The Evening Before

Today is 12 Aug 2020. As of yesterday evening 11 aug 2020, New Zealand has had 102 days of no Covid19 community transmission. That run was broken at 930pm that evening when Prime Minister Jacinda Arden and Director General of Health Ashley Bloomfield confirmed there were 4 confirmed cases of Covid19 community transmissions.

In one fell swoop, we’re back to Covid19 lockdown. While I resent working from home, I’m completely grateful that we take fast action here in New Zealand. Short term (3 days – 4 month) lockdown pain, which I recognise does equate to mid to longer term pain for people who lose their livelihoods, hopefully translates to lives saved.

My reluctance to work from home and my general distaste of my “home office” largely stems from my conservative and inflexible appreciation of routine. My daily routine consists of walking 30-40 mins to work each day, hopefully taking some time during lunch for a photo walk and ending it with a 30-40 min walk home, met halfway by my husband and daughter (Bobby our schnauzer). Those walking opportunities give me a chance to gear up for, take a break from and unwind from work. Three key moments that strangely punctuate my day with joy and give me energy. Three wonderful moments where I’m mainly alone and meditating with my Fuji.

I’ve been experimenting with straight out of camera (SOCC) jpegs. Here are a couple of SOCC jpegs and their raw counterparts. I used a variation of the Kodachrome recipe (created by Ritchie Roesch) that I wrote about here. The only editing done to the SOCC jpegs are rotation, crop and minor tone curve tweaks. The raw files have a little more tone curve, exposure and highlight adjustments.

New Work from Home Office
SOCC on the left, Raw on the right.
Work on the Water Break
SOCC on the left, Raw on the right

Maybe this is self selecting, but I prefer the SOCC jpegs. This is especially so with the second photo of the worker sitting on the water break. The colour, tone and added grain of the jpeg call out to me. However, I’m not saying good bye to raw files. For example, I prefer the raw file version of this.

SOCC on the left, Raw on the right

Or I think I am. I hope it is not because I want to be fair.

Karangahape Road

Karangahape Road in Auckland is a colourful and vibrant place to visit. There is a good mix of people and businesses there. Colloquially known as K Road, you can bump into suits, creatives and artists, mums and their kids and street folk who make K Road home.

K Road is a 5-10 min drive away from me. I like the street for the vibe, food outlets and the photographic opportunities. K Road is most alive at night. People are out eating the many good dinning venues and venturing on to pubs and clubs. As the night goes on, that energy can get a little dark. But generally, I would still feel safe walking along K Road.

I’m more of a day person and I like K Road when it is close to empty and there is a chance for me to explore without too much concern. With Chris returning from Hamilton on Saturday morning and my tennis washed out due to rain, I had 2 hours on my hand. I decided to walk along K Road and check out the side streets. Here are some photos from that walk.

Following the theme of the week, I decided to stick to a custom film simulation setting. My selection is a Modified version of Ritchie Roesch’s Kodacolour film simulation. I wanted a more look with more contrast and a smoother grain. I achieved that by creating an S curve emphasising highlights and switching the grain from strong to weak. I named this setting kodacolourish.

I walked past these striking red cylinders earlier in the morning and waited for 10 mins for someone to walk up the stairs. No one did. Disappointed, I walked away to check out other streets. But on the way, I back, there were workers on the stairs and even though they watched me suspiciously, they smiled when they realised I was taking a photo!

Unmoaning the moaner

In previous entries, I moaned about Auckland’s winter and overcast days. I also talked about trying out a simpler approach to photography where I stick to a single file simulation recipe on my X-Pro3. Putting all the posts together, you won’t be wrong to think that I’m a moaner, worrying that I won’t find a suitable film simulation that will be usable in Auckland’s winter.

Despite all that the Fujifilm Gods must be smiling my way because everything came together from Thursday evening. That evening, I decided to try out Ritchie Roesch’s Kodacolour film simulation this weekend. And Friday morning turned out to be a sun drenched winter’s morning, allowing me to test this film simulation. These two things came together to produce a series of pictures that I really liked.

I really like the warm and contrasty look of the Kodacolour on a sunny day. My initial concerns that the film simulation recipe might result in an overly yellow toned photo has been washed away. Surprisingly, the greenish dark contrast of the photo has helped balance out any buttery yellow tinges.

The film simulation also worked well in the overcast rainy conditions. The earlier Ramen post featured photos taken later that day when it wet and dark. I think this film recipe might be a keeper.

A good run

Something’s up. Sun is shinning, I’m feeling positive and grateful. After a tough last week, I’m glad to have this stretch of good days to hit the streets and take photos. Let’s hope this consistent run of good vibes carry on.

Speaking of consistency, I thought I try shooting with the same film recipe to see if I can achieve the same look and feel to my photography. It’ll also give me a chance to understand the effect of pushing my jpg with different aperture, iso and shutter speed variations on the same file recipe.

A month ago, I discovered that the car park across the road from my office was a gem of a photography location. However, I think that I only scrapped the surface of possibilities. As such, I thought I change my usual approach of walking around town to exploring what I can do at the car park. It is multi storey carpark with an open air top floor. Here are the results of this afternoon’s shoot.

Nothing like a little complain to bring out the sun

I was quite excited to try out my newly tweaked jpg custom settings following the weekend’s test run. But the sun snuck away the moment I stepped out of the office for my lunch time walk. I caught these shots as I walked to my lunch spot.

At lunch, I was reading Luis Costa’s post about his trip to a wildlife park in Portugal and enjoying his sun drenched shots taken with Classic Negative. I may or may not have moaned to Luis about Auckland’s blah sun-less winter days in the comment section. Of course, the moment I stepped out, the sun came out and stayed out till the end of the work day, resulting in these shots.

I was stoked with the last shot of the apple. I had taken a similar shot a couple of weeks back but my shutter speed was too slow and my focus point off. So the shot was not crisp. This time, I was so amazed that the same truck appeared at the same spot for me to retake this shot.

Film Simulations

I’m pretty sure the rainy and windy Saturday evenings are not the best time to test Fujifilm jpeg settings. Anything I try is likely to suit those gloomy settings. However, procrastination like some good intentions lead to a sad, cold, wet, windy and bad place. I could go on… No time like now to get things done.

Ritchie Roesch has kindly published many custom settings aka recipes, that allow Fujifilm camera owners to replicate the look of different film stock. I’m trying to work out what appeals the most to me. I’m also very partial to the look (and story) behind Luis Costa’s Classic Negative based recipe. Kevin Mullin’s YouTube video also provided a very useful “Meyerowitz” and “Padilla” look that caught my eye.

Most of the film stock simulations that I like are variations of the Classic Chrome or Classic Negative film simulations. In good strong light, the pictures look magical. However, in Auckland’s dreary winter and overcast environment, the jpegs can look too warm for my liking.

I decided to test out how I can customise Ritchie’s Kodachrome II and Kodachrome 64, Luis’ Classic Negative setting and Kevin’s Meyerowitz. Over the course of 30-60 mins, I tried different settings and walked around downtown Auckland. It became quite clear to me that I tended to prefer Ritchie’s Kodachrome II for dark winter nights.

So here comes the dilemma. the Kodachrome II simulation is good. But I wanted a cooler look. So I tweaked it. And then I worked on the raw file at home and realised, I prefer an even cooler variation. Now I’m stumped. Here are the three files I produced.

I thought I would be confused with the three variations and bash my head against the wall. But this has been a good exercise. I’ve decided to create and store a cooler variation of Kodachrome II and identified the other 5 film settings that I’ll store in the camera. They are:

  • Luis Costa’s Classic Negative Setting
  • Kevin Mullin’s “Padilla”
  • Kevin Mullin’s “Meyerowitz”
  • Ritchie Roesch’s Porta 400
  • Plain Vanilla Classic Chrome

In addition to these settings, I’m also very comfortable editing in raw and enjoying the process. Now I’ll just wish for some good weather to test this combination out.

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