Light Painting is Easy with the Olympus OM-D E-M1 (E-M5 and E-M10, too)

The Olympus OM-D E-M1 (and E-M5, E-M10) were made for Light Painting.  They give you a feature not found on any other camera that I know of, and that is Live Bulb / Live Time.  Using either of these allows you to watch your image develop in Real Time (almost like developing prints in a dark room back in the “good old days”).  And then you can end the exposure when you think it looks right.

Light Painting is not only easy but a lot of fun and it can yield some unique images for you.  Basically it entails setting up in a relatively dark location so you can use a longer shutter setting, long enough to give you time to selectively illuminate your subject to achieve your desired result.
I won’t go into details here because I wrote about it twice last year.  First using the Fujifilm X100, and later with the Olympus PEN E-PL1.  I not only talk just a little about technique but point you to some great websites about it, too.

The beauty of using this technique with the OM-D is centered in two features known as Live Bulb and Live Time.  (The settings for these two are found in Custom Menu E.)  In a nutshell, these two functions tell the camera to periodically update the live view on the LCD monitor, allowing you to track the exposure in “almost” real time.  Then when it looks right … you end it.
The menu settings allow you set the desired interval for the camera to update the live view, but keep in mind the number of updates is limited.  So you need to space them out to make sure it will cover your needed exposure time.  Also the higher the ISO, the lower the number of allowed updates.

My favorite of the two modes is Live Time for one simple reason.  It lets you start the exposure with a simple press of the shutter button and then end it the same way.  With Live Bulb, you must hold the shutter button down (or use a cable remote with locking ability) for the entire time.

Previously, getting a good exposure while light painting was a function of luck, experience, and trial and error.  Now, with the Olympus OM-D E-M5, we have a tool that can greatly shorten the learning curve and help you get the best exposure the first time.  🙂

By the way, if you’d like more about the nuts and bolts of these features (and Much more), take a look at Gary Friedman’s comprehensive new book about the Olympus OM-D E-M1, available in just a few days at The Friedman Archives, www.friedmanarchives.com

Advertisements

Do You Believe in Ghosts?

Do you ever get that feeling? You know … the feeling that “someone” is watching over you, like a guardian angel or something. The feeling that someone is, not only protecting you from yourself but keeping you out of harms way, too?

You don’t see anything – or anyone – but, still you feel a presence and wonder if you turned quickly, you just might catch a glimpse of them.

I wouldn’t know how to explain it. I suppose it could be a local ghost, a real angel, or maybe a long-gone ancestor who still walks among us.

Now, I don’t really believe in ghosts, but yet …… sometimes I just get this feeling – you know?
——————————————————–
This image was taken with the Olympus PEN E-PL1, using the in-camera feature to do a double exposure and then lightly processed in Lightroom 4.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Update: I’ve been notified to expect delivery on Friday, April 27th … Yay!

Spring Time in the Rockies

Spring time in Colorado brings snow and cold one day, and bright, beautiful spring flowers the next. These two images were both taken just 2 days after a spring snow storm blew through, dropping 10 inches of fresh snow in the foothills of Colorado.
Both photos were taken with the Olympus PEN E-PL1. For the top image I used my new Pansonic/Leica 25mm f/1.4 lens which I am really loving after just one day. As you can see, it gives great color and contrast and what I think is a beautifully smooth, soft bokeh. Plus, at f/1.4 it’s still sharp enough to give nice sharp photos and also allow you to hand hold in some very challenging low light situations.
For the bottom photo, I used the Olympus 14-42mm kit lens which continues to impress me with it’s sharpness and detail.

Bringing Out Dynamic Range in Lightroom 4

I’m still frequently surprised at how much dynamic range Lightroom 4 is capable of extracting from an image. I’m also pleasantly surprised at how good the images can be from the “older” Olympus PEN E-PL1, especially using the 14-42mm kit lens.

For comparison, you can check the image at the bottom of the post, and you can see the main adjustments on this screen capture from Lightroom 4. As you’ll notice, the four sliders below Exposure/Contrast did most of the work with a little help from Clarity.

What you can’t see are the settings from the “Adjustment Brush”. I just reduced the saturation a bit and then brushed over the areas of the trees and the deck to reduce the blue cast on the snow.

So, from a 1EV underexposed image, Lightroom 4 enabled me to bring out the shadows, control the sun, and get a “near” HDR look from this photo. Nice!

If you’ve got any tricks to share, please drop me a message.

Images from the Olympus PEN E-PL1

I’ve had the little Olympus PEN E-PL1 for just over two weeks now and thought I would share some sample images.

I’m enjoying the camera a lot but find I REALLY need a viewfinder when shooting outdoors in bright light – the screen just isn’t bright enough, plus since I don’t wear glasses (and I need to) I have a hard time telling if it’s in focus or not.

What I love about the camera is that it takes high quality images up to a reasonable ISO of about 800 and still okay for some applications above that. As a habitual “tinkerer”, I also really appreciate the deep menu system that allows a high level of customizability. Lastly, at current prices – I’ve seen body only for $150 online – I think this camera is a steal, especially if you’re a micro four thirds (m43) user and can share lenses with another m43 camera. (Like the Olympus OM-D E-M5 whenever it finally gets here!)

These images were all taken with the Olympus PEN E-PL1 using the 14-42mm kit lens. They were shot at various ISO’s and some have had some processing done.

This black and white was done in Nik Silver Efex Pro.

The following two images were done with “Light Painting” … darkened room, 10 second exposure, and lighting with a flashlight.

Learning the Olympus System

Ever since ordering the Olympus OM-D E-M5 over a month ago, I’ve been waiting rather impatiently for it to ship. Unfortunately, that probably won’t be for another couple of weeks.

So in the meantime, I decided to get an Olympus PEN E-PL1 ($289 on Amazon w/lens) and begin to get familiar with Olympus’ menu system and general camera functions. In reading about both cameras, it appeared that they had similar menu setups and would make for an easy transition to the E-M5.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the E-PL1 and have been pleasantly surprised at the quality of images that can be coaxed from this little “PEN”. These images reflect a few of my favorites, so far, and have various amounts of post processing applied, from just a crop to some fairly aggressive black and white work.

All images are from the Olympus PEN E-PL1 with the 14-42mm kit lens.

ISO 1000, f/5.3, 1/40s, 37mm

ISO 200, f/8, 10 seconds, 42mm (light painting)

ISO 200, f/8, 1/1250s, 39mm, B&W processing in Nik Silver Efex Pro

ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/1500s, 42mm, cropped only

ISO 200, f/8, 10 seconds, 42mm, (light painting)

Light Painting with an Olympus PEN

Light Painting – Beretta Px4 Storm Pistol

This was another “light painting” session, this time with the Olympus E-PL1.

This is really very easy to do. I set up in a darkened room with the camera on a tripod, set manually at f/8 and 10 seconds, with the drive mode in 2 second timer. Focus was achieved with the flashlight full on and then switched to manual focus. After shutter release and the 2 second timer expired, I illuminated the subject with the flashlight, moving it around and also pointing from different directions to reduce harsh shadows.

I’m thoroughly enjoying the Olympus PEN E-PL1. With care, the image quality is very good, and sharpness is excellent even with the 14-42mm kit lens.

This image was taken in RAW, then processed and tweaked in Lightroom 4 and Nik Viveza