CPS President’s Annual Report 2019

President’s Annual Report

March 2018 to March 2019

 

Summary

The year March 2018 to 2019 has been a good one for the society. A survey of members (Appendix 1) run in August shows that the membership is largely happy with the current program. Our main communication channels, eNews, website, gallery and Facebook audiences are growing steadily as we increase our use of electronic and social media to engage with our members and the community. Membership is steady/increasing slightly, providing sufficient income to cover our expenses, leaving us in a financially healthy position.

The Exhibition and Critique nights continue to be our most popular regular event made possible by the generous contributions of a variety of judges. The society hosted an interesting set of external and member speakers who spoke about various technical and aesthetic aspects of photography at our presentation nights. During the year the society offered a range of other activities such as special interest groups, workshops and excursions which each catered to different sectors of our membership.

A significant part of our program is the provision of opportunity for our members to show their work to the wider community in external showcases. This year we put on two exhibitions, “Different Views 4” in Telstra Tower and “The Natural World” at CSIRO Discovery. Both were well received by the public. The venues for both were provided gratis by the host agency which helps both our costs and our profile. Many thanks to CSIRO and Telstra Tower.

While our focus as a society is helping our members achieve their photographic potential through collaboration and sharing, we also work to encourage excellence. Those who have demonstrated significant achievements were recognised throughout the year at our Exhibition and Critique nights, Portfolio Competitions and Image of the Year events.

Our program would not be possible without the input of members, committee members, judges, presenters and hosts. To all our supporters, many thanks.

 

 

Report

During 2018 the Canberra Photographic Society continued to work towards supporting its members in the goal of “reaching their photographic potential.” All of our activities and events are made possible by the contributions of members, especially those on the committee, as well as the judges and presenters who donate their time. I thank everyone who has contributed during the year.

Exhibition and Critique Nights

Exhibition and Critique nights continue to be our most popular activity. Thanks to Expo night Director Eva van Gorsel and her team including Tony Mason, Matt James, Michael Taylor and Lenuta Quraishi for running these evenings. The success of our Exhibition and Critique nights, Portfolio Awards and the Image of the Year Awards is also highly dependent on our volunteer judges. We thank all our judges for their generous provision of time and expertise. We aim to provide a variety of judges with different points of view and different backgrounds to give a diversity of feedback to members to help them on their photographic journey.

Month Set Topic Judge Judge Affiliation
Feb 2018 Open only Doug Hall Professional Photographer/AIPP
Mar Faces Kris Arnold Professional Photographer/AIPP
Apr Pattern Peter Ranyard PhotoAccess Tutor
May HEDDA Print Portfolio Karleen Minney Fairfax/Canberra Times
Jun Life up close Grace Costa Defence Photographer
Jull Place Scott Leggo Professional Photographer/Gallery owner
Aug Projected Portfolio Chris Holly Creative Consultant
Sep Time and Motion Lib Ferreira Professional Photographer/AIPP
Oct Reflection Chris Meadham ANU/ANBG Friends Artists group
Nov Inside Canberra Member Panels CPS
Dec IOY Robert Coppa, Ben Kopilow, Hilary Waudhaugh Professional Photographers/AIPP
Feb 2019 Open only David Paterson Professional Photographer/AIPP
Mar 2019 Architecture David Flannery ACT Heritage Council

 

Presentation Nights

The theme-based approach to the development of the program continues to be well-received. Each theme runs for a month and usually involves a presentation night, a workshop night and the Set Topic for the following Exhibition and Critique night. Attendance at Presentation Nights and Workshop Nights (coordinated by Michael Taylor, Eva van Gorsel and Paul Carpenter) has been variable but generally good. A new feature introduced in 2018 was to hold some presentations jointly with the AIPP, the first being in October. This boosted attendance and provided an opportunity for members to interact with a broader photographic community.

Implementation of the program relies on the involvement of committee members, members and external speakers to provide presentations, lead workshops and coordinate excursions. We thank both our external speakers and members for helping us deliver an interesting and varied program.

Presentation night speakers in 2018 were

Month Theme Presenter Presenter Affiliation
Feb Faces Robert Coppa Professional Photographer, AIPP
Mar Patterns Stephanie Herbert CPS
April The Future of iphoneography Brad Nichols CIT
May Life up Close Marwan El Hassan CPS
June My Place Ian Marshall CPS
July Sequences and Series Matt James, Judy Parker and Helen McFadden CPS
August Time and Motion Tom de Jongh CPS
September Reflection Joanne Smedley Australian War Memorial
October Inside Canberra Geoff Comfort Professional Photographer/AIPP
November Making a difference John Reid ANU

 

Communication

Our regular eNews (compiled by David Maish) is now sent to over 521 Members and Friends (up from 500 in 2018), 42% of whom (on average according to Mailchimp) open the emails. The CPS membership has increased slightly to around 86 people (up from 80) and Mailchimp reports that around 62% of members open emails sent just to members (down from 85% last year). The CPS Facebook page (thank you Michael Taylor) now has 558 followers (up from 462 last year) and continues to deliver items of general photographic interest as well as news about CPS activities. We have started to make greater use of Facebook advertising to boost posts for special events as print advertising is losing its reach.

The website and image galleries present our face to the world. Traffic to our website is about the same as last year (about 240 unique visitors per week as measured in February 2019).

The Smugmug image galleries continue to work well and appear to serve our current needs. The tablet-based viewing system linked to Smugmug for Exhibition and Critique nights is now well established and working well. This year the committee considered purchase of a new projector but the specs of the currently available projectors did not appear to be significantly better than our current model so a purchase was deferred for the time being.

Many thanks to Eva van Gorsel who is now Exhibition and Critique night coordinator and manager of the image galleries. She is assisted by Tony Mason, Michael Taylor and Lenuta Quraishi.

Thanks to Ian Marshall and Eva van Gorsel for website maintenance and to Murray Foote who is an advisor for the CPS blog.

A special thanks to Alan Charlton who, with the assistance of Alex Petkovic and a team of helpers, sets up the room and takes care of the logistics for all our events.

Consultation

An annual program review in August is now a regular feature of the CPS calendar and provides an opportunity for members to make comments and suggestions regarding the CPS program. This year we ran a survey of members via Survey Monkey. The committee felt that they needed to canvas views about the format of the Exhibition and Critique nights, which have now been running for two years (as an evolution of the formerly named Competition Nights), and to find out if our program meets member needs and desires.

A summary of the results of this survey is at Appendix 1. A big thank you to all (27 respondents) who took the time to participate and to provide comment. Because the comments were provided in confidence they have not been published but I thank respondents for providing much valuable input, comments and suggestions. The committee has considered all comments and acted on several of the suggestions provided.

Special Interest Groups

Several different groups of members meet to enjoy various aspects of photography. The Hedda group for women and students (coordinated by me and Judy Parker) meets monthly and the Personal Projects group (coordinated by Andrée Lawrey) meets every second month. Thanks to Telstra Tower management for provision of space to hold these meetings.

Weekend Workshops and Excursions

In association with Heritage Week, Alan Charlton organised an excursion to photograph antique boats on Lake Burley Griffin. In April the annual coastal weekend workshop and preliminary workshops were again run by Phil McFadden and his team. The weekend was fully subscribed almost as soon as it was advertised. Participants reported that they found the experience valuable and said that the sharing of images both before, during and after the weekend provided valuable learning opportunities. In spring Marwan El Hassan hosted an excursion to the Botanic Gardens which was well attended. Unfortunately there were no takers for excursions offered out of town to Kiama to photograph sea birds (Gerard Jenkins) and to Temora to photograph an air show (Paul Carpenter). The Annual Photochallenge was not run this year.

External Exhibitions

In 2018 the CPS held two external exhibitions. “Different Views 4” opened during Heritage Week and featured images of Canberra and surrounds. It was held in the ground floor of Telstra Tower. Many thanks to the Management of Telstra Tower for provision of the exhibition space. We are currently planning for “Different Views 5” which will open at the end of May, 2019.

The Natural World” at the CSIRO Discovery Centre ran for a month from 20th August 2018. We thank CSIRO for providing the space at no charge. The theme was chosen to be as broad as possible while also aligning with the science-based nature of CSIRO. This exhibition proved popular and CSIRO was pleased with the number of visitors it attracted. As a result our exhibitions coordinator Judy Parker has been invited to hold a solo show at the Discovery Centre in 2019 and we plan to hold another group show there in 2020.

We did not hold an “Out There 2018” because we were unable to secure the space but have been successful in our application to hold “Out There 2019” later this year. The “Out There” series of exhibitions has run for many years and provides an important vehicle for all members to showcase their work to the ACT community without restrictions on theme or genre. In order to be able to do these exhibitions well we have decided to aim to hold biennial rather than annual “Out There” exhibitions. Many thanks to Judy Parker who continues to coordinate and inspire our external showcases.

Mentoring

We often get asked to provide education about photography, camera use and image processing. In response we have set up informal mentoring sessions. Marwan El Hassan runs these sessions approximately monthly at the Australian National Botanic Gardens for people who are looking for advice on how to use their cameras. This is open to all. Paul Carpenter and Eva van Gorsel are trialling a workshop discussing post-processing techniques. For this year, this workshop requires a commitment and a nominal fee to cover the additional rent.

Finances

Many thanks to our treasurer Ian Marshall who monitors our membership and financial situation and reports monthly to the committee. Our auditor for our 2018 Financial Year is Annette Cheeseman. We thank her for undertaking this important role for the society for the second year.

From the Treasurer’s report you will see that we have an annual turnover of approximately $10 – $12K. Our primary source of income is membership fees. Where the committee considers it appropriate we also charge for a special activity (such as a workshop series or coastal weekend) where we aim for a modest profit. Major expenses are rent, insurances and costs associated with staging our exhibitions. To ensure that we are accessible to all independent of a person’s financial means, we offer reduced fees to Student, Corresponding and Concessional members and also have provision for Honorary membership that can be conferred at the discretion of the committee.

Governance

Work on governance and strategic planning has been slow this year although we have introduced a Code of Conduct for the Committee and a Code of Conduct for AGMs. Areas that we need to work on in 2019 are improving the management of potential conflicts of interest, risk and developing procedures for working with vulnerable people.

Committee

The CPS relies on many people to make it work. I thank the many members who have volunteered to assist in many ways large and small. I thank committee members Andrée Lawrey, Alan Charlton, Judy Parker, Tony Mason, Matt James, Eva van Gorsel and Murray Foote (resigned during the year) for their contributions. A special thanks to office bearers Public Officer Michael Taylor, Secretary David Maish, Treasurer and Vice President Ian Marshall, and Vice-President Marwan El Hassan, who have made significant contributions to the Society over the years. A special thanks to Eva van Gorsel for coordinating the Expo nights and the galleries. I thank you for all your support.

2018 Image of the Year (IOY) Awards

To encourage members to expand their photographic horizons and to recognise a range of photographic achievements and contributions to the society, we have gradually been evolving our suite of awards. We removed some awards in 2018 (People’s Choice for IOY Images and the Photochallenge) as the IOY Program was getting really busy. We expanded our Annual Awards Showcase judging team to three with two judges (Ben Kopilow and Robert Coppa) selecting the winning images and Hilary Waudhaugh examining the books. All judges did a great job.

We also had our selection panel (Helen McFadden, Ian Marshall and Marwan El Hassan) who decided on the Panel Awards outlined below. The selection criteria for these awards are published on our website. A call for nominations (members could nominate themselves or others) was put out with nominations to be sent to an independent email address (to allow for confidential nominations). Entries were discussed by the panel. No panel member was nominated for an award. Although we received some nominations, more involvement from general membership in nominating others for awards would be welcome. Recipients of IOY Awards must be financial members of the CPS. A full list of award winners is at Appendix II.

 

 

Appendix I. Survey Results October 2018

Edited Feb 2019

27 Responses

Qu 1. At the end of 2018 it will be two years since we changed the format of the Competition night to the current Expo night format. If you have suggestions for changes or comments please add them in the comments box below. Are you satisfied with the current Expo night format?

YES – 22 NO – 5

Qu 2. We seek your views regarding the continued use (or not) of grades for Expo nights. Currently new members enter B-grade and can apply to move up to A-grade. B-grade is designed to be a “safety-net” for less experienced photographers and we ask judges to be more lenient with B-grade entries. We also offer a “Comment Only” category that is open to everyone where images are not scored. Please select options below that match your views and also add comments if you have further suggestions.

Retain A- and B- grades but change the rules so that new members can elect to start in either A  or B-grade according to their experience and B Graders can change at any time. 73.08%

19

Retain A and B grades but rename them to be less hierarchical (suggestions below please)

7.69%

2

Abolish A and B grades

19.23%

5

Retain the “Comment Only” category

19.23%

5

Abolish the “Comment Only” category

26.92%

7

Q3. With the gradual decline in the number of members who print images we are considering holding the Hedda Print Portfolio Award and the Projected Image Portfolio Award on the same night. Members could enter both awards. Do you support this suggestion?

YES 17 NO 9

Q4. The aim of the CPS is to help members achieve their photographic potential wherever they are in their photographic journey. A proposal for next year is to encourage creativity by having an annual open-format “Creative Licence” event (possibly to be held in place of one of the Portfolio Award evenings) where members bring any photographic-based work for critique. This could be a conventional print or projected image, a print on another medium, a book, a collage, a digital presentation with moving elements, or something else. These could be critiqued by an external judge or member panel, given a score or not. Do you support the introduction of a “Creative Licence” event?

YES 22 NO 5

Q5. Currently the CPS program is developed around monthly themes. A suggestion for themes for 2019 is to choose accomplished photographers whose work could provide inspiration for our work in particular genres (street, portrait, landscape) or modes (colour, monochrome, abstract, large print, experimental). Do you support the use of photographers as the basis for the themes for 2019?

YES 18 NO 8

Q6. Under the current system, selection of winners of our Annual Awards can be by an external judge, by an Awards Subcommittee or by the President on the advice of the Awards subcommittee. Details of current Awards are on our website CPS Awards Criteria. Do you think our current system of awards gives appropriate recognition to member achievements in photography and in service?

YES 20 NO 4

Would you like to see different awards? If so, please give a brief description. (100 characters):

Q7. What do you think can be done to attract and retain new members and make them feel welcome? (100 characters)

Q8. Would you like to provide any other suggestions or comments (100 characters or email enquiries@cpsaus.org)

 

 

Appendix II – Image of the Year Awards

Print Awards (Robert Coppa and Ben Kopilow)

This year there was a good range of Print Images – 25 colour and 11 mono prints

                Colour Print of the Year – Eva van Gorsel, Winter is Coming

Highly Commended – Eva van Gorsel – Night Falling

Highly Commended – Robin Yong – Bagnati di Senigallia

Monochrome Print of the Year – Judy Parker, Sheep Music

Highly Commended – Judy Parker – Home Grown

Highly Commended – Robin Yong – Kecac Dancing.

Projected Image of the Year

There were 19 Projected Image entries

Winner – Marta Yebra – Mates (monochrome)

Highly Commended – Marta Yebra – Fun in the rain

Highly Commended – Leisa Condie – Remarkables.

Book of the Year (Hilary Waudhaugh)

This award is for the best Photobook or paper-based book-like project entered as part of the Images of the Year competitions. Photobooks should be based on photographs taken by the author.

Winner – Eva van Gorsel – #TINYDREAMIMAGES

Highly Commended – Matt James (Lisa)

Highly Commended – Julie Garran (Passing by Narayan)

Photo Project of the Year Award (Panel)

This award is to be made to the best photography-based project conducted during the year. The aim of this award is to recognise members who pursue photography creatively and who achieve a significant outcome with photography. A “project” is loosely defined, but can include an exhibition, a series of lectures, a presentation, a new activity or some project that involves photography and a tangible outcome.

Nominees (Alphabetically): –

Murray Foote for his travel blog in which he has systematically documented his travels over many parts of the globe and over many years. This blog has many followers and is a great source of information for photographers looking to go to interesting places on the road less travelled.

Andrée Lawrey for the development of her new restrained and elegant photography website.

Judy Parker for her set of prints “Project to Print” which collates all her winning entries from CPS Projected Image Portfolio Competitions held over the years and presents them as a coherent boxed set of prints.

Eva van Gorsel for her Instagram Project of 100 images that led to being an invited participant in Ovation, an exhibition and market held by the Canberra RAW Artists at the Albert Hall in August.

Grant Winkler for his project on the deserted streets of Brindabella Park that formed part of the Personal Projects exhibition at PhotoAccess.

                Photoproject of the Year Winners: – Murray Foote and Judy Parker

Russell Hunt Award (Panel Award)

The award honours the memory of former CPS member, Russell Hunt. It seeks to recognise exceptional, sustained service to the society. The award is to be made to a member who has demonstrated leadership, creativity and commitment in the development and delivery of the Canberra Photographic Society program.

Nominees for Russell Hunt Award:-

Alan Charlton for the reliable and consistent logistics support that underpins all our meetings – that’s at least three per month – four if you include the committee meetings, where Alan also serves. He undertakes a significant workload in hanging our external showcases. It is no exaggeration to say the without Alan, they would not have made it on to the wall.

Andrée Lawrey for her ongoing commitment to the support of our external showcases by participating in selection panels and in the curation and hanging teams over several years. Andrée is also convenor and leader of the Personal Projects group that provides guidance and encouragement to those seeking to develop their photographic practice by pursuing a project and seeing it to completion.

Judy Parker, a previous winner of the Russell Hunt award, continues to provide the backbone for our external showcases. This workload has increased over the years as we now run two exhibitions a year and now run selection procedures for each. In addition, Judy helps newer members with printing and frequently prints a lot of the material in our external showcases. She is also the primary coordinator of the print display at our monthly Expo nights.

Michael Taylor for several years of committee service, particularly as Treasurer. In this role he has streamlined our procedures and has improved our membership and financial  records procedures. Michael has also led our Workshop evenings that provide support to newer members in an informal atmosphere.

Russell Hunt Award Winner: Alan Charlton

President’s Medals for Service (Panel Recommendation)

These awards are made at the President’s discretion (on recommendation of the Awards Panel) to reward exceptional service or outstanding photographic contributions to the Society.

President’s Medal Winners:      Michael Taylor

Andrée Lawrey

Photographer of the Year Award (Panel Award)

The award of Photographer of the Year recognises overall photographic excellence.
The award is to be made to a member who, over the year, has given the best demonstration of photographic excellence in platforms within and outside the society, such as society competitions and activities, society-sponsored and other exhibitions, external competitions and other photographic achievements. Demonstrated photographic excellence in previous years may also be considered.

In order that sustained excellence within the Society also be appropriately recognised, the panel sought to ensure that members who have achieved excellence in society activities were considered for an award. This is something that has been done as long as I have been a member of the CPS and it is now a routine part of panel deliberations. While we no longer run an aggregate competition, the panel looked at and sought to reward excellence in Expo night scores, Portfolio Competitions and selection of images for our external showcases (Different Views at Telstra Tower and The Natural World at CSIRO Discovery).

Nominees for Photographer of the Year Award:-

Tony Brown. Tony achieved the highest number of fives at Expo nights and was awarded the most Images of the night in 2018. He also participated in the Natural World exhibition and sold one of his exhibited images. Tony received several bronze awards in the international 2018 Epson Pano Awards and 6 Silver and 8 Bronze Awards at the from the Focus Awards (An Australian Landscape photography competition with over 2000 entrants and over $35,000 in prizes). One of the Silver images placed 3rd in the Sunrise/Sunset category in the Focus Awards.

Murray Foote. Murray was (very)close behind Tony in number of fives and images of the night at Expo nights (These two were well ahead of the rest of the pack). He is also a regular contributor to our external showcases: this year was no exception. Murray won a (joint) Photo Project of the Year award for his photoblog. Earlier this year he held an exhibition of his music-based work at Smith’s Alternative Bookshop.

Brian Jones. Brian won the Projected Image Portfolio Award and was awarded one Image of the Night. Brian contributed to our external showcases and has excelled in external international competitions with images recognised in the 11th Pollux Awards, the 11th International Color Awards, the 13th Spider Awards, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the 5th Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography in Barcelona. Brian gave two lectures to the U3A photography group.

Judy Parker. Judy continues to demonstrate photographic excellence, particularly with success in CPS Portfolio Awards (2 x HCs). This evening she has won the Monochrome Print of the Year Award and also been awarded a Highly Commended for a Monochrome Print. She is also joint winner of the Photo Project of the Year.

Eva van Gorsel. Eva has shown remarkable growth as a photographer this year and has backed up a solid performance at Expo nights with a Highly Commended in the Projected Portfolio Awards and in her performance this evening where she achieved Winner and HC in Colour Print of the Year and also won the Book of the Year award. She had the greatest number of images accepted for “The Natural World” showcase and was nominated for the Photo Project of the Year.

Robin Yong. Robin is unusual in that he processes his images on his iPad and doesn’t own a camera system. This year he was admitted as professional member of AIPP and won several APPAs including a silver. Robin’s photography is also widely awarded in significant International Competitions in places such as Tokyo, Paris, Istanbul, Sienna. Robin is a regular participant in Expo nights where he has won one Image of the Night. This evening he has been awarded two Highly Commended Awards for his prints.

Photographer of the Year, 2018:               Eva van Gorsel.

President’s Medals for Photographic Excellence (Panel Recommendation)

President’s Medal Winners:                      Tony Brown

Robin Yong

 

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A RAW Workflow (and alternatives)

Intro

Here is a summary of my current RAW workflow. It is geared towards fast processing of many images, though I may spend considerable time on a few. It is applicable to RAW files of all cameras.

There’s quite a lot to say. Readers who are new to post-processing may need to come back a few times.

Two topics you may not be familiar with are using FastRawViewer to review images and using the Auto button in Lightroom. There is more than that as this article is quite wide-ranging and touches on alternative approaches. There is of course no ultimate workflow. Everyone will have a different approach. So I’m not offering a recipe. However, there may be some ideas or information that you can adapt to your own unique processing style.

I’m also not intending to go into detail on processing in Lightroom and Photoshop. That would take a book and there are plenty available.

The most important thing in Photography is to use your own vision to produce an image the way you visualise it, not what the camera or computer decides for you, or what fashions dictate. Post-processing is a very important part of that.

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Contents

  • Intro
  • Why?
    • Why RAW?
    • Why Bracket?
    • Why FastRawViewer?
    • Why Lightroom?
    • Why Auto Tone?
  • Process
    • Importing to Lightroom
    • Creating an Import Preset
    • Assessing Images in FastRawViewer
    • Updating Images in Lightroom
    • Auto Tone
    • Further Processing in Lightroom
    • Launching to Photoshop
  • Alternatives
    • RAW conversion of Fuji Files
    • Plug-Ins
    • Alternative RAW Processors
    • Capture One
    • Luminosity Masking
    • Switching RAW Processors
    • Application Mortality
    • Backing Up
  • Final comments

(Sorry, WordPress won’t let me define links for these headings)

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Otowa Bridge at dawn, Hokkaido. This is a stitched panorama with very little other processing. All images benefit from some processing, a few require very little.

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Part 1: Why?

Why RAW?

RAW files offer potentially greater quality for both tonality and colour than JPEGs though they do require processing. A JPEG file is a subset of a RAW file with limited capacity to make further changes. Some people choose to shoot JPEG so they don’t have to process the image but that only works well if your subject has a limited tonal range and you expose accurately.

For any exposure, it is better to “expose to the right”. This means that the histogram for an image in your camera should be as far as possible to the right side without there being a white line shooting up the border which indicates overexposure. There are partial exceptions to this where bright lights are part of your image such as concert lights, streetlights, the sun or specular highlights. Exposing to the right is important because there is much more information in highlight areas with detail than in shadow areas.

A histogram with a solid white line to the right, indicating overexposure

Your camera shows a histogram for a JPEG file, not a histogram for a RAW file. (Well, unless you have the rare and expensive Leica Monochrom). This makes exposing to the right straightforward if you are shooting JPEG but more mysterious if you are shooting RAW. Usually for RAW you will have about two-thirds of a stop extra highlight room from what the histogram shows (and shadow room) but that varies for different cameras, exposure situations and probably lenses. Your camera “blinkies” are also based on the JPEG histogram.

If parts of your image really are completely overexposed, those parts will have no detail and there is nothing to recover. Similarly with shadows that really are completely underexposed. But if your image is just generally underexposed (and not out the the left of the histogram), you may still be able to recover a viable image, perhaps with some increase in noise. Modern camera sensors have greater dynamic range (they can record a greater range of tones) so there’s more leeway than there used to be.

I shoot RAW because the dynamic range of a scene is often greater than a JPEG can capture. I often bracket when shooting landscape because the dynamic range is often greater than a RAW file can capture. I also shoot RAW because I am interested in the best image quality I can get. A JPEG is what the camera sees but I want more than that. For live music I want to express the music, for landscapes I want to create the feel of it or create something entirely new from it. Photography for me is about creating images, not capturing them, and the exposure is only part of that.

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Why Bracket?

There’s usually no point in bracketing when the subjects are moving, such as live music, wildlife, street photography and most portraits. It becomes useful in landscape and architectural photography. Sometimes, even when parts of your image are moving, you may be able to deal with that later and may want to bracket for the parts that are still.

There are three reasons for bracketing:

  1. Focus bracketing (For a greater depth of field than a single exposure)
  2. To accurately expose to the right
  3. Exposure bracketing (For a larger tonal range than a single exposure)

Focus bracketing is relevant in specific circumstances and I will briefly touch on this later.

Bracketing for accurate exposure to the right is a logical way to find the optimal exposure for a single exposure, bracketing upwards by say third stop intervals. I must admit it’s not something I’ve ever bothered to do.

Exposure bracketing is the most common reason. You bracket because the range of tones in a scene may be greater than the dynamic range of a camera. It’s often a good idea to bracket all your shots and work out afterwards which exposure or exposures to use. You may then end up with a more accurate exposure or you combine the exposures later in an HDR application or manually in Photoshop.

If you’re using a mirrorless camera, it’s easy to determine how many exposures you need because you can look at histogram and blinkies and manually change exposure to see the effect before you take the photos.

Further reading: When in Doubt, Bracket by Iliah Borg. Also: QAD HDR: Expose to the Left and Right by Thom Hogan

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Why FastRawViewer?

In order to determine which images you want to process, it is obviously important to determine which ones are correctly exposed.

We have already seen that your camera shows you a JPEG histogram (in the sRGB colour space), which is much smaller than the tonal range that your sensor can capture in a RAW file. Similarly, your monitor is sRGB or aRGB and printer somewhere around there so neither your monitor nor your print can show you the full range of a RAW file. So even though Lightroom uses ProfotoRGB as its working space, which is probably similar to your camera’s sensor, it cannot use that to display the image and therefore does not use it for the histogram. This also applies to any other RAW processor except for FastRawViewer.

Many people are using Photo Mechanic or ACDSee for image review as they have both been around a long time (since 1994 for ACDSee and since 1998 for Photo Mechanic; FastRawViewer came out in 2014). However, they don’t show you a RAW histogram and they are also much more expensive. They do have additional functionality but Lightroom has that functionality as well. FastRawViewer is the only way you can see an accurate picture of the exposure of your RAW file. It is also cheap, at $A32.

So I use it to help determine which images I may wish to process and I will show you how in due course.

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Why Lightroom?

Lightroom is a RAW processor that mainly makes overall changes to your files and includes image management and bulk processing capabilities. Photoshop is a pixel-level image editor that allows complex regional changes and generally processes one image at a time. If you’re getting into image editing, it’s usually better to start in Lightroom, which is much more accessible.

I should add that when I say Lightroom I mean Lightroom Classic CC 2019. If you’re using Lightroom 6, use of FastRawViewer will still apply but I’d stay away from the [Auto] button, and most of the more advanced features of Lightroom I touch on will not be available.

If you’re using Lightroom CC, it’s currently a cut-down version of Lightroom Classic CC and I don’t know how much will apply. Perhaps in time, all functionality will be there.

If you’re using Bridge CC and Adobe Camera RAW, most of this article will still apply but Camera Raw will not allow you to bulk process with the [Auto] button the way you can in Lightroom.

Lightroom and Photoshop are the industry standards and most people use one or the other or both. There are alternatives though. ON1 Photo Raw, Skylum Luminar, DxO PhotoLab and Capture One Pro are the main alternatives to Lightroom. Affinity Photo and Photoshop Elements are alternatives to Photoshop.

Capture One has been around longer than Lightroom (2002 vs 2007). Martin Evening does an interesting comparison of the two and finds that some people’s claims of better sharpness for Capture One are simply different initial settings that can be easily changed, they both have advantages over the other and they are more similar than most people think.

ON1 Photo Pro, Luminar and DxO PhotoLab are more recent competitors and many of their controls copy those of Lightroom. If you are using one of those then read on by all means though I suspect much of what I have to say on Lightroom for the [Auto] button and some recent changes may not apply.

Matt Kloskowski has some interesting articles on The state of post-processing and photo editing and Is there a Lightroom replacement?

I’ve been using Lightroom since Beta 1 and Photoshop since I think Version 5 and feel no need to switch. I think the Lightroom/ Photoshop subscription is good value and while I can understand that people with erratic incomes may prefer standalone applications, if you purchase all the upgrades, the cost may end up about the same. If you’re using one of the programs just mentioned, there’s probably no need to switch but if you’re using a free editor you will likely benefit from considering alternatives. This article refers to people processing RAW files on their computers and will probably not apply to most people using their phones (I don’t use a mobile phone myself).

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Why Auto Tone?

The Auto Tone (or just Auto) button in Lightroom is on the Basic panel of Develop. It used to be a waste of time but a recent update has introduced artificial intelligence based on a database of photographers’ processing. So the effect is customised for each image.

There are two advantages of this. One is that it allows to compare images without having to manually adjust many of them. In particular, images can look quite different at different levels of exposure and if you compare differently exposed images, you may select the wrong one. So if you are not using the [Auto] button, in order to determine which you want to prioritise, you will likely need to adjust images for at least exposure using the Quick Develop controls in the Library module.

The other is that it speeds up your subsequent workflow. The closer you start to your final intention, the easier the processing task. So I find it useful but I stress, only as a better starting point.

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Part 2 Process

Importing to Lightroom

Lightroom Import module

I import my files into Lightroom, assess them in RawFileViewer, then update the files in Lightroom. Others may prefer to copy the files to disk, assess them in FastRawViewer, then add them to Lightroom. Nothing wrong with that, but there are a couple of reasons I prefer to do it this way. First, I don’t delete any files that I identify using FastRawViewer, I mark them for deletion, so I’m still going to import them into Lightroom anyway. This is because that my “good” copy of an image may later prove to have something wrong with it and I may want to look at alternatives I earlier discarded. Also, I’m comfortable with the semi-automated interface of the Lightroom Import module and feel I’m less likely to make a mistake than doing it manually.

Top right of Import Dialogue

There are a few options I select when importing images.

I select Build Previews: 1:1. This creates a full-sized JPEG that Lightroom can use when you zoom into an image in the Library module, thus speeding up the process. There are a couple of other options. Standard previews are full-screen previews but not large enough to be used when you zoom in to 100%, for example to check sharpness. Embedded & Sidecar Previews are from your camera, so Lightroom doesn’t need to generate them. They are usually roughly equivalent to standard previews, except for Fuji and Olympus and maybe other mirrorless cameras, where they are smaller and not useful. They speed up import but Lightroom regenerates them to standard previews when it gets a chance, so they may slow down editing. None of these “normal” previews have any effect in Develop.

I also generate smart previews. They are very small RAW files that still retain detail and speed up operations in Develop, including zooming in to 100%. They have no effect in the Library Module. Both kinds of previews slow down the import process but speed up subsequent editing.

[Don’t Import Suspected Duplicates] is an obvious option to check. When I am travelling I will also check [Make a Second Copy To …] to create a backup to an external disk.

I have also selected a custom import preset that I previously created (The selection for Develop Settings). I have several of these, mainly depending on what camera I am using.

You may also choose to add keywords at this stage that are common to this batch of files.

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Creating an import preset

Workflow 3a

Presets Pane and New Develop Preset dialogue box.

I use import presets to speed up my process, to make by default the changes I want to make to all images. Otherwise, I might end up making the changes image by image or forget to make them.

To create an import preset, you start with an unedited image in the Develop module, make the changes you want to be your default. Then you click the [+] in the left pane to the right of Presets. This produces the dialogue as shown, so you can specify what you want to save and click [Create].

One of the things I include is a default sharpening setting, such as the presets Adobe provides (shown above). They don’t work so well for Fuji files though, which require a different kind of sharpening, so in this context, different presets.

I used to have a set of default values for the sliders at the top right of Develop (Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, Blacks) but I don’t any more since I’m using the [Auto] button. These came from Michael Clark’s A Professional Photographer’s Workflow.

I also make some choices for Lens Correction. I check [Remove Chromatic Aberration] because why wouldn’t you?. Conversely, you should probably leave [Enable Profile Corrections] unchecked unless you know your camera does not write profile corrections to RAW files for any of your lenses. In the screen capture above, you can see the note at the bottom Built-in lens profile applied. In other words, the camera has already written a profile into the RAW file. In the case of fisheye lenses, where you might want the image uncorrected, corrected or to use a different method of correction, but you can always change the checkbox later.

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Assessing Images in FastRawViewer

I now open FastRawViewer to assess images.

FastRawViewer screen, As with all images, you can click to see it larger, though for the screen fragments, there’s no point. They stay small.

Top right of FastRawViewer screen above, some of the key information.

FastRawViewer shows an actual RAW file histogram. The image above is a middle image in an exposure stack. The range of tones is too great for a single exposure so parts of the image are overexposed (with no highlight detail) and other parts underexposed (with no shadow detail). As well as the histogram, we can see as a percentage, how much of the red and blue channels are underexposed and how much of the green channel is overexposed.

Not all images should be discarded just because they have overexposed or underexposed regions. Live music, night shots and shots including the sun may have overexposed elements and some specular highlights may be fine as they are. Similarly, although it is usually desirable to have detail in the shadows, in some cases and in some places it may not matter. FastRawViewer gives you an accurate picture of highlights and shadows. Other applications could show an image as having both blown highlights and black shadows whereas neither may be true.

You will notice at the bottom of the above overall screen that I have assigned colour labels to images. Red ones are marked for deletion. By default, if you use the recommended FastRawViewer shortcut key for deletion, it moves the file to a subdirectory (and doesn’t assign a red flag). I don’t see the point of that because moving a file is slower than changing metadata so I use red as marked for deletion. I also use green as the first image in a stack (whether bracketed for exposure, focus, panorama or a combination), yellow as subsequent images in a stack and blue for information signs (in this kind of travelling anyway). I may also assign one star to an image identified for processing.

I mainly use FastRawViewer for assessing exposure and to a lesser extent for assessing sharpness. It can show edge highlights which I find of limited use although you can zoom in and out of 100% view very quickly. I generally prefer to assess sharpness on images with default sharpening in Lightroom. FastRawView also has other capabilities that I usually do not use.

FastRawViewer comes with a useful manual and pressing [F1] shows you a list of shortcut keys. Ones I use include [O] to show overexposed regions, [U] to show underexposed regions, [P] to show edge sharpness highlights, [Ctrl][1] to zoom to 100% on an image where you last clicked and [Ctrl][0] to zoom out.

Workflow 17

You can also define your own keyboard shortcuts with File/ Customise/ Keyboard Shortcuts. Consistent with Lightroom, I have defined 1 for one star, 6 for red label, 7 for yellow label, 8 for green label and 9 for blue label.

Once again, there are two main advantages of FastRawViewer for pruning and selecting images: it gives you a uniquely accurate view of a RAW file and it is faster than Lightroom.

FastRawViewer Review by Nasim Mansurov.

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Updating Images in Lightroom

Lightroom stores the changes you make in the catalogue and it can also store them as sidecar files. Most people use only the catalogue because saving changes to sidecar files slows things down. FastRawViewer, though, stores changes in sidecar files and does not update the Lightroom Catalogue, which means you have to update Lightroom for those changes.

(This applies only if the files are already in Lightroom. If you copy them to your hard drive, assign flags in FastRawViewer and next add them to Lightroom, then Lightroom will pick up those metadata changes when you add the files).

Updating metadata in Lightroom

To update the files in Lightroom, I then select them all in grid mode in the Library module and right-click to Metadata/ Read Metadata from Files. (Alternatively, there is the menu command Metadata/ Read Metadata from Files.)

Next, I select all the images with a red flag and press “x” to mark them for deletion.

That works fine with Lightroom. It probably works with ON1 Photo RAW and Luminar, since they copy many of Lightroom’s features. They should either read directly from the sidecar file or if they use a catalogue, there should be a way to update the catalogue.

Some people use Photoshop and Bridge. By default, star ratings came through alright from FastRawViewer to Bridge but the colour flags all came through as white. This is because FastRawViewer is using Lightroom’s labels for colour flags.

Workflow 12

Dialogue box defining labels for colour flags in Bridge.

If you want colour labels to come through from FastRawViewer to Bridge, you can select Edit/ Preferences/ Labels and change Bridge’s default colour labels from Select/ Second/ Approved/ Review/ To Do to Red/ Yellow/ Green/ Blue/ Purple. (If you don’t want to do that, Bridge shows the Red/ Yellow/ Green/ Blue/ Purple text values in the Labels panel at the left. You can select images with text values and use Bridge shortcut keys to assign the correct colour flags).

Marking files for deletion in Bridge is called rejecting them. You can select files with red flags and reject them by pressing [Alt][Del]. Then you hide them by unchecking View/ Show Reject Files.

I would think everything I refer to below for Lightroom will also apply to Camera Raw except that you can only process one image at a time.

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Auto Tone

In our Lightroom workflow we now apply Auto Tone. With all images still selected in Grid Mode of the Library Module, I select the Attributes Unflagged Photos Only and at the far right click the “Unlabelled” colour. This hides images marked for deletion and also the images with colour labels. I do not need to apply Auto Tone to bracketed images and I only need to be able to read the images of signs.

Next I go to the Develop tab. At the bottom of the right pane you will see buttons [Sync…] and [Reset]. To the left of [Sync] is the Autosync switch.

Click it up and the [Sync…] button changes to [AutoSync].

Now click the [Auto] or Autotone button in the basic panel. Each selected image is individually adjusted.

Workflow 16

After Auto Tone

To be specific, AutoTone adjusts most of the sliders in the basic panel including Tone sliders of Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows & Whites, and Presence sliders of Vibrance and Saturation. It does not adjust the White Balance sliders of Temp and Tint and it does not adjust the sliders of Clarity and Dehaze.

Workflow 10

Important! Immediately reset the Autosync switch back to show [Synch..] rather than [AutoSync]. If you do not do this, each time you edit an image in Develop when you have multiple images selected in Grid, you will be changing them as well. By the time you discover this, there might be quite a problem to untangle.

I stress again, this is not the end to editing. It just gets you to a better starting point. It does speed up your task but the most important advantage is that it gives you a much better basis for comparing images to assess which to proceed further with.

If you have a Bridge/ Photoshop workflow, you can also apply Auto Tone in Camera Raw, but only to one image at a time.

Further Processing in Lightroom

As I said earlier, I’m not intending to get into detail about how to process in Lightroom and Photoshop because that would require a book or video series and there are lots of excellent ones around, for example: Julianne Kost on Lightroom and on Photoshop. However, I will make a few brief comments and also refer to a few capabilities some may not be aware of.

  • After AutoTone, I will usually make some adjustments to the Tone Curve and Basic Sliders.
  • I may also drag on an area of the histogram in Develop
  • I may increase clarity a little,
  • I may increase Dehaze a little if required and I may adjust Colour Balance.
  • I will straighten the image if it needs it.
  • I will crop as required.
    • I tend to use standard aspect ratios plus a few I’ve defined rather than a custom crop because I feel it helps you see alternatives, I can use standard mattes for prints, and I feel images often look better in precisely a standard aspect ratio (especially square).

I usually leave sharpening at standard and seldom feel the need for noise reduction, even live music shots at high ISOs. (Excessive noise is usually due to underexposure.) I prepare my images with printing to A3+ in mind, for printing a lot larger I might need to be more rigorous in sharpening and noise reduction.

The graduated filter, radial filter and adjustment brush at the top of the Basic panel are all useful for regional modifications. The screen capture shows the radial filter selected (the white circle at the top) with both the brush and the range mask enabled (controls at the bottom, below the main box of sliders).

In the image display, you can use the [O] key to show or hide what is selected. You can decrease or add to that by painting with the brush, and you can restrict the changes to specific colours or tones with the Range Mask. Also, that little down arrow at top right under the word Brush brings up a slider where you can increase or decrease the whole effect.

Those four little squares at top right of the basic panel bring up the Profile Browser. I don’t tend to use Presets (on the left hand side of the Develop Tab), except for specific purposes such as sharpening, because they are saved settings that will overwrite other changes you have made and because I prefer to decide for myself how I want an image to appear. However, I do use profiles for some images. They make an underlying change that doesn’t change any sliders you have already specified. Camera profiles, such as you have in your camera, can be useful, especially perhaps in the case of Fuji cameras. There are also artistic profiles, either as supplied by Adobe or purchased from third parties that I sometimes find useful. They have an aggregate slider so you can calibrate the effect. For me it’s not a case of going for the whole thing and getting a cliché, it’s identifying where an image may be a little deficient and using one to subtly adjust the image. I use camera profiles moderately often and artistic profiles occasionally.

I also print from Lightroom. Printing for me is the purpose of photography and a print has a quality and permanence that a digital image cannot attain. You can get better quality if you do it yourself and in any case, if you get someone else to do your printing it isn’t entirely your own work. Lightroom offers a powerful interface that allows you to save much of the complexity of the printing task in presets. Here are some articles on printing from this Blog:

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Launching to Photoshop

For many people, Lightroom may be all they need but Photoshop offers a depth of possibility for regional and pixel-level processing that Lightroom cannot. For some people, Lightroom offers quick processing while others may even spend days on a single image in Photoshop, finessing detail in processing with multiple layers.

Apart from when I use Photoshop for HDR, focus stacking or panoramas, one of my main uses of Photoshop is removing or modifying elements of a photograph in ways that are not available in Lightroom. One of these is content-aware fill and a more powerful new version of this has just been released. With a few images I may get into complex processing with layers and perhaps luminosity masks.

Many profound regional changes are possible are possible through layers in Photoshop. However, it is also a good thing to understand Lightroom or Camera Raw well enough to understand whether they may offer a quick and simpler alternative that may work as well for a specific task and image.

As an illustration of an approach focusing on Photoshop, here is an article from this Blog showing a Photoshop Workflow by Helen McFadden.

As an aside, for people using Photoshop: Have you ever been working with the brush tool and suddenly it turns to a cursor and you can’t use it? I’ve had that happen to me quite a few times over the years and I’ve only just discovered what causes it. It’s accidentally hitting the [Caps Lock] key. That’s some ancient shortcut for an obscure design process. So it just takes hitting the [Caps Lock] again to get the cursor back.

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Part 3: Alternatives

RAW Conversion of Fuji Files

There are a couple of issues that are specific to Fuji cameras with an X-Trans sensor.

Some people see artifacts (“worms”) in the fine details of Fuji images. X–Trans files require different sharpening settings than files from Bayer sensors and this problem is caused by inappropriate sharpening. Thomas Fitzgerald has some free Fuji sharpening presets and there is a link on that page to an inexpensive eBook on the issue.

Some people also claim the Lightroom does not demosaic these files well, particularly for landscape files, so they are lacking in fine detail in foliage. Some claim that Iridient Developer (Mac only) or Iridient X-Transformer or Capture One can give better results and others claim they see no practical difference. I can see no difference in most files and where there is a difference you may have to look at the files at 100% or more.

With Iridient X-Transformer, you can still use Lightroom and do a round trip with selected processed NEF files to incorporate the difference. The file comes back as a DNG and you then [Sync Settings …] from the NEF. If you’re interested, this video shows the process and Thomas Fitzgerald has a small e-book that shows you how to set minimal processing in X-Transformer and comes with some relevant sharpening presets. You can get X-Transformer as an indefinite trial that leaves watermarks.

I tried duplicating the output of X-Transformer and Capture One in Lightroom and found most of the difference is from increased clarity for the foliage. I found I could get similar effects by: (1) creating a gradient outside an image to create a mask for the whole image; (2) In Range Mask/ Colour, use the selector tool to select an appropriate green range; and (3) increase clarity considerably and sharpness a little for the selected foliage.

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The bright yellow-green is the area highlighted as being “in focus” by the “Focus Mask” in Capture One and is mainly foliage. Rather than the image being in focus at a particular distance, this shows that Capture One uses additional clarity/ sharpening for Fuji files.

However, as of 13 February 2018, there is a new feature in Lightroom that addresses this issue (right-click to “Enhance Details”).

  • If you encounter an error message “requires Windows 10 October 2018 or later”, this is because Microsoft aborted an update last year.  In Windows, you need to go into Settings/ Update & Security/ Windows Update/ Check for Updates, select reboot when it finishes, and probably go back in there and select reboot again when your PC comes back up.  This may take some time.

This creates a DNG beside the file in Lightroom, rather like Iridient Transformer.  For the image above, I found a significant improvement with the new algorithm, better than Iridient Transformer and about as good as Capture One. I had to compare the differences at 100% but the differences were significant.

On my PC (which is fairly fast), it took 15 seconds for the dialogue box to load and it then predicted 15 seconds processing time but took 25. It will be slower on a standard or older PC. Most images will probably have little or no effect. It mainly applies to T-TRANS images where there is fine repetitive detail, particularly with foliage.

Like Iridient Transformer, to save time and space, you can run this on some of your final processed images,to get a new DNG version of your RAW file, and then copy the changes from the original file using [Synch Settings]. This might be most appropriate for an image you want to print large.

The file size changes (and implications for disk space are also significant). The original file is 22MB; the Iridient Transformer DNG is 56MB (2.5x); the Enhanced Details version is 104MB (4.75x); and the TIFF returning from Capture One is 137MB (6.3x), though  all the changes are stored in Capture One, I can use JpegMini to reduce it to an 8MB JPEG (0.4x).

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Plug-Ins

Monochrome conversion in easy in Lightroom and Photoshop, and also there are many obscure and complex ways to do it in Photoshop, but I use Nik Silver Efex Pro, both easy to use and versatile. I usually create virtual copies of a set of images in Lightroom, do a quick b&w conversion, and decide from them which to process in Silver Efex Pro.

You can process for HDR (exposure stacking) and panoramas in Lightroom and Photoshop. You can also process for focus stacking in Photoshop. It’s a good idea to explore these if you subscribe before investigating third party alternatives.

For HDR, I also use an obscure Polish program called SNS-HDR and may do manual blending in Photoshop or luminosity masking in Photoshop. I also have Photomatix but I haven’t used it for some years because it used to favour a grungy look I had little sympathy for. The new version looks better so I may reassess that. The other alternative is Aurora. I downloaded a trial to check it out but couldn’t get it to work. Too many options. You don’t need them all.

Apart from using Photoshop to process focus stacking, the main options are Zerene Stacker and Helicon Focus. I tend to favour Zerene Stacker because it has better correcting options. However, sometimes extensive manual adjustment in Photoshop is required and sometimes focus stacking just doesn’t work. Consider combining two images with a flower in front of a mountain. The flower is in focus in one and the mountain in the other, but in the image with mountain in focus, the out-of-focus flower will be larger than the in-focus flower in the other image. Consequently, you’ll get an out-of-focus area around the flower in the combined image that is not easy to correct.

There are many panorama software options apart from Lightroom and Photoshop including some free ones. I use Kolor Autopano Giga which is more powerful than Lightroom and Photoshop but is no longer available from Kolor (though still from B&H).

I also use JPEGmini, which intelligently downsizes JPEGs to a minimum size without loss of detail, and can be a Lightroom export preset.

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Alternative RAW Processors

The main reason people look for an alternative to Lightroom is to find a cheaper alternative that does not include a subscription. Personally I find the Lightroom / Photoshop subscription good value at $A170pa for the simplicity of the interface, the functionality it offers and the profusion of videos and books available. Of the alternatives, ON1 Photo Pro costs $A140 to purchase and $A112 to upgrade; Luminar costs $A99 or $219 with Aurora HDR (upgrade cost not specified) and DxO PhotoLab costs $A280 (Elite edition; upgrade cost not specified).

All of them are good RAW processors with some unique features though they all lack functionality compared to Lightroom so none is a true substitute for Lightroom or for Lightroom and Photoshop. This may change though. If you’re going this way to avoid a subscription, you may want to also purchase Affinity Photo as a Photoshop substitute which costs $A80 (no discount for upgrade). Luminar and DxO PhotoLab offer layers though, as a partial alternative to Photoshop and DxO PhotoLab offers Nik U-Point capability.

Another alternative is to use them as an addition to Lightroom because all of them allow round trips from Lightroom. The images must come back as TIFFs (or similar) which are about five times the size of a RAW file.

There are also free versions of Capture One for Sony and Fuji though they are fairly basic and don’t include spot removal.

Another alternative I’ve been ignoring is Lightroom CC, where you store your images on the Cloud, rather than Lightroom Classic CC, where you store images on your hard drive. It currently has less functionality but that will improve over time. The plan for this casts Photoshop aside and instead you have up to 1TB of Cloud storage space. The problem is that it loads all your images from your hard disk to the Cloud. That might be alright if you’re sure you’ll never have more than 1TB of images but if you do, storage space on the Cloud becomes very expensive. I suspect that for many people this is a financial trap.

If you cancel a subscription to Lightroom Classic CC, you lose access to Develop and Map tabs but everything else still works including Import, Export, Print and Quick Develop in Library. If you cancel a subscription to Lightroom CC, you’d lose web storage so you’d need to first ensure you have all images on your hard drive. If you cancel a subscription to Capture One, you can still use the free Sony or Fuji versions. You won’t be able to import files from other cameras but you’ll see all files already in the Capture One catalogue and can modifythem to some extent or export them but not print them.

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Capture One

I said at the beginning of this paper that this was just my workflow at the time of writing and that it changes. It’s changing as a consequence of writing this because I’m seriously considering Capture One.

Capture One is a different prospect to the other choices to Lightroom. It’s not cheaper, it costs twice as much ($A480, upgrade $210 or $380pa for subscription paid monthly). And then if you need additional functionality of Lightroom or Photoshop, it costs three times as much.

Capture One was designed for professionals and was originally for use with Phase One medium format digital backs and for sessions in the studio. It has a highly customisable interface which is both a good and a bad thing. I don’t think it’s very suitable for a beginner. Lightroom has all controls displayed on set screens and it is fairly easy to work out most functionality just from a general understanding of how it works. Capture One takes quite a lot of initial study and while the onsite videos and user guide are very good, there is not the depth of videos and articles available for Lightroom and almost no books.

capone

The color editor is very powerful, much more so than HSL or the colour option in the range mask in Lightroom, more equivalent to Select Colour Range or Hue/ Saturation in Photoshop, but easier to use, probably more powerful and does not require conversion to TIFF or PSD. Skin tone controls are also very good and Capture One is also very capable for camera tethering.

Masking is very good in Capture One including fine tuning by using “Refine Mask”. It allows a degree of local adjustment not available in LR, especially in conjunction with the use of layers. There are also four kinds of clarity (and structure) can quickly give effects I don’t think are easily available in Lightroom or Photoshop. For some images I can extract more detail in Capture One.

Black and white conversion is also very good in Capture One. I’ve had some results I haven’t been able to get in Nik SilverEfex Pro.

There are also disadvantages. The Lightroom catalogue can probably be as large as you want but the Capture One catalogue slows down if it gets too large. I’ve read 35,000 and 50,000 but probably it varies. It doesn’t have a History, which is a significant disadvantage. It also doesn’t have Lightroom‘s Map, Book, Slideshow and Web modules, photo organisation is better in Lightroom and very few plug-ins are available. There is also no HDR, panorama or focus bracketing. You also can’t change an image’s Date/ Time if you’ve mis-set your camera when travelling.

Browsing and selection functionality is quite hidden in Capture One and requires significant research to work out how to set it up. Lightroom‘s interface is much easier to understand but Capture One is probably as powerful. (I’m still coming to terms with it). Similarly for searching and filtering.

The printing interface is much inferior to LR. You can’t do side-by-side before-and-after soft proofing, there are no gamut warnings and though you can define printing presets, they don’t include printer settings. I also much prefer Lightroom’s semi-automated output sharpening because you can’t see correct print sharpening on the screen and would otherwise have to work out a strategy for different papers by trial and error.

I expect to subscribe to Capture One. I will also continue subscribing to Lightroom and Photoshop because both have functionality not available in Capture One. It is likely to take several months to develop a new workflow partly or fully incorporating Capture One.

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Luminosity Masking

Luminosity masking is making a selection in an image from the lightness or darkness of a tonal range and using that to make a range of changes to the image.

ON1 Photo Pro, Luminar, Lightroom and Capture One have all recently incorporated luminosity masks and it’s been in Photoshop since the digital Middle Ages. It’s in Lightroom in a basic form as the “Range Mask” and similar in ON1 Photo Pro. Capture One has a slightly more flexible form and in Luminar it’s very basic.

In Photoshop it’s very powerful and potentially mind-blowingly complex. You can do it manually but it’s easier to use an embedded application, which you pay for or use in a very simple way for free. David Kingham provides a review of them which includes a very informative but very long video. I have TK Actions, which is the most powerful but requires significant Photoshop experience. ADPpanel is probably more suitable for most and Lumenzia is another alternative. They require a fair level of dedication so don’t feel compelled to explore one. Probably you don’t need to.

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Switching RAW Processors

If you’re looking to switch to another RAW processor, your existing files may be a logistical issue. Each application processes files in a proprietary way and you may be able to export few changes to your RAW files unless you export a TIFF, at around five times the size of the RAW file. So if you have a lot of files, this may require more disk space than you have.

The best case is likely to be migrating from Lightroom to ON1 Photo Pro, which will import most Lightroom changes because it is designed as a Lightroom substitute with many of the same commands. Luminar is also working on a tool to migrate from Lightroom. Capture One imports only the most basic changes from Lightroom.

Except as TIFFs, I would think it’s most unlikely you’d be able to import any layer-based changes from ON1 Photo Pro, Luminar or Capture One to another RAW-processing application and obviously not where the functionality does not exist in the destination application.

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Application Mortality

Kolor Autopano Giga has recently gone bankrupt, is no longer available for purchase and will no longer be updated.

DxO Labs, which owns DxO PhotoLab and the Nik Collection, has declared bankruptcy but continues to trade and a new version of the Collection is due next year.

Aperture used to be the main alternative to Lightroom, but Apple abandoned it.

_dsc1170_s-hdr(6)-edit

The camera market is declining due to smart phones and the same pressures will apply to photographic software. Also at present, China’s and Europe’s economies are not doing well, the US has a boom financed by ballooning debt and Trump is threatening a trade war not seen since the Depression, so a World recession or depression is possible. This would not help.

You would think that Adobe would be pretty secure though Kodak demonstrates that even the mightiest can fall. Phase One (maker of Capture One) has been around for a long time so you’d think they’d be secure though Fujifilm is clearly undercutting their medium format cameras and backs. DxO PhotoLab may be the most vulnerable since DxO Labs is already bankrupt. ON1 Photo Pro and Luminar might also prove vulnerable.

If one of these companies goes under, it might get bought out and maybe nothing changes. Otherwise, you probably have a program that will never be updated and at some point an operating system change might stop it working. You’d have to consider the security of your files.

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Backing Up

Backing up is an essential part of every photographer’s workflow.

My data drive is a RAID 10 array which provides extra security but not an extra level of backup because the whole RAID array can fail. I use Acronis to backup to a Drobo and also have a set of backups on disconnected disks. I use CrashPlan for Small Business for my third level of backup, to the cloud (BackBlaze or IDrive is probably more suitable for most).

More on backing up for photographers in an article in this blog here.

There’s also an article in this Blog on Computers for Photography.

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Final Comments

The wake of a ketch. Some images require subtle processing.

We’ve looked in this article at a workflow for processing RAW files primarily with FastRawViewer and Lightroom: FastRawViewer is the only program that offers an accurate view of a RAW file; Lightroom is powerful and enables bulk processing.

If you’re starting off I recommend the Lightroom/ Photoshop subscription combo. It is likely to be more comprehensive than the alternatives and more training materials are readily available. I can’t say there’s anything wrong with the other choices I’ve mentioned above though.

I suggest starting with Lightroom and only feeling your way into Photoshop when you find a need for its features. You can quickly come to a basic understanding of Lightroom and do a lot with that. Gradually you may come to understand much of what Lightroom can do. Hardly anyone fully understands Photoshop though many people have sophisticated individual approaches.

Effectively processing a single image is most desirable and it’s also important to have an efficient workflow. Digital photography often involves taking lots of image so it is most useful to have an efficient method or assessing and processing those images en masse. That is the main subject of this article.

Just as buying lots of cameras and lenses is not a substitute for developing your individual vision and getting out there and taking photographs, so buying lots of processing applications is not really a substitute for understanding the ones you have.

I’ll repeat what I said in the beginning: The most important thing in Photography is to use your own vision to produce an image the way you visualise it, not what the camera or computer decides for you, or what fashions dictate. Post-processing is a very important part of that.

For people outside the Canberra Photographic Society, if you want to see some of my images, have a look at www.murrayfoote.com.

I’ve tried to write this concisely for everyone at all experience levels.

So,

  • Comments?
  • Questions?
  • Did you learn anything?
  • Do you have better alternatives and if so, why are they better?
  • Did I get anything wrong?
  • Can I learn anything from you?

Images of the Year 2018

The evening opened with a welcome to Judges Robert Coppa and Ben Kopilow (Images) and Hilary Waudhaugh (Books) who selected the following awards.

Print Categories (Robert and Ben)

There were 25 colour and 11 mono print entries.

Winners

Colour Print of the Year – Eva van Gorsel, Winter is Coming

Highly Commended – Eva van Gorsel – Night Falling

Highly Commended – Robin Yong – Bagnati di Senigallia

Monochrome Print of the Year – Judy Parker, Sheep Music

Highly Commended – Judy Parker – Home Grown

Highly Commended – Robin Yong – Kecac Dancing.

Book of the Year (Hilary)

This award is for the best Photobook or paper-based book-like project entered as part of the Images of the Year competitions. Photobooks should be based on photographs taken by the author.

Winners

Book of the Year – Eva van Gorsel – #TINYDREAMIMAGES

Highly Commended – Matt James (Lisa)

Highly Commended – Julie Garran (Passing by Narayan)

Projected Images (Robert and Ben)

There were 19 entries in this category

Winners

Projected Image of the Year – Marta Yebra – Mates (monochrome)

Highly Commended – Marta Yebra – Fun in the rain

Highly Commended – Leisa Condie – Remarkables.

PANEL AWARDS

The following awards are made on the recommendation of the awards panel, which this year was Helen McFadden, Ian Marshall and Marwan El Hassan. No panel member was considered for an award to avoid conflicts of interest. The panel called for nominations for the following awards and members could nominate others or themselves.

Photo Project of the Year Award

This award is to be made to the best photography-based project conducted during the year. The aim of this award is to recognise members who pursue photography creatively and who achieve a significant outcome with photography. A “project” is loosely defined, but can include an exhibition, a series of lectures, a presentation, a new activity or some project that involves photography and a tangible outcome. Examples could be a personal exhibition or participation in a group exhibition where the photographic contribution of the member is significant. It could also be production of a magazine or electronic book, a website or a community activity involving photography. While this project could be focused on the member’s own photography, we also aim to reward projects that involve the work of other photographer(s) either wholly or in part, such as a community event, group exhibition or publication. Where the photography is not the members’ own work, the contribution of the member to the group activity should demonstrate creativity and be significant.

Nominees (Alphabetically): –

Murray Foote for his travel blog in which he has systematically documented his travels over many parts of the globe and over many years. This blog has many followers and is a great source of information for photographers looking to go to interesting places on the road less travelled.

Andrée Lawrey for the development of her new restrained and elegant photography website.

Judy Parker for her set of prints “Project to Print” which collates all her winning entries from CPS Projected Image Portfolio Competitions held over the years and presents them as a coherent boxed set of prints.

Eva van Gorsel for her Instagram Project of 100 images that led to being an invited participant in Ovation, an exhibition and market held by the Canberra RAW Artists at the Albert Hall in August.

Grant Winkler for his project on the deserted streets of Brindabella Park that formed part of the Personal Projects exhibition at PhotoAccess.

Winners

Murray Foote and Judy Parker

 

Russell Hunt Award

The award honours the memory of former CPS member, Russell Hunt. It seeks to recognise exceptional, sustained service to the society. The award is to be made to a member who has demonstrated leadership, creativity and commitment in the development and delivery of the Canberra Photographic Society program.

President’s Medals

These awards are made at the President’s discretion (on recommendation of the Awards Panel) to reward exceptional service or outstanding photographic contributions to the Society.

Nominees for Russell Hunt Award:-

Alan Charlton for the reliable and consistent logistics support that underpins all our meetings – that’s at least three per month – four if you include the committee meetings. Alan has served on the committee for several years. He undertakes a significant workload in hanging our external showcases. It is no exaggeration to say the without Alan, they would not have made it on to the wall.

Andrée Lawrey for her ongoing commitment to the support of our external showcases by participating in selection panels and in the curation and hanging teams over several years. Andrée is also convenor and leader of the Personal Projects group that provides guidance and encouragement to those seeking to develop their photographic practice by pursuing a project and seeing it to completion.

Judy Parker, a previous winner of the Russell Hunt award, continues to provide the backbone for our external showcases. This workload has increased over the years as we now run two exhibitions a year and now run selection procedures for each. In addition, Judy helps newer members with printing and frequently prints a lot of the material in our external showcases. She is also the primary coordinator of the print display at our monthly Expo nights.

Michael Taylor for several years of committee service, particularly as Treasurer. In this role he has streamlined our procedures and has improved our membership and financial  records procedures. Michael has also led our Workshop evenings that provide support to newer members in an informal atmosphere.

Winners: This year the panel recommended the award of President’s Medals for service to

Michael Taylor

Andree Lawrey

The Russell Hunt award goes to:

Alan Charlton

 

Photographer of the Year Award

The award of Photographer of the Year recognises overall photographic excellence.
The award is to be made to a member who, over the year, has given the best demonstration of photographic excellence in platforms within and outside the society, such as society competitions and activities, society-sponsored and other exhibitions, external competitions and other photographic achievements. Demonstrated photographic excellence in previous years may also be considered.

In order that sustained excellence within the Society also be appropriately recognised, the panel sought to ensure that members who have achieved excellence in society activities were considered for an award. This is something that has been done as long as I have been a member of the CPS and it is now a routine part of panel deliberations. While we no longer run an aggregate competition, the panel looked at and sought to reward excellence in Expo night scores, Portfolio Competitions and selection of images for our external showcases (Different Views at Telstra Tower and The Natural World at CSIRO Discovery).

Nominations for Photographer of the Year Award

Tony Brown. Tony achieved the highest number of fives at Expo nights and was awarded the most Images of the night in 2018. He also participated in the Natural World exhibition and sold one of his exhibited images. Tony received several bronze awards in the international 2018 Epson Pano Awards and 6 Silver and 8 Bronze Awards at the from the Focus Awards (An Australian Landscape photography competition with over 2000 entrants and over $35,000 in prizes). One of the Silver images placed 3rd in the Sunrise/Sunset category in the Focus Awards.

Murray Foote. Murray was (very) close behind Tony in the number of fives and images of the night at Expo nights (These two were well ahead of the rest of the pack). He is also a regular contributor to our external showcases: this year was no exception. Murray won a (joint) Photo Project of the Year award for his photoblog. Earlier this year he held an exhibition of his music-based work at Smith’s Alternative Bookshop.

Brian Jones. Brian won the Projected Image Portfolio Award and was awarded one Image of the Night. Brian contributed to our external showcases and has excelled in external international competitions with images recognised in the 11th Pollux Awards, the 11th International Color Awards, the 13th Spider Awards, Wildlife Photographer of the Year and the 5th Biennial of Fine Art and Documentary Photography in Barcelona. Brian gave two lectures to the U3A photography group.

Judy Parker. Judy continues to demonstrate photographic excellence, particularly with success in CPS Portfolio Awards (2 x HCs). This evening she has won the Monochrome Print of the Year Award and also been awarded a Highly Commended for a Monochrome Print. She is also joint winner of the Photo Project of the Year.

Eva van Gorsel. Eva has shown remarkable growth as a photographer this year and has backed up a solid performance at Expo nights with a Highly Commended in the Projected Portfolio Awards and in her performance this evening where she achieved Winner and HC in Colour Print of the Year and also won the Book of the Year award. She had the greatest number of images accepted for “The Natural World” showcase and was nominated for the Photo Project of the Year.

Robin Yong. Robin is unusual in that he processes his images on his iPad and doesn’t own a camera system. This year he was admitted as professional member of AIPP and won several APPAs including a silver. Robin’s photography is also widely awarded in significant International Competitions in places such as Tokyo, Paris, Istanbul and Sienna. Robin is a regular participant in Expo nights where he has won one Image of the Night. This evening he has been awarded two Highly Commended Awards for his prints.

Winners: This year the panel recommended the award of President’s Medals for photographic excellence to

Tony Brown

Robin Yong

Winner of the Photographer of the Year for 2018

Eva van Gorsel.

Many thanks to our esteemed judges. We appreciate the time and expertise that they donate to us. Thanks also to all who helped with the IOY celebrations. A special thanks to Capital Wines for donating the wine gifts for the judges.

Winning images below are by Eva van Gorsel (Colour Print Winner and HC), Marta Yebra (Projected Image Winner and HC) Judy Parker (Monochrome Print and HC),  Robin Yong (HCs in Colour and Monochrome Prints) and Leisa Condie (Projected HC).

autumn mood – Version 2into the nightLORES_IOY2018_Yebra_M_Mates-X2IOY2018_Yebra_M_FunUnderTheRain-X2IOY_Parker_J_2_SheepMusic2018-X2IOY_Parker_J_1_HomeandGrown-X2Robin Yong_Bagnatti di SenigalliaRobin Yong_Kecas DancingIOY_Condie_1_Remarkables-X2

 

Gaoersi 6×17 Camera Review (2005)

This is a review of the 6×17 Gaoersi Camera that I published in Photo-i in 2005. I have sold the camera so I cannot bring it to a Society meeting.  This article is mainly of historical interest now, showing how much camera technologies have changed. It will also be of interest to people still using these cameras though, and those purchasing them either new or second-hand.

When I recently came to sell the camera, I realised that the article is no longer online so I retrieved a copy with the Internet Wayback Machine and reinserted images. Note that Photoshop and the software for scanning and printing will have changed unrecognisably since 2005.

The first 6×17 camera of this type was the Linhof Technorama, introduced in the late 1970s and used by people like Ken Duncan. The Fujifilm G617 was introduced in 1983. Both of these cameras were initially introduced with fixed lenses and later replace by interchangeable lens versions.

(p.s. No point clicking on the images. These are the original, very small images used for the internet of 2005).

Gaoersi 6×17 Camera
review by Murray Foote
Page 1

Introduction

Welcome to photo-i if you’ve just dropped in to read this review. I’m Murray Foote. I’m an amateur photographer with large-format experience and a frequent contributor to the photo-i forum. As far as I can tell, I’ve just become the first person outside China to purchase the new Gaoersi 6×17 panorama camera.

I purchased this camera for the quality of image that it offers and because I’m familiar with the processes it requires. I intend to use it with the new Fujichrome Velvia 100 which has very fine grain (and is not to be confused with Velvia 100F). I’m intending to scan the slides on a Canon 9950F using Silverfast AI Studio, use the Vignette filter in Photoshop CS2 as a substitute for a centre filter, correct for perspective where required using the Photoshop Lens Correction Filter and print to an Epson R1800 (A3+ roll). I’ll still have the film if I need a higher quality scan in the future.

A lot has been written in recent times about the death of film and the triumph of digital. For many the epitome of a high quality digital camera is the 16MP Canon 1Ds Mk2. Yet here is a film camera from China that can actually offer superior quality at a fraction of the cost. There are other 6×17 panorama cameras out there but the new price for this one is cheaper than the second-hand price for the others.

Sure, you can stitch panoramas together but it’s not a route that appeals to me for ultrawide images where objects may be moving and the apparent density of the sky may vary. To use even a Canon 1Ds Mk2 as a substitute for a direct image you have to throw away nearly half the image to achieve the aspect ratio which leaves you with a less than 9MP. Moreover the resolution of large format lenses will be much greater at this format that 35mm/ DSLR lenses.

Of course, the devil is in the detail. This is not a camera for everyone. This is a totally manual camera with no concessions to automation that is suitable only for experienced photographers who are also used to manual techniques. The camera comes as body only, including an adaptor and viewfinder for a lens that you specify and supply. It would help to have large format experience and it would be more economic to already have suitable large format lenses.

Large format? What’s that? Well just as digital sensors have different sizes, film comes in different sizes too. Nikon and many other film cameras use the 35mm film format (24x36mm), Hasselblad is an example of a medium format film camera (using 120 film at 6x6cm) and then there are the view cameras that look like they came straight out of the nineteenth century using sheet film with sizes of 9x12cm or 5×4 or larger. The Gaoersi uses 120 film but it is better thought of as a large format camera. This is because the 6x17mm film size is almost the same area as 9x12cm and because you need large format lenses to use it.

There’s really only one reason for buying this camera – and that’s if you want to have the capacity to print really big prints, because that’s ultimately where the advantage of a dedicated panorama camera lays.

Page 2

The Camera Arrives

Here it is, well packed, in the mail from China.

I ordered the camera with two lens adaptors (for my 75mm and 150mm large format lenses), two viewers to go with the lenses and an 8x focusing loupe. It also comes with a small piece of ground glass to calibrate the lens adaptors and a small metal device to lock the lenses in place.

The lens adaptors screw onto the camera using the large bolts on the front of the camera. There is a “dark slide” behind the lens adaptor so you can change lenses without exposing the film. You need to slide the dark slide out to take a picture.

Rear of camera with dark slide in place
Dark slide out (lens and adaptor also removed)

That hole in the back of the camera is the window where you read the numbers on the paper backing of the film. How this works is explained later under “Changing Formats on the Fly”.

Top view of camera
  • On the left of the picture is the Format knob. You can set the image size to 6×17, 6×15 or 6x12mm and this sets masks inside the camera.
  • Beside that is a spirit level
  • In the middle is a viewing scope that clips into a metal bracket.
  • The film wind-on knob is on the right of the picture
    • the film winds from right to left
      • this picture is upside-down from that point of view
  • There are also two lugs on top of the camera to attach a neck-strap.
  • There is also a hole at the handgrip in front of the format knob where you can put a cable release and screw it to the lens
Camera set to 6 x 17
Camera set to 6 x 12

The camera back comes right off by sliding up a couple of stiff clips. You need to have a spare spool to wind the 120 film onto because none is supplied. The back fits quite tightly and is very solidly made. The clips need a little bit of effort to lock in but this is a good thing because the back won’t come unlocked by accident. On the bottom of the camera are screw-thread fittings for tripods in two standard sizes

Page 3

What accessories does this camera require?

Many people think when they buy a digital camera with a built-in lens or a standard kit lens that they’re done with expenditure. Sadly though, if you want to produce really good quality output that’s just the beginning. This is even more the case with this camera.

To take photos you will also need :

  • Large format lens(s)
  • Cable release(s)
  • 120 Film
  • Hand-held meter (should be good quality)
  • Spot attachment or spot meter desirable
  • Tripod
  • Padded camera bag or pack
  • Neck strap
  • Analogue EXIF Data Recorder (i.e. pen and notebook)
  • A small torch to see what you’re doing when it gets dark
  • Biological Repository for Analysis, Inspiration and Nous
    • i.e. BRAIN – this is not a camera that will make any decisions for you

To print b&w in chemical darkroom you will need:

  • 5×7 Enlarger (rare and huge)
  • other darkroom equipment

To print in digital darkroom (colour or b&w) you will need:

  • Scanner
    • Canon 9950F + Silverfast AI Studio
    • Or Epson 4990 + Doug Fisher’s slide holder
  • PC with lots of RAM and Disk Space and good monitor(s)
  • Colorimeter for monitor
  • Editing software
    • eg Photoshop CS2
  • Printer – A3+ or larger (with roll paper)

eg – Epson R1800, R2400, R4800, HP 8750, DJ 90, Canon iP9950

Page 4

What to expect of this camera?

  • Lens calibrating should work
  • Viewfinders should be accurate
  • Film plane should be flat
  • Winding and frame spacing should work OK
  • Format switching should work OK
  • Build quality should be good including no light leaks

Lens and metering quality are not relevant here because the camera doesn’t’t come with lenses or a meter. I guess you could say that the camera should produce superb images with a high quality lens and appropriate metering.

Calibrating the Lenses

Calibrating the lens may come easily but it can also become something of a Chinese puzzle because the instructions are terse to the point of cryptic. It took me quite some time to work out the procedure. However, once you understand what to do, it becomes relatively simple again.

The camera comes with a small piece of ground glass so once you have removed both the camera back and the dark slide, you can check the focus through the back of the camera. I also purchased the 8x loupe, as shown below:

Checking the focus through the back of the camera

At the front of the camera, the Lens adaptor fits onto the camera body and the Lens fits onto the Lens adaptor.

  • The whole mechanism that attaches the Lens to the camera is the Lens Adaptor.

Each Lens Adaptor has a Focus Ring and a Lens Ring, as shown below:

Lens with Focus ring, Lens ring and Lens adaptor

When the lens adaptor is correctly set up, the infinity sign will be on top and the lens will be focusing to infinity (as shown above). Then as you turn the lens up to half a turn clockwise towards the minimum focusing distance, the end part of the lens mount (together with the lens) moves away from the Focus Ring and changes the focus.

Briefly, these are the steps you need to follow to calibrate a lens:

  • Turn Focus Ring to Infinity (lens fully retracted)
  • Loosen lens ring
  • Unscrew barrel between lens ring and Focus Ring and focus to infinity using ground glass screen and loupe
  • Tighten lens Ring
  • Align focus ring and ensure that it’s tight

To loosen the Lens Ring you first have to loosen the two adjustment rings on each side of it. One of them is shown below:

Fixing screw on Lens Ring
Adjustment screw inside Lens

Notwithstanding the instructions, the Lens Ring doesn’t change the focus; it’s just a locking ring. When you loosen it you can turn around the barrel of the adaptor between the Lens Ring and the Focus Ring. In this way you can screw the whole assembly out, thereby changing the focus.

The next task is to align the Lens so that when you are focused at infinity, the infinity sign is in the middle on top. There’s another issue associated with this. The Focus Ring should rotate between infinity and the minimum focus and stop at each end. Sometimes, though, it can just go round and round with no point of reference. This is because it is screwed into a separate small ring inside the barrel of the Lens Adaptor and it is possible for this to come undone – we will call this small ring the “Threading Ring”. You can use the little holes in the threading ring to screw it in but I found it difficult to get it tight enough. Then I found another trick for doing this. The Focus Ring can unscrew if you screw it too hard past infinity but provided the threading ring is still connected, you can also tighten it by screwing it past the minimum distance.

There are then two ways to align the Focus Ring. You can have it locked into in position but Infinity may not be on the top. By rotating the barrel of the Lens adaptor (i.e. everything outside the Lens ring) you may be able to get the Lens correctly aligned with the focus still correct. This may work because rotating the whole assembly causes very gradual changes in focus. However, a more accurate way is to get the focus you want by rotating the whole assembly and then adjust the alignment of the Focus Ring using the methods of the previous paragraph.

Though the instructions suggest focusing at infinity this is difficult because objects are so far away and very small for a wide-angle Lens However, if you carefully turn the Lens Ring around exactly half a turn and then calibrate the focusing on that distance it amounts to exactly the same thing. When you have the adaptor properly focused and aligned you should retighten the screws in the Lens Ring and align the Lens itself in the mount.

Then according to the instructions the last step is to tighten the two screws inside the Lens The white arrow in the picture above points to one of these screws. The screws just go up and down in a slot to restrict focusing to between infinity and the minimum distance. My guess is that the only purpose of tightening them is to make sure they don’t fall out. They didn’t’t seem to want to be tightened so I just left them well alone.(Above the white arrow in the diagram above you can also see one of the locking holes you can use to lock the Focus Ring against the “threading ring”, as discussed above).

The one significant problem I did encounter was with my 150mm lens. First the hole in the adaptor was too small to take the lens so I filed the adaptor hole out to size using a half-round file. But then I couldn’t get the lens to focus at all. At 6m the point of focus was about 16mm behind the film plane – far too much for any adjustment. The reason for this is that I was sent an adaptor for a current lens whereas my 150mm lens is 40 years old. No problem though. I was sent an additional spacer ring that screws in below the lens ring and now it’s correctly set up and focuses. Great service. I’m impressed.

One possible room for improvement is that it would be nice if the lens adaptors had a mark to align distances against and a depth of field scale. One of their illustrations on the Web does show this with what I think is a 90mm Super Angulon lens– perhaps this is only available with that lens Still, it might introduce another element of complication to the calibration process and I do not regard this as a big issue; depth-of-field tables are easy enough to come by on the Web.

Page 5

Viewfinders

I ordered two fixed viewfinders (for 75mm and 150mm) but since they were out of stock of the 150mm finder I received a zoom finder.

Fixed 75mm Viewing Scope on the left; 72mm – 150mm Zoom Scope on the right
Viewfinders, front and rear shots

The zoom viewing scope gives a very small window at 150mm, as you can see above, though it is useful for deciding which lens to use. The fixed viewing scope also has the 6×12 format is marked out in addition to the 6×17. In either case there is a fair amount of barrel distortion which won’t be present in the camera lens

The effectiveness of the scopes partly depends on their parallax and coverage. Parallax refers to the displacement of the view through the viewing scope as compared to the view through the lens Parallax will not be much of an issue when focusing at infinity but it will be for close objects. It’s easy enough to allow for, though, by viewing through the scope both above and alongside the camera.

Coverage is more of an issue. The 75mm viewfinder shows considerably more than the lens covers and is not very precise. This applies to 75mm on the zoom scope as well as to the 75mm fixed scope. You also have to be careful about the angle you are looking through the viewing scope. There is probably an inherent problem with such scopes though presumably the Linhof ones which cost $US600 instead of $US80 are more accurate. However, the zoom scope at 150mm seems quite accurate.

The Fotoman 6×17 camera offers an option for a ground glass screen in a magnetized holder. You can use this to compose under a dark cloth like a view camera provided that there is no film in the camera. This is more viable than it sounds since you only get four 6×17 exposures to a roll of film. It would be good if Gaoersi offered this as well. Since at present they don’t, I may look to getting one made.

Page 6

Changing formats on the Fly

There is a long round window on the back of the camera
When you open it you can see the numbers on the film

The black numbers and dots are on the paper backing of the film; the off-white numbers and lines are on the window of the camera. They’re probably easier to see if your film doesn’t have white paper backing.

You’ll see there are four “0” points across the top of the window. These are the indicators you use to wind on for your first exposure on a roll of film.

  • The first “0” is where you wind to if your first exposure is 6×12 and you wind on so the number “1” appears.
    • There’s a 6×12 indicator below the first “0”, obscured in this case by the lower black “6”
  • If your first exposure is 6×17 you wind on to the third “0” so that the number “2” appears there.
    • Underneath the 3rd “0” it says “617 (2)”
  • If your first exposure is 6×15 you wind on to the fourth “0” so that the number “2” appears there.
    • Underneath the 4th “0” it says “615 (2)”

Then, when you take further exposures, to see how many numbers on the film backing you wind on by, you can consult the Format Change knob:

Format Change knob

Obviously the Format Knob must be pointing to the correct format before you take the shot. It also tells you how much to wind on. If shooting in 6×12 format you wind on by 2 numbers on the film, for 6×15 it’s 2½ and for 6×17 it’s 3.

You can estimate fractions from the numbers and markings on the film. In the film number window (second-to-last picture), the position for 6½ is just to the right of the big dot.

If you’re changing formats mid-roll, you read the outer numbers on the top of the knob. Changing between 6×17 and 6×15 you advance 2¾ numbers, changing between 6×15 and 6×12 you advance 2¼ numbers and changing between 6×17 and 6×12 you advance 2½ numbers. It may sound a bit complex but it’s all quite simple really. You just have to bear in mind how much space you have left at the end of the film.

On a roll of 120 film you’ll get four exposures at 6×17, five at 6×15, six at 6×12 and then there are various combinations. Usually with 120 film it’s better to wind on after you take a shot to avoid the risk of double exposures. In this case it’s better to wind on when you take a shot because it’s only at that point you’ll know what format the shot will be (and therefore how much to wind on).

Build Quality

Build quality seems to me to be very good. The camera back for example fits so closely that you really need two hands to ease it off. Winding on of the film works well and just looking at the camera back I feel confident that it will hold the film flat.

Taking a Shot

Taking a shot involves a sequential ritual of a rather manual nature:

  1. Ensure that Format Change knob is pointing to the correct format
  2. Read how much to advance the film off the Format Change knob
  3. Advance film to correct position
  4. Ensure preview button on lens is not on (i.e. shutter is not open)
  5. Fire off shutter a couple of times to check operation
  6. Remove lens cap
  7. Remove darkslide
  8. Take exposure using a hand-held exposure meter
  9. Take the shot
  10. Replace dark slide
  11. Replace lens cap
  12. Do not wind the film on at this point

Hand holding is not generally viable at 6×17 because you will need to stop the lens down to something like f22 to cover the format – it may be more viable at 6×12, especially if you use 400 ISO film. Even so, it defeats the purpose of the camera somewhat – this is really a camera to use on a tripod.

Results

The next step is to look at some results from this camera. I’ve taken two rolls of film in my immediate environment using available lighting conditions. The first roll was mainly taken at the new building where I work. The second roll was taken over the back fence. As it happens, I live in an inner suburb of Australia’s National Capital and there’s 10,000 acres of native bush over my back fence.

I’ll cover what I do to scan these images, how I optimise them in Photoshop and what I do to print them out. I’ll be brief because there is lots of good documentation for both Silverfast and Photoshop. My scanner is calibrated (using Monaco EZColor and Wolf Faust targets) which is useful for slides but not essential. More importantly, my monitor is calibrated using a colorimeter (Monaco Optix).

Page 7

Choice of Scanner and Scanning Resolution

I am scanning the slides using a Canon 9950F scanner with Silverfast AI Studio software. Another option would be to use the Epson 4990 or 4870 together with Doug Fisher’s filmholder. I believe that the Canon is capable of producing better quality scans. It may be slightly sharper but that it not so important – the main thing is that it has a better DMax (density range) than the Epsons as reported in tests by a German magazine (3.8 as compared to 3.3). However, to produce good results with the 9950F it is essential to use Vuescan software or (my preference) Silverfast AI Studio. For more information on these scanners see Vincent’s Scanner Reviews on the 4870, the 4990, the 9950 and the Software Review on the 9950 when used with Silverfast.

The scanner has a nominal resolution of 4800dpi. When you scan you should use an even fraction of the nominal resolution (½, 1/3, ¼ etc) but so that the resulting resolution comes out as a whole number (e.g. ¼ of 4800 is 1200, a whole number). This way you are avoiding interpolation by the scanner and if you need to resize your scan it is better to do it later in Photoshop.

Normally I would scan slides at a resolution to produce the largest size I am likely to print, then later downsize the finished image in Photoshop when I need it for other purposes. This gives the following choices for scanning resolution:

  • 1600dpi (output resolution) would give an output size of 10×28” (25x71mm) for printing at 360dpi (print resolution) and produce a file size of 200MB
  • 2400dpi gives an output size of 15×42” (37x106cm) and a file size of 450MB. However, the file size is then getting a bit large for my PC so I would probably scale it back in Photoshop to 2,000 dpi which corresponds to printing on A3+ roll for an initial file size of only 320MB.

Normal slide film has a resolution of about 4,000 dpi but the new Velvia 100 probably has a resolution of 8,000 dpi or even more. To scan at this resolution you would need an Imacon or a drum scanner which would produce a file of about 5GB that you might be able to print to around 8×23’ (2×6 metres) at 180dpi.

However, for the purposes of this exercise, Vincent has told me that the maximum size for images to display on this page is 550 pixels (at 72dpi). This means that I only need to scan at 96dpi – but it’s easier if I scan a bit larger than that so I can see what I am doing in Photoshop more easily – so I’ll mostly scan at just 160dpi (as shown in the picture) and then downsize.

Scanning

To start scanning we turn on the scanner and the computer, open Photoshop and launch Silverfast.

Perhaps the first thing to do is to is to set up a 6×17 frame set. Silverfast doesn’t have automatic thumbnail recognition but you can drag out the location of two 6×17 frames on the main Preview screen, set your default scanning preferences and then save the frame set to use each time you scan.

When you save a new frame-set using the Save option on the Frame-Set dropdown on the General tab, the set you save adds to the menu (as shown in the picture). Saving a Frame-Set is also a good way to make sure that each time you scan you start off with a clean set of parameters.

The buttons towards the top of the frame provide Silverfast’s core functionality. From left to right you can:

  • zoom to expand the Preview Window to full screen;
  • auto-correct (you can specify the parameters this uses from the Options button at bottom right of the picture)
  • adjust histogram (overall or by channel; there is also a colour -caste removal slider)
  • adjust curves (overall or by channel; there are also sliders for midtones, highlights and shadows)
  • globally correct colour with a simple yet powerful interface
  • selectively correct specific colours.

(The last two buttons on the right are not covered here)

I generally zoom then auto-correct. This generally results in a small amount of clipping that I will correct using the Histogram. Sometimes I will make the histogram correction immediately or other times when I am adjusting colours I will do it just before the scan. It is important to retain your full shadow and highlight detail in the scanned file in Photoshop.

This is the Silverfast Preview window. You can zoom into the images from here and there are also a number of buttons down the left side that offer useful functions.

The Multiscan function helps eliminate noise by averaging several scans. Here it is set to 1 which is OK to scan only for Web. Usually I scan to print and operate it at 4 (as per Vincent’s finding)

The AACO button brightens up shadows without affecting highlights and midtones. I tried this in some of the example images that follow but found other methods more effective.

Job Manager allows you to send a batch of images to the scanner, including several versions of the same image.

The next picture is of the Job Manager dialogue box

.

There are various scans displayed in its main window (white background), some of different images, some with different settings, some different parts of images.

The six small buttons below the main window allow you to import one or more images into Job Manager, delete images from Job Manager, edit parameters, copy parameters to other images in Job Manager and select all images in Job Manager. You can scan all at once or one at a time. It is important to make sure you save the job before you scan (Job menu at top left) in case you need to scan again.

There’s also one intermittent but nasty trap I’ve encountered in Silverfast. When you zoom into an image (whether from Job Manager or normally) you should click on the image before you do anything to it. Sometimes this changes the apparent exposure of the image and if you don’t do it you may end up with an overexposed scan.

Page 8

Lens Correction Filter in Photoshop CS2

Before we move on to some sample images I’ll show you a screen shot of one of the new features of Photoshop CS2 because it is one that is very relevant to processing 6×17 panoramic scans.

Photoshop CS2 Lens Correction Filter (Filter/ Distort/ Lens Correction)

This screen allows you to correct pincushion or barrel distortion and reduce chromatic aberration. Perhaps most important for our purposes is the Vignette filter which may allow us to manage the falloff inherent in ultra wide 6×17 images. You can select the amount of the correction (making the corners darker or lighter) and with the midpoint slider you can determine how much of the image the falloff refers to.

There is also the Transform box, where you can correct vertical or horizontal perspective if the camera had been at an angle to the subject.

Page 9

Images

Now for a few images. These are my first shots with the camera, shot in available lighting conditions. In some cases I may go back and try again later. For each image I’ll briefly say what the image is about, what settings I used to scan it and how I processed the image in Photoshop. This is my own approach as it happened; there are many ways of doing these things and no doubt better approaches as well. All were taken with my 75mm lens before I got the 150mm lens calibrated.

Note: There’s no point downloading and trying to blow up these images because they’re only prepared for viewing at this size on screen.

First is a picture taken at the new building where my workplace has just moved.

It was taken late in the afternoon on a cloudy day and it was actually composed a bit wider than this. At that time I didn’t realise the viewing scope might be inaccurate though I also had this composition in mind as a fallback.

I had a minor confrontation with a security guard just after taking this. He ordered me not to take a photograph of a public building for no valid legal reason that I could see. (I continued and took the exposure I was waiting for).

  • Silverfast operations
    • I used curves to bring up shadows and hold back highlights
      • I also tried the new AACO feature to bring out shadow detail but found curves to be more effective (in this case at least)
    • No sharpening in Silverfast
      • Silverfast sharpening works quite well but there’s no point if you’re going to be optimising the image in Photoshop
  • Photoshop operations
    • Three-phase sharpening using PK Sharpener
      • This included using Hi-Pass filter for dark contour only
    • Curves used to increase brightness without blowing highlights
    • Vignette filter – moderate amount (as shown in previous picture)
    • 85 Warming Filter (c. 80%)

Overall I was quite happy with this image and I think it demonstrates that the camera and lens can work quite effectively even without using a centre-weighted neutral density filter.

It’s sharp, too as the picture below shows:

This is a blow up of a small area from the window in the middle to the left. There is a reflection on the glass and a couple of bits of dust, a green fluoride light coming through the Venetians and the edge of a shading grille. There’s even a diagonal grid texture on the grey frame for the grille. As viewed under the loupe, the film appears tack-sharp from top to bottom.

It’s only scanned at 1x and there would no doubt be less noise with 4x multi scanning. There’s more detail on the slide too that a really expensive scanner could pull out but it does demonstrate that the Canon 9950F is a viable option with this camera and film.

The next one looks down the central stairwell in my new work building. This was actually my first exposure with the new camera. It poses a particular problem for scanning and processing. With slide film you have to expose to retain the highlights but here the lighting was brighter in the centre than at the sides. This in turn exacerbates the problem with lens falloff.

I also managed to overlap this one with the one before which meant I had to crop in to a different composition.

  • Silverfast
    • Auto-adjust
    • Adjust histogram highlight and use “remove colour caste” slider
  • Photoshop
    • Vignette (Amount +47; Midpoint +33)
    • Shadow Highlight, mainly to further bring out shadows
    • Crop
    • Hue/ Saturation
      • Use eyedropper to select the fire pole, which was a bit too magenta, change hue and increase saturation (just of the pole)
    • Gentle 2-stage sharpening using PK Sharpener

I tried getting more detail out of the shadow of the sides but I was fighting a losing battle, risking savage colour castes and some posterisation. That’s OK. I don’t mind it the way it is. But to get more shadow detail on the sides, given the bright centre lighting, a centre-weighted neutral density filter may have helped. The exposure would have been about two stops slower, though.

The next shot was taken in the “bush” (Australian term) beyond my back fence. The shadows of the surrounding trees posed a problem for composition. Imprecision of composition due to the inaccuracy of the 75mm viewing scope was a problem here too. I tried composing through the back of the camera using the little piece of ground glass supplied for focusing but it was just too hard.

  • Silverfast
    • Auto adjust
    • Preserve highlights in histogram
      • that’s all for this one
  • Photoshop
    • Gentle curves adjustment to lighten highlights and darken shadows
    • Cropped in by about 40%
    • Gentle sharpening with PK Sharpener

There were details in the deep shadows at the top left that I cropped away because I couldn’t pull them back. It’s almost OK but there’s a better shot waiting for me when I go back to try again with a bit more time….

Here we have some Wattle (Acacia Baileyana) glowing in the late afternoon sun of late winter/ early spring – and silhouettes of eucalypts in the background. Acacia Baileyana is an Australian native plant but also declared as a weed in the ACT (Australian Capital Territory).

  • Silverfast
    • Auto adjust and preserve highlights in histogram
  • Photoshop
    • Vignette filter
    • Bringing the highlights out with levels
      • Also tried curves but in this instance levels worked well
    • Cropped in by about one-third from the right
      • Note that this has to happen after scanning and after applying the vignette filter – otherwise the vignette filter will operate on the wrong part of the frame
    • Gentle sharpening with PK Sharpener

As it turns out I might as well have taken it as a 6×12.

The last one is a Eucalypt in the last seconds of the sun….

  • Silverfast
    • Auto adjust
    • Preserve highlights in histogram
      • that’s all for this one
  • Photoshop
    • Vignette filter (Amount +42, Midpoint +20) brightens it up considerably at the top and bottom
      • There is no doubt perspective distortion and I tried correcting for it but I decided that the image is better as it is.
    • Gentle curves adjustment to lighten highlights and darken shadows
    • Slight straightening because the slide wasn’t quite straight in the holder
    • Slight cropping in at the bottom
    • Gentle sharpening with PK Sharpener

Once again, looking at the slide under an 8x loupe, the bark on the tree is really quite sharp

Page 10

Printing

The last test is to actually generate a print and examine it. I haven’t worked out a method to get it to disgorge through your screen but I’m still going to describe it because printing is the objective of the whole process. The image I’m printing is the first one I showed you, the vertical one of the building. I scanned it at 2400dpi and I’ll try leaving it at that size and printing at something like 12×34” (30x86cm) at 440dpi. This is because it is preferable (from the point of view of output quality) to vary the dpi within reason rather than to resize the image. However, if it gets too much for my PC I’ll downsize to 2000dpi.

My PC is a 2.4GHz Pentium 4 with only 1GB of memory but I do have a RAID array of hard disks which helps to speed things up. Scratch disk and virtual memory are set up on separate defragged disks and I’m saving to PSB (large file format). Even so, it can get slow so I need something else to do at the same time such as writing this review.

One additional thing I’ll do on the large image that I didn’t bother with on the small one is to remove dust and scratches, going through screen by screen at 100% display. Because this is such a large image, even on my 22” monitor this comes to 64 screens(!). I’ll be using a combination of the Spot Healing Brush, the Healing Brush and the Clone tool. On an image with a lot of sky I might duplicate the image, apply Photoshop’s Dust & Scratches filter to the lower image and erase down to it with a large brush – not in this case, though.

I didn’t use FARE (Canon’s equivalent of ICE) because Silverfast doesn’t have it since Canon won’t license it. It does have software-based dust and scratch removal which can be useful for some images but which also takes a bit of time to get right. Mind you, hardware-based functionality for dust and scratch removal such as FARE and ICE seems to have something of a mixed reputation. Some people say it is wonderful, others say it degrades the image too much to be worthwhile. (There may be a case here for using a wet-mounting system such as ScanMax but that’s another issue for another time.)

I processed the image in Photoshop using essentially the same steps I described earlier except that this time, because of the larger file size, I flattened layers and saved the file after each significant operation. The various operations took about an hour and a half in total, including 15 minutes for capture sharpening, 35 minutes for cleaning dust and scratches and 20 minutes to apply the vignette filter.

The next step was soft proofing. Soft proofing is something you can do in Photoshop when you have a monitor that is calibrated with a colorimeter. It shows you what the image may look like when printed using a particular paper profile for your printer. The dialogue where you define soft-proofing parameters is shown below. There was little difference in rendering intent and I used Perceptual. I also made slight increases to the adjustments to Curves and Hue/ Saturation.

View/ Proof Setup/ Custom…

Since it’s a large print I’ll printed out a small test print first which worked out fine. When I turned the printer on, the flashing lights told me I needed to replace Matte Black and Red cartridges. I also replaced Cyan to minimise ink lost in cartridge recharge because it was quite low.

To produce the final print I first rescaled the image to final output size (in this case, changing the dpi without changing the overall size of the image). Then I flattened it, reduced it to 8-bit, output sharpened, flattened again and saved as PSD. This took about 22 minutes.

Then I printed using dialogue box settings as shown below:

  • Colour Management section of Print with Preview dialogue:

File/ Print with Preview…

  • Print Properties dialogue:

File/ Print/ Properties …

It took 25 minutes to print out – 11 minutes for Photoshop to think about it and 14 minutes for the R1800 to print it. (Print size 30×86 cm @ 440dpi).

The print looks stunning. Sharp from edge to edge no matter how close the viewing distance. It took some hours to generate and no doubt would have been quicker with a better specified computer, especially say 4GB of memory. It demonstrates two things:

  1. that the camera can deliver stunning results with appropriate lenses, other equipment and processes
that for most shots, Photoshop’s Vignette filter can effectively replace the traditional centre-weighted neutral density filter.
Page 11

Specifications

It’s a camera review, remember? Since you’re on photo-i we’re not merely covering the camera as a consumer commodity, we’re looking at it from a photographic point of view in the context of the processes of the digital darkroom so we can assess its ability to produce worthwhile images.

Gaoersi camera (big black thing) and a Canon PowerShot A75 (small silver thing)

Which of the two cameras above do you think might fit into your coat pocket? (And if you reply “Both of them” may I suggest you change tailors). Mind you, the difference in potential image quality is greater than the difference is size.

Size of body: 200mm x 112mm x 75mm (for the Gaoersi, just in case there’s any doubt)

Weight of body only: 0.8kg

Weight of body with adaptor, lens and viewing scope: 2.3 or 2.4kg

Actual image size on film: 56x162mm (6×17); 56x142mm (6×15); 56x122mm (6×12)

Diagonal of film size: 171mm (6×17), 153mm (6×15), 134mm (6×12)

Focal lengths of lenses: 72mm to 150mm

Link for Gaoersi store on E-Bay

Page 12

Conclusions

The Gaoersi 617 is a specialist camera for experienced photographers who are used to manual processes with film cameras. It requires a slow and deliberative approach to taking photos and is most suitable for those with large format or at least medium format experience.

All cameras provide only a small part of the process to generate worthwhile images which particularly applies to this kind of camera. However, provided you’re appropriately set up to do so, it offers an affordable route to generate large high quality prints through the digital darkroom.

Overall, for the right photographer, I think that it’s a great camera and great value.

Pros

  • Great value
  • Stunning image quality
  • Precise build quality for back and mechanism
  • Zoom Viewing Scope is accurate at 150mm
  • Takes a wide range of large format lenses
  • Works well coupled with the Canon 9950F scanner, Silverfast and Photoshop CS2, using a well-specified, fully colour-managed PC.
  • It’s a film camera

Cons

  • Zoom and Fixed Viewing Scopes not accurate at 75mm
  • Calibration instructions too terse (unless you’ve read this review)
  • Be nice to have a ground-glass option
  • It’s a film camera

Score out of 10? You’ve read the review – you can do that.

If you’d like to make some comments or ask some questions, please visit the new photo-i Film Camera forum. You may also find many other interesting threads in other photo–i forums covering topics including Colour Management, Scanning and Printing

Many thanks to Murray Foote for putting in all the hard work on this review. I know this is a rather specialist camera that may not appeal to the masses. However, I am sure there are people who will be interested in this camera.

Vincent

 

Design Matters: Canberra Times Sunday 19th August 2018

Tony Trobe talks with Helen McFadden, President of the Canberra Photographic Society, prior to the opening of the society’s latest exhibition.

Lichen Reclaiming by Judy Parker

Lichen Reclaiming by Judy Parker

TT Hi Helen, tell me something about the Canberra Photographic Society and why it is relevant in an age when we are surrounded by smart phones and bombarded by images?

Humans are visual creatures who love to capture and look at images. It is true that cameras are now ubiquitous, but it is the eyes, mind and heart that are essential for creating great images. We at the Canberra Photographic Society are passionate about growing our photography and helping others achieve their photographic potential no matter where they are on their photographic journey.

Why do you consider this to be of benefit to the community?

Many people enjoy having a creative outlet and photography has wide appeal. Photography can be as simple or as technical as you would like and we welcome all types of photographer. Many members find that the act of making photographs has a meditative quality that can be beneficial when dealing with health and life issues. Photography can also take us beyond recording places and experiences and allow us to explore and communicate ideas and emotions and even influence change. Photography can take you to places at home and away that you may not otherwise have visited or even considered. Some members travel extensively and share images of wonderful places when they return while others focus on local subjects and make beautiful and thought-provoking images from the apparently ordinary.

TT Where does your upcoming exhibition fit in with this vision?

This exhibition features members’ photographs that show the beauty and importance of the natural world. Our environment is changing rapidly with humans’ need for resources putting pressure on built and natural systems, wild places and wildlife. Some of the landscapes depicted in the exhibition, such as our magnificent eucalypt forests, are disappearing. Animals, such as the black rhino, are critically endangered. Pollinators are in decline. All are essential for our physical and emotional well-being. Sadly, in some instances photographs may be all that we have to leave for future generations unless we can reduce negative human impacts on our planet.

I understand that the Canberra Photographic Society was formed in 1945 and has seen a lot of changes in the way photography is practiced. Has the society itself changed much with the times?

I like to think so. We now have more emphasis on sharing, participation, collaboration and learning than on competition and our membership now is more diverse than it was. We run a full program (www.cpsaus.org) with our main event (on the first Tuesday evening of each month) being an Exhibition and Critique night. Visitors are welcome.

Why is this venue special for you?

I spent most of my career as a CSIRO scientist and I worked for a time in a laboratory in the Discovery Centre building where the exhibition is being held. Architects Daryl Jackson Alastair Swayn Pty Ltd won the AIA Canberra ACT Medallion in 2000 for the centre’s innovative design. In addition to the gallery and cafe most visitors come to the Interactive Discovery Centre to learn about Australia’s role in the fascinating world of science and research.

“The Natural World” is on at the Discovery Centre, CSIRO Black Mountain, from 21st August to 27th September 2018. The gallery is open from 9 am to 4.30 pm Monday to Friday.

Enquiries: enquiries@cpsaus.org

 

Comments by Chris Holly on CPS Projected Portfolio Awards, Aug 2018

The Venice Carnivale

Great framing and light. Whether posed or captured, the series joins together well.

Alas the use of vignettes is hiding the scene. While a useful device for drawing a viewer’s eye to the subject, in this case, the vignette may not have been needed at all as the framing and backgrounds add context and depth to each image.

 

Graffiti Walls

Excellent portfolio and wonderful and comedic timing of passers by both in terms of interaction with the walls and in every day observations of people in the city. The framing is brilliant to use the backgrounds as backdrops so well.

The series hangs together very well. Great presentation with the drop shadow and white border – almost as if they are matted prints. The borders add a strong finish and tie the series together very well.

 

Newborns

Very crisp definition with choice of background and composition. Diffuse lighting lends well to the softness and purity of the newborn subjects. These are a very high standard of images and ones that any parent would be delighted to receive. A healthy nod to Anne Geddes and classic modern newborn photography.

 

Impressions of Kingston

Such simplicity and continuity. Very well seen and photographed.  Using water in this way to abstract is clever, decisive and distinct. While reflections work for some subjects, this series uses reflections of buildings to a marvellous effect. This is definitely a body of work to continue to explore and refine. The series hangs well together and the images are captivating both up close and at a distance. The acuity varies depending on viewing distance and this playful way of exploring is what makes this portfolio really engaging.

 

Winter Trees

Very pleasing images and selection of snow gums and snow scenes. The solitary tree invokes both isolation and shelter. Having spent many years in the snowy mountains backcountry, these are all excellent landscapes and it is a challenge to find clean snow and isolated trees, not to mention shooting in the cold. It may be interesting to rotate the camera and explore a vertical aspect for the panorama to explore different dimensions and scale for the trees.

 

Scotland

Images tie in nicely as a series. I liked the way roads, huts or humans provide scale. A square format provides a different symmetry and feel for the landscapes which are often shot in a traditional landscape or portrait format. The colours and weather provide a pleasing continuity to the series.

 

Pollinators

A solid series exploring and refining macro insects on flowers. These are tricky subjects to make portraits of. There is a range of views with insects as what the focal point of the subject should be (i.e. eyes or other prominent body parts). As with all series and all subjects, keep exploring and developing and refining your technique.

 

UK and Europe Black and Whites

The series combines as black and white, however it appears undecided whether the series s of street and water scapes or architectural icons and edifices. It may be interesting to explore the series from one or the other, or look for a story that ties the images together. Great range of tones and good contrast for each image.

 

Lioness

A well spotted and timed series of expressions that show either a relaxing lion or a despondent beast in a zoo. While difficult to achieve from a set standpoint observing such behaviour, it is a good thing to practice and develop watching backgrounds and elements in the frame. While the lion is not moving too much, the logs and wood could be reduced to strengthen the viewer’s eye to remain with the lioness by cropping the images slightly or watching through the viewfinder as the images were made.

 

Colour Infra Red

A great series showing IR colour landscapes. This would be a great educational series to show how colour IR behaves under different ambient light, scene brightness range and vegetation types. It also  hangs together as a travel series in what looks like South Australia and the Flinders or Gammon Ranges. There’s an interesting connection of decay, raging and ruin from human presence on the landscape.

 

Montreal Cats

A quirky and cool cat expose of travel photography. Great to see little or no human presence bringing the cat as subject of the portrait. The composition and timing is great to have cats where one might expect people and that the cats are doing what appears to be very human things relaxing in a cafe or waiting at the hairdressers. Well conceived as a series.

 

Forest Blur

An excellent start to what can become a trademark or signature technique. The series shows a range of zoom and motion techniques to blur the trees and does it well. Perhaps consider how to tie the two techniques together by sharing a common set of trees or consider a series exploring one of the techniques. As with all series and techniques, keep refining, developing and most of all practicing to improve your skills.

 

Varanasi Noon

Very interesting series. I had to sit with the images for some time. Time being the operative word. The scenes are very quiet in terms of human presence and the use of what appears to be a similar viewpoint shows a slight change between frames to emphasise or diminish the activity and daily happenings. The subtle differences between frames is what makes this series work well.

 

Lady Blues

Performances are a challenge and a delight to photograph. With the busy stage and constantly varying lighting, the timing and composition of an image provides a clue as to the nature of the performer, and can hint at the type of music and how dynamic the performer was on the day.

Definitely keep pursuing this opportunity. These images work well as a series of performers at an event, and while it can be challenging to get god angles with crowds and shooting position, explore as many options and take as many shots as you can to gain a range of emotions and stage antics.

 

Street Scenes

Fantastic travel shots and views into rainy and wet weather in a foreign city. The textures of the walls and streets are softened by the rain and the vibrant elf umbrellas and fashion show careful observation and thing to capture these images – especially the range of moments, movements and interactions from people. The author appears to be unobtrusive given that the people in the images appear to be unaware of the photographer’s presence. Great series.

 

Multiculturalism and Urban Space

Healthy to provide and artist’s statement for this. The use of the hat in most frames works as a theme well. The images from observers looking out of windows didn’t quite give me a sense of darkness of our condition, however it did provide a divergence of relationship between the hat images and the street observers. The narrative through the series could be further explored by the hat appearing more often to refine and clarify what the relationship is between multiculturalism and urban spaces. I’m left wondering who is a local and who is a foreigner in this place…

 

Round (wish) Squared

An excellent series in both concept and construction. Using the same size in the frame provides an intriguing removal of scale while maintaining the circular outline shows things as a whole, but in one plan view or transverse plane. Objects in this way appear to be something different until one makes a closer inspection. The presentation is very scientific and objective su a fruit could be a planet, or a microscopic diatom magnified thousands of times. The choice of mon (black and white) further enhances the ambiguity and simplicity – when all appear equal, one must look carefully to find a difference.

 

PIHA

An interesting catalogue of a place at different times and at different scales. The progression from a high and wide viewpoint to a ground level framing provides a documentary approach to the rock and provides the viewer with a sense of mood, scale and comparison between frames. Perhaps explore how the series or portfolio would hang together with a similar treatment (i.e. all colour or all mono) to guide you viewer to the rock itself and not so much on the changing conditions between each frame.

 

Winter is coming

A beautiful series of landscapes reminiscent of Eliot Porter or other north american landscape artists of the last century. The series shows the pallid and cold conditions that signal winter through trees as a measure of seasonality with deciduous colours and the first snows. The structure of each frame is bold and simple keeping the emphasis on either the colour of leaves, or the lack of leaves – a smart way to tell a story of many words in single frames.