Friday, June 24, 2011

Pentax K5 amazing dynamic range

Two days ago, the sky in Geneva was really dramatic and beautiful. I quickly stormed out of the apartment fearing I wouldn't get to the spot I had in mind in time (luckily only about 5 min. drive).
Fortunately I wasn't too too late, although I think it would have been better if I had gotten there earlier.
I used a 4-stop ND grad filter with a Sigma 17-70 at 70mm, but the filter wasn't strong enough (a 8 stops would have been perfect I think).  Therefore, I had to totally under-expose the foreground, but given the K5 amazing dynamic range, I still managed to recover the under-exposed area (+2.7 stops !) without adding too much noise.
Original, totally under-exposed shot:

And the result, after using some fill light on the completely black foreground:

It's very impressive what one can do nowadays.  Even messed up shots can be recovered to be printed at a descent size, something that was not even imaginable a few years ago.
Who knows what the technology is going to achieve in only a few years from now...

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Why a high quality screen matters

This post stems from an interesting comment I got in my "Colorado Wonders" thread on
I figured what I explain below may be of interest to several of you.
Basically it boils down to this: is a high quality screen really worth it? Does it really make a difference versus a cheap TFT screen?
My answer is: YES, YES and YES!
Here is my story:
I used to have a somewhat cheap LCD screen before (that I had calibrated using a spider 2). I was pleased with the results on screen. However, when I was making prints of my photos what I saw on screen didn't match the output on paper at all. Not in terms of colors, but in terms of brightness: all my shots were at least 1 stop under-exposed on paper and there were much much more contrasty than on screen! Therefore, every time I wanted to print a photo, I would make a "print" version JPG which had +1 EV applied to it and I applied a contrast reduction as well. It really annoyed me.
After some time, I was fed up with this discrepancy, so I decided to invest in some high quality screen. I settled on a Dell U2311H IPS screen (awesome deal for the price - probably the best value at the time!). The difference with my old screen was simply unbelievable! This screen now matches very closely what I see on prints. I noticed that an image that looked right on my new IPS screen looked much more dull and blown out on my old screen. Typically, on the old screen it looked less contrasty and much more washed out!
To give you an idea, something black on my new screen looks more like dark grey on my old screen. The great thing is that now I know what I see on my screen matches closely what I'll obtain in prints.
I suspect some people are experiencing this when looking at my photos on their screens. My wife's laptop has also the same problem. My pics look over exposed on her screen. That sucks.
Before buying this excellent IPS screen, I've never imagined there would be so much difference.
The bottom line is this: if you want to get prints that look closely to what your'e seeing on screen, I encourage you to buy a high quality IPS screen, you won't regret it :)

Colorado Wonders

Last week I was in Denver to attend the ASMS conference, the most important mass spectrometry event of the year.  Each year the conference is held at a different location, therefore it's a great opportunity to see new places and National Parks :)
As I have never visited Colorado before, I made sure to bring some photography gear in order to immortalize some of the great Rocky mountains' sceneries!
Unfortunately, I didn't have very much time to wander around, I had only a single day for my hiking trip, thus I decided to go to Rocky Mountains National Park as it was not too far from Denver and it seemed quite nice.
I had brought my K5 with a DA 12-24, Sigma 17-70, and DA 55-300. I find these 3 lenses to be the perfect travel combo as I am covered from 12 to 300mm with descent quality while still being somewhat light, plus I get a pseudo macro in as a bonus emoticon - smile

I ended up driving to Estes Park and hiked from Sprague lake to Bear lake.  I was suprised to see there was still quite a bit of snow along the way!

Small lake on the way to Bear Lake.

Somewhere north-east of Bear lake.
These sun beams were amazing!

I liked the look of these pine trees contrasting
with the white peaks in the background.

One of the first elk I encountered.  It looked like its
winter fur was being replaced by the summer one.

Another view of the same spot as before,
using a wide-angle this time (12mm).

I love the color of these green trees and
how they stand among the pine trees!

This herd of elks was only about 10m from the road!
I love how animals are not scared of humans in the  US :)

These 2 young elks were fighting.

A waterfall I encountered at the end
of my journey (too much sun though a
polarizer + ND grad weren't sufficient!)

A closer look at the elks on a green tree background.

Somehow I liked the mood of this one in black and white.

I happened to stop at a restaurant that had installed small houses
to feed colibris.  Luckily I managed to shot this guy in flight!

Pretty flowers -Pulsatilla vulgaris- 

No wonder there were quite a few fishermen along this
lake as I saw several trouts swimming near the shore!