52 in 2015 Week 1 Reflections

Why do I do it? After successfully completing 52’s in 2012 and 2013, I took a break in 2014 mainly due to work commitments. I must be a sucker for punishment, I’ve only gone and signed up for another 52 challenge for 2015. Each week a specific subject is chosen and the first weeks challenge is running now on Flickr. So if anyone is interested in taking part follow this link to the Flickr group, where you will find lots of information about the challenge themes and how to go about submitting entries.

This weeks challenge is reflections. On Monday I was in the Snowdonia National Park chasing snow and took this reflection on Llyn Padarn, Llanberis.

52 in 2015 - Week # 1 Reflections

It was an absolutely beautiful day and despite it being winter, relatively warm. Llyn Padarn when it is flat calm provides some amazing reflections of the mountains of Snowdonia, including Snowdon, which unfortunately today was just hidden by some cloud.

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Bokeh – Week 2/52 of 2014

Bokeh - Week 2

I must be crazy. Not only have I taken on another 52 challenge but last week I decided to revive Highlights and Shadows, which is devoted solely to HDR photography.

Wikipedia describes Bokeh as,

In photography, bokeh (Originally /ˈboʊkɛ/, /ˈboʊkeɪ/ boh-kay — also sometimes heard as /ˈboʊkə/ boh-kə, Japanese: [boke]) is the blur, or the aesthetic quality of the blur, in out-of-focus areas of an image. Bokeh has been defined as “the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light”. However, differences in lens aberrations and aperture shape cause some lens designs to blur the image in a way that is pleasing to the eye, while others produce blurring that is unpleasant or distracting—”good” and “bad” bokeh, respectively. Bokeh occurs for parts of the scene that lie outside the depth of field. Photographers sometimes deliberately use a shallow focus technique to create images with prominent out-of-focus regions.

Bokeh is often most visible around small background highlights, such as specular reflections and light sources, which is why it is often associated with such areas. However, bokeh is not limited to highlights; blur occurs in all out-of-focus regions of the image.

Far too technical for me. For those interested, this is how I did it. The lights in the background are from a set of hazel branches which have LED’s attached to them and were about 4ft away from the Rose, which is in the foreground. Natural light was flooding the rose from the left hand side and I decided not to use flash or any other form of lighting.

Camera was the Pentax K-30, lens the Sigma 18-200mm f3.5-6.3, focal length 93mm, Aperture f5.6, ISO 1600, shutter speed 1/20 second. Image Stabilisation was on, I didn’t use a tripod.

As post-processing is allowed for the 52 challenges I re-coloured the image using Topaz Re-Style.

 

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On The Beach

Just before the dire predictions of heavy snow, which never appeared, at least, not here in our little part of North Wales, I paid a visit to my favourite lighthouse. It was a beautiful day, lovely and sunny, almost no wind and with reasonably high tide expected I was hoping to get some different photographs of the lighthouse

The beach car-park was closed because of the high tide so I had to carry my gear across the dunes.

The Dunes

Walking across the dunes can be a great photo opportunity in itself. There’s a lot of wildlife living there and if you’re quiet, you can sometimes catch the wildlife unawares. I always have my camera out, ready to shoot off some photographs if I have to go this way. Although the dunes are quite hilly, with some big clumps of that spiky grass, there’s a well worn path, that leads directly to the lighthouse.

Talacre Lighthouse

By the time I got down to the shore, the tide was getting very close to the edge of the dunes. However, it was on the turn and I expected it to be going out soon. That’s what I was waiting for. To photograph some of the objects washed up on the beach and keep the lighthouse in the background.

Driftwood

Walking along the beach I was attracted to this log straight away. The straw and seaweed helped to break-up the shape and by getting low I was able to include some of the detail on the beach as well.

Now, if you look to the far left of the image, about level with the lighthouse, you can just about see the next subject of interest to me. But I was going to have to wait until the tide went out a bit more.

Washed Up

It was worth the wait, though….and I’ve just spotted something I should have corrected before I posted this image. A wonky horizon. It’s sloping down from right to left

In previous photographs of the lighthouse that I have posted, like the one below, you can normally see the steps and the circular base with the sea hundreds of yards beyond the lighthouse.

52/2012 Week 10

With the tide in, you can’t access those steps, that is, unless you have a boat. Now here’s an interesting tale. The lighthouse has been up for sale for a good couple of years at an asking price of around £100,000. Rumour has it that someone has finally bought it and intends to turn it into a holiday home. I hope they appreciate that at certain times of the day they may well be cut off as the tide comes in and covers that all important access to the beach.

The Rocks

That’s it for this one. I’ve been looking at changing the blog theme, so next time you pop in to read something it may well have a brand new look.

Reflections

 

Reflections

I’ve switched back to PhotoMatix for a while and then did final post processing of the HDR image with Topaz photoFXLab. I quite like the results I’m getting from this.

 

Medieval Church

 

Medieval Church

Llanrhaeadr-yng-Nghinmeirch is a village in Denbighshire, Wales. It lies in the Vale of Clwyd near the A525 road between Denbigh and Ruthin. The medieval parish church of St Dyfnog contains a Tree of Jesse window, dating from 1533, described as “the finest glass window in all Wales, exceeded by few in England”, which was originally part of Basingwerk Abbey near Holywell. Nearby is St Dyfnog’s Well, once a destination for pilgrims.

 

Silhouette

 

Sunset

Beautiful evening tonight with a sunset that was worth capturing. Taken on the beach at Prestatyn, these groyne markers are almost completely submerged at high tide.

Technical Note. Pentax K-30, with Pentax 18-55 mm WR lens. F11, ISO Auto, bracket of 3 exposures (-2 to +2). HDR processed with Machinery HDR Effects, post processed in Adobe Photoshop Elements.

 

HDR and the Pentax K30

My Set Up

I finally got around to trying out the HDR features of the Pentax K30. For this test I used JPEG as the file format, set the ISO to 100 and used f9 for the aperture. For the next test I will use RAW for the brackets

My subject was the lighthouse at Talacre Beach and just to add some interest it was raining, not heavy, but the beach is very exposed. Not only did I get wet, the K30 did as well, but it’s weather proof, as is the lens so it was a good test for that feature as well.

The Pentax K30 was mounted on a tripod and I used the shutter button to fire off the images. I’ve got a remote control from my previous Pentax Camera but just haven’t got round to checking if it will work with the K30.

HDR Settings

The Pentax K30 has 4 setting for HDR

  • HDR Auto
  • HDR 1
  • HDR 2
  • HDR 3

As well as using these settings I also fired off a set of 3 bracketed exposures from –2 to +2 which I processed in 3 different HDR programs, just for comparison with the in-camera HDR function

  • Machinery HDR Effects
  • PhotoMatix
  • SNS-HDR Pro

Processing

For the in-camera HDR images, the only post processing I did was to crop the image to 930 x 616 for posting to Flickr. No other processing was done. The HDR images which were software generated were also cropped to the same size, 930 x 616. I like my HDR to be pretty natural so I used the default preset for PhotoMatix and SNS-HDR Pro. Machinery HDR Effects has lots of presets, none of which you could call default, so I used the settings that I normally choose for my images.

Pentax K30 HDR Images

HDR Auto Image from the Pentax K30

K30 - HDR Auto

It’s a bit dark for me, but one thing that is impressing me is the DOF. With my old camera I struggled to get everything in focus from front to back. Let’s compare this to the 0 Ev from the bracketed set

Pentax K30 - Exposure Bracket  0 Ev

Personally I think the two images look almost identical, if anything the 0 Ev from the bracketed set looks a shade lighter. Next up is HDR 1

HDR 1 Image from the Pentax K30

Pentax K30 - HDR 1

Definitely better, still a bit dark though. The one thing I have not done here is to take any of the images into Adobe Photoshop Essentials and adjusted them. I wanted to show the output direct from the camera. HDR 2 and HDR 3 are unusable as far as I am concerned. Judge for yourself.

HDR 2 Image from the Pentax K30

Pentax K30 - HDR 2

HDR 3 Image from the Pentax K30

Pentax K30 - HDR 3

For comparison I will show you the output from the dedicated HDR programs. Each program has it’s own capabilities as I explained above

Dedicated HDR Software HDR Images

Each HDR program has it’s own unique capabilities and it’s really down to a matter of taste. I’ve processed them using the default settings for no other reason than I want to see which gives me the best output, with as little noise as possible from the supplied JPEG’s from the Pentax K30

Machinery HDR Effects

Pentax K30 - Exposure Bracket with Machinery HDR Effects

Of late Machinery HDR Effects has been my HDR program of choice. I find it has an intuitive interface and gives me consistent results.

HDRSoft PhotoMatix

Pentax K30 - Exposure Bracket with PhotoMatix

PhotoMatix is probably the choice of most people, but personally I’ve never really liked it. I never seem to get consistent results.

SNS-HDR Pro

Pentax K30 - Exposure Bracket with SNS-HDR

Before Machinery HDR Effects came along, SNS-HDR Pro was my usual HDR processing software. On  my computer it’s a bit slow to process but it does give consistent results every time and the images are very natural looking. One problem I found though was the output from my old Samsung GX-10 started to produce some weird results when processed with SNS-HDR Pro. However, I like this. It looks very natural and yet gives a more dramatic sky, exactly how I remember it today.

Conclusions

The Pentax K30 in-camera HDR is a nice idea, however I’m not sure that I will use it, and, if i did, it would probably only be HDR 1. Compared to the dedicated HDR programs it has some way to go. Saying that, I could probably use it at a pinch but I think the Jury is still out on this one.

I intend to repeat this test, only this time using RAW instead of JPEG. That’s if I can. I only picked the camera up on Wednesday last week. I spent the weekend at the London 2012 Olympic Games, so I’m still getting used to the camera and it’s settings. If I can use RAW with the HDR functions of the Pentax K30, I will then be able to decide if I could make use of the in-camera HDR function of the Pentax K30.

Update 01 August 2012.

According to the manual for the Pentax K30 in-camera HDR is not available when RAW is selected as the file format. That rather puts paid to my trialling RAW.

Further Update 01 August 2012

I did another test of the in-camera HDR Function, only this time I let the camera choose the ISO with Auto ISO. As I was in a Cathedral were photography using tripods, although not exactly frowned upon, is discouraged, I decided to try it hand-held, to see how the Pentax K30 managed. As I wasn’t using the tripod I didn’t exactly get my horizon straight. I really must turn on that feature as well. Anyway here are the results.

HDR Auto

Pentax K30 - HDR Automatic

A little over-blown in the highlights but definitely much more usable.