more PD8 image tricks

I cranked out another test file with PhotoDirector 8. In this case a very flat image of our local lake was in need of some lively processing.

I took the top image and used my old favorite curve tool - but I tried a few new tricks. I adjusted RGB to taste but then boosted the green channel at the bright end. That left the dark-green trees dark on the left but strengthened the shrubs by the water just right of center.

I then used the HDR-effect sliders to make things jump a bit more. I like that this tool can be used push-button style or as a gentle slide to keep any cartoon effects to a minimum.

I like the reprocessing quite a bit, but those branches along the top went too dark. At some future point I will revisit and make use of the layers tool to bring them back closer to the original image. Perhaps the bridge can also be pulled into better definition that way?

Any software has features and complications that can only be learned with time. PhotoDirector 8 has caught my interest and I plan to keep learning its features.


New software

I recently bought Cyberlink's PhotoDirector software. I intend it to replace PS Elements (v10, more or less) as my primary editor and catalog keeper. Adobe did not get me to subscribe to PS or now Lightroom but it's clear they believe the cloud is the future. For their profits yes, but not holding my images for ransom thank you.

My first big test came this past weekend after I wanted to stitch some GX1 raw images of lake Sacagawea and autumn colors. The merge was as easy as could be, just about like elements. I then played with the merged file and saved out a 49MB image.. perhaps it should get printed?

A small version of the 49MB file. That really yellow tree on the right is.. curious.

The software appears to do all that i would ask. It has curves and a 5-zone slider set to adjust lighting, color adjustments and white balance, even simple HDR &tone mapping adjustments. It can save tiff and png as well as adjustable jpeg.

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I was surprised by pd8's exceptionally yellow leaves on the right side of the image; I like to think I'd have noticed that while on site!  I did adjust many things from the original raw file, but I did not seek to emphasize yellow in particular.

So I tried Polarr's raw processor to see how that tree looked:

Sure enough, that strong yellow foliage is not quite what Polarr sees.. strong color yes, but not as extreme. The orange on the far right is different as well. 

Good information to keep in mind, moving forward!


adrift in a sea of gear

What would really satisfy me, "once and for all"?
It probably doesn't work that way - but if I could manage it, what then?

My perceived needs include weather protection, in-body stabilization and a tilt screen, preferably with some touch controls.  That would narrow me down to Pentax, SonyAlpha, Olympus and very recent Lumix bodies.

Since budget is paramount, that limits me a bit more. It would be best to go with a past-generation Olympus so my current lens set can do the job. I have neither Pentax nor µ43 lenses with weather seals so no gain there; if I had a choice I'd take the 12-60 Lumix again at some point.

Now I already tried the EM5 mark I and it didn't appeal to me much. That leaves the EM1 Classic as the item of choice. That would take the spare EM5 battery that I still have for some reason, and includes many features that sound quite interesting. Its video setting is very primitive yet still more complete than Pentax models, with AF or tap-MF available any time. The EM1 also has live time/composite and PDAF points on the sensor, good features all.
  • I can get a Alpha for $200ish but it won't have weather seals at that price. And I'd need lenses. 
  • I can get an EM1 for $300ish, then later add some sealed lenses. Current lenses cover 16-300mme so it's a fairly full set.
  • I can get a K-5 for maybe $225 but again: no WR lenses on hand. I do have other lenses covering 42-450mme  -plus a broken 18-55 that might be resurrect-able. Hmm, that could make a difference, must look into that.
  • Theoretically a K-30 or K-50 could show up for under $225 - or a K200d for that matter.
  • I can do nothing and save plenty.
That will do..


For shame. Timeout.

I've just skimmed my past posts* and learned just how big a problem I have with holding on to camera gear. Several absurdly excellent kits were tossed back into the pool for pathetic reasons. I called myself out several times, and then excused my behavior as financially driven. That's only true because I overreached when I already owned really nice gear but wanted more - and that's entirely on me and my collecting/hoarding illness.

* Of course I don't read my own blog, I write all this for mythical others.. or so I've told myself.

Therefore read, and Learn!

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Could anything embarrass me more than this note from April 2015?
For a total of $118 I have two |k-r|bodies in like-new condition with a total of 130 shutter actuations.  

Well perhaps this from July of 2011?
The k-x became a k-r, and several lenses came swiftly. Some were bargains, others simply irresistible - but the result was too many lenses, especially considering that family health issues kept us from traveling to photogenic places. I took some great shots of the yard and my bike commutes to work.. but any camera could do such things justice.

Or even Nov 2010?
So why don't I just buy more Pentax stuff with that gift card? Fact is, I'm all out of 'needs' there  I have modern lenses (16-45, 50-200 and 55-300) plus a half-dozen manual primes and intermediate zooms.  I have a nice tripod and a flash sufficient for my needs, and several SD cards.  Not only is that enough, it's too much - especially as I've been homebound and not able to use much of this.  
A smaller camera with decent IQ would provide just as much camera satisfaction and be a smaller cash drain.

The occasional great image I've taken in the intervening thirty months since I owned the K-r would certainly look no worse with that camera. Or a K200d and Sigma 18-200 (March 2011). Or the K100d, 16-45 and 55-200 Sigma (June 2010).

What cameras have I owned in the past five years? Let me gasp as I count them - and several were owned more than once..

  • Pentax 200d/k-r/7/5/5ii/5iis/3ii/s1 
  • mu43 pm2/pl5/pl6/em10/em5/g7/gm1/gx7/gx1 
  • fuji f550, nikon-1, oly e500 and Samsung NX300 
  • lenses: easily a few dozen in K mount, perhaps twenty µ43/4Thirds
  • imaging-related tags in this blog: ~190
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What have I gained from all this? Precious little.
What I lost: time energy.. and now, self respect.

And with this fresh in my mind,
I shall walk away from 'gear talk' on this blog for a spell.

alpha flashback

Curiosity sent me over to the Dyxum.com website, my old SonyAlpha hangout. After a bad guess or two I even came up with my ID and password, which had not been used in perhaps seven years? Always a surprise when something reappears like that, since I cannot remember yesterday's breakfast most days..

I updated my contact data and even posted a question about gear.

Nothing about imaging is certain for me right now, other than dissatisfaction with what I have + no funds to make any moves whatsoever. The GX7 was a financial casualty and the GX1 provides decent images on occasion but not what I had hoped. Actually the second go-round with the GX7 wasn't really great either. Given my small collection of Pentax gear that makes the most sense.. but why not consider an elder Alpha as well?

I am not a superstitious person. Even so..
In 2009 I took the a200 Alpha to the Sierra with my wife on our Yosemite backpack trip. In June 2010 I switched over to Pentax and felt good about it. Just over a month later my wife fell ill, and remains so to this day. In fact she fell ill a week after the A200 was sold! 
Of course Pentax has absolutely nothing to do with this.. absolutely. My wife will not get better because I return to alpha gear. Nope.

At one point I bought a K-r for about $40. That's still an excellent camera, and the last Pentax with shake reduction in video (not the more recent digital-IS) and the price for those features would never be lower. I got greedy with a bit more cash and off I went, going as far as a silver K-3ii - for an extremely short month, before our finances hit the fan again.

I can look back with regret but no time travel allowed. I must live with such things.
In fact it's time to review my blog history and learn something about myself!


tech burnout

How many ways can one acquire technical fatigue?

Here's a few:
  • dumping more gear and holding on to older, less-advanced models -again
  • gear chat that leads nowhere and repeats long-settled issues
  • glowing reports of gear I cannot afford taking photos of places I cannot afford to visit
  • ad-friendly web advancements like turning off mute when autoplaying junk video, and loading ads before actual site content
  • insert your gripe here
As a result of these issues and more it's time to declare a moratorium. Comments to gear threads must stop, even if I have a reasonable comment. Too often my unreasonable comments take precedent, whether silly or snarky; a waste of bandwidth and both the writer's and reader's time.

Wish me luck, I shall definitely need it.

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The Sigma 19mm has arrived. It's a fine lens for my use, determined after a day of tests which included a quick tour of Laurelhurst park in Portland. 

The GX7, Lumix 14 and Sigma 30 departed for evaluation and purchase. My best hope is that they overpay for the first two and send back the 30mm, so I can have a matched set of EX DN lenses!


ins & outs

As funds tighten again the GX7 and two primes departed, leaving the team photo a bit less full.
With the GX1 missing out on stabilization the primes become less useful
despite their improved light-capture and overall IQ - so OIS lenses are
more useful. A Sigma 19/2.8 is on its way though for 1-lens shooting days.


small change

I've been looking over the fisheye options for the GX system. My recent preference was the 7Artisans f/2.8 model, but someone sold their nameless C-class option at a further discount. Given recent news on the dental-expense front, I figured it was now (barely), or never to buy the lowest-cost option.
So here it is!

It arrived today just as I was heading to town. Smoke was drifting near the sun as the east wind blew smoke out of the Eagle Creek fire in the Columbia Gorge - a fine time for this lens to arrive and capture it. Hopefully the weekend rains will give that fire a serious dousing as the terrain is very difficult for fire-fighting.