On Image Sharpness

It is my view that there are no magic secrets to getting a good photograph and that subject matter and composition always trump technical perfection. However I commonly get clients saying they’re disappointed with the pictures from their expensive cameras and in particular they’re disappointed with the sharpness (or lack of).

I thought I’d write some posts on the subject of image sharpness, which I think is more about perception than actuality. Hopefully these will be coming over the coming days and weeks.

But never let me be accused of consistency because I was taken just now with the fantastic sharpness I got in this picture from my lovely wee M.Zuiko 14-42mm kit lens on my Olympus OMD-EM10.

This picture was taken hand-held, with the subject moving slightly in a medium breeze. I’m not just amazed by the sharpness of the lens but also the accuracy of the focus and the great image stabilisation. This was taken at 42mm (84mm in full-frame equivalent) and 1/125 second. I’ve processed in Lightroom and added my usual amount of sharpening but nothing special.

Here’s the shot, followed by a 100% crop of the centre section.

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and the 100% crop. I hope WordPress doesn’t mangle it after upload.

 

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A little bit of snow

By coincidence I exchanged comments a day or so ago with a reader from Helsinki who had posted a YouTube link showing his driving in snow. I responded that with so much snow Britain would grind to a halt. Today we had about an inch of snow and there was chaos on the roads and trains cancelled. My wife’s one hour journey to work turned into three hours. Britain doesn’t understand snow. Continue reading

More Cheshire Autumn

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This has been a great autumn and it isn’t over yet. I went back to the woods at Alderley Edge and found them full of colour and with the perfect overcast sky.

There’s a legend about these woods. About a wizard. You can see how these woods could produce such a legend, they’re full of character. There are beautiful individual trees, both mature and sapling. I found myself strolling very slowly, waiting for compositions to arrange themselves. A good sign.


The Olympus OMD-EM10 is perfect for this type of shooting. Using a tripod, the day is dull enough that the rear screen is easily seen and composing on a large, high-resolution screen is really nice. It also lets me compose using my crop of choice – 1:1 or 16:9 or the native 4:3.

 

Trefriw

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I took a couple of shots earlier this year that have had a big influence on me. They were both shots of narrow, tree-lined lanes. Since then I’ve been taking lots of photos of lanes and going out of my way to find such places. I don’t know if it’s a passing fad or something longer term but I’ve been very pleased to find inspiration in the less obvious.

These shots were taken a few weeks ago near the village of Trefriw, in the Conwy valley in Snowdonia. From the village you can wander into the hills towards the lakes of Crafnant and Gerionydd. You go into steep-sided, thickly wooded valleys with some wonderful views. Despite the loveliness I was surprised at how few shots I took.

Lingmoor Fell

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I did a lovely round of Lingmoor Fell and Little and Great Langdales last week. Lots of autumn colour. As you’ll see this small hill has great views of some of the best known Lake District mountains and right now must be one of the best times to be there.

The route is quite simple, with a clear path all the way until you get to Side Pike. There’s a difficulty there, especially if you’re plus-sized. There’s a cleft in the rock that you have to squeeze through and even a skinny person like me needs to take my rucsac off to do it. Right after that there’s a nice bit of scrambling as an option.

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The autumn colours are really good this year, I hope to get lots more shots over the next few weeks.

Don’t go into the woods – lessons you’d think I would have learned by now

Coed y Brenin
Coed y Brenin

Whenever a walk has a significant stretch in managed woodlands, like Forestry Commission woods, I always get lost. It isn’t my fault. The paths on the ground and the paths on the map don’t bear any relationship to each other. The woodland managers make new paths and tracks whenever they want and when you’re hemmed in by conifers all directions look the same. Coed y Brenin in south Snowdonia is no exception to this. Continue reading

Duddon Valley

Duddon Valley
Duddon Valley

The Duddon Valley is in the south-west of the Lake District, running north to south just to the left of Coniston. It isn’t popular, perhaps because it doesn’t have any big mountains, but it’s one of the most beautiful valleys of Cumbria. Spring is a good time to visit because of the blackthorn and hawthorn blossom, wild garlic, bluebells, and the delicate bright green of new leaves.

The road climbs very steeply for half a mile as you enter the valley and as soon as it levels out you give an internal “ooh” as you see the view. The fields, walls, barns and hills are laid out just so and the trees look like they’ve been chosen to make an arboretum. This is one place where the view is better down near the road than from the hill tops.

The rain that started at lunch time wasn’t just a shower and eventually I gave up early and retired for a cuppa at an empty cafe in Broughton, a very pleasant little market village close by.