A Mutation of the Leica Year – LMMMs

Of late, it has been bothering me that I have not improved in my photography over the past 3-4 years. It feels like I\’ve been wallowing in mediocrity – not even attempting to better myself. And the other thought rattling around in my brain cage is this: Should I attempt the Leica year?

What is the \”Leica Year” you say? Go here and read the article – an exercise proposed by Mike Johnston of The Online Photographer. In short, it is a commitment of one camera ( a fully manual Leica), one lens and black and white film for one year. One whole year! Maybe someday, I\’ll jump in headfirst…but not right now.

Currently, I am unable to make myself spend the $1.5k in buying a Leica (though you can regain that money by selling this), when earlier this year, I spent a similar amount for my lovely, beautiful and scrumptious Olympus E-P5 with the VF-4 and the 17mm lens. But I really do need to improve, learn to see better and feel better. So here is my mutated Leica Year.

I will use only a Konica Hexanon 50mm AR f1.7 lens, with its Konica AR to M4/3rds adapter on my Oly beauty. Since this is a manual focus lens, with manual aperture controls, I will shoot in Shutter priority Mode only. I will also use only one ISO setting – ISO 1000. I will also shoot in at the native 4:3 aspect ratio and in monochrome only. Also no continuous shooting. Electronic viewfinder allowed. No histograms, guides or any such this. Only the shutter speed display is allowed. No framing on the LCD.

Cheats allowed: Focus Peaking is allowed. Chimping is allowed. Videos in color allowed – but with this lens only.

I will do this for a period of 8 weeks – Monday December 23, 2013 to February 17.2014. In this time period I will endeavor to shoot between 2 to 6 film rolls a week (2×24 to 6×24). I will also try to keep this blog posted with what I shoot.

So that is it. Today, the first day of the \”Legacy Manual Monochrome Months” (LMMMs) for short, my new exercise in bettering my photography begins. Wish me luck folks!

Tree without leaves

Tree Without Leaves

Tree without leaves against dawn sky, Mission Peak Regional Preserve, Fremont, CA

Training hike on a cold cold morning. Training for hiking, training for photography. Winter tree, no leaves against sky before sunrise. Black and White in post-process via Lightroom.

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-P5
Exposure: 1/6400s at f/1.8
Focal Length: 17mm (35mm conversion – 35mm)
Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko 17mm f1.8
ISO: 2000
Date: Dec 7, 2013

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My favorite Lightroom Plugin – LR2/Mogrify

Oh my! Oh my! You know what they say..when it rains, it pours. I’m actually writing my second article in as many days! This after an absence of oh so many months (or has it been years?)

The topic of today’s post is My Favorite Lightroom Plugin , and a few other plugins I’m trying out today. A little bit of background.

Over the last couple of weeks, I ended up buying a new SSD hard disk, and moved my Windows installation onto it. In the process, I reformatted my entire hard drive (and lost all my installations – but not data) and moved to Windows 8.1. And today, I moved to Lightroom 5.3. So I am in the process of re-installing all my favorite plugins (actually one favorite plugin) and trying out other plugins.

So on to my favorite plugin: it is LR2/Mogrify by Timothy Armes. This is a donation-ware plugin. It gives you 99.9% functionality for free – but if you donate, the functionality will go to a 100%.
From the LR2/Mogrify website :“The trial version limits the number of images that can be exported in one go to ten. Donating towards one of the projects removes this restriction and will give you a serial number that works with both.”

So what do I use this for? To add borders and logo to my image. For my post processing I almost always use Lightroom only. So after editing / developing the photographs, I add a 2px black border, followed by a wide white border followed by a 3 px black border. Then I want a watermark image – with my website name and logo on the bottom right of the image. Sometimes, I want to resize the final image output. And I can do all this with a user-defined preset using LR2/Mogrify. It is great!

Here are two screenshots of my LR2/Mogrify preset settings. This preset – i use to save the full h-resolution jpeg image, with the three borders and logo. It is also for the ‘landscape’ orientation of my 16MP camera output file. The size of my watermark png file: 350 x 139px

LR2/Mogrify Preset - Screenshot 1

LR2/Mogrify Preset - Screenshot 2

What other plugins am I trying out? here is a list with links. Since I am currently just evaluating the following plugins, in case I like them, I might just write more of these posts (Not promising!)

List of plugins under evaluation:

1. TPG LR Backup: Donation-ware by Matt Dawson. From the website “The TPG LR Backup plugin simplifies backing up your Lightroom environment. It does this by adding the ability to backup Lightroom’s configuration files, and compress Lightroom’s catalog backups, from within Lightroom itself. These tasks can occur automatically as the program starts or manually as required.

2.Jeffrey Freidl’s “Data Explorer” Lightroom Plugin: Donation-ware. This plugin for Adobe Lightroom allows you group photos and videos in your Lightroom catalog by more than 100 data criteria

3. Jeffrey Freidl’s “Folder Status”: Donation-ware. “This Lightroom plugin allows you to create a set of workflow-status yes/no fields that milestone your personal workflow, and maintain them for each folder in your Lightroom catalog. It’s quite useful to remind yourself, on a folder-by-folder basis, what processing you have done and what remains to be done….”

4.Jeffrey Freidl’s “Focal-Length Sort”:Donation-ware. “This plugin fills a specific hole in Lightroom’s “Grid Filter”, adding new fields by which you can filter images: “Focal Length” and “Focal Length in 35mm”…”

5.Jeffrey Freidl’s Video-Asset Management: Donation-ware. “This plugin for Adobe Lightroom allows you to keep track of your video files in Lightroom.”

Plugins I’d like to try someday

1. Snapshotter from “The Photographer’s Toolbox”
2. Find Similar Files from “The Photographer’s Toolbox”
3. Syncomatic from “The Photographer’s Toolbox

Uncopyright

It\’s about time I did this. I am releasing copyright for all work in the past – my photographs, words in blog posts etc. As of today, Dec 19, 2013 they are all in the public domain.

Now, you can use my content however you want. No need to email me for permission. You can use my photographs however you want – however many times you want. You can claim them as yours if you so choose (though that is extremely rude…where are your manners?). You can share them, re-post them, print them and put them on your wall, use them for advertising – whatever. It\’s yours to do whatever you want to do with it – if you want it.

Attribution

When you use my content – attribution is appreciated, will bring you good karma. Its awesome if you can just link back to the original photo or blog or just link to www.suprada.com. However it is not a legal necessity.

Why would you give attribution? Especially a link to my website? Apart from being a nice thing to do, so other people can find the stuff here so they can use it if they need it (More good karma for you).

Why Uncopyright?

Leo Babauta at Zen Habits says it better than I ever can: \”I’m not a big fan of copyright laws, especially as they’re being applied by corporations, used to crack down on the little guys so they can continue their large profits.

Copyrights are often said to protect the artist, but in most cases the artist gets very little while the corporations make most of the money. In the 4+ years I’ve done this experiment, releasing copyright has not hurt me, the creator of the content, a single bit.

I think, in most cases, the protectionism that is touted by “anti-piracy” campaigns and lawsuits and lobbying actually hurts the artist. Limiting distribution to protect profits isn’t a good thing.

The lack of copyright, and blatant copying by other artists and even businesses, never hurt Leonardo da Vinci when it comes to images such as the Mona Lisa, the Last Supper, or the Vitruvian Man. It’s never hurt Shakespeare. I doubt that it’s ever really hurt any artist (although I might just be ignorant here).

And while I’m certainly not da Vinci or Shakespeare, copyright hasn’t helped me, and uncopyright hasn’t hurt me. If someone feels like sharing my content on their blog, or in any other form for that matter, that’s a good thing for me. If someone wanted to share my ebook with 100 friends, I don’t see how that hurts me. My work is being spread to many more people than I could do myself. That’s something to celebrate, as I see it.

And if someone wants to take my work and improve upon it, as artists have been doing for centuries, I think that’s a wonderful thing. If they can take my favorite posts and make something funny or inspiring or thought-provoking or even sad … I say more power to them. The creative community only benefits from derivations and inspirations.

This isn’t a new concept, of course, and I’m freely ripping ideas off here. Which is kinda the point.\”

I am very lucky in being able to earn a comfortable living, having a fulfilling job and at the same time being inspired by my horde of muses. There is so much more for me to create, to learn…and all this hanging on to my old stuff – the \’my\’ in this is somehow holding me back. After all, I am but a channel through which these things come into existence – I need to let go of them into the world too. Can\’t hold on to everything, can I? Need to make space for the new as well. There are so many new photos, new projects, new ideas in my head – creating is what makes me happy – not owning these things.

Yay! Hi-Res jpegs for one and all

So, from now on, when I post photos here, I will start posting the Hi-Res jpegs you all you good people to use – no obligations. It is too much work to go and add hi-res links to my older photos..but going forward, you will find the links.

I hope you can find good joyful uses for these photographs and words – wishing as much joy to the viewer as it was to create them!

Sunset on Carmel beach

Sunset on Carmel Beach

Sunset on Carmel beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Carmel beach sunset with the sun at the horizon. ‘Straight’ jpg from camera using the ‘Diorama’ ‘art’ filter. Love the waves crashing on the beach.

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-P5
Exposure: 1/320s at f/2.8
Focal Length: 25mm (35mm conversion – 50mm)
Lens: Panasonic Lumix G Micro 4/3 LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm f/1.4 Leica Aspherical Lens
ISO: 200
Date: 10/9/2013 evening

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Sunset Chilling

Sunset Chilling

Chilling at sunset, Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

A couple enjoying sunset on Carmel Beach on a Wednesday evening.

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-P5
Exposure: 1/800s at f/1.6
Focal Length: 25mm (35mm conversion – 50mm)
Lens: Panasonic Lumix G Micro 4/3 LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm f/1.4 Leica Aspherical Lens
ISO: 200
Date: 10/9/2013 evening

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Dogs on beach – 3

Dogs on Beach – 3, Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Carmel beach, at sunset – on a Wednesday evening was filled with people and dogs and kids. It felt like it was a weekend. It was fun o see two passing dogs playing, chasing each other – just having fun.

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-P5
Exposure: 1/640s at f/1.8
Focal Length: 25mm (35mm conversion – 50mm)
Lens: Panasonic Lumix G Micro 4/3 LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm f/1.4 Leica Aspherical Lens
ISO: 200
Date: 10/9/2013 evening

Dogs on Beach – 2

Dogs on beach - 2

Dogs on Beach – 2, Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Olympus E-P5 with Panasonic Leica 25mm. Whats not to like with this combination? Light beautiful camera, the prettiest I have ever owned. Amazing lens – I cannot articulate why I like the images from this lens so much – but I do. My current favorite lens – the one with which I shoot most of the time. This was shot in Raw + JPG. What you are seeing is the \’straight out of camera\’ jpeg image.

A happy dog fetching his ball, running full tilt back to his master, on a gorgeous beach against the setting sun.

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-P5
Exposure: 1/8000s at f/1.8
Focal Length: 25mm (35mm conversion – 50mm)
Lens: Panasonic Lumix G Micro 4/3 LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm f/1.4 Leica Aspherical Lens
ISO: 200
Date: 10/9/2013 evening

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Dogs on Beach – 1

Dogs on Beach – 1, Carmel Beach, Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA

Photographing outside after a long long time. Gone are my Canon equipment. Now shooting with Olympus Micro-thirds exclusively. And this is with my favourite 25mm lens! This was also shot in JPG – with \’art\’ filter – Diorama.

The little white dog looked like it was lost – and kept bothering all the dogs in a 5m radius. Later on, we saw the the owner – a stout old lady was sitting around, smoking and enjoying people\’s confusion and concern over her \’lost\’ dog. Crazy how some people entertain themselves!

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-P5
Exposure: 1/250s at f/2.5
Focal Length: 25mm (35mm conversion – 50mm)
Lens: Panasonic Lumix G Micro 4/3 LEICA DG SUMMILUX 25mm f/1.4 Leica Aspherical Lens
ISO: 200

Where the column meets the roof

Where the column meets the roof

Where the column meets the roof – Modhera series
Modhera, Gujarat, India.

Photograph from the Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat. The pigeons who live in this temple are pretty amazing. They have pretty much taken over the temple. This one was sitting on top, in a almost-dark corner, where this intricately carved column met the even more beautiful ceiling.

I processed the photograph in Lightroom 4. Also used Tony Kuyper\’s Photoshop action – \’Make it Glow\’ for the subtle glow in the sandstone. Manually focused, aperture priority, using my Konica Hexanon AR 50mm f1.7 with Konica AR to Micro 4/3rds adaptor. What a fun lens! A little heavy on my slim and trim EPL3 – but love the look of the images from it.

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-PL3
Exposure: 1/60s (manual aperture, manual focus)
Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: Konica Hexanon AR 50mm f1.7 with Konica AR to Micro 4/3rds adapter
ISO: 200

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Music vs. Images

\’A picture is worth a thousand words\’ we hear again and again. But how much is a picture worth compared to music?

Just this morning, I was listening to some glorious opera music. And I was transported away to some place of soaring and moving and emotion. That made me wonder – For every person, there is a kind of music which makes them happy, makes them sad, cheers them up, inspires them, moves them to tears..

What is the equivalent of this in images? Does everyone have images which also makes them happy? sad? provides inspiration? calms them down? If so do we recognize that this is what the picture does – or does it get acknowledged only in the sub-conscious?

Is this because of all the visuals we are bombarded with everyday? What does this mean for us photographers who want to pour our emotions out into photographs? Will it be seen?

More questions than answers today, I\’m afraid!

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By the sun streaming window

By the sun streaming window

By the sun streaming window – Modhera series
Modhera, Gujarat, India.

Photograph from the Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat. The pigeons who live in this temple are pretty amazing. They have pretty much taken over the temple. This pigeon was in a contemplative pose, sitting on the ledge of the cool dark windows, perhaps contemplating life in the bright hot sun outside?

I processed the photograph in Lightroom 4. Manually focused, aperture priority, using my Konica Hexanon AR 50mm f1.7 with Konica AR to Micro 4/3rds adaptor. What a fun lens! A little heavy on my slim and trim EPL3 – but love the look of the images from it.

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-PL3
Exposure: 1/2500s (manual aperture, manual focus)
Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: Konica Hexanon AR 50mm f1.7 with Konica AR to Micro 4/3rds adapter
ISO: 200

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Pigeons on carved ledges looking down

Pigeons on carved ledges looking down

Pigeons on carved ledges looking down – Modhera series
Modhera, Gujarat, India.

Photograph from the Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat. During my time there, I was enchanted by the pigeons who have made this temple their home, and how they have pretty much taken over the temple. Inside, the temple, one has to look up and see the exquisitely carved columns, and the roofs…and the pigeons hanging out there.

I processed the photograph in Lightroom 4. Manually focused, aperture priority, using my Konica Hexanon AR 50mm f1.7 with Konica AR to Micro 4/3rds adaptor. What a fun lens! A little heavy on my slim and trim EPL3 – but love the look of the images from it.

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-PL3
Exposure: 1/15s (manual aperture, manual focus)
Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: Konica Hexanon AR 50mm f1.7 with Konica AR to Micro 4/3rds adaptor
P.S. Love this lens! Would write poems in honor of it, if I could write poetry!
ISO: 200

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Make it Glow – In Lightroom?

Have you heard about luminosity masks? These are masks or selections, in Photoshop or other image editing programs, based on the brightness of the pixels. So we can have a selection of all the \’light\’ pixels only, or all the \’dark\’ pixels only or all the \’dark shadow\’ pixels only … you get the point. Then you can use these selections to improve on certain selective parts of your image.

I was introduced to this concept of \’Luminosity Masking\’ sometime back – and found Tony Kuyper – Luminosity masking and Tony Kuyper are almost synonymous with each other. Tony has some excellent tutorials on Photoshop at his website, and here is the link to his Luminosity Masking explanation.

After going through the tutorial, making my masks, and using the masks, I was sold on them. I ended up buying Tony\’s set of actions (as a way to support him for all the excellent tutorials he writes for free). With that package of actions, I got a \’Make it Glow\’ action .

Tony recommends it for sandstone images and other southwest us landscapes. I used it on my photos of Lower Calf Creek Falls – and wow!, I love the way it looks!

Here\’s an excerpt of how the \’Make it Glow\’ action works from this blog post by Tony:

\”It simultaneously increases contrast and saturation in a smooth manner across the entire image. It essentially imparts a glow to the image that looks pretty natural. A low-contrast, low-saturation image that has lots of texture is a good place to try it. ”

And another excerpt from the same post
\”Since it makes a pretty dramatic change, lowering the opacity of the layer it’s on can help decrease the effect if it goes too far. Also, a vibrance mask on the layer can help restrict the effect to less-saturated areas of the image.”

This action is really awesome – but now, I\’m wondering, how I can create a similar effect in the develop module in Lightroom 4? Where do I start? I found this link on how to create the \’Orton Effect\’ in Lightroom ” by Helen Bradley. By playing with her technique and applying the concept behind the \’make it Glow\’ action, I\’m trying to figure out if I can actually create a \’Make it Glow\’ effect. So that is one of my new projects – making a \’Make it Glow\’ preset for Lightroom 4.

If you know of someone who has already done this, can you pretty please send me a link to their website / preset so I don’t have to figure this out by myself? Please?

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Pigeon and Sun

Pigeon and Sun

Pigeon and Sun – Modhera series
Modhera, Gujarat, India.

Photograph from the Sun Temple in Modhera, Gujarat. During my time there, I was enchanted by the pigeons who have made this temple their home, and how they have pretty much taken over the temple. This pigeon with the puffed out chest was the first one to pose for me. In front of an exquisitely carved Sun God!

I processed the photograph in Lightroom 4. Also used Tony Kuyper\’s Photoshop action – \’Make it Glow\’ for the subtle glow in the sandstone. Manually focused, aperture priority, using my Konica Hexanon AR 50mm f1.7 with Konica AR to Micro 4/3rds adaptor. What a fun lens! A little heavy on my slim and trim EPL3 – but love the look of the images from it.

Technical Details:

Camera: Olympus E-PL3
Exposure: 1/500s (manual aperture, manual focus)
Focal Length: 50mm
Lens: Konica Hexanon AR 50mm f1.7 with Konica AR to Micro 4/3rds adaptor
P.S. Love this lens! Would write poems in honor of it, if I could write poetry!
ISO: 200

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