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Archive for September, 2006

When I first got my Fuji Finepix S5600 I started off using Auto mode and the pre-programmed Landscape, Portrait, etc, modes. I also put the ISO setting to Auto and just got on with the business of taking pictures.

Like most people I want to improve the quality of my photos and so I started reading all sorts of photography resources; magazines, web-sites, and books. The vast majority of this literature gives the impression that you’ll never take decent pictures unless you turn your back on these auto features and use Aperture/Shutter priority and set your ISO manually. Some go so far as suggesting these features should not even be there (I expect they disconnect the ABS on their cars!). I, of course, fell for this hook line and sinker!

So I spent the next few months religously setting ISO, apertures, etc, before finally taking the picture. Were my pictures any better – of course not. Don’t get me wrong, I understand how different combinations of aperture, shutter, and ISO can give different effects, such as depth-of-field, motion blur, noise, etc, but why set this all manually when most of the time one of the scene modes will get it right for you.

With all the compact zooms noise can be a problem when using the larger ISO values, even with the good low light features of the S5600. Because of this most of the time I want the camera to use the lowest value ISO for the available light. The best way to get this is to set ISO to Auto. The next thing I usually decide on is there a single feature in the picture I want in focus such as a person or animal, or do I want as much as possible in focus? For the former I use the Portrait mode which always gives an wide open aperture and for the latter I use the Landscape mode which selects a narrow closed aperture. Want to freeze the action? There’s no sports mode but selecting the anti-shake mode has the same effect, i.e. it selects a suitably fast shutter speed. I can do this in the full knowledge that the camera will make suitable adjustments if I zoom in or out, and all with the turn of a single dial!

I’m not saying that this works all the time or is right for everyone (each to his own) but for at least 90% of my photos this gives me what I need. What this does is let me concentrate on composing and taking the picture I want and let the camera get on with the rest of it.

When you look at a picture what’s the first thing you look at? I’m sure it’s not the EXIF data to see what mode the photographer was using. You look at the composition, the subject, the colour, does it make you smile, etc, etc. So I say don’t be ashamed to let the camera help you out – be proud of your pictures whatever mode you use.

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I always imagined elephants as having quite a smooth skin but once you get up close that’s not necessarily the case.

Elephant

Hosted on Zenfolio

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Continuing the current theme of wildlife pictures. Here’s a baboon that’s probably not too happy with his hairdresser!

Baboon

Hosted on Zenfolio

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Just downloaded the new beta 4 and things are looking up. First impressions are that some of the performance issues have been fixed as it seems to be running pretty well on my 2.5GHz Mobile Celeron with 1GB RAM.

It’s going to take a bit of playing around to work out how things work as it’s quite different from using ACR and Elements 4. The first thing I tried was using the White Balance controls on a JPEG and it works brilliantly. If Elements had this I would be a very happy bunny!

Not so impressed with the “Auto Adjust Tonality” as it seems to be making my images look very over exposed. On the few I tried it on I had to drag the Brightness level way back down to make it look correct and stop everything getting pushed way to the right in the histogram. However, I need to try this on a few more different images before I right it off.

Update: It seems that  “Auto Adjust Tonality” works fine with the RAW images from the S5600 but not the JPEGs. I thought the idea was that Lightroom was not supposed to care what file type you  were editing but at the moment that does not appear to be the case.

There are a few other things that are different from Elements that I need to get my head round. I can’t find a Levels dialog yet, only a Tone curve, and instead of USM there is just a Sharpen slider. I’m sure once I get the hang of it things will be easy but it’s very different to what I’m used to. Perhaps it’s time to start watching the Lightroom tutorial videos?

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I’d like to say this was taken in the wild but I made a visit to Paignton Zoo at the weekend. The orangutans have got a lovely big island to roam around on with plenty of room to get away from it all if they want to. This one just seemed to want to sit and smile and everyone.

Orangutan

Hosted on Zenfolio

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Just call me big mouth!

Pelican

Hosted on Zenfolio

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Picasa version 2 is now available and I thought it was time I gave it another whirl just to see how it had improved. First thing I did was check out the help and see if it supported the RAW (.RAF) files from my Fuji S5600. I was disappointed to see the following in the Help.

At this time, we do not support RAW images from the following cameras:

Kodak P850 (.KDC)
Adobe file format (.DNG)
FUJI S5200-S5600 (.RAF)
OLYMPUS E-300, E-500 (.ORF)

My first reaction was to say “Sod it!” and not bother downloading it but the geek in me wanted to see what it could do. I’m really glad I did because it appears to handle my S5600 RAF files with no problems at all! They display and edit fine although you can only save files as JPEGs. To be honest it displays the RAW files much faster than Elements 4 when doing full screen views and slideshows.

I have only used it very briefly but with it’s ability to edit, print, publish to Web Albums, burn CD/DVDs, and order prints online with my favourite Photobox print service, I am well impressed. I don’t think I’ll be ditching Elements 4, Zenfolio, NeatImage, and QImage just yet but I’ll certainly be recommending it to friends and relatives who want a simple and more importantly to them ‘FREE’ method of organising and doing basic edits of their photos.

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