Tag Archives: Aperture

Using the GX-1 at an Air Museum

I have a Panasonic GX-1. It was purchased on a whim because of a “deal of the day” advertisement that I saw online. The deal was too good to pass up!  The GX-1 showed up in a few days and I immediately started using it.  And then, it stayed unused in a camera bag.

My thought on getting the GX-1 was as a back up camera to my Olympus E-P3.  Both of these cameras are in the same class, Micro Four Thirds (MFT) and are known as mirrorless cameras.  Neither one has an optical or electronic viewfinder and you must rely on the LCD on the back of the camera for picture taking.  While not really pocketable, they are both much smaller than my DSLR (Canon 60D), and produce very nice images.  This type of camera is generally not very good at any type of fast action photography, but do quite well for just about anything else.

I really loved my Olympus E-P3, from the moment I first picked it up.  It felt solid and has a nice retro look.  I’ve taken some very nice photos with it too!  The E-P3 is starting to show its age, especially with its older 12mp sensor.  Low light high ISO capability was not really one of its strengths.  To counter that and work within this limitation, I kept the ISO low and put the E-P3 on a tripod in low light.  The solid build has come into play for me personally.  While out hiking with the E-P3, I slipped and fell – twice!  I came away with some scrapes and bruises, and so did the E-P3.  Nothing too serious but there are a couple of battle scars on it.  Other than the pop-up flash not working very well, the rest of it is just fine.

As for the GX-1, it doesn’t have a very solid feel and is definitely not retro.  The body doesn’t look bad, it just seems like it has more plastic than the E-P3.  Both the GX-1 and E-P3 have plenty of external controls and touch screens.  I’m kind of funny in that I don’t really care for the touch screens and turned them off.  The GX-1 is a very capable camera, and has a newer 16mp sensor and better low light, high ISO performance than the E-P3, and when I used it, found that it too produced some very nice images.  The other plus of having the GX-1 is that being a MFT camera, it could use all of the lenses that I currently had for the E-P3.  I just never really warmed up to it and didn’t use it, especially after getting my Olympus E-M5.

A week or so ago, I was digging around in my camera bags and saw the GX-1.  I decided to get it out, dust it off, and give it another try.  One of the places that I enjoy walking around and using my cameras is the Planes of Fame Air Museum in Chino California.  It’s fairly close, and always has interesting subjects.  What better place to get re-acquainted with the GX-1!

To my surprise, I enjoyed using the GX-1 more this time than I had when I first got it.  I used my Olympus 17mm f/1.8 and 45mm f1/8 lenses and tried to capture images in a variety of conditions.  Nothing that I want to get too technical about, suffice it to say that there was quite an extreme difference in the indoor lights of the hangars and the harsh mid-day sun.  Not the most ideal shooting conditions, but very realistic.  You can’t always have an epic sunrise or sunset with deliciously warm, golden light.  Sometimes you have to work with what you have!

Here are some of the pictures from that day.  I had the GX-1 in aperture priority mode, and changed the aperture (f/stop) and ISO according to the brightness of the light.  I also set the camera to shoot RAW for the express purpose of post processing.  I know there are some that don’t like post processing, and that’s just fine for them.  Personally, I enjoy working on my photos and finding new methods for creating an image.  Sometimes it’s black and white, sometimes HDR, and other times just a few minor tweaks.  Since I don’t consider myself a journalist or documentarian, I have no problem with post processing.  But to each his own, it’s all good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m very pleased with the GX-1, it was fun to use again.  It’s fairly small and easy to carry around.  I got used to changing settings and didn’t have to fumble around too much.  The RAW files provide good quality images with plenty of pixels for me to play with in post.  I think I’m going to keep it out and use it some more!  Unfortunately it has been discontinued by the manufacturer, but is still available if you look around.  I found it on Amazon – GX-1.

That’s it for this post, until next time – Happy Shooting!

Perfect Effects 8, How I Use It.

OnOne Software recently offered their wonderful editing software package Perfect Effects 8 (PE-8) away – for free!!  Here’s the link, it should be good until 2/28 – Perfect Effects 8

This is a great product, and you can use it as a plug-in with Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, Lightroom, Aperture, or as a standalone application.

I’ve been using PE-8 as a plug-in for Photoshop.  So far, I really like what I’m able to do with it.  There are a lot of other plug-in applications out there like Nik, Alien Skin, and Topaz.  And while they are very good at what they do, I’ve been using them less and less since I started using PE-8.  It offers a lot of options, and is very easy to use.

I was recently asked to put together a little tutorial on the features of PE-8.  Since I’m no expert in the many features PE-8 offers, I thought I would share how I use it, and hopefully you’ll see enough to get started with you own photo project.

Here is my original photo, a P-38 Lightning from the 2013 Planes of Fame Airshow.

Click on each image thumbnail to see it full size!

P-38 Honey Bunny, Original

It’s not bad, but kind of blah. I like the perspective, but think it could be better. Lately I’ve been backing off of HDR processing, and using tones and textures. What follows is a series of screenshots demonstrating how I process an image.

This is what the screen looks like (on a Mac) once you’ve selected your image and launched PE-8.
P-38, Screenshot 1

And here we go…
P-38, 2nd Screenshot

P-38, 3rd Screenshot

P-38, 4th Screenshot

P-38, 5th Screenshot

P-38, 6th Screenshot

P-38, 7th Screenshot

To finish up, I continued using Photoshop to do a little cropping, and add my signature. Here’s the finished product:
P-38, Finished

I hope you’ve found this helpful. It really isn’t an in-depth tutorial, just something to help get you started. If you want more, try this link to some video tutorials – OnOne Software U.

Here’s one more link to a photographer I follow on Google +, Karen Hutton.  She has a very informative video on how she uses PE-8.  Click here and check it out – Perfect Inspiration.

That’s it for now.  Let me know if you have any questions either by leaving a comment here, or on my Facebook Page.

Until next time – Happy Shooting!

Imperial Beach, Before and After

Imperial Beach on Superbowl Sunday was fantastic.  The sunset wasn’t especially colorful, but the cloud formations were amazing!

I used my Olympus EM-5  with Rokinon 7.5mm fisheye lens mounted on a tripod.  In order to make sure there was absolutely no camera shake created by me pressing the shutter, I used the 2 second timer.

In case you’re interested, these are of the settings I used:

  • Aperture Priority
  • Format – RAW
  • ISO – 200
  • Aperture – f/11
  • Shutter Speed – 1/60th
  • Exposure Compensation – +0.3

Here’s what I got:
Imperial Beach, After

The out of camera results aren’t bad, but if anything perhaps a little dull.  And yes, I do recognize that there is some distortion, but I’m ok with that. This is a fisheye image after all.  I’ve mentioned it in some of my other on-line forum posts and I’ll say it here – I like the fisheye effect. I don’t use it all the time, and think that limited use is probably better than too much. But, there are times when a scene seems just perfect for it, and this was one of those times!

I’m not going to go into great detail on the adjustments that I made. There are plenty of excellent tutorials on-line for that. This is more of a high fly-over. In Adobe Photoshop RAW, I bumped up the Clarity setting. To my eye, this has the effect of tweaking the midrange tones. After that I did some work in Photoshop. Not much, but I did adjust the levels a bit. To finish it I bumped up the color saturation, cropped it a little from the bottom, and added a vignette .  This is the result:

Imperial Beach, After

The changes are subtle and simple, but lately I like that. I used to be much more into HDR images, but I’ve backed that off a lot.  As much fun as it was to make a series of images into something really grungy, I think I’ve gotten that out of my system. Just like using the fisheye sparingly, I’m going to keep HDR as a technique, a tool that I can use when the time is right.

That’s it for now.  Until next time – Happy Shooting!