Around ten years ago, Hubert told me about a new light-field camera technology that he saw demoed. When that was productized as the Lytro camera, I pre-ordered it. After a bit of thought, I cancelled my pre-order. Why didn’t I do that this time?
It’s because back then, I thought original Lytro was marketed for non-photographers and capturing light fields meant that it would be a long time before it was ready for serious photography. This time, even though the L16 is poorly marketed and may flop, I sincerely feel that this camera is meant for someone like me.
A weekend away from it all was also an opportunity to try to shoot again with my Leica. I haven’t been doing any photography for a long time, especially with this camera — just having it with me was a minor success, even if I left it in the bag almost the entire time.
Finally, while we were eating a quiet lunch in St. Helena, I got the courage to take the M8 out and to start shooting. It’s frustrating to realize that you have to relearn how to focus and expose manually — even more embarrassing is forgetting to take off the lens cap before pressing the shutter button! But then you remember that photography is about learning how to see, and there is a small joy in experiencing that again as a beginner.
Stopped by Nama Sushi for a quick bite. Nama is located right across from the ballpark so, of course, they’d have sushi with baseball references in them. Marie has found a new favorite roll for this place.
The Baseball Roll
Nama Sushi, South of Market, San Francisco, California
Olympus E-P2, M.ZUIKO Digital ED 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6M
1/6sec @ ƒ4, ISO800, 19mm (38mm)
I’m trying to figure out a good kit for food photography. I know it somehow involves the Olympus E-P2—the only camera that can be handheld, shot in low light, and is small enough. It turns out, you really need the RAW file, not for the dynamic range, but to recover what the in-camera overdoes.
The key to postprocessing food seems to be aggressive white balance and color correction before even thinking of messing with the vibrancy. Saturation is a definite no-no. I like the post processing effect I used. Makes it look tastier somehow.
These rolls are yummy: salmon on deep tempura-fried salmon, crab, cream cheese, spicy mayo, masago, and green onions. Ten pieces for $9.50. They have a tendency to fall apart when you dip them, though. Good thing the roll doesn’t need wasabi and soy sauce.
From a previous article, I finally found a way to work in Aperture again. But since I’m also trying to pick up photography again, I thought it’d be fun to write a little bit showing a few experimental images taken from that day.
Olympus E-P2, M. Zuiko Digital ED 14-42mm 1:3.5-5.6
1/5sec @ ƒ3.9, iso 1600, 17mm (35mm)
I arrived a little late as usual, but just in time to order dinner with everyone else.
This was actually the first image I used to test out whether the workflow works. Because of that, the DNG output was 8-bit, not 16-bit. That may have accounted for the overaggressive smoothing, or it could be the lack of dynamic range in an ISO 1600 µ4:3 CMOS sensor (roughly 1/4 the size of a 35mm frame). Then again, maybe it’s the setting on Topaz Adjust plugin. In any case, it does have the painterly look that you get when you start remapping dynamic range of an image. Not too sure if I can still call this a photograph.
If you mouseover the image, you may be wondering how I pulled color from the black-and-white original. The original is the JPEG, but the image was generated from the RAW. For documentary photography, on cameras which resemble rangefinders like the Leica M8 and the Olympus E-P2, I prefer black-and-whites previews, which force me to concentrate on tone and not color—but it’s always nice to be able to grab the color channels from the RAW if I change my mind.
This exposure tests the outer-limits of the kit lens: 1/5 of a second at a borderline too-high-for-this-camera ISO at the largest aperture for this 35mm EFL. Had I my old 17mm pancake, I’d have gotten a full stop faster. Still, it got focus-lock and the in-body image stabilization allowed me to shoot handheld braced against elbows on the table. Yeah!
Unlike in the article four years ago, I’ll be covering specific models. I’ll cover them in the reverse order to my original article, because I felt I gave the less popular brands a short shrift last time.