Starting in Photography Part 3 of 3 – Lens

Lens are a very personal thing. For street photography a focal length of 24mm to 50mm is the most useful, followed by a short telephoto.

If I had the Leica CL then I would have two lens, the 23mm f/2 Summicron which gives a field of view of 35mm, and the Leica APO-Macro-Elmarit-TL 60mm giving a 90mm field of view.

So now for studio work.

The Hasselblad X series lens light up is still being expanded upon but there are two portrait lens that interest me, the 90mm f/3.2 giving a field of view of around 70mm equivalent for 35mm, which is a little short for head shots, and the 135mm f/2.8 which gives a field of view of 105mm for 35mm format.

With medium format and 50 MP giving a lot of cropping potential it would be tempting to go with the 90mm and cropping a little for headshots, but it depends on how much room you have in your studio and your budget. The longer lens is £1100 more a big step.

I would go for the 90mm and make it work.

Starting in Photography Part 2 of 3 – Camera Choice for Studio Photography

As I said before this is a very personal selection and one where money has not really be considered so more a flight of fancy with the more expensive choices.

Studio Photography

A studio gives you controlled conditions, heavy cameras are not an issue but large maluble files useful for post production are essential.

High on the list must be the Sony A7RIV at 61 MP full frame 35mm sensor its a technical tour-de-force, up there must also be the Nikon D850 and Canon 5D. The new Leica SL2 must also be on the list.

As this is the studio then lets think big and consider medium format.

Pin up Girl

Lets first consider the big players; Hasselblad and PhaseOne.

Your talking big money, and even though this is a flight of fancy. While a bottom of the range Hasselblad H series starts around £14,000 and for 100 MP its over £30,000, lets me a little more reasonable and consider the Hasselblad X and the new Fuji range.

The new X series Hasselblad, the X1D II at a little over £5399 is quite a camera and the colour is unmatched, the flash sync up to 1/2000 and a degree of weather sealing should one want to take it out.

The Fujifilm GFX range has really set the world alight. A, for medium format affordable system. The S and R have the same sensor as the Hasselblad X, an older sensor without the outstanding colour of the Hasselblad but the price is hard to beat, but a more limited flash sync. The R at under £3,000 and the S at £4500 are tempting in the extreme, but the new GFX 100 with a newer sensor at £9500 is outstanding.

What would I pick, a tough choice, it would be between the Leica SL and the Hasselblad X. With my previous choice being a Leica, being able to have the same lens mount between the two would make life easy and its a very modern sensor compared to the Hasselblad, but the draw of a medium format lens and the advantages of the bigger sensor is tempting.

I think I would pick the Hasselblad.

Starting in Photography Part 1 of 3 – Camera Choice for Street Photography

This is going to a highly personal selection and I expect most people to disagree with me.

If I was starting in photography budget not being a concern what would I buy. Well I am going to limit this initially to the two areas that most interest me, street photography and studio portraiture.

Street Photography

Street photography if fixed lens compact then you have a large choice. The little DX crop Ricoh, Fuji X100, full frame Sony RX1 and the full frame Leica Q would be the cameras I would look at.

If I was after a camera with a little more flexibility, then I would go for Olympus Pen or Leica CL, both very flexible interchangeable len cameras, both being smaller crop factors so giving greater depth of field making zone focus easier.

So what would it be? I think for the flexibility I would pick the Leica CL a little DX crop format camera.

So what about studio work? Well I’ll address that in a few days.

Lightroom Classic V9

With the recent Apple OS updates and Adobe releasing new version of Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Lightroom, I was left with only one machine my MacPro desktop that could use the new programs.

With the release of the new Apple 16 inch MacBook Pro I had to indulge.

There are a lot of new features to learn in the new Photoshop and Lightroom and having a new laptop means I can play and not be too antisocial by locking myself away in my office using my MacPro.

Tonight I have been playing with the new Texture tool. Its a bit like clarity in the way it deals with high frequency contrast areas but is a bit more delicate.

It makes a great way to soften skin without loosing too much texture in the image.

Applying some negative texture to the skin and a little positive clarity and texture to the hair, eyes, lips and clothes you very quickly get a pleasing image.

My normal route for soft skin is a round trip to Photoshop but this may be quicker and easier and give just as good results.

Reduced Resolution – Or whats going on?

While having a good sort through of my Photographs for 2019, I was surprised to come across a file type I was not expecting.

DNG Negative / Reduced Resolution

What was going on? Well it seems while I was playing with some of my smart phone applications and downloading photographs and syncing back to Adobe Cloud, I had somehow downloaded a few with the app settings not set to download full RAW.

Luckily I had backups and copies but it was a bit worrying. From now on I am going to be much more careful how I import files into Lightroom and ensure I get the full RAW’s all the time.

Waiting by the Bank

Leica M10 50mm Summilux-M ASPH

We have had some hot weather recently and its always a challenge taking photographs in very high contrast situations like this when its really sunny.

Choosing an ISO that maximises your dynamic range is the first thing to remember, and if your shooting portraits professionally in this type of situation then I under expose slightly and use fill in flash. You need a camera with a high sync speed to do this.

Portrait and Neutral Backgrounds

Leica M8 with Summilux-M 50mm

As you might have guessed from my last few posts, I have been experimenting in the studio recently with different backgrounds.  The one above is a paper called platinum.  Its nearly perfect for taking a white balance reading and one can also easily use photoshop to remove the model and place her on other backgrounds.

Adobe Lightroom Mobile Update – RAW Support

We had another update to Adobe Lightroom Mobile and this time they seem be indicating that we now have RAW support for the Mobile version.

This was a big thing for me as I have blogged about in the past.  Though Lightroom Mobile already supports DNG, I do want Nikon NEF support.

So I just had to give it a go.  I use Lightroom Mobile often to do a quick edit from when I am street shooting using my Leica.  The edits are usually just quick adjustments and crops.  This time the test was very simple I just grabbed my Nikon D800 and shot a few snaps of the dog and a few flowers in the garden.

Screen Shot Adobe Lightroom RAW Sync

So after a few quick snaps I grabbed my iPad 9.7 Pro and imported the RAW files.  All looked good and this worked without issue.  I then dived onto my Desktop computer and checked out the ‘From LR mobile’ Collection set.

There I saw my photographs arriving.  The question was what format?  Lightroom reported them as RAW and I also browsed to the file location in finder to confirm and there my files were.  So we now have full RAW support in Lightroom Mobile, thanks Adobe.

F Stops

F Stops

A lot of new photographers get very confused about F-Stops.  Basically with each F-Stop your reducing by half or doubling the amount of light hitting the film or sensor.

The numbers look odd, but thats because they are ratios of diameter to focal length.

Get the Light Close

Get the Light Close - edit completed
Get the Light Close – edit completed

If you want good contrast and soft light and shadow in your studio flash photographs the key is to get the light close to your model.

Straight from Camera - Lightroom Defaults Applied
Straight from Camera – Lightroom Defaults Applied

The light here is very close to the model, a very large soft box above the model giving strong directional light, but with very gentle soft shadows, this is caused by the light being so close to the model.  The camera was a Nikon D200 with a 70-200mm f/2.8 zoom shot at about 90mm.  This shot is straight from camera with my Default Lightroom D200 People pre-set applied.  This applies a little sharpening and a mask, a little contrast and some fill.  As its stands its pretty good, but I wanted to clean up the skin a little so it needed a round trip to photoshop.

Flattened Contrast
Flattened Contrast

To make the Photoshop work a little easier I dropped the contrast and slightly brightened the image, then it was off to Photoshop.

Photoshop
Photoshop

This is an old image but I wanted to see what the latest version of Photoshop could do with it.  With the skin cleaned up I whitened the eye and darkened the pupil a little, added a touch of blur to the skin to soften it then darkened the background.

Then back to Lightroom, for a final finish; add contrast, a make the image a touch darker and then crop.

All in all a quick edit and I have to admit Photoshop is getting faster at this kind of thing.  Most of this I could have done in Lightroom but taking it to Photoshop and using layers just made it faster and easier.