Posts Tagged ‘SUMMICRON’

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

LG CHEN CARBON FIBRE

LG CHEN CARBON FIBRE

One of the real challenges in photography is to make the very best of the (day)light. The angle of light, its strength, its quality …warm, cold, harsh, subdued etc. Then add to this the varying climate we have here in the UK, along with the speed with which light can change, and daylight photography is not always as straightforward as may be anticipated.

This shot was one I wanted to make in daylight, with the sun streaming in through an open back door at the time. I chose to use this as creatively as I could – you can see the highlights on the card background I was using. Very careful positioning allowed the detail and highlights to be captured pretty accurately, and this image is from an LX3 RAW file, processed as usual in SilkyPix, then further in Capture NX.  The blown highlight on the right is entirely intentional, in this instance, although could have been easily edited further in post-processing. This keeps it ‘real’ and far less artificial-looking, and is exactly how it looks to the human eye when strong sunlight hits !

This is a feature which I notice is becoming far more prevalent these days in the commercial images used in very many ‘quality’ publications, whether it’s the Sunday Times supplement,  MBR (Mountain Bike Rider), or any other that’s produced in a modern style, for a readership with relatively high expectations in both photographic and print quality. Unless you’re aiming for a surreal ‘concept’ shot … Realism is the key. That’s not to say it can’t look stunning.

Daylight variables can often make for more interesting images than those captured in the totally-controlled ‘studio’ environment … although that’s an area that also still remains dear to my heart, with a radio trigger going into the hotshoe on my LX3, firing either Elinchrom studio lights, or, much more conveniently, my Nikon SB-800s for location shoots where there’s no nearby mains supply – more of which to follow in an upcoming feature.

For many more LX3 images, check out http://nickbland.zenfolio.com where you’ll find many new and updated LX3 photography galleries …and for more on the LX3 and cameras in general, I recommend a regular visit also to http://1001noisycameras.com

CARBON-FIBRE KUN VOCE

CARBON-FIBRE KUN VOCE

Something a little different this time : in the last six months, my LX3 has proven to be a fantastic camera for product images, and much of this is to do with – again – that f2-2.8 Leica lens, often in ‘macro’ mode, in combination with relatively larger pixels on a 10MP sensor, and a successful in-camera processing engine.

I was taking these shots this morning, and decided to try capturing the product against both white and black backgrounds. So What ?

Here’s a thought … take a look at the two images, taken with pretty well the same LX3 settings. If you ignore the background colour in each, and then take a look at the different colour rendering and detail between the two…

 Although the product is made of carbon-fibre, and is carbon grey in colour, with a satin but reflective finish, notice how the white-background version on the left has reflected right around the product, diminishing contrast. There’s also a warmth to the image, which was not my aim, and which I could have corrected in post-processing. 

The dark background – by far my preference for this image – has not added extra light, and the result seems much closer to the look I was after. The background has a huge effect on any image, rather than just the obvious, and some images of course suit high-key, and some low-key, against whichever background. It’s certainly an area worth thinking about in your own images, safe in the knowledge that the LX3 will perform very well, whatever your choice for the final ‘look’.

If you’re into product/macro subjects, you’ll find more LX3 galleries that relate at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com … and don’t forget that the LX3 is less expensive in itself than even some ‘average’ DSLR macro lens (only) … also, with its proven light-gathering capability and superb image stabilisation, you’re likely to get way better-than-average results every time !

D'ANY'S TERRACE
D’ANY’S TERRACE

This is D’Any’s Terrace, with a great-looking ‘Sizzler’ menu, situated just off King Street – captured this with my ever-present LX3 as I walked in Cambridge this afternoon … it caught my eye with the great light catching the table-tops and skimming the chairs, and I was glad of my decent peripheral vision, without which I could have easily just walked by and missed it. There was sadly too little time today to sample the food & drink here, but it’s logged for future.

This image was captured in RAW, processed in Silkypix then Capture NX as usual, and the LX3’s long depth-of-field was definitely a help in reproducing the look of the scene as I saw it. 

For many more new images from the LX3, take a look at the ‘July 09’  folder at http://nickbland.zenfolio.com … and enjoy !

Just as a reminder, if your interest in photography, and cameras specifically, is increasing exponentially – and you really need to feed the habit – suggest you also take a good look at http://1001noisycameras.com on a regular basis !

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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.