Saturday, April 15, 2017

Lava from Hawaii

f/4.5 1/1000 ISO 3200
 
f/4.5 1/1000 ISO 3200
 
Sandy was correct when she described me as a kid waiting for Santa Claus.  We began planning our Hawaii trip approximately 12-months prior to us leaving and the major item on my bucket list was capturing the lava flow on the big island of Hawaii.
We had three options of capturing the flow; hiking out, boat and air.  Thankfully we opted for air as we were able to accomplish so much more in a limited amount of time than we would have using either of the other options.
f/4.5 1/1000 ISO 3200
 

Paradise Helicopters in Hilo offers an early morning option that we found was available only to professional photographers; otherwise we would have been forced to fly much later than we did. We were able to depart Hilo a couple minutes before sunrise actually seeing the sun as it rose above the horizon.  
Quickie through the front of the cockpit
 
The helicopter was ours for an hour with the doors off for better visibility.  We began our flight to the lava fields at 120 mph.  Traveling that fast without doors at dawn was downright chilly however as soon as we pasted over the first part of the lava flow the temperature quickly rose to the point we felt we were back in Arizona.  Once there we slowed down and began photographing.
f/4.5 1/1000 ISO 3200
 
f/4.5 1/1000 ISO 1600
 
I decided to take a chance and used a Schneider LS 240mm lens attached to a Phase One XF body and a 100-megapixel IQ-1-100 digital back.  Not a lightweight combination for shooting through an open door of a helicopter.  It turned out okay as I was sitting next to Pete our pilot and able to give instructions.  We were hooked up to an intercom however since I needed one hand to press the button to speak I quickly stopped doing that and used hand signals which Pete followed perfectly.
I set the camera at ISO 3200 and shutter priority at 1000 figuring the f/stop would take care of itself.  My fastest shutter was 1/4000 with a slow 800 ISO.  All files were processed using Capture One Pro.
f/4.5 1/1000 ISO 1600
 
We flew at around 1000-feet (305-m) most of the time except when we flew over the lava flowing into the ocean and then we couldn’t go any lower than 1500-feet per park rules.  I thought the flowing lava looked much like a fiery waterfall however I recently saw this described as a “firehose”.  I think both are accurate descriptions.  
f/5.6 1/1000 ISO 3200
 
Slight crop
f/6.3 1/1000 ISO 3200
 
"Explosion"
f/5.6 1/1000 ISO 3200
 
Explosion” is a much deeper crop and actually shows the effect the lava has as it flows into the ocean.  Notice the rocks exploding outwards.  Nothing beats a 100-megapixel image file!
This is not a crop! This is the lava flowing in-between lava that had already cooled.  
f/4.5 1/4000 ISO 800
 
One last image.
 
f/4.5 1/4000 ISO 800

Am I pleased with the way the Phase One XF worked? Yes.  Am I pleased with the Schneider LS 240? Yes.  Am I pleased with the 100-megapixel IQ1-100? Oh hell yes!  I also want to point out that I had no problems with quick focus, shooting 142-files and coming back with at least 140 “keepers”.  So in the end if you wonder if a Phase One XF and IQ1-100 is capable of keeping up in the fast pace shooting environment such as this, worry not.
More Hawaii images coming soon.
 
 
Don
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 

 
 
 

 
 
 
 

Friday, April 14, 2017

Fuji GFX 50S

120mm f/32 0.5 ISO 6400
 
120mm  f/32 1/4 ISO 6400

I was excited last year when first Hasselblad and then Fuji introduced their mirrorless medium format cameras.  Hasselblad was first in showing what the X1D would look like and I’ll admit I found it attractive.  However after Fuji introduced the GFX 50S I began to like that body better even though it is larger.  In comparing the specifications of both cameras I began to be swayed towards the GFX mainly due to what I already shoot with (Phase One XF).  The body reminds me of the XF and I particularly like the top LCD screen, the ability to use the EVF as a waist level, and more importantly the articulating LCD touchscreen back panel.
32-64 at 32mm f/8 1/60 ISO 100

I now have three lenses for the GFX, 63mm f/2.8, 32-64 f/4 and the 120 f/4 macro, and am very pleased with them.  One of my more favorite lens on the Phase One XF is the Schneider LS 40-80; the downside is size and weight as it’s just too heavy to carry around your neck for any length of time.  The GFX has a cropped sensor similar to my first digital medium format back, the Phase One P30+.  That said I was very interested to learn that Fuji released their 32-64 lens for the GFX.  When taking in the crop sensor of the GFX the 32-64 is the same focal length as the Schneider 40-80. Additionally, both the IQ1-100 and GFX are CMOS sensors so for me, the GFX is much like having the smaller lighter brother of the XF/IQ1-100.
32-64 at 64mm f/8 1/250 ISO 100
 
32-64 at 34mm f/8 1/500 ISO 100
 
Different tools in the bag.  While the GFX is great for what I want it to do for me it nevertheless has limitations.  Crop sensor vs, full frame; 51.4MP vs. 100. There are more however these are the top two-on my list.  The Phase One will always be my go to tool when weight and size are no issue and especially when I want the very best resolution.  The GFX on the other hand will be a better fit for those times when I do have a weight restriction. 
32-64 at 64mm f/8 1/160 ISO100
 
32-64 at 32mm f/8 1/160 ISO 100
 
There has been a lot of talk about processing the RAW files and in large part I agree.  I have been using Capture One for many years and routinely use it when processing either the Phase One files or Sandy’s Sony files.  Sadly at the moment I cannot open the RAW directly into Capture One and don’t agree with using any “hacks” as proposed on the web.  I have found that Adobe ACR works well as does processing in Photoshop CC.  I understand many like Light Room however try as I have, I just can’t get to the point I like using Light Room and prefer Photoshop.
32-64 at 43mm f/5.6 1/200 ISO 200
 
63mm Camera set to "Auto" f/4 1/35 ISO 6400
 
This a good example of why I like the rear LCD. This was shot from the hip using the LCD for framing. The camera was set at f/8 1/60 and auto ISO that turned out to be 6400.
 
I found a 720nm infrared filter in a storage drawer and decided to try it on the 32-64. This was shot close to noon at f/11 6.5 seconds ISO 100. The file was opened in Adobe ACR before processing it in PSCC.
 
I’ve begun experimenting with the Wine Country filter kit and will be using it on the lenses in the future.

 
At the risk of repeating myself I’ll add that I like the camera.  The grip fits my hand nicely. The viewfinder is easy to use as is the LCD.  I like the top LCD and am used to using that on the Phase One XF. I like the fact that the 32-64 is very close to the 40-80 Schneider yet much lighter.  I like the fact that I can shoot low and tilt the LCD to an angle that I can use it without having to resort to the viewfinder. I haven’t done a weight comparison however the GFX is considerable lighter than the XF.  This comes as no surprise however there is a huge loss in resolution coming from 100-megapixels to 51; yet the RAW files have been stunning. 
The GFX replaces a Sony A7rII I had been using. It was never meant to replace my Phase One XF.  I was somewhat surprised at the file sizes when I downloaded the first images.  The typical RAW Sony A7rII file is 41MB while the IQ1-100 is 133MB and the GFX is typically 111MB.  The Sony RAW files once opened and saved as a Tiff will reach 240MB; the IQ1-100 reaches 580MB and the GFX will more than double to 293MB.  Not overly scientific just nice to know for on the road storage needs. The battery has lasted a full day of shooting, still uncertain why Fuji decided to place it where they did. I also like the idea of having two-card slots however I have yet to use both.
People reading this may have noticed I’m using the Peak Design camera strap.  While I like it, it doesn’t play well as the cord holding the anchor keeps twisting making the strap itself twist almost into a knot, something I’ve never had with either the Sony or Phase One XF.  I’m thinking the fault lays in having to attach it to the anchor point for the camera which also swivels. I’ll be replacing the strap shortly with one made specially of the type of mounting point Fuji decided to place on the camera.

I haven’t yet address how I plan to use this camera.  The answer is much the same as the Sony.  I’m getting to the age that luging around heavy equipment doesn’t work well for me specifically when I’m in an unknown area and all I’m doing is scouting locations.  As nice as the Sony is, it nevertheless isn't medium format (okay call me a snob).  I now have the ability to carry a lightweight medium format camera for everyday shooting as well as scouting locations for more serious work with the Phase One.  Again, just another tool in the kit.
I’ll continue to work with this camera and add more thoughts later. The images included are meant to be a sample of what’s possible. 
 
Don
 
 

 

 

 
 

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Hawaiian lava from above

Early morning takeoff
 
We just completed a 38-day stay in the beautiful state of Hawaii visiting 3-islands.  Oahu, Hawaii, and Kauai (we returned to Hawaii a second time).

In planning our shooting schedule the months prior all I heard from Don was lava.  Lava this and lava that.  It got to the point that Don was like a kid waiting for Santa Claus to come only he was waiting for his chance to capture lava.


First View
f/2.8 1/1000 ISO 4000 37mm
 
f/3.5 1/500 ISO 4000 70mm
 
f/2.8 1/640 ISO 1600 68mm
 
We chartered the helicopter from Paradise Helicopters in Hilo, HI for a one-hour flight over the lava fields of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park.  Did I mention the helicopter was wide open as in no doors?  We were cautioned that we’d be traveling in excess of 120 mph and not to let anything past the door frame.  While it was pleasant on the ground it quickly became chilly as we made our way to the lava fields.  Once we began flying over the lava fields it became very warm and our pilot slowed down and began taking directions from Don who was sitting beside him; hover, turn left, right, backup etc. It took close to 10-minutes to reach the lava fields and taking in account the return flight we had at least 40-minutes to photograph.  We went to the furthest point first which is the area the lava flows into the ocean. 
f/3.2 1/640 ISO 1600 70mm
Both of these images were shot at the point the lava flow enters the ocean and we could not fly lower than around 1500 feet.  Notice the other ways to view the flow; boat and by hiking out over land.
I shot with my Sony A7rII and FE 24-70 GM lens.  I began shooting at an ISO of 4000 with a shutter speed as slow as 1/500 and higher.  The camera was set to shutter priority. 
f/4.5 1/640 ISO 800 48mm
In some places we flew lower than 1000 feet and caught very interesting formations of the lava flow.
Bird
f/2.8 1/640 ISO 500 70mm
 
Fish
f/2.8 1/640 ISO 320 70mm
 
And then there’s the smoldering wood about to catch fire….
f/2.8 1/640 ISO 320
 
And then there are patterns, waves and other beautiful sights to see.
 
f/2.8 1/500 ISO 200 70mm 
f/2.8 1/500 ISO 200 35mm
All the above lava images are full frame no cropping as it was shot from the Sony Ar7II.  The next is the only image we decided to crop to show the delicate features of what reminds me of a wing.
f/2.8 1/500 ISO 200
This was the first time I rode in a helicopter without doors as well as the first time I shot lava from the air.  Needless to say I was very excited and am now looking forward to my next air adventure.
Don thanking our pilot Pete for a great adventure. Both are veterans, Don from the Viet Nam War and Pete from the Gulf. 
 
I have more from our Hawaiian adventure so please stay tuned.
We'll be adding a Hawaii gallery to our on-line website shortly and offering sizes, printing methods etc.
 
Sandy
 
 
 
 
 
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 


Sunday, January 8, 2017

Capture One 10 Black & White Conversion

Bryce Canyon
Sony A7rII
 
Old Factory
Sony A7rII
 
100-megapixel Phase One

I’ve been in love with black and white images since I first saw one and long before I had ever heard the name “Ansel Adams”.  The majority of the film I shot was black and white; I still remember the thrill of working in a darkroom watching as the image appeared on the paper.  Then came digital.  All digital is captured in color and while the early stages of black and white conversion was good I felt it never match true black and white film.  I’ve used Photoshop since the 2nd version and slowly went away from black and white.  A friend of mine introduced me to Nik Software Silver Efex Pro and I began once again experimenting with black and white conversion. 

All this of course was with 35mm cameras and once I bought my first medium format camera (Phase One P30+ digital back) I was then introduced to Capture One. The downside to Capture One in 2005 was that it didn’t support running on a 64-bit computer which I had at the time.  Any real work in Capture One didn’t begin until several years later when Capture One (owned by Phase One) began supporting 64-bit computers. 

I’m now on my sixth Phase One digital back and felt it time to get better acquainted with Capture One.  The 10th version of Capture One (C1) was released late 2016.  I waited until after the first of the year to upgrade as I wanted to make certain most if not all the bugs had been worked out as well as being a tax decision.  C1-10 has better engines supporting 100-megapixels digital backs as well more support for other camera manufactures; and it runs faster.

So how does all this tie into black and white conversion?  My first step in getting better acquainted was to visit the Phase One web site and watching videos addressing C1.  These videos gave me the idea that there just might be a better way to convert to black and white than the way I had been doing it. My normal workflow was to go to the top of the screen to Adjustments pulling down Styles, opening Built in Styles and using either BW or Landscape BW1 or BW2.




If you are still with me I’d like to walk you through the steps I’ve been using in C1. I use a dual monitor setup with the tools and thumbnails on the left and the preview on the right.  It goes without saying that both monitors are calibrated on a regular basis.

 

 
The workflow is time consuming however the end result is well worth it as you are in complete control of the process similar to a wet darkroom.

Several things are happening here.  The ICC Profile has been set, and a clone of the file made.  Black and white box checked and the various levels of Red, Yellow, Green, Cyan, Blue and Magenta set watching the image as you adjust them.  Finally, Color Balance using Shadow, Midtones and Highlight are adjusted using your preference.

 

 
The next screen shows changes in exposure, levels, curve, clarity and vignetting.  Each section is tested to see the change in the image and if satisfactory are kept or returned to a neutral setting.
 
 

The original file prior to conversion.
 

 
The finished image
 
 

While the above is a simplified view of a medium format image what follows is a sample of a Sony A7rII using an image taken in Bryce Canyon, November 2015.
 

 
 
 
 

The last screen shot shows the use local adjustments in one case bringing up shadows and the other helping in highlights.
 
 
After
 
 

Here are more examples of the conversion using the above workflow…

Old plastic factory
Sony A7rII
 
Bryce Canyon
28mm lens and an IQ180 digital back
 
Old Utah Cabin
28mm lens and an IQ180 digital back
 
Devil's Garden Arches National Park
100-megapixel IQ1-100
 
The workflow I’ve outlined works for me as I find it better than a “one size fits all” solution found in either the Styles section of C1 or anything I’ve tried using Photoshop, Nik Silver Efex Pro or Topaz Labs.  While each file should be worked separately I have found that I can apply the same setting to another file that was shot the same day using the same exact settings thus making it slightly faster. 
This barely skims the surface of what C1 can do and I highly recommend visiting Phase One to learn more about Capture One.  Please remember to use the AMBDON code at checkout to receive a 10% discount on either the full program (good for 3-computers) or an upgrade from a previous version.

Thank you once again for visiting and I hope you return throughout the coming year.  Please feel to comment or ask questions.


 
Don