Thursday, 17 August 2017

Palma de Mallorca

I am back from a nice little trip to Palma de Mallorca. Many people associate Mallorca with cheap travel and lots of even cheaper alcohol. And yes, there is a dirty side of Palma that had a big influence on my latest photography, because there is a lot of waste, pollution and ugly architecture in and around the main city of this beautiful island. As a street and documentary photographer there is nothing ugly in the first place. Through the right angle and at the right time things look different (in a different light as we say).

The next photos are the pure essence of what I saw in Palma. Find the rest of the images on my Homepage.

Enjoy...













Friday, 16 June 2017

Long exposure street photography

Sounds a bit weird but there are many scenes in daily life where people aren't moving or just a bit to leave a trail in you photos. Yesterday I visited the "Planten un Blomen" park in Hamburg after work. I had my little Gorilla Pod and a 8ND filter with me. I wanted to take some long exposure shots of the little waterfalls and fountains there. After taking some nice shots I also discovered that some places cry out for a shot with people in it.

Tourists and locals crossing the river and taking selfies

The shot above looks better with people in it. I first captured the falls without any people and it looked nice but lifeless and dull. After waiting a for some people to enter the scene the shot reflects the purpose of this place better. The park was built in the sixties for an international garden exhibition and it was meant to be explored by visitors. I love how the guy to the left is not moving that much and the girl in the upper part of the image is moving faster. For me this is more lifelike instead of taking an image of an empty place.

take a break
In this shot I wanted to capture the motion of the water that is feeding the falls you saw in the last image at the beginning of the article. With the two resting guys the movement in the front sucks the viewer into the image. The reflection of the wall in the water is also a nice element. You can clearly see that this place belongs to the people who are enjoying it to be there.

There are many ways to shoot with longer exposure times. It can be a mix of the best of two worlds: fine art long exposure photography and street. It is like adding people to architecture shots to make them more interesting.

Have you also experimented with this combination? Let me know in the comments.

Cheers,

Nils

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

ON1 Photo Raw - a quick test

Adobe is trying to gain more money by selling software only bundled with subscription. That is not really my cup of tea. They also don't speed up the whole software and it runs not that great on my up to date Mac mini. I love my LR workflow, but I made the switch from Aperture (bye bye you great outdated piece of software) and it wasn't that hard. And having a look at some demo software is not that difficult. I installed the latest ON1 raw software (2017.5) on my mac and fed it with some sample images.

I only want to share my first experiences with that software. So bear in mind that this is not a detailed review. There are great reviews on YouTube if you want to see this software in motion.

Fuji


The first thing I wanted to know was the handling of Fuji files. So I took a photo with my old XPRO1 at 6400 ISO with some patterns (carpet) and a colorful thing in the middle.


The image above was edited and exported with ON1. First I was quite surprised how nice the image was looking without any optimization straight out of the camera. The photo was taken in low light and I was expecting a lot more noise etc, but there was nearly zero color noise in the photo and I just applied a minor degree of luminance noise reduction.


This is a 100% view of the center. Look at the amount of details and the nice color rendition of the image made with a camera that was manufactured in 2012. ON1 did a good job in rendering the details and colors of the raw file. I don't apply much noise reduction to my Fuji images (most of the times I apply zero NR) because the grain looks very natural and brings a great level of detail to the image. I will dive a bit deeper into processing real world Fuji images in the future, but my first test looks very good.

Bring the noise?


With my Fuji the noise reduction was working properly, but a friend gave me a raw file out of his Panasonic G81 taken at ISO 12800. He also gave me a JPG file straight out of Lightroom to show me the problem he had with ON1s noise reduction at high ISO.


Above you can see that ON1 has some problem with strong grain. The back of the jacket on the left (LR) looks smooth and clean and on the image on the right ON1 was not able to detect the grain no matter how far you drag the slider to the right.

Export and background tasks


Another problem for me was the way ON1 Photo Raw is exporting images. If you want set some rules how images should be rendered for your full hd television set there are too less options to set it right. I also miss a way to export and update a second file tree outside of the software. I use this method in conjunction with google photos to export and backup my JPG files after I did all the edits I use the JFolder plugin with LR and it also tracks the updates I am making to older images. Maybe there is a direct google cloud option that comes with future updates to make cloud integration etc. easier.

The second thing that will easily catch your attention is how slow the export of images is compared to LR. It takes forever and it does not run as a background task so your interface gets blocked til the whole thing is finished and that can take a long time as stated above ;-)




A little conclusion?



I wouldn't do that after using ON1 Photo Raw just for a couple of hours. I think this tool is very sophisticated in such an early state and it will be an alternative to LR in the future after the developers catch up (or overtake like they did with their layer-concept) with the competition. At this stage I would not do the switch, but my eyes are steadily focused on this product and there might be the day when it feels right.

I will do some further testing and will also report quirks and bugs to the developers to help them creating the perfect photo companion.

What are your experiences with ON1 Photo Raw? Let me know in the comment section.

Cheers,

Nils

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Down in the park

Some photos I took at the "Planten un Blomen" (Plants and Flowers) park in Hamburg. I will return soon to take some more photos at noon with longer exposure times.









Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Final thoughts on the X100F and the XPRO2 after using them for a longer time

After selling my X-T1 and X100S I bought the XPRO2 and the X100F to work with them in different situations. I love the form factor and the OVF of the XPRO2 and the size and the silent operation of the X100F. With this lineup I can choose the right cam for nearly every situation (I am not a sports photographer).

This can happen when you go for a nice reflection-shot (35mm f1.4/XPRO2)

How are my feelings after using the XPRO2 for one year and the X100F for three months now? I know that there is no tool in this world that will serve all your needs without a little drop of bitterness. Perfection is a lie and I don't expect a camera (and anything else in life) to be perfect. So I try to be fair and only write about things without falling into that ranting scheme that is all around the web.

XPRO2


I love the size and the possibility to use the OVF that allows me to see what is coming into frame. I can also use the 18mm with zone focusing to concentrate on the decisive moment instead of getting spammed with too much information on an artificial screen output. Just frame and shoot. I also appreciate the newly designed SD card compartment that holds two cards now. The weather sealing is also a good thing and Fuji should apply this to their whole line of cameras and lenses to leave no doubt and close the gaps(!). I am still shooting mostly with my beloved 35 f1.4 and the 60 f2.4 because these lenses are fast enough and guarantee a superb image quality. I wouldn't buy the 35 f2 now to save just a centimeters of lens profile and some grams of weight (and a faster auto focus).

Need a great wide angle lens? The Zeiss 12mm f2.8 is your companion.
I still like the controls on the camera and only the diopter-wheel is not so well placed for my taste. You can set by accident when your camera is hanging at waits level. A bit of black tape can fix that but this is not that great. Overall I can say that this camera still performs well and feels good in my hands. It is not for everyone but there are alternatives like the X-T1 or a different brand. I am not a fanboy who tells you that Fuji is the best camera manufacturer in the world.

X100F


I had some misfortune from the beginning. After using the camera for about three weeks the AF mode selector was broken not allowing me to switch to AF-S. After sending the camera in for repair it had a new problem with the silver battery that helps the camera keeping it's settings and I had to sent it in again for repair. Luckily they exchanged the camera for a brand new one without any of this problems (keep my fingers crossed). I hope that Fuji doesn't have too much problems with quality in this product line. That was my first bad experience after using Fuji cameras for more than four years now.

That Ektar film look was achieved by using a de-saturated Astia profile
How are my experiences with this camera? Coming from the X100S it was a huge difference getting build in WiFi, better EVF, better sensor and faster response times. The only thing that is left behind is the auto focus. It is fast compared with my old X100S and it is still slow compared to other cameras on the market. It is fast enough for me but Fuji can do better. The lens resolution holds up to the new sensor and it is still a joy to have a camera with a leaf shutter that hardly can't be heard by anyone even at a silenced monastery. Fuji's decision to use the same battery as the bigger models was a good one. It reduces clutter and provides more juice for the new thirsty sensor. But the battery compartment door is still a joke. It opens itself when you grab your camera out of your bag which can be fixed with a half case, but I shouldn't be that way. It is still one of the the few design fails that do not fit to a camera that is so well made.

The new button layout that is also streamlined with the the other models is also a great thing. Everything makes sense now and you can assign your favorite functions to wheels, functions keys and buttons. I put my AUTO ISO profiles on the front lever button and it works great. The menu system is okay and not that important for me. How often are you digging into menus? Not that much. So for me it is not that crucial.

Conclusion


I will work with Fuji cameras in the future. Fuji is still listening to their customers (look at the latest firmware updates) and iterates instead of changing too much. They throw new quality glass on the market year by year and the community behind this brand is also nice and more focused on taking photos. So if Fuji listens to their customers in the future and get rid of that minor obvious quirks you find on their actual models they will still be my first choice.

What are your experiences with Fuji cameras? Are you as satisfied as me? Just tell me in the comments below.

Cheers,

Nils

Friday, 2 June 2017

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

This is my photographic view on this new landmark in Hamburg. I tried to avoid the cliche and focused more on the tourists and the surrounding architecture.