Help from an unlikely source

Though I normally have my OM-D with me at all times, when I do use the iPhone and get a shot I enjoy, I like to see if I can improve the JPG.  I expect the iPhone to give me much less IQ than the OM-D, so to that end, I brought this iPhone photo into Aperture for possible tweaks. 

Since I particularly enjoy B&W anyhow, I like the 'Noir' effect from the IOS Camera App, at least when used in certain scenes.  However, the iPhone blew out the highlights ...and in fairness, a very bright morning sun was shining directly on the white facades of the buildings.  Since it was bright day light, I wasn't expecting the blotches in the sky, which I'd normally expect with poor lighting, but that may be a side effect of the Noir filter. 

Straight from the iPhone;  overblown highlights, blotchy sky, IOS Camera Noir filter

Straight from the iPhone;  overblown highlights, blotchy sky, IOS Camera Noir filter

The JPG format really precludes major editing efforts, but I was curious what Aperture could do with this.  My goals were to reduce the overblown highlights and I hoped noise reduction might remove the blotchiness in the sky.

  • Highlight Slider
  • Selective burn
  • Skin Smoothing

Of course, noise reduction won't do a thing to JPGs, not sure what I was thinking there, duh.  Moving the highlights slider to the right did reduce some highlights, but didn't really fix the building facades.  But, selectively painting in some burn (darken) effect on the facades and the aft ends of the boats did the trick.

However, the real trick was the skin smoothing.  On a whim, I tried this on the blotchy sky   ....and it worked!  In fact, it gave the sky an unexpected creamy texture, which is a nice contrast to the rough patterns of the facades.

From the iPhone via Aperture:  Burn effect on facades + Skin Smoothing to remove blotches in sky

From the iPhone via Aperture:  Burn effect on facades + Skin Smoothing to remove blotches in sky

Some may not enjoy the effects these changes produce and may prefer the original, somewhat grainy appearance. We all have our unique outlook, none of which is definitively correct.

Whether you enjoy the use of Skin Smoothing on the sky or not, this is just a quick tip for others who may be looking to do something similar.



Old dog, New tricks

Imagine my surprise today, when I heard from Oly that they're providing feature enhancements for my now, several year old camera, the E-M5!

It's great to see Olympus has not forgotten those of us using the original OM-D model and keeping us (somewhat) fresh with firmware updates.  Apparently, Oly is passing some of the new firmware from the just-announced O-M10 on to the original model.  

This is important to me for a couple of reasons;

  • I like, even prefer, to buy my gear from a company who will support me even after I've given them my money
  • Seeing a company pass new features back to older models, shows some level of care for the existing customer base.  As an existing, happy customer, this encourages me to evangelize the format (m43) and specifically this company to others. 
  • And all of this makes me likely to purchase again

Wonder what else might trickle down to older models? 


Dear E-M5 Owner,

Good news! Updated firmware is now available for your camera. Download the Olympus Digital Camera Updater to update your firmware for the following features.

Version 2.0
  • Small AF targetadded to the AF target settings.
  • ISO LOW (100 equivalent) expanded on the low sensitivity side.


lucas_ridge_PC310012 - Version 2.jpg

Snow and ice come in many forms.

I was out for a snowshoe behind the house and started looking more closely at some of the ice forms.

Usually, the eye gravitates to the big patterns; snow drifting over fallen trees or hills monochromed by the snow & the dark landforms.

But looking at winter details yields a different view.

Patterns on this icicle 'tryptich' caught my eye hanging from a rocky bluff.

Sometimes looking behind reveals more than viewing head-on. When I looked behind a formation of icicles 'falling' from a ledge, I found a 'green room' with a fresh  icicle still in the process of forming; dripping down from the ledge above.


Rocky bluffs make for striking landscapes, the more so when trees and icicles counterpose one another.

Older than old Jerusalem

Underneath so-called old Jerusalem, lies ancient Jerusalem. Archaeologists have excavated certain areas to expose the even older portions of the city.

If I have this correct, what's currently regarded as old Jerusalem is about 1,500 or so years old.  If you think the columns seen here look like something Roman, you'd be correct, as they once occupied what is now Jerusalem.

These Roman columns are presented in a way which mimics the original layout.  We're told this area was used for the open air markets; vendor stalls would have occupied the space between wall and columns.  Of course, these columns are now under the 'current' old Jerusalem, but would have been the top architectural tier back in the day.


Just around the corner from these columns is a current archaeological dig exposing other Roman ruins which have been  dated back to 8 centuries B.C. 


Snow in Jerusalem

A couple feet of snow fell on Friday the 13th in Jerusalem, the most snow in some 100 years.

Apparently, folks came to Jerusalem from around the country to see snow, many of whom may never otherwise get a chance to see or touch snow in their lifetimes.  But with much of the population living at sea level, the highways leading to 2,500' elevation are serious mountain roads.  ...and some 2,000 cars became stuck on those approaches to the city!

Even Tel Aviv saw some white stuff, though mostly in the form of sleet.  Nonetheless, people were stopping their cars to touch the sleet/snow and take pics of this novel event.  Drivers crawled their vehicles through a couple of inches of sleet, not just out of an abundance of caution, but because they were busy gawking left & right at white covered roads.

Here's the scene on the Jerusalem approach road a full week later.