352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Equipment and Editing Software Research

As discussed in my one-to-one session with Anthony (on 14th January 2015 and 11th February 2015), I will be splitting my research into five suggested research groups (and three groups I feel may be appropriate): Academic, Location, Photographic, Technical, Representation of the Land, Personal, Equipment and Editing Software, and Presentation Options. (Please note: some of the resources included within these research sections can link to more than one of the research categories stated above. In this case, I have simply included them in the research section that suits the aspect of the work that I am looking at for my FMP).

This blog post is therefore dedicated to the research that I have conducted concerning appropriate camera equipment to use to create successful landscape images, as well as editing techniques for landscape photographs using the Adobe Photoshop software. Within this research section, you will find the notes that I gained from primary research (talking to people in the Media Loan Shop at University) after the one-to-one session I had with Anthony Luvera on 14th January 2015, followed by further research regarding Medium Format Cameras for Landscapes, Mamiya RB67, and Digital lenses (that mainly include the internet based articles I found along with a brief description of the information I gained), a Self-Learning Workshop that I organized, and research into Landscape Photography editing using Adobe Photoshop.

 


 

EQUIPMENT RESEARCH:

 

Primary Research of Medium Format (Mamiya RB67):

After receiving the suggestion to experiment with medium format cameras and high quality digital cameras within a one-to-one tutorial with Anthony Luvera (please see the blog post “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Lecture 2 (One-to-One Tutorial with Anthony Luvera)”, I decided to go to the Media Loan Shop at the University to discuss with them the best possible cameras (medium format and digital) and film for landscape photography. Everything that was suggested is listed below:

  • For landscape photography, they would suggest the Canon 5D Mk II or III with the appropriate wide-angle lens (take time researching into this)

 


 

Medium Format Cameras for Landscapes:

  • http://photo.net/medium-format-photography-forum/00V7n7
  • When conducting research into Medium Format Camera’s that would be good to use for Landscapes, I came across a discussion about the topic on a photo.net forum
  • To begin this discussion, Cody Goodfellow asked the community for suggestions on good medium format cameras to use for landscape photography
  • Whilst reading through the discussion, the main cameras that were suggested included Hasselblad’s, the Mamiya RB67 and Pentax
  • Once I found these examples, I then decided to look on the universities Media Loan Shop website to see what was available (due to the fact that this project is going to be self-funded, as suggested in each both versions of my proposal – please see the blog posts “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Original Proposal” and “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Revised Proposal”)
  • Once on the website, I soon noticed that they had the Mamiya RB67 Collection that was available for loan
  • I am therefore considering experimenting with this camera, later in the development stage of the project, after I have conducted some more specific research behind it

 


 

Mamiya RB67:

As stated above, as I am now planning on experimenting with the Mamiya RB67, I thought it would be beneficial for me to conduct more specific research behind the camera. The links that I have included below show the specific research I conducted for the Mamiya RB67, which includes forums and blog posts dedicated to the equipment:

 

Some of the topics discussed in these forums and reflective blog posts are as follows:

  • People pointed out that the Mamiya RB67 is a lot cheaper than the comparing Hasselblad make – however, some people actually suggested using the Mamiya RB67 over the Hasselblad anyway as it results in a similar quality
  • The idea of comfort when using the Mamiya RB67 for landscape photography in terms of travelling to locations (for example, hiking) also came up – most people said that the quality of the results from the Mamiya RB67 would be worth it, but others (on the ePHOTOzine forum) suggested that because the Mamiya RB67 is incredibly heavy, to perhaps try using the Mamiya 7
  • Later in the ePHOTOzine forum, the discussion then moved on to comparing the Mamiya RB67 and the Mamiya 7 and suggested lenses for both cameras. During this discussion, the lenses listed included a 90mm and 180mm lens for the Mamiya RB67 and a 43mm, 65mm, 80mm, and 150mm for the Mamiya 7 – it was then later suggested that for wde-angle, landscape shots, the Mamiya 7 (with the 43mm and 65mm lens) would be better to use
    • In the Media Loan Shop, they have a 50mm lens for the Mamiya 7

 

After conducting this research into the Mamiya RB67 (and Mamiya 7) I then thought it would be a good idea to refresh my memory on how to use both of them. Below you will find a link to a technical skills workshop I took part in during my first year of university hat discussed how to use them, as well as two video tutorials about the equipment. (Please note, I am also planning on pairing up with a course peer, who is more confident in using this equipment, in order to have a practical tutorial session with them).

 

Technical Skills Workshop – https://hollyconstantinephotography.wordpress.com/2012/10/10/technical-skills-2nd-october-2012/

 

Mamiya RB67 Video Tutorial:

 

Mamiya 7 Video Tutorial:

 


 

Digital Lenses:

As suggested in my one-to-one session with Anthony Luvera on 14th January 2015, alternatively to using medium format cameras, I should look into the highest quality camera and lens for landscape photography. As stated above, the primary research that I received from the Media Loan Shop suggested that the Canon 5D Mk II or III would be good to use for landscape photography. I therefore decided that I would look into Canon lenses that would be appropriate for the task at hand:

 

 

This link that I found suggested that I wanted a wide-angle lens (35mm focal length and wider on a full frame DSLR camera) or an ultra-wide angle lens (24mm or wider) for landscape photography

  • The Canon 5D Mk II that I have arranged to borrow from the Media Loan Shop has a 24-105mm lens, and I also, personally, have an 18-24mm Tamron lens that will fit this Canon camera

 


 

So, What will I use for my FMP?

After spending time researching into medium format and digital cameras that are suitable for landscape photography, I have now decided that I am going to experiment with the Mamiya RB67, the Mamiya 7 and the Canon 5D Mk II throughout the developmental stages of my project. Once I have completed this, I will spend time reflecting on the process and quality of the images I have produced and create an informed decision on which to use for my final pieces.

 


 

Self-Learning Workshop – Re-Learning the Mamiya RB67 and Mamiya 7:

As suggested above, after researching into the Mamiya RB67, Mamiya 7, and Canon 5D Mk II, I wanted to remind myself, practically, of how to use these three pieces of equipment. On Wednesday 21st January 2015, Lucy Bartlett, Emma Shea, Jenny Stonely and I, therefore, all decided to organize and take part in a self-learning workshop to relearn how to use the Mamiya RB67 and Mamiya 7, to prepare us for test shoots with the equipment for the development of our FMP’s. Throughout this session, we spent time re-reading some notes that I had on the equipment (from a previous technical tutorial in the first year of my university course), as well as the manual for the Mamiya RB67, before watching YouTube tutorials and practicing what we had learnt. Below you can find the PDF of the notes we looked at, the two YouTube tutorials we watched, and some condensed notes I’m planning on taking to different test shoots with the equipment:

PDF of Previous Notes – Mamiya 7, Mamiya RB67 and Nikon Scanner

Mamiya RB67 Manual – Mamiya RB67 Manual

Mamiya RB67 Video Tutorial –

Mamiya 7 Video Tutorial –

 

Condensed Notes:

Mamiya RB67:

  • Leave the depth of field on infinity m (metre)
  • Shutter speed
  • Aperture
  • Wind-up mirror latch then wind-up film latch
  • Take out plate before taking shot
  • When loading film:
    • Empty spool goes the side of the wind-up (the right)
    • Black side of the film faces out
    • Match the arrow on the film to the small arrow in the camera

Mamiya 7:

  • White dot = ON
  • Aperture
  • ISO small section of dial (lift dial and turn to change)
  • Shutter speed main section of dial (push button and turn to change)
  • When loading film:
    • Make sure the dark slide (“pacman” icon) is closed
    • Empty spool goes the side of the wind-up (the right)
  • Release dark slide to shoot (open “pacman”)

Both Cameras:

  • ISO of film is what you need to set the ISO to on the light metre (for test shoots you are using Black and White film with an ISO of 125)
  • Double exposures – experiment with underexposing each image slightly (by about 1 or 2 marks)

 


 

Primary Research into Audio Equipment:

On my Fourth Trip up to the Lake District (please see the blog post entitled “352MC Fourth Trip to the Lake District (Thursday 12th March – Saturday 14th March 2015)”), I experienced some difficulty regarding the audio recording of ambient noises. As you have probably seen within the specified blog post, under the “Technical”, “Notes from the Weekend” section, it was really difficult to capture particular sounds in a natural way because the audio would pick up both the wind and the raindrops, greatly affecting the quality of the audio. (I also noted that this might have been due to the fact that I decided to use the built-in microphone on the Edirol recorder (rather than the hand held microphone that came in the audio collection). This therefore meant that, on Wednesday 18th March 2015, after the weekend trip, I decided to go and talk to Paul Adkins who is our chief technician that also specializes in audio equipment.

During this meeting, I therefore discussed with him my problems, and he provided me with advice in order to help me to achieve greater quality audio. These brief notes can be found below:

  • For the levels on the Edirol, you need the audio to hit between ½ and ¾ of the way across the scale – the peaks should be about ¾ of the way across and nothing should be hitting the maximum level
  • You should put the settings onto 24bit
  • You should also put the Edirol onto “lo cut” as this cuts out any frequencies below the one that you have specified in the menu
    • Depending on how windy it is, you might have to go into the menu and set the hertz to the higher region (it should go from between 18hertz to 240hertz)
  • You should also be using foam shield that comes with the hand-held microphone in the Edirol collection as this is used to cut out low frequencies such as wind

 



 

EDITING SOFTWARE RESEARCH:

 

Landscape Photography Editing using Adobe Photoshop CS6:

As you may have noticed throughout each of my blog posts that have been dedicated solely to the weekend trips up to the Lake District (for example, blog posts entitled something similar to “352MC Fifth Trip to the Lake District (Friday 3rd April – Monday 6th April 2015)”), I suggested that after briefly editing the scans of my negatives in Photoshop (including straightening, cropping, inverting, and automatically adjusting the tone, colour, contrast and levels), I found that these edited images were still far from perfect. Later, as documented within the blog post entitled “352MC Professional Photographic Practice – Editing Development”, I then decided that, instead of sending the negatives off to be professionally printed, I would used the scans of the images to edit the photographs to the best of my ability before printing them off independently. After making this decision, I therefore to organize an individual tutorial with our assistant lecturer, Emma Lambert, regarding Photoshop editing techniques in relation to landscape photographs.

On Wednesday 29th April 2015, I was therefore able to take part in this individual tutorial with Emma Lambert, where she talked me through different Photoshop editing techniques including the adjustment of exposure and colour. The notes from this session can therefore be found below, along with some screenshots of the tools we discussed and the before and after of one of my FMP images we decided to experiment with

  • Use “adjustment layers” when editing photographs as this makes it easier to remove an aspect that has been edited which you may no longer want
New adjustment layer

New Adjustment Layer

  • Use “curves” rather than “levels” because they have both been made for the same job (manipulating the exposure), but “curves” offer more flexibility in the editing
    • Sometimes, if it’s a really simple job, however, levels are enough
    • The histogram shows the exposure of the image, and a good range means that the histogram meets both ends of the scale – if it doesn’t you need to drag the sliders in to meet the edge of the histogram
    • In “curves”, you then need to create a smooth curve in order to adjust the exposure of the image (it should often look like a stretched out “S”)
    • You don’t really need to know about “brightness/contrast” because that is essentially what “curves” is doing
Curves Adjustment Level

Curves Adjustment Level

  • To lighten or darken individual sections of the image, you could use “dodging” and “burning”, or you could select the area and mask it off
    • For the “dodging”/”burning” tool, you should try and use it on around 10% as this allows you to gradually adjust the exposure of the section
Dodging and Burning

Dodging and Burning Tools

  • For the selection tools you have a lot of different options like the “magic wand” tool, the “quick selection” tool, and the “lasso” tools
    • If you have selected a section and want to swap the area so that the part that isn’t selected is highlighted, you need to go to “Select” then “Inverse”
    • You can also adapt your selection using a few different tools in order to slightly expand it or reduce it so that it best fits the area you want to select
      • To expand it, you need to go to “Select”, “Modify” then “Expand”, and then you expand it by however many pixels you think is necessary
      • Feathering reduces the harshness of the selection that you’ve made, so you should probably use it for 95% of the time when editing selections – you need to go to “Select”, “Modify” then “Feather”, and should probably use around 5 pixels (depending on the file size)
      • You can also use the “quick selection” tool and either add or take areas out of the already selected area – for this, the smaller the brush, the more precise you’ll be
Inverse

Inverse

Expand

Expand

Feather

Feather

 

  • You can also use the “quick mask” tool to select a section of your image by clicking on the tool, then selecting the “paint brush” tool and painting over the section of the image that you want to select (make sure to use a softer brush to act as the “feathering” option)
    • If you’re not happy with a selection that you’ve made, you can simply use the rubber to rub out that section
    • Once you’ve finished, click on the “quick mask” tool again, and it will give you the selection based on the area you just painted
Quick Mask

Quick Mask Tool

  • You can then put another “adjustment layer” in, but because you’ve got the selection up, it should create a “masked layer” – (note, the white bit is the bit that’s selected and the black bit is the section that isn’t included within the selection)
    • Also, if you want to choose the same selection again, simply hold down “command” on the keyboard, and click on the masked section
Masked Layer

Masked Layer

  • “Colour balance” tends to work on colour theory and works on the opposites of the colour wheel – so, for example, if you want to remove green, you add in magenta
    • You can also apply this to the “shadows”, “midtones”, and “highlights”, but a majority of the time, “midtones” tend to be enough
    • A good thing to do is to scroll the cursor back and forth through the scale so that you can begin to gain an idea as to the best colour combination
Colour Balance

Colour Balance

  • There or other things you can do in association to the colour such as “selective colour”
    • With “selective colour” it’s doing a similar thing to “colour balance”, but it selects a particular area of colour that you want to change (for example, “red” or “greens”)
    • You just need to figure out how Photoshop is reading the area that you want to edit in terms of colour
    • You also need to make sure that, although you are focusing on a particular area in relation to changing it’s colour, the “selective” colour tool will also pick up the same colour throughout the whole image
Selective Colour

Selective Colour

  • Using the snapshot tool is also really useful because it allows you to easily see what you started off with and where you’re at with your editing now
Snapshot

Snapshot

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