#1008. Lockdown. Day sixty something (re-discovering an old friend)

By Paul Perton | Opinion

May 27

Whiling away the hours hasn’t been as difficult as I’d imagined it might be. Anyone of retirement age and beyond knows the pleasure of easy days, falling asleep with a good book, binge watching, early starts, late starts, early nights, late nights, opening a beer before 06:00, afternoon naps and more. Watching our adult children struggle with enforced stasis is much harder. It’s not like we can do much for them.

And, there are endless catalogues of ideas, projects and other ways to pass the time everywhere. I’ve tried a few – as I mentioned in an earlier post, one of mine was learning Photoshop. That ended up in a copy of Capture 1. So much for being frugal.

I’ve also spent many hours trying to work out how to get Mrs Jappy to give me Pascal’s Hasselblad X1D after I’d done away with him – some skilful demise that no-one would ever pin on me, while I explored the wonders of medium format.

Nope. That’s even less likely than me learning how to use Photoshop.

The reviews I’ve read. Lately, all focussed on medium format and meant to lead of course, to my own purchase of an X1D or a 100mp Fuji G series.

Meantimes and foremost in my mind in recent days has been one image. Shot before sunrise at the lagoon area in Kleinmond, a small seaside town near Cape Town in South Africa. To date, Lightroom records I have fourteen versions, none remotely satisfying. The best LR and Photoshop could manage was a plastic-y grey sheen, or unrealistic 100% black.

That picture. 14 attempts in Lightroom and I couldn’t ever get the beach (central dark area) to look authentic. Until Capture 1 anyway.

Capture 1 nailed it first time for me. It’s now about as close to perfect as I may ever get.

Deep in mentally assembling a post for DearSusan, I fell to wondering what had I used to shoot this epic? I felt sure it was my Fuji X-Pro2. Couldn’t have been the X-H1 as it was still in development at the time.

No. What I’d shot this cracker with now sells for around $US350 on eBay, it’s 16mp sensor laughably out of date.

It was of course an X-Pro1 (and the wonderful Fuji 90mm f2). A camera I feel compelled to use from time to time because I’ve kept it for almost five years and am completely besotted with the photographs it helps me to take.

By today’s standards, it’s quite ancient; there’s no dioptre adjustment for the eyepiece, the controls on the back are a bit oddly placed and harder to master than on later X-Pros. It’s also quite slow and will often miss focus completely. A bit like the Leica it apes, really.

And, despite Fuji’s regular firmware upgrades since its release, it’s limited by the technology of its early 2000-era processor. In particular, it doesn’t offer the wonderful emulations that come with the later and more capable Fujis. 

But for all that, it does take great pictures and I can live with its shortcomings for the pleasure it brings. All of the accompanying images were shot with the X-Pro1 – you may have seen some before. I don’t care, it’s a great camera.

Phew. I’ve managed to not bring Pascal to an untimely end and saved upwards of £10k I’d have otherwise spent on buying MF kit.

Lockdown? Seems like I’m quite enjoying it after all.

 

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  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Tempting. 🙂 I am sorely tempted to inquire where is the copy of “That picture” with an authentic looking beach. =))

    • Paul Perton says:

      That’s as good as it gets Pete.

      • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

        I shouldn’t have done that Paul – and I must apologise for the fact it has appeared twice!

        To make amends – you will recall me suggesting that you can be even more frugal and get a 3 month free trial of Affinity Photo – I’m pretty sure that offer is still open.

        Anyway, I ordered a book on it, and the book has just arrived. It’s a monster! The most comprehensive guide to any post processing software program that I’ve ever come across. (Of course that doesn’t mean much – the pros might have access to others for Adobe’s stuff, or other programs, that I HAVEN’T come across – LOL)

        It’s pretty heavy – you wouldn’t want to drop it on your toes! – 1.6Kg (or 3lb 8.5oz in english) – nearly 500 pp, and the pages are 20cm (W) x 23 cm (H) (whatever that is in english). A close examination of the contents, in conjunction with the free trial and a few photos, could fill in all your spare time till the end of lockdown!

  • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

    Tempting. 🙂 I am sorely tempted to inquire where is the copy of “That picture” with an authentic looking beach. =))

  • Pascal O. says:

    Some glorious pics, here, Paul, thank you. I quite like the shoes, the rooftop.

    I can understand your frustration with pp as it took me a long while to drop jpegs and move to raw.

    I never indulged in anything else but Capture one and am quite happy with it. Both in terms of ease of use and results generated in an acceptable amount of time.

    As far as your intricate plans with Pascal J., I now understand why he is moving to 50€ Nikon lenses on his Hassy body.
    Makes sending him at patres less attractive.
    And for him less expensive than going around in an armoured car with goons ^^.

    Never thought reading Dear Susan would ever become that exciting!

  • Pascal Ravach says:

    Funny, Paul: fror you, « re-discovering an old friend »… for me, « re-discovering an old friend »: « the » Paul Pertin whose images make me stare and stop!
    Those « simple » (hem) « life extracts », that light…
    Great pleasure, and sorry for all the « » 🙂

  • Lad Sessions says:

    Paul, These photos magically transform the ordinary into images worth viewing again and again. You shouldn’t waste your time lusting after Pascal’s Hassy; your X-Pro1 is wonderful! The tones are distinctive, and distinctively Captured1. Thanks for refreshing tired confinement eyes.

    • jean pierre (pete) guaron says:

      You only need to turn back a page, and refresh your memory of the wonderful shots of steam engines on ##1007 – some, apparently, taken on a plastic Kodak Brownie! That’d show that pixels ain’t everything!
      I finally relented and upgraded my D810 to a D850 a while back. Then later found a very wary discussion about the pros and cons of the D850’s 45MP screen. The truth is, it IS more demanding. IS or no, you have to be very careful using it off tripod – because those extra pixels are very demanding. It seemed from their comments that they got perfectly acceptable images KEEPING their D810, and didn’t appreciate the finicky D850 as much as I do.
      So why do I?
      Perfectly simple – I use the D850 when I want “finicky”, and for slog, instead of my D810, I now use a D500 – can’t even remember how many pixels it has, the sensor’s HF anyway, it’s probably 21MP. And the photos it produces are just fine!
      It’s different having all those extra pixels on Pascal’s Hassy – why? – because it isn’t FF, it’s MF. And because it’s MF, those pixels have FAR better retention of detail in the shadows, as well as better detail retention in the highlights. Speaking as someone with very eclectic shooting habits, and a pre-dilection for available light, after sunset photography, I’m as jealous as hell – but I’m not letting Pascal know that 🙂

  • Nancee Rostad says:

    I always enjoy looking at your images, Paul – there’s such a wonderful variety of subjects! My favorites in this group are the first two – wonderfully rustically textured buildings – yum. Numbers 7 & 8 also appeal because of their graphic abstract qualities.
    You don’t need PS – and you’re not the only one who has tried and failed to understand it – I’m also a PS failure. My most frequent mistake was being on the wrong layer – aaarrrrgggg! I don’t need the aggravation, and I’m sure you don’t either.

  • Very nice, Paul, and very photographic. Those 16 million pixels seem to have done the trick.

    I’ve never tried Capture 1 — too pricey — and am relieved to learn I’m not the only one to stubbornly avoid RAW for far too long. My excuse is that I first tried with Nikon’s pathetic excuse for software and gave up pronto, unaware there were better choices. I finally saw the RAW light and have settled on the paid, multi-vendor version of Silkypix. While its menus and nomenclature are a bit quirky, it’s fast, has great batch processing capability, checks all my functionality boxes and provides great output. The Silkypix help system is plain in appearance but has wonderful information with clear, useful explanations.

    I’ve been using Photoshop for some time (my antique version is from about 2006) but never progressed much beyond Curves and the truly useful Fade Curves. I’ve occasionally tried to do something with layers but it always ends in buckets of man-tears. I cry thinking about it. The best part of the process is clicking on Flatten and saving the damned thing. Nonetheless, Curves and Fade are very good and PS also seems handy for spotting and resizing images.

    IMHO, the key to refining images effectively is having at least a modest understanding of colour theory and the concept of toes, shoulders, gamma and such. My wish is for someone to come up with a Zone System type interface that would let us click on various areas in an image to assign zones. Or maybe that exists. Something that was hard (impossible for me) to do in a development tank should be easy on a computer screen.

    And finally, I must ask, exactly how many Pascals can dance on the head of a pin?

    • Pascal O. says:

      Good question, Alan. I would say it depends whether it is an APS-C, MFT, Full Frame or Medium Format pin…

  • philberphoto says:

    If a camera is defined by the images it delivers -or is it elicits ?- in a given set of hands, then this XT-1 and form a remarkable duo -or is it tandem?-.This is pertonian art at its best, each image, seemingly captured on-the-fly, positively dripping with palpability. My faves? The two beaches, different though they are, the head-top, the shoes, Teesdale yard…. Again, kudos and congrats!

    • Paul Perton says:

      Thank you Philippe. And yes, it is a partnership. I have harum scarum ideas, see things that I think might make an interesting image and the camera (in this case an X-Pro1) makes them for me.

      How’s that for synchronicity?

  • MarkV says:

    Would like to have seen a comparison of one or two of the Lightroom failures and the Capture One success of “that picture.” Other than that I enjoyed many of the photographs and commiserate with the post-processing odyssey that can be so confounding. And 16MP is less “old” than 6 or 10 MP images or the cameras that take them, which still can be appreciated.

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