Amazing New AR Coated IR Filters from KolariVision.com


Kolari Vision introduces a NEW Anti Reflective IR coating for their conversion filters!

Fuji X100s, 850nm Kolari AR conversion - Under Foley Pier

Fuji X100s, 850nm Kolari AR conversion – Under Foley Pier

I LOVE shooting IR and have a long history with it in both Film and Digital.   I have had over 25 conversions from ALL of the big conversion companies around the country!   But, once in a while I would get a camera that no mater how hard I tried, I will get a hot spot with it or the lenses I used.   You learn how to deal with this by selective use of the aperture but once in a while you would just not be able to get around the problem and loose the shot….  

Fuji X100s, 850nm Kolari AR conversion - Shrimp Boat

Fuji X100s, 850nm Kolari AR conversion – Shrimp Boat

Well about 3 weeks ago Ilija from Kolari (http://www.kolarivision.com ) sent me a note telling me about a new coating process for his conversion filters.   I have a long history with Kolari, LDP and Lifepixel but I have never heard of this till now.  Ilija offered to do a free conversion with this newl IR AR coating for me in return for evaluating it in the real shooting world! So I told him that I would send the X100s off as a test camera and that I needed it back fast in order to allow others to play with the camera also!   Off it went on Tuesday.  Imagine my surprise when I got it back in hand the following Wednesday!

Here is what Kolari says about this new AR IR coating:

  • Uncoated glass has a reflection of around 4-5% at all wavelengths, and we found that this reflection off the sensor filter was bouncing off the glass and reflecting back from the lens housing and aperture blades to cause the hotspots.  We developed this anti-reflective coating that is centered around the IR wavelengths that cause hotspots, and reduced the 5% reflection down to <0.5% (see the attached graph for reflection % by wavelength scan, and the picture of the IR filters for the visual difference of IR reflection).
Unknown

  • The coating does not reduce visible light reflections as much, and does not reduce blue reflections at all. This gives the glass we use a blue shine, since that is the only range that is fully reflected still (see picture of black filters). 
AR coating test on Visible Light

AR coating test on Visible Light

AR coating tests on BLUE light

AR coating tests on BLUE light

  • I am getting ready with a new website which I hope to launch in 1-2 weeks, so I have not put the coated version of the conversions online yet, but they will be offered on our Full spectrum, two spectrum, 590, 665, 720, 850, and Blue IR/NDVI conversions. There will be a $50 optional upgrade on all of our conversions at this point.

 

  • I plan on offering only the coated version eventually, but the batch runs are expensive and I cannot coat our full inventory at once. I’m not sure if you are aware, but we stock custom made custom thickness filters for all our camera/filter combinations so that each conversion gets a piece of glass that maintains the original optical distance (refractive index x physical thickness) as closely as possible, which changes for each filter material. Other companies use a few general size pieces of glass, glue them directly to each sensor, and calibrate the focus for an arbitrary lens, which reduces what they have in inventory. Our design choice means that we have around 200 unique pieces of glass in inventory for DSLR and mirrorless cameras, and another 200 for point and shoot models, so you can imagine the challenge in getting them all coated. – Ilija

Fuji X100s, 850nm Kolari AR conversion - Thru The Door

Fuji X100s, 850nm Kolari AR conversion – Thru The Door

So as you can see they are up and almost ready to start filling orders for these new filters.   

Fuji X100s, 850nm Kolari AR conversion - McClellanville Fleet

Fuji X100s, 850nm Kolari AR conversion – McClellanville Fleet

I have to tell you that with my test conversion on the Fuji X100s to AR 850nm that ALL of my hot spot issues simply went away.  This camera has always had a tendency for IR hot spots.   I have converted, tried and sold so many IR systems in the past that I have lost count.  I could not, would not sell this one as it is one of my most prized IR systems.  To say that I am pleased with the results of the Kolari IR AR Coating is the understatement of the year!

Remember, if you decide to order from Kolari, give them my name for a $15 discount!

 

Fuji X-E2 Long Exposures and Wild Sunsets!


Every Time I take the X-E2 out I am amazed…

Fire In The Sky, X-E2 w/ 18-55 and 3 stop soft grad ND on the sky.

Fire In The Sky, X-E2 w/ 18-55 and 3 stop soft grad ND on the sky.

We have been having amazingly turbulent weather here in Pawleys Island for the last week or so.  The sky has been moody and dark.  Mornings filled with dense fog and the ocean surf rough…   Perfect for long exposures and wild sunsets

What better excuse then to take the Fuji X-E2 out and capture these wild and moody scenes?  With my full kit of the Lee Seven 5 filters and B+W ND filters in hand I grabbed the X-E2 and the XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 Zoom Lens (which has kind of turned into my main carry around lens) and headed out to the beach.  

The X-E2 (in fact, the entire line of Fuji X cameras) is exceptionally adept at long exposure photography.  It generates low noise exposures and has NEVER let me down.  I usually shoot in the 2 to 4 minute range but once in a while will go up to 10 to 15 minutes depending upon the subject.  

In todays post I am shooting between 30 seconds and 4 minutes and one of the sunset images was just a short exposure (1/13).  

The setup for all of the long exposure water images was either a 6 or 10 stop B+W ND filter and the sunset had an added 3 stop soft graduated Lee filter (Seven 5 system).  The sky was just too bright with the wild colors to give anything but a black foreground otherwise! I also used the Fuji RR-90 remote shutter release (but you can also use a mechanical release or a Canon RS60 E3 release).

One of the big benefits of the Fuji X system is the fact that when in the  BULB mode Fuji gives you a count up timer on the LCD screen so that you can easily time your exposure.  This doesn’t sound like much but when you are out in the cold and dark shooting it is a BIG DEAL!  Try doing this with a Nikon 300 and you will understand!

Now, lets talk a little about your exposure metering.  

  • You can (and I sometimes do) use the cameras metering system, but I do find that when metering through the 10 stop ND that it will sometimes confuse the meter.  
  • You can also meter without the ND attached then attach it and adjust the exposure for whatever value the ND is but there is NO guarantee that the filter is actually what it is advertised to be!  
  • What I like to do is to use the Seikonic  758DR spot meter which can factor in the ND filter automatically for you and give you an accurate exposure.  You can also meter through the filter with the 758 to see what the real value of the filter is!.
  • You can also just get close with your first exposure then evaluate your histogram and adjust the exposure as desired.

Which ever way you choose you will be surprised how quickly you can get “on target” by taking just 1 exposure then adjusting! But remember. when we are spot metering either in camera or in an external meter whatever spot you  are metering on will give an exposure for Zone 5 or 18% grey. It is up to you to adjust the exposure up or down to place it into the proper Zone!  What I like to meter on is the sky just above the horizon then adjust it up about 1 stop (move from Zone 5 to Zone 6).  

I ALWAYS have the Long Exposure Noise Reduction turned on in my cameras.  This means that you will double your exposure time.  After you take your image, the camera will close the shutter and take a 2nd one with the same shutter speed.  This is called Dark Frame Noise Reduction and the camera will look for bright pixels in the 2nd shot and subtract them from the first.  This is very worthwhile and will allow you to create much better output images but cut down the amount of time you have to stand there and shoot!

As I said earlier, the mornings have been very foggy so lets start off with several examples of this type of photography.  Of course, you must remember to increase the exposure so that the fog is not a DARK GREY, these have been adjusted from Zone 5 to Zone 6.5 or 1 1/2 stops!

Salt Marsh in the morning fog...

Salt Marsh in the morning fog…

Pawleys Island Pier, Foggy Morning.  X-E2 with 10 stops of ND, 30 seconds.

Pawleys Island Pier, Foggy Morning. X-E2 with 10 stops of ND, 30 seconds.

Foggy Feast, X-E2. Sometimes simple is best!

Foggy Feast, X-E2. Sometimes simple is best!

Ok, lets move on to the evening.  The intent here was simple long exposures to smooth out the surf and remove the surfers (yes I hate surfers as they are always in your shot and don’t care!).  For these type of images you really need to start at 30 seconds and move up.  If the sky is within 3 stops of the foreground then you do not need to add a graduated ND on the sky.

Fire In The Sky,  90 second exposure with 3 stops of grad ND on the sky and 6 stops of ND overall.  X-E2

Fire In The Sky, 90 second exposure with 3 stops of grad ND on the sky and 6 stops of ND overall. X-E2. Notice the cloud movement in the sky and the smooth surf!

X-E2-240s BW LE Pawleys Pier-0255-2013

B&W Pier & Groin, Pawleys Island, SC 240 second exposure, 10 stop ND X-E2

X-E2-240s LE Pawleys Pier-0255-2013

Color version of above image. Notice how the sky and water are close to the same density? 240 seconds.

X-E2-BW LE Pawleys Pier-0246-2013

B&W version of “Fire in the sky”. Yes you should evaluate ALL of your images for B&W.

There is something very soothing about well done long exposures of the ocean.  They really are not difficult to do and the results are worth the investment in time and discomfort (did I mention that it is winter here and I was standing on the beach in the wind?).

As you can see, the Fuji X-E2 excels in all areas of photography.  It has proven itself to be a serious tool to photographers who understand its capabilities and master it functionality!

I hope that you enjoyed this post. Please let me know what you think!

Fuji X-E2 – Amazing Quality!


My Fuji  X-E2 – Just Perfect!

Shrimper Carolyn Ann, Fuji X-E2

Shrimper Carolyn Ann, Fuji X-E2

I have to tell you that I am REALLY a Fuji fan.  I have the following Fuji bodies:

  1. X-Pro 1 – Color
  2. X-Pro 1 – 720nm Infrared Conversion
  3. X-E1 – Color
  4. X100s – My walk around companion!
  5. X-E2 – Color

I also have ALL of the lenses but 2!

I moved to Fuji after a long search for a small light weight camera system after loosing 80% use of both hands and arms.  I went through ALL of the micro 4/3 systems (and even kept 2!).  I sold $40,000 in Canon bodies and L glass and have NEVER looked back!  

In the Fuji, not only have I found perfections but being a range finder styled system it is like going home to mom!

X-E2

X-E2

I have a X100s that I use for most of my walk around work, it is just so tiny and generates amazing images.  So when Fuji announced the X-E2 with the same sensor and with even more upgrades I ordered one from Amazon.  Much to my amazement it shipped a week later!  I have had it in hand now for about 2 weeks and just yesterday took it out to a local fishing port for a bit of creative work.  I love the upgrades and how fast this camera is.  It even passes the X100s in ability.  I originally purchased the X-E1 in order to take advantage of its electronic remote shutter release.  It enables me to hook it up to devices like a lightning trigger and my water drop collision system.  The X-E1 did a great job with these devices and I expect no less with the X-E2 but that is for another day.

X-E2 Top Panel

X-E2 Top Panel

Yesterday I took it out to shoot shrimp boats in North Carolina and have to tell you that the camera just blew me away.  It is such a major upgrade over the X-E1 that I cannot believe that they came from the same company!  The controls are CRISP, the knobs just snap from position to position with no play and they stay where you put them.  The larger LCD is nice but the faster EVF is a sight to behold. I dressed the camera in a RRS L bracket with grip and put on a nice soft release.  Physically except for new buttons and placement the camera is identical to the X-E1.  One MAJOR improvement is the addition of 3 stops of EV adjustment instead of the normal 2 that Fuji has provided in the past.

All in all I am really happy with this upgrade.  I will keep the X-E1 and convert it to 800nm IR in the near future.  There is no sense in letting that viable and great camera go to waste!

Little Scrapper, X-E2, RAW converted in ACR

Little Scrapper, X-E2, RAW converted in ACR

Next I put the camera into the JPG mode and shot color & B&W images in camera.  The results speak for them selves!

Shrimper Donkey X-E2

Shrimper Donkey X-E2

 

Shrimper Donkey, CAMERA B&W  X-E2

Shrimper Donkey, CAMERA B&W X-E2

Carolyn Ann, Color, X-E2

Carolyn Ann, Color, X-E2

Carolyn Ann, In Camera B&W X-E2

Carolyn Ann, In Camera B&W X-E2

Working Shrimper Deck, X-E2

Working Shrimper Deck, X-E2

Working Shrimper Deck In Camera B&W, X-E2

Working Shrimper Deck In Camera B&W, X-E2

This posting was never meant to be a review, rather a statement of its impact upon me with sample images!

Please let me know what you think…

Video Workshop Customer Comments & Feedback!


Customer Comments on the Color & Infrared Post Processing From Beginning To End Video Workshop

IR Post Processing in Color and B&W

IR Post Processing in Color and B&W

I have started getting feedback and comments on the new IR/Color Video Tutorial.  As they arrive I will share them here in this post with you.  I am very excited over these.  So far there are about 100 shipped videos out there!

TO ORDER THE DVD SET:

US  Orders CLICK    HERE

The cost is $29.95 plus shipping which will automatically be added when you order.

___________________________________________

INTERNATIONAL ORDERS:

Pay via Paypal using the payee address:

ellen@thelensworkgallery.com

International Charges

  • England: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • France: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • Hong Kong: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • Canada: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $22.00

All prices are in USD

___________________________________________

________________________________________________________

I attempted IR several years ago and was totally frustrated when it came to post processing.  Despite enrolling in an online course and spending hundreds of dollars on IR books, it was a hit and miss proposition in getting any decent images. Everyone said the same  thing – “swap your red & blue channels in Photoshop”.  Sorry, that doesn’t work all of the time.
Everything changed after taking Mark’s IR workshop.  Now it’s even easier to learn IR though this wonderful DVD set.  Get your White Balance right in the beginning, watch your red channel in your histogram, then follow Mark’s IR post processing methods.  He makes it that simple.
 Mark is truly a master!

________________________________________________________

Mark, I demand my money back on the IR & Color Post Processing Video tutorial ! How dare you sell DVD of that quality for $30 when it is easily worth 3 times that amount!  Mark – this was the best training DVD I ever saw.  You covered everything perfectly.  I watched it twice yesterday and intend to watch it again today.  You covered everything perfectly. You are truly a master!  Thanks

________________________________________________________

The DVD arrived today, thank you. The cover, case, packaging all looks great: very professional.  Will delve into it while traveling next week.

________________________________________________________

I really like your suggested folder structure, of leaving the original RAW files untouched, then having a separate Develop folder, for work in progress images, and another Archival folder for final, processed images. I’ve spent the past 5 years processing my original RAW files. Goodness know what damage I’ve done. Your system is much smarter. Thank you!

________________________________________________________

I have Ingestamatic working reasonably reliably now and am coming to appreciate its utility in naming files and organizing sub-folders. It’s certainly smarter than any other uploading programs I’ve used.

________________________________________________________

I love my videos!

________________________________________________________

I would like to thank those who have taken the time to send feedback and comments!  It means a lot to me and will help improve on the next Video Tutorial that I put together!  

Please keep them coming!

UPDATED: IR & COLOR POST PROCESSING VIDEO TUTORIAL!! INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING


UPDATED: Color & Infrared Post Processing From Beginning To End INTERNATIONAL SHIPPING!

2 – 1/2 hour video series on two DVDs by

Master Photographer Mark Hilliard

DVD OUTSIDE LABEL

DVD OUTSIDE LABEL

  1. This covers image ingestion using Ingestimatic for both Mac & Windows
  2. Raw conversion using Adobe ACR – Capture 1 Pro and Capture 1 Express
  3. RAW Library Setup
  4. Backup Strategies 
  5. Intelligent IR channel swap using the Khromagraphy PS Plugin Action
  6. Post Processing Color, Infrared and B&W using the Nik filter set in Photoshop. 
  7. Ideas on creating intense high impact images.

The majority of the video is screen capture taking you through the post processing workflow button by button, click by click.  All of the major RAW converters have their own separate video and you will learn about all 3 which will enable you to make intelligent decisions on which one is for you then be able to run it!

This is an in-depth tutorial and will give you the knowledge and recipe to take your own images from one end of the process to the other without pulling your hair out in frustration!

TO ORDER THE DVD SET:

US  Orders CLICK    HERE

The cost of the video for US customers is $29.95 plus $5.95 shipping which will be automatically added when you order.

___________________________________________

INTERNATIONAL ORDERS:

Pay via Paypal using the payee address:

ellen@thelensworkgallery.com

International Charges

  • England: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • France: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • Hong Kong: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $25.00
  • Canada: DVD SET $29.95 SHIPPING $22.00

All Prices are USD

___________________________________________

 

If you would like to read a little feedback from my students please click   HERE  and   HERE.

Video Course Inside

Video Course Inside

Fuji X100s: Oh Yea…


You know the feeling, and usually need tissues to clean up afterwords!

A little background is in order…

Fuji X100s

Fuji X100s

Fuji X, what can you say except “Yes Please!”.  I am a LONG time X shooter.  I started out several years ago with the Fuji X100 and loved every moment of it.  I likened shooting with it to going home to Mama…  If you know what I mean then you understand.   I did decide that I really desired to have a camera with interchangeable lenses and when the Fuji X Pro 1 came out I jumped on it and all of the FX lenses that have since arrived plus several CV lenses as well.   The X Pro 1 has become may main goto camera system.  I Then purchased the X-E1 due to its electronic shutter release, thus its ability to connect to my lightning trigger and water drop computer system!  The X-E1 only lives for such things…  When I get it out to play with lightning it is like coming home to a doggy after a long day! I then decided to get another X Pro 1 and have it converted to 720nm Infrared.  This system (my 16th IR conversion) is the BEST IR camera that I have ever used and that is a big statement!

Passion Flower Macro, Fuji X100s hand held in bright sunlight.

Passion Flower Macro, Fuji X100s hand held in bright sunlight.

So, along comes the X100s, and I look it over and think on it for months.  I though that gee, what a neat system to add to my bag.   Finally I decided to get one but let me tell you that they are HARD TO FIND!  I found on at a little online camera store in Oregon and had them ship it to me last month.  I am very glad I made  this decision!  To say that the X100S is a world class camera is really short selling its capability!   I find that I carry it EVERYWHERE I go now.  I still use the X Pro 1 for most of my work but the X100s really gives stunning results and the new XTran 2 sensor is amazing.  I love the split image manual focus system and wish the other Fuji cameras offered it as well.

Adams Mill Wheel, Lafayette, IN, Fuji X100s

Adams Mill Wheel, Lafayette, IN, Fuji X100s

The X100s works very well in macro mode and the sharpness, colors and texture are simply breathtaking!  You could not ask more of a walk around camera than the Fuji delivers.  Even without image stabilization the camera is flawless due to its ability to shoot cleanly at high ISOs!

Abstract, Glass Block Floral, Fuji X100s

Abstract, Glass Block Floral, Fuji X100s

I am going to share a few of the images generated so far with this incredible camera and you be the judge!

The Dingy, Fuji X100s

The Dingy, Fuji X100s

Adams Mill, Lafayette IN, Fuji X100s

Adams Mill, Lafayette IN, Fuji X100s

McHargue Mill, Fuji X100s

McHargue Mill, Fuji X100s

Old Truck, Fuji X100s

Old Truck, Fuji X100s

A Face in the trees, Fuji X100s, you have to figure this one out!

A Face in the trees, Fuji X100s, you have to figure this one out!

Ok thats it for today!  What do you think?

MACRO!! Fuji X Pro 1, XF 55-200mm Lens & The NEW FX Extension Tubes


Fun With Macro…

Passion Flower

Passion Flower

Photodix

Photoasy Extension Tube Set

I was invited to visit Moore Farms in Lake City South Carolina last week to evaluate them as a workshop location for future workshops.  They have developed a great botanical garden destination that has more plant potential than most other places that I have visited!

For the visit I decided to take along my Fuji X Pro 1, Fuji X100s, Fuji 18-55 and the Fuji 55-200mm lens.  I also picked up the new Photoasy Extension Tube Set which has a 10mm tube and a 16mm tube with the communications connections so that the camera can still talk to the lens!  This was ONLY available on Ebay but recently Amazon Prime has started offering this great set!

Fuji 55-200mm

Fuji 55-200mm

The ENTIRE time I was shooting the X Pro 1 it had the Fuji 55-200mm lens installed with the 16mm extension tube.  I shot on the tripod the entire time with a remote shutter release.  A lot of my shooting with in high sunlight (sometime you cannot help this) and I forgot to bring along a translucent panel to modify the light to a more gentle form.  All of these things aside the camera/lens/tube combination worked great!  I am VERY pleased with the results (please view the Passion Flower above!).  I used an aperture of f/5.6 or f/8 (subject dependent) the entire time and usually had the lens set between 180mm to 200mm.

Because the 55-200mm lens is so long and does NOT offer a lens foot to better balance the camera/lens on the tripod you need a really stable tripod/ball head to keep the entire system stable.  I am using a large carbon fibre Feisol  tripod with the Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head which is as steady as you can get!

The images generated are very pleasing and sharp all the way out to the edges.  The colors are very well saturated and there is no smearing at all!

The extension tubes are made of plastic with metal mounting rings and the connections match up perfectly.  I found that the 16mm tube was enough for the style of shooting that I was doing on this day (1:2 to 1:4 image ratio closeups)  but I did purchase 2 complete sets of tubes to get closer if necessary.

Here are some of the images generated.  All of the EXIF and GPS data are included.

Purple Cotton Flower

Purple Cotton Flower

Trumpet Pitcher Plant (carnivorous) and Anole

Trumpet Pitcher Plant (carnivorous) and Anole

Caterpillar on Purple Cotton

Caterpillar on Purple Cotton

 

This is a great rig for shooting macro/closeup.  The addition of the extension tube set is really a God send!

Wabi/Sabi: Exploring decay in man made objects


All things Old are Beautiful again..

This morning at 9:30 at Georgetown, SC. I decided to get out my cameras and shoot some Shrimp Boat images before I had to open a Co-Op gallery that I am a partial owner of.  The Shrimp  Boats are a subject that are very dear to me and I visit them every chance that I have.

They are for the most part all falling into decay.  The market for local salt water shrimp is almost not enough to support the boats.  With the import of fresh water farm shrimp the local fisherman are being forced out of business and the result is the condition of the boat and companies… A very sad state of affairs.

The Boat Graveyard and the 3 Wheel Houses...

The Boat Graveyard and the 3 Wheel Houses…

The image above illustrates the wabi-sabi concept:  There is beauty in decay  It sounds very counter to the way we think as artists, but with a little thought I think that you will be able to agree with the concept.

Wabi-Sabi

The Japanese concept of Wabi-Sabi, as described in Brainpickings, “connotes a way of living that finds beauty in imperfection and accepts the natural cycle of growth and decay.”

Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, asperity (roughness or irregularity), simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.
From an engineering or design point of view, “wabi” may be interpreted as the imperfect quality of any object, due to inevitable limitations in design and construction/manufacture especially with respect to unpredictable or changing usage conditions; then “sabi” could be interpreted as the aspect of imperfect reliability, or limited mortality of any object, hence the etymological connection with the Japanese word sabi, to rust.[citation needed]The Japanese kanji characters:

 


(sabi, meaning rust)

and


(sabi, as above)

are different, as are their applied meanings, yet the original word (pre-kanji, yamato-kotoba) is believed to be one and the same.
“Wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of traditional Japanese beauty and it occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West.”  “if an object or expression can bring about, within us, a sense of serene melancholy and a spiritual longing, then that object could be said to be wabi-sabi.” “[Wabi-sabi] nurtures all that is authentic by acknowledging three simple realities: nothing lasts, nothing is finished, and nothing is perfect.”
The words wabi and sabi do not translate easily. Wabi originally referred to the loneliness of living in nature, remote from society; sabi meant “chill”, “lean” or “withered”. Around the 14th century these meanings began to change, taking on more positive connotations.[1] Wabi now connotes rustic simplicity, freshness or quietness, and can be applied to both natural and human-made objects, or understated elegance. It can also refer to quirks and anomalies arising from the process of construction, which add uniqueness and elegance to the object. Sabi is beauty or serenity that comes with age, when the life of the object and its impermanence are evidenced in its patina and wear, or in any visible repairs.

For me and what I consider to be “Fine Art Photography”, the concept of Wabi-Sabi fits like a glove in regards to the shrimp fleets.  I watch them over the span of time, capturing them again and again.  The one thing that stands out above all is the fact that they like everything else will fall into decay… both physically and financially, but faster.

The 3 Wheel Houses in B&W. Stepping back into an older time of photography, fitting don't you think?

The 3 Wheel Houses in B&W. Stepping back into an older time of photography, fitting don’t you think?

I am going to dedicate a photography project to this concept.  I would think that it will take me several years to finish or perhaps unto my death which in a strange twist of logic fits into the project/concept quite well.

So I hope that you enjoy these images and that you intellectually chew on the concept of Wabi-Sabi and to how it will fit into your own artistic visions….

Normally, detailed closeups would be better suited for wabi/sabi studies, but look at these following 2 images and notice how the rust and corrosion feed into the concept.  Do you see the detail in the flat areas of the boat and how it is rolling and pitted?  These imperfections take on an artistic perfection on their own!

Stormy Seas, Georgetown, SC.

Stormy Seas, Georgetown, SC.

B&W, stepping back into an "older" time and place.

B&W, stepping back into an “older” time and place.

The Wheel House Door

The Wheel House Door

The Working Boat, 630nm Infrared

The Working Boat, 630nm Infrared

The Battered Bow...

The Battered Bow…

I hope that you enjoyed the image and the concept…

This just is wrong! (or famous quotes!)


Things that tweak our sense of right and wrong!

This past weekend was my grandson’s 4th birthday party.  His mother and grandmother decided to do it up big time and invited a ton of people and had one of those big jumpy things in the back yard as well as a clown come by to entertain the kids.

DMC-GH2-50558-Jordan Beach-11

Jordan, my 4 year old grandson!

So with all of these folks in attendance you can imagine the pile of presants right? He had a ball opening them until he got to a set of boxes from a relative that had a pack of socks then a nice sweater.  As he tore open the socks and realized what they were he exclaimed in a loud and clear voice for all to hear:  “This is just wrong!”  Silence swept across the room  then the entire assembly burst out laughing!  Now from a newly minted 4 year olds point of view it was just wasn’t right!    But it didn’t matter a bit that the same person had also given him a GIANT BALL that he could get inside of and roll around.  We all had to agree and laugh along!

I too feel this way from time to time so I have decided to share these experiences (as they pertain to photography) as they happen with you. I am also going to add this to my growing list of quotes for photography!

I think next year at his 5th I will give him a digital camera and see it it is wrong!

So stand by….

Important Difference Between Film & Digital


What NOT to expect from Digital!

Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens

Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens

Recently I had a series of conversations here with a reader who wanted to pick up a Fuji X-E1 camera and have it deliver Velvia results out of the camera.  This conversation did not start well, but moved into meaningful dialog very fast.  I thought that I would share my thoughts as I gave them to him with you as it is important to understand what a digital camera can really deliver…

As a new convert to digital from film you need to understand one MAJOR difference between the two. Images generated from film are/were dependent upon the film emulsion, exposure, chemistry and glass quality/coatings for colors, saturation and white temperature which in combination gave each film its own distinctive look.

Now, along comes digital, where the only real move into the film Look/Feel is with a built in simulation or the proper selection of White Balance and the filters/coatings on the sensor plus the lens glass and its coatings. Some digitals give a more saturated look, some less. Some pump up the reds to the point of problems.

The Fuji’s typically give a more saturated image with a slight bluish feel. But, knowing photographers with experience who understand these issues and the capability of shooting in RAW understand that ALL of the films/sensor character is really defined in post processing! Looking for a Velvia look and feel out of the camera is foolishness and very short sited. You take your pictures, making sure that the WB is correct for the scene and day, you shoot in RAW, you get your exposure correct  then when you get home you do your color/saturation/tint adjustments in the RAW conversion. Then in Photoshop you do your real work where you can move your image into the film looks as you like with simple adjustments like, saturation, levels, color shifts and so on. With the addition of the NIK filter set you then get total control over these adjustments in an easy and fast way.

If you are looking for Fuji (or any camera) to give you a film look right out of the camera then you should just quit now before you have a nervous break down.

My Fuji’s are an incredible tool. But they are just tools, the creative work happens on the computer in post processing. I have used dozens of cameras from simple point and shoots, micro 4/3s, fuji X systems, Canon’s, Leica’s, Nikons and many many others including lots of film systems including (and still in use) a very nice 4×5. NONE of the digitals will give an accurate film simulation, period. Don’t look to  them for that or simply stay with film.

Go out and try different cameras yourself. When with friends try a memory card in their camera. Take the images home and work them over on the computer. Make your own decision and move forward.

My own decision path was simple…

  1. I dumped ALL of my canon system including top pro line bodies and $30,000 in L glass due to medical problems where I lost 80% use of both arms and hands. The DSLR’s are simply too heavy for me to use now!  What was I to do?
  2. I experimented with ALL of the various Micro 4/3 systems. Kept a GH2 as an Infrared system and the OMD as a high speed replacement for my Canon 1DSMK3 and lenses in order to chase birds and other wildlife.
  3. I tried and decided against the Leica system because of lack of longer lenses and lens expense. I could easily spend another $30,000 on the needed lenses and still not have the range I desired.
  4. I Tried the Fuji X100, Cool, nice small camera with great images, but no interchangeable lenses, bummer
  5. I found out that Fuji came out with the X Pro 1, rushed out and got one with EVERY Fuji lens plus 3 Voightlander M mount lenses for the Leica. Fell in love with the camera/lenses and the images generated. But it had no electronic shutter release so it would not work with my lightning trigger and water drop system. Bummer
  6. I found out that Fuji introduced the X-E1 with this functionality built in. Purchased it and have been happy ever since. The Fuji E-X1 is an amazing system for landscapes, long exposures (REALLY GOOD), water drops and lightning photography. Does it look like velvia when that is enabled? Not really, a little close BUT WHO CARES!!!! I can make it look like ANY FILM TYPE in post processing! It creates amazing low noise images at high ISO’s but I rarely use high ISO’s. It is light, easy to use and has GREAT lenses. I love the Leica and Voightlander lenses when used with the Fuji M to X adapter with its corrections built in!

You can read about ALL of these things here on the blog. You can ask questions on the various forums on the net but they are generally filled with camera lover/haters/bashers rather than people who are trying to learn and improve with their equipment (even though they are there but due to the noise of the others are just un-heard!).

Good luck in your search. Please keep in touch and let me know how it goes as you progress!

OK, you get one Fuji X System  image!

Stormy Seas at the dock.  Voigtlander Heliar Ultra Wide-Angle 12mm f/5.6 Lens. Notice the focus from about 3 inches to infinity.

Stormy Seas at the dock. Voigtlander Heliar Ultra Wide-Angle 12mm f/5.6 Lens. Notice the focus from about 3 inches to infinity.

Getting Better Long Exposures: Fuji X-E1 & Sekonic L758DR, A Detailed Tutorial


All things are fair in Love and War…

and we need every advantage we can get as photographers in long exposure!

Long Exposure Sunrise Abstract

Long Exposure Twilight Abstract with a 3 stop graduated soft ND filter to darken the sky.

The long exposure game, is one of compromises: fighting too little light, balancing the moon and its reflections, cameras and lenses, camera meter or external meter! Long exposures are one of the more difficult photographic styles and one that takes experience and patience to master.  As such, the photographer needs every helpful trick that they can gather into their bag of tricks in order to generate, stunning etherial images!

Equipment tailored to Long Exposures that I like and use:

  • Fuji X-E1 Camera.  Provides both electronic and mechanical remote shutter releasees, Bulb mode with back panel displayed timer, ultra clean low noise long exposure images!
  • Olympus OMD with the Panasonic 14-140mm lens.  Great built in long exposure modes like the Live View Bulb mode where the camera will display an updating image on the LCD panel as the exposure continues to be made.  This gives you a very clear indication of the exposure as it is happening and is like watching a Polaroid develop!  The ISO noise performance is not as good as the Fuji but is indeed acceptable.  I use both camera systems but like the Fuji better!
  • Fuji XF 18-55mm zoom lens.  Sharp images with good range of wide angle to standard lengths!  58mm filter size. ZERO lens flair.
  • Voigtlander Heliar 75mm f/1.8 Lens. Coupled with the Fuji M to X adapter provides an easy to focus sharp image with a 52mm  filter with a f/1.8 to f/16 aperture.
  • Voigtlander Ultra Wide-Heliar 12mm f/5.6 Aspherical M Mount Lens. Ultra wide super sharp and a depth of field that just goes on forever!  This lens takes a 67mm filter and can only take advantage of screw on filters due to its built lens hood.
  • Gitzo & Feisol Carbon Fibre Tripods with Really Right Stuff BH55 Ball head. This is a light weight combination gives solid steady support with ZERO camera creep from the ball head!
  • B+W ND filters, 3, 6 & 10 Stop.  These filters use Schott glass and are the best ND filters out there.  I much prefer fixed ND filters to variable because I KNOW what the filter factor always is for exposure settings and lack of guess work.
  • Lee Seven 5 Micro Filter System.  Simply stated, the Lee series of rectangular ND filters is the best in the world.  The Seven 5 system was designed for small camera systems like the range finder styled Fuji X-E1 camera system.  This provides the ability to use a set ND in the 2, 3 and 10 stop range in conjunction with a graduated ND filter in Hard or Soft edges from 1, 2 & 3 stop ranges to darken the sky for further control!  While expensive (what isn’t?) this system gives the photographer the best opportunity to capture PERFECT long exposures in any situation!
  • Sekonic L758DR Light Meter.  This is my main tool aside from the camera, for long exposures!  It is a 1 degree spot meter that can be calibrated to your camera and gives PERFECT exposures while accounting for what ever ND filter you have installed.  It gives you a choice of where you meter in the scene and then using the ZONE SYSTEM allows you to shift your exposure up or down in order to give you the image you envision!  For me, this is my MUST HAVE MAIN TOOL for exposure control.  It goes way beyond the capability of your in camera metering system.

Must Have Thought Processes to Master Long Exposure Photography

  • You must MASTER the physics of exposure!  But relax, this can be accomplished in about 1/2 hour then a few outing to experiment with your new knowledge set!
  • You must MASTER the ZONE SYSTEM of exposure control. This is simply a different way at looking at exposure where you divide what the camera can see and record into 10 distinct zones from black to white with each zone assigned to a specific stop that can be adjusted with either shutter speed or aperture.  This will make your in head exposure calculations easy and automatic.  When you couple this with the fact that ALL metering systems force the measurement area into the 18% gray area (ZONE 5) then you can see how easy it is to force the camera exposure to give you the envisioned image the first time!  There are several books and videos on Amazon that will be good to read. Here is a nice book on the overall zone system, and here is one dealing with it for digital systems.
  • The ability do look at a scene before you ever pick up a camera and envision what you want to capture and how you want it to look!  Remember, the camera is a tool, you master your tool and make it create your envisioned image!
  • The drive to suffer through long hours in the dark and cold just to capture 3 or 4 images!  Know this, the exposure, say 15 minutes is only 1/2 the time needed by the camera to save the image onto your memory card.  The camera will run a noise reduction cycle the same length as the exposure before you can move onto the next exposure.  So if you take a 15 minute shot your camera will be tied up for 30 minutes!  This then, is why you need to get the exposure dead on each and every time!  You only can get so many shots when it takes 1/2 hour for each 15 minute shot.
  • The ability to post process (I use Photoshop CS6 and the Nik Software filter set) in both Color and B&W.
The Pawleys Island Pier, Fuji X-E1 with the 18-55mm lens, 3 stop Lee Graduated ND for the sky and a 3 stop ND overall.

The Pawleys Island Pier, Fuji X-E1 with the 18-55mm lens, 3 stop Lee Graduated ND for the sky and a 3 stop ND overall.

So let’s put all of this together in a process or recipe (if you will) that will lead us to success in the Long Exposure game (NOT Star Trails which is a slightly different game!

My favorite time to setup and start taking my long exposures is from 1/2 hour before sunset to about 2 hours after (depending upon the moon).

I will usually go to the beach and look for something in the foreground like some rocks, groin, dead trees, pilings or a pier.

680 second exposure, Pawleys Island Pier and Groin.  Fuji X-E1, at the end of twilight going into full darkness

680 second exposure, Pawleys Island Pier and Groin. Fuji X-E1, at the end of twilight going into full darkness


The ocean state only make a difference in that if the waves are large then you will need a much longer exposure to flatten them out. So many of the long exposures you see with bands of dark and light in the ocean are caused by your exposure being too short to totally flatten the surface.  A single band of white in the foreground is caused by the surf crashing down onto the sand and that can also be overcome by extending your exposure past 10 minutes!

  • 1/2 hour prior to sunset: For this time period you will need a 6 to 10 stop ND filter (depending upon the light in the sky) to darken the scene enough to slow the water and clouds down.  By adding a graduated ND filter to cover the sky you can further even the scene and give a moody sky especially if there are colds!

    1/2 hour before Sunset, Fuji X-E1 250 seconds with 10 stop ND, extremely cloudy!

    1/2 hour before Sunset, Fuji X-E1 250 seconds with 10 stop ND, extremely cloudy!

  • Sunset/Sunrise:  keeping the same filters in place you are now getting exposures in the 6 minute range.  The water is very smooth and milky.  Start show up in the sky and leave curved trails. Sky colors explode and you will get your best color saturation.

    Sunrise, Outer Banks Fishing Pier, Fuji X-Pro 156 seconds, 3 stop ND.

    Sunrise, Outer Banks Fishing Pier, Fuji X-Pro 156 seconds, 3 stop ND.

  • Twilight:  The sun is down, and the sky is turning dark blue. The stars are bright.  It is time to remove the fixed ND filter but perhaps leave on the graduated ND for the sky.  Your exposure times should drop down into the 1 to 3 minute range providing the moon is not full.  At this point a full moon will provide way too much light and turn the sky white.  A 1/4 moon will give nice even lighting and a much better image.

    The 2-fer, The pier & groin, Pawleys Island Twilight

    The 2-fer, The pier & groin, Pawleys Island Twilight

  • The DARK:  Ok, there is no light in the sky other than the moon, stars and pollution. Sometimes though, the light pollution from buildings and towns can add a dramatic component to your images like the one shown below!  This is the time now when you are looking at exposure times from 4 to 20 minutes depending upon the light conditions.  I will now remove all filters unless there is a very bright moon.
Full Dark!  Fuji X-E1 with a 3 stop Lee graduated ND filter  covering the sky to the horizon. 125 seconds at f/11. Light pollution from the hotels and pier behind me.

Full Dark! Fuji X-E1 with a 3 stop Lee graduated ND filter covering the sky to the horizon. 125 seconds at f/11. Light pollution from the hotels and pier behind me.

Of all of the times in the list above I like the Sunset and Twilight times for my best images!

Metering:

Metering of all the aspects of long exposures is your most difficult hurdle.  The in camera meters when set to spot, are indeed capable, but they are not totally accurate and more importantly, they are large spots, in the 5 degree  range rather than the 1 degree of the hand held meters.  Yes you can use them but be prepared to have to adjust your exposure for a second shot… And this is WHILE the ambient light is rapidly changing as the sun continues to set!

Time for a talk on exposure..

We have the 3 basic exposure settings to work with, ISO (which should be set on your cameras lowest or native setting), APERTURE, which for a sharp image with proper DOF should be set for f/8 to f/16 and Shutter speed which should be set at least at 30 seconds and around 2 minutes for good smoothing of the ocean surface and clouds. You will lock the ISO and APERTURE while looking for a good shutter value to be generated by the metering system.  So as you can see, you can set the camera in Aperture Priority mode to shoot here.  I find though that I like full manual mode better.

Here is what you can expect for various shutter speeds:

  1. 30 seconds, start to have good smoothing of the waves with some of the bigger waves still showing above the water surface.  Alternating dark and light bands in the waters surface.
  2. 60 seconds, a more profound smoothing in the waters surface, more even lighting and coloring, still with some bands…
  3. 120 seconds, total smoothing of the water, no banding and great even coloring of the water.
  4. 480 seconds and up, totally smooth water, even color and shading, almost a glass like surface of with milk.  Very pleasing and soothing…

Keeping the Depth Of Field (DOF) in mind, you can see that the shutter speeds are the key to your images.

Now, how best to determine your exposure?

Time for the meat of this post, metering…

As discussed earlier, the internal meter of digital camera systems is not the best meter out there.  In the spot mode they provide a very large spot (5 degrees) when what we really need is a 1 degree spot.  The smaller spot gives us a more accurate and isolated reading which can be vital in determining the overall exposure.  If you use this in conjunction with the ZONE system developed by Ansel Adams then we have a really powerful system.  Lets take a look.

Zones

Zones

The ZONE system is very simple.  It divided your total exposure into 10 equal parts or zones.  Each zone is a specific “stop” and the center (zone 5) where where ALL METERS place the exposure of anything it sees!

As you can see from the chart on the left of the zones, they start at black for zone 0 and move to white at zone 10.  Zone 5 being the 18% gray is what the meter sees and will adjust the exposure of the spot metered to be there in the 18% gray!  This explains why so  many photographers snow images come out as gray!  Knowing that the meter will automatically place the measured spot into the gray area it is a simple matter for the photographer to mentally move the zone up or down in adjustment in order to place the metered spot into the desired zone!

It is easy to understand and implement!

Looking at Zones

Looking at Zones

  1. So, let’s take a look at a sample image, not as a photograph but what we would see with our eyes. If you were to look at the top meter spot in the sky you would see that it falls into zone 7!  But if we were to meter on this spot, the meter/camera would move it to zone 5 which would be just too dark for the overall picture.  The fix is to take the meter reading then mentally move it into zone 7 by adding 2 stops of exposure.  Here is what the meter system suggested for this measurement:  Spot reading on the overcast sky at f/8, ISO 200 gives a shutter speed of 15 seconds, but we KNOW that it is in zone 5.  We simply add 2 stops to place it into zone 7 by increasing exposure to 60 seconds, or 2 stops.  The sky now brightens into zone 7.
  2. Lets do another and meter on the horizon water.  The spot meter reads this as f/8, ISO 200 and the shutter speed of 60 seconds which it sees in zone 5 and since it is actually in zone 5 we can just go with the suggested exposure!

See?  Easy to do.

So, hopefully the camera meter has a small enough spot to read these small areas and give you an accurate exposure suggestion.  But, what happens when you add a 3, 6 or 10 stop ND filter into the mix?  Well 3 stops will not affect the meter, but 6 and 10 will destroy any accuracy and your exposures will be all over the place.  We just cannot have that happens so this is where a hand held spot meter comes into play!

There are 3 things that you must keep in mind when you are thinking about hand held meters.

  1. They are more accurate than camera meters
  2. They have a true 1 degree spot
  3. They allow you to tell them of any ND filters installed on the camera and automatically compensate for them!

I suggest 2 meters from Sekonic for you to consider, the L508 and L758DR.

  • The 508 has an adjustable spot from 1 to 5 degrees and allows you to account for an installed ND filter .  It is no longer produced but readily available for around $300.00.
  • The L758DR has a fixed 1 degree spot, allows for filter compensation up to 10 stops and can be calibrated to your camera.  It also has a viewfinder display and much greater functionality than the 508.  It can be found for about $650.oo.

Sekonic L758DR Spot Meter

Sekonic L758DR Spot Meter

Here is the L758DR which is what I am using and will show in the following examples. The meter has 2 modes of measuring light, the lumasphere and the spot which is simply an eye piece that you look thru and shows a target you place on the area of the scene you wish to measure!

How to use the Sekonic L758DR Spot Meter:

  1. You need to use the custom functions on the meter to set WHOLE stops for the shutter speed.  This will simplify you life in a major way!
  2. Set the meter MODE to SPOT with the APERTURE selected which enables you to lock in a specific Aperture.  This will have the F surrounded by a BOX. Then when you take a measurement, the Shutter Speed will be displayed for Zone 5.
  3. You need to set your natural ISO into the meter.  Press and hold the ISO 1 button and simply turn the round dial to select that ISO you desire to work in!
  4. Decide on which ND filter (if any) you are going to use for this shot!  Then hold down BOTH the ISO 1 and ISO 1 buttons while turning the round dial to select between +/- 0 to 9.9 stops.
  5. Then you just press the measure button under  the spot viewfinder  to measure your selected area of the scene and adjust the Zone up or down as in the zone examples above!  It is that simple!

Set Mode to SPOT

Set SPOT Mode

Set SPOT Mode

Setting the ISO

ISO Set

ISO Set

Setting the Filter compensation

Filter Compensation

Filter Compensation

Taking the Measurement

Meter Viewfinder showing the target and measured values. The meter button is just below this.

Meter Viewfinder showing the target and measured values. The meter button is just below this.

That is all of the necessary steps to use this meter. It really is very easy! There are several videos on the Sekonic web site as well as on Utube.  

Understanding ND Filters:

The B+W, well most others as well can be tough to understand!  Here is a break down of all of the filters and how to read the codes!

B+W ND INFO

B+W ND INFO

Knowing how to read the filters is important but understanding how to use them even more so.  Lucky for us in long exposures we are interested in the shutter speed.  If we get a shutter speed of 1/15 second with no ND installed we know that it is simply too fast to slow the water down!  So we realize that a ND filter is needed.

Standard ND Filters effect on a 1/15 second shutter speed with a fixed ISO and Aperture:

  • No filter            1/15 second
  • 1 Stop                1/8 second
  • 2 Stops             1/4 second
  • 3 Stops             1/2 second
  • 6 stops             4 seconds
  • 1o Stops           1 minute

These are the standard ND filters from B+W, other companies offer the same and other values.  Lee offers in the Seven 5 system, 1, 2, 3 and 10 stop values as well.

So now, you take your meter reading and look at the suggested shutter speed, install a ND filter and then tell the meter which one chosen and it will give you the corrected shutter speed. Remember, all camera meters will fail at 6 stops on!

Graduated ND Filters:

Lee Hard Graduated ND

Lee Hard Graduated ND

Lee Soft Graduated ND

Lee Soft Graduated ND

These are filters from Lee (some round ones from B+W but they divide directly in the center) that come in 1, 2 and 3 stops.  They are either a hard transition between dark and clear or a soft transition covering a larger area of the filter.  I use these filters to darken part of the image, usually the sky.  If you have a firmly visible seperation between the sky and water at the horizon, you can use a hard graduated filter.  Otherwise you will use the soft which is the normally used choice. Take a look at the images here of both and you can see their usefulness.

Deciding on which value to choose, 1, 2 or 3 stops is simple.  You simply use your meter to spot read the sky and then again the ocean.  Look at the difference between the shutter speeds given with a fixed Aperture and ISO.  The difference will tell you how much graduated ND you need to use.

These filters are also handy for other landscapes as well.  How often are we plagued with waterfalls or landscapes where the sky is just too bright?  Apply the same metering difference to those images as well for a vastly improved result.

Last minute considerations as you venture out to practice your Long Exposures!

  1. Keep your lens clean, salt spray can and will sneak up on you and spit all over your glass!
  2. Push your tripod legs slightly into the sand for increased stability.
  3. Keep aware of the surf!  Do not let it over take your tripod. it will cause your camera to drop a little lower and ruin a shot.
  4. Keep the Horizon STRAIGHT!!  If you have an in camera level use it!  If not, purchase and attach an external level onto your flash hot shoe and use it!
  5. Use your in camera long exposure noise reduction setting in the custom settings!  This will not only reduce noise in camera (yes photoshop can do this) but it will remove all sensor hot pixels and dark pixels which photoshop will NOT DO!  I understand that your exposure time will double due to this but isn’t the final image quality worth the extra wait?
  6. Take a light weight chair.
  7. Have a light to see the camera setups or a ultra bright light to lighten a subject for focus!  I like a lighted hat for this and a Sure Fire LED 500 Lumen light to reach out and light a subject for focus (not to mention light painting!)
  8. Gloves?
  9. Warm Coat?
480 second exposure, Fuji X-E1 Late Twilight! Metering of the cloud base just above the horizon then moved to Zone 7!

480 second exposure, Fuji X-E1 Late Twilight! Metering of the cloud base just above the horizon then moved to Zone 7!

OK all done, I hope that you both enjoyed and learned from this post!  Please let me know.

Ultra Long Fuji X-E1 Exposure Tutorial


Slower can be better…

Pawleys Per, Fuji X-E1, 480 seconds, f/22, 6 stop ND

Pawleys Pier at night, Fuji X-E1, 480 seconds, f/22, 6 stop ND

Ultra long exposure photography can be a very fulfilling pursuit and generate etherial images that draw your viewer into them leaving them week in the knees! As a photography master generalist I can tell you that there are a few speciality areas that can really excite me and force my juices to flow!  Specifically they are:

  • Ultra High Speed photography: Water Drop Collision Photography, Daytime Lightning Photography & Hummingbird Photography
  • Infrared Photography
  • Grist Mill Photography
  • Ultra Long Exposure Photography.

This post is a tutorial on Ultra Long Exposure photography using the Fuji X-E1 camera with its 18-55mm lens, a 6 stop B+W ND filter and a Sekonic L758DR spot meter.

Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens

Fuji X-E1 with its 18-55mm lens

The Fuji X-E1 is my 3rd in the Fuji line. I started with the X100 and moved to the X Pro 1 in order to have interchangeable lenses, then to the X-E1 to take advantage of its Electronic Shutter Release. I have always been a Canon shooter with closets full of L lenses.  But due to a spinal operation that went dreadfully wrong I lost 80% use of both hands and arms.  No longer able to hold heavy camera equipment I started on a long journey searching for high quality camera system that was small and light weight and produce world class images.  A long story shortened, I settled on the Fuji X lineup and their fine quality lenses along with a few CV and Leica M mount lenses.

Now, the Fuji X-E1 with its electronic shutter allows me to hook it up to my water drop machine, Lightning Trigger and Hummingbird control system!  The only lacking item is its short lens lineup.  With the introduction of the new 55-210mm lens this spring even that will no longer be a problem for me!

Long exposure has several issues that you must overcome to successfully create the etherial, emotionally charged image.

  • Long Shutter Speed: Even in low light you will find it difficult to get a shutter speed at f/8 (sharpest).
  • Difficulty Focusing:  Darkness you know…
  • Unreliable Metering: Especially with an installed ND filter.
  • Camera Shake:  Requires a STURDY tripod and REMOTE SHUTTER RELEASE.

The Long shutter speeds generally can range from 15 seconds to 20 minutes. These are difficult to reach unless you shoot at night with light from the moon.  What I find that I do is shoot at dusk on or just before sunrise to overcome this issue.  Usually I will add a Neutral Density Filter (ND) to reduce the total amount of light reaching the image sensor. This will allow you to shoot with more ambient light and generally make this style of photography easier!

Heliopan Variable ND Filter

Heliopan Variable ND Filter

Shutter Speeds in Full Stops

Shutter Speeds in Full Stops

I like the B+W line of ND filters and keep 3 on hand for each of my lenses I use:  3 Stop, 6 Stop and 10 Stop.  There are also some really good variable ND filters as well.  But be warned: You get what you pay for with these!  If you get one of the Fader filters on Ebay for $30 then you are sure  to be disappointed.  But on the other hand if you get the Singh Ray Vari ND (~$450) or the Heliopan Digital Vari ND (~$350). The trouble with the variable ND filters is that they are generally limited to 6 stops before they start to generate artifacts into your images.

If you take a look at your standard 1 stop shutter speeds you can see what adding 6 stops of ND filter will do… If you have a metered exposure say, f/8 at 1 second, adding a 6 stop ND filter will give you a 1 minute exposure!

Aperture in Full Stops

Aperture in Full Stops

If you desire a longer shutter speed you can also increase your aperture value up to a higher number forcing the shutter speed down to allow more light to strike the sensor.

We started at f/8, but by moving it 3 full stops to f/22 (see chart on the right) we can then move our shutter speed 3 more stops slower to 8 minutes!

You can move the aperture and shutter speeds up and down to get the balance you need for your artistic interpretation you desire for your image.  Remember though, the sharpest that most lenses are capable of is at f/8!

Ok, lets talk about the issues in focusing!

It is dark out, you can see very little detail in your viewfinder!  How can we accurately focus?  Here are some ideas for you to consider!

Use a Light as a focus point

Use a Light as a focus point

  • If shooting a subject like a pier or a lighthouse, set your camera on manual focus and adjust the focus to create a sharp round ball of one of the pier lights. These lights are a great focus point. You can also look between pilings for areas of dark/light.

 

Surefire E2D

Surefire E2D

  • If there are no lights to focus on then you can use a high power flashlight to high light the part of the scene you wish to focus on. There are several high power LED tactical lights that you can get and are a good idea to have in your case.  Look at the Surefire E2D LED light.
  • Get someone to go stand at your selected focus point if possible with a light, then focus on the light!
  • You can manually set your focus distance to the hyper focal value if you have previously determined it for your camera/lens combination.
  • Remember, manual focus is the best and easiest way to get the focus that you desire.

Unreliable Metering…

Ok, this is a biggie.  You will find that when using a 10 stop ND and on some cameras, the 6 stop ND that the in camera metering system does not work reliably.  Plus to make this even more interesting consider a very long exposure, say 10 min where the light is changing and getting a stop or 2 darker during the exposure!  These are not small matters to overcome. There are several work arounds for this from a simple pain in the but to advanced hand held meters!

Here is a list of suggestions for you to consider..

  • Try shooting in Aperture mode:  Allow the camera to attempt to set the shutter speed.  If shooting at dusk or in the dark with a ND filter installed you have about a 50/50 chance on getting the correct exposure.  But… this is DIGITAL, and you will have a histogram with your exposure which will give you a baseline on which to adjust the exposure up or down! This is a good low cost way to get it spot on for the 2nd shot.  There is a down side to this though, if the shutter speed is long, then you have to wait the same amount of time after the exposure for the in camera noise reduction software to run.  This means that a 8 min shot becomes a 16 min wait!  Workable but time consuming.
  • Leave your ND filter OFF the camera, in manual exposure mode: Compose, focus and meter, then screw in the ND filter and adjust the exposure manually to account for the addition of the ND filter.  You must be careful to  NOT change the focus by screwing on the filter. The exposure adjustment must of course be correct.  Leave the aperture sat at a standard value like f/8 and do your adjustment via the shutter speed.  So for a exposure of f/8 at 15 seconds with no ND, the addition of  a 6 stop ND will change the exposure to f/8 at 15 minutes!  you need to be able to do this in your head.
  • Use a hand held meter like the Sekonic L758DR spot meter.  This meter allows you to set in a filter based exposure compensation of +/- 10 stops.  You decide upon the ND filter you wish to use, dial in the exposure compensation into the 758 and meter on a spot in the scene that you desire to be 18% gray and the meter will give you the proper exposure settings!

Using the Sekonic L758DR Spot Meter with the Fuji X-E1 Camera system for Long Exposures…

Now, it is time to go through exactly how I created these images using the spot meter and the Fuji!

The scene as seen...

The scene as seen from my eyes at the time I was setting up…

Above is how the scene looked like at 7:30 pm (dark) when the image was taken.  As you can see it was so dark that the only way to focus was to use the bright spots of light on the pier  to manually focus, then pot meter on the sky with the L758DR meter.  This gave an initial meter reading of f/22 @ 2 seconds thus making the sky 18% gray (too dark for me) with ZERO exposure compensation dialed into the meter (not yet adjusting for the 6 stop ND)!  Now, adjusting the meter for the 6 stop ND filter by entering 6 stops of exposure compensation, the reading became f/22 @ 2 minutes but with the sky still at 18% gray.  My imagined, finished image was one with the sky 2 stops brighter, or moving the spot metered point from Zone 5 to Zone 7 which is 2 stops!  So I simply added 2 more stops and moved the shutter speed to 8 minutes (2 stops brighter) and shot the image.

Normally, I would have the 6 stops of compensation dialed into the meter ahead of time and make this a 1 step process.

So here is the resulting image…

f/22 @ 8 minutes with a 6 stop ND and moved to Zone 7

f/22 @ 8 minutes with a 6 stop ND and moved to Zone 7

I am showing you the images in B&W so that you can better visualize the shades of gray to see the 18% moved from Zone 5 to Zone 7!  The Sekonic is very easy to use and is a true 1degree spot meter.  To dial in the 6 stops of exposure compensation I held down the  ISO1 and ISO2 buttons and turned the control dial.  The meter reading adjusted for the ND filter and gave a perfect exposure the first time!

71M770oi3RL._AA1500_

Sekonic L758DR Spot Meter

The exposure compensation shows up on  the LCD screen so that you know what you are actually measuring.  You could have easily set it to 4 instead of 6 and that would have taken the move from zone 5 to zone 7 for you but I prefer to do that adjustment in my head!

Zones…

Simply stated the Zone System (Ansel Adams), assigned a series of stepped gray changes, 1 stop apart and across a valued scale of 10 stops with Zone 5 being 18% gray which is where ALL camera and handheld meters place the exposure.  By looking at the chart below you can see the change between Zone 5 & 7 (2 stops) and what difference it will make on the brightness of the sky!  I use the Zone System in ALL of my exposure calculations and it is how I see contrast changes across my image!

The Zones...

The Zones…

There are plenty of great books out there that will teach you the Zone System of exposure control and adjustments! Here are 2 on Amazon:

Here is how you would apply actual Zone values to an image.  Then you can shift the exposure to move the metered Zone up or down to adjust the overall brightness of the image!

Using Zones to understand what your meter sees...

Using Zones to understand what your meter sees…

Now given the meter reading for Zone 5 you can change the exposure up or down to brighten/darken the overall image!  Combine Zone Exposure techniques with Long Exposure photography then  you can see how easy it is to control your final image.  Plus if you use a handheld spot meter that allows for +/- 10 stops of compensation  then you can see how easy it becomes to get a good exposure that is measured in seconds  or minutes!

Here is a simple explanation of what each Zone looks like:

The Zone System explained.

The Zone System explained.

Here are a few more images taken this night on the beach!  I hope you enjoyed both the article as well as the images!  Please let me know!

250 second exposure, Fuji X-E1

250 second exposure, Fuji X-E1

30 second exposure just before sunset

30 second exposure just before sunset, Fuji X-E1 shifted to zone 7

Updated Grist Mill & Covered Bridge Gallery…


Major Image Gallery Update

I have just updated the images in my Grist Mill & Covered Bridge gallery in the menu on the top of the page under galleries!  I added about 25 new mills and bridges plus provided name and state data under each image!  I hope that you enjoy them as much as I did in creating them!

There is something especially pleasing about mills and bridges that can transport me back to a different time and age!  I will literally  travel hundreds of miles out of my way to visit them!  In 2011 I spent 3 weeks visiting 19 states on the eastern seaboard doing just so, plus this year in May, I spent several days exploring the mills and bridges of south central Georgia!

You can visit the updated gallery by clicking on the drop down under Galleries in the top menu or if visiting from off site click on the link below:

https://markhilliardatelier.wordpress.com/gallery/color-infrared-grist-mills/

Tybee Island, GA, Hidden Paradise!


Once here it is difficult to leave!

Tybee Island Beach in front of our rental!

Every year I try to make it down to Tybee Island, GA for a visit.  It is one of the hidden treasures of the Southeast coast!  There are two lighthouses there, shrimpers, beaches, birds and many more photographic subjects!  Last year, my wife Ellen made arrangements for a family vacation there with a rental right on the beach.  There were 9 of us there in all and we had a great time!  For me the exciting parts of the week were the photographic excursions out and about.  I am always excited to visit the same places many times as they will always present themselves in a different fashion on each visit!  Below is a small selection of the many things to experience while visiting…

The sand on the beaches there is a fine off white sugar sand and the kids loved to play in it.  There were ALWAYS large ships lined up  to leave and enter the river going up to the port!  Every morning there were shrimp boats going back and forth just off of the beach fishing!

The Tybee Island Lighthouse is a MUST SEE!  It is one of the better looking lighthouses on the coast and always makes a great photographic subject!

Tybee Island Lighthouse in 590nm Infrared.

Cockspur Lighthouse , the 2nd local light house is up the river a mile or so from the Tybee Island Lighthouse.  You can visit it by heading north off of Tybee Island and stopping just before the first bridge and taking the small dirt road off to the right to the marina.  You will then have access with a longer lens to photograph it.  I have done this many times but for this trip we took a Dauphin boat trip out into the river and went around the lighthouse several times.

The Cockspur Lighthouse in Tybee Island.

One of the more interesting things about Tybee Island is the fact that during the summer there are usually daily thunderstorms the come thru the area and this makes for a good opportunity to grab some high speed lightning shots!

High speed daylight lightning capture from the deck of our rental!

Tybee Island is worth taking the time to visit anytime of the year.  Go for a day or a week, you will not be disappointed!

My grandson Jordan pondering the lighthouse keeper's hat as he gets ready to climb the lighthouse stairs!

Going Back To Momma…


Falling In Love With The Fuji X Pro 1 Camera system..

Or, what does a camera system have in common with a good doggie?

Fuji X Pro 1 System

A little history:

I started in photography over 45 years ago (yes I am an old fart)… A long time for sure!  I started using and learning on an Argus C3 35mm rangefinder camera then just started working up through many many more rangefinders.  Along came SLR camera systems and like  most other photographers of the time I decided that I too must have one of these so that I could actually see through the lens to see what I  am going to get.  Many years passed and every time I would pass a camera store I found myself looking with lust  at rangefinders of all things.  At first I thought that there must be something wrong with me, why else would I be drawn to an older technology after the many thousands of dollars I had invested in the best Canon bodies and lenses over the years?

Skittles the Dashound, #9

After much reflection I decided that it must be like dogs!  You know… your parents purchase you your first dog which you fall in love with,  and you are forever imprinted with love for the dog and the type of dog.  Then for the rest of your life you desire only that type of dog!  I am on my 9th dashound now and wouldn’t dream of any other type!  So, back to the point, cameras, like dogs are imprinted upon us at an early age and we tend to gravitate back to momma so to speak!  After coming to grips with this fact I went out and spent another $2500 on the Hasselblad XPan II rangefinder and was forever re-hooked.  Yes, I still have and shoot Canon bodies and L glass, but my true passion is for rangefinders and dashounds!  I have accepted this fact as part of who I am. I find that I even occasionally purchase an old rangefinder camera to display in a glass case in my studio!

Ok, enter Fuji!  Last year, Fuji introduced the X100, which is a digital rangefinder styled camera, not a rangefinder focusing camera.  It looked great and got great press. I wanted one from the very first but held off for a year.  Last fall I actually purchased one and was instantly in love with the thing!  It was small and light and SILENT…  It has a fixed 23mm lens and did I mention that it is totally silent in operation!!  Oh yea, in love to be sure.  This February (2012) my wife and I went to Italy for 11 days of photographic heaven and the only cameras I took were a small Infrared camera (Panasonic GH2) and the Fuji X100.  It was a match made in heaven for travel.  Light,  small and no work to lug around!  I got amazing images with the Fuji even though it had a wide fixed lens.  I simply had to rely upon my sneaker zoom to get close!

I found that I was not totally satisfied with the X100 because it was limited to a single lens.  So I ordered the new digital Fuji X Pro 1 interchangeable lens system with the 35mm f/1.4 and the 60mm f/2.4 lenses, and I have the 18mm f/2 lens currently on order.  It arrived at the end March and I was amazed by its light weight but enhanced functionality that the camera system provided!  now after a month of shooting with it I feel like I have returned to momma and have again found myself through my roots in photography!  God, please help me.. I am so locked onto this camera system that I can not  see any way to ever break away, hooked, addicted with a big fuji monkey on my back!  Fuji also says that  later this year they are offering a 14mm and a 18mm to 72mm zoom!  Then 3 more new lenses next year!  I can feel the dollars slipping away now.. I hope that my wife can forgive me for these future purchases.  I WILL keep the X100, it is after all a rangefinder styled camera and it is silent in operation!  I will purchase new lenses for the X Pro 1 and look to the future for the Pro 2 and Pro 3 bodies…

It seems as though I have found yet another addiction…

X Pro 1, 30 second exposure, 35mm f/1.4 lens, B&W Seascape of Pawleys Island Groin

This post is not a review of the X Pro 1, there are a ton of those out there on the web. It is simply a short series of statements and facts about the camera and why I love it so!

It will NOT replace my Canon 7d for (5%):

  • Lightning Photography, because it does not have a electronic shutter.
  • Water Drop Collision Photography, because it does not have an electronic shutter.
  • Macro Photography, well, it might actually work out for this one.
  • Birds in flight, focus is not fast enough.
  • Sports Photography, I simply don’t do this anyways.
  • Movies, has HD movies but no external mic hookup.

I will use this camera for(95%):

  • Landscapes
  • Seascapes
  • Hummingbirds in flight, works great.
  • Grist Mills & Covered Bridges
  • Long Exposures, works great.
  • Travel, light with many lens choices.
  • My MAIN every day camera system!

Leica Pin Hole pancake

I was considering the Voigtlander Super Wide Heliar 15mm f/4.5 M Mount Lens instead of the Fuji 18mm but there have been so many web posts on how bad this lens is on the Fuji that I have decided against it.  I instead will use a Leica M mount Pin Hole plate from Skink on the Leica to Fuji adapter!   I love Pin Hole photography and have them for ALL of my camera bodies!  There is just something very peaceful and satisfying about using technology for the early 1800’s and the resulting images are very etherial!

Ok, more to come on this great new camera system in the future, I have to have a chance to actually go out and shoot the thing!

Antique Gas Pump, Fuji X Pro 1

So…

Returning to the love of our roots can mean:

Camera Love <= Really does equal => Doggy Love

Told you I was a sic person…

Smile!