Monthly Archives: Nov 2015

Tilt-Shift Lenses And Their Uses

Tilt-Shift Lenses And Their Uses Tilt-shift lenses and their uses are primarily for architecture, landscape and portraiture. Tilt-Shift Lenses can also be used creatively to create toy town effects and to increase depth of field in product photography. Nikon launched their current series of  Tilt-shift Lenses in January 2008, that being the Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens, Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens and Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift Lens. I currently own the Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens, Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens and Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift Lens, which I use for landscape, portraiture and architectural shoots on both film and digital bodies. The Nikon series all offer a tilt of 8.5° and a shift of 11,5mm for all their lenses. Nikon Tilt-Shift Lenses Canon's range of tilt-shift lenses are very similar in range to Nikon, except that they have a 17mm wide angle. They sport the following lenses: Canon TS-E 17mm f/4L; Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5 LII Canon TS-E 45mm f/2.8; Canon TS-E 90mm f/2.8. The Canon series all offer a tilt of 6.5° and 12mm shift on the 17mm; 8.5° and a shift of 12mm on the 24mm; 8° and a shift of 11mm on the 45mm and 90mm lenses. I have not had any experience with the Canon lenses.   Canon Tilt-Shift Lenses Given the very wide angle images you can get with a 14mm or 16mm lens and the ease of correcting perspective in Photoshop, why bother with this manual focus lens and all the extra effort involved in using it? Tilt-shift photography is commonly misconstrued solely as producing miniature effects in your images. But tilt-shift photography is much more than producing toy towns. These are extremely versatile lenses, and used correctly can produce some really pleasing results. The shallow depth of field effect available from using tilt-shift lenses has become their most popular use. However, creating this ‘toy town’ look is not their only use. Tilt-shift lenses allow you to move the body of the lens in relation to the sensor. The shift movement keeps the lens parallel to the sensor, but moves it up, down or from side to side, allowing you to control the perspective of your image. Tilting the lens shifts the plane of focus, allowing you to increase or decrease the amount of the scene that is in focus. If you want to get the best quality results without having to resort to any software tricks, a tilt-and-shift lens is the only option. Note that at present their are no lens correction profiles in Adode, DxO; I have however found that PTLens do have profiles for some of these lenses. Since the tilt-shift information is not stored in EXIF data, Lightroom or ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) will not correct issues that occur when the lens is tilted, swung or shifted. You would have to address those manually. One of the main tools for an architectural photographer is the tilt-shift lens. The most important quality of this lens and what makes it so popular and needed in photographing buildings and interior spaces, is the fact that it can keep the verticals of a building parallel, thus presenting the object as we see it and not with the verticals converging, as a normal or wide lens would capture it. In other words the use of tilt-shift lenses “removes” the wide angle lens distortion, or rather it does not introduce it in the first place. It removes the “keystone effect”, as the convergence of the verticals in case of tilting the camera is otherwise known. Another important characteristic of this lens, a characteristic that makes it ideal for the architectural photographer, is its exceptional clarity, sharpness and lack of chromatic aberration, that are not equaled by the more common lenses. The superior sharpness and high quality image is one of the characteristics of the prime lenses, as all tilt-shift lenses are, and more specifically of the tilt-shift lenses, due to their construction and exceptional glass quality. Correct Converging Verticals The classic use of the shift movement in tilt-shift photography is to avoid converging verticals in your images. To achieve this you start with the lens in its normal position and, making sure that the camera is level and the sensor is vertical, frame your basic image. But at this stage the shot won’t include the top of the subject, and there will be too much foreground, so you shift the lens upwards, which will alter the framing of the shot to include the top of the subject while keeping everything straight in the frame. Only after my return to photography, did I discover my limitations of capturing cathedral interiors in Croatia with my Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens. This is when I discovered tilt-shift lenses and decided to invest in them on my return home. Had I had a tilt-shift lens for this purpose, I would have walked away with many more pleasing images than I currently did. Panoramic Shots Using the shift movement you can produce a series of images that can easily be stitched together in software such as Photomerge in Photoshop, or any other that you may favour. Once you have positioned the camera, all you need to do is to take three shots, one with the lens shifted left, one centred and one right. This tilt-shift photography technique can’t produce the extremely wide panoramas that can be done by rotating the camera, but because the camera is in a fixed position they are easy to set up and stitch together. This eliminates the need for a panoramic head on your tripod and the loss of the image when cropping in post, as the camera has not moved from it's position, rather that the lens has shifted in the case of a horizontal image; tilted in the case of a vertical image. Sometimes it’s impossible to position the camera to avoid obstructions such as fences appearing in the frame. However, it’s often possible to use the shift movement to alter the viewpoint enough for the obstruction to be just out of the frame. The shift can also be handy for avoiding including a reflection of yourself when shooting shiny surfaces. Toy Town Effect This effect is usually achieved by pointing the camera down, and then tilting the lens up. It’s often most successful when shooting from a high viewpoint, as this means that you can angle the camera more than when shooting at the same level as the subject. Tilting the lens upwards means that the plane of focus moves in the opposite direction to the way that the subject is positioned, producing an extremely shallow area of sharp focus. This tilt-shift photography effect is most pronounced when using wide apertures, and you will also need to refocus on the area that you want to be sharp, because tilting the lens completely alters the focus settings on the lens. Sideways Tilt Similar to the toy town effect, this relies on the extremely shallow depth of field, but instead of tilting the lens up you rotate it and tilt it to one side. This is perfect for shooting scenes where there are objects that are the same distance from the camera at either side of the frame. By tilting the lens sideways you can then throw the subject on one side of the frame out of focus, while keeping the subject on the opposite side sharp. An example would be a shooting a row of shops, and all you want in focus is a single doorway. Increased Depth of Field This effect is one of the more subtle uses of the tilt movement. It can allow you to keep a subject sharp, which would otherwise be impossible even using extremely small apertures. Once you have framed your shot, tilt the lens slowly towards the subject that you want to keep in focus. This moves the plane of focus, so that instead of being parallel to the sensor, it corresponds to the surface of the subject that you want to keep in focus. This is great for product photography. Focusing With A Tilt-Shift lens You will only be able to focus manually, since the mechanics of the tilt-shift makes impossible the use of an auto-focus system in this lens. By using the tilt function it allows front-to-back depth of field (DoF) meaning we can keep everything in focus, no matter the aperture, even at f/3.5 of f/2.8. What you need to do to get a front-to-back depth of field is to use a “trial and error” method: Mount the camera on a tripod. Set your aperture at f/8 for best quality of the image (you can also set a different aperture if needed). Open the Live View of the camera. Choose two important subjects (points) that you want to be in focus, one in the foreground and the other one in the background. Focus on the closest point you want sharp in the scene (the foreground subject you chose). Tilt the lens downwards slightly till the furthest point in the scene is in focus (in general a tilt of no more than 1-2 degrees will be enough most of the times to bring everything in focus). Go back and forth 2-3 times with fine tuning, while zooming up to 10x in Live View to check out the focus, till both subjects (in the foreground and in the background) are in focus, and the entire scene will then be in focus. Metering Light And Setting The Exposure With A Tilt-Shift lens When tilting or shifting the lens, the exposure the camera meters changes due to the light that leaks into the camera when the lens parts move relatively to each other, since the parts of a tilt-shift lens are not sealed between them and the fact that they are moving relatively to one another creates small openings that allow the light to enter the lens and confuse the light meter that indicates us the right exposure. How to deal with this? It is not very difficult, just meter your scene before tilting or shifting the lens, while it still works like a normal lens from the point of view of the movements it makes. Tilt-Shift And Long Exposure Photography Issues Concerning Shooting Long Exposure With A Tilt-Shift Lens At first glance, shooting long exposure with a tilt-shift lens is not different from doing it with any other regular lens. There are though two aspects to take into account when shooting long exposure with this lens and that make it different from shooting long exposure with a regular lens: Focusing And Metering Light The first aspect and issue is related to the way we will focus and meter the light so we can calculate the needed exposure. In the case the lens will be used tilted or shifted or both, just as in the case of short exposure, the light metering will be done before tilting or shifting the lens. This needs to be done so the light meter does not get confused by the light that may enter through the small openings created between the tilted or shifted parts and reach the sensor when tilting or shifting the lens. Light Leakage Issue The second aspect and issue is the light leakage that can occur in a tilt-shift lens during a long exposure. Just as in the case of metering light in a regular exposure with a tilt-shift lens where, if tilted or shifted, the lens allows the light to leak in and confuse the light meter, the same can happen in the case of a long exposure because of the extended time the lens is exposed to light while not being sealed properly and meant for use in long exposure photography. How To Overcome Light Leakage In A Tilt-Shift Lens During Long Exposure Photography It is not difficult to avoid light leakage. You will use the same principle you use so the light does not leak into the camera through the viewfinder: cover it. Thus, you will cover the lens in the case of a long exposure with a black cloth that will need to have the shape of a sleeve and be rather thick so it does not let the light inside the lens. You can also cover the entire camera with a black cloth and just leave uncovered the opening of the tilt-shift lens. How To Use A Tilt-Shift Lens For Portraiture Rotate the lens to a 45° angle, this will give you a diagonal blur through your plane of view in your image. Make sure your dioptre is calibrated for your vision. Since the tilt-shift lens is manual focus, you really need to make sure what you looking at is actually in focus. Shoot at f/5.6 for these shots, the out of focus areas will still produce pleasing results and a beautiful bokeh. When shooting at full length or 3/4, keep your subject close to their background, otherwise you may see distracting objects in your background come into focus. When shooting portraits, check your background is far away enough to be out of focus as in the full shot. Make sure to focus sharply on the eyes. YouTube Video Clip This 08:28 minute video clip visually explains the uses of a Samyang Tilt-Shift 24mm f/3.5. In Conclusion The Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens can be a very powerful and valuable tool in a photographer’s bag. It has many different uses – the lens can act as a normal 24mm lens for wide-angle photography, can swing left and right or tilt up and down and can be shifted in different directions at the same time. The shifting capability gives photographers the ability to control converging lines, while tilting and swinging allow changing the lens plane to either bring everything in focus, or to selectively apply focus to certain parts of an image. These unique features make the Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens a very specialized lens. They also add to complexity of using such a lens. It took me several weeks to fully understand how to work with PC-E lenses and even after using them for a while, I still had occasional issues with focus and depth of field. Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens is very much like a nifty-fifty for me, except that it is a tilt-shift lens. Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 85mm f/2.8D Tilt-Shift Lens is very special portrait lens, and can give very pleasing results if used creatively. One major annoyance with most tilt-shift lenses, including the Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens, is the factory default setting for tilt and shift movements. All Nikon PC-E lenses are shipped in such configuration, where you can swing the lens left and right, but you cannot simultaneously shift the lens in the same parallel direction. If you tilt the lens, you can only shift to the left and right sides and if you swing the lens, you can only shift it upwards or downwards. To fix this issue, you have to send your lens to a Nikon service center for reconfiguration. Nikon does not sell these in parallel configuration, but if you buy a used unit, it might be already configured for parallel movements. If you are a landscape photographer, definitely get yours adjusted. I have had my Nikon PC-E NIKKOR 24mm f/3.5D ED Tilt-Shift Lens done at Orms and it makes such a difference! The Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens and Nikon PC-E Micro-NIKKOR 45mm f/2.8D ED Tilt-Shift Lens cannot be converted as the electronic ribbon inside is too short to allow for this. There is a high learning curve with these lenses, be sure to experiment with what works best for you, as well as a lot of creativity to be had with mastering these lenses. Information sourced from various sources on the internet, as well as my personal experiences.

Which Film Should You Buy?

Which Film Should You Buy? By Eric Reichbaum Maybe you’re an amateur digital photographer, or a young professional photographer who got into photography after darkrooms were removed from your school’s classroom, and you’re interested in shooting film but you don’t know where to begin. This guide will help you navigate your way through the multitude of options out there. While there aren’t nearly as many types or sizes of film as there were in the past, there are still enough to make choosing your film a daunting task. Let’s take a look at your choices and, hopefully, help you narrow the field down to a few good choices that will work for your needs. Roll and sheet films are available in three different options: black-and-white, colour negative, and colour transparency. Black-and-White Negative Film If you’re brand new to film photography, shooting black-and-white is a good place to start for a few reasons. It is generally more forgiving, so if you miss your exposure, you’ll have a better chance of pulling back shadows or highlights than you would with colour film. Another reason that B&W is a good starting point is that it is much easier to develop at home, an option that is not only rewarding and fun, but will also afford you more control over the look of your photos and save you money if you shoot a lot. A common black-and-white film is Kodak’s Tri-X, a 400-speed film noted for its fine, yet distinct grain quality, high sharpness, and wide exposure latitude. Tri-X was introduced in 1954 and has long been a choice of professional journalists and documentarians. Think of the most well-known images from the Vietnam War, and photos of celebrities like Muhammad Ali and Johnny Cash; chances are the images you’re picturing were all captured on Tri-X film. Similar to Tri-X 400 is Tri-X 320, or TXP, which is now only available in sheet film sizes. Compared to Tri-X 400, this film has smooth tonal gradations, a bit of a narrower exposure latitude, and improved highlight separation. Depending on the format you will be working with, both TX 400 and TXP 320 are classics, albeit quite different from one another. Also popular is Kodak’s T-Max, which is available in 100 and 400 speeds, in both rolls and sheets, and has even finer grain than Tri-X. Kodak claims that T-Max 400 is the sharpest and finest grain stock of any 400 speed black-and-white film, and that T-Max 100 is the finest grain 100 speed black-and-white film. This is due to the T-GRAIN emulsion structure, which is a bit more homogenous and clean-looking than the classic grain profile of Tri-X. T-Max films are also especially well-suited for scanning, due to the less-apparent grain. Ilford’s HP5 Plus and FP4 Plus are other good options for general black-and-white shooting. HP5 is a 400-speed film that exhibits medium contrast, extended shadow detail, and a wide exposure latitude that permits rating this film up to EI 3200. FP4 is the slower, finer-grained option that exhibits a fine grain structure with high sharpness and acutance, making it a fine choice for enlargements. If you’re looking to shoot a higher-speed film, try Ilford Delta 3200, which is great for shooting in low-light conditions. Delta is known for its wide latitude, making it a forgiving film if you over- or underexpose your shots, and is responsive to pushing or pulling when developing. Delta is also available in 100 and 400 speeds, both of which use core-shell crystal technology for extremely fine grain and high sharpness. Ilford’s chromogenic XP2 Super is a unique 400-speed black-and-white film that is processed using the same C-41 chemistry for colour negative films, meaning you can have it developed at most one-hour film labs. Also available from Ilford are Pan F Plus, a slow ISO 50 film with extremely fine grain, and SFX, a 200-speed film with added sensitivity to red light to give an infrared film look. Also worth noting are Fujifilm’s Neopan 100 Acros, an orthopanchromatic film that is ideal for long exposures; Rollei’s RPX 25, a low-speed film with a transparent base that is great for scanning; Rollei Infrared 400, the sole true remaining infrared film available; and Adox's variety of black-and-white films, which tend to be slower, high-resolution options that support reversal processing to make black-and-white slides. Colour Negative Film If you prefer colour over monochrome images, or if you want to shoot both, there are a number of great options available. A popular choice is the Kodak Portra series, a relatively new film, being introduced in 1998. It has gone through a few different updates and upgrades before landing at today’s current stock, which is available in speeds of ISO 160, 400, and 800. As the name suggests, it is ideal for portraits, thanks to its naturally reproduced skin tones, realistic colour saturation, high sharpness, and very fine grain. Portra’s T-GRAIN emulsion and low contrast make it ideal for scanning applications. If Portra’s colours prove too muted for your style, consider Kodak Ektar, a 100-speed film known for its exceptional sharpness, vivid and highly saturated colours, and very fine grain. Another option is Fujifilm's Fujicolor PRO 400H, a film that is best suited for fashion, portraits, and other work where accurate colour reproduction is essential. Kodak Gold and GC/UltraMax have long been popular films for less discerning, more casual applications, and remain good options for those looking for an affordable film with fine grain and rich colour saturation. Colour Transparency Film Colour transparency film, also known as colour reversal, chrome, or slide film, produces a positive instead of a negative and has several distinctions compared to negative film. The most obvious is that when you get your film back, it will be a correct, positive image rather than a negative image shrouded by a colour mask. This lets you project your slides or view them more easily, but does complicate things if you are looking to do any traditional printing from slides nowadays. On the plus side, slides are very good for scanning and tend to have vibrant, punchy colours that are suitable for landscape and nature photography. One con to transparency film, however, is that it inherently has a narrower exposure latitude than virtually any negative film, meaning your exposures really have to be precise to get usable results. Once very common among pros and amateurs alike, slide film has slowly faded into obscurity. Kodachrome was discontinued in 2009, Ektachrome products ceased to exist around 2013, and now there are only Fujifilm’s Provia 100F, Velvia 50, and Velvia 100 left from the major film brands, with a few other transparency films from brands such as Agfa, Rollei, and  Lomography. As with all slide film, both Provia and Velvia offer very little leeway in terms of exposure, although Provia is slightly more forgiving. Provia is less saturated than Velvia, and lends itself better to long exposures, thanks to its relatively higher reciprocity. Velvia produces highly saturated transparencies often appreciated by landscape photographers. Additionally, both Provia and Velvia are the last remaining transparency films available in sheets for large format photographers. Experimental Film Lastly, there are some less traditional films on the market now that lend themselves well to experimentation. Lomography has a wide variety of these oddball films, such as LomoChrome Purple a highly saturated film with a purple hue, and Redscale, a unique reverse-rolled film that produces images with a distinct red hue. Lomography also offers some of the only 110 cartridge film still available today. Two films from CineStill bring the look of cinematic motion pictures to still photography with 50Daylight Xpro, an ISO 50 daylight-balanced colour negative film, and 800Tungsten Xpro, an ISO 800 tungsten-balanced film, both with the rem-jet anti-halation layer pre-removed, allowing for normal C-41 processing. Adox’ Color Implosion is another experimental film that produces vibrant red tones with a very prominent grain structure. Instant Film Instant film can be broken down into three categories: instax film for Fujifilm instax Cameras, Fujifilm peel-apart film for Polaroid cameras, and Impossible Project instant film for Polaroid cameras. Let’s start with what most people think of when they think of instant film: Polaroids. Unfortunately, Polaroid no longer exists as we once knew it, and the company stopped making film years ago. Luckily for photographers, a company called the Impossible Project started up and began making its own film for type 600, SX-70, and Image/Spectra Polaroid cameras. In addition to standard white frames, they also have unique options such as Round Frames and animal print Skins Edition frames. Next is Fujifilm’s instax films designed especially for the instax cameras. There are two types: instax mini, and instax Wide. These are similar to the original Polaroid instant film and the current Impossible Project offerings. Last, but not least, is Fujifilm’s Professional FP-100C (colour) and FP-3000B (black-and-white) peel-apart films. The FP-3000B has been discontinued, unfortunately, but is still available until current stock runs out. These two films are made for cameras that accept instant film with a photo size of 85 x 108mm, such as the Polaroid Automatic Land Cameras, and those provided or fitted with a compatible back. Whether you’re a seasoned digital photographer looking for a new way to capture images, or a student shooting film as part of a class requirement, film photography is sure to spark a fire in your photography. If nothing else, it will cause you to slow down and appreciate each frame you capture. Though it may take some time to go through the plethora of film mentioned above, eventually you’ll find your favourite, go-to film. I buy most of my film at B&H in New York, as it is much more affordable than locally, it sometimes can be even more affordable if a few film shooters buy in bulk together to reduce the shipping expenses. Although the selection of film options are certainly far from what it used to be, Orms does stock a reasonable selection, including: Ilford Delta 100 (available in 35mm and 120mm) Ilford Delta 400 (available in 35mm and 120mm) Ilford FP 4 Plus  (available in 35mm and 120mm) Ilford HP 5 Plus (available in 35mm and 120mm) Ilford XP 2 Super 400 Ilford PANF 50 Plus (120mm) Kodak Portra 160 (available in 35mm and 120mm) Kodak Portra 400 (available in 35mm and 120mm) Kodak TX 400 (available in 35mm and 120mm) Kodak T-MAX 100 (available in 35mm and 120mm) Kodak TX 100 (available in 35mm and 120mm) Kodak Ektar 100 Fujifilm Superia X-Tra 400 NOTE: Some of these aren’t loaded on the website, they do usually have in stock.  Please phone Orms Cape Town on 021 469 1977 for more information.

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