Christmas Comes Early For Chromagraph!
40mm & 200mm lenses added
When I purchased my Bronica ETRs, I realised that if it were to be my main film camera I would have to make it into a complete system. I've been biding my time, but when this year's Black Friday came around I knew it was time to act. Ebay were offering a 10% discount and I already had my eyes on some tempting offerings. In many ways the 40mm f4.0 lens is the most desirable of the Bronica fixed focal-length lenses and can command a high price. Fortunately though one I was already watching was now offered to me at a £25 discount. Then, on top of that, I had the Ebay10% discount which made the lens a real bargain. When it arrived, I was delighted to see the square lens hood included. These can go for £40 alone, so I am so far very happy with this purchase. Of course, the proof of the pudding is in the eating as they say, so I am keen to get out and about with this and my other new lens, the 200mm f4.5.
I had been very undecided whether to go for the widely available (and cheap)150mm f3.5, or the (very slightly) more expensive 200mm f4.5. The 150mm also has a faster maximum aperture, so will be easier to handhold and is smaller. However as the majority of my Bronica work will be tripod mounted and the 200mm lens being longer has more reach, this was the one I went for in the end.
Again, I was lucky as I had the 10% Ebay discount and there was one available from a retailer I had already purchased from at a price close to that of the 150mm lenses. So, after a bout of dithering I purchased the lens and I am also extremely happy with it so far. It is a weighty beast, but it is a solid lens made of real metal and built with that quality the Japanese had in the 1970s-80s. Both lenses are a joy to hold and I look forward to using them soon.
DJI & RØDE to the Rescue for Video and Audio!
I've been struggling with two problems for some time in trying to deliver decent quality Vlogs and one is poor audio . I've tried mics wired to a separate recorder, on-camera mics (on my Fuji XT-2) or just using the built-in mics on my phone, or camera. Unfortunately, unless conditions are still and quiet (as at home) audio quality can suffer very quickly. In fact, Video is usually less of an issue than sound. Problems can include (but are not limited to):
Audio too quiet - not so much of a problem, but increasing the gain can lead to intrusive background noise.
Audio too loud - leading to clipping and distortion, again manageable but not easily.
Wind noise - very difficult to process out.
Variable levels which make matching clips a nightmare and sound are jarring to the watcher.
No audio caused by disconnected cables, human error or losing the audio file.
The second problem I've been facing is how to do the talking to camera bit and create B-Roll (all that additional stuff which creates the mood) in a professional way. I particularly want watching my Vlogs to be a seamless experience so viewers concentrate on the content and are not distracted by poorly edited video. At the same time, I am never going to be a professional videographer, so I am trying to keep my big spends for camera kit, getting to locations and film. So, I have bought a Røde Me-C USB C Microphone that attaches directly to my phone for recording sessions. It should be a huge step up from what I've had previously.
Once charged up, the OM5 folds up into a compact shape that, along with the magnetic phone clamp and mini-tripod fits into a neat pouch.
The DJI OM5 transforms your Smartphone into a tool capable of outputting professional quality footage including smart-tracking, zooming, hyperlapse and time-lapse functions.
Attaching directly to my Find Opponent X3's USB-C port, this microphone will give excellent sound recordings and has a headphone jack for monitoring sound quality.
The second is the DJI OM5 Smartphone gimbal which has a myriad of functions including all kinds of flash tracking effects. More importantly, it steadies the phone, extends for talking to camera and switches between front and back cameras with a press of the button. It is bundled with a mini-tripod, plus there is a tripod bush built in. That makes it an excellent tool for things like timelapses and hyperlapses. Overall, once I've learned how to make best use of these tools, my videos will be more watchable and a generally better user experience.
I'm so Excited!...NEW Camera!(To Me)
Simpler Look & NEW! Travel Section
OK, so you probably haven't even noticed, but I have taken a metaphorical axe to the website and equally metaphorically cut it in half. The result is a single column of thumbnails on the home page making for a less cluttered and more streamlined interface. Thumbnails remain square, but are slightly larger at 500px square. This also makes editing the site's mobile version less complicated. I've re-instated the welcome banner which now has a message that reminds you to click on the Fern Logo to get the Home page back. That also means I've deleted a Home menu link. Also, I will keep menu lists to just three options in most cases, again to de-clutter the screen. And... Last but not least, I have finally added a Travel section. So, if you haven't already done so, click on the menu option, OR the Elephant on the page (left - sorry, couldn't resist the obscure pun.)
All feedback welcome, so ping me a line on these changes if you have the time. Good or bad, it doesn't matter as I have a hide like a Rhino!
Is Photography possible in Lockdown?
Here in the UK, we are on a pretty strict lockdown. Life is grim, but there are some chinks of light and one of these is that according to the UK Govt, we can still take photos! But and it's quite a big but, we need to be sensible. So here are my lockdown rules for UK landscape photography:
Stay away from popular areas
Have ID on you, a business card is ideal.
If you're not sure, jog on. There will be other times.
Always respect the Police and the law
Wear a mask, sanitise your hands often and keep 2m apart from other people.
Don't go out if you are feeling ill.
I went out yesterday and took this image, so it can be done. More in my Blog
Another Commission Delivered
Mrs Lynda Robertson is the happy recipient of this new commission which consists of a pair of mirror image flower pictures on 24 by 12inch canvas frames.
Lynda was very specific on her requirements for complementary flower pictures that also fit the decor in her home. In order to do that I used the magic of Photoshop on an existing image to flip it horizontally. I then modified the colours of each and applied the Orton effect judiciously (not too much) to get a little bit of glow and softness.
The original image is actually 12 macro images of a Gerbera flower stacked together to look like one. This gives the petals definition even when side on, something that would be impossible without my Zeiss lens and Helicon Focus Software.
They are shortly to be available as either a Diptych, or singly at an affordable price via this website, or my Etsy shop. Just click on the images for more information. Other commissions and full installations undertaken See my Services Page for more full details.