Olympics Past and Present

2014-02-01 09.47.10

The camera I hinted at last time is the Zenit TTL, specifically the edition commemorating the Games of the XXII Olympiad.  The 1980 Summer Olympics were held in Moscow and Zenit sold a souvenir flavor of their top film SLR for several years later.

So far this camera is a blast to shoot with.  It is a bit on the large and heavy side, although not nearly as much as I feared.  It does feel solid in a good way with its film advance and other functions having no slack or shifting at all.

The camera I found is in great shape and even the original leather case is perfectly usable.  It came with another Helios 44M lens, a 58MM f/2 standard lens with swirly out-of-focus elements when opened wide up.

With the Sochi Winter Olympics opening ceremony just around the corner I feel this is as appropriate a time as any to be shooting with this camera!

Adobe Lightroom Folders


The second topic I will touch on for using Adobe Lightroom 4 is the use of Folders.

Last time I introduced Catalogs, the database files which store everything that you do in Lightroom.  The foundation for the Catalog and your editing is the set of Folders and the images held within them.

When you import images into Lightroom you are essentially bringing their parent Folders with them.  You can choose to import one, some, or all images in a folder, but in any case the folder itself comes with them into the Catalog database.

Pretty much everything else that you do in Lightroom is "virtual" in the sense that it only exists within the realm of the Catalog database.  But the Folders you have are your true links to the physical (which drive) and logical (where on that drive) location of your base image files.

My Lightroom Folder strategy is very simple:

  1. Create new folders for each roll of film I scan or digital series of images (ex. one day or event of shooting)
  2. Name the folder on the disk in the format "yyyy mm dd topic camera film" where the day and film are optional (see above screenshot)
  3. Keep the folders in one of two places: initially a local drive Library location, and then once my edits and online publishing are done I move it to a Library location on my network storage drive

You can freely move your Folders around on the drives of your computer, network storage, etc.  However, when you do so Lightroom indicates via greying out the folder name that it has lost track of where it is.

When that happens simply right click on the folder in Lightroom, select "Find missing folder…" and the browse to and select its new location.  This will update the Folder and all images within it to its new location and is pretty painless.

I keep my Folder strategy to essentially a linear timeline of rolls/shoots, even if the images in those folders are split into multiple purposes.  My next topic will be Collections which is really where all the magic happens in organizing your images inside Lightroom.

Adobe Lightroom Catalogs


This is the first in a series of posts about my experiences introducing Adobe Lightroom 4 to the core of my photographic workflow.

I used to have a very manual workflow based on an old version of Photoshop and absolutely no image management aside from moving files around folders on my computer and network storage.  It was tedious, I had trouble keeping things consistent, and when I wanted to find something I had to hunt around.

I heard good things about using Lightroom from film photographer Sean Galbraith.  I also occasionally shoot digital and was looking for a means to use RAW files without introducing a dedicated application such as Nikon Capture.

Lightroom is a parametric image editing application, which means that all of the edits that you make to your images are stored in a central database rather than applied directly to your original image file.  The Lightroom Catalog file is that database, so it contains any color balance changes, touch-ups, cropping, etc. as well as keywording, rating and other metadata changes you make to your images.

There are some photographers who use multiple catalogs, perhaps to separate personal work from their job or one client's images from another's.  But the key point is that when you use Lightroom you are only operating with one catalog at a time, they are completely separate databases.

I have decided for now to use only one catalog for all of my images.  I don't shoot a lot of images and I often mix different kinds of shots (family, landscape, cameras, etc.) together on the same roll of film.  Keeping everything together in one catalog lets me import everything into one database and then use collections and keywords to manage them as needed.

The last thing I will mention about catalogs is that you need to back them up regularly.  It is theoretically possible for them to get corrupted, and of course if your computer fails you could simply loose the file.

Treat your catalog(s) just like your images and implement a proper backup procedure.  If you lose your catalog you have also lost all your edits to your images!

Guide to Color Conversion Filters

Nikon F6, Nikkor AF 24/2.8 D, Kodak Porta 400

Color conversion filters can be very useful when shooting color film, whether print film or slide film.  They give you control over the color cast of the resulting image, making it warm, neutral, or cool looking.

The above photograph was shot under interior incandescent lighting without any filtration, and as a result it turned out too warm looking.  Read on to understand why as well as how to counter this effect.

Color film has multiple layers which are each sensitive to light of a different primary color.  By its very nature, color film is "balanced" to expect a certain distribution or weighting of color across these layers.

This is referred to as white balance with digital cameras.  When you set a digital camera for a particular white balance (or let it decide via auto) the camera will re-adjust the color channels after the image has been captured to make whites white and all other colors neutral.

Color films are commonly balanced for daylight.  When a light source other than mid-day sunlight is used the balance of incoming colors can be different and the image can look too warm or cool, or have some other color cast to it.

Some color films, especially print films, can be less sensitive to color casts than others.  When I am shooting casually with print film I am less concerned about color conversion than if I am shooting landscape work on slide film.

Do you like the warm or cool results from shooting under different lighting?  Well if so, by all means don't bother with color conversion filters!  When shooting during sunrise or sunset (the golden hour) I never bother to cool the image down, I want the natural warm look.

But let's say that you are shooting in something other than mid-day sunlight and you want to reign in the color cast and achieve a neutral result, here are some of the more common color conversion filters I recommend using with daylight color film:







Shooting in the sun is what daylight films are for.  So why use any filter for a shot like this?  Skylight filters add the slightest amount of warming to compensate for the minor cooling influence of a bright blue sky, particularly in shady areas.  I prefer to use a 1A skylight filter as "protection" on my lenses rather than a straight UV filter as I never mind adding a hair more warmth to my pictures.









Even if sunlight is your primary source of light, when you are working in full shade the color is much cooler.  Here I was photographing one of my sons in an indoor swimming pool which was almost fully lit by windows running the length of the ceiling.  Counter the cooling effect of shade with an A-series (for "amber") warming filter, in this case I used an A2 filter (similar to 81A).






Incandescent lighting is much warmer looking than daylight.  For heavy cooling under incandescent lighting (good old light bulbs) use a B-series (for "blue") cooling filter.  Here I used my B12 filter (similar to 80A or 80B) under the light bulbs in our kitchen to render the white tile and stove top neutral.

European designations for color conversion filters go the B-for-blue versus A-for-amber route, while the American designations for the same filters are 81- & 85-series for warming and 82- & 80-series for cooling.

The European naming is easy, the larger the number the stronger the effect (ex. B12 cools more than B8).  The American naming is convoluted with its double-numbering and mixed up strengths (81B warms more than 81A, yet 80B cools less than 80A…).

Bottom line: if you want to break out beyond the simple recommendations I make above, arm yourself with a good conversion table (like the one at the end of Ken Rockwell's filter guide) to guide your advanced color conversion filtering technique.