Friday, April 6, 2018

Still life photography with the Fuji X-T2

My photo project for this week was to do a series of images with a spa theme. For this I used the Fuji X-T2 and two lenses, the Zeiss 50mm macro and the Fuji 16-55mm f/2.8 zoom.  I mostly relied on the zoom, but did have to add a 90mm f/2 Fuji for one shot, as I mention below.

Most of time we worked indoors with available window light, but for a few shots we moved outdoors to photograph with a pool background. Every situation was backlit with a foreground gold/silver reflector to kick in a fill light.

Below is a small sampling of the many images we achieved in the two day shoot.

This shot was done towards then end of the shoot when we started to add some natural, decaying plant materials to add some natural character and warm color to the spa scenes.


For this photo of bamboo I wanted the background to be very out-of-focus so I switched to the Fuji 90mm f/2 lens and put a close-up filter on it to achieve the extreme bokeh effect. The bamboo was inside near a window and the our-of-focus background was outside. Because I was using only natural light the situation made it a bit difficult to harmonize the the exposure for the bamboo with the background. A lot of that was done later in Photoshop by opening up the bamboo exposure and darkening the background. The shot had to be done in RAW.  A jpg image would never have held the extreme exposure differences. 

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Reinventing the city

Lately, I've been going back to some of my photos of New York City and applying a technique to achieve results that are more like the motion blur series I am now doing here in Florida. 

I generally start with two or three layers of the city image in Photoshop and then apply some motion blur to one or two of them. Next I put layer masks on the blurred layers and paint out some areas to allow parts of the lower layers to come through. This gives me a mix of sharp and blurred, and/or a cross mix of blurs where one is vertical, or horizontal, or on a diagonal for contrast.

What I am trying to achieve with this technique is to capture more of an abstract essence of an urban scene than the actual city, itself.

Thursday, February 22, 2018

Night flight over Miami with the Leica Academie

Last Saturday I led a Leica Acadamie Workshop on night photography. After the class we climbed into two helicopters and flew over Miami just after the sunset. I had my favorite combo of a Leica M10 camera and a 24mm f/1.4 lens. I find a 24mm wide angle gives me the best view for most of my city photography, while the f/1.4 helps to keep the ISO down and the shutter speed up. That said, I still ended up shooting most of my later photos at around ISO 3200 and 1/60 second.


Friday, February 2, 2018

Switching to black & white

On a recent trip to Delray Beach in Florida to photograph the sunrise, the sky and colors were disappointing so I decided to switch over to photographing it in black and white. I was using the Nikon D850. Like the Fuji, it does have a black and white mode, but I prefer to do my black and white processing mostly in Adobe Camera Raw where I can convert the image to monochrome and can actually control the monochrome darkness of each individual color in the original scene by using the sliders in the HSL/monochrome tool. Additionally, there are several different ways of fine tuning the rations of contrast and detail by using curves, clarity, dehaze, the contrast slider itself, and then fine tuning highlights and shadows with their sliders. The variations available in ACR are endless.

I usually get the image almost to where I want it but keep it just a little on the flat side so I can then fine tune the tonality with Curves and/or Levels in Photoshop.

Monday, January 1, 2018 with the new. The first sunrise of 2018

I went to one of my favorite spots in Delray Beach to photograph the first sunrise of 2018. Luck was with me because the sunrise was both colorful and accompanied by interesting cloud formations. I love photographing the sea and sky because it is constantly changing, and, if you shoot fast, you can come up with several compositional variations in a matter of seconds. This whole shoot, like most sunrises, last less than a half hour.

I had my Nikon D850 and three lenses, the Nikon 24-120mm zoom, Nikon 80-400mm zoom, and the Nikon 20mm f/2.8. I used them all, but did most of the work with the very practical 24-120mm f/4 zoom.

These two gulls looked liked they were carrying on a conversation while strolling along the surf. Nice bokeh effect from the Nikon 80-400 used wide open at 250mm focal length. 

Happy New Year! 

Friday, December 29, 2017

Out with the old...2017...

One of the last photo projects I did for 2017 was a trip across the northern part of the Lake in Central Park during the holidays.  The leaves were gone leaving only the dark shapes of barren trees abstracted by the current of the water. Many species of waterfowl make this area of the Lake a year-round home.

I had one camera, my Fuji X-Pro2, and one lens, the Fuji 16-135mm zoom. I particularly liked the patterns -- both the reflections of trees and the wakes of the birds -- that formed in the water currents around the birds. I used these water patterns as the primary element in my compositions.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Sunrise variations

I have been in Florida long enough now that I find myself developing a specific Florida style influenced by the spacious skies, dramatic weather changes, and saturated colors. I have been categorizing my work into several  series: Aqua, Aeris, Flora, and Terra. However, I consider the first two, Aqua and Aeris, to be the most stylistically developed.

The idea for this series was influenced by several painters. Mark Rothko's color field paintings gave me the idea for large neutral areas playing against one another, while Monet's haystack series gave me the idea of recording the rapid and fleeting changes of color effects over time. And I am always indebted to Agnes Martin for her grid-like, minimalist style.

The images below were all taken of ocean sunrises with a Nikon D850 and primarily the Nikon 24-120mm zoom lens. I've been using that camera because I am planning on printing this image series quite large. Many of the images contain motion blur, some of it achieved in camera with a stopped-down lens and a heavy (10-stop) ND filter. Further techniques were applied later in Photoshop through double exposure.