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

Tiffen 87 IR Filter

Testing the Tiffen #87

Recently I picked up a NIB Tiffen #87 Infrared filter to see if I would enjoy working more with the shorter IR wavelengths (to produce a truer Black and White image) or if I wanted to stay with the 720 and under filters to achieve some color from visible light.
I have always preferred viewing B&W photos and movies to color and when I hold an image in my mind it is almost always in B&W.Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, monochrome, monochrome photography, Pentax K-01, Tiffen #87 Filter, Mono Lake CA, Owns Valley CA, Lee Vining CA
The 87 comes in around 795 or just at the baseline of the IR spectrum. Not quite as black as the 093 (830) or 87c (850) but still dark to the human eye.Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, monochrome, monochrome photography, Pentax K-01, Tiffen #87 Filter, Mono Lake CA, Owns Valley CA, Lee Vining CA
I do like the contrasty effect the monochrome images have over the false color, though it is difficult to achieve focus.
Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, monochrome, monochrome photography, Pentax K-01, Tiffen #87 Filter, Mono Lake CA, Owns Valley CA, Lee Vining CA
The majority of my favorite lenses are still manual focus, so I will just have to practice more.
If you can find this filter it is made of glass with a metal ring and well constructed, plus it comes in at about 1/2 the price of other name brands.
I find the images comparable to the Lee 87 film filters for those who already have a holder system.
Infrared Photography, Infra Red, IR Photography, monochrome, monochrome photography, Pentax K-01, Lee #87 Filter, Mono Lake CA, Owns Valley CA, Lee Vining CA
I did notice under the right light and white balance there were a few shots that did have a hint of blue sky after an attempt at color swapping.

 

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

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.

Lensbaby + Pentax K-1

Playing with the Lensbaby on the Pentax K-1.

Been busy with work and dealing with the cold weather so haven’t been able to do much in photography this month.

I did get enough time to take the older Lensbaby optics out and play with them a bit on the Pentax k-1.

Very different using the double glass and single glass instead of the newer Edge or Sweet models but found them very enjoyable to work with. Fun to have to think about the aperture one wants first and then install the disk as opposed to setting the aperture in the lens.

I did get lucky one day and had an Egret land in the artisian well I was working around using the double glass.

Egret with double glass

Selective Focus Photography, Double Glass Optic, LensBaby, Bird Photography, Egret, Wildlife Photography, Pentax K-1, Bishop CA

Winter tree with single glass

Selective Focus Photography, Single Glass Optic, LensBaby, Monochrome Photography, Monochrome, Pentax K-1, Bishop CA

Winter pasture with single glass

Selective Focus Photography, Single Glass Optic, LensBaby, Monochrome Photography, Monochrome, Pentax K-1, Bishop CA, Owns Valley CA

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.

 

Rodeo Photography

Like most sports, players/contestants rely on knowing the strong points of their teammates and try to decipher the strengths, weaknesses and personalities of their opponents’.
Unlike most sports, rodeo is fascinating in that the teammates and opponents don’t think or act as humans.
The communication between rider and horse during a barrel racing or roping event is incredible.
Understanding their opponents’ traits during the bronc, bull or roping events is critical.
Rodeo contestants are true athletes and deserve far more recognition than they often receive.

Continue reading

What’s the fuss about lens quality reviews

(Recently submitted post to PentaxForums.)

I find it curious how we photographers fret so much over lens quality reviews or lens superiority AND I do understand the difference between precision engineered glass and a soda bottle.

It’s easy to blur/fade an image made from a lens transmitting great IQ but impossible to add detail from an optic that never saw it in the first place.

I was using PF long before I became a member (I know, my bad) because of the wonderful amount of knowledge shared here by fellow Pentaxians. The lens database is incredible, especially the coverage of vintage and third party lenses.

My ex girlfriend shoots Canon and doing a fair amount of research there, it seems nearly impossible to find any reviews on anything other than the “latest & greatest” (and never so much information in one place.) I sense PF members seem more concerned with sharing creative process than promoting Market Hype.

I curb myself as much as possible from LBA but do like to keep informed on lens performance (vintage and modern), especially the diversified hands on experience I find here. Reading a recent post on Lenses and the K-1, I was very pleased with a response by Noel Porter. “One of the key things with any lens is understanding it’s characteristics and using it’s strengths or avoiding it’s weak areas (soft corners wide open etc).” (Read more at: http://www.pentaxforums.com/forums/190-pentax-k-1/329374-my-k-1-wasted-my-legacy-glass.html#ixzz4JuFQw1zm)

I’ve always viewed lenses as paint brushes. An artist may use two different brushes of the same size or shape to achieve different desired effects.

My main workhorse lens is a Sigma 24-60/2.8, it provides consistently good IQ. It will never provide the color and smoothness of my M50/1.7, the sharpness of my A50/2.8 macro or dirty/gritty film feel of my Vivitar 35/2.8. The Sigma 70-200/2.8 DG OS USM is in no way superior to my old F300/4.5 for IQ, but is the “go-to” lens during low light, nighttime sports events (and yet it never finds itself in the vest pocket like the tak-f 70-200 on a day hike.) They each are what they are.

Still, one of my favorite techniques is – NO LENS PHOTOGRAPHY (IQ be damned) – images below.

Zone Plate on K3

Black Locust Blooms, backyard photography, garden photography, plant photography, fine art, zone plate

http://www.instructables.com/id/PHOTOGRAPHY%3A-Creating-Perfect-Pinholes-and-Zonepla/

http://www.whizkidtech.redprince.net/zoneplate/

Writing with light – The brush doesn’t make the painting, the painting dictates the brush.

I’m consistently impressed while reading an inquiry here on the forums, how often a responding member will ask for more information on someones shooting style, subject matter, etc. before giving a recommendation. Sometimes it’s the newest technology when appropriate but often members encourage us to explore the strong characteristics of what we might already have or can easily obtain.

I look forward to reading more “fretting” over lenses, you folks make it an enjoyable treat and me happy to be a member of PF.

Another Zone Plate

Laws - California - locomotive - slim princess - railroads - museums - zone plate - black&white - monochrome - Bishop

National Automobile Museum – Reno

Every time I visit, I feel one of the most overlooked attractions, in Reno Nevada is the National Automobile Museum.

This place is amazing. It contains vintage automobiles in pristine and restored condition from the Harrah’s collection.

Era’s start with the early horseless carriages and vehicles built for commercial and race uses to the mid 1960’s. The history behind many of these vehicle is fascinating in itself but the architecture and art in their designs is beautiful.

Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - Pentax K1 Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - Pentax K1 Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - Pentax K1

Highly recommend this place for a visit. Entrance is in and out for the day and seldom more than a half dozen visitors at a time. Allows plenty of time to read, view and photograph this impressive collection.

Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - monochrome photography - monochrome - Pentax K1 Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - monochrome photography - monochrome - Pentax K1 Reno - Nevada - reno auto museum - national automobile museum - auto - museums - strobe photography - fine art photography - monochrome photography - monochrome - Pentax K1