Thursday, December 17, 2015

Zuiko OM on the Fuji X-Pro 1

I bought an adapter to use my Olympus OM Zuiko lenses on the X-Pro.  With the APS-C crop factor and manual focus, the X-Pro is no longer a fully digital age camera.  But whatever.  I'm not addicted to autofocus, and if I can figure out how to do it with the X-Pro, I can accomplish manual exposure.

The adapter adds depth to the OM lenses, negating their small size.  Sigh.  With the superb Zuiko 21/2 (equivalent to 32mm on a 35mm "full frame" camera,) the combination is almost as large as the 18-55 zoom that came with my X-Pro.

My initial attempts with the 21/2 were ho-hum, but that has nothing to do with the lens.  I was just learning.  But with the 28/2.8 (equivalent to 42mm "normal",) combined with a little more skill, I seemed to find a sweet spot.

I missed focus (on the eyes) a bit, but this was low light and the EVF is not the best under those conditions.

I'll be using the combination more.  

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Converting to B&W With the Fuji X-Pro1

I shoot in both black and white and colour.  But essentially I see in b&w and feel most satisfied with it.  With the acquisition of the digital(!) Fuji X-Pro1 I have been learning not only the controls and (too many) options, but how to take the RAW files and convert to black and white that looks like film.

Yes, the Fuji X cameras can produce really nice b&w jpeg files in camera, but the b&w settings are, by necessity, somewhat limited and generic.  To a significant degree b&w films are defined by their spectral sensitivity - that is, how the level to which they respond to red, green, blue, UV and IR content of the original scene.  Digital sensors don't work that way.  A built-in computer takes the information from the sensor and saves it in a "RAW" file which essentially contains all the data that is translated from the light hitting the sensor cells.  (It's more complicated than that, but that's essentially it.)

All digital cameras have modes which can manipulate that information into a modified type of image, normally stored in a JPG file, which represents a combination of settings which are simply manipulations of the data to produce a specific look.

Throughout the absolutely glorious history of black and white film emulsions there have been hundreds of formulations, each with unique renderings.  And as b&w is an abstraction of how most people see a colourful world, none of them is "right".  Some are classics, such as Kodak Tri-X, Fuji Acros,  Iflord HP4, dozens of others, and my favourite, Agfa APX100.

So how the hell do I get a particular look of a specific b&w film from an original RAW file?  It turns out there are two essentials:

  1. Using the appropriate controls in image editing software such as Photoshop, GIMP, Lightroom, etc., which basically involves changing the amount of primary colours (Red, Green and Blue) content and 
  2. Knowing (or discovering) what the levels of each colour should be for a particular b&w film type
From those changes, you tell the image editing software to convert to monochrome.  You can then add brightness and contrast changes as desired, and even add grain effects to complete the conversion.  I haven't mastered this -- I've just discovered these steps, and haven't even played with applying grain.  

So, I'm a beginner in the "digital darkroom" - which has always seemed so foreign to me, a somewhat accomplished traditional darkroom worker.  But I've been helped immensely by my friend Gene Wilburn, whose series on b&w digital workflow starting here pointed me in the right direction.  And, quite by chance, I stumbled across an incomplete but highly helpful list of levels for several b&w emulsions about half-way down the page here.

So with a little work tonight, using GIMP for Mac, here are some samples.  I used the Fuji 18-55 zoom set at 18mm (approximately equivalent 28mm field of view in 35mm film terms) on the Fuji X-Pro1.

The first picture shows the original colour image.  The day was mostly cloudy with low contrast light, so I bumped up the contrast, then sharpened a little bit and resized.  After applying the appropriate levels for the colour channels in the GIMP channel mixer, I then used the exact same brightness, contrast and sharpness settings for the b&w conversions.  Naturally I don't have shots made with the actual corresponding films (and I haven't tried all the settings listed on the linked site,) but the results are very interesting.

Edited colour image:

Agfapan 25

Agfa APX 100

Agfa APX 400

Ilford PanF

Kodak Tmax 400-2

As I work through other settings, I will add to this post.  Some day I may even learn how to save the settings in GIMP so as to automate the conversion process.  And if anyone can figure out the settings for Adox films, that would be super!

Of course, I could just keep shooting film.  Which I will do.

Saturday, December 12, 2015


A little over three years ago we adopted a rescue dog.  Kalli had been abandoned in a field in North Carolina, not an uncommon occurrence in some areas.

She was clearly scared, having been mistreated (we later learned,) gone through clean-up, veterinary treatment, a foster home and then to our family already populated by three cats plus a male dog who is definitely an alpha.

It took her several weeks to become comfortable with us.  At first she wouldn't come in after she had been let out into the back yard for exercise and essential duties.

The adoption group called her a Border Terrier mix, and she does have some of those characteristics.  Only genetic testing would be definitive.  Personally I think she has Pekingese traits; my wife disagrees, but I know I'm right. :)

Every once-in-awhile I make some photos of her.  Her underbite is clearly adorable, and the various lengths of her coat give her lots of different looks.

Everyone agrees she is sweet and adorable.  I love her.

© Earl Dunbar December 02 2015

Fuji X-Pro1

And here is her ADORABLE underbite, courtesy of the really nice iPhone 6s camera.

The following shot was made with an Olympus Zuiko OM System 28/2.8 lens.  Focusing legacy, manual focus lenses on the X-Pro 1 is not easy.  "Focus peaking" is a camera feature that highlights the area in focus; it appears as brightness, sort of like shimmering.  I slightly missed focus on this.  The first version is the JPG straight out of the camera.  For the second version I applied some sharpening, but no other editing.

Wednesday, June 03, 2015

My Letter to the Senate of Canada

I am writing to urge you to vote against Bill C-51.  I am convinced that not only will this bill not offer any further significant protection against terrorism, but it is actually likely to make “terrorist” attacks more likely.

This is because Bill C-51 strikes against the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which has justifiably been praised around the world as brilliant constitutional document.  How can eroding the sacred trust contained in the Charter enhance the trust that Canadians need to have in their government?  In fact, the less trust citizens have in their government, the more likely there will be those who, however unjustly, take violent action against the government and, indeed, innocent citizens.

As a country we are at a crossroads.  The two roads that intersect are Fear and Freedom.  Fear St. is the one chosen by those who act without sober thought and would sacrifice the very freedoms they claim to protect.  Freedom St. is chosen by those who have the vision and strength to not only protect citizens physical security, but the very freedoms that make a nation strong.

Again, I urge you to vote against Bill C-51 which, at its core, bears frightening resemblance to laws which have been enacted and used by fascist, dictatorial regimes against which our citizens have fought and died.

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Easter Thoughts on Faith and Politics

Yesterday evening I sent an email to my youngest sister and my nephew that contained a link to a Daily Kos article, You Cannot Be A Republican And A Christian -- please take the time to read the article.

My sister is a devout Protestant and my nephew (her son) is a political operative for a state Republican party.

My sister seemed to take offense, which wasn't especially surprising, though I perceived it (maybe I'm wrong) as emotionally stronger than I expected.  I certainly never mean to offend, but rather want to provoke thought and reflection.

To be honest, I pretty much agree with what the author writes, and his conclusion "You can’t have it both ways. You have to choose, because, today, you cannot be both a Republican and a Christian" is pretty close to the mark.  The conclusion and article title are hyperbole, of course, but only slightly so in my view.

While I was raised in a evangelical and moderately fundamentalist church and home, I left organized religion many years ago.  Even now, as non-theistic Buddhist, I am not presently engaged with any group, though I have a very loose affiliation with a local Zen centre.  (My sense is that most Western Buddhists are either non-theistic or atheists.  There are many Buddhist traditions and lineages, some of which embrace the existence of deities, though usually the role of any god(s) is not central.)

I belong to no political party.  I have never been registered as a Republican, Democrat, or any other  party in the US, nor have I ever been a member of the Liberal Party of Canada, the NDP, the Progressive Conservatives, et al.  In my current jurisdiction, I am registered as an independent.  I don't see that changing.

Enough preamble ... I have met people whom I consider to be "true Christians".  I don't mean that to be a reverse judgment on those who call themselves Christians but don't seem to act accordingly.  But my sister is one who pretty much walks the walk.

Both political parties are "guilty" of using faith for political purposes that do not align with the tenets of the faith.  The GOP gained traction and ascendency partly because of the hypocrisy and outright bigotry of southern Democrats - Dixiecrats.  So I would say the same of Christians who belonged to or supported the Democratic party of the 50s and 60s - you can't have it both ways.

Since the start of my Buddhist practice, I have frequently contemplated the similarities between the teachings of Jesus and the Buddha.  I challenge anyone to read only what Jesus supposedly said and what Buddha directly taught and not come away with substantially the same conclusion.

I don't know if "Red Letter Editions" of the Bible are still published, but I would hope so.  We had them when we were kids, and even then I liked them; their existence actually made a big impact on me and helped me decide to leave organized Christianity.  The words and teachings that have been credited to Jesus stand in stark contrast to most of the Old Testament, some of the writings of the apostles in the New Testament, and, as pointed out in the article, how Christianity is predominately practiced and promulgated in North America.

When was the last time the GOP supported a non-military path to peace?  When was the last time they condemned limiting voting rights in state legislatures by the use of non-constitution trickery?  When was the last time they supported helping the poor with legislation that would actually workJesus never said that government should not engage in social welfare or justice.

There are a lot of things that Jesus never said but self-identified Christians use his name to try and justify their political and social agenda.

I leave with one example.  The next time a Christian trots out "God helps those who help themselves" as validation of any political view or position on social policy, ask them to quote chapter and verse.

I'll welcome with open arms a follower of Jesus any day.