Lightroom Statistics

I find it hard to believe that Lightroom doesn't include a method for evaluating the contents of a catalog, such as finding out how many shots you've taken in a given period, calculating what cameras and/or lenses you use most often, etc.  What a dumb oversight on Adobes' part (or an intentional omission?)  Anyway..

I found this program online at www.lightroomstatistics.com and found it e-x-t-r-e-m-e-l-y useful.  It can show me:

  • A graph of my shot volume (13,574) for a given period;
  • A summary of:
    • Most used camera (Sony ILCE-7RM2);
    • Number of cameras used:(4);
    • ISO most used (100);
    • Lens used most (Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro-G OSS). This surprised me!  I must have used this extensively for lens testing and such tests would not generally be published on this site (see my Flickr site);
    • Number of lenses used (30). Includes a great little pie chart, too;
    • Most used aperture (f/8) with bargraph;
    • Focal lengths used (with barchart);
    • Most used file format (RAW). Actually I always used RAW+Jpeg;
    • Favorite resolution (7952 x 5304}

Described above is only the most basic version. Full versions contain a great deal more content and seem to be priced according to how much information they supply.

A very handy tool to let you know just how wrong you may have been about your shooting habits!!  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.

My Infrared Processing

Introduction

First, I am NOT a writer. My use of the English language leaves a lot to be desired. Not apologizing for that.  Just say’in.

Over the years and due to some medical conditions my memory has become a little mushy and I tend to forget words, names, etc. So my writing is somewhat inconsistent. But I never forget an image, a scene, place, a road, a trip or visual cues.  And I don’t forget what I did to capture something I want (uh, usually). So please bear with me.

I shot my first ‘real’ photograph in 1965 during military leave after basic training using my father’s Leica (I think it was an M3 but am not sure.)  It was a great shot (several) of a blizzard in NYC.  All are lost however, having disappeared over countless moves during my service career. We didn’t have an internet back then (well, we did but that’s a whole different story).

I tried to continue a photography hobby while in the service but was not able to get beyond typical consumer cameras until around 1968-69 when I was able to catch a cargo flight to the airbase in Guam and buy the new Canon A1 (at a huge military discount). I loved that camera to death. Literally. I dropped it off the Nu’uana Pali along the Pali Highway on Oahu in Hawaii.  Bummer. Lesson learned.  Like, NEVER don’t wear a strap! Had beautiful 50mm FD glass, too.

Maybe that camera is the reason I love the Sony A7rii so much – it feels like my old Canon A1 in my hands.

Another thing to note: I always shoot manual mode, have ISO set to 100 (except in rare circumstances) and shoot auto-focus whenever possible (I’m nearing 72 and my eyesight isn’t what it used to be.)

I use several programs to process my photographs:

Lightroom*
Photoshop*
Capture One Pro**
ON1 Photo 10**
DxO Optics Pro**
Google Picasa
Google Nik Photo Collection (as stand-alone and plug-in)
Xara Designer Pro X10

*Worst RAW processor
**Best RAW processors

To avoid confusion all of the procedures I detail below use only Lightroom, Photoshop, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, Nik Define2 for selective noise reduction and Nik Output Sharpener 3.  Although I will always import all photos into the Lightroom catalog it is only as a base for eventual editing (as needed). It’s far too slow for my taste.

Because I use more than one program from multiple manufacturers I don’t import directly to Lightroom from the SD card: first I import SD card images into Google Picasa which does a good job of ordering imported content by directory and also displays both the RAW and JPG files side-by-side. So no matter what program I decide to use I know exactly where it is.  

If you don’t want RAW and JPG showing up in Lightroom set the Edit>Preferences>Import Options>Treat JPEG files next to RAW files as separate photos to UNCHECKED (by default it is checked).  

Once all content is pulled off the SD card I use Picasa to cull unwanted images (Picasa displays the JPG versions as black and white).

FYI – I always set my Sony A7R cameras for JPG output that will closely approximate the scene I am actually shooting for infrared, black and white and color.  I realize there are a lot of Sony haters out there that bitch about Sony’s saturated color but you can adjust it down to be reasonably accurate.  And in some cases up. 

Finally, I shoot Infrared Black and White – the infrared filter is rated at 720nm. 720 is considered the ‘basic’ filter. The Near IR spectrum (there are two spectrums, near and far) we work with goes from about 680nm up to 900nm. 

Oh. Set image exports to 16-bit, ProPhoto color if possible. Your results will be MUCH better. It is common to get banding on IR images.

But before we start let's briefly discuss an important aspect of infrared photography - "hotspots".

Lens Hotspots

Hotspots are a common problem in infrared photography and manifest themselves as a 'brighter' and 'discolored' region around the center focal point of the image. Most lenses exhibit this anomaly. A believe it occurs mostly on better lenses that have coated optics, especially newer and more sophisticated designs. From what I have read it has something to do with light bouncing between various (or adjacent)optical coatings with the lens. Since lenses are designed for the visible light spectrum I assume that the excellent coatings manufacturers apply (such as the superb Zeiss T* coatings) do not prevent such reflections. Absolutely no fault of the lens designer but the nature of the beast. 

Also recall that all/most digital camera sensors are designed with an IR 'blocking' filter built-in when you have a lens converted to IR that blocking filter is removed and an IR pass-through filter is installed. Naturally, none of that is taken in to consideration when a lens is designed. My lovely Zeiss Batis T* 18mm and 25mm wide lenses exhibit significant hot spotting.

You can see the hot spots clearly in images #1 and #2. By image #3 it is barely perceptible. It is almost impossible to eliminate the anomaly entirely but very careful application of targeted reduced exposure, contrast, temperature, tinthighlightsshadows and clarity usually masks it pretty well - if not completely.

There are some high-quality lenses I have used that do not exhibit this problem such as the Canon 17mm/TS-E Architectural lens, the Canon 14mm Super-Wide Angle and the Canon 11-24mm rectilinear Wide Angle Super Zoom. I own the 17 and 14 and they are large, pricey and quite heavy - not a convenient lens to carry about.

Lenses Tested

[coming soon]

Process

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27523371951/in/dateposted-public/ 
https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27561877286/in/dateposted-public/ FULL SIZE

The first image is the RAW import. No processing.  WYSIWYG. SOOC. Whatever.

Not all cameras will look like this – it depends on what custom settings are applied in camera. I’ve learned that it just doesn’t matter what it looks like at this point

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27562018546/in/dateposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27561851946/in/dateposted-public/ FULL SIZE

The second image has had basic infrared color correction applied in Lightroom and includes some tweaking of Brightness (Exposure), Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, a tiny bit of Clarity and Vibrance (yes, it makes a difference) and, of course, Lens Correction.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27596051685/in/dateposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27523223171/in/dateposted-public/ FULL SIZE

Image 3 has been exported to Photoshop as a PSD file. Tonal correction and dust spot removal has been applied. This is only the first dose of spot removal as many more will show up once it is converted to Black and White.  While in Photoshop any additional changes are made such as removing unwanted artifacts, trash, small birds (which usually are perceived as dust spots in the sky), etc. At this stage I also correct and remove electrical wires if needed and if feasible. I usually find that leaving electrical wires in place is preferable to removing them in Photoshop because, as good as Photoshop is, artifacts are almost always left behind (especially on areas of intersecting lines and over window angles), plus using the spot removal tool reduces resolution in the area. During this stage I will also remove things that distract from or do not help the image in anyway. This is not journalism; it is art (but I still like to stay true to my scene).

Once back into Lightroom I performed final cropping.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27496787552/in/dateposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/26985656774/in/dateposted-public/ FULL SIZE

Image 4 has been imported into Silver Effects Pro 2 for black and white conversion. At this stage I will also apply film filters, toning, etc., as desired. I do not have a fixed formula for this - it's entirely per image.  I also like the Control Point feature as it has an effect on the specific tonal/color ranges within a given circle/area, unlike the global range of Lightrooms Radial Filter.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27562001236/in/dateposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27496552812/in/dateposted-public/ FULL SIZE

Image 5 is the final image with black and white toning applied in Silver Effects Pro 2.  I usually start with a preset such as High Structure (harsh), Fine Art Process or Wet Rocks and work from there.  I don’t have custom presets as every image is unique and custom presets tend to reduce the amount of thought you apply to the processing of each image.  I deal with many infrared images so there are not a whole lot of base colors to work I need to be more careful.  I also tweak Soft Contrast, Structure and Grain quite a bit.  My favorite film type is Kodak ISO 32 Panatomic X as it was a film I once used.  Except then it was ASA, not ISO.  As for Toning my favorites are Selenium and Ambrotype, judiciously applied.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27523380321/in/dateposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27595801575/in/dateposted-public/ FULL SIZE

Image number 6 is a new PSD file that has additional spot removal applied. The spots increase once you convert to black-and-white. The content-aware brush in Photoshop is far superior to the Lightroom tool which I find rather useless.  Using this tool, I zoom to 100% or even 200% then carefully scan across the image using a circular motion with the mouse allowing my peripheral vision to pick up any spots. Changes at screen resolution are hard to notice.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27561987466/in/dateposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27496502082/in/dateposted-public/ FULL SIZE

Image 7 has been run through Nik Output Sharpener.  This is a great tool but just be careful –a little goes a long way and you can easily overdo it.  And how much you sharpen depends on what your output will be.  My is both print (full resolution for Super B) and 2000px JPG’s at 100% for web portfolio display.  Changes at screen resolution are hard to notice.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27318964900/in/dateposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27561931566/in/dateposted-public/ FULL SIZE

Image 8 Is the final product ready for printing. I also save this as a Print File directly in Lightroom.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27561989136/in/dateposted-public/
https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/27523302311/in/dateposted-public/ FULL SIZE

Image 9 is the same final but with a mild custom Orton filter applied in Lightroom. Once this is done then I decide which of the two final images I will eventually use. I don’t often do this.

Finally there is the matter of time. Athough we all devote plenty of time to adjusting our photographs to make them the best they can be it will take even longer for infrared. 

Hope all of this helps someone!

 

 

Sony FE 90mm G OSS F2.8 macro/medium telephoto lens

I've had this lens nearly a month now and like it a lot.  It is extremely sharp - which it has to be as I bought for my soon-to-be-arriving A7Rii - and bright, typical of what I expect from a "G" lens.  It has completely manageable distortion and vignetting (which isn't much to begin with). Too many people worry about distortion/vignetting when they are the easiest things to correct.

At 90mm it has a nice comfortable reach.  Although not as much as some longer macro lenses it is quite satisfactory. And the 90mm focal length allows for some excellent portraiture shots - something I'm not into but many are.  Minimum focus distance is 11" but at 90mm you don't need more than that (we're talking about a 'macro' lens here, not a 'micro' - there's a big difference.)  

The AF/MF ring is a nice touch and something I'm sure many photographers will like.  You can switch very quickly without removing your eye from the viewfinder.  But note that the AF is so good and so quiet that you will rarely need to take advantage of it.  I only found my self switching one time - and that was to make sure I could if I needed to.

I don't really have any complaints with this lens (although others will - see the next paragraph).  To me it's a winner and worth the money.  I als bought the Zeiss 85mm 1.8 last week and will run tests with it shortly to compare these two lens.  But to me they are different animals.  The Sony 90 is a superb lens and brutally sharp while the Zeiss 85, also wicked sharp, is a bit faster, happier in the corners and edges, has that neat DOF display (which works great) and has that wonderful Zeiss 'pop'.  I like both equally and will use the hell out of them but for different purposes.  

As for complaints I think others will have there is only one - weight.  Most photographers who buy this lens will complain of the weight.  All I can say to that is if you want GREAT glass, FAST auto-focus, SUPER stabilization, and reasonable reach you should not complain.  The laws of physics and great quality require certain compromises to be made and you can't have all these qualities with thin, lightweight glass because the technology doesn't exist yet. Someday maybe, right now not so much. 

Sample images from this lens can be found on my Flicker site.  Note: these are full-size images exported from Lightroom and can be very large.  If you open an image and then click to magnify it may take up to 30 seconds to load, depending on your internet connection.

If you want small, light and cheap then buy the E-mount 30mm macro from Sony - it's a decent lens. Just don't expect this.

Zeiss 35mm 1.4 Distagon T* ZA lens for Sony FE

Wow!  Just got this lens today.  Wow!.  What a lens.  Fantastic bokeh, incredible pop, gorgeous isolation, everything.  I couldn't resist taking a walk after dinner down along Clement Street and shooting here and there, street objects, windows of closed stores, whatever.  Everything handheld, mostly f/1.4, only ambient light.  Processed all in Lightroom 5.x but did not work on the RAW files as there is no lens profile yet so I slightly tweaked (upped exposure a bit and pushed shadow - that's all) the JPG's.  Not perfect but you get the idea.  BTW: I think Lightroom has an update that might incorporate a profile for this lens.  I downloaded an update but have not yet installed it.

ADDED NOTE:  I don't know why the blog said I posted that at 4:15am - it was 2:15am.  Anyway, those shots were not meant to be artistic but only to show the greatness of the lens.  Other than the handful I shot at the park on the way home from picking up the lens they were all shot at night.  And because I knew I'd be working with the JPG's I set DRO slightly higher..  I used the new A7II with the on-sensor stabilization (as this is not a stabilized lens).  Later today I'll take the A7r out for a spin with it on a tripod.  

This lens feels great. I was very concerned that it would be humogous and overpowering on the camera but it does not.  It much heavier than the existing 35mm F2.8 Sonnar T* FE ZA or the 55mm F1.8 Sonnar T* FE ZA but it is definitely not too heavy. It is very easy to hold, well balanced, extremely smooth in operation, and has a wonderful aperture ring that works like a charm. The focus ring works beautifully. it is smooth and buttery and precise if one is shooting manual focus or if you are using hybrid focus (DMF).   IMHO focus speed is very satisfactory - not blazing fast but appropriate for the type of shooting you would do with this lens. The lens hood is a tulip shape and has a beautiful finish on the outside edge that makes holding the hood very easy and almost pleasurable. They put a lot of thought into this lens design and it really shows. This lens with an high quality protection filter and tax (California) will remove close to $2000 from your account but it is well worth every penny.

I also promised the folks over at Samy's Camera in San Francisco (The BEST camera store in San Francisco - I buy all my gear there) I would do an A-B test with this new lens vs. the very nice Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA (one of my favorites and a GREAT walk-around lens).  

To see the images please go to my Flickr site at https://www.flickr.com/photos/walnut186/sets/72157651843475621/..  FYI: my favorite of them all is the BW firebox.

You can see the A-B test of the Zeiss 35/2.8 vs. the 35/1.4 here.

What's this world coming to?

Just spent $80.00 on a raincoat - for my LENS. I remember when you could go to a fancy men's store in Boston and spend less than that on a hella good raincoat.  Argh!