photoblogography - Just some stuff about photography

Along for the ride

a bit of birding…

in Olympus E-System , Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A couple of shots of Great Crested Grebes taking the offspring out for a ride on Lago di Lugano.

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three’s a crowd!

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Faster, dad!

Both taken with the 50-200 SWD lens on Olympus E-5. And cropped a bit.


Emulation blues

show some respect, youngsters

in Film , Monday, July 23, 2012

I was reading a review today of the latest craze in film emulation software, VSCO Film, on Patrick La Roque’s excellent blog. It makes interesting reading, but the telling part is half way down the comments, where the one and only Robert Boyer can’t help but vent his spleen. To lift a quote:

It could be from this being the first tool of it’s type that I have acquired in a long time - they are all WAY WAY OFF in what the real films actually look like I wouldn’t say that they are more OFF than anybody else’s similar toolsets. They are in fact COMPLETELY different from every other film emulation tool on the same target film - actually every film emulator is completely different from each other - not even close - all of them being completely different from the actual film.

Patrick La Roque himself agrees that the named presets look nothing like the film they are supposed to emulate, so, leaving aside the didactic benefits of these particular Aperture presets, one really has to wonder what the point of it all is.

I’m not sure if Patrick uses VSCO a lot - I have the impression he rolls his own, mainly. Certainly his photos have a very strong identity, but they don’t look like “film” to me. And neither should they. The whole movement towards “film looks” seems to be very much weighted towards a particular type of film shots: mainly the ones that back in the days of film people would immediately bin. In the Years BD (Before Digital), strangely enough people did not, as a whole strive to produce washed out, over exposed, bleached, coffee-spill toned out of focus crap.  Actually you could, believe it or not, take good photos on film. Yes, even colour slide film. Oh, and I’d say you still can.

Take the shot below. Now, it’s not exactly Galen Rowell. But ignoring the artistic limitations, there is a feel to this that I cannot get from digital. The silvery, luminous quality of the light here is something I can only capture on Ektachrome 100G. And this is a straight scan - as close to the original as Silverfast can get it, and that’s pretty damn close. There’s no software I know of that can “emulate” it. I have tried, as I mentioned a while back.

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Lavertezzo, Val Verzasca, Ticino, on Ektachrome E100G. Hasselblad XPan with 45mm lens

Film, unlike VCSO, Instagram et al is not just there to recapture your parents reject 1970s holiday snaps.  Believe it or not it remains not only a viable alternative to digital, but something quite unique and special, which cannot be obtained by shoving a few sliders in whatever iPhone app is in favour this month. But for how much longer ? Black & white film will live on in its own little niche. Colour print film will carry on so long as there’s the still huge disposable camera market to back it up.  Ektachrome was supposed to be saved by Hollywood, but Holly would, wouldn’t she ? And Fuji’s chrome lines seen under serious threat - it looks like Provia will be the last decent slide film standing.  I foresee howls of anguish from the beards with the view cameras, but I’d put a reasonable bet (that I’d hope to lose) on there being no positive film of any format on the market in two years time.

VCSO doesn’t even condescend to try to imitate positive emulsions. At least Alien Skin & DXO do make the effort. But anyway, that’s not the point. As RB says, none of them get it right. And none of them can emulate the stunning effect of seeing a well exposed Ektachrome (or even Velvia, if you must) on a light box. Digital has nothing on that. Not even close.

Slide film is on it’s way out. You don’t care. But you’ll miss it when it’s gone.


Velvia 100F gets its card punched

Two wheels on my waggon…

in Film , Sunday, July 22, 2012

So there I was thinking that after I run out of the discontinued Ektachrome 100G, I’ll switch back to Velvia 100F. However….

Fujifilm announces film discontinuations | Fujifilm United Kingdom:


It appears the end is nigh. I strongly dislike “landscape photographer Velvia” - and even that is looking to be on shaky ground.  I suppose at the last resort Provia 100F is usable, providing I don’t mind everything that’s supposed to be green looking blue.

So it looks like the long term options are:

  1. switch to negative film. I suppose Ektar 100 is still in production.
  2. switch to black & white, look artistic and only speak French
  3. give up

Probably it will be 3.  I’ve got enough E100G to last until my next major project, I think. After that I guess I might sell the XPan while there’s still a demand for it.  There really isn’t much logic any more in shooting slide film. I do realise that. But there’s more to like - and photography - than logic.


Diga di Contra

A couple of snaps

in Film , Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Some XPan shots of and near Diga di Contra in Val Verzasca, Ticino, taken a few months ago one dark wet & gloomy evening. Processed in Silverfast 6 HDR. Probably I could be more creative with gradients and desaturation and whatever, but that’s just not me.  Kodak E100G, f/22 and be there. Diffraction ? What’s that, then ?

Xpan verzasca0412 05
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A Silverfast 8 Book Review

now all we need is the software

In mid-2012, given the parlous state of film-based photography (especially colour slide film), and the less than encouraging signs from Lasersoft Imaging, the chances that a new book on Silverfast would be published must have been remote. That it would also be a very good book, even less so. Scanning veteran Mark D Segal has nevertheless confounded expectations with his eBook, “Scanning Workflows with Silverfast 8, Silverfast HDR, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop”. The title may be quite a mouthful, but it is justified through the contents.

Msegal sf

Although the book was written in close collaboration with Lasersoft, makes of Silverfast (of itself a positive sign), it’s no hagiography. Where the author feels that Silverfast is not going to give you best results, he makes no excuse for providing alternative solutions in Photoshop and Lightroom. However, with his exhaustive - but never exhausting - exposition of Silverfast’s vast feature set, he reveals and clarifies areas of the application which I’ve either never used or never been comfortable with.

The book targets Silverfast 8, which for me remains something of a pipedream, and I’m stuck with SF6 for scanning with my Minolta film scanner, and although I religiously download each new public Beta of SF8 HDR, I’m sorry to say that that is still way short of usable. However, although some tools, for example AACO shadow recovery, are improved in SF8, what Mark writes is still applicable to SF6.

The last book to be written on Silverfast was Taz Tally’s Official Silverfast Manual published in 2003, which while pretty good for its day, only covered film scanning as an afterthought on the included CD. Mark’s book on the other hand is firmly focused on film, both positive and negative.

The writing still is clear and communicative, avoiding the trite humour that so many writers seem to feel they can’t do without. The author is not going to get rich with this book, which is available for €29.95 from the Silverfast web site. It is clearly something of a labour of love - let’s hope it doesn’t turn out to be a requiem.

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