POST PROCESSING // VSCO Kodak Portra 400 in the studio

I’ve become a huge fan of VSCO Co's "VSCO Film" presets for Lightroom. They add a clarity and richness to the digital images that takes them far beyond the original capture. I’ve only recently had a decent chance to test out my favourite colour preset, the Kodak Portra 400 preset, on some real studio portraits.

Cleaning Up The Preset

VSCO's Kodak Portra 400 preset introduces a moderate grain that, while great looking, isn't the best idea for professional use. I still want to achieve a high quality image while retaining the beautiful colours the preset provides.

I took the original version of the Portra 400 preset and created a new version with more subtle grain, akin to Portra 160. I also added 25% chroma noise reduction to help remove the digital colour noise while still leaving the natural looking luminance noise in the image, along with the pseudo-grain. I also added some sharpening and turned on lens corrections to correct for vignetting and distortion.

This made the preset suitable for professional use as the it stills imbues some analog characteristics into the image while keeping the image quality high for professional use. I think the results speak for themselves.

Comparing The Look

Here is a comparison of the Adobe Standard look from Lightroom, the Canon Camera Standard camera profile (changed in the Calibration tab) and the final Kodak Portra 400 preset in full.

No retouching has been done on this image.

Default Lightroom settings with Adobe Standard camera profile chosen

I've always found the Adobe Standard camera calibration profile to look very bland and lifeless. I suppose this is Adobe's way of zeroing out the differences between cameras in a consistent manner.

Default Lightroom settings with Camera Standard camera profile chosen

The Camera Standard camera calibration profile goes a long way to restoring some of the richness of the image, but isn't quite enough. This calibration profile is equivalent to the camera's Standard picture profile.

VSCO Film 01 - Kodak Portra 400 preset

As you can see, the Portra 400 preset adds a richness to the tonal range and colour saturation. It brings out a subtle green in the dark grey background and makes the highlights roll off and the skin tones smooth.

You can see the project I'm working on here.

Nick Bedford is a freelance Photographer & DOP who regularly contributes his time and experience to WECC. Cheers Nick

NEWS FLASH // Fujifilm Instax Wide 300

A new Instax from FujiFilm bringing back the traditional polaroid sizes.

The redesigned INSTAX Wide 300 is a high quality instant film camera that uses large format INSTAXinstant film and has a contemporary and professional design for better image composition and easierhandling. The INSTAX Wide 300 uses an optical viewfinder for easier image composing, a lens ring dialwith two-range focus zone setting, and a tripod socket for enhanced shooting capabilities.

 The new INSTAX Wide 300 also features a built-in electronic flash that automatically adjusts light levels depending on the distance to the subject. Users can select Fill Flash when shooting a subject in a backlight scene, while a Lighten-Darken control adds high-key and low-key effects to images.Additionally, the INSTAX Wide 300 includes a close-up lens adapter for macro shooting as close as 15.5”from the subject.

 The INSTAX Wide 300 uses INSTAX Wide instant film that is double the size of INSTAX Mini film. It isideally suited for fashion photography, group shots at parties and events, landscape scenes, as well asmany practical business applications including insurance, law enforcement and record keeping.

Price $US150 | Twin Pack of 20 Exposures $US32

Source (http://www.fujifilmusa.com/)(http://www.camerapro.com.au/)(http://www.digitaltrends.com/)

LAIA ABRIL'S THINSPIRATION PHOTOS ARE UNBEARABLE

By Rachel Segal Hamilton

There are some photographs so unbearable to look at that you can’t take your eyes off them. The images in Laia Abril’s Thinspiration fanzine fit into this category. Her re-photographed pro-ana selfies show girls flaunting angular, emaciated bodies: impossibly wide thigh gaps, ribs straining through skin, jutting hipbones, and concave stomachs.

Laia’s work has focused on eating disorders since 2010. The latest chapter in her project, The Epilogue, is published this month and tells the story of an American girl called Mary Cameron “Cammy” Robinson, who died of bulimia at 26. Through interviews, photographs, and other found materials, the book reconstructs Cammy's life and the aftermath of her death, asking how the illness makes a person self-destruct and how it affects those around them.

I caught up with Laia over the phone to find out more.

VICE: Eating disorders are a big focus of your work. What drew you to this issue?
Laia Abril: It was inspired by personal experience and the fact that there’s a lack of information. If someone’s daughter has bulimia and they don’t see the signs, that girl might die of a heart attack and they’d never know she’d had an eating disorder.

Bulimia is also one of the most stigmatized eating disorders. It’s seen as shameful. My aim was to break these taboos. With photography we’re often documenting what happens in other societies—wars, poverty. I thought, Here’s another epidemic we could try to prevent.

READ & SEE MORE

 LAIA ABRIL'S 'Thinspiration fanzine' seems to have upset at least one reader, they left the following reply to the aerticle. The issue's Ayla Eichler raise are very intresting as they question the context of meaning within the work. More importantly it brings up a bigger issue of intention vs outcomes in relation to such a highly charged body of work. What are the  Moral obligation of the Artist ? if any ? 

Ayla Eichler 
Taking pictures of pictures. How lazy and derivative. I hope the proceeds for this "fanzine" go to the ongoing treatment of the women you're exploiting, because I know at least a few of them and they would be mortified to find themselves in a book. How rude to imply that the women in these pictures are voluntarily doing this to themselves or that they are in support of "pro ana". Most of these pictures are hacked from private accounts and posted on pro-ana sites by strangers. Your two years of research failed you if you don't know that most of the pictures posted in those communities are not actually pictures of the members themselves. Most are private images that are hacked and circulated like trading cards. Thanks for taking it to another level and bringing their darkest moments into the broader public without their permission. Congratulations. I'm sure they appreciate the continual violation of their privacy and being branded as "wanting to be anorexic" or "pro ana". 

One of the girls you used an image of is in the hospital right now and very much wants to get better. The specific image of her you used is one that she tries to get taken down from sites she finds it on and is hurt every time she sees it. I guess you can speak for her better than she can, I guess you know she "wants to get worse". When an artist wanted to display Jenifer Lawrence's nudes in an art gallery it was a sex crime, but when its every day people with a life threatening mental illness its okay? Where is the public outcry for them? I hope you're satisfied with yourself. Just enjoy the freak show. Its not "shocking" its morally reprehensible.

Source (http://www.vice.com/)

LOMOGRAPHY LC-A 120 .....

The Most Compact & Magical Fully Automatic 120 Film Camera Ever! 

If you have not already herd, Lomo are at it again with a medium format 120 film LC-A 120 a big brother to the ever popular LC-A . Unfortunatley we have not yet been able to get our grubby little hands on a real camera, so this regurgitated post will have to do.

I am a big Medium Format film lover and currently enjoy my GA645 from Fujifilm and am very keen to see the results of the Lomography's LC-A 120. The square format pictures on taken with its 24mm equivalent lens look very impressive indeed, so there appears much to be excited about. If their tricky website is anything to go by this is one must have camera ? So what's not to like ?

My only concern with many things 'Lomography' is the price tag, $463.06 Australian (not including shipping) is nothing to lough at. In essence it is a cut down medium format camera with a hefty price tag in a compact body. The smaller size is deffinatley an exciting prospect, however it is important to remember that you can grab a Fujifilm GA645W Pro W wich sports a fantastic 45mm wide lens from eBay for about $393.58. Better yet spend a little more and grab yourself the Fujifilm GA645Zi which sports a nice 55-90 zoom lens for roughly about $500-$600 . The Fuji's have autofocus and one of the sharpest lenses in their class. Not to mention all the various exposure settings you have come to expect from this format. So for slightly less there is a much superior compact point & shoot style alternative in the Fuji line up, there are also various other offerings from brands such as Bronica, Kiev &  Mamiya to name but a few. Diffrenrt horses for diffrent courses as they say,

On a more positive note, I actually do love the form factor of the new  LC-A 120, any time someone can crush down the size of a medium format camera for street use I am excited and It does appear to be the most compact 120 I have seen. So If the exposure system is up to scratch it most likely will be a great pocket camera to consider for purchase. Like the rest of you, WECC will have to just sit tight and wait .

Least they are still generationg intrest in the film medium, and for that I am very very greatful. 

My only real concern is the price tag $$$ is it money well spent ? 

You can pre-order here

Source

(Daniel Lachman Youtube) (http://shop.lomography.com/us)(http://www.photographyreview.com/)

VSCOCAM The Minimalist Collection

New preset packs for VSCO Cam iOS and Android. The Minimalist Collection includes ten stunning presets with a variety of aesthetics rooted in simplicity. Available now within the in-app store, this collection is being offered at the special price of $3.70 and includes the following presets:

Premier / Simple

Emphasizing the beauty in stillness, the J1, J2, J3, J4, J5, and J6 presets lend to quiet moments, contemplative settings, portraiture, and architecture.

I have grabbed some random images off my phone as examples. I quickly applied a few of the presets included in the new Minamalist Collection and popped them in below.

image of Stevee by Simon VSCOCAm The Minimalist Collection J7

image of Alex by Simon VSCOCAm The Minimalist Collection J1

Analog / Essential

With hints of blues, desaturated highlights, and understated, muted exposure, the A7, A8, A9, and A10 presets embody analog film.

image of Kang by Simon VSCOCAm The Minimalist Collection A7

image of Zoe by Simon VSCOCAm The Minimalist Collection A9

image of Zoe by Simon VSCOCAm The Minimalist Collection A9

There you have it, 10 new presets in all their Analog (kinda) goodness, a little steep in the price department but if your a fan that$ not much of a deterant. So open the App and get downloading.

GEAR BATTLE // Expensive Zooms vs Cheap Primes

Prime lenses are a great choice for a variety of reasons. They're smaller, have larger apertures and also introduce a creative constraint that can make your work more consistent. This is the reason why I choose to shoot all of my personal and street photographs on the Fujifilm X100s as it has a fixed 23mm lens, equivalent to a 35mm full frame focal length.

The primary limiting factor with prime lenses therefore is the quality of the lens elements and how that translates to the image you see. While I've never paid much attention to the differences in lens qualities between lenses, while I was setting up for a portrait session this morning, I thought to test the difference between my main zoom lens and an equivalent prime lens found in the zoom range. As I only have 3 SLR lenses, it was down to the Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM and the Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM.

The 24-70mm zoom I have is the second generation, released a few years ago, and costs upwards of $2,000. It has been widely regarded as one of Canon's best zoom lenses as well, making it a solid choice for any work that doesn't need a larger than F2.8 aperture.

The 50mm F1.4 on the other hand is the enthusiast but not professional 50mm prime lens from Canon. It's a great lens, and only costs a few hundred dollars and has a wide F1.4 aperture, perfect for low light or creamy backgrounds.

Test Setup

I've recently created a studio space in my lounge room, with all of my lighting gear at hand. I chose a real world example to shoot, a portrait. To test both lenses, I mounted the camera on my tripod to ensure the distance to the subject was the same. The zoom lens was set to "50mm" as indicated on the barrel and both lenses were shot at F8.

I shot the images on my Canon 5D Mark III in raw mode at 1/160th shutter speed and ISO 200 for the best noise performance.

Results

The first thing I noticed was how much warmer the 24-70mm zoom lens was compared to the 50mm prime. The zoom was warmer by a factor of about 350-400 Kelvin, which is noticeable.

The second difference was the actual focal length. With the zoom set to "50mm" as indicated on the lens barrel, it was actually off by around 10% with the zoom being wider than the 50mm prime.

The third and less visible difference was the sharpness. It became apparent to me only in finally doing this "cheap vs expensive" comparison that the significantly more expensive zoom lens actually did produce a sharper image. At 100% it was easily seen, though I wouldn't pass off using the 50mm F1.4 lens if it was my only choice. It is still an excellent lens.

Overall Image

PRIME: Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM

ZOOM: Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM

You can immediately see the focal length difference when set to Canon's 50mm marking.

Sharpness / Detail

PRIME: Canon EF 50mm F1.4 USM lens

ZOOM: Canon EF 24-70mm F2.8L II USM

The image is more detailed, even when focussed properly and set to a sharp, deep aperture setting without invoking diffraction (beyond around F11).

Conclusion

It goes without saying that the new 24-70mm F2.8L lens is extremely sharp, and has great colour rendition. The difference in clarity is noticeable at 100%, though I wouldn't be too worried about it when viewing the entire image.

One thing I've always noticed with the zoom is its bokeh (out of focus quality) is quite soft and I've never been troubled by it. The prime lens on the other hand is not as beautiful.

What it comes down to, however, is what you want out the lens. If you have the money for the 24-70mm, it's a fantastic and versatile lens that produces an extremely sharp image, especially in a studio setting, but you'd be silly to pass up the 50mm F1.4 prime lens if you need a lightweight and small portrait lens that excelled for its price.

I'm definitely going to keep using the zoom, despite my desire to shoot with primes. I would need to look at the Canon EF 50mm F1.2L USM if I was to beat the image the zoom lens creates.