Photography

Learning photography lessons with Fuifilm Velvia

Of the twelve images I made on that roll of original Fujifilm Velvia (expired 8/2006 but always stored frozen) at Crown Hill Cemetery, eight were stunning and four had exposure issues. I did what I could in Photoshop to rescue them.

I overexposed this one. Photoshop rescued the trees and sky, but the grave markers were simply too blown out thanks to reflecting sun. I did the best I could with them but I think they just look unnatural. Lesson learned: notice reflected light and consider its effect on the photo.

Herrington

I wanted to see how Velvia handled this tree’s deep, vibrant red. But the sun was off to my left rather than directly behind me, which created some haze in the image I couldn’t Photoshop away. Lesson learned: invest in a lens hood for my 12.

Red tree

Heavy contrast between light and shadow tripped up the Yashica-12 and the Velvia. As I stood at the top of Indianapolis’s highest hill and looked south toward the Indianapolis skyline, such as it is, a cloud partially obscured the sun. The rest of the sky was bright, but the shadowy ground took on a sickly pall. Lesson learned: when using slide film, wait for the sun to come out for even lighting.

Down the lane from Riley's rest

Finally, as I crested this hill on this side lane, Crown Hill opened up before me. I thought it would make a lovely image but I didn’t realize, I guess, how poor the light was right where I was standing. I don’t know much about the Yashica-12’s meter and the Internet isn’t much help. If I had to guess, I’d say it measures the center of the frame. The center of this frame was in the brightly lit distance, so the 12 underexposed the foreground. Lesson learned: meter for the shadows, because with Velvia you can often correct overexposure, but never underexposure, in Photoshop.

Out toward the land

There’s always one more thing to learn in film photography. Especially when shooting Fujifilm Velvia.

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Photography

Favorite subjects: Washington Park North

It’s funny how easily you don’t notice the things you see every day. For most of the last 22 years I’ve lived near Washington Park North, a cemetery on Indianapolis’s Northwestside. At some point its entrance moved about three quarters of a mile down the road. I have no memory of this. How did I miss it? I drive by this cemetery pretty much every day!

WPN_1941
Washington Park North in 1941. Courtesy MapIndy, http://maps.indy.gov/MapIndy/

Washington Park North has been here since about 1930, when this part of the county was farms as far as the eye could see. It was called Glen Haven then, but it got its current name in 1955 when the Washington Park Cemetery Association bought it. They’ve expanded it over the years to cover about 150 acres and even built a funeral center on the grounds. Along the way, absent my notice, they moved the entrance. According to MapIndy’s historic imagery, it happened in 2000.

WPN_2017
Washington Park North, 2017. Imagery and map data © 2017 Google.

The main reason this cemetery is a favorite subject is because it’s so close to my home. See the Eastern Star Church in the upper left corner of the map image above? My subdivision is directly across the street from it, to the west, outside the image. It’s a quick walk for some easy shooting, especially since the church was constructed and I can just cut through its parking lot to get there. Before I had to walk Cooper and Kessler to get there, about three quarters of a mile to the entrance. The new entrance, that is; the old one was another three quarters of a mile down the road!

Let’s start in the parking lot, where one autumn I got supernatural color on Fujifilm Velvia 50.

Red tree parking lot *EXPLORED*
Nikon F2, Fujifilm Velvia 50, 135mm f/3.5 AI Nikkor, 2014

An iron fence used to surround the property, but at some point it was taken down west of the funeral center. Yet the stone posts and this structure, on the corner of Kessler and Cooper, remain. I’ve always wondered what this structure is for.

Along Kessler Blvd.
Pentax ME, 28mm f/2.8 SMC Pentax-M, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

But I’ve spent most of my time photographing inside the cemetery. For a while I was fixated on a replica of the Liberty Bell on the grounds. Why does a cemetery have a Liberty Bell replica? I don’t get it. Yet camera after camera, angle after angle, I shot it a dozen times.

Pass and Stow
Miranda Sensorex II 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda Kodak Ektar 100, 2015
Bell
Pentax ES II, 50mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015
Liberty Bell replica
Olympus XA, Kodak T-Max 400, 2016

The little structure that houses the bell has found itself in my lens many times, too.

Bell Gazebo
Pentax ES II, 50mm f/1.8 SMC Takumar, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015
Bell housing
Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016
Bell Monument
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

You’ll find nary a hill, nary a dale inside Washington Park North. Landscape photos offer lots of depth.

Swans and Fountain
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016
Stone bridge
Yashica-D, Fujifilm Neopan 100 Acros, 2016
Pond
Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016
Schwinn Collegiate
Olympus OM-1, 50mm f/1.8 F. Zuiko Auto-S, Fujifilm Fujicolor 200, 2015

Several mausoleums and a couple chapels dot the grounds.

Chapel
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016
In the chapel
Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016

I’ve photographed few grave markers here because, frankly, most of them are uninteresting. I prefer the grave markers in much older cemeteries.

Crying angel
Minolta AF-Sv, Fujicolor 200, 2016
Markers
Miranda Sensorex II, 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015

Finally, here are just a few more photos I count as favorites from Washington Park North.

Flowers
Miranda Sensorex II, 50mm f/1.8 Auto Miranda, Kodak Ektar 100, 2015
Foggy angel
Argus A2B, Fomapan 100, 2016
Thingy
Nikon F3HP, 50mm f/2 AI Nikkor, Fomapan 200, 2016

I really enjoy some of my favorite subjects, while others I call favorite mostly because they’re convenient and I shoot them a lot. Washington Park North falls into the latter category. When I’m shooting a new-to-me old camera, this is commonly where I go to finish the test roll! “Aw, just five more shots on this roll. I’ll just walk over to the cemetery and finish it so I can send it off for processing.”

But after I move to Zionsville, I’m sure I’m going to wish I could just walk over to the cemetery for some easy shooting.

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As we drove back to our B&B from Kylemore Abbey, we found ourselves on a minor highway in remote Connemara, County Galway, Ireland. Highway R344, to be exact. And the scenery was lovely. We pulled over to take it in.

Irish road
Along an Irish highway
Along an Irish highway
Along an Irish highway
Along an Irish highway
Along an Irish highway

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Photography, Travel

Stopping along a Connemara highway

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Typical scene in Co. Galway

Typical scene in Connemara, County Galway
Canon PowerShot S95
2016

As we drove along a lonely highway on our way to Kylemore Abbey, we stopped a few times just to photograph the views. I didn’t notice until readying this photo for this post that I captured a fellow walking. Do you see him?

Travel
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At Connemara National Park

I had lunch the other day with my colleague Rich, and when I told him of my Irish honeymoon he exclaimed delightedly, “Oh! My wife and I were in Ireland in May! The whole time, I felt like we were in a postcard. Especially when we visited Connemara National Park.” I knew just what he meant — Margaret and I visited there too. My camera captured candylike colors.

IMG_3729 rawproc.jpg

We found another postcard view at Drumcliffe. There’s a little church there, and the grave of poet W. B. Yeats. And there’s this view of Benbulben, a prominent rock formation.

Giant's Causeway

The cinematic scenes at The Giant’s Causeway can all generate postcard-worthy photography. I like this scene from the Causeway’s entrance the best.

Killybegs

After an especially long day, we stopped for dinner in the fishing-port town of Killybegs in County Donegal. We had this view from our dining table. On our way out, we stopped in the early-evening light to photograph the colorful scene.

Kylemore Abbey

Finally, here’s the castle at Kylemore Abbey in County Galway. I’ll tell its story in an upcoming post.

Canon PowerShot S95.

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Photography, Travel

Postcard views of Ireland

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Photography

Is it worth it to post-process your photos?

I wish I had kept track of how many hours it took me to post-process the digital photos I took in Ireland. I shot 999 photos, all in RAW, with my Canon S95. If it averaged me a minute per to work them over in Photoshop — and that estimate is probably light — that’s about 16½ hours of processing. No wonder I’ve gotten so little else done since I got back to Indiana.

I kept thinking about Eric Kim’s recent article extolling the virtues of just shooting JPEG and simply accepting the results. He’s right: it’s faster and easier. And your digital camera does correct for lens distortion and adjusts color and contrast. Kim says that modern digital cameras make pretty good choices. Why post-process when the camera can do it well enough for you?

But I don’t usually like the choices my S95 makes. I wonder whether my six-year-old camera qualifies as modern anymore. Kim is shooting with cameras much newer.

And no camera can do certain things as well as Photoshop can.

Let me show you what I mean. I acutally shoot RAW+JPEG, meaning I get a RAW file and the in-camera JPEG each time I click the shutter. Here’s the JPEG I got of a dramatic scene at Carrick-a-Rede Island.

img_3168

Here it is after I worked it over in Photoshop. Check out all of the detail Photoshop and I pulled out of the shadows. And the sky isn’t blown out anymore. Also, the S95’s images run a little colder/bluer than my mind remembers them. I warmed this up slightly.

At Carrick-a-Rede Bridge

It really is remarkable how much information the RAW file contains that the JPEG doesn’t. Here’s a church and cemetery in Ardara, a coastal town in County Donegal.

img_3403

Just look at all the detail Photoshop found on the hillside cemetery. I also made some corrections to perspective to more properly anchor the church in the photograph. I take a lot of architectural photos from ground level, leading to buildings appearing to lean back. I frequently tweak perspective, even on my film photographs, trying to make buildings look more natural.

Church of the Holy Family, Ardara, Ireland

But sometimes the results are mixed. This is the JPEG I got of a scene as Margaret and I climbed the breathtaking cliffs at Slieve League. The distant hill is a little hazy, but the colors are pretty good.

img_3457

My work in Photoshop clarified that hill and made the sky a lot more interesting, but I couldn’t do that without dulling the foreground.

At Slieve League

I’m going to process most of my photos whether or not I shoot RAW. I’ll tweak white balance, fix perspective problems, straighten things up when I didn’t have the camera perfectly level, and enhance colors. So I might as well shoot RAW; it gives me so much more information to work with.

Perhaps the solution is to shoot fewer photographs, but make each one I do shoot count. That way, I’ll have fewer to process when I get home. This is what happens automatically when I shoot film, by the way.

Because I want those 16½ hours back.

What are your thoughts and feelings around shooting RAW and post-processing?

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