A day out on the water with the Olympus E-M5

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Real Name
Nic
Early last week I had the good fortune to be able to spend a day out on the water. The company I work for runs a charter boat and when it is in town and not booked out there is a chance to take a trip on board. Just out of Brisbane is Moreton Bay which is protected from the Pacific Ocean by Moreton Island and North Stradbroke Island. With me I took the Olympus E-M5 with the Panasonic 14mm, 20mm, 25mm, and Olympus 45mm lenses. All this fits inside a canvas lens bag I had leftover from a Four Thirds 50-200mm lens. As it turned out I didn't use the 45mm but the other three all got a run, with the 25mm being my main lens as usual. The following are a selection of images from the day. These were all processed from raw files in Lightroom 4 using a few of the sliders in the Basic tab as well as some tone curve adjustments as required.

14mm f2.5

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20mm f1.7

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25mm f1.4

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Ray Sachs

Legend
Location
Not too far from Philly
Real Name
you should be able to figure it out...
I saw a lot of these too, and commented on one or two. You've really got an interesting and unique-ish thing going on with your color processing. I don't know what it is or how to describe it or what to call it other than "Nic's style", but its very identifiable and in a good way! Number 9 is damn near iconic its so good - a water color translated to film - err, digits I guess.

Great stuff Nic. A very enjoyable set.

-Ray
 

ajramirez

Hall of Famer
Location
Caguas, Puerto Rico
Real Name
Antonio
I saw a lot of these too, and commented on one or two. You've really got an interesting and unique-ish thing going on with your color processing. I don't know what it is or how to describe it or what to call it other than "Nic's style", but its very identifiable and in a good way! Number 9 is damn near iconic its so good - a water color translated to film - err, digits I guess.

Great stuff Nic. A very enjoyable set.

-Ray

Couldn't agree more. There really is something to the way you process your color photographs. Understated, but very much your style, and above all, very beautiful.

Fantastic setting, as well.

Cheers,

Antonio
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Real Name
Nic
Thanks everyone for looking!

Nice! Did you use an ND filter?

Hi Rajiv. No, I didn't have filters on any of the lenses. It seems to have become quite popular in Micro 4/3 circles to use ND filters on the faster lenses in bright conditions to allow shooting at wider apertures. Compared to my old Canon 50D, I lose 1 stop from the minimum ISO (200 vs 100), 1 stop from the minimum shutter speed (1/4000 vs 1/8000), and of course there is the small difference in depth-of-field between the two formats. In favour of the E-M5 it does have a lot of headroom to overexpose. In this case I wasn't shooting with particularly wide apertures; the largest was f/3.2 for one of the rope shots.

I do wonder if I might have been well served by using a polariser for some of the water shots, but I've never really used anything other than a UV filter so I'm a little unclear as to what are the best circumstances to use a polariser.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Real Name
Nic
Nice work, Nic. Can I come next time? LOL>

Hi Sue. Ha, yes it would have been nice to have been able to bring along some friends from outside of work, but the way they arrange these boat trips is very businesslike. The company that I work for (Civil Engineering and Construction) operates a number of different divisions which act as separate business units, including the charter boat company. So for a trip like this, the division of the company that I work for has to pay for each place on the boat as well as lose a day's work for each person. I wonder if we could the same in reverse and have the crew of the boat come and sit in the office for a day, lol.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Real Name
Nic
I had seen many of these on flickr. But I missed #18.....what is that thing? Nice cool and refreshing shots and a couple serious faves for me.

Hey Luke, a contact of mine on flickr commented that it looked like a prop from a movie! I'm not sure exactly what it was used for. It's actually part of a series of "wrecks" that were purposely scuttled to create an artificial reef near one of the islands for divers as well as to provide a breakwater for vessels to moor and be protected from currents. 15 boats were placed there between the 60s and the 80s. When you pass close to them the metal is in a fair state of decay but some of them have Teak floorboards or panels which you could still salvage, sand down, and reuse.
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Real Name
Nic
I saw a lot of these too, and commented on one or two. You've really got an interesting and unique-ish thing going on with your color processing. I don't know what it is or how to describe it or what to call it other than "Nic's style", but its very identifiable and in a good way! Number 9 is damn near iconic its so good - a water color translated to film - err, digits I guess.

Great stuff Nic. A very enjoyable set.

-Ray

Couldn't agree more. There really is something to the way you process your color photographs. Understated, but very much your style, and above all, very beautiful.

Fantastic setting, as well.

Cheers,

Antonio

Thanks Ray and Antonio. You actually got me thinking a bit more about the processing direction that I have been going in recently and I concluded that it is not so much colour processing as it is exposure processing. By that I mean that I am actually doing far less with the actual colours themselves than I might have once done when I was playing with various film effects or cross processing filters. At the moment I am effectively using the ETTR method of over-exposing close to the point of clipping but rather than pulling back the entire exposure to the middle I leave the majority of the histogram on the right. I think that more than anything it the higher overall exposure levels that are influencing the look of the colours. The vibrancy control is Lightroom is the only specific colour control that I am regularly using to avoid the colours washing out. A an example, this is the extent of the processing that I am doing to the raw files with the exception of an sharpening or noise reduction.

Basic tab in Lightroom:

Basictab2.jpg




Tone curve adjustment

ToneCurve.jpg




Histogram

Histogram.jpg
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Real Name
bart
yeah I had a feeling you were exposing pretty brightly. Looks ethereal without losing its touch with reality. From the LR tabs it looks like you increased the midtones' exposure even more than how they came out of the ETTR shot... interesting!

I often use either the exposure sliders or the tone curve, but rarely both (in LR, it's almost always the exposure sliders and no tone curve). Do you find that with the tone curve you can do things you can't do with the exposure sliders? I suppose you can make more precise "segmentations" of the tonal distribution, but that would require lots of little adjustments to the curve rather than a few major ones... but I'm gonna do some experimenting with using both sliders and curve...
 

Luckypenguin

Hall of Famer
Location
Brisbane, Australia
Real Name
Nic
Hi Bart. Actually I should clarify that the example wasn't really a recipe for this type of look but merely where I ended up in this particular image. It isn't particularly efficient in that there are likely some settings that are counteracting others. I usually find myself just moving sliders until it "looks right".

You're right regarding the distinction between exposure and the tone curve. I use exposure if I want to grab the whole thing and move it right or left, and the tone curve for fine tuning. The three main adjustments I find important in a high key image are:

- Clarity to restore a sense of contrast
- The short and sharp tweak to the bottom of the tone curve to pull the thin tail of the histogram back towards a true black, for the same reason as above
- Vibrance to remove the washed-out look that can occur due to overexposure (but well short of the point where the sky turns that terrible shade of cyan that can occur in some of the Olympus jpeg settings for example)
 

bartjeej

Hall of Famer
Real Name
bart
when I increase exposure and / or shadows, I usually just pull the black slider a bit down (darker), but I think a little pull on the tone curve might be a better, less posterization-prone method, so long as it doesn't undo the original brightening of the shadows entirely
 

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