Monday, June 7, 2010

F80EXR Shoots a Crombie McNeill Workshop

I missed the first of this years’ workshops but managed to catch the second one on the weekend. We all drove up to Smiths Falls, about an hour South-Southwest of Ottawa for 10am on Sunday the 6th (66th anniversary of D-Day by the way.)


I somehow got confused about the time and arrived an hour early, which meant a little time to do nothing. I went up some steep stairs at a municipal building where we were to meet and found a door that was locked. No landing there so I turned around and came back down, grabbing the hand rail and sliding my hand along it as I always do. But this handrail was busted and I slid my middle knuckle across the broken edge of the brass piece that was supposed to be holding the rail on … slicing a 1/2” gash in my knuckle as I went by. When I arrived at the bottom, I noticed that I was bleeding like a stuck pig, so to speak.

I wandered out front to see if there was a pharmacy nearby and of course there was not. But the building I was in had another entrance 30 feet away and that was a police station. I wandered in there and asked the officer at reception for a band-aid … holding up my finger, which was now covered in blood. She asked if I needed to go to the hospital and I said no, it was a small gash. So they got be some band-aids and I washed it off and left.

Back to the entrance with 45 minutes still left to wait. It was raining so I stood on the top step of the first entrance and took out the F80EXR. There were huge Maples on each side of the entrance and with the leaves covered in droplets, I tried to capture an image. The image I got was a bit dull, but ends up looking kind of nice after a pseudo-HDR treatment by Topaz Adjust 4.


And across the street, through the trees, is a bit of Canadiana that anyone should recognize …


After a while, I went to sit in my car and wait with the music on. At about 9:45, Crombie and a few others arrived and I followed them up the stairs to the big room. Interestingly, I had gone up the wrong stairs when I cut myself, so that was a pointless injury :-)

The room in which we met was rather huge with the creakiest floor I’ve ever seen … everywhere you stepped it screeched.


I wandered about and chatted, shaking hands with a number of people I had not seen since last year’s final workshop, which was the market if I recall correctly. At one point, I noticed some cameras set up on tripods and thought I’d get some kind of clever shot of them with their owners in the background. It turned out ok, although I took it to black and white to easily handle the color noise that shows up at 1600 ISO.


Edit 6 Feb 2011: Bonnie added the some of the names in comments on this series of posts. Thanks Bonnie.

The leader of the group we planned to photograph is George, and he is a swordsman. George came in at some point and laid his practice sword (blunted) down on a long window ledge. I shot an image, but with the grey skies and otherwise dull presentation I again decided to use pseudo-HDR courtesy of Topaz Adjust.


For reason’s unknown, I did not photograph him as he demonstrated certain movements with the sword … kind of like patterns (kata for those familiar with Karate.) And when we arrived at the rather rain soaked grounds, mainly shot with the D300 and D700. I did get a few shots near the end though. I shot images of a fellow in a red beard (Mike) who really looks the part. These again seemed to need a little something extra so I used Topaz quite liberally. I did process the eyes in most cases, though, else they looked quite dull from the flat light in which we shot.


Click through to see the 800px version and you must agree that the F80EXR is capturing a significant amount of detail for a 6mp cam. Below is George, the group’s leader. He teaches several sword fighting techniques and studies the history of all forms of ancient sword-mastery. He also mentions that he is a Druid and practices an ancient Norse (Viking) religion. All very interesting.


By this point you’ve probably noticed that I am not mentioning any names. The reason being that I have a rather poor memory, so I have asked Crombie and Paul for the names of all the people we photographed. Paul is working on that as I post this so at some point in the future this will be edited. If you come back later, you will see names and this will obviously be gone.

Edit 6 Feb 2011: I never did receive the names. But Bonnie kindly provided some of them in her comments.

Here are a couple more images of Mike and then George.



So why go black and white on that last one? Well, because I screwed up and shot him against the grey sky and that looks simply awful in a color image if it dominates the background.

Always watch your background and shift your angle if it sucks.

A woman (Joanne) and her husband (Dave) arrived about half way through the festivities and, although I did not photograph Joanne with the F80, I did get one of Dave. He is cut of rather masculine cloth … and wait until you see Joanne later on when I post the images from the D300 and D700 … they are a terrific match.


There was also a family there with two daughters, all dressed in period costumes. I only managed to capture the mother (Rhella) with the F80 … you will see the daughters and husband (still no names for them, sorry) in a later post.


And that was about it for the compact at this venue. I did shoot one of the models, her name I remember as Selina.


Again, I think the F80EXR did a marvelous job of that image. Terrific detail.

Now … on to the water treatment plant. We arrived and the Smiths Falls economic development manager gave us a short talk welcoming us to the town and saying that he hoped that these workshops would be the start of a strong period of growth in this area -- with the town having many such historic venues, there is no shortage of period locations for interesting photography.

After that, he showed up the building, which is very much an industrial space that looks abandoned. The filtration systems with their enormous vats and catwalks are still running, but this is no doubt to avoid fairly severe bacterial issues while they work on a plan to tear it all out (although perhaps they are retaining the capacity in case tragedy strikes the other plant … who knows.) The vat room was the only part of the plant that was off limits, as it is a moderately dangerous room.

Now, again, I shot pretty much exclusively in here with the D700 as the light was pretty tricky. Near the end, I packed it all up and pulled out the F80 for a few last shots. Turns out that more was happening than I expected :-)

First, Erin and her significant other were posing near a window in some pretty glorious light. I shot several images and processed one of them in black and white pseudo-HDR and the other in high contrast with my threshold / glow technique. Both are pleasing, but I prefer the second one.



And the last series of shots is of Sandy. She is a gregarious sort, which makes her really easy to work with. Always full of suggestions and posing fairly quickly. Here, I caught a quick image with the flash enabled to fill in the shadows. Not bad I think … once cropped and processed of course.


She then walked into a corner where the compact could not follow. It simply cannot shoot without flash and the flash shadows would have killed any possible image against a wall. So I shot the scene instead … and you see a photographer in the close foreground and you see Crombie just after he has positioned her, now facing me.


That’s a Canon G11 strung around his neck. He also shoots a D90 with grip and a lovely Sigma 50mm 1.4 (a superb lens with stunning sharpness.)

She went back into the window and sat on the ledge, giving us the opportunity to shoot her in silhouette … where the compact is again out of its league if I try to fill flash. But … I happen to be a huge fan of high key imagery, so I simply turned up exposure compensation to blow two stops high and got an image I quite like. Further processing to black and white and more glow gives me a shot that is very pleasing.


And that is just a small taste … I will be posting images from the D300 and D700 as time permits. 


Lili said...

Great series Kim.
Esp the Medieval types.
Love the Fuji stuff.
I got my Ricoh GRD working, still gives the best in-camera B&W of any small sensor camera but I appear to have moved on. Now Prefer EXR for most work, F70 esp.
Tempes Fugit

Kim Letkeman said...

Thanks Lili ... the F70 would have made slightly better captures here because of a total lack of chroma noise by comparison, but with processing, the F80 captures are quite adequate. This was extremely challenging light.

sandy.r.carr said...

The model who's name you don't have is Sandy ;) (me)
I have looked over many of your blog entries and appreciate how you are very descriptive of the equipment that you use and the pros and cons of their functions. Very informative I must say!

I hope to see you at future workshops!


Kim Letkeman said...

Thanks for the kind words Sandy. I had actually received the names of all the models a while ago but forgot to go back and update the article. I'll do that right now. I will probably miss this week's workshop in Smiths Falls, but hope to attend the smaller ones Crombie has scheduled for a bit later.