Experimenting with the Nik Collection Software & Silver Efex Pro

I’ve been reading a lot lately about Monochrome converted DSLR’s and since I love photographing in B/W, the thought of purchasing a used camera for conversion has been teasing my mind. Since I already have a higher end DSLR that produces excellent monochrome when processed in Lightroom and Photoshop, not to mention a full spectrum converted Mirror-less for monochrome infrared photography, I am struggling with the thought of paying out a few thousand dollors for another camera.
Though I know I would love to shoot in Black and White again, just like the film days, I decided to try the next best thing – software that emulates film. Nik Collection Silver Efex Pro.

Plant Photography, Leaf, Pentax M200/4, 1.4TC, 44mm ext tube, Bishop CA, Pentax K1, Macro, Macro Photography, @1:2 magnification, Closeup Photography, Monochrome, Monochrome Photography, Nik Silver Efex

Other than the vocabulary, I find working in Silver Efex Pro to be very intuitive much like working in the darkroom. I don’t really care for the preset effects but find the selection of film styles to be very similar to what I had worked with pre-digital. Everything from various Agfa to Kodak films. When I shot film I usually preferred the Ilford Delta series but found I do like the TMAX and Tri-X emulation this software provides. One can set the film style of choice, adjust grain and then proceed with normal darkroom techniques.

The selective point allows adjusting brightness, contrast and detail to a given area. This is where I wish it actually used the vocabulary of dodge and burn but the results are similar. One can also do these adjustments to the image as a whole as well as fine tune highlight and shadow while bringing in detail (structure in the vocabulary.)

Plant Photography, Leaf, Pentax M200/4, 1.4TC, 44mm ext tube, Bishop CA, Pentax K1, Macro, Macro Photography, @1:2 magnification, Closeup Photography, Monochrome, Monochrome Photography, Nik Silver Efex

What I enjoyed most was the loupe view which has the zone system overlaid so one can see how much of the photo falls into each zone from no detail white to pure black.

And to top it off there is a finalization series to bring the image to full print characteristics. Everything from tones, edge burns, and even custom negative carrier edges.

Here is a before and after, the original was shot on a converted camera with an 850IR filter. The second is the same photo run through Silver Efex Pro. Click to enlarge for viewing differences.

I was originally only interested in the Silver Efex but it comes as part of a complete download in the Nik Collection. I couldn’t help put experiment with the Analog Efex while I was at it. Great fun for creating that 60’s snapshot effect. Another before and after, bland photo turned into vintage.

Best part is Google is offering this software for free now and it plugs right into PS as a filter. It just might curb my desire for that monochrome DSLR.

Infrared Filter Comparison

I’ve really been enjoying working in digital IR this last year and have been doing a few Infrared Filter Comparisons to see which effect I prefer the most. I have attached a test subject of a tree stump in the desert shot with R72, #87 & IR850(87c) at the end for comparison. Continue reading

Lensbaby Plastic Optic Revisited

Very busy this month but I was able to revisit the Lensbaby Plastic Optic and play with a bit of Macro Photography in the yard.

Plant Photography, Iris, Lensbaby Plastic Optic, Bishop CA, Pentax K1, Macro, Macro Photography, 1:2 Photography, Closeup Photography, Flower Photography, Fine Art Photography

These were taken using a de-glassed Takumar-A TC for an extension tube, approximately 27mm in length, giving around 1:2 magnification.

Plant Photography, Iris, Lensbaby Plastic Optic, Bishop CA, Pentax K1, Macro, Macro Photography, 1:2 Photography, Closeup Photography, Flower Photography, Fine Art Photography

Very pleased with he results and really like the soft focus effect the lensbaby plastic optic offers.

And a few with IR:

Lensbaby Plastic Optic

Recently picked up the Lensbaby Plastic Optic.

I arrived at Lensbaby to late to buy the original optics as a kit and started with the Sweet35.

Selective Focus Photography, Plastic Optic, LensBaby, Exa Camera, Pentax K-01, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA
Lensbaby Plastic Optic @f8

Though the Lensbaby system isn’t for everyday shooting, I really enjoy the special effects they create.
Think I own all of the original optics now plus the Sweet35 & Edge80.

Selective Focus Photography, Plastic Optic, LensBaby, Exa Camera, Pentax K-01, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA
Lensbaby Plastic Optic @ f4

Of all of the first generation plug ins, I think the Zoneplate and the Plastic are my two favorites. Really enjoy the vintage Holga or Dinah look this optic creates.

Selective Focus Photography, Plastic Optic, LensBaby, Exa Camera, Pentax K-01, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA
Lensbaby Plastic Optic @ f2.8

And a few from the filed

Infrared Photography and Pentax F300/4.5

Added a couple of new lenses to the infrared photography lens hotspot database,
the Pentax F300/4.5 and the Pentax F 35-70/3.5-4.5.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Pentax K-01, R72 Filter, Pentax F300/4.5, Owns Valley CA, Sierra Nevada CA, Mount Humphreys CA, IR Hotspot, Database

Both performed very well with no hotspots or flare issues.
The autofocus on both was fast and accurate.
Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Pentax K-01, R72 Filter, Pentax F300/4.5, Owns Valley CA, Sierra Nevada CA, Horton Creek CA, IR Hotspot, Database

I especially enjoyed the extended telephoto reach of the F300.
Can see how this lens is rated as a stellar performer and could easily become a go to lens choice.
Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Pentax K-01, R72 Filter, Pentax F300/4.5, Owns Valley CA, Sierra Nevada CA, Basin Mountain CA, IR Hotspot, Database

IR Lens Hotspot Database

kolarivision.com has an excellent ir lens hotspot database already compiled; however, I noticed most of my older film lenses weren’t included so decided to create a database (bottom of page) testing these lenses on the Pentax K-01.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Faux Color, Pentax K-01, R72 Filter, Manzanar CA, Owns Valley CA, Japanese Internment, IR Hotspot, Database
Pentax A35/2.8 Continue reading

Infrared Photography

I remember trying Infrared Photography a few times in my film days and found it difficult and challenging.

It always seemed I was guessing the exposure time and the focus, trying to approximate the red line on the lens distance scale.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Pentax K-01, R72 IR Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

Winter Farm IR

Recently, I acquired a Pentax K-01 and had it converted to a full spectrum camera. Unlike film, digital sensors are sensitive to all light waves (UV, visible bands and IR) so most cameras use a hot-mirror to block the infrared bands and pass only visible light.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Mules, Animal Photography, Pentax K-01, 25A Red Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

Winter Mules IR 1

Most conversions replace this hot-mirror and replace it with an IR based filter for a full time conversion, usually in the 720nm range. With the full spectrum conversion the mirror is removed and the IR filter is placed over the lens, much like the film days; however, unlike the film days I can see the image in live view just as if I was looking through a viewfinder.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Mules, Animal Photography, Pentax K-01, 25A Red Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

Winter Mules IR 2

Apparently the new mirror-less systems make fantastic digital infrared cameras. They automatically set accurate exposure and the focus can be determined manually via live view or calibrated for auto focus. Another wonderful aspect of the K-01 is that it will take all my older Pentax K mount lenses.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Monochrome Photography, Monochrome, Pentax K-01, 25A Red Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

Winter Tree IR

I now need to experiment with several to determine which will be good performers or or which will be susceptible to flares and hotspots. Infrared is often most noted for its use with contrast or faux colors with vegetation.

Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, Faux Color Photography, Faux Color, Pentax K-01, 25A Red Filter, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

Faux Color IR Canal

Here are a few shots from the winter local scenery, a bit different but fun. I look forward to working with the camera as the spring green comes around.

Pentax A50 f2.8 macro & K-1

Recently pulled out the old Pentax A50 f2.8 macro for a few shots of autumn leaves in the back yard.

This lens performs wonderfully on the new Pentax K-1. Though not a “true macro” with a reproduction of 1:2, I find the scale adequate and the IQ superb; plus it is such a joy to use.

I can see why vintage Pentax glass was noted for it’s quality, the colors are brilliant and the IQ is sharp for the area of focus. Bokeh is pleasantly pleasing also. This doesn’t seem to change on the new digital sensors either.

In fact, I find their performance is equal to or better than the newer digitally enhanced lenses.

 

Back to the Basics – Pinhole & Zone Plate Photography

Pinhole & Zone Plate Photography. Back to the Basics – No Lens, No Meter, No Viewfinder

A couple of weekends ago I was fortunate enough to partake in a day trip down Titus Canyon in Death Valley. A colleague was wanting to work on some landscapes for the upcoming “Shooting the West” photo symposium and as I had always wanted to see this canyon and the en-lying ghost town of Leadfield, off we went.
Also around this time I had been studying the effects of pinhole photography. For the price of a lens cap I was able to pick up a pinhole/zoneplate optic for my Lensbaby to give it a try. I hadn’t really done any pinhole since college and never tried anything like zone plate photography, so was curious to see the effects and try the skills myself.
The pinhole is around an f177, so there is not enough light passing through to frame anything in the viewfinder and of course no in camera metering. While the zone plate is an f19 because of the concentric circles, the same applies. Continue reading

Postprocessing

Last month, a fellow photographer hosted a nice discussion on her blog about post processing – do we do it, how much, personal reasons and some discussion of ethics. While I might wish to be a purist, it reminded me of how much fun I used to have in the darkroom, dodging, burning, measuring and masking to superimpose or just for finer exposure adjustment. So for June I gave myself the project of working on images that captured high detail in camera and required extensive post processing. Continue reading

Visualizing Light

Over the past several years, one of the workshops I consistently attend is taught by Tom Bol at the Shooting the West photo symposium.
Tom is a lighting master. I recently picked up his blog again and noticed a piece from July 15th of this year entitled “Visualize the Light.”

In the article, Tom mentions how we as photographers are usually seeking the prime early morning light for its warmth and contrast. We all learn that the quality of light is often the factor that can turn any ordinary subject into a unique image. Continue reading

Thinking in Color

I first remember hearing “Thinking in Color” in a workshop I attended at SHOOTING THE WEST a few years back.
Stacy Pearsall mentioned to “think in color”, pointing out how certain colors compliment the color of the primary subject and to use them when framing your background. Mood and visual relationship of the photo can be portraited by varing the color relationships including shadow to highlights, blacks to white.

Last month I read another interesting article by Moose Peterson on Sam Mallery’s B&H Photo Insights Blog mentioning “Color Concious”. Continue reading