#dynamic range

Street Night, with Nikkor AF-S 58mm f/1.4G

Just a few images off the street with my absolute favorite ever lens, the Nikkor AF-S 58mm f/1.4G! I love the discrete perspective this lens gives me. Images with gorgeous bokeh & tonality. Please read on if you’re interested in how to capture intimate, natural positive images of street life around you!

Two walkers before the gate. Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/45 sec, 3200 ISO

Look at the tonality in the above image: From inky shadows still disclosing details to delicate highlights framing the two walkers thru the gate. Amazing how I still got a full range of gray tones in between the black & white extremes - too stark contrasts would’ve given the image a too ominous look ;-)

Thoughtful, captured with Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/125 sec, 2500 ISO

The Nikon D850 thankfully has a flippy rear screen and a reasonably good working live-view function allowing me to take pictures much more discreetly, without needing to look thru the viewfinder (similar to a medium format camera with a waist-level finder). This and the lower position of the camera results in more pleasing & natural images taken from a better perspective. Combined with the slightly narrower field of view of the AF-S 58mm (vs. a normal 50mm) you get a great framing of life around you from a more respectful distance of 3-5 feet. I remember when I was photojournalist, my go-to focal length was a 28mm wide-angle. To fill the frame I had to get right into peoples’ faces, which they didn’t really appreciate (apart from the unflattering distortion evident in the resulting images)

Empathy, observed with Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/90 sec, 3200 ISO

3D auto-focus face tracking over nearly the full frame in live-view frees you from the limited focus point coverage in the optical viewfinder. The fast focus acquisition even in low light conditions allows you to use a larger aperture, creating a pleasing separation from an otherwize distracting background. This is not possible if you use the so-called “zone-focussing” method which requires a small aperture to give you sufficient depth-of-field. That again drives you ISO thru the roof and/or leads to motion blur causing longer shutter speeds. As you can see in the above and below image this enabled me to capture fleeting expressions or emotions of people, resulting in spontaneous images full of life!

Evening drinks, taken with Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/125 sec, 3200 ISO

As you can see on my blog my images are mostly land- or cityscapes. But I also love to observe people & capture their emotions and interactions! Like in the image below where what the girl on the right is saying seems to elicit some skepticism in the girl on the left! Or what do you think?

Scepticism after shopping, seen with Nikon D850 & AF-S 58mm f/1.4G @f/2, 1/125 sec, 720 ISO

With these “Street Night” images I’d like to thank y’all for visiting and for your interest. Looking very much forward to your comments, questions and suggestions - please leave a note either in the comments section or send me a message! Wishing youse a great Sunday evening & a good start into the new week …

Best regards,

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

So, Your Pic’s Suck? Go Micro!

Every Photographer’s had it. The Block. Writers call it “Writer’s Block”, that dreaded moment where your creativity hits a brick wall. You want, but nothing works no more. The creative flow stops & your pic’s just suck. Big. Time. So, y’all up against a dead-end? OK, so go for a walk, they say. Eliminate distractions, they suggest. You gotta get yo’self outta that rut, they tell you. Nice. But not very helpful, such generic advice. If you’re experiencing writer’s (or better photographer’s) block, or if you’re dreading getting it, I got an idea for youse right here. It works (at least for me ;-) … helps you break thru your creative constipation & lights a fire under your photography: Go Micro! Please read on to find out what that means!

“Micro” in action: Nikon’s Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 180

“Micro” is Nikon speak for “Macro”, the photography of small things below the usual minimum focusing distance of lenses around 1/focal length in cm, with reproduction ratios above 1:10 up to and including 1:1 (go further and you’re in real “micro”, larger-than-life territory). If you don’t know what to photograph anymore, or you’re stuck inside with a Siberian blizzard howling outside, taking images of things close by is a great way to get your creative juices flowing again!

Closer view, framed by Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/500sec, ISO 64

I often ponder if this or that image is worth sharing on my blog - will my readers appreciate them or are they just mediocre snapshots which don’t elicit any meaningful emotion and therefore just waste my visitors’ valuable time? With Macro photography the results can often be quite interesting right off the bat, coz you showing stuff people normally aren’t aware of. And your subjects are usually quite static, patiently “enduring” while you try out all kinda framing, composition, lighting, exposure, or angles. You actually got time to “work” your subject, see example image below, balancing sharpness and blur between fore- and background, the unsharp flowers mirroring the sharp ones:

More of the same, seen with Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/500sec, ISO 64

Don’t get me wrong, I ain’t advocating that taking Macro images is a cure for crummy photography, but it’s a great training & learning field which will also benefit your normal photography. I like the above image because it has a rich tonal range from dark blacks to pure whites, overall creating an impression of lightness thru the bright tones of the flowers’ petals

Macro flower composition, Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 64

Macro means that your depth of field is extremely limited. Even with f/5.6 as in above image you get a completely blurred background which accentuates and compliments the sharp part of the image. Also in the below image I love how this narrow depth of field and the contrast between the blurred, darker outer areas and the sharp, bright center of the image gives it a 3 dimensional quality & pop:

More Bokeh, using Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 110

More Bokeh, using Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/250sec, ISO 110

Actually I started experimenting with macro photography more by coincidence than intent: I was planning to get hold of a prime portrait lens. 85mm was a too close angle of view to my beloved 58mm, so I was flirting on the web with Nikon’s amazing AF-S 105mm f/1.4E. On closer scrutiny I found out that that one had some disadvantages: An eye-watering RRP of over 2k$ (which currently is just quite a wayz over my budget) and a minimum focusing distance of only 1m … Just a tick too long IMO (would’ve preferred 0.85 or 0.9m to get really close frame filling head portraits). Also not having VR meant it limited free-hand shutter speeds to 1/250sec

Spiked petals, captured by Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/5.6, 1/350sec, ISO 64

So, I started to look for alternatives and found Nikon’s Nicro-Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR, with which all the images on this post are shot. This lens turned out to be a very versatile offer at an attractive price of nearly a third of the f/1.4E, with macro up to 1:1 (life-size, w/o needing extension tubes) & VR included, at a max. aperture of f/2.8! WTF f/2.8? What about bokeh? Would it be good enough for portraits? Well, please judge for y’self in below image of my pretty wife:

Bokeh portrait, with Micro Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR @f/4, 1/250sec, ISO 1000

Concluding I can recommend Nikon’s Nikkor AF-S 105mm f/2.8G VR. It is a macro lens, with very good sharpness & minimal curvature of field. It’s not a specialized portrait lens with an extreme thin depth of field. So, if youse looking for a lens delivering organic, dreamy portraits at wide open apertures of f/1.4 to f2 (like wedding photographers love), it’s precise, somewhat clinical character maybe ain’t for you. However, if you looking for a fun, versatile, high quality lens for documentary, journalistic portraits all the way up to life-size macros at a very attractive price, with vibration reduction to boot, you’ll be impressed! What do you think? If you got any questions, or would like to leave me comments please do so in the comments section below or on my about page. Thanks for your interest and for looking by, I appreciate it!

Many thanks & wish y’all a relaxing, successful photo weekend, best regards

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Into the Light: Look for the Shadows (Fuji ACROS-R Settings)

Shadows. What do they mean? Depends on your point of view & mood: darkness? melancholy? pessimism? Or do they point towards the light, leading the viewer´s eyes to the bright tones in your image, creating an impression of brightness, hope, and optimism? You decide! Use those shadows to manifest the existence of light. Want to learn more? Please read on to find out!

Into the Light, with Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/2.8, 1/34sec ISO1600 developed in LR CC mobile

Difficult image, this one. Dynamic range clearly exceeds the latitude of the JPEG file, but I wanted the shadows to come in black as ink to strengthen the impression of moving into the light at the end of the corridor. That's why I usually use Fuji´s ACROS film simulation with shadow tone set to +3 (very hard). As some of youse may know I do nearly all my post processing on my iPad Pro on Lightroom CC mobile, using Fuji´s magic ACROS JPEG´s

However, when diving into the corresponding RAW file I can discover a couple more stops of dynamic range in the shadows by dialing down the shadow contrast. But I didn't wanna make ´em visible as this  would've created too much of a HDR effect for my taste. But if y´all interested I could do a follow up post showing how that looks, please leave me a comment below if interested! ;-)

Courtyard doors, Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/5.6, 1/60sec ISO400 developed in LR CC mobile

Also above image got a shadow tone of +3. Gives me solid black w/o detail between the doors for my trouble. But if I reduce the shadow contrast to 0 or -1 I get a too flat gradation in the door panels. The door panel shadows are too close to black making it difficult to get sufficient contrast separation, so I left the image as I´d originally taken it. Below image is much better balanced:

Table by the window, Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/5.6, 1/75sec ISO400 developed in LR CC mobile

The table and chairs have a special glow to them, coz I usually use a medium soft highlight tone of -1 which gives me more tonality and flatter gradation in the lighter tones of the image. However you gotta watch it: Don't use -1 or lower highlight tones in images with predominantly lighter tones (eg. with a lot of sky) as the resulting contrast is too flat and you don't get no more pure white. For me the image below´s on the edge in that respect: Contrast in the floorboards and the wall is maybe a touch too flat:

Chinese hallway, Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/2.8, 1/42sec ISO1600 developed in LR CC mobile

The below image has a broad gradation from black over mid-tones in background to white, nicely bringing out the texture in the wall and the floor:

Chinese doorway, Fuji X100F, 23mm f/2 @f/5.6, 1/220sec ISO400 developed in LR CC mobile

Summarizing my preferred ACROS settings are:

  • ACROS-R (red filter) or ACROS-Y (yellow filter)
  • Dynamic range on Auto or max. 200% (400% flattens gradation too much)
  • Highlight tone -1 or 0, depending on the amount of light tones in the image
  • Shadow tone +3 to deliver those punchy black shadows
  • Noise reduction -3
  • No additional grain (ACROS has an ISO dependent grain built in)
  • Limit ISO to 1600 for architecture & landscapes to limit grain

Hope you enjoyed the read, please let me know your comments or questions below (or leave me a note on my about page), I will be most happy to answer them as soon as possible. Many thanks for visiting, best regards

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Into the Light, with Fuji X100F !

Aren´t we photographers all seekers? Always searching for the best. Always experimenting, trying, testing. Best images, best light, best gear, best software, best deal, best whatever? Last week´s favorite turning into this week´s dog? To those of youse been following me, relying on me to stay true: I´m sorry, ashes on my head, I lost it. Really. I´m leavin´ my trail & gettin´ outta my comfort zone. Hey, I kid you not: just recently I was singin´ praise for just doing ACROS JPEG´s & an easy workflow. Now I´m sold on doing RAW´s in Capture One! Interested why? Please read on!

Into the light, found by Fuji X100F´s 23 mm, processed in Capture One "with Style" ;-) !

At least some consolation: I´m still a black & white guy! Color´s just not my thing, Never been. I always look for the light. And shadows. And contrast - color´s just in the way. Found out that´s why I never liked developing RAW´s in Lightroom & Co. Hated seeing my black & white´s appear as color thumbnails (And no, I´m not into cosmetics ;-) kinda disrupts my workflow...

Together but still alone, captured by Fuji X100F, 23 mm, developed in Capture One B&W style

That all changed when a window popped up on my Capture One workspace the other day, advertising "Styles" ("Jeezus, Spam", I thought. OK, just get rid of it ...). But C1´s promise kinda intrigued me & I clicked the "Learn more" button! First thing I "learned" was that this was gonna cost me like 80 Dollars. What? 80 bucks? Whoa daddy, a kinda steep price for a bit of learning!

500 shades of grey, seen with Fuji X100F, 23 mm, developed with BW-15 (grey) style in C1

But luckily they got a freebie samples download with one "BW-15 (grain)" style, which I activated in my Capture One´s import menu (together with auto adjust). This automatically imports RAW´s into C1, does some basic dynamic range optimization, applies this BW-15 (grain) style and spits out be-ooti-ful black & white thumbnails in C1´s browser plane

Stairway alley, Fuji X100F, 23 mm and Capture One with BW-15 (grey) style

The real surprise comes when you open ´em and just tweak exposure, contrast, brightness and levels a bit: Into the Light is all I can say. And the gradation & grain´s close enough to by beloved ACROS, it´s got MOJO, man! See below image of my lovely wife during a recent trip to Sicily:

Italian fashion shoot with Fuji X100F, developed in Capture One BW-15 (grey) style

I hope y´all enjoy these images & experiment for y´self, it´s easy. And fast. No Lightroom where you can go have lunch while its processing. So, if you got any questions or suggestions, like or not like the images, or wanna share your stories, please leave me a note in the comments below or on my contact page! Thanks for stopping by & wish a great weekend!

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Fuji Lightroom Mobile Workflow Revisited

As promised in my previous post I´d like to share with y´all my mobile workflow, using Fuji cameras, an iPad and Lightroom Mobile! If you wanna get freed from your desktop, speed up your processing / image sharing on web and if you´re interested in becoming a more efficient photographer, please read on!

The Messenger, seen in Sicily with Fuji X100F, 23 mm / f2 @ f5.6, 1/320", ACROS-Y, 400 ISO

I mentioned in my previous blog post that Fuji´s ACROS film simulation with its tonality and ISO dependent grain effect delivers JPEG´s with a film-like look that can not be achieved via traditional RAW processing. These JPEG´s are so good that they liberates you forever from having to fuss around with RAW files & RAW converters (spending hours behind a computer, trying to get image quality comparable to Fuji´s amazing JPEG´s). This in turn enables a more mobile approach to photography, so get liberated & embrace a JPEG based mobile workflow!

Required equipment:

  • Camera with Wifi capability (check out Fuji´s website but it can be any brand ... ;-)
  • Mobile device with sufficient processing power & free space for saving images
  • WiFi connectivity App to transfer images from your camera to your mobile device
  • Lightroom Mobile (and Adobe Creative Cloud subscription if you want to sync to desktop) 

To get your images downloaded onto your mobile device of choice (in my case an iPad Pro 9.7"), there are 2 options (when using Fuji cameras, as I do ;-)

  1. Fujifilm´s "Camera Remote App" (download free from iTunes or Google Play)
  2. 2nd Nature´s "ShutterSnitch" Wireless Transfer App (download for US$ 18.99 from iTunes - no Android version yet). Expensive but IMO much better as it includes all kinds of goodies: image organisation in collections, image preview using zoom, saving to various media, metadata update (I don't use this as it re-saves my JPEG´s potentially reducing image quality slightly), etc.

While Fuji´s Camera Remote App downloads your images directly to the iPad´s camera roll, ShutterSnitch requires them to be exported (I prefer this coz it keeps my images organized outside Apple´s somewhat difficult to understand & confusing filing system). See below the procedure for ShutterSnitch, the end result in both cases is that the images you want to process end up on the iPad´s camera roll

How to get your images onto Camera Roll using ShutterSnitch ...

Next step is to import the images you´d like to process into Lightroom Mobile. You can stop here but if you also have Adobe´s Creative Cloud subscription (around 12-13 US$ per month) you get a seamless synchronisation between your mobile device and desktop (images processed on mobile device are updated on your desktop device when you connect to your home network & vice-versa). Cool!

Importing your images into Lightroom Mobile ...

Importing your images into Lightroom Mobile ...

In Lightroom Mobile you will find the familiar develop modules from the desktop version (Basic, Tone Curve, etc.) and you can adjust the settings as required:

Post Processing in Lightroom Mobile!

As mentioned before these adjustments are then synchronized with your Lightroom desktop version as soon as you connect to your home network (provided you have Adobe´s Creative Cloud installed)

Summing up. this mobile workflow allows you to already perform the main rough image post processing steps while on the move (mainly curves and some exposure / contrast improvement) In most cases the processing options offered by Lightroom Mobile are sufficient, so no further desktop processing is needed! :-)

I hope you enjoyed this post and you can use it to enhance your own photographic experience, please leave me a note in the comments section if anything´s unclear or if you have any further questions,

Many thanks & best regards, wish y´all a great start into the new week & lots of fun, best regards

Hendrik

I hope this post was helpful / interesting for you - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance!

Fuji ACROS: Amazing JPEG´s with Film-Like Grain !

Since Fuji appeared on the scene we have been spoilt by intuitive cameras delivering wonderful images & amazing JPEG´s - Hey, some photographers didn't´t even wanna touch RAW´s ! And now that the new 24 MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor is here (Fuji X-Pro2, X-T2 and the new X100F) we get as bonus the ACROS film simulation mode for smoothly gradated black and white JPEG´s with deep blacks and a beautiful film-like grain texture. Interested how to get the best out of ACROS ? Please read on !

Waiting at the Airport, seen with Fuji X-Pro2 and XF 16 mm f1.4 WR, SOOC ACROS JPEG

Since going digital I´d always missed that "organic" film kinda look I got from my beloved Kodak Tri-X negs (man, I loved that film ...). Now, finally I can get it in digital - just compare below crop of a RAW file, developed in Capture One Pro 10 (left image) to crop from the original SOOC JPEG, which sports a subtle but distinct grain effect:

RAW developed in Capture One Pro 10

SOOC ACROS JPEG

This grain is amazingly "organic", way better than the more "sterile" digital grain which is applied in post as a generic image overlay eg. with 3rd party software ! ACROS has some kind of magic algorithm built in which selectively applies analogue grain, depending on ISO level and tone - you get "photographic" looking images with wonderful smooth gradations and a subtle "film-like" grain, right off the bat:

50 Shades of Lighter Grey ;-) captured by Fuji X-Pro2 & XF 35 mm f2 WR, SOOC ACROS JPEG

To achieve such JPEG images SOOC and still get sufficient "punch" in the shadows I apply following settings in my X-Pro2´s Q-menu (saved as preset):

  • ACROS-R film simulation
  • GRAIN effect OFF (ACROS has its own built-in ISO dependent analogue grain effect)
  • -3 NR (noise reduction)
  • DR auto (auto dynamic range)
  • -1 H-TONE (highlights contrast)
  • +3 S-TONE (shadows contrast for sufficient "punch")
  • +1 SHARP (sharpening)

I´ve discovered that the sweet spot (detail rendering vs. micro-contrast vs. grain) for ACROS simulation is around 2000 ISO. To compensate the JPEG´s reduced highlights & shadows recovery latitude (vs. doing RAW development) I set the highlights tone to -1 (increased highlight tonal range) and my dynamic range to "Auto" (automatically adjusts dynamic range to the subject contrast), see example image below:

Casting Shadows Ahead, with Fuji X-Pro2 and XF 35 mm f2 WR, SOOC ACROS JPEG

I´ve really fallen for this ACROS film simulation, and you can't get it any other way except by shooting JPEG´s ! So I set my camera to record RAW´s & Large/Fine JPEG´s. This allows me to speed up my workflow by primarily using JPEG´s and having the RAW as a back-up in case tricky post processing is needed (only in approx. 10% of the cases). Another benefit is that the image review on the camera´s LCD uses this high quality JPEG rather than the embedded low quality one when shooting RAW only

Hope y´all enjoyed this post & there was something interesting in it for you ? Thanks for looking by and of course you´re most welcome to leave me constructive critique and/or questions in the comments section below or on my "about" page !

Best regards & have fun shooting !

Hendrik

I hope you enjoyed reading this post - If you like you can support me by sending me a small donation via PayPal.me/hendriximages ! Helps me run this site & keeps the information coming, many thanks in advance !