Monday, November 23, 2015

Meeting the Medicine Buddha

Recently I had the pleasure of working with the Tibetan Monks. Not many people here in the state realize we have THE Tibetan monastery in Bloomington Indiana. This service was with the Medicine Buddha. Not being fully versed in all that was happening, it was a healing cleansing service. Being held in a private residence. The house itself could be the subject of another blog entry.

When covering these types of events I tend to enjoy capturing close up images. Especially when there is an alter having a Buddha. The alter was a temporary setup just for the event. The image was taken after the ceremony. This Buddha held my attention for several different compositions taken. This is the composition I favored most. Mainly due to the other pictures having a more distracting background.  Secondly, the light on Buddha was captured from another camera flash. How is that for timing? Without the flash the image becomes less brilliant with no shadow. The light was a gift from Buddha. So on next to processing the image as I see it in my mind.  If you have read any of my other post I like to go dark and then bring out the light. The first image below is the original out of camera. It was taken with my Olympus OMD EM-1 free hand, no flash. The image stabilization in the EM-1 camera is fantastic. Allowing me to get images like this without a tripod.

Initial capture with Olympus OMD EM-1
Once again, Capture One was used to process the image. There has been a learning curve to Capture One. If coming from Lightroom give it time to get use to the change in workflow. RAW images do have a different look in Capture One versus Lightroom. To me the difference is in color and clarity. They seem to be just a bit more brilliant.

Looking at the finished image below. The overall exposure was reduced a good three stops to beginning the painting in of light starting with the Buddha. Thanks to the flash, from the other camera, I had detail and shadow and highlight in Buddha to work with.

Using the layer brushes in Capture One I started painting in light to the Buddha. Along with light saturation, clarity and structure were increased slightly. It was slow going to get the detail and effect I was looking for. During this process I will make several virtual copies, so if something happens I can revert back to a previous copy.

The light behind Buddha on the wall is natural light. You can see it in the original, however it is more pronounced when the overall exposure is reduced. It frames the Buddha wonderfully.

Finished Buddha,now looking for a title.
Once Buddha was complete ,it was on to the other items in the view. The candlelight gave me a nice soft light up front to use and highlight the glow on the Orange and Vase. The glow also reflected nicely off the front of the bowl.

The remainder of the alter was highlighted with bringing some detail out in the feathers and contrast in the flowers. When I work an image to this detail I already have a title in mind. This one I do not. I having been playing around with "Awakening Hart" but still not sure. So help me along. What should I  title this art? Take care and safe travels.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Wedding Weekend with the Sony RX100M3

It's a rare occasion in our family when we get together. With everyone busy with their own schedules it makes for a difficult time to get everyone together for even the simplest of gatherings. This past October we had such an event on my wife's side with a wedding. You know you are moving up there in age, when the flower girl from our wedding is now getting married. And that's just what happened. Knowing this was going to be a quick overnight trip to the shores of Michigan, I was debating what gear to take, since there were going to be four adults in a Mazda 3! Side note on the Mazda 3. This is our fourth Mazda and our second Mazda 3. It was the first road trip for this Mazda 3 and did it perform nicely. OK now back to cameras.

So what to do with gear? My hope was to capture the Grand Haven lighthouse at night. Knowing this I was ready to grab my Olympus OMD EM-1, tripod and big bag. Instead I had a thought, or a moment of laziness, not sure. But anyway I was up for a personal challenge. Could I capture the lighthouse at night with a small sensor camera like the Sony RX100M3? So the challenge was on.

As you can see in the picture below. Equipment storage was about as small and light as can be. I had the RX100M3 in its Sony case. The Tenba case held two extra batteries and a card. Last was the tripod. I did not even bring my laptop or battery chargers. It was pleasant traveling this light.

Road Trip! Why throw all your camera gear in the trunk, when it fits in the glove box?

Road trips are always nice in a new car. This one was also uneventful, making it even better. We arrived just as the bride and her father were about to start down the aisle. I had just enough time to turn the RX100 on and snap this in aperture priority without checking any of the camera settings. I think it came out well. Post processing was a slight crop and change to B&W all done in Capture One.

As I become more familiar with the camera the fear of ISO noise on a small sensor is fading. I can comfortably get usable images upwards of 3600.

The quick capture as the bride and father walk down the aisle. 1/80s - F2.8 ISO 5000
The bride and father image was shot at ISO 5000. I did no noise reduction on this image. The image is very usable. In fact I think the noise is controlled and adds fine to the grain of the image. So after a wonderful ceremony it was on to the party.

This wedding had one professional photographer and two videographers covering the event all day. I think weddings are some of the hardest events to work. The professionals did a great job all day. I politely stayed out of the way and just watched good hard work from a distance.

Sony RX100M3 with on camera flash.
The reception was in the Family Center of the Parish. A nice hall, nothing fancy, however very functional for a multitude of church happenings. The one thing I did find odd was the cake placement. This beautiful cake was placed in an unlit corner of the room with the wall behind draped in black. Absolutely no light placed on the cake. So I finally got to use the built in flash of the RX100M3.

I popped out this little flash not expecting much and was pleasantly surprised by the results. The above image is straight out of camera. This was a dark corner of the room having several different light sources around the area. The camera did a good job with the white balance. TTL metering was also spot on. The wedding photographer came in with two studio lights and lit the cake with the strobes. I chimped over his shoulder to see. The newlyweds will be happy with his work.

So the main part of this weekend challenge was to get the Grand Haven lighthouse at night. I was really looking forward to this. Yes I took pictures of the family and got all the relatives pictured with my wife, but my goal was the lighthouse. I was on a mission. So onward to the picture of the lighthouse below.

Oh where is the night shot of the lighthouse you ask????? WELL two things.

First the weather. Upon exiting the Family Center it was starting to drizzle. By the time we drove over to the lakefront it was raining, hard. On top of that the sand was blowing, sideways. Great! This camera is not weather sealed. For the price of these Sony cameras I was not going to risk getting water and sand inside the workings of the camera.

Second, I have discovered why there are no night shots of the Grand Haven lighthouse. Well the lighthouse does not LIGHT! Yes thanks to modern technology, there is now a radio/gps beacon flashing red on top of the lighthouse. The lighthouse is not even lit. You can not see the thing. There where a few choice words out of my mouth at the moment of discovery. You would think the city would at least light the building since it would be beautiful at night along the beach and walkway.So now what to do. Well we went back to the hotel since the weather was really turning bad at this point. The challenge failed, or so I thought......

The next morning after breakfast my wife wanted to see the beach and lighthouse during the day. The weather had passed and the morning was calm and crisp. She was driving, so off we went. Glad we did make the final stop. Because out of the river at the opening to the lake exits this very big ship. I have taken pictures of the lighthouse in the past but never with a ship along as part of the subject matter.

This ship was being towed from the stern into the lake. Not sure what type of great lake ship this is, thought it was an ore ship to begin with but not sure. Anyhow it gave me opportunity to photo something unexpected.

This first image is tightly cropped to compose just the ship and lighthouse. Otherwise no post processing was done in Capture One. This shot was camera in hand leaning over a guard rail to capture the two in subject.

1/400s- F9.0 ISO500
In post processing, upon zooming in the detail for this size sensor is impressive. No it can not compete with full frame sensor. However these images would have no problem being printed up to an A3 print size.

The last image is my favorite as the ship was just being pulled out of the river and crosses the lighthouse. The reflection in the sand is a bonus. This image was processed in Capture One. I worked the exposure, pushed the colors and did a slight white balance change.

1/650s - F9.0 ISO 500

In conclusion, it was a pleasant trip to see family and have good food. I was glad that I did not lug my bigger gear up with me. With the way events were progressing I would have hardly touched it. And this is where these smaller RX100 cameras come into being. They are the perfect carry around camera. If you demand more from your images than a cell phone can deliver then you need to look at these Sony cameras. The quality is there.

So did I meet my challenge? Well my goal was to capture a unique picture of the lighthouse at dark. This did not happen. However I did get a second chance. And although it was captured during the day, I think the image is still unique. So in that regard a success. Take care and safe travels.