Monday, October 31, 2011
DXO's Film Pack 3 is a program that simulates the look of various color and B&W films with or without the grain. There was a Nov. 1st deadline on the discount offer so I decided to download the trial version and check it out before deciding. To compare it to what I could already do I used Lightroom to convert an image from my tall ship cruise to B&W and tinkered with the settings in LR followed by a bit more tweaking in Photoshop (top left) I was particularly concerned with the cloud detail in the sky while holding the foreground contrast on the ship and the dock.I was fairly impressed with the results (top right) although it too has a bit of tweaking in PS after the initial conversion from color and adjustment in Film Pack.
I came close to deciding I wanted it but then decided to check out whatever else was out there and looked next at Alien Skin's Exposure 3 plugin. Exposure is nearly twice the price of the Pro version of Film Pack. Like Film Pack it simulates both color and B&W films. Again I converted from color in Exposure 3 and played with the controls to try to accentuate the clouds. I got a decent bit of contrast in the clouds but don't like the hot spot behind the top mast and I lost a lot of contrast in the hull of the ship and the dock even with some tweaking in Photoshop after.
Finally I tried NIK's Silver Efex Pro 2. Silver Efex only converts to B&W, not color (NIK has a separate Color Efex software that I haven't looked at) but it does a stellar job in my opinion. With minimal fiddling on my part and no learning curve the sky is awesome, exactly what I wanted and even the foreground is great. Although the hot spot is still there behind the top mast, it isn't burnt out. Had I used their "Control Points" I might easily tone it down but I haven't figured that part of the software out yet. Note that I did no further work in Photoshop on the Silver Efex version. Even the edge effect and toning was done in Silver Efex. There are toning options in Film Pack and Exposure too but I didn't save any of them the the image I tested with.
These were very quick tests of each one using only the one image. In fairness maybe I could get the same out of the other two that I got in Silver Efex if I spent more time learning them and I will try other images before the trials expire but right now it looks like Silver Efex is the choice for me. Reasons? Aside from my obvious happiness with the rendering of tones in the sky I'm not interested in color film simulation so that part of the other two has no appeal for me. Actually I'm less interested in B&W film simulation than I am in getting the best possible tonality in my B&W images. Film Pack and Exposure both seem to be primarily focused on getting accurate representations of specific films. Silver Efex has film simulation for a variety of films but is aimed more at overall control to get the most out of a B&W image. It is the middle priced offering of the three. If you are a member of NAPP there are member discounts for each of the three. In fact the NAPP member discount on DXO's Film Pack Pro version is better than the limited time Zenfolio discount I was offered.
If you are considering any of the above I suggest that you do as I did and get the trial versions of all three to 'test drive' with some of your own images. I prefer Silver Efex at this stage of my tests because I am a landscape photographer and skies are important to me. You may find that one of the others is more appropriate to your images. At this point I expect that Silver Efex Pro 2 is going on my Christmas wish list.
Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with any of the above software producers and I receive no consideration for for having done the above comparison/review.
The following day our neighbor, who also lived on the far side of the cemetery from the center of the village, commented that she had hardly anyone come to trick or treat her. It seems that none of the kids had been willing to walk past the cemetery and only those who were driven around by their parents (not common in those days) had gotten to our end of town.
As you can see in the photo above, that prank would probably have no effect today. The cemetery is alight all over these days thanks to solar lamps that can be bought in any building supply establishment or even Walmart. There's a streetlight across the road from the vault and I had to work on the photo to make it as ominous as it is. I sort of miss the darkness of old. Halloween was never a favorite holiday of mine but it was a lot spookier back then.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
I've shot quite a few photos on this counter, most of a cyclamen plant that we used to have sitting there. Although I bill myself as a landscape photographer and prefer to photograph in the Adirondacks, a half hour to several hours away, I suspect that half of my photos are close to, or in this case, in my home. There are photographs wherever you are, sometimes right under your nose.
Canon G11, ISO 400, 1/20th @ f/4.5, handheld.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Monday, October 17, 2011
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
My Shadow 19??
In the guest book that accompanied my traveling show, "My Shadow" received only one comment from a person who didn't say anything at all about the other 20+ photos. The comment was that this photo was cliché. That kind of stung at the time because when I made it I wasn't thinking of any photos I'd seen, certainly not Lee Friedlander's. I hadn't even heard of him at the time, much less seen "Canyon de Shelly". At the same time I had no illusion that I was being 'original' or doing something that had never been done before. What I was doing was reacting to the moment. I was at the summit of Cascade Mountain and was attracted to the small catchment of water and the pattern of rocks. As I tried different viewpoints I liked the way my shadow interacted with the small pool, looking like a continuation of the dark area where the overflow ran off or alternately with the pool looking like the 'speech balloons' that cartoonists put around the words that their characters say. Looking at Lee's "Canyon de Shelly" I suspect he was amused by the way the weeds appear to be hair on the head of his shadow.
So is mine cliché because Lee (and almost assuredly others) did a shadow self portrait before me? Is his a cliché because he wasn't the absolute first to do it? One comment on TOP called Lee's photo "amazing" perhaps tongue in cheek given the early paragraphs of Mike's post. Or perhaps not. His photo is on Artnet and in major galleries. Some people clearly think it's amazing.
I still like my photo. It is a silver print made 'back in the day', double matted and framed. It's not great but I'm still happy with it. I also kind of like Lee's photo for its humor, more than I care for most of his images, which don't feel humorous to me. I will continue as a photographer, to react to the moment without regard for what others may have done and as audience (which we all are some of the time) I will try to react to the image itself without judging it against other photos I may have seen.
Link to "Eschew cliché".
Friday, October 07, 2011
After spraining my ankle on the hike and walking out on it I just wanted to get home so I decided to forgo the other photography and completely forgot about my sunrise photos until this evening when I was downloading some images I made on the 7D today.