TALKING IMAGES 37 – I’M SLOWING DOWN, FOR AWHILE

 

 

Mannequin, seared by sunlight in a Cornish shop window

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The simple fact is, I very much enjoy blogging as a means of self-expression.  There’s the creation of the images, all of the attendant writing too (I love writing!) – and last but certainly not least the communication with like minds around the world – I enjoy talking with you all very much!  Also, there is not the slightest doubt that these years of blogging have been inspirational for me, certainly (to my eyes at least) improving my photography.
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A dear, warm creature, a being whom it is simply a pleasure to be with

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However, I have two large projects in hand, and I need to spend less time blogging for a month or two, to complete them.  One of these projects is the creation of my (more or less) annual Blurb photobook which, amongst other things, contains my favourite photos from the preceding 12 months along with their captions and text.  I have around 20 of these books now, some the annual volumes and some other, specific projects, and I find them a very convenient way of producing hard copies of my favourite work; they are very good to look back through.
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Someone special, from long ago and far away

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So, whereas I’ve been producing around six posts a week, this will decrease for awhile – assuming that is that I can restrain my creative enthusiasm!  And for today, here are some favourite images – faces from the archives – two people, someone quite artificial, and two beautiful animals.  Clicking onto these images will enlarge them, click onto them again to further enlarge them.
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Great Grey Owl – we looked at each other

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Selfie, with trademark cap and hulking Nikon DSLR

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TALKING IMAGES 36 – ADDITIONAL PRESETS FOR SILVER EFEX PRO 2: 1

 

 

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I often enthusiastically extol the virtues of plug-in software called Silver Efex Pro 2 (SEP2), which I use for the production of nearly all of my black and white images.  This software shipped with a set of image presets, which are extremely useful starting points for the creation of black and white pictures.  However, when Nik Software (the original creator of SEP2) was distributing it years ago, they also gave a web link from which further presets could be downloaded.  This link is no longer working, and my blogging colleague Lynn at bluebrightly has asked if I can pass on these presets’ details – because I often use these other presets in the mono images posted on this blog.

Putting these other presets onto my blog seems the best way to reach a wide audience, and the first batch of these presets is below.  But, before getting onto the nitty gritty, there are various things to mention.

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SEP2’s HISTORY

SEP2 was originally created by Nik Software, who were an offshoot of Nikon.  Nik created a suite of plug-ins of which, to me at least, SEP2 is by far the most useful; Color Efex Pro4 (CEP4) is also very useful.  But then Nik ceased to exist and the set of plug-ins were acquired by Google – who started off by charging for them, but then distributed them free of charge.  Google added to the plug-in set but, to me anyway, SEP2 and CEP4 have always stood head and shoulders above the rest.

Then, still distributing the software gratis, Google announced that it would cease developing it – and I for one started to worry that SEP2 was going to disappear – I’m sure I was not alone in these thoughts.  But then, last year, the software company DxO acquired the plug-ins from Google – and they have now said that they are going to update the plug-in suite in 2018.  Here is the link to look at if you want to keep abreast of any development of this wonderful software: DxO.

Two things bring me much hope here.  First, that (as far as I know) DxO is a very solid and innovative company, with a growing reputation.  And second, that they seem bent on preserving (and maybe developing) Nik’s absolutely brilliant U Point technology which, to me, simply leaves Lightroom’s Graduated and Radial Filters behind –  far, far behind.

I’m adding black and white images to this post which have been produced with SEP2, but I’m not stating which preset was used for each image because (for me, at least) these presets are the starting points for images – I find that I rarely use only the image features that a preset gives but, instead, having selected the preset from the left of the SEP2 screen, I then substantially edit its effects from the vast array of manual adjustments laid out in the panel on the right of the screen.  Clicking onto these images will open larger versions in separate windows – especially for the gull!
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THE SEP2 PRESET DATA

Ok, points are:

  1. Each preset has a name.

  2. I’ll list each preset’s SEP2 settings, which you can then replicate in SEP2 and save as your own custom preset (method given below); I’m only going to list non-default settings, leave all the rest of the settings at their defaults.

  3. Most of these presets will simply be percentages or (on a few cases) numbers or degrees. But SEP2’s interface also has two Tonality Protection sliders that lack numerical values, but which have the words “Shadows” and “Highlights” above the sliders – where necessary, I’ll say which letter in these two words that the relevant slider is under.  This is unclear? – well looking at the small Tonality Protection part of SEP2’s manual adjustments panel (to the right of the image being processed) ought to clarify things.

  4. It can be difficult to use the various sliders to exact values, but in most if not all cases you can click onto the sliders’ value box with you mouse and input the exact value straight into the box.  This is extremely handy.

  5. The headings like “Colour Filter”, “Sensitivity” etc refer to headings in the manual adjustments on the SEP2 interface on the far right of the screen.

  6. Further batches of these presets will be featured in due course.

  7. MOST IMPORTANT!!! >>> any questions, any difficulties >>> just ask, and I’ll do my best to help things along 🙂

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HOW TO SAVE A CUSTOM PRESET IN SEP2

  1. Open an image (preferably a colour image) in whatever application you use the SEP2 plug-in with.

  2. Open SEP2: your image appears in black and white within SEP2.

  3. Make the manual adjustments for whatever preset you want to construct eg Faux Infrared.

  4. Locate the CUSTOM tab of the Preset Library in the panel on the left of SEP2’s interface, and click onto its + button – if you hover your mouse over this button, you will see the message Create a new custom preset based off of the state of the current photo.  Clicking onto this + button opens a small dialogue in which you insert the name of your new preset, eg Faux Infrared.  Click OK, and hey presto! the new preset appears in the custom preset panel and can be used at any time.

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THE FAUX INFRARED PRESET

Colour Filter: Hue 120 degrees; Strength 100%.

Sensitivity: Red -9%; Yellow 20%; Green 100%; Cyan -70%; Blue -75%; Violet 0%.

INFRARED FILM NORMAL

Contrast 25%.

Structure 25%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider left of S in Shadows; Highlights slider left of H in Highlights.

Grain/pixel 250.

Sensitivity: Red 45%; Yellow 75%; Green 80%; Cyan -15%; Blue -70%; Violet -40%.

INFRARED FILM SOFT

Brightness 15%.

Contrast 20%.

Structure -85%.

Grain/pixel 130.

Sensitivity Red 45%; Yellow 100%; Green 100%; Cyan -70%; Blue -70%; Violet -40%.

JANICE’S INFRARED PRESET

Structure 33%.

Color Filter 185 degrees, 110%.

Grain/pixel 370.

Sensitivity Red 29%; Yellow 41%; Green 0%; Cyan 0%; Blue 0%; Violet 6%.

Toning 1.

Strength 74%.

Silver hue 33 degrees.

Silver toning 74%.

Balance 41%.

Paper hue 55 degrees.

Paper toning 7%.

STRONG INFRARED HIGH CONTRAST

Brightness 17%.

Contrast 44%.

Structure 9%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under the S of Shadows; Highlights slider = zero, ie on extreme left.

Color Filter: Hue 70 degrees; Strength 117%.

Grain/pixel 328.

Sensitivity: Red 22%; Yellow 100%; Green 13%; Cyan -60%; Blue -59%; Violet -44%.

Vignette off.

Amount -22%.

Circle/Rectangle: Circle.

Size 73%.

Burn Edges: Off.

TOP Strength 9%; size 89%.

RIGHT 0.

STRONG INFRARED LOW CONTRAST

Brightness -22%.

Contrast 37%.

Structure 43%.

Tonality Protection: Shadows slider under last s of Shadows; Highlight slider under s of Highlights.

Color Filter: Hue 120 degrees; Strength 117%.

Grain/pixel: 311.

Sensitivity: Red 22%; Yellow 100%; Green 36%; Cyan -33%; Blue -59%; Violet -44%.

Vignette: off.

Amount -41%.

Circle/Rectangle: Circle.

Size 73%.

Burn Edges: off.

TOP: Strength 9%, Size 89%.

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SOMETHING WONDERFUL

 

 


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I was out walking earlier this week, and approaching a young mother who was busy unloading her three small boys from the back seat of her car.

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As I drew level with the car, two of the little boys were standing on the pavement and the woman was just reaching into the car for her third son

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>>> when out of the car came >>>

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MUMMY, MUMMY, LOOK AT THE FUNNY OLD MAN!!!

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Wonderful!   Simply wonderful.  Its simply wonderful what Life can serve up sometimes.
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APOLOGIES – UNABLE TO UPDATE THE IMAGES I’VE LIKED DISPLAY

 

 


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Selfie with butcher’s shop

I like to look at (and Like!) other bloggers’ posts every day – both those on blogs that I follow and those on blogs that I’ve never looked at before.  Images from posts that I’ve Liked appear in the IMAGES I’VE LIKED RECENTLY  section on my blog’s sidebar.  I’m a great believer in showcasing other bloggers’ work in this way.

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But I’m unable to do this at the moment as, for three days, my WordPress Reader has stopped working.

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WordPress Tech Support are on the case and I’m hoping for a speedy resolution.

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Stay tuned!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

UPDATE: having contacted WP Tech Support, it seems my Internet Explorer is faulty, as the Reader shows up fine in Google Chrome, so I’ll be using that. Phew! 🙂 

FATman

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TALKING IMAGES 35 – THE FUJIFILM X-T2: FINAL THOUGHTS

 

 


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HISTORY

I started using digital cameras in 2009, with the full frame Nikon D700 which, it seemed to me (and I was to be proved right), would deliver similar image quality to my Nikon F6 film camera.  Since then, most of my photography has been with full frame Nikons (I added a D800 later), and they have been – and they continue to be – simply excellent cameras.  And the incredible creative potential of digital photography hit me just as I was looking for increased photographic creativity, and I have never looked back.  I know that film photography still has many adherents and that it may even be becoming fashionable in some quarters, but the simple fact is that, for me, reverting to film is unthinkable.  I shot film for around 50 years, and used wet darkrooms too on occasion, but that was in the past.  For me all of that is over now.
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In 2016, having read good reviews in Amateur Photographer, magazine (which, as always, I warmly recommend to you), I started using a Compact System Camera (CSC), the mirrorless Fujifilm X-T1, which was certainly not up to the standards of the Nikons, but which was distinctly smaller, and very capable and handy.  I’m currently posting a series of images called Going To Work, which pictures people and scenes during Bristol’s morning rush hour.  This series is a direct result on the X-T1’s small size, portability and capabilities – walking around the city for hours on end would be rather arduous with the far bulkier Nikons, and increasingly so for someone of my advancing years, but the X-T1 and one or two lenses are relatively compact and very portable indeed – in the way that my Olympus OM-1 and OM-2 film cameras and Zuiko lenses were all those decades ago.
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And so to the X-T1’s successor, the X-T2.  It arrived to rave reviews, and I splashed out one about a year ago.  As digital cameras go these days, its already ageing a bit, and for all I know an X-T3 is already on the launch pad.  And so, after a year’s use alongside the Nikons, a few last, overall thoughts on the X-T2.  All of the images here have been taken with this camera, and most (if not all) of them with the excellent Fujinon 55-200 zoom lens: as usual click onto them to enlarge them in separate windows – clicking onto the enlarged images may enlarge them yet again.
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THE X-T2: THE POSITIVES

OK, well, let’s just take 10 things I really like about this camera.  I’m not covering all aspects of the camera here, just things that are important to me:

  1. Small size and easy portability; excellent build quality

  2. Simply gorgeous images with vibrant colour rendition, and with eminently useful Film Simulations both in-camera and in Lightroom; I always shoot Raw

  3. The camera body is covered in dials and buttons that remove most of the need for delving into the menus; there are numerous customisation options, and favourite items can be grouped under a My Menu setting

  4. A very handy 24MP APS-C sensor – enough to give plenty of detail and scope for cropping; but not sufficient MP to cause handling problems or to clog up hard drives

  5. An extremely useful Electronic Viewfinder (EVF), packed with information, that in all but a few scenarios leaves the Nikons’ optical viewfinders standing

  6. Accurate light metering: 4 modes

  7. Good high ISO performance, which partners well with effective lens-based image stabilisation – I never worry about low light photography, and never carry a tripod

  8. Good autofocus performance that covers most situations

  9. Dual memory card slots: there’s no worry about available space

  10. An ingenious tilting screen – which I have to admit to not using much.

So, do I have any regrets about the buying the camera?  None at all.
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THE X-T2: THE NEGATIVES

  1. The X-T2 can eat batteries, especially when in its Boost (= high performance) mode.  I gather that this is currently an issue with mirrorless cameras.  So I always carry one or two spare batteries with me – no problem. I have started always using the X-T2 in Boost mode

  2. The autofocus is good, but in extreme situations – poor light; frenetic movement – its not quite up with the Nikons, and I suppose that I didn’t really expect it to be

  3. The positioning of AE-L and AF-L buttons is certainly not as good as the truly superb positioning of the  AE-L/AF-L and AF-ON buttons on the D700 and D800, where these two buttons fall so very readily beneath my right thumb when my forefinger is in the shutter release

  4. As with the autofocus, the Electronic Viewfinder is not as good as the Nikons’ optical viewfinders in situations with frenetic movement eg birds taking flight and in flight.

But, once again, do I have any regrets about buying the X-T2?  None whatsoever.  It is a wonderful, high quality and very portable camera that can be put to many, many uses, and which will have a go at tackling any sort of photographic scenario.  It is my current go-to camera, my current camera of choice.  But if I know in advance that conditions are going to be particularly demanding, then I’ll use one of the Nikons instead: this does not occur very frequently.
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WAYS OF WORKING

The X-T2 is my go-to camera and, on many occasions – and especially if long walks around Bristol are likely – I’ll just carry it with the excellent 55-200 Fujinon lens, which equates to around 84mm-305mm in full-frame (ie 35mm) terms.  I found that my photography received a boost when I first used Nikon’s 70-300 lens and it became apparent that, photographically, I “see” at 300mm, ie at x6 magnification – and this image stabilised, APS-C Fujinon lens mirrors the Nikon’s focal lengths almost exactly.  I could of course take additional lenses to cover more photographic scenarios, but I adopt a philosophical approach – if I miss shots by not having the required lenses with me, well that’s Life, that’s how it is – and there will always be other photographic opportunities around later on.  Having one lens also means carrying less weight, and not being distracted by thinking about which lens I’m going to use.  Many of my shots are set up very quickly – moving people or vehicles, the momentary flicker of sunlight across a scene – and switching the camera on while extending the zoom are often achieved in one, fluid movement >>> although since the Nikons have optical viewfinders that do not need to be switched on, I’m forever raising the X-T2 to my eye, forgetting to switch it on >>> and seeing blackness!
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But I’ve also long had the idea of carrying both the X-T1 and X-T2, the slower X-T1 with the 10-24 Fujinon zoom (full-frame 15mm-36mm equivalent), and the 55-200 on the snappier X-T2.  I did this recently walking around the nearby village of Stanton Drew and, with both cameras dangling around my neck, it worked very well indeed.  Firstly, carrying these two fairly compact, CSC cameras and lenses was fine – whereas carrying two of the big Nikons at once would not be fine!  And there was no thinking about changing lenses, I just had to raise the requisite camera to my eye.  My only note of caution here is that – especially if alone – carrying such a display of (relative) wealth around might not be such a good idea in places where opportunistic (and quite possibly violent) theft might be a concern …
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And lastly, the software I use is reasonably basic.  Lightroom Classic, as its now called, works very well, although I have reservations both about the monthly subscriptions, and about the Catalogue method of working.  I still use Capture NX2 too, and have yet to find anything (and certainly not in Lightroom!) to compare with Nik’s Control (or U) Point technology.  My software is completed by what used to be the Google Nik Collection, where I go absolutely ape about generating black and white images with Silver Efex Pro 2, and am also extremely enthusiastic about Color Efex Pro4.  And I am also EXTREMELY interested in the fact that the Google Nik Collection has just been bought by the software company DxO, who are set on developing it and making the Control (U) Points more widely available – this link takes you to DxO..
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HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

And so, Happy New Year to everyone!  Let’s hope that 2018 will be kind to us, and to those less fortunate than ourselves too.

And I hope that some parts at least of this post are useful, and enjoyable too.

All best wishes from The FATman!
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STILL LIFE 177 – WINTER SUN, IN A CAR PARK 2

 

 


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Looking low in the car park next to Temple Meads Station, just as the bright winter sun clears the skyline and floods the area with light.

I posted the lower picture a few days back, but then started looking at another version, which is the upper shot here.  I like both of these pictures for their great simplicity, their Minimalism.  There’s not much here, its just the nearside front wheel of a red car.  But then I’m a great believer that there need not always be a lot in a picture – and that one of the great no-no’s in photography is having too much in a picture!

But which of these pictures do I prefer, and why?  I’ve processed them slightly differently: the colour of the car’s bodywork is slightly paler in the upper photo – but then the upper photo is slightly higher key in some areas, it has slightly paler tones, and some burnt out highlights too >>>>> the photographic purists amongst you may not sleep too soundly tonight …..

I prefer the upper image because of its higher (and, yes, burnt out) tones, and the way in which the convex curve of the lit up tyre slightly mirrors the slight curve of the very high key and slightly burnt out highlight on the left.  And I prefer the upper image because is even simpler, more Minimal, than the lower image.  The details of the wheel’s hub and spokes have all gone, and there are simply three curves that are convex to the left, and that single straight dark line at lower left.  If I were a purist (now there’s a surreal thought!) I might have washed the car before firing at it too …..

Which of these two images do you prefer?  Do you agree with my choice, or do you have a quite different take on things?  Let me know >>> its always good to hear others’ views!

And so to a very firmly held mantra – one, perhaps, that six years of blogging have hammered into me >>>  in photography (as in many other things), there are no rights and no wrongs, there are only differing, subjective, visual opinions.

Click onto each image to open a larger version in a separate window, and click onto that image to enlarge it further.

Technique: X-T2 with 55-200 Fujinon lens at 206mm (equiv); 800 ISO; Lightroom, using the Velvia/Vivid film simulation; car park beside Temple Meads Railway Station, Bristol; 1 Dec 2017.

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TALKING IMAGES 34 – OLYMPUS TOUGH TG-5 CAMERA: REVIEW

 

 


Photo credit: TrustedReviews

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I’ve been using the Olympus Tough TG-5 camera for just over a month and am generally impressed.  Some recent pictures that I’ve taken with the camera can be found here,  here, here, and here .  Click onto them and each will open in a separate window. 

This is not an full review, but here are some impressions I’ve gained:

  • As shown in the picture above, its small, light, robust, and slips easily into my trouser pocket.  Physically its very much a take anywhere camera, and then on top of that there are its waterproof, freezeproof, crushproof and shockproof properties – so really, you don’t have to worry too much about it!  My black camera shipped with a bright red wrist strap that did not make a good first impression(!), but I’ve fitted it to the camera and actually it is useful.  As you can see above, this is a small camera, and even though I don’t have very big hands, this strap comes in very useful.

  • The TG-5 shoots 12MP raw files and produces attractive images: I’m currently processing them with Lightroom Classic CC, which has Olympus film simulation modes.  One strange thing about the TG-5 – which apparently also occurs in other Olympus cameras – is that it inserts OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA in the caption field of the Exif data – so that, if I don’t remove this in Lightroom, it appears in the photos that I post on this blog.  Very strange!

  • Being an Olympus, the TG-5 has a whole suite of Picture Modes that alter the look of images but, for the moment at least, I’m sticking with Mode 3, which is Natural.

  • It has a very handy zoom range, which is 25mm-100mm in 35mm full frame equivalents.  There is image stabilisation, but this doesn’t work with the camera’s Pro Capture mode, which I thus avoid.  Anti-shake is always a top thing with me.

  • The autofocus is fast and accurate, even in low light, which is also a very important thing for me.

  • It has a good screen, to which I’ve added some helpful gridlines – but I really prefer cameras with viewfinders – still, beggars can’t be choosers in this case and I’m quickly getting more used to using the screen.  Many think that a photo should be made perfect in the camera, so that no (or minimal) post-processing is necessary – as we did with colour slide (transparency) film in the past.  However, another article that I read recently suggested shooting Raw and only getting the exposure right in-camera, with all else being attended to in post-processing, and I like this approach.  To get maximum flexibility in post-processing, Raw is by far the best file type to shoot.  And if you’re trying to get the exposure right in camera, then its extremely useful to have the exposure live histogram visible in the camera’s viewfinder or screen – to be warned of featureless blacks (underexposure) and whites (overexposure), and to help push the exposure to the right – and the TG-5’s screen can be configured to show the histogram.  To find out more about “exposing to the right”, click here .

  • I’ve turned off all sounds, so the camera is perfectly silent.  I’ve noticed that the TG-5’s small size draws less attention from people than my far larger Nikons, and even the Fujifilm X-T cameras.  And my camera is black, not the blazing red shown above – although this bright colour would make the camera easier to find if it were dropped anywhere, especially underwater.

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  • This is a Raw shot, taken around dawn, at the TG-5’s 12,800 maximum ISO. The shutter speed was 1/100, which was sufficient to just about freeze the bird, and the long (100mm) end of the zoom was wide open at f4.9 . I’ve processed this in Lightroom, one of the main objectives being to reduce the grain, but I’m not expert at that – click onto this image, twice, to see what I mean!  Such images may well look better in black and white.  But taking into account this camera’s very small sensor (about 6mm x 4.5mm), this is not bad and, in any case, if I get to use this camera as I plan to – in pouring rain and probably poor light – I’m not going to be going after photographically perfect results, I’m going to be after atmosphere, bags of atmosphere >>>>> what it was like being there! (which may well equate to: Not very enjoyable … really … ! )

  • Pressing the OK button on the camera’s back brings up quick menus for many useful shooting parameters – I keep it on ISO so that I can change that quickly.  The camera has Auto ISO, but I’ve yet to find a camera where I’m totally happy with the way that works.  There are also very quick ways of accessing shooting mode, flash mode and exposure adjustment, set around the OK button.

  • The manual that accompanies this camera couldn’t be any more basic without being non-existent, so I’ve printed off the full length version from the .pdf here.  There’s no point trying to economise here if the camera is really going to be useful – and in any case I like paper copies of such things that I can read in my armchair and scrawl comments and annotations on (in red biro, of course!).

  • Wonderfully, pressing the INFO button while the camera is switched off brings up a very useable, illuminated compass – really quite a useful item in any environment – and there are also the possibilities of recording altitude, temperature, atmospheric pressure and GPS data.

  • An interesting point that I read somewhere is that although this camera has varying apertures which obviously can be used to get the correct exposure for photos, these apertures will NOT affect the photos’ depth of field (focus) – but then the small size of this camera’s sensor is going to give large depths of field anyway – I don’t think this is going to be a camera for giving nice hazy bokeh background unless used at very close distances.

  • Anything else?  Oh yes, the TG-5 also offers 4K movie recording, if that rocks your boat.  Also, this being an Olympus, there are many shooting modes too, including underwater and microscope.

  • Should you have any questions about the TG-5, please don’t hesitate to ask me.  I’m by no means an expert with this camera, but I’ll do my best.  The camera’s manual (see the link to the manual, above) is also a good source of reference.

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TALKING IMAGES 33 – HAPPINESS

 

 


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Here’s something I’d like to share with you before I have to rush out to lunch. I saw it on the TV news this morning.

A study was made of a group of people, who were each given a sum of money – not a vast amount of money, say £30 UK – and who were told to spend it in a way that would make them happy.

And when the people were questioned about their happiness levels afterwards, those that professed to be happiest were those who had used the money to buy themselves more free time, eg by hiring people to do jobs/chores for them, and NOT those who had spent the money on acquiring (yet more!) material possessions.

I find this fascinating and also very instructive.  I expect we knew this already, after all didn’t the Beatles sing “money can’t buy me love!”?  And of course those of us who live in “developed” countries often have what are termed “busy modern lifestyles” – which means that although we may be comfortable/well off in terms of money, we suffer from time poverty.  There are usually too many things to do in the day, there is usually not enough time to do them in, and we get stressed trying to balance everything out.

I’m a great searcher for the simple life, and being retired helps this quest no end.  There are those who, when they retire, just keep going because they can’t bear to slow down.  Well, that’s fine, each to their own, we are all most certainly different.  But I value the extra leisure time, I like slowing down and – to be quite honest with you – I don’t pay others to perform chores for me, I can’t afford to, but I have simply become extremely selective about which chores I think actually necessary,  as opposed to those which can wait until tomorrow, the day that never comes.

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TALKING IMAGES 32 – FATMAN PHOTOS, SLOWING DOWN FOR AWHILE

 

 

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I’ve recently posted a series of pictures of my granddaughters – and here are two more – and thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to get deeply into some portraiture again and, especially so, black and white portraiture.  This short series of portraits can be found here: 1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6;  7; 8.

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But I’m now engaged on an intriguing longer term project with these two young girls and, sad to say, it has a deadline.  Which means that, for the next month or two, I have to let other things slip a little.  And so, after six years, FATman Photos is going to slow down a bit, with fewer posts and, equally regrettably, fewer visits to other blogs.

Click onto these images to open larger versions in separate windows, and click again onto these larger versions to further enlarge them.

Technique: both photos here – the younger sister above, the elder below, were taken at high ISOs with my (now ageing) D700 and the wonderful 105mm Nikkor prime.  I processed them minimally in Lightroom, and then converted them to black and white in Silver Efex Pro 2 – the upper shot started at the Center Focus preset, and the lower at the Warm Tone Paper preset; both images were given a light Coffee tone.

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TALKING IMAGES 31 – GET THE GOOGLE NIK COLLECTION – FOR FREE! – WHILE YOU STILL CAN

 

THE GOOGLE NIK COLLECTION

The Google Nik Collection is a suite of seven plug-ins for digital photography that were created by Nik Software and then purchased by Google.  Amateur Photographer magazine  consistently rates this collection as one of the best plug-in suites available, and I very much agree.  The situation now is that not only are Google offering this suite for download entirely free of charge, but they have also made it clear that they are no longer going to develop or update the collection.

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Getting these programs for free has to be good.  But behind this lies uncertainty – since Google are engaging in no further development, are they thinking of ceasing to provide the Nik Collection altogether at some stage?

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So I’m putting out this quick post to urge to urge you to take advantage of this free offer ASAP – you can’t lose >>> if you don’t like it you can always uninstall it again.  But if Google pull the plug on it, well, its gone.

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Here is the link: https://www.google.com/nikcollection/ 

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WHAT ARE THESE PLUG-INS?

Well, they’re becoming a little old now, and better alternatives are available un some cases.  For example, Adobe Lightroom does a far better job of reducing noise in my Fujifilm Raw files than Nik’s Dfine 2.  But the Nik Collection contains two pure gems – Silver Efex Pro 2, and Color Efex Pro 4.

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You’ll find many, many mono images produced with Silver Efex on this blog, and its a package that vast numbers of photographers worldwide, including many professionals, use for their black and white work – quite simply, I wouldn’t be without it.  For me, Silver Efex beats Lightroom hands down for producing black and white images – to me, Silver Efex is simply more user friendly and easier to use than Lightroom’s black and white facilities and it produces better results –  its as simple as that.

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And Color Efex is simply wonderful for colour work – and I find that it has a more creative feel to it – it certainly makes me feel more creative – than Lightroom ever does.

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And both of these programs use Nik’s excellent Control Point technology, which really makes it very easy to make very localised and precise adjustments to images – these Control Points are simply ridiculously easy to use – to me, far easier than Lightroom’s radial filters.

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HOW I USE THE GOOGLE COLLECTION

Its possible to use the Nik Collection as plug-ins in Lightroom, and I’m sure this works very well.  But, simply because I started out doing things this way, I still use the Nik suite as plug-ins in Adobe Photoshop Elements.  I export 16-bit Tiffs from Lightroom, open them in Elements and use Silver or Color Efex – this is probably not the best way to do things, but at least it provides me with a tiff outside of Lightroom that I can mess around with to my heart’s content!

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So, if you haven’t got it already – and I know that many of you have – get the Nik Collection while you still can!

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