Using graduated ND filters on mirrorless cameras

 

_IGP8946I wrote about my new lens a couple of posts ago. One very useful side-effect is that it has a 52mm filter thread which just happens to be one of the sizes I have of Lee filter system adapters. This means I can finally use my Lee filters on my Olympus OMD-EM10, especially my neutral density graduated filters. Ever since buying the Olympus with the kit pancake lens, which had an absurdly small 37mm filter thread, the fact that I couldn’t use the ND grad filters on that lens was the main reason I carried on using my Pentax. No longer. I went out yesterday and shot for the first time with the new lens and using ND graduated filters on the Olympus.

It didn’t work quite the way I thought it would. On an SLR you look through the viewfinder and use the depth of field preview feature to stop the aperture down so you can line up the filter and get the light/dark transition in just the right place.

I tried this on the Olympus. Out of the box it doesn’t have a dedicated DoF preview button but using the ability to assign functions to buttons I have assigned DoF preview to the video button (red button on right of top plate). However, as soon as you slide the filter down to line it up while stopping the lens down, the display (which of course is an electronic live view) compensates for the effect of the filter and brightens the scene.

What I found instead to be more useful and practical is to set the display to show red flashing on any over-exposed areas. Then slide the filter down until all the red flashing areas (presumably in the sky) disappear. Then you can increase the exposure (shutter speed or aperture) until just before the red flashes reappear.

This may actually be more accurate than it is on a normal DSLR with optical viewfinder. It certainly seemed to work well yesterday.

This is likely to push my Pentax right to the bottom of my bag and I expect nearly all shots from now on will be Olympus shots.

Holme Fell part one

Lingmoor Fell and Bowfell
Lingmoor Fell and Bowfell

I’ve been all around this area of the Lake District for many years and thought I knew it well but there is a square mile in the middle that I’ve overlooked and turns out to contain treasure.

The only other time I visited Holme Fell was in summer some years ago and it was a wilderness of ankle-breaking rocks and chest high bracken. The weather and light weren’t encouraging that day and I never went back. I’ve seen a number of shots from other photographers that suggested it was worth another go. It is without doubt a landscape photographer’s paradise.

Fairfield from Holme Fell
Fairfield from Holme Fell

In the past I’ve usually flitted around from one location to another – Yorkshire Dales one week, Wales the next, and so on. For the past several weeks I’ve been changing tactics and visiting the same place repeatedly to try and get the best from it. I think so far I’ve only made a small dent.

There are great panoramic views of the southern lakeland fells – Fairfield and Helvellyn, the Langdale Pikes, Bowfell, Wetherlam and Coniston. There’s a great view of the head of Coniston Water. On a clear day you can easily see Ingleborough over in the Yorkshire Dales.

Then there are the slate mining remnants and the quarry (I should say – The Quarry – it’s certainly impressive enough to be capitalised). In autumn it’s a wonderful golden mix of broadleaf and larch with plenty of shapely silver birch which will carry on being photogenic when bare in winter.

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I’ve now had four trips, each of which has produced some good shots – five if you count the Tarn Hows trip I reported a couple of posts ago, Tarn Hows being right next door if you will. I still don’t think I’ve got the best out of it. I also think from now on I might repeat this tactic of concentrating on small areas for prolonged periods.

Autumn is here – Tarn Hows

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Tarn Hows is one of the most beautiful lakes in an area renowned for beautiful lakes – the Lake District. In the Lake District there are Lakes (e.g. Bassenthwaite Lake), Waters (e.g. Coniston Water) and Tarns (e.g. Angle Tarn, Sprinkling Tarn). Tarn Hows is, presumably then, a tarn – don’t ask me the difference.

From the small knoll at its side you can see Wetherlam, the Langdale Pikes and the Fairfield/Helvellyn range. It is also surrounded by very colourful trees, making it a must-visit destination in autumn. It was no surprise then that I saw so many other serious-looking photographers, though at no point did the place feel crowded.

One of the joys of Tarn Hows in autumn is the growth of larch trees that turn bright orange in autumn but unfortunately they’re being badly affected by a fungal growth and the landowner (the National Trust) is clearing out large areas of larch to try and control the spread.

It’s a very easy location to photograph as there is a car park right next to the lake so once the sun has set you’re back in the car within a few minutes. Despite several visits over the years I still don’t feel I’ve been able to do it justice so I think many more visits will be called for.

Exciting times – new printer arrives

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I’ve been using an Epson 2100 printer for many years to make all of my prints. It’s been very reliable and makes great prints. It’s still in perfect condition but I’ve been forced to stop using it by Epson, who have stopped making ink for it.

So I now have a shiny new Epson P600. I wish I could say it’s Epson’s latest model but it’s been around for years. It would have been nice if I could have waited until they launched a brand new model so I don’t get in the same situation again with the inks.

First print
The first print finished – it was perfect

First impressions:

  • A little bigger and more heavily built than the 2100 and perhaps seems more sturdy
  • Both the Photo and Matte black inks are permanently installed (good) but you still need to flush the lines when you change between matte and photo black (bad)
  • It can take about five minutes to start printing when you do the first print of the day – it just sits there chuntering and whining doing who knows what before it starts to pull the paper through
  • Installation was a breeze and the first print I made was perfect
  • Colour and sharpness are noticeably better than the 2100
  • Printing is a little quicker than the 2100

I’m using Epson canned profiles whereas I had a custom profile made for me for the 2100. Looks like I’ll stick with the canned ones (at least for Epson paper) because results are so good.

It also comes with a free ColorMunki monitor profiler. It’s a shame I already have an X-Rite i1 profiler so I don’t actually need another one but it would be a nice bonus for anyone who doesn’t yet have one. The ColorMunki is a discontinued item (hence why Epson are giving them away, I suppose) but I’m sure it’s still very useful.

What's in the box
What’s in the box – a ColorMunki monitor profiler is also included

I’m also now in possession of three trial variety packs of Fotospeed paper to try different surfaces and see if I like them better than Epson paper. I’m quite excited.

Nine inks
There are now nine inks vs. seven for the 2100 – that’s going to be expensive when I need refills

Sunset at The Roaches

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Wow, it’s been about six weeks since I last posted. Holidays, laziness, and generally not actually getting any good pictures for a while in the rainy summer we’ve had this year.

I finally got some nice shots on a trip to The Roaches. This is presumably a corruption of the french word “rocher” and it’s a large area of exposed gritstone crags, famous among english rock climbers and very popular for walkers and picnickers. It’s also pretty popular with photographers and I’ve usually seen others around with big cameras and tripods when the weather is promising.

The only downside is that the distance is pretty much flat. It would be nice to have some hills on the horizon to add interest but I suppose you have to work with what you’ve got. In fact isn’t that the whole point of landscape photography? If I can’t get good shots at The Roaches then perhaps I should hang up my camera.

I hope you enjoy these shots. Now we’re getting into autumn I’m hoping I’ll be getting plenty more.