Tuesday, December 25, 2012

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Season's Greetings!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

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2013 Rocks of the Southwest calendar...

Well, it's that time of year again... time for a new calendar for friends and family. This year I was drawing a blank for quite some time, trying to get inspired to do another calendar. I didn't really want to do "normal" southwest landscapes calendar again, mainly because my trip in the spring of 2012 had very little in the way of interesting weather or light, the above shot being one of the few exceptions. I didn't find my shots compelling enough to enthusiastically put them into a calendar, although I suppose it should have been easy to do one. I had mulled over the idea of making a "Vancouver at Night" calendar, but while I have taken tons of night shots in the last few months, inevitably, they were from the same three areas around Vancouver and I couldn't see myself making a calendar from those either.

Just the other day, I decided to take advantage of a sale from Topaz Labs and bought a couple of their plugins that I did not yet own. I rarely use plugins, but I find Topaz makes some of the best around. I bought their convolution sharpening plugin "InFocus", which I haven't really used yet, and also their B&W conversion plugin, simply called "B&W Effects". I was fiddling around with it on some images and suddenly came across an interesting toned look. After more fiddling with an opacity slider, allowing some of the underlying original colour to show through, I actually rather liked what I was seeing as far as muted colours, boosted micro contrast and overall austere tonality. The plugin's own grain effects were pretty dismal I thought, so I decided to modify the grain action I had created myself for my digital B&W infrared shots. Bingo... suddenly an interesting look that I started to like and the more I played around with it, the more it grew on me.

I'm not sure if I'll be so fond of this look after a few months of having a calendar on the wall myself, but since I was in an artistic funk and couldn't decide on what to do, well, this was a quick way out, almost an act of desperation! Now I only hope the people I'll be giving the calendar to don't look at it and think to themselves "...WTF is that? Did he scan some old, faded, grainy colour film or something...?!" Actually, all these shots were originally taken with my Panasonic GH2. Anyway, the twelve months of images appear after the break...

Sunday, December 9, 2012

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X-E1: High ISO and XF 18-55mm Review

I recently picked up Fujifilm's excellent "kit" zoom for the X-E1, the XF 18-55mm f/2.8-4.0 R LM OIS. It uses a new linear-motor for AF (the LM in its name) which is fast and silent when focusing, and it also has an effective optical image stabilization system (OIS). For a reasonably compact kit lens, the f/2.8-4.0 range is quite bright and with the fairly large APS-C sensors on the X-Pro1 and X-E1, you can get decent subject isolation, especially at the long end, when shooting wide open. From an overall image quality standpoint, the lens is impressive with surprisingly sharp results corner to corner, even at wider apertures. For an extra $400 when bundled with the X-E1 body, this lens is a bargain as far as I'm concerned! The gallery linked above was all shot with the X-E1 and this new 18-55 zoom. In addition, there are many high ISO samples too...

Sunday, December 2, 2012

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X-E1: A Beautiful Sunday in November

A gallery, shot a week ago with the Fujifilm X-E1: A Beautiful Sunday in November