Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Elmarit 90mm

I recently purchased a used 90 mm Leica Elmarit-M 1:2.8, after reading an article by Steve Huff detailing his experience with this lens. I was so impressed with his positive experience with this lens  that I decided to get one for myself. I contacted Ken Hansen who seems to be able to get his hands on outstanding used Leica lenses and equipment. In short order Ken found me a mint lens with the retractable lens shade but no 6 bit coding.
I thought about the purchase for about 5 seconds before I decided that I could live without the 6 bit coding. Without the coding you just have to go into the M-9's menu and choose the lens manually. It only takes a couple of seconds and the lens works just like one that has the 6 bit coding. Ken shipped it to me on Friday and I got it Monday night. The lens was just as he described it to me or maybe even better, it looks brand new and the glass is perfect. It came with its original documentation, box, caps and leather pouch.
As you may have guessed I immediately put in on my M-9 and took a few shots. The first thing I noticed was that the focus ring has a long but very smooth stroke that helps get the focus right. I always set the focus to infinity and then work my way back which helps me to get the focus right with out having to go back and forth as when you start from the closest focal setting.
The aperture runs from f2.8 to f22 and has a positive click as you move the aperture ring to chose your setting. At f2.8 you have a narrow but very usable depth of field with excellent contrast and smooth bokeh. At f5.6 to f22 you get more depth of field and still excellent edge to edge contrast.
You might ask why I chose this lens over the newer Summicon or Summarit models. The Elmarit is the most compact and what I thought the most bang for my money. Here are some test shots using this lens.
In the shade f2.8.
Note the focus point f2.8 and smooth bokeh.
Even at f16 the smooth bokeh helps frame the subject.
Minimum focal distance and f2.8 gives excellent sharpness.
Clarity and sharpness at f5.6
More of the same at f2.8
This one is just for fun these boys were having a great time jumping their scooters. I took it from a good 30 feet away and this is a crop with Topaz Filter applied for the colorful effect.
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Sunday, June 27, 2010

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Saturday, June 26, 2010

Garden Views

A few different garden photos shot with the Leica D-Lux 4. Everything from garden ornaments  to redwood trees are featured today. All photos were post processed with Adobe Lightroom 3.0 and Topaz Filters.
In this first picture I over exposed the image by one full stop to counter act the shadows that fell on the stone ornament. It worked beautifully and exposed the detail that I wanted to see in the photo.
 Close up of a Iris flower with its striking colors. Photo was taken using the macro-focus mode.
Plant shadow on crushed rock makes for a simple but striking picture.
Close up in macro focus-mode.
Sun light pores through the strand of redwood trees, accented by the green foliage.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Vintage Black & White

I have been busy scanning some old family photos from the early 1900's and thought you might like seeing some of them. The quality of some of these pictures is amazing someone before my time was a excellent photographer. Unknown camera type but still interesting to see and admire.
All of these pictures were taken in Germany or Austria to the best of my knowledge and are of my grandmothers side of the family. As I go through these photographs I will share some of the better ones with you. The results in black and white are very interesting and are something that I would like to recreate in my photographs.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Hollow

Thought I would share some pictures from our day trip to visit Happy Hollow Park and Zoo in San Jose, California. The park has just reopened after a major renovation and the results are very pleasing to adults and the children who visit. The weather was beautiful and our grandson had a wonderful time.
All the photographs were taken with my Leica M-9 with a 35mm Summarit 2.5 lens and later post processed in Adobe Lightroom 3.0 and Topaz filter Adjust 4.  The challenge for me was in using just a 35mm lens and to see if it is possible to get some interesting shots without the use of a telephoto lens. For me the answer was yes there where times I would have like to have a longer lens but having to move and plan my shots more was a small price to pay for a lighter load.

All the children seemed to love the chance to intermingle with the animals.

A black and white close up that was converted using Nik Software Silver Efex Pro.

Roller coaster madness the small roller coaster provided plenty of thrill for all ages.

Checkout those facial expressions as usual click on any of the photos to see a larger version.

There are lots of interactive educational exhibits that allow for the capture of some candid pictures.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Interesting Week

It has been a interesting week with some interesting images. This week I'm highlighting the Leica M-9 and some of the more unusual or sometimes different and interesting images I acquired. They were taken during my daily walk, trip over the Golden Gate Bridge and a stop at the local repair garage.
The picture to your right needs no introduction, the Golden Gate Bridge is world famous and I took this shot from the vista point on the north side of the bay. It was one of those days where the skies were clear and cloudless with only a hint of lingering haze on the horizon.
Of course anytime you stop at any of the vista points there are lots of opportunities to get some photos of others enjoying the view. Here is another photographer setting up his camera in the middle of others trying to look at the view.
There is a bronze statue of a sailor in the middle of the vista point and people were lining up to get their pictures taken with it. These two men caught my eye as they were playing to their friends camera as I also took this shot.
On we went up the coast towards Jenner and Bodega Bay where we stopped for lunch, the fish was excellent. here is a decaying pier being used by the seagulls. I really like the simplicity of the picture and the way the pier gives depth to the photograph.
In the restaurant we meet a couple visiting from Germany with their 7 month old daughter I asked if I could take a picture. In these days and times when it comes to young children I would rather ask than to make people uncomfortable about having their children photographed.
After getting their permission I took this photo which I later converted to black and white using Nik Software plug-in Silver Efex pro.
These next pictures are from my daily walks and the first one highlights the thoughts of the owner of the property.
It seems they don't want anyone on their property and haven't wanted so for a very long time. In the next picture I saw this on the side of the trail and liked the texture and colors on the discarded planter.
This last picture I got at the local garage of a vintage Maserati it was parked in the middle of some modern prestige type vehicles but stood out like a sore thumb.
All photographs were post processed using the new Adobe Lightroom 3.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

I-Pad for Photographers (2)

In this installment I'm just going to show you some results from some jpg shots I took today and that were processed on the I-Pad. I used 3 different apps, Photogene, Filterstorm and PhotoPad to get an idea of which is easiest, most effective as far as their layout and available tools.
PhotoPad has a few filters, like cutout, contrast and color adjustments along with paint brush and paint bucket for the artists out there. The menus are simple to use as are the available tools including a history option to go back to different state in your processing. The picture below was processed in Photopad of a macro focus mode photo shot with the Leica D-Lux 4. The filters use were chromaticity and contrast to bring the differences out between the in focus and out of focus elements.
Filterstorm comes with a demonstration video that highlights a lot of tools and filters available including the ability to apply filters to specific colors. A nice application for those projects that require more processing than normal. I used the black and white conversion filter and then added the sepia filter to get the desired effect. (Leica D-Lux 4)
Photogene is the one I find I use most often it has a large number of adjustments and filters available in a intuitive format. Included is symbols which may be useful for some as you can drag them into the photo and then edit them by double tapping on the symbol. Included is a custom format for text font, color and fill. In this first shot I added sharpness and contrast to make the photo pop. (Leica D-Lux 4)

In this next photo I used the web effect filter, the highlight and shadow adjustments to bring out the strong color contrast between the sky and the grasses. Then I used the frame effect to round the corners and to give some depth to the photo. (Leica D-Lux 4)
In this last photo I just did a simple crop using the 1 to 1 ratio. (Leica D-Lux 4 in macro focus mode)
The answer is yes you can use the I-Pad to edit your pictures in the field especially if you just plan to use them for the web. There are plenty of You Tube videos out there if you want to see how folks are using these apps to process their photos.
My choice for photo apps are Photogene for the number of tools and ease of use and Filterstorm for the ability to select individual colors to apply filters to more difficult to process images. 
For me I will continue to use the I-Pad to edit photos only when I'm away from my computer. For blog publishing and e-mailing, fun and or interesting photos the I-Pad is a wonderful tool. Try it yourself and you might be hooked.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

I-Pad for Photographers (1)

I wanted to share some of my experiences with the Apple I-Pad with Wi-Fi, 3G and photo-kit. Is it something worth while for you? The pictures that accompany this posting were all downloaded and processed in the I-Pad using the Apple Photo-Kit and the Photogene App.
I thought that I would break up the postings between interesting tools and actual photo editing tools. Today I wanted to highlight some of my experiences with two applications I use to keep track of photography information. They are both RSS feed readers that are configured differently but make keeping up with whats happening in photography and other interest easy.
The first App is Early Edition and it is laid out like a Newspaper it goes out and gets your feeds and allows you to get a quick look at the information. The picture to right shows the page layout and the picture below shows the feed directory so you can easily switch between different sections as in my case photography and high tech.
This next picture shows you how a page looks from a individual story.
The next app that I use is Pulse which also uses RSS feeds but has a more visual format that is excellent for keeping up with picture sites like Smugmug and Flickr.
As you can see the app is laid out like a bunch of film strips and you just swipe through them to find a article you are interested in. Tap on it and here is what you see.
You have a choice of the above text view version or the below web view version.
In both versions you have the article strip below so you can navigate to other articles of interest. I like and use both of these apps they save time and energy along with simplifying the retrieval of useful information.  I find that since I got my I-Pad I read more photography based literature on it than I ever did on the computer.
The form factor and the easy transport of the I-Pad make it a handy tool, even if you don't use your I-Pad to import and edit photographs the research tools alone make this a useful tool for photographers.
The photo-kit cost was $29.00 from the Apple on line store.  Early Edition App $4.99 and Pulse App $3.99 both from the Apple I-Tunes App store. In the next posting I will share my experiences with importing and processing photos in the I-Pad.