13 December, 2017

Printing to cut-sheet size in Lightroom

Brolgas, Northwest Queensland - Sigma 24-105mm 

For most images, the aspect ratio and the resulting crop are dictated by the elements in the image. But there are times when it's useful to print to a particular sheet and the aspect ratio for that sheet; for example, when an image needs to fit into a particular frame, or for editorial work when the size and ratio may be set by an editor.

Let's take an example. I want the image to fit onto an A4 cut-sheet. An A4 sheet is 210mm x 297mm. But, in this example, because I want a 25mm border all around, the image area will be 160mm x 247mm – 50mm off the height (25mm off the top and bottom) and 50mm of the width (25mm off the left and right).

So here's the brilliant part (Lightroom's, not mine): In Lightroom's crop tool, next to the picture of a small lock is the aspect ratio setting for the image. If you click on that ratio you can select "Enter Custom..." When you do, a pop-up box will appear and you can enter the image ratio – in this example 160 x 247 (that Lightroom will adjust to 1.60 x 2.47). 

When you finally bring that image to Lightroom's print module and set to print on an A4 cut-sheet with a 25mm border all around, your image will fit perfectly (well, within a fraction of a mil).

22 November, 2017


Sigma 135mm, f/1.8 - Anastasia, Fish Lane in Brisbane

I'd like to think that there's a Sony A7Riii in my future, but they're going to be seriously expensive here, and the A7Rii is doing a fine job. I'm sure the prices will come down once there's an A9S or A7Siii to lure away the video buyers.

Only time will tell what will happen when the initial rush of buyers subsides. Also, I wouldn't mind seeing some reviews on using the Sigma MC-11 Mount Converter on the new Sony.

The blue background in the image above comes from using a Colour Temperature Orange (CTO) gel on a speed light in a softbox and then normalising the colour temperature in Lightroom.

15 November, 2017

A confessed Sigma "Art" shooter

Susanne at the Shornecliffe Pier - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4

I think it's fair to say that for portraits, I'm a Sigma "Art" shooter. To begin with, I'm a pushover for fast primes. And the Sigma Art series has some of the best, fast primes in the world — in my opinion equal to or better than the best Canon, Nikon, or Zeiss lenses.  The last time I looked, the highest rated lens in the DXO lens database was the Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art.

A while ago, I was shooting in a market and I had to carry the lenses that I expected to need over an hour or so. I picked the 135, 85 and 24mm Sigmas.  This meant that I could keep the MC-11 on my Sony body and switch between these Canon-Mount Sigmas. And, as icing on the cake, Sony's 5-axis stabilisation gave the Sigmas better hand-held performance than possible with either Canon or Nikon bodies. 

Would I prefer Sony glass? Sure, but only if Sony had the primes I want with prices I could afford.

Sony doesn't have an FE mount 135mm, f/1.8, or a 24mm, f/1.4 — yet. The 85 G-Master is great, but the Sigma 85mm has equivalent or better optical qualities.

As I've mentioned before, it seems to me that Sony gouges it's Australian customers. For example, in the US (using B&H prices), the Sony 85mm G-Master costs 50% more than the Sigma 85mm. Here in Australia (using CameraPro prices), the Sony is 99% more expensive than the Sigma.

The Sigmas aren't perfect on Sony bodies: I have to use the MC-11 mount converter, so the already big and heavy Sigmas are even bigger and heavier, the weather sealing isn't there, and the Sigmas aren't as fast focusing as the Sonys. 

If I really need to brave the weather or need faster focusing, however, I have some Sony natives that are wickedly sharp, sealed, and fast focusing (albeit with slower apertures).

If the day comes when I can afford the A7Riii, I expect it will speed the autofocus and eye-focus on the Sigmas, as it does for the Sony lenses.

And, you never know, perhaps the rumoured Canon mirrorless DSLR may do a better job with the Sigmas than Sony does now. Only time will tell.

31 October, 2017

Silver Efex Pro – saved by DXO

Vex in Brisbane's West End - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4

It appears that Silver Efex Pro and the rest of the Nik Collection of programs have dodged the bullet. DXO has taken over the collection and says they will, "continue to develop the Collection for the benefit of the photographer community." Thanks, DXO.

It was a cliff hanger — I, certainly, predicted the Nik Collection's doom.

While I like several of the other programs in the suite, it's Silver Efex Pro that I was really going to miss.

For many users the killer features were control points, presets and film emulations. I rarely used presets or emulations, and I think that the latest colour and luminance range masking features in Lightroom provide useful alternatives to (the still great) control points. For me, the structure and fine structure implementations were standouts.

We're just going to have to wait and see where DXO takes it.

26 October, 2017

Lightroom Classic

Susanne at the Shornecliffe Pier - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4

Adobe is dropping its stand-alone version of Lightroom. Both of the Lightroom incarnations (the desktop and the mobile) will be subscription only, and that's upsetting some users. Some are even threatening to jump ship; seemingly based on a view that there's more "security" in a stand-alone version than in a subscription.

I don't see it.

Some users seem to feel this is a money grab by Adobe — well, of course. And, I hope that means that Adobe will remain committed to keeping the circus tent up. The time to worry is when there's little or no money in it — I'm thinking of Nik Software here.

Stand-alone or subscription, in this digital age we RAW shooters are at the mercy of the software houses to address new cameras and sensors, new lenses, new operating systems, bug fixes, hacking vulnerabilities, and (not least) to provide new features. 

I've been on an Adobe Lightroom/Photoshop/Portfolio subscription plan for some time, and it's working just fine.

The Church of the Dignity of All Men and Women

About this time in 2010, I posted about gay and lesbian marriage. It was my tenth post on this blog. I think it's time to repeat the post:

      They said, "No church approves of 
gay or lesbian marriage."
      I said, "Mine does."

      They asked, "What church is that?"
      And I said, "The Church of the Dignity of all Men and Women."

      No incense.
      No funny hats.
      No sermons (save for this one).

      I agreed that I need a creed—
      but all I could think of was,
      "Live and Let Live."

      There are, unfortunately, a few empty pews.

01 October, 2017

Amazing Gaze

Anne along Queens Wharf Road, Brisbane - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art

I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.*
In life, when you first notice someone and they're already smiling, the one thing you know is that they are not smiling at you: Heard a joke, happy person, birthday. Could be anything, but it's nothing to do with you.

When you catch someone's gaze, however, you hold that gaze awaiting the outcome: A nod, a wave, a turn away, a frown, or a smile.

So in portraiture, when the subject is gazing directly into the camera lens (our eyes), we lock on to that — awaiting an outcome that never arrives.

* From the lyrics to "Amazing Grace,"  author unknown, ca 1779

29 September, 2017

Low light

Anne along Queens Wharf Road, Brisbane - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art 

I never  cease to be amazed by our new (I still find it new) ability to shoot in low light. Of course this is mostly due to the new sensors, but also to the image stabilisation that's in some camera bodies and lenses. Even with some of my own light added, the above image, for example, was shot at ISO 6400.

I used to be impressed by pushing Tri-X from ASA 400 to an even grainier 1600.

Am I nostalgic for the old days of film? Not in the slightest.

23 September, 2017

Happy belated birthday

Singapore Night Festival - Sigma 24-105mm, f/4.0

Last Wednesday slipped by unnoticed as the 7th birthday of the blog. This is getting to be a bad habit, as I missed it last year as well.

So, no cake, no party; just this post. Maybe something more significant at the 10-year mark.

17 September, 2017

YES, to Marriage Equality

This is about equality. Nothing more.

There are those who want to say this is about polygamy or freedom of speech, etc, etc. It's not. It's only about extending the right to marry (a right that most Australians enjoy) to same-sex couples.

Freedom: It's already illegal in Queensland to discriminate against someone (in employment, housing and most commerce) on the basis of their sexual orientation. Those laws promote an open and fair Australia. That's not going to change.

Religious practice: Churches who find marriage equality repugnant will be able to go about their business. That's because government doesn't intrude on the religious beliefs of its citizens. But, conversely, there should be a recognition that a church should not be able to impose its religious views on the rest of society.

I think we've lost our way on that issue.

When I was boy I was raised as a Catholic. So, we didn't eat meat on Fridays for religious reasons — although I'm still not clear what those reasons were. Anyway, my Mother was a devout Catholic, but she would never have entertained the idea of imposing her Friday dietary views on others — unless, of course, you were coming to our house for a Friday feed. 

I know what you're thinking: Do I still like tuna casserole? YES, I do.

[For those of you outside of Australia: The Australian government is currently running a survey in regard to marriage equity. Without a positive survey result they won't let the question go to a vote in the parliament. But, by the way, the survey results are not binding.]

Props - I (mostly) hate props

Alisha - Sigma 135mm, f/1.8 Art

In editorial photography a prop can be the easiest path to attaching the person to the editorial topic. If the article is about a violinist, then you shoot the budding Heifetz with his or her instrument. And, of course, if you're selling violins, then you'll want your musician to be holding the object of the exercise. Portraits, however....

If you Google the images of "Picasso," for example, and look at the photos of the man himself, unless he's actually working, most images don't show him holding a brush or palette.

Environment is another thing; it's, literally, in the background: Context, not a contest. 

With any image, the question I ask is, Where will the viewer look first?

14 September, 2017

Portraiture vs Fashion

Anastasia Snow - Sigma 85mm, f/1.4 Art

I was mentioning, elsewhere, that I'm a portrait photographer and not a fashion photographer. It got me to thinking about what that means.

The fashion photographer's goal is to emphasise a look. The fashion is the star (or at least the co-star). For a portrait photographer, the model is the star. The outfit is like the environment — important, but not the object of the exercise. 

In fashion, the model is in service to the clothes (or jewellery, etc); in portraiture the environment and the outfit are in service to the model.

Happily, Art can be hiding in either.