Archive for January, 2016

23
Jan
16

The Power Lens

For the past week I have had the opportunity to check out Olympus’s newest lens. The M.Zuiko ED 300mm f4.0 IS PRO. This thing is absolutely amazing and probably one of the SHARPEST lenses I have ever used. Not only is it tact sharp, but it’s incredibly FAST. All of the following images were taken with the 300mm and in a couple cases, I also added the M.Zuiko Digital 1.4x Teleconverter MC-14 . Because of the Olympus sensor, the focal lengths are 600mm & 840mm equivalent. This lens has built-in image stabilization and when used in tandem with the 5 axis in-body image stabilization of the OM-D series cameras it creates 6 steps of shutter compensation. Everyone of these images were handheld.

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21
Jan
16

Focus Bracketing/Stacking

Olympus continues to be a pioneer with some of their latest technology advances. With their most recent firmware upgrades for the OM-D series cameras, we are now able to create images with a significantly greater depth of field through the use of Focus Bracketing & Focus Stacking. There is an option to create “in-camera” results (Focus Stacking) and also through the post processing processes (Focus Bracketing). Bracketing has always been an option in the past. However, it was extremely time consuming and required many manual focus steps, along with a lot of trial & error and guess work.

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The process I use to accomplish Bracketing and Stacking results are as follows:

  • “Focus Stacking” a.k.a. In-camera processing
    • Select the front most portion of your image that you want clear and use that as your focus point. Use a tripod or something to stabilize the camera.
    • Go to the camera “menu” and select “Shooting Menu 2” & “Bracketing”. Click “On” and proceed to “Focus BKT”. Now select “Focus Stacking” & select”On”.
    • Next select the “Set focus differential”. You have a step range from 1 (Narrow) to 10 (Wide). A focus step refers to the amount of focus movement where 1 is the smallest setting. When shooting at the widest aperture value, I would recommend using smaller focus step 1 or 2. Your selection will depend on your subject matter, aperture setting, distance, etc.
    • After you have these settings in place make sure you hit OK all the way through.
    • At this point you are ready to hit the shutter release (Tip: I would recommend using a cable release so as to not bump the camera).
    • The camera will process a JPEG image and at this point you can now see the preview.

Below is an example of an in-camera Focus Stacked image using this process along side of a single non stacked image. The differential is quite amazing. Click on the images to see the full view.

Focus Stacked

Focus Stacked

Non-Focus Stacked

Non-Focus Stacked

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • “Focus Bracketing” Requires 3rd party post-processing software
    • Select the front most portion of your image that you want clear and use that as your focus point. Use a tripod or something to stabilize the camera.
    • Go to the camera “menu” and select “Shooting Menu 2” & “Bracketing”. Click “On” and proceed to “Focus BKT”. Now select “Focus Stacking Off”
    • Select “Set number of shots”. You can select up to 999 shots. I have found that anything between 10 and 60 shots work well.
    • Next select the “Set focus differential”. You have a step range from 1 (Narrow) to 10 (Wide). A focus step refers to the amount of focus movement where 1 is the smallest setting. When shooting at the widest aperture value, I would recommend using smaller focus step 1 or 2. Your selection will depend on your subject matter, aperture setting, distance, etc.
    • After you have these settings in place make sure you hit OK all the way through.
    • At this point you are ready to hit the shutter release (Tip: I would recommend using a cable release so as to not bump the camera).
    • Now you have to take the images into a program like Photoshop or HeliconFocus (I have had good success with HeliconFocus). After you merge the images, you can perform your normal edits.

Below are two series of images where I used this process. The first image is the processed bracketed image and the second one is a single non-bracketed image.

Bracketed

Bracketed

Non-bracketed

Non-bracketed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bracketed

Non-bracketed

Non-bracketed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In all cases it will require experimenting with various settings. All of the images were shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and the 60mm f2.8 macro lens.

 

 

12
Jan
16

Washington Memorial Chapel

Last weekend during my visit to Valley Forge we stopped by the Washington Memorial Chapel which is located within the Valley Forge National Historical Park. The Images were shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mk II using the 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens. The inside shots were handheld at 1/20 of a second at ISO 3200.

The Chapel was built in 1903 to serve two purposes. The first purpose is as a tribute to George Washington and his service to our country. It currently serves as a wayside chapel for the visitors of Valley Forge National Historical Park. The second purpose is as the home for the Episcopal parish that worships at the chapel.

The chapel is constructed in an impressive Gothic Revival style with a Bell Tower. The Bell Tower houses the Justice Bell, a replica of the Liberty Bell, which was used in the campaign to gain women’s voting rights. The Veterans Wall of Honor honors all veterans of the United States Armed Services.

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10
Jan
16

Jacobsburg State Park

Last week I visited Jacobsburg State Park located near Wind Gap in Bushkill Township, Northampton County, PA. This was my first visit to this 1,168 acre park. There are 18.5 miles of trails. The flora, even at this time of the year was amazing. All of the images were shot with the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II and a combination of the 7-14mm & 12-40mm f2.8 PRO lenses.

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06
Jan
16

Valley Forge National Historic Park

On New Year’s day I had the opportunity to spend the day with some dear friends in the this beautiful park. Valley Forge park was the site of the 1777-78 winter encampment of the Continental Army. The park commemorates the sacrifices and perseverance of the Revolutionary War generation. The park consists of approximately 3,500 acres. It was very cold, but very invigorating. All images were taken with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 MkII and the 7-14mm f2.8 PRO lens (one exception – the image of the tree base I used the 12-40mm).

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04
Jan
16

New Years Eve Fisheye

The last day of 2015. New Years Eve was the start of a cold snap here in the N.E. It was also a perfect day to do some photography. We had some amazing dramatic skies. I thought I would concentrate only on the fisheye lens. All of the images were shot with the Olympus OM-D EM-5 MkII and the 8mm f1.8 Fisheye PRO.

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