบ span that included the Empire State Building to the north and both the Flatiron and World Trade Center to the south. The sun set in the middle of the scene where there wasn't much else going on, and the sparse clouds fanned out to help tie the composition together.

The final print is 5' wide but could easily enlarge to double that size.

Click here to download a higher res version of this image.


This is a group of the seven photos that were assembled to make the panorama. The focal length was set to 16mm, which is generally wider that I like when taking images to be stitched together, but the PTGui software didn't have much trouble making the combo. 


I later converted the image to monochrome to make a moodier version. 

Monday, April 18, 2016

Lady Liberty - using some extreme focal lengths with the Fuji X-Pro2

A long way back I wrote here that the Fuji X system would never be complete for pro use until it contained some really superb long lenses. Now with the Fuji 50-140mm and 100-400mm zooms plus the 1.4x teleconverter combined with the higher resolution sensor of the X-Pro2 have delivered what was needed for me to use it on this photo project to the Statue of Liberty.

I have visited the Statue of Liberty many times and always find the challenge to be finding a new way to photograph her.  This is especially difficult on a day with not a cloud in the sky. Such clear weather lends itself to some very stark compositions, it also doesn't provide the interesting cloud patterns that can give a photo a unique look. For this session I made two trips, one on a sunset cruise around the island, and the other the next morning leaving on the earliest ferry to the statue the next morning.

For cameras I had the Fuji X-Pro2 fitted with extreme focal lengths.  At one extreme was the Rokinon 8mm fisheye, and at the other the two Fuji long zooms, the 50-140mm f/2.8, and in the morning the Fuji 100-400mm plus the 1.4x teleconverter. I had the long Fuji lens with me because I was specifically going to take some extreme close-ups of the statue in the early morning light.

In addition to the X-Pro2 I had a Leica SL I was trying out with a Leica 24-90mm zoom to cover the middle focal length ranges.

It took 560mm (a full frame equivalency of 840mm to pull of this tight shot. That meant the Fuji 100-400mm plus 1.4x extender. Most amazingly is that I hand-held the shot and it is tack sharp. Only modern cameras and lenses with exceptional VR can pull off such a feat. 


At the other focal length extreme I took this shot with the Rokinon 8mm f/2.8 fisheye lens as the sun was setting behind the statue.




All these medium focal length shots were done with the Leica SL and 24-90mm lens, which I found to be tack sharp for a zoom. 




Another tight shot with the Fuji 100-400mm lens using the Acros film mode with red filter to darken the sky. 


This sunset view juxtaposing the Manhattan and Brooklyn bridges against the statue in the distance was taken with the Fuji 50-140mm lens racked all the way out.  




Sunday, April 3, 2016

The city woman -- a triple exposure image

This image is a composite of three layers -- one is the city, one is the woman's face, and the third is a flat layer of deep blue tone that I allow to bleed through in various areas.

The bottom layer is the city. The top layer is the woman's face set to "Lighten" mode and also with a layer mask where I could paint out various sections. The middle layer was the flat color that I also painted out in various spots to increase or eliminate the color. The color in woman's face was also desaturated a bit.