Posts Tagged ‘London’

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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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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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Thanks to its Leica-logo’d f2-2.8 lens, the LX3 has proven itself to be a stunning low-light camera. There’s a feeling amongst many that shooting in low-light is a relatively rare requirement, and that most photography – literal translation from latin being ‘drawing with light’ – takes place when there’s some light to draw with !

Well, for those of us in the UK who are finding that, this week at least, there’s some real summer weather, we all know that this can’t generally be relied upon, in this green & pleasant land;  conditions are more normally much cooler, wetter, and often overcast. Thus, there’s a real need here for ‘low-light ability’ in a camera, and the light-gathering capability of an f2 (at 24mm equiv.) to f2.8 (at 60mm equiv.) lens really makes a difference.

The fact that it’s a really sharp one, with little noticeable distortion following processing, really helps to produce what I feel is a way better quality of low-light image than the output of the previous champ – the infamous Fuji F30. As I still have my F30 (and amazingly still in pretty well ‘as new’ condition), it’s been easy to make a direct comparison. LX3 has far more detail, less smearing, and its fast lens allows a lower ISO to be used, further reducing the possibility of noise that needs noise reduction, and the artifacts associated. If you want to replace an F30/31, the LX3 is also a far better performer in bright light conditions.

This dusk shot, from my collection of Canary Wharf/Docklands images, is a good example of what’s possible, handheld, under such conditions. That the full gamut of colour remains intact is also testament to the quality of LX3, that just wasn’t possible on a small camera even 18 months ago – we have much to be thankful for !

More LX3 low-light (and ‘normal-light’ !) shots in new & updated galleries … just go to http://nickbland.zenfolio.com and choose from the many subjects, each in their own folder for ease of use.

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For today, rather than a comp, a rant about DSLR mags, or some particular LX3 feature, advantage, benefit – just an image.

Walking along Coventry Street in London this morning, close to Leicester Square, there were two particular groups of people. One was an ever-growing queue awaiting the appearance of Johnny Depp for the film premiere tonight – they had a long wait in the 30C heat – and the other, captured here, was paying tribute at a memorial for Michael Jackson… his death certainly a sad loss.

Although often controversial, especially in recent years, there’s no doubting his songwriting & performing talent – and his innate ability, like so many like him, to surround himself with world-class players.

For those of you like me that may appreciate great guitar-playing, just think of some of the guitarists that have graced several of his best-known tracks … Eddie Van Halen, Slash, Steve Lukather, Steve Stevens… some of my favourite players of all time.

This photograph – captured by LX3 on my way through, in challenging light conditions – is here for the very many that appreciated his music.  Capturing a small slice of time – in a technically high-quality image – is made all the more easy with an LX3 as constant companion.

For an interview with Steve Lukather on the subject of the star’s untimely departure, check out his site at http://www.stevelukather.net

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For all LX3 users out there – have you ever actually had large prints from your files ?

I just received today 3 prints that I’d ordered via upload the other evening. They’re 24″ x16″  (that’s the paper size …my images are in 16:9, so they’re printed full width, shorter in height) … and all look fantastic.

But the real killer ?    That’s a 30″ x 20″ print of  one of my recent Canary Wharf favourites (16:9, same again), top left, which looks absolutely stunning ! Thought I’d try it, just to see … being used to prints from my D3, I really wasn’t expecting this – and there was no special post-processing, just my usual, and the results really are spectacular – I’ll be organising frames this weekend.

If you’ve not yet bothered to ‘print large’ from your LX3, treat yourself – I can’t recommend it highly enough …and I reckon you’ll be really surprised by what can come from a carefully designed small-sensor camera, with albeit an amazing lens – EVEN if you’re a DSLR owner/user as well.

By the way, these images were all shot handheld.  Many more LX3 16:9 images at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com

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Came across this scene while out walking earlier this weekend, and found that LX3 RAW file flexibility was ideal in pulling out the entire colour range and detail in this image.

Intentionally, I’ve used Nik Color Efex filters to modify the image to what, for some reason, reminds me a little of a Japanese garden. With ‘Russet’ and ‘Polarisation’ filters in play, the Nik system is always useful in adding something of value to virtually any image, with its selection of Styling and Traditional versions. These can of course be mixed to obtain the look you’re after.

Incidentally, that’s not chromatic aberration on the tree branches – its the Nik colour boost & processing that has given it that look, which on this image, I’m quite happy with, as it adds to the feel I was after. Needless to say, the Leica lens on the LX3 is stunning, and suffers very little from ca generally … that’s a quite different story from the Canon G10, for example, where ca rears its ugly head in a very noticeable way much of the time. Thankfully, software these days can easily reduce/remove it, but its good to have one less processing step to deal with.

The Nik Color Efex filters come very highly recommended, and I have them set up to run within Capture NX. Along the same lines, but specialising in mono conversions, the Nik Silver Efex Pro filters are also superb, and can take your images into an entirely different realm.

Both software versions are available on a free trial basis – but you will find you want them ! Check them out at http://niksoftware.com, where there are also PDF and video lessons, alongside Online training.

If you’d like similar mono results to those produced by Silver Efex Pro for a much lower investment, I recommend DxO FilmPack as a great package for colour positive, colour negative, cross-processed and black & white film replications. In addition, there are toning filters that add to its flexibility – see more at http://dxolabs.com, where there are again free trial downloads. 

Again, there are examples in many of my galleries for you to see at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com

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From the weekend while I was at Excel, I processed this image of Poplar DLR station from the RAW file, then in DxO Labs FilmPack v2, and liked the Selenium toning option, in keeping with the style of the image. I chose not to add grain, so as to maintain smooth sky and detail on the platform and tracks.

For more details, go to http://www.dxolabs.com where there’s a free trial download of the software. You may also be interested in checking out http://www.duggal.com for more information on the expert development partner that DxO chose to work with.

As usual, visit http://nickbland.zenfolio.com for a separate LX3 gallery dedicated to DxO Labs FilmPack v2 conversions, where you can see how well it works with LX3 high-res files – enjoy !