Here is another London landmark, with shot taken at dusk time. It must be said that dawn and dusk are the best times for making photographs. This type of light gives every picture so many meanings, one doesn't know weather he wants to continue into the future or possibly stay just where he is, in the eternal moment.
A difficult one with this shot was patching it up. I could see that lens can't fit the whole height of the building, so I decided to do it David Hockney's way, by putting together separate images. This was a very similar exercise to the one of making a panoramic shot, in the sense than one has to use manual exposure, otherwise there is too much difference on the seams.
Sometimes I wish that possibly Panasonic had put a wider wide angle lens onto Lumix GH1 kit lens, possibly something like 12mm (24mm in 35mm format sense). 24mm - 90mm zoom would be ideal for both tight indoor spaces and portrait and family shots.
You are most certainly wandering what is so special about this photo. Yes, most certainly I like taking photos with existing light, without the help of anything artificial. With only a rare exception here, where I used Lumix GH1's built in flesh to fill in the subject, without turning the background too dark.
The most photographers, that deal with fashion or portrait photography, like to get that distinct blurred background, that you can see in many magazines. Blurred background simply makes the person in the photograph stand out better. Unfortunately, background blur is directly proportional to the focal length, the maximum aperture size and the size of the sensor. And yes, we just mentioned three of three things that make professional camera equipment so expensive. For a lens that can pull off a descent blurred background we are talking $2,000 to $3,000 minimum. And on the top of that, when you have Panasonic's Lumix GH1, than there is actually no such lens in their range of Micro Four Thirds lenses. Plus, however big is Lumix GH1's sensor, it is still not big enough relative to its telephoto lens' focal lenght to produce a good blur.
Fortunatelly, there is a software solution to the background blur dilema. Photoshop has just the filter that we want, the Gaussian Blur and not that we can get the same result as with $2,000 lens, we can do one better, we can control how much blur we want!
Ok, I do not have time to create step by step instructions, but if you were smart to memorize all those Lumix GH1 instructions from the manual, this is going to be just a breeze. Whole Photoshop blur process consists of just three or four steps. Here we go:
First select the background, with Magic Wand, the selection tool that enables you to select irregular shapes.
In the top menu select: Filter / Feather and set the feathering of the selection to something like 2 pixels. You can vary it a bit here, it is just that 2pix selection edge blur was fine for this picture.
You can possibly save the selection here, just because it takes so long to go around those clothes creases and hear curls. Use top menu: Select / Save Selection ... etc. You'll have something like this:
Background selection applied
(actually item 4.) Now, make sure that the background is selected and that selection is active and go for top menu item: Filter / Blur / Gaussian Blur ... There you can choose the amount of Gaussian Blur that you want to apply. The next photograph was done with blur set to 4.4:
Gaussian Blur set to 4.4, camera Lumix GH1
The image at the begining of this article has blur set to 8.0, the picture above has blur on 4.4, but you can push it much further. Actually, it is a question of experimenting and your personal taste. The main thing is that you postponed a little the purchase of that $2,000 telephoto lens and you just managed to get more out of you trusted Panasonic Lumix GH1.
There had been recently an firmware upgrade for Panasonic's Lumix G1 and GH1 cameras. You can get the upgrade from the Panasonic's web site, just follow this firmware upgrade link. This upgrade is fixing some minor issues, but the major one is that now it is possible to write to the SDHC card, not just read it.
Install instructions are quite simple, practically you reformat the SD card, copy the unzipped upgrade file to SD card and 'reboot' the camera.
I went yesterday to do some dusk photos in the town. That is my favorite time for photography. Not just that it is transitional between the light and darkness, but light and shadow will interplay like during no other time of the day. Although Panasonic's Lumix GH1 is the best possible compact camera for night photography, because of its large sensor, I just wanted to go here beyond the automatic exposure. So I switched to manual focus and made the image a little bit blurry. Idea was to give it a bit of the under defined feeling, that of something escaping, maybe like the very light that was fading away.
I had this preconcieved idea of turning those dusk (and night) town photographs into a water color paintings. So, when I got back home I pulled those better looking ones thorough Photoshop's built in filters. Here the original image was first cropped, than Fresco filter ( from the Artistic filters submenu ) was used with settings: Brush size 4, Brush detail 5 and Texture 1. It was all topped up by brightening the image to +13%.
Let me know weather you prefer the original to the Photoshop modified image.
Again, Boshka was exhibiting her work in a jewelry shop, just off the Sloane Square in London. She wanted to have a record so I went and took a picture while jewelry was in the shop window. Only free time I had was in the evening, so pictures were taken under sodium light which produced this strange light brown atmosphere: