The Beauty Around Us

Showcases Portraiture, Scenic & Nature Photography and Feaures a Photo Journal Blog

Posts from the ‘Photography’ category

Never Say Never

When I purchased my Olympus OM-D E-M1 mirrorless interchangeable-lens compact (MILC) camera in September 2014, I said that I would not buy another camera ever again.  Never say never!

I ordered a new camera on Sunday, March 3rd.  My new camera is the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, which arrived this past Wednesday afternoon at 2:30 pm.  See how exact I am about the arrival time?   

This was me, waiting for Federal Express (photo obtained at https://pin.it/uonmz5b7tkrdwk)

My new camera, before the unboxing

My new camera has been around for awhile.  It was released in November 2016, about 3 years after its predecessor.  I am keeping my Olympus OM-D E-M1 — as a second body.  

Here is a comparison between the two cameras.

Olympus OM-D E-M1 vs. Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II

My new camera has several improvements, compared to its predecessor.  I am looking forward to photographing birds with my new camera.  I should have more success with birds-in-flight, given the faster auto focus capability.

There is a ripple effect, when a new camera is purchased.  Since purchasing the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II, I also made the following purchases:

• the Kindle Edition of “Mastering the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II” by Darrell Young,

• a Lexar Professional 128GB Memory Card, and

• a second Olympus BLH-1 Rechargeable Battery

I anticipate the purchase of additional memory card(s).

I plan on my new camera being the last camera that I purchase in my lifetime.  I won’t say never, though!

Little Voice in My Head


Image obtained from YouTube

I started a new project today, as a result of Flickr changes that I discussed in my previous blog post.

The majority of the photographs in this blog are embedded Flickr images. If I delete the original Flickr images, the embedded Flickr photographs in my blog will be deleted as well. In essence my blog photographs are held hostage by Flickr!  Recently I paid for an additional 1-year subscription to Flickr Pro; however, I do not wish to pay indefinitely for a Flickr Pro subscription.

My project, beginning today and continuing throughout 2019, is to download (and then delete) Flickr images embedded in my blog.  I will upload the downloaded images into my blog in their proper place.  Eventually my Flickr account will be devoid of all images, and I will either limit my photographs to 1,000 images  or delete the account.  Hopefully, I complete this project by November 1, 2019 — the day on which my Flickr Pro subscription would auto renew.

This project is a BIG undertaking! I have 1,474 blog posts to act upon!

I wish I had paid more attention to the little voice in my head, when I first started my blog. That little voice in my head kept asking “what if Flickr is no longer a viable hosting site for pictures in your blog, what then?”

Flickr

On April 23rd I received an email announcing that Flickr has agreed to be acquired by SmugMug.  I was informed that nothing would change immediately with regard to my Flickr account.

On September 19th I received an email notice that my 1 Year Flickr Pro subscription would renew on October 19th at the current price of $49.99 billed annually.  I had been a Flickr Pro subscriber since October 2008 and had paid $24.95 annually for the subscription.  The last time Flickr changed Pro pricing was when it re-introduced Flickr Pro at $49.99 in July 2015. At that time Flickr rewarded Pro members with a promise of a two-year protected price. The current subscription price of $49.99 is not an increase in price. Flickr is merely bringing grandfathered Flickr Pro members to the current Pro rate. It was nice, as a Flickr Pro customer for a number of years, to be grandfathered in 2015 for 2 years at the price I had been paying ($24.95).

As of September 19th a Flicker Pro account provided unlimited, full-resolution uploads; ad-free browsing for both myself and my visitors; advanced stats; industry discounts including 15% off Adobe Creative Cloud; the Flickr Auto-Uploader that allows me to automatically back up my photographs both on my computer and on my Apple devices.

A Flickr Free account at that time provided 1TB full-resolution uploads.  In September I was using only .22 TB of storage. Once I reached the 1TB storage limit, there was nothing stopping me from opening another Flickr Free account and making use of the 1TB full-resolution uploads.  A Flickr Free account did not include ad-Free browsing, advanced stats, an auto-uploaded or industry discounts.  None of the limitations of a Flickr Free account bothered me. At first I thought the Adobe Creative Cloud discount of 30% would be useful.  The discount is for the more expensive Adobe CC plan (approx. $50/month) that includes programs I have no use for.

I cancelled my Flickr Pro subscription on September 19th.  I would get along fine with the Flickr Free account.

Not having a Flickr Pro subscription was short lived. On or about November 1st Flickr announced a change that would directly impact me.  Beginning January 8, 2019, free accounts will be limited to 1,000 photos and videos. Flickr Pro will continue to provide unlimited storage. I have several thousands more pictures and videos than the 1000 picture limit of a Flickr Free account. Additionally the photographs contained in this blog are linked to Flickr. It would be an impossible task for me to remove thousands of pictures from Flickr and maintain my blog and Flickr connection.

I renewed my Flickr Pro subscription on November 1st.  I am certain there will come a time when my blog will no longer exist.  I can’t see myself (or my heirs) paying indefinitely for Flickr Pro and my WordPress blog.  Until that time arrives, though, it is business as usual!

I obtained the following screen shots from Flickr.

 

A Touch of the Dramatic

On Sunday, June 5th, we drove through Allegany State Park near Salamanca, NY on our way home from a shopping trip to BJs Wholesale Club in Allegany, NY.  During our drive we stopped at Stone Tower and at Red House Lake.  I experimented with my camera’s Dramatic Tone Art Filter.  The resulting photographs are works of art. My camera did the hard work, i.e. processing the image which resulted from the use of the filter. All I did was compose the picture (which takes some talent I guess ;)), and crop and sharpen the picture.

I obtained the following information pertaining to the Dramatic Tone Art Filter from “Simply Robin”.

“Art Filters were first introduced in Olympus E-30, allowing users to instantly process their photographs into a selection of available creative effects, such as Pinhole and grainy film effects. While many professional photographers initially frowned upon such redundant installation of bells and whistles to a seemingly mid-level DSLR from Olympus, the Art Filters did win the hearts of many. [T]he popularity of the Art Filter has grown, and been included in all Olympus newer cameras, DSLR system, PEN series and even the compact cameras (called magic filters). It was not so much of what the effects produced since they can be easily manipulated and reproduced by many other means through post-processing software. What really worked was the user experience while shooting in Art Filters, firstly you can instantly view the effect in real time as you compose the shots in live view before even making that shutter button click, and secondly, you can obtain the results straight out of camera.”

Mr. Wong’s article was posted in January 2011. At that time a new art filter was added on the Olympus E-5. That new art filter was the Dramatic Tone Art Filter. My current camera is the Olympus OM-D E-M1, and the dramatic tone art filter is available on that camera.

Continuing with Mr. Wong’s description of the Dramatic Tone Art Filter, Mr. Wong says that the filter “is simply an in-camera pseudo-HDR processing capability, to convert the ordinary looking image into a fake rendition of a HDR shot.”

“If you have dabbled into the world of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, you would have realized that this Dramatic Tone Art Filter is no magic at all, it is simply a very quick processing to drastically lift up the details in the shadow region, while toning down significantly the brightness in the highlight region. Basically what the filter is trying to do is to balance up the dark and bright areas, but at a very extreme margin that the image will most likely turn out looking very unnatural. The lighting balance has been heavily manipulated, and the colour saturation has also been boosted, along with the overall contrast of the image. The overall outcome is a very punchy, strong, vividly surreal looking image.”

Because “Dramatic Tone is actually a pseudo HDR simulating process, it will … benefit you in areas where you require high dynamic range, or the situations when you would actually do HDR photography.” Mr. Wong finds “Dramatic Tone to be useful in the following shooting conditions:

1) Areas with high contrast of shadow and light.

2) Backlit situation. Boy, you will be surprised by what the Dramatic Tone can do in backlit situation.

3) Heavy textures. The Dramatic Tone will put more emphasis on textured subjects, such as the cloud formation in the sky, the rough surface of a brick wall, or the mixture of pimply formation and blackheads of a human face.

4) Areas with flat lighting. If you want to change the flat looking image, the Dramatic Tone can open up a new dimension, and recreate the scene as if the lighting has been changed somehow.”

Mr. Wong wrote that “Dramatic Tone is not an Art Filter to be used in ALL shooting conditions, and should be adopted wisely. The following are the conditions that the Dramatic Tone should be avoided:

1) If you want a natural looking image. If the lighting already has a lot of impact, or producing a very pleasing outcome, you might want to stay away from Dramatic Tone and just stick with the natural, good lighting conditions. Dramatic Tone can either improve your shot, or completely ruin it.

2) People photography. Somehow… Dramatic Tone can be a disaster to any form of human photography. The skin tone will become uneven with heavy traces of shadows all over the skin, and the colours come out really odd and looks like plastic.

3) High ISO shooting. As highlighted earlier, the Dramatic Tone is a processing from the original image file into a pseudo-HDR image, and through my experimentations, I found even at ISO400, the noise level can be quite unacceptably visible and annoying, with heavy smudging and smearing of fine details. I suspect an additional noise-filtering has kicked in. Shoot the Dramatic Tone only at ISO100-200 for best results, obtaining minimal noise and maximum details/sharpness.”

Mr. Wong stated in his article that he “personally would shoot … images in RAW, and apply the Dramatic Tone Art Filter later while … [at] home processing … images.” I assume Mr. Wong is referring to the use of Olympus Viewer software, which provides the capability to apply filters on RAW images.

According to Mr. Wong, “while you are engaging the Dramatic Tone:

1) The settings such as White Balance, Saturation, Contrast, Gradation and Sharpness can be fully tweaked and fine-tuned up to your hearts content, as if you are shooting a normal scene. Do take note that the White Balance setting affects the outcome of the Dramatic Tone significantly.

2) You can use B&W or Sepia with the Dramatic Tone, to create really wonderful looking images.

3) All the basic camera settings can be used … you can … use all the full PASM modes (Programme, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual) together hand in hand with Dramatic Tone. Having full control of Aperture and Shutter speed can create even more creative output, such as slow motion movement of the waterfall, or the fast moving panning shots.

4) If the original output of the Dramatic Tone comes out too harsh for your liking, you can always do a little brush up in your post-processing to tweak the image to your preference. I personally would tone down the saturation a notch or two, and reduce the heavy contrast by a little, while lifting up overall brightness.”

Here are some of the photographs that I took at Allegany State Park, while using the Dramatic Tone Art Filter.

LJG22431 4x6Stone Tower

LJG22427 4x6
View towards Red House Lake
from inside Stone Tower

I climbed the stone stairway to the top of Stone Tower.

LJG22428 4x6View towards Red House Lake
from top of Stone Tower

LJG22430 4x6View in opposite direction from Red House Lake
from top of Stone Tower

LJG22436 4x6Red House Lake bridge

I have several art filters on my camera. The Dramatic Tone Art Filter is my favorite.

We departed Allegany State Park at 3:00 pm.  Little did we know that a little more than an hour, after we returned home. that our weather would take a dramatic turn!

Late Winter Sunday Drive

Bob and I went for a Sunday drive late this morning to early afternoon. We were out and about for 3-4 hours. It was a beautiful day for a drive. The sun was out; the sky was blue to partly cloudy; and the temperature felt more like Spring than Winter.

Our first stop was at the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Store in Jamestown, NY. I purchased 2-32 oz. bags of Poly-Fil Poly-Pellets Stuffing Beads for use in a camera bean bag.  I paid $11.86 for these beads, after coupons deducted $9.00 from the total cost. A little later in the day I ordered from Amazon a large-sized, black Grizzly Camera Bean Bag. The cost for this bean bag was $17.95, after using a $15.00 gift card that I earned from Bing Rewards. Bing Rewards lets you earn credits for searching on Bing or trying new features from Bing or other Microsoft products and services. Bing Rewards credits can be redeemed for a variety of gift cards and other rewards.  I save my Bing Rewards credits for Amazon gift cards!  My Camera Bean Bag is scheduled for delivery on Wednesday.

Our next destination was Allegany State Park, located near Salamanca NY, where we spent most of our time. We entered the park via the Quaker Run entrance. We made a few stops along Quaker Lake to take pictures of ice fisherman and Canadian Geese.

Ice Fisherman on Quaker Lake

Canadian Geese at Quaker Lake

We stopped at Science Lake and snagged a couple pictures.

Science Lake

Bob took this picture of me standing on top of the Science Lake Dam.

Somewhere along the way between Science Lake and Red House Lake, we stopped to photograph a beaver lodge.

Beaver Lodge

According to the Beaver Solutions website, there are two main types of beaver lodges — the conical lodge and the bank lodge. The most recognized type is the conical shaped dwelling surrounded by water. It is made from sticks, mud and rocks. One of the primary reasons beavers build dams is to surround their lodge with water for protection from predators. The second type of lodge is the bank lodge. It is typically excavated into the bank of a large stream, river, or lake where the water is too deep or fast moving to build the classic conical lodge.  This is a conical beaver lodge.

Our last photo-taking stop at Allegany State Park was at Red House Lake, where we photographed Canadian Geese, and a crow posed for me to take a picture.

Canadian Geese on Red House Lake

Canadian Geese on Red House Lake

 

A crow, looking out across Red House Lake

We departed Allegany State Park via the Red House entrance.

We returned home along the western side of the Allegheny Reservoir, making one stop at Webbs Ferry.

We discovered a fishing pier. The pier looked like it had been there for a while.

We have visited Webbs Ferry a few times over the years.
Neither of us remembered seeing this fishing pier.

Bob took this picture of me standing on the fishing pier.

Bob walked below the fishing pier.
When the Allegheny Reservoir is full, we think that these rocks
would be covered with water.

This week’s weather looks especially nice.  I hope to spend some time outdoors, enjoying the sunshine!

 

Dramatic Tone

Yesterday afternoon my husband and I went for a drive through Allegany State Park.  The main purpose for yesterday’s drive through Allegany State Park was to discover photo opportunities. We made a circle tour of the park stopping at Science Lake, Quaker Lake, the Stone Tower and the Thomas L Kelly covered bridge. I used my camera’s Dramatic Tone art filter. The resulting photographs are works of art. My camera did the hard work, i.e. processing the image which resulted from the use of the filter. All I did was compose the picture (which takes some talent I guess ;)), and crop and sharpen the picture.

I obtained the following information pertaining to the Dramatic Tone Art Filter from Robin Wong.

“Art Filters were first introduced in Olympus E-30, allowing users to instantly process their photographs into a selection of available creative effects, such as Pinhole and grainy film effects. While many professional photographers initially frowned upon such redundant installation of bells and whistles to a seemingly mid-level DSLR from Olympus, the Art Filters did win the hearts of many. [T]he popularity of the Art Filter has grown, and been included in all Olympus newer cameras, DSLR system, PEN series and even the compact cameras (called magic filters). It was not so much of what the effects produced since they can be easily manipulated and reproduced by many other means through post-processing software. What really worked was the user experience while shooting in Art Filters, firstly you can instantly view the effect in real time as you compose the shots in live view before even making that shutter button click, and secondly, you can obtain the results straight out of camera.”

Mr. Wong’s article was posted in January 2011. At that time a new art filter was added on the Olympus E-5. That new art filter was the Dramatic Tone Art Filter. My current camera is the Olympus OM-D E-M1, and the dramatic tone art filter is available on that camera.

Continuing with Mr. Wong’s description of the Dramatic Tone Art Filter, Mr. Wong says that the filter “is simply an in-camera pseudo-HDR processing capability, to convert the ordinary looking image into a fake rendition of a HDR shot.”

“If you have dabbled into the world of HDR (high dynamic range) photography, you would have realized that this Dramatic Tone Art Filter is no magic at all, it is simply a very quick processing to drastically lift up the details in the shadow region, while toning down significantly the brightness in the highlight region. Basically what the filter is trying to do is to balance up the dark and bright areas, but at a very extreme margin that the image will most likely turn out looking very unnatural. The lighting balance has been heavily manipulated, and the colour saturation has also been boosted, along with the overall contrast of the image. The overall outcome is a very punchy, strong, vividly surreal looking image.”

Because “Dramatic Tone is actually a pseudo HDR simulating process, it will … benefit you in areas where you require high dynamic range, or the situations when you would actually do HDR photography.” Mr. Wong finds “Dramatic Tone to be useful in the following shooting conditions:

1) Areas with high contrast of shadow and light.

2) Backlit situation. Boy, you will be surprised by what the Dramatic Tone can do in backlit situation.

3) Heavy textures. The Dramatic Tone will put more emphasis on textured subjects, such as the cloud formation in the sky, the rough surface of a brick wall, or the mixture of pimply formation and blackheads of a human face.

4) Areas with flat lighting. If you want to change the flat looking image, the Dramatic Tone can open up a new dimension, and recreate the scene as if the lighting has been changed somehow.”

Mr. Wong wrote that “Dramatic Tone is not an Art Filter to be used in ALL shooting conditions, and should be adopted wisely. The following are the conditions that the Dramatic Tone should be avoided:

1) If you want a natural looking image. If the lighting already has a lot of impact, or producing a very pleasing outcome, you might want to stay away from Dramatic Tone and just stick with the natural, good lighting conditions. Dramatic Tone can either improve your shot, or completely ruin it.

2) People photography. Somehow… Dramatic Tone can be a disaster to any form of human photography. The skin tone will become uneven with heavy traces of shadows all over the skin, and the colours come out really odd and looks like plastic.

3) High ISO shooting. As highlighted earlier, the Dramatic Tone is a processing from the original image file into a pseudo-HDR image, and through my experimentations, I found even at ISO400, the noise level can be quite unacceptably visible and annoying, with heavy smudging and smearing of fine details. I suspect an additional noise-filtering has kicked in. Shoot the Dramatic Tone only at ISO100-200 for best results, obtaining minimal noise and maximum details/sharpness.”

Mr. Wong stated in his article that he “personally would shoot … images in RAW, and apply the Dramatic Tone Art Filter later while … [at] home processing … images.” I assume Mr. Wong is referring to the use of Olympus Viewer software, which provides the capability to apply filters on RAW images.

According to Mr. Wong, “while you are engaging the Dramatic Tone:

1) The settings such as White Balance, Saturation, Contrast, Gradation and Sharpness can be fully tweaked and fine-tuned up to your hearts content, as if you are shooting a normal scene. Do take note that the White Balance setting affects the outcome of the Dramatic Tone significantly.

2) You can use B&W or Sepia with the Dramatic Tone, to create really wonderful looking images.

3) All the basic camera settings can be used … you can … use all the full PASM modes (Programme, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority and Manual) together hand in hand with Dramatic Tone. Having full control of Aperture and Shutter speed can create even more creative output, such as slow motion movement of the waterfall, or the fast moving panning shots.

4) If the original output of the Dramatic Tone comes out too harsh for your liking, you can always do a little brush up in your post-processing to tweak the image to your preference. I personally would tone down the saturation a notch or two, and reduce the heavy contrast by a little, while lifting up overall brightness.”

I will now provide you a comparison: a photograph that I edited without using the dramatic tone art filter and a photograph that utilizes the dramatic tone art filter.

 

Dramatic Tone Art Filter not used

Dramatic Tone Art Filter used

I have several art filters on my camera. The dramatic tone art filter is my favorite.

New Tripod

I have a new tripod, a  MeFoto A1350Q1B Roadtrip Travel Tripod. The “B” in the product ID specifies the color blue.

 

This picture compares the folded-up size of my new tripod vs. my Manfrotto tripod.

New Tripod, Extended

Only 15.4″ when folded yet 61.6″ extended, my new tripod weighs 3.6 lb and can support up to 17.6 lb.

I love the blue splash of color!

I purchased this tripod because I wanted a smaller, less heavy tripod to accompany us when riding the motorcycle.

Strafari

A safari to (re)discover Strasbourg

AfterKC.com

Enjoying Life In New Ways

The Frog and PenguINN

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Bicycling the beauty around us

This is a bicycling journal.

The World according to Dina

Notes on Seeing, Reading & Writing, Living & Loving in The North

Skid and Sandy On The Road

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vivacioushoopster

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Brown About

The Motorhome Adventures of Joan and Stephen

My Mommy's Place

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Viewing nature with Eileen

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Deep Thoughts

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Rambling On

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Talk and Chatter

Reviews, talk, and fun

Senior Moments

The random musings of a fairly active Tennessee retiree

Pics & Pieces

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PHOTOJOURNAL OF CORKER2

TRYING TO DO THIS WITHOUT A DEGREE!

Pennsylvania Wildlife Photographer

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MY QUALITY TIME

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Linda's Peaceful Place

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Life's Funny Like That

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JOYFUL REFLECTIONS

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I'll give you a piece of my mind

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Hospitality Lane

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Gretchen's Traveling

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An English Girl Rambles from 2016 to ....

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