Posts Tagged ‘ACROS’

ULLSWATER, LAKE DISTRICT

ULLSWATER, LAKE DISTRICT

Another image from our recent trip, taken from an Ullswater steamer that took us around the lake for a couple of hours (doesn’t move very quickly !) …the Lake District is well worth another visit soon, hopefully in drier weather, although the ever-changing light in this part of England makes it always a pleasure for landscapes.

Notably on the boat were several with cameras – one guy with a Canon 1D, photographing the punters (probably for a promo leaflet/web photo (!)), a girl taking an odd snap – without much care – with a Sony DSLR, and a few with Panasonic FZs of various vintages. In each case, they had something quite cumbersome to deal with, in less than ideal conditions – so pleased to have had my LX3 with us, with the D3 nowhere to be seen on this trip – way too heavy !

More as usual at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com … enjoy

WILLEN PEACE PAGODA

WILLEN PEACE PAGODA

Capture at dusk with the LX3 …..The first Peace Pagoda in the western world … this was completed in 1980, at the northern edge of Willen Lake, Milton Keynes. There is a Nipponzan-Myōhōji Order temple and monastery nearby.

What’s a  Peace Pagoda ?

A Peace Pagoda is a Buddhist stupa designed to provide a focus for people of all races and creeds, and to help unite them in their search for world peace. Most (though not all) have been built under the guidance of Nichidatsu Fujii (1885-1985), a Buddhist monk from Japan and founder of the Nipponzan-Myōhōji Buddhist Order. Fuji was greatly inspired by his meeting with Mahatma Gandhi in 1931 and decided to devote his life to promoting non-violence. In 1947, he began[1] constructing Peace Pagodas as shrines to World peace.

The first Peace Pagodas were built as a symbol of peace in the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki where the atomic bombs took the lives of over 150,000 people, almost all of whom were civilian, at the end of World War II.

By 2000, 80 Peace Pagodas had been built around the world in Europe, Asia, and the United States.

Civilization is not to kill human beings, not to destroy things, not to make war; civilization is to hold mutual affection and to respect one another. -Most Ven. Fujii

The Peace Pagoda was awarded the Courage of Conscience award June 5, 1998 in Sherborn, MA.

As usual, many more LX3 images – architectural & many other subjects – at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com

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A comp of three images here from the Docklands/Canary Wharf collection.

It’s an area of London that, like so many others in the City, is so full of photographic promise. There are two great likelihoods in photographing parts of London in 2009 :

1/ You’ll get some fantastic images

2/ Completely unexpectedly – or maybe not, now – there’ll be a request not to use your camera …could be the police, a jobsworth security guard, or … the latter, speaking through a mic, plumbed into a ‘speaker somewhere near you.

The last option, where you’re being observed via perhaps a distant camera (!), does seem strange …my own photos are neither for commercial gain (I’d have asked for a ‘permit’), nor for terrorism … I actually quite enjoy photography, thanks … there’s no ulterior motive in my case. However, by photographing certain things in the UK in 2009, we’re apparently guilty until we can prove our innocence.

It seems strange that, in these ever-changing times, our ability to record UK life photographically is so inhibited by the people we ultimately elect to run the country … but one of the best ways to be inconspicuous is to use an LX3, set to RAW capture for ultimate flexibility & quality.

Do that, and read up on the legalities of photography in a public place, work ethically, use your common sense, and you should be able to capture some fantastic images…unscathed, I hope.

Many more LX3 images – of London, and many other subjects – can be found and viewed in safety (!) at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com. Don’t forget to also take a look at http://1001noisycameras.com for more on the LX3 and many other ‘must-have’ photographic tools, which so far, can stil be bought legally !

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I’d been planning to get a mini tripod for some time, as my full-size D3-handling Manfrotto – which I don’t use very often anyway – lives in my car, and is way bigger than necessary for use with the LX3. Don’t really feel inclined to cart it around, either.

Having searched long & hard for the (I eventually found out) discontinued Giottos QU-200 U-pod, which looked ideal for my planned use, without any luck in finding one, I was short on options.

Many smaller tripods that I looked at were a bit ‘Heath-Robinson’, and were either table-top-use only, or complete overkill. While I was online, ordering a couple of spare batteries and memory cards, I decided to try the ‘Compact camera’ version of the Gorillapod (£14.00).

I can’t say I was particularly attracted by the look of it, but more the usability. Being able to use it like a ‘normal’, straight-legged tripod was of course the plan, but being able to also safely attach the LX3 in position on a fence, railing, branch, chair (as shown above, on the right) etc, is a useful added feature.

There’s a locking ring for extra security, flexible joints on each leg, and foot grips. Therefore, no need for a flat surface from which to work. As you can see above, it’s a consideration that because the LX3 tripod mount is located on the left-hand side of the camera (from the back) … ie just slightly to the left of the square L badge, looking from the front … it’s not quite as stable as I would have liked, but that’s as much to do with the LX3 design, and it’s ok in use, with care.

Some results to follow in a future posting, but so far, so good …definitely recommended, but only for cameras up to a specified weight limit of 325g (11.5oz).. so fine for LX3, but for DSLRs, they make a couple of other models.

LX3 galleries at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com, and more details on the Gorillapod at http://joby.com …you’ll see it’s also available in other colour options.

AMERICAN CEMETERY, CAMBRIDGE UK

AMERICAN CEMETERY, CAMBRIDGE UK

Another one from my collection of Cambridge images.  The American Cemetery in Cambridge, with it’s memorial pillar stating  ‘Erected By The United States Of America  1954’,   is on 30 acres of land donated by the University of Cambridge, situated three miles outside the city. A high proportion of these 3,812 American servicemen & women were crew members of British-based American aircraft employed in WWII. This is an image of The Great Mall with, on the right-hand side, The Wall of the Missing.

Although the RAW file conversion was made in SilkyPix, that doesn’t mean there wasn’t still some lens distortion showing, and if you want to see the ‘uncorrected’ version, it’s on the zenfolio site at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com  (along with literally hundreds of my other LX3 images, grouped for ease of use).

With some Photoshop transform/distort, the image was almost there, and a touch of lens correction in Capture NX gave me the final result I was after.

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Dynamic Black & White – from a digital camera, it doesn’t get any better than this !

Some say that monochrome represents the absolute purity of an image – no colour to get in the way, to divert attention from the photographer’s intended portrayal of the subject.

One of the most interesting aspects of the LX3, and certainly a very influential factor in my decision to buy one, was – and still is – the Dynamic Black & White setting, to be found within the selection of Film Modes. This setting, in combination with the 16:9 format, is one of my very favourites … albeit jpeg output only. I can forego the flexibility of RAW files when the DBW results are just so good, and get so close to the look of film. Deep blacks, tons of contrast, and yet a decent level of detail, all combine to make it a very hard act to follow.

For film buffs, think along the lines of Fuji Neopan 1600 / Ilford XP2 …  

Indeed, this LX3 look is very tough to replicate on a colour file without a lot of messing, unless you use a dedicated ‘conversion’ program, such as DxO FilmPack or Nik Silver Efex Pro …both superb, although even then, there’s still something about the LX3 DBW file that just looks immediately stunning, and that isn’t easily matched otherwise.

Talking more generally for a moment, the internal processing engine within LX3 is dramatic in its ability to provide a brilliant  – and customisable – interpretation of what you saw with your own eyes when you made the image. Within the Film mode selection are six colour versions :  Standard – Dynamic – Nature – Smooth – Vibrant – Nostalgic

For Black & White, rather than just the one token effort seen on so many compacts, there are, unusually, three different LX3 modes :   Standard – Dynamic – Smooth

The shot above was made in Dynamic BW mode, with settings altered to my own preference, after some – but not very much – experimentation. Already very contrasty to start with, just as I like it, the Dynamic BW is modified on my own LX3 as follows :  Contrast +1 / Sharpness +2 / Noise reduction +1

You may already have found that the Multi-Film mode on LX3 gives the photographer a massive amount of flexibility for up to three custom ‘looks’, recorded in sequence at a single press. Again, although not available in RAW, these jpeg outputs can each be altered to taste, and the quality and accuracy of the white balance becomes important in this instance – you’re relying on it to provide the right colour balance overall, and it’s awkward to change it after the fact and achieve good results …so getting it right in-camera, as far as possible, is important.

Dynamic Black & White could also come to the rescue if you’re facing some impossibly tough mixed lighting in a certain situation. Whereas the different light sources can on occasion produce a truly ugly result, the DBW setting on the LX3 can cut through all of that, and produce something you can be proud of – and look really professional without too much effort … once you’ve got the right composition, exposure, focus,  etc !

Incidentally, with the LX3, I’ve shot more Black & White in the last few months than in the previous 10 years – the  Dynamic Black & White mode is that good.

As usual, you’ll find that there’s an entire folder dedicated to this amazing LX3 monochrome mode  – go to  http://nickbland.zenfolio.com …. just look for ‘LX3 :: Dynamic B&W’, where you’ll find 96 images … and enjoy !

LX3 WITH OFF-CAMERA SB-800

LX3 WITH OFF-CAMERA SB-800

A great feature of the LX3, and one which certainly differentiates it from a ‘normal’ compact camera, is the provision of a flash ‘hotshoe’. This connection is the portal to truly exciting and dramatic lighting effects, the likes of which have often been reserved for DSLRs …to the extent that so little of its use is ever discussed as being the norm on a compact camera.

This is where it changes. I’m not going into huge technical detail on this occasion, rather just piquing your interest with an image made in this way. I mounted a radio flash trigger on the LX3’s hotshoe, connected the receiver to the base of one of my Nikon SB-800s, and that was the complete rig. Exit SB-800 stage left a couple of feet, some careful positioning, and one slightly used (!) Omega Seamaster captured with its reflection on glass, with a black card beneath it – that simple.

Bear in mind a couple of points in such a set-up :

1/ There’s no TTL metering …it’s Manual mode on the camera, and some trial-and-error – but it doesn’t take long to get the look you’re after

2/ This is a brilliant, highly portable, reliable, high-quality set-up that can be used for on-location shoots – portraits etc –  just as well as indoors for say product/macro photography.

When the light isn’t as you’d like, either in darkness when you need some (!), or in bright sunlight where some fill-flash would make all the difference … or when you really want to tap your creativity, in exciting, unknown territory –  the off-camera flash added to your LX3 will transform your photography.

Once you have a single flash off-camera, things can get even more interesting with slaved multiple strobes …and this doesn’t have to be that expensive. A little research will detail lists of models that can be ‘slaved’ in such a way, and includes several older Nikon models, Metz, Sigma, etc – they’re out there if you hunt for them.

As usual, there’s a selection of LX3 off-camera flash images at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com, and for the technical side of things – with also a huge amount of help in getting started, and evolving your use of ‘strobes’ – check out David Hobby’s site at http://www.strobist.com

Of course, many would say that the absolute master of this style of lighting is the infamous Joe McNally, hero of many a challenging shoot for National Geographic, Time, Sports Illustrated and countless other titles … check out http://www.joemcnally.com for some stunning images, and tips on technique.

I’d suggest essential reading material as both of Joe’s books on the subject : The Moment It Clicks, and The Hotshoe Diaries. Both are highly informative, full of absolute gems, and delivered with Joe’s trademark humour that will have you laughing aloud  ! He also features on a Nikon ‘Speedlight’ DVD, and of course there’s plenty of content on Joe & many other ‘strobists’ at http://www.youtube.com