I was wondering about how those 27 year old Maui images might look if printed as toned monochrome prints. I scanned the old 4×6 drugstore color prints and then processed some of them as toned monochrome images. I then resized and sharpened them for printing as 5×7 prints.
I had been looking for three suitable images to put in a frame to hang on my wall in front of my computer. I have lots of color travel images on my walls, but no monochrome ones … until now.
While working on these images I remembered the last time I saw someone on one of our trips taking pictures with a 35mm Nikon interchangeable lens film camera. It was in Hawaii on another trip.
We went to Maui in 1993 and stayed at the Paki Maui, our first and only time to that island. We both used small Olympus 35mm film cameras from which the pictures were developed and printed at a drugstore and all we have are the 4×6 prints which aren’t very sharp. While Marcia was cleaning out the last of our older prints I decided to scan a few of the prints to see what I could recover as digital images. We had a large number of prints but I only scanned some to get a flavor of the trip.
Maui was mainly a crowded tourist destination and we don’t like crowds so we avoided most of the crowded tourist spots. To do that, we rented a small 4WD vehicle and drove where we weren’t supposed to go by circling the island. As you can see in the pictures we succeeded to avoid the crowded areas.
We also took a helicopter ride over and around parts of Moloka’i Island. That is where we made the pictures of the waterfalls, etc. We also drove up to the Haleakala Crater where at an elevation of over 10,000 feet it was windy and cold. If you haven’t experienced it, open a can of coke and drink it at that elevation. I know, the things I remember. We also walked out of the tourist area into the Iao Valley where we crossed paths with a few girls from Russia hiking.
We did venture into Lahaina to dine and walk around once. It was there that we first experienced eating in a building with windows with no glass or screens and competing with the birds flying around.
Maui has changed a lot since then … at least from what I can find about visiting there on the web. I’m glad we went when we did.
Due to the lack of new pictures, I have been revisiting older ones. I took these in 2011 with a Pentax K-5 II and the 18-55mm lens. I wanted to see how they looked after reprocessing the raw files using the latest version of LR. One reason I am redoing the files and looking at them closer is to help me decide what, if any, additional lenses I might wish to have for my current Pentax KP camera.
So far, I’m sticking to my preference to not get a longer, heavier zoom lens. One reason is the image quality of those light enough and cheap enough aren’t very good. If I continue to think only in terms of the limited lenses, the only one left of interest to me would be the 21mm, and it would come in handy if I ever get back to the streets or traveling. I am still not sure about getting another 18-55mm WR zoom lens, but there are times it would be handy as a cheap walkabout lens in bad weather or times like when our next flood occurs. Looking at the above pictures tells me it would be good enough, at least when the lighting is bright. I might order an inexpensive used one and compare the IQ to the Limited 20-40mm WR lens.
Note that all of these pictures were taken on the big island. I noticed the “reference” to Hanover in a small general store. We were visiting the island right before they had an Iron Man event and there were a lot of cyclists getting use to the climate, roads, etc. The big island is a lot drier and newer, thus the lava flows, than our favorite island which is Kauai.
I haven’t been going out anywhere to make pictures lately, and doubt that I will around other people until after the flu and virus seasons are over. In order to keep thinking about photography, I had been thinking about whether or not I want to get an additional lens for the Pentax KP, when I remembered the last time I traveled with a Pentax DSLR. It was when we were in Hawaii right before we moved here to Homewood in 2011.
I decided to reload the pictures into LR and reprocess them as I checked out what focal lengths I used on that trip to Hawaii. I only had the Pentax 18-55mm kit lens with me and I doubted that the images would be very good, but I found them to be better than I remembered. While reprocessing them I also decided to see how they would work with my latest B&W style. You can see the results above. I like them, especially since they show Hawaii in a totally different light than most people think of when thinking about Hawaii.
A take-off on Shakespeare’s Macbeth “Double, double toil and trouble; Fire burn and cauldron bubble.”
I think of this as I think about global climate changes as our temperatures swing wider and wilder due to the wider and wilder shifting of the jet stream.
In case you haven’t realized it, I am getting more comfortable with my B&W images. I’m finally learning how to process then into styles I like.
Contemplating the future is sort of like wondering what is happening across the ocean or over the horizon, but we have information and history that we can use to develop reasonable expectations.
Take a look at the following chart of the DOW averages plotted on a linear axis.
The blue columns are the monthly average values for the Dow Jones Industrial Average (y axis) plotted from 1990 until August of this year (x axis). The upper and lower red lines represent the extremes of the most recent major fluctuations. Have you considered that our financial system might be a dynamic unstable system and that if it follows recent history that we might be looking at a 50% drop in the value of the Dow in the not too distant future as indicated by the wide blue line?
Also note that the axis starts at zero and that the current values since the late 1990s are not in line with expectations based on the older, previous history which was relatively flat. Most sellers of stock like to show you a plot with an exponential axis since that makes you think that things are better than they really are and it tends to smooth out the recent fluctuations. Plotting it on a linear axis also shows you how vulnerable you are to totally losing all your investments within a 10 year period … depending upon when you buy and need to sell.
Are you prepared for it? You should be. I was reading a report from a market analyst the other day and he came to the same conclusion based on underlying fundamentals of today’s market. He predicted a 50% drop coming.
I could also come to a similar possibility based on different nonfinancial factors like climate change, global social unrest, depletion of resources, global population growth, cost of energy, etc. The only thing nobody can predict is when. It could be this year or many years away yet; but the longer the time until it happens will only increase the magnitude of the impact … something to contemplate.
Poipu, Kauai, Hawaii
Since I have the time and it is 32 degrees F. with occasional mist or drizzle outside my window at the moment, I have been thinking about the most critical factors for making a good picture. I think that being at the right place at the right time is the most critical element. The most important variable is the composition. Another important variable is having the vision to recognize it and record it. The third is having the right camera and lens with you at the time, and finally, recording the image with the best settings of the camera’s controls. Most people seem to stop with those, but I think they are missing what is becoming one of the most important factors … having and using the correct software to develop the image. If they didn’t record their image in the raw format and then use programs on their computer to develop it, they have missed what is becoming one of the most critical factors for making a good image.
While reminiscing and longing for the warm days with bright sunshine during my last trip to Hawaii, I ran across the above image. My first reaction was that it wasn’t much … just a lot of blue water and blue sky, an empty chair, and two kayakers too far away for the lens I had with me (close to the horizon in the middle). I’m not sure why I took the picture but probably just so that I could crop-zoom in to get a better view of the kayakers.
Since I have tried to use my time to improve my use of my software for developing my images, I decided to take this not so good picture and see what I could do with it as a B&W image. Yes, I know what you are thinking … B&W has no place in bright sunny Hawaii, but after playing with this image I’m not so sure. By switching to B&W I was able to take all the monotonous blue out of the image and force myself to look at the details. As it ended up above, I like it better in B&W than the original color. The more I stare at it, the more I remember how hot and bright it was.
In case you are wondering, I used Adobe Light Room (LR4) for the basic development of the color image and then used Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to convert it to B&W as you see it above. The most important thing for you to remember is that with software you can go back and change the picture at any time. You can’t change the composition, lens, etc. other than to crop-zoom, but you can change the way the original digital image is interpreted. By saving your images as raw images you will find that you can go back years later with improved software and do a lot more with your old images. If you are still shooting just jpegs, your chair is empty and you are missing the view the second time around.
Some of you who know me or have read my blog have noticed that I have referred more and more to my photography as “making pictures” rather than “taking pictures”. In addition, some have remarked how great my pictures are and wonder how they can also take such pictures. Well, the purpose of this article is to discuss “making” versus “taking” pictures. All pictures are made, or developed; but, there is a difference between allowing the camera’s computer to interpret the data or doing it on your computer which is more capable, and with better software gives you more latitude in the development. Those more experienced photographers who might be reading this can probably skip this article since I am going to address it to those close to the novice end of the spectrum.
Before I get into explaining what I do, I want to make a few things clear. These are my opinions and are not the only things to consider and it isn’t the cameras that I use. Yes, there is a basic level of camera that is necessary, but once you move up to cameras around $500 – $600, and up, almost any of the current cameras will do. Primarily, it takes a camera that allows you to take your pictures in a raw rather than jpeg format. Basic point & shoot cameras all save their pictures as jpeg files. This is a compressed format in which the computer in the camera processes the digital data from the sensor and interprets how they should look and then throws out a lot of the data as it compresses them down to smaller files so that you don’t get alarmed about how few pictures you can store on your memory card. Some top-end point & shoot cameras also allow you to save all the data as raw files and let you process, or develop, the files on your computer to make a picture. All of the more advanced cameras give you the option as to whether to shoot jpegs or raw files. I always shoot and process my own raw files. Another basic requirement is having enough pixels to be able to crop if necessary.
I crop to refine the composition and/or to crop-zoom. You will see below an example of that feature. My current cameras have 12 or 16 MP but usually 12 MP is sufficient to allow for reasonable crop-zooming but it depends on the end use of the picture; i.e. whether or not, and how large, you print your pictures. If you only present them on digital devices, which I do, you have a lot more latitude for zoom-cropping.
Other basics that I am not covering in this article are your vision, composition, camera ergonomics, etc., etc. Those may be subjects for another day.
Getting back to the purpose for this article, look at the following picture. I took it in Hawaii on the island of Kauai while visiting Waimea Canyon. As we went up in altitude and could see further, the air became more noticeably hazy. The following picture is as I first saw it after downloading it to my computer, and this was after my software (Lightroom 4) had done some basic processing so that I could recognise what I saw when I took the picture. If I had taken the picture as a jpeg, it would look like this or slightly better depending on the camera’s settings and processing capability.
The above picture is rather flat and isn’t all that good, but is close to what you might have seen after you had a drugstore print your jpeg pictures. In order to improve it, I used a software program called Adobe Lightroom 4 (LR4). The first thing I did was crop the picture. The concept of taking a vertical picture didn’t work as well as I hoped so I cropped off the bottom of the picture. I then changed the exposure and made other changes to increase the contrast, clarity, etc. of the picture. I’m not going to go into all of those details in this article. Today I just want to show you what is capable of being accomplished if you shoot raw files and use LR4 to process them.
I liked the above picture better, but it still didn’t satisfy me. It still didn’t look as I remember it looking. I then made some more changes to the cropping of the scene as well as some more adjustments. You can primarily see the differences in the sky and the enriched character of the rocks and that I cropped out more of the foreground.
One of the major advantages with doing the development of the picture yourself is that you can keep going back and make other changes. There is never an end. LR4 is a nondestructive program. You never destroy the basic picture and you can always go back and do it over, or you can develop multiple versions of the picture; i.e. you can “make” the picture to fit your vision, or the mood of the scene, or to fit the requirements of a particular blog article. 🙂