Like the cows in the earlier post, these horses were chowing down without any concern for the weather or the photographer who was pointing a camera over the fence in their direction.
The Olympus OM-D EM-5 mirrorless camera that I have had now for about a year is at the high end of the Olympus Micro 4/3 line and sports an excellent 16 megapixel sensor. But the megapixel count is not what makes this camera special. It is the excellent dynamic range and low noise. Here’s an example of what I am talking about. It’s a scene with very high contrast. The sky is much brighter than the foreground rocks. If you expose for the sky the rocks go completely dark and if you expose for the rocks the sky gets blown out.
The image was exposed for somewhere in the middle of the sky and the foreground rocks. The sky lacks detail and the foreground is dull. But starting with a raw file it is possible use Adobe Lightroom (or Adobe Camera Raw) to tame the highlights and pull better detail and tonal quality of the dark areas.
Here is a screenshot of the basic adjustments I applied in Lightroom.
The “Highlights” slider is pulled all the way down to tame the sky and the “Shadows” slider is pushed all the way up. This yields a rather flat image so far, but the detail in the sky and the foreground are retained. Then I push up the “Whites” slider a bit, which brightens it up without pushing the highlights too far. Lowering the “Blacks” slider adds a little more contrast.
Finally, the “Clarity” and “Vibrance” adjustments give the local contrast and color a boost. Here is the result:
Note that even though I’ve pushed the darker areas up a great deal and then added local contrast boost, there still is very little noise, even looking at the full size image on my monitor.
Now this image still can use some tweaking. I can do some additional fine-tuning in Photoshop. But I have a much better image to work with than trying to go straight into Photoshop/Elements (or even Lightroom) with an out of the camera .jpg file.
Of course, these adjustments need to be done with care to meet the needs of every specific image. It might be argued that my clarity setting is too high. The thing to remember is that if you don’t like the result, you can always go back and adjust.
Lightroom is a great tool but equally important is the “material” you are going to use the tool on. In this case, starting with a raw file allows you to get the most out of the camera’s sensor. For me, this allows me to use the smaller Micro 4/3 cameras, which are so much lighter than the full-sized DSLR, and still get excellent image quality.
I don’t get out early that much but when I saw the fog one morning I decided to push myself out to see what I could find. What is great about foggy conditions is that the backgrounds all but disappear so that it does not distract from the foreground subject. These critters seemed to be just as happy munching on the grass in the fog as any other time.
For the second half of last year my primary efforts were focused on the “Asylum” project so I have neglected finishing work on the few images I captured over the last few months of 2012 and the first few months of 2013.
I’m going to try to catch up posting some of my recent images and so I’ll start with this one from Potoma Falls, located about a mile downstream and across the Potomac river from Harpers Ferry.
This is one of the first images captured with the Nikon D600. It allows shooting as low as ISO 50 and combined with a polarizer I was able to use a longer shutter speed to blur the water. The blurred water technique has become somewhat of a cliche but in this case I thought it was worth doing.
It’s been close to 50 years since I visited Fort Washington so one day I started heading in that direction and decided that I would go for it. Here is the amazing view of the Potomac River from the fort. In the distance you can see the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and DC beyond.
The image is a stitched composite of several images to make up the panoramic.