Cumbersome indeed and a bit of everything

2012, Image editing, Photography

It took me a while to think of a new blog post again (I don’t feel a pressure to regular post new stuff though) and that has partly come because I currently hardly photograph. I guess, more than expected, I needed a break from photography. Much of my work in the past year dealt with converting my moods into imagery, sometimes consciously, but often subconsciously. A friend recently showed some concept of his new photography blog and that excited me. And made me realize too that much of the stuff I did was not always about happiness and joy. Mood? Yes. Honesty? I tried. I think what I miss is something to desire, a mood, a feeling, something pretty and pleasant. More than ever before I look forward to this upcoming Summer.

Since December 2007 I run my own photography blog and shared my photographs online. I don’t do it to become popular, well known, or to start up a business. sharing makes perfect sense for me in photography, the people I met ever since were worth all the effort. And yes, I had my worries of image theft or people sharing my work without mentioning. But I lightened up on this issue which I mention clearly in my About page. A couple of days ago I was shocked when I received an e-mail where someone claimed the two photographs in the previous post, Almost Human, were actually his. First of that claim was just ridiculous. I know these photographs are mine, I took them, I processed them, I know where and when I took them, which camera I used, and I know who where with me. I told it to my wife and she was flabbergasted (she was with me on both occasions). The claim is stupid, but with current internet legislation I feel the content makers are very vulnerable.

E-mail with the insinuation

Then I more closely inspected that mail and I noticed that the person, not leaving behind additional contact information, attempted to redirect me through a strange link to my blog post. This felt untrustworthy. The strange link and, I presume, the false identity. I immediately changed my password for my blog content management system and I contacted wordpress.com. It felt like an attempt to hack either my blog or something else. Again it emphasizes the vulnerability of our online presence and the evilness some people unfortunately have within them. Yet it pisses me off, you know. These punks should get a life, go to school, do something meaningful with their lives and for our society, and they should tell their mothers what a jerks they are. I thought the best response trying to forget this was to write a new blog post. It is my blog, and these are my photographs, my musings.

Since November last year I made no effort writing about gear. You see, I believe a camera is just a tool. There are probably lots of reasons why you decided to use a specific camera (I know I have), but I feel no need to defend this. An important reason why I stay away from forums, because too often people troll to give great significance to their reasoning and bash anything else. Just stupid. But I prefer certain tools and I know many visitors on my blog come here for this fact too. As much as I hope it would be for my photography alone I realize it matters others what gear I use and what can be done with certain cameras (and lenses).

Well that said, my preferred cameras are the Panasonic GF1 with the 20mm pancake lens and a Ricoh GR Digital 3. While I really like the GF1, it does feel like a replaceable camera to me. The Ricoh however is more than that. If I replace this camera, it would only be with a new GR Digital model. Since end 1996 I replaced my SLR for a Ricoh GR1 and I was really glad to get a digital replacement in 2009. No other camera forced me to work so consciously with a minimal set up. Just a 28mm prime lens and that is it.

The current version, the GRD4, still uses the same sensor that was introduced with the GRD3. Sony stopped producing this sensor and that makes me wonder what Ricoh should do for next year. Ricoh acquired Pentax last year, but yet haven’t decided or at least announced proper plans for their full camera line up. I think their current line up has a few noticeable and distinctive cameras like the Pentax 645D, the K-5, and the Ricoh GRD4. The K-5 has one of the best APS-C sized sensors and is a really good camera. The GRD4 is a true cult camera and loved and faved by many photographers, especially in Asia. The sensor however is outdated and the competition is getting better and better. Now Sony introduced the RX100 with a new 1 inch sensor and I really believe this is the sensor that Ricoh should incorporate in the new GR Digital 5 next year. It is a huge step beyond the small sensors used until now. Greater dynamic range and better high ISO performance. And while the current GRD is well developed in it’s current form, I believe it makes sense to get the GRD form factor closer to the original GR1 series with a viewfinder.

And returning back to the Pentax Ricoh camera line up I think their problem is in the mirrorless cameras, the Pentax K-01 and the Ricoh GXR series. While both are unique and use interesting technologies, I believe these cameras are commercially speaking not really successful. The K-01 lacks the option to use an electronic viewfinder and looks rather ought. And when it comes to the GXR I personally feel only the M-mount module is really worth all the effort. And innovating technology alone doesn’t necessarily make a camera system commercially interesting.

Enough cameras though. Recently I started using the previous year released Lightroom VSCO film presets by Visual Supply Co for my own processing. One of the most well known photographers who contributed his knowledge to these presets is American wedding photographer Sean Flanigan with his distinctive style. Both his shooting and posing techniques with tilt and shift lenses became fashionable in the wedding photography industry. Soon after that his processing style popped up all over the place. With the release of these presets it is now even easier to achieve this look. Honestly, I think this look is now overdone in the wedding photography, but still I find these presets very intriguing. In my opinion these are the first development presets for Lightroom that can generate continuity and consistency in the post processing on multiple photographs. Soon I will publish my impressions on these presets and how I try to use these for my photography.

I hope all is well to you and good light!

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Not a typical Wednesday

2011, Image editing, Photography


Last Sunday I promised to do some sort of fun post today. I want to do so with some photographs that didn’t make it before in the final cut.


In case people do care you can check the exif data to see which camera or cameras I used. For me it personally doesn’t matter as long as I feel comfortable with it. Don’t care if it has a red badge or the name of an electronic consumer products manufacturer. The one that is with me is simply the best. What works for me might not work for you. To get things into perspective read this review by Zack Arias about the Fuji X100. You know, that camera with the tiny buttons and wrong interface according to many forums.


Oh yeah, Ricoh bought Pentax from Hoya last week. Any thoughts from me? Nope, not really. Only Hoya gave a press statement, but not Ricoh. It would only be speculative and there are already too many websites and forums focused on just that. I am no Thom Hogan. Well one thing, it won’t kill the GRD I think. But I really don’t care if a camera is from Ricoh, Pentax, Leica, Canon, or Nikon. It is a freakin’ camera and it should help me take photographs. As long as manufacturers produces the cameras I like I am OK with that.


I sometimes receive questions whether the questioner could get similar results with out of camera (OOC) B&W jpegs like my B&W photographs. Honestly I find that hard to say. Some cameras do pretty good B&W’s in-camera, some not. But most importantly it is all a very personal taste and it depends on your expectations. To give you an impression I added the image below to see and judge it for yourself. Above OOC and below with some post processing. In this case I used Adobe Lightroom version 3 where I use the curve to reduce the dynamic range and a S-curve for more pleasant contrast. I use an adjustment brush with negative clarity to diffuse the highlights (makes the edges near the highlights more appealing in my opinion). Sometimes a vignette and some additional grain. And basically that is all.

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Panasonic Lumix DMC-GF1

2009, Image editing

Well this new camera from Panasonic was being expected by many. A camera that has the look of its smaller cousin the LX3, but comes with interchangeable lenses. It will compete with the Olympus E-P1 and will likely benefit from some of the advantages of the Panasonic system like the faster autofocus. And the camera, the Panasonic DMC-GF1, will come with an additional electronic viewfinder unlike the small Oly. For a full round up of all the news you might want to check the extensive preview at dpreview or follow all the buzz at 1001noisycameras.

It all sounds like a very interesting camera to me, more so when you consider the new 20mm f/1.7 lens that is also revealed. Now I wonder what Leica is going to do. Leica will have an announcement on September 9 and there will be a live webcast on that day. Yesterday they came up with a video on several websites mentioning the live webcast. Rumors says it that Leica will announce a full frame M9, but some do also hope that they will come up with a real Leica version (and not just a rebadged Panasonic) of the new Panasonic GF1.

Last Saturday I photographed with the Panasonic DMC-GH1 in combination with the 7-14mm lens. Although the electronic viewfinder gave me a somewhat indirect feeling it was still so much better than using the LCD screen. I was stunned by the performance of the lens and I am curious how the 20mm lens will perform.

Red white and blue by Wouter Brandsma

Red white and blue by Wouter Brandsma

Red white and blue by Wouter Brandsma

All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

Some Depictive Photography thoughts

2009, Image editing, Photography

In my last post I mentioned something about the fill light option in Sigma Photo Pro (SPP) to process the RAW photographs from the Sigma DP1. This option is called X3 Fill Light and is unlike anything I have seen in a RAW processor. It not only creates more or less local contrast, like the clarity slider in Lightroom, but also changes the amount of light to be filtered through the depths of your photograph. Now, I don’t always like the effect. It can either be too dark or creates an almost HDR like effect. But sometimes this option in SPP can be very unique and interesting.

See here below three examples of a photograph where I used zero X3 Fill Light, -1.0 and an amount of +1.0. Next I only used some contrast, high light and shadow adjustment to make the photographs look pleasing to me.

The first one is with zero X3 Fill Light.
X3F Fill Light 0
The next one has -1.0 X3 Fill Light.
X3F Fill Light -1
And the last one has +1.0 X3 Fill Light.
X3f Fill Light +1

I personally still favor the original photograph, but I was amazed how much differences the X3 Fill Light can make on a photograph.

Next up was trying the Sigma DP1 with ISO 800 and underexposing to see how it would deal with photographing portraits in dim light. I first tried the autofocus, but it had some difficulties focussing. So I switched to manual focus and used to zoomed view on the LCD screen view to focus on the eyes. After that I used the viewfinder for framing. Accurate focussing wasn’t so easy and the general speed of the camera didn’t help either. While it handles light beautifully I have to get accustomed to the speed of the camera. The following photographs are my first portrait photographs from the DP1.

Things didn’t work out as planned for my son. His autism and failing structure made him angry and a little paniccing.
DP1 portraits by Wouter Brandsma
My daughter and wife were captived by a television program.
DP1 portraits by Wouter Brandsma
Multitasking, reading a newspaper and watching TV.
DP1 portraits by Wouter Brandsma
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma

I have been very familiair with the 28mm focal length for some long time since I started using the Ricoh GR1 in 1996. But recently I have been using the 35mm focal length more often for most of my photography when I started to get re-interested again in a more classical focal lenght lenses. So returning to 28mm isn’t always easy now. Therefore I think that the new Sigma DP2 can be a very interesting camera with the 41mm lens. For something like a week some examples can be seen here on the Sigma DP2 users gallery, but to be honest I haven’t been impressed by the photographs yet. Of course these cameras will all be preproduction models and their SPP version might still be in beta. I personally do like the photographs from Rick Decker though and he made great usage of this camera. But it probably says more about his photographic capabilities. Since last Friday, April 24, the camera is on sale in Japan and Amazon.com do take the Sigma DP2 on pre-order now.

“To do, or not to do?”,

2009, Image editing, Photography

After my previous post, and the comment from my friend Ronald Bunnik, I went through some photographs and wanted you to show some unprocessed and processed photographs (all in-camera jpegs by the way). All processed photographs were edited in Photoshop with some minor color and contrast adjustments. And these photographs also got some unsharp masking for some additional local contrast. I could use an action for this processing in Photoshop.

What do you prefer? The unprocessed or processed photographs? I personally like the processed photographs, because they have just that extra byte.

unprocessed
unprocessed
processed
processed

unprocessed
unprocessed
processed
processed

unprocessed
unprocessed
processed
processed

unprocessed
unprocessed
processed
processed
All photographs by Wouter Brandsma