retired Kodak Technical Pan - So sharp, you can cut yourself!

I was told about this film, and I have resisted its temptation for quite a while.  One can easily pay $1 per photograph to enjoy it, and has to be rather selective even then, as they stopped making it some 12 years ago.  I have read many posts from photographers that said it was a difficult film, hard to expose, hard to process, hard to handle, well ... other said it was the best thing that happened to them (photographically speaking - at least I hope so).  I decided to give it a shot.  Loaded some in my Oly OM4, set the ISO to 25, and off I went to McHenry, IL ... a very challenging location in a middle of winter.  I developed it in Xtol 1:5 solution for 12.30 min @ 21C, and overall I was not disappointed.  Love the look!  (please excuse the photographs, it was more of a test) .  If you can get some hands it...try it.  As for me, I feel like Oliver Twist, "May I have some more, sir?"

Olympus OM-D E-M1 Focus Bracketing

Olympus likes to keep on giving to the users who already invested in their systems.  They have recently released version 4 firmware update to their system.  You can find the instructions on how to download this firmware to your Oly here.  Amongst other improvements is the new Focus Bracketing feature.  When Oly is used with one of its PRO series lenses (this is a requirement) like my excellent Zuiko 40-150mm f/2.8 PRO and version 4 installed, Bracketing feature from the Menu now includes Focus stacking.  Focus stacking allows a user to choose to take upward of 99 RAW or JPEG files with a certain amount of "focus shift" from 1-10 steps so that each image captured brings into focus another part of the photograph.  This is very useful in macro or nature photography, where depth of field is often limited.  Once this Focus Bracketing feature is selected, one must also turn on the High Burst mode shooting, and switch it to "silent" - a feature also added with the release of firmware version 4 (funny how that works).  Then, you set your camera up on the tripod (handheld is possible with shorter brackets - like 3 or 4, but more difficult - experiment) - focus on the nearest part of the subject you are interested having in focus, and press the shutter button.  Watch the magic.  When done, download your images into Lightroom CC and process in Photoshop CC (at $10 per month for photogs, Adobe Creative Cloud is a no-brainer for me).  You can also try dedicated focus stacking software that often yields better results.  Photoshop works for me, most of the time.  Here is a super quick tutorial on how to do this in Photoshop CC (Note:  you can use this method for blending manually stacked images too - in case you own another camera that does not have this functionality):

  1. Upload images to Lightroom CC
  2. Select the series of images you are interested in stacking (5 in this example) - click on the first, hold shift, click on the last (range selection)
  3. Right Click and navigate to Edit in => Merge to Panorama in Photoshop
  4. Select "Collage" and uncheck "blend images together"
  5. Wait until Photoshop processes all files (they will be aligned one layer at the time)
  6. Select all of the created layers in Layers pane in Photoshop (there should be 5 in our example) - click on the first, hold shift, click on the last (range selection, just like in Lightroom - hint:  this works just about everywhere for multiple selections)
  7. Got to Photoshop menu, select Edit =>Auto-Blend Layers, select "Stack Images" and "Seamless Tones and Colors - click OK
  8. The 5 layers now have masks where Photoshop has selected only parts in focus to show creating a single image that should be all sharp
  9. If it is not fully sharp, you can mess with individual masks and make minor adjustments
  10. Select all of the layers (like in step 6), click "Flatten Image"
  11. Click to close the file and Photoshop will ask you if you want to save.  Say yes.  Saves file will show up in Lightroom


Here are the "before images" with only portions of each image in focus - CLICK on the image to have them rotate in the order they were taken 

Now, after some Photoshop magic, here is one fully in focus:

Olympus 35 RC Rangefinder Video Review

I purchased this camera on Ebay a few months back, as my first attempt to get back into film photography and enhance my overall photography experience. I read some great reviews about this fun little cam, and I thought to give it a shot. I have run a few rolls through it now, and it's a keeper! Love the compact size, ease of use, metering, and overall sharpness. Here is a little video to go along with the post: