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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Zuiko: Using the 7-14mm Ultra-wide

I made a point to myself to use the Zuiko Digital ED7-14mm F4.0 more.

The morning was actually quite rainy, so I chose to use the Olympus E-3 as it was weather-sealed should rain to come during the middle of the shoot. The 7-14mm was weather-sealed, too.

Palace of Justice, cropped in 16:9
7mm, f/9, 1/200s, ISO100

Initially I did not know I would end up here at Putrajaya, but thinking logically that the 7-14mm would be more useful for many architectural and landscape shots, the national capital was the perfect location.

I was driving along the main road, and the Palace of Justice struck me. Since the town was virtually empty due to the long Eid Adha holiday weekend, only a couple of tourists and keen photographers were there. This was good for architectural shots! And a bonus; the sun suddenly appeared amongst the clouds to render the buildings with good light.

Shooting with an ultra-wide lens was very tricky. One thing that could really could screw things up were the perspective. It could easily be a nightmare if not done properly. For that shot, to keep the perspective in check, I used the E-3's focus markers and put the horizon along the 5 points. And I checked the 3 vertical markers with the building's pillars to ensure the perspective was correct. And all was done handheld, without any tripods or supporting gizmos. To get it right the first time, I held my breath to freeze my framing and quickly but calmly clicked the shutter.

The composition was heavy bottom, with half of the frame being the road. Well, I just cropped off the bottom.

Another thing, to get all in focus, it was very easy as the depth-of-field for such a wide lens with the 4/3 format was very huge. I just dialed in F/9.0 and it was more than enough.

Palace of Justice framed in the Putrajaya Holdings HQ main entrance
7mm, f/8.0, 1/1000s, ISO100

For both images, the sun was directly in the frame. This posed a problem in the Dynamic Range department. And, I chose not to use RAW, instead opted for the Superfine JPEG (which means the JPEG file is ultra huge, but not as huge as TIFF). The original file showed much shadows in the buildings' details; thus, I had to post-process the images using my trusty GIMP software.

Using tone mapping with Overlay settings at 40%, I used 3 layers duplicated on top of each other and merged them one-by-one. A bit of S-curve to enhance the shadows and highlights, and increased the saturation by 40 points did the trick (during the tone mapping, the colors faded).

One thing that ticked me off during the shoot. I was actually chased away by the security, claiming that this place was not for public shooting. I was aghast, and immediately responded that I am taxpayer, and these buildings were built using the people's money. I was not even inside the building, just outside within the corridors!

I was shocked, and immediately left the place. I managed to get a couple of great shots, but those were it!

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