ActionCam!

 

Regular readers will have noticed that since Christmas that I have been putting up video and stills that had been taken with a fish eye lens. For a while I was considering purchasing a suitable lens for either my Canon or Olympus systems as I had been intrigued by the effect. I was also very mindful that having bought such an item I would quickly tire of it and see it as a gimmick and so feel I had wasted my money. So when Dick Smiths (a popular chain of electronic stores here in Australia) offered the Sony HDR-AS20 ActionCam for $120 AUD just before Christmas I bought one seeing it as an affordable way of trying out extreme wide-angle photography and videography.

 

 

So what are my feelings about the camera. Well I do believe every photographer should have one of these cameras. They open up a world of creative photography. The lens is outside of the protective case pretty decent. It has a 170º field of view which is roughly equivalent to a 17mm on a full frame 35mm camera, a minimum focusing distance of 30cm (12 inches), a fixed aperture of f2.8 and is pan focus. There is obvious barrel distortion and some chromatic aberration. The distortion is all part of the look of fish eye lenses and the CA can be easily fixed in still images in apps such as Lightroom with a single click. The camera only produces jpegs, which bright and contrasty without too many artefacts. There is no control over sharpening and there are only two pictures styles, normal and underwater. You can’t control the ISO, the shutter speed nor the white balance. All being said it produces nice files and the exposures and white balance were largely spot on requiring minimal adjustments in post. For video the Steadyshot image stabilisation while being software based produces impressive results and was one of the major selection criteria for me when purchasing the camera. It’s not got the best video codec in the world nor the best bit rate and compression but it edits reasonably well as long as you don’t push it too far. A very nice feature is that the supplied software for the camera is embedded as firmware so that you don’t have to mess around with downloads or install discs. So what’s not to like – well the optical quality of the lens port on the protective case is pretty appalling, the supplied software is pretty flakey and crashes a lot on my relatively new iMac. No matter what I tried I couldn’t get the WiFi function to work using either my Sony Android phone or iPad. The Sony mount system isn’t as comprehensive nor widely as available as that of the GoPro alternatives. No problem just get an inexpensive adapter and then you can use anything made for GoPro. A real annoyance is that Sony have made it very difficult to plug in an exterior microphone. You can’t use one with the LCD case nor the standard protective housing. The one you can use it with means you loose the LCD and the protection.

 

The Endeavour
The Australian National Maritime Museum’s magnificent replica of Captain Cook’s HMB Endeavour docked at Hobart in Tasmania.

 

Overall I’m very happy with the camera and have had a load of fun using it. The only thing is that it is totally addictive and I keep coming up with ideas for shots which inevitably means I have to buy another mount for it. Luckily they are cheap, but I have quickly acquired a bag full of them.

 

Shoreline
The beach at Verona Sands. The minimum focusing distance is 30cm which allows you to get very close up to subjects.

 

Lady Franklin Museum "Ancanthe"
Sunrise at the The Lady Franklin Museum in Ancanthe Park, Lenah Valley. The auto white balance and exposure handled this scene very nicely.

Quite a few scenes in this video were shot with the Sony HDR-AS20. I was surprised that the camera proved parrot proof!

 

Simply Sublime

I know I’ve said in the past that I’m not a great fan of MONA but just lately I’ve been going up there a bit because I’ve signed up to study a unit in Art Theory at University of Tasmania (UTas).  I got up extra early to see an installation by American artist James Turrell called Amarna. There’s not a lot I can say about this work except that it is gob smackingly beautiful and very serene.

Here are a few stills.

MONA Dawn
Wim Delvoye’s Seventeenth Century Flemish Baroque style.Truck and James Turrell’s Amarna at dawn. MONA, Hobart, Tasmania.
Amarna At Dawn
Amarna At Dawn
Amarna At Dawn
James Turrell’s Amarna at dawn. MONA, Hobart, Tasmania.

Technical notes: the time-lapse sequence was made with a Sony ActionCam HDR AS20. The stills were shot using an Olympus OMD EM-10 with either an Olympus mZuiko 17mm f2.8 or an Olympus mZuiko 25mm f1.8 lens.

The Future Is Now

Over the last few months I have been sharing about some of the features that I have found interesting with the Olympus m4/3s system. To me personally the remote control of flash and the wireless control of the camera are exciting, not necessarily in the form that they’re in now but in what they herald for the future. I know I talk a lot about the old days but I think its important to know where we have come from in order to understand the potential of modern equipment. I am as I keep saying a very promiscuous photographer – I rarely stick to any genre for long and photograph what gives me pleasure and interest.  At the moment I’m taking photos of the wildlife we find in our garden to document it because my wife has joined gardens for wildlife and because I’m lazy and like taking photos close to home, The following are just some photos of birds that can be found in the garden.

Pink and Grey Galah
Pink and Grey Galah or Eolophus roseicapilla, the most common Australian cockatoo.

 

Noisy Miner Bird
The appropriately named the noisy miner bird, Manorina melanocephala leachi, is a vocal species with a large range of songs, calls, scoldings and alarms, and almost constant vocalizations particularly from young birds.

With the modern technology we have at our disposal taking these pics was straight forward. When we look at the work of pioneer ornithological photographer Eric Hosking and see the amount of kit he had to set up to take similar types of photos it is quite staggering. Examples of Hosking’s work can be seen here.

Eric Hoskins pioneer ornithological photographer and possibly the worlds first professional wildlife photographer.

Now an EM-10, a telephoto zoom, a couple of flash lights and an iPad takes the place of a van load of stuff. I decided to put the kit to the test and then Mother Nature sank my plans. Here in the island paradise of Tasmania we are in the middle of what is laughingly called summer. The last few days it has been sheeting down and blowing a gale. In fact the weather has been so bad that 120mm rain fell overnight and this morning on my daily perambulation I had to wear a fleece and a soft shell water proof. As you can imagine the local wildlife isn’t too keen at putting in an appearance and I doubt that any equipment setup outside would last long. So in place of the local wildlife you’ve got me showing you how to do a hi-tech selfie. My wife would probably say that there is no difference as I’m pretty feral!

OK having done this what have I learnt? Well first of all using WiFi and the RC function uses power like a trust fund baby spends money. Setting up is easy but the amount of control offered by the Olympus Image Share App is very basic. You can control the exposure but you can’t get access to the Olympus Super Control Panel and that means that you still have to access the camera itself if you want to change your lighting ratios or switch from TTL to manual or vice versa. Although the camera is connected to the iPad via WiFi you still have to physically touch the screen to trigger the camera. So in future what would I like to see, well to start I’d like to have access to the SCP via the app so I’ve got more control over the camera and lights. Secondly I’d like to have more options to trigger the camera. At the moment I can’t use the ioShutter™ as my Olympus cameras have a proprietary connection to allow the use of a remote cable, so I’d certainly welcome either Olympus or the makers of ioShutter to make a remote that allows me to trigger the camera via sound or with a light trigger. I really think that we’re just at the very start of connectivity when it comes to cameras. Back in August 2012 I wrote about shooting using my Canon EOS5d tethered via a USB cable to a laptop and using Lightroom. Now I can do the same and more but wirelessly using a mobile phone or tablet. I hoping that in 2 or 3 years time we’ll see the functions I’ve talked about here.

Thylacine Sighted In Richmond

I went to the touristy olde world town of Richmond a little while ago and saw a Tasmanian Tiger or Thylacine. It had been turned into a garden ornament – “gnomified” if you like, just like the Buddha has been.

Tasmanian Tiger, aka the thylacine, spotted in a front garden in Tasmania’s historic town of Richmond.

Tasmanians have a very complicated relationship with the Tassie Tiger. Images of the thylacine can be seen everywhere, it’s on beer labels, the state coat of arms, the coat of arms for Launceston, the logo for Tourism Tasmania. In fact it is everywhere. You might, therefore, come to the conclusion that it is a much-loved animal. In a way it is, but the truth is it wasn’t.

The Tasmanian Tiger roams in Salamanca, Hobart, Tasmania.

The Thylacine was a shy reclusive animal, the last of its kind – a carnivorous marsupial that was an apex predator and whose relatives went back into the mists of the mammalian era some 5 to 23 million years ago (the Miocene). Computer modelling has shown that the thylacine was not a very strong animal and would have been incapable of handling anything larger than 5Kg and it is now widely believed that they were ambush predators who preyed on small animals such as bandicoots and possums. When the first aboriginal people crossed to the Australian Continent via a land bridge some 40,000 years they brought with them the first dogs, the descendants of what we now call the dingo. The dog was simply a much better and more adaptable predator than the thylacine and by the time British colonisation started they were already extinct on the mainland. When the first settlers in Tasmania saw the thylacine they named it the Tasmanian Tiger or Tasmanian Wolf. There was an apocryphal tale appealing to Victorian gothic drama that can be traced back to just one source that the Thylacine was a blood drinker which preyed on sheep and poultry. That sealed its fate and a bounty was placed upon it and it was hunted vigorously.

A particularly moth eaten stuffed thylacine, or Tasmanian Tiger, in the Tasmanian state museum.

The bounty of £1 for a dead adult and 10 shillings for a dead pup meant that by the 1920’s it was rare to see a thylacine in the wild. In 1930 a farmer by the name of Wilf Batty shot the last wild one. This was bad enough but the tale takes a more tragic turn. In 1933 the Hobart Zoo acquired a thylacine, which was later referred to as Benjamin, which lived there for three years. Inevitably the animal died not of old age but because it was locked out of its shelter on a very cold Tasmanian night. In effect killed by neglect. The last of a species going back millions of years killed because somebody couldn’t be bothered to make sure it was sheltered safely for the night.  So after 133 years of settlement, thirty years after a conservation movement was founded seeking its protection and just 59 days after the Tasmanian government signed a conservation order to protect it the last thylacine had died. Optimistically it remained on the endangered list until the 1980’s , but with no confirmed sightings for 50 years it was declared officially extinct.Every now and again there is some crack pot scheme to clone it from DNA harvested from remains in museums, or some millionaire will put a reward for the capture of a live one, but the reality is that the thylacine is long gone because of an indifference to its plight.

In the mid 1990’s a biologist by the name of Nick Mooney gave an interview to the Hobart Mercury newspaper. Mooney was concerned that the attention the thylacine was getting was diverting the attention away from Tasmania’s other iconic animal – the Tasmanian Devil. He argued that the Devil should be researched and protected. Many people thought that he was barmy as there were more Devils in Tasmania then than at the time of first settlement and farmers were claiming that they were at plague proportions and were a threat to livestock. Fast forward twenty years and the devil is now on the verge of extinction from a combination of devil facial tumour (a transmissible cancer), habitat destruction, traffic fatalities and environmental pollution caused by high levels of flame retardant chemicals found in consumer electronics. These chemicals are banned and were phased out in the 1980’s but their effects are still being felt and it is thought that they play a part in devil facial tumour disease. Because devil populations are declining the gene pool is also diminishing this had laid the Devils very vulnerable to  disease.

The devil is an iconic symbol of Tasmania and many organisations, groups and products associated with the state use the animal in their logos. It is seen as an important attractor of tourists to Tasmania.

Today Tasmanians mourn the passing of the thylacine even though there are very few people who are left alive that actually saw one. All that remains are a few preserved specimens in museums, some black and white photos and some grainy film footage. Tourist operators say that the extinction of the devil will severely impact their industry and slowly people are starting to wake up to the fact that the devil is likely to go the same way if something is not done. There has been some research on the on devil facial tumour disease which is fantastic. So is devil saved? Well some scientists believe that the only way for the devil to survive is to quarantine healthy devils in captivity and let the wild population die out. Even if the wild population could survive the current Tasmanian state and Australian Federal governments are working to open up Tasmania’s national parks and world heritage areas to commercial logging. The federal government is also not prepared to fund research into Devil Facial Tumour Disease. So at present your best chance of seeing a Tasmanian devil is either at a zoo, animal sanctuary or dead beside a road. In another twenty years all we could be left with is some video footage and some memories. I would urge every Australian and prospective visitor to Tasmania to write to:

Matthew Groom the Tasmanian minister for the environment

and

Greg Hunt the federal minister for the environment

asking that more funding should be given to ensure the survival of the devil and to ask them not to open the Tasmanian national parks to logging.

 

They’re not the most loveable of creatures but the world would be a worse place without them.

Blood Moon


The “blood moon” or the red lunar eclipse brought out the apocalyptic in me.

According to Wikipedia…”A lunar eclipse occurs when the Moon passes directly behind the Earth into its umbra (shadow). This can occur only when the Sun, Earth, and Moon are aligned exactly, or very closely so, with the Earth in the middle. Hence, a lunar eclipse can only occur the night of a full moon… the red colouring arises because sunlight reaching the Moon must pass through a long and dense layer of the Earth’s atmosphere, where it is scattered…Several cultures allude to the lunar eclipse as being a good or bad omen. For example, in some Chinese cultures, people would ring bells to remove wild animals that bit the moon. During the Zhou Dynasty in the Book of Songs, the sight of a red moon engulfed in darkness led them to believe the sign as a foreshadowing of famine or disease.”  SPOOKY!
Thankfully we all woke up happy and well the next morning.

The weather conspired against me. I had planned my shoot using The Photographer’s Ephemeris, got my angles and location sorted out and then just half an hour before heading out I stuck my head outside and we have thick cloud cover. Bugger! What to do? I didn’t want to drive out to my location, walk to the point and stand in cold wind coming straight off of the Antarctic for nearly 3 hours with the chance of getting nothing. So I decided to set up my cameras on my deck and only start filming when there was a break in the cloud cover. So out of 3 hours and 20 minutes of potential eclipse action I got in total about 30 minutes.  Ah well I shall wait until the next one on the 04/04/2015.

Filmed using the time-lapse movie function on the Olympus OMd EM-10 with a 75mm f2.5 Color-Heliar and a Zuiko 40-150mm f4-5.6 lens. Additional footage filmed on a Canon 550d with 70-200mm f2.8 L IS lens

Workflow

The Lightroom
A laptop with DVD burner, two external hard drives and a card reader is all a photographer needs to build a reliable workflow.

 

 

Talk to any photographers long enough and the subject of workflow comes up. Most will have horror stories of cards dying, hard drives failing and loosing photos by the score. Others will say how expensive and time-consuming all the back-end of photography is and why can’t be simpler and cheaper. Well it can.

Most people take a haphazard approach to workflow and that is fine until one of a couple of things happen. The first is that you start shooting so many images that processing and archiving takes forever. Or there is a catastrophic failure and hours of time and precious images are lost. But really all it takes is a small outlay of cash and some good habits and you have cracked the issue.

The foundations of a good workflow practice are:
a colour calibrated monitor
two external hard drives
a card reader
DVD burner
parametric editing software with digital asset management functions

Hold on I hear you cry. The first four are understandable and speak for themselves, but what the blinking flip is a parametric thingy ma bob? It’s a fancy pants and non-committal way of saying Lightroom or Aperture which allow you to edit photos without changing the original photo file. The digital asset management is a powerful filing system that allows you to organise your files and manage them. Putting the two functions into one package means that for most photographers 95% of the work can be done within that one program.

 

Memory cards are now very cheap. Develop a strategy for keeping them safe while working in the field.
Memory cards are now very cheap. Develop a strategy for keeping them safe while working in the field.

The start of good workflow is in the field when you’re shooting. A little bit of attention here can save literally hours later. Shoot with a large colour space – Adobe RGB. Ensure that your exposures are good and your white balance is correct. When I was teaching so many of my students said that they’d fix things like this in Photoshop. Ok you can fix somethings in post, especially if you shoot RAW, but the question is that when you’ve come back from a wedding, an event, or even a holiday and you’ve potentially got a thousand images would you want to go through every single image making corrections when you could have done it at the taking stage. If I use multiple memory cards I have a system that means that the full card is put away safely and in a way that it can’t be muddled up with empty cards. The next choices all depend upon whether you are shooting something that will generate a large number of images that will require little to no post processing, or you are shooting and image that is going to be optimised and processed intensively for high quality out put. These are called respectively “batch-processed workflow” and an “optimised workflow”. By batch processed, we mean image files that have been collected and processed all at the same time.

 

The characteristics of a batch-processed workflow are:
– Often used for sports, news, and event photography
– Often will be a high volume of images
– Will often be all, or a substantial portion, of all the images from the shoot
– Often involves a quick turn-around time
– May involve JPEG or raw capture, but is mostly based on JPEG capture
– May be JPEGs or raw files that have received a round of parametric image edits in Lightroom or Aperture and then processed out to JPEG or TIFF
– May be camera JPEGs that have had metadata added and possibly been batched renamed but are otherwise as processed by the camera
– May be camera JPEGs that have had metadata added and possibly been batch renamed and then processed through Photoshop with an action or set of actions or in Lightroom with presets that applies the same tone or colour enhancement to all the image files.
An optimised workflow takes digital capture beyond the batch processed file. In the optimised workflow, the photographer continues to exercise creative control after the shoot (also referred to as “post production”), which may involve image compositing, retouching, stitching, high dynamic range tone mapping and other techniques, to produce a finished piece. An optimised workflow involves more work and has more steps, sometimes many more steps than a batch workflow. Although turn-around times can be quick when deadlines make that necessary, there is usually more time built into an optimised workflow. In an optimised workflow, the photographer will tend to gather more information about the final uses. This often extends to researching the type of press and paper that will be used for printed output. Photographers that operate at the highest level in the industry practice an optimised workflow. They are usually known for their post-production skills and style, which they use to complement their pre-production conceptualization and capture techniques.

 

Characteristics of an optimised workflow are:
– Often used for advertising, corporate, high-end editorial, and portrait photography
– The optimised workflow should always start with raw capture.
– If the final desired result is a stitched or High Dynamic Range (HDR) image, the captured images need to reflect the panoramic sweep or the exposure range optimally.
– The optimised image files will usually be a small portion of the shoot’s post production.
– Optimised files will often be selected for optimisation from a batch process of the edited and proofed shoot.
– Optimised files will go through a series of steps involving optimisation in Lightroom or Aperture and may involve additional optimisation in a pixel editing application, usually Photoshop.
– Optimised files are ideally saved as master-files, which are usually high bit TIFF or PSD files normally saved in Adobe RGB (1998) or ProPhoto colour space. However, they may also be raw files that have been optimised in Lightroom or Aperture or even saved as Adobe DNG. Master-files may have capture sharpening applied, but should never have output sharpening applied.
– Optimised master-files are the source files for all other derivative files which may include files further optimised for print, printing (CMYK), or screen (Web, projection, etc.)

 

The workflow process can be divided up into its key components.
Capture the image to the card.

workflow1
I select the photos I want to copy to my library and then I add a basic generic tags.

 

workflow2
I rename the files so they the date, name (place, person event) and then the image number.

 

workflow3
The images are then placed into a new folder with the name of that event, place or person or if part of an ongoing project the folder for that.

Ingestion. The images are downloaded from card to computer. When I get back home from a shoot. The first thing I do is create a folder on my desktop which is titled with the place or name and the date. All the image files are copied over to that folder. The cards are then put aside in a safe place. I then copy the folder onto DVD. This means that I now have 3 copies of each file. I then open Lightroom and look to import the images. At this stage I perform the first edit and choose only correctly exposed and sharp images. The files are renamed with the name and date and a 4 digit number. I also add basic tagging with places and names and my copyright details. Depending on the nature of the job the images will be put either into their own specific folder within the Lightroom catalogue, or if it is part of an ongoing project into an existing folder. When that is done I synchronise my Lightroom catalogue and back up the hard drive onto another drive using a program called Get Backup. At this stage I can now put the cards back into circulation as I’ve the folder on my desktop, the drive with my Lightroom library and the copy of that drive.

workflow12
I use Get Backup to synchronise my two hard drives so that I have a working copy of my Lightroom library and then an identical backup. If the main drive fails I can switch to the identical copy, get a new drive and clone the library to it.

 

workflow7
I flag the pictures that I want to work on and then carry out basic adjustments in the develop module.

 

Second edit. Each file image is assessed and if it passes it is flagged Basic adjustments are carried out, and this done on an individual basis, or using presets. If this a batch-processed workflow then the images are captioned and given tagged with image specific terms. A final edit is made and I give the final selection a green colour label. and I move onto the output stage. If this a job that requires optimised output I then rate the images on a scale of 1 to 5 and label each accordingly. Once that is done anything higher than 4 will have extra post processing done using either Photoshop and or various plugins. The editing in Photoshop is done in a non-destructive manner using layers and saved as either TIFFs or PSD.

 

workflow9
If I think the image requires further work or the nature of the project demands that then I choose to edit in an external application – in this case Silver Efex Pro2 a Lightroom plugin.

 

workflow8
Once I’m happy with the images I re-assess them and those that I think should be used, or sent to a client are then colour coded green.

Batch output and delivery. The images are out put according to their usage – basically web or print. It is at this stage final sharpening takes place, if the image goes to the web it is converted to sRGB and saved as a jpg at the appropriate size at 75%. If the images are to go to print, then they are sharpened and flattened and saved as Adobe RGB either as TIFFs if they are being sent to the client on disc, or saved as jpg at 85% if for sending via FTP or Dropbox. If I were to print the images myself then I would do that at this stage using the Lightroom print module. Same with self publishing I would do that through Lightroom and output the finished book to Blurb. With slideshows I prefer to use iMovie so I output the images as jpgs at 2000 pixels on the longest side and export them to iPhoto so they are ready for use in iMovie.

DVDs
DVDs provide a cheap and effective backup strategy.

 

Files
Keep your DVD backups organised and easy to find.

Archive. I make a DVD of the selected images saving them as TIFFs and then using Get Backup I back up my Lightroom library again. The selected images are then also uploaded to 500px and Flickr accounts as jpgs as a form of cloud storage. Flickr gives you 1 terabyte free and you can purchase more and my 500px Plus account gives me unlimited uploads for $25 USD per year. Both allow me download the images again. I have Get Backup scheduled to back up my library everyday so that if anything should happen to my Lightroom library I would lose at most just 24 hours of work and I can use the DVDs to reload the RAW files.

 

External hard drives are cheap and provide ample room for storage of digital images and video files.
External hard drives are cheap and provide ample room for storage of digital images and video files.

 

Now we’re all multi-media artists and shooting video and recording audio there a couple of extra things to do. I have a separate drive for video projects and I also have a duplicate of it that is synchronised via Get Backup. So the workflow is as follows:

 

workflow13
Video files are imported into Lightroom the same way as stills. They re-named, tagged and placed into a folder. After that each clip is viewed and those that are selected are then flagged.

 

– Transfer the files to a folder on the desk top and then copy them to a DVD or Blue Ray disc. Import them into Lightroom and make your selection for the clips you want to use. Back up the Lightroom catalogue and synchronise the disk with its copy.

 

workflow16
The selected clips are then copied over to an iMovie Event Folder made for the video project.

– When done open iMovie create a new project for your. video. I create a new event and call it the same name as my project, it helps me organise things so I don’t lose them. Import the movie files and I also add any audio files. Then the project should show in your time line and the footage in your event library.

 

workflow18
Import the video clips into iMovie by going to File > Import > Movies and open up the folder where you copied the clips to from Lightroom.

– It is then  just a matter of dragging and dropping the clips onto the time line. I work by dragging the clips into roughly the order I want. I then trim them so they’re not too long and boring.

 

workflow20
Then just drop the clips onto your timeline in the order you want them.

 

workflow22
Edit the clips for length, stabilisation, rolling shutter, colour correct and adjust the attached audio.

 

workflow25
Just as I did in Lightroom, if I want a certain look to my images I’ll use an external editor or plugin. Here I’m using Film Convert.

 

workflow28
I add my titles and my credits back in iMovie.

– Then I edit the clips sorting out camera stabilisation, rolling shutter, and tweak the exposure as needed.. Then I sort out the audio making sure everything is at the same level so there are no sudden bursts of  loud noise to scare the unsuspecting viewer, or there are no quiet spots where no one can hear anything. I then put a title page on the front and an credits page at the end.

 

workflow30
Publishing to iTunes

 

 

workflow31
Uploading to You Tube. I add a description and tags so people can find it and know what it is about.

– Last but not least, this when I drop the music sound track onto the project if I’m using one. Check it all to see it’s what I want then I export to iTunes and upload to YouTube or Vimeo. If I’m making a movie for family I send it to iDVD to make a DVD that will play on a standard DVD player. This is of course at standard definition rather than HD.
Make a DVD or Blue Ray copy.

The finished uploaded movie.

 

In Summary

1) Hardware
– Get the best monitor you can afford, and keep it regularly calibrated and profiled in an appropriately illuminated environment.

– Acquire abundant hard drive storage capacity.

– Maintain your computer and operating system properly.

2) Capture
– Shoot raw if possible. This provides the highest image quality and the most flexibility for image correction and interpretation.

3) Colour
– Always embed and preserve the appropriate color profile in image files

– Use a large color space for image editing, such as Adobe RGB (8 and 16-bit) or ProPhotoRGB (16-bit)

– For best possible results, you may want to profile your camera or printer

– When delivering image files, make sure both sides understand color profile requirements.

4) Image Editing
– Use parametric image editing tools for as much image editing as possible.

– In order to enable non-destructive image editing in Photoshop, use and save layers, adjustment layers and smart objects to master files.

5) File Management

– Assign unique file names to images in order to distinguish one file from another and to prevent overwriting of files.

– Create a naming convention that is easy to use and remember and that can be automated.

– Use folders to organise and store files.

– Use metadata and cataloging software to manage the content of your image collection and to streamline image searches.

 

4)Metadata

– Embed credit, contact and copyright information in all image files.

– Add bulk metadata to describe the shoot and add keywords as necessary.

– Use the appropriate metadata field for more specific tags such as location.

– Be aware of programs and workflow steps that may strip metadata.

 

5) Backup

– Use a 3-2-1 backup (3 copies, 2 different media, 1 stored offsite) whenever possible.

– Clearly distinguish the primary and backup copies of your digital image files.

– Schedule system backups to occur at appropriate places in the workflow and image life cycle.

– Clone your system periodically to avoid lost time and lost data in the event of system drive failure.

 

6) Preservation Management Practices

– Archive capture files as soon as possible in the workflow to protect your images.

– Archive layered master files to ensure projects can be re-created in their entirety.

– Migrate to new media periodically, to prevent loss due to media failure and to increase the speed of access.

– Migrate to new file formats as necessary to stay current technologically and to avoid obsolescence.

– DNG offers a secure openly documented and forward compatible format for image archiving.

A Small Surprise

The Olympus 25mm f1.8 standard lens. Small but beautifully formed. Olympus even give you a lenshood!

The other day I was sitting at my desk just idly surfing the net when a courier van pulls up and leaves a small box. Once unwrapped it revealed an even smaller box containing  the Olympus m.Zuiko Digital 25mm f1.8 lens. Now for a long time I’ve always believed that every photographer should own a fastish standard lens. In fact I also believe that if should ever find yourself in the photographic doldrums then just committing to use a standard lens for a period of 12 months will see your photography improve no end. I had one for my OM film system (and still have and use it) and I have one for my Canon EOS digital kit, but a little while back I had a dalliance with film range finder cameras and I eschewed the fast 50mm in favour of a pancake 35mm moderate wide-angle. In fact I was so smitten with the focal length that when I adopted the m4/3 system the Olympus 17mm f2.8 pancake was a must have, and if I look through my Lightroom catalogue over half the picture I’ve taken with my Pen and OMD have been with that lens. So now I’m in possession of a fast standard again.

No obvious lens distortion.

My initial impressions are that although it has a plastic body it is well made, although not as well made as say the 60mm f2.8 macro. It continues with the clean modern lines that Olympus adopted with the launch of the EM-5 and it feels well-balanced on both my EP-2 and EM-10. The other small thing that makes feel very positive about the lens is that Olympus have finally stopped being tight and are including lens hoods. The hood is hard plastic and bayonets securely on to the lens after the front cosmetic rim of the lens has been removed. Nice – a good lens should have a lens hood to get the best out of it. After a couple of days of shooting stills out and about I found that the focal length took a little adjusting to, it is a bit narrow for my tastes, but I quickly adapted and started looking for subjects that would play into its strengths.

DOF comparison 1 Olympus Zuiko 25mm f1.8 lens wide open at f1.8
DOF comparison 2 Olympus Zuiko 25mm f1.8 lens at f8
DOF comparison 3 Olympus Zuiko 25mm f1.8 lens at f22

So optically how did it fare? Very well. There is no distortion worth talking about and although shooting wide open there is some slight chromatic aberration but this disappears very quickly and by f4 it is gone. Sharpness is good with the centre of the lens performing very well wide open with some softening towards the corners again things improve quickly as you stop down, but get down past f11 and things start to soften up again as diffraction rears its ugly head. Diffraction isn’t a fault of the lens it is a problem with the size of the sensor, and all sensor and film sizes suffer from it. The lens isn’t what I would call “clinically” sharp in the way a lot of modern lenses are, it renders nicely and has a nice fall off from sharp edges to the out of focus areas. I’m not by any means a bokeh slut but this lens does render out of focus specular highlights in a very pleasing way. It made me want to go out and look for images that would give me those velvety smooth transitions.

Decentering test on the Olympus 25mm f1.8 at f1.8.
Decentering test on the Olympus 25mm f1.8 at f5.6.
Beachside Bully Run. The autofocus is quick and accurate and was able to track my dog running erratically on the beach.

The lens focuses insanely quickly on the EM-10, which is as it should be on the latest generation of m4/3 cameras and is no slouch on my first generation EP-2. The worrier of DPReview now obsess over centring and on the micro four thirds forum the hysteria regarding the Olympus 25mm is something to behold. A few people there are expecting lens perfection from this lens and unfortunately no lens is perfect. Does the lens suffer excessively from being de-centred – well according my exhaustive testing of just one sample lens the answer is no. The lens is well within acceptable and I have seen much worse on lenses that cost ten times the amount this one does. My advice is that if you spend all day shooting pictures of brick walls and sheets of newspaper right way up and upside down then blow the resulting shots up to 3 or 400 % and then worry continually that you have a bad copy, or your rate of return rate of “faulty” products is so high that the customer service people know who is on the line just from the sound of your voice then you need a new hobby, therapy or both. Life is short, hobbies are supposed to bring enjoyment and fulfilment not create endless gear angst.

White flowers with bokeh balls. Dodges Ferry, Tasmania.
Tea Strainers
Banoffee pie Banjo’s Bakery, Hobart, Tasmania.
Liberal Party Hobart, Tasmania.
Coffee Lovers Hobart, Tasmania.
On location filming at the Bellerive Yacht Club with the Olympus EM-10 and 25mm f1.8 lens.

For video the lens is a very good choice. I shot the video clip below to test the lens’ resistance to flare, how it coped with continuous focus in video, close focusing and bokeh rendition.

Now there are some lenses which are so good that people buy into the system just to have a copy of that lens. Is the Olympus 25mm one of those? The short answer is no, but that is a disservice to this lens. It is a very capable performer and I think it should be given serious consideration by anyone who is already invested in the micro four thirds system. I really must say I was pleasantly surprised at how well the 25mm performed. It’s not the fastest lens, it’s not the most expensive, nor is it the cheapest. There are other m4/3 lens that are optically superlative and there are those whose performance is less than stellar to put it mildly. The Olympus m.Zuiko Digital 25mm f1.8 lens is a “Goldilocks” lens – just right.

Ouch! Don’t headbutt the buildings – it hurts.
Blowing in the Wind Bellerive Yacht Club, Tasmania.
The SS Kosciusko part of the facade of the Waterfront Hotel in Bellerive.
Looking out over the marina at Bellerive Yacht Club.
Stool Samples Hobart, Tasmania.

Why I Love Tasmania

On the last weekend of our trip to Tasmania we got the weekend paper and saw they were running a video competition on the theme “Why I Love Tasmania”. Bugger! If I’d known I would have taken a lot more kit, recorded in 1080, used an external recorder with better microphones and written a proper story board and script. Why didn’t I find out about this at the beginning of the trip.  Ah well I thought you’ve got to be in it to win it and I put together a short video with what I had shot on my Olympus EP-2 with the SEMA-1 mic which is only marginally better than the built in camera mic, and the four lenses that I always carry when on holiday – the Olympus 17mm f2.8, the 12-50mm f3.5-6.3, the 40-150mm f4-5.6 and the 60mm f2.8 macro. This trip was the first trip I’d taken my tripod, thankfully with a fluid head, and my video monopod (which I happen to think is one of the best accessories I have bought for doing run and gun video). In my wildest dreams I don’t expect to do well in the competition let alone win it, but it was a bit of a larff doing it and it was good experience to work to a deadline on a project.