April 20, 2014

Photos from Cuba

My wife and I visited Cuba in early April 2014 on a US People to People Cultural Exchange Program. In addition to roaming the streets of Havana on my own, we visited an elementary school, a ballet studio, a boxing arena for youth, a food market, an outdoor dance hall in the jungle, several churches and museums. All photos were taken with a Ricoh GR. I'm still going through my images to select those that I like best. These images represent my first pass. I'm also experimenting with processing the images so you might notice different toning on some of the images which I'm testing by making large prints on  Ilford Gold Fibre Silk (GFS) paper off the Epson Stylus Pro 4900.

August 20, 2013

Casual Portraits with Ricoh GR BW setting

I continue to be very pleased with the B&W's I'm getting out of the Ricoh GR. My normal shooting mode these days is to use RAW + and select the GR's BW effect or mode. This way I benefit from having both the B&W jpeg file as rendered by the GR as well as a DNG file so I can still process the image in full color.

Here are a few casual family portraits from this past weekend in Connecticut. Other than adding the black frame around each photo using Nik Color Efex, these jpegs are straight from the camera with no image manipulation.

The GR produces B&W's with wonderful tones and just the right amount of contrast for my liking. I'm also finding that for these type of people photos that using exposure compensation of +.3 gives me slightly better exposed skin tones with no lose of detail. This reminds me of my days using the zone system for all my B&W film work.

As some of you probably know, most camera exposure systems are calibrated to a middle grey or approximately an 18% reflectance thus rendering your subject as a Zone V, when in fact, skin tones should typically be a Zone VII. I'm getting very consistent and pleasing skin tones using the GR B&W filter using exp comp +.3 and am also finding there's still plenty of detail in the light and dark shadows.

Hope you enjoy these casual B&W's. And if you haven't spent time experimenting with the GR B&W jpegs you really ought to, you might be pleasantly surprised by the results.

(Note: Click on any image to view a larger file.)

July 20, 2013

San Clemente Ocean Festival

San Clemente CA is holding the 37th Annual Ocean Festival this weekend. In addition to various watersport and beach events for folks of all ages, they have a woody car exhibit on the pier that I try to attend every year.

I walked down the beach trail from our house to the event which is far easier as the streets leading down to the pier are always jammed with traffic and crowds. I brought my Ricoh GR as it's an ideal camera when you want to travel light. It fits nicely in my cargo pants and there was no need to bring along a camera bag.

I've been shooting the GR in RAW+ using the B&W effect mode and wanted to cover this year's event exclusively with B&W photos. The benefit of RAW+ is you have both your selected in-camera JPEG and the original DNG file. So, for those that prefer some color I included these two images which were processed using CS6 and ACR with no modifications except to save as JPEG's for posting here.

The rest of these images from this morning's hour and half walk were shot in RAW+ B&W. Other than adjusting the levels slightly on a few images and adding the frame with NIK software tools, these B&W's are straight from the camera.

While I'm quite adept at doing my own B&W conversions, Ricoh has always been known for providing film-like B&W images from their GR cameras. As I gain more experience from shooting with the GR in this mode, it's becoming clear that the additional resolution and sharpness of the sensor combined with Ricoh's algorithms are producing some of the best default B&W images of any camera on the market today. And since I shot only B&W film for the first 10 years when I got into photography, I'm very partial to visualizing life in shades of gray but never found a digital camera that I'd consider using with confidence primarily for B&W.

Note: click on any of the images in this post to see a larger file.

After taking the pier shots, I walked along the beach trail which is parallel to the train tracks. With the large crowds that attend the festival you have to weave around families and kids carrying all sorts of beach gear. The GR is ideal for photographing in crowds. I typically carry it in my right hand by my waist and being so small no one ever seems to notice I have a camera.

As you walk down the beach away from the pier, the crowds thin out and you can once again hear the surf breaking on the beach or folks chatting as they play volleyball just feet from the Pacific Ocean.